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

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 Post subject: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2021 1:40 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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It’s the kitten boards 21st anniversary, and also it’s almost christmas. Black Jack, 21… get it?!

Basic rules: Write a story containing the challenge requirements and obeying the board rules. It is super-important to follow board rules. Mods hate having to delete things because they know how much effort writers put into their work. If you think your story might be breaking a rule, but aren’t sure… PLEASE PM a moderator (like Laragh, for instance) and ask. We don’t want any stories cut!

Post your story in this thread by the end of Christmas Eve, Dec 24th (end of the day counts as 11:59pm PT). The story may be any length that fits in a single post. You may submit as many entries as you like!

Challenge Requirements:

1. It must either be christmas themed or christmas related in some way

2. There needs to be a reference to a crazy (good or bad) 21st birthday party. It can be the party for any character, and it can be the focus of your fic or just a passing mention.

3. Anya needs to make an awkward christmas related phrase / pun / comment. Like Jingling xanders bells or coming down the chimney or, you know, other cringey things.

4. Can be any rating you fancy!

5. Find some way, some how, to include a card game.

6. Must include two of the following items -
a. Poker chips
b. a lemon
c. a chihuahua
d. Umbrella stand
e. Tires
f. A cardboard cutout of Sandra Bullock
g. a mislabelled cassette
h. Maracas.


Have fun kittens!

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2021 7:46 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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How fun! We haven't had a challenge in forever! Looking forward to seeing what kittens will come up with!

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Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

Love, The SeriesTwo For Joy/21+/Joy To The WorldInevitable/Infinitely

Confidential EternalA Twisted DateDachsund Through The Snow


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:26 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 447
Topics: 47
Title –Basement Grotto
Author name – Dub
Rating – PG – Potentially Garbage
Disclaimer – I own nothing, this does not contain nothing so everything belongs to Disney.
Feedback –Rip me a new one or however else you might feel after reading.
Summary – The Summer between series 4 and 5. Tara’s first visit to Xander’s basement
Authors Note – Not the first thing I’ve written but it is the first posted. Also the first Series four Tara I’ve written.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

They walked down the alleys of Sunnydale. Buffy, the leader front and centre, slayer extraordinaire, there was nothing the hell mouth could throw at her she couldn’t face. By her side Riley, Military man, trained with the black ops in the shadows while to civilians he was a simple psychology TA. To their right you had Xander, what he lacked in academics he made up for in bravery heavily shrouded in a cataclysmically display of stupidity time and time again. Hugging his waist was Anya, a thousand years of supernatural expertise, she was the sharp talker of the group she could pick up on the slightest thing and you’d know about it. To the left of the group you had Willow, a genius with no bounds. What she couldn’t work out with a computer and chemistry set she could bend the forces of nature with her magical prowess to solve it. Holding her hand was Tara. She was the newest one of the group, not yet feeling like she had earnt a place to be amongst people she deemed cool.

They knew Sunnydale better than the back of their hands. The Californian sun was setting behind them. the last warmth of the day tingling their backs as they walked towards their destination of choice. They practically lived there, nothing and no one could stop them entering their kingdom.

“You can’t go in.” Standing at the doors, built like brick wall was the doorman Dean.

“What do you mean we can’t go in? We always go in. Even when it’s closed.” Buffy was tired after a boring day sorting books at Giles’s she wanted a nice relaxing but stimulating night with her friends and not being allowed in wasn’t on her expectation list.

“It’s booked up for a 21st”

“Who books The Bronze, you just show up. It’s too scummy to book.” Xander smiled enjoying his own comment then quickly backed away behind Riley thinking the doorman wouldn’t be too forthcoming with his place of work being called scummy.

“All I know is a bunch of people are in there celebrating some TV show that aired like twenty years ago. They want it private.” Dean shifted slightly on his feet and tilted his head, any other day he would let this group in as the blonde girl had done his job for him more times than he could count but this was a special function.

“Like a convention, that’s crazy” Xander enthusiastically piped up behind Riley but still keeping the Commando as a human shield.

“Nah, it crazier it’s a bunch of people who write and talk about a certain couple in this TV show. Either way, I’m getting paid and I can’t let you in” His voice turned stern and he straighten up, his eye level just passing the tallest in the group. “You need to leave.”

Buffy huffed in defeat and started to turn around. “Well wouldn’t want to spend my night listening to a bunch of failed writers talk about a dead show anyway. Those guys are crazy.”

“I think it’s neat.” Willow squeezed her girlfriends hand and turned her head to look at her lovingly. So many times she had been at The Bronze but every time with Tara felt more special than the last.

Tara reciprocated the look. She liked nothing more than getting lost in those emerald eyes. The feelings they stirred inside her were long cold until Willow had come along and ignited an everlasting furnace in her soul. “Me too.”

“So what are we doing now?” Anya was blunt wanting to get somewhere before the sun sets. Her brain had done enough exertion for one day which her body didn’t want to match with fleeing in terror.

“Well after being cooped up all day I could really use some excitement.” Buffy stretched preparing herself to find that sort after excitement.

Riley picked up on his girlfriend’s intentions “Patrol?”

“Think I saw some movements when we walked past earlier near the crypt with the one eared gargoyle.”

“Let’s swing by my place and we can get weaponed up.” He made his way forward out of the alley.

“Buffy was quick on his heels however stopped and turned after noticing no one else had moved. “You guys aren’t coming?”

“I’m not.”

“Anya what did we talk about being slightly more polite when refusing our possible deaths in a graveyard at night.” Xander hugged around the ex-demon’s shoulders and looked to Buffy “Not tonight Buffster but Captain America will be more than enough back up.”

Buffy shrugged her shoulders, Xander was right and it would give them some nice couple’s time. “Will, you coming?”

“No, I already kept Tara at Giles’s all day, I don’t want to leave her.”

“I=I don’t mind, really.” Tara reassured. She knew she was never expected to go on patrol as the gang seemed to respect her wishes to avoid the violence or were getting tiered of constantly trying to save her.

“No, I’m yours for the night.” While Willow may have said the night, both of them knew it would be eternal. It caused a flutter in Tara’s stomach whenever the red head would choose her. For so long Tara was the one kept in secret but still chosen. Now in the open about it, it felt like a display of unadulterated affection which did cause slight embarrassment often resulting in a light blush not use to such intense and unfaltering attention.

“OK, see ya tomorrow. Giles wants us to move on to the S’s.” Buffy turned and went to catch up to Riley with a bounce in her step.

“I know that one it looks like a snake. That British guy with his crazy organising system.” Xander stage whispered and shook his head.

“You mean the alphabet?” Tara asked

“So rigid. Going by book colour would be easier.”

“Good to look at too. His walls look like barf.” Not the slightest bit of humour in Anya’s voice.

“It’s not barf it’s just, old and fits his sophisticated nature.” Willow didn’t care for Giles’s décor much either but she wasn’t going to have Anya bad mouth the ex-librarian. “So what’s the plan Xand, now The Bronze is a no go?”

“We can go back to my place. I might be able to offer you some lemonade made with lemons that may have been coated in mould or couch fuzz.” Faux enthusiasm soaked every word. While the basement wasn’t great it was a place they could all hang.

“If the cat hasn’t peed in it.” Anya helpfully chimed in.

“Oh, you have a cat?” Tara’s interest was piqued, Willow had never told her that Xander had a cat. Miss Kitty could have a playmate.

“Only when I forget to close the door and put my tuna Sandwich in the fridge.” Xander offered his cheesiest grin knowing for well the sandwich needed to go in the bin but he did like the feline company. “Hey Tara you’ve never been to the Xander-cave have you?”

Tara shook her head in response. Most of the summer so far, they had been meeting together at Giles’s or at the park and beach. With the nights being shorter it meant they had more time to enjoy themselves.

“I was trying to keep my girl away from deadly diseases.” Willow brought her hand not entwined in Tara’s up defensively rubbing her girlfriends arm. Ever since she met Tara she had felt an unconditional need to protect her at any cost. She was so vulnerable but yet at the same time Willow could always sense a strength in Tara. Hopefully one day she could help the strength grow to mask the vulnerability. Then maybe more people would notice how amazing she was but most importantly Tara herself.

“Hey! You’ve been exposed to the Harris house since you were five and you’re still alive and kicking.” Xander picked up the pace to get back home before the sun completely set.

Anya walked right in front of the witches and turned to face them. Her eyes wide in awe and intensity. “He redecorated, you’re gonna love it.” The grin that sprouted from the ex-demon with her body tensed up like a coiled spring did nothing to put either witch as ease.


The same look now painted each one of their faces as they gawped at the sight before them. Shiny tinsel in an assortment of colours let the light dance around the room as fairy lights alternated on and off in the tempo of popular Christmas songs. Fake trees of various sizes were loaded with popcorn string, baubles and festive trinkets. On the wall it looked like a tire had plastic foliage stuck to it to make some sort of wreath. At the foot of Xander’s bed stood a three foot tall Santa in full red suit with a fluffy beard that screamed to be touched. As they moved around the room taking in the festive spectacle, the head moved to follow them with a mechanical whir met with a robotic monotone “Ho! Ho! Ho!” No variation between the ho’s. Next to Santa stood a life size cut out with what looked like a reindeer costume awkwardly placed on the cardboard.

“Is that Sandra Bullock? As a reindeer?” Willow didn’t know what to think. She was here only two days ago. When did Xander even do all this and its July! Why?

“I-Is it not a-always like this?” Tara wasn’t so much nervous anymore about being invited to the basement but was now perplexed at the choice of decor.

“I said he redecorated.” Anya excitedly clapped her hands and made her way to hug the little Santa.

Tara nodded. “You did.”

Willow turned to Tara and indicated for her to take a seat by the coffee table which Tara did so. That was a good sign she felt comfortable, Willow didn’t want Tara to be here just for her. Yes she wanted Tara to be in every aspect of her life and not hide her away anymore but she did fear she might be forcing too much too soon, especially when they unexpectedly show up in Santa’s grotto in mid-summer.

“I think the cat peed in it.” Anya sniffed the murky yellow liquid and wavered when putting it to her lips. She stilled and put the cup down choosing wisely not to taste test it.

“Fruit punch it is.” Xander handed them all a beverage and took a seat on the sofa between Anya and Willow, His two favourite women. “Seeing as the Ice cream van didn’t work out, Uncle Rory got in touch and told me he can double my money with good investment. Ta-Da!” Xander spread his arms out wide marvelling at the elf’s throw up.

“Investment is a smart decision. My Big business man. He’s going to be emptying his loaded present sacks and filling me with the sweet outcome.” She leaned in and hummed into a passionate kiss.

Tara turned her head away not wanting to intrude on their private moment and also it meant her head could lower and cover her reddening face with her hair. Noticing straight away what Anya said.

“Hey” Willow cooed softly. “Are you alright? Do you want to leave?” Willow hated every time Tara lowered her face. It was like she was ashamed of herself. She should never be ashamed, she knew how she felt about her, at least Willow hoped she did and that should be enough because she’s amazing. Guiltily though Willow did like it as well because what Tara does next is her favourite moment.

Tara raised her head to look at Willow whose eyes were full of concern. It pained Tara to see Willow like that, she didn’t want to make her feel worried all the time. Tara knew one sure way to set her girlfriend’s mind at ease and did just that. She quirked her mouth to one side and gave Willow a special smile reserved only for her.

There it was the smile that made Tara’s eyebrow raise which opened her eyes just enough to make Willow feel like the Blue swirls were a vortex into her girlfriend’s soul. It made all time stand still and nothing was with them. Even the Santa Ho’s were going unnoticed. Just one simple action and Willow knew all was right with the world. “Good.”

“Check these out. They are playing cards but all Christmas-y” Xander handed Tara and Willow each a pack of cards. As they riffled through they noticed the suits were changed to candy canes, snowflakes, baubles and elf hat. The king was Father Christmas himself. The Queen, Mrs Claus and Jack was Jack Frost. All cute and festive a perfect little stocking stuffer.

“Uncle Rory might be right for once. This should sell well Xander.” Willow was delightfully surprised. Normally anything from Uncle Rory had died in suspicious circumstances and then promptly stuffed.

“Yeah he maybe a lousy uncle but he is the kind of guy you can give a dead body to hide.”

“What do you mean kind of, you gave him that Chihuahua the other week?” Anya yet again helpfully chimed in.

“You k-killed a c-Chihuahua?” Tara’s voice was shrill at the thought of anyone hurting such a harmless creature.

“Xander! You’re not killing dogs are you?” Willow was stern with a scowl to make milk curdle.

Xander jumped up on the couch and raised his hands in defence. “Hey I never killed him. I just reversed the van a little far which knocked over a post that clearly hadn’t been cemented in properly. This fell which led to a domino effect like that contraption in that film with the flying car and weird nose guy with a net who likes kids.”

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?” Tara was getting use to deciphering babble and knew helping work out a part they were stuck on usually helped the babble continue meaning Willow would get an intake of air and not go a worrying shade of purple again.

“Yeah! Well there was also a well-timed and placed crane moving a girder and well it knocked the pole further which clattered down by the dog and I think the sound caused it to die of fright because when I checked on it, it was stiff with legs in the air.”

“It didn’t eat the treat I was trying to feed it so we knew it wasn’t a trick.” Anya reported matter of fact.

“So you gave it to Uncle Rory?” Willows voice was hollow, in shock and mourning for the poor little doggy.

“He did a good job with it. Even wears a little bow tie and top hat.” Xander wheezed out a forced laugh trying to lighten the mood. “The dog, not Rory.”

Tara could sense the awkwardness in the room and instead of focusing on the negative that she knew would keep Willow moping all night, she decided to do what she always did, focus on the positive. “T-that s-sounds …. Cute?”

“You want it Tara? Do you like taxidermy? Is it a witch thing? I can get you a good price.” Xander’s words were fast and frantic as if seeing an out for his unintentional crimes.

“No way buddy! You are not getting my girlfriend to cover your crimes!” Willow slapped Xander back down with the couch cushion in an unrelenting barrage.

“Truce! Truce! I call a truce. No taxidermy for Tara.”

Willow retreated and folded her arms. “You better remember that mister.”

Tara reached over to Willow and squeezed her hand hoping to relieve some of her tension. As much as she loved how protective Willow was, she didn’t enjoy how worked up Willow got that came out in aggression. Tara knew Willow would never hurt her but sometimes when her mind turned to the darker parts of her life and the things she was yet to tell Willow, part of her did have the faintest of thoughts that Willow could be capable of hurting someone, if they hurt her bad enough. She needed to tell Willow the truth one day, one day unfortunately soon but until then she needed to enjoy the moment. Tara made sure to get Willows glorious eye line and mouthed the three words that would put both at ease. I love you.

Willow was worked up and it was completely warranted. How could anyone want to give Tara a stuffed dead creature? Tara was the breath of life, just the sound of her voice could make wilting flowers rise with a new purpose. Willow felt her hand be taken and faced Tara. Her face was a mixture of sadness and concern however when their eyes met it all washed away and the blue vortex of her soul opened up to the widest they could ever go as she saw Tara mouth those three little words. “Sorry. I went too far didn’t I?”

“Just a little bit. But thank you for protecting me.” Her voice soft and non-scolding. Tara could never see herself raising her voice or getting cross with Willow. She was too perfect, if anything was ever wrong she would know it was her own fault.

“As long as I’m around you will never have to come across a dead thing. I find the bodies first so if I shriek, you go the other way.” Willow voice was jokey but at the same time she had a seriousness to it. She didn’t want Tara to feel any kind of loss, even if it was a dog they never knew.

“Ahn what are those?” Xander pointed to a black packet in his girlfriend’s hands.

“Their Poker’s Chips, Spice to match the heat of a forge or your money back.” Anya popped open the bag and took a chip. While offering the pack out to share. One look at Anya’s face protruding a fresh deluge of sweat led to the unanimous decision not to accept.

“I asked you to get the poker chips. So we can play some poker with these cards before they fly off the shelves.”

“They aren’t on a shelf, you have them in a messy pile under the bed mingling with various moulds caused by damp, heat and various biomaterial.” Her voice was hoarse from the heat and she promptly took Xander’s fruit punch and downed it, picking up her own to sip from.

