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

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((59/?-August 6th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:45 pm 
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@taranwillow4ever:
With Dawn and Tara its just...so natural. I love them. And it's long overdue to give Buffy and Willow some bff time. Thanks for reading :)

@shirrey:
The Dawn/Anya comparison is so apt, it never quite occurred to me either, but it's brilliant in it's simple and accurate connection. Your insights continue to enhance the Buffyverse for me :)

@Will's redemption:

Don't worry - the conversation has arrived. They definitely can't tiptoe around this anymore. I'm glad the little flashback to 'Grave' worked, I was worried it would seem a little too forced. Thanks for reading

@mmmmh-Hot-Sauce:
Here y'go! More feels :)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

“I promise you, this is even less fun for me than it is you.” Xander calls out into the darkness. Sunnydale High is newer, sure, but basements are creepy no matter how spankin’ new they are. Especially with just a flashlight. He is glad to have been on the construction crew so that he at least knows his way around. And if he’s made duplicates of all the keys? It was for safekeeping and world-protecting, of course. Well, it was probably best that the architect, foreman, and school principal didn’t know about it.

He steps carefully, path lit by flashlight. “‘Xander, go get Spike’, she said. ‘Our friends are coming back from the dead’, she said. Y’know, one of these days, that excuse is gonna get real old,” he grumbles.

He’s walked around the school before, but during the daytime, on the job, while building it. He hasn’t been here after hours since, well, high school. God, was it only four years ago? It’s hard, coming to look for Spike instead of going to the house. Instinct tells him to go the other way; to be with Willow. It takes every bone in his body to not run to her side. He only got in the car because Willow begged him to. Literally begged. He could hear her voice tremble, and the way she barely held it together. His hand shook, hanging up the phone.

He remembers when the earth trembled with her. When it had almost swallowed them up whole. Part of him had been relieved, of course, that the world hadn’t ended. But the small, broken thing he clutched to his chest made him wish it had. They had won. He had saved the day! Him! Regular, non-super Xander. So why hadn’t it felt better? Why did winning for them always mean losing something along the way? Things had been simpler, back when he, Buffy, and Willow had roamed these halls. Maybe not easy, but . . . simpler.

He is more scared now, than he was that day on the bluff. He’s just gotten Willow back and can’t bear to lose her again.

Which is how he comes to be wandering the halls of Sunnydale High, long after anyone should be here. He doesn’t know what kind of new curriculum the new principal has enacted but the fact that a light is on in his office makes Xander supremely grateful he is no longer a student here. “Granted, it is more than a little creepy having a grown man wander the halls of a school after dark on his own for no reason.”

There is definitely some mystical mojo going on, because nothing in the basement matches with the blueprints. The walls he built himself aren’t here. “Sure, be a Hellmouth. But at least don’t interfere with good craftsmanship,” he mutters, clearly offended.

Something metal clatters in the distance, and he turns to walk towards it. “Giyaah!” Xander’s arms flap in the air, but he recovers quickly to swing the flashlight up as if it were a baseball bat.

Spike’s face pivots quickly into the light. And for once, he doesn’t have a snarky, degrading comment for Xander. “Did it work?” he asks urgently, with wide, pale eyes. “Is she here?”
_____________________________________________________________________________________

She’s here, Willow thinks for the thousandth time that night.

Her head buzzes with thoughts of Tara. Her body hums with Tara. Her consciousness pounds with Tara. And her heart . . . Oh, her heart—it bleeds with Tara.

There isn’t much she can be counted on for these days, but at one point, she did used to be a good researcher. And not just find-a-particular-demon kind of research, either. No, this is figure-out-what-the-frilly-heck-is-going-on research; underlying diagnostic research. The last time she’d done that was . . . Glory. Back when her magic made things better, instead of defiled; made things whole instead of tore apart. And it still hadn’t been enough.

Willow wonders if she will always fail the people she loves, in one way or another. In the ways that matter most.

But she can’t lie pressed beneath the questions and doubts any longer; they’re suffocating her. She peels back the covers and heads downstairs.

One of the projects she’d busied herself with over the summer is digitizing some of the Coven’s materials. Collections have a history and life of their own, as much a part of the creators as the communities they are rooted in. Giles’ materials at the Magic Box have been carefully curated over years, begun with the Council’s basic resources and expanded over the years by Giles himself. He is as much a reflection and part of those books as they are of him. The Coven Willow stayed with had developed their collection over generations. Magic was woven into it like any other living entity. She and Giles selected a few tomes from the library, ones that might feasibly prove useful to Buffy here in Sunnydale, and in the evenings, Willow has been scanning them page by page.

