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

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 Post subject: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:43 am 
Wow that is so good... I love seeing how you show Willow and this Tara getting closer, and also how you portray Dawn in this story. :rolleyes I hope Tara gets her voice back, but of course it's gonna be good no matter what. Keep writing :grin I love this story :love

 Post subject: Re: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:30 am 
iat's absolutely adorable how you portray tara's demeanor, and also how close the two are coming together. this was a great update...i feel for dawn's decision as to what to do, that is just too hard a choice to make alone. i hope she chose right...getting tara's voice back would be incredible.

can't wait for more!!


Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. ~ Oscar Wilde

 Post subject: Re: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:47 am 
I love how clearly you communicate Tara's feelings and condition to us and Willow without her speaking a single word. Tara's day out with Willow was sweet, loving, and hopeful, all without words. Amazing.

Willow's struggles with Tara's identity feel familiar to me, and I'm wondering how Tara will cope with the same question when her mind awakens to words.

I hadn't thought about it before, but you're right, there is some of the same sense of humanity and the strangeness of the human mind here that you find in Oliver Sacks books.


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

 Post subject: Re: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:04 am 
Tara is so sweet and sad at the same time. Hanging on to her love for Willow like that. Seems the day out has done her good indeed. Willow leaving Tara to check for messages scared me a bit, don't think leaving Tara to herself at this stage is a good idea. Thankfully nothing happened.

Normally leaving Tara in Dawn's care would be alright, however seems Dawn has some plan of her own. She knows her plan is not entirely ok since she doesn't want to tell anybody. I don't like it, whatever the outcome of it (good or bad) I don't like the thought-process behind it:


"It was why she had to do this herself. Willow would never be able to agree to

using the substance"

Wrong reasoning. If she knows so much about Lethe's Brahm she should be able to convince Willow to try using it in this way. The fact that she doesn't want to attempt to convince anybody should be an indication of how unsure she is.

Besides, what gives her the right to do this anyway ? I see Willow as caretaker for Tare since she really can't take care of herself right, doing something to Tara behind Willow's back... just doesn't sound right. I wonder if Dawn will tell Tara whats in that tea, even if she does... Tara might not know Lethe's Brahm at all.

It's pretty much a given that eventually Willow will find out, hows Dawn going to handle that huh ? Assuming she thought that far ahead. If her idea is such a great solution it should be discusable with the others.

I'm worried about the effects as well, are they good or bad, permanent or temporary ? What if all memories come back at once ? That would cause a severe overload, wouldn't be healthy at all....(heck both sets of memory wont even fit)

To end on a happy note; I really liked how Willow and Tara played at the swings and how happy Tara seemed. Esp. when Willow was covered in mud, heh : -->>:

As for you trying to write Xander more true to charachter. You're doing pretty well at that, it's just that I would like to see Xander take some responsibility for what he did and stop hiding behind jokes. I loved it when Anya called him on that in _Enthrophy_ (I think, right after he tries to stake Spike).

I've never liked Dawn myself so it's rather difficult to make me like her in a story (kinda like writing a nice brother for Tara, called Donnie:) ). I'm well aware of her good intentions and the fact that she sometimes acts rash (though not in the above case) but that doesn't justify the (sometimes disasterous) results. I wish she would have a more 'normal'/stable childhood though, this one can't be good for her.

Grimmy (worried, can you tell??)

"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine

Edited by: Grimlock72 at: 1/1/03 10:58:40 am

 Post subject: Re: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:20 pm 
That was an amazing read. The time you took to really develop that relationship with this new yet old Tara. Poor Willow struggles with feelings of betrayal , and it seems like she shouldn't worry about that all. This is Tara, regardless, but she's also old Tara. And Dawn, I get why she's keeping it quiet , I mean that's another pandora's box, but god the risks are too big to do it alone. Yet I desperately want it to work, and I fear it won't. Thanks so much for this.

If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.

Tallulah Bankhead

 Post subject: Re: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:30 pm 
Well, I read this all in one go yesterday... and you have an amazing story on your hands here. All of the threads that you've brought here and woven together work so well.

I really look forward to the continuation of this story.

"We've got the only librarian who can rip off your arm with his leg. People respect that." - Terry Pratchett

 Post subject: Re: Wow
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:24 pm 
You continue to pull me in deeper with this.

I am worried for Dawn. And Willow too. I really need to see where this is going now!

The detail here is so rich. That is why I love "Pens" so many talented people with different styles, voices and stories. Yet, still the same girls and the same true love.

Thank you for that.



Web Warlock

The Other Side,
home of Liber Mysterium: The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks

"I never try anything, I just do it. Wanna try me." - Thunder Kiss '65, White Zombie

 Post subject: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:06 pm 
(I wanted to pair chapter nineteen with chapter twenty, which is taking some time to write, but Web Warlock's comments convinced me to post ahead of time.)

Chapter Nineteen

Walking up the staircase was the hardest thing she thought she'd ever done. Not sure if what she was doing was right, not sure if Willow would even accept her decision, it was all she could do to put one foot in front of the other.

The girl turned over in her sleep and pulled her comfort blanket tightly against her chest. Her lips moved slowly, as she spoke the truth of her soul. It was all there before her: everything she'd ever dreamed, everything she'd ever wanted, everything she'd ever needed. Arms closed around her and hands slipped up her back and wound into her hair, she turned again, settling into another dream, another place, another time. She covered her brother's mouth with her hand and whispered in his ear. They had to be quiet, quiet like little mice. He was hungry, and so was she, but they couldn't search for food. Not yet, not while the moon hung high in the sky. The forest faded away and she was sitting on the bedroom floor with Buffy and Willow. Her eyes fell on the tarot card placed in front of her and she concentrated on the picture of a woman dancing mid air as she began speaking the ancient words, making herself into a channel for the magicks. And then the bedroom faded away, as she moved into yet another dream, another place, another time.

In another reality, Dawn carried the mug of steaming tea into the bedroom. Two fat candles and a small night light cast shadows on the walls. Tara lay on her side biting down on the edge of her comfort blanket. Her breathing was shallow and labored, her muscles tight and tense. Dawn set the mug on the nightstand and slipped on to the bed, folding her legs to the side. Gently, she began stroking Tara's hair, drawing the girl from her dreams and her sleep.

Soon, blue eyes opened and looked curiously at the slender figure sitting on the bed. Moments later, a wide smile lit across Tara's face and she sat up, pulling the teen into a warm hug, before leaning back and looking about the room.

Knowing who Tara was looking for, Dawn explained. "Willow's not here. She had to go to the Magic Box to get you your herbs. We ran out last night." The blonde seemed to accept her explanation, at least she stopped looking about. "Don't worry, she'll be home soon."

Dawn's eyes strayed over to the still steaming mug. "Tara, I want to try something. I told you about it yesterday. Someone told me about this special tea. It might help, but I'm not sure." Dawn heard the fear in her own voice, and was surprised when Tara unexpectedly reached to weave together the fingers of their left hands, it was a comfort gesture her other Tara had made a hundred times before.

"But I'm worried, too. I don't know for sure how this will affect you. Still, I just can't believe that Spike would want to hurt you." Dawn winced as she let the vampire's name slip. She hadn't wanted to bring him into the discussion. "I know he's evil in a lot of ways, but I also know in some ways he can be good, which is just weird because aren't demons supposed to be all one thing or all the other?"

The teen shook her head to bring her thoughts back on track. "And I'm feeling guilty because I know part of the reason I want to do this is because I want to talk to you. To ask you how you know all these things. Things like this." She said, holding up their still interlocked hands. "I want to know how you know all the little ways my Tara used to take care of me when I was upset or scared." Unwanted tears rolled down Dawn's cheeks. "And I want you back because if you're back, then things will get better. Maybe Willow doesn't know it yet, but you're her home, and you're my family." Dawn picked up the mug from the nightstand. "I just want my family back."

Her hand shook she gave Tara the mug. "I tasted it, and it's pretty awful. I tried to fix it up with milk and honey, but it still tastes like boiled dirt."

Tara took the mug from Dawn's hands and sniffed at the dark brew. Her nose wrinkled, and for a moment Dawn was afraid she wouldn't taste it. She sniffed at it a second time, and then, with her eyes locked on Dawn's, she took a deep sip.

Dawn let go of the breath she'd been holding. "That's it. Take another sip. I'm not sure how much you need to drink. But when Kit's mom takes Lethe's bramble for her headaches, she usually drinks about half a mug."

Tara took another deep sip and another after that, before handing Dawn the mug. The teen looked down and noticed it was nearly empty. She returned the mug to the nightstand. "I'm not sure what's supposed to come next. The tea usually makes Kit's mom kind of sleepy."

