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

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 Post subject: alrighty then
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 7:55 pm 
just read this all when I saw it hovering at the top and I must say it is really great. I love the twist you have thrown into in and is it just me or should this really be a movie??:peace



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 Post subject: Re: alrighty then
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:16 pm 
Hey BB,



I just wanted to let you know that I'm still waiting for more of this story. *grin* I miss it, so you'd better get crackin'. :boot



Hope RL is treating you well...



Aimee :dance



edited to add: What do you think of da Bulls? :D

"Pope John Paul today confirmed his opposition to gay marriages, said they're unnatural. Gay marriage is unnatural. Then he put on a pointy hat, his dress, and returned to never having sex at all." -Bill Maher

Edited by: ExtraFlameyWT at: 2/28/05 9:18 pm


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 Post subject: Re: alrighty then
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 5:45 am 
Oh definitely!



I'm gonna second what she said up there. This fic still remains to be one of my most favorite fics despite the lack of updates...*hint* *hint*:p ..Can you imagine what it would be if there were updates?;)



Hope real life is working out for ya!

But here, the energy, the collective intelligence. It's like this force, t-this penetrating force, and I can just feel my mind opening up, you know, and letting this place just thrust into and -- and spurt knowledge into -- that sentence ended up in a different place than it started out in - Willow



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 Post subject: Re: Come back please
PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:23 pm 
Im new to this fic but from what ive been reading this stuff is amazing, you are a writer and a plot planner lol, i really reallllly love your story and hope you come back soon to update, but till then ill just keep crossing my fingers:heart



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 Post subject: Re: Come back please
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 9:20 am 
Another earnest plea for the return of BB.:peace



Update would be greatly appreciated.:flirt

But here, the energy, the collective intelligence. It's like this force, t-this penetrating force, and I can just feel my mind opening up, you know, and letting this place just thrust into and -- and spurt knowledge into -- that sentence ended up in a different place than it started out in - Willow



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 Post subject: Re: Come back please
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 3:15 pm 
Wow. I just starting reading this fic and it's fantastic.

Please update soon :bounce :bounce



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 Post subject: Re: Come back please
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:38 pm 
HOWDY:laugh



Where in the heck have you been hiding.:laugh



I just hope everything is ok in your real life. :(



Just I'd drop a reply and let you know how wonderful this fic is and that along with...THE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS...of your other fans, I will wait patiently for updatey goodness.:bow :wave :pray :p ray:pray :p ray...with a side of sugar and :bigkiss :bigkiss :bigkiss ,



Saluting you while holding up a cool glass of chocolate milk,

Irene:pride



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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:11 am 
Everytime I get a e-mail when someone replied to this topic, I'm hoping it's an update, but everytime it's one of those other fans who really wants an update...



I'm really hoping things are ok for you and that you'll update this fic!

When things fall apart, you put them back together. Not give up.



0 days SI-free 7 days without cutting



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 Post subject: WOW
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:44 pm 
Wow :thud



I have just got up to date with this fic over the past week or so.



Anyway I just had to leave some feedback. I loved ITW and TG and this fic is just as impressive. I really hope you come back soon and give us an update.







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 Post subject: Re: WOW
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:41 am 
Wow I just sat here and read this entire fic. This is devotion. I have to be up for work in 2 and a half hours. That would be 7 o'clock. It is currently 4:40 AM. Why am I still awake? Because this fic would not let me go to sleep! I began reading at about 10:30 last night, then went to bed for a bit, and literally woke up and HAD to come back and finish what has been done so far simply because I HAD to.



This fic is simply amazing. It's so worth the exhaustion. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go die now. Great job BB!

"Heaven's not a place that you go when you die...it's that moment in life when you actually feel alive"



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 Post subject: Part 30: Interlude
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 4:08 pm 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:04 am
Posts: 448
Location: Washington, DC
To those of you who have been waiting for an update, I humbly submit the following. I also must ask forgiveness for two things:
1) How long it's taken me
2) I'm a bit rusty, but I hope the writing is okay

I know it's taken a very long time for me to get back to this, but I thank you for your patience and interest. I hope to update more frequently (cuz wow, it's been like a year since I updated, and that just sucks!)

-BB


Title: The Truth of Deception - Part 30: Interlude
Author: blameburner
Feedback: Sure… Always a plus
Summary: AU, baby! So you all know by now... Tara is part of the Initiative, she's had to lie to everyone... now the truth is out there, and Willow and Tara are together. But Maggie Walsh is still plotting something, and has more than one trick up her sleeve.
Spoiler Warning: S4. Everything up to "Hush" is canon. After that, all bets are off.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, but oh how I wish they were! Joss, blah, blah, ME, blah, blah.
Rating: NC-17
Pairings: W/T, of course.
Angst: Maggie Alert! Maggie Alert! Automatic 5 rating for Maggie, -2 for smoochies and this probably being the last relatively angst-free chapter. So total of 3.


Previously...

“So,” Willow said, “what’s our next move?”

“Well,” Tara said with a leer, grazing her eyes down Willow’s body, “I think it’s time to revisit the you-and-me-nekkid discussion.”

“Tara!” Willow said, blushing as she swatted Tara’s hand away from her breast.

“What?” Tara said in mock innocence. “You weren’t so bashful a little while ago. I believe the whole us-lying-here-nekkid-forever plan was your idea.”

“True,” Willow agreed. “And I still think it’s a sound plan,” she said with a grin. Then she grew somewhat serious. “But that’s not what I was talking about. I meant…”

“I know what you meant,” Tara said softly, brushing Willow’s hair behind her ear.

“We need to talk to Buffy,” Willow said.

“We can’t. I have to do this alone,” Tara said firmly. She made a move to sit up, but Willow held her firmly in place.

“But why?” Willow asked, her voice cracking in concern. “You said Riley already knows, so why can’t Buffy know? She can help-“

“I told Riley because I really didn’t have a choice, and because… I needed to trust someone. It was killing me to not be able to tell you,” Tara said, her voice catching slightly. “But the more people that know, the more dangerous it is – especially now that we know Walsh is watching. Besides, I’m the only one on the inside now. I’m the only one with a chance to find out what’s going on.”

“But there has to be a way,” Willow said, not willing to believe that Tara had to take this all on alone.

“I don’t see it, Willow,” Tara said sadly. Willow looked away, tears pricking the corners of her eyes. Tara reached down and brought Willow’s head back to face her. “Walsh is watching, and the more people that know that, the more likely it is that one of us will slip up. Besides, even if I wanted to involve Buffy and Riley, I couldn’t now. I don’t think Riley believes anything I told him this morning now, not after what happened in my dorm room this afternoon. And as for Buffy… well, she’s more likely to rip my head off than listen to anything I have to say.”

“But won’t Riley just tell Buffy what you told him this morning? He doesn’t know about the cameras-“

“True, but I don’t think he will,” Tara interrupted. “I think Riley’s probably having a hard enough time dealing with the fact that he thinks I lied to him this morning, let alone having to explain it all to Buffy.”

“So what about us?” Willow asked, feeling the urge to cry once again as fear took hold. “Are we supposed to pretend to still be angry with each other? Avoid each other? Tara, I don’t know if I can do that. Not now.” I just found you. We just found each other.

“I know, sweetie,” Tara said, soothing away Willow’s tears with her thumb. “But we have to act like nothing’s changed.”

“But we can’t just not see each other,” Willow argued, resolve replacing her fear. “You won’t let Buffy or Riley help, fine… but I refuse to let you do this completely alone.”

