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

General Chat  || Kitten  || WaV  || Pens  || Mi2  || GMP  || TiE  || FAQ  || Feed - The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe

All times are UTC - 8 hours



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 243 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Changes (last updated 8/1/10)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:16 am 
Offline
8. Vixen
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 9:46 am
Posts: 854
Topics: 3
Location: Southern Arizona
Ok, so now knowing a little about what he and is wife went through is better in the big not liking Tara's dad front - but not much. So we'll have to see what she got told and how they decided to deal with although I have a feeling I may know.

Poor Tara, poor Judy. It seems Judy's Mom didn't give her anymore guidance than Judy did to Tara, and Judy might have had more information to give. *sigh*

Ok, when's the next one? ;-)

_________________
Heather aka vampyregurl73
"Dry Heat""Penny Arcade" "Fireworks" "Promise" "I Did What Last Night?"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (last updated 8/1/10)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:37 pm 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer

Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:12 pm
Posts: 1170
Very interesting update. Looking forward to what is going to happen next.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (last updated 8/1/10)
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:17 am 
Offline
23. Volumey Text

Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:39 pm
Posts: 3786
Location: UK
Great update.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (last updated 8/1/10)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:05 pm 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 3:11 pm
Posts: 96
Never, I have to say this story is wonderfully written! I've had a rather long hiatus from the board :( but your story was here to greet me on my return! I love where it's going, and the tender spots it touches upon.

Hope to hear more soon! :kgeek


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (new chapter next week)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:40 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:04 pm
Posts: 225
Topics: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
I had no idea that I'd be away from the KB for six months... my apologies. I have become one of the writers that I've always been annoyed by- the ones that start and seem to walk away. Rest assured that I intend to take Changes through a great deal more material before it wraps up. By the nature of how I chose to write it, I don't know how long (chapter-wise) this will take, nor do I know how long (schedule-wise) it will take me.

In the good news category (I hope) is the announcement that I'll have a new chapter going up in about a week. Why not now? Because I want to do my live chat-fic version first. I'm a sucker for the interactive aspect, and the only carrot I have available to encourage people to come is that they get to hear the story first. Yes, it's marketing. I admit it.

Hope to see a few folks there!
Never

_________________
Changes


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (new chapter 3/12/11 after 8pmPST chat-cast)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:43 pm 
Offline
8. Vixen
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 9:46 am
Posts: 854
Topics: 3
Location: Southern Arizona
OMG!!!! An update!!! *does happy dance*

WOOHOO!!! I

'll pencil you into my calendar! - seriously ;)

_________________
Heather aka vampyregurl73
"Dry Heat""Penny Arcade" "Fireworks" "Promise" "I Did What Last Night?"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (new chapter 3/12/11 after 8pmPST chat-cast)
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:38 pm 
Offline
7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 15, 2010 7:17 pm
Posts: 654
Location: The Land of Flowers
Happy to hear there is an update coming!

_________________
Wave ... The Wish of Three Hearts
The Yuletide Present ... In From the Cold

"We're in love. We're lovers. We're lesbian, gay-type lovers."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (new chapter 3/12/11 after 8pmPST chat-cast)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:10 am 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:01 pm
Posts: 184
Augh! I was hoping for a full or at least almost-full first page... bummer!
I'm sososo glad you're going to write this, because wow, lots of unanswered questions. Mostly - how long will Willow live?
:(:(:(:(
of course this story has brought up countless other questions as well, but I'm kind of speechless. Dammit! This always happens when I read a super long fiction :(

I'll come back later and edit w/ actual feedback..

But first, you were a GM? What'd you play? B/c I'm going to be playing a Changelings: The Dreaming game Saturday, which is why I can't make it to the chat-cast, sadly :(


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (new chapter 3/12/11 after 8pmPST chat-cast)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:04 am 
Offline
2. Floating Rose
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 15, 2010 4:44 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Florida
I really hope you continue to upate and complete this story. It's truly fantastic fanfic!

_________________
MMMMMM, Vixeny Goodness.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (new chapter 3/12/11 after 8pmPST chat-cast)
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:22 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer

Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:12 pm
Posts: 1170
:pinky Excited to hear that an update is coming!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (chat-cast tonight 8pmPST)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:52 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:04 pm
Posts: 225
Topics: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
Ch 19, Pt III

Ulysses Maclay sat paralyzed, his gaze on the photo album in front of him but his sight turned inward to the vivid images the memories had evoked. He remembered the swami's longwinded talks about the local flavor of folklore, his wife's piteously hopeful questions, his own more pointed ones. There were no photos of the man who had given them the groundwork of what would eventually bring his wife's demon under some kind of control. He'd stopped taking pictures almost entirely after the demon had emerged, and those were almost all focusing on Donny. When Judy appeared it was because she was holding their baby, helping him take his first few steps, or playing with him the silly games that babies play. Why record a façade? And even putting aside the danger of leaving evidence that the woman he was still helplessly in love with was a demon, why inflict the sight of her inhuman reality on her any more than necessary?

The yogi had brought his wife back to him, but it had taken a multitude of alterations before the methods they had finally adopted were worked out. The intervening weeks had been the hardest of all, when Judy had turned from hunting anonymous victims he never saw to alternating his bed with that of the yogi. He wanted to kill the ever-smiling bastard every time he saw him, but he had bowed to the logic. The cumulative effect of his wife's feedings, even after they began implementing what the yogi taught them, were still devastating. The yogi, if he really knew what he was talking about, would not suffer as Judy's prior victims had. And if he did? So much the better... But it was the least suffering for the least number of people.

Plus, he finally had someone other than his wife to focus his frustration on. He'd kept a place in his mind where he castrated the Indian, shot him one limb at a time, broke his bones one by one, or just beat him to a bloody pulp. He wouldn't do any of it, of course. Not when they owed any chance they had of staying together to the yogi. Vindictiveness couldn't coexist with obligation. Still, the ideas alone kept him warm on lonely nights.

The yogi had declared that he had given them all the instruction he could after about two months. Judy's smile had faltered as the enchanted translation filtered through and he had inwardly rejoiced. She would still have to wander- Ulysses didn't have the magical wherewithal to prevent that need- but at least the others would suffer more than the yogi had. It was only right. Even the haunted expressions he caught her with didn't deprive him of that ugly comfort. Besides, if they were careful, those she hunted would survive.

It was only a matter of time before Judy's own magical background allowed the breakthrough they needed, linking the rituals of India to her hedge witch understandings. It had come together just in time- Ulysses was sent to San Diego soon after, taking his family with him.

When the time to re-enlist rolled around, it was with horrible misgivings that he left the service. There was too much risk to stay in. It had taken time to find a place that suited their unique needs, but eventually they found this parcel of land nestled in the hills. It was remote, and cheap enough that he could buy enough property to ensure a measure of privacy. If he could ever move it would have been an excellent investment as the city crept out to meet them, but they were chained to this place unless they could find another that held what they required.

Hearing the click of the back door sliding open broke Ulysses from his revere. Even after Judy died he had still been chained to this place by his duty to his daughter. How many jobs had he had to pass by, over the years? How many chances to make something of himself, instead of keeping together a small-fry business that would never give him enough to retire on?

He didn't look up immediately when Tara paused in the doorway, quiet but not quite silent. She looked so much like her mother- the two years she had been away only emphasizing that fact. It hurt in more ways than one.

Turning his head, he finally met Tara's eyes and motioned for her to sit. She acquiesced without a word, hunching slightly with her hands knotted in her lap. It was a pose unchanged from years before, head down as she waited for him to explain the unexplainable. He wanted to ask how she could sit there as if nothing had happened, as if she'd never abandoned her family for their attempts to help her. He wanted to know how she could insist that she had managed to avoid the swathe of deaths that Judy had caused, when it simply couldn't be done. Had he really raised someone who was so unrepentant that she could lie about such a thing?

It didn't matter though. Whatever she'd done was past, the future was going to be bleak enough as it was.

"There's a lot you need to know, Tara. I thought to tell you all this before it happened, but when you took off you didn't give me that chance." He saw a resistance enter her at his words and switched tact, "you have to know why, though, as much as you need to know how… and that means starting at the beginning."

He set the picture album down on the coffee table between them, sliding it in her direction. She followed the motion with her eyes, but didn't move to take it. That was fine- it was just a prop.

"You know I was stationed in India when your brother was born- how I made it so your mother and he could come, be together, the way a family should… I was out on assignment for a month when it started- I don’t know whether to be glad or not, knowing what she would've done to me…"

He settled back as he spoke, watching intently for cues of what was going on behind those blue eyes. So like her mother, in the good as well as the ill- but so much harder to understand.

"It wasn't till better than two weeks after she changed that I got back…"

Over the next two hours Ulysses pulled away the shroud on a history never yet told, trying to draw it forth with inadequate words and make it real to the daughter that never should have existed, but whom he loved in a way as helplessly as he had her mother. If she felt anything about what she heard, she held it close, placid eyes looking back throughout- swallowing his words and revealing nothing.

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

The trip had been so quiet that Willow began to think even the incessant pinging of the hospital would be preferable. She’d tried to come up with something snappy to say when she showed up on the Maclay doorstep, running the scene in her imagination over and over. Given the choice, she’d have liked to borrow VampySelf’s menace-y grr-ness and try to turn the intimidation factor back on them, but doubted she could pull it off. If nothing else, she was foiled by the cloths that she’d had to choose from at her parents’ house- a pink Hello Kitty T-shirt did not exactly scream “fear me”. Even if it was Goth Hello Kitty, which seemed like a contradiction in terms. But then, Hello Kitty was Japanese, so… ‘nuff said. Even scrubs she’d been allowed to wear home from the hospital might have been more effective.

Intimidation was right out the window, then. It probably wouldn’t have worked on them, no matter what she did- not after being relegated to “little girl” status along with Buffy and Dawn back when they’d first met at the Magic Box. While it fit her present idiom, she wasn’t entirely sure what “gettin’ large wit da butch” actually meant in practical terms, so that wasn’t going to be her brilliant strategy, either. She’d have to settle for whatever came to mind at the moment- which was generally a bad idea, if her encounters with Cordy were anything to go by.

