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

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 Post subject: Confidential Eternal (Final Part To Confidential!Verse)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:22 pm
Posts: 4514
Topics: 42
WRITER: Laragh

STORY RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara, and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX, ME, and a whole host of other entities, none of which are me.

SUMMARY: One journey’s end is just another’s beginning. And so it goes. And so they go.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely!

NOTE: How odd it is to be posting this final piece. I’ve been writing in this land for eleven years. It’s seen me through the toughest periods of my life. Some of you have been with me the whole way and that is such an honor. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Fin.



Confidential Eternal




“Ahem.”


JJ repeatedly tapped the little black dot above his lip that was supposed to be amplifying his voice.


“Stupid newfangled thing.”


“Gramps,” a little boy beside him giggled, “You have to tap it twice to turn it on!”


“I did already!” JJ protested and started to lean down to the boy’s height, but his nearly-70-year-old knees objected.


Instead, he lifted the little boy up into his arms. All those years as a volunteer firefighter had really given him the kind of muscle strength most men could only envy, even at his age.


“Show me again, Renzo.”


Renzo poked JJ in the nose; the light brown skin on his arm skating past JJ’s eyes in a blur.


“Hey!”


Renzo giggled and then quick as a flash he pawed at the watch on JJ’s wrist then tapped the little button on JJ’s lip. JJ felt it give a little buzz.


“What would—” JJ suddenly heard his voice booming and tapped the button twice to turn it off, “—an old man like me do without you?”


He cupped his grandson’s cheek tenderly for a moment before making a show of pulling a silver dollar out of his ear.


It was one of the only kinds of coins you could find anymore, but it wasn’t too easy to pull a bank transfer out of somebody’s ear so JJ kept a steady stream of them on his person.


The look of awe on Renzo’s face was worth more than any coin could be.


“Go sit with Picky, okay buddy?”


Renzo hid his coin in his pocket so he wouldn’t have to share with his sister and jumped down again to find her and his other cousins.


JJ slowly stood again and tapped his mic twice.


“Ahem,” he repeated and this time his voice projected around the room, “Could everybody find a seat? Or, uh…a spot to stand in?”


There was a scramble as close to thirty other adults and nearly a dozen children found space to slot into in the Rosenberg-Maclay living room. It hadn’t changed much over the years but it had reared five children, and accommodated all of their friends, so it would fit everyone as needed today.


It just required a little squishing.


Partners stood with partners and the children all sat together on the floor. The limited seating was reserved for those over sixty.


A little robot zipped between everybody’s legs collecting trash.


The two women of importance were already seated in the middle of the room; one in a wheelchair and one in a comfortable armchair dragged to the spot right beside her. They held hands.


JJ closed his hands around his suspenders and gave them a gentle tug.


“Not that I need to tell you all, but we’re here today to honor the 75th anniversary of two of my greatest loves — my moms. Willow and Tara Rosenberg-Maclay.”


There was a short clap and cheer from everyone. From behind her, Emily put her hand on Willow’s shoulder and squeezed it. Willow looked up at her and smiled, then smiled over at her love. Tara's white hair flowed past her shoulders and her face was thin and wrinkled and every bit as beautiful as the first time Willow had set eyes on her.


She squeezed their liver-spotted hands together. Tara’s head lolled toward and she looked anxious.


“It's poisoned,” she said, then nodded, matter-of-fact, “Why don't I tell you that? It, it has to be checked, though.”


Willow lifted Tara’s hand to her mouth and kissed it.


“It’s okay, baby. It’s all checked.”


JJ kept the attention of the room.


“Not one of us here would be living the lives we’re living if it wasn’t for them. Some of us wouldn’t be here at all,” he stopped to clear his throat, “And I couldn’t be prouder to be a product of their love.”


“Here, here,” Robyn called from her position on the couch.


Willow smiled over at her and was given a wink back.


“I would personally like to thank everyone for coming today — for squishing into this house that I grew up in to celebrate my moms the way they deserve to be celebrated. With nine grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and now a new great-great-grandchild, it was no small feat getting the Rosenberg-Maclay family together today. But we did. Because that’s how much I know my Moms mean to all of us.”


With all eyes on him, JJ was in his element.


“When my dear and only brother graduated from high school,” he paused and looked over to Kayden, “Now that was a year or two ago, hey brother?”


“Or three,” Kayden called back and everyone laughed.


“When my brother graduated from high school,” JJ continued easily, “He said he would tell the story of him. Of his life. Because most often, your story is not just your story. It’s part of the story of everybody around you. That always stuck with me. That’s why I told my boys all the stories I had of growing up. Because my story is part of their story. And my moms’ story is part of every person here.”


He stopped to look around.


“My parents have lived here for seventy years. Since before I was even born. They moved in days after they got married. So they’ve spent their whole marriage here. Raised all of us and helped raise all of ours. I know each and every one of you here has a memory of this house. My Momma chasing you around the backyard with a water gun or being served up one of the best darn dinners of your life at six o clock sharp. Thanks, Mom.”


Willow kissed Tara’s cheek gently. What she wouldn’t give for some of Tara’s chicken pot pie. Of course, nobody ate animal products anymore but the engineered chicken actually was more tender than Willow remembered the real thing ever being. Tara had adapted to a no-cluck pot pie without losing any of her signature taste.


Of course, it had been quite a while since she had cooked.


“Growing up, I was afforded every opportunity and was allowed to pursue my passions — even when I didn’t even really know what they were. My parents gave me the foundation that I was able to build upon with my beautiful wife,” JJ stopped to wink across the room at Cleo, her silver hair tied up in a bun with a few tendrils falling into her face, “Until I found my calling as a sports commentator. Only the birth of my sons bettered the excitement I felt sitting in front of that microphone and looking out on the court. And my sons…”


His chest puffed up as he found them in the room, standing together and smiling.


“Jackson and Hudson are the two greatest things I have ever, or could ever, achieve. Jackson has been a lead engineer on the first space elevator and brought two children of his own into the world: Laurenzo and Piccola. And Hudson, who’s bringing up his children Kael and Zyla as a stay-at-home Dad — you, my boy, have one of the toughest jobs in the world. But it’s also the most rewarding. And I know I don’t need to tell you that.”


Hudson wrapped an arm around his two children and smiled. JJ smiled back.


“Man, I am going on about myself, aren’t I?” he said and gestured over to the armchair where Kayden was sitting with Dylan on his arm, “My brother Kayden never met a sketchpad or a mechanical pencil he didn’t like. It led him all the way to the head of the team that redesigned The White House after the big fire and, to my mothers' delight, he was personally commended by President Obama – the first and the second one.”


Everyone looked to Kayden and nodded respectfully. He looked up to Dylan and his handsome swash of gray hair before leaning into him.


“He and his husband Dylan raised their daughter Sky and son Taj in the town where this family’s story all began — Boston — and still live there today.”


JJ let his eyes jump to the next person.


“And my sister Robyn. My moms will tell you, Robyn was always a handful. It wasn’t a surprise when we learned she was poly because she definitely needs more than one person to handle her.”


The whole room laughed and Robyn rolled her eyes.


“But my sister cared more than the rest of us put together. Despite not believing in the American education system—”


“—and the way it exploits individual thought—” Robyn interrupted.


“—she worked her butt off to get a law degree so that she could actually help people in the systems of oppression they found themselves in,” JJ paused to look at Robyn meaningfully, “She fought for anyone who needed fighting for. Anything that needed fighting for. She was the first woman to ever be arrested in all fifty states for protesting lack of climate change action.”


JJ smiled at Robyn.


“And guess what, baby sis? Those ice caps are fuller now than they were before any of us in this room was even born. You helped save the earth. You’re the biggest badass I know.”


Robyn smiled, unusually humble.


“And now in her retirement, she’s helped send hundreds of girls—”


“Womxn-identified persons,” Robyn cut in.


“—to school through her soccer scholarship non-profit,” JJ finished fluidly, “She’s changed the world — literally. One of those womxn identified persons went on to find the cure for HIV and personally thanked Robyn for helping her do it while accepting the Nobel Prize.”


JJ winked at Robyn.


“But she’ll always be my baby sister.”


Robyn smiled crookedly.


“Speaking of baby sisters,” JJ craned his head to the other side, “My littlest, Emily took on the Biblioisima empire that my Momma built and has kept it going to this day — when some kids wouldn’t even know what a physical book looked like. You’ll always find one ready to read at Biblioisima. That’s the tagline, by the way. Emily has us always selling since she finished her degree in business and marketing.”


Everyone laughed.


“Em was just a kid when she had a kid. The youngest of us all. But she stepped up and was the best Mom to her little baby girl and to the little boy she took on as her own. She built a career and family with the love she found had been right under her nose. I hope she knows she’s our family quiet strength and always has been.”


Emily swallowed deeply and Audrey held her close.


JJ smiled, but it turned sad.


“And of course, there’s my sister Lily. My beautiful, vivacious sister Lily. My brilliant, talented, wonderful sister…who left us all last year.”


A somber mood fell about the room.


