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

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:48 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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Wow, this is an awesome story. It takes so many turns, it's sometimes not easy to follow all the routes it's taking. But you manage so wonderful to bring them back together.

Thank heavens (or better jasmydae) for Giles being there for Tara. And thanks to Tara that she is able to let it happen. A more stubborn person might have declined the offer. She tried to but in the end she took the opportunity. Good to see that Tara knows deep down to take care of herself when it's absolutely necessary. Now we do know where the sore abdomen came from but I fear for the test results. There might be a result coming by Tara won't be to happy about. We'll see.

Wonderful cliffhanger, too. I loved the way Faith just stepped by and let Tara in. I think this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship. And it's killing me to know exactly about what Tara is so afraid off.

Thanks for the story and nice christmas to you.

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:46 am 
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Nice chapter ^^ Loved the dream

Hmmmm Tara being sick and tired all the time, hope there isn't anything wrong O-o that would just complicate things (especially what I'm thinking of), and kind of weird.

Don't leave us waiting to long and happy holidays!

:kitty [/i]

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:37 am 
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I tried to write feedback yesterday and got interrupted. Anyway, I really like this chapter in spite of the lack of W/T-ness. I feel like we're getting some serious character development in terms of both Tara and Giles. Tara's really lucky to have Giles and I would guess that for him, Tara gives him someone to care about once again. Does he live in his office? I can see ways that the relationship between them could look inappropriate to others but I can also see it progressing in a very valuable way. I'm also glad that Tara has gone to Faith and hope that she's going to open up and get what she needs. I also hope there's no bad cause for the UTI. Those fuckers can hurt and be really bad.

I can't wait for more.

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 9:33 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... Good that Tara has found a real friend in Giles...

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:30 pm 
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Image

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Congrats, Megan!!

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:39 am 
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Congratulations! :party :pinky

You deserve it :)

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:15 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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First off...Congrats on the award. Very much deserved!

You certainly have some strong feelings about bread. In general, I am also a fan of the crumbly kind as well as the slang $$$ kind. Perhaps some sort of Breadlovers Anonymous is the right place for you. I'm curious what sort of snacks would be at such a meeting. Obviously not bread, but does that leave out other bread-like snacks like crackers? And what about pound cake? It's not traditional bread, but does come in a loaf. Okay, apparently I have my own bread issues.

Now for this latest update. I love the developing friendship between Tara and Giles. Both have mysterious pasts that are keeping them from living in the present, but they're slowly beginning to trust one another and come out of their shells.

While a UTI is nothing enjoyable, it's more innocuous than what I originally thought. I know Tara's latest fear of home is the potential confrontation regarding the store receipt. I don't think I'm any closer to knowing exactly what's gone on between her and her father. One minute I think it's not as bad as I think and other times I think it must be worse.

Anyway...you keep me looking forward to the next update. Glad you aren't taking the "cheater" way out with Oz but I'm curious (eager) to see that breakup and what happens next.

Off question and then I'm really leaving. ;-) Will Tara and Willow discuss the kiss?


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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:53 am 
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Congrats on your Awards!

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:05 am 
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Firstly, congrats on the sunny d awards :)

For anyone wondering about the extent of abuse Tara endures, the visit to the doctor should clarify that for you, the relief is apparent when Tara is told there will be no physical examination for her condition.

On a positive note, her willingness to take Giles up on his offer of medical help, and her determined visit to Faith give me hope that Tara is beginning to realise that this situation can no longer continue.

At first, I thought she was going so she could talk to Faith about Faith's own issues, but Tara's body language "the blonde slunk shamefully into the apartment" makes me think that Tara is ready to confront her own situation.

I really hope the next update lets us see that conversation.

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:18 pm 
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Not an update, sorry. But the holidays are now over, and I've been doing a lot of writing, so I should be producing something soon. Like one of those chapter things, for example. Anyway, feedback feedback is in order.

BentBrokenTheory: Hey! Loved the feedback, but you forgot to include the armadillo. ^_~ You give me too much credit for intricate metaphor; the actual idea for the dream (as with other dreams in this story) was...well, the rather vivid dream I had a couple of months ago. But maybe my subconscious is providing foreshadowing for the story! o_O; Yeah, I'm glad Tara isn't a stubborn dummy, too. Love the Foovatar. ^_^

sacinema: Because the story doesn't have a big umbrella plot, I wrote a whole bunch of minor story arcs to try and keep people interested. And not losing readers along the way was, believe it or not, right up at the top of my List of Important Things! ^_^ Although, I've realized at least one thing: it is a lot more difficult than I imagined to gauge the reader's ability to tell what the heck is going on. I mean, I wrote the thing, so I know what I'm trying to show with a scene, but I think there are a good many bits of the story that could have been made a lot clearer. But that's the great thing about feedback. ^_~b You know, other than general ego-stroking.

I always liked the Giles/Tara pairing. It always seemed to me that the two would make pretty good friends, despite the age difference. No worries about the UTI; since I'm probably not planning to mention it again in the story, we can all safely assume that it clears up after the visit to the doctor. Tara's fear is pretty straightforward (well, in the general sense, anyway), and that's one thing that I'm worried hasn't been obvious enough: she's scared of the way her father acts when he's on the bad side of his emotional cycle. He's a controlling, abusive person. In my efforts to not completely demonize him, I worry that I haven't clearly shown this.

Thanks for the feedback, and I hope you had happy holidays. ^_^

MelCar19: The dream (I modified it a bit to make it fit more with the characters, but the basic points of the dream were from my own) was pretty bizarre, when experienced firsthand. Spoiler: Tara's not pregnant (if that's what you were thinking). Yeah, sorry for the long wait. Believe me, I want this next chapter done as much as you do. ^_^ I've had more trouble with this one than most of the earlier ones, for some reason. I keep swapping up which scenes to include. (and thank you for the congrats!)

JustSkipIt: Oof. My goodness, I want to get to the Willow/Tara stuff, too! I don't know what's wrong with me; I somehow managed to come up with all of these storylines that involve just about every character pairing but those two. I think you're right about Giles, re: Tara. He doesn't actually live in his office. He's got a house, a short ways from the campus (he woke up there, a few chapters ago, and drove to work), but he does on occasion spend nights at the office. Tara's probably really good for Giles; he can build with her an attachment that he'd have trouble attaining with any of his students (I feel like he'd be averse to that, because it treads into the realm of conflict of interests). As mentioned above, the UTI is taken care of. As to whether there's a bad cause for it, I'll leave that one to the reader's imagination.

Thanks always for the feedback. ^_^

Zampsa1975: Thanks, Sami. Agreed! I wasn't planning for Tara/Giles to get a whole chapter there. It was originally written as a very short scene, but once I started it, the words kept coming. I wish all chapters were that easy. (and thanks for congrats!)

masterjendu: Wouldn't have happened without your nomination! Thank you so much for that. It really made my month. I'm a "New Author!" !! That means I'm an author! I mean, I guess the fact that I'm writing a story would have kind of clued me in to that, but...but...now it feels so much more official. :blush

ophelia11: Thank you so much. ^_^ Hey, I got Yesterday's Tomorrow up at the archive, so thanks a bunch for that, too. And, bread? Pssh. Who cares about bread? Not me. e_e; Lots of...hm...wow, that was dumb. I almost said: "Wow. Everyone's mentioning Tara and Giles." Well, yes, Megan, they are--because that's what you wrote the entire last chapter about. Stuff about Tara's father a few feedback feedbacks ago (sacinema's) might clear some things up. I'm so happy that you're reading and enjoying the story; it's been a real blast to write, even though I do go through patches of writer's block. Yeah, I need to go go go with the Oz stuff. It's coming. Okay, good question! Will the girls discuss the kiss? At some point, probably yes. Although I haven't planned it in their next few interactions, a lot of times when I'm writing the characters kind of take off on their own, and I end up with something wildly different than originally envisioned (and then, lots of erasing future chapters in my notebook ensues).

Paint the Sky: Ah, how I've missed that spherical spheniscidae. I'd say you're right. I mean, being eighteen chapters into the story does kind of beg Tara to at least consider doing something about her situation. She should do so, if for no reason other than letting me finally write some fun scenes. ^_^ So, I'll admit that part of the reason this chapter is taking so darned long is because I keep waffling on whether to include the discussion that takes place on the other side of that door. It doesn't fit (at all) with the rest of the scenes I've written, and I'm having trouble extending/rearranging material to make it a focus. Plus, I really want to write a Willow/Tara chapter. So I don't think it's going to happen. I'll make reference to it, probably, and everyone will learn what happened, but I don't think I'm going to write the actual scene out. Sorry. >_<

Everyone who voted for Constants at the SunnyD awards: You guys rock. No, I mean it: you're all rockstars. Thank you so much. Everyone who cast a vote, left feedback, chatted with me, or even just tried to think of a movie in which Millicent Martin played a role (over at Genuine Molded Plastic. hmmmm...)--you guys have made writing this story an amazing experience. Thank you all.

Now, enough blathering. I've got a chapter to write.

*peace*

~ Megan


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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:24 pm 
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*Phew* Thank goodness she isn't pregnant, that would have been bad.

"Sorry *insert child's name here*, your dad is also your grandfather."

Thanks for clearing that up for me!

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated December 21st)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:55 am 
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I love love love that chapter - the balance you struck between Tara hiding within herself, and recognising that she needs to accept the help that people are offering her, just felt so true. She's such a shy person, always putting herself last, and non-confrontational to a fault - even when she needs help, there's a part of her that just wants to stay quiet, because speaking up grants her problems a solid reality than she doesn't really want to confront. But it felt so natural for her to take that step here - in hindsight, her argument with Faith seems almost like a catalyst, in that even though (by way of Faith's guess at her problem being off the mark) she managed to brazen her way out of it rather than let Faith in, the fact that it made her flare up at all, which isn't very much in her nature - it almost seems like that jolted her, leaving her that little bit more ready to accept Giles's offer of help. (Plus I'm sure feeling physically miserable helped - nothing speeds up acceptance like feeling to sick and tired to argue, sad to say.)