She spent the next fifteen minutes trying to convince herself that she wasn’t that pushover highschooler anymore.

At hour two, Xander finally tried to start a conversation. He’d kept his affable affect, seemingly unperturbed by her stony silence, though when she returned any look in her direction with obdurate hostility he managed to layer chagrin on top of that.

“So… what’s the plan?” He said, speaking immediately to the point she least wanted him to bring up. Typical.

“The plan is to… be there. That’s all.” It coalesced in her mind even as she spoke, so simple that her scenarios had discounted it off-hand. “This is about her, her kin, and whatever bull-doody they did to her mother. I just need to be there, for whatever she needs me to be.”

“Ooky-dooky.”

At the casual response she narrowed her eyes at him. “This doesn’t mean I’m not still mad at you.”

“Gotcha.” He looked over long enough to absorb the look-of-death, and also to notice the empty bag of Sun Chips in her lap, eyebrows rising. Willow glanced down, suddenly self-conscious. When had they disappeared? Surely she’d have noticed if Xander had grabbed a handful or two. She'd have smacked his hand.

“Ah- isn’t it time for your pills?”

Willow grimaced, but pulled out the heavy white bag. It seemed too heavy, and when she looked inside she found a smaller white bag sitting atop a small pile of heaven-in-cookie-form. Her stomach gurgled quietly at the smell, evidently unaware that it had just consumed a prodigious number of chips, but she studiously ignored the bribe in favor of the medication.

One stuck out. Phenytoin. Wasn’t Buffy’s mom on that? She remembered because Buffy had commented on how something so un-funny could be called by a name that sounded like ‘funny toe in’. Per directions, she was supposed to have had one of those, one of the blood pressure ones, and another anti-seizure one about two hours ago. Spell interactions were sadly lacking on the labels. She’d never mastered the art of dry-swallowing pills, and debated whether she could waste another 2 minutes detouring to a drive-thru.

“I’ve got an In-n-Out coming up on the next exit. Take it?”

She nodded curtly, trying not to dwell on how Xander had gotten to know her mind far too well over the years.

Just not when it really mattered.

“Forgiveness cookies only count when you bake them yourself, you know.” Willow grumbled, determined not to have her good graces bought with a half dozen rugelach.

Fresh rugelach, from a proper bakery- not a grocery store.

In three flavors.

Damn him.

“Well, I figured it would take time that could be better spent earning the rent and paying somebody else to make a far tastier pastry than my mastery of hot-plate cooking would allow.” Xander passed another big rig as he spoke, grinning momentarily at the silhouetted lady that was imprinted in silver on the mud flaps. “It’s kinda sad, I know- I’ve got a real kitchen now, and Anya uses it more than I do.” He correctly interpreted her consternated look, adding quickly, “-which is all her choice and not a statement on the traditional roles of womankind.”

Willow tried to imagine Anya being domestic, with a frilly 50s apron and a cheerily held spatula. What she ended up with was more along the lines of Anya herding an unsuspecting child into her oven, cackling with delight. It was uncharitable, but if the pointy hat fits..?

A greasy burger and watery Sprite later her finally-satiated-belly’s rumbles decided that her fries were being donated to the driver with the clear admonition that this was not a token of good will. She’d managed to snub the siren call of the rugelach, which she knew was childish, but still felt right. Symbolic gestures were probably lost on Xander, but you never knew. He had his moments.

“We’re just about to pass Arrowhead.” Xander noted, looking at the sign for 10 East- 2 miles. At Willow’s uncomprehending look, he elaborated, “The hospital, not the ski place. Where Mrs. Summers is? Buffy said she has to stay for another couple days.”

“Did she say why?” Willow looked east, seeing a hospital standing tall above the surrounding community, even though it was still distant.

“Swelling or something?”

“Yikes. Hope she’s okay…” The junction for the 10 passed.

“Yeah. Buffy’s really stressed- with Dawn, this Glory thing, and… well...”

Willow made a noncommittal sound. That Buffy hadn’t gone with Tara was understandable, but it still miffed her that no one had stepped up to stop her girlfriend from going home alone. Buffy, of all people, knew that Tara wasn’t at fault in this. There was no fault when nature, or the naturally supernatural, intervened. It just… was. Insurance companies would’ve called it an Act of God and refused to pay.

But instead they were letting Tara pay.

Mulling on that unjust fact was just getting her riled up again, which would probably mess with her blood pressure in bad ways again, and she remembered that there was one way she could salvage the lost time in transit. “There’s a meditative thing I want to try before we get down there. Can you live without a navigator for awhile?”

“Stay on 15. Drive another hour and a half. Look for the turnoff for Broadway and 78. Ask you for the rest. Think I got it.” Xander’s face clouded. “This isn’t a spell, right? Cuz I’m pretty sure that was in the line of things you’re not supposed to do yet.”

“Not a spell. Pretty much the opposite.” She didn’t bother to alleviate his lack of comprehension, which he accepted altogether too gracefully. She'd never understood how someone could be so undisturbed by ignorance.

Willow dropped the back of her seat and slithered into the back, where she could sit in a lotus that blatantly defied seatbelt laws. She blocked out the rumble of the car and the occasional slurp of Xander’s enormous Mountain Dew, looking inward. There was no more stiffness, not much soreness, just a lot of fidgetiness, a nasty headache, and the feeling that her head was packed full of… packing. The physical wasn’t what she was looking for, so she reached behind that, into the more amorphous center of being that had eluded her until Tara had shown her how to find it. She was still seething, but being conscious of it allowed her to pass through that wall and extend through herself into the surroundings.

The landscape was as magically desiccated as it was climatically, but the speed with which they were passing created a semblance of flow where no natural one existed. With a ghost of a smile she began to weave the proto-spell web that would funnel a portion into her- only the tiny pieces she that her microfilament strands touched, but a better than the nothing that she’d been trying to draw from for the last two days.

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

Silence had settled as Tara's father's words trailed off. He'd kept an unyielding gaze on her throughout, stating a history she'd never known as if reciting something he'd read somewhere. He didn't falter, nor did his even voice vary throughout- not in the worst of it, not in the paltry victories. That he glossed over what she needed most was not lost on her, but it was a barrier of conscious avoidance that she didn't know how to breach.

There was another question- one that had burned deep in her mind. She'd asked her mother before on half a dozen occasions, but the answers had rung more placating than true. In the face of the real question at hand, it became possible to voice what she had wondered for as long as she'd known of the demon.

"If you knew I w-would be like Mama… why..?"

"You…" He finally looked away. "Because we didn't know you'd be a girl… your mother promised you weren't." He snorted. "Magic. She'd cast to find out if you were a girl and the tea leaves came up 'No'. We hadn't planned one way or the other about how many kids we'd have- so when she found out she was pregnant… ."

"We argued- the yogi had been clear that only the daughters carried the curse, but I couldn't risk condemning another life to… this." He made a small, vague gesture toward her. "Your mother was going crazy. We argued for weeks before we came to a decision; if it was a boy, we'd keep him. A girl… then…" Tension was rising in his voice, his shoulders- tension that could all too easily turn to anger if the wrong word was uttered. Tara waited in uncomfortable silence, a single phrase repeating in her head,

I was never supposed to be born.

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

"Wait- I think that was it!"

Willow looked back at the sign that had been covered with overgrown tree branches, trying to make out the lettering. They'd gotten to Ramona without incident, but since then they seemed to be cursed to miss every turn at least once. GoogleMaps had neglected to show a road closed for repaving that threw them off their designated path and the maps in the car didn't cover San Diego County. The light was fading and would only make it harder if they didn't find Tara's house soon, feeding Willow's sense of frustration.

She had the impulse to take it out on Xander, since as the driver it was him missing all the turns, but she was designated navigator. Blame rested squarely on her own shoulders, despite her mental attempts to shake it off. Besides, Xander had been almost irritatingly genial about the whole trip.

"I think I'm going to be a U-turn expert by tonight. U-ies-R-Us. Extra fast turnaround time on every job." He spun the car back the way that they'd come, passing within a few inches of the fence posts that lined the road but not having to make a three point turn of it.

Willow didn't answer, but kept her eyes peeled for house numbers. Peeled eyes? That had to be a phrase with some interesting history behind it.

"So, fearless leader, what exactly are we going to do when we get there? While we're 'being there'?"

Xander didn't sound challenging, just certain that she had some kind of plan. He would be wrong about that, and it was beginning to worry her. Spontaneity wasn't something that could be counted on, especially when she was under pressure.

The "be there for her" plan had sounded good till now. It was simple, supportive, nonjudgmental, and… too vague. Passive. Far too dependent on figuring out what was going on quickly enough to make the right response. The last time she'd been in the same room with the Maclays it had been a very different situation, but had prompted her to voice questions that she knew had wounded Tara. Questions that, had Willow thought about it, she already knew the answers to. So- thinking on her feet? Not always the best policy. Adapting from a prepared structure? Much better. Then there was a fallback, with repercussions fully thought out ahead.

That was another plan that sounded good, but it was getting a bit too late, as they pulled onto a gravel driveway. The property was ringed by tall windbreak shrubs, though the hills made such a thing totally unnecessary. It gave a Midwestern feel to an otherwise nondescript patch of dry land that faded back between two hills covered in wild brush. The same could be said of the wood porch, complete with quaint little swing, which had clearly been added to a ranch-style house complete with generic sand-tone stucco.

Willow looked around, confirming the presence of tiny snippets of Tara's past that she'd garnered over the last year. A garden, mostly fallow, near the road. A cactus that seemed to sprawl in a thorny invasion of the western end of the yard. An avocado tree near what should be the kitchen. Donny's perpetual project truck on blocks around the side.

Up till her birthday two weeks ago, Tara had been so evasive about her home that Willow hadn't even realized how little she knew about it. It had been just one more thing that seemed to make Tara fall quiet, drawing away that little bit to let the walls of her shyness rise back in place. That had been deterrent enough, in the beginning, and when the walls had finally stopped making their appearance, the habitual avoidance of the topic had remained.