“Willow, there’s nothing-“

“I can do?” Willow finished for Tara, her resolve doubling. “Maybe not from inside The Initiative. But baby, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a Grade-A, First Class hacker. There might be files I can access from the outside, which means less of the dangerous you-sneaking-around-The-Initiative-at-night-looking-for-information, which I am definitely not with the happiness about you doing, by the way… and you’re going to need someone to talk to, plan with, bounce things off of, watch you back, hold you at night, kiss you and love you and if you think I’m just going to leave you out there by yourself with no one to turn to-“

“Okay, okay,” Tara said, cutting off Willow-babble mid flow with a finger over Willow’s lips. “You win.”

“It’s not about winning, Tara,” Willow said, moving Tara’s finger and cupping her love’s cheek. She needed to make Tara understand. “It’s about you being the strongest woman I have ever known, facing something that’s challenging every ounce of that strength. I know you need to do this, baby. But I need to help you do this. Let me be your anchor. Let me give you strength. Let me love you.”

“Always,” Tara said, sealing her vow with a kiss. She felt Willow open beneath her and he lost herself inside the redhead’s mouth, meeting Willow’s devotion with her own. She was deeply moved by Willow’s words, and once again she was reminded of just how much this woman loved her – and of just how much she loved this woman.

“We can’t meet here again, though,” Tara said once the kiss finally ended. “Walsh might not be watching your parents’ house now, but I don’t know how long that will last. Better to find someplace else – someplace that has no connection whatsoever to either one of us.”

Willow thought for a moment, and then said, “What about the clocktower? Where the Gentlemen were hiding? It’s totally abandoned, on the edge of campus… Walsh would have no reason to look there.”

“I think it’s perfect,” Tara said, grinning at how her love’s mind worked. “We’ll have to plan to meet at a certain time – there’s no way for me to get word to you later.”

“We can meet at 9:30 tomorrow night. I can go to the library earlier and then sneak out from there,” Willow said almost excitedly. Truth be told, beyond the mind-numbing fear of Tara getting caught by Walsh, there was a certain thrill at the thought of all this spying and sneaking around. Secret rendezvous, clandestine kisses, frenzied… Geez Rosenberg, could you be any more of a perve?

“I’ll act like I’m going for a run,” Tara said, breaking Willow out of her thoughts.

“You think this’ll work?” Willow asked.

“I think it just might,” Tara said. Then something occurred to her. “Of course, I’m going to have to explain where I’ve been tonight. Especially since you’ve been gone all night, too.”

“Uh-oh,” Willow said. She hadn’t thought of that.

“No problem,” Tara said, grinning. She started tracing the swell of Willow’s breast. “I’ll just tell Walsh I went out to the Bronze, got drunk, picked up a gorgeous girl and spent the night with her.”

“Oh really?” Willow asked, quirking an eyebrow. “Cuz you do that often, do ya?”

“Sure,” Tara said, amusement glinting her eyes. “Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.”

********************************

In and of itself, it wasn’t so bad. But if Tara and Willow came back around the same time… well, it was just too suspicious for someone like Maggie Walsh. Tara knew her planned cover story to Walsh could work – would work – but she didn’t want to arouse any more suspicion than absolutely necessary.

She dressed slowly, almost reluctantly, her body protesting the exit her mind had already decided to make. Tara glanced out the window and noticed the faint morning light just starting to push its way into the shadows of Sunnydale. She let out a faint sigh. She and Willow would have the rest of their lives to wake up together and enjoy the dawn. Once this all was over.

**********************************

“Yeah, well…” Tara started, “After I left you yesterday, I had a run-in with Willow… Willow and Buffy and Riley. They all came at me, trying to turn me against you, just like Buffy turned Riley. And hearing that… those lies about you… I just couldn’t handle it. I snapped, told Willow to leave me the hell alone.”

Walsh faked surprise, then sympathy.

“I’m sorry, Tara,” she said.

“No, I’m sorry,” Tara said quickly. “I shouldn’t have gone off like I did. I just… it upset me. You had warned me that Buffy had tried to set you up, but to hear those lies coming from Willow’s mouth too… it was just too much. I can’t even believe I could ever have had feelings for someone so delusional.”

“It happens,” Walsh said compassionately. “You can’t help it that you are so open and caring. It’s a wonderful quality.”

***********************************

“Where are we with Adam?” Tara asked.

Walsh sighed. “Nowhere, I’m afraid. Teams Three and Four came back empty. One and two are heading back out in an hour. We just haven’t been able to find a trace of him.”

“Do you want me to suit up,” Tara asked with false eagerness.

“No,” Walsh said. “What I said to you yesterday still applies. I need you rested and ready for when we do actually sight Adam. And since you don’t seem to have gotten any real rest last night… consider yourself on standby until further notice. I’ll let you know when it’s time.”

“Time for what?” Tara asked.

“Time for payback,” Walsh said, her eyes glinting as they stared off ever so slightly.

*************************************

He delighted in the destruction, on tapping into his cruelty – of which there was an infinite capacity – and using it to eliminate his enemies. No one was safe from him, her little boy. She was so proud.

“What’s my mission?” he asked, his voice now steely and dark. All traces of compassion were gone. No matter how much it amused him to play their little game, his ability to play the simpering, subservient fool was always short-lived. It was time to get to work.

His voice broke Walsh out of her thoughts, the change in his voice evident. For a moment she had forgotten that once their game ended – and it always ended – her little boy became the dangerous man he truly was. Now she saw the façade of humanity crumble around him, leaving only the beast within.

“I need you to act as my liaison with Adam,” Walsh said, her voice having lost its motherly quality as she gave the devil the respect he demanded. She handed him a dossier, which he began flipping through. “He has been out of contact since leaving the facility, and I need him brought into the fold. He is aware of the ultimate project objective, but he needs to know where we are in the process.”

He flipped through the file, scanning it for any information he didn’t already possess – which was very little. Beyond what Walsh had already told him of the Adam project, he had conducted his own “investigation” into Walsh’s activities to find out the rest. The only thing he hadn’t known was who Walsh had planned on using the Falasian Crystal on. But the file made that – and a lot more – very clear.

“They’ve been quite busy, I see,” he said, his voice even yet seething.

“Yes. But they are not your concern right now,” Walsh said sternly.

His head jerked up and his eyes flashed dangerously, but quickly he regained his composure. “And when exactly will they become my concern?”

Walsh had to bite her tongue to keep from snapping at him. She knew that when it came to this subject, the tight discipline he maintained could evaporate quickly. And she really didn’t feel like dying today.

“Soon,” she forced herself to say calmly. “Very soon.”

“This mission is not what you called me about, is it?” he asked, staring her down.

“No, it isn’t,” Walsh said. “But as you can see from the file, that situation has largely resolved itself. I know where everyone stands now. They are not a threat.”

“They are always a threat,” he said coldly. “You have an agent on the run, an angry Slayer, a betrayed witch… and then there’s Agent MaClay.”

“She’s not a problem,” Walsh said hotly. “And she’s certainly not your problem. I know where her loyalties are.”

He stared at her for a long moment, his jaw clenched, making Walsh wonder if she had just made a deadly mistake. But then he surprised her for the second time that morning by… smiling.

“Careful, Maggie,” he said almost sweetly. He stood and walked to the secret exit, the file in his hand. “Loyalty is fluid. The biggest mistake you can make is to trust that someone’s loyalty to you will keep them from destroying you.”

With that, he was gone. And Maggie Walsh couldn’t help but wonder if her life expectancy had just gotten significantly shorter.

********************************


Part 30

Tara sat on her bed, legs crossed underneath her, and realized she’d zoned out again. She had spent the better part of the afternoon walking throughout the campus, going over everything she knew and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle into some kind of picture. She’d come up empty. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t figure out just what Maggie Walsh was trying to accomplish. Or how exactly it involved Willow.