Tears pricked Willow’s eyes and she glanced over to her wife, who was idly following a piece of lint on its journey. She didn’t like to remember receiving that phone call. Willow was glad Tara was already ‘gone’ when that had happened.


“Lily is known all over the world, of course, for creating her Broadway musical MOMS — a project that started right here in this room with her playing songs for little KT,” he looked over at KT, “Sorry kid, I know you’re a grandma now yourself but you’ll always be our little koala cub to me.”


KT blushed but held a hand over her heart.


“Lily was an award-winning actress, singer, director. Forever immortalized our family and parents in her work…even if they didn't always agree with some of the immortalizations.”


“Oh, I never bribed them with cookies,” Willow waved a hand dismissively.


“Oh yes you did,” JJ countered with a grin, “You even had a name for it.”


“Cookie Buddies,” JJ, Kayden, Robyn, and Emily said together and the whole room burst into laughter, a lot while wiping tears.


Willow waved them off again but a smile tugged at her lips, though her eyes were sad.


JJ let his hands fall away from his suspenders.


“If you’re wondering why I’m telling you all of these things that you already know, it’s because of this: you should never forget where you came from. And for every one of us in this room, that’s from these two women right here. We owe them everything. And the world owes them a lot, too. My Mom, who had a kind word and helpful intentions for everyone she ever met, is the soft voice the whole world knows as their helper through the TARA system my Momma developed. My Mom helped thousands of kids during her career as a social worker and patron to the Lisa Monroe Refuge for LGBT+ youth and my Momma helped keep our online security safe through her work as an FBI technical consultant.”


He paused and smiled deferentially.


“In the old days, they called it a hacker.”


Willow laughed softly.


“The term on the job was a confidential,” she said and grinned from her wrinkled cheeks, “At least by the narcs.”


JJ continued to smile as if his mother was anything but the definition of a ‘narc’.


“But once us kids were looked after, they gave most of their money away again and stayed in this very house because this was where they raised their family and where they were happy. I was as lucky as them to find my love young and I can’t wait to celebrate our 75th sharing the same amount of love they do. Hey, maybe we’ll even beat you!”


Everyone laughed and JJ looked down and back up again with a grin.


“Hey, what can I say? I’m a sports guy. I’m competitive,” he said and lifted his champagne flute, ”So let’s raise a glass. To Moms. Or as Lily ended her famous play, ‘Moms, Moms, Moms…what took me so long? I can finally really see you were the… bomb’.”


Everybody stood and started to clap and Willow tried to look around gratefully. She landed on Tara, who was reacting positively to the attention.


“Straight to a new day! Big day. Big, big day.”


“Big day,” Willow agreed softly.


When the clapping died down, Willow started to stand on two wobbly legs. Kayden and Dylan tried to offer a hand, but she waved them away politely.


“It is an absolute joy that you all came here today to celebrate with us. Though now I wish we’d knocked that wall during one of our renovations to fit you all better.”


People smiled and laughed.


“As everyone knows, the last few years have been rough what with Lily and Tara…” she paused to collect herself, “But every day I’m grateful to have you all in my life. And I know my lovely wife feels the same.”


She turned to Tara.


“And can I just say, my love, that I have been honored to be by your side all of these years? 75 of them have come and gone in the blink of an eye but it’s been the best blink I could ever have imagined. You are my always. And mine, always, as I am yours. I love you, Tara.”


Tara looked up into Willow’s eyes deeply.


“Time… oh, time is coming.”


Willow sat back on her chair and retook Tara’s hand, after making sure her wife’s blanket was tucked in comfortably.


In another room, so as not to startle Tara, Jackson popped a bottle of champagne and brought it into his Dad.


“A glass,” JJ repeated and raised his flute as Jackson went around to fill the other glasses, “Mom, Momma…look around. This is your legacy. And it’s a damn fine one at that. To Moms!”


Everyone returned the toast, though the grandchildren said Nana and Bubbe instead — and of course, had juice fresh from the attending robot in place of champagne.


Willow tapped her glass against Tara’s wheelchair arm and took a single sip. That was about all she could manage without getting too unsteady on her feet these days and wobbly Willow would not be wise.


“Happy anniversary my love,” she whispered to Tara.


“They kill mice,” Tara replied seriously.


Willow smiled softly and rubbed Tara’s hand.


Very quickly, their family members started to approach them for hugs as everyone spread out a bit better between the kitchen and front and back yard. JJ had wanted to rent out a hall for this party but Willow wanted it to be here. This was, as was said, where they spent their whole married life and was the only place truly befitting of their celebration of those years.


Plus, it was a lot easier to take care of Tara at home.


First to get to them was Robyn’s daughter Rapinoe, whom they all just called Noe. She was with her two daughters: 9-year-old Calix and 7-year-old Nova.


“Hey Cal, hey Noves, hi Noe,” Willow said, smiling at all the little-Taras, “Look who came to see us, sweetie.”


Tara looked at them skeptically and Willow rubbed her bank gently to produce a smile for the children.


“Nana’s so happy to see you too. I heard you got a new horse.”


Calix and Nova excitedly started to use Noe’s watch to bring up pictures.


“Horsies!” Tara exclaimed excitedly and the girls were thrilled by the response.


Though Robyn had spent a lot of her twenties flittering between relationships, in her early thirties she found herself with no partners and moved to California to join/legally defend a commune. It was there that Noe was conceived, which nobody knew anything about until Robyn showed up on the doorstep nine months pregnant.


Noe, like KT, had lived her early years in this house and so she always felt that special connection here, like she was coming home.


“How far have you ridden him?” Willow asked with a smile.


“We don’t ride him, Bubbe,” Calix said seriously.


“That’s right,” Robyn approached from the side, “We can connect with horses without climbing on top of them.”


Willow smiled again.


“Hey, little bean.”


Robyn rolled her eyes but was smiling too.


The girls were hungry so Noe brought them to get a vegan hot dog from the buffet.


“Thank god those things have come on from the Tofurkey days,” Willow commented wryly as she reached out to press her hand around the curve of Robyn’s head in a hug, “How are you doing?”


“I’m…happy,” Robyn said finally as she glanced over her shoulder to where her two partners were helping JJ’s two youngest granddaughter’s, Piccola and Zyla, with coloring in a 3D image, “Yes, that’s it. I'm happy.”


Robyn had not been one for great loves and when Noe was born had only had even more casual relationships than before. When Noe went off to college, Robyn hadn’t been intending to dip her toe in the dating pool in any serious way but then Nickal had come along and lit a fire in her like never before. Nickal wasn’t the shaggy, crunchy type Robyn usually went for, they were dorky and sweet and a perfect gentlethem. They enjoyed none of the things Robyn enjoyed, instead spending their time doing things like skeet shooting and catch-and-release fishing but they fell madly in love despite this. Robyn had even been able to look past the fact that Nickal had once, in their follied youth, eaten at a Chick-Fil-A before they closed their doors for good.


And then, like a bus when one hasn’t shown for ages and two show up at once, Robyn and Nickal had quickly found a woman, younger no less, named Adalee to complete their union — fondly known in the family by the 'ship' name ‘Radical’.


They’d all been together several years now and Willow could see the kind of happiness in her daughter’s eyes that had only been matched when she gave birth to Noe.


“Any sign of you three ever making this thruple official?” Willow asked bluntly.


Robyn arched her eyebrow at her mother.


“We don't need a piece of paper from the government to be official just because they made it legal.”


Willow held up a hand.


“What can I say? I guess I just want my pansexual daughter and her non-binary partner to hurry up and marry their girlfriend already. I'm a traditionalist that way.”


She stopped and brought her palm down to Robyn’s cheek.


“We just wanted you to be happy. Even when we didn't always understand.”


“Oh, Mom understood fine,” Robyn replied wryly, then gulped as she avoiding looking the few inches over to her, “How is she?”


“Ask her yourself,” Willow encouraged softly.


Robyn’s jaw tensed for a moment, then she slowly looked over.


Tara’s neck was forward and her blank stare was directed straight ahead.


“Hi, Mom.”


Tara suddenly looked troubled.


“They held me down.”


“No one's holding you,” Willow soothed gently, “It's the big day, right?”


“Big day,” Tara replied, looking all around, “Oh, it calls me! I have to be there!”


She tried to stand.


“Big day!”


Robyn sprung up, panicked, but Willow was able to coax Tara back into her chair easily.


“Don't worry, love. It won't be long now.”


Robyn swallowed deeply.


“You’re so good with her.”


Willow looked up curiously as if anything else could be true.


“She’s my girl.”


Robyn rubbed Tara’s knee gently and looked over at Willow.


“Can I get you guys some food?”


“Sure,” Willow nodded softly, though the robot would probably be around with some finger food soon anyway, she could sense Robyn needed to step away, “Thanks, honey.”


When she was gone, Willow motioned the nearest child over.


“Kaitlyn, come here a sec. Where’s your Dad?”


Kaitlyn looked around for Toby, then shrugged.


“I saw him with Gamma Em’Lee.”