"How about this- you ring the doorbell and distract them while I sneak around back and stage a daring rescue." The proposal was in no way serious, though the thought had occurred to her. It smacked of the knight errant running to the rescue of her princess, all noble and romantic. Speaking of 'smacked'- she might get to smack Donny in the process… but as much as she wanted to think otherwise, as a human he was off limits. It would be nice if things were as simple as dragons and castles. Ambiguity made things messy.

"Maybe we should ask and make sure she's actually here?" Xander stopped the car and looked back over his shoulder at her. She glared at him in response and he had the decency to cringe before climbing out of the car, scattering the crumbs of road-munchies as he did. Her mother would have a conniption if they didn't vacuum when they got back. At least that was something predictable, and something Willow knew how to deal with. With a sigh she left the car as well, trying to mentally steel herself for imminent unpleasantness of the necessary kind.

Xander shadowed her as Willow strode toward the front door, trying to find in outward confidence what she wasn't feeling within. She hit the doorbell before she could lose her mental momentum and tried vainly to grab all the opening lines she'd come up with as they fled her head.

-------------------
Told in chat at 8pm PST on 3/12/11 to a packed house!

Preview pending.


Last edited by NeverChosen on Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt IV posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:25 am 
Offline
23. Volumey Text

Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:39 pm
Posts: 3786
Location: UK
Great update.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt IV posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:31 am 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:29 pm
Posts: 151
Location: Australia
Hey Never,

Really enjoyed this chapter, more so because it was the first I'd read through chat, that was great!

Interesting hearing some more of the background of Tara's parents, but any empathy I may have felt with Tara's father was gone again after this:
Quote:
if it was a boy, we'd keep him. A girl… then…" Tension was rising in his voice, his shoulders- tension that could all too easily turn to anger if the wrong word was uttered. Tara waited in uncomfortable silence, a single phrase repeating in her head,

I was never supposed to be born.

God, poor Tara.

I loved Willow's interaction with Xander during the trip. From her anger at him, to her frustration at being bought over with the 'forgiveness cookies'.

Quote:
Fresh rugelach, from a proper bakery- not a grocery store.

In three flavors.

Damn him.

Loved that. Even though Xander was a complete ass a couple of chapters ago I'm glad Willow had someone to go with her. I hope the Maclay's minus Tara don't give Willow too much trouble when she come's to the rescue!

Anyway, glad you decided to come back and continue with this story and can't wait for the next one,

Laura.

PS My apologies for not leaving feedback before now, I'd only come out of lurkerdom after your hiatus.

_________________
Corporal Laura of the Kitten Army ~Semper WillTara~

In the end, it doesn't matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.
-Anon.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt IV posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:18 am 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:01 pm
Posts: 184
soo cute, of course...

ooooohhhh so promising. So the magic thing really does work... will it work enough???

Also, I think the Hellmouth/magic connection is sooo astute, btw.

Generally your writing is smart, fast-paced & ever so intriguing. Now i just want to play in one of your RP games! =P


Last edited by KnightlyLove on Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt IV posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:03 am 
Offline
8. Vixen
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:51 am
Posts: 897
Location: Kaskinen, Finland. Citizen of Kitopia
Yay for great update-y goodness... I'm glad that Tara found more about her background... Tara finding out that she really is unwanted really must hurt like hell... I'm glad that Xander travels with Willow to "rescue" Tara...

_________________
We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Buggered

Posting while nude improves your mood...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt IV posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:18 am 
Offline
7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:20 am
Posts: 673
Topics: 1
OOOH, tense! I'm glad Willow's there, but I have a feeling the Maclay's aren't going to be thrilled to see her! Can't wait to see what happens next!

I wanted to read it in chat, but between the time difference and running a birthday party for my 3 year old niece (YAY!) I was tired by the time you were starting...

_________________
Ripples - Pretty Much Perfect and The Sequel to the Sequel, Who's That Girl?
Every Step That I Retrace/Always Leads Me Back to You/But I've Loved You All Along
Road to Recovery, The Call/The Lightning Strike, The Sun Will Rise


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt IV posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:39 am 
Offline
10. Troll Hammer

Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:12 pm
Posts: 1170
Happy to see an update! I want to still be mad at Xander but it does seem he is trying his best to get back on Willow's good side. Looking forward to Tara's reaction when she sees Willow and Xander.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt IV posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:51 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:04 pm
Posts: 225
Topics: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
Replies:


SJ- Thank you! Glad to see you've come back, despite my horribly long delay.

Laura- I hadn't particularly thought about Xander going or not until a few minutes before I wrote it. He's not known for abrupt forgiveness, but that's not where this is stemming from. He doesn't have to forgive anyone, only make himself feel better and try to get off Willow's bad side. If anything happens to Tara, he stands to be squarely in the line of fire for culpability. And as to the cookies? Willow wouldn't make them if she did not believe in what they stood for- even if she doesn't want to be swayed. Finally- why would you think the Maclays will give Willow trouble? ^-^

Knightly- Glad to have you join the thread! The Hellmouth/magic thing was the only reason I could think of to describe why there would be a prevalence of magic users in the area- some of which are pretty young. If magic were that easy or that common, I doubt that it would still be as generally known. Ergo, there must be some local effect. I never really understood the idea of why mystic stuff would be attracted to the Hellmouth. Is it some kind of subconscious salt lick for evil? And not just evil, but occult in general? It made far more sense that it would have a radiation affect on the locals.

I think you're the first person to say this is “fast paced”. I worry about it dragging, but then, I have the view of writing it for the last year rather than reading it in one go.

Zampsa- Y'know, it occurs to me that everyone is happy about Xander going with Willow and no one seems to think he's going to be a problem himself. Hmm. We'll see. As to being unwanted... more on this soon.

Leonhart- I wish you could have been there too, but Real Life ™ comes first. Perchance the next time?

Love_2003- Feel free to stay mad at Xander. He get you any rugelach, after all. ^_^


Random thoughts- For some reason I scanned through the “Looking for a Fic” thread, perusing the ways people describe the fics they are looking for. It's funny to see how the stories distill in people's minds. I found myself wondering how Changes would be described... but nobody is looking for it, so I will be left wondering. Probably “the one where Tara has a tail” would be enough, but I get curious what else would stick out if someone came searching after a few years.
*muses to herself*
I am also peeved that three fics that I'd noted down to go back to have been removed- two by their authors. Now I feel stupid for not trying to read them as they were posted... but I much prefer being able to read large chunks at the same time. Van Rosenberg II. Impulse. Working out the kinks. All these after Psitemis took down all her work. It's a plague!

Next update will be in 2 weeks, I think.
-Never

Preview still pending

_________________
Changes


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt III posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:31 pm 
Offline
1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 7:35 am
Posts: 10
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Never,

First and foremost, thank you for not forgetting this fic and for giving it the care and attention that has been a hallmark of this series, despite your many IRL commitments. We all appreciate the fact that you take the time from your doubtlessly frantic schedule to keep us kittens entertained.

In reviewing this latest installment, I thought it more appropriate to review it in the context of the entire chapter, rather than as a stand-alone installment, and so I will be giving commentary on all of Chapter 19 written to date. I know that I have sent you commentary regarding earlier sections of the chapter, however I have been unable to find those earlier comments and now -owing to my memory being made entirely out of Swiss Cheese- run the risk of repeating myself. I shall endeavor not to do so, but please forgive me if I accidentally bring up a point a second time without realizing it.

I'd like to dedicate the majority of this post to address the broader literary decision to tell the story of Judy Maclay's succubus awakening from the perspective of Ulysses as he remembers it, rather than from the perspective of Tara as she listens to her father tell it to her (assuming that telling the tale twice, once from Ulysses' perspective, and again from Tara's, is needlessly repetitive). It was suggested that Tara's reactions to the telling of the tale would have been of sufficient interest as to warrant rhetorical scrutiny, and though Tara is indeed one of the most pivotal characters around whom the events of the broader narrative revolve, I disagree that her perspective in this particular scene is the most interesting one. I believe that using Ulysses' perspective is the more appropriate approach because it examines and adds far more depth to the hitherto flat character of Ulysses , because it illuminates with greater clarity the nature of the relationship between Tara and Ulysses, and because it engages and challenges the audience more than Tara's perspective would have done.

Tara's father is largely known within the Kitten Board as precisely that: Her father, a possibly abusive authority figure from her formative years who is only incidental to her adult life with Willow. It is all too easy and common to assign little motivation to his actions beyond that of being a misogynistic patriarch whose sole goal in life is to run roughshod over the female members of his immediate family, which in turn reinforces what he was on the original TV episode: A one-dimensional monster of the week defeated by the power of friendship and love. However, by telling Judy Maclay's story through his eyes, we get to see not only his very telling reactions to the events as they unfolded, but also hints as to what drives him as a living, breathing, psychologically coherent human being.

A particularly illuminating example is his reaction to the anti-war resentment directed towards Judy for dating a Vietnam vet, how "He'd have broken the hippie's nose, but that it would've proved the charge that had been wheezed against him" (Part II, ¶ 19). This illustrates both his violently retaliatory nature and his ability to keep it restrained in the face of logic, even before the tragic events of Judy's awakening further strained his character. Other snippets such as "[Pampering Tara] was too cruel, when he knew what was to come" (Part II, ¶ 16) and "But it was the least suffering for the least number of people" (Part III, ¶ 2) give hints as to his Utilitarian moral philosophy. My favorite aspect of his character revealed by his perspective though has to be his rage over his wife's unfortunately necessary dalliances, so richly exemplified by the fantastic line "The last Hershey bar's remains were clenched in his hand, melted by the heat of subsumed rage and dripping like tainted blood" (Part II, ¶ 69).

Had the audience experienced this story from Tara's viewpoint as Ulysses told it to her, these fascinating glimpses into the man's psyche would have been lost, and his character would have been all the flatter for it.