After giving herself a dull headache she finally decided enough was enough – she’d done all she could with the information she had. There had to be more, more that would at last connect all the dots and lead Tara to what was really going on. But until she found that crucial piece of the puzzle… there was simply no point in torturing herself. So she’d decided that maybe she’d put her brain power to better use and actually do some studying. Monsters and demons aside, she was supposed to be a student.

Tara loved literature, and normally Jane Austen would have had her engrossed in no time, but as Tara read the same line for what had to be the thirty-seventh time she realized it was just no use. She just couldn’t get her mind off Willow.

It wasn’t fair. You’re supposed to be able to walk down the street holding your girlfriend’s hand and take her out to dinner and a movie and kiss her in public and tell the whole world that you’re madly in love and want to spend the rest of your life with her. But Tara and Willow’s entire relationship had been a secret, first because Willow was scared to tell her friends, and now because of Maggie Walsh. The first reason had been okay with Tara. Well… not okay, but understandable. But the second reason… and especially now that she and Willow had finally made love… really pissed Tara off.

Tara shook her head and grinned, despite herself. It seemed silly that with the very real danger Maggie Walsh posed to Willow that Tara was focusing at the moment on being pissed at Maggie about something so trivial. But it wasn’t trivial, not really. Willow deserved everything, and that included being able to have an open relationship and see Tara whenever she darn-well felt like it. Of course, Willow being able to see me whenever she feels like it benefits me too, Tara thought with another grin. I’d get to see her and hold her and kiss her and touch her and get her nekkid…

Tara closed the book and decided to give Jane Austen a rest. It was just no use. Now she was sexually frustrated on top of everything else. Tara knew she and Willow were doing the right thing, but it just wasn’t fair. Now that she and Willow had been together they weren’t supposed to be apart, but they were. And it sucked.

More than that, though, her separation from Willow was like a hole right inside her chest, and it was growing. And it hurt.

She shook her head, trying to shift the true intensity of her feelings to something more manageable, cloaking her need in the physical manifestations of it.

Tomorrow night she and Willow would be together again. But for now… Tara was on her own.

Okay, Tara-girl. You better go work off some of this frustration or you’re gonna explode. And if the workout doesn’t fix things, the cold shower afterwards certainly will.

Tara grabbed her gym bag out of her closet, grabbed her keys and headed out the door.

**********************************

Willow read the line for what she knew was the thirty-seventh time – she’d counted, of course – and sighed. Normally “Advanced String Theory” could engross her completely, but she just couldn’t focus on anything besides Tara.

Tara… Willow sighed dreamily in her head.

Willow knew she had more important things to be thinking about right now, like the fact that she had only gotten an A on her last Physics test instead of her customary A+, but she couldn’t help it. So what if my sterling academic record is over, Willow thought. Tara’s worth it.

Willow had been at the library all afternoon but hadn’t even made a dent in her studies. The previous night played over and over again in her head, in glorious detail. Every kiss, every caress, every loving word – and some very naughty ones – echoed in her head and heart. Everywhere Tara kissed still tingled. She could still feel Tara’s arms around her, holding her, protecting her. Willow wanted more, and she wanted more right now.

“Stupid Maggie Walsh,” Willow grumbled. Willow wouldn’t get to see Tara again for another twenty-six hours and twenty-three minutes, and it was all Walsh’s fault.

This was supposed to be their perfect time together, not apart. They were supposed to be able to wake up in each others arms and spend their days walking hand in hand, whispering and giggling and snuggling the way that new lovers do. They were not supposed to be separated by evil, scheming, murder-attempting, life-ruining dictator-wanna-be’s like Walsh. It wasn’t fair. Especially not to Tara.

Tara deserved everything, like sunny afternoons strolling through town eating ice cream and moonlit nights spent making love on a blanket under the stars. So okay, making love outdoors is never going to happen in a town like Sunnydale. I mean the thought of some vamp gang lurking in the bushes watching us… ew! But still…

Willow shut her book with a resounding thunk. Studying was just not going to happen. She wanted to be with Tara, but that wasn’t going to happen until tomorrow night. Plan B was to study, but since that obviously wasn’t going to happen either… Maybe Buffy would be home and they could indulge in a little mocha goodness. Nothing like a sugar and caffeine buzz and a little best friend time to take your mind of things.

Oh, who am I kidding? Willow thought glumly as she headed out of the library.

*****************************

Tara shifted her gym back a little higher on her shoulder as she headed back to her dorm room. Twenty minutes with the punching bag hadn’t done anything but give her a sore shoulder, and thirty minutes on the treadmill hadn’t helped either. Neither had the cold shower. Thoughts of Willow had never left her mind.

Yep, I’m definitely whupped, Tara thought with a little grin. She was absolutely, positively, head-over-heels whupped. Ms. Willow Rosenberg had stolen her heart completely. Her grin widened.

As Tara rounded the corner of the music building, her breath caught. There, coming out of the library, was the woman who set her soul aflame. Willow seemed to be muttering to herself, and Tara could only imagine what had caused the redhead’s forehead to furrow in such a way. She’s probably as frustrated as I am, Tara thought. She grinned. At least I’m not the only one.

Tara’s grin fell away, however, when she realized Willow had turned left and was now heading directly towards her. Uh-oh, Tara thought. She couldn’t risk running into Willow, not out here in the open. Tara started to shuffle backwards, intending to duck back around the corner and out of sight, when she realized there was nowhere to go. Willow was probably heading back to Stevenson, and Tara was directly in Willow’s path.

Tara saw a small grouping of trees and high bushes, and without thinking quickly stepped into them for cover. She watched Willow continue towards her, still muttering. Tara’s heart filled with love and all she wanted to do was pull Willow into her arms.

Can’t do it, Tara-girl, she ordered herself. You cannot give in and risk everything. Just let her walk by, walk by, walk… oh but she’s so cute… let her go, Tara-girl. That’s right just let her… no, Tara. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Tara don’t… oh hell you’re going to, aren’t you.

Willow never even saw it coming. She didn’t have time to register the familiar arm that shot out of the bushes and clamped down on her wrist, or shift her balance to resist the forceful pull that knocked her off her feet as she flew into the bushes. Her brain was just gearing up to scream when she recognized the loving blue eyes a few inches from her own.

“Tara?” Willow managed with a squeak. Tara smiled while sheepishly biting her lip and nodded.

“Oh, Tara!” Willow breathed as she threw her arms around her girlfriend’s neck. Tara hugged her back, her heart thudding wildly in her chest. She wondered if her heart would always beat so strongly for this woman, and she realized it probably would.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you all day,” Willow whispered into Tara’s ear.

“Me neither,” Tara said, shivering. It was such a relief to have Willow in her arms. She had to fight the urge to cry from the simple joy of it.

“And now you’re here,” Willow said softly, pulling back to look into her love’s eyes. Gently Willow traced the side of Tara’s face with her fingertips, as if to touch Tara was to know that she was real. That they were real. Willow leaned in and Tara met her there, their lips touching once, then again and again.

“I couldn’t stop myself,” Tara said, breaking the kiss. “I just kept wishing I could see you, and then there you were coming out of the library. I knew all the reasons why I should just let you walk by, but they were nothing compared to just being able to touch you and talk to you for only a moment. I knew it was a risk, but…”

“But what, my love?” Willow said as she played with a strand of Tara’s hair that had fallen loose from her ponytail.

“I just… I needed you,” Tara said softly. “I need you Willow. For the rest of my life.”