Dawn reached behind Tara and fluffed her pillows. "Maybe you should lie back, or something."

Tara started to lie back, but then twisted to her side, and began choking. At first Dawn thought the blonde had swallowed the wrong way, but then she noticed Tara's pale skin beginning to turn a deep red. In a panic, Dawn tried to push Tara down, only to have the blonde begin fighting her.

Grabbing at her stomach, Tara managed to push Dawn to the side as she stumbled from the bed and towards the bathroom. She fell against the toilet and vomited twice, before sinking to the floor.

Terrified, crying, Dawn pulled Tara into her arms, and only then noticed that Tara was burning up with fever. Her mind on autopilot; she got up from the floor and grabbed one of the bathroom towels. She soaked it in cold water, rung it out and draped it over Tara's head, before grabbing another towel, and then another, until she had Tara covered in cold wet towels. Five minutes had passed before she thought to give Tara aspirin. And that was how Buffy found them, Tara stretched across the bathroom floor, Dawn getting ready to give her two of the tiny white pills.

"Dawnie, what happened?" Buffy had rushed up the stairs as soon as she came through the front door and heard Dawn crying. But discovering her sister and Tara on the bathroom floor was the last thing she'd expected to find. She stepped around her sister so that she could kneel beside the blonde. "Did Tara fall?"

Still crying, Dawn choked out. "I'm so stupid. Tara's really sick. She has a fever, and she threw up twice."

Buffy put her hand on Tara's forehead. The fever could be felt through the damp towel. Trying to get her sister to focus, she spoke quickly. "Dawn, where's Willow and when did Tara start another fever?"

"Willow went to the store, and the fever started about five or six minutes ago." The teen pushed back the towel she'd draped over Tara's head. "There's a water glass on the counter. Fill it up for me. Tara needs to swallow the aspirin."

"Are you sure we should be giving her aspirin after she threw up?" Buffy questioned, even as she filled the glass.

Calmer now that she sister was home, she explained. "It should be okay. Willow always says that the most important thing is to get the fever down."

The Slayer watched her sister work the pills into the blonde's mouth and then help her swallow them. She took back the now half full glass and dumped the remaining water into the sink. "Okay, Tara swallowed the pills." From her sister's posture alone she could tell there was much more to the story. "Dawn, just tell me what happened."

As evenly as she could, the teen explained, "I gave Tara this tea. It's a kind of medicine. I thought it would help, but it just made her sick."

"What tea?" Buffy tried to make her voice sound calm, but she could not entirely tamp down the fear bubbling inside her stomach. "Dawnie, tell me what happened from the beginning."

To afraid for Tara to care about her sister's anger, Dawn explained. "The other night, when Spike brought Tara home, he told me about this tea." As soon as she said Spike's name, she felt Buffy's anger rise. "He said it would help her. I looked it up on the web, and Kit's mom uses it, so I thought it was safe. I didn't think it would make her sick."

Not believing she was hearing her sister correctly, Buffy held up her hand. "Wait a second, start over, what about Spike?"

Her voice small, the teen added. "The other night, when he brought Tara home, he told me about this tea. He said it would help Tara." The teen checked Tara's pulse it was strong, and her breathing appeared all right.

Buffy tired to swallow her temper, but the mention of Spike's name got the better of her. "And you believed him?" She shouted, causing Tara to jerk in Dawn's arms. Deflating quickly for having frightened Tara, she lowered her voice before continuing. "Dawn, Spike is not to be trusted. We've gone over this. He's not our friend."

"Buffy, he brought Tara home. He cleaned away the glass. He wanted to help her." Dawn said, not sure if she was defending herself of Spike.

The Slayer focused her eyes on the shower curtain and began counting the checkerboard pattern until she regained her calm. "Look, I don't care about Spike. Just tell me what you gave her."

Dawn braced for another angry blast. "Lethe's bramble."

For a moment Buffy could not believe what Dawn was telling her. "You gave Tara the stuff Willow used to steal our Tara's memories. You used a spell?"

"No, I didn't do a spell." Dawn hissed. "I would never use magicks, not after everything ..." She trailed off, she did not have a right to be angry at her sister. "I told you. I gave Tara some tea." The teen picked up one of the damp towels and began gently bathing Tara's arms. More calmly, she explained, "I thought I was helping. I would never do anything that I thought would hurt Tara."

Buffy watched her sister gently attend to the blonde and made herself remember that whatever Dawn had done, she did it out of love. The Slayer brushed her fingers over Tara's forehead. "The aspirin, or the wet towels or whatever must be helping. Her fever is going down. Help me toss the rest of the towels into the bath tub, I want to get Tara off this floor and into bed."

Dawn did as she was asked, and then moved out of the way as the Slayer gently picked Tara up from the floor and carried her back to the bedroom. When they had Tara resettled in the bed, Buffy sat down in the corner chair and Dawn perched next to Tara on the bed. As Buffy watched Dawn idly stroke Tara's hair, she remembered an evening from a year ago. Their Tara had been suffering from a head cold, and she'd found her younger sister keeping the witch company. It did not matter from what reality the woman lying in the bed came, Dawn would never knowingly hurt her. Of that, she was certain.

"Dawn." She waited for her sister to look at her before continuing. "I know you did what you did because you want Tara to get better. But none of use can just act on our own. We don't know what's wrong with Tara and until we do ..."

"We should just wait and see?" Dawn questioned. The teen shook her head. "Buffy, I know I should have talked it over with all of you, especially Willow. But I thought no one would be able to say yes to Lethe's bramble, and we can't keep waiting around for Tara to get better."

Buffy sighed as she leaned forward in her chair. "Honey, we're not waiting. Giles is working on things on his end. Willow is keeping up with the research. We'll solve this. Maybe Lethe's bramble is the answer, but we all need to work on this, okay."

Tara moved in her sleep, pressing her face against the teen's hand. Dawn bent down to kiss Tara's forehead. It was cool to the touch. "The fever is gone." She whispered before sitting back up and turning to look at her sister. "I'm sorry I acted on my own. It's just so ..."

"Frustrating?" Buffy supplied. "Look, Giles is already working on this, but why don't we call him tomorrow and see if we can light a fire under him. How would that be ..." Buffy heard Willow come through the front door and cut herself off. "Wait here. I'll go tell Willow what happened."

Dawn nodded and watched her sister leave the room before whispering, "We don't really know what happened." She heard Buffy take Willow into the kitchen, and then waited for the explosion. None came, but a few minutes later she heard Willow's footsteps on the stairs.

The red head slipped into the room and sat down on the other side of the bed. She gently brushed her fingers along Tara's cheekbone. "Her fever's gone down."

"I think so." Despite being afraid of what she might see, Dawn looked into Willow's eyes and was surprised to find only understanding.

Willow's voice was soft. "Dawnie, can you tell me the whole story."

The teen nodded, more eager to come clean with the hacker than she realized. "The other night, Spike told me that Lethe's bramble would help Tara. I did some research on the Web, and I talked with my friend Kit. Her mom takes Lethe's bramble to help her with her headaches. When you left, I made the tea and then took it up to Tara. She drank it, and but it made her sick to her stomach. Buffy came in when I was trying to cool down the fever using wet towels. I also gave her some aspirin." The main points covered, she added, "Buffy carried Tara to the bed."

Willow sighed. Tara looked so vulnerable when she fell into one of her deep sleeps. She could not help but worry that the progress they'd made was lost. After a moment, she responded. "Dawnie, I know how important it is to you to help Tara. I really do. But we need to talk about these things first."

Unable to stop herself, Dawn asked. "Are you mad at me?"

A faint smile passed over the hacker's face. "Maybe a little bit. But just a little." Willow moved back as Tara shifted in her sleep from her back to her side. "It looks like she's settled down. The cool cloths and the aspirin helped, I think. We should probably let her get some sleep. Why don't we go downstairs and wait for Buffy to come back. We'll leave the door open in case she calls for us."

Dawn stood up from the bed. "If it had been anything else but Lethe's bramble, I would have told you." She admitted softly. "I just didn't want to hurt you."

Willow saw the tension in the teen's shoulders and forced a grin on to her face. "You know you're pretty amazing for a kid."

Not sure what Willow was talking about, but hoping it meant Willow really wasn't angry with her, Dawn could only reply, "What?"

"I did all that bad mojo on you, and said all those mean things, and you still want to protect me. That's pretty amazing." Willow tried to make her tone light, but the words hurt all the same.