Precious little is known about the exact nature of the emotional dynamic between Tara and her father, mostly because the source material gave so little interaction between the two from which to extrapolate. Given the extremely limited importance of his conflict with Tara in the show, this was acceptable, however the events of this story and its divergence from cannon have set up a far more pivotal confrontation between father and daughter than in the show, and as a result the more that is known about the depth and complexity of their feelings towards one another, the more compelling the confrontation will be.

Numerous scenes in this and preceding chapters have expanded upon Tara's feelings towards her father, but by telling Judy's story from Ulysses' perspective, we also get to see hints as to the conflicting emotions that his daughter evokes in him. Lines such as "So like her mother, in the good as well as the ill- but so much harder to understand" (Part III, ¶ 14) and "The daughter that never should have existed, but whom he loved in a way as helplessly as he had her mother" (Part III, ¶ 16) indicate the inner turmoil associated with Tara, while his visit to her room (Part II, ¶ 9) and the lack of any thought given to the violation of her privacy such a visit entailed speak quietly to his wholly unjustified sense of ownership over her.

These are important clues that will make the coming conflict between the two estranged family members all the more richer, and they would have been lost had we not the opportunity to see things from Ulysses' mind's eye.

As previously mentioned, it is standard operating procedure to paint Tara's father in shades of abusive, hate-filled, and utterly irredeemable, assuming that he is mentioned at all. Had the story of Judy Maclay's awakening been told from Tara's perspective, this preconceived stereotype would have been thoughtlessly perpetuated since the audience would only be able to perceive what Tara could through the lens of her own experience, distorted as it is by her distrust of and ultra-passive aggression towards her father. Anything that he said would have immediately been taken with several grains of salt if not viewed as being outright fraudulent as a means of manipulating her compliance. Instead, the audience gets to see the events of the past not from the distrustful perspective of Tara as she tried to untangle the intricate web of manipulation and coercion, but from the unvarnished perspective of Ulysses himself as he remembers it.

Had it not come from the horse's mouth, the audience would be no more sure than Tara that her mother had been responsible for "swathes of deaths" after her awakening (Part III, ¶ 9), nor that the ultimate solution to Judy's situation was found in marrying "the rituals of India to her hedge witch understandings" (Part III, ¶ 5). This is not to say the Ulysses is an objective reporter of historical fact, far from it; his experiences and psychology put a slanted and possibly unreliable filter on the events as they occurred. Who is to say, given that Judy had the power to put him to sleep on the nights she went hunting (Part II, ¶ 68), that his memory wasn't altered by her at some point?

However, that the audience has to assume the memories of Ulysses Maclay as being as close to the truth as possible forces a confrontation with the expected stereotype. If Tara's perspective alone were given, the audience would have no incentive to understand his motivations and no proof of his humanity, he would continue to exist as a nebulously antagonistic force impeding the heroine's progress for no other reason than being a colossal jerk, and any valid arguments that he made would be dismissed as merely a prelude to emotional abuse rather than a logical consequence of questionable actions. But with his perspective, the audience is forced to re-evaluate long held presumptions and to listen to his words with at least some small level of trust, making his accusations all the more dangerous and emotionally compelling.

Please note that though I believe Ulysses' perspective to be the more appropriate approach to telling this particular story, that does not mean that I condone his beliefs or actions, nor that the bulk of the text told from his perspective lends itself to naked sympathy for the man. He is shown time and again to be a violent, resentful, vindictive man, and for all the time he spends lamenting the tragic nature of his wife's calamity, with such martyrly lines as "Even after Judy died he had still been chained to this place by his duty to his daughter" (Part III, ¶ 7), he spends precious little time thinking about the ample amounts of psychological abuse that he has heaped upon his own family. The only admission of guilt comes while remembering the night when he first learned of Judy's awakening and reacted poorly, noting that he "could not remember what he had said. Only that he had made it worse" (Part II, ¶ 46).

That Ulysses Maclay is a manipulative abuser of a father is without question. Having said that, for all of his many egregious faults, he is still human, and he is doing what he -from his own, very skewed perspective- considers to be right. Telling the story of Judy Maclay's awakening from his perspective gives psychological depth and motivation where there was none, shines a light on the intricacies of the painfully taught emotions between him and his daughter, and challenges the audience to play Devil's Advocate and to further invest in Tara's uncertainty. It is the more interesting choice, and I'm glad for it.

As for the rest of the chapter, the road trip with Willow and Xander is well-paced, and evokes well the very awkward feeling of being trapped in a confined space with someone to whom you are very much not talking, and yet at the same time having to give directions to or accept nourishment and medication from that same person. I'd comment further, but for the fact that it's getting late and my mind is currently starting to puddle out of my ears.

As always, I look forward to further installments, and hope that life will release you from its unforgiving clutches sooner rather than later.

Love,
-Ryan

_________________
"As Willow placed a kiss on her hair, Tara tucked her head underneath Willow's chin and breathed in the scent of Willow's skin. She fell back into her dreams while silently telling Willow the words of her heart, her lips brushing against the soft skin of Willow's neck."

-- "Doppelganger Redux"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt III posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:49 am 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:04 pm
Posts: 225
Topics: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
TZeppo-

*dancing through a grassy field, arms thrown wide* The hills are aliiiiiive- with the sound of feeeeedback.

I am struck that some of the lines I thought were most terribly melodramatic when I wrote them are some of those you find most telling (or at least made enough impact to be worth quoting). Perhaps melodrama is appropriate, though, within the mind of Mr. Maclay. He sees himself as the tragic hero in all of this- doomed to fail as he is relentlessly assaulted by forces beyond his control, but unwilling to give up what he values most in himself despite that. This was what Made Sense to me, looking at the information and portrayal that the show gave us... which may say more about me than I care to think. If you start with the assumption that Mr. Maclay was not lying (the premise of my whole story), it completely alters how the dynamic of the family can be interpretted. What kind of dynamic could create the situations given? I don't know how else I could have written it.

There are three main kinds of feedback.
A) The Reaction. The reader shares what they felt as they read. This is the most common and is useful to know what immediate reactions are illicited by your latest work. Also- confirms that people are actually reading, not clicking your link by accident. ^_^;
B) The Analysis. This is incredibly rewarding to read. It is proof that not only has someone read, but that they have internalized what they read and tried to figure out what it means. Even more, they wanted to share what they have percieved and do so in a manner that provokes further thought from the author. Awesome.
C) The Critique. These are the ones who comment on the mechanics of how the story is told. It can be the most painful, but is also the most valuable for future efforts. Very few people are willing to give this kind of feedback, probably because there is little way to know how the author will react. Some authors consider any criticism to be a "flame", despite actively soliciting such commentary. Some get discouraged and stop writing. And some of us try to learn, since this is a uniquely interactive process of writing.

Specifying in such detail your analysis of what I've written as well as how I've written it is immensely gratifying. Thank you for proving B and C are not yet a lost art, and for giving me as much time as you have to write it.


-Never

_________________
Changes


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 19 pt III posted 3/12/11)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:59 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:04 pm
Posts: 225
Topics: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
Ch 20

Angst Level: The overall story level is higher than the number of things I read on this board before coming out of lurk-dom. Ch 20 is still thoroughly depressing- this is, after all, the Maclay backstory. Light may enter, but cannot escape.

----------------------
When Ulysses had come home to a silent house, he'd been momentarily panicked, then blackly suspicious before he'd seen his wife and son were both in the back yard. Judy was hard at work, her hair shining in the evenings dying sunlight where she'd tied it back, pink gardening gloves protecting her hands from the thorns and sawtooth leaves of the brush she was clearing. The land they lived on had been little more than a standard tract house in disrepair that seemed to have been dropped in the middle of untidy wilderness, but little by little they'd turned it into a home. The front looked almost respectable now, though he hoped to do more to it once they got the encroaching wilderness in back under control.

He changed from his work cloths to his home grungies before he joined his wife. She really shouldn't be working as hard as she was, not when the flu bug she'd caught was tenaciously refusing to depart. Without a fever, though, he couldn't really object to her wish to keep chipping away at the innumerable tasks that they'd taken on with this house.

Judy straightened when she heard him open the sliding glass door, wiping a subtle glow of sweat from her brow with a dusty glove, leaving a dirty smudge in its wake. Unaware of it she met him halfway with the welcome-home kiss that he used to look forward to the whole day through. The wash of warmth he'd thought was love would always hold a question now, even as he conceded that however artificial they may be, the feelings were still real within him. Others had envied them- her for her husbands rapt devotion, him for his radiant wife's charm- but the envy carried bitterness now, rather than pride.

“How was work?” Judy drew away sooner than was her wont, eyes scanning back along the hillside until they rested on where Donny was industriously hacking away with a stick at one of the bushes marked for removal.

“Fair to middling.” The response didn't elicit the little grin it usually did, drawing forth another thread of unease. Her voice sounded tense, the perennial cheerfulness muted even in the three words she had spoken. Tracing his hand down to rest on her hip he studied her profile, trying not to assume the worst. “What did the doc say?”

Going to the doctor was a risk, but after a month of unrelenting gastric rebellion that left his already-slender wife teetering at the edge of gauntness, they'd decided it was necessary.

“He said,” Judy's eyes dropped as she pulled off her gloves, hugging her arms to herself with one hand covering his, “he wants more testing...”

Ulysses snorted. “Meaning he doesn't know.” Any other business and you'd get a refund for that answer, but he doubted the doctor had extended that courtesy.

“No... it's...”

As the words trailed off, dread began to build within his chest. Judy was the talker of the two of them usually, and the unaccustomed reluctance couldn't herald anything good. “What's wrong?”

Judy gave a mirthless chuckle. “I should've know. You weren't here, but when I was carrying Donny it was almost the same- but it shouldn't be possible. I'm on the Pill.”

“You're...” Joy and wonder bloomed and just as quickly withered as the possible implications sunk in. In tentative dread he gave voice to what she would not, “You're pregnant?”

