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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Eight Now Posted 07/20/10
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:23 am 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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Quite beautifully done. I love the trust each of them is able to share with the other. Kinky? Ok. I guess so. I guess to me it was intense and unusual but not particularly kinky. Ok, the fruit juice eating is a little kinky. To me it's more just messy (yes, that's a concern for me - it's a thing). Anyway, I don't necessarily find fisting kinky unless it's ... I don't know, done with a certain intention or vocabulary behind it. In this case, it just seemed amazingly trusting and connecting.

And ok, I don't mean to pick but I'm pretty confused about something. I totally believe there would be blood because ... well, there usually is with that particularly activity. But you actually said Willow broke Tara's hymen. She had a hymen? She'd never broken it horse riding or putting in a tampon or falling onto the top bar of her bicycle or ... I don't know in the two years they were lovers before? I mean did the first time fisting mean she'd never actually been penetrated before? I'm just confused but I'm really not trying to jump on you. I swear.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Eight Now Posted 07/20/10
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:35 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer

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Loved the update. I knew it wasn't going to take long before they were sleeping with each other again.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Nine Now POsted 08/06/10
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:22 pm 
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8. Vixen
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I'd like to firstly thank everyone who has been reading - I hope you like it so far.

Laragh - Once again sorry to have broken you but it seems you have sufficiently recovered. I'm glad the emotions I was trying to convey came across so clearly. I have plans for more emotional exchanges because well, it happens in all relationships and our girls are no exceptions but we just get to control the outcome.

Zampsa1975 - Hopefully you'll like this update too. Here's my theory on the "skin on skin" activities. Two people majorly in love separated for almost two years and are now together again, what else would they do for like the first two weeks or two months for that matter? Get reacquainted, right? With every part of each others bodies as well as emotions. Just sayin'. ;)

JustSkipIt - Thank you for your wonderful compliments. Lol, but you are picking... just a little bit and I was gonna just say remember all women are not built the same but I like what my beta has to say on this (don't get too mad at me Meg) and it's even kinda geeky so think Willow when you read this. *throat clearing*: "It’s remarkable how many people—women included—continue to hold misinformation about virginity and the hymen. It is true that in fiction, there is a trend toward the notion that the hymen is a film that must be punctured or torn through. This is of course untrue—if the hymen actually crossed the span, there would be complications with menstruation and surgery would be needed. Inserted things—tampons, fingers—or simply aging, over time will stretch the opening in the hymen, as will activities like horseback riding or gymnastics. Virginity isn’t tied to the hymen at all. It’s true that women are likely to bleed after particularly aggravating sex acts (such as fisting), and might bleed from traditional intercourse if their hymenal opening (or any other section of the vaginal tract) hasn’t been stretched by other means—simply because the tissue is not used to stretching so far, and can tear. But the notion that penetration “breaks through” the hymen, and that an intact hymen (and subsequent bloodletting) is equivalent to virginity, is a throwback to a very old way of thinking that science does not support." - Hopefully you will continue reading and take that in the good natured way it was interned.


love_2003 - How could they not be together? It's part of why we do this I think. To write about maybe the things we wish for, hope for and yearn for. A love like the one we all write about here is something that is increasingly uncommon in the real world if actually there at all.Therefore we have to write about it so that the hope for it remains alive and not just a dream.


With ALL of that said, welcome to Chapter Nine of Dry Heat


Chapter Nine

Pairing: W/T

Rating: R for a little nudity.

Angst/Drama Rating: So I guess this should be here too since much like life nothing comes easy; I'd say on a scale of 1-10 this is about a solid 5.5.

Setting: The Grove - Tucson

Disclaimer: I in no way, shape or form own the characters from BTVS, they’re owned by Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. All original characters are in no way connected to them except by me in this forum. No money is involved this is simply for my own pleasure.

Email: riverwillows@me.com

Feedback: Absolutely, help make me a better writer!

Author’s Note: I would also like to thank my beta Jasmydae for her assistance and patience while we sort through some of the muddle in my head as well as being my cohort in all the literary crimes (because I’m sure I’ll make lots) with this story. If you’ve been following along from the beginning, I said this story will be in two parts which I have decided to scrap in favor of just one continuous story; however the later part of the story will coincide with the last season of BtVS. However, I do plan to skip episodes that I think are extraneous and won’t further my story as well as tailor the ones I do use to fit. So in order to not spoil anything, I won’t say anything further than enjoy.




The two lovers fell asleep in a familiar position — nestled against each other with Willow’s head above Tara’s heart, and Tara’s hand covering Willow’s. Willow woke some time later with Tara still asleep in her arms. She gently kissed her shoulder. She was sore but in a way that sent a slight shiver through her. She blinked several times against the darkness of the room.


The candles had burned down long ago, and there was still the lingering smell of sex and honey, but she didn’t want to move. She had longed for this, dreamed of this, and now she had it – had Tara – in her arms. Pulling away slightly to look at Tara while she slept, Willow softly traced the contour of her brow, down her cheek to her jaw line, trying to not wake her. Tara’s lips were parted slightly in sleep, and her breathing deep, and steady.


There was a pinkness to her cheeks, and a lock of hair that never seemed to behave rested over Tara’s forehead, something Willow had always found endearing. Even in sleep she was beautiful; the subtle lines of worry and strain eased away from Tara’s face.


“Hi, baby,” Tara mumbled as she kissed Willow’s forehead, her voice thick with sleep. “You’re not a dream.”


“No, I’m not, and neither are you,” Willow laid her head back on Tara’s chest. “How do you feel, love?”


Tara gave a throaty laugh. “I never knew ‘sore in a good way’ applied to lesbians. At least not any of the ones I knew.”


“Oh, really. And just how many is that, Miss Maclay?” Willow asked timidly without lifting her head.


“Are we serious, Miss Rosenberg? You’ve never asked that question before.”


Tara was right — Willow hadn’t ever asked, only assumed. Suddenly she wasn’t certain she wanted to know. Willow started to stammer, “I thought you were kind of new like me, but maybe not…”


Tara pulled back to look at her. "Including you, Willow, I’ve been with three girls. Would you like to know the who and the when?" she quietly offered.


Willow noticed her hesitation. Was Tara really okay with this? For that matter, was she okay with it? Willow knew her own temperament – her temper and jealousy ignited easily, but burned out as fast. She didn't want to ruin the moment. But she didn't get the impression Tara had left behind a trail of broken hearts, and she had offered, after all, and didn't appear to be ashamed, so it couldn't be that bad, right?


“Yes… did you love them, Tara?” Willow asked quietly.


Tara slowly moved her hand up and down Willow’s back. “Well, at the time I did, in as much as I could. I had crushes all through school – on other classmates, a couple of teachers. I think I even used that feeling as a way, or maybe a reason, to get to know some of the girls, but there must have been something they saw in me too. I just didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t know that about myself, really, when I was younger. Being so shy and stuttering made it harder still to even make friends, or to believe there wasn’t an ulterior motive as I got older; sometimes I think it was because they made the effort to get past all my quirks to be my friend that it then developed into a crush,” Tara sighed.


Willow caressed Tara’s cheek, offered her an understanding smile. Willow hadn't realized how deep their similarities ran.


“My first real girlfriend was in my junior year of high school. We had Art and English together. Her name was Lisa Elliot. She was a gorgeous girl with auburn hair and warm brown eyes. I guess I’ve always had a thing for redheads,” Tara smiled ruefully. Her tone made Willow look up. “And she broke my heart completely. I think I was just an experiment for her. No, that’s not completely true. We both were experimenting. I was already figuring out I liked girls a lot more than she did, though. My father found out after it was over, and let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant.”


“Baby, was he ever nice to anyone?” Willow said as she tightened her arms around Tara protectively.


“Sometimes he could be – it just wasn’t incredibly often. It got worse after Momma died, but he was always strict, and less than – affectionate, you know? I’ve often wonder why he even had children; he never really seemed to like children, or us for that matter.”


“Go on,” Willow prompted with a gentle squeeze of Tara’s hip, so she wouldn’t linger too long on thoughts of her father.


“Then Claudia Kelly was the summer after I graduated high school, before I started UC Sunnydale.” Tara smiled as she seemed to be remembering, and the bitterness eased out of her voice. “She was… I dunno, it wasn’t really a relationship or love, it was a summer fling and we both knew it. Her mother had known my mother and practice together before my father found out. We played together as kids, and she knew I was leaving for school, and she was off to some ranch. It never went any further than just physical attraction.”


Willow kissed Tara’s shoulder encouragingly.


“There’s really not much to say. Claude was funny and sweet. Her mom was gifted, but she wasn’t particularly. We really had very little in common.”


Willow’s head snapped up, and she stiffened in Tara’s arms. “Claude? What did she look like?”


Tara looked down at Willow quizzically. “Why? It doesn’t matter anymore. I haven’t seen her in years.”


“Please, Tara, just tell me.” Willow started to sit up.


Tara’s confusion was clear, and she let Willow go. “Short, brunette, kind of athletic, pretty… Why, Willow?”


Willow shook her head in disbelief. “Would you maybe describe her as pixie-ish?”


Tara thought for a minute. “Yeah, I guess. Why?”


Willow groaned and put her head in her hands. “The woman Dana and I picked up introduced herself as Claudia, preferring Claude. Maybe about five feet tall, short brown hair, pixie-ish, and we took her to Canyon Ranch.”


Tara’s jaw dropped, and she sputtered, “No way, it can’t be. I mean what are the odds, Willow? I’m sure there are a lot of lesbians named Claudia that go by Claude.”


“Way. She didn’t tell you where the ranch was at?” Willow asked.


“No, she didn’t, and I didn’t even ask. It wasn’t that serious; we were eighteen. It was – we were – we knew we were attracted to each other, but we both knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, Will. We didn’t ask a lot of questions. There didn’t seem to be a point. She’s the closest thing to a one night stand as I’ve ever come, although it was more than...” Tara trailed off sheepishly. “It’s been years now,” Tara shrugged.


“I guess we’ll find out. I haven’t encouraged her; she’s the one that just showed up, and I can’t say she won’t do it again. She also offered a night in a cabin in some mountains near here as a ‘thank you’ primarily to me. Ask Dana,” Willow’s breathing came in short bursts and she could feel her cheeks grow hot . Her fingers began to fidget aimlessly around the edge of the bed sheet.


“So she hit on you?” Tara’s tone was jealous, and Willow just nodded her head. Tara grumbled as she started to get up. Pushing the sheet back, Tara stopped when she saw little patches of dark red among the magenta colored spots from the pear. She hesitated before she reached to touch one of the spots. Willow watched and saw the realization that was going on for Tara, and she decided to remain silent to let this be her moment.


“Is that mine?” she asked quietly.


“Yes, baby, it’s normal when you lose your virginity.” Willow took her hand, and stroked her palm with her thumb with a broad smile.


Tara studied the expression on Willow’s face, and smiled back. “Proud of, yourself are you?”


Willow nodded vigorously. “I’m the man, baby.”


Tara laughed and rolled back into the bed to pull Willow to her. “Yes, you are. You’re my man.” They giggled as they kissed.


“Mmm, I wanna shower, sweetie,” Tara said as she scooted towards the edge, groaning at the friction and pressure. Willow got up, and headed for the bathroom to turn on the shower. When she came back out Tara was on the edge of the bed with a faraway look in her eyes.


“Baby, are you okay?” Willow asked.


Tara looked at Willow with unfocused eyes and her expression blank, then as rapidly as she was gone, she was back. The light returned to her eyes, and she seemed to shake free from her recollections, and nodded. “I’m tired, and hungry, and sticky,” She snickered.


Willow offered a hand to Tara, to help her up from the bed. “Then let me bathe you, my beautiful girl.”


Willow led Tara to the shower, and opened the door. She eased Tara under the water, and moved her hands lightly over Tara’s skin. The bruises along Tara's collar bone and above her breasts stood out in angry contrast to the rest of her creamy skin. Willow felt a blush rise, but didn’t stop the movements of her hands. She had put a wash cloth in the shower before they got in, and as she held it under the water she reached for the soap. Working it between her hands, she got the cloth full of lather. She started at Tara’s shoulders, carefully moved over her breasts and down her stomach.


Willow got down on her knees, and looked up at Tara. “Tell me if I hurt you.”


With a nudge Willow moved Tara’s legs apart and gently began to wash the tender skin of her sex and inner thighs. She halted when Tara flinched, hesitated. When Tara nodded, she resumed the gentle washing, gingerly cleansing the blood and fluids. Then she rotated Tara away from her so she could soap her back and bottom, and all the way down to her feet.


Willow let the spray rinse the soap off Tara’s back, before she turned her to get the rest. Lastly she pulled the shower head off its hook, changed the setting to one that would be gentler, and carefully rinsed away the soap from her sex and thighs. Tara stood still with a ghost of a smile around her mouth as Willow finished her ministrations. A look of love shone in Tara’s eyes.


“Willow, you’re amazing. I feel so loved by you; I haven’t felt that in a very long time.” Tara’ voice was thick, and her eyes shimmered with tears.


Willow shrugged casually. “It’s true, Tara. I love you. You’re precious to me. You’re good for me, you’re good to me; you’ve allowed me to find out who I am. I can’t ever express how grateful I am for that,” She caressed Tara’s face, and then kissed her nose. “I’m not sure where I would be without you, and I don’t want to know.”


Tara kissed Willow, and took the shower head from her to put it back on its perch, then began to soap Willow’s body in lather. “You’re too thin, sweetie.”


Willow hung her head a bit. “I know.”


Tara didn’t say anything else as the soap slid away, and down the drain. Willow thought she was a bit less sore of the two as they dried each other off. Tara blushed at the pink she left on the towel.


“That will stop. It lasted a few hours for me but, well, there was a lot more involved with yours,” Willow said.


Tara just nodded. “Feed me, I’m starving!”


Willow smiled wickedly. “Well, I can’t take you to the kitchen like that!” She pointed at Tara’s nakedness. “I guess I could, but then everyone would get to see what’s mine.” Willow sauntered over to embrace Tara and growled into her neck.


Tara snickered. “Possessive much?”


“Darn tootin’, nobody gets you but me,” Willow kissed just under Tara’s ear.


“It’s true, I am yours, Willow. I’ve always been yours. You know that, right?” Tara said seriously.


Willow placed her palm to Tara’s face. “Always,” She rested her head on Tara’s shoulder.


They stood holding each other, and enjoying the feel of skin on skin until Tara kissed Willow’s ear and whispered, “Feed me.”


Willow kissed Tara’s shoulder again. “Okay, let’s go feed my baby.”


They dressed in silence, stealing glances at one another, before they walked back to the main hall hand in hand. “We could go out if you want. I can get a car. Not much delivers out here. Or we can just rummage. What would you most like to do, baby?”


“I don’t wanna go anywhere; we can do that another time. I just want to be with you.” Tara squeezed Willow’s hand and smiled.



*******



Dana poured a hot pot of corkscrew pasta into a colander in the sink, then stepped away to let the steam rise before giving it a cold water bath. While it drained, she cut more basil for garnish, and turned back to her sauce. Taking a hunk of the baguette she had by the stove to test her sauce, she had to brace herself on the counter as a wave of sensation washed over her.


Tara and Willow had just entered the building, and short of flowers blooming in the wake of their steps their love was brighter than a fully lit disco ball at a rave. Dana chuckled with a shake of her head. It was getting stronger so they must be heading her way.


“Hello girls,” she said without turning around.


Dana smiled to herself when she heard Tara’s muted gasp at her greeting. She often forgot how disconcerting her gift could be to strangers.


“You’ll get used to it. I think she does it on purpose. Show off,” Willow teased.


Dana laughed too. “Much like you Tara, I can see and sense auras, among other things, and frankly I felt the both of you when you came in the building.”


“Ummm, I don’t know what to say, Dana. Should we go?” Willow asked.


Dana turned around, spoon in hand. “Why in the goddess’ name would you do that? Willow, what I feel is intense love, and I can see it too. My goodness that’s just... lovely.” Dana nodded her head in approval. “I just get to bask in the extra, which is a little like being a voyeur, but I’d have to leave the building not to. Then my sauce would be ruined, and we can’t have that, now can we? I hope you both are hungry?”


“Can I help?” Tara asked.


“There are salads ready in the fridge over in the corner. There are four – pull them all out, if you would. Willow, could you grab plates and set the table, please?” Dana agreed.


“Sure. Who is our fourth?” Willow asked.


“Lady Rowan, she should be here any minute. Would you also rinse the pasta again?” When Willow came back in Dana tore two pieces from a baguette next to the stove and handed them each a piece dipped in sauce. “Here, taste. What do you think?” Both girls made yummy sounds, and just at that moment Lady Rowan walked in.


“Good evening, Sisters,” Rowan said. “Will Sister Tabitha be joining us tonight?”


“No, My Lady, it will just be the four of us,” Dana replied. “Everything is ready. Help yourselves.” She turned the burner off under the sauce. “Willow, you can get whatever dressings you and Tara would like, and what would you like, My Lady?”


“There should be a balsamic vinaigrette in there that I quite like,” she responded. Willow nodded as she pulled out several different kinds of dressing. After the four filled their plates and grabbed their salads they sat at the same table Willow and Tara had occupied earlier.


At first they ate in silence, Willow and Tara next to each other, Rowan at the head of the table, and Dana across from the girls. Dana couldn’t help but smile at the glow that surrounded them.


The girls were playing footsies and giggling softly, which caused both Rowan and Dana to share amused looks while noting the change that was apparent in Willow.


Lady Rowan cleared her throat. “I’ll venture to say things are going well, girls?”


With a nod Willow wiped her mouth and said, “Yes, I think they are, My Lady. I owe you a big thank you.” She took Tara’s hand.


“M-me too, I c-can’t thank you enough,” Tara said as she blushed and dipped her head shyly.


“Girls, it was a most selfish reason. It serves my own happiness as well. Everything in life is about balance; I can see the balance you bring to each other, and also the joy. It’s beyond happiness or contentment; you’re two halves of the same coin, incomplete without the other.” Rowan paused and continued nonchalantly. “I’d also like to make another selfish gesture: Sister Tara, I’d like to invite you to stay here with us. Sister Willow’s time with us has almost come to an end, and if you are agreeable we’d like you to stay here with her for the remainder. If you like you can also take part in the exercises we have Willow do. That would be entirely up to you.”


Dana looked at Rowan with surprise, then back at the girls, quickly wiping her face clean of expression. In all the years Dana had been at The Grove such an invitation had never been extended to anyone or any couple; the offer now made, she was left to wonder why, and if this was a good thing or something more severe.


As she watched and listened other things fell into place, and it was becoming obvious to her that Tara was the faceless blonde witch that had been in her dreams for months now. However, it did not make her feel any better about the offer being extended.


Willow gaped. “My Lady, I…” she sputtered and glanced at Tara, who almost choked on a mouthful of food.


Tara looked between Willow and Rowan. “Are you serious?”


Rowan nodded and continued to eat. “Very. You see Sister Tara, as I have explained to Willow we know the importance of your relationship, even if we do not fully understand exactly why it is important. Just by coming here you have made it apparent you are willing to fight for Willow, for your bond. There is only so much we can teach, and it would seem, as with most things Willow doesn’t settle.”


Rowan paused again, her lips pursed in concentration. When she began speaking again, her words were careful, deliberate. “Are you aware Willow will graduate in January with her degree? I believe she said she needed her studies because ‘it kept her mind busy’, and we know a mind like Willow’s must be kept very busy indeed,” Rowan’s smiled like an indulgent parent. “She has mastered above and beyond, exceeding our expectations, and with the amount of control she can now exert and the considerable amount of talent she has, we have little else to do. She has been taught the theory as well as the practice. Now armed with a greater understanding of things like the Three-Fold Law and the Wiccan Rede, it is just a matter of polishing, so to speak. I also know of your background and your mother’s, which is why I extend the invitation to you.”


Dana watched Rowan smile at the surprised look on Tara’s face. “I know lots of things, dear. You needn’t make your decision now. I believe you are still in school, but your semester should be ending soon.”


Shock washed over Tara’s face. “Yes, we have a b-break right now; I’m s-supposed to graduate in September. I suppose I could do m-my papers here, but I would have to go back for finals. Willow, why didn’t you t-tell me about school?” The gears turned furiously behind Tara’s eyes as she looked between Rowan and Willow.


Willow said softly, “You would do that? I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want, Tara. I don’t want you to feel forced into anything. You being here is more important than where I am in school. I guess I hadn’t gotten that far yet.” Willow could only stare at her plate before pushing it away, her unease with the topic clear.


“W-Willow, I want to try; we still have to figure us out. How are we going to know if we don’t try? It would be easier to do if we are together, especially right now,” She stroked Willow’s arm then turned back to Rowan. “How much longer will she be here?”


“A little more than eight weeks, dear; Mr. Giles arrives in a few days, and he plans to escort you back home to Sunnydale, Tara. He also plans to stay until Willow decides where she would like to be. The Council will continue to follow you, Willow. They will indefinitely, and this has nothing to do with The Grove, or any plans you may make regarding us here. There are things Rupert needs to discuss with you that I am not privy to. You will always be welcome here, and you both may stay if you choose to. That is always an option.” Rowan kept her tone light, as if she were worried somebody would or could read something more sinister in her words.


Again Dana’s eyes flitted to Rowan’s face as she looked for Rowan’s expression to say something more, while revealing nothing herself.


“Why didn’t you tell me this before now? How long have you known about this?” Willow asked as she swallowed hard.


“Known? I’ve known there was little else I could teach you for some time now, child. Even the exercises for the last several months have been to reinforce what you have already learned. Willow, you are as ready as I can help you to be. I set the time frame for your departure with Rupert earlier today. I’m sorry if I have upset either of you – that was not my intention, but merely to offer you both a new set of opportunities. Perhaps to help you with a new start,” Rowan said as she laid down her fork, wiped her mouth and sat back with one hand on her chin. As she watched the reactions of the young women before her, making her eyes sparkle with hope.


“I’ll have to go back and arrange to work remotely until I have to take finals, but I would like to stay. Would it be possible for Willow to accompany me?” Tara asked with a sidelong glance at Willow, then took a mouth full of pasta, and nudged Willow with her elbow. “Please eat, baby.”


Dana watched Lady Rowan cover a smile with her hand. Perhaps she had noticed, too. During the whole exchange, Tara’s stutter had disappeared. Dana wanted to know more about the young woman who radiated love from every pore, and just what place Tara had in her dreams.


“That can be arranged. How long would you need to stay? Your ticket has you returning in a couple of days so we can arrange for you both to go back, and then return. I do have to tell you, Willow, this is much like a weekend pass. You must return so we can finish,” Rowan said with a deadly seriousness.


Willow looked up as she pulled her plate back in front of her. “Why? If I’m to leave soon what am I coming back to do?” She pushed the food around her plate before taking a small bite.


Rowan smiled. “Like everything else we have taught you, it is about control – not mine over you, mind you – but yours over yourself. Think of it as another exercise if you like, Willow.”


“I would need a few days. Three, maybe four,” Tara put a hand on Willow’s thigh. “Willow, would you want me to stay? I mean, I can go back and wait if that’s what you want; I’ve waited this long. I know going back isn’t going to be easy now or later. I also know everyone wants to see you. They’ve missed you too.”


“Of course I want you to stay; that’s not even in question!” Willow swallowed hard a few times before continuing. “I owe them all apologies and explanations. They have no idea, do they? Tara, I can do this. I can do anything if you’re with me.” The love that shone on Willow’s face for Tara was so apparent to Dana, she would have to have been blind, and even then that might not have been enough. Tara looked back to Rowan and nodded.


With a clap of her hands, Rowan said, “Wonderful, then it’s settled. I’ll make the arrangements tomorrow. It has been a good day indeed, Sisters,” Rowan winked at Dana, and then dug into her food enthusiastically.


With the meal finished, the girls left for their rooms. Dana finally spoke, “My Lady is there a plan of some sort? Something I should know? Why was such an unusual invitation extended to Tara, not only to stay, but train? And with Willow, is Tara ready for that? Willow is intense to say the least.”


