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

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 Post subject: Re: The Wish -- P27
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 11:27 am 
Wow I am all caught up I seemed to have lost this fic somewhere and so decided to re-read the whole thing again. First of all (hugs) for you and I hope you are alright. Second of all that was amazing. I loved the reunion and both Tara and Willow's emotions and look forward to reading what happens next. It's great to see you back and continuing with the fabulous story. Thank you :)



Cheese. It's milk that you chew.



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 Post subject: Re: The Wish -- P27
PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2003 11:24 pm 
*takes several big deep breaths*





Okay. I’ve just read everything. If I had any anger left in me after the emotional-rollercoster that is your fic, I might rant a little at you for being so damn sadistic. I stopped watching Buffy after Season 6 because I just couldn't stand one more Willow tear (I only made it though the end of 6 because... vengeance can be a very good thing. Who needs skin?)



Not going there. It didn't happen. Or it did happen, but then in the few series (Rainbow Writers S7, Terra Firma, and now this) it did, and I can deal with that.



Normally. I didn't do that well with yours Dix. I cried, I got really pissy, and cried again etc. However I do thank you for keeping up with your fic. Reading as far into it as I did, and then not having the W/T reunion would have ruined my night.



As it is, I'm probably not going to get much sleep (and don't blame yourself for this, please. I do not in any way mean this to sound as bad as it probably does. Just don't blame yourself, please.) The one thing that really...touched me this is how you dealt with Willow loosing Tara. And way back you ranted a little about how you wanted Black Magick Willow to win. I did too. As I watched the last of Season 6 I was totally for everything BW did. I'm not a violent person, or large with the vengeance and anger thing. Not at all. My life motto is "If it harm none, love and do what thy wilt."



If something, or someone had hurt my girlfriend (soon to be wife) the way He Who Doesn't Deserve To Be Called By Name did Tara, I would have done the same thing she did. Nothing hurts my girl. Nothing.



And the thought of being in this world without her is my worse nightmare. (Okay, crying again, sorry) Even though I haven't seen my beloved in almost 5 months (I had to move for Ohio to Texas), and my world has been a kind of hell- she's still in my life. She's there, even if it's just on the phone.



*sigh*



I don't know why I'm babbling about all this.....I guess because reading this made all of it bubble up. I'm not a virgin to fanfic, and I have to say you have an amazing gift, thank you for sharing it. Believe it or not, I am enjoying the ride.



The best of luck in all you do,

-LadyCallie



~*~

RealLiveTara is my RealLiveGirlfriend! *swoons*

"It doesn't have to be a really frenchish french, I just wanna feel your tongue."- my girlfriend last night.

"I don't wanna come out of the closet. All my clothes are in there!" -Me

Edited by: LadyCallie at: 4/28/03 11:25:45 pm


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 Post subject: Re: The Wish -- P27
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 5:24 am 
This is a powerful and well written story. Thank you. Please say you'll bring closure to all those who crave it.



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 Post subject: Re: The Wish -- P27
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 4:50 pm 
Yes, closure. Pleeeaaase:pray :p ray:pray :p ray:pray I just found this fic, and it's amazing. I teared up several times.:cry



LB:read



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 Post subject: Re: The Wish -- P27
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 2:32 am 
please continue this fic, I've just read it start to finish, well chap 27...



:sob

Sorry I missed church, I was busy becoming a lesbian and worshiping Satan



Bardlet no #27





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 Post subject: Re: The Wish -- P27
PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2003 7:04 pm 
Please please please don't leave us hanging.



I've mentally continued this story in my head a hundred different ways and all pale in comparison to what you can do. You conjure images and wring emotion very skillfully. Thanks for sharing your talent.



Please share some more!





-Susan



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 Post subject: An attempt...
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:37 pm 
Hi Kitties,



First, let me apologize for the lack of updates – my muse has taken flight and I don't foresee a return any time soon. However, being that there are actually Kittens who continue to follow (or even remember) this fic (wow), I have decided to make an attempt to continue it – even without my muse. Although, without my muse I feel that… well, that rest might end up sucking. I truly hope that I can do this fic the justice that it deserves and I apologize if the quality has not only dropped but disappeared completely.



Also, I wanted to say thanks for your continuous support and feedback. I truly do appreciate it my dear Kittens – you are wonderful.









PART 28



"Anything?" the teen asked, pouncing on her older sister as she walked through the front door of the Summers' residence. "Where's Willow?"



"Nothing yet and I don't know," answered the slayer as she slipped out of her coat and tossed it onto the chair before flopping down into it.



"What happened to Willow?" Giles asked as he paced the living room.



"We split up to cover more ground," the slayer offered weekly.



"I don't think Willow should be alone," added Anya.



"I know that," snapped Buffy.



Dawn's brow wrinkled in confusion, "So why.."



"Willow needed some alone time."



"Yeah, giving a grieving Willow some alone time is a great idea," mumbled Anya, "it worked out so well the last time. It's not like she destroyed the whole city."



"Anya," snapped Buffy.



"Hey," interrupted Xander, "this isn't helping."



Dawn nodded, "Xander's right. We have to stop arguing and keep looking. I'm going to check the park."



"I all ready checked the park," offered the slayer.



"Well I'm going to check it again."



"Dawn."



"You can't stop me, Buffy. I'm going to find Tara."



"I didn't know I was lost," came a voice from the doorway.







"I didn't know I was lost," came a voice from the doorway.



Every head in the room snapped to the doorway when they heard her voice and tears made their way to every pair of eyes instantly.



They almost couldn't believe their eyes. There, standing before them was Willow… with Tara. Willow's hand was tightly gripping the blonde's and her other and hand was firmly attached to Tara's upper arm. Willow was standing so close that you probably wouldn't be able to fit daylight between them.



Dawn's hands flew to her mouth in an effort to catch the sob before it erupted from her throat. Her hands made it to her mouth in time but the powerful emotions would not be denied and they flooded forth pushing past the barrier. Tears poured down the teens face and the emotion of it all dropped her to her knees.



Seeing her young charge hit the floor forced Tara out of her lovers grasp and across the room where she too sank to the floor and pulled the sobbing teen into her arms.



"Shh, Dawnie," Tara whispered, "I've got you."



Anya sat glued next to Xander on the sofa where they both looked on as the tears flowed freely. Giles moved behind the slayer's chair and placed his hand on her shoulders as they watched the scene unfold before them – each saying separate prayers of thanks to anyone who was listening.



Tara leaned down and kissed the mousy brown hair before resting her head against the teens as she rocked her gently and mumbled words of reassurance and comfort. She still wasn't sure what had happened. All she knew was that everyone around her had heavy auroras of sadness and that Dawnie was falling apart.



Willow felt Tara's hand slip from her own and she thought that she might start to hyperventilate. She was sure that the minute she released her that she would disappear; that the dream would end and she'd wake up alone and empty.



The redhead was about to follow her lover across the room but it was then that Tara looked up and locked eyes with her. No dream, no matter how real, could contain the emotion she saw in those expressive blue eyes.



Willow tried to convey her love to her partner with a look in return but eventually moved across the room to envelope her lover and the teen in her arms where she tried to help comfort the youngest member of the Scoobies.



"Dawnie," Tara said softly as she ran her fingers through the brown hair, "Dawnie, I want you to sit up and look at me … please?"



"You won't go away?"



"I promise."



It took several minutes but eventually the teen managed to pull herself up enough to look into the soft blue eyes.



"You're really here?" she asked tentatively.



A soft smile. "I'm really here," said Tara as she brushed away a several loose strands of hair from the young face, "I'll always be here."



Dawn surged forward and threw her arms around the blonde. "I missed you so much."



"I missed you too," Tara replied as her hands moved up and the down Dawn's back. Tara knew that the statement wasn't exactly true but she figured that it didn't matter.



Dawn sat up and looked almost accusingly at the blonde, "You're never leaving again," she ordered.



"Never."



Dawn threw her arms around the blonde again, "I love you."



" I love you too."



Willow pushed the haze of the moment away long enough to notice how drained Tara looked. Tara and everyone else. And if the way she felt was any indication – they all needed some rest.



"Dawnie," said Willow gently, "how about if you help me get Tara to lie down for a little while?"



"Um, yes," Giles finally spoke up, "I think that rest is something that we all could benefit from."



Tara pushed her way to her feet and pulled Dawn up with her. The teen was eased off given over to the redhead while the witch moved to the watcher that was looking at her with sad, watery eyes.



The blonde merely tucked her head down and stepped into the watcher's chest and smiled as his arms automatically wrapped around her, holding her tight.



Giles tucked the young woman, one of his surrogate daughters, under his chin and wrapped her up in strong arms. Tears fell unbidden down his cheeks and he placed a delicate kiss on her forehead.



"As your father, I insist that you never leave again."



"I promise," Tara replied, not really knowing what he was talking about but not willing to disturb the moment to clarify things. Her memory was hazy at best but from what she could gather – she guessed that they all thought that something horrible had happened to her. But it didn't matter know. She would find out everything later.



Giles gave the blonde a final squeeze before releasing her and Tara barely had time to turn around before she was nearly tackled by the former demon that had launched herself into her arms.



Tara waited for Anya to speak but it seemed as though she was perfectly content to just her and attempt to squeeze the life out of her. Anya was stronger then she looked.



Xander joined the hug a few minutes later pausing only to give Tara a tender kiss on the cheek, whisper a few words in her ear and giving her hand a small squeeze before taking his former fiancée and retreating back to sofa.



Tara looked up and saw the slayer stood in front of her with her eyes cast down. And Buffy, Tara knew, felt guilty for whatever it was that had happened.