Judy nodded slowly, “Dr. Greishaber said... he said that no birth control is perfect, that sometimes... I couldn't believe it, but Lyss,” she turned her shining eyes to his, expression full in indescribable force of feeling that spanned both wonder and fear, “I heard it. I heard the heartbeat.”

Her hand tightened against his. “I wanted to ask so many things, but he started talking about blood work- that mine was strange, that he needed more tests. I'm supposed to go back, but... how much is real? How much of it is...” She dropped her head, “me?”

He felt his eyes narrow as his mind hurtled in a race toward a hundred possibilities, eventualities, and dark premonitions. “How far along?”

“Fourteen weeks, they think.” Judy leaned against him, the warmth of her diffusing into him as she continued uncertainly, “Maybe thirteen. They said that any later and I'd be showing.'

With a sigh of resigned relief he dropped his head forward to rest aside hers. “Then there's time..”

“Time?” She tilted her face toward his, uncomprehending of the obvious course they'd have to take.

Ulysses tightened this arm around her in a supportive squeeze as he murmured in soft sympathy, “Well, you know we can't keep it-”

She stiffened and pulled away sharply, facing him fully. “What are you saying?”

“It's the only responsible thing to do, Jude- knowing what we do, what it could be-”

“You want me to abort?” the words held little disbelief, but large measure of accusation.

“Knowing what she could be? You'd condemn her to that?”

To this.

“I'm not going to kill our baby.” Her voice was low and tight, but she needed no volume to convey her vehemence. Her eyes shone at him with the glint of the sheathed knife, the holstered gun.

Here, none shall pass.

It had to be the demon in her that fueled this adamant irrationality. That or hormones. There is no other way she could be blind to the cruelty she proposed- to Donny, to their own future, if not to the germinating seed of life within her. Softhearted she could be, but softheaded she was not.

God, but he wanted to be the softhearted one sometimes. To let go of responsibility and ask for the easy way. Let Judy to make the hard call- just once. But what if she didn't? They had no room for the foolishness their youth should've afforded them. They didn't get to make mistakes that they'd laugh about to their children's children. They got decisions that had no right answer- just wrong or painful.

Their tragedy was supposed to be personal, self contained. To allow it to flourish further- what flowered on a branch of sin? He didn't want any of this. He wanted to have dreams he could believe in. He wanted to hope- and sometimes he could see that hope in Donny. His son, who was industriously fighting off the slavering hordes of evil seen only by the very young, concealed as they were by the clutching, half-dead branches of old sagebrush. Donny would not be shackled to this life. To him Ulysses could tie his dreams, see them rise and flourish as they should have.

He let his silence speak for him, waiting to see his wife waver but instead only seeing the flush of anger rise in her cheeks. If she were thinking logically, there'd be no call for anger. Their course was clear, but for the selfish heart.

The selfish heart yearned for Donny not to grow up alone. It wished to spare him some of his filial duties, heaped on a only child. It wished to feel again the rush of pride and peace in the grip of a tiny hand. It wished for anything but bleak promises of heartache, no matter what choice- as if there were a choice- was made.

“Don't make this any harder, Judy-”

With a narrowing of her eyes and a seeming shiver of flesh, her assumed humanity fell away, derailing his words. He seldom saw her this way in daylight anymore, the form reserved for the darkness of night or shadows of the shed they'd carefully constructed up the hillside. The fading daylight drew forth the slight redness in her sienna horns, the highlights shining as no candlelight allowed. Was the mask about her eyes always so dark? He couldn't recall, but tore his eyes away before meeting hers. When her eyes shone crimson- that was a sight that broke something within him every time he saw it. The eyes- window to her soul, and it hurt to see how it burned.

Ulysses looked in sudden worry back toward the road, view unobscured by their newly planted saplings, then to where Donny had flung his stick into the bushes with a high pitched whoop. He let none of the fear that sang down his spine into his face, only the harshness of necessity.

“What the hell are you doing? Someone might see.”

“Let them.” Judy said coldly, but visibly reigned her emotions in when his eyes finally snapped to meet hers. “Is what I am so horrible that it might- might- be like me? What if he's a boy, Lyss? What if we'd known before- would you have taken Donny from us?”

The words stung, but he couldn't let this devolve into some contest of passions. “That's not fair. Knowing what we do now... what our daughter would have to do...”

“Mamamamamama! There's an owl-” Donny had started to run toward them, his excited call drawing both their attention for a moment. His eyes caught his mothers and the yell died instantly, feet sliding as he changed direction and smacked into Ulysses legs, clinging there.

Ulysses leveled a critical glare at his wife, who turned her face away in shame. To his surprise she did not retreat, nor did her human shell slide back over her. Donny didn't need to see this- to inflict their secret on him was needless spite. He dropped into a crouch that interposing himself between his son and his demon wife.

“Donny-boy... Your mama's having some trouble right now. You want to go watch your cartoons for a while?” It was a school night and for all that it didn't mean much in kindergarten, making a habit of television during the week wouldn't serve his future. The offer fulfilled its purpose- pulling Donny's wide eyes off his mother as Ulysses squatted down to his level and gave him a little push toward the house.

The wide blue eyes shone, but instead of tears Donny sniffled out, “Fraggles?”

Insipid little stories with no redeeming value. Couldn't he at least watch something real? A documentary or at least some nature thing? Ulysses grimaced at the thought. “Sure- if it's on. Why don't you check?”

Another careful look and Donny took off toward the house with more speed than just enthusiasm for singing puppets would inspire. Ulysses watched his wife's stricken gaze follow him, but even with the expression of shame she still didn't hide away the demon within. Until then he'd been able to keep his distance from the emotions that this latest disaster had been calling forth, but frustrated anger was leeching through.

“Don't you take this out on him.” It came out harder than he wanted, but instead of a wince, Judy responded with equal temper.

“By being what I am?”

“Yes! Because he's going to grow up knowing that it's a part of him and he doesn't deserve to be saddled with that.” Ulysses carefully reined himself in. Passions incite passions, and there was no leeway in their lives now for anything but icy judgment. It hurt to see Judy in pain, even as she covered it in with this melodramatic display of temper. How easy it would be to just concede... but that would be wrong and they could well spend the rest of their lives paying for the mistake. He spoke again, this time more carefully. “What good would it do for him, to know you have this... thing you have to keep under control inside you? They said he'll never become like you. You can't possibly wish to burden him with it.”

Judy's eyes had slid to the ground. “You know I can hide it- that I do. Just... I'm so angry right now, Lyss.”

It wasn't worth much as an excuse. For a child, maybe, but adults couldn't let themselves just give in to their feelings. “Well, don't be. Angry doesn't make good decisions.”

“What decision?!” Judy snapped back. “This is a life we're talking about.”

“A life that could end up like yours- you know it's not easy- you can't tell me it is.” That he had to be the responsible one again wasn't fair. But then, what had been fair since this whole thing started?

The dark rimmed eyes tightened. “And if it's a boy?”

Another way out, an easy answer. Ulysses closed his eyes and shook his head, “If you waited till we were sure... would you be able to abort? Ultrasound's not perfect- and you'd want to keep hoping, even though it could go so wrong.”

Judy didn't deny the assessment, ignoring the bare truth as her face began to transition toward an aching desperation. “Doesn't it tell you anything, that this baby was granted to us? Despite everything?”

“It tells me that medicine for humans might not work on your kind.” He regretted the bluntness, but there was no way to accent the demon the child could be without emphasizing the demon in her. Her eyes were starting to water, though no tears streaked her shadowed face.

“Or maybe- just maybe- we're meant to have this baby. That-” she caught his glower and her face closed off. “Don't even start, Lyss.”

“You want to decide because of religion?” He should have let it be. Religion was the last recourse of those without a shred of evidence for what they wanted to believe- and could justify any answer you cared to look for. Even Judy would concede that much, once she calmed down.

“What better reason can there be? There's no way to know what's right.”

“When you can't know, it's not a time to gamble. Not when you're weighing the child's entire life.” and ours.

“What if I could be sure?” Judy challenged.

“The doctors can say what's likely, but it's not sure.” Ulysses started to dismiss the idea of grasping at that frail hope. Modern medicine had failed them once already- what was to say it wouldn't again?

“The doctors can't be sure- but I meant...” She paused, taking a slow breath in a gesture that heralded some return of reason. “What if I could find out?”

The careful words elucidated for him what she meant. “Magic.”

Judy nodded, watching him closely. It was no secret that he was ambivalent about her magic use since she'd changed. After all the people they'd met in India, people who'd spent their lives in dedication to that power, and how few could match his wife's ability, he'd had to call the question; was it because of what she was? Did the same magic that allowed them what little life they had together spring from the same force that constantly tried to sunder them? There was no sure answer, but it fit the cock-and-bull story that yogi had fed them.

Whatever its source, they needed her magic. Every time she used it, though, he found himself feeling sick inside. Just another force in his life that was beyond his control. He realized that Judy had started speaking again as he sunk into his thoughts.

“I already called my Mama... she said there's a spell she's heard of, but she doesn't have it- it'll take a day or two before she can get hold of it.”

“And if it says the baby's a girl?” He hated to ask, but he had to know. If it was all just another way to delay what had to be done, better to have the heartbreak before it grew any greater. His wife had crossed her arms protectively across her belly, looking away. He tried to bridge the space between them, to give her the comfort she needed, but she only drew further away. “Judy...”

“I know.” The words were sharp, but softened to a bleak whisper. “I know... just don't expect me to be happy about it. I still feel like we're talking about killing a child. Ending something that could be so much...”

Now she let him hold her, arm around her shoulders as she leaned against him. He tried not to think about the horn dragging against his chin as her head moved, focusing instead on the simple scent of her- one thing that didn't change when she moved between her true form to the human one she usually wore. He could imagine it was the woman he married in his arms, not the creature that woman had become. She was warm against him, showing by contrast that the chill of the night was falling rapidly. In a jolt, Ulysses' mind focused and shot a spike of doubt through him. Not trusting his voice at first he waited for the moment to settle into icy stillness before he asked,

“Do you know the baby is... ours?”

Mine?

