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

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

@Will's redemption:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Since when do you drink tea?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Literally,” Tara mumbles darkly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How?” Tara chokes weakly.

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

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

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

“You can’t apologize forever, Will.”

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

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

“What was,” Tara asks confusedly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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You ARE Magic ~ Tara


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((59/?-August 6th, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:25 am 
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I couldn't stop myself from reading the update immediately although I am at work right now. Now I sit at my desk with a heart bleeding for Willow - serves me right I guess.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((59/?-August 6th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:36 pm 
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Sorry for the delay, gang! I was abroad on a family trip for about three weeks. Back to posting.


@shirrey:
Aah, I adore the way you comment! Almost lyrical, you have a way of summarizing every unique element I hope to impart and imbue each chapter with. It's truly uncanny. Yes yes yes to everything you said, I feel like I'm right there with you in that space even though I wrote the thing and know what's going to happen next XD. (Please feel free to call me Rachel :))

@Will's redemption:

I've totally been there, opening up something that I knew was going to wreck me emotionally. But it's just so hard to say no!

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

Ooh, I love that idea, but sadly this is just borrowed from what we learned in S7E01, when Buffy is in the basement trying to find Dawn and the two not-next-gen-Scoobies, Xander tries to help but the floorplans don't match what Buffy sees. I think the canon explaination is that the Hellmouth has weird wonky evil magic-y effect on the basement. It's so much fun reading your theories though, the real world and Limboland bleeding into each other would have been a crazy cool twist. Sorry to burst your bubble XD

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

Yes! Sorry it wasn't clear, I probably should have left the next line in the same paragraph -"Spike’s face pivots quickly into the light." Xander hears a sound in the distance, but then Spike suddenly pops up in front of him so he flails in a very Xander-like way.

You're absolutely right in realizing Willow and Tara haven't touched since the barest moment her, Buffy, and Willow made contact on the grass outside after she passed out. A lot of Terra Firma is burned into my brain, but one of the things that stuck out most to me in that fic is how until Willow and Tara are alone and healing together, they don't touch. The rift between them is still so wide and reflects physically. And for Willow, heck, the second she touches Tara she probably wouldn't be able to let go of her. And she knows she has absolutely no right to do that at this point, so between that and her own self-loathing/doubt/etc, she's gotta keep her distance entirely. And poor Tara's torn between wanting to be held by those arms and still being so uncertain and wary that she can't bring herself to touch Willow yet either. THESE POOR TRAUMA BABIES.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s Dawn who answers the door. “Hullo, Niblet,” Spike says as he and Xander arrive at the Summers house just before sunrise.

He’s spent the night at Xander’s doing a fat lot of nothing, cooped up, and growing more restless by the hour. The basement seemed like bloody Disneyland in comparison. He hopes Harris is telling the truth, not just for Tara’s sake but his as well. His sanity is hanging by a thread and he’d like to keep what little of it he has.

Dawn still greets him with crossed arms and a flat look, which, he notes, is fair and quite what he deserves. He’s just grateful to see her confident again. He remembers the self-loathing and doubt in her own existence from the Glory days and how lost and ignored she felt last year, no thanks in part to him. She deserves better than the lot of them and is so much stronger than she ever gives herself credit for. “And when did your sister get unbelievably scary?” He’d said to Buffy. He didn’t mean it as a bad thing; he was proud of her.

“Spike?” It is said in the softest, most unsure, hopeful tone he has ever heard. Tara steps hesitantly into view from the living room, one arm holding the wall as if for balance.

And there she is. Standing like a fragile little wisp of a thing she never was. The strongest people never know the depth of their fortitude or resilience, mistaking the ability to endure as weakness. People like Tara weren’t the rock being worn down against the ocean shore - they were the water, softening the edges of the people around them with patient steadiness.

There’s no doubt in his mind of how much she’s evenned him out over the past several weeks. No matter how many voices in his head- of past victims and tormentors alike- hers was always one he could trust. Each at their most vulnerable, they’d been there for each other. She spent endless hours calming him down during the lowest of it, when his grasp of reality was tenuous at best and violent at its worst. No one had ever…

No one had ever stayed. Not Before, not After. Being undead didn’t change the fact that the things he loved left him. But what would happen now, part of him wondered, now that she was back? Now that she’d gotten what she needed from him.

“Well, wouldja look at that,” he says hesitantly to Tara with an ounce of awe and hint of self-doubt. She doesn’t move, and Spike frowns, turning to Dawn. “Wait, you can see her too, right?” Before anyone can answer, Tara throws her arms around him. Surprised, he returns the gesture, the uncertainty evaporating instantly, and gives Tara a pat on the back. She clings tightly and he makes no move to stop her. She stays. “S’good to see you too, love,” he mumbles into her shoulder, something warm settling inside him, feeling like home.

Dawn’s arms are still crossed, but shift to a more comfortable, casual posture. She smiles wetly, watching them. “Yeah, Spike. We can see her, too.”

________________________________________________________________________________


It’s been a while since Buffy has dreaded going to Sunnydale High. Ok, dreaded is a little dramatic, but she definitely does not feel like leaving the house that morning, and not just because she hasn’t gotten enough sleep.

She woke before dawn to the smell of pancakes and immediately remembered. It was still dark, so Buffy threw on a robe and headed downstairs. Willow was in the dining room surrounded by piles of books, paper, and her laptop. She looked up as Buffy walked in. “Morning,” she said.