At times it has made her feel fifteen again, with Ms. Calendar admiring the project from over her shoulder. She and Giles talked about it, once, the nostalgia eventually giving way to bleeding once more over the unfairness of their loved ones being taken away. It is another thing that connects them, that trauma—with Giles having gone cold in his rage while Willow burned with hers.

What books they were able to salvage from the wreck of the Magic Box are in Buffy’s basement now. A few boxes of spell ingredients and other magical artifacts keep company with the books Willow hadn’t destroyed or sucked dry. She pulls a few from the shelves and brings them upstairs.

The impossibility of the situation overwhelms her once more. She takes a deep, shuddering breath and lays her head down, letting the cool surface of the table soothe her while she calms her breathing. She lets herself have thirty seconds, and then gets to work.

“Since when do you drink tea?”

Engrossed, Willow hasn’t felt the hours fly by or heard the stairs creak. Tara is in the doorway, hugging herself in an oversized bathrobe. Her hair is slightly mussed and her cheek bears the mark of a pillow crease. A wave of dizziness threatens Willow and she squeezes her eyes tight against it. “Um,” she swallows hard, heart pounding. “Since you . . . Since England.”

There’s a beat. “Oh,” Tara says simply as she realizes, hugging herself tighter, looking suddenly very shy.

It’s clear neither girl knows what to do or say, but Tara’s self-conscious body language moves Willow into action. “Would you like some?” she asks nervously, immediately pushing her chair up to stand. “Tea, I mean.”

Tara seems as if she’s about to say no. “Yes,” she changes her mind, thinking it over. “That would be nice, thank you.”
Willow smiles, a little pinched and nervous, but glad to have something concrete to do. She heads into the kitchen and Tara follows. She flicks the burner on to heat the kettle then takes a mug from the cabinet next to the sink. The clock on the microwave reads just past 4am. Willow shuffles in the pantry for the tea box.

“It feels like yesterday that we were doing this,” Tara remarks. “For Dawn, after Buffy. Was it only last summer?”

“It feels like a lifetime,” replies Willow, fumbling.

“Literally,” Tara mumbles darkly.

The comment is sobering, and heaviness settles between them again. There’s so much unspoken. Willow’s bursting with the pressure of it. “You’re afraid, aren’t you?” Willow says in an unaccusing tone, merely stating a fact Tara doesn’t want to verbalize. “ . . . To know.”

Tara looks guilty. Bites her lip. “I don’t want to be,” she admits.

“It’s okay,” Willow reassures her. “I would be. Heck, I still am.” She has no idea where to begin. Except where it all ended. “You died. In my arms. I . . . didn’t take it well.” Willow’s fingers play with the tea wrapper; squeezes her eyes shut against the memory of the window shattering.

“Spike said he heard the Earth s-scream.”

Willow nods, unable to meet Tara’s eye. Can’t bear to even look at her. “But not before I killed the person who shot you. Not before I almost hurt Dawn, or tried to kill Giles and Buffy. That’s when I tried to end the world.”

Shame burns so hotly it’s excruciating, but the burns will never be penance enough. The shrieking of the kettle indicates a boil. Willow turns to take it off the flame, giving Tara a break from having to look at a monster. She takes her time pouring the water into a mug, tearing open the packet slowly. That there is no absolution for her is a penitence Willow was prepared to live with. But this part, the confession, is something Willow had been hoping to stave off for a lifetime. Because for Tara to have to live with the knowledge of what Willow had done in her name, it would be a betrayal and pain of the highest order.

“How?” Tara chokes weakly.

Willow snorts self-deprecatingly. “How do you think? With magic,” she spits the last word like it’s dirty.

“No,” Tara shakes her head, “How did you s-s—”

Willow doesn’t remember the last time she’s seen Tara stutter. How many more ways can I fail you? *“Stop?” Willow finishes for her. Tara nods. “Xander. Also a boatload of pure Earth-magic keyed to detonate my rage bubble . . . But mostly Xander.” Willow drains the tea bag and slides the mug across the counter. Tara accepts it in silence. “All that magic is still inside of me. I haven’t forgotten how dangerous I still am. How dangerous I can be. I was selfish and in pain and I could spend the rest of my life apologizing and it’ll never be enough because it was unforgivable.”

“You can’t apologize forever, Will.”

“I know.” she says firmly. “I can only do better.” Tara looks unsure.

Spike must have told her enough, because Tara seems to be handling the news remarkably well. An unsteady moment passes until Willow breaks it until it breaks her, “Was it everything you expected?”