“You know what, we can do without chips.” His gaze fell to the black packet a mixture of knowing its best not to try them knowing he couldn’t stomach the heat but also his stomach grumbling a rumble tumble dryer warmed spaghetti-O’s couldn’t satisfy. “Either kind … any suggestions?”

“We could play go fish” Willow beamed, enjoying the thought of her once happy pet.

“The fishing rod is upstairs in the umbrella stand Mr Harris took from the elderly neighbour he got in an argument about reading her paper that wasn’t quite on her property line.”

Willow withheld her scathing comment to Anya knowing she had likely done enough of it throughout the day that Tara picked up on and so didn’t want to add another to the list. “How about a different game then?”

“We c-could p-play palace.” All heads turned to Tara, everyone rather surprise she had put forward a suggestion instead of going with whatever the group decided.

“Ok cool. How do you play palace?” Xander turned to Anya and spoke quietly. “Card game, not the one where we dress up and do those posh accents.” Anya smiled and gave a wink knowing exactly what game her Prince Albert was on about.

“It’s so fun, Tara taught me. Teach us baby you explained it so well to me.” Willows voice was childlike, she loved that Tara spoke up to help make a decision. She would contribute to the conversations about the magiks when doing slayer related stuff but mainly kept to herself when it was the Scooby downtime. It might be a small thing for everyone else but Willow knew it would have taken a lot for Tara to put herself forward like that and it made her proud of the woman she loved.

“O-okay.” Tara was stunned at the use of the pet name in public. Willow was full of sweet nothings but when in public she could tell Willow was holding back, still coming to terms with how people perceived her being with a woman. Tara didn’t feel like Willow was ashamed of being with her but it did make Tara feel guilty for being the cause of having people look at Willow differently when she was still the every bit wonderful bundle of joyous energy with a massive brain to match. In this moment though that was gone as she felt nothing but pride for the how her lover valued their relationship regardless of how others felt. Not that Xander and Anya minded.

They set up on the coffee table as Tara took the role of dealer and explained the rules and card move sets. Willow marvelled at the only minor stutters as her girl took charge, it may not be a giant leap for woman-kind but for Tara-kind it certainly was. Willow was sure that a little bit of that inner strength she saw in Tara was seeping forward past the vulnerability. It might only be in the basement but it was a place Willow knew she could have Tara in her life. A step towards always, everywhere, everything.

As the game went on the room grew tense and sweat poured from Xander and Anya who in their tension had instinctively gone to snack on some Poker’s Chips. They were all nearly out of cards and not once was the pile discarded from the game. At least forty cards were going into the hand of the next person who couldn’t play and none of them wanted that pick up.

“So a ten to burn right Tara?” Xander’s knee bounced franticly as he panted like a non-dead Chihuahua to cool his tongue.

“Uh huh.” Her concentration solely on the game. Anya was before her in the order of play and she couldn’t read how the ex-demon would play.

Another round and everyone managed to play. The Basement was silent, even the yells from above had died down. The lack of movement even made Santa shut up his monotone Ho’s.

“So if I play four of the same card it acts as a burn?” Anya piped up.

“Yes. Or if on the pile, four of the same number is on top even if placed over multiple turns.” Willow explained with a quick smile at her girlfriend to show what a good teacher she had been.

“Great” Anya slammed down the remainder of her hand, four tens. “BURN!” with a cackle and glint in her eye, Anya got out a set of matches and struck a spark, before anyone could protest she set the cards aflame and consequently set of the Sprinklers.

Everyone shrieked and scrambled. Willow quickly got hold of the top half of Sandra’s reindeer costume and held it above Tara to prevent her getting soaked through. They all sprinted out the door into the crisp night air.

Tara being the only one who was covered, came out the driest. “Erm Anya, burn doesn’t mean –“

“ACTUAL FIRE! Anya the stock is going to be ruined.” Xander’s eyes bulged towards his girlfriend “We spoke about this after the candle incident.”

“I told you we should have moved further up the bed before going into that position.” Anya petulantly responded with a fold of her arms. “It wouldn’t work if the legs couldn't straighten."

Willow took the domestic as a cue to get out of there and took Tara’s hand leading her away from the garden. They had spent enough of their day with others it was time for just them to take in the night and head home to get dried up and snuggled. Finishing another day in the arms of their corresponding perfections.



Meanwhile in the basement. The water streaked down Sandra’s features, her skin peeling as her body sagged. Her award winning smile falling straight onto the soggy carpet. The movement causing a whirring of gears. The strain evident to be pushing its limits. Santa’s Ho’s were long and metallic sounding, his beard sodden causing the extra stress to his movements. His head reached the waterlogged corpse of his starlet reindeer whose career shone so bright she would have led his sleigh tonight. A droplet fell from his hat at just the right angle to make it look like a single tear in mourning rolling down his cheek. Santa looked on and gave one last Ho with his remaining power. It was low, slow and whined on as if a cry in quiet anguish. The whirring died on completion of Santa’s final act.
Not even a treat from Anya would ever wake him back up.

_________________
Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2021 3:21 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Topics: 50
Basement Grotto: I love how you weaved the wacky nature of these type of challenges into the everyday lives of our favorite girls. I also love a bit of S4 W/T and that burgeoning sweetness and love. I particularly love the moment of Tara being stunned by Willow's use of a pet name. That poor girl doesn't even realize how much of the world she deserves.I love that, in fanfic at least, Willow gets to spend her whole life showing her. Great kick-off to the challenge! Well done1

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

Love, The SeriesTwo For Joy/21+/Joy To The WorldInevitable/Infinitely

Confidential EternalA Twisted DateDachsund Through The Snow


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:50 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 447
Topics: 47
Thankyou for the feedback Laragh, I'm pleased I could return a fraction of the enjoyment you've given me.

Quote:
That poor girl doesn't even realize how much of the world she deserves

Exactly this! When we are first introduced to her everyone else is on a chair and she is kneeling on the ground. She doesn't even deserve a chair! And the whole series she's Willows little secret and in 'Who are you?' Tara even thinks its alright that she knows everything about the scoobies but doesn't actually know them if it meant she could hold on to this one person who somehow sees her. But its shines with intensity in 'new moon rising' when she says to Willow, do what makes you happy and that she will still be her friend. Its heart breaking but also frustrating. Just take it Tara, Take it all! (yes I do often think of the Clara's leaf speech in the rings of Akhaten but replace the leaf with a picture of Tara.)
She is completely at Willows disposal. Tara may have made the first move in looking for Willow in Hush but that's the only assertive move she makes (until arguably series 6) and even then it doesn't go as planned which makes 'Entropy' even sweeter when she finally has a 100% on her own doing assertion. What a way to end the show, magnificent (What? There's more? no I think you're mistaken unless you're talking about the bonus 45 minutes 29 seconds of post credit scenes.)

I should probably tie this rambling to something I've written to make it relevant to the challenge. So I will say. glad you picked up on that detail.

_________________
Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2021 6:10 am 
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5. Willowhand
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I love your entry, I especially adore that you went well beyond the 2 minimum for including the wacky other elements, I’m so chuffed you chose the sandra bullock one especially haha

Very fun and cute story, thanks so much for entering! I need to finish mine now haha

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2021 10:16 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 447
Topics: 47
Happy to participate and contribute something back to the board.
Sandra was an instant pick, she was the most fitting item for Xander's basement. Plus now I can honestly say I killed off Sandra Bullock and made Santa call her bloated corpse a Ho. That's a sentence made to fill or make an awkward silence.

Thankyou for setting up the challenge.

_________________
Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Posts: 4790
Topics: 50
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: “If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.” (sequel to 21+, which is a sequel to Two For Joy)

FEEDBACK: Go for it.



Joy To The World




Aphrodite the cat woke with a start, her last memory of…


Falling asleep at her human’s feet, basking in the warmth she required they provide. She was their leader, after all.


But now they were pawing and licking each other again. Hadn’t they just gotten clean last night? She flounced off the bed and into the bathroom where she could find some things to knock over.


In the bedroom, the odd ritual of simultaneous cleaning and fighting for dominance persisted.


“Willow…”


“Mmm, yes, Tara…”


“Mmm, Willow…you have to stop.”


“You don’t sound like you want me to stop…”


Want is not the deciding factor here…”


Willow’s lips popped off of Tara’s neck and she gave her wife an accusing look.


“You know, if you hadn’t decided to give birth on Christmas Day, we might have gotten away with spending all day under the covers now that she’s too old to believe in Santa.”


Tara arched an eyebrow, still messy from sleep.


“Anya ruined that before we even turned 21, never mind Joy.”


“Right,” Willow shuddered, “Disemboweling Santa is not the one you want coming down your chimney.”


Tara frowned deeply.


“Let’s not mention her telling us about Santa trying to come through her back door.”


Willow’s mouth dropped in disgust.


“You just said it. Why would you say it?”


“Marriage is sharing everything, including traumatic memories,” Tara replied with a crooked grin.


That smile ignited waves in Willow. She brushed her thumb on Tara’s lips then put her hand under the covers to press against the front of Tara’s underwear.


“I can think of something else we can share…if you have a bit of self-control.”


Tara rolled Willow right onto her back.


“You know I love having control.”


“Yes I do,” Willow cooed as she folded her arms under her head and relaxed completely.


Their mouths were close enough to share breath and just about to join in that perfect union of eagerness and softness that only their kisses could invoke…before their bedroom door burst open.


“Oh, gross!”


Joy spun around while covering her eyes and Tara scrambled to lift the blanket past their shoulders.


“Joy, seriously!” Willow frothed, “You’re not three years old anymore, you can’t come bursting in just because it’s Christmas.”


“Also my birthday, thank you,” Joy replied, her eye roll palpable despite her hand still covering her eyes.


She slowly dropped her hand and turned back around.


“And I’m not Joy,” she said solemnly, “At least not…your Joy.”


There was a pause.


Silence.


Joy pouted slightly.


“I really expected a bigger reaction to that.”


Willow and Tara exchanged a perplexed and worried glance.


“Say, you didn't happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?” Willow asked with her eyebrows in her hair.


“You can tell us, sweetie. We won’t get mad,” Tara reassured.


“I’ll be a little mad,” Willow countered, “Depending on the drug and how you got it. You can legally drink today and, okay, technically you can smoke weed but—”


Suddenly Joy had lunged at the bed and threw her arms over both of her mothers.


“I’ve missed you two being…you two.”


It only took Tara a moment of looking into Joyce’s eyes to realize the significance of her words.


“Oh my god.”


Joy’s eyes got glassy.


“Yeah, Mama.”


Willow looked at them both with a quickening glance.


“Wait. What did I miss?”


Tara cupped Joy’s cheek.


“When?”


Willow started waving her hands back and forth.


“Hello?! Fill clueless Mom in here, please!”


Tara swallowed deeply and looked at Willow.


“She’s from the future.”


“A few years,” Joy confirmed, smiling a wry crooked smile identical to Tara’s, “Not enough to stop being grossed out by you two, though.”


“Oh shit,” Willow replied, her shoulders slumping, “At least it wasn’t me this time.”


Tara suddenly turned to Willow and flicked her wife’s arm with her fingers.


“Did you teach our daughter how to time travel?!”


“No!” Willow protested, then turned to Joy with a pained look, “Did I?”


Joy shook her head and looked at Tara.


“No, Mama. You did.”


Tara’s world began to swirl. She had to lean back.


“Is Joy safe?” Willow cut in, “Our Joy?”


Joy nodded.


“Vibing to some Gaga somewhere…in here. She’ll never know I was here,” she said, putting a finger against her head and spinning it around, “I never got the specifics of how the body-sharing works but Mama made sure of it.”


Willow nodded knowledgeably.


“She magically roofied you. Our ‘you’.”


Joy’s eyes widened at Tara accusingly. Tara quickly pointed at Willow.


“I learned it from her.”


“I only ever used it on myself!” Willow defended, then rolled her eyes, “God, I was a such total bitch to deal with. Just ‘push, push, push’, no: hey, can I borrow your body for a bit to save our family?”


Her eyes suddenly grew so big they almost popped.


“Are you here to save our family?!”


Joy reached out and touched Willow’s arm.


“I’m here to save you, Mom,” she said softly, lovingly, “That’s why Mama sent me. You’re lost. She couldn’t come but she said she’s the only person who always knows where to find you.”


Willow made an awkward face.


“I’m guessing I’m not just senile and wandering the aisles of Costco looking for cat food?”


Joy sat back on the bed and exhaled a long breath.


“Quick recap?” she said and began to gesture between her parents, “You guys have no idea how powerful you’re about to become.”


Willow and Tara shared a surprised look. Joy waved it off.


“That’s the boring bit. How often have I had to hear ‘oh, your moms are that Willow and Tara?’ The mother—anyway. And I’m like, hey, I do magic too, I just have a life, you know? I do other things like—”


“Joysie, baby, speed up the time-travel-necessitating Armageddon explanation please,” Willow asked pertinently.


Joy made the same face she’d made since she was a toddler when reprimanded: Willow’s pout and Tara’s deep, penetrating gaze.


“So the thing about being super powerful is that everyone wants a piece of it. Not just demons. Fellow witches too,” she continued and sighed, “I wish I could tell you ‘The Great Witch Wars’ was just the name of a book I would totally read.”


“And critique the movie based on it,” Willow mused, trying to not still sound bitter about Joy rejecting the Harry Potter movies with her.


“It’s been over a decade, Mom. Get over it. As if magic works like that. Not to mention all of the other unpleasantness,” Joy shook her head at the attempted slight, “And yeah, I would critique that movie. It wouldn’t be close to reality. I know, because I’ve lived it!”


She threw herself back on the bed dramatically, like she had just a few days before when lamenting to her parents about how she’d done on her final exams. Despite this bizarre, if now somewhat familiar scenario, Willow and Tara couldn’t help but share a fond smile over their daughter.


Joy began gesturing above herself with her hands.


Very long story short: big battle, way too many magical artifacts go kablooey. Mom…kinda gets scattered through all of time and space?”


“WHAT!?” Willow nearly jumped out of bed.


“Excuse me?” Tara added in an equally stern but less bodily response, “Why can’t I find Willow in your time?”


Joy looked at her sadly.


“With Mom gone, your magic is just…” she started to roll her hands and made an explosion with her hands, “You’re intrinsically linked. There is no one without the other.”


Tara reached for Willow’s hand, who squeezed back, taking some calm.


“Do I want to know what’s happening in these ‘witch wars’ with our magic disbanded?” she asked Joy with clenched teeth.


Joy sat up.


“Let’s just say the slayers have their ass-kicking skills being put to good use,” she said, visibly withholding a shudder, before smiling at her spot between her moms; safe, “But it’s okay. Because I know you’re going to send me back to a world that is light with your magic and not dark with your absence.”


Willow and Tara shared a determined look.


“What do we have to do?” Willow asked.


Joy looked between them cluelessly.


“I was hoping you’d be telling me. Mama’s…” she stopped and swallowed, “Fading. She could only tell me so much. That I needed to come here and that I needed this.”


She reached into her pocket and produced the Doll’s Eye crystal.


It had a giant crack down the center.


“I had to glue it,” Joy admitted, making Willow gasp, turning Joy’s turn petulant, “It got me here, didn’t it?”


“It’s fine,” Tara rubbed Joy’s arm, “You did good, baby.”


She wasn’t sure she believed it but she had to hope. Her daughter’s life was on the line, not to mention hers and Willow’s.


She got up and went to their magic closet, opening it carefully to take out their Doll’s Eye.


She brought it back to the bed and to the surprise of all three of them, both crystals began to glow and the battered one started to burn with energy.


“Ow!” Joy dropped it from her hand.


“I know what we have to do,” Tara said suddenly, looking up with a determined look in her eye, “Tinkerbell.”


“TINKERBELL IS REAL AND YOU NEVER TOLD ME?!” Joy interjected with the kind of incredulity only someone with all the legal vantages of being an adult but still liked being the stuffing in a Mom sandwich could produce.


Ignoring her, Willow frowned.


“Really? You think that’s going to work ‘across all of time and space’? Maybe if you rinky-dink it up in a Tardis.”


Tara smiled softly.


“Better. We send it through the nether realms.”


Willow’s eyes slowly widened and she grabbed Tara’s cheeks, pulling her in for repeated kisses.


“My beautiful, genius, goddess-of-magic wife!”


“You have no idea,” Joy muttered under her breath.