“You’ve got me, baby,” Willow said. “You have absolutely got me forever.”

Tara smiled and pulled Willow a little closer. “Forever? That’s an awfully long time, Ms. Rosenberg. Sure you want to commit to that?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Willow said, leaning in to kiss Tara again.

They kissed for what felt like a lifetime and yet nowhere near long enough before, finally, common sense returned to both of them. They leaned their foreheads together, each of them sighing at the time they both knew had come.

“I don’t want to let you go,” Willow said sadly.

“I know,” Tara agreed. “But we have to.”

“I know,” Willow answered. “But we’ll see each other tomorrow night, right?”

“Vampires couldn’t keep me away,” Tara said jokingly.

“That’s not funny,” Willow said, frowning.

“Not even a little funny?” Tara asked sweetly. “Just a teeny, tiny bit funny?”

Willow pursed her lips together as she considered this. Tara almost burst out laughing.

“I suppose it’s microscopically funny,” Willow said in mock seriousness. This time Tara did laugh. And so did Willow. “9:30 at the clocktower?”

“Don’t be late,” Tara said, kissing Willow gently.

When the kiss ended, Willow slowly stepped out of Tara’s arms, and Tara let her go. It was one of the hardest things either of them had ever done. Tara watched Willow walk all the way up to Stevenson and through the building’s front door before leaving their impromptu hideaway in the bushes and heading back to her own dorm room.

*****************************

Maggie Walsh leaned back in her chair, rubbing her tired eyes. She had been locked away in her office all day, ever since her little boy had checked in. His visit had left her rattled, though she would scarcely admit it even to herself. Instead, she would just pour herself another cup of coffee and blame her nerves on the caffeine.

Walsh knew he wasn’t a threat to her right now – not as long as there was something he wanted from her. She supposed he could get what he wanted without her. In fact, she as absolutely certain he could. But he wouldn’t… at least not yet. The time might come when the promise of pain Walsh’s plan represented would not stave off his rage, when the control he had mastered would be crushed under the weight of his need for satisfaction. But for now… the plan would suffice.

Walsh reached for her coffee and took a long sip. She glanced over at the monitors and noticed Tara walking into her dorm room, gym bag slung over her shoulder. Tara dropped the bag in the closet and sat in the chair by her window, hugging her knees up to her chest. Tara looked contemplative, Walsh thought, as she stared out into the night.

“Out working out again, huh?” Walsh asked of the figure in the monitor, expecting no response. “Feeling a little tense? Sad? Sorry about that, dear. I know this has all been hard on you. But I’ll take care of you, I promise.”

Walsh reached for the control box and zoomed the camera in a little closer on Tara. Truth be told, Walsh did feel bad for Tara. It was only natural that she would, not because she had been at least partly responsible for Tara’s sadness, but because it was the way a mother should feel about a daughter in pain. And after all, Walsh was the closest thing to a mother the poor girl had anymore.

“I know this hasn’t been easy on you little one,” Walsh said, practically cooing to the monitor. “And those people certainly haven’t made it any easier. But don’t you worry, Buffy and Riley will get what’s coming to them. As for Willow… maybe I’ll just have to give you the pleasure of handling that one for me. It’s only fair-“

Walsh stopped mid-sentence when she thought she saw something in the monitor. She zoomed in as tight as the camera would go so she could make out Tara’s reflection in the window. She breathed a small sigh of relief when she saw the set line of Tara’s lips and the furrow of her brow.

Walsh shook her head, laughing a little. “My little boy has me a bit paranoid, my dear. For a second I thought… no, wait. There it is again!”

What Walsh saw sent a chill down her spine, though she tried to tell herself it meant nothing. It was such a small thing. Maybe it meant nothing. Walsh knew there were a thousand possible reasons for the hint of a smile that had formed on Tara’s lips, but it was one possible reason that troubled her.

Walsh switched the second monitor to Willow Rosenberg’s room. Willow was alone, sitting at her desk, a very thick text book open in front of her. Willow seemed very intent on her studies, and for that Walsh was glad.

Walsh zoomed in a little closer. Willow was biting her fingernails again. No… wait. She was… rubbing her lips. Tracing them, really, with her fingertips. Suddenly Willow dropped her hand and shook her head, as if shaking herself out of a daze. Then she pulled out a yellow highlighter and started highlighting a passage of her book.

“Well that’s… odd,” Walsh mumbled. Walsh looked over to Tara’s monitor and saw that Tara was now sitting on her bed, reading what appeared to be Jane Austen. The faint smile that had been on Tara’s face was now gone.

“Maybe I imagined it,” Walsh thought aloud. “A trick of light in the reflection, nothing more. And so what if she was smiling. It doesn’t mean anything. Or maybe…”

Walsh shut off the monitors and turned back to her desk. No, Tara would never betray her. Walsh knew Tara better than that. She had Tara right where she wanted her, which was where she should always be – in loyal, loving service to her mentor and mother-figure.

No, Tara would never betray Maggie Walsh.

“Too much caffeine,” Walsh said to herself. “You’ve definitely got to cut back.”

And with that Walsh put all thoughts of betrayal out of her mind and focused on the next phase of her plan.

*******************************

TBC with Part 31: Change of Plans


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 5:01 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

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OMG! I could hardly believe it when I saw your fic on top of the first page and then even more awe to see your name as the last post. I haven't even read the update yet, but I just had to thank you for not forgetting about this fantastic story. I can wait as long as it takes for a fic to get finished - but finished is the important part.

This is me now... :applause :bounce :bow

YAY!!! - shuyaku

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Oh God, Willow—you’re giving me the gift of Karen Carpenter. Just when I think I grasp the full extent of your love." - Tara
"Why do birds suddenly appear? It’s because, you are queer…" - Willow (Gods Served and Abandoned by AntigoneUnbound)


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 7:00 pm 
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19. Yummy Face

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Imagine my surprise when I saw this story at the top of the board!!! :bounce :bounce :bounce

Well, I'm so glad to see that you have returned to this wonderful story with a wonderful update. I will be glad when all of this is over and the ladies can live happily ever after.

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Willow: I found you. I will always find you.


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:46 am 
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15. Apple Sauce & Tuna
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Ok how did I miss an update to the fabulous story? It's great to see you back BB and I am SO pleased that you are updating again. Poor Tara and Willow both frustrated but they need to be more careful because Maggie or the strange new man is gonna catch them and then angst will follow. I did love how they were both sitting in their room thinking of the other and how they deserve to be able to be a couple and then poor Tara couldn't resist pulling Willow into the bushed with her.

Can't wait to read more. I missed this fic :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 10:26 am 
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5. Willowhand
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Woohoo!! I can't believe you updated!! I honestly had almost given up hope on this one...because it's just been FOREVER since there was an update...or feedback..or really ANYTHING having to do with the possible continuation of this story! But now we've got it!! YAY!

I feel so bad for Willow and Tara...finally together..but not able to be. That sucks majorly!! But I know you'll make it all better...can't wait for more!

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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 10:33 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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OMG, you updated. :shock

Welcome back. :)

Cheers
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 3:43 am 
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5. Willowhand
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This story is great! I really feel for Tara, having to hide her love for Willow. Lets hope that Walsh carries on thinking that she is paranoid - I'd hate for our girl's to give themselves away.

You write Maggie Walsh very well, just as I would have imagined her to be if she'd lived longer in the T.V. series.

Caz

P.S. Please make sure that she dies in your story - I don't like her!