The witch stepped close to slayer and saw the tears sliding down her cheeks.



"Tara, I-."



"Buffy," Tara reached up to wipe away the falling tears, "you have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing."



Buffy reached up and held Tara's hand to her cheek, "Do you know how much we need you?"



Tara used her thumb to brush away another falling tear, "Do you know how much I care for you? How much I love you?"



Buffy dropped Tara's hand and pulled her into a crushing hug. Tara returned the hug and ran her hands up and down the slayer's back until the strong little blonde pulled back. "You should rest."



Before Tara could even nod in consent she felt a strong grasp land on her arm, "I'm going with you," declared Dawn.



Her other arm was seized, "Me too," said Willow as her hand slid down the blonde's arm until there hands were tightly linked.



"Yes," said Giles as he continued to wipe at his eyes, "I think we could all benefit from a little rest."



"Anya, Xander you two can have my bed," said the slayer. "Giles, why don't you take the couch? I'll bunk up with Dawn while Willow and Tara take their room."



"No," declared the teen as she tightened her grip on the blonde witch. "I'm staying with Tara."



"Dawn-"



"Buffy, it's fine," interrupted Willow knowing exactly how the teen was feeling – she was feeling it herself.



"She can stay with us," added Tara.



Buffy nodded in consent, "Let's all get some sleep."



"Yeah," added Tara, "I have a feeling we're going to need it."



TBC…





PEACE ... Dix



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 Post subject: Re: An attempt...
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:47 pm 
DIX! You're back! Holy Freakin' hell! You won't probably believe me but I'm jumping around like a five year-old kid hoped up on caffeine!

I love it! The reunion was so freakin' emotional, you made me cry again! Dawn clutchng Tara's arm was powerful, and I'm so overwhelmed that I'm gonna shut up now!

I love it! I love you! I want more! :grin



P.S.: I usually don't tell people that I love them, I have written this under the strong influence of no sleep and lots of caffeine. Thanks. :lol

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



"See? I've mastered this tact crap." Anya in Tears Of The Goddess by Lisa



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 Post subject: Re: An attempt...
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:02 am 
YAY!



:applause



Aw Dawn.



Am I the only who thinks Dawn's got serious abanment issues?

Sorry I missed church, I was busy becoming a lesbian and worshiping Satan



Open up Pandora's kiss.



Bardlet no #27





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 Post subject: Re: An attempt...
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2003 11:10 am 
Hi,
Welcome back I really missed this fic.Missing muse or not this is a great story.Keep up the good work.
Be well,Karen



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 Post subject: OMG!!
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:14 pm 
I am soooo excited, happy, elated, (fill in happyness) to have you writing this again. This is a wonderfully touching story and i wish you to continue.



Would you like to borrow my muse for a bit? :pray :pray







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 Post subject: Re: OMG!!
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2003 12:43 pm 
Welcome back, I know it's hard when the inspiration is gone but we all thank you for giving it a go. This fic is very powerful and that chapter didn't disappoint, everyone's reaction was very intense and very appropriate. I feel so for Dawn, this is the kind of reaction I would have expected from her. Thanks so much for trying this out.

- - - - - - - - - - -
"Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."


-Me & Bobby
McGee



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 Post subject: More...
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 2:45 pm 
Hey Kittens,



I must say again that I really can't believe that this fic hasn't been forgotten or given up by now - but since you all continue to read it, remember it and (as hard as it is to believe) even request it - I shall keep trying even museless.



Also, thanks for your kind words and feedback ... even on work that I don't particulary like. Who knows, maybe it'll kick start my muse.



Thanks again Kittens...



Onto the show...





"Need some help there Xander," asked Willow as she approached her friend who was struggling to erect the tent.



"Yes, some help would be nice," he said loudly, directed at his girlfriend who stood nearby and was applying liberal amounts of Bug-Off to her exposed limbs.



Anya, for her part ignored her boyfriend and continued to coat her body with the repellant.



Xander sighed and looked up at his best friend, "Please help me?"



Willow smiled at her friend and knelt down to help assemble the tent, "Xander, this tent looks like it sleeps eight people."



"Yes, well the woman I love said that she had no intention of sleeping a boob shaped, 2-man tent that was barely large enough to hold her luggage. She sent me out last night to find a two room tent. I had to drive for over an hour to find a Wal-mart."



Willow suppressed a smile at the image as she surreptitiously stole a glance at her and Tara's small, dome tent and had to admit that it did kind of resemble a large boob jutting up from the Earth. She could just imagine what it would have looked like if Anya and Xander had pitched a similar tent next to theirs.



"We're only going to be here for three days," said Willow, "how much luggage could she have?"



"Think Gilligan's Island, Will. We're talking evening wear."



"Good grief."



"Yes, it's good to be me my friend. Can you hand me that peg?"



"Here."



"Thanks," he said as he hammered in the last peg, "Where's Tara?"



"She went to find kindling for the fire."



"Good idea, are we all set up otherwise?"



Willow looked around their campsite. Her and Tara had their tent set up, their stuff put away and their sleeping bags unrolled. They had the fire pit set, cleared and surrounded by chairs and stumps for seats. The coolers were unloaded and stored in the shade, the small grill was all set up and the Tiki-torches were waiting to be lit around their campsite.



"Just about. Tara needs your help hanging up a clothes line and we have to pitch that tarp thing."



Xander grunted as he forced the last pole into place, "What tarp thing?"



"That giant tarp thing that you cover your tents and some of your campsite with. You know, you hang it so in case it rains you have extra protection and someplace to hang out."



"I gotcha. Help me with this sun flap will ya?"



"Sure."



It was several minutes later with arms full of kindling that Tara returned to find the large tent up and Willow and Xander putting up the protective tarp while Anya was looking for places to hang bug repellants.



It was nearly noon when the group, well everyone but Anya, had finally finished setting up and the first catastrophe began.



"Xander," called Anya as she finished off her Dr. Pepper, "where's the bathroom?"



Willow and Tara were sharing a large stump as a seat and they cast nervous glances at each other while the blonde mouthed a silent 'uh oh'."



"Um, An, honey," started Xander fretfully, "This is the woods, the country. There are no bathrooms here. You have to uh, you know, in the woods."



The former demons' eyes narrowed into dangerous slits and she spoke through clenched teeth, "What?"



Xander swallowed audibly and he cast pleading looks at the witches. They were both women – they could help him out with this. "Willow, Tara you girls have to, you know… Help me out here. Please?"



Willow shrugged, "Anya, if you want to go all you have to do is find an unoccupied bush."



"I don't think so," said Anya. "How am I supposed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the freakin' wilderness. What am I supposed to use for toilet paper, a rabbit?"



"Willow," Tara lightly scolded her lover, "Anya has probably never been camping before." She stood and grabbed the bag of toiletries, "Come on, I'll show you where our impromptu outhouse is."



The former demon looked at the blonde witch uncertainly. "This isn't fair. I never even cursed anyone with anything this awful," Anya muttered defeated, as she followed her friend into the woods.



Xander sighed in relief, "I owe Tara like I've never owed anyone before for that."



"How could you not tell her, Xander?" Willow asked incredulously.



"It was her idea to go camping," he defended, "I thought she knew."



Willow just shook her head at her friend, "Does she at least know that she has to sleep on the ground?"



"I bought an air-mattress," the construction worker declared proudly.



The redhead just rolled her eyes at her friend and stood up, "Hey, help me get the grill heated up."



"Good idea," said Xander he stood, "All this country-ing made me hungry. What's for lunch?"



"I don't know," answered Willow as she handed Xander the charcoal, "We're just preparing. Tara can do the cooking."



"Hey, I'm a guy," complained Xander, "Shouldn't I do the manly-grill-cook-thing?"



"No," answered Anya as she and Tara walked back into their camp. The ex-demon had her arm snaked through Tara's companionably but the action still caused Willow to frown a little. "Xander, I have no intention of eating burned hot dogs that taste like lighter fluid."



Xander sighed, "The fire wouldn't stay lit. I had to use lighter fluid to-"



"Hey guys," interrupted Tara gently, "How about some chicken for lunch? I have some marinating in our cooler. It's my special blend of marinara."



The thought of Tara's special blend of marinated chicken made Xander's mouth water and he quickly agreed to let the blonde take over the lunch preparing duties.



Tara smiled reassuringly at Anya before pulling her arm free and moving towards the grill. On her way past her lover she reached out and gave Willow's shoulder a loving squeeze.



It was nearly two hours later and the height of the afternoon that everyone was fed, digested and rested that Tara emerged from their tent wearing an ocean blue swimsuit with a pair of matching running shorts on with a large towel in hand.



"Anyone up for a swim?" she asked the group sitting around the campsite.



Xander, who was chopping the firewood they bought caught sight of the blonde and nearly took off his foot with a wild swing of the axe and muttered a quiet, "Wow," under his breath.



Willow was sitting with her feet propped up and reading a book which she promptly dropped when she saw her lover emerge from the tent. However, the redhead's "Wow," wasn't nearly as quiet as her friend's and a slight blush covered Tara's cheeks at her girlfriend's comment.



Anya was laying on towel, trying to find a clear station on the radio nearby merely rolled her eyes at the antics of her boyfriend and the redhead. The former demon clicked the radio off and stood up, "I'm in." And she peeled off her t-shirt revealing an abbreviated black bikini top.



"Whoa," yelled Xander as he nearly cut off his other foot. "Let's go swimming he yelled and made a mad dash into his tent to change into his swimming trunks.



Anya shrugged and followed him into the tent to gather her towel, lotion and to catch a glimpse of her boyfriend changing.