Tara turned to Joy and took her arm.


“Joy you have to come with me. I sent you back here, to this time, for a reason.”


“And probably not just to relive my kick-ass 21st,” Joy grinned.


“Our party is kick-ass?” Willow beamed. She’d been planning it carefully.


Joy winked.


“You’ll see.”


While Willow beamed silently to herself, Joy suddenly screamed. Immediately alarming her parents, they both jumped to her aid, only for her to skip away to pick up the white cat that had just come from the laundry basket.


“Aphrodite!”


She lifted her and started kissing her.


“Such a pretty girl! I’ve missed you! Is Sandy here too?”


“Probably on his cat tree where he always is,” Willow replied softly, choosing not to dwell on what her daughter’s excited reaction to their beloved cats meant, “If he hasn’t wrangled himself into the Christmas tree already.”


“You should go see him,” Tara encouraged softly.


“Can I, can I?” Joy asked, lighting up as she had as a child on Christmas morning, so overcome with gifts for the holiday and her birthday (she resembled a human Pogo stick the years where Hanukkah had overlapped in the same way).


“Go ahead, sweetie,” Tara nodded, “Mom and I need to talk. We’ll call you when we’re ready.”


Joy hopped out while stroking Aphrodite. Tara waited until she heard the squeak of the stairs to turn to Willow.


“Can you anchor us both?”


Willow nodded.


“Definitely. I don’t even anchor with you anymore, we just…are. And she’s of us. I’ve got you. I’ve got both of you. Always.”


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


“Let’s go save ourselves all over again.”


“I’m considering writing this all down as a novel,” Willow said seriously as she followed Tara over to the magic closet, “People would read this shit.”


“Yes, dear,” Tara intoned softly and smiled when she felt Willow’s lips on her neck, “We just can’t let an occasion go by, can we?”


“Who’d want to be boring?” Willow joked as she began to lay out the candles, “Uh…Tara?”


“Mhm?” Tara asked as she flicked through some dried flower powder.


“Getting to the nether realms…”


Willow paused.


“It’s…intimate.”


Tara looked over her shoulder.


“You’ve grounded with Buffy before. Was that intimate?”


“Not like us-intimate,” Willow shook her head, “But this is more than grounding. I mean, I used to ground with Joy all the time until she stopped being that interested in magic. I’m more worried about the…push over the edge.”


Tara came over and perched on the edge of the circle Willow was forming.


“I’ll bind her to me and then you can just…push me over.”


Willow frowned.


“She won’t…see that, will she? Or…” she paled, “Feel it?”


They looked at each other and then spoke at the same time.


“Magical roofie.”


“We’re terrible people,” Willow said with her nose scrunched.


“Yes,” Tara agreed, “But ones that have been put in terrible situations.”


Willow stopped and came over to Tara.


“Hey. Let’s take a minute.”


Tara nodded and they moved to sit opposite each other, cross-legged and hands joined.


They didn’t need to move or speak or even look at each other.


This was a well-practiced routine.


No matter where in the magical ebb and flow of their lives, they grounded with each other every day and took regular cleansing baths to remain synced with each other and the earth.


Even during the most difficult of apocalypses or simplest of demon-axings, they knew they were always stronger together.


Energy swirled around them but it wasn’t harsh or growing like the nether realms spell would be. It just formed between them and rebounded up, lifting them both a foot off the ground before gently floating them back to the floor.


Their eyes opened at the same time. They nodded at each other.


“I’ll get the dematorin,” Tara said quietly.


“I’ll finish the circle,” Willow replied and grabbed a couple of pillows.


When it was ready for the spell to commence and they'd quickly changed out of their pajamas, they looked at each other again and quietly went downstairs to get Joy. She was in their living room, which Willow began to feel anxiety about as she had not factored in her daughter coming back from the future to save them all into her decorating plans.


She should have, she realized now, as this was apparently a very normal thing in their family.


She and Tara’s 30th anniversary was coming up. Better book a barn. At least then they wouldn’t be liable for any time-travel-related damages they might incur.


Joy was using an old mouse-on-a-string toy to make the kitties go bonkers. Or Sandy, anyway. Aphrodite was lounging under the window where she was luxuriating in a suntrap like the goddess she was. Or thought herself of, at least. She could find the smallest piece of sun streaming in the window on an Ohian winter morning, after all. That was wizardry all on its own.


“It’s time, Joysie,” Willow said softly.


Joyce looked up, both serene and sad.


“I know.”


She jumped up with all the sprightliness a 21-year-old should.


“Let’s go find my Mom.”


Willow patted Joy on the back as they ascended the stairs again.


“Sounds like she raised a great daughter.”


Joy leaned her head on Willow’s shoulder.


Back in the bedroom, Joy plopped herself down on a pillow.


“So how does this work?” she asked, looking between her mothers, “You guys never let me go the nether realms.”


Willow and Tara glanced at each other and quickly away again.


“You need to take this, sweetie,” Tara said, handing her a little vial of green liquid, “It, um…prepares the body for the journey.”


“Oh, cool,” Joy nodded, trusting.


“We have to bind you and Mama first,” Willow interjected quickly, “Make sure you don’t get lost from each other while you’re gone. I'll be keeping you both anchored while Aradia helps you find…me.”


“The Queen of the Witches,” Joy smirked ever-so-slightly, “You always told me I could only call on her in an emergency.”


“And you think this isn’t?” Willow arched an eyebrow.


Joy chuckled, low and sarcastic.


“No, I just think she’s going to be pissed about being called ‘Tinkerbell’.”


“And you know her personally?” Tara countered with a crooked smile.


Joy just arched her eyebrows and pursed her lips, hiding a smile.


Tara came to sit opposite her and Willow bound their hands with rope.


“Is this your hand-fasting rope?” Joy asked as it was weaved around her wrists.


“No, this is our bedroom rope,” Willow chuckled before her eyes widened, “That we keep. In the bedroom. For events such as these.”


Joy made a pained face.


“Can we just get this over with?”


Willow put her hands over their joined hands.


“Amari, hear our reverent plea. Take these binds and make them be.”


She shook an aspergillum over them, shaking liquid over their hands as they all repeated the chant.


The ropes glowed for a moment before unraveling themselves and falling into their laps, now unneeded.


Joy looked up with a frown.


“Did it…work? I don’t feel any different.”


“You won’t,” Willow reassured, “It connected you and Mama on the spiritual level you’ll exist in the nether realms. As long as your bodies stay safe, and I’ll make sure they will, you’ll both go there and return without losing each other.”


Tara nodded.


“Take your potion now sweetie.”


Joy popped the cork on the vial and downed it.


“Hmm. Tastes like strawberries,” she commented before her eyes grew lidded, “I’m sleepy…”


Tara put her arms out just in time to catch her; light red hair splaying out over the pillows as Tara settled her.


“Terrible, terrible people,” Willow shook her head.


Tara turned back to Willow and held her face gently.


“I’m gonna find you.”


“I know,” Willow replied with glassy eyes and a soft smile, “What’s all of time and space in the face of our love?”


Tara leaned in and pressed her lips to Willow.


“I know my Willow. I know all Willows. You’re not off hanging out at the edge of the universe with Dr. Who—”


“It’s just the Doctor,” Willow interrupted and Tara smiled, amused and adoring.


She bumped her nose against Willow’s.


“You’re trying to get back to us. That’s where I’ll find you. Finding your way home. You just need a hand.”


She brought her hands up and linked both with Willow’s.


“And I have two.”


“As I well know,” Willow replied with a saucy smirk.


“Down girl,” Tara smirked back, “Or I’ll have to send you to the ice-cream store to cool down.”


“If someone hadn’t decided to go back to school to become a counselor, I would still work there,” Willow countered; their faces still close enough to touch, “But it just wasn’t as fun without you.”


Tara reached up and stroked Willow’s cheek.


“Sometimes I think you only offered to run the practice so you could be on your computer all day.”


“You caught me,” Willow said with mock-mirth, “Looking up my sneaky pictures of you in lingerie between the troubled gay youth coming in for you to heal them.”


Tara shrugged one shoulder.


“I figured you were playing minesweeper.”


Willow laughed raucously.


“Oh baby…your references are so old. Thank god you do have me to run the practice or you’d be keeping your details in ten different notebooks! Or maybe a slate and rock!”


Tara smiled. Willow smiled back.


They stayed like that for a long moment until Tara placed her hands on Willow’s thigh and let them fall off.


Willow knew it was time.


She got up and closed the curtains while Tara lit the candles and brought a little bowl of oil between them.


Quietly, Willow dipped her fingers in the oil and lifted her hand to Tara’s forehead, pressing the oil there. She repeated this on Tara’s mouth and over her heart.


They sat side-by-side side in opposite directions and began casting their arms around themselves in a circular motion.


“The inward eye, the sightless sea. Ayala flows through the river in me.”


Their chant was whispered but evocative, matching the energy beginning to burgeon around them in a perfect, blinding circle.


Their breath got heavier as their hands reached in sync with each other. As fingers touched at every point, the energy rose around them, causing even more labored breath and sweat to appear on their brows.


Slowly Tara looked at Willow, who looked back. At the moment of connection, Tara began to gasp for breath and she fell back, taking Joy’s hand on the way. Her body arched into the waiting pillows as their journey began.


The nether realm was not like the earthly realm.


It existed only in energy but communication could still pass, though it was more on a psychic level. This made it easy for Tara to tap into future Joy when they got up there and could see her Joy’s energy tranquil and at peace.


“Did you DRUG me?” Joy communicated to Tara as her energy burst forth into consciousness.


“Trust me, darling, it was necessary,” Tara replied, somehow able to approximate a ‘mom’ voice, even in this form.


“Who are all these other green dudes?” Joy asked as she got used to the floaty feeling of being on this plane and the simultaneous weighted feeling around her that was Willow anchoring them.


“Other souls,” Tara replied softly, “Don’t disturb them. We’re only here to find your Mom.”


“Okay,” Joy replied and paused, “How?”


“Ssh,” Tara guided softly before she began to intone, “Aradia, hear my words. Goddess of the lost, the path is hidden, the realm is dense, darkness pervades. I beseech thee, bring the light. Show us who we seek to see.”


It was hard to see at first with all of the other lights surrounding them, but then suddenly a blue-white spark of light approached them and started to bounce. It sped off in a directionless motion.


“Come on, Joy,” Tara said.


“Literally can’t stop myself from following you, but okay,” Joy replied as they accompanied the light as one unit.


Joy wondered what the energy form of motion sickness was as they zipped above and beyond any recognizable form of movement. Finally, the little light moved downward and illuminated a scene that they were watching from above like it was a cosmic television, or perhaps a projector that used the stars to show motion.


A young, college-aged Willow hovered outside a door, nervously lifting her hand to knock several times before dropping it. Finally, she managed to connect her knuckles and an equally-young-looking Tara answered the door.


“Damn, Mama,” Joy said into the ether as the scene below them continued undisturbed, “Was your hair dyed by Justin Timberlake’s stylist?”


“Shush,” Tara replied, her tone soft and wistful, “I remember this. This wasn’t long after I met your mother.”


“Are we on a TV show right now?” Joy asked incredulously, “Has this all been some giant prank?”


“Shush,” Tara repeated.


Below, young Willow waved her hand nervously.


“Hi. Just thought I’d…pop by.”


Young Tara’s smile lit up the room.


“I-I’m so glad to see you. I thought, um, you’d be with your friends. You know, for Christmas?”


Willow made a pained face and shook her head.


“Buffy wanted to spend it with Riley and Xander is…tied up with Anya,” she said, face molding into disgust, “And um, I’m not sure what Giles is up to. Probably has lots of stuffy British traditions to adhere to. And you know, me being a big honkin’ Jew-slash-Wiccan not much on the familial front. So I thought I’d…come here.”


Tara smiled again and stepped aside.


“Please, c-come in.”


Willow entered the room with a beaming smile and hands that couldn’t stop fidgeting.


“I’m not…disturbing any of your Christmas plans, am I?”


Tara shook her head and sat on the bed, cross-legged.


“I-I focused more on Yule this year.”


Willow’s eyes lit up.


“Yes! Yule,” she said as she unselfconsciously sat up beside Tara, “Between the eight days of Hanukkah and the twelve days of Yule, I get a little overwhelmed sometimes but I did an offering on the solstice.”


“Me too,” Tara nodded demurely.


Willow drew circles on the bedspread.


“Maybe next year, we could do it together?” she offered, her voice going up a pitch, “I mean, my friends try but they don’t really…get it. And Anya, Xander’s supposed girlfriend ruins everything…”


She shook her face angrily and rolled her eyes.


“She thought it would be funny to get me ‘Salem’ as a gift and Xander just went along with it. You know, the card game where the less-satanic-than-thou hunt down the witches? Can you believe that?”


Tara paused, taking it all in before responding perkily.


“H-Have you ever played Straw Man?” she asked as a cleanser as she picked up her tarot cards from her nightstand, “My mom and I used to play. It’s with tarot cards. It’s kind of old-fashioned. You probably don’t want to play.”


“No, I do,” Willow replied eagerly and scooted a little closer to Tara, “Show me?”


Tara smiled and started showing her the cards.


“Each divination has a different score and suit assigned to it. We take it in turns to ‘bet’ or play a card and the other person has to match that suit. If they don’t have one, they have to take it from the ‘straw man’ pile. I’ll explain the rest as we go on.”


“Sounds neat,” Willow replied, bouncing slightly on the bed so that the cards slipped off, “Oops! Sorry!”


She jumped off the bed to pick them up and straightened them against Tara’s tape player. While doing it, she noticed the tape lying on top and turned to Tara with a big smile.


“You like String Cheese Incident too?”


“Uh-huh,” Tara replied with a keen smile, “I-I saw them at the Bronze.”


“Me too!” Willow replied with wide eyes, “Wow, if I’d known you were there…”


She frowned at that thought but quickly shook it off.


“Can I play it?”


Tara nodded.


“Sure.”


Willow stuck the tape in and pressed play. After spinning for a second, sweet, melancholic music began to play. Quite different from the bluegrass rock she expected.


So dear to me
Always keep me company



Willow glanced over to Tara and caught her gaze.


I can't take my eyes off you


Their gazes held.


I can't take my eyes off you


Tara’s tongue poked out to lick her lips. Willow’s eyes visibly glossed over.


“I g-guess it got mislabeled,” Tara said quietly.


Willow pushed away from the tape player, not turning the music off.


“Tara?”


Tara looked up with vulnerable eyes.


“Yes?”


“Do you…?”


Willow slowly sat back beside Tara, closer than she’d been before.


“I feel funny when I’m here.”


Tara’s eyes cast downward.


“F-Funny?”


“Good, funny,” Willow amended quickly, waving her hands, “I grew up in Sunnydale with vamp attacks on the regular and became a slayer sidekick when I was 15. I’ve never felt safe in my entire life. But here…”


She looked over at Tara again, who found the strength to meet her gaze.


“I feel safe.”


Tara’s eyebrows rose on her face. Willow found herself brushing her fingers against Tara’s hand.


“Tara?”


“Yes?” Tara asked, slightly breathless.


Willow leaned in.


The scene went black.


“What the heck?” Joy asked but there was no time to question it as the little blue light was off again.


This time they zoomed in the exact opposite direction, not that direction was discernible.


It felt like a long time and no time at all when they were deposited in front of another scene.


Willow was older this time, older than even Tara knew. She held a green shimmer about her person and moved with a weary but ethereal step.


“Wait, I know this one,” Joy interjected, “This was a few months ago at Christmas…right before Mom went kapung.”


“The future,” Tara replied softly.


“Yours, yeah, but you weren’t there when we talked,” Joy replied, “You were making dinner. You still do that, all manual like.”


Tara didn’t know what that meant but didn’t have time to contemplate it. In the scene below, they weren’t in a home Tara recognized at all. It looked so odd like it was hanging in mid-air and not rooted to foundations in the ground. The walls, if that’s what they even were, were stark whites in all corners and bounced endless light.


It seemed almost unpalpable.


Unworldly.


Heavenly.


On the wall, a photo hung of the three of them with huge smiles on their faces, celebrating something. Off to the side, was somebody else.


“Is Sandra Bullock in that photo?” Tara asked in surprise.


“No,” Joy scoffed, “Uh. Yes. You’ll see. Not important.”