Reading your feedback-feedback about the Faith discussion... that's a toughie and no mistake. Of course my first reaction was "No, show us the discussion!" - but y'know, if it's feeling like it needs to be skipped, hey, skip. Your instincts haven't led you astray so far. And there was so much in that silent moment where Faith opened the door and Tara 'slunk' in - the body language, everything they didn't say, it feels like that's the conversation already there. I thought Faith's reaction there was so great, and so right for her - the simplicity of it, appearing half-dressed, but seeing Tara, just standing aside, no fuss, no overacting, she just sensed that Tara had come to her for help, and she didn't have to do anything right then but let her in. (Plus, Faith in underwear - thanks! :blush )

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 Post subject: Constants - Chapter 18 Feedback
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:00 am 
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MelCar19: Hehe, no problem at all. I thought about it for a second as I was writing the previous chapter (the confrontation at the diner scene) and wondered whether anyone would consider that. But, no worries, not going to happen.

Artemis: You love the Tara chapter?

Quote:
Of course my first reaction was "No, show us the discussion!"


I waffled too long on this, and finally just wrote the darned thing. So, the scene will be posted in just a moment!

Quote:
Plus, Faith in underwear - thanks!


Well, I felt like I owed it to you, after your generosity with the chain mail bikini. ;) Which reminds me, I've gotta post three more feedbacks over on that thread...

So I loved your analysis of Tara's thinking patterns; they are pretty spot on as far as how I was imagining it while writing, especially the idea that the confrontation with Faith (while off target) was still a kick in the butt.

I'd be really curious what you make of her actions over the next few chapters. I had a long discussion with Jendu (thanks, MJ, by the way!) about it, and came out of it worried that my original thoughts not be quite on the mark, and might leave readers questioning.

All: Okay, so it's been way too long since I posted an update here. Partly, this was due to the holidays, and partly it was due to some story plot holes that needed to be paved over. This chapter is also really long, and taking a while, so I'm going to post what I've got now, and finish the rest by next weekend.


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 Post subject: Constants - Chapter 19
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:15 am 
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***
PART 19
***

The calendar was wrong, Faith realized. It wasn’t June, anymore. She padded across her kitchen and flipped forward to September, giving more attention to the glossy photos of classic sports cars than to the rows of empty boxes. She twisted the thumbtack out of the wall, and fastened the additional pages with the rest of the months past. When she stepped back to admire her handiwork, Faith noticed that the year was off, too. Grumbling, she tore the calendar down and dropped it into the trash.

Tara, looking utterly bedraggled, was shuffling back from the bathroom when Faith tiptoed through the living room. The waitress still moved gingerly, although the doctor had said the pain should ease off in a couple days. She cast Faith a smile, which morphed into a yawn, before sitting carefully on the sofa bed. Faith glanced through the bedroom doorway at her own bed, its covers permanently kicked awry, then eased onto the thin mattress beside the blonde. Tara looked at her curiously.

“I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m not so great at the ‘hey, you wanna talk?’ thing,” Faith began. “I guess I’m more of a ‘here’s a beer; let’s get hammered and do something impulsive and stupid’ problem solver.”

“It might be a l-little early for beer,” Tara said. “What time is it?”

“A bit before five.”

Tara yawned again, and the two girls sat for a moment in silence.

“Um, so…do you? Wanna talk abou—”

“No,” Tara interrupted, adding quietly, “N-not really, no.”

“Oh, okay. That’s probably good,” Faith said, bobbing her head twice.

Five seconds passed.

“I’m s-sorry,” Tara whispered.

“Eh. Look, everyone’s got their own way to—”

“You were right,” Tara confessed. She stared at her hands, and began cleaning the undersides of her fingernails.

“Hm?”

“It’s—it’s my father. He hasn’t—h-he hasn’t been the same since my mother—uh, died.”

Faith said nothing, but listened.

Tara sighed. “He drinks,” she admitted, and then the words began tumbling out. “L-lots. And he’s never happy; I—I think he’s f-forgotten how to be. Sometimes I think he…sometimes it’s like he can’t b-bear to have a family. And—and other times he watches us like a hawk—Donny and me.”

Faith finally spoke. “Like his visits to the diner?”

Tara nodded miserably. “S-sometimes he gets r-really bad…with the drinking. And then, I don’t—I don’t see him in there, anymore.”

She was unraveling a loose seam at the corner of the comforter, and Faith reached across to remove the material from her fidgeting grasp. The blonde took a wet breath.

“I lied to him. A-about the p-p-party. He was upset.”

“So you wanted to scoot for a bit,” Faith guessed. “I get it.”

Tara lifted pleading eyes to the older girl, her lashes clumped and glistening. “Y-you do?”

Faith answered both questions. “Yeah. I do.”

They remained seated. Tara’s sniffling tapered off, and the moment grew awkward as neither girl spoke. Faith finally broke the silence. “Uh, so how was that for you?” she joked.

Tara offered her a weak smile. “You do the friend thing just fine, you know.”

“Aw, shucks,” Faith hammed, rolling her eyes. “Anyway, I’m gonna grab a shower, then go score us some doughnuts. Whatdya say?”

“The Breakfast of Champions,” Tara giggled.

Faith hopped up from the sofa bed and moseyed toward the bedroom. She paused at the door, one hand resting on the doorframe. “Did you mean that—the friend thing?” she asked. “Are we friends?”

Tara blinked. “Of course,” she said.

“Wicked.”

~*~

“How about the Ellicott Seven Slammers?”

“Mm. What about the Honors Guard? It’s sort of punny, and most of the team is in Gemstone, right? Plus, I can think of lots of taunts we could work the name into.”

“You were a cheerleader in high school, weren’t you?” Buffy guessed.

Cordelia laughed. “Guilty as charged. I’ve still got a pair of pompons in my closet, back home.” She stopped walking long enough to strike a pose with her arms fanned out to one side. “Go Barons!” she cried, simultaneously pumping her fists into the air. Shaking her head, Cordelia resumed her walk. “It seemed a lot cooler, four years ago.”

“Buffy tried out for the cheerleading squad, sophomore year,” Willow mentioned, slowing her pace to fall into stride with the other two girls.

“Right. Tried out for,” the blonde stressed. “It didn’t go exactly as planned.”

Cordelia looked intrigued. “Mm? What happened?”

“Oh, you know. Over-exuberance, sprained ankles, spontaneous human combustion—”

“What?”

“—figuratively speaking,” Buffy finished. “Anyway, I ended up as an alternate, and didn’t feel like busting my butt for nothing, so I dropped it.”

“Then she joined the other team,” Willow continued. “I mean, the team. Well, one of the teams, anyway. The sports teams.”

“I played field hockey,” Buffy summed up.

At the bottom of the hill and across a parking lot, they saw the University’s practice fields. The span of grass was teeming with students, who clumped together in sets of eight, each group wearing the colors of their team. Willow gulped nervously. Over the last two and a half weeks, she had been adapting to the sheer number of people on the campus, but this was different; these were athletes.

“Speaking of field hockey, is Riley going to show up to cheer you on?” Cordelia asked.

“How is that related to field hockey?” Willow wondered aloud, grateful for the distraction.

Cordelia shrugged. “I don’t know. I was never any good at segueing.”

“He couldn’t make it; he’s working tonight,” Buffy said. With the party a week behind them, Cordelia’s bitterness over the Riley situation seemed to have disappeared completely, and she was now at ease peppering the blonde with questions about her new beau. Buffy was relieved, and had developed a deeper respect for Cordelia; she could just as easily have held a grudge, and then Buffy would have been out a new friend.

“What’s he do?” Willow asked.

“He’s a peer-counselor at the Help Center.”

“Is that part of the Health Center?”

“It’s like a suicide hotline thing,” Cordelia explained.

“Sort of,” Buffy clarified. “It’s peer counseling for…you know, for students in dark places, emotionally—bad breakups, deaths in the family, rape, stuff like that.”

“Oh. Well, that sounds good,” Willow said. “The hotline, I mean. Not the other stuff.”

“It’s really great,” Cordelia agreed. “I already applied to do it next year.”

Buffy looked surprised. “Wait, really? How? I figured you needed some kind of degree or license or something.”

“Nope, you just do an interview, and then they make you attend training seminars. I don’t know if I’ll get it, though; they said a lot of people sign up.”

“Huh. Lots of Psych students?”

“Some, yeah. But I’m pretty sure anyone can apply. Why? Are you interested?”

“Yeah, a little,” Buffy admitted. “I don’t know if it’s such a good idea, though, considering Riley; work and relationships do not mix.”

“You should sign up, Buffy,” Willow urged. “I think it’s neat, and you’re always talking about how you want a job where you can actually help people.” The girls were crossing the fields, now, and Willow kept herself wedged between Buffy and Cordelia, in order to have a one friend buffer on either side.

“Are we taking that as interest of your own?” Cordelia asked.

“Me?” squeaked Willow. “No, no, no, no. I’m not good with phones.”

A figure in the middle of a small cluster of students waved them over, and they trotted the rest of the way across the first field. A few of their teammates were gathered together, and a boy was handing out light blue tee shirts from a bag.

“Large? Doug, are you serious?” Buffy asked. She pulled the shirt over her head, and even over her bulky sweatshirt the tee hung loosely, well past her waist.

“Sorry,” Doug said. “We got a really good discount for ordering all one size.”

