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

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 Post subject: RC 2018: NEW CHAPTER 7/7/07
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2002 1:11 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:12 am
Posts: 3446
Authors Note:

This thread consists of the 23 stories of the Reality check sequence and the ongoing RC 2018 series which starts on page 20 of the thread
Title: Reality Check 0: Rosenberg Squared

Author: Mike Mullen

Rating: 18/NC-17 for sexual content

Spoilers: Season 6, and all points before

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon and ME, yeah like that’s going to stop me.

Summary: A small time travel accident leads to a Season 2 Willow being pitched in to the time frame of Season 6, and encountering her future self and a certain very close friend…

Authors notes: Assuming anyone actually reads it this story is a spring board for a series I have planned called ‘Reality Check’. This will basically be a W/T arc covering Season 2-6. Yes I know, but it will make sense later.

Feedback: Just add your comments at the end of the story.

Rosenberg Squared

1. “Do What Makes You Happy”

“Here let me get that.”

“No just get the key out of my pocket.”

“This pocket?”

“Hmm, good pocket.”

“But no key.”

“Must be the other pocket.”

“Honestly you’re just terrible.”

The front door opened and Willow walked in giggling. Tara pulled the key out of the lock and closed the door, still engaging in a mock scolding of her other half, “You’re just obsessed, remember young lady we are here to study.”

“I know big paper, must work.” Willow agreed, though the paper was currently low on her list of priorities, and drew her hand across her brow, “it is kind of a sticky day though, and I think I really could do with a shower before we do anything else.” The look on Willows face as she spoke told Tara that cooling down was not what her girlfriend had in mind.

Tara wasn’t going to make it that easy for her, “Well I guess I could organise the books while you’re in there.”

Now Willow looked miserable and turned away from Tara. Stretching her hands behind her back she pointed, “But I have this one little spot on my back that I can’t reach, if someone doesn’t wash it for me I can’t get clean.” She turned back around, “You see the problem don’t you?”

Tara took pity, “Ok I’ll come and wash there.” Her fingers brushed lightly along Willows spine, “Then we get on with the paper.”

“Oh of course, absolutely.”

Tara had applied soap to every bit of Willow, including that hard to get at spot and was moving her hands over the soapy skin as Willow leaned back against the wall of the shower and wallowed in the sensation of those fingers stroking her skin.

“We really were supposed to work on that paper you know.” Tara commented as her hands slid down over Willows belly.

“I know but how often do we get to be alone? So we don’t have to worry who we might disturb if I do something like this?” Willow pressed her fingers between Tara’s thighs and found her clit, eliciting a shriek of surprise and pleasure.

Tara knew that Willow was right, living under the same roof with Buffy and Dawn there had to be degree of consideration and restraint. Sometimes though she just wanted to be able to scream out loud when Willow pushed her button, like right now. She pulled Willow against her and buried her tongue in Willows mouth; the only thing better than Willows hands was her mouth, which Willow proceeded to move down over Tara’s body, kissing and licking as she went, tracing the outlines of nipples, belly button, and the flesh of her sex. She grabbed the soap and worked her way back up rubbing it all over before dropping that and bringing their slick bodies back together, shoving her pelvis against Tara’s, feeling the heat of their contact. Willow buried her face into Tara’s neck and moaned, while Tara nibbled at her earlobe and moved her hips up and down, rubbing her sex against Willow’s. Willow pressed her mouth against Tara’s ear and whispered urgently,

“Please baby, now please, now.” Their motion became frantic and brought an orgasmic howl from Willow. Tara released Willow and lay back against the wall, panting and flushed, her legs slightly spread. Willow needed no further invitation and fell to her knees. She really did have a great mouth Tara decided, before pleasure made thinking impossible again.

Buffy kicked at a small stone lying on the path before she remembered that she was wearing her good heels, not her usual boots or sneakers. She was just so mad that she had to lash out at something, and it was a little early to go find a vamp to dust. She checked the shoe and found a small scuffmark. Perfect. The day just kept getting better and better. The job at the gym hadn’t exactly been a big payer but at least it had been something she could probably actually do. She had hoped she could offset her lack of experience by demonstrating her fitness and workout knowledge. Almost as soon as she had walked in the door she knew it wasn’t going to go well. It was the kind of place people came to pose not sweat. The interviewer seemed to be more interested in checking her out than asking questions. It wasn’t like it was a unique experience, and given that looking good in a leotard was part of the job; it could even be taken as a professional appraisal. What had really disturbed her was the sense that the guy was going through the motions, not really listening, not even really considering hitting on her. It was only afterwards when she was leaving her details with the secretary that she found out why. The woman saw the unhappy expression on her face and assured Buffy it wasn’t anything that she had done, the guy had a girlfriend who was an aerobics instructor, and he really was just going through the motions doing the interviews.

They should have left me where I was. The thought pushed itself forward again, it was never really gone, it just lurked in the back of her mind waiting for its moment, like now. She had been happy, safe and warm, and her friends had destroyed that for all the best reasons in the world. Buffy resented it. She tried not to, it was unfair on the people who cared about her so much, but on days like this when she was worrying about scuffed shoes and how she was going to put food in the fridge it was hard.

Buffy closed the front door behind her and dumped her handbag on the coffee table. The word coffee passing through her mind set her thinking that a steaming mug and something with a large dose of chocolate in it was definitely called for when she heard a muffled shriek from up the stairs. She was instantly in defence mode and opened the weapons chest she kept near the front door and selected her best axe. It was a nice all purpose weapon useful for dealing with most undead intruders. The living ones as well for that matter; for all she knew it was an old fashioned burglar. She stepped out of her shoes and padded cautiously up the stairs. She was almost to the hallway when she heard another cry and froze.

“Oh yeah baby!” Buffy knew that voice, though she had never heard it quite like that before. Buffy was mortified and wanted to run back downstairs before she eavesdropped on anything else. But the sound of her feet pounding on the treads would give away her presence and that was the second to last thing she wanted. Buffy turned and crept back down cringing at every moan and groan. She really didn’t need a blow by blow of anyone else’s sexual exploits, and it wouldn’t have mattered who it was in the shower with Willow; man or woman it would still be embarrassing.

Buffy slipped into kitchen and decided to make that cup of coffee. She was watching the kettle boil when she heard feet on the stairs and Willow calling out.

“The heck with a towel I’ll be back in a second.” Buffy was struck with panic. She grabbed the fridge door, pulled it open, and slammed it shut hard. The approaching feet stopped and then started again in the opposite direction. Buffy was sipping her coffee when a slightly damp Willow appeared wearing a bathrobe.

“Oh Buffy I wasn’t expecting you back till later, I was just…” She stopped as she caught the look in Buffy’s eyes, “Oh, um I guess you sort of know what I was doing.” She looked mortified and Buffy decided to let her off the hook.

“Will you thought you had the house to yourself, and the two of you live here, you have a right to your private life, nothing for anyone to be embarrassed about, ok?”

Willow smiled, “I’m going to go get dressed and then the three of us can sit down and talk about how the interview went.” She didn’t see the grimace that crossed Buffy’s face.

“I envy you, you know.” Buffy said and Willow stopped and turned back towards her. “I envy you and Tara.” She explained.

Willow smiled impishly, “I know a couple of nice girls I could introduce you to.”

“That’s not what I mean, I envy the way you connect, the way you two are together.”

Willow looked a little more serious, “Buffy, you will find someone, you will make a connection.” She padded back upstairs; Buffy didn’t want to tell her just how unlikely that was.

2. “Always Letting People Walk All Over Her”

Willow was wondering if this was really all her life was about, crouching behind tombstones waiting for dead people to show up. Virtue was supposed to be its own reward, but basically virtue sucked. She hadn’t been able to get the image of Buffy and Xander dancing at the Bronze, the way Buffy had been rubbing up against him. She knew that Buffy had been dealing with serious issues, and actually being kind of a bitch, still she couldn’t forget, what would happen if someday it were for real? It was wildly unlikely; Buffy was still besotted with Angel, but what if? It wasn’t about her feelings for Xander; it was the prospect of being a third wheel, of being in the way. In the year or so she had known Buffy Summers it had been scary a lot of the time, but she felt like she belonged. If she didn’t have that then what did she have? She decided to focus on what she was doing. They had been expecting a new vamp to rise from its grave and had come prepared to deal. Unfortunately Mrs Summers had decided this was the time to have a heart to heart talk so they had been really late. Sometimes it seemed like it would be simpler just to tell Buffy’s mom the truth, but how would you convince her? Stake a vampire in front of her?

The trio had arrived in the graveyard just as the vamp rose from under the dirt. It took one look at them and immediately bolted. Buffy and Xander had gone off in pursuit, and she had been left to stake out the grave in case he doubled back, and she was absolutely not going to think about the fact they had gone off together. She was armed with a cross and a couple of bottles of holy water, which eliminated the need for any speed or skill on her part. Willow wiggled trying to get comfortable against the fresh slab of granite without much luck. Her thoughts kept turning to the morose however hard she tried. Why was she doing this? Because she didn’t have a life that’s why. If she wasn’t here she would be at home, and her parents would never notice the difference either way.

Kresk didn’t think much of the graveyard either; although he had the compensations of getting to go home and a very satisfactory payment for his services. He checked the jars in their bag again; the organs were secure in their jelly, the jars still tightly sealed. Say what you like about the Mayor, he always paid promptly and generously. Still Kresk was glad to get out of this world again, it managed to be both too sunny and too cold at the same time, and far too green; vegetation should be a healthy purple. He scanned the graveyard with his multiple eyes until he found what he was looking for, an unkempt gravestone in the form of a small obelisk, that was where the exit form this place was to be found. There was a churned up pile of earth nearby but Kresk wasn’t interested, his species dissolved into oily goo on death that simply soaked into the ground, for all he knew or cared this was some strange human burial ritual.

Willow was terrified, she had peeked over the top of the tombstone at the sound of approaching feet and quickly ducked back down. It definitely wasn’t a vampire, more like one of those gargoyle statues they put on medieval churches, except someone had dropped it and not made a good job of putting it back together. It seemed to have far more eyes on its head than it really needed and not all of them matched, suggesting it had borrowed bits from somewhere else. Its hands had maybe eight fingers each, and again they weren’t a matching set. Trophies, Willow decided, some people hunted animals and hung their trophies on a wall, this demon hung them on its body, made them part of itself. It would be sort of interesting if it weren’t stood fewer than ten feet away from her. There was no way she could fight it if it spotted her, it was six and half foot or more tall and bulging with muscles, which had probably also belonged to someone else. It would rip her to pieces, and then take any of the pieces it liked with it.

Rick was running hard and yet he wasn’t out of breath, since he didn’t need to breathe anymore. It had been a serious shock to wake up in a pine box but that had passed quickly as a sense of power flowed through him, he was strong, he was invincible and he was hungry. He smashed his way free and emerged into the night. As he first caught sight of the group of teens nearby he was happy, a meal practically handed to him. Then weapons sprouted in their hands and they were waving crucifixes at him, he didn’t know what was going on and he didn’t stay around to find out. He had been run all over the graveyard and still he couldn’t lose them. As he passed several headstones he realised that he had gone in circles, he was heading right back to where he started.

Kresk opened the pouch that hung from the other side of its belt from the one containing its payment. It contained an egg shaped blue crystal the size of its hand that Kresk treated very gingerly. He wrapped both hands around it and raised it in the air, and began to intone a series of clicks and whistles. Rick came barrelling towards this bizarre sight; he hesitated until he heard the boys voice behind him, “Buffy he’s doubling back!” Rick ran on. Perhaps if they saw this bizarre creature they would be diverted and he could get clean away. It wasn’t a bad idea and if the crystal hadn’t erupted with a blinding blue light he might not have stumbled.

Willow bounded to her feet and yelled, “Look out.” It was a purely instinctual reaction, she could feel the energy of the crystal and she had a feeling something bad might happen if…

Rick staggered against the demon and knocked the crystal to the ground. Enraged the demon locked its hands around Rick's throat and twisted, the vampires head came off and Kresk held it for a moment before it and the rest of Rick turned to dust. Kresk moved to pick up the crystal, before he could do so the light erupted in a series of beams, one speared Kresk and he vanished. The crystal fell to the ground a gain and rolled, as it did so one of the beams struck a transfixed Willow.

3. “It’s Complicated”

Willow reached for a textbook and brushed over Tara’s hand as she went for the same text. She let her fingers stray over the back of her lover’s fingers. Tara turned to her and since Buffy was only in the kitchen mouthed a single silent word, insatiable. The front door slamming and a book bag hurtling across the room to land in a chair interrupted the cosy moment. The owner of the bag stomped in behind it. Dawn flung herself into the chair and sat glowering, waiting for someone to ask the question.

It was Tara who decided to act as the lightning rod, "Bad day?"

"Bad Kirsty day."

"Oh." Tara couldn't think of anything else to say. Kirsty was one of the in crowd in Dawns year, and she took every opportunity to make it clear to Dawn that she wasn't.

"She is such a primo..." Dawn paused as Buffy walked in from the kitchen, "...pain. Are you sure you couldn't put a hex on her? Just a little one?"

Willow smiled and shook her head, "Dawnie I made it through high school without ever cursing Cordelia, I think you can survive Kirsty.” Although it occurred to Willow that if she had the skill she had now back when she found out about Cordy and Xander sneaking around, well Amy might have had to share her wheel.

Tara had never met Cordelia Chase, and no one seemed keen to talk about her in any great detail. All she knew was that the girl had been a cheerleader, popular, plenty of money, and with a nasty streak a mile wide. She had also dated Xander and Willow had been responsible for their breaking up, again though details were vague. Tara became aware that Willow was frowning, and looking a little angry.

“Cordelia Chase, just cause she saved us she thinks that makes it ok, she has plenty of friends, what right does she have to muscle in on mine?” Willow didn’t seem to be aware of what she was saying, and as she finished she pitched forward, Tara grabbed her before she could fall to the floor.

Buffy and Dawn were both crouching next to Willow as Tara pulled her upright.

“Are you ok?” Tara asked anxiously.

“That was weird, yeah I’m ok now, it was just like for a moment I was really worried about Cordy stealing my friends, I haven’t felt like that for, well I never felt like that.” There was no way she was admitting to that embarrassing little insecurity from her past.

“Well we were talking about her, maybe you still have issues.” Dawn suggested, half joking. The looks she got persuaded her to shut up.

Rosenberg’s head was pounding, had she fallen asleep on her books again? No she had been out, patrolling, hiding and then, what? It was still dark, then she realised that she still had her eyes closed. She opened them and groaned, the sunlight hurt her eyes and the grass felt damp to her hands. Grass. She was lying on the grass in the graveyard right where she had been last night. That couldn’t be good she decided. She climbed to her feet and searched around to see if the others might be near by, maybe they had been zapped as well. Zapped, now she remembered. That demon and its blue crystal, however there was no sign of it either, or the dirt from the grave that the vamp had broken out. This was all bad, where was Buffy? Why had they left her…

“Yeah, she’ll be here in a while.” >

…here. Rosenberg leaned on the gravestone. What was that all about? Buffy hadn’t disappeared, well she sort of had, but not liker that. She hadn’t just seen and heard things she had felt a bruise on her forehead, the dull ache in her legs, and a nagging fear that something had happened to her best friend. Which actually did fit with her current situation. She had to find some answers; she should probably call home in case they had missed her. Rosenberg decided that she really must be out of it, because that was plain ridiculous. No there was only one place to go.