Willow stood under the photo and wrapped her arm around Joy’s shoulders.


“Thanks for coming up to see us. We’re not technically supposed to celebrate Christmas anymore, but it is your birthday so we have an excuse.”


“Are you kidding?” an older Joy smiled just like Tara, “I much prefer coming up than you coming down, which usually means I’m at least going to have to break a nail.”


Willow sighed deeply.


“I fear things are going to get worse before they’re going to get better,” she said and turned to Joy importantly, “Joy, you have to know.”


“Yeah, yeah, you love me, whatever,” Joy dismissed, though with a warm smile.


“I do. We do,” Willow nodded solemnly, “But I want you to know, that this night…”


She pointed to the picture.


“This night I saw you become a woman and how you took on that transition with the essence of who you are. With joy. This was the night I knew whatever happened, that it would all be okay. That the world was safe in your hands.”


Joy’s smile faltered.


“I don’t know if I want the responsibility of the world.”


“Nobody does,” Willow replied wisely, “But we step up because it’s the right thing to do. I never wanted this responsibility to be yours. But if it is to be, I know there’s no better shoulders to heed it.”


The scene went black again.


“She said it was one of the greatest nights of her life,” Joy whispered reverently, “I was confused because, well…I got pretty wasted.”


Tara made some kind of energy-tongue-clicking noise.


“What?” Joy rebuffed haughtily, “I was legal. It was my 21st. It was…now. Your 'now'.”


Tara gasped suddenly.


“I know where Mom is,” she said and the blue light disappeared, “Let’s go.”


For all Willow knew, it was a single second after she sent her wife and daughter to the nether realms when she felt the tug of their return.


She gasped loudly and then the two lying bodies awoke in the same manner.


The candles blew out on the circle and Willow quickly came to hover over her girls.


“Tara? Joysie? Are you okay?”


Tara’s hand came up behind Willow’s neck as she caught her breath. Her other hand opened and revealed a glowing, translucent orb.


Willow frowned.


“A katra? Are we switching bodies again?”


Tara sat up while Joy held her head in a woozy motion.


“It’s not a draconian katra,” Tara explained quickly, “It’s a mirrored katra.”


Joy let out a sound of pained annoyance.


“Can someone please tell me where my Mom is?”


Tara turned to her daughter.


“In us,” she replied softly, “Where she feels most safe. Look.”


She held the katra up to the sun and onto the walls was reflected a wonderful burst of red light straight through Tara and Joy.


“She split her energy into the two of us so nobody nefarious could detect her if they were looking.”


Willow’s nose scrunched.


“Does that mean I’ve been having sex with myself?”


“Mom, GROSS!” Joy covered her ears with her hands and looked to Tara, “How do I get her back?”


Tara looked at Willow wryly.


“Can we borrow your body for a bit?”


“Hardly the first time,” Willow chuckled, then pointed a finger between the other two, “We need to unbind you first. I’m not sending you back with them. You’ll have to endure the next decade or so with me in person, thank you very much.”


Tara kissed Willow’s cheek and turned to Joy.


“We’re just unbinding physically, darling. You’re bound to our hearts, always.”


“Gag,” Joy replied but allowed Tara to stroke her hair as she got up to get something from the magic closet.


Willow exhaled a soft breath and reached out to touch Joy’s cheek.


“So are you ever going to make us grandmothers?”


Suddenly Joy smiled and put a hand over her stomach.


“Who do you think I’m saving the world for?”


Willow’s eyes widened. Joy winked a put a finger against her lips.


Tara returned with the binding rope and they went through the process of unbinding, checking their energies in the katra to be sure.


“What do we do now?” Joy asked.


Tara held the katra out in front of them all.


“On three. One.”


Willow put her hand over Tara’s.


“Two.”


Joy raised her hand and from reassuring nods, placed her hand on top.


“Three.”


The katra burst light out from under their knuckles and then hit Willow square in the chest, making her fall back into the thankfully still-placed pillows.


The light scattered almost as soon as it shone and the katra dropped to the ground as a dull rock.


Willow gasped into consciousness as the others clambered above her.


She blinked several times and then burst out in a watery smile, reaching up to touch their cheeks with shaking hands.


“Tara. Joy,” she said with thick emotion in her voice, “I knew you’d find me.”


Tara leaned down and kissed Willow softly. Joy allowed it.


“Always,” Tara promised and bumped Willow’s nose, “You can’t stay for a chat this time. Sounds like you have a very eventful life to go back to.”


Willow’s eyes blinked again.


“It’s…” she took in a deep breath, “Our destiny.”


Tara nodded once against Willow’s forehead.


“I’ll get new candles.”


Tara went over to the magic closet again while Joy and Willow had an intense, hushed discussion. Eventually, Joy came over to Tara just as she was returning.


“Mama told me something with her last breath,” she said to Tara, who frowned slightly at the intensity of her daughter’s voice and the words themselves, “Mom agrees that you should know. That you need to prepare. It's the only way to get things right this time.”


Joy looked back at Willow, who nodded. Joy turned back to Tara.


“Do with the magic what you did with the slayers,” she said, being careful and specific with her language, “Use the Doll’s Eye crystal like the scythe. Activate all of the witches, Mama. And when the people fight with you, not against you, you’ll take your rightful place as Mother Earth.”


Tara inhaled softly but deeply.


“Mothers Earth,” Joy amended quickly and saw a lot of emotion play across her mother’s face, “The guides you were always meant to be, not the warriors you were forced to become. But you have time. Enjoy it. My twenties are a hoot, let me tell you.”


She opened her hand to reveal the broken Doll’s Eye crystal she’d brought with her. Tara did the same with her opposite hand.


They started to glow in each other’s presence again and Tara and Joy naturally brought them together. They crackled and started to fuse into one giant crystal.


Tara held it in her palm and felt its power. She looked at her daughter with tears in her eyes.


“You always have been and always will be our biggest joy.”


Joy closed her arms around her mother.


“Merry Christmas, Mama.”


“Happy Birthday, Joysie,” Tara whispered back.


“My loves,” Willow called from the circle, “It’s been too long since I’ve held my goddess. Can we hurry this thing up?”


Both Joy and Tara laughed.


“Yes. Let’s get you both home and get me my Willow back to have this wonderful party tonight.”


Joy laid back down beside Willow and they clasped hands.


“Let’s go home, baby girl.”


Tara closed the circle and lit the candles closest to her.


“See you later, loves.”


They all shared the same warm smile.


”Taqadam lil'amam.”


Tara blew out the candle.


Willow and Joy’s bodies arched in perfect harmony and then twisted in a gasping mess.


“Willow, Joy?” Tara asked, scooting up close between them.


“Here, baby,” Willow sighed, closing her hand around Tara’s arm, “All on my own.”


Joy, meanwhile was spluttering as she looked around.


“Uhhh…moms?”


“Um,” Tara started, glancing to Willow who looked equally alarmed.


“Uhh…”


Joyce suddenly stood, irate.


“I thought you stopped floating me to your room when I was six! Seriously, it’s creepy! I’m twenty-frickin’-one if you haven’t noticed!” she folded her arms over her chest before they dropped and her face lit up, “I’m 21! It’s my birthday! And Christmas! Are there presents under the tree?!”


She ran out without another word and her footsteps were thunderous on the stairs. Willow and Tara looked at each other again and shared an exhale.


“We have to stop meeting like this,” Willow said with a grin and Tara laughed.


“I have a feeling that was the last time.”


Tara stood up and helped Willow up as well. They quickly tidied away the materials they’d used before heading downstairs to join Joy.


“Hey, did you cheat on me with me again?” Willow asked as they stepped off the last stair.


“She went through a rough time. She needed a little sugar,” Tara justified herself.


Willow shook her head with a mock scowl.


“You just can’t control yourself around me.”


Tara bumped Willow’s hip.


“Ain’t that the truth.”


Willow grinned and kissed Tara’s cheek.


“Come here, Sandy B!” Joy called, playing with the same cat-on-a-string other-Joy had been earlier.


The cat raced toward Joy and followed her circling on the string. Aphrodite lay in the spot she always had, unperturbed by any of the events of this morning.


Willow and Tara sat on their plush couch and smiled as Joy started ripping into her gifts with the same energy she had as a six-year-old.


After some traditional Christmas pancakes, Tara took Joy out to go ice-skating. It was another tradition, as having her birthday lie on Christmas Day excluded a lot of activities being opened. Willow often came to watch (she broke her arm the one time she tried to participate) but this time opted to stay home today to 'tend to dinner', though as Tara always prepped so that things just needed to be slid into the oven, this was obviously an excuse.


When they returned, Tara called out loudly.


“We’re home! Coming through the door right now!”


“Oh my god, you’re so lame,” Joy rolled her eyes.


Having a birthday on Christmas Day was pretty counter-intuitive to having a good party but she had to give it to her parents, they always made her feel like the most special person in the world on that day.


Every day.


Walking into the living room they were assaulted by balloons and banners embossed with ‘21’. Had they had a hastily scrawled in ‘+’ beside them, they would remind Tara of a day not unlike this many years ago.


All of Joy’s favorite candies were in little bowls on the coffee table, which the cats were trying to steal. Christmas music played and Willow was wearing a Chrisyulenukkah sweater Tara had made for her a few years ago with a Santa-hat-wearing menorah standing on a log sewn into it.


Multiple devices were set up with Buffy and Dawn videoing in from San Diego, Xander from wherever he was still traveling around in that old car of his, and even Giles and Olivia had zoomed from England, though their images were currently upside down.


“Quit it,” Willow nudged the cats’ paws away from the candies before offering a beaming smile, “Happy Birthday my little almond Joy!”


She popped a party popper and sent confetti everywhere, which made the cats flee. Behind her, there were lots of cheers and the buzz of interfering devices.


“Happy Birthday kiddo!”


“Happy Birthday mini-Will!”


“Happy Birthday Joy!”


“Yes, quite an achievement in this family. Happy 21st birthday darling Joy.”


Willow served everyone some punch so they could raise a toast.


“To my not-so-little girl and all of the greatness I see in her,” Willow beamed at her daughter, “The world is so gosh darn lucky I accidentally knocked your mom up.”


Everyone laughed, bar Joy who made a pained face.


“You guys are so gross. Please tell me at some point you’ll stop being gross?”


“I wouldn’t count on it, kid,” Willow grinned.


After some Scooby-style virtual celebrations, Willow looked giddy about something.


“I have a surprise for you,” she said as she went through the door to the kitchen and popped her head back out, “I tried to get you a real video but after her agent, and I quote, told me ‘the next time you harass my client, I’m filing charges’, I had to settle for this.”


She produced a life-sized cut-out of Sandra Bullock. Joy just blinked.


“Uhh…”


“Oh, this makes more sense,” Tara said while trying not to think of the fact that she’d already seen a photograph they were yet to take, “Why Sandra Bullock?”


“Because she loves her?” Willow replied with a haughtily raised chin which faltered when she just got blank looks, “She called her cat after her!”


Joy’s nose scrunched.


“No, I didn’t.”


Willow’s arms fell by her side.


“Sandy B!”


“That’s short for Sandy Beach,” Joy replied slowly, “Because his fur is like white sand on a beach? Have you seriously not known that all these years?”


“But, but!” Willow started to splutter, “You watched Practical Magic on repeat as a kid! It almost burned into the screen!”


Joy arched an eyebrow.


“Do you know how little positive witch representation is out there? You should, you're the one who bleated on at me about it!”


Tara pushed Joy toward Willow.


“Just take a picture with the cut-out for your mother.”


Willow sighed and put her arm around her daughter. She scowled back at Sandra Bullock.


“Should’ve known no daughter of mine would admire someone who did ‘Speed 2’,” she mumbled before squeezing Joy’s arm, “Just take a picture with us, instead, okay? Stupid Sandy.”


She opened her other arm for Tara to cuddle into her. Joy held her new phone out to take the photo with the cardboard Sandy creeping surreptitiously in the back.


“Say ‘Christmas Joy’!” Willow announced and they all repeated it as the photo took.


Joy looked at it and smiled.


“Can I show off my gift haul to slayer central?”


“Sure, honey,” Tara laughed.


Joy grinned up to her eyes.


“Can I have a beer?”


Willow and Tara glanced at each other.


“Sure, honey,” Willow said this time, “You deserve it. But it’s still the afternoon. How about some hard ‘nog all around?”


Tara smiled and nodded while Willow went to get a tray of eggnog. She left one by Joy, who had zoomed into the slayer HQ downtown and was showing off her gifts and how she dared to drink in front of her parents. The cats were interested in all the hubbub and even Aphrodite was showing affection and celebration of her human. Joy and love went hand in hand, after all. And now, thanks to Joy, she would one day know the truth of being a feline Goddess. Until then, she would just believe she is anyway.


None of them had any idea that the slayers, and other friends of Joys, would be crashing and trashing the house later and that one nog would turn into endless jello shots.


But they didn’t need to know that yet.


Sometimes it was okay not to know the future.


Sometimes it was hard to think of anything but.


All that mattered was that both situations invoked happiness and Tara felt nothing but as Willow sat with her and handed off a nog.


“The best thing we’ve ever been is mothers,” Tara said as she leaned her head onto Willow’s shoulder, “Think you’re up for it again?”


Willow chuckled.


“I think we’re a little old, honey.”


Tara inhaled and exhaled softly.


“Somehow, I think we’re going to be a lot old.”


Willow raised a conspiring eyebrow.


“Grandmother old, even, perhaps.”


They cuddled closer together as they each thought of the knowledge of the future they’d attained. It would be shared, eventually, but it was too much for this day.


They deserved to have this day.


Willow kissed the top of Tara’s head.


“I’ll be a mother with you for all eternity if you’ll have me.”


Tara sipped on her eggnog and cuddled impossibly closer.


“That just doesn’t seem like long enough.”


And so they lost themselves to the noise of Joy’s exuberance and the music playing over the speakers.


This feeling would etch itself into their souls forever.


Joy to the world
Then we sing
Let the angel voices ring

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

Love, The SeriesTwo For Joy/21+/Joy To The WorldInevitable/Infinitely

Confidential EternalA Twisted DateDachsund Through The Snow


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 8:42 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 447
Topics: 47
Joy To The World

Quote:
“Disemboweling Santa is not the one you want coming down your chimney.”

Take him over Speedo Santa any day.

Quote:
Santa trying to come through her back door.”

It gets worse. Someone get Cancel culture to cancel this dude.

Quote:
“I’m considering writing this all down as a novel,” Willow said seriously as she followed Tara over to the magic closet, “People would read this shit.”

Maybe, Maybe.



Yes, another addition for the 21+ series. Its been a while since I've read them but I definitely remember it for the brambles leathe genius, Its part of my canon head canon. But that's for a different review.

The way the past, present and future is weaved together is seamless and just gives a whole range of emotions in a short snippets adding depth the the relationship we know so well. Completely in the house theme of the 21+ series.
Of course it makes sense this time its Joy. Tara just takes it in her stride now, it must be Tuesday.

Its has heart and many funny moments. Bad gifts, high stakes. A past to cherish, a present to savour and a future to look forward to. That sums up the general feeling of Christmas.

And who else can say their parents roofied them on their twenty first and then started the ritual beginnings of getting off your face on booze.

I cried into a cold take away Chinese because my favourite show was ruined. I wish i could blame booze but one thing is for sure twenty-firsts are memorable.

Challenge part - mislabelled cassette and Sandra Bullock. Go team Sandra!
Challenge inclusions are fun its like where's Wally but with words.

_________________
Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2021 3:37 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:01 am
Posts: 542
Both stories are great in their own way. :bow
Dub, your story has many funny moments but is also a great character study for pre-"Family" Tara.

Laragh, I love your time travel trilogy and hope you will revisit these Willow and Tara and Joy in another story (although Tara's comment “I have a feeling that was the last time.” indicates this story is meant to be the last of this verse).

I'd like to know what will happen in the next few years to turn Willow and Tara into goddess-like super witches. And do I understand correctly that the cat Aphrodite will turn into some godlike creature as well?

I don't have time for more detailed feedback, but I loved the humor and the undying love between our favourite couple and their daughter which permeated the story.

I won't be able to comment on the board over the holidays so I already wish all writers and fellow readers a Merry Christmas.