Willow never took her eyes off her lover and finally stood to go and meet her.



The slim redhead threw her arms around her girlfriend's waist and leaned in for a sensuous kiss. It was several moments later that Willow finally pulled back and the couple pressed their foreheads together.



"You're so beautiful. You take my breath away," said the redhead as her hands explored the smooth expansion of back that the swimsuit left bare.



"I love you," said Tara, her eyes filled with love, "No one has ever made me feel as beautiful and loved as you do." The blonde placed her hands on each side of the redhead's face and leaned in to kiss her lover again.



Anya emerged from her tent and saw the two lovers locked in a passionate embrace and grinned in mischief, "Whose ready to get wet?"



Tara pulled back and blushed while Willow shot an evil look at the ex-demon who tried her best to look innocent.



Tara rubbed her face to try and remove some of the blush and nudged her lover towards their tent, "Willow just needs to change," she told the other couple before turning towards her girlfriend, "I left your suit and towel out for you."



Willow shot her a small smile before climbing into the tent to change.



"Where do we swim anyway?" asked the ex-demon looking around but only finding trees and dense foliage, "I hear water but I don't see a lake."



"There's a stream that flows down from the mountain. The water will probably be cold but it's really clean," explained Tara as she was the only one who had ever been there before.



"A stream," Anya asked skeptically, "No offense Tara but I did not drive for four hours to pee in the woods and go swimming some giant puddle. I thought there was a lake around here or something."



"It's more like a river then a stream, Anya," explained the blonde patiently. "It's about sixty or seventy feet across and really deep in the middle. And if we go down by the bridge there's a nice spot to swim and there should be a rope swing."



Xander lit up like a little kid, "A Tarzan swing? Cool."



"We ready?" asked Willow as she climbed out of the tent clad in a black one piece, cut off jean shorts and sandals.



"Lead the way Tara," said Xander as he grabbed his towel.



Tara slung her pack over her shoulder and moved next to Willow who twined their fingers together.



"It's only about a five minute walk," said the blonde as she nudged Willow to start walking. "There might be a bit of a current, nothing serious but enough to make you tire if you swim out too far so make sure that you're careful," she told the group. "You look delicious," said more quietly to her lover beside her.



Willow grinned and gave Tara's hand a little tug, "Nothing's going to bite me is it?"



Tara smiled and lowered her voice, "Nothing but me."



A giant smile covered the redheads face, "I love camping."



TBC...



(another part or two and it'll make more sense as to what's going on)



PEACE ... Dix





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 Post subject: Re: OMG!!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 4:45 pm 
Wow! great story, can't wait to see how you do the ending!



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 Post subject: Re: OMG!!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2003 8:10 pm 
Wow Dix you're back! Of course you already knew that but it is great to see you. Thank you so much for the last 2 updates they were a joy to read. I loved the reaction from the scoobies to Tara and Willow's reappearance and it was great to see Willow and Tara together in the next update.



Looking forward to more :)



So, the day started and I knew my name and had my pants on. So far, so good. Yay.
Amber Benson



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 Post subject: Re: OMG!!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2003 9:08 am 
I was hoping against hope that you'd pick this story up again. I sincerely had decided that I should be grateful for the beautiful bit of writing you had given us and not be selfish by expecting more. This story has everything that satisfies: realistic character dialogue, intriguing story and emotional depth that we weren't always privy to during the show.



Thanks for carrying on with the story.



-Susan



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 Post subject: more...
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 2:15 am 
Hi All:



Hard to belive this story hasn't made it to the unfinished archives yet - cuz it has been a while. I really do love this fic so I do try and peck at it whenever life, time, and the muse allow - which isn't often these days.



The muse has struck recently though and we have been in the midst of a torrid affair - which is maybe why a a love scene ended up in this part. In other words (THIS PART IS NC-17 AND RECCOMENDED FOR YOUNG EYES)



So, in case anyone is still following this fic - I have every intention of giving it my best to finish it - no matter how many years it takes. :eyebrow



On with the show...









Anya regarded the dark water skeptically, "You're sure this is safe?" she asked Tara.



The blonde nodded, "Yeah, I just want to take a test swim first. Just to make sure that nothing is hiding under the surface."



Willow paled, "Like frogs?"



"And snakes?" added Xander.



"And bunnies," shrieked Anya.



"Oh my," said Tara as she shook her head negatively, "No, I want to make sure that the current hasn't pushed any rocks or logs downstream since I've been here last."



"Oh."



"Whew."



"You're sure about the bunnies?"



Tara smiled as she stripped down to her suit, "I'm sure. I'll be right back," she said as she stepped into the water and promptly shrieked.



"It's bunnies!"



"It's frogs!"



"It's cold," yelped Tara.



"It sure is," Xander mumbled as his eyes were glued to Tara's chest where the evidence was straining against her swimsuit.



"Hey," said Willow as she moved next to her friend and slapped him, "Stop ogling my girlfriend, Xander. You're such a pervert."



"Yeah, Xander," said Anya as she smacked him from the other side. "You're not allowed to look at anyone's breasts but mine. No matter how big they are."



"Hey-" Willow started to defend her girlfriend, or more like her breasts, but realized quickly that there wasn't an insult there and just shrugged instead.



Tara took a deep breath and pushed herself under the water to swim around to look for any changes since she'd been there last, as well as to escape the conversation and to try and cool the hot blush gracing her cheeks.



She emerged just over a minute later to see Willow take a relieved breath and Anya and Xander looking at her expectantly. She gave them a thumbs up to let them know it was all clear. She gave Willow a little wave and pointed down the stream a little to where the Tarzan swing was. Willow nodded and moved along the shore to make her way there while Tara explored the water in that area.



When the blonde emerged and gave her girlfriend the okay Willow stripped down to her suit and took the large rope apprehensively.



"Come on, Will," cheered Xander from his spot in the water – post cannonball demonstration.



Willow looked up at the bridge to where the knot was tied and tugged as hard as she could. Nothing. She tried tugging harder but the knot stood firm. Sighing she looked out at the water and noticed the 10 feet that would separate the end of the rope to the surface of the water.



"Go Willow! Jump!" Anya encouraged – from her spot safely on dry land Willow noticed.



The redhead cursed inwardly, "I fight demons and vampires every night, ward off the occasional apocalypse, I even managed to survive the public schooling system in California – but this, this is where I'm going to die."



"You can do it, Willster," Xander encouraged again as he dog-paddled past.



"Then why didn't you do it 'Mister Test the water with your big-toe first'?" the redhead shot back.



He shrugged, "Ladies first?" he offered as he swam towards the shore to take a turn on the swing.



Anya smirked and Willow narrowed her eyes at her, "I'm not a lady?"



"Not in your relationship," the ex-demon explained as if it were obvious. "Sorry butch, but Tara is the lady in the family."



"I'm not butch," countered Willow. "Tara?"



"So, swimming?" Tara offered, trying to keep things from getting ugly. It'd be a long weekend if Willow and Anya were bickering the entire time.



"Yeah," Xander said as he neared the redhead, "Don't Bogart the Tarzan swing.



Willow pulled on the rope and used her eyes to measure the distance between the rope and the water – Again.



"Well?" Anya asked.



The redhead shot dismissive looks at her two friends and turned her attention to her sexy blonde lover who was treading water nearby.



"Don't worry Will," offered Xander as he nodded at the blonde, "You got 'Baywatch action Tara' life guarding.



"Yeah, fully equipped with mouth to mouth action … among other places," Anya offered, but lowered her voice so that only Xander could hear her last comment.



Xander's mouth fell open and his eyes glazed over, "Oh, visions. I have visions."



Anya's eyes narrowed and she poked her boyfriend in the chest with her finger, "They damn well better be sugarplums Xander Harris."



Xander turned red from head to toe and he took three large steps and jumped into the water. Unfortunately, or fortunately maybe, he clipped the redhead on his way past and Willow stumbled, grabbed the rope, and swung off of the rock.



"XANDER!"



Tara watched as her lover wrapped her arms and legs around the rope and held on for dear life as she swung past … and then past again … and then again.



"Willow, you have to let go of the rope," Tara instructed as she watched her girlfriend swing back and forth like a giant pendulum.



"No," the redhead insisted as she swung past.



"Just let go of the rope, Will," Xander instructed.



"Don't try and help me Xander," Willow yelled, "this is all your fault!"



"Honey, just let go," Tara said reassuringly as she swam closer towards the redhead’s position, "I'll be right beside you. Just close your eyes, hold your breath, and let go."



"So, you're just going to stay up there for the rest of your life?" Anya asked. "Sex on a rope isn't as romantic as it sounds."



Xander shot his girlfriend a look.



"What?" she asked.



"You can't have sex hanging on a rope."



"Sure you can."



"No, you can't," he argued. "It is physically impossible to-"



SPLASH



Anya and Xander barely glanced away from their argument when Willow let go of the rope and plummeted the few feet into the water below the swing.



Willow broke through the surface and blinked the water out of her eyes and came face to face with her lover.



Tara leaned in and dropped a kiss on the redhead's lips, "I knew you could do it."



"Yeah, cuz I'm so butch and all."



The blonde groaned, "Willow."



"I was just kidding."



Tara raised an eyebrow … then splashed her.



Willow blinked the water out of her eyes and shot a look at her lover.



Tara grinned, "I was just kidding."



Willow narrowed her eyes, "This means war."



The splash fight that ensued went on for several minutes and both girls were laughing and breathless by time a cease fire was agreed upon.



"That was fun," said Tara as she dropped down to lay on her towel on one of the flat boulders lining the creek.



"It sure was," agreed Willow as she stood over her lover and shook her wet hair – raining drops of cold water on the blonde's exposed back.