Willow coaxed her closer.


“Will you do your Bubbe a favor?”


Kaitlyn nodded quickly. As one of the lead matriarchs of the family, if Tara passed on one thing only, it was kindness. It was apparent in every single offspring their line had produced.


Willow whispered in Kaitlyn’s ear and she smiled and nodded, then went skipping off. Willow watched her go, smiling.


They weren’t sure if Toby would ever give them a great-grandchild but at 41, Toby and his girlfriend had announced the news one Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which had of course replaced Thanksgiving. An unexpected gift, Kaitlyn had been a joy who crossed generations, being born in the middle of the great-grandchildren whilst being considerably younger than her first cousin, KT's daughter, Minnie.


While Toby and KT had gotten a head start being the first grandkids, the rest were all born in the span of a few years. First, there was Jackson and then JJ’s second son Hudson and Kayden’s daughter Sky were not only born in the same year or month but on the exact same day, two years later. Noe was born a little more than a year later that with Kayden’s son Taj not far behind.


And though not a grandchild in the traditional sense, Lily did become a surrogate for Emmett and his husband Rodrigo. Thus, their daughter Elphie was always treated as part of the family. KT’s daughter Minnie was born in the same year and so they had a close bond and ended up as roommates in college together.


Similarly, the great-grandchildren were born in a cluster. Calix was the oldest at nine, then Hudson’s son Kael at eight. Nova was seven, Sky’s son Oliver was six, then there was the crazy year where Taj’s twins Raylee and Raze and Jackson’s son Renzo were all born. Jackson’s daughter Piccola was four and Hudson’s daughter Zyla was two. They were still very much the babies of the family.


And so Kaitlyn fell right in with the rest of that cousin group. First cousin or first cousin once removed or twice removed or whatever it was didn’t really matter much when you were playing My Little Pony.


And yes, that thing was still on the go.


They sponsored school lunches now.


Kaitlyn skipped back into the room and pressed a jewelry box into Willow’s hands.


“Is this what you wanted, Bubbe?”


“Thank you, sweetie,” Willow said, then bit her lip unsurely, “Go tell your Uncle JJ to give you a silver dollar. Tell him I’ll get him back in the will.”


Kaitlyn considered it, then shrugged and ran off.


Willow got what she wanted from the box and hit it back under Tara’s wheelchair.


“I know you know what I’m about to do. You okay with it?”


Tara blinked at Willow twice.


“I told the cat. And now I beg my mother sitting all alone.”


Willow cupped Tara’s ear and caressed her gently. Tara leaned into the touch and smiled.


Robyn smiled too when she returned with sandwiches.


“Beet salad?”


“Right here,” Willow accepted, catching a piece of pea protein spread as it spilled out the side, “What’s Mom got?”


“Vegan tuna,” Robyn answered, then suddenly looked stricken as she couldn’t recall if her mother would even like that. She felt like a child again, “Does she like…?”


Willow smiled easily and nodded for her to give it to her. Tara looked at it unsurely.


“Plastic and their six sisters. Six sick sisters,” she said, then looked over anxiously, “Willow?”


Willow couldn’t help but smile gently. She didn’t hear her name from her love much these days and each time was precious.


“It’s not real plastic, Mom,” Robyn said softly, reassuringly while being secretly delighted that Tara was so distressed about plastic.


“It’s okay,” Willow reassured, “Let's just start slow today. Um, Robbie, could I have that?”


Robyn handed over the cup of applesauce and the little wooden spoon accompanying it. Willow opened it and spooned a little.


“Here you go,” she said as she brought it to Tara’s mouth.


Tara ate it quietly.


“That’s my girl,” Willow breathed softly.


“Can I help?” Robyn asked and Willow nodded and handed back the apple sauce.


Robyn had avoided home a lot since her mother had started to slip into dementia. She hadn’t been home since Lily’s funeral. She’d almost backed out of today. She was glad she didn’t.


As Robyn fed Tara, Willow played with something in her pocket. When a few moments had passed, she held out her hand with the contents on her palm.


Robyn looked over.


Two engagement rings. She arched an eyebrow at her mother.


“I want you to take them,” Willow said off the look, then added pointedly, “And use them.”


Robyn shook her head.


“I'm too old to get married.”


“The only thing you're too old for is wasting precious time,” Willow insisted.


Robyn couldn’t help but admit feeling a pull seeing the rings intertwined like that. She gulped as she thought of what she was being offered. Not just rings but their rings.


“Don’t you…need these?”


“They’re worth nothing but sentimentality,” Willow said, which wasn’t technically true since Willow had had them re-set with real diamonds for their diamond, 60th, anniversary and even re-proposed atop the Eiffel Tower since the kids had sent them to Paris for the occasion.


Her new knees hadn’t even protested when she got down on one knee to do it.


Willow smiled over at Tara adoringly.


“The only thing I need to be wrapped around my finger is your mother,” she said and lifted Tara’s hand to kiss her knuckles, “And she’s doing that all on her own.”


Robyn put the applesauce down.


“Well you know, I think marriage is a tool of the patriarchy,” she said as she took the rings and looked at them furtively, “But you gave me the best example any persons could give about what love is and what makes a relationship. So maybe if it was good enough for you two…”


She looked at Tara vulnerable.


“What do you think, Mom?”


“Hoppy toad,” Tara answered with a cheesy grin.


Robyn’s heart soared.


“That sounds positive to me.”


Willow wanted to say it sounded like a nightmare but opted to stay silent. Robyn suddenly stood and embraced Willow.


“I love you, Momma,” she said, then moved onto Tara without hesitation, “I love you, Mom.”


Tara leaned into Robyn’s hug and Willow felt her heart soar too.


Robyn pocketed the rings and moved away. Willow picked up the applesauce and continued to feed Tara.


A few minutes later, Kayden and Dylan brought them over fresh glasses of water.


“Oh thank you, gentlemen,” Willow smiled, “Can you grab a straw for Mom?”


“Crap, sorry,” Kayden gulped and Dylan ran off to find one.


“Don’t be sorry, no big deal,” Willow waved a hand.


“I have places to be!” Tara announced and Willow laughed.


“Don’t I know it, baby. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. We’ll get there.”


Kayden bent down on his knees.


“Hey, Mom. You look really pretty today.”


“The world is spinning,” Tara answered.


“Yes, it is,” Kayden smiled softly, “Yes, it is. It’s great to see you. Hey, Oliver.”


Kayden caught his grandson as he whizzed by.


“Oli, show your Bubbe and Nana Tara what you learned on the piano this week.”


“Okay, Ganpa Kay!” Oli agreed with his tongue sticking out where his two front teeth should be.


Willow looked on with a mix of joy and sadness as Kayden helped Oliver to sit in the seat that had once been Lily’s. It had become Tara’s, especially during retirement when she'd had a lot more time to learn.


Forgetting some of her favorite pieces had been one of the first signs something was wrong.


But it was Lily’s piano first and as JJ had said, where she originated some of her most famous songs.


And also so aching close to the source of her loss.


Lily hadn't succumbed to drink or drugs or any other vice befitting of the career she had or the circles she swam in. She was so healthy, in fact, that she was on her way to the gym when a baby grand was dropped from the top of a ten-story building and crushed her to death on the sidewalk.


It was tragic and, as Emmett had said through laughter and tears at her funeral, the only way Lily would have approved to go — oh the irony of ironies that she spent her life under the crushing weight of expectations stemming from her work on the piano, only to be crushed by one for real. It was, he said, the kind of ending she would have written for herself in the play of her life.


If Willow squinted, and with the diminished vision that comes with age, Oliver, with his scruffy red hair and swinging legs, looked almost just like Lily at that age when she first learned how to tickle the ivories.


She looked over at Tara, who had her eyes closed, and knew she was picturing the same. Willow joined her in closing her eyes and kept their hands tight as Oliver played the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle.


The classics never changed.


Oliver finished and skipped back over eagerly.


Tara suddenly became stony-faced.


“You're a killer.”


“Nana Tara is right,” Willow interjected quickly when Oliver looked wounded, “You killed it!”


Oli looked up to Kayden, who smiled reassuringly and patted his back.


Raylee and Raze suddenly skidded into sight.


“Oli, come on!” they said in unison and grabbed each of his hands to pull him along, then Raze continued on her own, “I ‘grammed the bot to poke people’s butts!”


“Sorry, Kayden,” Willow said, patting Tara’s arm when the kids were out of sight.


“It’s okay,” Kayden replied softly and leaned in to kiss Tara’s forehead, “I love you, Mom.”


Tara gave a big smile, which was all Kayden needed to go off happy.


Someone else approached and waved shyly.


“That sounded just like Aunt Lil in the home videos I’ve seen.”


“Elphie,” Willow greeted warmly and stood up to hug her, “Where are your Dads?”


“Still getting ready,” Elphie laughed, “I even told them the party started an hour ago. They learned from the best. Aunt Lily never showed up on time to anything.”


“Even her own funeral,” Willow had to laugh, as she had on the day when the hearse got delayed.


She wiped a tear.