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2021 4:32 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 447
Topics: 47
Quote:
Dub, your story has many funny moments but is also a great character study for pre-"Family" Tara.

Woohoo! I've got my first Will's redemption review. I count this as my board initiation complete.

I really didn't think about Tara much in this one and thought I used Xander too much so the fact it comes across as a great character study for Tara is a massive compliment. Thankyou for the feedback.

Happy Holidays (for legal reasons)

_________________
Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2021 7:04 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:22 pm
Posts: 4790
Topics: 50
Will's redemption wrote:

Laragh, I love your time travel trilogy and hope you will revisit these Willow and Tara and Joy in another story (although Tara's comment “I have a feeling that was the last time.” indicates this story is meant to be the last of this verse).


I think so. There's only so many times you can mess with time travel!

Quote:
I'd like to know what will happen in the next few years to turn Willow and Tara into goddess-like super witches.


I viewed it that it was their destiny to ascend to the roles of Mothers Earth and be the guardians of all witches and their dominion on earth.

Quote:
And do I understand correctly that the cat Aphrodite will turn into some godlike creature as well?


:lol she thinks so. More like a cat who lives in a heavenly dimension...who probably believes she runs it.

Quote:
I don't have time for more detailed feedback, but I loved the humor and the undying love between our favourite couple and their daughter which permeated the story.


I do love a good W/T family.

Quote:
I won't be able to comment on the board over the holidays so I already wish all writers and fellow readers a Merry Christmas.


Merry Christmas to you too!

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

Love, The SeriesTwo For Joy/21+/Joy To The WorldInevitable/Infinitely

Confidential EternalA Twisted DateDachsund Through The Snow


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2021 7:10 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:22 pm
Posts: 4790
Topics: 50
Dub wrote:
Joy To The World

Take him over Speedo Santa any day.


Well...you make a good point!

Quote:
It gets worse. Someone get Cancel culture to cancel this dude.


I think they did in the 1800s.

Quote:
Maybe, Maybe


Who knows?

Quote:
Yes, another addition for the 21+ series. Its been a while since I've read them but I definitely remember it for the brambles leathe genius, Its part of my canon head canon. But that's for a different review.


Oh thanks! Had never planned to revisit but when the inspiration fairy strikes...

Quote:
The way the past, present and future is weaved together is seamless and just gives a whole range of emotions in a short snippets adding depth the the relationship we know so well. Completely in the house theme of the 21+ series.


I do enjoy getting to write time travel...it's like you can throw every stumbling block away....because time travel!

Quote:
Of course it makes sense this time its Joy. Tara just takes it in her stride now, it must be Tuesday.


She's lived an interesting life with her joys...

Quote:
Its has heart and many funny moments. Bad gifts, high stakes. A past to cherish, a present to savour and a future to look forward to. That sums up the general feeling of Christmas.


I like that summation very much.

Quote:
And who else can say their parents roofied them on their twenty first and then started the ritual beginnings of getting off your face on booze.


Not me, that's for sure.

Quote:
I cried into a cold take away Chinese because my favourite show was ruined. I wish i could blame booze but one thing is for sure twenty-firsts are memorable.


Mine sucked too if it's any consolation.

Quote:
Challenge part - mislabelled cassette and Sandra Bullock. Go team Sandra!
Challenge inclusions are fun its like where's Wally but with words.


I love challenges for that very reason!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

Love, The SeriesTwo For Joy/21+/Joy To The WorldInevitable/Infinitely

Confidential EternalA Twisted DateDachsund Through The Snow


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2021 4:28 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 11:19 am
Posts: 285
Topics: 5
Location: Wales
Author - GrimCityGirl
Title - Untitled
Rating - R
Disclaimer - Don’t own the characters, blahblahblah
AU - this is a little AU. I’d say it’s technically tail end of season 4, as Buffy is happily with Riley, Anya is happily with Xander, and Tara and Willow have a new recently ‘out’ relationship with the gang - however, as it’s a 21st birthday related challenge, I’m upping their ages a little. So just … go with it, I guess?
NOTES - I didn't get this beta'd because I was running out of time so if there's mistakes, I'm sorry! Also there's a lot of poker terminology in this because... well I like poker. I tried to make it obvious what things were so hopefully it's not confusing. I'm also not particularly proud of this piece it feels super shallow and silly and also like a rip off of something I can't quite place but it's the idea I came up with so, bugger it.


UNTITLED (genuinely can't think of one)


Anya had a plan.

She normally wasn’t one for social events with ‘the scoobies’, finding most of them fairly tiresome to be around and every time she had to spend time with them was time spent away from having sex with Xander. A point that, every time she mentioned it, resulted in embarrassment and annoyance from his friendship group.

She wasn’t fond of them, or spending time with them, but she was very, very fond of Xander, and knew how much they meant to him.

Xander was turning 21, and was the last of the scoobies to do so as his birthday fell during the middle of december.

Most years he did not celebrate his birth, as people seemed more focused on Christmas and he had no desire to spend time with his own family or really celebrate himself, which Anya knew - but she wanted to celebrate him, and bring him a little bit of the ‘christmas cheer’ humanity seemed so fond of.

As it was a society-defined-notable age and he’d had a rough year with lots of disappointing jobs, she wanted him to be happy, so she was planning a little surprise party.

From her viewings of various movies (pornography and ‘the other boring ones’) she understood that parties needed copious amounts of alcohol, presents, open mindedness, and party games, but more importantly than all of those, they need a safe location.

Xander was currently living in his parents run down, mouldy basement and Anya knew that no amount of frivolity could make that location fun or relaxing, so she decided on a different course of action.

Anya had shown up unannounced one day to the Summers home and spoken to Joyce, explaining to her that she needed to borrow her home for a surprise party for Xander. Joyce agreed, despite not really being given a choice in the matter by the eager and pushy ex demon. Joyce had planned to visit family at some point soon anyway, and used this excuse as an opportunity to do so - being happy to contribute to Xanders celebration in some small way.

Knowing there would be no pesky parental supervision around pushed Anya’s plans further forward. She informed all of the guests (Buffy, Riley, Willow, and that shy girl she was dating) that they had to arrive before them, no later than 8pm and they needed to bring gifts, booze, and a willingness to have ‘fun’. All of the guests were concerned with what this ‘fun’ would entail but agreed nonetheless, all of them knowing Xander needed some love, and for some reason Anya is one of those things that brings him joy.
On the fateful day, Anya demanded Xander ‘stop by’ the Summers home, telling him she’d left a nail file and her maracas there on their last visit. Xander wasn’t quite sure what a nail file was or why she even owned maracas, but he knew better than to question Anya so he agreed.

As soon as he opened the door, his four friends jumped out from behind furniture and yelled “Surprise!”. Buffy was nearest the doorway, standing in front of the edge of the sofa, with a large grin on her face. Riley was standing slightly behind her with a smaller but genuine smile and holding a half full beer bottle, Willow was near the end of the stairs and grinned at him while simultaneously giving him a little wave, and Tara shuffled slightly behind Willow and meekly said “surprise” not finding the volume to yell.

Xander immediately felt lighter in his heart from the small gesture, not remembering the last time anyone cared about his birthday as his parents certainly never remembered.

“Whoa, you guys! What’s all this?” he asked, gesturing to the living room that he now realised was decorated with birthday balloons and banners, almost not believing what he was seeing. It was incredibly touching, although the bright blue and friendly birthday decorations clashed quite terribly with the Christmas decorations and lights that the Summers had put up in their home already. The main banner had been attached from the mirror over the fireplace to the top of the christmas tree.

If Xander had a more cynical state of mind he may have thought it was garish and ridiculous, but he was too surprised and happy to care.

“It is human custom to celebrate your birthday, and today is your 21st! So that means extra celebrating with copious amounts of liquid meant to intoxicate you and make you inebriated!” Anya said excitedly, kissing him on the cheek afterwards.

Riley leaned forward and stage whispered “It was Anya’s idea” to get Xander more clued up.

Xander turned to his girlfriend with a look of affection, adoring the notion that she went out of her way to care for him like this.

“Ahn, this is… I can’t even…” he could feel himself getting emotional, something he would normally fix with a quick joke but he was at a loss for words.

In a quiet moment of understanding, Anya gave him a silent hug, stroking his back as she held him.

She knew no matter how the night played out, that she’d done the right thing, judging by his reaction.

She still wanted to make it the best night it could possibly be, though.

She let go of him, and pulled something out of her pocket. “Ok, enough of that. Let’s party!”
A loud POP went off after she finished her sentence and the gathered group were covered in glitter and falling multicoloured ribbons of paper from the surprisingly large party popper she had set off, which had automatically put Buffy into an attack stance on pure instinct.

“Anya, you really should warn people!” Willow responded in annoyance, shaking the falling paper out of her hair while Tara’s eyes were still wide from the sudden action.

“Oh calm down, Riley put on some music! Buffy, go get Twister! Willow, grab some snacks and… “ she paused, briefly forgetting Tara’s name “...you. Sit down, or something? I’m going to get our first lot of drinks!” Without waiting for a response, she briskly walked to the kitchen, leaving the group slightly awkwardly standing.

“This is lovely, guys. Really” Xander repeated, wanting them to know he appreciated them letting Anya ‘take charge’, not that they would have much of a choice.

Riley patted Xanders shoulder and nodded in the closest form of affection for a man he could muster.

“Happy birthday, Buddy. Any requests?” He asked, pointing towards the stereo with his thumb.

“Let’s go Rock. it’s a party after all, right?” He responded, cheekily throwing the little rock and roll devil horns hand signal up, then realising that may not be wise in Sunnydale and immediately put his hand down. Riley missed the movement and went over to the stereo, finding a compilation CD full of great rock bands and quickly music filled the room.

Willow had procured various bags of pretzels and chips, as well as a box of donuts. She put the majority of snacks on the coffee table but held the donuts open to Xander.

“No Giles tonight, so you can steal the jellies guilt free!” she gleefully commented, poking her tongue out at him slightly.

Xander grinned and stuffed most of a donut in his mouth, the jelly slightly falling out of the sides and smearing his lips.

“He must never know it’s me” he mock demanded thickly with a mouth full of donut. Willow pulled a slightly disgusted face in response but laughed while she did so.

Buffy had returned to the room with boxes of various games. “She didn’t really mean Twister, right?” she asked, hoping Anya had suddenly discovered a sense of humour.

Just as she was asking, Anya returned to the room with a tray full of shots of unknown liquid.

“First wave. Everyone drink!” she went around them all indicating to the tray, making it very clear they were expected to take one.
“Wow, Ahn. shots already? That’s a big start” Xander commented, slightly concerned.

“Well we’ve got gifts and games to participate in, so they would be much more enjoyable if everyone was in higher literal spirits.”

Xander was never one to argue with her so he shrugged and down the shot in one.

Buffy and Riley quickly followed, while Willow hesitated and turned to Tara to tell her she didn’t have to, just in time to see her girlfriend down the shot as well.

“You didn’t have to do that, you know” Willow whispered to her.

“It’s his b-birthday. I can b-b-be more f-fun.” she muttered, still shy around Willow’s friends but wanting to find her feet and become a part of them.

Willow was intrigued by Tara’s behaviour, so she joined her in the shot.

—----------

The frivolities had begun. Anya had convinced everyone to have a drink in their hand at all times while they ordered and ate pizza, chatted, and danced to the radio for the first hour and a half of the night.

Everyone had relaxed slightly from the end of their first full drink they consumed after their first wave of shots had settled, and were now all quite merry after finishing ‘wave 3’. Each wave had slightly different coloured alcohol in it, but nobody questioned Anya.

“TIME FOR PRESENTS!” Anya declared loudly and suddenly, causing Buffy to shriek and accidentally fall off the edge of the sofa onto the floor. She giggled and hiccuped at the same time.

“Presents?” Xander asked in delight, having a better birthday so far than any he could remember since his childhood.

“Presents” Willow confirmed, bringing two wrapped gifts over to him. Riley and Buffy also placed gifts down next to Xander, and Anya disappeared to the basement door and then returned with a tall, thin, and weirdly shaped wrapped gift.

Xander’s brow ruffled into confusion “Uh… what… what is that?” he asked.

“Well open it and find out!” Anya yelled triumphantly.

Xander stood, and gave the odd shaped gift a once over from both sides before finding a presumably easy seam.

The group looked on in mild amusement, just as confused as he was.

He pulled the seam, ripping the paper, to reveal a strip of what was beneath - but all he could see was a close up image of a woman's chest.

“Uh…” he paused, waiting for his alcohol fussed brain to make sense of what he was saying.

Riley immediately chuckled at the image, Buffy snorted beer through her nose, while Willow purposely averted her eyes, and caught Tara’s gaze. Both smiling at each other with reddening cheeks.

“Oh come on” Anya sighed in frustration before standing up, ripping the rest of the paper off, and revealing a surprisingly provocative cardboard cut out of Sandra Bullock.

“That’s Sandra Bullock” Xander stated obviously.

The majority of the gang giggled in alcohol tinted confusion.

“Yes! I’ve noticed you pay special attention to her in films she appears in, I thought this could help you achieve release on evenings I’m not with you!” Anya proudly explained, very proud of herself.

Willow muttered “Oh God” under her breath while Buffy turned to Riley and quietly asked “What film is that cut out even from?!”

Xander, turning beetroot in embarrassment, stood up and kissed his girlfriend briefly on the cheek.

“Ahn that’s uh, very thoughtful. Thanks so much. Let’s open other gifts later, yeah? Let’s play games guys!” He desperately called out to the others, wanting very much to move the subject along.

“Oh, if you want to play games you should open this gift!” Willow excitedly shoved a gift in his hand, thinking it may also help him move on from what would later be referred to as “The Bullock Incident”.

Xander silently thanked her with his eyes before ripping the paper open and finding a brand new box of weighted poker chips, beautifully detailed.

“Wow, Will. these look awesome!” Xander grinned at his oldest friend.

“Don’t thank me - Tara picked them out. She thought they’d improve our poker games at yours”

Xander smiled in surprise at Tara, who was blushing and dipping her head to avoid the sudden attention.

“Thank you, Tara”

“Y-you’re welcome” she muttered, before picking up her drink and taking a surprisingly large chug from the glass.

“LET’S DO GAMES!” Buffy suddenly yelled, completely oblivious to the moment of brief bonding happening in front of her.

“In door voice, honey” Riley quietly said behind her whilst rubbing her back.

“Where’s the twister?” Anya asked, rooting around the party detritus that had accumulated in the living room.

Buffy pretended to be confused “Oh… I don’t know, I couldn’t find it, sorry Anya!” Buffy held her fake confusion on her face for as long as she could, which was about 4 seconds. Luckily for her, Anya had already looked away before that point.

“Oh well, we’ll play strip poker instead! - I’ll go get wave 4!” Anya immediately stormed off to the kitchen before anyone could respond to her.

The group looked at each other in a shocked, deathly silence.

—---------------

As expected, Anya got her way. Wave 4 and 5 had been consumed before the group would agree to strip poker and they were still incredibly reluctant, but Anya refused to take no for an answer.

There had been one round so far - they had chosen to play standard texas hold em’, with the caveat being that if you won the hand against multiple people, you chose who removed an item of clothing, and if you won a hand against only one other person, they had no choice but to remove an item.

They had also included a penalty of a shot for those that folded before the ‘flop’ to stop people from folding every hand.

They all sat around the coffee table - Xander sat on the sofa, while Riley sat to his left with his back against it. Buffy, Willow and Tara were sat cross legged on the floor, and Anya had found a foot stool to perch on to Xander’s right.

One round of the coffee table meant 6 hands, and so far the clothing loss was fairly tame.

Xander was in his tank top, his bright short sleeve button down shirt thrown over to the corner. Willow had managed to unluckily be chosen twice but had the sense to remove a sock both times, leaving her bare footed but perfectly dressed. Riley had also been chosen twice and had followed Willow’s lead by sitting sock less for the time being, and Anya - the obviously not timid type - was sitting topless except for her bra amongst the mostly clothed people, and she didn’t seem to care.

Xander was the dealer at the start of the round, he shuffled the cards and dealt them all 2 cards each. Due to the shot for folding rule, most of the table would automatically put their chips in for the first round to start, but Willow decided to fold her hand and take the shot instead, as she was running out of innocent items to drop.