"Willow," Tara swatted at her girlfriend's legs.



The redhead grinned and sat down beside Tara.



"You sunbathing for a while?"



"No, I just wanna dry off a little."



"So you're not trying to get a tan?"



Tara looked at her, "Do you think I need one?"



"A tan?"



"Yeah."



"No."



"Are you sure? It seems like you really want me to sunbathe," explained Tara.



"What- Oh," Willow looked sheepishly at her lover. "I do want you to sunbathe."



Now Tara was confused, "Didn't you just say I didn't need a tan?"



"I don't want you to sunbathe to get a tan," explained Willow. "I want you to sunbathe for another reason."



"What other reason is there to sunbathe?"



Willow licked her lips, "I was hoping that you'd sunbathe and that you'd want me to rub the lotion on for you."



Tara grinned, "That sounds like a good idea."



Willow reached for the bottle of sunscreen, "Yeah?"



The blonde nodded. "Yeah," said Tara as she slipped her arms through the arms of her suit, exposing more of her back. "If you'd be so kind."



Willow flipped open the cap and poured some of the lotion in her hand, and then rubbed them together to warm it. "I'd be more then kind to you right now if Anya and Xander weren't roaming around," the redhead offered as she dropped a kiss on an exposed shoulder blade.



The slender witch took in her lover's appearance as she ran her slick hands together. Tara's head was pillowed on crossed arms, her blue eyes were closed, hiding from the sun, and the creamy skin of her exposed back shone in the afternoon sunlight.



Willow swallowed hard at the sight; it was definitely going to be hard to control herself. 'Maybe she'll agree to a quickie,' she thought hopefully. 'If not, I'll be back in the water.'



The witch took a deep breath to try and settle her desire and then decided to hell with it, and straddled Tara's hips.



"Honey?"



"I'll behave," said Willow as she placed her hands on the shoulders in front of her and began to rub on the lotion. 'For now.'



Tara dropped her head back down to rest on her arms and Willow continued. Her hands started at the base of the slender neck, taking the time to massage her neck and her shoulders. Willow watched with fascination as the smooth skin before turned slick and glistened under the sun's rays.



The feeling of Tara's skin, the act of touching her, was like ambrosia to the witch. Here, before her, lie this beautiful, sensuous woman and no one in the whole entire world could touch her like she could. The reality of it all amazed the redhead to no end – Tara was hers.



Willow used her thumbs to follow the bumpy contour of Tara's spine and then ran them back up the length of her back. She moved back to the strong, but delicate shoulders and kneaded the muscles there. The massage lasted for a few minutes and was met with appreciative groans from the blonde.



"Oh, that's wonderful."



Going back to the bottle for more lotion, Willow ran her hands down Tara's back and smoothed the sunscreen onto her lower back. Not being able to help herself, Willow raised herself up on her knees slightly and she let her thumbs slip inside the swimsuit so that she was rubbing the place on her lover's body where her back ended and her delicious bottom began.



Not getting any sign of resistance the redhead continued to rub her thumbs back and forth. Willow's eyes fell again to her lover's body. Her girl was nice and soft and curvy and… and she really wanted to see those soft curves right now.



Willow threw a quick glance up to make sure no one was around and then her eyes moved quickly back to her girlfriend. The redhead saw her hands sitting on her girl's lower back and she could see her thumbs moving across the skin there through the suit. But that wasn't enough. She wanted to see her hands on her lover's body – somewhere no one but she could touch her – so she slid her hands further down the blonde's back, the result being that it pulled the suit with it and the top of Tara's backside was exposed to her eyes.



Looking down at her lover's body, Willow smiled. She could now see the beginning of the line that separated her partner's bottom and the beginning swell of each cheek. Tara seemed content to let her explore - so she did. Willow let her thumbs rub back and forth across each swell taking in the delicious pleasure of the feeling of her lover's body.



Willow played and explored for several minutes before her desire made her want to push for more. She imagined herself reaching out to remove the suit entirely, leaving her lover completely naked before her hungry eyes.



Tantalizing hands were drawn away from their playground and they slid slowly up the blonde's back. Willow glanced around again before sliding her hands up and down her lover's sides and across her ribs.



After a moment of brief hesitation she went for it – her fingers slid down until they were resting on the sides of blonde's breasts. Tara had an ample chest but since she was lying on her stomach, it made for difficult access. But Willow rubbed and played with as much as she could reach, all the while praying and wishing that Tara would roll over.



The blonde witch was offering no resistance so Willow continued to probe the sides of the soft mounds trying to slip her hands under far enough to reach the twin peaks that adorned each one.



After several long moments of trying she eventually heard Tara what sounded like a sigh and a moan combined and then she thought her heart would stop… her sexy blonde lover slid her arms out from under her head and used them to prop herself up – making her creamy mounds available to Willow's touch.



Willow smiled so widely that she almost broke her face and her hands quickly slipped inside the loose suit and up the blonde's side to cup the now reachable breasts.



Slender hands, slick with lotion massaged soft breasts while eager fingers sought out now hardened nipples. Willow let one hand fall away from a breast and the blonde moaned in disappointment. But the hands absence was only a temporary one; Willow used the hand to brush the hair away from Tara's neck and then it made it's way quickly back to its place on her lover's breast.



Willow leaned down and kissed the now exposed neck as her hands continued to manipulate her girlfriend’s breasts. Nipples were tugged and tweaked and the redhead ground her pelvis into the blonde's backside.



"Oh Willow," Tara moaned softly, "please? I need more."



Knowing she couldn't do more from their current position but also aware that Anya and Xander could return at any time Willow moved off of the blonde and slid down beside her.



Not knowing what her lover was doing, Tara looked at her incredulously, "We can't stop now."



Willow leaned in and kissed the blonde hotly while she pulled a large beach towel over her girl, "For the rest of my life – I'm never going to stop touching you." And she proved it as she propped herself up on her side and let her hand slide down her girlfriend's back, down to squeeze the firm backside, and then lower until she was cupping her lover's sex.



Tara immediately pulled her leg up, opening herself up, and threw it over her smiling girlfriend's legs.



"Goddess, you're soaked," said Willow as she explored the slippery folds but avoided touching the throbbing clitoris.



Tara just moaned as she tried to move her body to make her lover’s hand make contact with the spot she wanted the most. Willow, please?" moaned the blonde witch.



The redhead grinned as she let two of her fingers slide inside the coral opening while she used her thumb to brush over her lover's aching clit – making her body jump in pleasure.



"Oh Goddess."



Willow smiled as Tara's body hugged and squeezed her fingers, begging and inviting her at the same time. Her thumb was busily strumming back and forth across the throbbing clit.



"Kiss me," Tara demanded breathlessly as she neared the edge.



It was an order that the redhead was more then glad to oblige. Willow leaned in and kissed the blonde hotly. She sucked Tara's tongue into her mouth and increased the pressure of her thumb.



Willow felt the blonde's internal muscles begin to spasm just before Tara exploded. She would have came loudly if Willow hadn't captured the moan in her mouth.



Tara pulled back and dropped her face into her the crook of her lover's neck where she placed several kisses.



Willow gently eased her thumb off of the blonde's quivering clit and gently removed her fingers. The glistening fingers were removed from one warm nest and placed in another as Willow drew the digits into her mouth. Her mouth watered at the taste and she moaned in appreciation.



"Mm Tara."



*****



"Mm Tara," moaned Xander, "I think I love you."



Willow raised an eyebrow while Anya's eyes narrowed and Tara just blushed.



"This is mmm … the best fish I have ever tasted," offered the young construction worker as he polished of his dinner. "I could marry you … well, if you weren't a lesbian."



This time Willow and Anya both glared at him through narrowed eyes."



"Uh, I mean if you- and you're not single and I only love Anya and- and it was good fish that's all."



Willow and Tara were sitting on a cooler and the redhead dropped a possessive hand to her girlfriend's thigh, "Lay off my woman, Xander."



"There will be no laying," agreed Xander.



"You'll marry Tara for a fish," huffed Anya. "I give you orgasms on a nightly basis. When are you going to marry me?"



"An, honey, we talked about this," tried Xander, "We'll get married one day."



"Yeah, well, I'm 1,120 years old Xander Harris. I'm not getting any younger."



Willow's head was moving back and forth between the arguing couple. The argument was heating up and she couldn't help but roll her eyes. She let her eyes fall away from her friends and then glanced over at her lover.



Tara was leaning slightly against her with her head tilted back and she was admiring the starry night.



The redhead leaned in further and dropped a kiss just below her ear, "Who loves you?"



Tara smiled and turned her gaze to her lover, "You do."



"Always," Willow rubbed the denim clad thigh beneath her hand, "Are you having a good time?"



"Oh yes," the blonde nodded, "I love it here."



"It's so beautiful. How'd you find out about this place anyway?"



"I came here a couple of times for a 'Wiccan Retreat' when I was in high school. When we were finished with the retreat we would camp out for a few more days, just for fun and to relax."



"Well, it is very relaxing," Willow agreed.



"I mean it Xander, I'm not going to wait around forever."



"Or not."



"Honey, I just want to save up enough money to make sure that you have the best wedding there has ever been in the history of weddings," tried Xander. "I mean, the best wedding ever."



"Guys," Willow entered the battle, "Can we not?"



"Willow's right," added Xander, "We're supposed to be on vacation. We should be enjoying ourselves, not arguing."



"Fine," huffed the former demon, "I'll not be arguing in the tent."



"An, please?"



"Goodnight," was the reply she gave as she disappeared into the tent.