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 4:39 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:47 pm
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so glad to see you blow the dust off this fic! my first thought was, wow, i lurked for a long time, but i have finally gotten with the fb since you last updated.
and how 1984 creepy is your maggie walsh? the image of her staring at her monitors, looking for a hint of any emotion or betrayal gave me a chill ( and not the good kind). i was a little worried that the hiding in the bushes necking wouldn't go undetected, but your notes did say low angst this time, so i relaxed a little. not sure i'm ready for the high angst.
you were worried about being a little rusty? if you are, it doesn't show at all. beautiful realistic descriptions of the new-love happies interspersed with sinister danger foreshadowing~very nice. welcome back!~mary

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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:55 am 
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5. Willowhand

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Hello Kittens-

Yay!!

Walsh is still obsessively scary, and her bitter rage should she (when she) find out about W&T is frightening to consider. Then there's her 'little boy' which I'm wondering about, things like would anyone else see him.

One the other hand Willow and Tara are in the throes of being in love and having to hide it. That is the most wrenching part of the story so far.


Much happiness at your return, BB!

Jixer


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 Post subject: replies
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 10:10 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever read this story and waited for an update... and waited... and waited... and thought :wtf and yet still waited. Thanks for your faith and patience.

I'm totally back into this story now. I told my g/f last night that I really want to focus on finishing it up this summer, and she's all for it.

There are somwhere between 12 and 14 chapters left (depending on a few things), and the angst is rising. Think of the last chapter as the calm before the proverbial storm, and the storm is only a few miles away. I'm going to try and shoot for a chapter a week, but it'll probably be more like every two weeks with my work schedule the way it is. Just an FYI... :)

And on to some replies!

shuyaku – Finished is good. Finished is my goal. It’s a little hard getting back into the story since I’ve been away so long, but I’m having a good time trying to figure it all out. Thanks for being so patient!

The Rose24 – Imagine your surprise? Imagine MY surprise! :yikes I was quite shocked myself! Thanks for hanging in there.

Puff – Thanks! Yeah, our girls are flirting with disaster, me thinks. Though they have their fairly well-thought-out plan and are doing their best to stay away from each other, I think the high hormone levels are taking their toll. :wtkiss Seriously though, I think it’s really all about their love for each other and how much they truly need each other. They’ve fighting the whole world to be together, ya know?

stillrunning – I know it’s been a really, really obnoxiously long time. I kept wanting to post something saying I was still alive and had good intentions, but I’d done that so many times… :joss I felt guilty. Really guilty. So I decided I wasn’t allowed to post anything until I posted an update. Turned out to be a good motivator.

DW - OMG, I know! Frightening, isn’t it. Just when you thought I’d fallen off the Washington Monument, here I am! :wave How the heck are ya?

caz - Thanks! I always thought Maggie was totally underdeveloped, especially given the actress playing her. I thought she had great baddie potential in a scary-psycho way, and that’s what I’m trying to deliver. Honestly? Maggie scenes are the most fun to write cuz she’s kinda over the top and yet… frighteningly real. I think. I hope!

meretricious - Ooo… 1984 is my favorite book of all time! That’s truly a compliment, thanks. Yeah, the bushes could have been bad, but I decided y’all needed one last happy place to go to before the angst returns. And the angst returns… next update. :spin

jixer - Hmm… that’s an interesting thought. Can anyone else see Maggie’s little boy? Maybe it’s all a figment of her very twisted imagination. Or maybe he’s very real and lurking around Sunnydale. Or maybe… just maybe… he’s Don Rickles. You just never know. :-D

-BB


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:10 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

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What a treat! Welcome back to Pens and this fic.

More angst on the horizon? I'd be disappointed if there wasn't emotional challenges for our girls. The real question is: Will the angst approach Chapter 26 and "Willow's annihilation"? Certainly there will be hard times - Buffy hates Tara will a fiery passion, Riley still needs to trust again, Maggie has completely gone over the deep end and we await the match to hit the fuse, so to speak. As for Willow and Tara - they will be forced to act out their roles of deception. Yes, their love and their truths have been spoken, but theirs is also a new-found love, easily shattered by just the right pressure. And Walsh will be watching.

Twelve more chapters, you say? My summer just became infinitely brighter, thank you and your g/f.

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More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. Woody Allen (1935 - )


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 3:36 pm 
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2. Floating Rose

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oh, oh updatey goodness. Man I love this fic and I'm so glad it's back. Looking forward to reading lots, lots more.

Jill


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 1:21 am 
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23. Volumey Text
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It was great to see an update to this story :)

I went back and reread the whole thing and the first thing that comes to mind is that Maggie Walsh is one crazy lady :crazy

So what exactly is she planning with Adam and her World Domination Doomsday Device program (Assuming that that is what WDDD stands for)?

Now that she's suspicious of Tara what is she going to do? I'd guess at first she'll increase her surveylance of Tara, perhaps have someone follow her or fit her with some sort tracking device.

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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 6:21 am 
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11. Fish in the Bowl
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WB! I loved this fic and am so happy to read that you are going to finish it. This is one that I have always wanted an ending for. Your recent update was intense and Maggie's cameras are extremely creepy. I think this chapter reveals the darkest side of Walsh. Way to go! The stolen moments seemed dangerous and still very passionate. I think it is what I've always liked about this story, the way you balance the passion and danger.

Thanks for coming back to complete this. I look forward to reading the rest.

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"A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a joke or worried to death by a frown on the right person's brow." C. Brower


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:38 pm 
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3. Flaming O

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I'm so glad you're writing again..
That must be on powerful video feed, to be able to see the slight hint of a smile. I'm lov'n this fic.


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 Post subject: Part 31
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 8:40 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:04 am
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Location: Washington, DC
Two updates in a week? It can’t be… but it is! I know, will wonders never cease.

Okay, and a quick plug for someone I don’t know… if you’re looking for a good W/T break-up and reunion story, then check out “Yesterday’s Tomorrow” by ophelia11. I discovered this story over the weekend and have been mildly obsessed with it since then. Definitely angst, but wonderfully emotional and some of the best “oh-my-God-I-shouldn’t-want-you-or-need-you-but-I-do” scenes I’ve ever come across. I don’t know if the author would like me describing it that way, but I hope she doesn’t mind!

I'll get to replies ASAP. But fr now, on with the story…

-BB


Title: The Truth of Deception - Part 31: Change of Plans
Author: blameburner
Feedback: Sure… Always a plus
Summary: AU, baby! So you all know by now... Tara is part of the Initiative, she's had to lie to everyone... now the truth is out there, and Willow and Tara are together. But Maggie Walsh is still plotting something, and has more than one trick up her sleeve.
Spoiler Warning: S4. Everything up to "Hush" is canon. After that, all bets are off.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, but oh how I wish they were! Joss, blah, blah, ME, blah, blah.
Rating: NC-17
Pairings: W/T, of course.
Angst: Plans are being set into motion, and other plans are being spoiled… and then there’s Adam. So I’d say a 6.


Previously...

“What’s my mission?” he asked, his voice now steely and dark. All traces of compassion were gone. No matter how much it amused him to play their little game, his ability to play the simpering, subservient fool was always short-lived. It was time to get to work.

His voice broke Walsh out of her thoughts, the change in his voice evident. For a moment she had forgotten that once their game ended – and it always ended – her little boy became the dangerous man he truly was. Now she saw the façade of humanity crumble around him, leaving only the beast within.

“I need you to act as my liaison with Adam,” Walsh said, her voice having lost its motherly quality as she gave the devil the respect he demanded. She handed him a dossier, which he began flipping through. “He has been out of contact since leaving the facility, and I need him brought into the fold. He is aware of the ultimate project objective, but he needs to know where we are in the process.”