After the rest of the chips were in, Xander pulled 3 cards from the deck and put them face up on the table, creating the ‘flop’.

As Riley was to Xander’s left, it was his turn first.

“I’m in for 50c” Riley threw 2 chips onto the table in front of him, purposely keeping a neutral expression on his face.

Buffy, not one for serious playing but weirdly lucky regardless drunkenly yelled “RAAAAISE!” and threw 4 chips in front of her, grinning while she did so.

As Willow had folded, Tara was next to play. She had managed to avoid the clothing risks by just folding at the flop stage, but her pile of chips was diminishing and Anya had made it clear that whoever went bust first would have to strip down to just their underwear, so she chose to be brave.

“Call” Tara announced, adding 4 chips to the center. Willow looked at her sideways, keeping silent, but then rested her left hand on Tara’s thigh as a show of support.

Tara was surprised by the physical affection, as they had been very chaste with each other in public. She presumed it was down to the newness of their relationship in the public eye, but also wondered if it was due to the slow acceleration of their intimacy thus far. They had been ‘out’ for weeks but had yet to take things to the next step in private.

She was terrified of pushing the physical side of their relationship, as she didn’t want to pressure Willow or scare her, but each day was more torturous than the last as being with Willow, kissing her, was beyond the scope of arousal that she had ever imagined possible.

Tara, slightly bolder from her alcohol consumption, gave Willow a once over with her eyes, before settling her gaze into her, and giving her a small half smile.

Willow smiled in response, not quite understanding but liking the reaction she got.

Anya, Xander and Riley all called to Buffy’s raise, and Xander put down ‘the turn’, showing a fourth card face up.

The gang all called “check”, much to Tara’s relief, and Xander put down ‘The River’, the final card face up on the table.

Riley checked, but Buffy laughed. “No way, boyfriend! I bet! Two dollars!” she threw some chips onto the table and Riley groaned next to her.

Tara very carefully counted out chips and put them in the center and simply stated “Call” as quietly as she could.

“Ooh, yeah! Go Tara!” Buffy exclaimed, smiling genuinely at the girl.

Anya, Xander and Riley folded.

“Ok Tara - show me what you got! … I mean, cards wise.”

Tara put her two cards on the table - pocket Kings.

Buffy smiled smugly at her.

“Oh, that’s good. But not as good as a flush!” Buffy put her two diamonds on the table, and gestured to the other 3 diamonds in the river.

Buffy dragged the chips towards her.

“He he, sorry Tara but - your time has come! What’cha taking off?” Buffy gleefully asked, clearly more affected by the alcohol than everyone else.

“It’s okay sweetie, just take off a sock like I did” Willow smiled at her girlfriend gently.

“I wore sandals, r-remember? No socks.” Tara shrugged. Feeling oddly okay with the situation.

“Oh” Willow remarked. Wondering what Tara would do.

“Take something offfff, wooo!” Buffy giggled to herself, thoroughly enjoying the game so far.

Tara shrugged and in a confident move she didn’t know she possessed, she started unbuttoning her blouse.

“Tara you don’t have to” Willow protested, feeling awful that her girlfriend was in this position.

“It’s the rules, I don’t mind” Tara shrugged both the concern and the blouse off, leaving her in a satin black bra.

And Willow very, very obviously stared in shock and arousal.

“Wow” she whispered under her breath.

“You have very shapely, attractive breasts Tara. No wonder Xander checks you out occasionally” Anya commented matter of factly, wanting to compliment their new friend for embracing something she would be uncomfortable with.

Xander went red in the cheeks again “Hey, Anya - maybe we’re due another wave?” he asked her, hoping to change the subject while also distracting himself from staring at Willow’s girlfriend.

“Ooh good idea! I’ll go get the next wave!” She excitedly exited the room and went to the kitchen.

Buffy stacked her chips happily while Xander shuffled the next deck and Willow continued to blatantly stare, in an almost shocked state.

As Anya was returning with the tray, Buffy looked up and noticed the intensity coming from her best friend. She rolled her eyes and muttered “Geez Will, you’re acting like you’ve never seen them before!” from the comment, Tara held her head down in embarrassment and Willow’s eyes went wide as she turned red.

“Wait, really? You haven’t seen her breasts? You guys haven’t slept together yet?!” Anya asked incredulously, wondering what on earth they spent all their time together doing if it wasn’t providing each other with plentiful orgasms.

Tara managed to force out the words “Excuse me” before darting to the bathroom to hide.

“Not that it’s any of your business but, no. We’re taking it slow.” Willow responded in annoyance, standing to follow her girlfriend.

“No offense, Will but that seems… reeeally slow.” Buffy commented, surprised as well by the information.

Willow looked at her in anger, expecting this kind of conversation from Anya but not from Buffy. Without a word she stormed off towards the bathroom.

When outside the door she breathed out slowly to calm herself down from her anger, and knocked lightly on the door.

“Sweetie? Can I come in?”

Tara opened the door without a word, letting Willow slip into the room.

“I’m so sorry about that, we’re not big drinkers and they can be a little…” Willow started to explain, but was cut off by Tara’s lips.

Tara had run off because she was embarrassed, but also because she was annoyed at herself. She couldn’t just wait for Willow to take the initiative. So she decided she was going to take advantage of her inebriated state and let Willow know she was ready for more.

She pressed her lips to Willow’s, harder and more passionately than normal. She let her tongue slip out to tease Willow’s lips, encouraging her to open up to her, so she could explore.

Surprised but immediately aroused, Willow responded by letting Tara’s tongue into her mouth and moaned around the muscle, amazed by how heated this had become so quickly.

She ran her fingers down Tara’s shirtless back, feeling her skin for the first time, and felt her entire body shiver in response.

Tara reacted to the touch with a responding moan, and moved her hands down to cup Willow’s ass, squeezing slightly as she took hold.

After a few moments of passionate kissing and caresses, Willow pulled back a little.

“Wow” she said for the second time that evening.

“Was that okay?” Tara asked, a little afraid she’d pushed too far.

“Oh. yes. Very okay. Really okay. The most okay that anything has ever been” Willow chuckled and smiled at her in delight.

“We haven’t… talked about it, a-and we’ve been m-making out a little but… are you ready f-for…” Tara stumbled over her words a little but was doing her best to get this out.

“Yes” Willow responded before she could finish the sentence, and smiled at her, gliding her fingers into Tara’s hair while pulling her head towards her, kissing her with vigor.

After another minute of passionate kissing Tara pulled back.

“Not in Buffy’s bathroom, though” Tara gestured around them.

“Oh fuck we’re at Buffy’s” Willow responded, only just remembering why they were here in the first place.

The two girls giggled at their predicament.

Suddenly they heard Anya yell from the hallway.

“Unless you two are scissoring away in there, you may want to rejoin the party. We’re giving up on poker and will instead be moving onto drinking games!” the vague sound of “Yay!” could be heard from Buffy in the background.

The girls shrugged at each other and smiled, walking hand in hand back into the main room.

—-----------

The night wore on and everyone drank way, way too much. 'Never Have I Ever' resulted in some interesting stories coming to light, like the fact that Riley can ride a horse backwards, Xander was once caught masturbating by a teacher in high school, and that Anya once delivered a vengeance wish to a previous American president.

While some tales were embarrassing, the group found themselves enjoying the evening immensely and actually feeling closer to each other than before. Tara had managed to come out of her shell after the small embarrassment, and even bonded slightly with Anya (much to Willow’s disappointment).

At the end of the evening, while everyone was getting ready to leave, Xander held up his hands to stop them all.

“Guys… I just wanna say… this is the best birthday I’ve ever had. Thank you so much Anya, for making this birthday so special and making me feel actually excited for christmas”

“You’re welcome, but the night is not over - when we get home I’m dressing you like santa and sitting in your lap, I’ll even let you come down my chimney” She grinned at him, and expected the gang to announce their disgust, but to her surprise they all laughed instead.

“I love you, Ahn” Xander responded, and kissed her on the forehead.

Tara smiled at the couple before putting her arm in Willow’s and whispering “Want to come back to my place?” raising her eyebrows suggestively.

“Yeah we can… oh. Oh!” Willow cottoned onto Tara’s drift and grinned immediately, then practically dragged her out the front door.

“BYE EVERYONE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY XANDER! ENJOY THE WEIRD CHRISTMAS SEX!” and they quickly jogged from the Summers residence, towards the next step of their relationship.

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2021 2:05 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 447
Topics: 47
Untitled (genuinely can’t think of one) – Its a title
Quote:
I'm also not particularly proud of this piece it feels super shallow and silly and also like a rip off of something I can't quite place but it's the idea I came up with so, bugger it.

Everything is a rip off of something. There is only so many ideas and even if you never know the original piece someone will still call it out. My theatre studies teacher once gave me one of, if not the worst piece of creative advice I’ve ever known. “If you like it use it” This was in response to me really liking a piece that had a silent ballet of sorts showing the mental struggle of depression and they used white sheets to drape over themselves but also mask them and make grotesque figures trying to break through the sheet to the main character. It was phenomenal. It was a personal piece as the actor was telling their story of depression. To say just to use it felt cheap and insulting. That was her story, she laid bare for everyone. That’s not for anyone to take. I’ve said before on this site my situation and the moment I got that piece of advice my brain redirected it as a never do.

If you like something, make it your own.

I don’t have her story but I have my own that could apply. I never did get to use it but if the opportunity comes up again, you be sure I’m using that scene as inspiration.
I’ve not read it yet but you said you like poker, you made this challenge and unless you’ve plagiarised it, these are your words. That’s means you’ve made it your own in my book. So buck up (lady) boyo, you’ve written a story, your own way. That’s something to be proud of even if not happy with the outcome. Not a rip off.

I should probably read it now.

Quote:
‘christmas cheer’ humanity seemed so fond of.

How do I undo my subscription to humanity? I’d like to pick a difference species to start the game with that isn’t fond of it. What reincarnation? How many life points will that use? That’s all of them? What all progress lost? Ok Anya I’m hanging with you for a while.

Quote:
copious amounts of alcohol, presents, open mindedness, and party games,

If you get the first point right the following points are redundant.

Quote:
that shy girl she was dating

Hey! You appreciated tiles together in Giles’s bathroom. That bonds people. Her name is Tara but for some god forsaken reason people call her terra, even herself. Giles knows how to say her name. Let’s not get into that argument. You know what, for now I’ll accept that shy girl from you Anya but she will be your best friend because subtext and lack of any other character interaction with Tara demands it. (Riley touched Tara’s shoulder once, I still laugh whenever I see it because it’s the most interaction they ever have)

Quote:
willingness to have ‘fun’

Anya asks for too much. I’m not on the guest list so it’s fine.

Quote:
Xander wasn’t quite sure what a nail file was or why she even owned maracas

For good times, that’s why.

Quote:
meekly said “surprise” not finding the volume to yell.

Everyone chooses to yell surprise while I sinisterly whisper it after the yelling is done and that’s the one that will stay with them.

Quote:
“Whoa, you guys! What’s all this?”

Your intervention! Now sit down and listen to our problems with you. Hopefully this goes better than grandma’s intervention where we told her, her breathing was a problem for our inheritance.

Quote:
If Xander had a more cynical state of mind he may have thought it was garish and ridiculous, but he was too surprised and happy to care.

I’ll care for you – It looks like the ugliest elf’s acne puss.

Quote:
she paused, briefly forgetting Tara’s name “...you. Sit down, or something?

I would slap you Anya if I could. Learn the hierarchy! Tara top, you’re second but only up to the end of ‘hells bells’ then you throw away all your character progression and are weened out as they have no use for you as they are killing you off any way. You know who can understand how that feels, that girl who you can’t remember her name.

Quote:
No Giles tonight, so you can steal the jellies guilt free!”

Buffy had three! There is no guilt when they eat Giles’s jelly filled. I bet they try and test how many they can have in correlation to the increase of glasses cleanings he does in one research session.

Quote:
“Wow, Ahn. shots already? That’s a big start” Xander commented, slightly concerned.

You weakling! Come to the UK, we will show you how it’s done.

Quote:
“It’s his b-birthday. I can b-b-be more f-fun.” she muttered, still shy around Willow’s friends but wanting to find her feet and become a part of them.

Tara welcome to the honorary Brit club. We don’t want to do it either but it’s just what we do because everyone else is.

Quote:
danced to the radio for the first hour and a half of the night.

That weather report is groovin’.

Quote:
Cardboard cut out of Sandra Bullock.

Three for three, Go Team Sandra!

Quote:
“The Bullock Incident”.

I’m sure there are many incidents with Anya where that u changes to an o.

Quote:
poker chips

Found Wally! Eeevvvveeeee? No, not that one.

Quote:
The group looked at each other in a shocked, deathly silence.

Into the breach!

Quote:
sitting sock less for the time being

Careful there, if you bring out wine with all that cheese this party will turn into a business meeting.

Quote:
Buffy, not one for serious playing

I see we have the same poker strategy. If you make everyone laugh constantly while playing they are left without control but the ones who snap back fast or are reluctant to pay attention to my observational delights are the ones not bluffing. Id rather that theory over they find me an annoying waste of oxygen but hey ill accept both and fold with gusto.

Quote:
Tara, slightly bolder from her alcohol consumption, gave Willow a once over with her eyes,

The moon to the tides

Quote:
“Take something offfff, wooo!” Buffy giggled

Buffy representing the vast majority of the Kitten Board.

Quote:
leaving her in a satin black bra.

Nothing to see, move it along

Quote:
Unless you two are scissoring away in there,

The rule is not to run with scissors not that you can’t make a paper people chain while on the defecation station.

Quote:
when we get home I’m dressing you like santa and sitting in your lap, I’ll even let you come down my chimney”

So close, so close to the end and I thought, hey I got away without the creep from the north pole. But nope. He is like a rash, just keeps coming back. Id say ill put cream on it but its Anya who's meant to say the Christmas related phrase/ pun/ comment.

You feel silly, I've been silly. the tone of the room is now silly. So we are normal. Consider your concerns about this piece quelled.

This is an Anya piece which instantly places it in the realms of a comedy. What I appreciate about this piece is your understanding of comedic tones between Anya and Tara. You have Anya who is larger than life, really out there so to get a laugh you cant really go higher with that so you have cleverly played Tara. her series four meek subdued personality plays so well into this to give the belly laughs. She provides the stark contrast giving the funny and straight man dynamic.
Anya has a plan she knows what she wants everyone to do. This steam train of energy and then Tara is just there like the roadrunner with a stop sign on the tracks.
When they interact I can see Anya do that thing she does with her head, where he stops, pulls her head back a bit by the neck and gives it a shake. just a physical representation of what is this?
All that is why I find Anya forgetting Tara's name the funniest part.

Embrace the silly. its an Anya fuelled piece, how could it be anything but. You deliver it your own way and its a fun read with some group bonding dynamics which is exactly what card games deliver.
Parties, Card games and Christmas - you've ticked all the boxes of your challenge.

_________________
Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2021 5:16 am 
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5. Willowhand
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Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 11:19 am
Posts: 285
Topics: 5
Location: Wales
Dub wrote:
.


Your commentary on my fic left me in hysterics, pretty sure it's funnier than the fic itself. I was reading through like "Ha I so get this" and you mention them pronouncing Tara 'Terra' and I was like "I HATE THAT TOO!" and then you mentioned the UK and I realised why. I didn't know you were a fellow brit! huzzah! the wine and cheese bit may have actually killed me.

Thanks for reading it and taking it at dumb face value, honestly for my story Sparks In Dust I haven't found a way to introduce Anya and she's one of my favourite characters so this seemed like an excuse to play with her character and just slot some willow and tara in for good measure.

Also any excuse for Buffy being drunk and happy.

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2021 6:12 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:34 am
Posts: 447
Topics: 47
Ssssssshhhhh, we shouldn't brag about our nationality. Other countries get massively jealous at how much we fuck up but just continue like a fart in the breeze. We had an empire 70 years ago! now we have Christmas number ones about sausage rolls.

Terra and Tara are two different names. Pick one America.

You have horses in Sparks in the Dust you could always get Tara to find her thinking she's been kicked in the head by a horse to explain her odd behaviour, then later on when you've found a purpose for her in your plot its revealed nope that's just Anya.

Pretty much just the latter with Buffy. If there's an excuse for cosmetic surgery on a teen the misery constantly on that girls face is enough of one. Face lift to the extreme.