Tara had settled down to assist Dawn with her homework after packing Willow upstairs to lie down. Her sudden freak out disturbed Tara but it didn’t seem to have done any actual damage, may be they really had been over doing things lately, and Willow had been doing a lot of magic. It was a bizarre incident, though not that major by Sunnydale standards Tara decided, trying to make herself feel less concerned.

The front door burst open and Rosenberg emerged in the entrance to the living room. She stopped as she saw the two figures on the sofa. One had long brown hair and was about her age, the other was blonde and a little older, the younger one smiled, the older one frowned.

“Hey cool Will.”

“Willow you shouldn’t go doing glamour’s, they can be dangerous.”

“BUFFY!” Rosenberg’s scream silenced the pair. Buffy had been in the yard working off some steam and practicing her moves, the sound of her friend screaming a t the top of her lungs brought her running.

“What is it? What’s happening?” Rosenberg turned in relief at the familiar voice, which died as she caught sight of Buffy. It was clearly her friend, and yet it wasn’t. The hair was different, and clothes, and there was something in the eyes, something dark that Rosenberg had never seen in them before.

Willow was lying quietly on her bed with her eyes closed, she had suggested that Tara stay to keep her company, but Tara had pointed out she was supposed to rest, and that wouldn’t happen if she stayed. Reluctantly Willow had conceded the point reluctantly. She had no idea why Cordelia Chase would come to mind now. Cordy had been in LA for three years now and when Willow had gone there to share the bad news a few months back she had been surprised by the changes in Cordelia, she had almost been like a regular person. The ruckus from downstairs dragged Willow out of her half asleep state. She trudged down the stairs and saw the girl standing in the hallway, she wore her hair the way Willow used to, and then the girl sensed the presence on the stairs and turned to face, and then Willow saw it wasn’t just hair they had in common. Rosenberg stared at Willow in utter horror: she had clearly wandered into some sort of terrible funhouse. She shrieked and ran out slamming the door behind her.

Rosenberg ran as fast as she could, that girl had her face, how could she have her face, there was only one Willow…

“That’s me as vampire? It’s horrible. I’m so evil, and skanky, and…”>

…Rosenberg. Again, a moment of memory that just didn’t fit. It wasn’t a dream or a vision, it was something she remembered, she just had no idea when or where.

Buffy moved to follow the girl until Willow stumbled forward and slumped against the wall.

“Where have you been Buffy? We looked and looked but you never called, where were you.” Willow didn’t seem to be aware that Buffy was right in front of her, and then she passed out and began to slide down the wall.

Buffy held her, “Willow? Willow Rosenberg talk to me!” The stern tone worked, Willows eyes blinked opened and focused, “Really wish that would just stop.”

“That’s it I’m going after whatever that was.”

Tara stopped her, “Buffy it wasn’t a thing, that was Willow.”

4. “I Handled It Just Fine.”

Buffy and Tara supported Willow as they practically carried her to the sofa.

"Can I help?" Dawn sounded a little panicky.

Tara nodded, "There are a couple of glass jars on the front of the dresser in our room, could you fetch them?"

"It's already done." Dawn practically flew up the stairs.

"You're going to do a spell?" Buffy asked.

"Actually I was thinking a cup of herbal tea."

Willow made a face, "Couldn't I just have a soda?"

Buffy smiled at this sign of recovery and then turned her attention to the question that had been bugging her.

"Tara what did you mean that was Willow?"

Tara blushed, "It's just that when Willow is near I can feel her, and that girl felt like Willow."

Buffy was prepared to accept that if anyone could spot an authentic Willow Rosenberg it was Tara. It did kill off the idea it was a bot or a demon.

“You haven’t been zapped by any big demons with long sticks lately have you Will?” She was only half joking.

“Pretty sure not, and if I had been wouldn’t we look exactly alike? I mean that was kind of like trying to impersonate me from an old photograph.”

“Yeah I mean she looked like she was my age.” Dawn had reappeared holding two glass jars.

Willow agreed with her “Even down to the clothes, that sweater.”

“You recognized it?” Buffy asked.

“Yeah, my mom bought it for me on a trip. It was pretty expensive; of course it was two sizes two big so I looked like a dork. I did wear it on patrol, and then it got demon goo on it. It dissolved everything in the machine when I tried to wash it. Kind of stuck in my mind.”

“So our look-a-like was wearing a sweater you haven’t had in…?”

“About four or so years.”

Buffy was now truly puzzled. If it had been an attempt to impersonate Willow it was pretty poor; if it wasn’t, well what the heck was it?

“Ok so if we assume our other you, really thinks she you, but an older you, or a younger you, where was I?”

“I think you were trying to figure out what the other me would do.” Willow felt a headache coming on and she wasn’t sure if it was the dizzy spells or the conversation causing it.

“That’s right so where would you go to look for help?”

“Well if here was a bust that’s easy, Giles or Xander.”

“So that could mean the school, Giles old apartment or Xander’s parents place. Xander’s probably at work but I can call Giles at the hotel. Then we’ll have to try and cover all the bases.”

“I can help.” Dawn chipped in.

“No because you are staying here to look after Willow.”

“Hey.” Willow protested.

“No arguments, you can’t go anywhere until we figure out why you’re getting these dizzy spells, though I have an idea who’s responsible. I can’t leave you here alone, and we may need Tara’s magic skills if we track the other you down. So that’s how it going to work.”

Rosenberg was relieved that the streets of Sunnydale seemed to have remained unchanged; she could still turn a corner and find herself where she expected to be. The encounter at the house had shaken her, she had even considered the possibility that somehow it wasn’t Buffy’s house it was just a bizarre coincidence. That girl on the stairs couldn’t be a coincidence, she had Rosenberg’s face, though she seemed to have better taste in clothes, at least she was wearing the kind of things she might wear if her mom didn’t buy all her stuff and try and make her look like she was still twelve years old. It had to some sort of magic, when she had been zapped the previous night it had put some sort of curse or something on her, and there was only one person she knew who could tell her about that sort of stuff.

She reached Giles’ apartment complex and was relieved to see him sat in the courtyard poring over a newspaper.

“Giles! I’m so glad to see you everything has gone completely wacky.” Giles had stood and was looking at Rosenberg in a thoroughly bemused manner.

“Sorry I’m babbling, but I babble when I’m nervous, and I’m really nervous right now.”

Giles was glad the girl had misunderstood his reaction; despite Buffy’s warning he hadn’t really been sure what to expect, he recovered quickly and patted her on the shoulder,

“Try and calm down, Willow, tell me exactly what’s happened.”

Rosenberg nodded and explained everything that had happened since going on patrol.

Giles listened to the story and as he did so he watched the girl very carefully. He didn’t have Tara’s bond with Willow, he did however know her well and this girl had her voice, her mannerisms, and her expressions. If it wasn’t Willow then it was an impressive if somewhat out of date impersonation.

“So what do you think is going on?” Rosenberg asked as she finished.”

“I don’t know.” Giles answered honestly, “Would you mind if I tested you a little? Sort of a word association test.”

“What for?”

“Well whatever happened may have altered your perception, or affected your memory.”

“Well ok, if you think it will help.”

I’ll start with some names, Dawn.” Rosenberg shook her head.

“Tara.” Still nothing.


“Like in the wizard of…?” She saw his expression, “I guess not.”


“Now that’s one I’m not going to forget, however much I try.”

“You still resent her being part of the group.”

“She isn’t part of the group, just because she knows about the Hellmouth stuff that doesn’t make her one of the gang.” Rosenberg was emphatic, there was no way Cordelia Chase was going to worm her way into the Slayerettes, they belonged to her and the cheerleader could just butt out.

Giles found the answers revealing, they seemed to fit in exactly with whom the girl appeared to be, even if that didn’t make sense. There was one more name to try, and he hated to mention it.


“Miss Calendar?” Rosenberg’s eyes widened and she became excited, “Miss Calendar, she knows magic, she could help figure this out. We should call her.” She stopped when she saw the sombre look on Giles face. Even after all this time that loss still hurt, but her response convinced him, this was somehow Willow Rosenberg, and whatever had happened in the graveyard had somehow pushed her out of her time and place.

He was trying to frame his response when he saw someone enter the courtyard. Rosenberg caught his gaze and turned, it was the girl from Buffy’s; she had tracked her here.

“Giles that’s the girl, do you see her? I mean she is real isn’t she?”

“She is real Willow, please don’t get upset, Tara wouldn’t hurt you.”

Rosenberg looked as though she had been struck, “How do you know her name? Are you involved in this?” She wanted to run, but Tara was stood in her way.

“Willow hon…, Willow please don’t be upset, we want to help, we know something is going on, you need to trust us.”

“Trust you? I don’t even know…”

“…You.” The moment of distraction allowed Tara to reach her side, she put her hand on Rosenberg’s arm,

“Please let us help you.” Rosenberg looked into Tara’s face,

“You saved me. You helped me block that door when those things were outside.” Rosenberg stopped; she had no idea what had been outside that door, though she did though remember that sense of bonding. She didn’t know exactly why but she wanted to trust this girl, and besides where else did she have to turn?

5. “You Didn’t Do A Bunch Of Drugs Did Ya?”

The drive back to Buffy’s house was quiet. Giles was concentrating on driving and Tara wasn’t sure what to say. From what Giles had told her this might be a Willow from somewhere else in time. She had always wondered about what Willow had been like back then. She had heard all the stories about the early days of the Scooby’s, at least the ones they were willing to talk about She knew there things that were too painful even after all this time for them to discuss and Tara was eager to know everything about Willow. Still what if she told this Willow something she shouldn’t know? Though when they were in the courtyard Willow had been talking about something that sounded familiar.

As they walked through the front door Rosenberg’s anxiety level started to rise. She had found the presence of Tara oddly reassuring in the car, now as she confronted Buffy, her duplicate, and the other teenage girl Tara left her to sit with the duplicate and that reassurance evaporated.

“Did it happen again?” Tara asked Willow.

“Yeah but I’m ok, it seems to get better after a few minutes.”

“I made sure she stayed still and dind’t do anything while you were gone.” Dawn was eager to make it clear that whatever had happened wasn’t because she had fallen down on the job.

Tara looked a the teenager and smiled, “Thanks Dawnie.”

Dawnie? Dawn. That was one of the names Giles had mentioned when he was trying to figure if she was really who she said he was.

“Is somebody going to introduce me, and maybe explain what’s going on?”

Buffy looked towards Giles, and everyone else did suit; some things never changed.

“It would appear that Willow, Miss Rosenberg, remembers events up to somewhere in late 1998.”

“Which makes sense, cause it is 1998.” Rosenberg pointed out, and then saw the looks she was getting.

Buffy spoke up, “Willow the reason things seem so strange, so different, is that, well this is 2002.”

Rosenberg should have been more surprised, but it made it just seem to fit perfectly what she was experiencing, still there were things she had trouble with. There was picture on the wall, she had seen it dozens of times, and she would have sworn that it only used to contain Buffy and her mom, not that dark haired girl.

“Even if I accepted that it still doesn’t explain everything, who everyone is.”

Buffy hesitated, and Giles shrugged,

“At this point I don’t think telling her anything can make matters worse, we need to establish trust if we are going to find out how this happened.”

Buffy nodded, “Ok well I think we can skip introducing me and Giles, and you know Willow Rosenberg pretty well I would guess.”

“You’re Tara.” Rosenberg interrupted pointing towards Willow’s other half.

“That’s right I’m Tara McClay, I met you, Willow, at college.” She decided not to explain further, she wasn’t sure if the younger Willow was ready to hear the full details of their relationship.

“And I’m Dawn, Buffy’s sister.” Dawn had gotten fed up of standing quietly in the corner waiting for someone to include her.

Up to that point Rosenberg had been willing to go along with the story they were telling; it was well within the bounds of Sunnydale bizarreness. This was going a little too far.

“Buffy doesn’t have a sister and even if her mom did have another child she doesn’t get to be a teenager in four years.”

“Actually it’s only been a year, before that I was a big ball of energy.” Dawn managed to sound very blasé, as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

“You mean somebody made you?” Rosenberg was rapidly approaching information overload. She looked at Buffy, “And you just accepted this? And your mom as well?”

“The people who made Dawn, made her part of our lives, we remember her; far as I am concerned she’s always been my sister, and my mom accepted it too, before...”


“Mom passed away last year.” Buffy said it quietly, and Rosenberg instantly regretted her question, more than anything they had told her it was that look on Buffy’s face that made her believe them.

Buffy pulled herself together, “What we need to know is what happened to you, how you got here.” Rosenberg went over her story again, and Willow listened intently, it was when Rosenberg got to the bit about the blue light that she interrupted.

“I remember that, not real well but I definitely remember the blue glow and it hitting me, the rest is pretty fuzzy though. Lot else happening that year.”

“But it should all be recorded in my journals.” Giles pointed out, “And they should still be in the basement of the Magic Box, assuming Anya hasn’t thrown them out.”

“Anya? Is she a friend of yours?” Rosenberg asked. From Giles uncomfortable look and Willows barely suppressed snigger she guessed not.

“I should go down there and start searching there, may be more clues in the journal.”

“Good idea I’ll go with, you may need a little slayer strength to hack your way through the basement.”

Willow chipped in, “I could do some research on spells, something time travelly.”

“Absolutely not, I want all of you to stay here. If you think of anything call the Magic Box and we’ll.’’ bring the books to you.” Buffy’s tone brooked no argument.

“Ok, ok, I’ll stay put.” Willow was to drained to contest it anyway.

“And besides it would rude if we all run out on our guest.” She smiled and gestured to Rosenberg, which made her feel a little more included.

The patch of grass next to obelisk shaped monument was large and free of any obstruction, which was fortunate for Kresk, as he quite suddenly materialised and occupied it. He sat bolt upright, a quick glance around told him that he was still on earth, and the disgusting blue of the sky told him it was daytime. This was not right, that stupid vampire had clearly wrecked the entire ritual, it could take days before the alignment was right to open the way home again, and the crystal would need to recharge. He became aware that he wasn’t holding the crystal, and it wasn’t lying next to him. He got up and conducted a frantic search; it was nowhere to be found. He began to regret killing the vampire so quickly, because it denied him the opportunity to make it suffer for this. He began to think about what he remembered, and came up with a redheaded human who had appeared form behind a tombstone. It had been standing there screeching something when the vampire collided with Kresk and he had dropped the crystal. It seemed reasonable that the human might have taken it while he was indisposed; they seemed to have an affinity for using coloured stones in their jewellery. It wouldn’t be easy to locate one human amongst so many, Kresk however was an expert at finding things, especially those that don’t want to be found, it was what made him so valuable. When he did find the human he was going to get the stone back and collect a few extra trophies for his trouble.

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the
person you l-love

Willow: I am

Edited by: Sheridan at: 4/2/05 3:15 pm

Last edited by Sheridan on Sat Jul 07, 2007 7:39 am, edited 10 times in total.