"Damn," cursed Xander as he moved towards the tent. "See you girls in the morning."



"Night."



"G'night Xander."



"Well, that was expected."



"Will."



"What?"



"They'll handle it," said Tara as she cleaned up the remainder of the dinner plates.



"I know," replied Willow as she stoked the fire with a long stick. "They always handle it. They fight and then they handle it. Do you think that we'll always be able to handle it for us?"



"We'll be fine."



"For always?"



"Forever."



Willow smiled. "We are gonna' be together forever aren't we?" she asked as her gaze turned towards the stars.



"Honey?" Tara asked as she sat back down beside her, wondering about her line of questioning.



Seeing the look of confusion on her girlfriend's face, Willow leaned and dropped a quick kiss on her lips. "I just meant that this is it. It's us. I can't imagine my life without you. We're one of those couples that meet young, get married, have kids and stay happy the whole way through."



"That your way of asking," Tara teased and bumped shoulders with her lover.



"My what? Oh."



"Relax honey, I was just kidding," replied the blonde, seeing the serious look the redhead's face.



Willow turned her body to face her lover and dropped a hand to a shapely thigh, "If I asked you – you would say yes right?"



Blue eyes widened, "To marry you?"



Willow nodded.



"Of course I would. I'm yours forever."



"So, does this make us engaged?"



"What?"



"We both know that one day I'm going to ask. I'm going to ask and you're going to say yes. So, technically we're engaged. Right?"



Tara reached out and tucked a strand of Willow's hair behind her ear and then cupped her cheek, "Do you want to be?"



Willow reached up and held the hand against her face and looked at her with serious green eyes, "I love you. I want nothing more then spend the rest of my life with you. And one day, when the time is right… I'm going to marry you."



The redhead met Tara as she was leaning in and the two shared a tender kiss that went on for several minutes. When the kiss finally ended they pulled apart and rested their foreheads against each other.



"So we're engaged?" Tara asked.



Willow nodded, "As soon as we get back to Sunnydale your getting a ring. I want everyone to know that you're mine."



Tara tilted her head and kissed her lover, "I am you know."



Willow recognized the words immediately. She smiled and stole a kiss, "What?"



"Yours," Tara answered with another kiss.



"Mine?" Willow asked.



"Always," Tara nodded.



"And forever?"



Tara leaned in and kissed her redheaded lover tenderly. When she pulled back their eyes met. "Forever."



TBC...



PEACE ... Dix





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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 9:20 am 
Dix! Wow, it's been a long time, nut I am glad to see you didn't give up on this fic. Aww, and how sweet was the update? Made me go AWWW.

I bet the angst it coming, and I want it, I so want it. Great update, and I hope I'll c another one soon! :grin

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



"See? I've mastered this tact crap." Anya in Tears Of The Goddess by Lisa



The course of love doesn’t always run smooth, especially for the neurotic and accident-prone. ~ LadyB



.:Dark-bliss.net :. .:Blink.Flash.Sparkle.:. .:My blog:. .:Blood and Ink:. .:Washi's 70s Site:.



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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 6:50 pm 
WOW!!! :shock :shock :shock I just spent the better half of this day reading this fic from the beginning :read and I must say that I love it!!! :love I can't believe that I hadn't read this fic before. What an amazing story here. Outstanding job!!! Please :pray :pray :pray , update soon. =)

Aaron

'Tarababy77'


"Don't buy into all the media crap. Love yourself for who you are, not what others THINK you should look like. It's DEFINITELY more important in this life to love each other despite our imperfections." - Amber Benson



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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 7:50 pm 
Hey Dixon that was great. I am glad to see that your muse is back for a bit :) I loved the image of Willow hanging from a rope swing and just going to and fro...very funny. And the proposal was so sweet, Xander is going to be in for it when Anya finds out that they are engaged.



Thank you for the update, I really enjoy reading this story.



It's a moo point. It's like a cow's opinion. It's moo.
Words of wisdom from 'Friends'



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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 11:58 pm 
Awwww this was so sweet! And hot too! I think it's adorable that they got engaged under the stars. More please!

-pipsberg



"We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep - it's as simple and ordinary as that."

Michael Cunningham, The Hours



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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 6:12 pm 
Howdy:bigwave









Brillant









-Shy Southern Temptress:kitty



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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 2:36 pm 
Dix~~

you're back!! i was so glad to see an update with this story. kitten written angst, in my opinion anyway, it usually worth the wait, and you've proven my theory right again. the parts centered around their camping trip were absolutely adorable. i love the way that tara interacted with the vamp as well when she first "woke up"--very, very nicely done. you've got all of these characters down pat!! this is a very well (if sometimes torturous to read) written fic. perhaps you should have written the scripts for season 7. i have no doubt the show's ratings would not have plummeted the way they did had that been the case.

i'm curious about some of the unanswered questions that popped up in my head after reading that last update.....looking forward to more.

thank you!!

~*I would like to be the air that inhabits your body for one moment

only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary*~ Margaret

Atwood



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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 4:15 pm 
Wow, you're actually continuing this one. It's good to see, but I'm going to have to reread the earlier parts to connect that last part too them. Until I find the time, I'll treat it as a fun W/T vignette. (-;

--

"Omnia mutantur, nihil interit." -- "Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost."



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 Post subject: Re: more...
PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:47 pm 
I've Spent Hours Reading This Fic, And I Admit That It Made Me Cry, Hardly Any Fics Make Me Cry (Actually This Is The First) . Awesome Job!!! By Far One Of The Best!!! :applause :applause :bow :bounce :bounce

D2D



Damn You Vile Woman!!!- Stewie Griffin



I Try My Best To Feed Her Appetite, And Keep Her Coming Every Night... - "This Love" By Maroon 5



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Wish
PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:29 am 
Offline
19. Yummy Face
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:19 pm
Posts: 2943
Location: Kaskinen, Finland, citizen of Kitopia
Great story... is there update-y goodness still to come?

_________________
We few, we happy few. We band of buggered.

Posting While Nude Improves Your Mood.


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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Wish
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:32 am 
wow...great story. ;-)


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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Wish
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:54 pm 
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3. Flaming O
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:36 pm
Posts: 89
yowie
how come i was tricked into readin this, thinking it's recent and keeps bein updated, if not that it's finished already...
and it's not and not.

this is quite unfair

the steamy sex was nice though.


it's interesting how Tara's portrayed as the temperate one in this fic. I've seen that go both ways... usually not *so* temperate and motherly, though.
huh.

... wish somehting like this could have happened for real, you know...

FUCKING SUCKING SEASON 8!

sorry. had to get that out.

i hope the messed-up-ness of the author's situation 6 years ago has cleared up. an update would be interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Wish
PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:27 pm 
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2. Floating Rose

Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:09 pm
Posts: 26
Location: ITALY
ye, any possibility of an update?
WONDERFUL STORY!! :wtkiss :wtkiss


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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Wish
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:36 pm 
Offline
1. Blessed Wannabe
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:18 pm
Posts: 11
Topics: 1
Location: NE, USA
Sooo.... it's been a while since this fic was updated (circa 2004). I wonder if 13 years is some kind of a record? :hmm If it is, it's certainly not a good one. I can't figure out where in the Hell the time went either... life, I suppose... but I digress. I have tried working on this fic many times throughout the years but I was never able to really pick it back up and my sincere, deepest apologies to all of those who got invested in this fic only to find it left incomplete. I am so sorry for that.

I really, really, really want to finish this fic but my muse is notorious for taking leave ... for decades at a time apparently... so I can't promise that I'll be able to see it through (which is why I'm leaving it in the unfinished archives & not re-posting it) Unless i have to move/re-post it, Mods? That being said, a recent photo shoot (swoon) has me re-watching BtVS and falling in love with our girls all over again. :wtkiss And, I do have several chapters already written and an ending plotted out, since I forgot the last one, so I actually have high hopes of being able to actually finish it. Here's hoping.


THE WISH -- Part Unknown

The young blonde woman reached up to rub her aching neck. Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders could give you the worst crick in the neck. She was beyond tired and everyone else in the house was sleeping but it just wouldn't come for the slayer.

Question after question and scenario after scenario bombarded her mind about Tara's return to them. Mostly she hoped that the gentle blonde wouldn't experience the same things that she did when she returned. Buffy was also more then a little worried as to what Tara's reaction was going to be when she found out what had happened and how. Everything was different now.

How would the gentle blonde feel about learning that she was brought back from the dead? Or that she had died in the first place? And how will she react when she learns about Willow's plunge into the darkest of places – not to mention murder.

Life was never easy for the Slayer of her faithful Scoobies.

Buffy approached the door quietly. Noticing it was slightly ajar she stepped forward and pushed the door gently until she was able to see into the room. Her eyes fell first to the bed where Willow and Dawn were asleep, each respectively curled around a pillow and their exhaustion easily noticeable.

Her eyes then moved slightly to the left and spotted Tara standing in front of the window with her hand touching the glass. The pane had been replaced but she knew that somehow the blonde witch was able to feel something.

Tara glanced up and caught the slayers eyes in the reflection of the glass. The knowing in the crystal blue eyes was apparent.

"You should be asleep," Buffy tried.

"This room echoes of pain."

"A little Feng Shui will probably fix that up in no time," offered the slayer who wished she was anywhere else in the world right now.

"I know what happened, Buffy."

"Oh."

"But I want you to tell me."

Buffy shook her head and cast a glance at the sleeping redhead, "Tara, I can't."

The blonde turned around and pinned the slayer with a soul piercing gaze, "I know what I feel happened but I don't know why or how and a lot is missing. I need you to tell me."