“Were you able to get a night off?”


“No, I have to catch the train back to the city to get to the theater. The show is at 7,” Elphie explained regretfully, “But I had to be here and be able to say Happy Anniversary in person.”


She looked at Tara.


“Happy Anniversary. I only hope I can come somewhere close to 75 years. Or even 75 days at this point.”


Willow patted Elphie’s arm.


“I hope all of you are as lucky as I’ve been.”


They shared a smile and Elphie hugged them both. Tara wasn’t much able to hug back these days, but a smile was always received with a thrill.


Willow spent a few moments watching all of the hubbub and chatter. She basked in all of the love and family she and Tara had produced. And then she was gifted another moment of nostalgia as Kael bounced up to her excitedly.


“Bubbe, do you have any basketballs?”


Willow smiled fondly.


“You are so like your grandfather.”


“I got you, kiddo,” Robyn came up behind them carrying a soccer ball with the littlest girls, Piccola and Zyla, at her heels, “I keep a stash of balls everywhere I go. To the hall closet!”


Robyn bounced away with the energy of a woman a third her age and Willow decided to get up to refresh her drink. The bot was too busy poking butts, apparently. She settled Tara’s blanket and started to move away but Tara reached out with a squeal.


“Don't! Please don't with that treachery!”


“It’s okay, Tara,” Willow soothed gently, “I’m just getting us a nice drink. You finished all of yours.”


“Perhaps we could do that for you,” a voice came from behind.


Willow turned, slowly on her wonky knees, and put her hands on her hips but with a smile.


“Emmett. Rodrigo. What time do you call this?”


“What we fondly call ‘Lily Time’,” Emmett replied while kissing Willow’s cheeks.


Willow greeted Rodrigo and they both greeted Tara politely but were obviously uncomfortable, or at least unsure, how to cope with her. Most people acted like that around Tara these days, even her own children. But Willow was never uncomfortable.


Sad, but never uncomfortable.


It was still Tara.


She’d known Tara for 75 years.


“One wife my whole life,” she said to Tara, kind of forgetting there was anybody else there.


“Not like Lily,” Rodrigo said with a teasing tone in his delightfully uplifted Colombian accent, “A husband for every decade. And a divorce for each one too!”


They all laughed and Rodrigo squeezed Emmett’s hand.


“But a soulmate through every step.”


Willow eyed them softly.


“You never minded sharing your soulmate?”


Rodrigo shook his head.


“We never would have met if I had not been such a fanboy of MOMS. Never had Elphie. Never had the life we had. It was an honor to have Lily in our life. I was happy to share. She got parts of him I didn’t and vice versa. It worked. Who is to say a soulmate has to be romantic? I know Lily and Emmett knew each other intimately in a way I never could. And I knew him, the same. I only wish she was here to share his crotchety old age with me.”


He and Emmett shared a smile Willow would never know of, just like they would never know of the memories she and Tara had of Lily. What she knew was that her daughter was a light in everyone’s life and even with all of her faults and mistakes, she’d been good to this world.


And that was a comfort.


Suddenly sounds of revving startled Willow and it took her a moment to realize they were coming out of Toby’s mouth. A professional musician and beatboxer, it wasn’t a surprise that he could make such realistic sounds but it was still startling at that moment in time.


He was on the floor with Renzo, playing with JJ’s old toy car collection. Vintage and collectible at this point, but Tara had always said toys were for playing. Renzo made two cars smash together and proclaimed he saw it on an ‘olden movie’.


Emily hovered nearby and laughed.


“Car accidents. I forgot those used to happen all the time.”


Willow cast her gaze off to the side.


“Your sister got into enough of them.”


Emily slowly sank onto the arm of Willow’s chair.


“I miss her.”


“Me too,” Willow agreed softly, then a dog barked, “Sounds like Jackson brought Mega the Malamute.”


Over the years, Willow and Tara had had many grancats, grandogs, some grandhamsters, and, though it took some time for the relationship to bond, even a grandsnake.


“Wriggling!” Tara suddenly announced in distress.


She seemed to be remembering the same thing.


“No wriggling,” Willow comforted and Emily moved to the other side to comfort her mother.


Still living in Buffalo, she saw Tara the most of any of the children and was better able to respond to her needs.


Tara calmed quickly and nodded.


“I-it-it has to be verified, of course. Anyone can tell you that. Of course,” she looked between Willow and Emily, “Of course, of course.”


KT stopped in front and kneeled, putting her hands in Tara’s lap.


“Of course, Nana.”


Tara settled her eyes on KT and smiled. KT smiled back and gently cupped Tara’s cheek.


“I love you, Nana. I’m grateful that I get to hear your voice every day.”


KT was, in fact, the first child to pass through the Rosenberg-Maclay household that embraced coding just as Willow had hopefully predicted at her birth. She was so keen that she’d eventually taken over the TARA program and made it what it was today — a global assistant program used cross-platform purely for how soothing people found its voice in the age of automation.


Tara’s voice.


Willow poked KT’s shoulder.


“When do I get to meet this child?”


KT smiled but the corners of her mouth twitched.


“I don't feel old enough to be a grandmother. ”


“How do you think I feel?” Willow asked and KT laughed.


“Dad’s new wife is pregnant. That means his great-granddaughter is older than his son will be! And my granddaughter is older than my brother will be!”


“That’s what Adam gets for marrying a twenty-year-old in his fifties,” Willow clicked her tongue, “But we still want to meet her. The baby, not the wife. No offense to the wife.”


KT smiled softly.


“We were waiting for a quiet moment for Nana.”


Willow looked around. There was rarely ‘quiet’ in this house, at least not when the family was gathered.


“This is as good a moment as any.”


KT nodded and walked over to the doorway.


“Minnie, bring the baby over,” she encouraged, then called a bit louder, “Minerva. MT.”


A short, bright-haired, and happy woman in her mid-twenties appeared with a bundle in her arms.


“Ssh, you'll wake her.”


Minnie brought the baby over and gently set her into Willow’s arms.


Willow gasped softly.


“Oh, look at you. Look, Tara. Our first great-great-grandchild.”


“Her name is Rye, Nana,” Minnie said encouragingly, “Rye Tara. We’re calling her RT.”


Willow felt her heart swell. By her count, that made Kelly Tara, Minerva Tara, and now Rye Tara. Willow knew if Tara could understand, that she’d be touched beyond belief that her name was being passed down through the generations. Maybe in her own way, she did understand.


Tara looked over and her whole face broke out in awe.


“Oh, it's so pure! Such pure green energy!”


There were smiles and laughs of relief all around.


“You like her, Nana Tara?” Minne asked.


Tara grinned.


“So pretty, can I have one?”


Minnie laughed.


“I want a picture.”


She stood back and pressed a button on her watch. A virtual screen popped up and she framed Willow and Tara with baby Rye all leaning into each other.


“Perfect.”


Willow cuddled with the baby for a long time, or at least as long as Minnie’s breasts allowed her.


When the sun was starting to set, Willow wheeled Tara out to the back yard for a giant family photo to be taken and Tara, right on cue, smiled through the whole thing.


When generations would look back on this photo later, they would never know anything was wrong with her.


At that moment, perhaps there wasn’t.


As everyone broke back into their own spaces, Robyn suddenly stood tall in the middle of them all.


“Um, excuse me? May I have your attention?”


Everyone looked to Robyn in anticipation, including Nickal and Adalee, who smiled at her softly in that same, adoring way.


Robyn looked back with a flutter in her eyes and her belly.


“I haven't been this nervous since I had to take the penalty kick against the North Carolina Courage in the grand final of the Mia Hamm Cup.”


She strode toward the two, who were now looking at her like she was a little bit nuts. Still adoring but in a new 'you're-a-psycho' kind of way. To be honest, this wasn't an unusual look for them to give her.


“Nik, Ada. I don't know how to describe how full my life has been since you came into it.”


Nikal reached their hand out to affectionately pull on one of Robyn’s front curls and Adalee just smiled demurely, blushing under all of the attention directly on them.


Robyn suddenly found her mouth going dry.


“TARA, load up Oldies,” she called out as best she could, “Play ‘Marry You’.”


“Playing ‘Marry You’ by Bruno Mars,” TARA’s voice said, which was of course Tara’s voice.


It startled Willow, who actually didn’t use the TARA system anymore. It just hurt too much to hear Tara’s sunny voice not come from her mouth. If anything, when Tara had become muter, Willow had asked TARA the time every five minutes just to hear her wife's voice but once she saw it was confusing Tara, it had gradually stopped.


She put her hand over Tara’s and held on tight. She smiled softly at Robyn getting down, slowly, on one knee.


Robyn reached into her pocket and produced the two rings; one thrust at each person. Both Nickal and Adalee looked utterly stunned but in different ways. Nickal’s mouth hung softly open while Adalee’s hand covered the lower half of her face and the other fanned at the top half.


Robyn opened her mouth, then closed it again.


“I got on my knee planning to propose to you both,” she said, her chest growing with movement, “But now I don’t want to.”


