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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.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((65/?-September 17th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:22 pm 
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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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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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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((65/?-September 17th, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 7:46 pm 
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Hi, I missed an update in there. This will be short cuz I am sick and brain is on low function mode. I felt for Tara when Giles came, it makes sense but it has to sting that he is so wary of her and so open to Willow.
I don't think Tara is being self-righteous, she hasn't been back that long and when she left she had JUST forgiven Willow enough to come back to her. Again, she didn't see what happened. However, I do agree that she needs to look at how the others are reacting to Willow and should look at Willow's pov. You are showing us these things though, she is taking it all in, it's just a process. Willow scared the hell out of her before with the magic, it makes sense she would be repelled by what her love is capable of and has done. I trust your journey.
Thanks for the excitement about me writing- that was cool, I hope it lives up. I do plan on posting just have a curve I want to get around first .

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((65/?-September 17th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:07 pm 
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@Will's redemption:
Quote:
"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…

Ho boy, is there so much about 'Family' to unpack. And sadly, canon never really gives us a satisfying answer to this lingering issue with Mrs. Maclay. If witchcraft runs in the family, presumably we're looking at at least three generations of women passing on their knowledge to the generation beneath them. So how is it with all this knowledge about witchcraft, somehow the whole demon thing was still instilled in the women?

Tara's reaction might seem harsh, but remember it's only been a week since she came back and learned the truth about what Willow did. Last time Will abused the magics (and Tara herself), Tara stayed away for ten whole episodes. Reconciliation over something the size of the whole world is going to take some time and work.

@taranwillow4ever:
Thanks for reading, I'm so glad you're enjoying the story! Don't worry, this story is Kitten friendly, but there's the whole "You can't ever put things back the way they were. There's so much to work through. Trust has to be built again on both sides. You have to learn if we're even the same people we were, if we can fit in each others' lives." Things fell apart even hard and louder this time than they did before. No skipping anything this time around. I promise the journey will be worth it.

@shirrey:
Summer colds are no fun! I seem to not be able to shake mine either, hope yours clears away soon. Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting, hope you enjoy the update. It's one I've been quite excited about for some time :)


Buckle up, Kittens, this is a big one
________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Willow thinks about how she took for granted, the years when they were together, not being nervous around Tara anymore.

In the beginning, without knowing why, she had been full of butterflies at the thought of Tara -of doing another spell together, of asking to hang out. It became painfully obvious later, of course, but at the time she’d just chalked it up to the nervousness and newness of having something of her own outside the Scoobies.

Then, there was a flutter in her stomach whenever they did anything for the first time, basking in the newness of being in love and out, together - going to a restaurant, seeing a romantic movie, holding hands.

And later came an entirely different breed of nervousness, after their breakup when uncertainty surrounded every interaction in a haze of guilt. And the bright, shining moment at the wedding, when the jitters turned light and hopeful, fresh with the promise of beginning anew. Each moment, electric; lighting Willow up from the inside out.

But this? This is a new sort of nervousness, even stronger than it had been last year. Her skin itches constantly, but for the first time in a long time, not with the magics. It’s the itch of unknowing, and it keeps Willow up at night. The rest of the world falls away until only the question of Tara remains. And unlike during the pressing apocalypse of Glory, this time, she can devote her full attention toward finding answers. So she does.

It’s been a few days now, since Tara has come back. Buffy has stopped trying to talk her into going to bed; instead, making her promise to take regular REM-cycle length naps. That, at least, Willow can promise. It is nice, though, getting to see more of Buffy after she finishes patrolling, when the lines between ‘late’ and ‘early morning’ are blurred, and they can share a nighttime snack before Buffy crashes for a few hours before school. Sometimes there are other soft footsteps, overhead, in the quiet dark. Willow knows by those steps Tara has woken from another bad dream and is getting a glass of water in the bathroom. Relief and guilt pool in her belly when Tara does not come downstairs.

Willow felt the blade of Tara’s anger; she was intimately familiar with its edges, aware of how conflicted Tara is n her presence. Can’t blame her, at all, either; how can she not be, after the things Willow’s done?