Buffy frowned and tried to tuck the excess fabric into her jogging pants. “Is everyone already here?”

“Yup,” replied her roommate, Beth. “The seven of us here, plus Harmony’s checking the team in over there.” She indicated a long table, which had been set up along the side of the middle field. A half dozen employees of the Campus Recreation Center manned it, and a queue of students stood nearby, each waiting for their turn to jot down the names of their team members on a clipboard.

“Come on,” Doug instructed. “When she gets to the front, we’ve all got to go show our student IDs.”

The group followed him over to the registration table, and one by one they handed their cards to Harmony, who dutifully wrote down their names and student identification numbers while one of the event coordinators looked on. When Willow slid hers into the girl’s hand, Harmony began to jot the information down, then paused, her features bunching up in confusion. “Really? Your name’s actually—”

“Just putting down ‘Willow’ would be fine,” the redhead quickly interrupted. She grabbed her ID back as soon as Harmony’s pen stopped moving. Willow had trouble stuffing the card back into the holder that was linked to her keychain, and she was so focused on the task that a sudden tap on her shoulder caught her entirely by surprise.

“GYAH!” She jolted, her keys jangling with the spasm. Willow spun to launch a reflexive bout of sputtering, but the words got hung up at the base of her throat.

“Boo,” said Tara.

~*~

“Why you hypocritical little sneak!” Cordelia accused, when the members of both teams finally gathered together on the other side of the field. “All week long, we’ve heard nothing from you but, ‘You all are cheaters. You’ve got ringers. If you win, it’ll only be because you broke the rules.’ And now you show up just as guilty as we are. That’s like the blackest kettle…or pot or whatever…ever!”

“Hey,” Andrew countered, defending himself. “You guys started it by inviting Buffy. In fact, almost half of your team isn’t from your floor.”

“That may be true, but at least we’re from the University,” Buffy pointed out. “Your team is recruiting from off-campus.”

Faith chuckled. “Haven’t a clue what you’re talkin’ about, B. Cassie n’ me are bona fide Terps, and we got the IDs to prove it. See?” She held up a card with a grainy picture of a smiling Indian woman, positioning it next to her own grinning face. The two did not look one bit alike.

“Oh, so you’re a recent transfer from the Maryland University of Culinary Arts and Identity Theft?” Buffy guessed.

“Sounds to me like you’re afraid of having a little competition.”

The blonde narrowed her eyes dangerously. “Oh, that’s it. You guys are going down.”

“Now that’s the attitude I like to see! We’ll have to see what you got, B.”

Offset from the group to avoid the verbal sparring, Willow and Tara huddled together. The two made quite a pair—Willow in a vastly oversized blue tee, and Tara fitting her team’s sunburst yellow shirt snugly over an alpaca wool hoodie. They watched, amused, as the rest of their teammates taunted and teased each other.

“So…” Willow said hesitantly.

Tara smiled with her eyes. “It’s been a while.”

“Seven and a half days,” verified Willow. “Uh, not to be completely creepy and stalkerish, or anything.”

“How have you been?”

“Good. Swept up in the first two weeks of classes; these courses really move along.”

“You’re enjoying them?”

“Oh, definitely.” Willow nodded. “I’ve got a physics class that is not very difficult, but sort of intimidating because of the size; a Latin class with a really nice professor; a computer science class that’s…well, kind of a breeze at the moment, but I looked ahead on the syllabus, and it looks like it’ll get into a lot more complicated material by the end of the semester. Then there’s a mythology class, and—”

“That’s Ru—er, Mr. Giles’ class, right?”

“Yeah. Right, I keep forgetting you two know each other. That’s so strange to think about. I mean, not that you can’t be friends with whomever, but back home…I guess thinking of grown-ups just reminds me of my parents, or of Xander’s. Or even Mrs. Summers, although I suppose she’s pretty in touch with our generation. You know, for a parent, I mean. Anyway, you and Professor Giles see each other at the gallery?”

“Right, a few times each week,” Tara said.

“Really? I didn’t realize you were there so often. Are you think about painting, again?”

Tara chuckled. “I’m thinking about thinking about it,” she grinned. “Mostly, I’m just admiring. Have you b-been to the gallery?” A momentary look of frustration cut short her smile as she stumbled on her question.

Reflexively, Willow’s hand crossed the four inches to the fleece covering Tara’s arm. “I…uh, no. I sort of…haven’t even set foot in the building, yet,” she admitted. “I’ve been meaning to, since I heard you were a painter, but I haven’t been able—wait, I don’t mean I was only interested because I heard you were a painter; I mean that I heard you were a painter, and that reminded me that I hadn’t seen the gallery, yet.”

Tara brightened at the contact. “Well, if—if you w-wanted to, you could stop by some day. I’m usually there on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, after four thirty or so. And then I could show you all the pieces that make me feel completely inadequate as a painter,” she joked.

“You’re a terrific painter. I’ve seen proof.” Willow’s words brought rosy hues to the blonde’s face. By this time, the rivalry between their respective teammates had grown to a fever pitch, and the two teams were creating their own events; Buffy led Faith by ten feet in a footrace around the practice field, but Faith was quickly closing the gap. “What’s it like, being friends with Faith?” Willow wondered aloud. “Is she not so scary, anymore?”

“Oh, no, she’s still terrifying, sometimes,” Tara confessed, “but she’s a really great friend. We kind of—we had a fight the other day, but, uh, I think we’re okay, now.”

“Really? What did you fight about?”

Tara’s lips thinned, and she paused for thought. “Uh, well…she was trying to help me with something, and I guess I got…you know, k-kind of snippy.”

“Snippy? I can’t imagine you snippy,” Willow admitted.

“Oh? H-how do you imagine me?”

There was a coquettish quality to the girl’s words, and Willow’s overactive mind tackled the question. ‘Well, closer, for starters.’ Half a foot was entirely too distant, she believed. Glancing down, Willow realized that she’d never retracted her hand, and that her fingers, as though powered by a will other than her own, continued to circle on the silky fibers of Tara’s sweater. Reluctantly, she withdrew, and Tara noticed, sparing a glimpse at the retreating hand. When she lifted her eyes, Willow saw in them expectation. ‘You didn’t answer her question, you dummy. She can’t hear you, in here.’ “Right. Um, I imagine you…snipless. Lacking in snip.”

An amused smile curled Tara’s lips. “What about you?” she asked, leaning closer to nudge Willow’s shoulder with her own. “Is it true that red hair equals fiery temper?”

“Only on very rare occasions. But believe me, you don’t want to meet Evil Willow.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Tara giggled.

The girls were interrupted by Buffy, who slowed to a stop nearby, followed by a wheezing, doubled-over Faith. At first, Buffy threw her arms into the air in celebration, but she checked her victory dance when Faith dropped to one knee and began a coughing fit. Concerned, the blonde approached her fellow racer. “Are you all right?”

“I’ve…really…got to quit…smoking!” Faith managed between gasping breaths. When her lungs found a regular rhythm, she accepted Buffy’s offered hand and clambered to her feet. “Okay, so you were right; I’m impressed,” she said begrudgingly.

“Man, you were so close,” Andrew puffed as he trotted over to the others. “I thought you were going to take her on that last stretch.” Faith didn’t offer a reply, so the boy continued. “Hey, Eric is finally here, so we were going to go check everyone in. You need a minute?”

Still breathing heavily, Faith straightened, pushing her hands into her hips and keeping her chin lowered. “Naw, I’m good. Let’s get to it.” She took a few steps after Andrew, then called out over her shoulder, “Next time, you’re goin’ down, B.”

Tara hesitated a moment after her teammates departed. “Um, I guess they’ll n-need me, too.”

“I’ll walk with you,” Willow offered. The girls instinctively took the long way around the field, avoiding the sea of competitors who were doing warm-ups for the upcoming events. They walked leisurely and without a word, communicating through alternating glances and content smiles, before Tara finally ended the quiet.

“What’s he like as a teacher?”

“Hm? Oh, Giles? He’s terrific,” Willow enthused. “He’s definitely my favorite, so far.”

“He’s just Giles, now?” Tara teased.

“Oh, well…it’s just, when Buffy and I talk about him—and it’s mostly Buffy, I swear—it’s…I mean, his name is Rupert Giles, so we—I mean, she—she says it in this really funny terrible British voice that I can’t do at all. Not to his face, or anything, of course; wouldn’t want him to know, and think that we were—”

“He knows.”

“Huh?”

Tara grinned. “He knows. He told me.”

“Oh. Hm.” Willow considered this, and a look of dawning comprehension crossed her face. “Did he say anything else about me?”

“Mm. He said, ‘she gets really cute when she’s all flustered and babbling.’”

Willow stopped walking mid-stride. “—What?! Professor Giles said that? He told you? I…that’s…that’s…well, I…I—I don’t really know what that is. I mean, he’s…he’s old. Not that it—I mean, he is four stars after all, but—oh, and there’s the whole…you know, the teacher and student thing, which is just…well, ew. And…and…”

Tara had paused, as well, and her smile grew more radiant with every word that spilled from the redhead’s mouth. Unable to hold it in any longer, she burst out laughing.

“…and…and he didn’t really say that, did he?” Willow surmised.

“No, he didn’t,” Tara confessed, “…but he should have.”

~*~

“Hey, B…mmmff…I got a great…guh…view from over here. Why don’t you…ungh…come take a look?”

“What’s that?” Buffy retorted, her voice strained. “I can’t hear from…oof…way over there. How about you come a little bit closer?”

The two girls, backed by the rest of their teammates, squared off across a white stripe that had been painted on the ground. A heavy rope was strung taut between the teams, with a bright red flag hanging from a knot exactly in the middle. They wrenched and yanked, causing the flag to bob up and down wildly, but it never moved more than a few inches from center.