"Tara, I think Willow wants to be the one-"

"I'm standing in the spot where I died, Buffy. The auras of death, pain and violence are so thick that I can hardly breathe. Willow is fragmented and touched with a darkness beyond what it ever was… She can't tell me."

Moments passed and the gaze only intensified.

"Please?" Tara whispered finally breaking the silence.

"Can we do it with drinks?" Buffy returned equally soft.

Tara dipped her head in agreement and stopped by the bed to pull the covers up around Dawn. The teen fussed slightly so the young blonde ran her fingers through the brown hair to keep her asleep.

Dawn adjusted her position and mumbled sleepily.

"Go back to sleep, Sweetie," the blonde whispered as she continued to comb her fingers through the mouse brown hair. The exhausted teen relaxed under the touch and drifted into a deep sleep once again.

"Tara?" Willow mumbled as she fought against sleep.

The young blonde moved to the other side of the bed and caressed a pale cheek, "I'm here, Love, go back to sleep."

"Un'kay," Willow mumbled as she curled her body against her lovers. Tara sat with the redhead for several more minutes before she stood and nodded to Buffy who was still standing in the doorway.

Buffy didn't bother trying to smile and just started quietly towards the kitchen with the silent blonde in tow. If she was going to do this she would definitely need coffee ... maybe with some liquor in it.

* * * * *

Buffy was leaning against the counter and she raised her cup towards the blonde sitting at the table, "You sure you don't want any?"

"No, thank you."

Buffy sighed heavily and then moved to sit beside Tara at the table. "I know you want to hear what went down, Tara. You have every right to know but I want you to know that I am very not happy about being the one to tell you. I feel like I'm ambushing my best friend here."

It was Tara's turn to sigh, "Buffy, I didn't ask you to tell me because I thought Willow would lie to me. Just the opposite actually. Willow would have been brutally honest in her telling it – in her reliving it."

"And that means?"

"That means that I don't want my lover to have to recount and relive my death by giving me a play-by-play."

Buffy tilted her head as she thought about poor Willow explaining to Tara how she held her in her arms as her life slipped away. She thought about it and decided immediately that the blonde was right.

"Okay," Buffy began, "Not that I want to have to relive it either but better me then Willow having to go there." Tara nodded in agreement and Buffy hesitated as to what she was about to say next. "Uh, Tara…You see… there is kinda more to the story than just you… being away."

"Would that 'kinda more' kinda involve the darkness I see every time I look at Willow?"

Buffy looked as uncomfortable as Anya's bridesmaids did in those hideous dresses, "Uh, kinda yeah."

Tara ran a weary hand over her forehead, "Buffy, whatever happened was major, I get that. It was devastating and traumatic and violent and ugly… that's kinda how it goes with dark magic. I can't say what my reaction to hearing about it is going to be. It's not something I can control. I don’t want Willow to see pain or disappointment on my face… it would only hurt her more."

"And you don't think us going behind her back might hurt her?"

The blonde sighed, "It might. But this is the way I need to do it and I'm not going to hide it."

"Tara, I don't think-"

"Buffy," she interrupted, "I want you to tell me but if you won't, or can't, then I'll ask Giles. I can't hear it from Willow without bracing for the impact first, okay?"

A cropped blonde head dropped to her chest and the slayer sighed. "What's the last thing you remember?" she asked when she finally looked up.

* * * * *

Tara sat on the porch swing swaying softly with one leg curled up under her. Her elbow sat on the arm of the swing and her chin rested in her hand. Troubled blue eyes were fixed on the children playing in the street and she sighed.

Hearing of first your death and then your resurrection could put one in a strange mood. Add into that equation your lover watching you be killed and then embracing the darkest of forces for comfort. Of course the rampage and murdering didn't exactly shine any light onto the situation either.

Tara found herself swimming in a myriad of emotions. She could sense everyone's pain around her and she felt the sadness welling up in her. She was sad but she was also angry. She was angry at the whole situation… at the cruelty of it all. There was anger, sadness, grief and to some degree… relief.

Tara hadn't moved much that morning which was now making its way towards afternoon. She had turned over everything that the slayer had told her and tried to decide how to feel about it and what, if anything, to do about it. And since she didn't remember dying or being resurrected she decided to just file it away without attaching any emotional resonance to it.

Willow's actions however weren't that simple. When the slayer first related the story of what had happened Tara's first response was disbelief which was immediately followed by anger and now that she had time to think it over and look at it from Willow's perspective … she was sad.

Yes, she had warned the redhead about the dangers of tampering with the dark arts. She even ended their relationship because she couldn't watch Willow slowly destroy herself. Even the termination of the relationship wasn't enough to curb Willow's use of magics, at first anyway. Eventually, the redhead was able to see what was happening and she stopped using magic; at least until she watched her girlfriend die.

But Willow didn't just jump back into the dark magics, she got lost in it. It's no wonder things ended in destruction and death. No matter what angle you looked at it; Willow killed someone and there was no erasing that.

Tara sighed deeply. She considered how grief stricken Willow must have been to take the route she did. How desperate Willow must have been to want to stop the pain she was experiencing. And now, how guilty she must feel about the whole thing.

Tara sighed again; the whole situation just didn't make any sense to her. Willow wasn't the kind of person who lashed out in a serial killer fashion. She wasn't a kill first and ask questions later kind of person. She's a not kill at all person. The blonde witch knew that if anything had happened and Willow had died in her arms that her first reaction wouldn’t be revenge – she would be far too grief stricken. Like Willow should have been. So why then did she lash out in such a way. After all, she didn't just kill Warren, she also went after all of her friends and cast concern for innocent people to the breeze.

Their relationship was very special to both young women and they loved each other dearly… but to be able to live without each other wasn't impossible. Horrible yes, impossible no. Living in a place as dangerous as the Hellmouth one learns to accept not only their mortality but also that of those around them. Tara knew that if something happened to Willow that she would never fall in love again but she wouldn't end her own life either. She certainly wouldn't try and destroy the world and everyone around her. No, there was something there.

Tara frowned. Surely something had to have been influencing Willow – there just had to be. There simply couldn't be any other explanation. Something must have tapped into her while she was tapping into the dark. Maybe it was like when they brought Buffy back, something must have came along for the ride. Tapping into dark forces isn't the wisest thing to do but dabbling once or twice usually meant that one; you didn't have enough power to delve further or two; you weren't smart enough to heed the warnings that were given when you did.

It wasn't that Willow wasn't smart enough to heed the warnings because she didn't jump right in at first, she didn't even want to. It was more like she needed to use the magic to help save lives and fight dark forces. A few dark spells here and there will give the appearance of helping, but in the long run the user was actually helping the dark. And the thing that Tara understood but Willow seemed to miss was that dark magic and evil went hand-in-hand. One can't destroy the other because they're one in the same.

It was a story as old as the hills and one that Tara had heard before. You tap into the dark while the darkness taps into you. And that must have been what had happened with Willow. She had been delving into the dark magics so much and so often that something finally tapped into her. It would have been easy to manipulate her while she was being driven by profound loss and a great anger.

So, did something manipulate Willow. But why? What for? And more importantly, was it still and Tara just couldn't see it? If it still was, what were they going to do about it? Regardless of what Willow's reasons or motivations were Tara knew that her lover was still going to suffer from guilt and regret. That couldn't be changed and that was something else she had to figure out how to help Willow deal with it.

And then there was Spike. She didn't even know where to begin to try and feel about him sacrificing himself to save her.

Several of the neighborhood kids that were playing in the street finally noticed the blonde sitting on the Summers' porch and they scrambled over to her. The pretty blonde lady was the best magician that they had ever seen. She was so cool – she could float things!

"Hi Tara."

"Hi."

"Watcha' doin?"

Tara gave the kids a soft smile, "Just thinking. And watching you guys play. Good job."

"Did you see my touchdown?" asked Teena, the block's little tomboy, and future butch according to Anya.

"I sure did, that was a great catch and a great throw; pretty soon you'll have your own team I think," she spoke kindly to the kids.

"You could be our cheerleader," Isaac piped up and Patrick nodded.

Teena frowned, "No way!"

"She's way too old to play," considered Isaac, "She's like 20 or something."

Tara couldn’t help it, she laughed. "I don't think that 20 is too old to play but I'm not really the cheerleader type anyway."

She was met with three frowns as they tried to figure out what role she could play then.

"How about, I be the team magician instead?"

"Yeah!"

"Cool."

"Show us a trick, please?"

Tara smiled again, she would have to figure out how to save the world later, "Okay, but just one."

* * * * *

Dawn walked out onto the porch just as the kids were heading down the steps and back to do whatever it is that kids do she guessed. They paused long enough to give her a quick wave which she returned before moving towards the blonde on the swing.

Tara looked up to find Dawn standing next to her. She made no move to sit down and she didn't say anything, she was just standing there… staring at her.

The girl's eyes moved up and down Tara's form as if she was checking to make sure that she had been returned correctly and that everything was in its proper place. Tara said nothing until Dawn's eyes met hers and the blonde reached out a hand.

Dawn slid her hand into Tara's and squeezed. The older woman squeezed her hand back and gave a slight tug, indicating the teen to take the seat beside her. Tara knew that Dawn needed to be close to her, almost as much as Willow needed to, and she welcomed the girl close.

The teen sat down on the swing and immediately pulled Tara's arm across her and hugged it. Tara responded by giving the knee beneath her hand a gentle squeeze.

"Did you sleep well, Sweetie?"

Dawn rested her head on her shoulder and nodded.

Tara glanced at the subdued teen, "Are you all right?"

Another nod.