The whole back yard suddenly got quiet.


If TARA could sense a mood, there would be the sound of a record scratching.


Robyn kept the rings extended.


“I want to marry you both. Right here. Right now.”


“What are you talking about?” both Nickal and Adalee asked, though their tones came out in different pitches.


“I’m ordained,” JJ stuck his head in with a grin, “Married a couple on the court once.”


“Mom wouldn’t mind if you plucked some of her flowers,” Emily offered softly.


She knew this because Emily was the one who maintained them. Willow had offered to hire a gardener as she knew it would distress Tara to see her garden go to wrack and ruin, but Emily had been quite happy to have a reason to come over and sit with Tara every week.


“I’m asking you to marry me,” Robyn said simply, “Right now.”


“Yes!” Adalee blurted, then looked to Nickal wide-eyed, “Yes. I say yes. To you both.”


Robyn looked to Nickel, who slowly smiled.


“I guess I’d be mighty honored to say yes to you both too,” they said in their slow, southern drawl.


Calix and Nova suddenly broke the silence by squealing in delight and asking to be flower girls while Noe came up to hug everybody and congratulate them. This was followed by a steady stream of everyone else approaching to do the same and then a flurry of activity while a makeshift backyard wedding was set up.


Willow wheeled Tara over and hugged Nickal and Adalee.


“Welcome to the family — officially. I hope those rings bring you as much good fortune as they brought me and my wife.”


A tear came to Adalee’s eye.


“These are your rings?”


“We couldn’t,” Nickal tried to hand theirs back, but Willow held up a hand.


“We can’t wear them anymore. Old fingers. Enjoy it while you can,” she laughed and put a hand back on Tara’s shoulders, “That joke JJ told earlier — it was my lovely wife who always told me that Robyn needed two people to handle her. And I know no better people for my Robbie. Take care of her, won’t you?”


“Forever,” Nickal and Adalee said together, then looked at each other and blushed.


It was a pleasant evening, for February anyway, so Willow plonked herself down on the garden couch with Tara beside her. Together they watched as Jackson and Hudson pulled out Willow and Tara’s old wedding canopy from their 20th anniversary. It was slightly discolored but had weathered well, especially given how long it had been.


Xander could really stand over his lifetime guarantee.


Noe made up some bouquets, and a boutonnière for Nickal, and had Zyla and Piccola pluck petals for baskets.


They didn’t have wedding rings, but Robyn, of course, being an avid recycler, used the gold wire that held together some of Tara’s plants in their spots and with pliers fashioned them into heart-shaped rings.


With the sunset in the background, Willow watched, quietly holding Tara’s hand, as her daughter married her partners and shared the same vow she’d shared with Tara so many times now.


To love eternal.


She brought Tara’s hand to her mouth and kissed it.


“Look how happy they are baby. Do you see? Of course, you do. You always did. You could always see the road ahead even when I was blinkered. But we did it. We raised a happy family. And I couldn’t have done it with anybody else.”


Everyone raised a glass—


“To Radical!”


—and the adults started to dance while the kids played in the flower petals.


Willow stayed where she was, watching everything from her spot and making sure Tara stayed warm.


Then she looked at Tara taking in the crowd and stood on her weary knees.


“I won’t let it be said I didn’t dance with you at our daughter’s wedding.”


She took each of Tara’s hands and they mostly just swayed with Tara sitting and Willow swinging their arms from side to side.


Robyn came up and put an arm around Willow.


“I finally listened to you for once.”


“Now we have the same anniversary,” Willow replied proudly.


Robyn smiled, somewhat sadly, between Willow and Tara.


“I hope I can live up to it.”


“Just enjoy every moment,” Willow replied wisely, “And you’ll have lived up to it.”


Robyn nodded slowly at her Momma, smiled, and went off to dance with her new spouses.


Willow swayed as long as her body allowed before sitting back with Tara, close enough so they could hold hands under Tara’s blanket. It was getting chilly even with their outside heaters turned on.


One by one, every single grandchild, great-grandchild, and great-great-grandchild came up to give them a hug and a kiss goodbye and all requested a selfie with her and Tara.


Tara, as if knowing what was going on, smiled for each one. Willow looked at her and knew she felt her heart every bit as full as Willow’s was right now.


She didn’t even have to worry about food or drink because somebody was always putting something in front of her.


“You’d think I didn’t take care of myself every damn day of the week,” she commented when a third dinner plate had been put in her lap.


The four children all looked at each other and there was a sudden, eerie silence.


All of the spouses, including the two newest ones who were trying to hold back the giddy smiles on their faces, came to kiss their partners and leave the core family alone. They seemed to know more than Willow did.


“Momma,” JJ brought his chair close to Willow, “We wanted to talk to you about that.”


Willow cast her narrowed eyes around.


“Why do I feel like you’re about to stage an intervention? I only had three butterscotch candies today! My diabetes is fine.”


“It’s not an intervention,” Robyn came and sat beside JJ, and Kayden and Emily quickly came to complete the circle, “It’s a…momtervention.”


Willow’s eyes narrowed more.


“She’s getting more difficult to take care of,” Emily said softly.


“It’s too much for you on your own,” Kayden added.


Willow huffed out her chest.


“I am perfectly capable of taking care of my wife. She took care of me. We take care of each other. We love each other.”


And nothing was more true.


They loved each other heart and soul.


Or heart, soul, and kidney as they had come to joke when Tara went into renal failure in her late 50s and none of the children had been a match, but Willow had. They’d held hands until they broke off into separate operating rooms and woken up in the same room with a part of Willow inside Tara forever.


And it had been Tara, who found the lump in Willow’s breast when she was 65, early enough that she only lost her hair and not her life, or her dignity. Tara, who shaved her own head before the first clump had even left Willow's scalp, and Tara, who had carried all of the strength Willow couldn't through the whole ordeal. Tara, who hadn't broken once until they finally heard the word 'remission' and she dropped to her knees in the doctor's office and sobbed with her body arched over the floor.


So Willow knew where this was going but she could tell you where it was ending and it was not with anyone else taking care of her wife.


“Momma, nobody doubts that,” Robyn started but Willow cut in.


“This is none of your decision. It is mine. This is my home. She is my wife. And we will be here together as long as I draw breath,” her voice shook with the emotion and it was exhausting, “Now let’s not ruin a lovely day. Can you believe this woman has put up with me for 75 years?”


She looked over to Tara and took her hand. Tara looked back and smiled.


“Time! Time, time!”


Willow brushed her finger on Tara’s cheek.


“Mom is right. I think it’s time to call it. It’s been a big and wonderful day. I can never thank you all for organizing it.”


“Audrey did most of the work,” Emily said with a little pink tinge in her cheek even after all of these years.


All of the ‘children’ were gaga about their partners and not afraid to let it show.


If Willow and Tara left any legacy, it was that of love.


5 children, 9 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild proved that.


“Well, that hardly surprises me,” Willow replied affectionately, “The amazing things you’ve done with Biblioisima. You did good there, kid.”


She looked around at (almost) all of her children.


“You all did really, really good.”


Everyone suddenly all gathered around them both in a giant hug.


“Now, now,” Willow clucked softly.


“Now, now,” Tara parroted and they all laughed, wiping tears.


Each mom got a kiss on each cheek from each child and moved back into the house to gather their partners and head home or to their hotel room for the night.


Willow hadn’t offered up any of the guest rooms in case Tara had a bad night but everyone was happy to have their own space, anyway.


Willow wheeled Tara into the hall to wave everyone goodbye and stood behind her, using the arms as some leverage to stay on her feet. Her movements were slow these days but she always got where she needed to be.


“Can I at least help you get her up to bed?” JJ asked, clear guilt flashing in his eyes.


Willow reached out and cupped JJ’s cheek. It was still bewildering to think this silver fox was her son. She still felt 20 years old inside.

“You made us a family and I love you dearly,” she said with a swift bob of her head, “But I know Mom. And I know me. And we are just fine.”


JJ leaned into Willow’s hand.


“I love you, Moms.”


“We love you too,” Willow smiled back, “Always and forever.”


JJ blinked heavily, then smiled and walked down the driveway where Cleo was waiting in the car.


As all of the cars turned on and lifted above the ground, the pressure rattled the yard and made the walls begin to shake.


Tara clutched the arms of her wheelchair.


“No. The place is cracking! It's cracking! Cracking, no, no, no!”


“Nothing is cracking, darling,” Willow cooed softly, stroking Tara’s hair from behind, “Willow’s here.”


Tara calmed as the cars moved off and the shaking stopped. Willow closed the door and looked at Tara quietly for a moment.


Tara looked all around.


Willow sagged back against the door to take a breath.


“Big day,” she sighed, then smiled, “Big day. What’s say we head to bed, you and me, my love?”


She brought Tara to the end of the stairs and put her blanket over the arm of the wheelchair. Then she leaned in and Tara put her arms around Willow’s neck, clearly used to the routine. Willow dragged Tara the few inches to where the stair-lift chair waited. She gently sat Tara in and strapped her up so she wouldn’t fall off, then paused for a breather.