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2002 2:03 pm 
Very cool idea for a fic....thank you for sharing!! :)


 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2002 3:34 pm 
I like the premise. And I like the way Tara gets to take a look at the geek Willow, now Willow so fears, and Willow gets to face her as well.

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

Willow and Tara Love

Truly and Forever

 Post subject: Reality Check 0: Rosenberg Squared Pt2
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2002 4:12 pm 
[center] 6. “And I Think I’m Kind Of Gay.”[/center]

Xander felt as though the breath was being forced out of him. The arms that were wrapped around him seemed intent on imprisoning him permanently. It had been a long time since Willow Rosenberg had hugged him like that; of course it had been a long time since there was a Willow Rosenberg like this one.

Rosenberg finally released Xander and backed away blushing. He must be as weirded out as the others. It was just that when he walked in he had seemed unchanged. The same Xander she had always known.

“So I’m guessing Buffy wasn’t having a nervous breakdown after all. Her message on the answering machine was pretty wacky, but accurate.”

Rosenberg summoned up a smile, “Well that’s Sunnydale for you, which is how I’m trying to cope with this, including Buffy having a sister my age.”

“Oh so they’ve explained about Dawn and Tara?”

“That she’s my friend from college, yes I’ve explained about that.” Xander nodded at Willow’s hasty interruption, usually Willow was very open about her relationship with Tara, Xander could see though that their time traveller was on edge despite her best efforts to pretend otherwise, she probably didn’t need to hear anymore right now. Xander decided not to bring her up to speed on Anya, and definitely not to mention Cordelia.

Willow felt bad about referring to Tara as a friend, it was just wrong. She glanced at her lover and got a reassuring smile in return. Tara understood, but she shouldn’t have to, Willow thought, whatever might have changed in her life she hadn’t suddenly woke up one day and decided to be gay, it was part of who she was, so why hadn’t she always known that? Unconsciously her hand moved towards Tara, seeking the comfort of her touch.

Rosenberg was discussing old times with Xander, she caught the gesture out of the corner of her eye, it seemed warm and a little bit too bold to Rosenberg’s eyes, it was kind of…

…gay. Rosenberg blinked as the flash passed, and so her older self was slumped in the chair looking dizzy and confused. Tara was leaning over looking distraught.

“Baby are you ok?” She was stroking Willow’s hair.

Only Dawn seemed to pay any attention to Rosenberg, “Are you ok?”

“I had another flash, I saw something, remembered something that hasn’t happened, like before, I saw a vampire me, and trying to move a soda machine with magic.” Rosenberg was babbling somewhat as she tried to process her emotions.

Tara focused on her, “You’ve had a lot of these?”

“Three or four.”

“The same as the number of these attacks Willow, our Willow has had. Each time she seems to experience a piece of her past, and you get a flash of the future, what was it this time?” Tara wasn’t being very friendly, but she was on the brink of panic.

Rosenberg shook her head “Nothing, nothing important.” Tara wasn’t really interested, she was more concerned with the why and how.

“You’re linked together, the two of you are connected.” She was talking as much to herself as to any of the others.

Rosenberg was grateful to be ignored at that moment, the memory flash had been vivid, and even if it had left any room for doubt the way Tara had moved to protect Willow would have dispelled it. The emotion in the flash was clear and indisputable; she was in love with Tara McClay.

“God doesn’t anyone ever clean down here?” Buffy tired to dust off her hands but that simply raised a cloud that stung her eyes and made her sneeze.

“That’s a matter of some dispute.”

“What kind of dispute?”

“Anya believes we should hire someone to do it, I maintain that I already have.”

Buffy pulled a box out of the way and a spider scurried away into the gloom, she restrained her desire to shriek, “Didn’t you used to have a system for storing this stuff.”

“Indeed I did, however as someone was always telling me that ‘I should loosen up’ I finally decided to take their advice.” He smiled slightly as he spoke.

Buffy knew that he was covering. When the Watchers Council had set up their nasty little test and Giles refused to play ball they had dismissed him on the spot, no warning, no appeals, years of service counted for nothing. He had pretty much buried everything to do with them. Hardly surprising then that keeping track of what went in what box hadn’t been a big priority. Buffy gingerly opened another cardboard box and examined the spines of the books it contained; She pulled one and waved it at Giles.

“Is this the one you want?”

Old habits died hard and Giles winced at Buffy’s treatment of the journal. He took it from her and leafed through the pages.

“I think so, yes this would seem to be the right period, now, lets see, yes I think this it.”

Buffy looked over his shoulder and read the entry he was pointing at:

It appears that once again Buffy’s insistence on including her friends in her calling has led to near disaster.

“Hey.” Buffy was indignant

“That was four years ago, and if you read on…”

What was supposed to be the straight forward slaying of a newly risen vampire became, almost inevitably a vastly more complicated affair. Willow Rosenberg encountered a demon that entered the graveyard to perform some sort of ritual and was interrupted. From Willows description I concluded that the demon was a Kelkefra, rare indeed and probably attempting to return to its own dimension.

Giles closed the book and pulled his glasses off, gnawing on the stem as he tried to recall something that hovered in the back of his mind.

“A Kelkefra?” Buffy frowned.

“A hunter demon, highly attuned senses, but physically quite weak, they overcame that by absorbing parts from their victims, only someone powerful and unscrupulous would dare summon one.”

Buffy gestured for him to stop, “Actually I wasn’t asking for details, I remember that name, and I get serious déjà vu about that description, you’ve told me about it before.”

Giles nodded, and finally he pinned down that fugitive memory, “Buffy which box did you find this volume in?” Buffy turned and dragged the box back out.

Giles dived into the dusty recesses and found what he was looking for a small cloth bag from which he extracted a blue crystal egg. It had a long crack in it, the edges of which were blackened and charred.

“We have to get back to the house.” He announced.

“I take it you’ve figured something out?”

“Yes and as usual things are far worse than we suspected.”

[center] 7. “You Have To Be With The Person You Love”[/center]

Tara had abandoned the couch to let Willow lie down; her girlfriend refused to go back upstairs until Giles and Buffy checked back in, so they had compromised and Willow was stretched out while Tara fussed over her, which Willow was enjoying despite herself.

“Do you want another pillow?”

“No I’m comfy, a soda would be good though.” Willow smiled, she was teasing Tara, but she fully intended to make it up to her later, when they went to bed.

“Ok I’ll go get one.” Tara’s tone of exasperation was undermined by the grin on her face.

Willow watched Tara leave the room and smiled as she enjoyed the view. Rosenberg watched Willow, and as she did so Rosenberg saw what the real difference between the two of them was, “You’re happy aren’t you?”

Willow had practically forgotten her other self was there. Rosenberg looked anxious, and wasn’t that how she always used to look? Afraid that she would slip up, that she would say something and her friends would turn her back on her, “Yes I am. Things have changed.” Right, it’s been four years, dumb thing to say. “I mean every day isn’t sunshine and roses, but a lot of things have changed for the better. You know when we fix this you need to try and relax more.”

“Relax?” Rosenberg was startled, was that really her speaking.

“Like I say things get better. They change. You meet new people.” Willow stopped; she didn’t want to tell her younger version too much. She just wanted to make her understand that there was something, someone, out there for her.

“People like Tara?” Rosenberg’s question was pointed.

“Yes, exactly, new friends like Tara.” Willow prevaricated.

“I think I could do with a drink as well.” Rosenberg suddenly announced and walked into the kitchen and leaving Willow frowning.

The fridge was actually well stocked for once; Dawn hadn’t had a chance to decimate it since they last went to the market. She heard the kitchen door close behind her and saw Rosenberg standing there. Tara offered her a soda,

“Was this always your favourite? Peoples tastes change over the years.”

Rosenberg nodded and took the drink, she was still standing in front of the door, blocking Tara’s exit. Tara could see that something was wrong, that last flash that the younger Willow had experienced, it obviously had troubled her more than she wanted to admit.

“Willow is there something wrong? Did you see something bad? You can tell me about it you know, I’m a good listener.” She smiled encouragingly, but Rosenberg’s face was still grim.

“Why?” She finally asked.

“Why what?”

“Why can I tell you? Why is it you want to hear it?”

“Well we are friends, maybe not yet, but we will be.”

“We’ll be friends?”

“Yes of course we will.”

“Friends who would say something like; it makes me proud, it makes me love you more?”

Tara knew those words by heart; they had lifted her soul from a place of dread and uncertainty, now they were being flung at her like an accusation.

“Do you love her?” Rosenberg demanded.

With no need for further prevarication Tara nodded, “Yes, she’s the most important thing in the world to me.”

“I see.” Rosenberg’s tone was distracted and more than a little harsh.

“I’m sorry if that upsets you, but if you think I’m going to say sorry for who we are...” Tara turned away; she could feel tears welling up. This girl might never have met her till today but she was still Willow and hearing words of rejection coming from her cut her to the core.

Tara didn’t see the look of horror that came over Rosenberg’s face. The girl had been angry, not with Tara however. After the flash Rosenberg had watched Tara intently as she tended to the older version of herself, she had looked and she had seen a glimpse of what the older her saw. The feelings that went along with the flash of memory had resonated with something inside her. It was a like a difficult math problem that you stared at for ages and then suddenly you saw the answer. Tara McClay was the answer to a question Rosenberg hadn’t even realised she was asking. Her anger wasn’t directed at Tara, it was aimed at herself, and all her questions had come from her wondering if there really could be someone who loved her that completely.

Rosenberg was about to explain that to Tara, to reach out and explain when the back door exploded. The trail had taken Kresk longer to follow than he had expected, it crossed and doubled back on itself in a very strange way, eventually though the trail had converged here, and now the human was standing before him looking suitably afraid. Tara had become somewhat used to things trying to break into the Summers house so she reacted quickly. With a few syllables a bright blue point of light sailed from her hand towards Kresk, The demon dodged and the light disintegrated against the fridge in a shower of sparks. Kresk knocked Tara aside and grabbed the petrified Rosenberg and slung her over his shoulder, eliciting a shriek as he did so. Xander and Willow entered the kitchen right on the end of that cry. Xander grabbed a knife from the worktop and advanced, receiving a back heeled kick that knocked him into the doorframe and left him breathless. Willow geared up to unleash a spell that would reduce the demon to Jell-O, before she could so much as wave her hand she practically blacked out, the dizzy spells had left her weaker than she realised and the spell had overloaded her. Rosenberg looked at her would be rescuers strewn around the kitchen as the demon swept out the broken back door, she was slightly amazed that her day was still getting worse.

Buffy examined the back door, luckily the damage didn’t look too major and the same could be said about her friends. Xander was applying a towel with a couple of ice cubes in it to the back of his head which had been supplied by a solicitous Dawn who appeared to have ended up looking after everyone else. Willow looked a little pale and drained, and Tara had acquired a couple of bruises. Like the door it was nothing that couldn’t be repaired. Giles had been interrogating the hapless trio and looked very unhappy.

“It was a Kelkefra, and given their rarity I would say it was the Kelkefra.”

“I’m guessing it wasn’t just a coincidence that it arrived here now.” Buffy surmised.

“No I suspect that it arrived by the same means as the other Willow, this means.” He produced the bag that contained the crystal and carefully emptied it on to the table.”

Willow frowned as she looked at it, “That looks kind of familiar.”

“I’m not surprised, you gave it to me. It’s a tuning crystal, a means of travelling from one dimension to another.”

“Like the Key?” Dawn looked at the crystal rather warily.

Giles shook his head, “No this would merely allow you to use a doorway that already exists. Used correctly it puts you slightly out of alignment with our universe and allows you to perceive and use a weak spot in the fabric of the multiverse to enter a different one.” He could see they weren’t quite following, “The Key would demolish all the walls that separate realities; this crystal will simply let you find an existing gateway between two of them.”

Buffy looked at the crack in the crystal and ran a finger along it, “What happens if you don’t use it properly?”

“Well then you would be shoved back into our dimension, though not necessarily in the same place or time you left it.” Buffy had guessed where Giles was going, the others looked like they were having a harder time grasping it.

Xander sat upright in his chair, and winced in pain, “Are you saying this thing doesn’t copy or split things?”

“No, it is purely a means of transportation.”

“So the other Willow…”

“Is the one and only Willow, our Willow merely arrived here from an earlier point in time.”

Xander’s headache was getting worse, “Oh man and she’s been getting these flashes.”

This was something that Buffy’s friends hadn’t brought up, “Flashes?”

“My dizzy spells? Well each time I get one our the other Willow gets a glimpse of the future.” Willow explained.

“Anything major?” Buffy asked while trying to recall the details of her conversation with the time travelling Willow.

“I’m not sure.”

“She knows about us.” Tara blurted out.

“She knows?” Willow looked hesitantly at Tara, trying to read her emotions.

“She knows I’m your girlfriend.” Willow decided that Tara looked troubled and guessed that her younger self had not taken things well.

Any further exploration was cut off by Giles, “Regardless of what she may know about her future, our priority must be finding her and getting her back where she belongs. If we don’t that would create a paradox.”

“Not a good thing?” Buffy wondered.

“Well since it could conceivably cause the universes to implode, I would say definitely not.”

[center] 8. “Not The Scary Kind, Just A Demon”[/center]

Rosenberg wondered if this had occupied a lot of the last four years, being trapped in dingy rooms and threatened by demons? She decided that she could live without knowing the answer to that. Whether from shock or fear or possibly a blow to the head she had blacked out after abduction. Rosenberg had simply awakened to find herself in a seated position with her hands tied behind a wooden post.

Kresk decided that the human had fretted long enough; it was time to get back his property. Drawing himself to his full height so that he towered over the bound girl he demanded,

"Where is the crystal?"


Kresk slammed his fist against the post "Don't toy with me! The ritual crystal, the one you saw me with!"

Rosenberg was panicked, "How should I know? It's been so long."

That wasn't an answer Kresk had been expecting, or had in fact even considered. As Kresk stared at her Rosenberg realised that the demon was unaware of exactly where and when it was. She wasn't happy being the one to explain, but...

"It wasn't last night, it was four years ago. Your crystal did something to us."

Kresk didn't respond immediately, he wasn't entirely familiar with earth time scales so it took him a few moments to do the conversion to his own. When he did he screamed. It was a blood curdling sound and Rosenberg frantically tried to calm the beast.

"I know it's freaky, but I lost four years as well. So we have something in common."

"Four years?" Kresk spat the words out. "I came here for two days, in my world that would be a month, four years on your world would be…”

“Over fifty years.” Rosenberg’s brain couldn’t help doing the math.

“A lifetime!” Kresk knew that everything would be gone, his dwelling, his collection, everything sold off. He was ruined and doubtless forgotten. He turned towards Rosenberg, and even though his face was so alien she could tell what it was planning.

“You better not hurt me because if you do my friends will…”

“I owe you pain!” With a gesture lightning arced out and wiped the smile of off the mad gods face.>

“…Kick your ass!” Rosenberg finished with a lot more conviction than she had started. Kresk hesitated, he hadn’t been impressed earlier, but there was something in Rosenberg’s eyes. He decided that a hostage might come in handy after all.