“Can you technically say that if it’s still dark out and you never went to bed in the first place?”

“Sorry,” Willow apologized. “I tried, I just, couldn’t fall asleep. Not when . . .” she trailed off, looking over at the kitchen.

“Tara’s up, I take it?” Buffy asked, sliding next to Willow, who nodded back.

“And Dawn.”

Buffy looked flabbergasted. “It’s six am. I can’t get her up before nine without an air horn.”

Willow chuckled. “She woke up a few hours ago and came downstairs when she couldn’t find Tara.”

“Tara’s missing?!”

“No, no— She couldn’t sleep either.”

“Hm. Looks like we’re putting Mr. Sandman out of a job.”

“She’s making pancakes.”

“Sure smells like it.” Buffy blinked as if startled by her own words. “Wow. Didn’t think I’d ever get to say that again.”

She took a moment to observe Willow. Her hair was a little disheveled, there were little bags under her eyes, torn cuticles, and a tired, but anxious edge about her. Buffy remembered those days. Those awful days after Angel had come back. After all these years, there still wasn’t an answer for why. She remembered not caring about why he was back, only that he was.

“How are you?” Buffy asked seriously.

Willow glanced at the kitchen nervously. “I’ve never been so okay to not be okay, y’know?”*

“Been through the whole ‘back-from-the-dead soulmate’ thing, remember? I sooo know.”

With a grimace, Willow downed the dregs of the cup of coffee. “Worst club ever.”

They ended up having a second breakfast before leaving for school, grabbing Pop Tarts on their way out the door. Buffy gave Spike a long hard look before leaving.

Dawn has to practically be pried off of Tara, and once in the car is quiet and withdrawn.

“Listen, if I stayed home from school every time someone came back from the dead I would have missed half of Senior year. Plus, if I don’t get to stay home, neither do you.”

“Tara wouldn’t let me stay home either,” Dawn huffs grumpily.

Buffy makes a face that implies she’s impressed. “One more reason to believe she’s the real deal.”

Dawn looks over. “Do you really think she’s not?”

Buffy takes a deep breath. “I don’t know, Dawn,” she answers honestly. “I hope she is, but . . . we’ve seen too many weird things to rule it out. Especially with this new big bad we don’t know anything about.”

“Tara would never be evil.”

“Never,” Buffy agrees vehemently.

“Do you think maybe she doesn’t know?” Dawn asks nervously.

“Know what?”

“That she’s evil?”

They sit with the uncomfortable question heavily between them. Questions churn in her stomach and Buffy wishes Giles would get here faster.






*Dialogue borrowed from JetWolf's The Chosen with permission from the author

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((61/?-September 3rd, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 10:49 pm 
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Dibs! :whip
Quote:
Ooh, I love that idea, but sadly this is just borrowed from what we learned in S7E01, when Buffy is in the basement trying to find Dawn and the two not-next-gen-Scoobies, Xander tries to help but the floorplans don't match what Buffy sees. I think the canon explaination is that the Hellmouth has weird wonky evil magic-y effect on the basement.

I totally forgot about that.

Quote:
She deserves better than the lot of them and is so much stronger than she ever gives herself credit for.

Very insightful of Spike. He feels his sanity "hanging by a thread", but in this chapter his thoughts are totally lucid, partially even wise, f.e.:
Quote:
The strongest people never know the depth of their fortitude or resilience, mistaking the ability to endure as weakness. People like Tara weren’t the rock being worn down against the ocean shore - they were the water, softening the edges of the people around them with patient steadiness.

In these thoughts I can also see the poet Spike once was.

Quote:
No one had ever…

No one had ever stayed. Not Before, not After. Being undead didn’t change the fact that the things he loved left him. But what would happen now, part of him wondered, now that she was back? Now that she’d gotten what she needed from him.

Quote:
Before anyone can answer, Tara throws her arms around him. Surprised, he returns the gesture, the uncertainty evaporating instantly, and gives Tara a pat on the back. She clings tightly and he makes no move to stop her. She stays. “S’good to see you too, love,” he mumbles into her shoulder, something warm settling inside him, feeling like home.


Wonderfully written! This moment of uncertainty (did she only use me, cling to me because there was no one else?) and then the relief that this friendship will keep. And I love that Spike showing these true, tender emotions touches Dawn, too, making her forget the anger she still feels against him.

Quote:
“How are you?” Buffy asked seriously.

Willow glanced at the kitchen nervously. “I’ve never been so okay to not be okay, y’know?”*

“Been through the whole ‘back-from-the-dead soulmate’ thing, remember? I sooo know.”

With a grimace, Willow downed the dregs of the cup of coffee. “Worst club ever.”


I totaly forgot that Buffy went through something similar after Angel returned from hell...

Quote:
“Tara would never be evil.”

“Never,” Buffy agrees vehemently.

“Do you think maybe she doesn’t know?” Dawn asks nervously.

“Know what?”

“That she’s evil?”


I must admit I simply don't understand this part of their conversation. Does Dawn mean that Tara's return from the dead might trigger some apocalypse? Even if that was the case, it wouldn't make Tara "evil" in my eyes and I can't imagine Dawn seeing it this way either???

Seeing that Tara and Willow are alone at the Summer's home right now I hope they will resume their conversation and that it will end in the hug they both desperately need!