She just took in a long breath, as she had done every time she needed to since this had all begun.


She lived and breathed and was held in place by Tara so when it came time for Willow to cope with her wife's declining memory, there had been no question as to who would be her carer. It was Tara and she was Willow and there wasn't a world where the two didn't go together.


It wasn’t easy, of course.


Physically, her body was old and carting Tara around and doing what needed to be done took almost all of her energy.


But that was okay, because where else would she have her energy go?


Spiritually, it was a lot tougher. There were bad times like when she had to restrain Tara in bed and the even worse times like when Tara slapped her and called her a bitch.


She hadn't told the children about that of course. Tara had kept Willow's dignity when she was sick and Willow would do the same for Tara.


One day, when Willow had really started to realize how much she was to become her wife’s carer, she had found Tara at the bookshelf, picking out all kinds of books and putting them in different places at random. But the book in her hands as Willow had approached was an old mindfulness book. Willow took it and read it and now every time she felt overwhelmed she just stopped to take a breath and be in the moment.


“Now, here we go,” Willow said with a smile as she pressed the button for Tara’s chair to start to ascend.


Willow actually loved this part of the routine because Tara loved the stair-lift and always giggled to go faster.


“I go slow so you have to go slow. These weary bones aren’t up for a game of kiss chase,” Willow chuckled as she walked up the stairs alongside Tara, “As fun as it may be.”


She swore she saw Tara blush.


As they made their way up the stairs, they passed by a wall filled to the brim with photographs. It was helpful to Tara to see all of their family members even though they were the only two left. Willow hoped that seeing their life all over the house would stimulate positive memories or feelings in her wife and it did seem to have a good effect. Sometimes Tara would whisper someone’s name and look faraway and Willow knew she was in a happy place.


The first picture was of the Harris family on one of their 4th of July BBQs. Pixie had just graduated from med school and Anya couldn’t have been prouder.


She would go on to be even more proud when Pixie would be on the team that developed the clinical trial that ultimately cured Willow’s cancer, along with Ella, whom Pixie had brought on for her expertise in microbiology. If Willow had gotten her cancer even a year before, she probably wouldn’t have made it. Because of them, she did.


When Willow revealed the news that she was cancer-free, Anya had hugged her and told her she would have given every cent she had for this result.


Unfortunately, Anya had been the first of them all to die. Whilst out walking Alex’s new and firstborn son, a family of bunnies had appeared from under a shrub. In her haste to shield the child, she tripped and fell out in front of a car so fast that the wheel was halfway across her head before the sensor had brought the car to a halt.


Her last words were “floppy, hoppy, bunnies”.


Devastated, Xander retreated to a lighthouse he bought and converted it into a home. He spent the rest of his days there until cancer got him, having already sacrificed an eye to it. Alex honored his father by being every bit the federal agent he was, eventually winning The FBI Medal of Valor for stopping a mass shooting.


Next was a picture of Buffy, Angel, and Liam. Well, it was mostly a picture of Buffy and Liam because Angel was such a blur it barely looked like he was there at all. Liam was tall, taller than his father even, and it had afforded him a career playing college basketball. Somehow he also used it to remain inconspicuous, which was a bonus when he took over Angel Investigations. He had inherited the business when Angel was killed during a freak accident at a warehouse he was staking out when a box of pointed fence poles was knocked from a height and the piece of wood went straight through his heart.


Buffy had told Liam to let the business go and focus on what he went to school for, food technology, but honestly, Liam had only done that because he thought he’d get to eat food all day and if anything, it put him off it. So he took on the role and having grown up tagging along with his Dad, he was a natural.


Buffy passed as an older woman during a visit to see Xander at the lighthouse. After being bitten by something in the ocean, she went under and drowned. Xander tried to revive her but it was too late.


Next, they passed Willow’s favorite photo of her father — on his wedding day to Michelle. They looked so in love. Willow wished they’d had the 75 years she and Tara had. In truth, Michelle had not lasted long after Ira died. She passed the following winter and while her death certificate said pneumonia, everyone knew it was a broken heart.


Another wedding picture followed; Alice and Jesse on their second wedding day. Their faces were more wrinkled and their hair tinged with more gray but their smiles were full of renewed hope and love. Their second marriage was their last and their happiest until Jesse got shot during a sting three days before retirement. Alice had never stopped mourning until she had a stroke in her late 70s, over a decade later.


The final photo that always caught Willow’s eye amongst the sea of photographs on that wall was Becky and Brian as she remembered them — making jokes and pulling faces in a collage of photographs from their early years. Not the Parkinson’s disease that took Brian or the heart attack that took Becky after Brian had died and she didn’t have to care for him any longer.


Everybody wants to live a long life but no one ever tells you how hard it is to keep living that life when everyone you know and love starts dropping off one by one.


As her legs ached from climbing the stairs, Willow was always reminded of the ache of their losses.


But you just have to keep going.


At the top, Willow freed Tara from the straps and leaned into her again to get her to their room. She brought Tara into their en suite bathroom and helped her to use the toilet. Once she was finished, she sat Tara on the lid and put toothpaste on Tara’s toothbrush to brush her teeth.


“You kept every single one of those pearly whites, didn’t you?” Willow said affectionately, holding Tara’s chin under her palm, “Not like me who needed dentures more than a decade ago. No, your smile was always perfect.”


She finished Tara’s teeth and rinsed the toothbrush.


“There you go, baby. Minty fresh.”


She brought Tara to the bed and helped her get into pajamas. When she closed over the curtains, Tara started to get distressed.


“All the light is gone.”


Willow came back to rub Tara’s shoulder.


“No, shh, baby. The light's still outside, okay?”


Tara whimpered.


“All dark. All dark.”


Willow just stroked Tara until she got used to the diminished light. To help soothe her, she got the hairbrush and started brushing it through Tara’s hair.


“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” Willow sang softly as she brushed Tara’s hair, “You make me ha-ppy when skies are gray.”


She closed her arms gently around Tara’s middle from behind.


“You'll never know dear, how much I love you,” she crooned into Tara’s ear, “So please don't take my sunshine away.”


She kissed Tara’s ear, then pulled back the sheet and settled Tara under it.


“Now,” she cooed softly as she tucked Tara right in with some blankets, “Snug as a bug in a rug!”


Tara smiled at that. It was something she always said to the children.


Willow leaned in and kissed Tara’s forehead, then dropped a little and kissed her lips.


This was the moment Willow really lived for each day.


Because it was in this three-second kiss that Willow knew Tara was all there. Three seconds where they were who they had been all along.


Three glorious seconds.


So when she pulled away, there was a sadness. But also excitement, because she knew she’d get three more seconds tomorrow.


Tara smiled at her.


“Oh, it's so beautiful.”


Willow swallowed deeply.


“You too, my love. You too.”


She checked Tara was tucked in nice and tight, then put the rail up on the side that stopped Tara from getting out of bed in the middle of the night. Willow went about her own nightly ablutions and wasn’t long in joining Tara in bed.


She smiled over at her wife and found her hand under the sheet.


Willow loved just lying in bed with Tara.


She always had, but in their retirement, it had become a space they really utilized for added intimacy.


Willow could remember one of the greatest conversations they’d ever had just lying in this bed together.


It was Tara who suggested pot when Willow was going through the worst of the chemotherapy and together they got high while talking about all they'd do when Willow was better.


They spoke about finally visiting the Cayman Islands after all of Willow’s talk of going there and flying in a helicopter and getting married in every state. That last one had been a joke, but when Willow was better they both thought why the hell not? So, after the Eiffel Tower re-proposal, they traveled to every state with Robyn as she went on her campaign to reverse climate change, got married in each one, and then went to the Cayman Islands on their third honeymoon.


In a helicopter.


Robyn wasn’t super stoked about that last part.


It took a whole year but it was one of the best damn years of their life. They’d even gotten arrested once or twice alongside Robyn. Well, Willow had and Tara had bailed them out.


Now they had an entire wall in their dining room dedicated to the memories formed on those trips.


Willow smiled again.


Yes, as long as she and Tara could start, and end, all of their days like this, it would be okay.


And if they were lucky, it would be all the stuff in the middle too.



Willow woke and felt an overwhelming sense of peace about her person.


She stared up at the ceiling for a long moment before she felt herself begin to float upward.


That was odd. Had she smoked some pot and forgotten? She was sure she only remembered thinking about that, not actually doing it.


She automatically looked over to Tara, who seemed to be sleeping peacefully.


Then she glanced a little to the left and saw…herself.


Seeming to be sleeping peacefully.


Her breath caught in her throat. Could it do that if she wasn't breathing?


“Oh.”


She looked back at Tara and swallowed a non-corporeal lump.


Oh.”


But then she felt that peace again. She didn't know anything except that Everything Was Okay and Everything Would Be Okay.


She forced her form to move down over Tara and cupped her wife’s cheeks. Pausing briefly to press her nose on Tara’s, she kissed Tara softly.


She thought she deserved an extra three seconds.