He flipped through the file, scanning it for any information he didn’t already possess – which was very little. Beyond what Walsh had already told him of the Adam project, he had conducted his own “investigation” into Walsh’s activities to find out the rest. The only thing he hadn’t known was who Walsh had planned on using the Falasian Crystal on. But the file made that – and a lot more – very clear.

“They’ve been quite busy, I see,” he said, his voice even yet seething.

“Yes. But they are not your concern right now,” Walsh said sternly.

His head jerked up and his eyes flashed dangerously, but quickly he regained his composure. “And when exactly will they become my concern?”

Walsh had to bite her tongue to keep from snapping at him. She knew that when it came to this subject, the tight discipline he maintained could evaporate quickly. And she really didn’t feel like dying today.

“Soon,” she forced herself to say calmly. “Very soon.”

“This mission is not what you called me about, is it?” he asked, staring her down.

“No, it isn’t,” Walsh said. “But as you can see from the file, that situation has largely resolved itself. I know where everyone stands now. They are not a threat.”

“They are always a threat,” he said coldly. “You have an agent on the run, an angry Slayer, a betrayed witch… and then there’s Agent MaClay.”

“She’s not a problem,” Walsh said hotly. “And she’s certainly not your problem. I know where her loyalties are.”

****************************

“I don’t want to let you go,” Willow said sadly.

“I know,” Tara agreed. “But we have to.”

“I know,” Willow answered. “But we’ll see each other tomorrow night, right?”

“Vampires couldn’t keep me away,” Tara said jokingly.

“That’s not funny,” Willow said, frowning.

“Not even a little funny?” Tara asked sweetly. “Just a teeny, tiny bit funny?”

Willow pursed her lips together as she considered this. Tara almost burst out laughing.

“I suppose it’s microscopically funny,” Willow said in mock seriousness. This time Tara did laugh. And so did Willow. “9:30 at the clocktower?”

“Don’t be late,” Tara said, kissing Willow gently.


Part 31

“Okay, Willie, you know the drill.”

“Shit,” Willie said, knowing the voice who had spoken those words was about to make his afternoon much less pleasant. And he’d been having such a good day. “Come on, Slayer. I don’t know nuthin’.”

Buffy’s lips turned up in a predatory grin. She turned to Xander. “See, I knew he would say that. Did you know he’d say that?”

“He always says that,” Xander said, crossing his arms across his chest. “You’d think by know he’d have gotten some new material.”

“You’d think,” Buffy agreed, crossing her arms across her chest in a mirror image of Xander’s pose.

“Now let’s not get rowdy,” Willie said, holding his hands up defensively and slowly backing away from the bar. Several demons sitting at the bar slipped off their stools and began edging away, having absolutely no interest in getting between the Slayer and bartender.

“Rowdy? Who’s getting rowdy?” Buffy asked, taking a step forward.

“Not me,” Xander said, following Buffy’s lead.

“I think maybe Willie’s gotten a little paranoid,” Buffy said, taking another step closer to the bar.

“Maybe he’s got something to hide,” Xander said menacingly, unfolding his arms and beginning to crack his knuckles.

“Is that it, Willie?” Buffy asked as she placed both hands flat on the bar. “You got something to hide?”

Willie started shaking his head quickly back and forth. “I just finished redoing this place! I don’t want no trouble!”

“Too late for that, Willie,” Xander said, twisting his head to loosen his shoulders. His neck cracked and Xander let out a satisfying “ahh” before leveling his eyes at Willie. “Definitely too late for that.”

Before Xander had finished speaking Buffy had vaulted over the bar and was now inches from the bartender’s face.

“Boo.”

“Alright! Alright! I’ll tell you anything you want to know, just please don’t break anything!” Willie whimpered.

Xander grinned.

“Where’s Adam?” Buffy asked calmly.

“Adam who?” Willie asked, fidgeting nervously.

Buffy just glowered at him, but Xander… Xander started cracking his knuckles again.

“Okay, okay! I don’t know for sure-“

Crack. Crack.

“Really!” Willie squealed over Buffy’s shoulder toward Xander. “But I’ve heard rumors about bodies… lots of bodies…”

“What kind of bodies?” Buffy asked, her brow furrowing. Willie hesitated. Buffy grabbed his shirt collar and lifted him off the ground. “What. Kind. Of. Bodies?”

“Humans!” Willie shouted. Anger flashed in Buffy’s eyes. Willie gulped. “Demons, too! Lots of ‘em, all different kinds. It’s creepy I tell ya.”

“This coming from a bartender who serves blood in shot glasses,” Xander sniffed.

“Where?” Buffy demanded.

“On the edge of town. In the woods out past the old mine,” Willie said quickly. “That’s all I know, I swear!”

Buffy eyed him for a moment, and then set him back down on his feet.

“Good boy, Willie,” she said, patting his head. “See? That wasn’t so hard.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Willie muttered. “Can you leave now? I’ve got customers.”

Buffy hopped back over the bar and headed out the door. Xander followed, but not before cracking his knuckles one last time for effect. Willie shuddered, making Xander smile as he walked out the door.

Willie sighed as he noticed his bar was completely empty.

***************************

“Owie! Owie! Owie!” Xander cried as soon as the door shut behind him. He shook his hand like it had just been burned. Buffy laughed.

“It’s not funny!” Xander whined. “I’m gonna end up with arthritis after all that knuckle cracking.”

“Who told you to crack your knuckles, anyway?” Buffy asked, still laughing. “You get that move out of Intimidating Demonic Bartenders for Dummies?”

“Nah nah nah nah nah nah nananananah nananah nananah nah nanah?” Xander mocked.

Buffy just laughed more.

“Well it worked, didn’t it?” Xander said, trying to salvage some sliver of his manhood. He was pretty sure he’d seen most of it run off screaming down the street.

Buffy stopped and turned, planning to make fun of him some more. She took one look at the hopeful puppy-dog eyes he was making at her, and she decided to let it go… for now.

“Yes, Xander,” she said placatingly. “You scared the crap out of poor Willie.”

“Did you see the look on his face?” Xander asked proudly.

Buffy had to admit… Xander had had an effect on the bartender. As silly as it had seemed to her, it had seemed very real to Willie.

“You did good, Xan,” she admitted.

Xander was beaming now. “See? I’ve gotten better at this! Good cop, bad cop. I’m the bad cop. I’m the big-bad-Xan-man.”

“Yes, your time with Anya has done wonders for you,” Buffy said.

“Yeah- hey, wait a second!” Xander grumbled. Buffy just grinned. Then Xander chuckled. It was true. He couldn’t deny it. “But hey, you with the jumping over the bar? That was perfectly timed!”

Buffy’s grin widened. “That was pretty good, wasn’t it?”

“Oh, yeah,” Xander said. “And the ‘boo’ was priceless! I thought Willie was going to pee his pants.”

“I think he did,” Buffy laughed. Then she frowned a bit and looked down at her shoes. “Oh, that’s what I… okay, ew. Blech!”

Xander couldn’t stop himself from laughing as Buffy shook her foot in the air and then wiped it in the grass.

“Come on,” Buffy said once she was convinced her shoe was sufficiently dry. “We need to fill everyone in.”

“Then what?” Xander asked, sobering a little. “What’s the plan? Do we have a plan? We need a plan.”

“Sure we have a plan,” Buffy said, her eyes narrowing. “We’re going hunting.”

*****************************

Willow stuffed one last book in her bag before zipping it shut. Only twenty-two minutes until she got to see Tara, and she was a total mess. She desperately wanted to apply a little lip gloss and do something with her hair, but she resisted. Walsh might be watching, so Willow also resisted the urge to change into something a little more attractive.