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((61/?-September 3rd, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:36 pm 
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Hi Rachel,

I went back and reread the previous chapter (before the newest one) and wanted to say something about Xander that I didn't before. you made me care! the way you describe his love and concern for Willow was raw and true and I could finally see that man at the top of the bluff talking her down- I couldn't in the show, I know this is because I was looking at the scenario through a lens of hurt and anger at how Tara's death was handled and the general writing of the final S6 eps, so, the yellow crayon scene was always kind of an eye-roll for me, but here, I can see it through the lens of a better Xander, thanks for that.

Present update: It seems almost domestic, people are starting to get back into familiar routines, its like the pieces being put into a puzzle, but that puzzle might end up exploding in the process, or that everyone will be holding their breaths wondering if the final picture will be bliss or a nightmare. But Tara is making pancakes, and Willow is researching, and Dawn is going to school- its like life is getting back on track, which is wonderful, but this familiarity will simmer until so many things are worked through.

I love Spike and Tara's exchange, Spike's vulnerability under a tough guise and Tara's strength in her vulnerability. They are bonded.

Quote:
And there she is. Standing like a fragile little wisp of a thing she never was. The strongest people never know the depth of their fortitude or resilience, mistaking the ability to endure as weakness. People like Tara weren’t the rock being worn down against the ocean shore - they were the water, softening the edges of the people around them with patient steadiness.


this is gorgeous, seriously, like I want to absorb it or have it tattooed on my body. Especially "And there she is. Standing like a fragile little wisp of a thing she never was" Damn, that's beautiful and so perfect for Tara.

Willow's "worst club ever" was so sad. I forget too that Buffy went through similar, Buffy's experience with Angel feels different too though, more subdued I guess

The last bit confused me a little as well, I wouldn't think Buffy would dare have Tara in her house if she thought she was even potentially evil, I can see Dawn's head spinning to worst-case scenarios though. I trust your writing, we will get ti the answers I'm sure.

Just a side note: you have inspired me to try writing fic. :blush It's fun and I am stuck, and I have 40 pages written and am still in the beginning. Yikes! Thanks so much, Rachel.

- Beth

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((61/?-September 3rd, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:25 am 
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@Will's redemption:

S'ok, it's not just you :)

Spike is....a complicated character. I like to lean on the side of good. I think he can be good. Even without a soul. And now he's got one so there's an interesting mix between that and the demon he was and the one he became. Potential is always there, one just has to decide.

Quote:
'This moment of uncertainty (did she only use me, cling to me because there was no one else?) and then the relief that this friendship will keep. And I love that Spike showing these true, tender emotions touches Dawn, too, making her forget the anger she still feels against him."

I'm so glad that uncertainty came through! It's a moment of truth for him and nothing less than instinct for Tara.
I'm glad you caught how the moment softens Dawn's anger against Spike. It's an important transition (not plot-wise, but character-wise).

Quote:
I must admit I simply don't understand this part of their conversation. Does Dawn mean that Tara's return from the dead might trigger some apocalypse? Even if that was the case, it wouldn't make Tara "evil" in my eyes and I can't imagine Dawn seeing it this way either???

Sorry this isn't clear enough in the text, again, you're not the only one to express confusion about it.
Basically, there's this whole "From Beneath You, It Devours" thing haunting them. It's not that Tara might trigger the apocalypse but that the apocalypse might *be* Tara. Does that make any sense?

@shirrey:
HALLELUJAH! Making someone care about Xander is such high praise man, that's awesome. I totally get Xander-hate. Canon Xander is often awful. I like true!Xander. The Xander that he can be at his best, which we sadly didn't see that often on the show. Fandom made me care about him, particularly 'See Noir Evil' by m.macgregor (I highly recommend reading it, it's one of my favorite btvs fics)

Quote:
"its like life is getting back on track, which is wonderful, but this familiarity will simmer until so many things are worked through."
Yes, exactly! It's the calm before the storm that everyone knows is coming.

Quote:
"this is gorgeous, seriously, like I want to absorb it or have it tattooed on my body. Especially "And there she is. Standing like a fragile little wisp of a thing she never was" Damn, that's beautiful and so perfect for Tara."

Well, gosh, I don't even know what to say to that except 'wow', 'holy fork', and 'thank you'. :heart

Quote:
'I forget too that Buffy went through similar, Buffy's experience with Angel feels different too though, more subdued I guess'

It's so easy to forget Buffy's trauma because she pushes it all aside. Also - yes, the thing with Angel was certainly more subdued because she sacrificed him to save the world and literally it was the opposite for Willow. So yeah, Buffy's more subdued in her trauma for sure :P (There's a line in some chapter here that reminds me of this too: "with Giles having gone cold in his rage while Willow burned with hers." Substitute Buffy for Giles and it still applies. Buffy retreats because if not she'd explode. Willow just...explodes.)

Sorry for the last bit being confusing! Check out my comment for Will's redemption above, hopefully the explanation makes sense. If not, I gotta do some rewriting!