Once in a while you come across a restaurant that’s a true gem. Good food, reasonable prices and still you can always book a table. It’s the kind of place you try to keep to yourself, sooner or later though you take along a friend, and they tell their friends and pretty soon it would be bursting at the seams and the prices would go through the roof. Naturally after awhile people begin to wonder what they saw in it in the first place and then no one wants to go near the place and it goes belly up. Willy’s bar was beginning to look like one of those restaurants. For the longest time it had been the favoured haunt of the undead, the place where they could go to just hang out, get a drink and swap stories. Then Angel started using it as a source of info, and Buffy, and Xander, and Riley Finn. Not surprisingly the demons had gotten sick and tired of it, the bar was almost deserted and the few demons who were in there sat in the corners stonily silent and nursing their drinks.

Buffy emerged back onto the street no wiser than when she went in, Giles had turned up precious little on the habits of Kelkefra demons so she had been forced to fallback on other resources. Willy had been adamant that neither he nor any of his customers had seen anything of the creature, and Buffy had been reluctantly inclined to believe them.

“Dropped in for a quick one did we?” The smug English voice brought Buffy to a halt; she had been so hoping to avoid having to speak with Spike.

“It was strictly a fact finding mission.” Buffy explained.

Spike moved closer and leant against the wall bare inches from Buffy, “And did we find any?”

“No I didn’t,” She hesitated, she couldn’t allow any stone to go unturned though, “I’m looking for a Kelkefra demon.”

“A Kelkefra, now you don’t see them about much.”

“Well have you seen one lately?”

“Can’t say that I have, whose it come after?”

“What makes you think it’s after anyone?”

“Only reason for a Kelkefra to be here is if it’s after someone.” Buffy sighed; reluctantly she filled in the details.

Spike wasn’t terribly surprised by her description; it wasn’t out of the question in Sunnydale. He could see that Buffy was worried, Willow was her best friend and she had treated him decently long before the Slayer had been prepared to give him the time of day.

“I could come along and help you search.” He offered, a little too eagerly.

“Thanks but I can crawl through sewers just fine by myself.” She turned to walk away, and Spike shrugged and decided that the best he could hope for was some brownie points,

“You won’t find a Kelkefra in any sewer, they like to be somewhere high, a nice tower or some such.”

Buffy looked back over her shoulder and rewarded him with a small smile, “Thanks.” There weren’t many places in Sunnydale that fitted that description. She could think of one though. She started away again, and again Spike spoke up, “You could come back later, if you don’t fancy a drink we could have a round of cards.”

“I’m afraid I’m all out of small furry animals to put up a stake.”

“Doesn’t have to be for Kittens, we could play for cash, matchsticks, clothing.” Buffy snorted and shook her head as she walked away into the night. Once she would have given Spike a smack in the mouth for that crack; she wondered why she didn’t now.

Willow felt a wave of dizziness break around her, but all she felt was the fact of it, not its effects. Tara noticed her moment of distraction, “Are you holding up ok?”

“I’m fine, I just know that the other me is still ok.” Tara hadn’t been happy about casting the ‘pick me up’ spell on Willow, but her lover had been insistent. Willow simply wasn’t prepared to sit around the house and wait to go poof if something bad happened to the younger her. If Buffy was going to go out searching then so was she. Xander had gone to fetch his tools and patch up the back door, Giles was going to watch over Dawn, and she was going to accompany Tara while they prowled the streets trying to find the demon and her other self. So far they hadn’t had any luck. They needed to try something more active. A locator spell was out; it would simply get confused with two identical people to sort out. There might be another way though.

“You aren’t getting any sense of where she might be?” Willow asked.

“Sorry, unless we get close to her I don’t think I’ll be able to sense her.”

“Maybe we could use some sort of affinity spell drawing like to like.” She suggested. Tara’s mood darkened again,

“I don’t like the idea of casting another spell on you, that vitality spell is pretty major.”

“I don’t see a choice baby, we have to find her before the universe folds up on itself.” That was something Tara couldn’t argue with.

As Tara rummaged through her shoulder bag looking for the elements to execute the spell Willow took the opportunity to ask a question that had been bothering her since they left the house.

“When the other me found out about us, how did she take it?”

“Well honey she had a lot of stuff to process and it was sort of a big shock.”

“You mean she was freaked by it.” That was what Willow had been afraid of; she had seen that Tara looked a little down since that confrontation in the kitchen. Willow took her hand,

“Baby I’m sorry. You have to understand back then I was so worried about doing what I was told, being who I was expected to be, I never stopped to think about who I actually was.” She emphasised the point by kissing Tara gently.

“I understand, and I think she turned out pretty ok.” Tara murmured after Willow ended the kiss.

“Thanks, we just need to find her now.” Tara nodded and began the spell.

[center] 9. “Can’t We Just Skip It?”[/center]

The old bell tower had been undergoing renovations for quite a while. The process had been slowed down by a breakdown in funding after the still unexplained disappearance of Mayor Wilkins and an outbreak of vandalism a few months after that. Buffy felt bad about the damage, it been unavoidable when ‘The Gentlemen’ made it their base of operations. She was hoping that she wasn’t going to have to repeat the procedure to rescue Willow, assuming she was actually up there. The shuttered windows at the top of the tower concealed any movements and she had tried every side of the building to get any clues.

The sound of footsteps behind her settled the question as Buffy turned and saw Willow and Tara approaching. She was relieved to see the pair arrive, and they seemed surprised to find her here.

“How did you find this place?” Willow felt disappointed and a little embarrassed. Her insistence to Tara that they needed magic to find her other self looked more than a little foolish. Buffy didn’t really want to credit Spike,

“Just a tip off, I take it we have the right place?”

“Oh yeah, I can feel myself being pulled towards that place.” Willow waved towards the tower.

“So do you have a plan?” Tara asked. She knew Willow’s energy was purely the product of magic and it could wear off anytime.

“I’m not sure, it’s got a twisty little staircase, and there’s no way I can get up it without that demon hearing me coming.” Buffy figured she could probably take the demon, getting into a fight on that narrow staircase was a gamble though. Willow looked at the building and smiled, and it was a smile that made Tara feel very uneasy, Willow was clearly planning more witchcraft.

Kresk was sulking, or at least that was Rosenberg’s conclusion. The demon had gone to the opposite corner of the room and stood facing the wall silently. Rosenberg was glad that the creature was ignoring her; it was just that her earlier bravado was wearing off. She wasn’t sure how long she had been here but it seemed like a long time and there was no sign of any cavalry coming over the hill. Perhaps they simply weren’t going to bother; after all she was just a copy, and she hadn’t exactly endeared herself to Tara with her performance in the kitchen, she had probably told the older Willow about it by now. Rosenberg was unhappy about that, and not just because it might affect her chances of getting out of here. She was afraid that she might have damaged the relationship, or that she might have undercut the bond she had seen and felt between them.

Kresk glanced at the silent figure of the human; it had interesting eyes, which he might have been considering adding to his collection if he still had one. Kresk hadn’t been sulking so much as trying to think of where he could go from here. During his search Kresk had discovered that his old contacts were all gone, which meant there could be opportunities for a determined demon to seize power. Kresk couldn’t really work up any enthusiasm for that idea; he truly despised the realm of earth. There was an intermittent tapping on one of the shutters, perhaps it was loose or perhaps there was a small animal outside, either way it was beginning to annoy the demon, and trashing a squirrel or small bird might improve his mood. He opened the shutter to find nothing but a view over the accursed town. Then a pair of legs swung down from above the window and smashed into Kresk’s face sending him staggering back against a post. Buffy followed through on the motion and dropped down on to the floor of the tower. Being levitated had been ‘interesting’ even though Tara hadn’t been thrilled about going along with it. It had given Buffy an edge though. Kresk recovered and advanced on Buffy. She spun and hit him full in the chest with a kick. The demon staggered but didn’t fall back, all those extra parts made it pretty solid. Buffy punched for the demons face. Kresk pulled his head back on its extremely flexibly neck and extending a series of claws on its left hand it swiped at Buffy’s exposed arm. Buffy jerked it back collecting a rip in the sleeve for her trouble. She dropped low and swept a leg across, knocking Kresk’s legs from under him, sending the demon crashing to the floor.

Rosenberg had watched the battle with a considerable sense of relief, especially when Buffy sent the demon crashing to floor. Now with the Kelkefra down for the moment Buffy turned her attention to the ropes binding Rosenberg. She extracted a knife she had tucked into her boot and sliced through the ropes.

“Are you ok? Can you get up?” She asked.

“I could tap dance if it means we can get out of here.” Rosenberg answered.

Behind them Kresk began to pull himself to his feet, at the same moment Willow and Tara came running up the stairs hand in hand. Seeing the demon advancing Willow reacted instinctively and with a wave of her hand sent Kresk flying through one of the closed shutters. As son as she had done it she slumped against the doorframe and began to slide down. Buffy moved quickly and scooped her friend up. Willow was still conscious but clearly completely drained. Seeing that Willow was in safe hands Tara moved to assist Rosenberg who was clambering to her feet rather shakily. Tara extended a hand to her and Rosenberg took the whole arm and wrapped it round her in a manner that took Tara by surprise.

“Can we get out of here?” she pleaded.

“I think its way past time.” Buffy agreed and headed down the stairs.

The quartet arrived back at the house to find a scene of chaos, there were books, plates and cups scattered everywhere. Buffy wondered if they had been invaded again, then Anya emerged from the kitchen grasping a mug.

“Oh you made it, good. You’re out of milk.”

“Nice to see you too.” Buffy moved a book onto the floor and deposited Willow into the chair. Rosenberg seemed reluctant to move away from Tara. Giles and Dawn appeared behind Anya.

“I hope this disaster area was worth it.” Buffy enquired.

Giles nodded, “Indeed, I believe we can use the crystal to send Willow back to her own time.”

“You can?” Rosenberg sounded excited.

“Yes, your passage through time created a doorway way much like the one the crystal was originally intended for. You can pass through it and since it will take you back to the moment you left it will be as though you never left.”

“It sounds good, but since she now knows a whole lot about the future isn’t that going to make things a little awkward?” Buffy wondered.

Willow had picked up the book that Buffy placed on the floor and now turned it so everyone else could see, “This will do it, it’s a memory spell, it can erase particular ones.” She looked at Rosenberg, “So you won’t remember anything I don’t, didn’t.”

Rosenberg’s enthusiasm appreciably dimmed, “I think I need a glass of water.” She walked out of the room. Buffy moved to go after her, Tara stopped her however,

“Let me talk to her.” Buffy assented, the younger Willow had seemed more comfortable with Tara, perhaps she simply reminded Willow less of how far she was from home. Tara closed the door of the kitchen behind her. Rosenberg had poured a glass of water, but it was simply sitting on the worktop.

“I know it sounds scary having someone mess with your mind, I mean I really know.” Tara’s pep talk was interrupted as Rosenberg stepped up to her and kissed her hard on the mouth. Tara’s instinct when Willow kissed her was to go with the flow and she did for several seconds before she focused back on what was going on here and broke away.

“I’m sorry, it’s just that none of the memories included that, what it was like to actually kiss you. I know how the other me feels, and I know I could feel the same if I had the chance.” Rosenberg’s voice was husky as she explained herself.

Tara knew she had to tread carefully here, “Willow I’m flattered you feel that, but you can’t stay here.”

“That’s not what I was thinking. I don’t want to forget you, if you don’t do this memory spell I could find you when I go back!”

Tara was struck by a dazzling image of Willow Rosenberg marching into her home, seizing her by the hand and carrying her away from that oppressive place. The image rapidly faded, how long would it take for her father to have her underage butt dragged back home, and what would he do once he got her there? And then there was the question of Willow, Tara imagined her sent back to Sunnydale alone and outed, it wasn’t a good thought. Still there was the afterglow of that image of Willow framed in a doorway with her long hair streaming behind her coming to save her, and it made her voice gentle as she rejected the notion,

“I think you know how much I would love to spend that time with you, but it wouldn’t work, it would change too much and there have been so many times when we survived by the skin of our teeth, could we really risk all our friends for our own happiness?” Part of her was still hoping that Rosenberg would say ‘yes’ and persuade her. Willow was too smart for that though, she shook her head, “I guess I knew that, but I really wish…you know?”

“I know, but I promise I will be here waiting for you, ok?” She brushed her hand across Rosenberg’s cheek, and Rosenberg nodded slowly.

[center] 10. “I Will Always Find You”[/center]

The graveyard didn’t look all that different by night than when Rosenberg had set foot in it four years ago, a few more headstones, basically though it was unchanged. Giles had decreed that they should try and match the circumstances of the original event as closely as possible, so they had waited until it was fully dark before they set out. Of course everyone had insisted on coming along; Willow had recovered sufficiently to come and Tara’s presence had seemed mandated, even though neither she nor Rosenberg had revealed what they had discussed in the kitchen. Dawn had even managed to worm her way into the group, mainly because there was no one who could reliably stay behind to look after her.

Giles was standing with a torch reading through a book written in a rather arcane language whilst both Willows and Tara were standing near the obelisk, discussing the other part of the plan. “You’re sure this spell won’t just erase everything?” Rosenberg asked.

Willow smiled reassuringly, “Don’t worry, I’ve checked. It’s a matter of using just the right amount of herbs.” Tara nodded reassuringly, although she had avoided learning anything about the spell, she had absolutely no desire to know anything about mind control.

“And hey it must have worked, because I don’t remember any of this?” Willow was pretty sure it made logical sense, even if it sounded wacky.

Rosenberg nodded, “When we spoke earlier, about how things got better, you meant because of Tara didn’t you?”

There was no point in evading now, especially as Rosenberg wouldn’t remember this in a few minutes, “I can’t begin to explain it to you, but it’s real and it’s wonderful, and you will understand it one day.”

“I think maybe I do and I promise I will try and relax.”

Giles was finally satisfied that he was clear on what needed to be done; he beckoned Willow over to check over the details of how to enact it. She noticed Tara whispering something to the other Willow and wondered exactly what the big secret was, she was sure that Tara would tell her later, she was just curious about how they had become so pally.

“Is this going to be complicated? The other me doesn’t have any magic skills.”

Giles replied confidently “Actually no, a few simple words to be spoken and then hold the crystal aloft in both hands, after that everything should be straight forward, you will just have to be very careful about timing the memory spell.”

“I know, I will, should we start?”

“I can’t see anything to be gained by waiting.”

Rosenberg stood by the obelisk and intoned the syllables Giles had taught her and watched the crystal begin to glow. As it grew brighter she raised it above her head, and Willow got ready to enact the forget spell, and stayed ready as nothing whatsoever appeared to happen.

“Shouldn’t we see something?” Buffy asked Giles.

“Well I would have imagined so, perhaps it simply takes longer than the book suggests.” They kept watching and while the crystal glowed nothing continued to happen. Rosenberg lowered the glowing crystal and turned,

“Am I saying this right?”

“Your pronunciation is perfect I really don’t understand why it isn’t working.”

There was a howling from the darkness and Kresk charged into view. He was not happy, being knocked out of a window and smashing into the pavement had ruptured several organs, luckily nothing that it didn’t have backups for. It had followed the trail again and here was the miserable human with his crystal, she had deceived him with her idiotic story and this was going to end now.