“I wouldn’t say that I have a plan per se, Dana, but I feel the need to arm them both. Tara is Willow’s equal, even if they both don’t know it. Faced with this, I feel we should extend every opportunity to her. Dana, these girls have destinies, and we have the chance – no, the obligation – to help them attain as much skill to equal the talent they have. The Council is up to something more than just the creation of a new coven. I can feel it Dana. It’s being whispered to me when I mediate; the Goddess is not happy, and we know just how much we can trust The Council. Something is coming, something dark; it’s old – very old, and it’s very evil. I guess this is my effort to try to level the playing field for all of us, you could say. I can’t tell you more than that because I don’t know more than that; I’m just going where the goddess leads, Dana. It’s all I know to do.” Rowan shrugged. “Dreams – how are yours lately? Are you seeing anything? Anything we can prepare for?”


Dana nodded, distracted by things other than the conversation she was having. “Rowan, is there something more we should do? Shall I assist you with Tara? She seems so gentle, and if they mean to hurt her or Willow – that would be unforgivable. My dreams… I’ve been having dreams, dark and unclear. I smell dirt, death and – pain – so much pain it’s unbelievable,” Dana shuddered. “The Council is up to something. They are somehow instigating this and I don’t understand why and I agree it’s so very not good. It would be catastrophic to separate them permanently. I think if they had to The Council would try to split them if it suited their agenda, but just what that is…” Dana shrugged, suddenly anxious as a chill covered her head to toe. She crossed her arms in front of her, rubbed them with her hands to fight the chill, only it wasn’t her body that had gone cold.


“I know, Dana. Of course you will help with teaching Tara; she needs the best we have to offer.” Rowan put her arm around Dana and smiled reassuringly.


Dana just nodded with a weak smile in return. Her dreams of being under the earth, the smell made her want to be sick. The other images were starting to piece together, but did not create a pretty picture by far. These girls were going to be tested, horribly. Their power together was palpable – there was no doubt – the consequence of such power especially to be wielded by ones so young was still an unknown. Dana knew all she would be able to do was assist and get Tara to where Willow was, and that it may be for more than their own good that she do so.


With another quick squeeze, Rowan said, “It will have to be enough for now, dear. Go rest – we are going to need all we can get once they come back from Sunnydale.”


Still troubled and pensive, Dana nodded and murmured a goodnight as she left the kitchen.



TBC…

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Last edited by vampyregurl73 on Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:32 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Nine Now Posted 08/07/10
PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:15 am 
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Whoa. Holy...whoa.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Nine Now Posted 08/07/10
PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:55 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Good that Lady Rowan offered Tara the chance to train with Willow and others... I truly hope that those Council Poop-Heads don't even try to separate Willow & Tara...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Nine Now Posted 08/07/10
PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:28 pm 
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*looks warily at Claude*

Excellent update! I did not see that coming at all :)


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Nine Now Posted 08/07/10
PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 10:19 pm 
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I did not see Clause being Tara's ex at all; that was a shocker. I'm sure Buffy will be happy to hear that Willow will be coming for a visit even if it is a short one. As long as Willow and Tara are together I'm sure they will be able to handle anything that comes their way.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Dry Heat Chapter Nine Now Posted 08/07/10
PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:08 am 
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Ok, first. Point taken about the hymen/elasticity/not being impenetrable, etc. I guess what seemed actually stranger to me was the sort of emphasis they put on sharing a first. And then in this update, I think Willow made a reference to taking Tara's virginity. Actually, now that I think back, that was probably a joke. Anyway... not important.

What a nice update. I like that Tara could share about her past without Willow freaking out. And also that Lady Rowen invited Tara to stay. That should be useful.

I'm quite fascinated about Claude's purpose here...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Nine Posted 08/07/
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:06 pm 
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Lonely Tara - Thank you for your comments. I hope the next few chapters keep you involved.

Zampsa1975 - Things only get more interesting from here, I promise. Thanks for reading.

Sanpfa - Claude isn't going to be what you expect and that's all I'm gonna say. Glad you're still keeping up with my little story.

Love_2003 - The homecoming s a couple of chapters off yet but I think everyone will enjoy getting there. But of course, our girls can handle anything! I guess instead of PWP, it's more PWTP but getting there & out is part of the fun. Thanks for all your feedback.

JustSkipIt - I have several threads I wanna play with here; my characters & those from BTVS. I'm hoping everyone will have as much fun with this as I am & I'm able to pull it all off - Your feedback I enjoy quite a bit, but that's 'cuz you'll argue with me!


Chapter Ten

Pairing: W/T

Rating: R – for the drama.

Angst/Drama Rating: On a scale of 1-10 this is about a solid 6.

Setting: The Grove - Tucson

Disclaimer: I in no way, shape or form own the characters from BTVS, they’re owned by Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. All original characters are in no way connected to them except by me in this forum. No money is involved this is simply for my own pleasure.

Email: riverwillows@me.com

Feedback: Always

Distribution: Probably up for it, just ask please.

Author's Notes: I would also like to thank my beta Jasmydae for her assistance and patience while we sort through some of the muddle in my head as well as being my cohort in all the literary crimes (because I’m sure I’ll make lots) with this story. I'd like to say in advance that Chapter Eleven will be a bit slow in coming. It's is longer than previous chapters so it's going to be a bigger task to beta and edit accordingly. So I'll say thanks for your patience now, but know it is forthcoming.



Welcome to Chapter Ten of Dry Heat



When they reached the suite, Tara headed straight for the bedroom. From the living room Willow heard her shoes clomp to the floor, and the bed springs squeak as Tara sat. Willow began to pace around the living room, and her palms started to sweat as she rubbed her hands on her jeans, but that only seemed to make it worse.


“Will, is something wrong, sweetie?” Tara asked in a neutral tone of voice.


Willow cleared her throat nervously, and laughed nervously. “No, not at all. How about some coffee? I have some great coffee; let me get it,” she said as she rushed through the bedroom and into her own. As she came back through with supplies, she saw Tara still sat on the foot of the bed with her head cocked to one side.


“Willow, what’s wrong?”


“Nothing, really, I swear. Please come into the living room. I’ll explain myself,” Willow said as she fidgeted with her hands full.


Tara stood, and let Willow lead the way out of the bedroom. She went directly into the kitchen, and started to make coffee. Willow began to sweat heavily, as Tara sat on the couch, and she busied herself without saying anything. Willow’s nervous energy was building along with the knot in her stomach, and now she was second guessing her choice of coffee, but it was too late now.


As the coffee started to brew, Willow stood with her hands on the counter, and couldn’t meet Tara’s eyes. Tara sighed, and from the corner of her eye, Willow saw her cross one leg over the other. A formidable babble forming as fear, shame, and sadness ran through Willow like ice water.


Finally the coffee was done. Willow doctored them to their tastes, and with a deep breath, she brought Tara her cup.


“Thank you, Willow. Now will you please tell me what has you so agitated?”


Willow started to pace again, and took several big gulps of the hot coffee. “Tara, you need—no, I need for you to know. I need to explain myself, why I did the stupid things I did. You’ve agreed to come here now and stay with me – learn with me – I owe you this much. You deserve that much. If I’m going back to Sunnydale to do the same thing, then I need to start with you. This isn’t easy for me; I’ve banged my head against this for so long, baby. I had a whole little speech prepared, and I’ll be damned if I can remember any of it. I honestly never thought you’d want to see me again.”


“Willow, please just sit, and talk to me; you’re making me nervous,” Tara said, putting her untouched cup down.


Willow finished the coffee, and poured herself another before sitting in a chair across from Tara. Tara frowned. “Not next to me?”


Willow shook her head, as she sat the cup down. “I want to be able to say this to you directly Tara. I’m not proud of what I have to say, by any means,” Willow took a deep breath again. “If I can’t be honest enough to look you in the eye, and ask for your forgiveness, then what are we starting over with?”


“Willow, we talked about this—” Tara began and was cut off by Willow.


“Baby, we did, but we didn’t. I owe you this,” Willow stood again, as she ran her hands over her face, and pushed her hair back behind her ears. In a small voice Willow started to talk.


“I think I started to lose it when Buffy died. There was so much to deal with—Dawn, patrolling, keeping it all together. I was in charge, so I couldn’t let anyone see me sweat. If I started to crack, what would happen to everyone else? Even Giles was pretty much useless, then he pulled a Houdini, and it really was all up to me. You kept me sane, baby; you were the only one that seemed to be able to cope without floundering. Then I got the bright idea to bring Buffy back. Even before I mentioned it to you, so I started to practice with small things. After Glory, I knew I could do a lot, so I kept building on that, but I didn’t realize that everything I had learned wasn’t exactly – the best things to be using regularly, if at all.”


Willow studied Tara’s face. She rubbed her palms against her jeans, and reached for her coffee. After several sips she continued.


“The little things started to become second nature – you saw – but not only that, it started to feel good. The buildup and the rush when it was released – at first I could control it, but that wasn’t what it was it about, the Magicks felt great, it relieved stress, and didn’t seem to have any consequences—it’s not like anyone would die because of a small spell, right? The more I used it, the better I felt. Tara, I realize now it was an escape like a drug, because I really didn’t have any control. It controlled me. Tara, when we bought Buffy back…” Willow took a ragged breath, shaking her head, and looked Tara directly in the eyes. “Do you know what ‘Wine of the Mother’ is, and how you get it?”


“Yes, Willow I do. After the spell I wanted to know. I knew things were starting to get out of control then. I just wanted to understand, and I began to realize just how far out of control things were spiraling. I should have said something then, but you weren’t the only one that was weak, Willow. We needed Buffy; we still do,” Tara sighed heavily.


Willow’s eyes began to tear up. “You knew, and didn’t say anything,” she replied, barely above a whisper, as she hung her head. Her shoulders rolled inward, and tears started to roll down her cheeks in earnest. Tara reached for her, but Willow pulled back, and wiped the tears with the heel of her hand.


With a deep sigh, Willow went on, “As we know, it only got worse from there. The power was so sweet, and so easy. I didn’t understand about balance. Really, I didn’t care. I doubt it would have sunk in, and you tried more than once to make me understand. Remember the night at the Bronze, when we fought? After that, it seemed like everyone started to gang up on me. When we brought Buffy back, and Giles arrived, do you know what he said to me? That I was a stupid girl, and I had crossed lines – harnessed forces I shouldn’t have. He called me an ‘arrogant, rank amateur’, and told me I was dealing with things I didn’t understand. He was right, I can say that now,” Willow shook her head in disbelief. “Do you know what I said to him? I told him he was right. The Magicks I used were incredibly powerful. That I was incredibly powerful, and maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for him to piss me off – not one of my more stellar moments, I know.”


Willow drained her cup, and went back for a third. “Don’t you like it? It’s probably cold now. I can make you another cup if you like.”


Tara shook her head. “I’m sure it’s fine; I’m just not very thirsty, and you’re not going to sleep. Why are you telling me all of this Willow? Why now?”


Willow stirred milk into her coffee. “You’d be surprised. I want you to know exactly what I am Tara. What I can be capable of – it’s not all good. What you’re agreeing to, because if, you know, you change your mind, I would understand. “


“Willow, do we have to keep doing this? You’re sorry, I’m sorry, we’re all sorry! I have gotten past this to forgive you, Will. I did that when I came back that night. I want us to work things out. I love you, don’t you get that? Why is that so hard for you to believe? Do you honestly think I would have waited – and yes, I waited for you – if I didn’t think we were worth saving? I’m not an idiot,” Tara said indignantly.


Willow hung her head again, and whispered, “But I’m a monster.”


Tara’s jaw dropped. “What! What did you just say?”


Willow looked up with unshed tears in her eyes. “I. Am. A. Monster.”


Tara shook her head. “Are you insane? Have you been out in the heat too long, and it’s fried your brain? Coming from a girl who was told she was demon for most of her life, I think I can speak with some authority when I say you are not a monster. Is that really what you think, Willow?”


“It’s what I know! I may not turn into anything, or have scales and horns but I should. Tara, it kills me that I hurt you like I did. That I had the unmitigated gall to presume to know what was best for you, and Buffy. That I tinkered with your memories, and tried to justify it by convincing myself it was for your benefit, when really it was for mine. I had no right, and there’s really no excuse for it. I’m supposed to love you, and protect you from things like this, but I should have been protecting you from myself. I can stand here, and say it was the Magicks and I wasn’t myself, but ultimately it was me. I made the decision; I made the choice to…violate you.” Willow choked the last sentence out, while feeling like she had swallowed something foul.


Tara stood as she threw her hands into the air. “UGH! Willow, really? I mean really?”


Willow clenched her jaw, and the muscle jumped with tension. She didn’t say anything; she couldn’t as the image of giving Tara the Lethe’s Bramble she had whispered over, floated before her eyes followed by the mad dash through the sewers from the vampire, with no one knowing who they were.


Tara rushed into the bedroom, putting her shoes back on while Willow watched unable to move.


“I can’t listen to this anymore. I’m going for a walk,” Tara said as she headed for the door.


“Tara, wait!” The slamming door was the only response. “Great way to screw this up, Rosenberg.” Willow dumped her cup out then slid down to the floor, resting her head on her knees.


*****


It was still hot, even though the sun had started to set. There were still traces of it to the west, and the mountains were now silhouettes in black against the dying light. Tara could see the main building, and moved away from it at a brisk walk, that quickly turned into a run. She was not a runner, other than for her life while patrolling, and she didn’t know where she was going either, but she had to be away now.


She slowed when she came to a clearing where only scrub grass grew—there were no flowers or bushes, not even cacti. She bent over, hands on knees, to catch her breath, and realized this must be the empty baseball diamond Willow described as being where she practiced.


She looked back toward the main building to get her bearings, but it was no longer in sight. Magic hummed in the air, faint traces of a once-powerful spells diminished by the passage of time. Could it really have been from Willow’s last visit, a week earlier?


She plopped to the ground, as that idea sunk in. If it was Willow—for her to leave a magical signature like that a week later, was both frightening and quite a shock. She had always known Willow’s potential was great, in part because of her relentless pursuit of knowledge, but she had no idea it could be of this magnitude.


Once again her mind started to spin as Lady Rowan’s offer to train with Willow jumped to the fore. How was she supposed to train with a witch of this caliber? She had her strengths, but Willow was so far out of her league now, it would be like swatting flies with a two-by-four.


Why would she have made such a ridiculous offer? How did Rowan know so much about her, and why did she even care? Something else was happening, and Tara wanted answers.


She didn’t doubt Willow’s power, or love even as she seemed to be trying to push her away, but now she wondered if her decision to stay was wise. What was the motive behind it? Tara watched the last of the light gradually fade away before she got to her feet, and began to walk back.


******


Willow sat with her back against the cabinets, as she tried to regain her composure. When it didn’t work, she stood and walked through into her room. She changed into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, grabbed several large candles, and headed into the living room of her suite.


She formed a large circle with them, and then lit each one. She turned off the lights, shook out her tight muscles, and sat carefully between two candles.


She picked up the candle she had set aside for herself, and began to chant, “This candle is myself, burning steady and true. Here do I find peace and tranquility. A place apart where I may safely meditate and grow in spirituality.”


Willow’s chant became steadily softer, until it was only in her head, but her lips kept moving. Her thoughts slowed, and she began to feel calmer the longer she stayed focused on the candle. After some time had passed she set the candle down, and closed her eyes, focused on her breathing and her chant.


Just like when she practiced in the field, a soft glow began to shimmer around her. The calmer she became the brighter the glow, until she was completely surrounded by an opalescent field of energy. Colors shot through the field, danced along her body – red, blue, green, orange, violet. They pulsed as they touched her.


Willow slowly opened her eyes, smiling as she watched the colors dance. As they grew brighter her sense of groundedness increased. Her argument with Tara settled heavily on her, and everything flickered for a moment. Willow continued to relax and focus. Once again everything brightened.


*****


It was dark when Tara entered her suite. She frowned as she walked into the bedroom, and turned the lights on. The room was empty. She noticed the door to Willow’s room was ajar, and a knot of apprehension began to form in her stomach.


She eased the door open, and as light from her room flooded in she saw it was dark as well as empty. She stepped inside and closed the door behind her, then waited for her eyes to adjust. A dim flicker of light came from the living room so she crept toward it.


She couldn’t believe her eyes.


Willow was sitting in a circle of lit candles. The candle light seemed to be absorbed by the shimmer of color emanating from Willow. All the colors of the rainbow danced through the light, and played at specific points along Willow’s body. Willow’s face was serene. Her eyes closed and her lips moved, but there was no sound Tara could hear. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.


Without thinking she whispered, “My God, Willow.”


Willow turned toward her and smiled. Willow’s smile had always been radiant, but this one was nothing short of beatific. Tara felt dizzy, grabbed the doorway to steady herself. Willow closed her eyes again, and gradually everything dimmed, until only the glow of the candles remained.


Tara slid to the floor, her eyes locked onto her girlfriend. The air crackled with Willow’s energy; it was so heavy she could taste it, and it tasted like strawberries. Willow opened her eyes, and leaned forward to blow the candle in front of her out. She walked over to a lamp, and just before clicking it on she said, “Watch your eyes, sweetheart.”


Tara blinked rapidly against the light, and Willow went to extinguish the rest of the candles. She left them in a circle, walked over to Tara and offered her hand. Tara hesitated, then reached for Willow. Her hand was unusually warm, and Tara couldn’t stop staring.


“Willow, what did I just see?”


Willow smiled. “I was meditating, Tara. What did you see?”


Tara touched Willow’s face, scanning it with her eyes as she looked for some other sign of change.


Swallowing hard she said, “You, surrounded by lights. I’ve never seen anything like it. Willow, does this happen all the time now? And you’re warm, warmer than normal. What – I mean how? What has happened…to you?”


Willow led Tara to the couch and sat them both down. Tara’s hands were visibly trembling, and Willow reached up to stroke her hair.

“Yes, it does. It also happens when I practice with Lady Rowan and Sister Dana, although when we practice it’s more combative.”


Tara pulled back. “Combative! Willow, what have you been training for?”


Willow caressed her hand. “For everything and anything we might face. Tara, it’s no big surprise that I don’t exactly lead what could be called a ‘normal’ life. You don’t either, now, and that’s because of being with me. These are things I need to know, not just for my safety, but yours and everyone else’s. This is not something I play with or take lightly.”


Willow paused to look deeply into Tara’s face before she continued.


“When I was in England, Giles told me that now the Magicks were a part of me. It’s not just something I use or can use; now it’s almost like it’s part of my DNA. I’m still responsible for how I use it, and for what reasons as well as keeping it under control. I can’t let it overrun me. There’s a connectedness that I feel, and sometimes it is overwhelming, but it’s with the earth. Think of it as one big root system – it’s all intertwined and connected – stronger and older in some parts – running fast, and new in others. I guess you could say I’m somewhere in between. I can access the old, strong parts, and adapt with the fast and new too.”


Confusion and disbelief swept through Tara, as she swallowed repeatedly. “Show me.”


Willow smiled. “That’s not what it’s about, and I don’t normally do this, but for you, I will.”


Willow stood in front of Tara and closed her eyes as she lifted both hands up to Tara’s eye level. Slowly in her left hand a flame emerged, and in her right a snowball, as Willow opened her eyes to look at Tara.


“Grab a piece of paper from the pad behind me to my left,” Willow extended her left hand toward Tara. “Now drop it into the flame.”


Tara reached forward. Willow’s hand was radiating heat. She quickly dropped the paper over her palm. She watched it curl and blacken, then disappear altogether, emitting a wisp of smoke and the smell of burned paper. A light sheen of sweat had appeared on Willow’s face, but she didn’t look like she was in any discomfort.


“Hold out your hands, love.” Tara placed her hands together, and Willow turned her right hand over, dropped the snowball into her palms. The reality of just how much power Willow could now access stomped through Tara’s brain, as she looked from the melting snowball to Willow. With a small hiss the flame disappeared from her hand, and she went to sit back down on the couch.


“Willow, are you still human?” Tara asked while the snowball dripped from her hands. “Let me see your hands.”


Willow showed Tara her unblemished palms. “Tara, honey you’ve been with me all week. Do I not seem human to you? You’ve been in some very intimate places. Has anything changed? To answer your question, to the best of my knowledge, I am still one hundred percent human – all girl, all the time. I just happen to also be a witch, albeit a better one than when I started years ago in high school.”


“You mean more powerful.”


Willow shook her head. “That’s incidental. I’m better because I understand how it works – at least how it should work. Does that make sense, baby?”


“This is a real snowball, not an illusion?” Tara asked. She had seen enough, being with the Scoobies, to know she should be suspicious.


“Very real, taste it.”


Tara looked at Willow like she was crazy.


Willow rolled her eyes. “It’s melting in your hands, baby. Look.”


Willow got up, pinched some of the snowball and dropped it into her mouth. She stuck out her tongue so Tara could watch it melt before she swallowed.


Tara raised it to her mouth, and bit off a small piece as it melted in her mouth she tried to corral all the questions that surfaced. The biggest being if Willow had been such a danger she had to go away before, what had changed now that she was stronger.


“I can do you one better, and tell you where it’s from,” Willow said mischievously. “It’s Canadian. Ontario, to be specific. I can’t be more exact than that. They must be having a storm,” Willow winked at Tara. She took Tara’s arm and started to steer her to the little kitchen. “Drop it in the sink; it’s dripping all over the carpet.”


Tara mechanically walked to the sink, and dropped it. She watched it scattered and continue to melt just as it should. “Willow, I don’t understand.”


“Tara, baby, you see auras. You cast spells just like I do. What don’t you understand? It’s no different than before,” She shrugged. “Just more of it. This is all secondary. We didn’t finish earlier.”


Tara sighed heavily. “More? I’m tired of listening to you beat yourself about the head and neck over this. What will it take for you to understand?”


“Nothing. I won’t say another word. I know the guilt is something I carry, but your being here means more to me than carrying it around. You know me, big with the guiltiness girl—I am Jewish after all. Guilt’s in my DNA. You’ve already told me you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to be, and you’ve more than shown me that. I have to deal with it; ultimately I have to get over myself,” Willow said with a self-deprecating smile.


Tara said skeptically, “Wow, I kinda thought it would be harder than that to get you over this.”


“Me too, but I have to believe you when you tell me that you forgive me, or at least that you can. Now it’s my job to prove you right and that it’s worth it,” Willow said with a shrug and a smile. “Can I hug you?”


Tara smiled and walked into Willow’s open arms burying her face in Willow’s neck breathing her in.


“Do you know you smell like strawberries? The room smelled that way when I came in.”


Willow stiffened.


“What? What did I say?” Tara pulled back to look at Willow.


“Nothing – no, it is but it isn’t. I’m not proud of this, Tara, but I won’t keep anything from you either. When things got bad after you left me – You know Amy and I were doing things we shouldn’t, and she took me to a dark magic dealer named Rack. He said my magic tasted like strawberries.”


Tara stepped back. “He said you tasted like strawberries? How would he know that, Willow?” She crossed her arms over her chest, not liking what she was hearing.


“No, no, Tara not anything like that – ewww, no. There was an exchange of magicks before he would give me more. Not that that sounds any better, I know. I would cast for him, and I don’t know how to explain it. He absorbed it.”


“Well, that explains some things. Dawnie told me her end of how things happened when you got her hurt. You know, I only ever met Amy as a human once, but I think I much prefer her as a rat,” As Tara started to rub her temples, Willow stepped toward her, but Tara stepped back.


Willow said quietly, “Please let me help? I know you’ve heard and seen a lot tonight. Not all of it has been pleasant, and it’s getting late. Let me take care of you? Please?”


She let Willow guide her to the couch. They sat, and Willow drew Tara’s head onto her lap. Willow’s thumbs rubbed in circles at her temples, and the tension in her head and neck started to ease away. Willow’s hands were still unusually warm, but Tara was on the beneficial end of that warmth, and wasn’t going to complain.


“What else did you do for it, Willow?” Tara asked, her voice strained with dread at what the answer might be.


Shame rippled over Willow’s face. “That was it. That was when I was at my lowest, my worst. I didn’t cope well when you left.”


Tara nodded. “I’m tired, Will. I just want go to bed,” She said as she began to sit up and move away from Willow.


“Okay… Tara?” Willow’s voice was small and sad. “I can sleep in here if you’d rather. I mean, I would understand.”


Tara stood with her head to one side for a moment before she held her hand out. Everything she had seen cushioned what she had heard.