“You know,” Faith grunted, “if you find me that irresistible, all you’ve got to do…nrrrgh…is come over and say hello.”

“Irresistible? I’m pulling with all my strength, here, and…graah…can’t get you any nearer. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as repulsive, not irresistible.”

Faith arched an eyebrow. “All your strength? Really, B? I’m disappointed. I thought you’d be more of a challenge.”

“You know, for all your…guh…talking, I don’t see you budging the flag at all, either.”

“All right, that’s it,” Faith sneered. “Play time is over.” She twisted her fingers more tightly around the rope, and wiry muscles rippled up her arms as she gave a mighty tug. The rest of Faith’s team redoubled their efforts as well, and the flag moved, sluggishly at first, then gaining momentum until it, Buffy, and the rest of the Ellicott Seven Honors Guard tumbled past the line.

~*~

“Wow, those two really want to win, don’t they?” Tara observed. She craned her neck to better see beyond the students lining the side of the field. On the grass, members from eight different teams lurched erratically between the painted lines, at times careening into each other and crumpling to the ground. Buffy and Faith struggled to pick themselves up from a tangle of limbs, then they dashed for the finish line, veering dangerously to the left as they ran. At the far end of the field, the next batch of students was preparing for the race by spinning endlessly around a series of Wiffle Ball bats.

When no reply floated up from Willow, Tara looked at the redhead. She was lying on her back on the ground, her limbs splayed out, gripping tightly at clumps of grass. Willow’s eyes were closed, and her lips parted slightly, allowing only shallow breaths to pass through. Tara knelt beside her and pried the girl’s fingers from the turf, slipping her own into the clammy hand. “Are you going to be all right?”

“Could you stop the world from spinning?” Willow asked weakly. “I’d like to get off, please.”

Tara chuckled. “Come on, sit up. It’ll be easier.” She moved behind Willow and helped ease her up into a sitting position. Willow’s head lolled to the side, and she blinked rapidly. “Try to focus on something nearby,” Tara suggested, “like that traffic cone, there.”

“Oog,” Willow uttered. The orange cone in her vision yawed to the right. She shook her head and looked back at Tara, whose face at least seemed to be staying in one place. “How did we do, anyway?”

“You crawled across the line in just under two minutes,” the blonde informed her.

“So I was last,” Willow translated, frowning. “How about you? Did you do okay?”

“Um, actually, I didn’t do much better. The spinning wasn’t terrible, but I’m not so good with the whole…” Tara held her hand out, palm down, and wiggled two fingers in the air.

“Typing?” Willow guessed.

“Running.”

“Oh. Well, how is Buffy doing?”

Tara gave the field a glimpse, but most of the action was obscured by the onlookers. “I think they’ve finished; it looks like the next group might be up. I didn’t see who won, but Faith was a little bit ahead when they crossed midfield.” She scanned the sidelines and caught sight of Andrew skipping gleefully over to Faith and holding his hand up for a high five. The girl looked half embarrassed and half disgusted as she slapped his hand with her own. “I take that back,” Tara added, “it looks like Faith won. She and Buffy are, uh, real competitors, aren’t they?”

“Well, don’t you want to win, too?” Willow asked. She leaned forward, finally able to sit upright by her own power. Her back felt cold where Tara’s hand no longer supported her.

The blonde shook her head. “Not that badly. I sort of just like being here at all.” Her fingers inched forward and brushed the back of Willow’s tee shirt, which puffed out due to the layers of fabric underneath, and Willow once again relaxed into the touch.

‘Much better.’

“What would you be doing right now, if you weren’t here at the Games?” Willow asked.

“Right now? I probably would have signed up for an extra shift at the diner.” Tara’s hand stroked a tiny circuit on the girl’s back as she spoke.

“Well, I meant more like…what do you do for fun?”

“You mean besides the Dizzy Izzy?” Tara joked.

Willow twisted to better face her friend. “Yeah.”

Tara hesitated. “Well, I—I’d like to say painting, but…”

“But not so much with the recently?”

“Right. Um, otherwise…the usual? Reading. Listening to music. Uh, watching movies with Donny…”

“Did you have a nice theater, back home?”

“Oh, I just meant on the television. I—I didn’t go out too often…to the movies.”

“Hey, a bunch of us are going to the midnight showing at the Hoff, tonight, if you’d like to come with us. Well, not at the real Hoff, because I guess there’s construction on that wing of the Student Union or something, but at this temporary theater they set up in the Plant Sciences building. Or…oh, wait, no, you’re probably working early tomorrow, huh?”

“Yeah, I’m on the usual Sunday m-morning shift,” Tara nodded. Her fingers stilled on Willow’s back. “Well…”

Willow waited.

“…I w-would still, uh, like to go. I’ve—I’ve worked tired, before…”


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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated January 20th)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:20 am 
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Woo Hoo! We're Tuesday and you did it!!!!

Reading now :)

They're cute together... :)

I'll say more later but I have things to do right now.

Thanks for the update! :-D

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Last edited by JujuDeRoussie on Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated January 20th)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:46 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I hope Willow and Tara have some :wtkiss during their movie date... I really really hope that Tara would tell Willow about her troubles...

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated January 20th)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:46 pm 
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Good on you, pushing through for an update! I'm still working through your story. It's slow going and will probably be slower once school starts, but I'm getting there. It's completely on me, I have a harder time getting through angst-less plots, but I'm working on remedying that. In the meantime, congrats on this!

Cheers, Meg, I send a White Russian your way :)

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated January 20th)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:40 am 
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Yay!!!! An update! :party

Awesome chapter, love Faith/Tara part in the beginning and glad they aren't fighting anymore more.

But where's my :wtkiss I need them!

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated January 20th)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 6:18 pm 
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Tara is certainly in good spirits considering her situation. I guess her Faith talk did the trick...or is it just because she's around Willow. Great update it makes me miss living on campus :blush

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 Post subject: Constants - Chapter 19 Feedback
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:46 am 
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JujuDeRoussie: Thanks! It actually really helps when I promise a deadline to somebody else for a chapter. These last few have been painfully slow to write (I mean, come on, a *month* for that last one?!), so having somebody bring it up in conversation and provide gentle nudging (read, a serious kick to the backside) helps tremendously. And, always, I love whatever feedback you can offer. It means the world to me that you've left a remark on just about every chapter I've posted here. *hugs* I'm sure I'll catch you in the Kitten chat. KITOPIANS REJOICE!

Zampsa1975: Why, hello, fellow Kitopian. Yes, things are going to be moving along in the next few chapters. Take this next one (20), for example. A *whole chapter* with Willow and Tara? Together? *gasp!* It's about flippin' time, right? Sheesh. I thought I was never gonna get these two in the same scene. Sadly, I'm not sure I can offer movie kisses. But, we'll see. They're getting harder to keep off of each other. :p

Zooeys_Bridge: Thanks very much. I wasn't terribly fond of the writing I did for that last chapter. I think it's some of the weakest in the story, so far. But, then, there has to be *some* chapter for which that's true, right? And if I don't get that one out of the way, then I'll never get the next one done. Anyway, I'm thrilled that you're reading it, and I'll make the same promise about Lotus: I'll get through it, and continue with the comments, nit-picking, etc...but it will probably be slow. And don't worry about Constants; the needle on the angstometer creeps up little by little. I promised I wouldn't have much angst *in their relationship*... e_e; Oh! A White Russian? You're a dear. Gah. Superbowl party over here tonight, and I've no vodka!! D: Whatever am I going to do?!

MelCar19: Yay!!!! A feedback! *zany dancing icon* Thanks ^_^ Yeah, I don't think Faith and Tara would be mad at each other long. Neither one (in this story) holds much of a grudge. The kisses are coming! The kisses are coming! In, like, Book II. :/ Gotta get through the Oz stuff, first. At least, that's kind of the plan, but...well, like I've said, when I start writing, the characters often kind of take the chapter into their own hands, at which point I'm at their mercy. I've scrapped a good many chapter ideas 'cause they just didn't feel like it.

BentBrokenTheory: You're right. Tara's definitely in blissful 'lalala can't hear you!' land, right now. I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. ...which is a weird phrase, really. And I'm with you. Campus life was awesome. I wouldn't let people drag me back to college (guh papers), but I really loved the atmosphere of the place.

All: Thanks everyone, as always, for making it this far. Chapter TWENTY. I feel like...I don't know, it's just a number, but it feels like a more *accomplished* number. Sorry for the increasing span of time between updates, but you have my continued promise that I will finish this story. And now it's time for a shameless plug...because I'm ever up for e-Ego Stroking...to anyone who votes for my stories over at the Willowy Goodness Awards: lots of :luv your way!


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 Post subject: Constants - Chapter 20
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:11 am 
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***
PART 20
***

“What if we kind of go side by side, and keep it wedged between us?” Beth suggested. The Ellicott Seven team was gathered in a circle, working out their strategy for the upcoming event. On the ground in the middle of the ring lay a weathered basketball, the subject of their planning.

“At hip level, you mean?” Doug asked. “It would have to be kind of low, so it doesn’t touch anyone’s arms. That might make running difficult.”

“Yeah, I guess.” The girl shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Buffy eyed the ball doubtfully. “How would we transfer it between people? Sort of a sideways pass between the pairs?” She glided one foot over the top of the ball, rolling it over the toe of the other, then lifted it to her hands. She casually spun the orb on one finger.

“Oh! I know!” Willow piped up. “We could carry each other!”

Buffy stilled the ball and rested it against her hip. “Huh? Carry how?”

“In front. The bigger people carry the smaller people, and the smaller people kind of cradle the ball like a sling. Then we could just roll the ball from one pair to the other, and we wouldn’t have to worry about synchronizing steps or anything.”