Tara will love you just the way you are, Willow thought to herself, trying to sneak a glance in the mirror. So what if your lips aren’t shiny and your hair looks… oh Goddess… like a rat made a nest in it and moved in his entire rat family… and his neighbors… it’s okay, it’s okay… at least you’re wearing one of Tara’s favorite shirts and great googly moogly what is that stain? Oh good grief you just had to spill sauce all over yourself, didn’t you? Rosenberg! Why not just dip yourself in honey mustard instead of your chicken nuggets? Hey rat family, come down to my chest for dinner! We’re having leftovers!

Willow started to tear off her shirt and throw it into the laundry pile. Walsh be damned, she wasn’t about to go meet Tara – or leave her room – with mustard all over herself. Unfortunately, her unruly hair chose that moment to be completely uncooperative and get caught on the button of her blouse. This was, of course, while Willow’s arms were tangled in her shirt sleeves stretched above her head.

She tried to pull the shirt back down, but her arms seemed to have gotten stuck, and she couldn’t go up because every time she tried to pull she practically pulled out all of her hair. Willow blew out a frustrated breath and tried to stay calm.

Okay, okay, calm down… no problem here, just a little misunderstanding with Mr. Shirt… which can be easily rectified if I just slip this arm a little lower and this one… owe… no that won’t work… okay, let’s try… owe… nope, no hope there… ouch!

Willow held perfectly still for a moment as she let the pain subside. Then she went completely and utterly nuts. She started jumping around, twisting and turning, throwing her body about in the hopes of getting her arms free despite the risk of tearing every hair out of her head. But it was no use. Mr. Shirt – in his annoyance at being tugged to and fro – had decided to twist himself practically into a knot, trapping Willow completely.

Okay Rosenberg, you’ve got a 160 IQ and you are standing in your dorm room with your blouse over your head like a crazy woman. Either the shirt’s possessed, or you are, and I certainly hope-

Willow’s inner babble was broken by the click of the door lock. Oh. My-

“Wil? Are you…” Buffy trailed off as she took in the sight of her best friend. “What in the world are you doing?”

“Having a party,” Willow said sarcastically. “We have balloons and cake and would you get me the frilly heck out of this thing?!”

Buffy reached up and disentangled her best friend, trying desperately not to laugh. She couldn’t keep from bursting out with laughter when the shirt finally slipped off of Willow’s head.

“What’s so funny?” Willow asked with a pout. All Buffy could do was point at her friend’s head. Willow walked over to the mirror and realized her hair looked like she’d fought a battle with a light socket. And lost. Quickly she spritzed some spray gel in her hands and tried to tame her static-driven mane.

“As soon as you’ve finished grooming,” Buffy started, still chuckling, “we’ve got to get going.” Willow froze.

“Huh?”

“We’ve got a date with a demon,” Buffy said. She paused, wrinkling her brow. “Machine? Monster? Hmm… I guess monster will do, though demon rhymes better. I guess-“

“Buffy,” Willow said impatiently. “What are you talking about?”

“Adam,” the Slayer said. “Xander and I pressed Willie for some info and we found out where Adam’s hiding. I think. See, there’s all these bodies – human and demon, like someone’s been experimenting or doing a little extra credit biology homework – out in the woods and there’s some caves nearby and that’s where we’re going.”

Willow just looked at her friend like she’d grown a second head.

“Well Giles thinks it makes sense,” Buffy grumbled.

“Wait… you’ve talked to Giles?” Willow asked.

“Yeah,” Buffy said, walking over to the closet and pulling a dark shirt out of it. She tossed it to Willow. “Put this on.”

“Wait, why-“

“Willow, what’s the problem?” Buffy asked a bit exasperatedly. “Why are you looking at me like I just told you you were elected President?”

Willow’s mind was racing. She so did not have time for this now. She was supposed to meet Tara, at their pre-determined time and place. There was no way to get word to her and let her know she wouldn’t be coming, no way to reschedule. She wanted to see Tara. She needed to see Tara. But she sighed as she realized she was so not going to get to see Tara.

“Sorry,” Willow said, shaking her head before putting on the shirt. “I guess you just took me by surprise-“

“We’ve been trying to find you all day,” Buffy interrupted. “You weren’t at the library or at the coffee shop or-“

“I was studying on the quad, sorry,” Willow interrupted in return. “And I was about to head to the library to do more…”

“Gosh, Wil,” Buffy said with a chuckle, “I knew you liked the books but wow. Giving up slayage and the traditional after-slayage mochas?”

Willow forced a laugh even as she felt like crying. “Crazy, huh?”

“Totally!” Buffy agreed, throwing an arm around her best friend. “Besides… this is Adam we’re talking about. I really want to drag that thing back and drop it at Walsh’s feet and see the look on her face.”

“Is that before or after you beat her senseless for trying to kill you?” Willow asked as they headed out the door.

“Definitely before. Although you know… I could just drop Adam on her head instead of at her feet. That could be fun,” Buffy said.

“Absolutely,” Willow said with a laugh.

“Everyone’s waiting for us at Giles’,” Buffy said.

“Fill me in,” Willow said as she shut the door behind them.

*********************************

Tara looked at her watch. 9:32. It wasn’t like Willow to be late, even by thirty seconds, let alone by two whole minutes. Tara was worried.

Oh, Goddess, Tara thought. Please let her be okay. Please let her have just gotten lost in a book somewhere.

Tara looked down at her watch again. It was 9:33. She started pacing.

It seemed crazy to be worrying when Willow was only three minutes late. But this was Willow. Willow had never been late to anything in her entire life, except her graduation because she’d been in a van with Oz-

Oh yeah, let your head go to that scary place why don’t you Tara muttered in her mind.

She shook her head, trying to shake the image right out of it. The past was the past, and they both had them, and Tara knew that. Still… she hated the thought of Willow and Oz together. Oz, for some strange reason, made her feel very insecure. She supposed it was because Oz had been Willow’s first, well… everything. Tara had never even met him, and yet… she got a very unsettled feeling when she thought of him, and somewhere deep down she knew it wasn’t because Oz had been Willow’s first love.

Okay, Tara-girl, let’s think rationally for a second. There’s a lot of reasons why Willow might be late. She could really have lost herself in studying, or maybe someone had some kind of crisis and Willow stayed to help… she’s so caring and loving and… or maybe there’s some Scooby emergency and-

Her inner-ramblings were cut short by the shrill cry of her pager. There was only one person who had this number, and it filled her with dread even before she read the page.

911. Code red at the Initiative.

“Shit,” Tara muttered. She wanted to blow it off, to hell with Maggie Walsh and her damn emergencies.

But Tara knew she couldn’t. Not with everything that was at stake. She had always come running whenever Maggie had called, and now simply couldn’t be any different. If she was ever going to get to the truth and be able to live a normal life with Willow, she needed to do this now. She needed to be Walsh’s perfect little operative.

“Shit, shit, shit!”

She felt like crying, but that wasn’t going to solve anything. When Willow showed up – if she showed up – Tara would not be here. She worried Willow would worry as she had, and she didn’t want that to happen. But there was no getting around it.

Tara thought about leaving a note, but decided against it. Even if she could figure out where to leave it so Willow would see it, she couldn’t risk leaving anything in writing. To make matters worse, she didn’t know how she would get word to Willow to reschedule.

Her pager went off again, and Tara had to fight the urge to slam it against the wall and shatter it into a million pieces.

She took a deep breath, then sighed.

“Sorry, Willow,” she whispered to the air. “I promise I’ll figure something out.”