Dawn saw the pain in Willow's eyes and spoke quickly. "How about if I promise to talk about things first if you promise to stop hurting yourself over the past?" She saw the hurt change to resistance, and pushed her point harder. "I want my Willow back and that means you need to stop thinking that everything you do is somehow connected to what you did last spring, and that you have to stop thinking that you don't have a right to be mad at me when I screw up, or pleased with yourself when you get good grades, or happy..." she almost stopped herself from saying the words, but then made herself continue, "or happy that this Tara is here." Willow started to protest, but Dawn cut her off. "I want my Willow back, and my Buffy and my Xander and Anya and Giles and everyone. And that won't happen until everyone stops with the beating up on themselves." Out of breath, she stopped, fearful over having said too much, happy that she'd finally spoken her heart.

A dozen emotions passed across Willow's face, before her expression settled into a gentle smile. "I didn't know you had a 'resolve' face." She joked, wondering when her Dawnie had found the time to grown up.

It was an opening, and the teen took it. "Not as good as yours probably, but I can get the job done if I put my back into it."

"Okay, now you're just mixing your metaphors. Willow teased as she held out her hand to the teen. "Let's let Tara get some sleep. Buffy should be home soon, and then we can figure out what we're doing for dinner."

Dawn saw a new worry form on Willow's face. "Where did Buffy go? She asked, already guessing the answer.

"To find Spike and ask him about the tea." Willow sighed a second time as she watched Dawn's expression fall. Why was it was always one step forward, one step back?

"This is my fault." Dawn said miserably. "Buffy shouldn't have to see Spike. Not ever. Not after what he tried to do."

Willow's eyes caught on Tara lying asleep. The girl had crossed dimensions to stop a great evil. What was keeping them from stopping their habit of taking on the weight of the world? "Dawnie." Willow tugged on the teen's hand, indicating she wanted them to head downstairs. "Let's make a deal and both of us stop with the taking responsibility that isn't ours to take. I can't say that I don't agree with Xander when he says 'Spike needs every inch of his boney white butt kicked,' but it's Buffy's job to decide when and how to see and deal with Spike, not mine, not Xander's, not yours."

The teen reluctantly fell into step with the red head. "But shouldn't we help her?"

"Sweetie, we can help by making sure Buffy knows how much we love her, and by trusting Buffy to figure out the right way to deal with all that happened, and the right path to follow from there. Buffy already knows how all of us feel about what happened between her and Spike. What's important now is making sure she knows we believe in her."

Willow let go of the teen's hand as they began down the stairs. "We all screwed up big time last year, we all made mistakes," she resisted the urge to add that hers were the biggest, continuing instead, "but one of dumbest mistake we made was when we stopped supporting each other through the bad stuff and the good, and the other one was when we stopped being honest with each other." She followed Dawn into the front room. "And the best way to fix that is to try to rebuild the trust we once had."

"So, you're saying I need to trust Buffy?" Dawn asked as she scooted into her favorite corner of the downstairs' couch.

Willow favored the teen with a smirk, knowing it would be more effective than continuing her "wise woman act." "Pretty simple advice, but I think I'm right." She narrowed her eyes, trying to look all knowing, but knowing she only looked silly. "And I think it's the only way you're going to get what you want."

"Even if she acts like a big dumb jerk sometimes." Dawn teased, trying to match Willow's optimism, as well as her expression, but wondering if they could ever regain what had been lost.

"Even if we all act like a big dumb jerk sometimes." Willow corrected, resisting the urge to tell Dawn the source of her advice, knowing her lover wouldn't want her to cloud the issue. Instead, she grabbed the remote from the coffee table and flipped on the television. It was time to change the subject. "But enough with all the big people talk. Want to watch cartoons or the Discovery channel?"

The teen heard the echo of her Tara's voice behind Willow's advice. If anyone believed that relationships could be healed, it was the gentle witch, and if Willow could still have hope after all that happened, why couldn't she? For a moment her attention shifted upstairs and to her other Tara. Part of her wanted to search for Spike herself and find out what went wrong, or if there was something else she could do, but a bigger part of her knew Willow was right. They all needed to start trusting each other again, and that meant trusting her sister and Willow to figure out what to do next. After a moment, she responded. "There's a show about dolphins, that's coming on right about now. I was going to tape it."

"Why don't we watch it together?" Willow asked patting her hand on the seat cushion so that the teen knew it was okay to curl up next to her. They watched the show on dolphins and then the next one on the mysteries of the ancient pyramids. When the knock sounded on the front door, Dawn was fast asleep, her head on Willow's lap. Thinking Buffy had forgotten her keys, Willow carefully moved Dawn's head on to a pillow and went to the door.

Giles stood uncomfortably holding a suitcase in one hand and an umbrella in the other. For a moment, the two stared at one another, and then Willow moved into his arms, just as Giles dropped his suitcase and umbrella. Wrapped in Giles embrace, Willow wondered how the librarian always managed to smell of aftershave and soap, as if he'd just jumped out of the shower and not come from a transatlantic flight.

The moment was over quickly, as both pulled back, each slightly embarrassed by the display of affection. Willow reached down to grab the umbrella as Giles picked up his bag. "When did you get here?"

"My flight arrived about an hour ago. I would have called, but I thought it would be easier if I just rented a car and came here on my own." Giles put his case down next to the table in the foyer. "Why do I have the feeling I've come in the middle of things?"

"Because you have. " Willow put her finger to her lips and nodded her head towards the leaving room. "Dawnie is sleeping on the couch so why don't we go into the kitchen. I bet you could do with a cup of tea."

"It's nice to see that you stay with Miss Hartness and the coven hasn't worn off." Giles observed and then immediately frowned, afraid his words might be misinterpreted. "I didn't mean to suggest..."

Willow brushed away Giles concern. "Relax, Giles. I know what you meant." She nodded her head for him to leave his bag in the foyer and led the librarian towards the back of the house. "I just finished convincing Dawn that we need to start trusting each other again, part of that means trusting that our words aren't going to be heard the wrong way."

Giles followed closely behind the young witch who only months ago he feared would never recover from the deeds she'd committed or the losses she'd suffered. She wasn't the Willow he'd first grown to love, but he could see little bits and pieces of the wonderfully funny teenage he'd once known in the posture of the perspicacious woman before him. He could only hope that Buffy was likewise recovering.

In the kitchen, Willow emptied the old water from the kettle and refilled it with fresh. "There's black tea in the middle cupboard. I'll get some clean cups. Unless you want me to make it in the pot."

He decided to take advantage of Willow's returning grace and move right to the point. "Willow, cups are fine. What I want you to do is tell me what's wrong. I can tell by the look on your face that something's amiss. Is Tara all right?"

The red head startled for a moment, surprised and happy that Giles trusted her enough to want to push past the small talk and get straight to work. As efficiently as she could, she related the night's events. "So Tara's upstairs asleep, Buffy's hunting down Spike, and Dawn's crashed out on the couch. I think that about sums it up." The hot water kettle began to whistle and Willow took it from the stove.

Giles pulled off his glasses and began polishing the lenses. "Lethe's bramble. I wouldn't have thought of it."

"Is it dangerous?" Willow asked, already knowing from Giles reaction that it wasn't. She poured boiling water into the two teacups and breathed in the steadying scent of the tea.

"No. It's been used medicinally for centuries, for headache mostly. But I seem to remember it also being used as a psychotropic." Giles stared into his teacup for a moment, lost in thought. "In the middle ages, it was used by physicians to treat what they called St. Vitus's dance, but what was in most cases a kind of hysteria, and in fewer cases, some form of chorea. I've never heard of it producing any kind of side-effect and why on earth would Spike suggest it for Tara's condition?"

"He must know something about its properties." Willow mused. "Which also means he must think he knows what's wrong with her."

Giles cleared his throat. "You seem sure that Spike wanted to help Tara."

"I can't think why he would want to harm her. And no matter he's done in the past, I especially don't think he'd ever set Dawn up to harm her." Willow explained as she slipped on to one of the counter stools.

"For a vampire he always has had a soft side for the both of them." Giles caught himself. "Even if she really isn't..." Giles uncomfortably trailed off.

Willow nodded, understanding the librarian's confusion. There was no way the situation could be anything but confusing. "It's okay, Giles. We all do it. Mix up the two of them."

Giles pulled out the other counter stool and sat down next to Willow. "This has to be simply awful for you."

"Awful, in all sorts of ways." Willow agreed. "But mostly awful because Tara isn't better."

"Aside from what's just happened, how is she?" Giles prompted, gently.

Willow took a sip of her tea before responding. "We had a good day, today. We went out. I took Tara to get her hair cut. We had a picnic in my car and we played in the park. But she still can't talk. At least not talk to me or anyone else. And sometimes I can tell she knows who I am, but other times, she'd completely confused." Willow glanced at her teacher and friend and confessed. "The worst is when she gets scared, and I don't know how to make her feel safe."