Mike, who looked like he wouldn’t have any problem carrying a teammate thirty yards, shook his head. “It’s a neat idea,” he said, “but we’re unbalanced. We’ve only got three…uh, bigger people.”

“Oh, that’s not a problem. Buffy can carry one of us.”

Mike gave Buffy a dubious once-over, and the blonde smirked smugly. Willow assured him, “Trust me; she’s deceptively strong. Buffy could probably carry me across this field and back again without breaking a sweat.”

“Okay, this I’ve got to see,” the young man insisted. He crossed his arms over his chest and waited.

With Willow scooped up in her arms, Buffy asked Beth to place the basketball in the natural pocket created by the redhead’s curved body. She took a few test steps, then began to march more quickly. “Jeez, Will, have you lost weight?” she asked. Mike looked on appreciatively. After travelling the race’s distance twice, Buffy said, “Okay, let’s try a pass.”

Brian, the last of Ellicott Seven’s three men, turned toward Beth, the closest girl. “Want to team up?” he asked.

“Why sure, I’d love to,” Cordelia interjected, squeezing herself between the two, and offering a hand to Brian. Shrugging, the boy swung her up, cradling Cordelia’s body against his chest. She wrapped her hands around his neck.

The two pairs practiced rolling the ball from one human pouch to the next—the process was hampered by the noticeable height difference between Brian and Buffy—until they were satisfied that the transfer would be possible. The other four teammates looked on and wondered who they would be teamed up with during the race. While they watched, a fifth person joined them.

“You’ll overbalance,” Faith called out.

Buffy swiveled, causing the ball to bounce off of Willow’s elbow and continue to the ground. She managed to trap it with her foot before it rolled away. “Pardon me?” she asked.

Faith shook her head. “You can’t do it that way. You guys’ll tip right over once you pick up some speed. You’ll end up droppin’ her on her ass.”

“So, what? You practice the basketball relay in your spare time, now, when you’re not too busy purchasing fake student IDs?” Buffy lowered Willow to the grass and approached Faith.

“Hey, I’m just offerin’ up some helpful advice,” the girl said with a shrug. “Take it or leave it. Your call. But that way will never work.”

“Would you care to make a friendly wager?” the blonde challenged.

“Yeah,” Faith scoffed, her hands on her hips. “Name it.”

~*~

“Come on, Tara. Put me down.” Willow’s voice had a nervous edge as she swayed unsteadily on the waitress’ shoulders.

“Fair’s…fair,” Tara puffed, taking another tentative step up the incline. She pointed ahead, further up the hill, where the rest of the Ellicott Four players labored under the weight of Willow’s teammates as they made their way back to the dormitories on North Campus. “Everyone else on the team is paying for Faith’s error in judgment. We’re expressing…” She paused for breath, reaching up a hand for Willow to grab for balance. “We’re expressing team solidarity,” she finished. Tara straightened and shifted her hoodie, pulling out a bunched-up section from where it was pinched under Willow’s leg. ‘Willow’s legs,’ she thought, ‘Willow’s legs, which are draped over your shoulders. Would it be so wrong to stumble a little, and clutch at Willowknees while regaining balance? They’re probably cute knees, too.’ She gave this some additional thought. ‘Cute knees? What exactly do cute knees look like? You can’t even see her knees, with the sweatpants and all…’ Tara’s fingertips twitched on Willow’s ankle, imperceptibly drifting higher up one cloth-covered shin.

“Well, you really don’t have to,” Willow insisted. With each jostling step she felt Tara’s shoulders rotate under her thighs, and the contact was gradually driving her through distraction to outright insanity. “It wasn’t even your bet. I hereby relieve you of your obligation. Now let me down.” Willow tightened her stomach to lean forward, and wound her fingers through Tara’s when the girl stopped again and offered her a support. Working together, they eased Willow’s feet to the ground.

Tara straightened, unconsciously stretching out her back. She dabbed the sleeve of her sweater at moisture that had collected just below her hairline. “Better?” she asked.

Willow nodded. “Much better. Now we are seeing eye to eye.” She didn’t give the joke much thought; her mind was too busy doing slow motion replays of her body’s sliding descent along Tara’s back.

Willow’s nature was to analyze. She wanted to fit the unusual feelings she had been having for her new friend into a nicely labeled box. She wanted to be able to cite reasons for each one, to generate a numbered list, and to connect them all with arrows. She wanted the entire emotional array of Tara-related thoughts mapped out and cross-indexed. A week had passed since the party, however, and Willow’s mental chart of causality was just as cluttered as it had been that first night. Two points were clear: she had a thing for Tara—‘No, a Thing. Capital T,’ she corrected—and her brain was going to keep going in circles until she had a talk with Oz. ‘And Tara, too. I should talk with Tara about the party,’ she thought, but her id immediately balked at the notion. ‘Okay, maybe it’s best to hold off on that one a little bit longer,’ she rationalized, ‘but I’ve got to talk with somebody about it. This is…this is kind of big stuff, right? Best friend talk kind of stuff.’

She peered up the hill toward the front of the pack, where Faith was trudging along, toting Buffy piggyback style. Willow couldn’t imagine having that conversation with Buffy. Buffy was a wonderful friend, and they’d been through emotional highs and lows together in the past, but when it came to attraction and relationships, Willow wasn’t sure they saw things in the same light. During their sophomore year of high school, Willow had become interested in a boy she had been chatting with in an Internet chat room. Buffy had denounced the activity as alarming and creepy, insisting that Willow shouldn’t have feelings for a person without at least seeing a picture, first. In the end, Buffy’s concerns had been valid, for Willow had gone on to discover a few surprises about her Internet Romeo—namely, that he was fifty-nine, married, and had three kids and two grandkids—but still the experience had left a bad taste in Willow’s mouth. Her best friend had made a few shallow comments about potential partners, and now she wondered whether Buffy’s views of love even scratched the surface of what Willow wanted for herself.

‘No, it will have to be Xander,’ she decided. ‘He’s coming up for Family Weekend two weekends from now, so I’ll have the perfect opportunity to talk with him about it.’ Willow didn’t relish the idea of admitting her feelings for another girl to her friend over the phone. She cast a quick glance in Tara’s direction, and saw her looking back, concerned. ‘That’s assuming, of course, that I can survive the next two weeks without going completely out of my mind,’ Willow added as an afterthought.

Tara’s hand crossed the span between them, and her fingers closed around Willow’s arm. She drew the redhead toward her, moments before a signpost intercepted Willow’s path. The furrows on her brow deepened. “You r-really get lost in there, don’t you?”

“Sorry,” Willow apologized. “And thanks.” Her brain reached out and snatched up the first topic it could find. “So, you’re really coming to the midnight movie with us, tonight? The late night won’t be a problem, with work and all?”

“Yes, I’ll go, and I’ll probably be a little more tired than usual at work,” Tara figured. “Oh, but I should probably, uh, shower, and g-get my medicine and a change of clothes from Faith’s,” she remembered. “I probably should have thought about that before I hiked all the way up here.” She looked back down the hill, across the campus, and frowned.

“Well, you could shower at the dorm, and you could borrow a change of clothes. Uh, and the medicine, well, I mean we have the usual Aspirin and stuff, but that’s probably not—I mean, well, I suppose it’s bad form to ask about it—I just thought, you know, if it might save you a trip—”

“It’s nothing serious,” laughed Tara. “Just finishing a course of antibiotics, but I’m not supposed to miss a dose.”

“Oh. Well, see? Antibiotics? Yet another reason why you shouldn’t be used as a beast of burden. But, yeah, I can’t save you a trip, I guess, but you’ve still got plenty of time before the movie, though, so there’s no rush.” Willow paused. “Um, your stuff is at Faith’s?”

Tara slowed her steps. “W-what?”

“You just said your stuff was at Faith’s—your clothes and medicine,” Willow said. She was startled by the speed at which Tara’s body language could transform. “Oh, I didn’t mean to be nosy—well, I never mean to be nosy, it’s just that my mouth kind of moves faster than my—”

“N-no, it’s fine; I didn’t think you were.” The blonde shook her head, and relaxed somewhat. “Yes, I stayed over at Faith’s apartment last night,” she said. Tara peered ahead at the rest of their group, who continued to struggle along. Faith still carried Willow’s friend on her back, and she was actually engaged in dialog with Andrew, who toted Beth. Tara couldn’t tell the exact nature of the conversation, but from the bits and pieces she could glean—magic spells, catacombs, and ancient artifacts—she thought perhaps they were discussing fantasy novels. Tara had seen Faith’s shelves; she knew that in addition to piles of Reader’s Digest and White Line Magazines, there were many books by the likes of Kurtz, McCaffrey, and Cooper. “I, uh, I stayed there the last three nights, actually.”

“Oh. Are you—I mean, is everything okay?”

“Yeah. Well, n-no, but yes, for now. I’m…I guess I’m not really thinking about it right now. I’m taking a vacation…uh, in a manner of speaking.” Tara smiled grimly. “You know, p-pretending everything is good f-for a little while, then freaking out about it all later?”

“Right. Happiness via procrastination and denial,” Willow replied. “I’m familiar with the concept.”

They walked a few moments in silence.

“…I’m not sure it’s the healthiest thing, exactly,” the redhead continued, unable to leave it at that. “Not to judge or anything, just, you know, it…well, it only delays the Whatever It Is.”

“No, I’m sure you’re right.”

“So, uh, is there anything I can do?”

Tara looked sideways at Willow, whose eyes were wide and hopeful, and a soft smile crept to her lips. “You are doing something: inviting me come to the movies with your friends. It’s the perfect thing, right now. Thank you.” She could tell that Willow wasn’t entirely in agreement, so she shifted the subject. “What are we seeing, anyway, for the midnight movie?”