The young witch was about to question her further when she felt hot tears pelting the exposed skin of her shoulder where her sweater had slid down. Tara turned sideways on the swing, cupped the teens face in her hands and wiped away the falling tears with her thumbs.

"What is it, Sweetie?"

More tears welled in the brown eyes, "You weren't there when I woke up. That used to happen with my mom … and Buffy. I thought I only dreamed that you came back.."

"Oh Dawnie," Tara pulled her into a tight hug, "I'm not going anywhere."

"You were dead," she hiccupped as she choked out the words, "I saw your body and I… I..."

Tara closed her eyes in sadness as she thought about what her young charge must have gone through. The blonde witch rocked the teen in her arms and she hummed softly.

"I'm so sorry, Dawnie," Tara murmured when the teen finally calmed some. "I'm here and I don't plan on going anywhere. I'm here."

Dawn burrowed further into the embrace and let herself be rocked like a child. It was several long minutes later when the teen slid out of the embrace but only enough to curl up on the swing and rest her head in the blonde's lap.

Tara reached down and ran her fingers through Dawn's hair. The poor kid. In reality, she may have been a very mature teenager who had lived through more than a dozen adults ever had or would. But lately though, the abuse that life had been handing to the kid made her seem so much younger; so innocent and vulnerable. The young girl had been through so much in her young life – it was amazing that she was still sane.

Dawn reached up and snagged Tara's right hand. The blonde witch tended to wear shirts with sleeves that fell over her hands and the teen pushed the fabric out of the way. She felt Tara tense slightly when she started running her fingers over the multitude of scars on the delicate digits. The scars, she knew, were from the series of surgeries the witch needed to repair the damage that Glory had inflicted upon her. While she was protecting me. The exact number of screws and plates it took to repair the hand was known only to Tara, and probably Willow, and neither were willing to share that number with the teen. 'Now I have a cool terminator hand,' was all Tara would ever say, usually before crossing her arms and removing the appendage in question from sight, before quickly changing the subject.

The teen knew that Tara's hand would ache occasionally, usually before chilly or rainy days, and when she would see the witch rubbing her knuckles she would know to grab a sweater or an umbrella. Dawn also knew that the scars and the ache were a constant reminder of the ordeal she suffered at Glory's hands, literally, and the high school freshman suspected that was the reason that the witch had taken to wearing a ring on her pinky that her mother had given her. Something positive to counteract the negative and Dawn's fingertips left the scars and moved to fiddle with the intricate stones of the ring.

"Do you think it will ever be over?" the girl asked, her voice scratchy from crying.

Tara continued to run the fingers of her left hand through the brown hair, "Do I think what will ever be over?"

Dawn rolled onto her back and looked up into concerned and loving eyes, "All of it. Vampires, demons, the slaying. Do you think we'll ever be able to just live normal lives?"

Tara's heart was breaking. The poor girl had been through so much and she flat out accepted it – but now all she was asking for was life, to live. How was Tara supposed to tell her that there would be dark forces as long as there were forces of light? Or, that it was likely that their lives would be spent fighting it.

"I didn't think so," Dawn answered for her in a flat tone.

"Dawn, I don't know what to say," Tara replied honestly. "I want to say that one day we’ll all be living happily ever after somewhere but I can't promise you that. Yes, we live every day with the risk of losing our lives … But my mom taught me that it's not how long you live, but how well you live. And I know that that's not what you wanted to hear and it may not be very comforting… but that's the truth."

Dawn looked into understanding eyes. One of the reasons that she was so drawn to the young blonde woman was because of her honesty. Tara never made her feel left out or talked down to her like she was just a kid. Tara managed to be not only a friend but also a surrogate mother.

"I can't lose you again," the teen said bluntly.

"You'll never lose me, Dawnie… you're a part of me forever."

* * * * *

Buffy sighed softly as she stepped away from the front door and back into the house. She had heard Dawn crying and made her way to investigate but was brought up short when she found her kid sister being cradled like a child by the blonde witch. She didn't mean to stay and eavesdrop on their private conversation but she couldn't bring herself to move away.

Tara really was like a mother to Dawn. How could a young woman who grew up in such a terrible environment grow up to be so gentle and kind? So maternal? Hell, Dawn wasn't that much younger than herself or the witch but, it was the role she assumed without thought or hesitation.

Dawn, the slayer knew, unintentionally looked to Tara as a mother figure. It's who she went to for comfort, for her needs and for approval. It had unnerved Buffy at first that her sister would go to the young witch to see if she was allowed to do something or go somewhere, as opposed to asking her that is. Dawn looked to Tara for guidance and for permission and the teen could often be heard pleading her case if she was denied. Sometimes, Tara would reconsider and Dawn would bounce with excitement. Other times, the witch stood firm and the teen would pout, while trying to give the appearance of not doing so.

Buffy looked back at recent events and thought about her heated debates with the teen, the slamming of doors and the lying and sneaking out and the slayer sighed. She didn't recall when it happened, but at a certain point, the slayer found herself directing the teen to the witch when Dawn would seek permission for something. That action would usually frustrate the teen because it generally meant thwarting her plan of asking her sister and then disregarding the answer and doing what she wanted anyway. Because, the slayer acknowledged, when the teen was forced to ask Tara… she couldn't bring herself to circumvent what the witch told her. Dawn always accepted the blonde's decisions no matter how much she wanted to go against them. Probably couldn't bear to see disappointment in Tara's eyes, Buffy thought.

"Do you think it will ever be over?" she heard Dawn ask.

Buffy shook herself out of her musings and turned her attention back to the scenario her sister was posing for the young witch. She had mentioned something similar to Giles not more then two days ago when they were in Africa. The teenager wasn't the only one tired of dealing with losing her friends and family on a regular basis. There wasn't anything she could do about it – but that's the way it was.

The slayer made her way quietly up the steps and approached Tara and Willow's room where the redhead was still asleep. Standing in another doorway, the young blonde warrior looked at one her of her best friends in the world, Willow Rosenberg.

Buffy thought back to their high school days and remembered the innocent, young redhead who had offered her friendship so freely. Since then, Willow began to grow in so many ways and so quickly. She became more confident, more assertive and more powerful; the nerdy high school girl had grown into an attractive woman.

The Slayer frowned, and thanks to me she also grew into a dark magic addicted murderer.

"Does life ever so suck," Buffy sighed, forced herself away from her musings and then reached up to knock on the door frame, "Willow?"

The redhead came awake with a jerk and her eyes immediately started scanning the room.

Looking for Tara, no doubt. The slayer thought. Still not sure that she's real.

"It's okay," said Buffy quickly as she walked into the bedroom to reassure her friend. "Tara's downstairs with Dawn."

Willow looked at her suspiciously for a moment before nodding, climbing out of bed and trying to make her way downstairs.

"Wait," said the slayer as she blocker her path. "I have to tell you something."

Immediately alarmed, "Tara?"

"She's fine, everything's fine," Buffy supplied quickly. "I promise." Willow still looked a little panicked and the blonde squeezed her shoulder to calm her.

"She's really back? Nothing's wrong?"

"She is really back and she's totally fine."

The witch released a relieved breath and she dropped down to sit on the bed, "So tell me."

Buffy sat down beside her friend as stared at the floor. "Tara asked me to tell her what happened."

Willow nodded solemnly.

"She didn't seem mad or even too freaked out," offered the slayer. "She just listened and asked a couple of questions. Then she thanked me, gave me hug and said she needed some time to think about things."

"She probably hates me."

"She doesn't hate you."

"I could never hate you, Willow," came a soft voice from the doorway.

The blonde and redhead snapped their gazes to the woman in the doorway.

"Tara," squeaked Buffy.

The witch seemed to ignore the slayer and moved into the room and knelt before her girlfriend and rested her hands on her knees. "I love you, Willow. I could never hate you… not ever."

The red head shook negatively unable to agree. She kept her eyes down refusing to look at the blonde, afraid of what she would find there, "You have to hate me. Even I hate me. I don't deserve for you to love me."

Tara glanced over at an uncomfortable looking slayer, "Buffy, could you-"

"Yes, right," she stepped back. "I'm gonna go … do a … thing," she said as she moved quickly out of the room.

The blonde watched as the slayer slipped out of the room and shut the door. "I love you Willow," she said softly as she used her fingers to tilt up her lover's chin so she could make eye contact. She was met with sad, teary eyes and she continued to speak gently, "I love you and nothing will ever change that. Okay?"

The redhead swallowed hard and nodded.

"We have a lot to talk about," said Tara as she took her lover's hands in her own, "and we will. But first, you need to do a purging. We can't go to the creek so I'm going to set up the bathroom."

"Tara," Willow managed to croak out, "I- I don't think I should."

The blonde cupped her face and rubbed her cheek with her thumb, "Trust me, Will, you absolutely need to. It's probably not a bad idea for me either. It's not magic and I'll be right here with you, okay?"

"Okay."

"Today we'll do the purging together but as soon as you’re up to it you need to do one alone. You should probably plan on few offerings of forgiveness, too."

"Okay," she repeated, obediently.

"I have to go downstairs," Tara said as she leaned in and dropped a kiss on her forehead, "I'll be right back."

Willow nodded again and watched as her lover stepped back and walked out of the room. The former witch watched her lover disappear through the doorway and then kept her eyes trained there, waiting for her return. Several minutes later her anxiety was starting to build when Tara finally reappeared. The blonde witch gave her lover a small smile as she passed her on her way the bathroom with the supplies she had gathered.

The sound of running water and the smell of burning sage followed Tara out of the bathroom as she moved next to her lover and took her hands once again. "You ready?"

"I love you."