Buffy could see the demon was going after the crystal, and the younger Willow. She pulled out a heavy knife and was going to intercept when Giles stretched out his arm and blocked her,

“Drop the crystal and run Willow!” He called out, he only hoped his sudden hunch was right or this could be very messy. Rosenberg obeyed and let the crystal drop. She ran and took shelter behind a gravestone. Kresk was confused but triumphant, and bent down to grab the crystal.

“Willow, Buffy now!” Giles cried out. The knife flew from Buffy’s hand and passed through the neck of the demon and up into its skull. Kresk had backups for most things. Its brain wasn’t one of them. It fell aside as a bolt of blue light passed through the spot it had been occupying. Another lanced out and struck Rosenberg just as Willow finished the spell.

The gang gathered round the obelisk, Kresk was clearly dead and the crystal was gone, along with the younger Willow.

Willow looked at place where the other her had been,

“I hope she made it.”

Tara took her hand and then pulled Willow close to kiss her. They embraced for what seemed the longest time,

“You feel pretty real, so I guess she did.”

“I think it’s time to go home, I really should be in bed by now.” Willow replied in a tone that indicated she was feeling much better.

“You know I think you’re right.”

Xander raced up to where they had left Willow, feeling sick with fear and guilt. The vampire was gone and there had been that freaky light show. He almost tripped over the source, a big blue crystal lying in the grass, lightly covered with vampire dust. He picked it up nonetheless; Giles would probably want to see it. A groan from behind the disturbed grave reminded him of what he was so worried about and he rushed to the spot to see Willow climbing to her feet and brushing bits of leaf out of her long hair.

“Are you two ok?” Buffy’s words startled Xander; he had been so distracted that he hadn’t even heard her approaching.

“I’m fine, but Will got zapped by this.” He hefted the crystal in his hand and Willow walked over to get a better look. “I don’t remember that.” She commented as she examined the stone.

“Well like I say you were zapped.”

“I think we better get you home.” Buffy suggested.

Willow nodded and touched the crystal,

“We will always find one another.”>

The words were spoken in a warm feminine voice that seemed to echo in her head. She didn’t recognise it or understand the meaning, but as Xander and Buffy led her away she felt a small thrill run through her and an inexplicable sense of warmth and hope that made her forget all about her worries that she would be alone.

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the
person you l-love

Willow: I am

Edited by: Sheridan at: 4/26/03 5:08:33 pm

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2002 9:31 pm 
Very clever when you had Willow touch the crystal and get a look into the future.

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2002 9:44 pm 
Oh, I am liking this story :)

Makes you think how much really happened over the years, heh, and poor Dawn, ignored again, but I like that she talked confident about her origin.

Can't wait for more chapters!


Computers don't suck. ahem

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 2:02 am 

Agree that it was interesting for Tara to have a look at where Willow came from.

Looking forward to reading more.

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

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 5:08 am 
What I really liked about this is that Willow of Season 6 has so many problems with the person she used to be, and yet it doesn't seem to matter at all to Tara, because she sees her essence. I guess true love is really just that; true. :)

Thanks for posting this.

"Smut now." - Dark Madfic Tommo

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 9:44 am 
This is a truely cool story:cool Willow babble squared is frightning:eek Seeing the geek Willow next to the happy Willow shows us just how far she has come with Tara's help and invovlment Ruth is right, true love:love always finds it's way home.

Thanks again for posting this, did you not say this was a part of a longer work, :cool so when do we get more:D ?

"This may be the Hellmouth, but it's our Hellmouth"

--------Tara in "Left of Center"
-------- by: Jomarch

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 12:01 pm 
Thanks again for posting this, did you not say this was a part of a longer work, so when do we get more ?

The idea was for this story to be the springboard for a series, but I held off starting the next one until I saw how this one was received, needless to say I've started on the sequel.It should be ready in 7-10 days depending on real wolrd circumstances. :) It will be called 'Unforgettable' and the premise is that the memory spell breaks down and Willow remembers her trip to the future. This will in turn lead to further stories set in a very different timeline between S2 and S6, with our girls together, if thats ok with everyone...:)

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the
person you l-love

Willow: I am

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 12:14 pm 
Sheridan, this was fabulous!! The idea of two Willow's made my head go all a very good way. I am very much looking forward to "Unforgettable". It's such a great concept. Thanks!

-- Ali

"Straight,” Joel huffed, rolling his eyes. “That’s like, two drinks and a light switch away from being totally gay" - Final Exam by tommo

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 12:15 pm 
you know, I didn't get what you were doing, i see now. That would rock. I am looking forward to that.

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

Willow and Tara Love

Truly and Forever

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 12:59 pm 
I really liked this. :) And I'm looking forward to reading the follow-up stories. :D


"But when they're playing your song on the jukebox in Hell, you might as well dance." - K. Simpson

"Futile... like a FOX, baby!" - Tara in The Late Shift by wiccachica

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 1:46 pm 
Hey... Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed this, and look forward to the next bit. Very nifty.

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2002 9:51 pm 
*looks at post above* Owl dear, you forgot the "k".

And Sheridan? This was lovely :) I very much look forward to the sequel.

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 12:44 pm 
A nice set-up of plot-device to allow you all sorts of fun...I liked it,and look forward to the series...

fiat justitia,ruat caelum

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 12:54 pm 

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this story. And it was an especially nice treat that it was posted all at once so I could read the whole thing in one sitting. I do like the position you put Tara in - wanting to care for both Willows. That was touching. Plus young Willow trying to snag a kiss because hey, who wouldn't. :)



Well, the reindeer part was nice...

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 6:48 pm 

You'r fic is fabulous. What's more fabulous is it's all in one reading. I think it's interesting to see how a pre-Oz and -Tara Willow reacted to Willow of the present.

I got lost on the part where 1998 Willow came into the future.... or maybe it's just me. :p

Love your fic though.



When I Am Standing On My Head, The Sky Is So Deep And The Sea Is So High.

 Post subject: Re: FIC: Rosenberg Squared
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 7:53 pm 
Loved the fic, great job! I'm looking forward to your next piece.

So cute seeing Tara caring for both girls... :)

Heck, few things can be better than 2 Willows. One of them, of course, is 2 Taras... ;)



Willow: "If you felt lost and alone? Where would you go?"

Tara:"To you."

 Post subject: :)
PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2002 8:59 pm 
i too loved the fact we could read it all in one sitting. I really liked this a lot. i cant wait to read the next one! woo hoo!

 Post subject: Re: :)
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 1:55 pm 
So I can take people do prefer stories put up in one piece? I prefer it myself because putting it up in sections is just inviting something disaster to happen before the next part is ready.:) Oh yeah and the ETA on 'Unforgettable is around Sunday.


Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the
person you l-love

Willow: I am

 Post subject: Re: :)
PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 2:05 pm 
I love stories all in one piece. I find myself sometimes losing track of things with all the in progress stories around here. A completed story is a real treat in my book. :)



Well, the reindeer part was nice...

 Post subject: Reality Check 1: "Unforgettable"
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 6:44 pm 
Title: Reality Check 1: Unforgettable

Author: Mike Mullen

Rating: 12, minimal sex and a small amount of violence

Spoilers: it’s set in S2 and it’s an AU, so none really.

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters are the property of JW and ME. On the other hand Quincy and Lydia are all mine

Summary: This story is set in the aftermath of Willow’s trip into the future in ‘Rosenberg Squared’ so it would be better to have read that story before going on. Simply put that memory spell they worked on her isn’t everything it was cracked up to be. The events here take place after the episode ‘Lie To Me’ and before ‘The Dark Age’.

Author’s notes: This is the true beginning of the ‘Reality Check’ timeline. Anything up to and including ‘Lie to Me’ is unaffected, after that, well things will be very different.

Feedback: Just add your comments at the end of the story.



The kitchen was utterly familiar to Willow, she had spent more time in the kitchen of the Summers home than she had in her own these past couple of years. Still it wasn’t quite the same, there things that had been moved, a picture pinned to the fridge she didn’t recognize. As she slowly turned round she found herself face to face with a blonde girl. It wasn’t anyone Willow had ever met and yet she knew her, and from the smile on the girls face it was clear the recognition was mutual. “Tara.” The name just came to Willow.

“Yeah baby it’s me.” Tara stepped closer and Willow looked at the details of the familiar strangers face. Her eyes were blue and warm and deep. Her cheekbones were high and gave her face a beautiful shape, and her mouth. Willow was mesmerised by that mouth. She leaned in and planted her lips against Tara’s.

Willow didn’t know why she had done it, it simply felt right and Tara clearly didn’t object, she pressed her tongue into Willows mouth and her fingers stroked the nape of Willows neck before they began to slip down her back until the reached her butt and began to squeeze and caress the cheeks. Willow returned the favour. All her senses were heightened. She could smell a subtle hint of incense on Tara’s skin, feel its smooth suppleness, and hear the quickening of her breathing. Willow had a powerful need to see Tara, to see all of her. The universe appeared eager to oblige and their clothing melted away leaving the naked pair sliding to the floor entwined and on fire with pure need.

Willows eyes snapped open and she stared up at the ceiling for a moment before she reached out and found the switch of the bedside lamp. The illumination showed she was in the familiar surrounding of her bedroom, everything where it was supposed to be. She clambered out of bed, not overly concerned about waking her parents as they were extremely sound sleepers, and sat down at her desk where her completed homework was neatly stacked waiting for morning. As she leaned against the back of her chair Willow grimaced. The sensation of the cooling sweat that drenched it felt icky. She peeled it off and went to fetch another one, and as she passed her mirror Willow hesitated. Her long hair was tousled and untidy. That wasn’t what got her attention, it was the way her face was so flushed and her body was well, aroused.

She pulled on the replacement t-shirt and thought about the dream. She had experienced variations on it for weeks. Sometimes it was the kitchen sometimes it was the dance floor of the Bronze, and in the freakiest version it was under a tree in a graveyard. The constants were the same girl and the same result, naked and on the ground about to, about to do it. It was a bizarre dream and at the same time it was the most vivid she had ever experienced. Since it clearly wasn’t going away she needed to figure out what it meant, and exactly who this girly was, no not just a girl, she had a name, her name was Tara. Willow found that even thinking that name sent a thrill through her.

Buffy was concerned about Willow. Her friend was usually the model of attention however boring the class might be. Today Willow was definitely drooping and her attention was drifting away in an unsettling manner; gazing out the window with a far away look on her face. Fortunately the bell rang and spared her from being caught out by the teacher. As they exited Buffy placed her hand on Willows shoulder, “Are you Ok Will? You aren’t coming down with a bug or something?”

Only if you can catch a nervous breakdown, Willow thought, “I don’t think so Buffy, I’m just feeling kind drained, I was up pretty late.”

“Will you of all people don’t need to pull an all nighter.” Willow didn’t correct Buffy’s mistaken impression.

“Hey she can have my math homework, it always puts me to sleep.” Xander had joined them in time to catch the tail end of the conversation.

“I think that’s just you.” Buffy pointed out with a hint of exasperation.

Xander’s expression became more concerned as he looked at Willow, “You know Will I realise that it’s against your principles but maybe just this once you could cut class and go home.”

Willow seriously considered it for a moment, but she decided that she needed more than just a lie down, “I’ll be ok, but I might just go and sit quietly in the library over lunch.”

The mark was clearly jam, or jelly as the Americans would have it, and from the size of the handprint the culprit was perhaps five years old. Giles removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. The lack of respect the students showed to the contents of the library could be truly disheartening. Letting some younger sibling place its sticky paws all over a textbook was actually one of the lesser indignities inflicted on the volumes in his charge. Of course he hadn't always been so reverent. Back in his university days there had been those volumes by some right wing historian he and some fellow activists had destroyed to protest at something or other.

The book had a glossy cover so Giles was considering sponging it clean when Willow walked in. The girl’s expression made him instantly nervous, "What’s happened, is Buffy…”

Willow frowned and shook her head, “Buffy? No it’s not a slayer thing, it’s me.”

“You? What exactly is the matter?”

She took a chair next to the table and dumped her book bag, “I’ve been having these vivid recurring dreams and I need to figure them out.” She rushed out the words, afraid that if she thought about it she would chicken out.

Giles considered, “Well I think I may have something on dream analysis in the shelves.”

Willow shook her head, “No, the dreams are very…clear. I’m really trying to figure out where they’re coming from.”

That was a little more complicated Giles realised. There were some meditative techniques described in the volumes he kept in the cage. He was reluctant to get any of his charges mixed up the dark arts, however even Watchers and slayers, those slayers who could concentrate for more than five minutes at least, practiced these. They were a good way of relieving mental stress and it sounded like Willow could use some stress reduction.

As Giles explained what he had in mind Willow brightened, “I think that’s it, I need to clear my mind and look at these dreams in a kind of detached way.”

“Now Willow these techniques aren’t a panacea, and I have to ask you to be careful with the book.” Not least because it contained a number of spells in addition to the meditation and concentration techniques.

“Giles you know I’ll take care of it, and I promise not to let Xander within a mile of it.” Giles accepted the reassurance and got the key to the cage out of his pocket.

Willow emerged in to the corridor with Giles book in her bag and a sense of hope in her heart. It faltered almost immediately as she saw Cordelia and Harmony approaching. Cordelia spotted Willow and decided that this was one of those times when pretending not see her was the best approach. Willow was Xander’s best friend and lord knows it wasn’t like Cordelia cared what he thought however often she snuck into supply closets with him, but hey haughty disdain was hardly like making Willow an honorary cheerleader or anything. Harmony however wasn’t about to let the moment pass, “Hey Willow, how is the party animal?” Harmony looked at Cordelia with a ‘wasn’t that clever’ grin and Cordelia had no choice but to paste a fake smile on her face. That was what made Willow snap, “You know Harmony even if you were in a party with a thousand people you still couldn’t find one who actually likes you, and that includes Cordelia.” With that Willow stalked off feeling somewhat better.

“Wow where did that come from?” Cordelia wondered out loud.

Harmony gave an undignified snort, “Who cares? It was dumb and untrue right? Right?”

2 .“Home Is Where The Heart Is”

The front door opened about half way and then banged into something. Willow squeezed through and saw a suitcase sat behind sat in the hallway was the culprit. It was a very familiar piece of luggage and Willow knew what its presence meant. “Mom?” Willow called out.

“In the living room Willow.” She marched in to see her mother stuffing a can of hairspray and various other toiletries into a large flight bag.

“I didn’t think you were going away again for a couple weeks.”

“I know and I’m sorry but they had a speaker drop out of a seminar in Seattle and they asked me and, well I couldn’t say no. I’m realty sorry.” Her mothers tone was distracted, it was the same apology she had made so many times before and Willow knew from experience that even a screaming tantrum on her part would just get a pat on the head and an understanding smile while her mother went right on with her plans.

“So what about dad? When will he be back?”

“Well you already know that, three or four days. Honestly Willow you can be so scatterbrained sometimes.”

“Yeah, of course, not like he had any reason to come home early is it?” Willow’s voice was more bitter than usual. Equally as usual though the nuances passed Sheila by.