“Oh,” Willow said. “It’s Shine.”

~*~

The girls were almost back to the quad when Willow heard her name being called.

“Willow! Hey, Willow, wait up!” A male student with a shaved head was hurrying up Farm Drive from farther down the hill. Willow stopped walking, and Tara hovered nearby as the young man approached. “Hey… Ian,” he panted when he reached them. “Sorry, I saw you way back there and ran most of the way up the hill to catch you before you disappeared.” He paused to spit unceremoniously on the sidewalk and take a few deep breaths. “You’re dating Daniel Osbourne, right?”

Willow glanced ever-so-briefly at Tara, whose attention seemed to be on the rest of their party, who were just then reaching the dorms. “Um, yeah. Why?” Willow asked.

“Do you know where the heck he is, today?”

“Yeah, he’s at…” Willow paused. “Well, he said he was going to be at the PanUM games, but I couldn’t actually find him there, anywhere; I wasn’t sure what color his team was wearing. But he was on the Easton Four team, if you can find them.”

“That’s my team,” Ian stressed. He pointed at himself. “Ian Ross. My room’s like three doors down from his. You don’t recognize me, hm? And yeah, he said he’d be at the games, but he never showed up. We had to cancel our entry since we couldn’t field a full team. So you don’t know where he’s at?”

“No, I thought he was there. Sorry. You, uh…wow, you have no hair, anymore, huh?” She’d only seen the boy once or twice while hanging out in Easton Hall, but he had always been proudly sporting an unruly tuft of hair atop his head. He looked completely different, now.

“Yeah, lost a bet,” he explained.

“Oh. Um, sorry about that. And sorry I can’t be more helpful about Oz.”

Ian shrugged. “No problem. Not like we were surprised. Hey, if you see him before any of us do, can you let him know that he’s starting to piss off some of his floormates?” The way he spoke these words, Willow couldn’t tell whether the boy was being serious or not.

“…Sure, yeah. Uh, why? Is he…” Willow hoped her face conveyed the question she couldn’t form.

“This is like the tenth time he’s shaded out when we had plans. The guy’s a freakin’ phantom.”

Willow nodded. “Okay…I’ll, uh, let him know…if I see him. Sorry.”

While Ian continued on, passing the turn-off for Ellicott Hall on the way to his own dormitory, Willow sighed and turned to Tara. “Sorry.”

Tara grinned. “You’re saying that a lot.”

“Oh. Yeah. Sor—uh, no. Wait. Guh.” Willow gathered herself. “You know, when I signed up for the whole relationship thing? Kinda thought it was going to be more doing stuff together and less explaining to random college people why he’s constantly absent.”

“Why is he absent?”

“That’s the thing, I have no idea! I mean, I have some idea; he spends a lot of time writing songs and practicing with his band. But, I mean, that’s not like a—a—a free pass to just skip out on any commitment you’ve made, right? I thought it was, you know, just me, but apparently not.” She waved a free hand in the direction of the departing boy.

“M-maybe he’s sick?” Tara offered.

“He’d better be,” grumbled Willow. “I mean, if it turns out that he’s actually sick, then yeah, I’ll feel bad about ranting like that, but…but until then, I’m just going to be angry, ‘cause…well, darn it, ‘cause it feels like the thing to do.” She crossed her arms over her chest and harrumphed. When a smile cracked the corners of Tara’s mouth, Willow narrowed her eyes. “What?” she asked.

Tara’s smile broadened. “Evil Willow is kind of adorable,” she admitted.

~*~

Willow Rosenberg stood under the stream of not-quite-scalding water. She had long since washed away the sweat and grime; now, she let the heat burrow into her skin, hoping to ease the aches and pains of muscles not used to such strenuous activity. When she had first arrived at the University, she’d had serious reservations about showering in her dormitory’s bathroom; six showers were crammed into a thin, tiled corridor, and only six feet of air and two flimsy curtains separated her from the girl in the adjacent stall. Being an only child, Willow had found the thought of a bathroom being a shared space to be both foreign and invasive. Luckily, it hadn’t taken her long to adapt, and by now Willow had found the positive aspects of the situation: she could stay in the shower as long as she desired, and there was a seemingly endless supply of hot water. ‘It’s not a real shower,’ she thought, ‘until your fingers turn into prunes.’

Willow’s musings were focused on Tara. She had come to accept that some determined corner of her brain was generating a constant stream of Tara-centric thoughts, and that until she figured out what to do about it, they were going to be swarming her mind, sidling up to other musings and blatantly hip checking them out of the spotlight. ‘Okay, let’s try this one more time. One: do I like Tara? Yes, absolutely. Two: do I like Oz? I do, I’m just not exactly thrilled with how things have been going. Three: does Tara like me? She does, and she even gives looks and says things that come across as…well, kind of flirtatious.’

She heard the bathroom door swing open, and for a moment the sounds of the hallway were amplified. Knowing another girl was in the room, Willow unconsciously shifted her thoughts away from Tara, as though they were being spoken aloud. When she was alone once again, she continued, ‘All right, number four: does Oz like me? Well, yeah, Oz loves me. Five: if Oz loves me, why doesn’t he realize I’m not exactly thrilled with how things have been going (see two)? Well, for starters, because I haven’t told him. Also, because he’s focusing his attention elsewhere. Six: do I want to kiss Oz? Yes. But more specifically, I want Oz to kiss me. Seven: do I want to kiss Tara?’ She turned so that the water was cascading down her front, offering the skin on her back a respite from the heat. ‘Good gods, yes.’ Willow closed her eyes and recalled the kiss they had shared at the party. If she concentrated, she could still remember the details: the first fleeting brush of their lips; the rush of air into her lungs at the contact, an automatic reaction to both her surprise and her relief; the second touch, moist and sliding; the way her fingers found their way to Tara’s body by their own power…

Willow’s knuckles met the tile wall, and she jerked her hand backward. ‘Numbers! There were numbers. Um, eight. Eight: do I love Oz? Yes. Oz is one of the most important people in my life, I care about him deeply, and I absolutely do not want to hurt him.’ She groaned. ‘Which is exactly why I need to talk with him as soon as possible. It’s not good to keep him out of the loop when there are…thoughts like these (see seven). Nine: do I love Tara? Well, the sample size is too small; there aren’t enough data points to draw statistically significant conclusions. Ten: so what exactly do I feel for Tara? Am I just going all spastic because we kissed at a party?’ Willow frowned. ‘No, I don’t think so. First of all, I kissed Buffy, Andrew, and Cordelia, too, and none of those kisses were quite so…um, wow. But it’s not just kisses, anyway. Tara and I…we…click.’ Slumping her shoulders, Willow thought, ‘And did she have to mention Wrinkle?’

~*~

“So what do Andrew and the guys want to get? I mean, for Ellicott Four winning at PanUM?” Willow asked as they reached the dorm. Since they’d lagged behind the group, then stopped to talk with Ian, the rest of their teammates had already headed upstairs by the time she and Tara reached the building.

“With the turtle points, you mean? Or, dollars, I guess? Uh, I’m not actually sure,” Tara confessed. “Why? What were you all going to get?”

“We hadn’t exactly reached a consensus on that, yet. I thought it would neat to purchase a whole bunch of used books and start a book swap in the lounge. Harmony, Cordelia, and Buffy wanted to blow it all on one big floor party.” Willow counted off her teammates on her fingers. “Beth was indifferent. I think that most of the guys wanted to buy an air hockey table.”

“I’d vote for the book swap.”

“Cordelia said everyone would just steal ‘em.”

Tara shrugged. “Sure, maybe. But you never know…I think it’s good to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it would have been a big hit. And if not, well, all you would really have lost would have been some books you’d essentially gotten for free, right?” She grinned. “It was a cool idea.”

“Thanks.” Willow beamed. She pushed the button for the elevator. “So, uh, what’s your favorite book?”

“Oh, gosh. There are so many that I love.” Tara considered the question. “Well, The Egypt Game, for one. The Secret Garden. Oh, that one…um…where the two children hide out in the art museum?”

“From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!” Willow gushed.

“That’s it!” Tara laughed. “Wow, I never would have come up with that title. Let’s see, what others? Oh, there’s Watership Down; I’ve probably read that ten times. Fog Magic is another great one. Oh, and of course—of course—A Wrinkle in Time.”

Willow’s jaw went slack. The elevator arrived, and Tara stepped inside, holding the door for Willow, but the girl didn’t move. Tara looked at her curiously. “Why, what’s yours?”

~*~

‘Of course she loves A Wrinkle in Time,’ Willow thought. ‘Isn’t that just the icing on the cake of What the Frilly Heck Am I Going to Do?’ The story was deeply rooted in Willow’s heart; before she had Oz, before she’d even met Buffy, Willow had escaped into the pages of the book. It was from the Murray children that Willow learned how to survive the hardships visited upon her by the demons of junior high. She’d given a copy of the book to Oz for his birthday, two years ago, because she considered it a window to her past, and she had wanted him to see where she had come from. The copy had a great deal of sentimental value to Willow; it had belonged to her sixth grade English teacher, who had not only written a personal message to Willow on the inside of the cover, but had literally filled the margins with her thoughts when she’d read the story, herself. Oz had been moved by the gift, but he never read it.

Reluctantly, Willow turned the handle to shut off the water. She wrung out her hair and wrapped herself in a towel. It was an oversized bath towel that she’d bought on an impulse after her first week on campus. Its vibrant blue was a close match to the one Tara had folded around her in Willow’s dream. Although the fabric was similar to her other towel, she thought this one felt cozier. ‘Why is everything Tara and Oz, Oz and Tara?’ she thought bitterly. ‘How about some nice, non-confusing thoughts, for a change?’