"And you still know nothing more about this great evil she's come here to fight." Giles added.

"I know it sounds terrible, but I've been so busy worrying about Tara that I haven't spent a lot of time worrying about whatever big bad is slouching his or her way here to Sunnydale." She startled slightly as the back door opened and Buffy slipped inside.

"I cannot believe I can be this wet and not be in danger of drowning." Buffy declared as she shucked off her coat, oblivious to the presence of her old watcher.

From the corner of her eye Willow saw Giles rise to his feet, his face a study of concern, love and pride. "And if you can't believe that, you won't believe who's standing in the kitchen." Willow said, grinning.

"Who?" Buffy asked as she pivoted to face Willow, only to stop as her eyed fell upon the man she thought of as her true father. She did not stop to say hello or do any of the myriad other things people do when seeing each other after a long while. Instead, she simply moved into his arms and stayed there, and would have stayed there even longer if Dawn had not chosen that moment to come into the kitchen.

From the kitchen counter Willow watched Giles hold Buffy with one arm as he opened his other arm to Dawn. He drew the teen close, as he pressed a kiss on Buffy's head, and without needing to be told, she knew the simple truth. Giles had come home.

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:55 pm 
I love this story! It's wonderful watching the group come together, reintegrating Tara.

And thanks to WebWarlock for convincing you to post today!

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux--comments
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:56 pm 
Rane--How could anyone forget about the troll or you? I so owe you a coffee, latte, whatever you want! *hugs*

Sammiabackwards--With all the sweet encouragement I've received, how could I even consider stopping writing? I should rename myself: techopagan the comment ho!

Funkyasian aka Steph--More is just around the corner. To be followed by more, more, more. (Please pardon the unexpected Kylie moment, it's been a long day *grin*)

Darkmagicwillow--You're question hits on a key plot point. But as you observe in your tag line, Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.

Grimlock--One thing to keep in mind, I think, is that characters shouldn't be perfect. The way to bring them alive is to let them have faults as well as virtues. That said, while I agree that in chapter 18 Dawn acts out of turn, I disagree with the idea of Willow as primary caretaker. I've always thought that everything began to go horribly wrong for the Scoobs when they forgot that they are at their best as a group. It is in each other that they have found the strength, humor, love, caring and understanding that they have needed to fight all the big bads that have made their way to Sunnydale. You're right, no one should act alone, but I think that's because no one is alone, not Willow, not Tara, not Dawn, not Buffy. But thank you for all of your thoughtful comments. You are certainly keeping me on my toes.

Xita--I think the story is very much a struggle with feelings, for everyone. There is so much for everyone to let go, so much pain, so much confusion, so much guilt. And, as you've probably already guessed, it's going to take a lot of time to bring things to right. Willow and Tara each have a long, difficult journey ahead, but I think they're up for it, and not just because I'm writing the story. *grin* These are characters who actually have "character." Is it any wonder we love them so?

LeatherQueen--"All in one go"??? LQ you read half a novel in a single day. Rest your eyes! This cannot be good! But thanks for liking what you've read thus far...

WebWarlock--I agree Pens is wonderful. No matter the day, we are all so blessed to be able to find interesting and thoughtful and entertaining writing--and it's all FREE!!! I remember reading mid 90s critics who said that the Internet and email would mark the death of thoughtful prose. How wrong those critics were. Far from marking writing's death, the Web has helped to bring forward a new era of writing, and everyone is invited to participate. More to point, Pens has enabled us to hear myriad voices, and myriad stories about our favorite characters. Could we be more fortunate?

Flerelmsaho--Ack! You posted while I was writing my response comments. Thank you for "loving" DR. And thank you also for taking the time to post a response. Seriously, I am turning into the biggest comment ho--I may need a 12 step program. This cannot be good.

Edited by: technopagan78 at: 1/1/03 10:03:06 pm

 Post subject: update goodness
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:10 am 
wow, multiple updates-- a very happy new year! I am so anxious to see what's what with's all so complex, and I know if the whole story were available right now, I'd stay up all night to read it. I love the realness of the healing process you've shown throughout this story, and in this last update I was especially aware of it. willow's reaction to dawn's subterfuge was especially touching. it's nice to see the scoobies being a strong family again, a family that can rebuild. and yay for giles being back.

so...what's up with tara getting sick from the lethe's bramble? I wanna know what spike knows, already!


 Post subject: Re: update goodness
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 1:16 am 
These were amazing updates. I just loved how Tara and Willow finally spent some time together outside of the house and how much fun they had. :D

It's really heartbreaking that Dawn is so concerned about Tara and that she wants her and everyone else in the gang to be ok again, because she misses all the things they once had. The conversation between her and Willow was really good, because Willow said some important and honest things about friendship and what they all did wrong in the past time. I would like to know why the tea thing didn't work out.

And i'm glad that Giles is finally there too! :)

Awesome updates! :clap :thud

snuggle79 :wave


"I got so lost"

"I found you, i will always find you"

 Post subject: Re: update goodness
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 1:19 am 
Wow! Three updates, that's a very good start fo the new year!!

Stef :p

 Post subject: Re: update goodness
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 6:22 am 
Once again I'm writing to say 'WoW' and 'Thank you so much'. I've never been very good at critiquing works of literature, preferring instead to enjoy them for what they are. But for once I'm going to break with that.

Buffy, Anya, Spike are portrayed exactly as they are in 'real' life IMO.

Giles.. too early say really [he's only just got back!]

Xander. I have to say that it is difficult to write Xander's character, and keep him likeable, because he can be a total TWAT at times, just like most guys :) . But he wears his heart on his sleeve, and is passionate in his opinions. But he is a guy, and like most men usually opens his mouth before engaging his brain, is guided by his gonads more often than one would admit to, and can be somewhat 'economical' when it comes to reasoning things out. But, please cut him some slack. Who else would the girls have to kick around?

Dawn has never been given a chance to grow in a positive way on the show [at least up to the end of S6], being a character that not many liked...shades of ourselves as irritating teenager perhaps? However in DR we at last get to see her inner turmoil as she matures. Ok she still makes the same stupid mistakes, is overconfident, knows better etc...just like a teenager.

Willow is developing very well, much better than in S6 [of course the written word is much more efficient at conveying thoughts and anxieties than TV ever will, and it's a credit to Aly that she does this aspect so well] but I enjoy the way that you are conveying the hidden insecurities that Willow still has along with the guilt, without ever going over the top into total angst, and it's companion - sugary sentimentality.

Tara is of course almost a Tabula Rasa, because of the situation, but they and we know of 'our' Tara and we see this coming through. Which version will ultimately come through, or will she be an amalgam of what was good in both of them?

I really can't wait to see, and when it's all done will you mail a copy to Joss and ME. It might give them a major hint on how to resolve the W/T problem they have at the moment...thus leading to wonderful W/T spinoffs post S7 [well we *can* be hopefull;) ]


love and kisses

Still Waters

..... she wears secrets in her hair......

 Post subject: Re: update goodness
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 8:24 am 
more is good more is good...:bounce :bounce :bounce - this fic is absolutely addicting...and that was the sweetest update...i actually had tears in my eyes when i imagine giles in the kitchen with buffy and dawn, and willow looking on. that's the picture of a family...*sniff*:cry

looking forward to the next update...


Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. ~ Oscar Wilde

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 9:04 am 
I like how your Dawn is not just a child any more, but an emerging young woman. She's trying to grow up, and of course she makes mistakes in the process. But she's woman enough to admit to them and do her best to fix what went wrong, both physically with Tara and emotionally with Buffy. I also like how Willow has changed, no longer so easily panicked so that she can not only accept the situation and Dawn's apology, but embrace it, understanding how things went wrong last year and having the will and desire to make things better now.


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

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:12 am 
Wow... great update, technopagan. :) And yes, I surely did read all of that in one day. Nearly had my eyeballs falling out, but it was a compelling read and I couldn't stop. Well worth my time. :D

Anyway, lovely update. Willow and Dawn are finally hashing some stuff out here that they really needed to say to one another. Looking forward to your next update.

"You earn extra points by plucking fruit to bonk them." Donkey Kong, Jr description - Atari 2600

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:04 pm 
Well, up till now it went fairly well with the Lethe' tea, Dawn didn't have time to clean the tea-maker did she ? Still waiting for Tara to wake up though... She already had a fever so who's to say it's related to the tea at all ?