Quote:
you have inspired me to try writing fic. :blush It's fun and I am stuck, and I have 40 pages written and am still in the beginning.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! I WAS SECRETLY HOPING FOR THIS!!! I've been holding myself back this whole time from saying "Your comments are worlds unto themselves, you should really try writing because" and here you are!! With FORTY PAGES, DUDE, that's awesome!!!! That's absolutely incredible, I'm bouncing with excitement! Even if you decide it's a private thing and not quite for posting, I hope one day you will share. You'd have an eager reader ready for when you are :)
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Giles doesn’t believe it himself until he stands outside the front door and Tara answers. “Good lord,” he says simply.
She’s wearing an apron over jeans with a green top, and appears to be covered in flour. There’s a smear of it leading from a spot on her forehead into her hair, leaving a slightly white streak.

“Mr. Giles!” she says, brightening with a smile, and leans forward to hug him. He returns the motion, slightly dazed, patting her back in greeting.

“Tara, yes. So very good to see you too.” As they pull back, he looks quizzically over her shoulder into the house.

“Buffy and Dawn are at school, Xander’s at work, and Spike’s at Xanders’,” she explains. “I’m baking.”

“Yes, clearly,” he says, blinking rapidly with a slight smile as he glances at the apron. Still beaming, she steps backwards, inviting him in. “Of course,” he lifts his suitcase and carries it into the foyer. While it is genuinely good to see Tara, it reminds him why he’s here. “And, ah, Willow?”

“She’s upstairs. Taking a shower.” Tara’s tone stays relatively even, but her body language shifts just enough.

Buffy hadn’t said much the night before, only that there wasn’t much to say. When he asked her to repeat herself, all he got was, “Tara’s back, Spike is involved somehow, we don’t know much of anything, and Willow’s gonna gnaw her finger off if I don’t give her the phone.” There was a far-off shuffle of the phone being passed before Willow’s trembling voice came on the line. “Giles?”

“Are you alright?” he asked immediately.

There was a shaky exhale on the other end. “Well, I haven’t gone all homicidal maniac. So, I guess . . . okay?”

“It’ll be alright, Willow. The next flight leaves in a few hours, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Giles, hurry,” she pleaded nervously. “I’m kinda freaking out over here.”

“Ms. Hartness says to hum. I rather hope you’ve some idea of what that means as it’s left me completely in the dark.”

“I’ll try, Giles. Thanks.”


The memory of Willow’s anxiety brings him back to the moment sharply. The being in front of him looks and acts, to the best of his memory, exactly like Tara. But the fact that there is so little to go on naturally has him on edge. She’s been alone in the house with them overnight and no harm appears to have fallen on anyone. Buffy has left a voicemail promising to swing back by the house on her lunch break, and he has called Willow to let her know of his arrival. He is practically bursting with questions and can only imagine how Buffy and the others are feeling.

“You’re worried for them.”*

He blushes, realizing Tara knows he’s scrutinizing her. He’s forgotten she can do that. “Well yes, your, ah, absence was something of a traumatic experience for us all. Some took it harder than others.”

“Like trying to end the world?”

The bitterness and anger in her voice is palpable, and he fails to mask his surprise at hearing that emotion from her for the first time.

Tara rubs her forehead, “Sorry,” she apologizes. “It’s been . . .” she searches for words but finds none sufficient, “. . . A day,” she finishes emptily.

“Giles?” a hopeful, thin voice calls from the top of the stairs.

“Willow,” he replies fondly, grateful to see his charge in one piece.

Practically running down the stairs, she throws herself into his arms. He collects her easily, and though she’s put on weight since England, is still frail against his chest as she takes a shuddering breath. Willow’s hair is still damp from the shower. He kisses the crown of her head, remembering the broken way she’d fallen into his arms after she’d first arrived in England, and feels very, very proud of how far she’s come.

After several moments he finally pulls back, taking in Willow’s wet eyes and the guarded way Tara observes them, and clears his throat. “Tea, anyone?”
___________________________________________________________________________


Xander’s eyes flicker nervously around the room before settling back on Willow. The pizza he’s brought over after work has been devoured, mostly by himself, Dawn, and Buffy (trust a teenager and Slayer to each pack away over half a pie single handedly). And the now-empty boxes and plates are stacked high with used napkins. Willow, he notices, has managed to eat an entire slice, and is now taking small nibbles of the crust as she sits back, quietly watching everyone else. They’ve finally got a functional, living, real-life Willow back, one who doesn’t look like every breath is excruciating. He swells with protectiveness.

God, this is freaky. And not just because Spike is here, though that certainly doesn’t put him at ease. And the way he and Tara are acting together? All . . . chummy and close? It gives him the jeebies. The heebie-jeebies. The nicest person he ever met, like, seriously ‘her-name-would-be-in-the-dictionary-next-to-the-word nice’, is buddy-buddy with . . . Spike.

Ok, so he has a soul now, but he’s still Spike.

Honestly, that’s the one thing that makes him think what they’re claiming is true. There’s no way the two of them would ever be so close otherwise. Unless it’s the big bad messing with them. And Tara is evil. No, Tara could never be evil. But if it isn’t Tara . . .

He’s never seen anything so convincing, though. The way she greeted him this morning, eyes so tender and full of bright, shining love; holding him tight. Eyes that looked so sorrowfully at the faint marks on his cheek, and clouded over when she touched them so delicately, her fingers tickling the stubble on his skin. Tara had looked at him the same way when Joyce died and he put his fist through the wall like an idiot. Only, she hadn’t looked at him like he was an idiot; just with infinite tenderness and understanding. Like only they shared a secret.

That same Tara is somehow sitting in the living room, buddy-buddy with Spike, and collecting the broken pieces of all of them like it’s nothing. Something that only Tara can do. No. She’s real. Somehow.