“Come to bed,” She said.


Willow gave her a small grateful smile, and followed her into the bedroom. Tara started to pull on a t-shirt as Willow stepped out of her jeans.


“Skin? Please?” Willow asked hesitantly.


Tara turned to her, and nodded, tossed the shirt aside and climbed into the bed. Willow quickly divested herself of the rest of her clothing, as Tara slipped her panties off. Willow wrapped herself around Tara, resting her head on her shoulder. Her hands wandered down Tara’s shoulder as Tara’s stroked her back and hair. Willow kissed her shoulder as she squeezed Tara harder.


“I love you, Tara,” She said quietly.


“I love you too, Willow,” Tara said, dropping a kiss on her forehead.


“Good. Sweet dreams, baby,” Willow murmured as she snuggled closer, stroking Tara’s back and shoulder.


“You too, sweetie.”


Willow’s breathing became slow and steady, while Tara stroked her hair. Willow became restless in her sleep, so Tara loosened her hold and tried to soothe her, but Willow rolled away from her. She lay there awake for what seemed like hours, as question after question swam around in her head. The one she hated the most was if her own safety was in jeopardy.


Was the offer to train a code for that, or would it mean that she would be expected keep Willow on a leash for the Council? The last thing Tara remembered was watching Willow move and mutter unintelligibly before she finally dropped off to sleep.


The next thing she knew she awoke to a scream.


“NOOOO!!!” Willow screamed, sitting upright.


“Willow, what’s wrong?” Tara asked blearily.


Oh God, I’m gonna be sick,” Willow said, and bolted for the bathroom.



TBC…

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Ten Posted 08/27/1
PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 3:00 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... I'm starting to wonder on which side Lady Rowan is... Good that Willow told Tara about Rack...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Ten Posted 08/27/1
PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:18 am 
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And the plot thickens..

With the coven trying to prepare for what's coming, and their distrust of the council, it makes me wonder if in your 'verse the First has corrupted, rather than seeking to destroy, the watchers. Or if it is simply that they know the WC dislikes anything powerful that they have no control over.

This may sound mean, but I am glad that Will is still struggling with guilt over what she did to Tara. It has always seemed to me that there is too much emphasis on 'I did bad magic', and far too little on 'I violated your mind, took away your will, AND was physically intimate with you afterward." That's a lot to forgive, and far too much to forget, imo.

Looking forward to more!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Ten Posted 08/27/1
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:02 am 
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Ooh, interesting chapter. You know, I was sure I left feedback on the last one but apparently I didn't :/ Sorry about that.

I'm very intrigued about where this is all going and also wondering about Lady Rowan...

Also, I agree with Morrigan about Willow still struggling with what she did to Tara. That was a serious betrayal and not something either party would 'get over' lightly. Very well portrayed!

Can't wait for more!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Ten Posted 08/27/1
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:25 pm 
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Oh. I thought I was two updates behind but apparently I was only 1. I have mixed feelings about Willow's "confession." On one hand, it all needs to be said and she needs to understand the gravity of her lack of judgment and her abuse of Tara (and all the Scoobies). On the other hand, it has that flavor of beating herself up and not letting go of things. I like when she said that she needs to get over herself. I think that's a big part of their coming back together - she needs to let herself be the new Willow and also accept that Tara is a new Tara. They need to both let the old them go and be the new them. I love the depiction of her meditation and the rainbows. Quite nice.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Ten Posted 08/27/1
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:53 pm 
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Interesting chapter.
Can't wait to see what will unfold next.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:24 pm 
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Zampsa1975 - Lady Rowan is going to be better than you think, she show up a lot but she'll drop pearls of wisdom and training our girl up. The pearls of wisdom are what matters most.


Morrigan -
Quote:
With the coven trying to prepare for what's coming, and their distrust of the council, it makes me wonder if in your 'verse the First has corrupted, rather than seeking to destroy, the watchers. Or if it is simply that they know the WC dislikes anything powerful that they have no control over. - good question, won't answer it at this time though - I can't give it all away!.


As for WIllow's struggle in the chapter we deal with it quite a bit and more pf the physical but not to a great extent to see there have been emotional, physical & psychological reason that have impacted her to make better choice which in turn make her a better person.


Laragh - I agree, an that's why I felt I had to deal with it in some way. They whole we had coffee and not I wanna move back in really only made sense in the fact they were killing her off. So her in my they both get some say into why they are moving past it to be with each other.


JustSkipIt - I wholeheartedly agree, but I think Willow, a mature, fully aware of what she did Willow needed to get that of her chest. They both say almost identical thing as you - Tara is tired or her beating herself about the head neck and Willow says she needs to get over herself. This next chapter really puts that on a move and in the next one.... welll you'll just have to read it
I'm glad you like what I did with her meditation.



love_2003 - I hope you like this.





Chapter Eleven

Pairing: W/T

Rating: R – adult content

Angst/Drama Rating: On a scale of 1-10 this is about a 7.

Setting: The Grove - Tucson

Disclaimer: I in no way, shape or form own the characters from BtVS, they’re owned by Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. Yakkity, shmakkity - everyone here knows the deal. All original characters are in no way connected to them except by me in this forum. No money is involved this is simply for my own pleasure and hopefully your entertainment.

Email: riverwillows@me.com

Feedback: Stroke my ego - BRING IT ONE, lol

Author's Note: This section may be a little rougher around the edges but if you see glaring faults, PM-me and I'll take care of them. This chapter is also longer than previous one and I was trying an experiment with POV that I don’t think really worked. Also line that ends a follows "**" is a quote attributed to Judy Garland.


With bated breath & damaged cuticles here is Chapter Eleven of Dry Heat




Tara sat up in bed, and could hear Willow heaving into the toilet. She quickly pulled on a t-shirt and boxers, then headed for the bathroom. She stood in the doorway for a moment not sure what Willow would want.


“Oh, God – it has to be a God, no Goddess would do this to you,” Willow moaned into the bowl. She spit a few more times before flushing, then closing the lid to rest her forehead against the cool porcelain.


Tara walked up behind Willow, and bent to stroke her hair.


“Don’t touch me!” Willow yelped as she skittered away from Tara, moving so quickly across the tile she hit the wall. When she looked around, she could see the side of the vanity, and pressed herself between the wall and the cabinet.


Willow pulled her knees up to her chest protectively, and folded her arms around them.


Tara could plainly see the abject terror in Willow’s eyes. Whatever she had been dreaming about still hadn’t quite left her yet, as Tara watched her sit and shake. To see Willow this way, this afraid was almost more than Tara could bear. She had never seen Willow in such a state.


Quietly she asked, “How can I help you, Will?”


“You can’t. They just keep coming back,” Willow said in a small voice.


Tara sat down on the toilet, and watch Willow – who was pale faced and faintly green – patiently as she waited for her to continue. After a few minutes, when it didn’t seem like she would volunteer the information, Tara decided to simply ask.


“What keeps coming back? Dreams?”


Willow nodded, and then whispered, “Nightmares. Horrible nightmares.”


Tara grimaced. That much was obvious; no one wakes up from a good dream to go retch in the middle of the night.


“Can you tell me about them, sweetie? Maybe I can help,” Tara asked tenderly. Tara watched as Willow sat silent, her eyes dilated and vacant, as she stared at some point off from Tara. “Will? Stay with me, if you can’t talk about them, it’s okay.”


Tara began to worry as the silence became more pronounced, and there was no change in Willow’s demeanor. She grabbed a wash cloth from above the toilet then crossed to the sink, as she watched Willow from the corner of her eye. Running it under the tepid tap until it was soaked, and then moved slowly in front of Willow. Trying not to scare her anymore than she already was, Tara slowly sat down in front of her.


“Willow, honey, I’m going to touch you. Don’t be afraid, it’s just me.” Tara continued to move slowly toward Willow, as Tara placed her hand on Willow’s knee, she jumped and hit her head against the cabinet. Willow hissed at the pain, and it seemed to bring her back to the present from wherever she had been.


“I’m here, it’s just me,” Tara said as she turned Willow’s face towards her, and began to wipe it off. Tara started at her forehead with gentle strokes until she had cleaned Willow’s face. She then moved to Willow’s neck to clear it free of the sweat Willow was covered in.


“Can you lean your head forward a little, sweetheart?” Tara spoke softly, like she would to a scared child.


Willow complied with the request, allowing Tara to run the wash cloth over the back of her neck with one hand, while she felt with the other for what would undoubtedly be a good sized goose egg on the back of Willow’s head to make sure she wasn’t bleeding. Tara easily found the knot and winced when she felt the size of it, but at least there didn’t appear to be a cut.


Willow watching Tara unblinkingly, as she gently cleaned her up. The lack of response to pain worried Tara, and she knew that even being as gentle as she was, it had to cause a small amount of discomfort when she touched the knot, but Willow didn’t even flinch.


“A little bit better now?” Tara asked not really expecting a response, but she couldn’t think of what she should do next. Feeling horribly helpless in the face of something that it was clear Willow had been dealing – or rather not dealing with – for some time, Tara felt tears sting behind her eyes.


With a heavy sigh Tara looked up at the sink, as she started to move away and missed Willow’s hand snake out to grab her arm. Tara eased back into place in front of Willow, and without looking laid the cloth on the counter.


Willow’s face was more drawn than it had been the day she arrived, but with a small amount of relief Tara could see the green tint was gone. The spray of freckled across Willow’s nose looked like they were drops of sepia ink waiting to dry she had gone so pale.


Ever conscious of Willow’s state of panic, Tara continued to move very slowly. Tara turned so she was parallel to Willow, and simply opened her arms. With a speed she didn’t think was possible, Willow was in her arms perching herself in Tara’s lap to burrow her face into Tara’s shoulder.


Tara enfolded Willow in her arms, and began dropping reassuring kisses on her neck and shoulders. Willow started to shake violently. Tara could feel her shirt getting wet, but Willow didn’t make a sound as she cried. Rocking her was the only thing Tara could think to do as she murmured words of assurance. Her own tears fell into Willow’s hair, and Tara tightened her embrace, as she tried to make Willow feel as safe as possible. More than once it occurred to Tara that going through the things Willow had been forced to endure – and to do so repeatedly – would have broken a lesser person by now.


In hushed tones Tara spoke, “Willow, you’re so strong, do you know that? I love you, precious. You are so strong, so beautiful and brave. You amaze me all the time. I love you,” Tara just kept repeating these words over and over to Willow.


Finally Willow whispered, “I love you too.”


Tara let out a small laugh choked with her own tears, as she hugged Willow tighter. Relief rushed through Tara at the sound of Willow’s voice. At least if Willow was talking, they could tackle this – like Willow said together they could do anything, and this was no exception.


Tara pulled back to look into Willow’s face, with two fingers she wiped Willow’s tears away catching the one hanging from her chin. Tilting her face upward, Tara placed a light kiss on Willow’s lips, then guided Willow’s head back to her shoulder, as she continued to rock her gently.


Tara wasn’t sure how much longer they sat like this; she just knew she would sit there for days if that’s what Willow needed.


“There’s two – well now three, but it started as two,” Willow’s voice trembled as she spoke. “The first one I’ve had since,” Willow cleared her throat. “Since I k-killed Warren. The second started while I was in England, and the third started about six weeks ago.”


“Do you want to tell me about them?” Tara asked tenderly.


Tara kept rocking Willow. She held one arm around Willow’s knees so her legs were draped over her own, and the other around Willow’s back. With a quick flash of memory, she remembered being held the same way by her mother after various nightmarish incidents as a child, and how safe she felt. She only hoped it was working as well for Willow.


Willow took a shaky breath, and started. “The first one is the one I had tonight. It’s horrible, Tara because it’s what could have happened. It’s what would have if I hadn’t been able to stop...him. I would have lost you, and so much more. I see the bullet hit you; I get sprayed by your blood. I can feel it warm and sticky on my face as I watch you crumple before me, and I hold you while you die. I try to bring you back, but I can’t. The Gods tell me that I cannot violate the laws of natural passing, and that it’s a human death, by human means. How would that be natural?” Willow’s voice had risen to a frantic squeak.


With a pained expression Willow looks at Tara, and Tara sees the tears stream down her face again, as the images of the dream rip away at the sweet girl in her lap.


“You’re my always, Willow, I’ll always wait for you. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere, baby,” Tara said against the knot in her own throat, and couldn’t imagine what having to see Willow’s death over and over would do to her. Knowing this had been going on for almost two years, Tara felt her stomach roll with anger for what that one careless, selfish act had caused. For the second time tonight, Tara felt like her heart would break for Willow, for what she had gone through, and what she continued to go through. She could only encourage the hope in them both, that now some of this would change.


With a wavering breath, Willow continued, “Then it all goes to hell. I’m so angry, so filled with pain and rage. I go to the Magic Box and drain all the books – all the dark arts books – I can see them crawl, seeping into my very skin. My eyes and hair go completely black; I lose myself there in the agony and the pain. I hunt Warren and his little minions down like animals. At some point I start to lose steam, so I go to Rack, but I don’t just drain him, I kill him so I can continue to hunt Warren. We fight and Warren tries a few tricks, a few glamour’s that have no effect – he even manages to put an axe in my back but it still doesn’t stop me – Tara, I skin him alive after I torture him for hours.”


Willow stopped to look at Tara. Tara wasn’t sure what Willow saw in her face, but she started to pull away. Tara knew there must have been something of the shock she was feeling written in her expression.


“No,” Tara said tightening her grip on Willow. “It’s a dream Willow, and a nightmare at that, so it’s your worst fears realized — not the truth, not what actually is. Do you want to go on?”


With a sad laugh Willow goes on. “There’s only the end of the world left next. After I…do that to Warren, I do horrible things to everyone. I leave them broken, beaten and bloody. I crush everyone I love into nothing, so they can feel a small measure of the pain I’m feeling, but it doesn’t make mine any less. I leave destruction behind me, and I find a way to end the world – end all the pain everyone is feeling. I raise a temple to end the world, all to assuage my grief over losing you. Tara, I can’t lose you, not again.”


Tara presses kisses to Willow’s temple and cheek. “I’m right here, Will. It’s just a dream – I swear that’s all it is.”


Tara turns Willow’s head to look at her, and gazes deeply into her face, attempting to make her understand with her eyes. Tara tried to make Willow feel the truth of her words. To reinforce them, she took Willow’s hands, and pressed them against her face and over her heart, hoping the direct contact would be reassuring to Willow. Letting the physicality sink in, that she is there and very real.


Willow threw her arms around Tara’s neck, as she began to sob. For all the quiet tears of earlier, now the room echoed with her pain, and Tara cried with her. Tara ran her hands over Willow’s naked back, over the soft skin that heaved, and shuddered under this colossal weight trapped in her mind. She gently combed her fingers through the red hair she loved so much, as she tried to offer some small amount of comfort.


When Willow finally stopped crying, Tara’s shirt was wet front and back; the back down to where she sat from Willow, and the front to just above her ribcage held her own tears.


“Feel better, love?” Tara asked, as she continued to stroke Willow’s back soothingly, and she could feel Willow nod against her shoulder. “Good.”


Without any coaxing Willow offered up the next of her nightmares.


“The second is more disturbing than the scary of the Warren-mare. I’m back in Sunnydale at Buffy’s, but there is only the three of us; me, Dawn, and Buffy. There’s no you, or Xander – or even Anya. Remember at The Bronze when we were floating?” Tara nodded, smiling at the memory of the first birthday she had had that was truly happy since her mother died. “Well, I’m there in the hallway of the house, floating like that, but I have this weird black dress on, the top has this high lace collar, but is very low cut, and is showing major amounts of cleavage that we both know I don’t have.”


Tara poked Willow playfully at that, but didn’t say anything.


“The skirt is in shreds like at one point it had been whole. I can hear this crazy laughter, and I hear someone crying. Here’s where it gets even weirder. There’s like a voice over track, but it’s my voice. I see me floating there in the hallway, and at first it me – my normal face – then the voice says ‘Alone’. My face flashes and my eyes are black, and my hair is streaked with black, then the voice says ‘Insane’.”


Willow pauses to take several deep breaths. “That continues to happen, while I see Buffy moving around in the kitchen, but she’s transparent. She moves around like normal, makes a cup of coffee, but she has no expression. She just goes through the motions, then I hear my voice all voice over-y again with an even better slogan. I say ‘The Magicks whisper to her too, just like me, and it’s driven her mad, my little sister.’ Then I see Dawn – obviously the little sister – she’s in the dining room in a corner rocking and crying while I watch my face flicker back and forth between the ‘Alone and Insane’ and I float. It just loops over and over.”


Tara kisses Willow’s shoulder, where she rests her head, as Willow leans against her. Tara, well aware of prophetic dreams, wonders if this dream might be linked to the alternate outcome, like Willow’s ‘Warren-mare’. Seeing just how much power Willow had gained in the last eighteen months, would not make it unheard of for Willow to begin to see through the veils of differing realities.


Tara also knew that this could very easily lead to the madness Willow sees in her second dream. The Oracle at Delphi, The Oracles of Ammon, and even The Oracles of The Sibyls – all their histories were rife with tales of madness along with many other bizarre and tragic things. What then could this mean for Willow if even a third of those accounts were true? What would Tara be able to do to help, and was there anything she could do?


Willow accepted Tara’s silence, returning the soft kisses as she began to play with Tara’s hair. She gave a low, sad chuckle that she knew Tara felt, so she pulled back, and looked down at the front of Tara’s t-shirt.


Willow asked, “Yours or mine?”


“The back is all yours, sweetie, and I think the front is mostly mine, but some of yours mixed in there too,” Tara said with a shrug.


Willow just nodded, and said, “You’re just wet all over, aren’t you?”


Tara scoffed, “Feeling cheeky are we? I take it you’re feeling a little better then?” Casting a serious eye at Willow as she tried to make sure Willow wasn’t doing her ‘brave little toaster’ routine that she had gotten pretty good at being able to spot.


Willow nodded. “Yeah, I’m extremely lucky. See, I have this beautiful woman,” Willow made a point to pull back and purposely began talking to Tara’s chest. “She has the most amazing blue eyes I have ever seen. I don’t know if she knows just how desperately in love with her I am. The funny thing is she always seems to find me when I think I am at my hardest to love, and then she does!”


Willow then looked into Tara’s eye as she continued to speak.


“She loves me still! She holds me when I breakdown, and me being the girl of high-strung-ed-ness, which can be frequent when I’m stressed – ah, well, even when I‘m not stressed I’m still wound a little tight. With all of those stellar attributes, this amazingly caring, smart, beautiful woman keeps telling me, she loves me. I just have to believe her, because she’s my world. Oh, and sometimes she makes me feel cheeky, and sexy, and more loved than I have ever been in my life to date. I have to say to date because something will happen to reset the scale, and she’ll surprise me yet again. So I guess that makes me one very lucky girl.”


"Darn tootin'," Tara smiled doing her best Willow impersonation. As she listened to Willow words she knew Willow meant every one she was saying; it didn’t stop the blush she could feel creeping up her neck. This wasn’t a blush of insecurity at all – it was one of pleasure – that Tara had inspired that sentiment in another person, and it was given freely, and repeated often. Little Tara, that had always felt less than good enough, less than worthy of love, less than special – simply less. Willow’s words made her heart swell with happiness. Just a simple reminder that she was loved by Willow and by the family Willow had made for herself that took her in as one of their own.


“I think that’s one of my favorite stories, and I want you to tell it to me often, okay?” Tara said.


“You just say the word, baby. It will grow, and change as we grow and change. It will get longer, and we’ll be old, and I won’t remember the exact beginning, but you can help me, and it will take all day for me to tell it. I can think of nothing I would rather do, than tell you how much I love you for the rest of our lives – wait is today a Tuesday?”


Tara shook her head knowing the thought process behind it. “It’s not May anymore either. Since we are going to Sunnydale, it’s good to know you remember that – I think.”


She kissed Willow’s shoulder again, and felt her shiver. “Are you cold sweetie? Let’s go back to bed.”


Tara looked down at her own damp chest at the t-shirt she had on, and the chill was apparent.


Willow nodded, and she was looking down between the chests seeing two pairs of hard nipples in the cool of the bathroom and damp of Tara’s shirt. “I want to shower though, wash the fear and the sweat off.”


Tara placed her face back into Willow’s shoulder to inhale deeply. “Nope, I only smell sweaty Willow. I like it better when I am the cause of said girl’s sweatiness, but I don’t smell fear,” Tara even licked her shoulder, with a shrug she said, “Willowsweat.”


Willow smiled adoringly at Tara. “Be that as it may, my beloved, I can smell the fear from the dream on me. I would much rather crawl into bed next to you without that particular scent, because you smell so much better. To be honest, Tara, I can’t think of anything that smells better than you do.”


Tara kissed Willow’s forehead, urging her to stand. Willow extended her hand, but she didn’t take it.


“Give me second, my left foot is numb.” Tara grimaced at the sensation of blood flowing again.


“Tara, why didn’t you say something, I could have moved. Do you want me to rub it?” Willow said as she sat back down next to her feet and began to rub.


“I didn’t feel it until you got up. Besides, my lap was the right place for you to be, sweetie. Wouldn’t you agree?”


Willow nodded, as she flexed Tara’s foot that was growing pink with circulation. “Better?” Willow asked.


“Much, thank you.”


Willow let go of her foot to stand, and then offered her hand to Tara again. She gladly took it, not sure if she would be wobbly or not. Tara figured after being sick Willow’s mouth not might taste great, so she grabbed their toothbrushes, and handed Willow hers. When Tara was almost done she turned the shower on as Willow rinsed her mouth out then followed suit.


“You first, oh sweaty one,” Tara said with a smile, as she nudged Willow in.


Closing the door behind her, Tara watched as Willow stood under the hot spray. Picking up the bar of soap she worked up a lather of bubbles in her hands. Tara started with Willow’s back, massaging the muscles of her shoulders, neck and arms that had tightened by the dream and vomiting. Prompting Willow to turn has Tara lathered her hands again. Rubbing gently at Willow’s throat and collar bone, she realized that she was humming. Her hands glided over the soft skin turning pink under the hot water, as she moved over Willow’s chest, down to her stomach.


“What are you humming?” Willow asked in a whisper.


“Hmm? I didn’t know I was sweetie,” Tara looked up a feigning surprise, having noticed it herself a few moments before Willow had. “Was I humming long?”


Willow nodded. “Since you started on my shoulders.”


“Oh…huh. Your hair?” Tara skated on passed the subject, but she saw Willow open her mouth and then close it again, as Tara looked through her lashes while she reached for the shampoo. She held it up for confirmation from Willow.


“Okay, wet your hair again.” Tara concentrated on the task at hand hoping she was successfully making the humming of the song she had sung to Willow, what seemed like a lifetime ago, a non-issue. Willow wiped water from her face as Tara poured shampoo into her hand. “I’ll be careful of your knot; I didn’t feel a cut but it might be scraped, so tell me if it stings. You may even want to take some aspirin before we go back to bed.”


Willow turns her back to Tara as she says, “You’re probably right, this one generally gives me a headache anyway. Do you want to know the last one?”


“If you want to tell me, sweetie.” Tara replied a little anxiously after hearing her two others.


“This one is short and to the point. I’m back in Sunnydale, we’re all there, but there are more people. There are all these young girls all over the place, but they have something to do with Buffy. There are also some people that are there with us – we have a coven there Tara – you and I. We’re preparing for something, it’s big because the hell mouth – it has teeth. The ground rumbles with small tremors. We’re all scared, and we know some of us will die, but it’s just another apocalypse in Sunnydale. Nothing we haven’t done before – it’s what we do.”


Tara had been gently massaging Willow’s scalp, and despite the warmth of the water she felt a chill pass over her. Without a doubt she knew that this dream was going to happen. That this was part of why she was here and now why getting trained in combat magic was of the utmost importance.


“Rinse,” Tara said trying to keep her voice for sounding as scared as she felt.


As Willow finished her hair she looked through the water at Tara and smiled. “Your turn, baby, you’ve got to love the water tanks here. We have hot water for days.”


Tara smiled as they switched positions; she leaned back into the water as she closed her eyes, letting the water wash over her. Her mind raced, and she knew if she looked Willow in the eye at that moment, she would be able to see trepidation Tara now felt. Soon she felt warm soapy hands on her skin, and knew as usual she would have very clean breasts.