Judy tore herself free, her expression as if he'd struck her. He wished he could be contrite, but there was too much reason for suspicion to feel guilt for his words. He did not withdraw them, watching his wife in hopes of reassurance. When it was not forthcoming, the knife of his misgivings twisted deeper. Once upon a time Judy would have fallen in the face of the judgment he was implying, turning her attention to the pain that it was born of. That she did not was only further proof of how she'd changed since her transformation those few years ago and it took him aback to realize it.

How could he allow this kind of corruption to spread? It would be so easy- it was as if he had his own demon, urging him to let the pieces fall as they would. He wouldn't be to blame- he'd told Judy what was right, it was on her head if what he feared came to pass.

He couldn't. The voice was just another way that the demon in his life had corroded his soul. All he wanted was to make Judy happy, but like so many things since the demon had taken over their lives, he wasn't going to get what he wanted. They'd do the best they could with the hand they'd been dealt. He'd had fleeting thoughts of just picking up his son and leaving, but for better or worse he was married to the demon his wife had become. By love or by more stark commitment, they were bound.. and abandoning all logic, he still loved her desperately- so much that he would bear the misery of her anger, her pain, her heartbreak in the wake of the greater good. He would be the surgeon, cutting deep in order to heal.

Had the demon set its hooks so deeply in him that he couldn't shake himself free, even as it tore him apart from within? Perhaps. It didn't matter if it were true- he would not abandon Judy, even if he thought he could. It's not much of a man that walks away from duty.

In the end, this would be just another thorn in the briar patch that had grown around them. They'd weather it together, hearts bleeding all the while.
--------

Tara watched contemplatively as the latest Peter Porker messily chowed down on the scraps she and her father had brought up from the house. Donny had named one of the pigs their father had brought home thus and while it had long since met its end, every pig since had carried the name. That or “SpiderHam”.

She actually preferred spiders to the pigs. Charlotte's Web, Babe- movie or text, no one had ever convinced her of the notion that a pig could be cute. She didn't doubt that they were smart but any animal that would eagerly swarm to the fresh-killed corpse of its brother and guzzle the blood pooling beneath him? It didn't endear them to her. She was funny that way.

The lull in her fathers' narrative had been a natural one, entering as the pauses became longer. In a way, she wanted the story to end. It would be easier if it had, if there were no more history interwoven with what she was. Wasn't it enough? It made sense that there was something her parents had brought back from India involved in the mechanism that had allowed her mother to function as nearly human. The disparity in the two primary modes of practice in magic she'd been taught were clue enough for that.

She glanced behind her, toward scrub brush and pine hiding the shed up the hill. The scrub had been slowly creeping into the yard, further evidence of her home's decay since her mothers' death. Beth had been right enough that there was more to do than a couple of men with full time jobs could handle. Maintaining land wasn't a great task when done over time, but it was constant. Nature had her own way of doing things and their presence was only a delay, not a deterrent, to her plan.

There was little point to pushing for only the instruction manual to... again, she found herself enforcing a blank over where her imagination wanted to illustrate the speculations that had begun to surface. She'd never considered herself a prude in any sense, though certainly polite conversation tended to eschew topics not meant for uninvolved parties, there was that glaring concept that it was her parents. If what they had done were as simple as spell work, there would be no cause for the long story- and the longer it went on, the more she dreaded the eventual answer. There would be no reason to skirt the facts, circling through the history, unless there were some unpleasant surprise waiting at the end.

The enormity of it all was starting to fall across her again, viscous despair descending to try to pull her under. Her Mama had given up, built her own prison in this house of tightly withheld feeling, and for all Tara’s resolution not to allow those walls to seal around her again, even their cold embrace seemed better than to stand alone in doomed defiance of her heritage.

What her Mama had done was not unthinkable, when logic exerted itself fully on the untenable position that the woman had found herself in. Still, to know that she had wandered, strayed, hunted- whatever word you chose, it still violated the sacred bond between her and Tara’s father. Violated it in the hopes of preserving it, but… she shook her head, as if the rid herself of the thoughts. Mama was Mama, and nothing in the past would change the woman who Tara had been raised by. Now that she was gone, it was that much more irrelevant, yet that much more vile a taint to an image Tara still held dear. She would still hold that blemished memory close, even knowing the stain would spread through her as well.

Her parents had intended to contain it, to stymie in their generation this well of misery, yet it had found a way to break them anew, in the form of her birth. She was an inevitable tragedy that they could not abandon, too much a link to their greatest trial not to resent the sight of.

Peter shifted and Tara backed away just in time to avoid am explosively wet snort. She grimaced at him, but the pig blinked in oblivious contentment. Much as she despised the creatures, it was a good sign that her father had started taking them again. He'd shut down the barter in his business after her mother's death. Even when her mother hadn't been able to continue the meat sales at the farmers market, he'd even kept up the booth for a little while. The sales had been pitiful, but it had been important to her mother to continue the task that she'd enjoyed so much, continue the ties with those she'd stood beside for years. All but the most loyal customer base had quickly dwindled, the few that came inevitably asking when she'd return.

As her mother's condition had worsened, Tara had taken over the stall. She'd hated having to deal with all the unfamiliar faces, the casual words that she never knew the right answers to. Her mother had thrived in the eye of the public and the rest of the family was poor substitute. Her father, at least, hadn't driven anyone away the way Donny's sullen disinterest or Tara's own demeanor had. The days past when he'd taken joy in working beside her mother might not be back, but he must have taken some joy from the task itself, if he'd taken the effort to start again. She'd have to ask Donny later about how it had been going. Maybe with Beth helping to supply some of the banter?

It seemed too hot for October twilight, though the breeze across her arms was cool enough to raise goosebumps. She started back toward the house. It would be dinnertime soon enough, and by the look of things, Beth wasn't going to be home in time. It was hard to imagine her father taking that well, but the rules had always been different for her cousin. There was no mystery to it. Bending the rules didn't matter so much, when it was just a girl coming home a little late. Tara letting herself be that lax could have been too easily been a signal of how little self control she had, something that would be devastating when the demon in her emerged.

Her stomach was getting antsy for food, but in recognizing the sensation, she recognized the feeling layered beneath it. She stopped in her tracks, counting the days. Four. Four days now. The longest she'd gone between feeding had been three days since this nightmare began, so even the little leeway was something she should be thankful for, but it was hard to see it that way.

Four days since she'd almost killed Willow.

She didn't know how to gage the slow burn she felt. Jean had told her that the time between feedings would lengthen now that her quickening had finished, but by how much? Could she even trust that estimate, given how the Hellmouth had skewed so many other features of the process?

She wasn't on the Hellmouth now, though. Would that be a good thing, not strengthening the force of the Draw? Or would it only mean that her... prey... would suffer all the more?

Her tail tightened around her leg as the thought rose unbidden; what would the Draw do to her family? Cold logic said that as a force that had nothing to do with reproduction, consanguinity would make no barrier. Her father was no more than human. Donny- she wasn't sure if her mother's genes could protect him, either.

Jean had said that if she fed more often, the consequences to her victims would be less. If she didn't wait until the Draw forced her to feed, what then? Choosing to do what she did rather than having the decision forced upon her... lack of control relieved her of the sense of responsibility, at some level. Choose to do harm, and do less? Or know that you will do harm, and in refusing, make that harm worse?

Her upbringing said that she shouldn't give in. Stand against the forces inside her until she broke, then take responsibility for what followed and rebuild to stand against them again. But then she thought of Willow's slack, pallid face. Of the hiss of the ventilator, the tube down her love's throat moving ever so slightly as her thin chest mechanically rose and fell. And the memory of the slower rise and fall a few hours before, the warm glow she'd stolen away.

She would have to push the issue. If her father couldn't, or wouldn't, give her the key to stopping her need to feed, then she had to act. To steal away into the night as her mother had before her, trying to find the lesser of the evils her continued existence required.

Part of her echoed flatly that choosing between evils wasn't necessary. After all, it was only her continuing existence that made them necessary. Until a year ago, that would have been the clear choice. The suffering of one, briefly, in exchange for a lifetime of inflicting suffering.

Hope was a treacherous thing. She had become selfish, finding pieces of life that she had come to covet. All but one she'd still been willing to leave behind. Willow. It was a cruel prize, the life she'd dared to hope for. And all her hope had done was hurt the one she cared for most in the world.

Her thoughts were shattered by the sound of the Soledad's barn door opening noisily from the neighboring property. There were indistinct voices that followed, but while the words weren't clear, the tone was. The warmth in the night seemed to rise as her jealousy flared. Why did those voices deserve their uncomplicated happiness? What had they done, that she had not? What had Willow done, that she couldn't give her that chance?

Tara's tail refused to stay tethered, though she kept the lashing it wanted down to a staccato twitch. Maybe this was her message from above, maybe it was a trial of her character. She didn't know, but as she changed direction, away from the house, she had the sense of something she had held precious dying within her. No quiet death, but the hand of her decision holding it under a rising tide of necessity as it struggled.

She could tell herself it would be the last time, almost convince herself it was so. A little more time and her father would provide the key. A little more time and she could rebuild the life she'd so briefly thought could be hers. A little more time and she would know if the price of her life was one she was willing to pay. Buying time meant something as long as there was hope.

Hope was a great corrupter.

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

Life is intervening again- the next section will be some time after mid-May.


-Never


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 20 posted 4/6/11)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:29 am 
Offline
23. Volumey Text

Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:39 pm
Posts: 3786
Location: UK
Great update.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 20 posted 4/6/11)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:39 am 
Offline
7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:20 am
Posts: 673
Topics: 1
It's rough having memories of people you love pulled into a light of insight that you didn't have as a child... I hope Tara's wrong about her father's story's big, awful twist ending, but I kind of doubt it, so I'm not holding my breath.

Excellent update!