He doesn’t like it. Well no, that isn’t entirely true. He’s thrilled! Tara is back! And hasn’t been pulled away from a heavenly dimension! But nothing ever happens on the Hellmouth without reason, and that reason is usually bad, if not terrible, and even more often than that, straight up evil. It makes his stomach turn. And not just because he’s eaten too many slices of pizza.

They need answers, because the longer Tara is here without them, the worse it’ll get.

He pulled Willow aside after handing off the warm pizza boxes to Buffy. “How’s it going?”

It didn’t look like she’d moved much from the dining room table all day. She glanced back at the workstation and shook her head. “There hasn’t been much to go on yet. She was waiting for everyone to get back before going too much into detail, but I started researching pocket-dimension theories and—” He cut her off.

“No. Will, how are you doing?”

“Oh,” she said softly, a little dumbfounded and surprised, as if she’d forgotten about herself entirely.

He watches her carefully while Tara and Spike explain their story.

“And you say the books were completely empty?” Giles asks curiously in his most Giles-y way; blinking rapidly while holding a cup of tea.

“Not completely. There was some stuff in them, but a lot of blanks. Some were things I already knew, but not everything.”

Giles seems to chew on the information. “Fascinating,” he murmurs. “And they were like that until Spike appeared.” Tara nods in confirmation. “Fascinating,” he repeats to himself, lost in thought. “There are theories of cryptomnesia, but never in a type of case such as this.”

“Giles? Translate?” reminds Buffy, glancing around the room at similar blank faces.

“The reappearance of suppressed or forgotten memories,” he explains. “Usually it manifests as unconscious plagiarism. Or in cases of deep trauma, such as people waking up from a coma with the sudden ability to speak another language. In your case, it appears as though only that which you had previous knowledge of, or exposure to, was present in your . . . Limboland,” he finishes, begrudgingly using the word Buffy has coined to describe where Tara has been.

“So why’d they suddenly fill up when Spike showed?” Buffy asks. “If I knew he could magic words onto a page, I would’ve had a much easier time getting through finals.”

“If, as Tara says, before there was no connection to the earth, and thus magic, it appears his soul must have had something to do with it,” Giles posits.

“So what, Spike’s soul is magic? What makes him so special? I’ve got a soul, why couldn’t I see Tara?” Xander asks.

“You’re human,” Buffy says, some sort of realization dawning. “He’s not.”

Giles walks slowly around the room, pacing as he thinks aloud. “A vampire is a magical creature by its very nature; a demon inhabiting the body of the deceased. It’s possible that Spike’s soul, while reunited with his body, wasn’t bound by it the way ours are.”

“So Spike’s soul is magic.” Xander confirms.

“Of sorts, yes. And I doubt there are very many demons in Sunnydale who can attest to the same qualifications. It still begs the question as to where Tara was in the first place. And how she got there. I suggest we start looking into demonic soul possessions and dimensional theory,” Giles finishes.

“Isn’t it lucky we get homework when we’re not even in school anymore?” Xander says with false cheerfulness.

Buffy stands and runs her hands over her thighs to straighten her pants, signaling commander mode. “You, Dawn, Giles, and Willow are on book duty. I’ll patrol tonight and see what I can find out about this ‘beneath you devoury’ thing.”

“Um, hello?” Spike spreads his arms wide in a ‘what about me’ gesture.

“Right,” Buffy says. “You stay here.”

“What?!” Spike says, offended. “I may be crazy but I can still fight.”

“That’s exactly why you can’t fight. Your crazy is a liability and I can’t protect you and fight the bad guys at the same time. Sorry Spike, you’re benched. Besides,” her eyes scan the room quickly, “I think there are more than a few people here that could use some extra protecting.”

Immediately, Xander’s eyes find Willow, whose eyes are predictably trained on Tara, whose eyes are, predictably, trained on Dawn. Whatever his feelings about Spike, Xander finds he can’t disagree with Buffy on that.






*Borrowed from JetWolf's The Chosen

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((63/?-September 11th, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:50 pm 
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Dibs. :applause I love this story. You capture the characters so well. Giles care for Willow, his concerns about Spike, his worries that Tara is part of a big bad... I am looking forward to continuing to read. Thanks for writing.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((63/?-September 11th, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:48 pm 
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Quote:
It's not that Tara might trigger the apocalypse but that the apocalypse might *be* Tara. Does that make any sense?

Actually to me it doesn't, sorry. In my understanding no individual (human, demon or hellgod even) can "be" an apocalypse, only cause one (in a fantasy-setting, not talking about religion here). And I still can't imagine that Dawn would call the real Tara "Evil" if by something she already did (like returning from "Limboland" into the "real" world) or will still do she might - inadvertantly - somehow set the circumstances for a future apocalypse. Or are you meaning some kind of "Jekyll and Hyde"-thing?

(After reading the word "Limboland" parts of a silly old David Hasselhoff-song about "limbodance" popped into my head, by the way - my mind has ist quirks sometimes. :wink )

Quote:
“Well yes, your, ah, absence was something of a traumatic experience for us all. Some took it harder than others.”

“Like trying to end the world?”

The bitterness and anger in her voice is palpable, and he fails to mask his surprise at hearing that emotion from her for the first time.