She started to laugh as her breast where being lovingly soaped again and again. The Willowhands got the hint to move on making soapy paths to her stomach and then up to her shoulders.


Willow pressed against her to soap her back, and asked, “Why are you laughing at me?”


Tara opened her eyes replying saucily, “I’m not laughing at you, sweetheart, I’m laughing near you.” This garnered her a playful swat on the bottom with soapy hands.


“Hey! Now that was completely unnecessary; we both know that you keep my breasts the cleanest in town, simply because you can’t keep your hands off of them,” She said in mock offense.


With a wide grin, Willow said, “Okay, you got me; I can’t deny any of what you just said. So I guess you found me out. I never knew I was such a breast girl, but I honestly think it’s just yours that have me fascinated. Turn, so I can do your hair, missy.”


Tara did as she was asked, thankful to not have to face Willow, because it gave her more time to turn the last dream over in her mind, and try to reconcile her conflicted emotions. Willow’s words played again in her head. ‘We’re all scared and we know some of us will die but it’s just another apocalypse in Sunnydale. Nothing we haven’t done before – it’s what we do.’


Tara was so deep in thought she didn’t realize when Willow’s fingers stopped in her hair, and she had been spoken to.


“Baby? Tara, are you okay?” Tara could hear concern in Willow’s voice.


Putting on a brave face she turned back around, and smiled. “I’m fine, sweetie. I just got lost in thought for a moment,” she said as convincingly as she could.


Willow pulled her into a hug, and whispered into her ear, “I’ll always find you, baby. Always, lean back I’ll hold you while you rinse your beautiful hair.”


Trying to lighten the mood as much for herself as for Willow, Tara nipped her ear and said, “I see how it is now; is it a tough choice between my tits and my hair or is my ass in there too?”


Willow pulled back blushing in surprise. “Tara! You have to have been spending way too much time with Anya. She’s corrupted you!”


“No, I think a certain redhead had more to do with that delicious endeavor than she did. Anya just encourages the vocabulary that goes with the corruption.”


Tara enjoyed the feeling of mischief rising, and pushed her more troubling thoughts aside, enjoying the complete lack of speech it was causing in her girlfriend. Now, she had two weapons to thwart a Willowbabble; kisses and spicy talk. Rinsing her hair out she began to feel fatigue start to weigh down her limbs, and was looking forward to getting back into bed.


Tara turned to shut off the shower and felt cool air against her warm skin raise goose bumps. Willow handed her a towel, and she flipped her hair over while bending at the waist to dry it as quickly as possible. When she righted herself, Willow was watching her wrap her head in a towel.


Willow looked worried. “Tara?”


“Hmm?” Tara continued to dry herself off waiting for Willow to go on.


“Is that what you think you are to me? That I, ah, love you only for your, um, attributes?”


It hadn’t occurred to her that Willow might take her seriously when she had been saucy with her. She couldn’t stop the smile that came to her lips though. “No, I don’t Willow. I’m sure it helps some, that’s the law of attraction. Just because I know you enjoy my attributes as you so delicately put it. That would be like saying I only love you for your perfect ass, and sweet …” Tara let her eyes drift heatedly down Willow’s naked body making her blush before darting her eyes up to Willow's mouth. “Mouth or green eyes, these are part of you, yes, of course they are. They don’t cover the volumes I can say about your soul, your strength, your devotion to the family you made, your courage.”


Tara shook her head, and wrapped her towel around herself as Willow did the same.


“We really are more than the sum of our parts, Willow. I’m sorry you misunderstood me, I was teasing you. Nothing more, nothing less, love. Lighten up, my tightly wound girl,” Tara pulled Willow into a hug, and rubbed her back through the towel. “Besides, I like it when you love my attributes,” She said as she kissed Willow’s shoulder.


“You are bad, when did this happen? Anya and I are gonna have words, let me tell you,” Willow said sounding indignant.


This made Tara laugh all over again, and she squeezed Willow tighter. With another quick kiss to Willow’s shoulder she asked, “Bed?”


“Yes, bed. It definitely calls.”


Willow followed Tara out and they climbed back into bed dropping their towels as they went. Tara lay on her back so Willow could curl into her. One minute drifted into ten, then twenty. Tara could feel Willow’s breathing even out, but she could also tell she wasn’t asleep.


“Will?” Tara asked in a hushed tone.


“Hmmm,” Willow murmured.


Tara paused, unsure if she should ask, but her curiosity just wouldn’t let her rest. “You don’t have to tell me, but what did you do after a nightmare before, when you were alone?”


Willow didn’t move or say anything for a long time, then with a heavy sigh she replied, “It’s easier to show you, and then try to explain. Let’s go to my room.”


Willow rose with slow determination, and walked directly into her room without waiting for Tara. Tara watched her stiff movements with a sinking feeling, regretting her question a little, but she followed Willow nonetheless.


Willow stood next to her bed, as Tara moved next to her. Without looking at Tara, she pulled the sheets back, and placed two of several pillows end to end, then walked to the other side putting another on in the same position, and lifted what would be her pillow pulling out a pillow that had a shirt on it from underneath it.


Tara immediately recognized the shirt. It was a velvety, silvery-periwinkle long-sleeved affair Willow had always loved, but it had disappeared around the time Willow left. Willow held it to her chest, and lifted one of the sleeves to wave it at her.


“Hi,” Willow still wouldn’t look at Tara, and taking a deep breath she began to explain.


“The funny thing about pillows is that they hold body heat. So once I cleaned myself up, and crawled back into bed, they would get warm. I could hold my ‘Tarapillow’, and pretend it was you holding me. I could still smell you on the shirt for a while, so it was like you were there with me, and I could fall back to sleep.”


Tara blanched, as she raised a hand to cover her mouth, and had to sit heavily on the bed. The sadness that swept through her body made her feel like she was going to have a panic attack. Her breath came in short, sharp bursts, and her ears began to ring, Tara felt like she couldn’t breathe deeply enough as she bent sharply at the waist.


“Willow, sweetie, come here,” Tara choked out hoarsely after a few minutes.


Willow sat next to her still holding her ‘Tarapillow’ tightly to her chest. Tara looked at Willow with a new respect for the bravery that seemed to be never-ending in the woman she loved. She tugged the pillow from Willow so she could gather her into her arms.


“You did that for the last eighteen months whenever you had a nightmare?” Tara felt Willow nod against her.


“You are the strongest person I know, Willow. Buffy may have physical strength, but she has nothing on your spirit. Honestly, I don’t know that I could have done what you have, and that says a lot. Darling, I knew things were hard, even beyond hard, but I had no idea,” Tara choked off shaking her head.


Gaining control of her voice again she went on. “Not only do I love you Willow, but I have more respect for you than you can imagine. It breaks my heart to think you have been doing this alone all this time. I know you are stubborn, we both are in our own ways, but you don’t have to do this alone anymore. I’m here, and I refuse to leave you. My brave girl, please look at me.”


Willow pulled back from Tara slowly to look at her.


“Do you know just how strong you are? I knew how amazing you were after everything with Glory.” Tara paused, blinking rapidly and swallowed hard. “I know you took care of me – in every way. You bathed me, dressed me, you even had to feed me. I was no more than child—a small one at that, but that didn’t stop you. You brought me back, you saved me. When I woke up in your arms to hear you say you would always find me—I had no doubt that you were my rock. Now, let me be yours, baby. Let me help you, and be there for you. Willow, I’m in this for the long haul. You can’t get rid of me that easily. I just won’t go.”


Tears spilled over onto Willow’s cheeks again as she nodded. “Tara, one of the things I’ve learned is how to ask for help. I couldn’t – I wouldn’t do that before, and it cost me so much. You can’t get rid of me either, baby. This, us, we’re forever. You’ll never lose me again, I promise.”


Tara smiled, kissing Willow hard, as she let her hands stroke the bare skin of Willow’s back. Breaking the kiss to pull Willow close again, Tara whispered in her ear. “For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”**


Willow pushed herself hard against Tara, maneuvering herself back into her lap, sniffling and hiccuping. “Let’s go to bed, sweetie. It’s been a very long, long day.”


Tara just stood with Willow in her arms not surprised at how light she was, and simply carried her to bed knowing she must be exhausted. Between the lovemaking, conversations, magic, nightmares, and now letting her walls down to let Tara in closer to her than ever, the emotional drain had to be significant.


Tara sat on the bed, and turned with Willow in her arms stretching out so she would have to follow suit. Once they were settled except for the occasional hiccup it was quiet. There was no real movement; they just held each other with the quiet knowledge that in the last twenty-four hours they had come to a deeper understanding of one another as people.


That their relationship was richer than it had been, somehow finer in a way neither could explain. It was different, but the same; just as they were different, but the same.


It was better, and they were better for it.


The light in the room had shifted to the grey of pre-dawn, and though tired beyond belief Tara could not sleep. She could tell that Willow was still awake too.


“You should rest, love,” Tara said to the top of Willow’s head.


“No more than you should. Tara, I hadn’t planned to just dump all of this out on you at one time like this. It’s a lot to take in, I know,” Willow countered.


“Would you have told me anyway?” Tara asked gently.


Without hesitation Willow replied, “Yes, absolutely. I had planned to tell you all of it. Just not in one sitting. I thought I could break it up a little, so you wouldn’t run screaming for the hills – err, the hellmouth, where ever you felt safer at.”


Tara chuckled. “No running, just loving the doofus that is you – you really thought I would run from you?”


Willow nodded against her. “Why not? This adds an all new layer of crazy Willow-y goodness mess to the already chocked full o' crazy mix. A person can only take so much.”


Tara hugged Willow tighter. “And again I say this to the girl that was willing to take on her girlfriends’ – that she hadn't told everyone about yet – abusive family, that had been lying to her all her life and telling her that she was a demon – you wanted to lay my dad out! – That was awesome by the way – so bring it on, this will be a light day. The girl that was a demon and the girl that's a crazy witch, weren't going for the whole crazy witch thing anyway?”


Willow pulled back to look to Tara with a big smile. “Yay me.”


Tara chuckled again. “Yay us.”


Willow wiggled. “Yay us.”


They fell silent again as Tara hoped Willow would begin to doze thinking that once she did maybe she would too.


“Tara?” Willow said meekly.


“Hmmm?”


Willow cleared her throat. “I know it’s been a long day, but could we…maybe…”


Willow pulled back to look into Tara’s face, and without words she understood what Willow wanted. What Willow needed – she needed to be touched loved.


Tara kissed Willow slowly, once again letting her hands wander over the soft skin of her back and bottom. Tara pulled back to look into Willow’s eyes and she saw sadness, desire, but also a need for the reassurance that only Tara could give her. Tara kissed her forehead, her eyes, and the soft skin just under her cheekbones next to her ears.


For all the hurried fervor of their lovemaking earlier in the week, Tara moved with slow, deliberate strokes over Willow’s skin. Tara knew just where to touch her, to kiss her, to make her body sing. Willow’s hand matched her touch for touch, kiss for kiss. Their tongues danced together, as their fingers etched burning patterns over increasingly sensitive skin. The only sounds in the quiet of their room, was their breathing, and hushed moans.


“Tara, please now.” Willow’s plea forcing Tara’s hand down her sweat slicked stomach. Moaning again as Tara’s fingers slid into her. Tara watched as Willow shivered, and sucked in her breath. Willow wasted no time in reaching for her. Willow opened her eyes and smiled, she kissed Tara hard. Their breathing was growing ragged, as their fingers moved in time with one another and growing urgency.


“Together, Tara, I’m so close.” Willow groaned.


“Almost, oh yes, there, right there,” Tara’s voice caught. “Now, please, oh please, Willow.”


Their voices mingle in unison, as they cried out their climax together. Sensation rolling over them and gradually their breathing started to return to normal.


“Damn, baby,” Willow said in a pleased voice.


“Mmmhmm,” Tara said as she nuzzled Willow neck.


Willow whispered, “Thank you.”


Tara understood the double meaning but said anyway, “You don’t have to thank me for making love to you, trust me, it was my pleasure.”


Willow chuckled, “You know that’s not what I meant, and I am so having words with Anya some of which might even be thank you.”


Tara laughed loudly, “What for?”


Willow kissed her neck. “Well, for one I am the recipient of your ever increasing dirty mouth, and two you seem more comfortable with the topic of sex altogether. Not that you where uncomfortable with our lovemaking before, but you were shy about it. Well, we both were, and now you tell me things, you talk to me. Baby, it turns me on when you talk to me,” Willow shivered. “You said Anya has encouraged that, so then I think a ‘thank you’ is in order, because I have to say I like it. I’m still getting used to it, but it’s a good thing and we should do more of it.”


“Damn, there goes my plan,” Tara said lightly.


“What plan?” Willow’s curiosity plain in her voice.


“It was going to be weapon two in diffusing a Willowbabble onslaught,” Tara said knowing the right combination still would be.


“What’s weapon one?” Willow asked curiously.


Tara kissed her passionately.


“Feel free to use either weapon anytime you like, baby, anytime at all,” Willow giggled.


With several more kisses, Willow’s finally settled into place, and her breathing began to slow. It was obvious she was finally drifting off to sleep. Tara made the mental note to speak with Rowan alone, and she was going to do it as soon as she woke up. She needed more answers, and she was determined to get them.


Tara looked down at Willow’s sleeping face, and marveled at the girlish sweetness that belied the truth of the amazing woman in her arms. Plan in place, Tara too drifted off to sleep feeling loved and oddly happy.



TBC….

_________________
Heather aka vampyregurl73 aka Riverwillows73
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My stories:
"Dry Heat – In Progress (still)" "Penny Arcade - Completed"
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My Fic Challenge entries:
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Last edited by vampyregurl73 on Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:13 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 9:46 am
Posts: 860
Topics: 3
Location: Southern Arizona
Zampsa1975 - Lady Rowan is going to be better than you think, she show up a lot but she'll drop pearls of wisdom and training our girl up. The pearls of wisdom are what matters most.


Morrigan -
Quote:
With the coven trying to prepare for what's coming, and their distrust of the council, it makes me wonder if in your 'verse the First has corrupted, rather than seeking to destroy, the watchers. Or if it is simply that they know the WC dislikes anything powerful that they have no control over. - good question, won't answer it at this time though - I can't give it all away!.


As for WIllow's struggle in the chapter we deal with it quite a bit and more pf the physical but not to a great extent to see there have been emotional, physical & psychological reason that have impacted her to make better choice which in turn make her a better person.


Laragh - I agree, an that's why I felt I had to deal with it in some way. They whole we had coffee and not I wanna move back in really only made sense in the fact they were killing her off. So her in my they both get some say into why they are moving past it to be with each other.


JustSkipIt - I wholeheartedly agree, but I think Willow, a mature, fully aware of what she did Willow needed to get that of her chest. They both say almost identical thing as you - Tara is tired or her beating herself about the head neck and Willow says she needs to get over herself. This next chapter really puts that on a move and in the next one.... welll you'll just have to read it ;)
I'm glad you like what I did with her meditation.



love_2003 - I hope you like this.





Chapter Eleven

Pairing: W/T

Rating: R – adult content

Angst/Drama Rating: On a scale of 1-10 this is about a 7.

Setting: The Grove - Tucson

Disclaimer: I in no way, shape or form own the characters from BtVS, they’re owned by Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. Yakkity, shmakkity - everyone here knows the deal. All original characters are in no way connected to them except by me in this forum. No money is involved this is simply for my own pleasure and hopefully your entertainment.

Email: riverwillows@me.com

Feedback: Stroke my ego - BRING IT ONE, lol

Author's Note: This section may be a little rougher around the edges but if you see glaring faults, PM-me and I'll take care of them. This chapter is also longer than previous one and I was trying an experiment with POV that I don’t think really worked. Also line that ends a follows "**" is a quote attributed to Judy Garland.


With bated breath & damaged cuticles here is Chapter Eleven of Dry Heat




Tara sat up in bed, and could hear Willow heaving into the toilet. She quickly pulled on a t-shirt and boxers, then headed for the bathroom. She stood in the doorway for a moment not sure what Willow would want.


“Oh, God – it has to be a God, no Goddess would do this to you,” Willow moaned into the bowl. She spit a few more times before flushing, then closing the lid to rest her forehead against the cool porcelain.


Tara walked up behind Willow, and bent to stroke her hair.


“Don’t touch me!” Willow yelped as she skittered away from Tara, moving so quickly across the tile she hit the wall. When she looked around, she could see the side of the vanity, and pressed herself between the wall and the cabinet.


Willow pulled her knees up to her chest protectively, and folded her arms around them.


Tara could plainly see the abject terror in Willow’s eyes. Whatever she had been dreaming about still hadn’t quite left her yet, as Tara watched her sit and shake. To see Willow this way, this afraid was almost more than Tara could bear. She had never seen Willow in such a state.


Quietly she asked, “How can I help you, Will?”


“You can’t. They just keep coming back,” Willow said in a small voice.


Tara sat down on the toilet, and watch Willow – who was pale faced and faintly green – patiently as she waited for her to continue. After a few minutes, when it didn’t seem like she would volunteer the information, Tara decided to simply ask.


“What keeps coming back? Dreams?”


Willow nodded, and then whispered, “Nightmares. Horrible nightmares.”


Tara grimaced. That much was obvious; no one wakes up from a good dream to go retch in the middle of the night.


“Can you tell me about them, sweetie? Maybe I can help,” Tara asked tenderly. Tara watched as Willow sat silent, her eyes dilated and vacant, as she stared at some point off from Tara. “Will? Stay with me, if you can’t talk about them, it’s okay.”


Tara began to worry as the silence became more pronounced, and there was no change in Willow’s demeanor. She grabbed a wash cloth from above the toilet then crossed to the sink, as she watched Willow from the corner of her eye. Running it under the tepid tap until it was soaked, and then moved slowly in front of Willow. Trying not to scare her anymore than she already was, Tara slowly sat down in front of her.


“Willow, honey, I’m going to touch you. Don’t be afraid, it’s just me.” Tara continued to move slowly toward Willow, as Tara placed her hand on Willow’s knee, she jumped and hit her head against the cabinet. Willow hissed at the pain, and it seemed to bring her back to the present from wherever she had been.


“I’m here, it’s just me,” Tara said as she turned Willow’s face towards her, and began to wipe it off. Tara started at her forehead with gentle strokes until she had cleaned Willow’s face. She then moved to Willow’s neck to clear it free of the sweat Willow was covered in.


“Can you lean your head forward a little, sweetheart?” Tara spoke softly, like she would to a scared child.


Willow complied with the request, allowing Tara to run the wash cloth over the back of her neck with one hand, while she felt with the other for what would undoubtedly be a good sized goose egg on the back of Willow’s head to make sure she wasn’t bleeding. Tara easily found the knot and winced when she felt the size of it, but at least there didn’t appear to be a cut.


Willow watching Tara unblinkingly, as she gently cleaned her up. The lack of response to pain worried Tara, and she knew that even being as gentle as she was, it had to cause a small amount of discomfort when she touched the knot, but Willow didn’t even flinch.


“A little bit better now?” Tara asked not really expecting a response, but she couldn’t think of what she should do next. Feeling horribly helpless in the face of something that it was clear Willow had been dealing – or rather not dealing with – for some time, Tara felt tears sting behind her eyes.


With a heavy sigh Tara looked up at the sink, as she started to move away and missed Willow’s hand snake out to grab her arm. Tara eased back into place in front of Willow, and without looking laid the cloth on the counter.


Willow’s face was more drawn than it had been the day she arrived, but with a small amount of relief Tara could see the green tint was gone. The spray of freckled across Willow’s nose looked like they were drops of sepia ink waiting to dry she had gone so pale.


Ever conscious of Willow’s state of panic, Tara continued to move very slowly. Tara turned so she was parallel to Willow, and simply opened her arms. With a speed she didn’t think was possible, Willow was in her arms perching herself in Tara’s lap to burrow her face into Tara’s shoulder.


Tara enfolded Willow in her arms, and began dropping reassuring kisses on her neck and shoulders. Willow started to shake violently. Tara could feel her shirt getting wet, but Willow didn’t make a sound as she cried. Rocking her was the only thing Tara could think to do as she murmured words of assurance. Her own tears fell into Willow’s hair, and Tara tightened her embrace, as she tried to make Willow feel as safe as possible. More than once it occurred to Tara that going through the things Willow had been forced to endure – and to do so repeatedly – would have broken a lesser person by now.


In hushed tones Tara spoke, “Willow, you’re so strong, do you know that? I love you, precious. You are so strong, so beautiful and brave. You amaze me all the time. I love you,” Tara just kept repeating these words over and over to Willow.


Finally Willow whispered, “I love you too.”


Tara let out a small laugh choked with her own tears, as she hugged Willow tighter. Relief rushed through Tara at the sound of Willow’s voice. At least if Willow was talking, they could tackle this – like Willow said together they could do anything, and this was no exception.


Tara pulled back to look into Willow’s face, with two fingers she wiped Willow’s tears away catching the one hanging from her chin. Tilting her face upward, Tara placed a light kiss on Willow’s lips, then guided Willow’s head back to her shoulder, as she continued to rock her gently.


Tara wasn’t sure how much longer they sat like this; she just knew she would sit there for days if that’s what Willow needed.


“There’s two – well now three, but it started as two,” Willow’s voice trembled as she spoke. “The first one I’ve had since,” Willow cleared her throat. “Since I k-killed Warren. The second started while I was in England, and the third started about six weeks ago.”


“Do you want to tell me about them?” Tara asked tenderly.


Tara kept rocking Willow. She held one arm around Willow’s knees so her legs were draped over her own, and the other around Willow’s back. With a quick flash of memory, she remembered being held the same way by her mother after various nightmarish incidents as a child, and how safe she felt. She only hoped it was working as well for Willow.


Willow took a shaky breath, and started. “The first one is the one I had tonight. It’s horrible, Tara because it’s what could have happened. It’s what would have if I hadn’t been able to stop...him. I would have lost you, and so much more. I see the bullet hit you; I get sprayed by your blood. I can feel it warm and sticky on my face as I watch you crumple before me, and I hold you while you die. I try to bring you back, but I can’t. The Gods tell me that I cannot violate the laws of natural passing, and that it’s a human death, by human means. How would that be natural?” Willow’s voice had risen to a frantic squeak.


With a pained expression Willow looks at Tara, and Tara sees the tears stream down her face again, as the images of the dream rip away at the sweet girl in her lap.


“You’re my always, Willow, I’ll always wait for you. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere, baby,” Tara said against the knot in her own throat, and couldn’t imagine what having to see Willow’s death over and over would do to her. Knowing this had been going on for almost two years, Tara felt her stomach roll with anger for what that one careless, selfish act had caused. For the second time tonight, Tara felt like her heart would break for Willow, for what she had gone through, and what she continued to go through. She could only encourage the hope in them both, that now some of this would change.


With a wavering breath, Willow continued, “Then it all goes to hell. I’m so angry, so filled with pain and rage. I go to the Magic Box and drain all the books – all the dark arts books – I can see them crawl, seeping into my very skin. My eyes and hair go completely black; I lose myself there in the agony and the pain. I hunt Warren and his little minions down like animals. At some point I start to lose steam, so I go to Rack, but I don’t just drain him, I kill him so I can continue to hunt Warren. We fight and Warren tries a few tricks, a few glamour’s that have no effect – he even manages to put an axe in my back but it still doesn’t stop me – Tara, I skin him alive after I torture him for hours.”


Willow stopped to look at Tara. Tara wasn’t sure what Willow saw in her face, but she started to pull away. Tara knew there must have been something of the shock she was feeling written in her expression.


“No,” Tara said tightening her grip on Willow. “It’s a dream Willow, and a nightmare at that, so it’s your worst fears realized — not the truth, not what actually is. Do you want to go on?”


With a sad laugh Willow goes on. “There’s only the end of the world left next. After I…do that to Warren, I do horrible things to everyone. I leave them broken, beaten and bloody. I crush everyone I love into nothing, so they can feel a small measure of the pain I’m feeling, but it doesn’t make mine any less. I leave destruction behind me, and I find a way to end the world – end all the pain everyone is feeling. I raise a temple to end the world, all to assuage my grief over losing you. Tara, I can’t lose you, not again.”