She pulled apart with her eyes closed and started to move back, but she felt something coming with her.


She opened her eyes and watched as Tara rose from her body into the air with her.


Tara blinked heavily as her eyes opened. She looked at Willow quizzically.


Willow felt her mouth go dry. Again, how was that happening? She didn’t understand ghost biology.


“Tara?”


Tara’s eyebrows rose on her face.


“W…Willow?


Willow smiled, full of hope.


“Tara?”


Tears came to Tara’s eyes.


“Willow…I got so lost.”


Willow’s smile was bigger than her face.


“I found you!” she floated over and kissed all over Tara’s face, then embraced her, “I will always find you!”


Tara was smiling so happily that it took her a moment to glance down at their bodies.


“Oh.”


Willow glanced down and back at Tara.


“Yeah…Oh,” she confirmed, then suddenly looked stricken, “Did I…!?”


“No, no,” Tara understand automatically and cupped both of Willow’s cheeks, “I could never breathe without you.”


Willow held Tara’s hands to her face.


Now she knew This Was How It Was Supposed To Be.


She took in Tara, looking like the full of her youth.


“You look like…when we first met.”


“You too,” Tara grinned back, “You’re even wearing the glasses.”


Willow lifted her hand and could feel herself pushing her glasses up her nose. She had no idea how ghost science worked but who cared? Because feeling her own face meant she could feel Tara’s too. She was feeling Tara. She couldn’t get enough.


“You took such good care of me,” Tara whispered reverently.


“You’re my girl,” Willow replied without hesitation and moved their foreheads together, “It’s so good to see you again.”


She kissed Tara softly and saw that same look in her wife’s eyes she’d seen during every kiss goodnight.


Sensing, or perhaps in this state even knowing exactly, Tara let her lips linger for well over three seconds.


“I was there,” she said softly.


“I know,” Willow whispered back evocatively.


Tara pressed her fingers on Willow’s cheek.


“Willow, I’m so sorry.”


“Ssh,” Willow comforted, pressing into Tara’s hand, “Every bit of it was worth it to have you here now.”


They just stayed in that moment for as long as they could before they looked up together to see a glowing orb swirling above them.


“Tara…” Willow said softly.


Both sets of Tara’s hands linked with Willow, their palms holding each other tight as every single finger intertwined.


“I know. I feel it too.”


Willow pulled her gaze away from the orb to look at Tara.


“What do you think is next?”


Tara’s voice rang around the room one last time as their forms merged into one glowing ball of light and rose into the orb together.


“Let’s find out.”



Image


~Fin~

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 Post subject: Re: Confidential Eternal (Final Part To Confidential!Verse)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:20 am 
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9. Gay Now
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Wow... Really beautiful ending for the Confidential Saga...

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 Post subject: Re: Confidential Eternal (Final Part To Confidential!Verse)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:56 pm 
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:* :* LARAGH,.....I can honestly say it has been an Honor and ALL my pleasure to be with this family story. Thank You and keep writing,...if only for this little old lady.
Blessings

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 Post subject: Re: Confidential Eternal (Final Part To Confidential!Verse)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 5:53 pm 
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JMT-

Beautiful ending to a beautiful story, and from an equally beautiful person. :love Your brilliant usage of canon dialog was perfect, and this final chapter, while sad, brought everything full circle...just as it should be.

Thank you for all the years you put into this story and also for your dedication in keeping this forum alive. An incredible feat unto itself.

Much love my JMT,
Shelb

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 Post subject: Re: Confidential Eternal (Final Part To Confidential!Verse)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 7:51 pm 
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It was sad to think of Tara and dementia, but it makes sense due to them being in the 90's. Willow was amazingly present for mid 90's.

You must have had to make a chart to keep all the characters that you introduced in this part. I love thinking of them having so many family members.

My one piece of sadness is for Robyn. Now her wedding anniversary is also the anniversary of her parent's death. That is a hard one to deal with. I suspect that even in the awareness that it was the perfect way for them to go, it may be a surprise to the everyone to lose Willow. They'd had the 'long goodbye' with Tara, and most likely her demise was in their mind; but Willow seemed pretty dynamic in this story.

As I've said before, your characters become cannon to me, so I am talking about them like they are flesh and blood people and have the capacity to be dealing with the death of their parents/grandparents/great-grandparents.

Thank you for not taking us through Willow's cancer and Tara's kidney. I think it would have taken too much out of me.

Thanks for taking us on this ride. It was great.

Looking forward to reading your writing for the next 11 years :)

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 Post subject: Re: Confidential Eternal (Final Part To Confidential!Verse)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 3:44 am 
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I cried almost constantly while reading this story!
So heartbreaking that Tara has been "lost" to dementia for a year or even multiple years! :cry The only solace is that Willow was able to care for her at home until the very end.
Quote:
“I am perfectly capable of taking care of my wife. She took care of me. We take care of each other. We love each other.”

:flower That is a perfect summary of their 75 years together.

I'm relieved that they both died in the same night so neither one was left behind (and Tara didn't have to die in a nursing home where she most certainly would have been admitted to if she had survived Willow).

It's also very sad that they lost all their friends apparantly pretty early (from their late 60s to their 70s) under quite tragic circumstances - and even more so that they had to bury Lily. :cry

Before I start to cry again while writing this comment, I'll start to concentrate on the bright sides of the story:
Quote:
If Willow and Tara left any legacy, it was that of love.


5 children, 9 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild proved that.

That really is a wonderful legacy - and quite the impressive family tree (I imagine you even draw that tree to keep the overview of all the family ties, am I right?).

Speaking of the offspring, one thing confused me:
Quote:
They weren’t sure if Toby would ever give them a grandchild but at 41, Toby and his girlfriend had announced the news one Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which had of course replaced Thanksgiving. An unexpected gift, Kaitlyn had been a joy who crossed generations, being born in the middle of the great-grandchildren whilst being a grandchild herself.

I don't get why Toby's daughter is counted as a grandchild. Considering that Toby grew up with KT and Emily became his stepmother when she married Audrey, I would think of Toby as a grandson for Willow and Tara, so Kaitlyn would count as another great-grandchild.

I'm very glad that the whole family was blessed to spend this day with Willow and Tara right before they died, so that none of the kids ore other family members had to suffer regret or even guilt for not having visited them for quite some time before their death.
Quote:
When the sun was starting to set, Willow wheeled Tara out to the back yard for a giant family photo to be taken and Tara, right on cue, smiled through the whole thing.


When generations would look back on this photo later, they would never know anything was wrong with her.


At that moment, perhaps there wasn’t.

I'm sure this family photo will have a place of honour in every household of the large family for many decades.

I'm also happy that Robyn let herself be convinced by Willow to finally propose to their partners (I loved that Willow gave Robyn her and Tara's engagement rings for that) and that Robyn had that "carpe diem" inspiration to just marry them then and there so that Willow and Tara still had the chance to attend the wedding (even if Tara probably didn't understand what happened).
(Nickal is called a "non-binary partner" but to a "casual observer " looks/sounds male - or did I get that wrong?)

Quote:
She brought Tara to the end of the stairs and put her blanket over the arm of the wheelchair. Then she leaned in and Tara put her arms around Willow’s neck, clearly used to the routine. Willow dragged Tara the few inches to where the stair-lift chair waited.

So they invented flying cars but no wheelchairs which can hover up stairs? That is a failure of technical progress if you ask me... :wink

Quote:
She lived and breathed and was held in place by Tara so when it came time for Willow to cope with her wife's declining memory, there had been no question as to who would be her carer. It was Tara and she was Willow and there wasn't a world where the two didn't go together.


It wasn’t easy, of course.


Physically, her body was old and carting Tara around and doing what needed to be done took almost all of her energy.


But that was okay, because where else would she have her energy go?


Spiritually, it was a lot tougher. There were bad times like when she had to restrain Tara in bed and the even worse times like when Tara slapped her and called her a bitch.


She hadn't told the children about that of course. Tara had kept Willow's dignity when she was sick and Willow would do the same for Tara.

So sad and a wonderful proof of the power of love at the same time. :flower

Quote:
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” Willow sang softly as she brushed Tara’s hair, “You make me ha-ppy when skies are gray.”


She closed her arms gently around Tara’s middle from behind.


“You'll never know dear, how much I love you,” she crooned into Tara’s ear, “So please don't take my sunshine away.”


She kissed Tara’s ear, then pulled back the sheet and settled Tara under it.


“Now,” she cooed softly as she tucked Tara right in with some blankets, “Snug as a bug in a rug!”


Tara smiled at that. It was something she always said to the children.


Willow leaned in and kissed Tara’s forehead, then dropped a little and kissed her lips.


This was the moment Willow really lived for each day.


Because it was in this three-second kiss that Willow knew Tara was all there. Three seconds where they were who they had been all along.


Three glorious seconds.


So when she pulled away, there was a sadness. But also excitement, because she knew she’d get three more seconds tomorrow.


Tara smiled at her.


“Oh, it's so beautiful.”


Willow swallowed deeply.


“You too, my love. You too.”