Having said that Dawnie is mixing up her motives a bit, she says she didn't tell Willow because she didn't want to hurt her. Forgive me for doubting that, she knew damn well that Willow wouldn't like the idea. Dawn is doing everything she can to get 'her' Willow, 'her' Tara and 'her' Buffy back... thats understandable (teenagers are allowed to be selfish at times:D ). Still it's not a good thing to base decisions on :) She got off easy (it seems).

Lots of talk about trust in this chapter, bit hard to do that when people do stuff behind your back. I dislike such behaviour a LOT (can you tell?:) ) and probably wouldn't have been sooooo nice about it, nor will I trust Dawn anytime soon. I'm wondering if Willow is really this ok with it or just keeping it in, she reacted awfully nice. Hopefully Dawn gets the point and will remember not to do such a thing again.

I had to smile when the only thing Dawnie knew about dosing was how much was needed to solve a headache/migraine. They don't even know what Tara's problem is, bit difficult to medicate it then :D

What is causing that fever ? If Tara keeps getting such fever-attacks they'll have to watch her 24hr/day. Good thing Giles is around, should help with the research. Willow wants to help with that, but she also wants to stay with Tara all the time.

Nope the charachters shouldn't be perfect, you got that covered nicely :) Still it's soooooo frustrating to see them do something which you KNOW will cause them trouble. Shouting at my monitor never seems to helps :) .

As for 'primairy caretaker', I probably phrased that wrong. What I meant was; Tara can't take decisions (e.g. taking a certain medication) for herself right now. So she needs someone to do that for her, until she back to normal again. The scoobies discuss a lot together, true.. but if I want to know what Tara would decide in a certain situation I would ask Willow rather then Buffy. Does that clarify it a bit ??

Meaning to write this for a while; I see several writers on pens apologizing for not updating their fic every two days or so. There is no need for that. Especially with large updates like you tend to post, I'll be happy with weekly updates. Quality before speed so to speak. Don't rush on my account, I'll be happy to read a chapter once it's read... honest.... doesn't mean you shouldn't post the next chapter tomorrow though :) If it just happens to be finished, heh.


"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2003 10:03 am 
I missed a few updates, so had much fun catching up.

I love that Willow is not questioning so much the connection she feels with Tara, and instead is just accepting it. Tara's thoughts about how everything was brighter and warmer when Willow was near were so lovely.

Again I love how you've portrayed Dawn, even though she admits that her main reason for using the lethe's bramble is that she wants to know how much Tara knows/remembers, she still has a lot of maturity. As is shown by her observation to Willow about how she punishes herself about the past.

Thanks so much for this great story.

Adding up the total of a love that's true, multiply life by the power of two
Indigo Girls

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2003 11:46 am 
Superb stuff. Very well written. The dilemma in Willow's heart is so palpable that I share it in my own. With such an assault on her senses that caring for Tara entails, she must be so tempted to embrace this Tara as her own and ignore that nagging voice that reminds her otherwise. And hey, that nagging voice might prove to be wrong...

Thanks for the read. (Oh, and I love the hefty size of your chapters. Bliss).

"Gosh,look at THOSE!" (Dopplegangland)

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2003 12:10 pm 
Hey Technopagan--What a remiss Kitten I've been, lurking along and enjoying your story w/o stopping in to pay you your due credit. This is such an incredible story, on so many levels...The good-bye with the original Tara (OUR Tara) was just wrenching, but not overdone. Really tweaked my heartstrings. What I'm really responding to now is Willow's struggle to find a place of this Tara in her heart, esp. in the absence of any verbal communication from this Tara herself. And I can feel how much she misses Tara--for about 1,001 reasons, not the least of which is that Tara always helps her make sense of things and figure out the best course of action. Now Willow's doing such an amazing job of taking care of this Tara--who clearly loves her beyond the telling of it--while trying to figure out who this girl is/will be in her life. I think one of the most powerful decisions you made was to write this Tara as being visibly physically different from our Tara, so that it's impossible for Willow to completely super-impose her Tara onto this one. And yet they're so similar, and Tara told her, "She is me." It makes for a very poignant struggle and a great read.

Sorry again for the delay, and I promise to be more timely in the future.

Thanks for this great story.


 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2003 4:24 pm 
Absolutely amazing updates! Tara slowly showing signs of getting better and getting closer to Willow. :heart I don't think Dawn would have been able to tell the others about the tea no matter how she put it. I really want to see what effects the tea has on Tara and how Spike knew about it. I can't wait for the next installment!

edited cuz I'm having trouble putting words togther in a sentence...

Tk's new and improved "GrrArgg"...Tk's Heaven

"I've become really protective of her. I want to make sure if Tara comes back, it's for good reason." -Amber Benson
Tara ate her, devoured her from beneath. -The Edge of Silence giving new meaning to this season's catch phrase.
"Got it: that's a 'yes' to petals; a 'no' to pricks. I should remember that more often." -On Second Thought

Edited by: tkheaven  at: 1/4/03 4:50:01 am

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2003 4:57 pm 
As usual, I'm catching up on several updates at once. There's a drawn out passion in the interaction between Willow and Tara; I especially loved how Willow told Tara she was thinking of her all day, whatever she did, and she wondered if Tara was dreaming of her too. So very tender, and bittersweet, in a way, especially as Tara isn't able to articulate her own response and has to rely on physical contact and facial expressions.

I really like how you're re establishing this relationship again, even with all the history behind Willow and the Scoobies. It's very painful, but in a good way, and it's heartening to see that instinctual connection that exists between Willow and Tara emerge so strongly here.

Marvellous stuff; thanks so much. :)

"You think I smell like a mermaid?"
"No, I think it's haddock...or carp...Do us a favour dear Nan and put your glove back on."
~ Titty Saunders and Nancy Boy French

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2003 9:37 pm 
I am still editing away on chapter twenty, and I did not want to likewise fall behind on responding to recent comments...

JewWitch aka Jenny--How nice to know that DR is a part of your happy new year! In some ways I wish the story were finished, but in other ways I am glad it's not. I used to think that I loved having written more than writing. Now, I would have to say I'm enjoying the writing as much as, if not more than, the having written. I'm not sure if that makes sense...

As for Spike, he's lurking around somewhere....and in time all will be revealed ; )

Snuggle aka Stef--Thanks for the comments regarding the Dawn/Willow scene following Tara's drinking of the Lethe's bramble tea. Dawn's motivations are incredibly complex, she wants to reclaim her "family" at the same time that she wants to heal Tara at the same time that she wants "her Willow" back. Some of her motives are altruistic and others are not, but that's the rub of being human, I think. We try to deny the shades in grey in the things we do, but rarely are our purposes singular. I see wisdom as what comes of learning to deal with the grey (which is why I think so-called zero-tolerance policies so often produce unwise results, lol)

And don't worry, as I mentioned to Jenny, all will be revealed in time.

Still Waters Run Deep--You make a number of interesting comments about the characters in DR in comparison to BTVS. While my goal when I first started writing fan fic was to replicate the characters and present them under different circumstances, as I've delved deeper into DR I find that I am less and less concerned with how the DR versions of the characters measure up to the ME versions, and more and more concerned with the internal truth of the characters themselves. On the other hand, I am still very much interested in trying to understand how the ME characters went off the rails, so to speak in season six so that I can better work with their AU counterparts. Of the four you discuss in detail, Tara is the most difficult for me to write. Believe it or not, I have already fully worked out in my imagination what is wrong with her, and why her symptoms present the way they do. The trick is trying to imagine the consequences of her illness. As for Xander, don't worry. In DR he is by no means the goat he's been on BTVS. But, like everyone else, he has a great deal of baggage to contend with. But the girl instinctively likes him for a reason--he's one of the good guys.

As for what ME might think of DR, I cannot imagine. The W/T relationship aside, while DR may make for an interesting novel, it would doubtless make poor television--too much internal dialogue--and how in the heck would anyone pull off those dream sequences??

Funkyasian aka Steph--I'm embarrassed to admit that when I was rereading the final scene of Chapter nineteen the other night, I became choked up myself. And Tara thinks she's a big dork!

Darkmagicwillow--I love your line about Dawn being "woman enough" to admit her mistakes. That is the sign of maturity.

LeatherQueen--Sweetie, take care of those eyes of yours. I would hate to be the cause of any strain!

Grimlock--Oh dear, I hope DR really isn't causing you to have to shout at your monitor. Fan fic is supposed to be enjoyable, lol. At least that's what I think.

Thank you for the reassurance regarding posting. Chapter twenty is turning into quite the beast. I suspect it won't be ready until next week, after I return home (I've been on vacation the past two weeks). I'm glad Giles is finally back in town as well. I just cannot imagine why he'd prefer England to Sunnydale--hellmouth or no hellmouth, lol.