After dinner Willow retreated to her room where it was pretty much guaranteed that she wouldn’t be disturbed for the rest of the evening, or possibly ever if she chose not to open her room door and go downstairs. She opened the book to the page that Giles had marked and read the meditation ritual. It wasn’t very complicated, no paraphernalia required just a little scene setting and a series of mental exercises designed to take her into the place she needed to go. She turned out the main light and put on her bedside lamp. She then put a scarf over the lampshade which dimmed the light and turned it a violet hue. It was a nice gentle relaxing light and she lay down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. It seemed a little dumb but she had to ignore that and let go of everything except for a single image. She had to visualise it as though it was projected on the ceiling and slow her breathing. The ritual also called for her to relax to the point of falling asleep but not quite. The visualisation part was easy; the face of the girl in the dream came to her practically without effort. The rest of it wasn’t so simple though and after what seemed hours she was going to give up when without warning the ceiling seemed to dissolve.

Willow could still feel the bed beneath her and she was sure she wasn’t asleep; she was just somewhere else. Images started to form in the darkness, a small girl Willow recognized as herself playing with a boy she knew was Xander. It wasn’t exactly what she had been expecting and it certainly didn’t seem to have anything to do with her dream. Still she wasn’t ready to give up yet. The images wound on with her and Xander growing older in the visions. All that told her was that for the longest time Xander was really the only person in her life. The thought crossed her mind that maybe that was why she had been so hung up on him. That if he would only fall in love with her he could never abandon her? It was a weird notion and before she could consider it things moved on. There were Buffy and Giles and the days when she had crossed over in to their dark world. It had been scary but for the first time in her life she had a place she belonged, more than that she had a real family.

Again none of this seemed terribly helpful, but time moved on and there was the litany of all the demons she had helped slay or nearly been killed by, mostly the latter, including that one in the graveyard with the blue crystal that had zapped her. As she watched the bolt of light strike her it spread out and filled Willows eyes as she lay there. Then she remembered it all.


Dawn standing there with those big eyes and practically bouncing up and down for someone to notice her…

Buffy her face filled with the pain of too many battles, too many losses…

Xander remarkably the same, a fixed point in a changed world…

Willow Rosenberg who had got rid of most of her hair and even more of her emotional baggage…

Tara, Tara McClay standing there with that sweet smile and promising to be there waiting for her, everything Willow wanted, everything she needed, all contained in a simple touch…

The ceiling was just a chunk of painted plaster again. Willow pulled the scarf off the lamp and switched the on the main light before looking at her alarm clock. It had been barely half an hour since she had lain down on her bed, except it wasn’t quite hers any more. She couldn’t shake the feeling it was a piece of the past, something that should have been long gone. Willow picked up the book and closed it, not even tempted to look at any of the magic contained in it. After all there was plenty of time for that later.

She made her way quietly to the kitchen and got a soda out of the fridge, as she took her first sip she realised how dry her mouth was and began to gulp it down. Once the can was drained she put it down and let herself think about the question that had been hanging around since the visions ended; what are you going to do now? If everything she remembered was real she had agreed that it was too dangerous to go and find Tara. Which was a nice theory when you weren’t going to remember any of what had happened. And what if as much as she wanted to reject the idea it wasn’t real? What if she was delusional and this was the first sign of some serious problem? There was only one way to know for sure and she was sorry about breaking her promise but all bets were off as of now; Willow was going to find out the truth one way or another. She was going to find Tara McClay or find she didn’t exist. If it was the latter then Willow really didn’t care about being crazy.

3. “Decisions, decisions”

Buffy was ready for a night patrolling, or a homework session at Willow’s as far as her mother was concerned. Willow had agreed to go with for the company though Buffy had been having second thoughts given how spaced Willow had been earlier. When Willow appeared at the front door the second thoughts were joined by third and fourth as well.

“Look Will I really don’t know if you should come along.”

“Buffy I promise you that sitting here all alone isn’t going to make me feel any better, I could use the company.” Buffy couldn’t really argue with that so she settled for smiling and trying to look positive. Willow smiled back, and it was just as phoney. She couldn’t shake the image of the older Buffy and how so much of light had gone out of that face. How much was she going to tell the others? All she really had were a few fragments, and most of them were centred on herself and Tara.

Xander was leaning on a tomb waiting for the girls to arrive and hoping that Willow had pepped up. She did have a smile on her face but Xander wasn’t fooled, he could read Willow like a book and he knew that look in her eyes. It was the look she got when she had decided to do something regardless of what anyone might say. He just had no idea what she was resolved to do and he knew Willow wouldn’t tell him until she was good and ready, “So what’s the plan tonight Buffy?”

“We stick together, I’m not taking any chances on Spike and his posse jumping any of us on our own.”

“You think he’s really going to show up? I mean after the way you pretty much humiliated him with those vamp groupies I would have thought he was too embarrassed to show his fangy face around here. Right Will?” Xander added the latter to try and snap Willow out of her distracted mood.

“Maybe but I wouldn’t count on it, with his ego he’s probably planning to get even.” Willow answered, while still giving the impression of being somewhere far away.

“Well now she is a smart one isn’t she?” Spike answered from atop a nearby tomb.

Spike was pleased to see that Buffy had brought along her little friends, he had always been partial to dessert after a good main course.

“So Spike, no Dru? Did we leave her in the rubber room tonight?” Buffy called out. Spike jumped down, annoyed. This bloody slayer was a lot lippier than her predecessors, and it wasn’t a change for the better.

“Nah, she’s just putting up her feet, I promised I’d bring her back something nice for dinner, your little friend there should do.” He pointed at Willow, at which Buffy decided that was time to get on with the ass kicking portion of the evening. Buffy opened with a barrage of kicks and punches that spike was able to block, although to do so he had to give ground, being driven back foot by foot as he parried the blows.

“You’re going to have to do better than that love.”

“This is just my aerobics routine, I’m still warming up.”

“Well maybe this will help you work up a sweat.” Buffy tensed for an attack; instead Spike placed his fingers to his lips and whistled. Two of his minions emerged from the dark and pounced on Xander and Willow. Buffy cursed, by falling back he had succeeded in pulling her away from her friends. Now Spike launched his attack and there was nothing she could do to help them.

Xander was shoved back against a rather ornate piece of statuary by a rather muscular female vamp. She was a little too eager for the kill though and as her head snapped forward to sink her fangs in Xander managed to slide down resulting in the vamp smashing her head against the leg of the statue. As it tried to shake off the impact Xander was able to pull out a stake. The vamps saw it and came at him again, leaving the pair locked in a struggle over the sharpened piece of wood.

Willow had been caught totally off guard and the vampire attacking her knocked her on her back. He was actually a rather scrawny thing but quick. However sat on her stomach with his legs pinning her arms to her side he didn’t need a lot of strength. He had a nasty grin on his face, which became nastier as he vamped out. Willow knew with absolute certainty that these were the last seconds of her life; the vamp was just enjoying her fear before he finished her. Willow felt true despair all those things she had seen, that whole future wasn’t going to happen. Then one of those memories pushed itself to the front, of her floating in the air and commanding lightning, and she also remembered sending a soda machine spinning across a room, she had that power inside her.

The vampire wasn’t clear as to what had happened, it felt like someone had just grabbed him and thrown him off the girl. There wasn’t anyone there but the girl couldn’t have done it.

“Aaaaaiiiieeee!!!!” the shriek pulled his attenton back to the girl, it was too late though. Willow charged like a maniac and plunged the stake in so hard it practically disappeared in to the vamps chest before he disintegrated. Spike was the only one actually in a position to see the whole of what happened. He saw his cohort fly through the air and he knew what it meant, the redhead was a witch. As if this slayer wasn’t a big enough pain in the arse she had a bloody witch working with her!

Buffy hadn’t seen any of that she had just turned at the sound of that blood curdling yell, with the sickening expectation of seeing that Willow was dead or dying. What she saw was her friend falling on the vamp like a Fury. She didn’t understand it and she didn’t have time to right now. She saw that the female vamp that currently had a hand around Xander’s throat was equally distracted, standing in place with her back exposed. Buffy let fly with a stake and it hit dead on target right in the vamps back. With his backup gone and facing a slayer and a witch Spike decided that was quite enough for one evening and raced off, zigzagging through the tombstones. Buffy considered giving pursuit. She wasn’t willing though to leave Xander and Willow here in case there were more of Spikes cronies hanging around, and she wanted to check out Willow. As she reached Willow’s side she was amazed to see her friend was smiling.

Willow had been enraged by her close shave. As soon as the vamp was dusted however she realised what she had done, she had touched that power, if only for a moment. It had been enough though; enough to save her and enough to prove that what she had seen was real. The power was real, and Tara was real, she was out there, somewhere.

“Will are you ok?” Buffy was sort of glad that her friend looked happier, it was just that staking vamps didn’t usually cheer her up.

“I’m fine, did you see that?”

“Nice job of staking, a little over the top though.” Buffy said light heartedly

“You didn’t see it then.” Willow’s smile faltered, it was about par for the course though and she decided just to let it ride.

Buffy though had come to the opposite conclusion, she wanted to know what was going on and the time to just wait and see was over. “Ok Will how about you come and sleepover at my house and we can talk; about everything.” Willow could see that Buffy was every bit as determined to grill her as she was to go find Tara, so she gave in and agreed.

4. “Just An Illusion”

Buffy sat on the edge of her bed as Willow returned from the bathroom ready for bed. Willow could tell that she had bought as much time as she was going to get. “So I guess you want that explanation now.”

“Actually yesterday would have been good, or last week. Face it Will, this has been going on for a while.” Buffy was trying not to sound testy but her best friend had clearly been freezing her out of something.

Willow sat on the bed, “Ok, you’ve had prophetic dreams, you know flashes of what’s going to happen?”

“I wouldn’t go that far, they’re usually pretty vague, all symbolic, kind of like one of those films by Ingrid Bergman.”

Ingmar Willow thought, but decided against correcting her, “Well I’ve been having dreams, very vivid dreams about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, and I went to Giles and he lent me a book with this meditation technique.”

“Which he didn’t tell me about.” Buffy was going to have words with her Watcher; he knew she had been worried about Willow.

“I asked him to keep it private. Anyway I did the meditation and turns out I haven’t been seeing the future, I’ve actually been there.”

The seconds ticked by as Buffy just sat there staring at Willow. She had to be kidding, except Willows face was perfectly straight.

“Buffy? You did ask, insisted in fact.” Willow tried to jog Buffy out of her shock.

“How, far exactly?” Buffy asked still in a daze.

“Four years, two thousand and two.” She knew she would have to careful here. She had already decided not to mention anything about Buffy’s mom, too cruel, Dawn, to wacky, or Tara, too personal. Tara belonged to her and she wasn’t ready to share just yet.

“And you saw what?”

“A couple of days of things as they are, will be, before they figured out how to send me back.”

Buffy’s brain was still coming up ‘tilt’; she simply couldn’t process what she was hearing.

“You know I think I really need to sleep on this, and in the morning we are going to go and see Giles.” And hope he can make some kind of sense of this mess.

Willow had no objections, she was already pretty clear on what she intended to do; it was just a question of how much her friends were willing to help.

Cordelia was leafing through the history section in the library, and she had been for about fifteen minutes picking up a book, putting it back, picking it up again. As she was about o give up a pair of hands rested on her waist, and lips began to nuzzle her neck. Cordelia spun round, “You’re late.” She hissed.

“Sorry,” Xander usually found himself beginning conversations with Cordy with that word, “Got hung up and I couldn’t explain that I had a secret meeting with the head cheerleader could I?” His voice said that he would really have liked to say that.

“No you couldn’t.” She saw him frown but brushed it away by leaning in and kissing him.

“Giles!” Cordelia broke away at supersonic speed as she heard Buffy’s voice call out downstairs.

“Oh god what is she doing here.” Cordelia whispered.

“I don’t know; I’ll go see.”

She grabbed him as he began to walk away, “You can’t leave me here.”

“Well do you want to come with, or wait till she comes up here looking?”

Cordelia let him go, “Just don’t blow it.”

Xander shook his head and stepped out, “Hey Buff, what’s up.” He was a little too loud; wanting to make sure Cordy could pick up every word.

Buffy looked up and was glad to see Xander, it would be nice to have someone to be baffled with, “Willow’s decided to share, and I really think we all need to hear this.” To Xander it sounded almost like an order, almost. Giles emerged from the office as he got to the bottom of the stairs and Willow and Buffy had already taken seats at the table. “Grab a seat fellas, because I think you’re going to need to be sat down when you here this.” Buffy suggested, and Xander could tell she wasn’t kidding.

After Willow had finished her explanation Xander was glad he had taken Buffy’s advice, because his brain had gone numb somewhere about halfway through. Even Giles looked a little dazed, which was reassuring. Buffy had heard the story before and had the benefit of an entire night to get used to it, so she took the lead, “Giles that crystal, could it actually do something like that?”

With something to work on Giles overcame his shock, “Well a tuning crystal is designed to enable dimensional travel. Usually between one universe and another. If something went wrong though it could displace you along one of the dimensions of this universe, moving you in space or time.”

Willow gestured at Giles excitedly, “That’s how you explained it the other time, the future time.”

This took Buffy by surprise, “So that crystal could actually be a time machine?”

Giles nodded, “Possibly, yes.”

Xander smiled, “You didn’t happen to see any sports results did you Will?”

“Are you people nuts?” Cordelia had been listening with increasing annoyance to the conversation downstairs and had stepped up to the railing, “Willow gets zapped by some demon, and gee she time travelled. I mean isn’t it more likely it just fried a few brain cells and she’s going nuts?”

“Cordelia.” Buffy practically growled, too annoyed to wonder what the pest was doing lurking up there.

“What? Are you going to tell you didn’t think that, cause you are dumber than I thought if you didn’t.” Buffy wanted to tell her to shut up, except she was right. Giles had said ‘possible’, that was a long way from definite and she realised that her desire to believe her best friend had let her get carried away. Xander’s mouth felt dry and he hated himself, still he asked the question, “Giles is it, I mean, could Cordy be right?”

Giles hesitated before answering, and that was quite enough for Willow, “We’ve been through all this freaky stuff together and when I have something happened to me, it’s ‘hey she must be delusional’!”

Giles stood up, “Willow we aren’t saying that, but we must consider all the options.”

“No you don’t” Willows voice was harsh, and Xander could see her features had set into her resolve face; this was going to be bad. Before he could intervene Buffy spoke up, “What exactly does that mean Willow.” She was sounding a little angry herself.

“It means I want you give me the unconditional support I’ve given you for two years. Can you do that? Can all of you just do that?”

Buffy looked at her best friend, she wanted to do it, she wanted to stand beside Willow and do whatever she needed to do. Problem was her behaviour was making Cordelia’s suggestion look pretty plausible. The silence suggested that the others were having the same thoughts. Willow got up from the table, “Fine that’s the way it is then. Go screw yourselves guys.” She turned and stormed out. The gang didn’t move; they couldn’t have been more amazed if she had sprouted wings and flown out.