Since not causing Tara any pain or discomfort is pretty high on the list of her priorities, she decides to minimize her presence as much as possible. She shrinks, making herself invisible. She’s had years of practice, after all; it’s been a while since those mousy pre-teen years, but she will be Invisi-girl again in a heartbeat if it means giving more space to Tara.

Willow is done imposing her will on others, wheedling herself back into people’s lives, heedless of their feelings. However Tara has come back, it is her life now to choose what she wants to do with it. All Willow wants is to make sure that it is safe and truly her own. That is a gift Willow desperately wants to give. And that means finding answers.

So it comes as an honest surprise when Buffy dumps a bookbag on the table, jerking a very bewildered Willow out of research mode, and demanding she go to class. She’s forgotten about school entirely. It seems so unimportant in the face of everything else. She goes begrudgingly, and ends up deciding to stay on campus longer to get ahead of the next few assignments and free up time she can use to keep researching later.

The library is near empty, and Willow has a table all to herself. Exhaustion of the last few days seem to catch up, because she finds her eyelids growing heavy, and words blurring on the page. So close to relinquishing herself to a nap, a pair of feet walks into her peripheral vision and stops at the table. She follows them up and is more than a little surprised by who she sees. “Tara?”

She stands without a greeting, hugging herself nervously, eyes dashing around the library, looking everywhere but at Willow. Gnawing her lip, Tara ducks her head, letting her hair fall forward, over her face, and shakes her head softly.

“What’s wrong?” Willow asks, pushing their awkwardness aside as her concern grows. “Are you okay?”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt, I just . . .” Tara swallows, still refusing to make eye contact. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“Do what? Tara—”

“There’s something I haven’t t-told any of you yet. About where I was.”

Warning bells ring faintly, but desperate to help, Willow ignores them. This is more than they’ve said to each other, directly, since the kitchen the night Tara came back. “You can tell me anything, you know that, right? It doesn’t matter what it is.”

“I’m sorry, I just . . . didn’t know how to say it. I saw things.”

“What kinds of things?” Willow probes gently.

“It was horrible, Will,” she says miserably.

Willow leans forward in alarm, “Did-did it hurt you?”

Tara shakes her head in frustration, “No, that’s not what I mean. Sorry. I’m saying it all wrong.”

“That’s okay, take your time. Whatever you need.”

Tara hesitates, weighing her decision before meeting Willow’s eyes. “I think I was sent back to warn you.”

“Is it the ‘from beneath you it devours’ thing?” She moves to take a notebook out of her bag, “I’m still working on that. There are some texts—”

“No.” Tara interrupts. “Not ‘It’, Will.” It’s clear from the serious tone and demeanor what she means.

“Oh, god,” Willow says as it sinks in. “Me.” Tara nods solemnly. “Oh, god,” Willow repeats. “What did I do?”

Ducking her head again, as if it’s too painful to admit, Tara responds, “You don’t want to know what I saw.”

That’s it. All of the months of painstaking work, the hours of meditations, sleepless nights, all the times she’s wanted to give up and die, it’s all been for nothing. Panic rushes in like a tidal wave, drowning her in abject terror. Ears ringing, she takes desperate ragged breaths to try and calm herself, but finds the air far too thin. From somewhere outside of herself, Willow registers the table suddenly seeming very far away. “Oh, god.”

Tara continues quickly, trying to calm her down, “But if you stop, completely, no more magic—”

Tara’s words slam her back into herself immediately, and Willow clings to them, nodding furiously in agreement. “Right. Right. Stop. But what about Giles and the Coven? They made it seem like it would be just as dangerous for me to quit completely. Like I’ll go off the deep end again!”

“You can’t, Willow,” Tara says with warning. “If you do so much as another spell . . .”

It’s all too much. All she wants to be is Willow but she can’t even do that right. “I tried to stop! I tried! What if I can’t do this?”

“Don’t think that way.”

The tears are hot with shame and weakness. “How can I not? I’m not strong, Tara. I’m just me. Look at what I did before . . .”

Tara thinks hard for a moment. “There is one thing,” she offers, “One thing you could do to stop it from happening.”

Desperate for an answer, Willow begs, “What? Anything.”

“I did it once. It’s not that bad, really.”

A different set of bells ring a warning. This time shrill and off-key. “Tara?”

“You could sleep,” Tara offers with a shrug.