Mollyig--Writing the Tara/Willow scenes are sometimes nerve-racking as I struggle to find the right tone, but when it comes to me there is no greater satisfaction. For me one of the most interesting things about the Willow character is watching her find a middle ground, a place between her scientific mind and her emotional excess. Tara, I think, represented that middle ground, but Willow never really found it on her own. Now it's up to her to do the work--and it's hard, grindingly hard. As for Willow's responses to her feelings for Tara, acceptance is, I think, one of the most difficult responses for Willow to make--she always wants to look for reasons, proofs, etc. But sometimes the correct response is accept what is and to let of the need for reasons.

Doofus--Thank you for the kind comments and the reassurance that I am not completely overtaxing my reader. I always wonder if anyone else likes "long reads."

AntigoneUnbound aka Mary--How lovely it was to find your post. Thank you for the mention of the girl's physical difference from our Tara's. When I started imagining her, I wanted to present her as someone whose wounds are entirely visible. Aside from our Tara's stammer and her habit of wearing a half dozen articles of clothing at all times, our Tara's wounds were usually kept hidden. Indeed, BTVS/AB did a wonderful job of slowly revealing Tara's deeply troublesome past. In DR, by contrast, Tara's past is written on her body--the scars on her face and torso. She cannot hide her past, yet she hides all the same--

tkheaven--as I explained to Grimlock, look for the next update next week! Thanks for hanging in for this very long ride.

tommo--Thank you for coming back to DR after the long hiatus. I like your word instinctual. As much as I love the notion of soul mates, the concept can sometimes be a bit ethereal--as if relationships don't need to be worked at. Instinctual is much more gritty. For me, Willow and Tara are as much compelled to be together as they are destined. They complement each other, but they also complete each other.

I'm glad that Tara's emotional life is coming through despite her inability (for now) to speak. It's a tricky thing for me to write or imagine-- I am such the word-girl. Poor Tara's problems are in many respects my particular nightmares.

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 2:55 am 
DR may make for an interesting novel

:no sorry, on this I must disagree.

DR already is an interesting novel, and when it's done I look forward to reading it again, full length, in one go :clap

Maybe not TV for the reasons you give, but I think the basic premise is sound.


love and kisses

Still Waters

..... she wears secrets in her hair......

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 7:56 am 
just scrolling through and realized there is no new updates...please? an update soon? i think we've all been very patient kittens!! :pray :pray :p ray


Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. ~ Oscar Wilde

Edited by: funkyasian at: 1/15/03 12:18:43 pm

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 11:14 am 
I like your word instinctual. As much as I love the notion of soul mates, the concept can sometimes be a bit ethereal--as if relationships don't need to be worked at. Instinctual is much more gritty. For me, Willow and Tara are as much compelled to be together as they are destined. They complement each other, but they also complete each other

Ah, I was talking about the concept of "soulmates" this very morning. See, I'd like to believe in it, but it does seem to suggest, as you say, that it just happens and there you are. Finished. Done. That idea of it being "ethereal" is problematic for me; I've always loved reading about relationships that need effort, otherwise, where's the joy in the end result?

I like your notion of Willow and Tara being compelled to be together, even though, as we tend to feel, it's written in the fates. In this fic, despite what life has thrown at them, Willow and Tara aren't fighting that compulsion, although what they are doing takes some effort. And you write that need and want and also how much work it takes them so very well.

So I suppose they are soulmates; of course they are. But yes, I prefer the idea of a soulmate being someone who compliments and completes you. Someone who's worth working for. Someone who is there at the end of all the effort. Thanks for reminding me of that. :)

"Sarah dragged me into the bushes and begged for sex." ~ News of the World

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 11:14 pm 
This is an amazing tale!

I'm just starting part two and I wanted to comment. Ingenious the way you've brought Tara back, melding the Wish universe with the Buffyverse in a great way. And giving Willow a real chace to say goodbye was just so bittersweet. So perfect, really.

What I really enjoy is the interaction between Willow and Buffy. It's nice to see them as real friends who care, who've been to hell, heaven and all places in between and still love each other. The dialogue rings so true to the way they feel, or used to feel on the show. It's nice to see.

I look foward to the newly intergrated Tara adjusting to the better world around her. And getting back together with Willow, of course.

Excellent story!


"I was feared and worshiped across the mortal globe. At now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High. Mortal. Child. And I'm failing Math." Anya in Dopplegangland

Edited by: hermitstull at: 1/16/03 10:15:17 pm

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux-comments
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 7:52 pm 
First of all, let me say that I am sorry for the long delay in posting chapter twenty. A lot happens in this chapter, and it has taken me a while to figure it all out. I'm still fussing with it, but it's time to let it go...

But before I post, Still Waters--thank you for the kind words and reassurance.

Funkyasian aka Steph--Again with the sorries. I know. I am a terrible kitten. *hangs kitty head in shame* Still, I hope you like the next update.

Tommo--The other reason I want to believe that relationships take work is that without that idea in place I don't have a story, lol. But I also want to believe in the fates, in destiny, in soulmates. I'm clearly very confused.

Hermitstull--Welcome to the Doppelgangerverse, where every nuance of every thought, emotion, flight of fantasy must be explored with the kind of precision one might expect of a person fond of using different colored pens to facilitate notetaking. I so need to get a life, lol. I like the B/W friendship as well. It gets explored more in the next chapter; I hope you enjoy it.

But enough of my commenting, on with the tale.

Edited by: technopagan78 at: 1/18/03 1:41:56 am

 Post subject: Re: Re:Doppelganger Redux
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 7:54 pm 
Chapter Twenty

Upstairs, Tara woke slowly. Her mouth tasted horribly, and her head throbbed with pain. She moved from her side to her back and opened her eyes. The room was dark except for the glow of two candles and a small nightlight. A quick glance at the clock on the nightstand told her it was early evening. A second glance at a small framed photograph sitting next to the clock told her she was in Willow's bedroom.

She sat up gingerly, and let her feet dangle over the side of the bed. The movement caused her stomach to lurch, but the nausea passed quickly. When she was sure she wasn't about to be sick, she stood up.

Whatever drugs Willow had given her had worked; her cracked ribs did not even twinge, however, the soles of her feet stung a bit. She sat back down to examine them and was surprised to find several small cuts on the heels of both her feet and the ball of the left. Some of the seashells had sharp edges, maybe she stepped on the casting ring?

Outside, she could hear rain falling against the roof of the house. But otherwise the house was quiet, which caused her to wonder where everyone had gone. Clearly, the conjure had been successful. Willow had even taken the time to clean up the casting circle. Still, it was hard for her to believe that she and Tara were now merged.

The girl picked up the photograph of Willow and Tara from the nightstand. It was different from the one Willow had shown her earlier. The two were sitting on a stone bench in front of a Mission style building. Willow had her arm slung over Tara's shoulder, and Tara was leaning against her lover. The girl's stomach fell at the thought of what she'd cost Willow. If she hadn't let the apprentice escape with her book of shadows, Willow would still have her lover's soul to comfort her. Shame filled her heart. She'd made terrible mistakes, and Willow was paying for them. She made a promise to herself never to let her actions hurt Willow again; it was the least she could do.

The throbbing in her head seemed to be increasing, and she wondered where Willow had last left the aspirin bottle. The thought of aspirin and a glass of cold water sounded wonderfully appealing to her, but first things first. She looked about the room for her clothes, and did not see them. Perhaps Willow had put them in the laundry? Feeling cold, achy and out of sorts, she moved from the bed to search through a pile of neatly folded clothes lying atop an open dresser drawer. There she found a pair of navy sweat pants and a pair of thick cotton socks to put on, as well as an oversized and faded US Sunnydale sweatshirt, which she pulled over her nightshirt. The cuffs of the sweatshirt nicely draped over her wrists.

The clothes made her feel less out of sorts, more in control, and she headed for the bathroom hoping to find the aspirin bottle. Someone had left a candle burning and in the half-light she caught her reflection in the mirror. Unbelievingly, she flipped on the overhead light and stared at her reflection. The cut on her forehead was healed. Even the stitches were gone. With her fingers, she probed the new scar on her forehead. It was pale pink, narrow and slightly jagged. She mumbled confusedly, "Anya was right about the scar."

Not sure what to expect, she pulled up her nightshirt and sweatshirt to inspect her abdomen. The bruises that had covered her sides were completely faded. Not willing to believe her eyes, she pressed at her damaged ribs. There was a slight twinge, but not the sharp pain from earlier in the afternoon. She lowered her sweatshirt and flipped off the overhead light, because the half-light of the candle was easier on her eyes.