~*~

“Hey, I’m going to see if I can track down Oz,” Willow said when they reached her dorm room. Cordelia wasn’t there, but Willow guessed that she was down the hall in the bathroom, since her shower kit was missing. Taking her cell phone from her desk, she added, “It should only be a minute.”

“Um, actually, I—I kind of thought maybe I should m-make the trip to Faith’s now, rather than later,” Tara said.

“Oh.” Willow paused, her finger hovering over the send button. “But you just walked all the way up here. We could hang out for a while?”

“No, I still w-want to,” the blonde assured her. “I’ll come right back, I just…well, it’ll be dark, soon, and—and I’d kind of like to take a shower, because I feel sort of gross, and it m-makes more sense to shower there, since my clothes are there.” Tara pursed her lips to one side in thought. “Really, in hindsight, this itinerary was not well thought out, was it?”

Willow chuckled. “No, I guess not. Well, if you can wait just a few minutes, I’ll walk back with you.”

“Willow, you don’t have to—”

“I want to,” Willow stressed. “No ‘have to’ about it. You’re good company,” she grinned.

“All right, then. So we go back down the really long hill, and then we get another chance to come back up the really long hill. We’re going to be experts at this.”

“Right. No piggyback rides this time, though. Actually, you know, we don’t even need to wait; I can just call Oz on the way.”

“Uh, n-no, that’s okay,” Tara said. “You can make whatever call you need to. I’ll just w-wait in the lounge?”

~*~

‘Question eleven,’ Willow thought, while studying her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Buffy had been wrong, she realized; she had gained some weight since senior year. The milkshakes offered at the dining hall were sure to be her undoing. Willow tucked the corner of her towel in more securely, and tugged a brush through her curtain of damp hair. ‘Where was I? Oh, right. Question eleven: what is that look? Why does Tara always get that look whenever Oz is mentioned? It could be that she’s envious, but the body language doesn’t agree. Is it possible that she’s embarrassed about something? Okay, this is speculation. Not helping.’ She winced when the brush snagged in her hair, and she carefully worked out the knot.

Willow was brushing her teeth when the thought resurfaced. ‘But what if it is embarrassment? What if she doesn’t just like me? What if she really likes me (remember number three)? Maybe she feels bad because she’s got a crush on…well, somebody with a boyfriend.’ Still holding her toothbrush, Willow brought the heel of her palm to her forehead and clenched her eyes. ‘In which case, way to be the polar opposite of classy, Rosenberg—continuing to bring up Oz, worrying about Oz, and trying to call Oz, all in front of Tara! Could you get any more dense?’

~*~

“Well, you were right; he says he’s really sick,” Willow reported, when she rejoined Tara in the lounge. She hadn’t been able to reach him at his dorm room; the call had gone to a generic voice mail recording—not to her surprise, Oz hadn’t even set up his mailbox—and she had hung up without leaving a message. Willow had tried his cell phone, next, and after four rings, Oz had answered, his voice raspy and low.

“I’m s-sorry,” Tara frowned. “Uh, healthy thoughts and chicken soup.”

Willow smiled weakly. It bothered her that Oz was at Greg’s, if he felt as bad as he sounded. Still, if he’d been there when he’d gotten sick, perhaps it was better that he stay put, instead of driving back to campus. ‘It would be nice to be able to do something, though. General pampering…I could bring him some tea, or…well…’ She looked at Tara. “That’s not a bad idea, actually,” Willow decided. “Well, tomorrow, though. So…ready?”

Walking downhill used an entirely different set of muscles, and they made the trip slowly, since they were already sore all over. Still, they fell easily into conversation, and before Willow realized the distance they had traveled, they were at the apartment complex. Tara had a key—Faith had made a copy at the Home Depot up the street, the morning after Tara’s first nighttime visit—and, once inside, the blonde told Willow she was going to hop in the shower and throw on a clean set of clothes. She rummaged through a bag and picked out a few items, then disappeared into the bathroom.

Willow was sitting on the sofa bed, trying desperately not to think about the thin panel of wood separating her from a showering Tara, when the front door opened and Faith strode into the room, carrying a navy blue sweatshirt and a nearly empty bottle of water. The girl froze in place when she realized the room was not empty. Her eyes flitted from Willow, to the closed bathroom door, and back to Willow. Her eyebrows raised. “Hey,” she said.

“Hi, Faith. I—uh—I was—Tara just came back here to shower and get some things, and I thought I should—we’ll only be a few minutes—um, I hope it’s okay that I’m here; I didn’t think to ask if you would—”

“Whoa, easy,” Faith jumped in. “No worries. I told T she could have people over whenever.” She looked around the room. “Not like there’s any junk here worth stealin’ or anything, right? Just thought you guys were over on the campus, still.” Faith paused, considering the situation. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”

“Huh?”

Faith chuckled, and tried a different question. “Did you have fun gettin’ stomped at the UM Olympics?” She tossed the sweatshirt through her bedroom doorway and headed for the kitchen.

Willow blinked. “The PanUM Games? Yeah, they were fun. Um, congratulations, by the way.”

“Thanks,” Faith’s voice called out. She reappeared a moment later with a pack of cigarettes in hand. “I’ll admit it was a trip beatin’ up on B, again and again.” She grinned. “It’s more fun when they care about winning.”

Willow smiled nervously, not sure how else to respond. Faith had the kind of personality which set her nerves on edge. She was straightforward, self-assured, and aggressive, and it made Willow want to hide under the covers. Luckily, Faith didn’t seem to need any input from Willow’s end to carry on a conversation. “Hey, I gotta pick up some more smokes. If you all take off before I’m back, then have a good time at the movies, and tell T not to worry about wakin’ me up or anything if she gets back late.” She began tugging down her running pants, and Willow quickly reversed her position on her perch. Faith’s voice carried on as she wandered into the bedroom. “That is, assuming she doesn’t crash with you. Oh, make sure T doesn’t forget her pills. And, hey, if you see Andrew there, let him know I’m down for moving this week’s game to Tuesday. Wednesday would be okay, too.” There was a moment of silence. “For Christ’s sake, I’m decent; you can stop lookin’ at the wall,” she chortled.

When Willow looked up, Faith had donned a pair of black jeans, and she was retrieving a timeworn leather jacket from the back of a chair. “You get all that?” she asked.

Willow nodded. “Uh huh.”

“Good. You kids have fun.”

~*~

Willow dropped her toothbrush into the plastic tote that contained her toiletries. She gave her reflection one last cheeky look, stuck out her tongue, then shook her head at her own goofiness. She poked her head out the bathroom door and, finding the hallway empty, darted four doors down to her room. She slipped through the door, quickly pulling it closed behind her, then turned to—

“Oh!” She jolted.

Tara’s eyes widened. “Willow…”

“Tara…” Willow eased herself lower to retrieve the pair of tweezers that had slipped out of her bath tote, careful not to undo the knot in her towel. “Hey, I—uh, I thought you were still in Andrew’s room.”

Tara swallowed a difficult gulp. “Yeah, they w-were going to the d-dining hall. I thought I’d come up here to let you know, s-so we could meet them there and get some dinner b-before the movie.” She knew she shouldn’t stare. A drop of water that had beaded at the tip of a clump of Willow’s hair loosened, then it dribbled down her bare shoulder, leaving a glistening trail along its descent. “Y-you know, if you’re hungry.” ‘She does have cute knees…’

Willow could feel Tara’s gaze melting her. ‘I’m hungry, all right.’ She nodded. “That sounds…yeah, good plan. So I should, uh, probably not go like this. With the towel. I think they have a strict ‘No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service’ policy.” She meant it lightly, but the hunger evident in the blonde’s eyes thinned her breath, so it came out more as a whisper.

Her voice seemed to snap Tara out of it, and she tore her gaze away. “Right. I—I’ll just, um, I’ll just wash my hands b-before we go,” she said. Tara stood and hurried out into the hallway before Willow could utter a thing.

Willow groaned. ‘And the sixty-four thousand dollar question—number twelve: how on Earth am I going to keep myself from jumping her the next time she looks at me like that?’


Last edited by jasmydae on Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated January 20th)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:19 am 
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Okay I've been out of town all week on business so I'm behind on pretty much everything in my life. :blush

I really enjoyed this update. I like how you move between lighter and darker chapters. I'm not sure there's a conscious effort to balance them or not, but it unfolds very smoothly to the reader. You have several interesting storylines and each one is unique and interesting. That in itself is quite an accomplishment because in many things I read there's always something I skim, but that's not the case here.

I loved the competition in this chapter even though I tend to be more the Willow/Tara team member. Sure, winning is great, but in the end, I'll probably be dizzy and sprawled out in the grass either way.

Understand the intent on the kiss discussion. I find when I'm writing there are sometimes things I intend to do but then I go in a completely different direction. Those kinds of talks can be hard to write too, because the event itself was important, but you don't want to overplay it either. You know what's better than talking about kissing? Actual kissing. So feel free to skip ahead. ;-)

As always, I'm looking forward to what happens next. Take care!


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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:46 am 
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How could you? How could you leave it at that? Really?

*totally shocked...*

*... and grinning*

This was a very interesting chapter. I love Willow's thinking process.

I like Oz, I really do, but he's starting to annoy me. Is he cheating on Willow with Greg? Lol. Is he doing drugs? Is he really just deeply buried in his music?

And oh my! Tara's head between Willow's thighs! You tease! It's not the right sense! Lol.

I can't wait to read more.

Thanks for this update dear Kitopian.

Have a great Sunday Evening!

Julia.