There’s a beat as Willow comprehends Tara’s meaning. Her expression shifts. Distrust and anger darken her features.

“Who are you,” she asks coldly. Deadly.

All gentleness drops from Tara’s face, settling into an almost disinterested calm. “The suicide thing was too far, huh? Huh. You seemed so ripe.”

“Who are you,” Willow demands.

“You know you’ve wanted to. Thought it would be better for everyone—make sure Big, Bad Willow can’t ever come out to play and hurt anyone else again.”

“Tell me who you are,” Willow demands again, less confidently, trying to keep the shakiness from her voice and failing.
‘Tara’ ignores her completely. “I stand by my opinion, you know. The world would be better—safer—if you took a razor blade to your wrists—”

Memories of nights in England come to her a cold rush and the magic comes unbidden. She squeezes a fist against it. “Stop—”

“She’d be better off, too, you know. Without you reminding her of everything you did to her. Of what you did in her name.”

“Stop it.” she begs, “Stop using Tara this way—”

“What, the way you did? When you turned her into a thing to control? When you tortured Warren and tried to kill everyone just because she died? As if you’re the only person that’s ever lost someone they loved. She can’t stand to look at you, you know that, right? You might as well off yourself now because you don’t know hurt. This last year is going to seem like cake after what I put you and your friends through, and I am not a fan of easy death. Fact is, the whole good-versus-evil, balancing the scales thing . . . I’m over it. I’m done with the mortal coil. But believe me, I’m going for a big finish.”

Willow can only mutter, “From beneath you, it devours.”

“Guilty,” Not-Tara says with a look of smug cruelty that has never once graced her true face.
__________________________________________________________________________________

Tara slaps the dough onto the counter, grinding the heel of her palms forward as if she can push her unrest with it. Buffy has gone patrolling, Willow is at the library, Dawn’s at a friend’s house working on a history project, Spike is at Xander’s; and Tara, once again, is alone at home.

The house is quiet for the first time since her return, and even the light seems still. Silence presses heavily, the way it used to, growing tighter around her chest. She’s turned to the kitchen the way she turned to it before, churning the turmoil of everything into something that can be given form.

“Careful not to over mix,” comes a tenderly soft, sweet voice that stops Tara cold. “You don’t want it to get dense.” A woman with long brown hair sweeping over a shoulder sits on one of the counter stools. “Hi, Sweetie,” the woman says, with infinitely kind eyes.

“M-Mom?”

Giving no sign she hears Tara address her, the woman sits contentedly observing, smiling with a look of mixed sorrow and profound love. Taking in Tara’s appearance—hair up in a messy bun, wearing an apron—the woman makes a soft, broken sigh. “Oh, Tara, honey. I’m so sorry I missed you growing up.”

Tara pales, choking back a sob that presses on her throat, growing bigger by the second, as she falls from one nightmare dream to another. She wears a look of pure longing, but shakes her head in disbelief. “This can’t possibly be real.”

“As real as the day you accidentally made Cameron’s water bottle explode, remember?”

Tara’s eyes grow wide at the memory. “The first time I did magic.”

Her mother nods, smiling. “You came crying to me saying they were right all along, but what did I tell you? ‘There’s no demon in you, there’s only—”

“‘—Tara’,” she finishes. “Mom,” she sobs, this time with conviction. Tara moves to hug her, to bury herself in her mother’s embrace but falters when her hand passes right through her form.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” Mrs. Maclay apologizes, looking equally mournful. “I’m just visiting.” Reminded of this fact, she glances quickly over her shoulder before turning back with a serious demeanor. “And I don’t have much time,” she says urgently. “I needed to warn you.”

“Warn me?”

“Her soul is in danger.”

“What? Who?” Tara shakes her head, furiously wiping at her eyes.

“Willow,” her mother answers. “The magic, it’s stronger than her. She’s going to destroy everything. She came back from it once before, but this time there’ll be no saving her.”

Tara shakes her head, trying to process the overload of information. “But M-Mr. Giles and the Coven said—”

“I know. They all mean well, and she’s come so far, but I’ve seen what happens and it won’t be enough. You have to help her.”

“W-what? How, what—”

She speaks urgently, as if speaking on borrowed time and will be stopped by someone at any moment. “You have to stop her, before she’s lost forever.”