Tara presses kisses to Willow’s temple and cheek. “I’m right here, Will. It’s just a dream – I swear that’s all it is.”


Tara turns Willow’s head to look at her, and gazes deeply into her face, attempting to make her understand with her eyes. Tara tried to make Willow feel the truth of her words. To reinforce them, she took Willow’s hands, and pressed them against her face and over her heart, hoping the direct contact would be reassuring to Willow. Letting the physicality sink in, that she is there and very real.


Willow threw her arms around Tara’s neck, as she began to sob. For all the quiet tears of earlier, now the room echoed with her pain, and Tara cried with her. Tara ran her hands over Willow’s naked back, over the soft skin that heaved, and shuddered under this colossal weight trapped in her mind. She gently combed her fingers through the red hair she loved so much, as she tried to offer some small amount of comfort.


When Willow finally stopped crying, Tara’s shirt was wet front and back; the back down to where she sat from Willow, and the front to just above her ribcage held her own tears.


“Feel better, love?” Tara asked, as she continued to stroke Willow’s back soothingly, and she could feel Willow nod against her shoulder. “Good.”


Without any coaxing Willow offered up the next of her nightmares.


“The second is more disturbing than the scary of the Warren-mare. I’m back in Sunnydale at Buffy’s, but there is only the three of us; me, Dawn, and Buffy. There’s no you, or Xander – or even Anya. Remember at The Bronze when we were floating?” Tara nodded, smiling at the memory of the first birthday she had had that was truly happy since her mother died. “Well, I’m there in the hallway of the house, floating like that, but I have this weird black dress on, the top has this high lace collar, but is very low cut, and is showing major amounts of cleavage that we both know I don’t have.”


Tara poked Willow playfully at that, but didn’t say anything.


“The skirt is in shreds like at one point it had been whole. I can hear this crazy laughter, and I hear someone crying. Here’s where it gets even weirder. There’s like a voice over track, but it’s my voice. I see me floating there in the hallway, and at first it me – my normal face – then the voice says ‘Alone’. My face flashes and my eyes are black, and my hair is streaked with black, then the voice says ‘Insane’.”


Willow pauses to take several deep breaths. “That continues to happen, while I see Buffy moving around in the kitchen, but she’s transparent. She moves around like normal, makes a cup of coffee, but she has no expression. She just goes through the motions, then I hear my voice all voice over-y again with an even better slogan. I say ‘The Magicks whisper to her too, just like me, and it’s driven her mad, my little sister.’ Then I see Dawn – obviously the little sister – she’s in the dining room in a corner rocking and crying while I watch my face flicker back and forth between the ‘Alone and Insane’ and I float. It just loops over and over.”


Tara kisses Willow’s shoulder, where she rests her head, as Willow leans against her. Tara, well aware of prophetic dreams, wonders if this dream might be linked to the alternate outcome, like Willow’s ‘Warren-mare’. Seeing just how much power Willow had gained in the last eighteen months, would not make it unheard of for Willow to begin to see through the veils of differing realities.


Tara also knew that this could very easily lead to the madness Willow sees in her second dream. The Oracle at Delphi, The Oracles of Ammon, and even The Oracles of The Sibyls – all their histories were rife with tales of madness along with many other bizarre and tragic things. What then could this mean for Willow if even a third of those accounts were true? What would Tara be able to do to help, and was there anything she could do?


Willow accepted Tara’s silence, returning the soft kisses as she began to play with Tara’s hair. She gave a low, sad chuckle that she knew Tara felt, so she pulled back, and looked down at the front of Tara’s t-shirt.


Willow asked, “Yours or mine?”


“The back is all yours, sweetie, and I think the front is mostly mine, but some of yours mixed in there too,” Tara said with a shrug.


Willow just nodded, and said, “You’re just wet all over, aren’t you?”


Tara scoffed, “Feeling cheeky are we? I take it you’re feeling a little better then?” Casting a serious eye at Willow as she tried to make sure Willow wasn’t doing her ‘brave little toaster’ routine that she had gotten pretty good at being able to spot.


Willow nodded. “Yeah, I’m extremely lucky. See, I have this beautiful woman,” Willow made a point to pull back and purposely began talking to Tara’s chest. “She has the most amazing blue eyes I have ever seen. I don’t know if she knows just how desperately in love with her I am. The funny thing is she always seems to find me when I think I am at my hardest to love, and then she does!”


Willow then looked into Tara’s eye as she continued to speak.


“She loves me still! She holds me when I breakdown, and me being the girl of high-strung-ed-ness, which can be frequent when I’m stressed – ah, well, even when I‘m not stressed I’m still wound a little tight. With all of those stellar attributes, this amazingly caring, smart, beautiful woman keeps telling me, she loves me. I just have to believe her, because she’s my world. Oh, and sometimes she makes me feel cheeky, and sexy, and more loved than I have ever been in my life to date. I have to say to date because something will happen to reset the scale, and she’ll surprise me yet again. So I guess that makes me one very lucky girl.”


"Darn tootin'," Tara smiled doing her best Willow impersonation. As she listened to Willow words she knew Willow meant every one she was saying; it didn’t stop the blush she could feel creeping up her neck. This wasn’t a blush of insecurity at all – it was one of pleasure – that Tara had inspired that sentiment in another person, and it was given freely, and repeated often. Little Tara, that had always felt less than good enough, less than worthy of love, less than special – simply less. Willow’s words made her heart swell with happiness. Just a simple reminder that she was loved by Willow and by the family Willow had made for herself that took her in as one of their own.


“I think that’s one of my favorite stories, and I want you to tell it to me often, okay?” Tara said.


“You just say the word, baby. It will grow, and change as we grow and change. It will get longer, and we’ll be old, and I won’t remember the exact beginning, but you can help me, and it will take all day for me to tell it. I can think of nothing I would rather do, than tell you how much I love you for the rest of our lives – wait is today a Tuesday?”


Tara shook her head knowing the thought process behind it. “It’s not May anymore either. Since we are going to Sunnydale, it’s good to know you remember that – I think.”


She kissed Willow’s shoulder again, and felt her shiver. “Are you cold sweetie? Let’s go back to bed.”


Tara looked down at her own damp chest at the t-shirt she had on, and the chill was apparent.


Willow nodded, and she was looking down between the chests seeing two pairs of hard nipples in the cool of the bathroom and damp of Tara’s shirt. “I want to shower though, wash the fear and the sweat off.”


Tara placed her face back into Willow’s shoulder to inhale deeply. “Nope, I only smell sweaty Willow. I like it better when I am the cause of said girl’s sweatiness, but I don’t smell fear,” Tara even licked her shoulder, with a shrug she said, “Willowsweat.”


Willow smiled adoringly at Tara. “Be that as it may, my beloved, I can smell the fear from the dream on me. I would much rather crawl into bed next to you without that particular scent, because you smell so much better. To be honest, Tara, I can’t think of anything that smells better than you do.”


Tara kissed Willow’s forehead, urging her to stand. Willow extended her hand, but she didn’t take it.


“Give me second, my left foot is numb.” Tara grimaced at the sensation of blood flowing again.


“Tara, why didn’t you say something, I could have moved. Do you want me to rub it?” Willow said as she sat back down next to her feet and began to rub.


“I didn’t feel it until you got up. Besides, my lap was the right place for you to be, sweetie. Wouldn’t you agree?”


Willow nodded, as she flexed Tara’s foot that was growing pink with circulation. “Better?” Willow asked.


“Much, thank you.”


Willow let go of her foot to stand, and then offered her hand to Tara again. She gladly took it, not sure if she would be wobbly or not. Tara figured after being sick Willow’s mouth not might taste great, so she grabbed their toothbrushes, and handed Willow hers. When Tara was almost done she turned the shower on as Willow rinsed her mouth out then followed suit.


“You first, oh sweaty one,” Tara said with a smile, as she nudged Willow in.


Closing the door behind her, Tara watched as Willow stood under the hot spray. Picking up the bar of soap she worked up a lather of bubbles in her hands. Tara started with Willow’s back, massaging the muscles of her shoulders, neck and arms that had tightened by the dream and vomiting. Prompting Willow to turn has Tara lathered her hands again. Rubbing gently at Willow’s throat and collar bone, she realized that she was humming. Her hands glided over the soft skin turning pink under the hot water, as she moved over Willow’s chest, down to her stomach.


“What are you humming?” Willow asked in a whisper.


“Hmm? I didn’t know I was sweetie,” Tara looked up a feigning surprise, having noticed it herself a few moments before Willow had. “Was I humming long?”


Willow nodded. “Since you started on my shoulders.”


“Oh…huh. Your hair?” Tara skated on passed the subject, but she saw Willow open her mouth and then close it again, as Tara looked through her lashes while she reached for the shampoo. She held it up for confirmation from.


“Okay, wet your hair again.” Tara concentrated on the task at hand hoping she was successfully making the humming of the song she had sung to Willow, what seemed like a lifetime ago, a non-issue. Willow wiped water from her face as Tara poured shampoo into her hand. “I’ll be careful of your knot; I didn’t feel a cut but it might be scraped, so tell me if it stings. You may even want to take some aspirin before we go back to bed.”


Willow turns her back to Tara as she says, “You’re probably right, this one generally gives me a headache anyway. Do you want to know the last one?”


“If you want to tell me, sweetie.” Tara replied a little anxiously after hearing her two others.


“This one is short and to the point. I’m back in Sunnydale, we’re all there, but there are more people. There are all these young girls all over the place, but they have something to do with Buffy. There are also some people that are there with us – we have a coven there Tara – you and I. We’re preparing for something, it’s big because the hell mouth – it has teeth. The ground rumbles with small tremors. We’re all scared, and we know some of us will die, but it’s just another apocalypse in Sunnydale. Nothing we haven’t done before – it’s what we do.”


Tara had been gently massaging Willow’s scalp, and despite the warmth of the water she felt a chill pass over her. Without a doubt she knew that this dream was going to happen. That this was part of why she was here and now why getting trained in combat magic was of the utmost importance.


“Rinse,” Tara said trying to keep her voice for sounding as scared as she felt.


As Willow finished her hair she looked through the water at Tara and smiled. “Your turn, baby, you’ve got to love the water tanks here. We have hot water for days.”


Tara smiled as they switched positions; she leaned back into the water as she closed her eyes, letting the water wash over her. Her mind raced, and she knew if she looked Willow in the eye at that moment, she would be able to see trepidation Tara now felt. Soon she felt warm soapy hands on her skin, and knew as usual she would have very clean breasts.


She started to laugh as her breast where being lovingly soaped again and again. The Willowhands got the hint to move on making soapy paths to her stomach and then up to her shoulders.


Willow pressed against her to soap her back, and asked, “Why are you laughing at me?”


Tara opened her eyes replying saucily, “I’m not laughing at you, sweetheart, I’m laughing near you.” This garnered her a playful swat on the bottom with soapy hands.


“Hey! Now that was completely unnecessary; we both know that you keep my breasts the cleanest in town, simply because you can’t keep your hands off of them,” She said in mock offense.


With a wide grin, Willow said, “Okay, you got me; I can’t deny any of what you just said. So I guess you found me out. I never knew I was such a breast girl, but I honestly think it’s just yours that have me fascinated. Turn, so I can do your hair, missy.”


Tara did as she was asked, thankful to not have to face Willow, because it gave her more time to turn the last dream over in her mind, and try to reconcile her conflicted emotions. Willow’s words played again in her head. ‘We’re all scared and we know some of us will die but it’s just another apocalypse in Sunnydale. Nothing we haven’t done before – it’s what we do.’


Tara was so deep in thought she didn’t realize when Willow’s fingers stopped in her hair, and she had been spoken to.


“Baby? Tara, are you okay?” Tara could hear concern in Willow’s voice.


Putting on a brave face she turned back around, and smiled. “I’m fine, sweetie. I just got lost in thought for a moment,” she said as convincingly as she could.


Willow pulled her into a hug, and whispered into her ear, “I’ll always find you, baby. Always, lean back I’ll hold you while you rinse your beautiful hair.”


Trying to lighten the mood as much for herself as for Willow, Tara nipped her ear and said, “I see how it is now; is it a tough choice between my tits and my hair or is my ass in there too?”


Willow pulled back blushing in surprise. “Tara! You have to have been spending way too much time with Anya. She’s corrupted you!”


“No, I think a certain redhead had more to do with that delicious endeavor than she did. Anya just encourages the vocabulary that goes with the corruption.”


Tara enjoyed the feeling of mischief rising, and pushed her more troubling thoughts aside, enjoying the complete lack of speech it was causing in her girlfriend. Now, she had two weapons to thwart a Willowbabble; kisses and spicy talk. Rinsing her hair out she began to feel fatigue start to weigh down her limbs, and was looking forward to getting back into bed.


Tara turned to shut off the shower and felt cool air against her warm skin raise goose bumps. Willow handed her a towel, and she flipped her hair over while bending at the waist to dry it as quickly as possible. When she righted herself, Willow was watching her wrap her head in a towel.


Willow looked worried. “Tara?”


“Hmm?” Tara continued to dry herself off waiting for Willow to go on.


“Is that what you think you are to me? That I, ah, love you only for your, um, attributes?”


It hadn’t occurred to her that Willow might take her seriously when she had been saucy with her. She couldn’t stop the smile that came to her lips though. “No, I don’t Willow. I’m sure it helps some, that’s the law of attraction. Just because I know you enjoy my attributes as you so delicately put it. That would be like saying I only love you for your perfect ass, and sweet …” Tara let her eyes drift heatedly down Willow’s naked body making her blush before darting her eyes up to Willow's mouth. “Mouth or green eyes, these are part of you, yes, of course they are. They don’t cover the volumes I can say about your soul, your strength, your devotion to the family you made, your courage.”


Tara shook her head, and wrapped her towel around herself as Willow did the same.


“We really are more than the sum of our parts, Willow. I’m sorry you misunderstood me, I was teasing you. Nothing more, nothing less, love. Lighten up, my tightly wound girl,” Tara pulled Willow into a hug, and rubbed her back through the towel. “Besides, I like it when you love my attributes,” She said as she kissed Willow’s shoulder.


“You are bad, when did this happen? Anya and I are gonna have words, let me tell you,” Willow said sounding indignant.


This made Tara laugh all over again, and she squeezed Willow tighter. With another quick kiss to Willow’s shoulder she asked, “Bed?”


“Yes, bed. It definitely calls.”


Willow followed Tara out and they climbed back into bed dropping their towels as they went. Tara lay on her back so Willow could curl into her. One minute drifted into ten, then twenty. Tara could feel Willow’s breathing even out, but she could also tell she wasn’t asleep.


“Will?” Tara asked in a hushed tone.


“Hmmm,” Willow murmured.


Tara paused, unsure if she should ask, but her curiosity just wouldn’t let her rest. “You don’t have to tell me, but what did you do after a nightmare before, when you were alone?”


Willow didn’t move or say anything for a long time, then with a heavy sigh she replied, “It’s easier to show you, and then try to explain. Let’s go to my room.”


Willow rose with slow determination, and walked directly into her room without waiting for Tara. Tara watched her stiff movements with a sinking feeling, regretting her question a little, but she followed Willow nonetheless.


Willow stood next to her bed, as Tara moved next to her. Without looking at Tara, she pulled the sheets back, and placed two of several pillows end to end, then walked to the other side putting another on in the same position, and lifted what would be her pillow pulling out a pillow that had a shirt on it from underneath it.


Tara immediately recognized the shirt. It was a velvety, silvery-periwinkle long-sleeved affair Willow had always loved, but it had disappeared around the time Willow left. Willow held it to her chest, and lifted one of the sleeves to wave it at her.


“Hi,” Willow still wouldn’t look at Tara, and taking a deep breath she began to explain.


“The funny thing about pillows is that they hold body heat. So once I cleaned myself up, and crawled back into bed, they would get warm. I could hold my ‘Tarapillow’, and pretend it was you holding me. I could still smell you on the shirt for a while, so it was like you were there with me, and I could fall back to sleep.”


Tara blanched, as she raised a hand to cover her mouth, and had to sit heavily on the bed. The sadness that swept through her body made her feel like she was going to have a panic attack. Her breath came in short, sharp bursts, and her ears began to ring, Tara felt like she couldn’t breathe deeply enough as she bent sharply at the waist.


“Willow, sweetie, come here,” Tara choked out hoarsely after a few minutes.


Willow sat next to her still holding her ‘Tarapillow’ tightly to her chest. Tara looked at Willow with a new respect for the bravery that seemed to be never-ending in the woman she loved. She tugged the pillow from Willow so she could gather her into her arms.


“You did that for the last eighteen months whenever you had a nightmare?” Tara felt Willow nod against her.


“You are the strongest person I know, Willow. Buffy may have physical strength, but she has nothing on your spirit. Honestly, I don’t know that I could have done what you have, and that says a lot. Darling, I knew things were hard, even beyond hard, but I had no idea,” Tara choked off shaking her head.


Gaining control of her voice again she went on. “Not only do I love you Willow, but I have more respect for you than you can imagine. It breaks my heart to think you have been doing this alone all this time. I know you are stubborn, we both are in our own ways, but you don’t have to do this alone anymore. I’m here, and I refuse to leave you. My brave girl, please look at me.”


Willow pulled back from Tara slowly to look at her.


“Do you know just how strong you are? I knew how amazing you were after everything with Glory.” Tara paused, blinking rapidly and swallowed hard. “I know you took care of me – in every way. You bathed me, dressed me, you even had to feed me. I was no more than child—a small one at that, but that didn’t stop you. You brought me back, you saved me. When I woke up in your arms to hear you say you would always find me—I had no doubt that you were my rock. Now, let me be yours, baby. Let me help you, and be there for you. Willow, I’m in this for the long haul. You can’t get rid of me that easily. I just won’t go.”


Tears spilled over onto Willow’s cheeks again as she nodded. “Tara, one of the things I’ve learned is how to ask for help. I couldn’t – I wouldn’t do that before, and it cost me so much. You can’t get rid of me either, baby. This, us, we’re forever. You’ll never lose me again, I promise.”


Tara smiled, kissing Willow hard, as she let her hands stroke the bare skin of Willow’s back. Breaking the kiss to pull Willow close again, Tara whispered in her ear. “For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”**


Willow pushed herself hard against Tara, maneuvering herself back into her lap, sniffling and hiccuping. “Let’s go to bed, sweetie. It’s been a very long, long day.”


Tara just stood with Willow in her arms not surprised at how light she was, and simply carried her to bed knowing she must be exhausted. Between the lovemaking, conversations, magic, nightmares, and now letting her walls down to let Tara in closer to her than ever, the emotional drain had to be significant.


Tara sat on the bed, and turned with Willow in her arms stretching out so she would have to follow suit. Once they were settled except for the occasional hiccup it was quiet. There was no real movement; they just held each other with the quiet knowledge that in the last twenty-four hours they had come to a deeper understanding of one another as people.


That their relationship was richer than it had been, somehow finer in a way neither could explain. It was different, but the same; just as they were different, but the same.


It was better, and they were better for it.


The light in the room had shifted to the grey of pre-dawn, and though tired beyond belief Tara could not sleep. She could tell that Willow was still awake too.


“You should rest, love,” Tara said to the top of Willow’s head.


“No more than you should. Tara, I hadn’t planned to just dump all of this out on you at one time like this. It’s a lot to take in, I know,” Willow countered.


“Would you have told me anyway?” Tara asked gently.


Without hesitation Willow replied, “Yes, absolutely. I had planned to tell you all of it. Just not in one sitting. I thought I could break it up a little, so you wouldn’t run screaming for the hills – err, the hellmouth, where ever you felt safer at.”


Tara chuckled. “No running, just loving the doofus that is you – you really thought I would run from you?”


Willow nodded against her. “Why not? This adds an all new layer of crazy Willow-y goodness mess to the already chocked full o' crazy mix. A person can only take so much.”


Tara hugged Willow tighter. “And again I say this to the girl that was willing to take on her girlfriends’ – that she hadn't told everyone about yet – abusive family, that had been lying to her all her life and telling her that she was a demon – you wanted to lay my dad out! – That was awesome by the way – so bring it on, this will be a light day. The girl that was a demon and the girl that's a crazy witch, weren't going for the whole crazy witch thing anyway?”


Willow pulled back to look to Tara with a big smile. “Yay me.”


Tara chuckled again. “Yay us.”


Willow wiggled. “Yay us.”


They fell silent again as Tara hoped Willow would begin to doze thinking that once she did maybe she would too.


“Tara?” Willow said meekly.


“Hmmm?”


Willow cleared her throat. “I know it’s been a long day, but could we…maybe…”


Willow pulled back to look into Tara’s face, and without words she understood what Willow wanted. What Willow needed – she needed to be touched loved.


Tara kissed Willow slowly, once again letting her hands wander over the soft skin of her back and bottom. Tara pulled back to look into Willow’s eyes and she saw sadness, desire, but also a need for the reassurance that only Tara could give her. Tara kissed her forehead, her eyes, and the soft skin just under her cheekbones next to her ears.


For all the hurried fervor of their lovemaking earlier in the week, Tara moved with slow, deliberate strokes over Willow’s skin. Tara knew just where to touch her, to kiss her, to make her body sing. Willow’s hand matched her touch for touch, kiss for kiss. Their tongues danced together, as their fingers etched burning patterns over increasingly sensitive skin. The only sounds in the quiet of their room, was their breathing, and hushed moans.


“Tara, please now.” Willow’s plea forcing Tara’s hand down her sweat slicked stomach. Moaning again as Tara’s fingers slid into her. Tara watched as Willow shivered, and sucked in her breath. Willow wasted no time in reaching for her. Willow opened her eyes and smiled, she kissed Tara hard. Their breathing was growing ragged, as their fingers moved in time with one another and growing urgency.


“Together, Tara, I’m so close.” Willow groaned.


“Almost, oh yes, there, right there,” Tara’s voice caught. “Now, please, oh please, Willow.”


Their voices mingle in unison, as they cried out their climax together. Sensation rolling over them and gradually their breathing started to return to normal.


“Damn, baby,” Willow said in a pleased voice.


“Mmmhmm,” Tara said as she nuzzled Willow neck.


Willow whispered, “Thank you.”


Tara understood the double meaning but said anyway, “You don’t have to thank me for making love to you, trust me, it was my pleasure.”


Willow chuckled, “You know that’s not what I meant, and I am so having words with Anya some of which might even be thank you.”


Tara laughed loudly, “What for?”


Willow kissed her neck. “Well, for one I am the recipient of your ever increasing dirty mouth, and two you seem more comfortable with the topic of sex altogether. Not that you where uncomfortable with our lovemaking before, but you were shy about it. Well, we both were, and now you tell me things, you talk to me. Baby, it turns me on when you talk to me,” Willow shivered. “You said Anya has encouraged that, so then I think a ‘thank you’ is in order, because I have to say I like it. I’m still getting used to it, but it’s a good thing and we should do more of it.”


“Damn, there goes my plan,” Tara said lightly.


“What plan?” Willow’s curiosity plain in her voice.


“It was going to be weapon two in diffusing a Willowbabble onslaught,” Tara said knowing the right combination still would be.


“What’s weapon one?” Willow asked curiously.


Tara kissed her passionately.


“Feel free to use either weapon anytime you like, baby, anytime at all,” Willow giggled.


With several more kisses, Willow’s finally settled into place, and her breathing began to slow. It was obvious she was finally drifting off to sleep. Tara made the mental note to speak with Rowan alone, and she was going to do it as soon as she woke up. She needed more answers, and she was determined to get them.


Tara looked down at Willow’s sleeping face, and marveled at the girlish sweetness that belied the truth of the amazing woman in her arms. Plan in place, Tara too drifted off to sleep feeling loved and oddly happy.



TBC….

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Last edited by vampyregurl73 on Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:11 pm 
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Wow. Prophetic dream and cannon nightmare. Nice. I assume Tara understood it to be an alternate path, but are we gonna find that out later for a fact? Be a good thing to elaborate on.

I can't help but think about how meeting the potentials is going to go. If JFK hits on Willow...*imagines a wicked funny smackdown*

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:08 am 
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Ooh intense. But good. Very good.

Poor Willow having nightmares :(

Can't wait for more!