And with that Tara headed out of the clocktower, toward Maggie Walsh.

*********************************

He walked into the cave warily, his senses heightened more than usual. He didn’t scare easily, but this… this would scare even the most fearless of the soulless beings he associated with.

He must have passed a dozen bodies – human, demon, animal – on his way to the cave. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen death before… he’d seen a lot of it over the years, caused a lot of it. But these poor creatures were strung up and staked down all over the place, chests torn open, insides torn out. Gutless marionettes. You had to appreciate the depravity of it, the controlled horror. You had to appreciate it… that is, if you weren’t just a little bit afraid you’d be next.

He walked deeper into the cave, knowing his purpose and the promise it represented. One foot in front of the other, he kept himself moving, not daring to turn and run the other way. Even if he lived to tell the tale – which he sincerely doubted he would – he’d never be able to face his peers.

Peers, he sniffed. Yeah, right. None of them can touch me.

Still… he best keep walking just the same.

He’d been told where to come and what he would find, or at least, some of what he would find. Didn’t know about the bodies, he thought. It just wasn’t right, tearing up demons like that. Especially when it was a demon doing the tearing. Part demon, he corrected silently.

He kept walking, the cave seeming to stretch on forever. He didn’t sense anything, really, but he knew the monster was there just the same. It didn’t take a genius to figure that one out. He imagined that old Frankenstein movie, with the laboratory and the eerie music and the cobwebs and everything in black and white. He’d seen it just this year in the pre-dawn hours of some random morning, and he’d found it mildly entertaining if not particularly accurate. The laboratory had been all wrong and Frankenstein’s monster hadn’t been nearly so… freakish. And he’d had a name. Ralph.

Nice bloke, actually, he thought. Nice, morbid sense of humor. Good one to have watching your back. A bit squeamish when it came to tearing a body limb from limb, but still… nice fellow. I’ll have to pay old Ralphie a visit next time I’m in Indiana-

“Welcome,” came a voice from the shadows. “Can I offer you a drink?”

Spike turned his head from side to side, searching for the source of the voice, but even his vampire-enhanced vision couldn’t penetrate the blackness.

“Uh… thanks?” he said a bit uncertainly. He hadn’t known what exactly to expect from the monster they called Adam, but hospitality certainly wasn’t it.

A large, hulking figure stepped out of the shadows and handed the vampire a mug of blood. Spike had to keep himself from staring at the mash of demon, human, and machine that made up Adam’s imposing form. This guy looks like a bloody quilt, Spike thought as he accepted the mug.

“I’m glad you could make it,” Adam said in a deep, slightly mechanical baritone. “Did you have any trouble getting here?”

“No, not really,” Spike said, taking a sip. “Your boy gives pretty good instructions.”

“Mother trained him well,” Adam said. There was a touch of pride in his voice.

“That your handiwork out there?” Spike asked, already knowing the answer.

A sadistic smile appeared on Adam’s face, one that would have made Spike’s blood run cold if it wasn’t cold already. “Does it bother you?”

“Bother me? Ah… no. Not likely,” Spike said with a bravado he didn’t entirely feel. “Got to admire the work, actually. Just curious, though… why?”

“To learn,” Adam said simply. His tone suggested he had no more to say on the subject.

“Right, then,” Spike said, draining the last from the mug and setting it down on a nearby crate. He noticed for the first time that the cave was full of crates. They were all marked “Property of the United States Government” and had additional words stamped on them indicating their contents. “Shall we get down to business?”

“Always the businessman. I heard that about you,” Adam said approvingly. “I’ve come to appreciate the capitalist spirit.”

“Yeah? Well, a bloke has to look out for himself,” Spike said. This was all very strange. He was making chit-chat with the monster. Spike half-expected Adam to start quoting Donald Trump. “So your boy said you have a proposition for me?”

“Yes,” Adam said. “I need your help with an… experiment.”

“What kind of experiment?” Spike asked.

“All in good time,” Adam said cryptically. “For now I just need you to bring the equipment I need.”

“Seems like you’ve got a lot of equipment here already,” Spike said, gesturing to the crates scattered around the room. “Why don’t you just whoever was helping you before to be your pack-mule?”

“They’re dead. You’re not.”

“Well technically…” Spike trailed off as it hit him. The bodies. They were all Adam’s former… assistants. “Oh. I see.”

Adam grinned and shrugged, as if her were a little boy who had just broken all his toys.

“So, uh… how do I know the same thing won’t happen to me?” Spike asked warily.

“Because I know you won’t anger me,” Adam said darkly.

“Oh,” Spike said uncertainly. “Forgive me for asking, but… how exactly do you know that?”

Adam smiled. “Because I have something you want. Two things, actually.”

“And what things are you talking about?” Spike asked, curiosity overcoming his fear.

“One, when we’re finished I’ll take that chip out of your head,” Adam said.

Spike’s eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. He thought of being able to once again hunt and feed, without the pulsating pain of his little cybernetic conscience. There was nothing like the warm blood of a fresh kill. He could practically taste it.

The promise of Adam removing the chip was enough to have Spike ready to do whatever was asked of him. Still…

“And the second?” he asked greedily, as Adam knew he would. Thanks to Little Boy, Adam knew just what buttons to push.

“The chance to see the Slayer lose everything she loves,” Adam said ominously. “And then the chance to kill her.”

“I’m in,” Spike said without hesitation. Adam smiled.

*******************************

TBC with Part 32: Battle Plans


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 9:14 pm 
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19. Yummy Face

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 5:40 pm
Posts: 2934
Location: Raleigh, NC
Two updates within a few days of each other. You are spoiling me. :grin

The angst just keeps on coming doesn't it? I know good times have to be ahead, right? :blush

_________________
Tara: Willow, I got so lost.
Willow: I found you. I will always find you.


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 7:12 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:47 pm
Posts: 524
Location: Saint Paul, MN
I'll make some assumptions - no need to confirm or deny!

- Missing their date in the tower is a foreshadowing of tough times ahead.

- Willow's imitation of Albert Einstein (genius who cannot discover the mystery that is clothes) will be the last truly comic scene for awhile.

- Adam & Spike are known factors, yet the new "son" is an unpredictable factor. I expect similarities to the end of S4. I also expect some wrenching differences.


The story will let me know if I'm anywhere near the target on these projections. In the meantime, you may spoil us with frequent updates. I give you leave *waves hand negligently*

_________________
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. Woody Allen (1935 - )


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 3:56 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 5:05 pm
Posts: 112
Location: Sydney, Australia
Another fantastic update :bow :bow

I just wanted to let you know how excited I was to see an update after so long. And then a second one in the same week!!!!

So, I really love the way you write the characters, especially the scene between Xander and Buffy after leaving Willy's bar..

-------------------------------------------------------------------
“Oh, yeah,” Xander said. “And the ‘boo’ was priceless! I thought Willie was going to pee his pants.”

“I think he did,” Buffy laughed. Then she frowned a bit and looked down at her shoes. “Oh, that’s what I… okay, ew. Blech!”

-------------------------------------------------------------------
lol..hilarious


And this also made me laugh...so very Spike
-------------------------------------------------------------------
This guy looks like a bloody quilt,
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyway, there's my feedback for what it's worth. Looking forward to more updatey goodness when you get a chance.


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 Post subject: Re: The Truth of Deception
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:14 pm 
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5. Willowhand

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 7:03 pm
Posts: 325
Okay. I'm a little late with the showering-you-with-praise, having just read your story today. And can I add a "WOW!" I really have enjoyed reading what you have done with season four. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens next. Please don't leave me dangling off the edge for too long, 'kay? Pretty please?


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