:cry :flower

Quote:
They spoke about finally visiting the Cayman Islands after all of Willow’s talk of going there and flying in a helicopter and getting married in every state. That last one had been a joke, but when Willow was better they both thought why the hell not? So, after the Eiffel Tower re-proposal, they traveled to every state with Robyn as she went on her campaign to reverse climate change, got married in each one, and then went to the Cayman Islands on their third honeymoon.


In a helicopter.


Robyn wasn’t super stoked about that last part.


It took a whole year but it was one of the best damn years of their life. They’d even gotten arrested once or twice alongside Robyn. Well, Willow had and Tara had bailed them out.


Now they had an entire wall in their dining room dedicated to the memories formed on those trips.

Aww, so great that they got to experience all this after Willow had battled her cancer.

I won't point out the other canon eastereggs because they are all sad (like Tara's mentally confused talk and some details of the "original scoobies'" deaths), but I happily quote this one who is one of my favourite dialogues on the show and certainly has been an inspiration for all the writers on the kittenboard:
Quote:
“Willow…I got so lost.”


Willow’s smile was bigger than her face.


“I found you!” she floated over and kissed all over Tara’s face, then embraced her, “I will always find you!”

:bigkiss :flower

Quote:
They just stayed in that moment for as long as they could before they looked up together to see a glowing orb swirling above them.


“Tara…” Willow said softly.


Both sets of Tara’s hands linked with Willow, their palms holding each other tight as every single finger intertwined.


“I know. I feel it too.”


Willow pulled her gaze away from the orb to look at Tara.


“What do you think is next?”


Tara’s voice rang around the room one last time as their forms merged into one glowing ball of light and rose into the orb together.


“Let’s find out.”

Now I'm teary eyed again... I just want to believe that they were welcomed by Lily and all the others they have lost on the other side and afterwards had much alone time to "reacquaint" with each other - hopefully they keep their 20 year old bodies and ability to touch and feel one another in the afterlife... :wtkiss

Laragh, thank you very much for the wonderfol journey through the confidential-verse! :bow I'm sad that it has come to an end.
But when one door closes, another one opens - I'm looking forward to the sequel of your story "Inevitable" and the christmas one shot you promised us.


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 Post subject: Re: Confidential Eternal (Final Part To Confidential!Verse)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:02 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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zampsa19752001

Quote:
Wow... Really beautiful ending for the Confidential Saga...


Thanks so much, Z :)

MotherD

Quote:
:* :* LARAGH,.....I can honestly say it has been an Honor and ALL my pleasure to be with this family story. Thank You and keep writing,...if only for this little old lady.


You are a joy! Thank you so much for being on this ride!

Quote:
Blessings


And to you, always!

Finey_McFine

Quote:
JMT-

Beautiful ending to a beautiful story, and from an equally beautiful person. :love


JMT! Thank you SO much! Your words mean so much to me :love

Quote:
Your brilliant usage of canon dialog was perfect, and this final chapter, while sad, brought everything full circle...just as it should be.


As it always will be.

Quote:
Thank you for all the years you put into this story and also for your dedication in keeping this forum alive. An incredible feat unto itself.


Thank YOU for all of your contributions! Here and across the board.

Quote:
Much love my JMT,
Shelb


Heart you always!

taranwillow4ever

Quote:
It was sad to think of Tara and dementia, but it makes sense due to them being in the 90's. Willow was amazingly present for mid 90's.


I like to think Willow kept that brain ticking hacking all the way into her golden years :wink

Quote:
You must have had to make a chart to keep all the characters that you introduced in this part. I love thinking of them having so many family members.


I did! You can see it if you want!

Quote:
My one piece of sadness is for Robyn. Now her wedding anniversary is also the anniversary of her parent's death. That is a hard one to deal with.


I like to think of it as a reason for them to celebrate every year.

Quote:
I suspect that even in the awareness that it was the perfect way for them to go, it may be a surprise to the everyone to lose Willow. They'd had the 'long goodbye' with Tara, and most likely her demise was in their mind; but Willow seemed pretty dynamic in this story.


As Tara says, it's always sudden.

Quote:
As I've said before, your characters become cannon to me, so I am talking about them like they are flesh and blood people and have the capacity to be dealing with the death of their parents/grandparents/great-grandparents.


I love that they mean that much to you :love

Quote:
Thank you for not taking us through Willow's cancer and Tara's kidney. I think it would have taken too much out of me.


Oh, you and me both.

Quote:
Thanks for taking us on this ride. It was great.


Thank you so, so much.

Quote:
Looking forward to reading your writing for the next 11 years :)


Might be a little teary-eyed here.

Thanks so much for all of your support!

Will's redemption

Quote:
I cried almost constantly while reading this story!


Send me that ole Kleenex bill again.

Quote:
So heartbreaking that Tara has been "lost" to dementia for a year or even multiple years! :cry The only solace is that Willow was able to care for her at home until the very end.


You know lost is okay, Willow and Tara always know how to find each other :love

Quote:
:flower That is a perfect summary of their 75 years together.


True, endless, eternal love

Quote:
I'm relieved that they both died in the same night so neither one was left behind (and Tara didn't have to die in a nursing home where she most certainly would have been admitted to if she had survived Willow).


How could one even exist without the other?

Quote:
It's also very sad that they lost all their friends apparantly pretty early (from their late 60s to their 70s) under quite tragic circumstances - and even more so that they had to bury Lily. :cry


All tragic, but what death isn't, truly?

Quote:
Before I start to cry again while writing this comment, I'll start to concentrate on the bright sides of the story:

That really is a wonderful legacy - and quite the impressive family tree (I imagine you even draw that tree to keep the overview of all the family ties, am I right?).


I did! As I posted it above you can check it out if you'd like!

Quote:
Speaking of the offspring, one thing confused me:

I don't get why Toby's daughter is counted as a grandchild. Considering that Toby grew up with KT and Emily became his stepmother when she married Audrey, I would think of Toby as a grandson for Willow and Tara, so Kaitlyn would count as another great-grandchild.


You are totally right and thanks for pointing it out! It's my fault, I didn't explain well and I also got the terms mixed up (I've fixed now) Basically what I was saying was that she fell in with the younger cousin crowd (her direct cousin being Minnie, who's 15+ years older than her)

Quote:
I'm very glad that the whole family was blessed to spend this day with Willow and Tara right before they died, so that none of the kids ore other family members had to suffer regret or even guilt for not having visited them for quite some time before their death.


Definitely an important memory for them all to have!

Quote:
I'm sure this family photo will have a place of honour in every household of the large family for many decades.


One of those ones that will still be around in a century

Quote:
I'm also happy that Robyn let herself be convinced by Willow to finally propose to their partners (I loved that Willow gave Robyn her and Tara's engagement rings for that) and that Robyn had that "carpe diem" inspiration to just marry them then and there so that Willow and Tara still had the chance to attend the wedding (even if Tara probably didn't understand what happened).


I think Tara knew a little - she smiled the whole time :)

Quote:
(Nickal is called a "non-binary partner" but to a "casual observer " looks/sounds male - or did I get that wrong?)


I would say Nickal is masculine-presenting, sure.

Quote:
So they invented flying cars but no wheelchairs which can hover up stairs? That is a failure of technical progress if you ask me... :wink


I'm imagining lots of lawsuits with fallen patients when something like that came out!

Quote:
So sad and a wonderful proof of the power of love at the same time. :flower


Forever and Always.

Quote:
Aww, so great that they got to experience all this after Willow had battled her cancer.


They lived a full life.

Quote:
I won't point out the other canon eastereggs because they are all sad (like Tara's mentally confused talk and some details of the "original scoobies'" deaths), but I happily quote this one who is one of my favourite dialogues on the show and certainly has been an inspiration for all the writers on the kittenboard:


The first and original ones to say those words (I'm looking at you, Once Upon A Time!)

Quote:
Now I'm teary eyed again... I just want to believe that they were welcomed by Lily and all the others they have lost on the other side and afterwards had much alone time to "reacquaint" with each other - hopefully they keep their 20 year old bodies and ability to touch and feel one another in the afterlife... :wtkiss


I like to think a lot about how they're living their afterlife. I like to imagine different heavens where people appear in different forms, so that they can see Lily as a little girl and know Tara's mother as Tara remembered her. I like to think they keep the form of their younger selves and that Woofy and Miss Kitty float around their ghost-house and that they spend their days rocking on their porch with their souls truly fused and exist in conjoined bliss forever more.

Quote:
Laragh, thank you very much for the wonderfol journey through the confidential-verse! :bow I'm sad that it has come to an end.


Me too! It's very, very weird. But I'm glad I have brought it to completion.

Quote:
But when one door closes, another one opens - I'm looking forward to the sequel of your story "Inevitable" and the christmas one shot you promised us.


And I've been writing both!

Thank you SO, SO much for all of your support over all of these years!!!

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Check out my finished fics

The Love… SeriesTwo For Joy/21+InevitableFC2: AOTHFC3: TBUFC4: ANB

A Twisted Date


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