Quote:
After several moments he finally pulls back, taking in Willow’s wet eyes and the guarded way Tara observes them, and clears his throat.


How ironic that while all others wonder if Tara might be an evil double (or real but still somehow evil), Tara seems to have come to the conclusion that Willow is "the Evil" in the household and can't be trusted. It's understandable somehow because she only got the shortest report of Willow's deeds by Willow herself who hates herself for what she did (basically like an accused saying "I'm guilty, please put me in prison!"). I think what Tara needs is a long conversation with Giles who knows about Willow's crimes, forgave her and loves her still. He could also tell Tara about Willow's time in England, her training with the coven and that he
Quote:
feels very, very proud of how far she’s come.


Because as long as Tara doesn't know about that she can't realize that Willow's promíse a few chapters back
Quote:
“I can only do better.”

isn't just empty words.

Quote:
The way she greeted him this morning, eyes so tender and full of bright, shining love; holding him tight. Eyes that looked so sorrowfully at the faint marks on his cheek, and clouded over when she touched them so delicately, her fingers tickling the stubble on his skin. Tara had looked at him the same way when Joyce died and he put his fist through the wall like an idiot. Only, she hadn’t looked at him like he was an idiot; just with infinite tenderness and understanding. Like only they shared a secret.

I loved this, again a great insight in Xander's feelings!

I'm sad that obviously none of the scoobies informed Anya about Tara's return. She was her friend too after all. And with her thousand years of demon-experience she might even have some knowledge or at least ideas how Tara ended up in limbo.

Quote:
“So why’d they suddenly fill up when Spike showed?” Buffy asks. “If I knew he could magic words onto a page, I would’ve had a much easier time getting through finals.”

:laugh Trust Buffy to provide a moment of genuine comic relief!


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((65/?-September 17th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:49 pm 
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@taranwillow4ever:
Dibs, you win! I'm so glad the characters come alive for you - no matter the story or fandom, characterization is the thing most important to me so that means a lot thank you!

@Will's redemption:
I guess similar to how The First is manipulating and using Spike through the trigger to kill is the fear about Tara. Maybe an unknown evil (the "from beneath you it devours") brought back Tara to hurt the Scoobies. Maybe it could 'activate' her at any time through a similar trigger. Whenever something good happens on the Hellmouth, there's usually a pretty big catch somewhere down the line, and the Scoobies are right to be afraid of what they don't yet understand.

Quote:
"Tara seems to have come to the conclusion that Willow is "the Evil" in the household and can't be trusted."

Your understanding of this is dead on. For Tara, this is still fresh and new. She's only recently learned about the horrific things Willow did. Everyone else has had months. She's got a lot of processing catching up to do.

Glad Xander is bringing more good things! He's a good egg, deep down. Wish the show let him shine a bit more.

We can always trust Buffy to bring all the quips :)
________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There is a chorus of protestations, people clamoring loudly over one another, but in the end Tara shouts, which is enough to grab everyone’s attention. She blushes, but does not apologize, and repeats in a clear, calm voice—that leaves no room for argument—that she is going for a walk, and that she is going to do it by herself.

It’s surprising to her how stifled she feels in the house. After months alone in an empty world craving the people she missed the most, it is suddenly overwhelming and smothering. Willow doesn’t make eye contact with her, though Tara feels her staring hungrily out the corners of her eyes. Willow doesn’t touch her, rarely approaches her, and keeps her distance is much as possible. It feels wrong to admit to herself, but this comes as a relief. Unsure about her own conflicted feelings—torn between her anger, hurt, grief, and love—it’s easier to have some distance.

Tara sighs as she makes her way down the street, confusion and uncertainty tying her stomach in knots.

And other concerns plague her, a deeper nagging doubt that grows stronger by the hour. What if she is dangerous? What if Buffy was right, that first night?

Could she be the thing that she has always feared the most? Something ugly and evil—like her father always told her she was—that will hurt the people she loves? Has she come this far only to have come back wrong? Is she even in control of herself? She stops briefly on the sidewalk and rubs her temple, pressing the heels of her palms against her eyes until she sees stars.

There is no rustle of bushes or sound of footsteps, but the hairs on the back of Tara’s neck stand up.

“H-hello?” she calls out warily. Defensive spells fly to mind, and she sends a quick tendril of herself into the earth, checking to see that her connection to magic is still present and can be called forth. Reassured at the familiar presence, she calls out again, feeling stronger, confident, with the safety of magic at her side. “Show yourself,” she demands.

This time the bush does rustle, but it’s Buffy who steps out from it, ducking through the branches and looking very sheepish. “Hi,” she waves lamely.

“Buffy,” Tara exhales in relief before the briefest flash of irritation flares. “What are you doing here?” she asks, crossing her arms.

“Um. Not following you?” Buffy attempts lamely. Tara raises an eyebrow and Buffy drops the act. “Following you,” she admits guiltily. Seeing Tara’s mouth open to protest, Buffy quickly continues with a quirked brow of her own, “Oh come on, like we were going to let you go out alone? At night? In Sunnydale? Besides, I wasn’t gonna interrupt, you never would have known I was here.”

Tara’s eyebrow jumps further up her forehead. “Sorry,” Buffy looks sheepish again. “Am I interrupting? ‘Cause I can—” she gestures backwards with her thumb, indicating an exit.