:peace

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:21 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... Good that Willow told Tara about her nightmares and her way of dealing with them... Even bigger yay for Tara being there to confort Willow... Can't wait for the Tara - Lady Rowan talk...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:02 am 
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i just found this story and i am soooooooo loving it.... good goddess i have cried so much and laughed... you are doing an amazing job with this...

i would love to see where you are going with this tale... please continue writing... :pray :pray :pray :pray

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:44 pm 
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Glad to see that Willow finally felt comfortable enough to tell Tara about what she has been going through. Can't wait to read more.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Eleven Posted 09/0
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:12 pm 
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AmongstTheTrees - Yes, a girls gotta start setting things in order for more, lol. The dreams will be elaborated on but not until I have some fun with other drama. The potentials will be fun since it will be two types and I won't say anymore at this point. ;-)

Laragh - Everything has a reason.... ;-)

Zapmsa1975 - I hope you enjoy Tara & Lady Rowan's talk in this chapter. :smug

Sapphoselene - Thank you so much, I'm glad you're enjoying my little contribution to the world of fanfic, lol. I hope you continue to enjoy as I notch the drama up and down - 'cuz you know I can't not have drama for those on the hellmouth. :kdevil

love_2003 - Ahhh, but the dreams are only part of her tale - read on my friend! ;-)


Chapter Twelve

Pairing: W/T

Rating: PG-13 for mild language.

Angst/Drama Rating: On a scale of 1-10 this is about a 5.

Setting: The Grove - Tucson

Disclaimer: I in no way, shape or form own the characters from BtVS, they’re owned by Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. All original characters are in no way connected to them except by me in this forum. No money is involved this is simply for my own pleasure.

Email: riverwillows@me.com

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Author’s Note: I am feeling compelled to mention that chapters Ten & Eleven became complete rewrites which allow for a better story (I think),as well as allowing me to make 12-15 what they should be. My reason for mentioning this is as such. This could not have been accomplished as well without my former beta (Thank you Jasmydae) for chapters 8, 9 & 10. I also would like to thank my new beta foreverchanges for all the help. The music of Chantal Kreviazuk (Ghost Stories & Plain Jane); Civil Twilight; The Black Keys (Attack & Release) & Bat for Lashes (Fur & Gold; Two Suns). Of course there are a host of others, but that will do since they were integral. Thank you for bearing with my little ramble-y monologue here.

**There are large blocks of text and dialogue in this chapter, sorry it couldn't be avoided, just thought I would warn you in advance.**

***Cerri is pronounced Kerry and is a deliberate corruption of Cerridwen (keh-RID-wen), as is Morgian being done deliberately for Morrigan. Maeve is pronounced May-ve***





The adventures are just beginning; prepare to assume crash positions




While Willow continued to sleep, Tara slipped from the warmth of the bed and showered. She stuck her head out of the bathroom while drying off to check on Willow; just to be sure she was still slumbering peacefully. Slipping on a t-shirt and boxers, it wasn’t long before Tara began pacing restlessly around her rooms. Her movements matching the tempo of her mind, as she attempted to work up the courage she needed to meet with Lady Rowan and demand some answers. Being demanding had never been one of her strong points, and Tara knew it.


Tara decided to go into Willow’s rooms, last night had really been the only time she had been in there, and she was curious about the space Willow had been calling home. She looked around the room trying to see the traces of Willow. Tara sat on the bed, while absently running her fingers over the stitching of the comforter. Looking around she saw that there were very few personal items left here and there, but nothing to make it look like a place Willow might call home.


This struck Tara deeply, because it seemed even more apparent that this was temporary space – almost as if Willow were in a state of suspended animation; the body and mind still functioning, but devoid of any real warmth. For Willow to have been in the same space for a year, it seemed so cold to her, and it made her miss Dawn and Buffy.


She noticed a pair of worn sneakers with a sock sticking out of one, a few hair rubber bands laying on the dresser next to a hair brush. Tara smiled at the sight, wandering over to pick up one of the bands before rolling it between her fingers. She could see Willow’s laptop out on the coffee table in her living room, the screensaver swirling when she looked through the bedroom door. She picked up the hairbrush casually, and walked back into her room.


As she moved back into her room, Willow rolled over and grabbed Tara’s pillow, mumbling in her sleep. Looking at the mussed hair and smiling at the ramblings of her girlfriend, Tara felt a resolve settle over her. Knowing she had the courage she needed, Tara dressed then found a slip of paper and left Willow a note. As she slipped quietly out of the room she realized she had picked up Willow’s hairbrush again so instead of turning back she slipped it into her pocket as she headed for the main hall.


The heat was intense; it was an early afternoon in June, and the temperature had already risen close to a hundred degrees, it was hot you could see it dance off the asphalt parking lot. Tara listened to the cicada’s whine as she made her way across it. She was grateful when she entered the main hall for its coolness even after only a short time in the heat. Tabitha was once again stationed at the front desk, and as Tara approached, Tabitha looked up at her with a smirk. “Hi Tara, where’s Willow?”


With a weak smile, and trying not to shudder at the girl she found repellent, Tara replied, “She’s sleeping. I was w-wondering if I could speak with Lady R-Rowan?”


Remembering Willow’s warnings about Tabitha made Tara less than friendly, but there was something else about the girl that seemed sneaky, almost mean, she couldn’t figure out just what it was yet. Since Tara knew she was coming back to the Grove, she was sure she would be able to figure it out.


Tabitha’s expression and demeanor changed, it was obvious that she had been expecting Tara to make this request. Tilting her head to one side, she replied in a respectful tone, “Certainly Sister Tara, give me just a moment to find her for you. “


Tabitha began making calls until she found Rowan. “Yes My Lady, Sister Tara is here and she would like to see you... yes, certainly I’ll take her there now. Thank you, My Lady.”


She looked at Tara, and smiled, “Sister Tara, Lady Rowan is in her office, but she asked that I take you to the kitchen.” Tabitha came around the desk putting a hand on Tara’s arm to gently steer her down the hall.


Tara pulled back from the touch, getting an odd sensation, almost like she had just brushed against a snake. They entered the kitchens before lady Rowan arrived, so Tabitha pointed Tara to the table where Tara and Willow had been sharing their meals.


“Would you like something to drink, Sister Tara?” she asked, looking at Tara as if she expected her to bolt at any second.


“Yes p-please, some j-juice?” Tara said staying to watch her, feeling only a little bad that she thought this girl might do something horrible like when Ethan Rayne spiked Giles’ drink and subsequently turned him into a Fyarl demon. In her experience with the Scoobies, it always paid to be careful when someone set off your warning bells. Normally there was a bloody, ooze-y, puss filled reason.


Tabitha walked to one of the large refrigerators. “We have most types, is there any you prefer?” she asked, turning to look over her shoulder at Tara.


“Orange, p-please,” Tara replied.


Pulling out a large pitcher, and walking to the counter, Tara could see her trying to take a guess at what the length of the conversation might be, as she fished a large glass out from one of the cabinets.


Just then Lady Rowan walked in. “Thank you Sister Tabitha, I can take care of Sister Tara from here,” she said with a smile.


“Yes, My Lady,” Tabitha said as she slipped out of the room with a look on her face Tara couldn’t decipher, but which made her uneasy.


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


Rowan observed Tara’s caution around Tabitha, and watched Tabitha as she made her way out of the room, before turning back to Tara.

“Shall we sit at the table, dear?” Rowan asked.


She led Tara to the large table positioned off from the main kitchen they were in. Tara followed wordlessly, and sat at one end of the table, as Rowan sat at the other. Tara had chosen her position carefully; one that would work just as well should she be viewed either as an equal by Rowan, or as an adversary. Rowan did not miss this, or the body language Tara was presenting, so she chose to sit quietly waiting for Tara to begin.


Tara fought grimly to organize her thoughts and feelings, but the two questions she mostly wanted, no needed, answers to were ‘why was this happening?’ and ‘just what the frilly heck was going on anyway?’ There were other questions that whirled around and begged for attention, such as ‘why had the people who had obviously gone to such great lengths to reunite her with Willow, not seen fit to clue her in on what was going on with Willow?’ and ‘just who exactly was behind all of this anyway?’ When she added these to her feelings of foreboding over the Council’s sudden interest in the formation of a coven, and the inevitable wondering over why their relationship was under such close scrutiny, Tara barely knew where to begin.


Fighting to get her thoughts under control, Tara quietly asked, “Why?” as she looked directly into Lady Rowan’s eyes.


Rowan had known she might have to answer questions for Tara, and feared that she would not be the one who had enough information to satisfy her, but hoped that when Rupert arrived he could put her fears to rest.


Watching Tara and Willow together over the last few days had been an extraordinary and unique sight, and one she felt she would never see again, so with a tinge of sadness Rowan started with what she knew.

“Tara, I can only tell you what I know, and I will tell you everything. I can try to answer your questions, but Rupert, your Mr. Giles, will have to fill in the holes,” Rowan said.


Looking back at Tara, whose eyes shone clear and blue, the line of her jaw, set, Rowan could see the strength that this shy, stuttering girl truly had when she needed it.


Rowan watched as Tara took a drink from her glass, and sat patiently waiting for her to begin. She could also see Tara wasn’t going to make this easy, and did not want the adversarial tone to continue. Rowan was not Tara’s enemy, and she certainly did not want the young woman to feel that way, so Rowan got up and moved further down the table to sit closer to Tara. Far from comforting the girl however, it appeared to make her even more wary, her expression closing off almost entirely.


Rowan shook her head sadly before pressing on. “Tara, where would you like me to begin? When Willow arrived into my care? That seems most logical, and it’s what I know for a fact; the rest we can leave until Rupert arrives. I can also tell you I have spoken to him at great length. I told him that in my opinion, secrets will no longer be tolerated by either of you,” she looked unwaveringly at Tara. “nor should they be, really. You’re both adults, and frankly, coddling either of you would be patronizing and insulting. ” She took a deep breath, and once again laced her fingers in front of her mouth.


“About eighteen months ago, I got a call from the Council’s motherhouse. I was given a brief rundown of what they wanted me to know. I was told they were expecting a young witch that they weren’t quite sure what to do with. She had become quite powerful they said, but had no discipline and did not understand the need for it, so she started using magicks that should have been beyond her I might add, for fun,” She frowned. “I take that back; for an ‘easy out’, would be a better way of putting it.”


Rowan paused before continuing, she knew what she had to say next would not be easy for Tara to hear. “They said this witch had killed a man, in defense of her family, with magic. In so doing, she had overloaded herself, making herself deathly ill, and in essence needed to be ‘detoxed’. If this was a success,” she paused, “honestly Tara, what they really meant was if she survived, and that was questionable she would, she could be invaluable to the Council. I believe ‘more precious than the Hope Diamond,’ was the exact phrase… Do you mind if I get myself a drink? Would you like more juice?” Tara declined, digesting the ‘if she survived’ and the ‘Hope Diamond’ analogy.


Rowan entered with a pitcher of lemon tea and two glasses. Sitting back down, next to Tara, she poured herself a glass of tea and asked, “Where was I?” She smiled. “Oh yes, ‘invaluable.’ It was at that point I was asked to train her if she made it through. The Council always said ‘if’ when referring to Willow, but Rupert always said ‘when.’ I think more than anyone else he truly believed she could do this, that if she tried she would not fail. He was right; as I’m sure you know our Willow can be relentless.”

Tara smiled at the description of the perfectionist streak in Willow.


“I promised you honesty Tara, and some of this may be hard to hear, I have to warn you. I myself can’t imagine having to go through what Willow has just to be here today. But here she is, and if you want my opinion – even if you don’t you’re getting it – it’s because of you. Her love of you, her sense of having failed you not once, but twice, and so many other things I do not fully understand. She’s driven to begin with, but you kept her focused… I’m sorry that’s off the subject.” She paused again taking a deep breath, and a sip of tea.


“So they had me wait, and slowly over time she completely stopped using magic of any kind. From what Rupert’s told me, I gather it was not a pretty sight. He could barely stand to watch her at times; all he could do was try to help her if she would let him, which she very rarely did. When she was sick she could barely sleep or eat, and not just for days, but weeks sometimes as well,” Rowan glanced briefly at Tara to gauge he response to what she was hearing and preparing for what she was about to say.


Taking a deep breath, she continued, “At times they had to force her to take something for the muscle spasms that would lock her body into odd positions…positions no human body should be in while still alive according to Rupert. She would scream until she had no voice left to use; it wasn’t until it was physically damaging her that he could force her to take anything for the pain. Rupert said she felt like she deserved it, deserved that kind of pain for what she had done.” Rowan’s voice broke, the horror of reliving those times temporarily getting the better of her.


With a heavy sigh, Rowan stopped to drink. The knot in her throat made it difficult to swallow, much less continue on. She could feel Tara’s eyes on her but could not bring herself to meet them just yet. She set down her glass and placed her hands flat on the table, breathing deeply as she gathered her thoughts. She smiled weakly at Tara, whose expression was a mixture of sadness, and something that may have been pity… or was it guilt?


“It was during this process that the white began to appear in her hair. I think it was the Goddess marking her as her own after everything she had been, done, and was now to be. The Councils expectations of her are… well… extraordinary to say the least and you have to know, Tara, their expectations include you as well,” Tara flinched and grew pale as understanding sank in. The realization of an ever present Council meddling in her life ominously being more than unappealing, it was unacceptable.


With a heavy heart, Rowan continued, “I cannot say if they think they can get to Willow through you, or vice versa – I am not privy to that information, but if I had my way, I would keep you both here until I was. At least then I would know that neither of you were being forced, or coerced into anything against your will. I don’t really know exactly what they want, though I do have my suspicions. I also know how badly Willow wants to go home, and how scared that makes her.”Rowan paused to drink, watching Tara’s hand shook as she raised her glass, and blinked rapidly, her face betraying disbelief and fear.


“What do they want with me? I’m nothing special. Willow’s the one with all the power, she always has been,” Tara stated.


Rowan shook her head. “Tara, you are her equal; did I not say you are two halves of the same coin? That you balance one another? Let me ask you, did you still practice while Willow was away?”


Tara blushed. “Sort of.”


Rowan knew the answer but asked anyway. “How was it?”


Tara looked crestfallen when she admitted the truth. “Unfocused, pitiful, attempts. It was like my control was gone, I couldn’t concentrate. It was worse than when I was first learning, so I just stuck to the small things I knew for sure I could do alone,” The light bulb finally flickered on. “We knew it was always stronger when we were together; we could do more complicated spells, and rituals but I thought it was all her,” Tara said in a stunned tone.


“Why do you think you were having problems with focus, what was on your mind?” Rowan asked trying to lead Tara to an answer.


“Worrying about Willow,” Tara whispered.


“Interesting don’t you think? Worrying over Willow means you lose your focus, yet thinking of you is the only way Willow could stay focused,” Rowan said like it was an afterthought, before going on, “This is my theory, based on the scraps that I am able to get out of Rupert. Willow has the drive to be the best at everything. This would naturally extend to the craft, particularly as she is self-taught – but I would guess that somewhere in her family’s history there was a witch – maybe even more than one. You don’t simply read and get the kind of power she has; there has to be a seed there that it can grow from. Growing up on the hellmouth or not. I told you, I know about you – your mother, her mother, and your great grandmother – your line.” Rowan could see the tension etched on Tara’s face.


What do you know of my family? Why would mention it that way?” Tara asked with a suspicious look on her face.


“Tara, powerful lines of witches are…watched, kind of like lines of royalty simply because they are rare. We are one of the larger covens in the western U.S. so when a daughter from a line like yours comes into our area, we know about it. I know about you, your mother Brigid, her sister *Cerri, your grandmother *Maeve, your great grandmother *Morgian—I can keep going if you like, child,” The levity of Rowan’s tone belied the gravity of their conversation.


“We are by no means like the Council; it’s just a large community, the magickal community. We don’t interfere in any way, but we will always help if asked when the need is there. There are so few true witches, much less any with a familial line, we watch out for each other. No more, no less. I told you that my offers to each of you are selfish, but before I elaborate you need to understand. We do not work for the Council in any way, they call on us for help occasionally; let me make that perfectly clear to you, Tara,” Rowan said waving the spoon she stirred her tea with. “I think we could work with you to truly make you Willow’s equal, if you want to be.”


Rowan calmly put more lemon in her tea, knowing that with the weight of the information just given, Tara would need a moment—that anyone would need a moment. “The only reason you aren’t already is partly because you don’t think you are, and partly because you lost the means to be trained, but again I digress. The point is that separately, or together, you two are forces that would rival the ancient gods themselves. We know that with Willow, when she is provoked to protect what she feels is hers, her talents are astounding. That would be you, and your Scoobies by the way.”


“You are more of an unknown quantity, if Willow is the protector; the shield, the defender half then that would make you her opposite mate; the warrior, the sword, the justice. I daresay from the look on your face you don’t believe me, yes?” Tara nodded. “That’s what I thought, but you could be Tara. Look back at your family. You have women with the sight, the power to heal, two named for Goddesses of War—and that’s in just the last four generations! Tara, did you never wonder about this?”


Tara stared blankly as Rowan shook her head in disbelief. “Tara, do you know how you were named?”


Rowan saw the puzzled expression dance across Tara’s face and the cogs turning behind her eyes.


“My Aunt Cerri told me that it was my great grandmother that named me, or that it was her wish that I be named Tara anyway. My mom never explained it because if my father had caught her talking about the craft…we both would have been dealt with by him. So no, we never got to have that talk.” Tara couldn’t help the bitterness that seeped into her voice, and it was not lost on Rowan.


With a brief shake of her head, Rowan said, “I’m sorry child; I didn’t mean to be so harsh. I know your background, and that was thoughtless of me. Maybe I can explain a little. Tara provided the source of all the energy/power centered on the legendary, mythical and magical center of Ireland that was inhabited by the Celts. Tara wasn’t necessarily a ‘who’ so much as a ‘what’; it was power and did take corporeal form, yet was not always tied to a human form hence being a Goddess. Maeve was a warrior Queen tightly associated with Tara in all her forms, probably as a sovereignty Goddess. They say Maeve was beautiful with blue/grey eyes, and long blond hair.”


Rowan paused, keeping her tone even, she continued, “Hmm, but it’s just a legend, right? So does your naming make a little more sense? Of course, there is also the Hindu Goddess Tara as well. There’s a lovely vow attributed to her, stating there are many who wish to gain enlightenment in a man's form, but there are few who wish to work for the welfare of living beings in a female form. So, by choosing a female body she could work for the welfare of all beings, until such time as all humanity had found its fullness. Yet again, I digress.”


Rowan swirled the tea in her glass as she watched Tara, the gears of her mind evidently still spinning madly behind her eyes. “So you’re trying to tell me that not only am I from a line of witches, which I know, but that I’m also a magical source that’s tied to a Goddess? Look, the only Goddess I ever met tried to kill me, so I’ll p-pass, thanks.”


Rowan smiled, filling her glass again, she went on. “Let’s move on to my theories concerning you and Willow, shall we? Two witches with the power and potential you two possess, well, I think the Council wants to use that to their own advantage. I don’t think it is like what you have already been doing in Sunnydale. I’ve heard rumor that they wish to create a coven of a select few witches to assist the slayer, and they want Willow to found it – I suppose on the assumption that she would be grateful enough for the assistance they gave her to want to, or they could somehow make her want to with some sort of ultimatum. There’s just something more that’s not being said, and that’s what troubles me.”


Tara starred at Rowan slack jawed, not believing her ears. “They want us to found a coven? Willow’s never been a part of one, and I was only a child –this is ridiculous, are they insane? This is a joke, a trick? Besides, me a warrior –do you even know me? Oh wait, no, you don’t! Willow’s the warrior!” Tara rose from her seat and began to pace. “Has she even been told?” Tara asked, incredulously.


Without pause, more questions tumbled out of Tara’s mouth. “Rowan, how many times am I supposed to let 'The Council' dictate to me how my life must be? Not only to dictate it to me, but also to allow them to do it without so much as an explanation for anything they want, or even without being told when it will stop? I’m not a slayer, they have nothing over me.”


Tara turned sharply to face Rowan her eyes narrowed. “Why did they keep Willow from me? From us –we’re her family—all without a word of apology? That ‘really for the best’ was bullshit and you know it! Do they even know what they put us all through? Do they even care? What if she says yes and I say no, will they demand our separation? Why can’t we just be left alone, is that such a terrible thing to want? Now, you want to tell me I’m descended from some line of ‘magical warrior Goddesses’ and Willow and I are… what exactly, super heroes? ”


Shaking her head, Tara still paced, clenching her fists as she moved. Rowan could see disbelief and fear play across her features as she thought.


Tara began to rub her temples, the muscle in her jaw twitching rapidly as her fear turned to anger, her voice rising as she spoke, “It seems like there are a whole lot of assumptions being made, by men who don’t have a clue between them. I’ve seen what they’ve done to other people –people I love –and what they won’t do when they should. I won’t stand by, and let them continue to ruin our lives if I’m in a position to stop them. This is simply wrong, and I deserve better. You can’t keep this from her, you know. Willow has a right to know, a right to choose! If you really care for her, Rowan, you have to tell her.”



******


Willow stepped through the doorway into sight. “Yes, I do have a right to know.”


She stood there with her arms defiantly crossed over her chest. Tara turned, and blanched, this was not how it was supposed to go.


“Will, I didn’t plan —” Willow raised a hand to cut her off. “The best laid plans, huh Tara? How many more damn hoops do I have to jump through before I get my life back —it is mine isn’t it, and I want it! I put my life on hold for two years to make sure I had a life to go back to. Now someone else wants to tell me what I can and can’t do, indefinitely? What kind of sick joke is that? But what’s worse, it’s not only my life, but the lives of my girlfriend and family as well! What happens if I tell the Council to stick it up their lily white asses and leave me and my family alone, indefinitely?” Willow was red in the face by now, and her eyes sparkled with anger.


Tara knew the look well; it was Willow’s resolve face. She tried to approach Willow, but with a look, Tara was stopped in her tracks. She started for the door. “I’ll just go,” she said sadly.


Willow shook her head, her face softening as she looked at Tara. “Tara don’t, obviously this concerns you as well; please stay. I had no idea to what degree, but I think we both deserve some answers.” This time she approached Tara, and just held out her hand which Tara took gladly. “Where were you sitting, love?”


Tara pointed to the head of the table. Willow pulled her chair out for her, before sitting on the chair next to her, on Tara’s right hand side.


Rowan was still seated at the side, as she had been when she and Tara had first started to talk. These were not the reactions she had anticipated—the desire to simply be left alone. She had hoped that both girls would be open to at least establishing a coven once Tara was more confident in her own abilities, regardless of any affiliation with the Council. Ultimately, it was not for her to decide though, and any type of deception would follow the three fold law. She was too old to fall prey to that. Thinking of what was to come, she poured herself more tea, before filling a second glass and pushing it towards Willow.


“Willow, how much have you heard?” Rowan asked calmly.


“Clearly enough; I could hear Tara yelling as I came down the hall, about men making assumptions. It was wrong and she deserves better than this.”


Tara blushed, and dipped her head as she fought the burn that slowly gathered on her cheeks. Willow started to reach for Tara’s hand, and stopped short but Tara took her hand intertwining her fingers with Willow’s.


Rowan watched the two of them, and shook her head slightly, with a smile. “As I was explaining to Tara, you both have options, and while I could only tell her everything I knew, Rupert would have to fill in the blanks. Much of it was what you already know, Willow. You know what the motherhouse was like for you, what you went through. I couldn’t give exact details because I don’t know them, but I did share some of the things Rupert has told me. I promised Tara I would not lie to her.”


That really rubbed Willow the wrong way, and she gritted out, “Yet you’re happy to lie to me?”


Rowan looked at Willow directly. “Willow, I have never lied to you. Some the things I told Tara are my theories on what’s going on. No one from the Council has told me enough of anything, for me to know if my theories even hold water. Some are rumor, but since it involves the both of you I thought at this point I shouldn’t leave it out. You already know about the coven, that’s been mentioned to you. The question Tara actually asked me was, why?”