5. “The Road Less Travelled”

It had taken Willow a while to calm down, for her anger to melt in to disappointment. She was alone, the way she always had been she supposed and it was clear there was only one person she could really count on to stand by her. Willow just needed to figure out how to find her. That was going to be a challenge. Without any kind of backup from the others she was going to have to tap into her other resources, which were what exactly? There were her computer skills except she didn’t have any parameters to do a search with, unless the police or the FBI had ever arrested Tara. Assuming that her future girlfriend wasn’t a wanted fugitive that made the chances of finding her by computer pretty slim. So what options did that leave? It sort of left one, if she could get to it before any of the others did.

Willow found Jenny Calendar looking over some test papers and her expression suggested that she wasn't going to be giving out a lot of gold stars. She tapped the doorframe to get Miss Calendar's attention. Jenny looked up, "Willow, hi don't suppose I could talk you into marking a few papers?" She swept her hand over the still daunting pile on her desk.

"Actually I wanted your help Miss Calendar."

"Willow outside of class I think you can call me Jenny. Frankly if it’s a computer question, if you don't know the answer then I probably won't either."

Willow stepped into the room and lowered her voice, "Actually its a magic question."

That didn't totally surprise Jenny. Willow had a lively mind and after being steeped in the supernatural all this time it would have been strange if she hadn't taken an interest. Still that didn't necessarily make it a good idea, "Have you mentioned this to Giles? He has a lot more material than I do."

Ok I knew that was coming, "Sort of. Actually I never got round to the magic part we got into a disagreement.”

“What kind of disagreement?”

“They think I’m nuts and I don’t.” There it was, now she just had to see how Jenny would react.

The teacher pondered this, “Well that doesn’t sound like them, or like you for that matter.”

“Thanks, basically I saw something that they don’t believe I could have seen. If I could just find it and show them.” Still more or less true, if a little misleading.

“And you were thinking of using magic to track it down, a locator spell.”

Willow nodded enthusiastically, “Yes that’s what I was hoping for.”

“And what if it didn’t turn up anything?” Jenny asked gently.

“Then I guess I spend a lot of time with the school counsellor.” Willow said it quite lightly; she knew she was right so it wasn’t really an issue.

Jenny considered her choices. She could point blank refuse to help, and hope that Willow would let it drop. Idiotic, Willow would try on her own, or find someone else to help. There were plenty of unsavoury demons and sorcerers hanging around Sunnydale, and a number would be only to happy to get their claws into a pretty teenage girl. She could stall, and Willow would see right through it with the same result, or she could help the girl to do this safely and then persuade her to sort things out with her friends.

Buffy was fiddling with a juice box, trying to get it open neatly. Misjudging the force she was exerting the thing shredded, fortunately spilling its contents on the concrete of the pavement. She got up off the steps, “I am not just going to sit here.”

“Ok so what are you going to do?” Xander’s voice was reasonable. Buffy found that the question was a stopper though. “Buffy I’ve known Willow my whole life and I’ve seen her mad and I’ve seen her determined, and that is the maddest and most determined I’ve ever seen her. Now if you can promise that it won’t turn into a shouting match then I’ll help you look for her.”

“Why are you being so calm, don’t you want to help Willow?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to get in to an argument where things get said that can’t be taken back, unless that’s what you want?”

“You know it isn’t.”

“Then we give her some space and a chance to cool down.” Buffy didn’t like it but Xander made sense, Willow would cool down and they would figure this out. It wasn’t like she could get in to a lot of trouble in the meantime, could she?

Willow was surprised by how sterile Jenny Calendars apartment was; she had expected it to be warmer and filled with more personal stuff. Instead it was like a hotel room, with only a collection of books and a powerful computer to suggest it was hers. Jenny saw Willow looking around, “I’m afraid I have most of my stuff still in storage, I wasn’t originally planning to stay in Sunnydale this long.” Which was perfectly true, the clan assumed that Angel would move on again after a brief period, as had been his habit these last decades. No one could have imagined the direction his relationship with the Slayer would take. Jenny, or Janna, wasn’t unhappy about it though; Angel wasn’t the only one who had formed relationships here.

“So how do we do this?” Willow asked.

“Well there are some candles in the drawer under the bookcase. You get those and I’ll dig out a couple of other bits and pieces.” Willow did as instructed and found the candles tucked at the back behind a selection of religious looking statuary. She turned back to see Jenny putting a disk in CD-ROM drive, “Is that some kind of magic database?”

“Some people think so, its Autoroute 98.”

“Oh, Oh, so it can home in on the location when we do the spell, that’s clever. Did you come up with it yourself?”

“Thanks, yeah it was just something I was playing around with.” It was the method she used to track down Angel originally. The clan wasn’t really into technology but even her uncle had conceded it was effective.

“Now for this to work Willow you have to be very clear on what your looking for, it would be better if we had a picture or something associated with the target, but a good strong visualisation will work.”

“Trust me I have a perfect picture of what I’m looking for.”

“Good, set three candles in a triangle around the monitor and then light them while I do the chant.” Willow did as she was instructed while Jenny murmured behind her. The candle flames began to change from simple flickering orange to shining gold points of light. Willow stood back as the lights glowed brighter. Jenny stopped chanting, “Its ok Willow, step forward place tour hands on the monitor, close your eyes and picture exactly what your looking for.”

Willow had no problem with those instructions. She felt the warmth of the plastic beneath her hands and let the thing that had dominated her thoughts for a day and a night fill it completely, Tara. Her face, her smile her voice, her kiss. It made Willow tingle from her toes to her finger tips ands she could feel the spell as well, the magic hovering around her. Jenny watched as the screen came to life and the CD-ROM began to spin up at an alarming speed. The map of the United States began to jump and flicker and Jenny wondered if it was actually going to work. Despite what Willow had said Jenny suspected she would be crushed if she didn’t find what she was looking for. Then the display stabilised and the map zoomed in, settling on a town that was little more than a speck. The candles suddenly snuffed out and Willow felt the magic fade, she pulled her hands off the computer and stepped back, “Is that it? Did it work?”

“Yes it did.” Jenny grabbed the computer mouse and selected the menu options to print out directions and details of the location. She handed them to Willow, “So this mean you can go back to the others and prove you were right, I’ll come with you if you want.”

“No that’s ok, I mean I just need to decide exactly what it is the gang should do about it, don’t want to just start another row now do I?” Jenny could hardly call Willow on keeping secrets, and it never occurred to her for a moment that the girl was capable of such a barefaced lie.

6. “The Old Routine”

Quincy was what would be called a one-horse town, except the horse had been sensible enough to sell up and leave years ago. It wasn’t much more than a strip of stores and houses both sides of a tarmac road and surrounded by a collection of modest sized farms, most of which broke even. Most years. The pickup truck was still making that strange rattling sound. Donny had insisted that he could fix it; so far he had failed miserably. Tara wasn’t going to point that out though, it would just make him angry and he would find a way to get her in trouble. He pulled up next to the grocery store to let her out.

“When will you be back?” She asked.

“An hour, could be two got some stuff to do with the guys, so hustle your butt out of here.” Tara opened the passenger door and climbed out, barely getting time to close it behind her before Donny sped off. She knew what he was doing with the guys and just hoped he wouldn’t down too many beers before he came back for her, the only thing worse than driving with Donny was driving with a drunk Donny.

Her shopping list wasn’t that extensive and Tara wasn’t inclined to linger in any of the stores. Her father had caused enough embarrassing incidents that people were liable to be polite but distant around her. She looked at the jar of dried Rosemary she had purchased and debated whether she should leave it in the shopping bag or put it in her purse. Her father didn’t pay much attention to the shopping. As long as there was a meal on the table and she stayed within the food budget he didn’t really bother with household stuff. His disdain for all things magical meant that he also had no idea that Rosemary was anything other than a good accompaniment for chicken. Still Tara wasn’t going to take chances; she dropped the little glass jar in to her pocket.

Keeping her magical practice a secret from her father was a constant battle. Tara had only been able to rescue a couple of small volumes of her mothers from the bonfire her father had staged after her death. The pages from a couple of old children’s books had been slipped inside the covers that had gone up in smoke. Adding a selection of leaves, berries, and roots collected when she went for a walk to the information in the books she had managed to work on some simple spells and charms without anyone noticing. There was only so much she could do though, to really progress as a Wicca she needed to meet other people with similar interests, and magic wasn’t the only thing she couldn’t explore in Quincy. Tara was comfortable with her sexuality, it was simply who she was and she had come to terms with it, it was just that in this little town there wasn’t much chance of meeting anyone. Even if there were any other lesbians in her school they were keeping a low profile and Tara wasn’t the most socially skilled person to start with. She wasn’t equipped to discretely sound someone out.

With her shopping finished Tara sat down on the rickety wooden bench that served the bus top on this side of the road. It was seldom used, there was only one bus a day and the one that passed along this side of the road was long gone. The bus going the other way was a different matter and Tara caught a metallic reflection in the distance that told her it was about to pass through, there was no one sat waiting on the opposite bench so she expected it to just keep going. Instead it slowed to a halt and Tara could just about make out the door opening past the bulk of the driver. She watched curiously as the bus pulled away wondering who would want to come to Quincy? Then her heart stopped. The girl on the other side of the rode was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and had long red hair; she was also the most beautiful girl Tara had ever seen. Tara knew she was staring; she couldn’t help it, anymore than she could help fantasising that the girl would turn towards her, smile and then walk over. It was a moment before Tara realised that she wasn’t fantasising, the girl was making her way across the road straight towards her.

Willow had stepped off the bus after an arduous journey. It had taken sixteen hours and three separate connections to reach Quincy, and she still had the task of trying to actually find Tara. She hefted her bag onto her shoulder and turned to look for the local post office when she saw the figure sat on the other bench. It was impossible, and Willow blinked her eyes several times in case this was some sort of hallucination. However Tara remained very definitely still there, and now she was looking at Willow with a gaze that was incredibly familiar. Her heart pounding and terrified that her knees would buckle Willow walked across the road.

As she reached the side of the still seated figure, who had watched her every move with a mixture of alarm and fascination. It took Willow a couple of attempts to speak, “Tara? You are Tara McClay?” Tara just nodded dumbly, was this girl a relative? Please goddess don’t let her be a relative. Willow sat down on the bench next to Tara and somehow resisted the impulse to take her hand.

Tara finally found the nerve to speak, “Do, do we know each other?” It was a dumb question, Tara wouldn’t forget meeting this girl.

“No, maybe yes, I mean I knew about you and I came to find you Tara, I’m Willow, Willow Rosenberg.” Tara turned the name over in her mind, she liked it, she also liked the way Willow said her name as well, like the word ‘Tara’ was magic in itself.

Tara felt dizzy and a little intoxicated sitting there with this beautiful girl actually paying attention to her. Then the fear began to well up from the corners of her mind. A girl like this wasn’t really going to be interested in you. It was a trick, or some sort of sick game dreamed up by Donny. That thought got her looking at her watch, he could show up any time now, and if he saw her talking with a stranger he would tell dad and then she would face a barrage of questions she couldn’t answer.

Tara got up off the bench and Willow knew she didn’t have much time here, she had to play the only cards she had left, “I know about the magic.” Tara stopped in her tracks and turned to look at Willow not quite sure she had heard the redhead correctly. Willow plunged on, “I know you’re a Wicca. I know you aren’t happy here. I also know how you’re mouth feels when you press it against mine.” Tara dropped back down on to the bench, Willow had to be some sort of crazy person, but all Tara could think about was just how would her mouth feel pressed against Willow’s? “How do you know all that?”

“It’s a long and pretty crazy story, but if you’ve got the time.”

“I don’t, I mean someone is coming to pick me up, my brother.” Tara hastily added, to avoid any confusion.

“Well could we meet later?”

Tara thought and nodded, it was a risk, but right now it was one she was willing to take, “Have you got a pen and some paper?”

“Always.” Willow’s smile broadened. Tara took it and hastily scrawled down an address.

“Meet me there after seven, now please, I don’t want my brother to see you.”

“I understand, I’ll see you later.” The promise sent a shiver of excitement through Tara, and she shamelessly indulged in watching the way Willow’s butt moved as her new acquaintance walked away.

7. “Where Do We Go From Here?”

At about the same moment that Willow was experiencing euphoria at finding Tara Buffy was suffering from the effect of a nasty cocktail of guilt and anger. Guilt that she hadn’t done more to help Willow and anger that her friend could just run off like this without a word of warning. That wasn’t strictly true, Buffy decided as she swung back towards guilt, if she had been paying attention she would have realised that Willow was going to do whatever it took to find what she was looking for. Buffy picked up the letter and read it one more time;

“Dear Buffy,

By now you’re probably pretty mad at me and I want you to know I can understand that. You just don’t know how much this means to me and I guess that’s my fault for chickening out of telling you.

        In the future I did see all of you there, but there were other people as well, people we haven’t even met yet. In the future though they are as close to us as we are to one other now, actually one of them is lot closer to me, because we’re in love. I didn’t just see that in the future, I got to feel it as well, and I finally understand why it is you are willing to go through so much to be with Angel.

        Knowing they’re out there I can’t face the idea of simply sitting and waiting, could you? You have to be with the person you love, and the person I love is Tara McClay, she’s out there and I think she’s as lonely as I am.

        Hopefully I’ll see you in a day or two, and I’ll have someone to introduce you to.

Your friend,


Buffy wasn’t sure which had hit her harder, Willow running off, or Willow coming out. Hadn’t she been chasing after Xander all this time? Yes she had a crush on Xander, her only friend when she was growing up, the only person who stood by her through everything. Buffy had thought that before, hadn’t she hinted that Willow should move on, look elsewhere? Another girl was a little further a field than Buffy had envisioned. Right the slayer dating a vampire was really in a position to get wigged out over her best friend being gay. Willow had pretty much nailed it, ‘you have to be with the person you love’, and the heck with everything else. That just left the question of what Buffy was going to do? That was easy too; she was going to find her best friend and support her, whatever the outcome.

Xander had gone to Willow’s house and of course found that her parents were nowhere to be seen, big surprise there. He knew where they hid the spare key so he let himself in and did some checking. Clothes, toothbrush, all the toiletries, Willow was a very organized runaway. He still couldn’t believe it, so much for giving Willow time too cool down. The mighty intellect of Xander Harris strikes again. They should have gotten out the bloodhounds and tracked her down. He wanted to blame Cordelia’s big mouth but he hadn’t exactly shouted her down. No he had sat there like a dummy, more worried about where his next smooch was coming from than sticking up for his best friend.

Xander made it back to Giles’ apartment just before Buffy, since they didn’t want everyone knowing about Willow’s vanishing act just yet Giles had agreed to making his place their base of operations for now. Buffy arrived a couple of minutes later and started grilling Xander, “Any clues where she’s gone?”

“Not even one of those impressions in a notepad that you rub over and it solves the whole case. You know in all those old movies.”

Giles looked askance, “Well quite, I checked as best I could, but if she simply bought a bus or plane ticket with cash there simply wouldn’t be a record, even if anyone were willing to co-operate.” That left Buffy with the only clue, she didn’t think it was her place to be dishing Willows personal life, so she decided to keep it the bare minimum, “I don’t know where she’s gone, but I do know what Willow’s looking for.”

“What would that be exactly?” Giles asked.