Questions and uncertainties hang heavily over her and Tara thinks maybe she’s had enough alone time for the night. Now that Buffy is here, she doesn’t want to see her go. Hugging herself, Tara shakes her head, “No, it’s fine.”

“Y’sure?”

Tara nods again. They resume walking, falling into step next to each other in a companionable silence, though Tara’s fears hover on her shoulder, haunting not far behind.

“Alright, spill,” Buffy blurts not a few minutes later. “I’ve done the resurrected back-from-the-dead thing a few times now. There’s . . . stuff to deal with. I’ve also had my ex-boyfriend come back from the dead too—or, undead, I guess—so no matter which way you look at it, that kinda makes me the expert, here.”

Tara sighs loudly, not even knowing where to begin.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” Buffy says. “The way the world just kept going, without you in it and when you come back, it’s speeding so fast you can’t get back on.”

“How did you do it?”

“Not sure I’m the best example here, what with the clinical depression, sleeping with Spike—,” Buffy counts out each item with a finger, and she’s ready to keep going, but Tara interrupts her.

“No, I mean—how did you forgive Willow?” Embarrassed and almost surprised at the admission, Tara hugs herself tightly, looking away from Buffy and hiding behind a veil of hair. It’s an old gesture, but one she clings to in this moment nonetheless.

Just as Tara thinks Buffy’s not going to say anything at all, she speaks. “I’ve been the Slayer for a long time now and almost given up more times than I’d like. But Willow and Xander were always there, helping me save the world. She had a million reasons to leave Sunnydale, but she chose to stay here, fighting evil. And fighting evil is hard, trust me. Especially when it’s yourself. Sometimes the people we need to save are each other.”

Buffy takes a breath, and the next words come out pained. “I wasn’t here last year, Tara. I should have known what was going on with Willow. Been there for Dawn. For you. I should’ve stopped Warren and the others way sooner. You died because of me. Forgiving Willow was easy in the face of that. Plus,” she adds with characteristic cheerfulness, lightening the seriousness of her previous words, “I figure if you help save the world four or five times, the sixth one’s gotta be free.”

Tara is contemplative, chewing on Buffy’s words quietly as she speaks. But buried in there was an admission of guilt she has no reason to apologize for. Tara looks sharply over, displeasure across her face. “Whose gun was it?” she presses resolutely once Buffy finishes.

Buffy blinks, confused, “Sorry?”

“The one that killed me.” She hates that the freshness of it makes her nearly stammer over the truth. But this is too important for such trivialities. “Whose was it?”

“Um, Warren’s, I guess. Maybe Jonathan or the other one? I don’t know, wh—”

Tara interrupts, because this is crucial, and she wants her to know it. Buffy has always carried too much of her burden alone; this shouldn’t ever be one of them. “His gun, Buffy. He pulled the trigger. Not you. It was no one’s fault but his.” Tara hopes it’s enough, that her words can somehow penetrate the armor of guilt her friend carries.

Buffy bites her lip, looks up at the moon; Tara searches her face. A moment passes. “Let’s go home, Tara,” she says finally, eyes wet. At the battle-weary look on Buffy’s face, Tara thinks maybe, just maybe, she’s made a dent.
_________________________________________________________

There’s no rushing yeast.

Tara sighs in relief—the bag of yeast is still in the back of the freezer where she left it last year. Crumpled and wedged behind boxes of frozen dinners and containers of ice cream, but still there. The other ingredients –sugar, flour, salt—are presumably also untouched since Tara’s departure.

She made a lot of bread the summer after Buffy died. Unable to sleep, waking in the early morning hours—sometimes before dawn—with a panicked sweat slicked down her back and nightmares of Glory echoing in her ears. There was no sleep for Tara those mornings. Gingerly she’d sneak out of bed as to not wake Willow, who had often helped quiet her back to sleep from earlier nightmares, and head downstairs to the kitchen.

Tara felt closest to her mother, then. Her mother, who had lived with a quiet dignity and strength and died without it—her mind and body stolen by sickness. Her mother, who had braided her hair and patched her scratches and iced the bruises and made Tara promise—promise—to get out once she could. Who had seen the love Tara had in her heart and made her vow to give it to someone worthy.

Sometimes Tara missed her so much it made her want to punch something with the unfairness of it. To take the anger and hurt and grief and push it as far away as she could because it was just too much for one person to hold. It hurts, she’d said to Xander. She remembered that release of pain, grateful to feel it somewhere else for a moment, instead of strangling her heart.

Bread takes time. It has to be kneaded, massaged, and left alone to prove, only to be beaten down again for a second rise. Only time will help it reinflate, to help it forgive and forget what was done to it; to be made into something more.

Tara thinks they’ve all been beaten enough. She just wants to be left alone to rise.

“Are you ok?” Dawn mumbles sleepily from her pillow, curled up under the blanket toward the wall. Tara cringes. She thought she’d snuck in quietly.

“I’m fine Dawnie, go back to sleep,” she whispers, trying to change into pajamas as quietly as possible. Tara slips under the covers, trying not to jostle the bed too much. With no further motion from the shoulders on other side of the bed, she lets out a long sigh, as much in relief to have not woken Dawn as the exhaustion of the day catching up with her.

Tara can sense long hours of tired restlessness ahead but is still startled when, without stirring, Dawn’s voice suddenly breaks through the night, gentle and sincere in the darkness. “I was angry too, when she came back.”