Thoughts spun through her head, as she tried to make sense of what she was seeing. The conjure was only supposed to merge her soul with Tara's. It wasn't supposed to heal her. Fearful that she'd drawn too deeply on the elementals, she turned on the faucet and splashed cold water on her face, trying to calm her nerves. When she reached for a towel, she discovered the towel rack was empty. Using the end of her sweatshirt, she dried her face. It was only then that she noticed all of the towels were lying in a damp heap in the bathtub.

The pain in her head was reaching knife-like intensity, and she looked about the bathroom for the aspirin bottle. It was missing from its usual spot on the counter. Wondering if Willow had taken it downstairs, she left the bathroom and padded down the staircase. From the foyer, she heard voices coming from the back of the house. More relieved than she would have cared to admit, she realized the others were in the kitchen.

Standing in front of the stove, Willow poured the chopped Roma tomatoes into the mixture of mushrooms and onions already sautéed in a mélange of basil, oregano, fennel seed, and olive oil On another burner, she was lightly browning chopped zucchini with garlic. Keeping her eyes on the hot pans in front of her, she asked. "How are you guys doing with the salad?"

Buffy finished slicing the salad tomatoes before looking up at Giles. "Why don't you finish tearing up the Romaine and I'll get started on the dressing." She started to move towards the cupboard, but Dawn intercepted her.

Blocking her sister's path, Dawn suggested airily. "Better yet, why don't you start grating the Parmesan while I make the dressing? You always put in too much Balsamic vinegar."

Ignoring Giles soft sigh, and Willow's amused snort, Buffy raised her eyebrows in mock concern. "Dawn, do you remember our little discussion the other day about what happened with the princess and the pea."

Keeping her grin hidden from the two sisters, Willow glanced at the clock above the kitchen stove and turned down the heat under both pans. Almost half an hour had passed since she last looked in on Tara. The pasta could wait until she checked to make sure Tara's fever hadn't returned.

"I know, I know, the prince ditched her because she was too fussy. But ..." The teen trailed off as Tara pushed open the door and stepped into the kitchen.

"Hi, I just woke up. Whatever you're cooking, it s-smells wonderful." Tara's eyes moved from Willow to lock on the teenager standing behind the island counter. She was taller than Buffy, and her hair was darker, but she was almost certain the girl was Buffy's sister. "You're Dawn, right?"

Before the teen could respond, she heard his voice whisper her name. Her head snapped around, and for a moment she was blinded by searing pain inside her head. He was wearing black jeans matched with a gray sweater over a button-down shirt, and she found herself wishing he were wearing one of his silk ties. She gasped softly. "Mr. Giles, when did you come back from England?" The pain inside her head spiked a second time, and then the darkness rushed towards her, coming from the floor and the walls and the ceiling, and she sank into its gentle comfort.

Willow reacted instantly, dropping her wooded mixing spoon into the sink as she rushed around Dawn to catch Tara mid fall. Buffy, moving nearly as quickly, helped Willow ease the blonde to the floor.

Although knowing full well that Willow did not have any answers, Buffy couldn't stop herself from asking, "What just happened? When did she wake up?"

"I don't know. But I think she fainted." The red head looked towards Dawn, who had yet to move. "Dawnie, could you wet a towel for me."

Still caught up in babble mode, Buffy responded. "Good idea. Wet towels are good for fainting."

From the other corner of the kitchen, Giles stared unbelievingly at the tableau before him. The young woman was Tara, and was not Tara at the same time. He'd thought that his previous dealings with Willow's vampire counterpart would have prepared him for the reality of Tara's double, but clearly they had not. His eyes taking in the figure lying across Willow's lap, he slowly gathered together his thoughts. "She said my name."

Willow looked up at Giles. "What?"

"She asked me when had I come back from England. She said my name. How could she know me?"

"I mentioned your name to her before the rejoining." Willow responded, too distracted to realize her explanation made no sense. Her eyes moved back to Tara. The girl was limp in her arms, and she was breathing heavily through slightly parted lips.

Dawn crouched down on the floor next to Willow and handed her a damp towel, which the hacker draped over the blonde's forehead. "Willow, Tara didn't just know Giles' name. I think she recognized him." She looked past Willow and Tara to her sister. "How could that be? That's crazy."

"But she didn't know Dawn." Buffy looked at her sister. "She asked you if you were Dawn."

Not caring about any of the details, only caring that Tara had awakened, Willow interrupted. "Okay, this isn't making any sense. But the important thing is that Tara woke up. She even dressed herself." Willow fingered Tara's sweatshirt. "I didn't put these things out for her. They were just propped on an open drawer waiting for me to put them away. Tara picked them out for herself."

Giles moved from the corner to crouch near Willow. He put aside his interest in the fact that the girl had picked out a sweatshirt of Willow's that her counterpart often wore. In a gentle voice, he asked. "Perhaps Buffy might move Tara into the front room and off of the kitchen floor?"

Willow's fingers moved nervously through Tara's freshly cut hair. Too afraid to decide for herself, she asked Buffy, "Is it a good idea to move her?"

"She didn't hit or head or anything. I think it's okay." Buffy brushed her thumb over Tara's cheekbone. The blonde's skin felt cool to the touch. Usually, a fever started immediately after a collapse. She made herself believe that this was a good sign. On Willow's nod and as gently as possible, she picked Tara up in her arms. "Dawnie, hit the door for me, but stay here, please." Her sister seemed ready to follow anyway, but Buffy mouthed the word, "privacy."

Message understood the teen opened the kitchen door, and then stepped back.

Buffy carried Tara into the front room, waiting for Willow to sit down before gently placing the blonde in Willow's arms. She watched as her best friend slumped back into the corner of the couch so that Tara could more or less lie on top of her. Tara looked impossibly small and defenseless, and Buffy thought she'd never seen Willow look more fiercely protective.

Not sure what to do next, Buffy ventured. "Why don't I go back in the kitchen and see to diner."

Her eyes focused on Tara's face, the red head nodded. "Start the water for the pasta and then turn up the heat underneath the zucchini, keep stirring it until it's just slightly under crisp and then mix it up with the other stuff." She flickered her eyes towards her best friend. "The pasta needs to boil for six minutes." Willow trailed off as Tara began to stir in her arms. "Baby, can you wake up for me?"

For a moment Buffy thought Tara was about to waken. She watched Tara's eyelids flutter as the blonde turned inside the circle of Willow's arms, but it was only to press her face into Willow's neck. Buffy's heart fell as Tara's lips began to move in their familiar rhythm. Still unsure if Willow wanted her to stay or go, she simply said. "Call if you need me."

Willow pressed a kiss against Tara's hair before nodding her head. "Go make sure Dawnie's okay, okay?"

Buffy tried to compose her face in a reassuring smile, but didn't quite make it. "Dawn's fine, Will. Don't worry about us." Wishing she could do more, Buffy backed out of the front room. In the kitchen, she found Giles at the stove stirring the now sizzling zucchini.

"Any change?" Giles asked.

"No, and I'm worried whatever woke Tara up has already worn off." The Slayer walked up to a drawer left open and barely resisted the impulse to kick it shut.

"So you think it was the tea?" Giles asked, sharing in Buffy's frustration, but not having the slightest idea how to help.

"Maybe, I don't know." Buffy rubbed her eyes. "I just don't know. But it's the only logical explanation." The Slayer blinked, when did she start using words like "logical."

Not wanting to stir up old wounds, but knowing that Buffy needed to focus on solutions, Giles asked. "What exactly did Spike say about Lethe's bramble." Noticing Buffy's unease, he cocked his head towards the door and added. "Dawn went out to my car to fetch a couple of books I brought from the coven library."

Buffy folded her arms in front of her chest wishing she could remember Spike's exact words. "He said that it would help settle her thoughts."

"Nothing more?" Giles asked, pulling off his glasses.

"Nothing, except that it wouldn't hurt her." Watching her old friend nervously polish his lenses, Buffy held back a smile over Giles' obvious discomfort for straying into a sensitive topic. He'd seen her kill vampires, countless variety of demons and come back from the dead, but Giles would never be able to give up his first image of her as an innocent teenager.

"And you believed him?" Giles confirmed awkwardly.

"As much as I believe anything he has to say." Buffy thought over her words. "No, actually, I do believe him. He's not lying about wanting to help Tara. What I can't figure out is why?"

Giles chose his words carefully. "Could he be trying to reestablish a relationship with you?"

"Please, let's not use the "R" word when it comes to Spike." Buffy grinned weakly. "I don't need to be reminded about past mistakes."

Giles expression turned to alarm. "I didn't mean..."

"I know you didn't." Buffy interrupted. "I'm just over-reacting. It's the Spike factor all over again." She rolled her shoulders trying to ease the tension from her neck. "I don't think it has anything to do with me. But I think he's hiding something. Something about Lethe's bramble, and maybe something about himself."