“What was,” Tara asks confusedly.

“All,” Willow gestures vaguely. “That.”

Tara thinks over the question a moment. “You know, the last thing I remembered seeing was blood all over your shirt. Wherever I was, for the longest time, I thought it was you who got shot. But I think . . . part of me was afraid to think about the other possibility. That if it was me, what you’d do.”

It seems as if Tara’s about to say something else, but they’re interrupted by hurried footsteps on the stairs. Before they can investigate, Dawn rushes into the room. Her hair is still mussed from sleep but she’s wide-eyed and alert in panic. Her body sighs in relief, relaxing only when her eyes find Tara. “I woke up and you weren’t there. I panicked,” Dawn explains with a shrug.

“I’m so sorry, sweetie, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Tara quickly moves to wrap the teenager in her arms. Dawn clings back tightly, holding fast to Tara’s robe.

“I know,” she says relieved. “It’s okay, you’re here now.” Tara strokes Dawn’s hair, the other hand rubs her back. Dawn buries her head in Tara’s shoulder. “You’re here,” she repeats, thick with emotion.

“I’m here.” Tara kisses the top of Dawn’s head, looking guardedly over at Willow.

Shrinking back into the cabinets, Willow bears the weight of Tara’s just anger and fear. She hugs herself and reaches reflexively for the tea.




*borrowed from lipkandy's exquisite 'Tempus Fugit S7'

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((59/?-August 6th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:25 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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That line 'how many way can I fail you' struck a cord of recognition. It's apt in Tempus Fugitive and here too.
The way you weave the past and present is exquisite. And I love the starkness of early morning for this stark, essential, conversation.
Lastly, I can feel the mood shift when Dawn enters, it's like a breath of relief. But relief from a conversation that needs to continue. It's difficult to be in this place that Willow and Tara are, so scared and raw and uncertain, but I also know that this is where the the healing begins. I love this story Zooey.

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You ARE Magic ~ Tara


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((59/?-August 6th, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:25 am 
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4. Extra Flamey

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Posts: 153
I couldn't stop myself from reading the update immediately although I am at work right now. Now I sit at my desk with a heart bleeding for Willow - serves me right I guess.

First, the scene in the basement. Interesting that the basement itself has changed - copying the old basement of the destroyed school? Does that mean "their" reality and the "Limbo" in which Tara sat with Spike in a version of the old basement somehow "overlap" here?

Quote:
Instinct tells him to go the other way; to be with Willow. It takes every bone in his body to not run to her side. He only got in the car because Willow begged him to. Literally begged.

I'm glad for this insight, I was wondering why Xander didn't rush to Willow after the news.

Quote:
Something metal clatters in the distance, and he turns to walk towards it. “Giyaah!” Xander’s arms flap in the air, but he recovers quickly to swing the flashlight up as if it were a baseball bat.


Is there something missing between these two sentences because I can't see why Xander is so scared all of a sudden?

I'm glad that Spike is lucid and really worried for Tara's wellbeing.

And now to the conversation between Willow and Tara. It literally hurt to read Willow's point of view of it, how absolutely sure she is that Tara must fear and hate her for what she did and that she could never forgive her:
Quote:
Willow turns to take it off the flame, giving Tara a break from having to look at a monster.

Quote:
I was selfish and in pain and I could spend the rest of my life apologizing and it’ll never be enough because it was unforgivable.”

Quote:
Shrinking back into the cabinets, Willow bears the weight of Tara’s just anger and fear.


I'm sure that there are other emotions dominant in Tara's "guarded look" but right now Willow seems so full of self-hatred that she is blind to them.

Your detailed description of Tara and Dawn holding each other just screams out to me that Willow and Tara haven't shared a single touch since Tara came back. Willow still seems to be avoiding any possibility to touch Tara, going so far that she slides the mug across the counter instead of handing it to Tara.
Quote:
She hugs herself and reaches reflexively for the tea.


God, for a moment I wanted to reach in and hug her! But I think the only thing that would really help her right now is what she desperately wants to avoid, being held by Tara. It might lead to an emotional breakdown for Willow but maybe that is exactly what she needs to start healing.

I really hope that the next scene with Tara will be from her point of view again so we can learn what she really thinks and feels about her interaction with Willow. I'm also wondering if her meeting with Willow at 4 am was a coincidence or if she went so see her... I'm hoping for the latter, that Tara just felt she had to see Willow right now and/ or wanted to check she was okay.
I'd love to have some light at the end of Willow's emotional tunnel in the next chapter...please?


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