“Proof that she really was in the future, she met someone there and if she can prove that person is real.”

“Then we would believe her story.” Giles finished, nodding.

“It’s a girl named Tara McClay.”

“Hey that’s not exactly a common name.” Xander pointed out, “How many could there be?”

“In what area? Sunnydale? California? The USA? And that’s assumes that this girl exists.” Giles couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

“At least it would narrow things down, we could get on the phone work our way out from Sunnydale.” Xander retorted.

It wasn’t perfect but to Buffy it sounded like some sort of plan, they would at least be doing something, “I say we try it. Thing is we need someone with computer skills to do that kind of search, and the number one draft choice is out of town. So who else do we know?”

Jenny was surprised to see the delegation outside her door. She was happy to see Giles, she just hadn’t expected that he would bring along Buffy and Xander.

“We have a problem and we need your help.” Giles explained.

Jenny gestured for them to come in, “What exactly can I do?”

“We need a computer search.” Buffy explained, and a small twinge of panic set in at the back of Jenny’s mind.

“A search for what?”

“Well Willow has left town…” Buffy started and then stopped, Jenny looked distinctly unhappy. “Miss Calendar why don’t I think you’re totally surprised by that.”

“Jenny?” Giles looked just as anxious as Jenny did.

“She came to me yesterday looking for help, she wanted to do a locator spell. I thought it would be safer to help than have her try it by herself. I thought she was going to come to you with the information.”

Buffy refrained from cursing out loud, “And of I don’t suppose you took a good look at this information?”

“No, but I saved it on the hard drive, it will take me about a minute to get you a copy.”

Joyce stood in the doorway as Buffy stuffed clothing into her overnight bag. “Buffy you are not going to do this.”

“Mom Willow is out there and I have to go and help her.”

“Buffy if Willow has run away I don’t think the answer is for you to go join her. Call her parents, or the authorities.”

Buffy glared at her mother, “Right Mom, Willow’s parents the ones who are both out of town and nobody knows how to contact. And I don’t want to see Willow being hauled back to Sunnydale in a police car. Besides she hasn’t run away, she’s just gone to see someone without telling anyone.” She saw the look on Joyce’s face, “OK fine line, but she is planning to come back, and if I go to her she can be back and safe that much sooner. It’s not like I’m going alone, Xander and Mr. Giles are going too.” That didn’t entirely pacify Joyce. Still she knew Buffy had a point about Willow’s parents, they weren’t the most attentive, and it might be better if a friend persuaded her to come home rather than setting the police on her. She sighed, “Alright Buffy but be careful.”

“Hey aren’t I always?”

8. “Home Truths”

The house hadn’t been hard to find, there weren’t all that many places in Quincy. The hard part had been killing time until seven o’clock rolled round. She had gone to the diner though she was too nervous too eat much, which was lucky as the diner’s version of home cooking was on a par with her mothers. She had gotten a magazine from the store, and she couldn’t even recall the title let alone what she had read. Being a few minutes early couldn’t hurt and Willow had exhausted her patience. The address turned out to be a small neatly kept house with a small garden in which clumps of herbs were growing. Willow couldn’t be certain but she didn’t think this was Tara’s home. Her knock at the door confirmed that. The figure who appeared in the doorway was a woman who was seventy if she was a day. Her hair was shoulder length and almost pure white. What caught Willow’s attention though were her eyes, they were strikingly like Tara’s. The woman looked at her, clearly waiting for Willow to speak, “Uh, hi, my name is Willow Rosenberg.”

The woman smiled, “Oh yes, Tara mentioned you were coming over. My name is Lydia; I’m her grandmother, on her mother’s side. “The woman beckoned her in.

The living room was kind of like what you would expect of any grandmother. A cabinet filled with ornaments. There were photographs, old and new, hanging on the walls as well as a row filling the shelf above the fireplace. The only things that didn’t fit were a couple of books in the shelves of the bookcase that Willow had seen in Giles collection and a deck of tarot cards resting on a comfy armchair. “Can I get you something to drink, a cup of tea perhaps?” Willow wasn’t really thirsty but she didn’t want to offend Tara’s grandmother. “That would be nice.”

“Good, Tara should be along soon, knowing that brother of hers she’ll probably have to walk, so she could be a little late.”

“Oh that’s fine.” Willow wasn’t sure how convincing that sounded; right now every moment was torture. She decided to distract herself by looking at the pictures on the mantelpiece. There were a whole series of images, and as she looked through them Willow realized they were a sequence showing Tara and a woman who had to be her mother at various ages. In the last couple of pictures there was only Tara. Willow picked up a recent looking one, drawn to it because it was one of the only ones with a smiling Tara.

Lydia had positioned herself so she could watch Willow through the doorway. She wasn’t concerned about Willow stealing or breaking anything; Lydia was looking on a whole different level. Energy surrounded Willow the way it did every living thing and Lydia knew how to read the flows and eddies in that energy. Willow’s was actually easier than most to see because it was so bright and the colours were incredibly vivid. Lydia’s ‘sight’ set a colour scale that was different from those that most people associated with emotion. Anger and hate were black; envy and jealousy were a bloody red. Love and desire, they were the colours of the living earth and water, brilliant hues of blue and green. As Willow picked up the last photo Lydia saw the swirls of blue and green that danced through the girls aura spread and drown out everything else. Lydia smiled and picked up a small glass phial with a cork stopper in it and dropped it back in to the drawer it had come from. She had put the herbal sedative where it would be close to hand after Tara’s phone call. Her granddaughter had sounded nervous and excited when she had told her about this girl, unsure whether to take her seriously. Lydia had feared that perhaps something evil had come stalking her granddaughter; she was more than relieved to be wrong.

Willow put the picture back down as Lydia reappeared holding two china cups balanced on saucers, “It’s aright Willow you can look at it. I always thought Tara was very pretty; it’s nice to meet someone who agrees with me.” Willow accepted the cup and hesitated, not quite sure she had understood Lydia correctly. Lydia smiled broadly, “Magic runs in the women in my family, it means that you can’t keep many secrets from me. It also means that you can trust me when I tell you that I think things are going to work out.”

Tara turned the key in the latch and walked in to the sound of animated conversation. She opened the living room door and there was her grandmother and Willow sat in the chairs next to fire and chatting like they had known each other for years. That made her feel immeasurably better, her grandmother was pretty much an infallible judge of character. Lydia spotted her first, “Tara dear, Willow was just telling me some stories about her home town. It sounds like, well, an exciting place.” Willow practically leapt from her chair and turned to face Tara.

“Hi actually your grandmother was mostly telling me about you.”

“Oh?” Tara felt that unreasonable panic gain.

“All good stuff really.” Willow reassured her, and Tara found Willow’s smile very reassuring.

Lydia climbed out of her chair, “I think you need this seat.” She commented to Tara.

“No grandma you should...”

“No Tara you should sit down and let Willow tell you her story, I’m going to the kitchen to make some sandwiches. It’s up to you now Willow.” Lydia was still smiling, but her voice was serious. Tara did as she was told and took the seat Willow sat down opposite and for a moment she just looked at Tara. Then she stretched out her right hand. “Your grandmother suggested this, she said it would make things easier.” Tara reached out and Willow took her hand, entwining their fingers as she did, and hoping that future history would repeat itself. She didn’t have to wait long as she felt the flow of energy between them, something more than just magic, and something it was clear that Tara could feel too from the somewhat awed look on her face. “Now I’m going to tell you about the future.” Willow explained.

It was a fantasy, a fairytale, the wildest story Tara had ever heard, and yet she had not one doubt that it was all true. The vibe that flowed between them as they touched meant she could feel ever nuance of Willows emotions. For those minutes neither of them could have lied to the other, even if they had wanted to.

“So I had to come, I had to find you and find out if you were happy or not. To see if you could feel the same way.” Willow finished and fell silent. Tara thought for a moment before she responded, “I, I think you have an unfair advantage.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well you already know what it’s like when you kiss me.” Tara couldn’t quite believe that she had actually said it; she was just in a whole new place for her, a place where she didn’t feel afraid. Still holding her hand Willow drew Tara to her feet and pulled her close. Then she very gently placed her lips on Tara’s gently teasing them apart so their mouths locked together. The rush Tara felt was incredible, her heart pounded and she knew she wanted Willow Rosenberg come what may.

A rattling of cutlery from the kitchen warned the pair that Lydia was coming back. They broke the kiss, but their hands remained locked as Lydia came back in with a plate of sandwiches. She looked highly amused, “I take that Willow was convincing then?”

“Oh yes.” Tara gushed, and then flushed with embarrassment.

“That just leaves the question of what you are going to do now.” The pair looked blankly at her. Tara hadn’t had any time to think and Willow had been so focused on finding Tara she hadn’t really thought beyond that. Seeing the lack of response Lydia turned to Tara, “You can’t imagine that Willow can stay do you? She has friends and family back In Sunnydale.”

That jogged Willow into life, “I didn’t come here just to see Tara and go away!”

“Of course you didn’t so Tara should go with you.” Lydia said it as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Grandma I can’t just go! I mean dad wouldn’t let me, and how would I live?” Lydia had turned away and opened a drawer on the ornament cabinet. She pulled what looked like a small notebook and handed it to Tara. Willow peered over her shoulder and saw it was actually a bankbook. Tara looked inside and was shocked, “Grandma where did this come from?”

“I’ve been putting money aside for years, it’s to help you go to college. Now Tara you are eighteen, you have the means, and you have someplace and someone to go to go with, what more do you want?

Tara was still uncertain, “But dad…”

Now Lydia got angry, “Tara I watched while your father convinced your mother that she was some kind of monster because of her gift, and I won’t see him do the same to you. You have to believe me that there is nothing evil or demonic in your powers.”

Still Tara hesitated; she couldn’t quite accept that this was happening that she really was being offered everything she wanted in one moment. Willow squeezed her hand, “Tara I’ve seen evil things, heck I’ve helped destroy them, and you aren’t evil. There’s nothing wrong with you.” Willows words worked their magic once more, and Tara felt as though she had stepped out of the shadows and into the sunshine, “So is it really sunny in Sunnydale?” She asked.

9. “She’s Got A Ticket To Ride”

After spending the night on Grandma Lydia’s sofa Willow had a pretty stiff back, she wasn’t feeling the ache however. She was on too much of a high. Even sitting in the diner drinking warm orange juice and stale toast she was happy. She checked her watch and kept an eye on the window. They had decided the night before that Tara would need to go back to her dad’s house. For one thing she had a few personal items she wanted to pack and for another her father would never buy her sleeping over at her grandmothers. It had however been plausible that Tara would go over the following morning to do a few chores for her. Lydia had spoken to her son in law and wheedled him into agreeing to have Tara come back in the morning. As Willow watched a rather dusty pickup truck passed by and she saw Tara sat in the passenger seat. She looked at her watch and saw it was a little earlier than they had planned, there was about an hour till the bus came.

Tara wasn’t much happier than Willow about the change of timetable. Donny however had been insistent; he had better things to do so she could go when it was convenient for him or not at all. It was a typically petty reaction to having to do anything to help her, but Tara bore it in silence, buoyed by the thought that it would be the last time that he would have the chance to put her down. After he dropped her off Donny sped away and Tara went into Lydia’s house.

“Are you ready? Do you have everything?” Lydia asked as she stood in the living room.

“I, I think so.”

“Don’t be nervous dear, I honestly believe this is the best thing you could do, and I think you know it as well.”

Tara nodded vigoursly, “I’m going to miss you though.”

“I do have a phone actually, and who knows I may make my way to Sunnydale one of these days.” Lydia knew that was unlikely, she hadn’t told Tara about the doctor’s diagnosis.

 Post subject: Re: Reality Check 1: "Unforgettable"
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 9:09 pm 
That was wonderful, Sheridan!! :D I really enjoyed this. Tara and Willow, so happy together and with even more time to make their lives together. :)


"But when they're playing your song on the jukebox in Hell, you might as well dance." - K. Simpson

"Futile... like a FOX, baby!" - Tara in The Late Shift by wiccachica

 Post subject: Re: Reality Check 1: "Unforgettable"
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 10:27 pm 
This is awesome! I love this, Willow and Tara together so much sooner.


You say midgets like it's so absurd.

 Post subject: Re: Reality Check 1: "Unforgettable"
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 10:48 pm 
Wow!!!! :eek This is amazing. Willow goes to get her girl. I can not wait to see how you are going to change Willow's history in the Buffyverse. I always wondered what it would be like if W/T had met in high school. Please update soon!!!! I am begging!!!!

:tara :love :willow 4ever and ever

Tara: My heart doesn't stutter.

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

Willow: Hi, um Tara. I was wondering maybe you want to go out some time for coffee? food? Kisses and gay love?

Edited by: The Rose24  at: 5/31/02 11:09:46 pm

 Post subject: Re: Reality Check 1: "Unforgettable"
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 11:45 pm 
wow, that was so beautiful and amazing and all those adjectives. Bravo!

These endless days are finally ending in a blaze --------------

 Post subject: Re: Reality Check 1: "Unforgettable"
PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2002 12:39 am 
Oh thanks for this. The image of Tara and Willow on the main street of Quincy after the bus drove away was so cheesey yet so right. Like that was the only possible way for them to meet the first time, hee :D

I love this, Willow is so determined because she knows that she has to follow her heart.. and Tara is drawn to this heart immediately, ach..

I was imagening how Willow was going to find Tara after the Tara of the future was having this picture of a young Willow with long hair standing in her door to rescue her in the first part of this story. And she did.Thank you for drawing the complete picture. :)

They will always find each other... oh my, I am rambling...


Computers don't suck. ahem

 Post subject: Re: Reality Check 1: "Unforgettable"
PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2002 9:24 am 
First of all Sheridan or Mike, whichever you like better, don't sneak in more fic again, I had read the first part and then realized last night that you had added a whole lot more... but it was ok cause I got to catch up and I had lots of fun reading. I loved the interaction with young Willow and grown Tara. The way young Willow could face her sexuality so quickly and Tara being temporarily swept away in the romantic notion of Willow rescuing her.

2 thing, so of course because in the same universe, the first reality is void now, right? Cause there was some hanging issues there with Willow and her magic. Given that I think Willow will probably still encounter them in the new reality, or maybe finding Tara at an earlier age will help? She still has all those years though, so maybe she wouldn't.

A little nitpicking, I am confused though, Tara is 18? I didn't think Tara was that much older than Willow. Tara could not be 18 until the beginning of season 3 and this takes place in season 2. And Tara's name is Maclay, not Mclay. Enough of that.

The second part was magnificent, Willow being able to stand up to the gang because she has a vision of a more confident Willow. She knew what she wanted and she went right for it. I am really looking forward as you develop this because of the implications for both Willow and Tara, how are visions from the future and the presence of each other going to help them make their lives different. Can't wait really till you write more!

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

Willow and Tara Love

Truly and Forever

Edited by: xita  at: 7/13/02 9:25:10 pm

 Post subject: Re: Reality Check :The Series
PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2002 9:48 am 
Looking forward to the thousands of stories to come (you are writing thousands of episodes right? *S*)


Really enjoyable reading...Which is all I need.

lol Emily.


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