The words were spoken with such raw emotion and honesty that Tara felt her eyes sting with tears. "I love you too," she answered as soft blue eyes met sad green, "more than anything."

Willow closed her eyes and took a deep breath, "I'm ready."

Tara offered her a small smile and led her into the bathroom.

Steam and sage filled the air of the dim, candle-lit bathroom. Tara sat on the edge of the bathtub and reached down to first test and then turn off the water. Apparently satisfied, the blonde gathered the supplies she had collected and began adding them to the water. Willow watched nervously as the experienced witch added milk, mint and then rose petals to the bath and stirred the water gently.

The redhead stood nearby twisting the ends of her shirt and without saying a word Tara moved to her lover and began undressing her. Willow said nothing and moved numbly as she was undressed and then guided into the warm water. She let herself be leaned backwards until she was nearly submerged with nothing but her lips and nose above water. Only Tara's hands kept her from sinking and disappearing into the abyss. After a couple of minutes she felt Tara guide her head above water and she looked up to her lover for instruction.

"I'm going to set up and purify the alter," Tara said as she used her hand to cup water and pour it over areas of the hacker's exposed skin. "Try to clear your mind and think of your path, Willow."

The former witch nodded.

The blonde leaned in and brushed her lips over that of her girlfriend's, "Be back soon."

Willow let her eyes fall closed and kept them that way. She heard Tara move away and she let her body slide back down into the water until she was almost completely submerged. The warm water wrapped around her body it felt like a hug from the universe and the former witch let herself sink into it. It was the first time in days that she hadn't felt cold.

She didn't realize that time had been passing until she felt Tara's hand on her shoulders as the blonde slipped into the tub behind her. The soft, warmth of her lover's skin made Willow want to melt into her and she pressed back into the blonde as much as she could. Tara's arms encircled her and she felt herself being hugged tightly, completely. She wasn't sure how long they stayed that way but when the water started to chill the blonde suggested that the bath part of the ritual was over and together they climbed out of the tub.

They dried off with the large, clean towels Tara had supplied before donning white, ceremonial robes. Tara dropped a kiss on her lips and led her back into their bedroom. The curtains had been drawn and the room was quite dark. Tara led her to the alter and she felt salt under her feet. The blonde released her hand to light the alter candle and then turned back to Willow and took her hands.

"Bless us goddess for we are your children," Tara recited the prayer. "We are creations of your divine light."

Willow stood meekly as Tara pushed off first her robe and then that of her lover. The blonde reached for a bowl on the alter and dipped her fingers into the amber liquid. She anointed Willow's head with the liquid and then her own, "Blessed be our minds that we may use our thoughts for the good of all."

The redhead's eyes fluttered shut when she saw the blonde's hand reached up to anoint them and then her own, "Blessed be our eyes so that we may see the path you have set for us to walk."

Their noses were anointed, "Blessed be our noses so that we may breathe the essence of your divinity."

She felt Tara's hands on her lips, "Blessed be our mouths that we may speak and worship you."

Soft hands anointed her chest, "Blessed be our hearts that we may be forever faithful."

Willow felt her breath catch slightly when she felt her lover's hands on her abdomen, "Blessed be our wombs that you have empowered to bring forth new life as you have brought forth creation."

The blonde kneeled and anointed their feet, "Blessed be our feet that we may always walk in your ways."

Tara returned to her feet, set the bowl down and took both of Willow's hands in hers, "Pray, Willow."

The redhead let her eyes slide shut and she did what Tara had told her to do; prayed. She prayed hard. She prayed for forgiveness and mercy; she prayed for direction and guidance and she offered thanks and beyond for Tara's return.

"Willow?" Tara called as slipped her robe back on and reached to help her girlfriend do the same.

"Yes?"

"How do you feel?" Tara asked, holding her gaze and searching her eyes.

"Like I could sleep for a week," she answered honestly.

"That's good," the blonde said as she aimed her girlfriend towards the bed, "I have to clean up. Lay down and I'll join you as soon as I'm finished."

Willow nodded mutely and made her way to the bed and dropped down in a boneless pile. She curled herself around Tara's pillow and watched as her girlfriend cleaned up the remnants of the ritual before moving to the armoire and changing into a pair of lounging pants and cotton t-shirt. She grabbed some items out of a drawer and approached the bed.

"You shouldn't sleep in that," she told the redhead. "I'll help you change."

It felt like it took every ounce of strength she had to push herself up to a sitting position and a soft grunt escaped. Tara gave a sad smile before helping her change into the pajamas and then tucking her in under the covers. The blonde stepped back from the bed and Willow called out, slightly panicked, "You're not going to leave are you?"

Tara stepped back to the bed and ran her fingers through the red locks, "No, baby, I'm staying right here. I want to open the window and then I'm going to meditate but I'll be right here," she patted the foot of the bed, "Right beside you."

"Sorry," Willow said softly, feeling as if she was acting to needy and insecure.

The Wiccan leaned in and dropped a gentle kiss on her lips, "We've all been through a lot, Baby. You have nothing to be sorry for."

The hacker just nodded and she watched her lover move across the room and opened the window. Fresh air and a cool breeze invaded the room and Tara moved back to the bed grabbing an extra blanket from the chair on her way. She spread the blanket across the bed and over the small woman tucked into it before climbing in. The blonde laid down along side the redhead and propped herself up on one elbow. She used the fingers of her free hand to play with the red stands again and hummed softly.

Tara's melodic voice was familiar, soft and sweet and Willow felt her eyes slide shut and she felt herself begin to sink into the gentle darkness of sleep.

Tara finished and looked down at her sleeping love. The redhead, she could tell, was the most relaxed she had been in a long time but still far from being at peace. She leaned in and brushed her lips across her girlfriend's temple and mumbled the words of a spell her mother had used on her when she was a child, "Mir Unutra San." As soon as the spell was spoken the tense lines around Willow's eyes and lips began to ease. The spell would keep the young woman from any bad dreams and allow her to get some much needed rest.

The blonde pressed her lips against her lover's forehead and then moved to sit at the foot of the bed. She crossed her legs and took several deep breathes and began clearing her mind. Within minutes the witch quickly slipped into a deep meditative state. It was nearly an hour later when the blonde opened her eyes and came out of the tranquil state. She looked over her shoulder and found Willow wrapped around her pillow and sleeping deeply.

Tara got up from the bed and moved to the chest where their magic supplies used to be kept. She lifted the lid and saw that it was nearly bare containing only the 'costume' supplies like a crystal ball, tarot cards, incense and other harmless items. In the corner of the chest was the small leather bag and she said a silent prayer of thanks as she reached for it. She took the bag, opened a blind and sat down on the floor. She opened the bag and dumped the stones into her hand. She ran her fingers over the smooth stones and carefully looked over each intricate design.

It was her mother who taught her about 'Witches Runes.' It wasn't a practice observed by many and wasn't considered truly Wiccan. It was actually a blend of the Viking tradition of 'Runes' and that of Reading Stones. The stones Tara held bore intricate designs that her mother had diligently carved with her grandmother when she was small. Each image had it's own meaning but when read together could offer great insight.

Tara set the stones aside and reached into the bag for the thin strip of leather she knew would be at the bottom. She tied the ends of the leather together and set it on the floor and molded it into the shape of a circle. The blonde then grabbed the stones in both hands, offered up a quick prayer and then dropped the stones. She looked down and studied the stones. Everything was important and they were easy to misread. Not only did she have to consider the placement of the stones but also the image, the type of stone and even the shadow it cast.

The blonde spent a long time considering the stones and only stopped when a soft knocking at the bedroom door interrupted her. Tara glanced at the bed on her way to the door and saw that Willow went undisturbed by the visitor. She opened the door and was greeted by a harried looking slayer.

"Buffy," said quietly, "What's up?"

Seeing the sleeping redhead, the slayer cringed, "I didn't wake you up did I?"

"No, I was working on something," the blonde replied as she stepped aside to let the small blonde into the room, "Is everything all right? Dawn's okay?"

"For now," Buffy answered, moving quietly past the bed. "God knows how's she going to feel after she finishers her anchovy oatmeal."

Tara winced visibly, "I think Xander may have been right when he said she had the stomach of a goat."

"Add mustard and she'd probably eat the rest of the goat too," said the slayer as she looked at the stones on the floor She nodded towards the bed, "How's she doing?"

"Physically, she's fine." The witch sighed, "I don't know yet how she's going to handle the emotional part of it."

Buffy nodded in understanding as she leaned against the desk, "What about the magic?"

"I'm not sure yet."

The slayer nodded slowly while frowning internally. That bit of news was somewhat unsettling. When it came to magic Willow went from Glinda to Whitney Houston and then to Apocalypse. And now, the one person they thought could help Willow keep a handle on it was 'not sure yet.'

"I'm not sure yet," Tara continued, picking up on the slayer's unease, "But I'm not worried that anyone's going to get hurt." The witch sat down at the foot of the bed and ran her hand up and down Willow's leg.

"But you are worried about something?"

Tara sighed, "I have this feeling that I can't shake. I've tried to-" her thought was interrupted when her gaze caught the sight of the Runes on the floor.

"Tara?" Buffy asked, concerned.

A new shadow had appeared on the bedroom floor and was cast partially over the circle of runes. It changed the meaning completely.

The slayer was standing too close to cast the shadow and Tara turned to look to see what had caused it.

"Dawn."

The teen smiled, "I made oatmeal."

Tara's gaze moved back to the stones on the floor. There was no mistaking their meaning now.

"Oh no," the witch breathed.

"What?" Buffy asked, her anxiety growing, "What is it?"

Tara looked up, her eyes wide, "Glory."

_________________
PEACE ... Dix


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