_________________
Ripples - Pretty Much Perfect and The Sequel to the Sequel, Who's That Girl?
Every Step That I Retrace/Always Leads Me Back to You/But I've Loved You All Along
Road to Recovery, The Call/The Lightning Strike, The Sun Will Rise


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 20 posted 4/6/11)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:35 am 
Offline
8. Vixen
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:51 am
Posts: 897
Location: Kaskinen, Finland. Citizen of Kitopia
Yay for great update-y goodness... I hope that when Tara has Willow in her arms her fears subside a bit and hope returns...

_________________
We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Buggered

Posting while nude improves your mood...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (Ch 20 posted 4/6/11)
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:04 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:04 pm
Posts: 225
Topics: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
Greetings!

The next chat-cast of Changes will be posted on 6/10/11, Friday, starting some time between 8:00 and 8:30pm PST. As usual, I am hopeful for MST3K style snide interactivity. Bring an appetite for as-yet-unrelenting angst and a snark to share. ^_^ v

-Never

PS-
leanhart- You are right, the chance of a fluffy answer from Tara's dad is approximately zero... though I suppose I could have him turn over the family recipe for Snickerdoodles, which mysteriously turn out to be a succubus feeding source. That would lay waste to a lot of good lead-up and attempted foreshadowing, though, which I'd hate to waste.

Mmm. Snickerdoodles....

zampsa- Would that it were so simple, but do you really think it will be? Support and love are wonderful things, but it does not cure all ills.

_________________
Changes


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (next chat-cast Fri 6/10/11 8pm PST)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:05 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:04 pm
Posts: 225
Topics: 1
Location: Pasadena, CA
Chat-cast cancelled due to lack of audience.



Ch 20, Part II

Judy had been fussing with bark and funny smelling powders for what seemed like the better part of the afternoon but Ulysses had quickly found that his mind was going to be here with her even if he tried to make use of the time. He shifted against the wall, trying to find some kind of comfort. He was too edgy to sit but pacing just got Judy anxious and the things he knew enough to help with weren't relevant to this particular bit of magic.

“If you think any harder, I swear you'll break something.” Judy gave a quick smile over her shoulder, nervous in her own way but far more comfortable in this element than he.

“How do we know this is right- is going to be right? Even the ultrasound wasn't clear.” He nodded at her setup, leaning back on his hands to keep himself from crossing his arms in front of him. It would be too standoffish and for better or worse, he'd agreed to this.

Judy examined her work, standing back. “It's definitive... very picky, very specific, but also never wrong.” She reached over and tweaked one arrangement before again consulting the notes her mother had sent. Seldom comfortable with silence, she kept on her dialog. “Sometimes it's a problem because the question isn't right, but for this?” Humor entered to counter the hint of anxiety, “there's not a lot of room for interpretation.”

Ulysses couldn't help but remember tales of genies and monkey fists, but kept his grumbling to something he could justify. “I wish we could've just done the amnio.”

“By the time they'd do it, I'd be too far along- and if we did that test, you know the doctor would want to do the half dozen others she's asked for. I mean- we could let her and just change doctors again when we got the results, but...” She shrugged with forced nonchalance. “At some point they must talk to each other.”

“So this, what, turns blue or pink?” He gestured and Judy answered with a laugh.

“Of course not, silly. Besides, this spell's been around a while and until recently pink was considered a masculine color- blue was cool and calm, so thought to be more feminine.”

“Feeling cool and calm?”

“Nervous, more like. What this says...” Judy's hand fell across the now evident bulge of her belly and smile faded for a moment before she added brightly, “there's no ambiguity in the answer, at least. Yes or no- no other options.”

“No sorta?” He grinned back, captured by the tenacious joy she could hold on to even in such a tense moment.

“No sorta.” She laughed again, worries seemingly forgotten to any that didn't know her well enough to see through it. “It should only be a few minutes.”

“Anything I should do?”

Genuine fondness shone through as Judy gave him a quick peck on the cheek before he saw it coming- not that he'd have objected. Her hand lingered a moment as she turned back to her ritual preparations, “You're doing it, Lyss.”

Bearing witness wasn't a role he cared for, but this was one of all too many times that he could do nothing more. He watched the spellwork begin, the circles formed and supposed deities invoked. It was familiar, for all that he'd had no luck following what Judy had tried time and again to explain to him. It was too arbitrary, with no rhyme or reason that he could see.

There were no lights or fancy whooshing to most of Judy's spells- she'd told him that, when the effect was unintended, that was typically a sign of inefficiency at best, bleed-out from lack of control at worst. Here there was just a sense of presence that made his back itch and a flicker of the candles that accompanied the soft sound of his wife's voice. The only indication that it was over was when she stopped speaking, cocked her head to the side as she examined something in the arrangement on the table before her and sighed softly. She began to breakdown the preparations, another step he'd learned not to interrupt, before turning to him teary-eyed.

“It's... they said it's not a girl, Lyss.”

“You're sure?”

“Yes or no- am I bearing a baby girl... can you think of any way to twist that?” Her hands fell light on his chest, her own eyes searching his for doubt. He thought for a long minute, but short of the magic itself leading them false, he couldn't find potential for error. He shook his head and finally let the relief wash over him.

A son. A little brother for Donny. There was a whole set of worries that idea brought, but nothing compared to the disaster that a daughter would have been. Could they afford another baby? Could they risk a hospital? Would Judy even be able to maintain her human form when in labor? And the pregnancy itself... if it skewed the schedule they'd made... it was hard enough to regulate as it was, but with another variable it could be long months of chaos and close calls. The cold thought of her hunting again swam through his mind unbidden and he tried to keep tenacious hold of his happiness before it could be wrested away.

Hugging Judy close, he prayed that she hadn't seen the misgivings in his face. She deserved what fragile joy she could have, rare as it was. With another squeeze they parted wordlessly- he to check on Donny, she to cleaning up the remains of her spell, carefully setting aside anything they could reuse later in the box headed for the shed.


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


The doorbell echoed twice behind the closed door as Willow dropped back from the door. Surely this cold sweat was from driving all day. It couldn't possibly be fear. Fear was what happened when faced by hungry vampires, or demonic larvae, or pointy objects aimed in your direction with malicious intent, or a classroom of judgmental peers staring at you. By comparison, the idea of a middle-aged man's disapproval- a man she neither knew nor liked- shouldn't mean a thing.

What was there to be afraid of? Willow's logic-brain didn't know. At worst, Mr. Maclay could be mean and petty, declining to give her the information she and Tara sought. Even if he denied her access to Tara, that would be no more barrier than she allowed it to be.

Weren't the barriers that she ran into always so? She knew that what hemmed her in most were her own hangups; neurosis that she was unwilling to face, a thousand rules she'd erected around herself of 'right' and 'good'. The 'should' cast its shadow on what others did, condemning the actions she could not bring herself to take.

Pull that away and what would be left? Before she could muse any further the door in front of her swept open.

There was a moment of mutual staring silence. Donny seemed even scruffier than he'd been when she'd first met him, though she wasn't sure what it was that tipped her view in that direction. As much trouble as she'd had trying to hold on to what she was going to say to Mr. Maclay, it had never even entered her mind that Tara's brother would be there. Just as Tara had told her to a few weeks ago, she had given him exactly as much consideration as she'd thought he deserved- none. That particular bit of wisdom was biting her now, leaving her mind in a frenetic tangle and grasping for the right words.

“Well look-ee here. See what the cat dragged in.” Donny crossed his arms and slouched against the door frame with an air of genial hostility.

“Hi!” Willow cringed at the nervous chirp in her voice. “We're here to see Tara.”

“Izzat so?” The grin was anything but pleasant. “That's too bad. Sorry you drove all this way for nothing.”

“She's not here?” The bottom dropped out of Willow's stomach, a litany of potential disasters that could have befallen Tara cascading through her mind. Bus stations were notorious vamp hangouts and the AmTrak stop wasn't much better. Or even the human predators- Tara didn't exactly exude the confidence that would direct their interest to easier prey. Or there was always the mundane traffic accident. Or-

“Oh, she's here. You just aren't gonna be seeing her, that's all.”

Relief and indignation washed over her in equal degree. “Isn't that up to her?”

“Lessee... ah... no. She doesn't need another dramatic showdown, and I think it's pretty clear what her decision was here.” He reached up to scratch his chin, eyes flicking to Xander. “Y'know, last I recall you were threatening me- and it just occurred to me that I'm within my rights to cap your ass for trespassing.”

Willow felt the blood rush to her face as her mental hackles raised another inch. “Can you at least tell her we're here?”

“So you can guilt my baby sister into going back with you? She came back on her own, and she's safer here than she was there.” He shook his head. “Did she ever tell you? What she is?:

“She was scared to death-”

“Not scared enough to come home. Not scared enough to tell the truth. She knew she was dangerous, and she just let you believe what you wanted.”

“You didn't give her anything to tell! She didn't know anything-”

“She knew enough- she knew she'd need help. She knew she'd be dangerous. She saw how our Mom got-” Donny had pushed forward from the door jam, crowding them as his voice raised. He stopped abruptly, eyes dropping as if expecting some kind of reprisal before starting again with the same coldly amiable tone he'd started with. “I think it's time you got in your car and ran on home. If Tara wants to talk to you, I bet she knows your phone number.”

“I'm not leaving till I see her.” Willow felt a tickle beginning in the back of her throat. She cleared it and tasted blood.

“Suit yourself. I'll just get the police on the line, then, if you'll excuse me. Seems we have some solicitors that won't take no for an answer.” Donny turned, hand on the door.

Being arrested for harassing the Maclays had never crossed Willow's mind and she found the idea more than a little terrifying. That would almost surely get on her permanent record, if they had such things in college. Surely they did. Then it would be goodbye scholarship, goodbye grad school, and hello Community College. She had a brief vision of a future involving hairnets and timecards, her heartrate rising accordingly.

“What are you so scared of?” Xanders voice rose behind her, aborting her instinctive withdrawal. “That we're going to find out what you're doing to her? Turn you in for beating your own sister?”

Willow realized suddenly that she hadn't explained to Xander what Tara had told her. He had simply taken Donny at his words- which made the fact that he'd forced Tara to return to this place all the more heinous.