Tara pulls back, as if struck. Doubt flickers across her face. “Mom?” she asks shakily.

Her mother seems to have anticipated this and continues gently. “Honey, she knows. It’s okay. Why do you think she went to England in the first place? It was only a matter of time.”

Tara pulls away slowly, as the message settles, eyes sharpening to suspicious slits. “You’re not my mother.”

The woman’s earnestness falls, her face hardening. Dropping the charade, the figure continues, “The murder thing was too much, huh? Funny, it didn’t seem to bother her.”

“Stop it.”

The figure’s visage twists into a mockery of her mother’s. “She tortured him first, did you know that?” she says cruelly.

“Stop!”

“That’s exactly how he begged. Before Willow flayed him.”

Tara closes her eyes miserably, shaking her head against the words. “Please, stop.”

The figure places both hands on the counter and stands menacingly. “You think Willow can come back from a stunt like that again? One more temptation, one more spell, and she’s toast. You think it was bad, what happened to you before? Well buck up, sister,” she sneers. “I’ve got big plans, and I’m going to make you wish you never came back.”

“‘From beneath you, it devours’,” Tara breathes out.

“Not ‘it’,” The figure smirks cruelly, “Me.” And with a sharp pop, disappears, leaving Tara alone in the kitchen, utterly chilled to the bone, and heaving shaky breaths.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((67/?-September 24th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:06 pm 
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Dibs :applause

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((67/?-September 24th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:58 pm 
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Quote:
hope you enjoy the update. It's one I've been quite excited about for some time :)


With this anouncement in mind I was certain right from the second Tara suddenly "popped up" into the library that this will be your take on the episode "Conversations with dead people".
The creep factor was high imagining a cruel, evil version of Tara.

Quote:
“The suicide thing was too far, huh? Huh. You seemed so ripe.”

Pretty far fetched of the first in my opinion. In canon where Willow was still in mourning about Tara and facing the rest of her life without her, maybe... But since Tara's return I can't imagine Willow thinking about suicide again.

Quote:
“You have to stop her, before she’s lost forever.”

Tara pulls back, as if struck.

Quote:
“The murder thing was too much, huh?


Honestly I don't get how Tara immediately went to the (right) assumption that by " stop her" her "mother" means "kill her". I would have thought she meant "persuade her not to do magic again".

I guess as painful as these encounters with the first were for Willow and Tara they might lead to something good, pushing them to finally communicate properly. And since Tara knows the first isn't corporeal they might have to touch each other at least briefly at any further encounter, which in my opinion is also of the good. And they gained the knowledge that the first fervently wants to prevent Willow from doing magic which merits the conclusion that the first fears Willow could magically defeat it, also a plus.

I'm wondering if your Dawn also had a visit from the first at her friends house...


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((67/?-September 24th, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:44 pm 
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I didn't see this coming- although I should have with where you are in canon. When tara showed up I was prepared for an actual talk between them, then when 'Tara' started talking about things she saw in Limboland, I was like 'Waiiiiit a second' it was chilling. Willow is still so raw, yea Tara is alive but like your Willow has said, Tara knowing what she did and possibly hating her for it is one of the scariest and most painful and shameful things Willow has done- there is still a lot of self-hatred and guilt for the First to pick at. Plus this:

Quote:
That’s it. All of the months of painstaking work, the hours of meditations, sleepless nights, all the times she’s wanted to give up and die, it’s all been for nothing. Panic rushes in like a tidal wave, drowning her in abject terror. Ears ringing, she takes desperate ragged breaths to try and calm herself, but finds the air far too thin. From somewhere outside of herself, Willow registers the table suddenly seeming very far away. “Oh, god.”


Willow is terrified that nothing she has done has mattered and she is destined to fail everyone again no matter how hard she tries. But, she is in a good enough place that the suicide talk was too much- it made her see the truth, plus Tara wouldn't say that, but also, this Tara is a little different now (still know she wouldn't say it though it may give Willow more pause)

then the Tara side of this

Quote:
Tara slaps the dough onto the counter, grinding the heel of her palms forward as if she can push her unrest with it. Buffy has gone patrolling, Willow is at the library, Dawn’s at a friend’s house working on a history project, Spike is at Xander’s; and Tara, once again, is alone at home.