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:17 pm 
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Yay for great update-y goodness my dear Kitopian! I'm really starting to wonder what Oz's illness is... I hope Willow very soon talk to Oz and clears things with him so she can pursue Tara without a "boyfriend ghost" hanging over them... I really really hope that there would be :wtkiss at the end of the movie night...

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:40 pm 
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amazing update!

I´m kinda worried about Tara being away from home... I really like her brother (really, I LOVE this teen Donnie ^^). I´m afraid of her father´s reaction... kinda hate the man...

And Willow... oh, Willow is SO cute! being so confused and stuff... Oz is a nice guy, but when you fall for Willow, you stay fallen!!

btw, must read another chapter soon o/

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:27 pm 
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I just wanted to say that this is one of the stories I really like. I look forward to reading every new installment.


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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:04 pm 
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Great chapter! I loved Willow's mental list, especially number 12. Can't wait for the next chapter!

Update soon? :pray

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:45 pm 
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Loving the story so far......UPDATE SOONish. PLZ!!!!!! Wondering when WT will get together!!!! Praying for soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:43 am 
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Hey Megan, sorry I’ve been remiss in leaving feedback lately, but I’m still here lurking in the background, reading, and enjoying every word.

I love the slightly spiky interactions between Faith and Buffy, you’ve been building that aspect nicely – their competitive natures are a nice homage to their relationship in the show – but hopefully without the fighting and stabbing – lol.

Willow is certainly going full steam ahead now with her how she judges her feelings for Tara – not so much in the way of denial for her now. Which, of course, is good both for her and us!

The Oz conundrum still lingers in the background – whatever has Oz MIA, can only be good to ease the eventual break-up to the fore leaving Willow free to jump Tara without denting her conscience.

You are juggling quite a few storylines, but so far it’s all melding together smoothly – the characters are bonding through all the interactions and situations you put them in. Usually, extraneous actions outside the Willow/Tara development can be a distraction – but in this case, it helps to terra-form the world you’re creating.

The college lifestyle, the diner, the roleplay, the gallery, Giles, Faith, Andrew, Cordelia et al – they are integral parts of the storyline yet they are also the layers protecting us from the deeper and darker aspects of your tale.

They act as a buffer, but when you take that aspect away, and gives us time alone with Tara, it gives the ‘darker’ parts more impact.

I can’t help but think we are due a shock to the system soon, it’s been going much too smoothly for our girls, relatively speaking.

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 Post subject: Re: Constants - (Updated February 1st)
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:49 pm 
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Okay! Time for long overdue feedback. I'm also setting a deadline for this weekend to complete chapter 21, so look for it Sunday. Thanks for sticking with the story through some embarrassingly long update cycles; the good news is that the unlabeled "Book One" of the story is nearing a close, and I've got a feeling that once it's done, updates will come a lot quicker. So, I owe some people feedback feedback.

[hr]

ophelia11: I'm right there with you. I went to a Superbowl party and got some kind of plague from one of the guests, and was basically incapacitated for two weeks, so I'm behind on *everything*.

I was happy with chapter 20, too, which was nice since chapter 19 left me wanting. I don't set out to alternate angsty/funny chapters purposefully, but it ends up happening, mostly because I've got a pool of storylines that I'm trying to further, and I try to space them out over the chapters. Some storylines are funny, and some not. It's really (really) good to know that at least one reader is enjoying each of the arcs. Expect a lot of Tara-focus after the next few chapters.

It's nice that neither Willow nor Tara are particularly adept at the UM Games, because it left them sidelined, leading to more conversation. After a serious lack of W/T in earlier chapters, I think our girls are due a bit of screen time!

As far as their kiss goes, I purposefully did not write it into my notes, anywhere. At some point, I'm sure it'll feel right, and that's when it will happen. This way, I'm not planning the story around it. Of course, that's not to say I'm not putting them in lots of situations where it *could* happen...

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback you've left in chapters past. I'm always eager to hear your thoughts. It definitely makes writing it more fun. ^_^

[hr]

JujuDeRoussie: Ah, my dear Kitopian. My sincerest apologies for the clear, yet unfulfilled, hunger between the girls. Alas, they are sort of off-limits until the Oz situation is resolved, which I promise is coming soon soon soon (Chapter 22, I expect, if that helps).

It was very helpful for me to get inside Willow's head a bit; I think part of the reason for detailing out Willow's thoughts regarding Tara in a numbered list was to have it written out for myself, as well. Now that it's solidified, it will be easier to stick to it in future chapters. In a way, her inner "dialog" was kind of me asking her a bunch of questions, and the answers will help shape the next few chapters. I'm not sure if that made any sense, but I'm sticking with it.

Quote:
I like Oz, I really do, but he's starting to annoy me. Is he cheating on Willow with Greg? Lol. Is he doing drugs? Is he really just deeply buried in his music?


At least one of these things is true. ^_^

Quote:
And oh my! Tara's head between Willow's thighs! You tease! It's not the right sense! Lol.


I'm deeply sorry. This was cruel of me.

This weekend! I promise!

[hr]

Zampsa1975: Never fear about things Oz-like. They will be dealt with in ways both swift and merciless. Uh, well, maybe less merciless. But Willow's frustrations with Oz are definitely at near-burst.

Oz's illness is going to be discovered in Chapter 22, unless something unforeseen occurs. His character has been troubling for me in two ways: I don't think I write him particularly well, and I want to avoid making him out to be an awful guy.

[hr]

Nue: Yeah, the Tara v. family story was put on the back burner for a few chapters while she ... checks out mentally from it for a few days. But it will quickly come back into the spotlight as the chapters progress. I actually enjoy writing the Donny scenes, too, and wish I'd been able to get a few more in before now, but it wasn't in the cards. I hope, when the story unfolds down the road, that the readers will believe I did all right by Tara; it's one of my biggest concerns...whether the way she's acting in these chapters "fits" the whole story. I guess I'll find out.

I think at this point in the story Willow's...well, she might not have the whole bit in the middle worked out yet, but at least she's sure about the end points. She's certainly admitting how she feels about Tara, and that's at least a good first step.

This weekend! Deadlines really help, 'cause I go kind of bonkers if I set one and miss it.

[hr]

John Martin: Hey! ^_^ Thanks for taking the time to leave a note for me, and sorry it took me so long to a) write anything back, and b) post another chapter. It really means a lot to me to hear from the readers...I mean...if if weren't for people like you, I wouldn't have found anything on the Internet when I got totally addicted to this show last year. :/ And that would have been sad.

[hr]

MelCar19: Mm. I'm a fan of number 7. ^_~b

Yup! Update soon! This weekend. I will lock myself in my room until it's done.

[hr]

tacoda13: Wow! Lots of exclamation marks. A good thing, I hope. I'll have an update done in the next few days. As far as Willow and Tara getting together, well, it'll be a gradual thing...I *think*...like I mentioned above, I didn't really detail out the specifics of the girls' relationship while I was plotting the story. I thought it'd be better to just kind of let it happen a little bit each chapter. So I *say* I think it'll be this slow discovery, uh...but you know...then they just kind of get all lustful and..and..and what the heck can I do? There can only be so many "sudden distractions" right? ^_~

[hr]

Paint the Sky: So I know we joke back and forth about the penguin's possible weight problem, but I think I've got it figured out, now. It's not a penguin at all! It's an Easter egg, *decorated* as a penguin.

As always, I love love love hearing from you. The bickering/competitive relationship between Faith and Buffy kind of sprang up as a result of the PanUM Games, and I think I like it better, even though it does contradict their earlier camaraderie (they were rather chummy during the fraternity party). Yeah, they're not going to a) kill each other, or b) get it on in this story (I'll leave that to the much more adept B/F shippers out there). I mean, I wouldn't want to break poor Andrew's heart, now would I?

Quote:
Willow is certainly going full steam ahead now with her how she judges her feelings for Tara – not so much in the way of denial for her now. Which, of course, is good both for her and us!


Yes! And I think I speak for all of us when I say, "It's about freakin' time!" I know I'm mostly to blame, but I kind of wanted to bonk her over the head and read her W/T-fic until it sank in.

The whole Oz thing is discussed up there *points at other feedback*, but yes--it's coming up soon, and it kind of marks the end of the first "book" of Constants, which is three "books" (although the first is by far the longest). Book two is a lot of Tara's stuff, and Book three is secret shhhhh.

Quote:
it helps to terra-form the world you’re creating


*whistles for the poor pun police* Honestly, I'm glad you don't find the non-W/T storylines too distracting. When I set out to write a story, I bit off a pretty big bite, as I imagine many new authors do. I ended up having to rein in a bunch of characters I'd originally intended to have much larger roles (Anya, for one, Richard...even Joyce, who's not shown up once). But somewhere around chapter four or five, I realized there just wasn't going to be enough room in the story for all of it, and the more lines that got woven in, the more it would steal away from the already sparse Willow/Tara interactions.

I try to balance the other storylines by at least mentioning Willow or Tara in the passages that follow other characters, although this doesn't always hold true. I'll admit that the Faith/Andrew thing has nothing whatsoever to do with them (at least the other characters act as sounding boards for the girls)...but it was just too good to pass up.

Quote:
I can’t help but think we are due a shock to the system soon, it’s been going much too smoothly for our girls, relatively speaking.


Yeah...it's coming. Tara's kind of on vacation at the moment, but...well, you know how the week after vacation, you realize that all your work has been piling up while you've been gone, and now you're playing catch up? >_<

[hr]

Thanks to everyone who's been reading this story, whether feedbacky or not (although bonus kudos to those of you who've left your thoughts).

Oh, and an added thanks to all of you wonderful authors who've let me host your stories in the archive. The sheer volume of writing that's been churned out since we first met our dear Tara is...well downright amazing (and a little bit frightening). Keep it up!

~ Megan


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