"Himself?" Giles questioned as checked his lenses for spots and, as usual, found none.

"I can't put my finger on it. But he's different, somehow." Buffy kept her eyes averted not wanting Giles to see her confusion.

Seeing Spike had hurt, but not in the way she expected. The anger over his assault on her had burned away, but the shame she felt over the way she'd let him treat her, and over the way she'd treated him had eased only slightly. She knew she needed some serious "best friend time" with Willow, but she also knew now was not the time to make claims on the hacker.

Her thoughts returned to the image of Willow cuddling Tara in her arms, ready to do battle with anyone who'd dare to touch the girl, and she could not help but wish she knew that kind of devotion in her life, even knowing Willow barely understood her feelings for the new Tara. A sigh crossed her lips; she and Willow both needed "best friend time."

"Perhaps we can talk to him together. Maybe if we combine forces we can draw out a better explanation of how Lethe's bramble works?" Giles ventured hesitantly, wishing he knew a way to ease Buffy's obvious regrets over her past relationship with the vampire. Not for the first time, he wished he'd ended Spike's miserable life, and not for the first time he also wished he understood how Spike could offer help one moment and wreak havoc the next.

Ready to agree to a second meeting, Buffy ended the conversation as Dawn came through the door, asking instead, "So what are these books about?"

Giles followed Buffy's lead. "Both are titles on herbal remedies suggested by Miss Hartness. In view of the Lethe's bramble, a useful coincidence, it would appear. But unfortunately both are also badly translated from the Latin into Middle English. I'm afraid I have my work cut out of me."

"You didn't breeze through them on the plane?" Dawn teased, falling back into her familiar roll of bratty teenager as she handed over the two leather-bound volumes.

"And miss the James Bond movie. Where else would I get a chance to see my country's most influential super hero?" Giles joked. Studiously ignoring Dawn's exaggerated grimace over middle-aged people humor, he placed one of the books on top of the refrigerator and began paging through the table of contents of the other. "Unfortunately, both books are more or less organized around categories of illness, as opposed to symptoms or cures."

"And I guess they don't have an index, huh." Dawn said, trying to read over Giles' shoulder.

Giles raised the book higher. "The beauty of cross-referencing was not widely known during the time of their publication."

The teen replied, "oh," before turning her attention to her sister, who was searching through the cupboards. She watched Buffy pull out a box of penne noodles and then apparently proceed to memorize the instructions for preparation.

Dawn sighed. "Okay, I get that you guys were talking about something and you don't want me to know what it is. I'm not going to act all stupid about it." She glanced at the closed door that led to the dining room, and all of her teen bravado faded away as she asked, "Is Tara okay?"

Buffy put the box of penne on the counter, crossed the kitchen and surprised Dawn by pulling her into a hug. "I'm sorry, honey, she didn't wake up." The Slayer looked towards her old Watcher for support. "But we're not giving up. If Tara woke up once, she'll wake up again. "

"Buffy's quite right, Dawn." Giles confirmed.

Grateful for Giles' backing, but wishing she had better news her younger sister, Buffy continued. "But let's give Will some time before we go back in, okay?"

Inside the circle of her older sister's arms, Dawn asked hesitantly. "Should we make some more tea?"

"I don't know, Dawnie. We need to wait and see what Willow thinks."

Her eyes closed, Dawn breathed in the warm scents of the kitchen and made herself believe that Tara's collapse was only a temporary setback. For as long as she could remember, no matter the problem, Giles and Willow had always solved it. And now her sister's old Watcher had returned from England, and he had brought with him books from the famous coven that had helped give her back her Willow. That had to be a good thing, she reasoned. Besides, Buffy said she thought Tara would wake again, and ever since last spring, Buffy had tried hard to be straight with her.

The teen squeezed her sister one last time before stepping away. "Let's make garlic butter toast with chopped basil. It's Willow's favorite."

Relieved that at least one crisis was now past, Buffy suggested. "We can grate some of the Parmesan over the garlic and make it into an even bigger fat bomb." She glanced teasingly at Giles. "I bet you can already feel your arteries hardening."

"I'll have you know that during my stopover at O'Hare I had a bacon double cheese-burger with fries." Giles replied in his most haughty tone.

Dawn giggled. "But did you dip your fries in vinegar?"

"Not vinegar or ketchup. This was a fine establishment that served their fries with ranch dressing." Now that the mood had lightened considerably, Giles took advantage and changed topics. "Buffy, Willow told me in her last email that you've taken a job at the high school. I was wondering if you've give any further thought to your own education."

The chosen one grinned nervously. "Since UC Sunnydale decided to diss me, I registered at Sunnydale City College." She held up her hands in mock supplication. "I know it's not the university, but I can finish my general education requirements during the spring semester."

By no means dismayed that Buffy planned on attending the local city college, Giles exclaimed. "I think that's a splendid plan, Buffy."

Pleased to see her former Watcher's approval, she added. "And once I finish at SCC, I can transfer back to UCS with junior standing. And then they more or less have to take me. Who knows?" Buffy playfully poked her sister in the ribs. "I might finish college before Dawn graduates from high school."

Laughing, Dawn jumped back, but then bumped her shoulder against Buffy's as she headed for one of the kitchen stools. "Willow's going to have to watch out. Buffy's getting ready to steal the family smarty-pants title."

"I've no doubt." Giles agreed. He sniffed the air, and turned back to the stove. "Oh, dear." He said as he began quickly stirring the now slightly burned zucchini. "Why am I thinking that ordering take out might be the better plan?

In the front room, Willow caught the scent of burning zucchini as she hummed one of Tara's favorite comfort songs. She grinned to herself. Giles was probably already advocating for take out. "So will it be Chinese, Thai or pizza, what's your best guess, baby? I'm thinking Chinese. But who knows, we might still have pasta, tonight" She whispered her suggestions in Tara's ear, while, Tara's lips continued to move against her neck, telling her secrets she could not begin to decipher. Someone in the kitchen switched on the radio and "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" began to play. Willow tightened her hold around Tara's shoulders as she lost herself in the memory of a long ago birthday dance.

The girl walked quickly, her eyes searching the rocky beach for the tiny cat. She'd lost her when they'd emerged from the tall grass that lined the coastline about a half-mile from the water's edge. Although she had yet to learn the cat's proper name, Tara had taken to calling her White Leg, a name that while not terribly poetical was at least understandable.

The sun would soon set and already there was a chill on the air. She knew she should begin heading inland in search of shelter for the night, but she could not shake the feeling that White Leg was nearby. Above her head and out over the sea, birds circled about, swooping and sweeping amid the coastal breezes. Occasionally, one would drop low above the water and pluck out an unlucky fish. She listened to the birds call back and forth to one another and wondered when was the last time she'd heard a human voice other than her own. Since leaving the city of corpses, she hadn't seen another human being, alive or dead. But for the animals and plants, the world was an empty place. Not for the first time, she wondered if she'd moved into some other dimension.

She'd learned of such things when she was a little girl. While hiding under the covers with a flashlight, she'd read of worlds where the sky was pink and the waters red, where dragons and elves walked with men, where people spoke in song and no one lived alone. But those other worlds had been old; they were ancient before she was born; and if she knew one thing about this strange and lonely place: it was achingly, terrifyingly and insanely new.

About fifty feet ahead, a large rock formation jutted into the sky. As she drew closer, she began mapping the rock's surface, redrawing in her mind's eye the rock's network of crevices as a series of hand and footholds. It easily stood fifteen feet high, and she reasoned that from its highest point she would have a much-improved vantage point from which to scan for White Leg.

By the time she reached the rock formation she had already developed and rejected two possible plans for scaling the slippery surface and settled upon a third. The girl slipped out of her sneakers and dropped her small canvas backpack next to them. The rock's surface felt cold under her bare hands and feet, and the coastal breezes ruffled through her hair as she slowly pulled herself up its eastern face. Grayish yellow lichen grew in patches along several of the rocks crevices, and in other spots the girl discovered the delicate skeletons of long decayed fish.

After several minutes of hard climbing, she reached the top. She struggled on to her feet, and stood shakily, her arms outstretched to help her balance. Slowly, she made a 180 degree scan of the coastline, and then nearly slipped from her perch when she spotted White Leg sniffing at a dead bird about a hundred feet ahead. Knowing her voice would not carry over the ever-increasing wind, she did not call out. Instead, she immediately began her descent. And it was out of her eagerness to reunite with White Leg that she lost her foothold and fell backwards to the beach.

Edited by: technopagan78 at: 3/12/03 12:05:10 am

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