_________________
Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2021 10:41 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:37 am
Posts: 337
Topics: 9
Location: Pacific Northwest
Sliding in just shy of the deadline, and it probably shows lol, but I had a lot of fun writing this!! Saving reading all the stories for tomorrow (it's till Christmas Eve here) Cannot wait!! Merry Christmas and Happy Solstice and whatever is special to you! (also, I'm really sorry if you like eggnog)



Special Isn't a Day


There was no snow in Sunnydale this Christmas, just blue clear skies and a proud sun that was making its early departure, slipping away to give space to the bright gibbous moon. Still, the air was cool, and the atmosphere inside the Summers’ home was warm and festive.

The woody scent of burning logs mingled perfectly with the pine of the well decorated tree, now blinking multi-colored lights on the tops of unwrapped presents and dropped needles. The angel that sat on top was slightly askew after Xander had jostled the tree trying to peer at the new blade that Giles had sent to Buffy.

The Scoobies lounged in the living area, Willow and Tara snuggled against the corner of the couch, Buffy on the other end laying with her feet against Willow’s curled shins. Anya was draped across Xander’s lap in one of the side chairs.

The end credit for It’s a Wonderful Life scrolled down the tv as Dawn came back in from the kitchen, waving a jug at the group.

“Anyone for more nog?” Dawn poured herself a second cup.

“And you are cut off after that,” Buffy instructed, pointing to Dawn’s drink even as she held out her own for a refill.

“I’m a lightweight anyway,” Dawn shrugged, refilling Willow’s and Xander’s mug. She waved the drink in Tara’s direction “Tara, you sure? It’s extra nutmeg-y.” Tara wrinkled her nose, glancing at Willow taking a sip from her own eggnog.

“No, thank you,” Tara shook her head, “Eggs are meant for omelets, and, you know, scrambles. I’m good.”

“You don’t even want to try?” Willow offered Tara a taste, ceasing at Tara’s determined shake of the head.

“More for us!,” Xander exclaimed, froth already forming a Christmas mustache on his lip, “Anya doesn’t like it either.”

“It looks like semen,” Anya stated, Xander and Willow both fighting the urge to spit the concoction as far from their mouths as possible, looking doomed as they swallowed. Anya, alternatively, looked delighted, throwing her hands in the air with a wide smile, “Oh! Like Santa’s cumming to town!”

Buffy stared into her drink, contemplating. Dawn shrugged, stirring in the nutmeg with her finger. Tara lost the battle of self control and burst out laughing, shifting Willow gently as she stood up, subtly commenting, “Wouldn’t know.”

“Don’t get me wrong, there are times when- “ Anya began, spurred on by Tara’s response, spluttering on her words when Xander clamped a hand over her mouth.

“For the love of Rudolph, please do not finish that sentence.”

“So, anyone want a hot toddy?” Tara asked, still chuckling, as she made her way to the kitchen, four hands raised and Tara cocked an eyebrow at Dawn, the only abstainer.

“I’m good.”

“And cut off,” Buffy reminded, rolling her eyes as Dawn happily drank her last nog.

Willow uncurled her legs and got up to follow Tara, holding her cup gingerly, clearly ruined from having it touch her lips again, “I’ll help, baby.”

In the kitchen, the kettle started to boil and Tara slipped her arms around Willow’s waist as they waited. “I’m sorry Anya ruined your drink, love.”

Willow shivered in her arms, casting a side eye at the now clean glass, “It’s ok. Well, I mean it’s not ok, I liked nog, like the drink, I mean,” Willow flushed brightly, smiling again as Tara rubbed their noses in soft kisses, giggling softly.

“Merry Christmas, baby.”

“Merry Christmas,” Willow returned, “I wish we had some mistletoe, could make me kissing you right now Christmas official.”

“There’s a poinsettia plant,” Tara pointed out, already whispering small pecks where Willow’s nose met her soft cheek, almost devoid of freckles of the winter months. Willow closed her eyes, relaxing into the feel of them together.

“They’re poisonous,” Willow mumbled absently.

“Well, then I suggest we don’t eat them,” Tara suggested, her voice a low husk and she moved her lips to meet Willow’s. They kissed softly, slowly, sensually, both women beginning to melt like candles in each others’ arms.The kettle blew loudly, and they peeled apart reluctantly.

They created the drinks together, stealing touches as often as they could, a soft brush of fingers as Tara passed the lemon to Willow, a soft kiss whenever their faces were near; still so tactile, so craving of the other even after three years together. Neither counted the time they were apart, didn’t subtract them from their total calculation. They both knew how much closer that time apart had eventually made them, so much more aware of what they never wanted to lose.

Soft carols now played from the radio as they rejoined their found family with drinks in hand, including a hot chocolate for Dawn. The four had cleared the center of the large coffee table, only some cookies and pretzels left for snacks, sitting around either side with obvious room left for the witches.

Tara handed out the drinks with a soft smile, “What are you doing?”

“Christmas poker! A man’s game!” Xander declared, shuffling the deck of cards in his hand with flourish, then immediately wilting under the mutual glares from the five women surrounding him, “or a….um, when is Giles getting here?”

Willow swatted him lightly on the back of his head as she passed to sit next to Tara. Buffy rolled her eyes, snickering, “His flight was delayed due to snow, hopefully he’ll be here tomorrow.”

Dawn sighed wistfully, “I wished we got snow, I mean that wasn’t mystically arranged… actually I don’t care, I just want snow.”

Tara nodded at her, wrapping her arm around Willow’s shoulder, fingers rubbing lightly over the plush of her green sweater, “I miss it, snow. It almost always snowed on Christmas growing up, it felt so magical, at least for the day. Then there was just a lot of shoveling involved.” Tara ended with a grimace.

Willow kissed Tara’s cheek softly, bringing the smile back in an adorable slant, “Did you make snow angels, baby?” Tara nodded.

“When I was really little I did.”

“I used to make snow angels on my boyfriend's farm,” Anya chimed in, “ back in the 1400s sometime. Gave me lots of ideas on how to use frostbite as a curse. It was fun.”

The last card slid across the table top and into Buffy’s hand, Xander proclaiming “Ok, let’s do this!”

“What are we betting?” Buffy asked.

Willow held up a bowl from the nearby side table, “Candy canes?”

“Candy canes it is!”

“Good, I hate candy canes,” Buffy grinned.

“That’s cuz you’re a freak,” Dawn commented, her ornament shaped earrings swaying as she collected her cards.

Buffy simply raised an eyebrow, pointing a glance at Dawn’s diminishing nog.

Cards were dealt, canes passed around. Tara hummed along with Bing Crosby as she claimed another pile, redistributing the candies to the Scoobies without comment.

Willow spoke around the candy cane between her lips, looking at Buffy, “Do you miss ice skating, Buffy?”

“So much,” Buffy nodded, fond wistful memories clear between the reflections of Christmas lights in her eyes.

“You ice skated?” Anya asked, dealing the next round of cards. Buffy nodded.

“Yeah, I was really good.” She glanced over, raising an eyebrow as Dawn scoffed, swirling her own candy cane in her drink.

“Well, of course you were good! You have slayer balance, and can stake ice…” Dawn trailed off when Tara ruffled her hair.

“Alright people focus!” Xander once again tried to bring them back.

Buffy rolled her eyes, “Can’t we play a game where we can talk to each other?”

“Cause we never talk to each other!” Xander retorted sarcastically.

“It’s not like you're winning,” Buffy teased and Xander mock scowled as Tara blushed and Willow giggled. Anya spoke up in his defense.

“One more round, He takes his manliness very seriously.”

The cards were sent around, antes made, everyone settling back in.

Dawn had managed to sneak her sister’s mug, the drink at her lips when Buffy’s hand shot out from the side and pried it away from her. Buffy shook her head, ignoring the pout on her sister’s face, but feeling a little like the Grinch featured on Dawn’s pajama top.

“I wish I was 21,” Dawn lamented, as Anya collected her win for the first, and last time that night, “I can’t wait.” It was Willow’s turn to pat Dawn’s head and Tara smiled at her with a mixture of sympathy and amusement.

“Let’s just get you to 18,” Buffy commented dryly.

“And that’s only a few a months away!” Willow added, hoping to make the younger woman feel a little more part of the ‘adults.’ Willow felt Tara’s arm wrap around her side, and she closed her eyes with a sigh as she melted back into her.

Anya nodded, “You should have strippers… at your party… and a big bag with a Chihuahua in it.”

“Strippers?” Buffy gaped, Willow and Tara matching her expression.­­

“Chihuahua?” Xander and Dawn asked at the same time, clearly with different priorities. Anya continued, explaining like she was planning an office party, snickerdoodle between her fingers.

“Yes, of course. It’s a rite of passage to have strippers. And all the trendy, popular people seem to carry dogs around like baguettes.”

“No strippers,” Buffy laid out.

“No dogs in bags!” Willow followed up, “it’s tacky.” Tara nodded seriously beside her.

Xander was replacing the cards back into their box, Mariah Carey high-pitching from the radio station, “Well as long as you don’t spend yours like mine. I still owe the owner of Lucky 65 a hundred bucks for a replacement pinball machine.”

“Mine was fun!” Willow chirped, “and there was no pinball damage or stripping,” the words were out of her mouth before she could censor them, feeling Tara’s hot blush as she hid her face behind Willow’s shoulder, “well, no public stripping.”

All that could be heard a too long second was Mariah crooning, “I'm just gonna keep on waiting underneath the mistletoe” as both Xander and Anya gaped, Dawn smirked and Buffy rushed to save her friends from embarrassment, even though she knew that neither needed to be, the group knew how much they loved each other.

“Hey, no one died on my 21st so, I call it a big win.” Buffy frowned, “ Well, I mean no one I knew died.”

“Tara? What about you?” Xander turned his attention back on the blonde, “What happened after your woman here dragged you away from your ‘quiet dinner with friends?’”

“Oh yes, tell us the details,” Anya prompted, head in hands, waiting fervently. Tara and Willow exchanged a glance.

“Tara doesn’t have to share if she doesn’t want to,” Willow said.

Tara gave her an affectionate kiss on the head. “No, it's ok, we went to a bar actually, danced a little, had my first legal drink,” Tara sent a playful wink Dawn’s way.

Buffy sat forward, placing her mug on the table, “Wait Willow you were underage- how did you get into the bar?” Willow blinked, stiffening slightly as memories from that night came back to her. She felt Tara’s fingers run through the back of her hair.

“She had a fake ID, which I would never condone,” Tara added quickly for Dawn’s benefit.

“I conjured a fake ID,” Willow mumbled, shoulders falling forward. Tara’s fingers continued their soothing touch.

“I thought maybe you had,” Tara confessed.

Willow looked at Tara, surprised, for only a moment. Of course Tara knew. “Why didn’t you say anything?” Tara shrugged.

“It was my birthday, I didn’t want to start anything.” Tears fled to Willow’s eyes and she could feel the worried gaze from her friends. She stood abruptly, hand covering her mouth. “Excuse me.”

Tara stood as well, following Willow up the stairs, the others exchanging questioning looks before Xander dumped the cards back on the table, unsure of what else to do.

“Another round?”

Upstairs, Tara pushed open the door to her and Willow’s bedroom, finding Willow sitting at the edge of their bed, staring at the carpet. Tara gently sat next to her.

“Baby?”

“I didn’t mean to pull you away,” Willow started, tears returning as Tara guided her chin so they were facing each other, “ I’m so sorry, Tara. God I- ,” Willow shook her head, overcome with regret.

“For what happened, on my birthday?” Tara clarified, her voice soft and deep.

Willow nodded, eyes averted, “I did so many… How were you not mad at me?”

Tara paused, then drew in a breath, “I was furious at you, for a little bit, but it was my birthday and I just wanted to have a good time with my girl.” She brushed the hair back from where it hid Willow’s face, letting her finger’s linger behind Willow’s ear.

“And Will, it’s in the past,” Tara waited for Willow to look at her again, “I know that things might come up, like this, but you and me, right now, we’re good, I love you and I am here with you. Always.”

“But I ruined your 21st bday, that’s like sacrilege of the birthday ruining kind.”

Tara dropped her hand to entwine her fingers with Willow’s, sighing, “One good thing about how I grew up, was that I learned to snatch the good when it came, and to not expect it just because of a date on the calendar.”

“But you said-“ Willow started, playing with the long fingers with her own.

“It doesn’t mean I don’t try, or that sometimes I do want certain things to go well, but I don’t linger on it.” Tara shook her head, “because lingering never changes anything. And sometimes, non-special days are made special, so it all evens out.” Willow felt the warmth of the words, and was so grateful that she had looked back at Tara just then, when a tender crooked smile graced her love’s face.

“I want all of your days to be special.”

Tara leaned in, lips barely brushing, “Every single day that I am with you is special. Precious.” Tara kissed her softly, sweetly, and yet with the strength of reconnection. Willow let herself be led by Tara’s pliant full lips, becoming lost in the bond between them.

“I am so lucky. I am so so lucky,” Willow murmured as their lips met again, their bodies gravitating toward each other. She felt Tara shake her head against her mouth.

“No, you’re you,” Tara pulled back just enough to meet Willow’s eyes, “how could I not be in love with you?”

“Tara,” Willow breathed, a thousand definitions of that word on her tongue, the most prominent and accurate being love, but there was a reproach of Tara’s forgiveness in the tone. Tara kissed her again, just once.

“Shh, baby, we’ve talked through what happened then, no more guilt.” Tara laid her forehead against Willow’s, her hand around Willow’s neck, holding her near. Both of their eyes closed.

“I’ll try.” Willow promised.

Tara nodded with a smile, kissing her way down Willow’s cheek to her neck, sucking lightly at the pulse point she lived to feel.

Willow smirked, giddy even as she melted under Tara’s touch, “Should I get the poinsettia?”

Tara giggled into her neck before reluctantly pulling away, “No, let’s go back down. It’s Christmas,” she smiled at the irony of her own words, meaning both things anyway. She would always try for special, but she wouldn’t expect it. And that made the times when special occurred that much better.

They returned downstairs hand in hand, Buffy meeting eyes with each in turn, nodding when she received mutual smiles. There were fresh toddy’s waiting and Xander again repackaged the cards as Tara and Willow and reclaimed their seats. The night was full now, the red, green, and gold of the Christmas Tree shining like a beacon against the darkness outside. Tara took a sip of her drink, spluttering slightly at the amount of whiskey added. Willow, curious, took her own sip, swallowing heavily.

“Who made these?” she asked, coughing around the strong sting, eyeing Anya suspiciously.

“I did,” Buffy said, unrepentantly, “It’s Christmas.”

“So, does that mean…?” Dawn started, grasping onto her sister’s declaration of alcoholic freedom.
Buffy cocked an eyebrow, “A dash of whiskey, no more.”

Dawn scurried for the drink, happy with the concession.

“So, I was telling about my 21st birthday party,” Tara started, squeezing Willow’s hand as she checked in that it was ok to share, “It’s a funny story now.” She said to Willow in a low voice, wanting Willow to be able to change the narrative of that night. Not to forget, but to see it as a mistake of the past. Willow held her love’s eyes, amazed by the gift that was Tara’s love, given everyday including Christmas. She grinned widely, letting herself giggle at the memory now.

“The bar fight was unexpected.”

“There was a bar fight?!” Xander spluttered.

“Yes, caused by Willow,” Tara shared conspiratorially.

“It wasn’t! I mean, not directly,” Willow backpedaled, a blush rising up her neck.

“Ok, spill,” Buffy insisted, sitting upright and taking another swig, before realizing she’d picked up the eggnog, “blegh!”

“You want to tell it?” Tara asked Willow, settling against the edge of the couch together, legs entwined.

“No, you go ahead.”

“So, we were both a little buzzed at this point, and we got into a debate on who was hotter: Nicole Kidman or Sandra Bullock, and Willow figures, we’re in a lesbian bar, let’s see what the lesbians think.”

“Did you do a survey?” Anya asked, munching on another snickerdoodle. Willow grimaced but pushed through.

“Um, no, I conjured up Sandra Bullock… but just for a split second,” she hurriedly explained, “ because I realized that was wrong, and so I just conjured up a cardboard cutout of Sandra Bullock.”