Rowan looked back and forth between the two before settling her gaze on Tara. “Perhaps, Tara, ‘Why?’ is something you should ask Willow. She may be able to tell you this Tara since I can’t. I’ve really told you all I know. I’m not holding back anything, and you of all people should know that, Willow. I think what your questions should really be at this point, are what exactly does the Council want with you both? What they would expect if you say yes and what they will do if you say no. I don’t know what they are after, but they always have a reason for the things they do, even if it only makes sense to them. They are located where Willow was first taken, so she is of interest to them, and so are you, Tara, by default. Rupert arrived late last night, and will be here tomorrow to go back to Sunnydale with you. Perhaps he will be able to tell you what I don’t know.”


The girls looked at each other, and then back to Rowan who was sipping her tea while watching their silent exchange before getting up to leave the two alone. After everything Willow had told her in the last twenty four hours she was not surprised to see her sitting with her head down, no doubt attempting to keep herself under control. The worst of it though, was that Tara was sure there was still more to hear.


Tara sat watching Willow and after a short while noticed that all the sounds around them had ceased, they were sitting in perfect silence. The telltale tingle of a spell washed over Tara, and she smiled wryly at Rowan’s discretion. Tara’s attention was once again drawn to Willow as she tried to pull her hand out of Tara’s steady grasp, but Tara wouldn’t let her. She turned in her chair to face Willow. “Look at me, Will,” Tara said.


Willow shook her head.


“Willow, Rowan has told me some of the physical stuff you went through prior to coming here, and I know last night wasn’t how you wanted to go into those things either, but it’s one more secret. I know it’s hard for you, and you don’t have to tell anyone in Sunnydale what you went through, but don’t you think you might feel better if at least I know it all? I can’t help if I don’t know, and this isn’t going to be something you can just shake off, Will. I’m still here, sweetie.”


The sadness in Tara’s voice forced Willow to look up, her cheeks stained with tears. Tara turned Willow’s chair so they were facing each other. Using her thumbs Tara wiped away Willow’s tears, for what seemed liked the thousandth time in far too few hours. If this was anything like Willow’s nightmares, what she was about to hear would be just as unpleasant.


“Willow, everything happens for a reason. Yes, your life was put on hold, and by extension so was mine. I thought I was going to die when you left; I’ve only ever cried like that once before in my life, and that was when I lost my mother. Everything was only made worse by Giles and the Council. I’ve had listened to ‘She’s okay, and sends her love’ for the last eighteen freaking months, and that’s just not cool. Why, Will? Didn’t you want to talk to me? Why didn’t you reach out to us – reach out to me?”


Willow’s lower lip trembled furiously while she took a deep breath, biting it as she gained her courage. “I never wanted to leave at all. I went to Giles for help; he was at a loss, so of course he called the Council. I should have known he would, but I didn’t know where else to turn. I couldn’t stand the fear I saw in you, Tara. The fear of me, I felt like part of me died when I saw that. I decided then, that if I was capable of doing the things that I was doing so easily, I had no place in your life."


Willow took several more deep breaths, the tears still running down her cheeks. “How could I expect you to love a murderer? How can I explain to everyone else that I killed Warren and left because I was afraid of what I might do next? That if I could so easily take his life, what would stop me from hurting them as well? Look at what I did to Dawn, I almost killed her. I tampered with your mind when I should have known better. God, after Glory – how could I? Then, for my final trick, I mess with everyone’s memories to make it all better! Making myself believe I was only trying to help. You’ve said it yourself Tara, I was trying to bend everything, and everyone, to what I thought was best. What I did was unforgivable, and then to expect…forgiveness or understanding for murder, on top of everything else? Tara, how is it you are even here sitting in front of me, agreeing to be with me? I’m disgusted with myself, why aren’t you? These are the things I carry, Tara and why I’m afraid to go home is because what if I’ve lost everyone else?” Willow said, dropping her head down, her body shaking with emotion as she cried.


Tara took both of Willow’s hands, turning the palms up she leaned to kissed them as tears moved silently down her face. “Willow, I can’t speak for everyone else as far as forgiveness is concerned. I’m not sure I do forgive you yet for tampering with my memories, and I can’t say I understand why you did it either. That’s a trust issue; something you’ll have to earn back, but we both have things to do, to work at, Willow. Things fell apart so hard, so quickly—not once but twice. The last few days have been magical in more than one way,” Tara tipped Willow’s head up to look at her. “Every relationship is work, romantic or otherwise. Trust is built, and bonds grow, Willow, we are your family. I learned that when you left. Buffy and Dawn wouldn’t let me leave, and I thank the Gods they didn’t. Don’t you see? They are the family you gave me?”


Willow was blinking rapidly, and had started hiccuping from crying, “Buffy did that? Giles never told me you where still living with them. I-I didn’t think you would s-stay. You’re still living with them?” she sniffled as Tara nodded.


“As for Warren Mears, I’ve already told you sweetie, you saved my life. I have no need to forgive you anything on that front. You didn’t just decide to go out at random and kill someone. There would be no excuse for that, but it could have been you he hit, as it was, he nearly killed Buffy. There could be four bodies in the ground because of him. He was the monster, Willow, and he’s where he belongs. The world is better for him not being in it. You have to forgive yourself for that, sweetie, I can’t do it for you.”


“Tara, I never wanted to hurt you. When I left, and stopped using magic altogether…it was more pain than I often thought I could bear. Baby, are you sure you want to hear this?” Willow asked, looking in to Tara’s eyes as she nodded.


“The physical, I never want to go through again. Both of my shoulders dislocated more than once from the muscle spasms, I’ve torn the rotator cuff in my left arm due to them. My right ankle broke, my left leg fractured - I now have a rod and six pins in it. I made The Exorcist look tame.”


Tara gasped, unprepared for this revelation.


“I couldn't eat, it just wouldn’t stay down. More often than not, I couldn’t sleep, and when I did I would see Warren with the bullet hole in his head. There were points where,” Willow had to clear her throat as she looked at her hands. “Giles would have to hold me down so I could be sedated, partly to deal with the muscle spasms because they were so severe, and partly to feed me intravenously,” Willow pulled the collar of her t-shirt down to reveal a scar Tara hadn’t noticed before now. “Partly so I would sleep - usually around the tenth day in a row mark they would make me sleep. I couldn’t focus, I would hallucinate. I don’t know how many times I picked up the phone to call you, just to hear your voice, but what was I going to tell you that would be good? ‘Hey, guess what Tara? I have to be sedated to be fed, and ooo look, I can now set off metal detectors in airports!’ Yippee!” Willow made a twirling motion with her finger. “So I just thought you were better off not knowing what I was going through.”


The noises had stopped in the kitchen some time ago, but Tara didn’t think they were alone. Pulling Willow into her lap Tara held her close, rocking her as they both cried. They stayed like that for an hour or more before Willow finally stopped shaking and started hiccuping again. Tara wiped both of their faces with a spot of her shirt that had somehow remained dry. “Feel better, sweetie?” she asked gently, still sniffling.


Willow hiccuped yet again. “Tara, are you sure about this? About me? I’m so scared; I’ve never been this scared in my life. I haven’t seen my parents in a couple of years now, which is no great surprise. They know where I am, but my mother thinks it’s just a phase of some sort again, and says at least it’s not a cult. But I’ve hurt you, and I’m having a hard time forgiving myself for that. You are the last person I ever want to hurt, and I have so much I still need to explain to Buffy and Xander— Dawn too; they have no reason to ever want to see me again. If they shut me out… like I’ve shut them out, I don’t know...,” she whimpered, and hiccuped again. “You’re my world; they’re my friends and my family. I have felt so alone, so adrift. Tara I don’t wanna be lost anymore. I wanna come home.”


Tara stroked her face and hair, kissed both her checks, and her nose, before landing sweetly on her mouth. “Baby, we are starting over, haven’t you gotten that through your thick skull yet? You are so smart, and so dumb,” Tara said, flashing Willow her trademark lopsided grin. “We’re going home tomorrow; I’m taking you home with me. I know we have to come back, but we are coming back. You’re not alone anymore Willow, I’m right here with you. Next to you is where I belong, and where I want to be—I love you, Will. And I know it’s not going to be all hugs and puppies, but it doesn’t have to be shards of glass and razor blades either, sweetie.”


Willow nodded. “Do you know how much I love you, Tara Maclay?” Stroking one of Tara’s cheeks, and then playing with her hair, she added, “There aren’t enough words for me to tell you how happy I am that you’re here, that you still want me…that you love me. I think giddy is a good word to describe how I’m feeling right now.” They kissed, tender reassurances that things would get better.


The noise in the kitchen had slowly started up again, and they could tell that there was more than one person in there. Right on cue, Dana came and rapped on the door frame.


“I was wondering if you might want some food any time soon?” Both girls looked at her blankly, making her smile. “I thought I might have supper ready in about an hour. That would put it at 7, is that too late for you?”


The girls looked at each other, neither having realized almost three hours had passed. Both girls nodded, but Tara spoke, “I’m sorry if we made you wait Sister Dana.”


Dana raised a hand while shaking her head. “There is nothing to apologize for Sister Tara; I just wanted to be sure you’d be hungry.”


“Is Lady Rowan still here, can we talk to her?” Tara asked. Willow looked at her questioningly trying to slide off her lap, but Tara held her in place.


“I believe she is, let me get her for you,” Dana said, before disappearing.


“The coven Will, would you want to found one? It’s far more responsibility, and there are people you’d become responsible for. Teaching them, showing them a path they can follow, and what that means. Skills they can hone, but it’s not about personal power. It’s not a commune either. I remember going to one with my mother as a little girl. It wasn’t a compound like this, I don’t remember so much structure, but I was little. If Rowan thinks it’s possible, I think we should consider it at least, keep it as a possibility. With the understanding we make the guidelines and dictate to the Council, not the other way around,” Tara looked at Willow then continued, “Sh-she said I’m your equal, Will, and that I can be taught what I’ve missed so to s-speak. There are so many things my m-mother could have taught me if only…I want to learn, Willow.”


It had never occurred to Willow that Tara might actually be interested in forming the coven, much less working with the Council. Listening to Tara, watching her face, she could see that this would mean more than just being part of a coven. It would be a way to put all the insane religious lies of her father to rest, while doing what her mother had never been able to fully do. To practice openly, properly, and to truly begin to understand the extent of the gift she was given. She wouldn’t have to sneak around, or worry about violent repercussions like her mother had, and like she had until the last few years of her life, and whats was more, she could do it all with Willow.


Willow knew how lucky she was in so many ways, not to mention that she was sitting in the lap of the best gift she had ever been given. Tears started again as she stroked Tara’s face. “Tara, I know it’s a big responsibility. I was shocked when it was first mentioned to me, and mortified when it was brought up again as a joint effort,” Tara started to speak, but Willow put a finger over her lips. “Not because we couldn’t do it, but I thought you wouldn’t want to, much less with me after…everything. I have no doubt we can do whatever we want. I’ve seen our spells, so I think I have an idea. Rowan wouldn’t offer to help you if it were pointless. Just promise me you’ll only do it because you want to, not because you think anyone else wants you to, least of all me. You being happy is all I ever want,” She kissed Tara, hugging her tightly. “Of course we make the rules! If we are in charge, then what we say goes, and the rest be damned. You’re the boss, baby,” She said smiling, and gently nipped at Tara’s jaw.


Rowan walked in just then. “Who’s the boss and of what?” she asked.


Willow tried again to get off Tara’s lap, but she wouldn’t let her, swatting at her knee. With a nod of her head, she indicated the seat directly in front of her that Willow had vacated. Rowan was amused by the exchange, but didn’t say anything. With a sigh Willow laid her head on Tara’s shoulder, deciding to be quiet, and let Tara say what she had to say, so she kissed her neck and gave her a reassuring squeeze.


“Lady Rowan, we’ve done some talking, and I’ve been thinking about your offer to train with me – bring my skills up to speed, I guess that is the best way to put it, and I’d like that. I still want answers as to what you get out of our forming a coven, and if we decide to it will be strictly on our terms. We make the rules, if we are to be the founders and the ones responsible for training a coven of people, it’s by our rules. We won’t work for the Council, or for you.”


Rowan nodded her eyes sparkling. “Sister, I would expect nothing less. You are absolutely right, if these are the responsibilities you both agree to, then you handle things as you both see fit. As for what do I get out of it? Nothing, well not nothing, I get the ability to say I helped the two strongest witches I have ever had the privilege to meet, to train and form what will undoubtedly be one of the most powerful covens in the world. So I guess I get…bragging rights.” She said with a smile.


Willow lifted her head to look at Tara. “That’s it? No, ‘someday I’ll ask you for a favor kinda thing’?” Willow asked.


“At some point I may have to ask for a favor, but not of the ‘you owe me so you have to do this’ variety Willow, no,” Rowan said shaking her head. “I understand your suspicions of the Council. We all know I have my own reservations about doing anything for them, but the Goddess works in ways only she understands. Sometimes that is truly all there is. Willow, you were brought to me perhaps to remind me of the power of love.”


Rowan smiled and patted Willow’s knee. “In return I was able to make it possible for you to be reminded of the power of forgiveness. As for you Sister Tara, I think maybe you were brought to me so I could help remind you of your strength. Love may not conquer all, but it certainly helps. The Goddess opened a whole new set of doors for us, didn’t she? Why don’t we all go get freshened up, and meet back here for dinner? Giles will be joining us, and we have much to discuss,” she said as she rose from her seat.


Willow stood, followed by Tara, who was still holding her hand. “Thank you Rowan. I guess I should say Lady now?”


Rowan smiled. “If you like child, or you can wait until your training starts officially. Typically it is a year and a day for an initiate, but this is an unusual circumstance, sort of an accelerated initiation period. Don’t worry, nothing will be accomplished between now and when you return from Sunnydale, all in due time. Go, both of you,” Rowan said, shewing them out of the kitchen.


The girls left the kitchen and as they approached the main doors, they could see someone talking with Tabitha. Willow slowed their pace by tugging on Tara’s arm, just as she recognized the stranger turning to face them. A completely unapologetic look graced Tabitha’s elfin features.


“Willow, I tried…” Tabitha started to say, her tone very insincere, and both girls picked up on it.


"Oh. My. God. Tara, is that you?” Claude said, her jaw dropping.


TBC…

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Last edited by vampyregurl73 on Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:40 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:36 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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i think this might be my first DIBS... lol

i love seeing strong Tara. i would love to see more of this story soon. it has captured me. ... well done

:kitty

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:17 pm 
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great writing cant wait for the next update!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:51 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... I'm glad that Tara found out what happened to Willow... I hope Tabitha isn't working for the Council and try to sabotage Willow's and Tara's relationship... I kinda hope that both Willow & Tara say to Claude that her presence is not welcomed...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
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Woah, I missed an update! Catch-up time!!!

First off, this chapter was really well written so extra big kudos :)

Jam packed too! I agree with Zampsa, that Tabitha...:shy

And everything has a reason, huh?

I'm hoping these reasons start to come out really soon. :D :D

Looking forward to more!

:peace

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:41 am 
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Wow, much exposition here. Willow's whole story is terribly upsetting and heartbreaking. Just want to say I do not trust the Council and that Tabitha seems to be a sneaky little witch, so not trusting her either. I wouldn't even put it past her to actually call Claude and have her come over. Nope, not liking her at all.

Having their own coven would be cool, as long as everyone sticks to the rules and lets them actually be in charge. Have to wait and see on that one.

Nice job. Can't wait to see what's next.


Wimpy

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
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Glad to see that everything is out in the open now. Maybe Willow now is able to believe/see that Tara is not leaving her. I'm still cautious as to what the Council wants from them. Looking forward to seeing what will happen with Claude.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
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I wanted to say that I find the plot of this fic super interesting. I'm enjoying the coven/Lady Rowan mix up, and I'm intrigued to see how Tara is trained up to be Willow's equal as we all know she is. I like the idea of Willow as protector and Tara as warrior.

I'm interested in Tara's distrust of the... forgive me, for lack of a better way to say it, the receptionist girl Tracy? Is that her name? And I think it's equally interesting that you've added Claude to the mix.

Also, in comes Rupert and the council?

AND they're going back to Sunnydale?

You have so much going on here.

The one thing I'll say: they're so sickeningly sweet. My God. It's awesome, of course, but I do feel like I'm getting a tiny cavity.

Keep going! My God, with all that's going on, this is going to be a long one.

M.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic Slight AU - Dry Heat Chapter Twelve Posted 09/2
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:25 pm 
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sapphoselene - Congrat's on your dibs. ;) Strong Tara is essential, she can't be equal and be less at the same time. Everyone changes and grows. I have several theories on why and ultimately they all come down to love and not just Willow's. Thanks for sticking with me. ;)

WR/TM - Thank you for the compliment, and I'm glad you're enjoying it. :)

Zampsa1975 - Oh, I have plans for Tabitha and hopefully it will be one that no one expects! Muuuwwwwaaahhhh ;)

Laragh - Thank you, thank you. Things will come to light regarding coven potentials during the trip to Sunnydale that should, hopefully at least start to make it easier to put things together.

wimpy0729 - Yes, Willow has been through quite a bit mentally and physically, the benefit is a better understanding of herself and perhaps a new found maturity and respect for her magic. Yes,don't trust either of them!

love_2003 - Yes, no more hiding, dialogue is key. Please distrust, it;s a good thing! Claude... is fun, enough said.

chance - Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying my story! I'm enjoying the training of Tara aspects and having some fun with it so I hope everyone reading enjoys it too. The distrust Tara has for Tabitha is not unjustified but I can't tell you why just yet. I do have a lot going on, and I hope I can do all my threads justice. As for the sickeningly sweet, I look at it as their honeymoon phase - again, lol.



Chapter Thirteen

Pairing: W/T

Rating: NC-17 – some language, some sex.

Angst/Drama Rating: This is about a 5 on the 1-10 scale.

Setting: The Grove – Tucson

Disclaimer: I in no way, shape or form own the characters from BtVS, they’re owned by Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. All original characters are in no way connected to them except by me in this forum. No money - and trust me I don’t have anything you would want anyway - is involved this is simply for my own pleasure.

Email: riverwillows@me.com

Feedback: The more the merrier

Author’s Notes: I like leaving these, they’re fun. Music is big with me, so mentions will be made, but in general they’re only relevant to the time of chapter creation. The only one exception is in the next chapter. You just have to read the next one to find out what. This chapter saw a lot of Yeah,Yeah,Yeah’s “It’s Blitz”; The Temper Trap’s “Conditions”; Karen Elson’s “The Ghost Who Walks” and V.V. Brown’s “Traveling Like Light”.

P.S. Author’s Notes: I thought I would share this because it’s funny. My beta, foreverchanges and I were discussing the smut in this scene and FC became concerned about the possibility of going to hell for assisting during the editing. To allay FC’s fears, I came to the conclusion that since I am the writer if either of us is going to hell it would be me, and FC would be safe. Primarily since I view it kind of like second hand smoke. Second hand smoke can kill, but I don’t think second hand smut can kill or send one to hell
.




Lions, and tigers, and ex’s, oh my!




“Wow, Willow, is Tara part of the…” Claude waved her hands around as if Tara’s appearance explained so much of their previous brief interactions. Searching for the right words, and getting her head and mouth in sync, Claude began to barrage them with questions.


“Okay, I get that. I mean, wow, Tara it’s been years. How are you? You look great. What brings you here of all places? When did you get here?” Claude asked, obviously flustered.


“Hi Claude, um, this is…a-awkward. Arizona is where you left for? Actually, I kind of knew. Willow told me a-about meeting you, but what were the odds, you know? I’m here with Willow, she’s my girlfriend,” Tara said, as she drew Willow a little closer, making Willow beam.


“Hi, so uh, why did you come by?” Willow asked bluntly.


Smiling sheepishly, Claude responded, “Well, I hoped that I might coerce you into another walk, but ahhh...” Claude ran her fingers through her hair and shrugged. “Maybe you’d both like to come?”


“I’m s-sorry Claude, we can’t; we’re leaving in the m-morning, and have a lot to do tonight,” Tara said.


“Oh, okay. You’ll be coming back though, right?” she asked.


Willow looked at Tara and she gave a small nod. “Yeah, we will. Tara will be coming back with me for the rest of my stay here.”


With a big genuine smile, Claude looked between the two. “I still can’t believe of all the people it could possibly be… So, that must mean you’re studying or something here? I thought you were going to school, I mean ordinary school? Have you been studying here all along?”


Tara shuffled her feet, beginning to feel a little uncomfortable. “No, I am at UC-Sunnydale. I g-graduate at the end of August, but until I take my f-finals I’ll be here with Willow. I’ll be studying here as w-well, but it’s unrelated. How l-long have you been here, Claude?”


“Five years, this is where I left for after…that summer,” Claude said sheepishly, looking more than a little nervously at Willow. She turned back to Tara and said, “You should come to the ranch; we have some great horses that I know you’d love. I’ve been trying to get Willow out to show her around some, maybe now you can convince her I don’t bite. I’d love to show you both around if you’re up for it.”


“We really can’t today,” Willow started to say.


“Oh, no, no, I know you said you guys are leaving, but you’re coming back, so maybe when you get back? There are some great horse trails out here. Do you ride Willow? Tara’s really good; remember the cabin I told you about? We can board horses there too; I think you’d both really like it. I have some plants I know you’d love to see Tara, from my mom’s garden; you remember her garden don’t you?” Claude turned an openly hopeful expression on both girls making her puppy-like excitement at the prospect of an outing obvious.


Willow looked at Tara, not sure how to respond. “Umm, we’ll think about it, okay? I have your number, err – that is, Dana does, so I’ll get it from her, and let you know when we get back. Okay?”


“I’d like that a lot, really. So, umm, I have to run, then. You guys have a safe trip. Tara, it’s great seeing you again, please give me a call. Let me show you both around, it’ll make a nice break from all the studying, I promise,” Stepping in a little closer, and placing a hand on Tara’s arm in a familiar way, Claude added, “There’s no catch or anything, really.” She flashed another sincere smile before making her exit.


“Bye,” Willow weakly said, while Tara just watched her leave. “I told you it was her. What do we do?” Willow asked anxiously, hoping Tara could provide the answer.


Thoughtful for a few moments, Tara finally said, “She’s not psycho, or a demon—at least she wasn’t when I knew her, so I don’t know that we do anything, sweetie. We can decide l-later, we have o-other things to worry about right now.”


Tabitha coughed, both girls jumping slightly at the interruption, before turning to her. “I did try to stall her, but she wanted to wait. I’m sorry; she kinda wouldn’t take the hint.”


Tara laughed. “That’s Claude alright, she probably didn’t get that you were hinting, so don’t worry about it.”


“You know her? I thought she was here for Willow?” Tabitha said, acting a little confused, but once again Tara noticed there was a mean glint to her eyes. It reminded Tara of a coyote, feral and sneaky, making her plea of trying to help extremely unlikely.


“She was, and I do, long time ago though,” Tara shrugged, effectively ending the conversation.


“Let’s go, baby, we have to uhhh, let’s just go,” Willow said, tugging her out of the main hall.


“What’s wrong? Did I say something wrong, Will?” Tara asked, confusion written across her fine features.


“No, baby, you didn’t but if you haven’t guessed already, Tabby is a bit of a busybody. Until we decide how to handle the Claude situation, I would rather she not tell every last person in the compound that an ‘ex’ of my girlfriend has been hitting on her, right in front of Tabby while I just stood there,” Willow said testily.


Pulling her to a stop, Tara said, “Willow, she didn’t hit on me. It wasn’t like that, really.”


Continuing back to their rooms, Willow shook her head. “But that’s what it will become. Tabitha is… off. She’s just… I’m not sure what I mean other than I don’t trust her as far as Xander could throw her. I’m not even sure why she’s staying here,” Willow’s agitation was ratcheting up quickly. “Now Claude, and her challenge for Buffy’s ‘Worst Timing in the World’ award,” Willow stopped, the incomprehension on Tara’s face finally registering. “Baby, you really don’t see you do you?”


As they entered Tara’s bedroom, Willow continued, “Didn’t you see the way she looked at you?” She walked through into her own room, starting to pull clothes out of the dresser.


“You’re jealous, aren’t you?” Tara asked as she followed Willow, unable to keep the mirth out of her voice. She leaned against the doorjamb, crossing her arms over her chest, a smirk gracing her lips. “The same could be said of the way she looked at you.”