“You think I'd hurt her?” Donny slammed an open hand into the door. “It wasn't me that put that shiner on her face, asshole. Maybe you don't have a problem with demons, but somebody up there sure as hell does and you couldn't keep her safe, could you? What happened? You saw what she is and decided to treat her like those other things in the shop? Or maybe another attack at your magic store?”

Willow winced and her shoulders hunched, wishing she could refute the last accusation.

“Or was it that scrawny fucker? D'you sit and watch him hit my sister again?” Donny had made the full turn back, more livid by the moment, “Maybe that's what you think is going to keep her from hurting anyone? Just let him beat it out of her?”

Xander was backpedaling now too. “No! Spike- he knows we'd kill him if he hurt anyone- assuming his chip didn't do it first.”

“We were attacked- both of us.” Willow tried to sound calmly logical, conveniently omitting the fact that they had been walking in a graveyard searching for vampires at the time.

“And somehow you make it out without a scratch,” Donny snorted.

Willow frowned mightily and pointed at where the vampire had kicked her chin, belatedly realizing that she hadn't noticed any pain from it since she woke. A quick prod confirmed the area completely healed. So much for corroborating evidence- now all she had were defensive words. “I won't let anyone hurt her- not again.”

“Nobody ever laid a hand on her when she lived here and yet you want to drag her back up into the middle of that... whatever that was? More demons? Whatever kind of things you run around with?”

“We just want to talk-” Xander was rallying now as well, though his protest now carried none of its prior righteous indignation.

“You got your chance.” Willow tried to break in, but Donny plowed on through, glaring at her. “Hell, you got two weeks of chances before Tara saw reason. So why don't you turn your ass around, let your boyfriend drive you back to school, and get the fuck out of Tara's life.”

Willow grasped for a coherent response as defiance finally began to build a shield between her and Donny's not entirely misplaced accusations. The Scooby lifestyle was not safe, not by a long shot. It was one of the reasons that she'd tried to distance Tara from it, even when she'd considered her just a friend who happened to know about the darker side of the local nightlife. Admittedly, there were other, less altruistic reasons, but that had been prominent among them. As Tara had eased into supporting Willow's efforts there had been no way to keep her fully safe- and Tara hadn't objected. Despite her voiced admiration for “cool monster fighting”, she hadn't evinced any drive to join in, though join in she had.

You didn't have to hunt vampires or fight demons to be involved. Just knowing the people who did was hazardous in its own right, but the hypocrisy of Willow not letting Tara choose her own degree of involvement? Willow had pushed too hard to stay a part of the Good Fight to bar anyone else.

There was more than a little guilt, though. She had to admit that she'd asked for Tara's help on Scooby cases more than once. At the time she'd justified it because magic could be done from behind locked doors, in the comfort of your own space. No front line meant minimal danger, right? Unless you were kidnapped, used as leverage against Buffy, or... other equally unlikely things that had all happened to Willow back in high school.

Tara was so much more competent than Willow had been, though, and she didn't make a target of herself. She didn't patrol, other than that one ill-fated attempt a few nights back. It was just as well that it hadn't worked out- then Tara would've had to join that routine, with all the incumbent risk.

“Point of clarification- not my girlfriend. Just to be clear.” Xander was just behind her now, less moved than Willow by Donny's accusations. “And going home? Not happening till we talk to her.”

It was true. Whether they were right or wrong, whether Tara stayed or left, at the very least Willow had to see her. She had to tell her that she was okay, that she'd done nothing wrong, and try to reverse some of the damage that the other Scoobies would have done to the gentle soul they'd turned against.

A thought occurred to Willow and she looked up suddenly, searching Donny's face. “You still don't know, do you...” He didn't answer, brow furrowing without understanding. “She hasn't told you about it, has she... what's happened to her...”

Donny's face flushed.

“He knows as much as he needs to, for now.”

The door opened further and Donny stepped back, suddenly deferential in a manner abruptly similar to Tara as his father appeared. Without looking at his son, Mr. Maclay spoke again with quiet authority, “Why don't you see if your sister is back, Donny, and find out if the lemonade ever got made...”

“Sir?”

“These folks have driven a long way today. It wouldn't be right to just turn them away.”

The thinly veiled barb about the reception the Maclays had received at the Magic Box was not lost on Willow, raising both a new spike of indignation and a rather large twinge in her conscience. If his taking the moral high ground meant she got to talk to Tara, though, there was no reason to push the point.

Mr. Maclay's evaluating gaze raked over Willow once before moving to Xander and lingering there. As Donny disappeared he motioned them inside. Willow hesitated, but couldn't see a reason to refuse.

“Tara stepped out to get some air, but she should be back soon enough... take a seat.” Mr. Maclay settled into a leather easy chair with a slight squeak of the material. “You're classmates of hers, then?”

Willow's brain was trying to change gear to fit the situation. This was too easy. Was he going to poison them with the lemonade? Or maybe that had been some kind of code to Donny, to take Tara and hide her? She'd expected anger, not blandly polite small-talk. Unless he was so confident that Tara was home to stay..?

“Not me. Willow is...” Xander took over while Willow sat in stunned silence, fidgeting.

“You're not in school then- what kind of work do you do?”

“Construction- .” After a brief, awkward silence, “What's your business?”

Donny came in with a couple of glasses and a plastic pitcher, setting them down carefully under his father's eye. He dropped back to the doorway, lingering there until a pointed look from Mr. Maclay made him vanish somewhere into the back of the house.

“Irrigation systems, mostly. My own company... small, but it keeps me busy.” He poured a couple of glasses for them before taking one of his own, still scrutinizing them as he spoke. “You know Tara for long?”

“A few months... Willow knew her for a while before we were introduced.”

“A few months,” Mr. Maclay repeated quietly, face darkening. He cleared his throat and looked away for a moment. “I don't know how much Tara has told you, yet... it's not really my right to say more than I have.”

Willow found Xander looking to her for the response. She wanted to retort nastily with something about what he should've told Tara before any of this happened, but it was hard to summon antagonism in the face of polite conversation. She decided on innocent bluntness.

“Beyond the part where she's a succubus?”

That gave Mr. Maclay pause, his eyes falling on Willow again as he spoke quietly, seemingly explaining to himself. “I guess she did tell you... but then, you do that magic stuff too, don't you. Demons aren't exactly foreign to you.”

Willow was about to speak again, but was cut off as he continued, “It's not easy... if you're going to try to help her... this isn't some casual thing. There's commitment. A lot of commitment you're going to have to be prepared for. Sacrifice...” His eyes were again avoiding them both, words becoming both stern and somehow sad.

Willow was on her feet before she realized she'd heard a door open, rushing to meet Tara as she appeared. A visual once-over revealed her girlfriend as haggard, wearing a look of inward shock that turned external as dulled eyes rose and belatedly noticed Willow. A brilliant bruise across one side of her face was just beginning to turn color, but no other harm was apparent. With the safety of her intended gesture confirmed, she wrapped Tara in a tight embrace as her pent up concern spilled out.

Tara had been through so much these past weeks, and there was so little Willow could do for her. However frustrated and helpless she felt against what her girlfriend faced, however, the worst of it was that Willow had given her reason to fear herself. Not an uncertain fear, like that she'd carried with her lifelong, but real, defined, quantifiable results that she could point to and know that it had been by her hand. As much as Willow wanted to be her protector, she couldn't even approach that goal, failing at the even the lesser role of support.

“I'm sorry. I'm sorry I scared you- I'm okay, see? I'm sorry I couldn't come with you... I'm sorry for whatever they told you- I...” Willow trailed off as she noticed the hug being only stiffly returned. She'd been sure to keep the charm tucked away safely, though that was the first worried thought to cross her mind, and she released Tara enough to see her face. Far from reassured, the blonde was staring past Willow, pale and wide-eyed.

A glance back and Willow's heart froze in her chest. Mr. Maclay had risen to his feet, face a rigid mask that didn't conceal the flush creeping up his neck, nor the leaping pulse there.

A silent plateau stretched in a barren field between them, a no man's land none dared to breach. The muscles of Mr. Maclay's jaw worked for a moment, his careful choosing of his words plain to see. When they came, they were as cold as any Willow had ever heard, for all their simplicity.

“You wouldn't dare...”


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (next chat-cast Fri 6/10/11 8pm PST)
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:00 pm 
Offline
8. Vixen
User avatar

Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 9:46 am
Posts: 854
Topics: 3
Location: Southern Arizona
*lays down to kick and scream* :fit

AWWWW, C'MON!!!! :gnome :gnome

You're killin' me here! That can be taken in several ways - is it a threat? is it a warning?

Can't you give a girl a little more of a hint than that?!?!

*sighs & pouts*

More.... soon like...... :glasses


Oh, dibs by the way.... :grin

_________________
Heather aka vampyregurl73
"Dry Heat""Penny Arcade" "Fireworks" "Promise" "I Did What Last Night?"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (next chat-cast Fri 6/10/11 8pm PST)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:19 am 
Offline
23. Volumey Text

Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:39 pm
Posts: 3786
Location: UK
Great update.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (next chat-cast Fri 6/10/11 8pm PST)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:27 am 
Offline
8. Vixen
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:51 am
Posts: 897
Location: Kaskinen, Finland. Citizen of Kitopia
Yay for great update-y goodness... I truly hope that Willow & X-man manage to convince Tara to come "home" with them. And learn more about the "cure" for Succubus's...

_________________
We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Buggered

Posting while nude improves your mood...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Changes (next chat-cast Fri 6/10/11 8pm PST)
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:55 am 
Offline
7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:20 am
Posts: 673
Topics: 1
Aww, well damn... that's an ambiguous last line! I'm glad the girls are back together but I'm thinking that's not going to make it easier for Tara, as much as Willow wants to help.... :(

_________________
Ripples - Pretty Much Perfect and The Sequel to the Sequel, Who's That Girl?
Every Step That I Retrace/Always Leads Me Back to You/But I've Loved You All Along
Road to Recovery, The Call/The Lightning Strike, The Sun Will Rise


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 243 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  

W/T Love 24/7 since July 2000
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group