“Also known as, Willow was using unfair props to her advantage,” Tara teased.

“Sorry baby,” Willow apologized, and Tara kissed her temple.

“I still love you.”

“But how did the bar fight start?” Buffy prompted.

“Well, when Sandra showed up, briefly,” Tara relayed, “this girl noticed and she just went all…. gaga? Which I guess I understand, but her date, girlfriend? I don’t know, whoever, saw the look and followed it,” she looked to Willow who picked up the tale.

“But by then there was only the cutout left and some unfortunate, other, woman who was also in the line of sight and. ..Well. Let’s just say, someone got real jealous.”

“She got all with the butch,” Dawn said knowingly, a slightly buzzed grin lazily spread across her lips.

“Dawn!” Buffy scolded.

“No,” Tara laughed, “that’s pretty much what it was. It was kind of ridiculous, actually. I hope they didn’t stay together after that.”

“So, did you both jump in? No, probably not. Did you take photos?” Xander asked, fully intrigued, wincing when Anya whopped him across the skull, “I deserve that.”

“We bolted, “Willow said, giggling now, letting herself let go enough to enjoy the story.

“We walked around for a bit, got another drink at the Bronze, then came home,” Tara summed up, sipping her drink again, a slight heady feeling relaxing her further.

“That’s almost as good as strippers,” Anya mused.

The night went on, stories swapped, low Christmas tunes continuing in the background. Giles called late to say he wouldn’t be in until the next afternoon, wishing them all a Merry Christmas and coughing uncomfortably when they all sent their love. The gang shared more stories of their days, special and not so special until Dawn dropped off in her chair, prompting Buffy to send her up to bed and Xander and Anya to say their goodbyes. Buffy went up soon after and Willow and Tara followed her up the stairs, saying goodnight and shutting their bedroom door behind them.

Willow scooped Tara into her arms, both giggling and slightly buzzed, sharing kisses as they swayed their way onto the bed.

They landed side by side, hands tracing each other’s sides.

“That was fun,” Willow said softly.

“It was.”

“I am sorry about your birthday,” Willow said, placing a finger on Tara’s lips before she could protest, “I am learning to forgive myself, but I can’t forget. Do you get it?” Tara kissed Willow’s finger, nodding ever so slightly.

“Thank you,” Willow said, tracing the shape of Tara’s mouth before removing her finger, snuggling close into Tara’s warmth. “So what was your favorite gift?”

Tara kissed Willow again, separating only a hair’s breadth, whispering, “You.”

“I was just thinking the same thing.”

“Good,” Tara breathed, moving her mouth to Willow’s neck, her hands sliding under the hem of Willow’s sweater. “And yummy.” Willow rolled onto her back, pulling Tara halfway on top of her, her neck arched to allow Tara as much space as she wanted to continue the kisses that were quickly turning into scorching licks and nibbles.

Willow sighed happily, “Still special?”

“Always special,” Tara returned, sitting up to undress her love, Willow meeting her, her own hands lifting Tara’s soft top.

“Oh god,” Willow groaned as Tara kissed her way down her bare breasts, stopping to taste her small nipples, the points round and sweet like chestnuts. Willow laid back again as Tara trailed down her stomach, a sudden mirth tugging her mouth into a grin, “Want me to conjure up Nicole Kidman for you?”

Willow yelped when Tara bit her side, playfully chastising her, before resuming her downward path. She didn’t speak until she was settled between Willow’s thighs.

“Mmm, I’ve all the redhead I need right here,” Tara inhaled the scent of her love, sweet as honey, intoxicating as whiskey. Willow gasped in pleasure as Tara tasted her, her head swimming in warmth.

“Merry Christmas, baby” Willow managed, breath caught between pleasure and love.

“Merry Christmas, darling,” Tara returned as Willow gave over to her, knowing that this day was one of the special ones.

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2021 1:06 am 
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5. Willowhand
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Ahhhh I loved that shirrey! Surprisingly sweet and serious considering how silly the challenge was. Tipsy Dawn was amusing and I yeah, I loved it all. I’m lucky I am british and don’t have eggnog haha

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2021 10:35 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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Dub: re Basement Grotto- Kitten writers officially called out lol

I like the chaos of Xander's (psychedelic) basement and the call back to his money making schemes before he finds his place in construction.
I always love seeing Tara starting to find her way into the group, it takes longer for some, but bit by bit she does, and I like that Willow sees her value.

I read your comments after and I believe that there is so much more to Tara than what you laid out, I think you underestimate her- I see it a lot in the fandom, and I think it's because Tara is subtle, she's inward, her 'assertiveness' isn't flashy.

I am going to try not to write an essay here lol, and obviously, Tara is presented as being very shy and there are moments of holes in her self-worth, her arc is learning to love herself, but I hard disagree that she doesn't assert herself between Hush and the latter half of S6.

Just a few examples where I see her strength: She is magically adept in S4 and often figures out and acts to solve problems, she does the spell in Family- not a 'good' action, but an assertive one, she tells her family to go, she looks Glory in the face and accepts her greatest fear of losing her mind to protect Dawn, before that she stands on her own in her fight with Willow. Those are just a few...

Quote:
in 'Who are you?' Tara even thinks its alright that she knows everything about the scoobies but doesn't actually know them if it meant she could hold on to this one person who somehow sees her.


Wait. No. Tara does not think its alright - she straight up calls Willow out about it- she backtracks, that is true, but in everything I see, she backtracks because she doesn't want to make waves with Willow, not because she thinks being hidden is ok. If she did she wouldn't have said anything in the first place.

Quote:
But its shines with intensity in 'new moon rising' when she says to Willow, do what makes you happy and that she will still be her friend. Its heart breaking but also frustrating.


To me, Tara telling Willow "Do what makes you happy" is an act of maturity and love, not subservience. It takes strength and agency to let someone make a choice that might hurt you when that person HAS to be the one to choose. Tara groveling or screaming or 'fighting' wouldn't have been the way to go- and would she have ever trusted Willow's choice if it had been gained that way? I don't think so. It might be different if we didn't see, in that same scene, Tara's fear and hopefulness and desperation in two words: "What?" (when Willow is describing who they are to each other) and "Really?" (when Willow says she and Oz were just talking)- Tara hasn't given up, she is being an adult. I credit Amber's performance (possibly the direction too) for this complexity that we are given in two small words- but it is all part of what makes up Tara.

I also find it telling that when they are talking about getting a kitty in the opening of NMR, Willow says 'like a familiar?" and Tara corrects her- "like a pet' . That is agency, that is assertiveness, if she had none, she would have agreed with Willow even though she didn't believe it. Again, its not flashy, that's not Tara (and thank god for it)

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2021 1:03 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Quote:
Kitten writers officially called out lol

The ones who mattered thought it to be neat so we are all good. And having a 21st at the Bronze apparently, I hope sweet is playing. If it’s Michelle Branch playing that one song on repeat all night then I think there will be a murder cover up. 21st are memorable.

Quote:
there is so much more to Tara than what you laid out

Without doubt, I was just keeping it brief for response context.

Quote:
Tara is subtle, she's inward, her 'assertiveness' isn't flashy.

I don’t disagree with that one bit however I’m talking in the context of the relationship. I think she plays second fiddle to Willow far too much. We might see some decent assertion on the second half of series five from Tara in the relationship but she does backtrack which is why it’s not 100% assertion to me. Whereas I don’t think she would have left that room in ‘Entropy’ without a yes which to me is 100% assertion in the relationship. But unfortunately we didn’t get to see her part of the story to know why that is or how she got to that point but I certainly don’t think it was due to anyone but herself making that decision.

Quote:
moments of holes in her self-worth

That’s exactly it. There are moments. Moments leave an effect. I just think when she is with other people she doesn’t have the moments of assertion until the later end of her overall arc. She filters back. However Hush she made the decision to find Willow while on her own, Glory bench scene, she was on her own (physically and emotionally). ‘Family’ deciding to do the spell, she was on her own. ‘New Moon Rising’ she made the decision to go see Willow on her own but backtracked when she found Oz there. For me it’s the moments of holes in her self-worth which are why she back tracks.

Quote:
an act of maturity and love, not subservience.

I agree massive maturity but it does have layers of the self- worth holes as well. She truly loves this girl and yet she will happily be there as a friend. If that’s how it played out then she would be punishing herself. Maybe the better act of maturity would have been to remove herself from the situation completely but then you have the whole did they didn’t they for Tara to have her sweater (it’s a hoodie but Americanisms hehehe). I’m sure Willow has already made her choice then though. I never watch that episode and have the same opinion. I completely get Tara was showing great strength in stepping back and allowing Willow to choose (absolutely the right thing to do) but the non-clarity of what actually happened there makes me question if she back tracked on her decision to step back. If they slept together that would be quite the step forward in laying her claim. Which if she instigated then there would be 100% assertion in the relationship to me.

Thank you for the feedback and the brilliant Tara discussion.

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2021 1:29 am 
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5. Willowhand
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Quote:
The ones who mattered thought it to be neat so we are all good


not sure how to read this....


It's late, so just a bit of response- I think what you are seeing as non-assertiveness, I am seeing as three dimensional characterization and nuance.

I really don't agree with sleeping with someone to 'stake your claim' - it doesn't work like that- they aren't property and their relationship is deeper than that. and anyway, they very well might of already slept together by NMR depending on one's read of the Flaming O spell-
and both Willow and Tara backtrack with each other, I don't see it as just a Tara thing. Yes, Willow is more dominant, the show revolves around her friend group, yes, Tara takes a bit to feel comfortable around them, but I see Willow as a source of strength for Tara, one that helps her show her true, strong, self more in the open. And there are examples of Tara's strength and self-assertion from Hush and throughout her run, with Willow and without Willow.

and I'm American, so I'll go with hoodie.

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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2021 2:01 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Willow and Tara thought it was neat. So It doesn't matter if Spiderman and SpongeBob think of it as weird.

Agreed its certainly not a clear cut, I'm just coming down on one thing while removing many other factors that may influence the terms of assertion. To try and add clarity to my thoughts on the topic, instead of a myriad of contradictions which wouldn't be clear for anyone to read or understand.

Quote:
I really don't agree with sleeping with someone to 'stake your claim'

Sorry, poor choice of wording on my part. I just mean its clearer in defining what Tara wants Willow to decide about the relationship, over leaving it completely up to Willow with the 'do what makes you happy' Both make her happy, so its not helping her tail spin of thoughts about everything.

I sit firmly on the no with the Flaming - O.

Quote:
Willow and Tara backtrack with each other ... I see Willow as a source of strength for Tara

100%.

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Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2021 4:27 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Special Isn’t a day
Quote:
“Oh! Like Santa’s cumming to town!”

So that’s what propels the sleigh and makes ‘snow’ fall under where ever the sleigh flies.

Quote:
lemon

One Wally ah ha ha!

Quote:
and a big bag with a Chihuahua in it.”

Two Wally ah ha ha! Plus big bag is responsible gives the oversized rat room to run around. The real fashion to try and pull off is a Great Dane in a clutch purse. It will be on all the catwalks in 2022.

Quote:
I ruined your 21st bday, that’s like sacrilege of the birthday ruining kind.

Birthdays are made to be ruined. It’s a day all about you so of course anything that goes slightly wrong is taken personally. On one side you have people who feel complete entitled for a free pass because they were born and on the other you have crippling disappointment. Which is why Birthdays are worse than Christmas.

Quote:
cardboard cutout of Sandra Bullock

Three Wally ah ha ha! Four for four, Go Team Sandra!

A bar fight on the 21st, tick. That’s why you pub crawl so you can leave a trail of destruction which you can follow to find your way home at the end of the night/early hours of the morning.
A game at Christmas resulting in someone leaving in tears, tick. And that one relative with their eyes on the prize of just drinking their way through the day, tick.
All the main bases have been covered here for 21st and Christmas. A sobering take on the challenge to balance out the silliness. Nice one.

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Curator of the KB Pens Advent Calendar 2021, I'm self-gratuitously Door 25.
One Shots - Basement Grotto - "You're My Always"
You don't have to write to contribute to the board, feedback can be its own event - Dubs Festive Advent Challenge - Fic Club - TillowVision
Coming sometime in 2022 hopefully - The Justice for Tara series.
*Rides in on a tricycle* Wanna play a game? - Five Minutes of Artistic Integrity - Those Three Little Words - Sassy Synonyms - Aradia's Antonyms


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2021 11:23 am 
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5. Willowhand
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Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:37 am
Posts: 337
Topics: 9
Location: Pacific Northwest
Laragh!!
I am also a big fan of your 21+ series, and this one was a great addition and ending!!
Joy is an awesome mix of quippy and genuine and in that child/ adult place that I think we are forever with our parents to some level- even if our parents are as cool as Willow and Tara, who, as it should be, still have a rockin sex life.
the exchange of people being terrible people vs being in terrible situations was great- because yes, there is a huge chasm between the two
and how mom-ish is Willow holding on to the cat's name being for Sandra Bullock for years? so sweet and awkward and mostly sweet

I love how much they just value each other, we need our sanctuaries, our people, our family - found or not

I think you just keep getting better and better as a writer (from an already good foundation) Thanks and I hope your holidays were/ are the best!


GrimCityGirl!

I already told you this (and meant it) but I really enjoyed your fic entry!! It had its silly moments, which yay!! , but overall I thought it was really charming and sweet and funny.

I love that Anya sets us off and how thoughtful in her own Anya way she is- a perfect hostess/ dictator! and how Xander was so touched (figuratively lol)- this is the Xander/ Anya was makes them lovable and makes us root for them!

Aw Tara- I know so well that: 'I just got here and don't know most of the people well and please someone hand me a drink so I can relax' anxiety. It's real. AND thank you for giving Tara her shyness and sexual agency! so many people seem to conflate shyness with prudishness and it isn't like that- it's always the quiet ones, you know?

Buffy being a loud drunk was hilarious-

I came very close to putting Never Have I Ever in my fic as well lol- it's a classic . When I read the fic challenge I never would have guessed that Sandra would have been the one to make it in all the fics!

If only Anya was alive (and non-fiction) so I could call on her to wreak vengeance on another former US president- and many Senators to boot.

I liked how we see Tara slowly getting more comfortable (booze helps) and that she is forming bonds with the others- I am such a fan of Tara and Anya's onscreen friendship- as little as is seen- Anya says Anya things and Tara rolls her eyes off to the side but then Anya gives Tara a touch of solidarity in Tabula Rasa, and it all says so much about who they are to each other- I like that we see some of that here to.

So.... well done!!!! (accept it!) And thanks for putting this challenge together!

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You ARE Magic ~ Tara


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 Post subject: Re: The Christmas Black Jack Challenge!
PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2022 9:05 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Posts: 4790
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Finally on my laptop again so I can leave feedback!

Untitled (GrimCityGirl) -

You didn't deny us any Anya and I love it! I've always found her perspective of the W/T relationship super interesting to explore. I also love her ensconced in Scooby meetings and watching them have some down time is always fun.

Again, I love to see Willow and Tara allowing themselves to be more expressive in their relationship in public and I'm seriously lol-ing at the strip poker. I'm sitting here thinking would Tara really take her top off, even with alcohol and then I realized I don't care because Tara took her top off :D I'm really enjoying imagining how your fic would have continued and I absolutely love when a fic can provoke that in me!

Thanks so much for sharing this glimpse into their world!


Special Isn't a Day -

Yay for sliding in! Always happy to see a new contribution from you!

What a fantastic scene you set for a festive, cosy scene for the Scoobies. Anya is on point and provides excellent comedic input (even if I resent not being able to forget your nog metaphor :lol ) What an amazing opportunity to get to see Willow and Tara having grown up and moved past all of their failings of the past while still being a family and part of their broader family too. I love Tara's outlook and will be trying to adopt it myself. And what a fun and charming and fun and sexy ending. For a bit I thought Willow might be producing a ring by the end but I have to say, the actual end was a pretty good consolation prize :D


This was so much fun to participate in and read everyone's entries! I got to get to creative juices going and even brought one of my verses to an end in a way that I had never envisioned before. Thanks so much to GrimCitGirl for proposing it and all that helped in making this come to pass!

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

Love, The SeriesTwo For Joy/21+/Joy To The WorldInevitable/Infinitely

Confidential EternalA Twisted DateDachsund Through The Snow


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