Willow turned to look at her, a bra in her hand, her head dropping back to stare at the ceiling. “That’s great, then we both got hit on by your ‘ex’ in front of Tabitha, of all people,” she said, as she turned back around to rummage through her clothes without really doing anything, trying instead to focus on not being annoyed by the whole situation.


Tara could hear it in Willow’s voice that she was ruffled by this, so she walked over, took everything out of her hands, and kissed her hard and long until Willow began to relax into the kiss. Tara pulled away and looked up at Willow, smiling cockily.


“You got jealous didn’t you?” Willow didn’t say anything, and cast her eyes downward. “Why? You know I’m not interested,” Then she felt it roll off of Willow, her guilt was once again surfacing, and along with it, her insecurities. “I see.”


She let Willow go and started to walk away, but then turned back. “Willow, how many more times do you need to hear me tell you before you believe me? You’ve got to let the guilt go, sweetie. You’ve carried this burden around with you long enough. Because if you’re feeling guilty over Warren, then you feel guilty I’m alive, that Buffy’s alive; neither of us would be if you hadn’t done what you did...I have some clippings I’d like to show you when we get back to Sunnydale; I think they might help you some. I’m going to pack.”


With that she went back into her room pulled out her suitcase, putting in it only what she would need for a few days, and then sat on the side of the bed.


Suddenly Willow was beside her. “Tara, I’m sorry. I did get jealous, but more than that I got scared that… you would leave me… that maybe you would think...”


“How dare you? Like I don’t have a mind of my own? Or what, that you’re the consolation prize, is that it? This has got to stop Willow; there is such a thing as free will, you know. Being responsible for your own actions is one thing Willow, but to project onto another person your fears is demeaning. I spent maybe two months with her when we were eighteen. Altogether, even with all the drama, we’ve been together for almost four years. Don’t do me the disservice. Trust - remember that? Trust me, when I say I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be; even if things had gone badly…I still wanted to – had to see you.”


Willow stood, shocked by Tara’s outburst, and started to back out of her room when Tara turned to her.


“Don’t you dare slink away either. Damn you, Willow!” Tara began to rub her face with her hand. “You aren’t the only one with fears and misgivings, because of all the shit we have had dumped in our laps. You aren’t the only one who has been through some form of hell because of all this. Your act was the catalyst, but you’re not the only one at fault here, Will—Giles and the Council, please take a bow—you’re not the only one who’s scared! Now for you to make grand assumptions, once again, about knowing what’s best for us both – well, it chaps my ass beyond belief!” Tara threw down the clothes in her hands and started to pace. “All because of Claude, and two months, five years ago? Really, Willow? What else is there, please tell me there is something else here I’m not getting. That I’m not seeing us being sabotaged by you?”


Willow stood, blinking rapidly while her mouth opening and closing like a fish. “You’re right, I have to deal with my guilt, and not let it rule me. I can control so much else, but that seems to always escape me; I was jealous—that played into everything else. I’m sorry Tara, I thought you’d see her as undamaged or less damaged than I am, and maybe you would want that more than me. If you gave yourself the chance to rethink giving us a chance you might want that – normalcy more. Don’t be mad at Giles, he was just following orders from the Council. I made him aware of my fears, and that’s why you got the information you got, so be angry with me. I thought I was sparing you from the worst of it, and I thought, wrongly maybe, that that would be best until I could sort through it all. I told you Tara, I didn’t want to share the agony I was going through.”


She looked up at Tara, standing with her hands on her hips. She backed against the wall and slid down, sitting with her knees up, her elbows resting on them. “Then with the greatest of bad timing, Claude shows up, and she really isyour ex, and seems more than just friendly to you, and has been to me, too, I couldn’t deal with her and the anger I felt. I wanted her gone – like marched off the grounds and told never to come back. Then Tabby…” She placed her head in her hands and groaned. “She really is this place’s grapevine. We don’t need anyone else to assist with the broadcast; she’s vicious like a…a Gila Monster,” Willow laughed through her tears.


“I keep expecting to see a forked tongue flick from her mouth; I just feel that from her.” Willow let out a mirthless laugh, and sighed, trying to get her emotions under control. “I just didn’t want you to come back to the stares and the murmurs about power—I get enough of them as it is – and that’s okay. I’m used to stares, I got that all through high school, but some are even afraid of me. Until now that’s been fine, they leave me alone,” Willow looked up at Tara, her face streaked with tears. “I don’t want them to treat you any differently because of me, and I’m afraid they will, especially since you want to stay. I don’t want anyone to hurt you, or make you sorry for agreeing to stay here with me, because they don’t really know why I’m here.”


The sadness on her face and in her voice extinguished all of the indignant anger right out of Tara. She walked over to Willow, and sat down in front of her Indian Style, placing her hands on Willow’s knees.


“My sweet Willow, let them say what they like, I don’t care. If I cared what other people thought, my life would be so very different. I’d still be at home never having left for college, miserable and probably married with at least one kid, because that’s how Daddy would have wanted it. Now I’m happy and about to be graduating on the dean’s list with a double major; oh, and I met this amazing woman that nearly stops my heart every time she smiles at me, so it doesn’t get any better than that does it? That’s even after Daddy lied and tried to make me go home!”


Tara looked upward. “Thank you, Momma for giving me the strength to walk away from them, all of them; and thank you sweetie, I never would have been able to stay if I hadn’t met you, Will. We are doing this together, working through all of it together; we both have baggage, it would be stupid to say we don’t. Here, I’ll make you a deal; I’ll help you with yours, if you help me with mine, and together we can empty two sets of baggage with one us.”


Tara pulled Willow’s hands aside so she could look at her properly. “You and I have decided that there is an ‘us’ worth saving, right?” Willow nodded vehemently. “Then these are my thoughts, and this goes for Buffy, Xander, Anya, Spike and even Dawnie. Are you ready?”


Tara waited for Willow to respond with a nod. “Fuck ‘em if they don’t like it. I’m not trying to please any single one of them. They don’t walk in my shoes, nor I in theirs, and I don’t pass judgment when they make some royal class ‘A’ mistakes. So who are they to tell me I can’t try to mend things with the love of my life?”


Willow sat there, looking at Tara slack jawed, not quite believing she had just heard her correctly. “And again with the ‘who are you and what have you done with Tara?’”


Tara pushed up on her knees before kissing Willow sweetly on the mouth. “Don’t think I’m not gonna call you to the mat when I think I need to, but I expect the same from you. I don’t want emotions all pent up between us—not talking – that’s what got us into the place we were before, remember? You trying to decide for both of us, I won’t stand for. It looks like we’ll be together a lot for some time to come, especially if we really want to found the coven, so we have to be able to communicate with each other on this basic level if we want to succeed. So no more of this shit, okay? Speak your mind and so will I—I’m good, but I can’t read minds,” Tara said, with a saucy raise of her eyebrow. She got up and offered her hand to Willow who took it gladly. Pulled quickly to her feet, Willow stumbled into Tara, blushing. Tara wrapped her arms around her, laying her head on Willow’s shoulder.


“What about Claude?” Willow asked, pulling back.


“Who?” Tara said, as she kissed Willow again.


“Clau...” was all Willow got out when Tara looked at her directly and cocked an eyebrow. “Who?”


Willow finally caught on and smiled a shy smile. “I have no idea.”


Holding Tara closer they stood kissing amidst the two rooms now strewn with clothes. A little chirping began in Willow’s rooms and she groaned pulling back. “Dinner’s in thirty minutes, should we keep packing? Did you want to freshen up since Giles will be here for dinner?”


Still in Willow’s arms, Tara began to suck on Willow’s earlobe. “Take a shower with me,” Tara breathed suggestively, to which Willow needed no coaxing as she led her into the bathroom.


They hastily shucked their clothes as the water warmed in the shower. Tara led Willow in behind her and stepped under the spray. She turned, holding Willow tightly and kissed her hard. Her hand moved over her back, caressing her shapely bottom as their bodies moved as one; Willow tangled her fingers in Tara’s now soaked hair, tugging at it, eliciting a moan.


Tara pushed Willow against the wall and began to grind her hips into Willow, making her groan. It wasn’t long before Willow slipped to the side and turned so that Tara was now pressed against the wall. After sucking on her earlobe, Willow nibbled her way down Tara’s neck to her shoulder, swirling her tongue around, and biting her hard, causing her to gasp and whisper, “Harder.” Willow happily obliged knowing there would be a full set of teeth marks left behind. The response making her bold, she slipped her knee between Tara’s thighs making her widen her stance.


She worked her way to the other shoulder and bit equally as hard, smiling against her skin. Willow stroked her fingers against Tara’s stomach, edging her way down to play with the damp curls she found there. She could already feel the heat coming off of Tara’s skin. With one finger she leisurely slid up and back over her lips, but not entering fully. To tease her more she barely grazed the swollen hood of her clit.


“How?” Willow asked, leaning down to pull one slick nipple into her mouth, swirling her tongue around it as it hardened.


“I-Inside, please.” Tara stifled a moan as Willow’s fingers started to rub circles around her clit. “Inside, I want you inside me, Willow.”


At the request, Willow plunged three fingers deeply into Tara, aiming for the rough patch to the top and left of her lover’s entrance. Sucking at the bite she left on Tara’s shoulder, Willow set a quick pace with her fingers. She shifted so she could take the other hard nipple in her mouth and sucked none too gently on it. Pulling back to admire the marks she grinned lasciviously and growled, “So wet, so mine – always mine.”


Willow could feel Tara start to grind herself on her fingers. She looked into Tara’s eyes and noticed they were that shade of cobalt blue she so loved to see. Tara’s center was so hot, and Willow nimbly placed her thumb so she could rub on Tara’s already hard clit, garnering a whimper that rapidly turned into a moan.


“Willow, yes, just right there, don’t… oh Gods, please don’t stop,” Tara breathed, digging her nails into Willow’s shoulders.


“Tell me, my Tara, what I’m doing, is it good? Are you about to cum? Tell me, I want to hear you tell me how much you like what I’m doing to you. Your body tells me, but I want you to tell me,” Willow said, as she licked Tara’s neck, sucking on the skin just below her jaw.


“Willow, mmm, faster baby. Keep moving your thumb like that, it’s so good, oohh, just like that, thrust upward baby,” Tara was panting now. “Nipples, Willow, use your mouth… hard.” Willow captured one nipple in her mouth and sucked as much of it as she could into her mouth, using her free hand to twist and tug at the other, roughly. “Oh Willow, it’s so good baby all at once… Willow you’re gonna make me cum, its gonna be so hard, keep doing…” she panted again, “What you’re ,oh now, I’m oh, now, Willow for you, dear God you make me cum so fuckin’ hard!” With a gasp and a shudder Tara fell limp against Willow who was grinning like a Cheshire cat at the shaking girl she held securely against the wall.


When Tara finally looked up at Willow and saw the expression on her face, she smirked. “Pleased with yourself?”


“Well sure, aren’t you?” Willow asked, as her eyebrows rose.


“Very much, my vixen, very much indeed,” Tara smiled, gaining her composure. “I guess you have reason to be pleased.”


“I do, ‘cuz I’m the man, and I get to be your man, so that’s even better,” Willow said mischievously .


“We’ll just see about that.” Tara turned the now lukewarm water off, and on shaky legs, dragged her sopping wet girlfriend out and into the bedroom, pushing her onto the bed; Tara straddled Willow, her eyes dark with arousal.


Returning the favor, she bit Willow hard on her collar bone, making Willow suck in air hard and grab Tara’s head. “I love it when you do that, Tara. Bite me, mark me. I’ve dreamed about your mouth on my skin for so long…”


“You don’t have to dream anymore, Willow. I can’t get enough of you; you’re my favorite sweet.” Tara said sincerely. “Now, I wanna make you scream, my little treat.” She smiled wickedly down at Willow as she moved between Willow’s thighs, grinding into her.


“Fair is fair, my sweet, I want to hear you as you watch me.” Tara moved one hand to stroke Willow, teasing her. Nuzzling her neck she whispered, “I like to hear you as much as you like to hear me, love.”


“Oh Tara, please I want you inside me, I need you there. I’m so wet for you, just touch me, and feel.” The words just spilled out over Willow’s lips, as she bit her lower lip. Tara parted the lips to her wet sex.


“Mmm, very wet, yes.” She slipped two fingers inside the velvet core of her lover. “Talk to me, Willow.”


“Yes, Tara, more,” she panted. “More fingers, and harder. Oh god yes, that’s it, baby.” Tara had her fingers angled upwards to be sure she was hitting the spot Willow liked best. “Fuck me, Tara, faster mmmm, harder. Oh sweet Jesus, that’s so good, I’m gonna cum Tara, you’re making me cum so fast,” Willow gasped, as she rode Tara’s fingers, looking into the deep blue eyes that watched her every expression. “I like it when you fuck me, I love it when you make me cum, it’s so sweet Tara, I’m cumming for you, baby.” Willow’s body tensed her back arching as she slammed herself down on Tara’s fingers one last time. Her muscles wrapped around Tara’s fingers, spasming as she climaxed.


“My, we were efficient, weren’t we?” Tara giggled as she rolled off Willow to be next to her. “But I still need that shower, and it’s gonna be cold,” she pouted.


Willow rolled back on top of her and wiggled. “I think we still need a cold shower to be presentable, baby, damn! Ahh, but that’s one of the perks of being here, as it starts to get warmer even the cold water is warm so if we actually take a shower it won’t be so bad. The downside is that even the tap water is warm and chewy – ick. You’ll notice water filters everywhere around here because of that.”


Willow wiggled once more as the chirping sound began again, making her jump up. “We’re late, hurry. Giles! Oh, he’s gonna know why we’re late!” Turning bright red, Willow ran back to the shower and jumped in. Tara more leisurely followed her in, switching places so Willow could soap and shampoo while she ran herself under the spray.


“This all seems vaguely familiar…” Tara pressed a shampoo laden Willow to the wall and started licking the bite mark on Willow’s neck just to torment her.


“Baby, oh that’s nice. No! No! We can’t…uh, that is so not fair, Tara. Later, after dinner, I promise,” Willow managed to get out as Tara let her go, a wicked grin on her face. “You are bad, evil even,” she said, trying to scowl at Tara, knowing it really wasn’t working out for her.


Tara just began to hum as she watched Willow get back in to rinse the soap and shampoo away while applying them to herself. With a position switch, Tara rinsed herself clean. They quickly dried off, then dressed, and headed for the main hall.


********


The girls entered the hall in a rush, but were still within the acceptable range of tardiness. In the hall, with his back to the door, stood a tall, tweed wearing Englishman cleaning his glasses, as he talked with Lady Rowan. She smiled as the girls entered, taking in their damp and flushed appearances. She laid her hand on Giles’ arm, and with a nod indicated he should turn around.


Giles turned just as Willow hit him with a bear hug. He wrapped his arms around the girl. “Willow, so good to see you, my dear. How have you been?”


He pulled back to look at her, caressing her cheek like a father would when he inspects his child. To his eyes she was still thin, but looked very happy. He looked over at Tara, pleased to see her also looking happy; he had worried when Rowan told him that she had contacted Tara. Especially when he learned that she had agreed to come to see Willow, fearing for both girls if things went badly.


“Tara, how have you been?” Giles asked, offering a hug, as he seemed to be open to physical contact.


“Good Giles, better now, how are you?” Tara answered politely, taking half a step back, not able to bring herself to hug him. Tara still felt some resentment towards him for his compliance in the events of the last eighteen months, even if Willow did defend him.


Giles smiled at seeing the stiff response, just dropped his arms casually, knowing it was somewhat deserved. He knew he had deceived her, and had that she would be less than happy about it once the truth had been presented. Dana appeared in front of the four, smiling, with a separate plate of food that had to be for Tabitha.


“Supper is ready, and I hope you’re all hungry,” Dana said before disappearing briefly.


Willow and Tara looked at one another, noticing again Tabitha’s exclusion from a meal. Dana reappeared and led the way back to the kitchen, and the table that was already set. There was a large bowl of salad in the middle, next to a large roast surrounded by carrots and red potatoes, all swimming in a wonderful smelling broth.


Everyone arranged themselves around the table, Willow and Tara together, Rowan at the head and Giles next to Dana across from the girls. Rowan helped herself first then passed the bowl and platters off to Willow at her right, the food gradually making its way around the table. It was quiet as everyone began to eat; Dana kept eyeing Rowan for any kind of signal on what was going to be discussed.


Tara had her thigh pressed against Willow’s, and they brushed their hands together while they ate. Giles watched without comment, feeling relief at the interaction having been with Willow through some of the hardest things he had ever witnessed as a Watcher, and her friend. In an effort to try to keep things jovial, Giles cleared his throat to speak.


“Willow, have you been enjoying your studies here?”


Willow smiled. “Actually I have, I’ve learned so much, Giles, it’s been amazing. There’s so much that books just can’t tell you, nuances—even the frame of mind you have to be in to accomplish the tasks. Lady Rowan and Sister Dana have been great too,” she said, smiling at them each in turn. “Lady Rowan says I’ve almost completed my studies, that now it’s just been reinforcing what I’ve learned,” she said innocently, trying to draw Giles into giving her more information.


“Yes, she has told me that too. Have you had any thoughts on what you would like to do, where you would like to go? I assume you want to return to Sunnydale, yes?” Giles said, looking at her over the rim of his glasses, keeping his voice even.


Willow looked first at Tara and then at Rowan. Not knowing how much to say, she replied, “I have been thinking about it, but I haven’t made any decisions yet. Tara and I need to talk about that.”


“Rupert, I have invited Tara to stay with Willow until she is ready to leave, or beyond if they choose. I ask that you not inform the Council of this, as we have discussed Tara studying with Willow, as well as on her own her with us,” Rowan put her fork down as she gave Giles a look that made it clear that the offer wasn’t open for discussion. “Rupert, let me be frank. I don’t know exactly what the Council wants with Willow and Tara – I’m hoping you do – but I think the girls need to be as prepared as they can be, and I am going to help with that as much as I can. Now, I have to ask, just what does the Council want with them, and don’t tell me it’s just about forming a coven?”


Willow and Tara had both stopped eating, and were watching Giles who chewed slowly before swallowing.


“As you know, the Council is very interested in Willow, and from what I can suss out - and believe me they are not the most forthcoming lot - if Willow agrees to found a coven they want it to function like a master coven for them. Something like ‘witches on call.’ With Willow’s computer prowess, and her talent for magic, the possibilities are endless as far as they can see. They are playing very close to their chests, I’m afraid, and no one wants to talk, at least not to me,” He sighed, and turned to Tara. “Tara, they want you to help her. They see you as the glue that would bind, as it were. As with most anything the Council does, it is about control, and what they truly want with you both, as of yet, I don’t know.”


Looking at Willow, Tara fired at Giles, “So whose idea was it to keep me in the dark until now? Why should I do anything, even remotely for the Council, Giles? How could you help them all this time?” Her eyes were glittering with anger, and no small amount of resentment.


Willow took her hand; she could see the muscle in Giles’ jaw jump as he swallowed hard.


“You have absolutely no reason to do anything for them, Tara. They will only try to use Willow’s sense of gratitude to get her to work with them if they can. I’ve helped them in an effort to protect Willow from them as much as I can, and to get her the help she needed. ‘Keeping you in the dark’ as you put it, has been regrettable, and even awful, but I was trying to protect you as well. You see, the less you knew, the less they wanted to know about you. The Council doesn’t know Willow like I do, and they really didn’t think that she would survive the process, much less that if she did that she would still be sane.”


“So while you were ‘protecting’ us, the only thing you knew was that they want to use Willow as guinea pig for ‘something?’ Somehow that doesn’t ring true to me, Giles, what aren’t you telling us?” Tara asked, not wanting to let him off the hook so easily.


His eyes moved around the table at the four women seeing distrust on all of their faces. “This ‘master’ coven would be controlled by the Council, they would control who is trained and how; much like they do with the Slayers, or try to at least. It would be an extension into another forum, but unlike Slayers, who are only called at the death of one, witches can be taught or cultivated through family lines like yours, Tara. I think they want a global network of witches, controlled by the coven they want Willow to found, who would be in turn controlled by them.”


“What makes them think I would allow that, Giles? Yes, they helped me, and put me in contact with the coven here, but Lady Rowan doesn’t work for them, so if there is someone I should feel indebted to it should be her and the coven here,” Willow said, taking a bite of a potato. Once she had swallowed, she continued, “Tara and I agree that if we found a coven it will be ours, and we will not answer to them under any circumstances. We will not be controlled by them; besides, after all the years of helping Buffy, I don’t think I owe them anything. The help they gave me was the least they could do.” She looked at Tara, who nodded.


Giles smiled. “I had hoped you would feel that way. If you truly are interested in founding a coven, I have some people you may wish to talk to. They are three in Sunnydale, two in L.A. and one is here; I managed to get a preliminary list of the first candidates. If we can get to them before the Council does we may just be able to beat them at whatever it is they’re playing at.”


“How can I trust you, Giles?” Tara asked. “How do I know this isn’t the Council’s plan, and you’re their inside man?”


Willow just looked at her plate while she continued to eat, knowing Tara would keep grilling Giles until she was satisfied. Tara looked at Rowan and Dana. Rowan gave her a small nod, and Dana flashed a sidelong look at Giles, and nodded too.


“That’s a valid question, Tara. I daresay, some of your mistrust comes from my reticence in expounding on Willow’s condition whilst at the Motherhouse, and I can only say I was respecting her wishes,” Giles took his glasses off and began to clean them. “It was Willow’s decision to not tell you the extent of what she was going through, so I guess that makes my statements lies by omission. Once Willow is done here, and if you two do want to contact those ear-marked for the coven, I will help you do that; if you wish no further assistance from me, I shan’t meddle. My loyalties are not with the Council, and you have every right to be distrustful. As a matter of fact, I think it’s healthy when dealing with them. As for me, I guess I have to earn your trust back, Tara.” Placing his glasses back on his face he looked directly into Tara’s eyes.


Everyone at the table watched the two, and could feel something passing between them, unspoken; Tara finally gave a curt nod as she resumed eating.


With an audible exhale of breath, Rowan spoke, “Can I now assume we are all on civil terms at this point? We have much to do when you return and the fewer the distractions the better.”


Willow, Tara and Giles looked at each other then back at Rowan, and nodded. Willow elbowed Tara playfully trying to get the blonde to smile; Tara took Willow’s hand in response and gave it a reassuring squeeze. The air in the room started to lighten.


Dana had silently watched the discussion, keeping her thoughts to herself, and now seeing the auras around the table begin to relax and change in color, she was relieved for the moment. Pushing aside her worries she tried to enjoy the company, and ignored the nagging in the back of her mind. Something was coming, and it would not be good.


The rest of the meal was uneventful, and as the girls cleared away the dishes Dana asked, “Would anyone like dessert? We have some fresh berries and ice cream if anyone is interested.”


Giles and Rowan opted for dessert but Willow took Tara’s hand, making an excuse that they needed to pack, and led them to their rooms. Rowan turned to Giles. “Are they always like this?”


Giles smirked, “Yes, revolting isn’t it?”


With a smile she went back to her ice cream as they began to discuss Tara’s impending studies.


******


The girls entered Tara’s suite, and Willow immediately flopped down on the bed, the tension of the dinner conversation finally draining out of her. She absently rubbed her face with her hands and breathed deeply.


Tara went to her bag, nonchalantly throwing in a few more things she would need for the trip back to Sunnydale. After a couple of minutes, she noticed Willow sit up and watch her, a thoughtful expression on her face. Tara looked at her questioningly.


Willow, being ‘little miss practical,’ asked, “Should I get more luggage from my parents’ house while we’re there? That one won’t be big enough for everything we’ll need and some of it will have to be shipped back here.”


Tara sniffed. “Gee, I thought you were bringing me back here for wild, hot monkey lovin’, but you only want to talk luggage.”


Willow blushed bright red, and stammered, “I-I was j-just trying to be helpful, baby.”


Tara gave Willow a radiant smile, before she taunted, “Gotcha.”


Willow huffed, before launching herself at Tara. “Two can play that game, missy.”



TBC…

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Heather aka vampyregurl73 aka Riverwillows73
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My stories:
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Last edited by vampyregurl73 on Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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