Tara sighs. It’s too much and all too confusing. “Dawn-” she barely begins to chastise before the next words chill her to her bones.

“But I wasn’t angry she killed him. I’m glad he’s dead.” Dawn’s voice is hard and cold. The tone is final, leaving no room for conversation. She still hasn’t moved. Silence presses. Tara swallow and blinks into the blackness. Sleep doesn’t come for a long, long time.


“You’re gonna run out of flour eventually, you know.”

Tara smiles against her better judgement. Spike saunters around the counter, pulling her from her thoughts. “Y’not uh, hiding out in here by any chance, are you?” He jerks his thumb towards the dining room, where Willow hasn’t moved from research mode in hours.

Tara flushes in embarrassment at being called out so accurately and she punches the dough a little harder than is strictly necessary. “No,” she shoots back defensively, immediately feeling bad for snapping. “No,” she repeats more gently.

“Maybe a little,” she admits.

“Lot tougher now that it’s real, innit?”

“I didn’t think it would be this hard.”

“Can’t hide from things when they’re right in front of you. Well, you can, but not forever.” He pulls out a cigarette, slips it behind his ear. “I’ve tried.”

The anger comes more easily than she ever expected it to. “I can barely look at her without thinking about what she did.”

“Trust me, she can’t either.”

“Why are you doing this?”

He shrugs. “I’ve been in love with something I didn’t deserve. More th’n once. Been on both sides of this one.”

After everything, after finally having making it back, things are more broken between them than they ever were. She just wanted to come home. She’d given Willow her heart a long time ago. The trust she’d been earning back carefully all those months ago, gone; crumbled in the wake of her passing. Can it ever be rebuilt again? And now, a question Tara never wanted to ask—Should it?

She’s come so far, finding home again in Dawn and Buffy’s arms. In Xander, Anya, and Giles. Miracles she never thought she’d have again. She wants more than anything to find similar solace in Willow’s arms, to be soothed by Willow’s hands.

Hands that floated roses and freed her mind. Hands that have now stripped flesh and crushed bone. Murdered. Hands she can’t even look at. “I don’t know how things can ever be the same.” It feels like her heart is breaking.

“They won’t be. Nothing ever is.”

Tara finds she doesn’t have much to say to that. She dips her hands in flour and kneads.

_________________
Lotus


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((65/?-September 17th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:22 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 180
Dibs! :whip

This update had my heart churning again. It's so like Tara to jump on the fear she feels in the others that she herself might be evil and to try to ease Buffy's feelings of guilt.

Quote:
Tara felt closest to her mother, then. Her mother, who had lived with a quiet dignity and strength and died without it—her mind and body stolen by sickness. Her mother, who had braided her hair and patched her scratches and iced the bruises and made Tara promise—promise—to get out once she could. Who had seen the love Tara had in her heart and made her vow to give it to someone worthy.

Sometimes Tara missed her so much it made her want to punch something with the unfairness of it. To take the anger and hurt and grief and push it as far away as she could because it was just too much for one person to hold. It hurts, she’d said to Xander. She remembered that release of pain, grateful to feel it somewhere else for a moment, instead of strangling her heart.

Bread takes time. It has to be kneaded, massaged, and left alone to prove, only to be beaten down again for a second rise. Only time will help it reinflate, to help it forgive and forget what was done to it; to be made into something more.

Tara thinks they’ve all been beaten enough. She just wants to be left alone to rise.


I loved this insight into Tara's past and the bread-analogy. That her mother with her "quiet dignity and strength" is obviously her role-modell explains a lot of her character. I do suspect that she has some surpressed anger towards her mother as well though for not getting her out of the violent clutches of her father and just tending to her bruises instead of preventing them…

Quote:
“Dawn-” she barely begins to chastise before the next words chill her to her bones.

“But I wasn’t angry she killed him. I’m glad he’s dead.” Dawn’s voice is hard and cold. The tone is final, leaving no room for conversation. She still hasn’t moved. Silence presses. Tara swallow and blinks into the blackness.

Quote:
The anger comes more easily than she ever expected it to. “I can barely look at her without thinking about what she did.”

Quote:
Hands that have now stripped flesh and crushed bone. Murdered. Hands she can’t even look at.


I really wish someone or something could penetrate the armor of righteousness Tara has put on. Maybe she should try to imagine how she would have felt if Willow had been shot by Warren and died in her arms. Certainly she wouldn't have let herself be consumed by dark magic and went on a killing spree like Willow did, but feeling hatred towards Warren and wishing him dead would be "normal" in my eyes, even for a gentle soul like Tara. And if in such a state of mind vengeance-demon Anya had offered her a wish, who knows what would have happened then?

Quote:
She wants more than anything to find similar solace in Willow’s arms, to be soothed by Willow’s hands.


Well Tara, I guess you will never have that again if you can't bring yourself to forgive Willow and show her that forgiveness first.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((65/?-September 17th, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:19 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:33 pm
Posts: 635
Topics: 2
Location: North Carolina, USA
This story continues to rock. I kinda agree with the other feedback. Tara is being self-righteous. I liked Buffy's watching out for Tara on the walk and then offering her experience. Everyone is mentioning that Willow is the one who is the most angry at herself, Tara needs to figure a way to forgive or make it make sense in her mind. Willow and Tara belong together, and that is a kitten rule. Thanks for continuing to write.

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Atlantic Antics
Meeting Expectations
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