The house is quiet for the first time since her return, and even the light seems still. Silence presses heavily, the way it used to, growing tighter around her chest. She’s turned to the kitchen the way she turned to it before, churning the turmoil of everything into something that can be given form.


They are both thrown into a past they thought they had escaped - finding themselves smack in the middle of it- although Tara's is real, and I can feel her loneliness here

The First coming back as Tara's mother is cruel (I know, duh) but damn.

When you wrote that that was why Willow went back to England in the first place- did you mean, they told her there she would die or that she was preparing for death? I was a little confused.

I hope this brings them closer somehow. I definitely thought of the First using Tara (although didn't anticipate it in this chapter) This is why Buffy and Dawn were worried yes? Tara is alive AND can be used by the First- that can be dangerous.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((67/?-September 24th, 2019))
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:56 pm 
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@Will's redemption:
You nailed it!

Quote:
But since Tara's return I can't imagine Willow thinking about suicide again.

That's exactly it, though. It was far fetched no matter what. Whether it was canon's version or any fic or AU, Tara would never ever suggest such a thing. Ever. Perhaps the First thought that waiting until Tara came back and using Tara's form to manipulate her with the mystery of where she was and what the big bad would be to suggest it was Willow herself, again, is certainly plausible. But it's completely implausible the real Tara would ever say that. Whether The First is suggesting it from Cassie's mouth or Tara's, the suggestion itself is the dead giveaway. Part of Willow will likely always be in mourning, even in S7 AUs where Tara comes back from the dead. But even when she's as brittle as she is in canon, she's always been stronger than she gave herself credit for.

Quote:
Honestly I don't get how Tara immediately went to the (right) assumption that by " stop her" her "mother" means "kill her". I would have thought she meant "persuade her not to do magic again".

Fair enough. In my head as the writer, the jump from 'you have to stop her' to 'she has to die' isn't that far, but I must not have written the path out in depth enough. Sorry about that!
Quote:
they might lead to something good, pushing them to finally communicate properly.

Nailed it again. Nothing like a good old fashioned external catalyst to get people to communicate :)

Quote:
I'm wondering if your Dawn also had a visit from the first at her friends house...

This isn't spoiling anything, so no. This Dawn just had a relaxing night with her friend, eating pizza and watching movies. I didn't think the thing with The First and Dawn was successful in CwDP in the show and it certainly wasn't followed up well, so I relished the chance to cut it entirely. Dawn remains untortured, for once


@Shirrey:
Quote:
'Waiiiiit a second' it was chilling.

Sweet! Glad it was eerie for you!

Quote:
Tara knowing what she did and possibly hating her for it is one of the scariest and most painful and shameful things Willow has done- there is still a lot of self-hatred and guilt for the First to pick at.

Exactly. There are a lot of weak, vulnerable points here for The First to pick at. It preys on all of her worst fears. Willow sure as heck doesn't trust herself her, but the one thing she always will trust is Tara. And since Tara would never suggest Will give up or go so far as to kill herself, well, that's the thing that pulls her out of it.

Quote:
The First coming back as Tara's mother is cruel (I know, duh) but damn.

It was hard, giving form to a character we've never met and have no true connection to (aside from knowing what she meant to Tara). This veered so closely into OC territory it made me nervous, so I tried to keep use of Mrs. Maclay as short as pososible. Though perhaps The First could have been one of the other Scoobies, at this point, Tara's talked with all of them recently and for any one of them to turn about face and suggest Willow *isn't* doing better and can control herself would give it away too. (Of course, any suggestion of Willow needing to die gives it away). Anyway, lots of chilling conversation options :)

Quote:
When you wrote that that was why Willow went back to England in the first place- did you mean, they told her there she would die or that she was preparing for death? I was a little confused.
I did. I had the flashback scene from Chapter 37 (Where Willow just gets to England and he's pouring tea she realizes Giles was never going to kill her) in my head at the time, so I thought to connection was clear but I guess for people outside of my head, there needs to be a little more to draw that conclusion. Oops. To answer your question, The First is suggesting to Tara that the reason its okay to kill Willow to save her is because Willow went to England with the expectation they were going to kill her and Willow herself had accepted that already willingly. So doing it would be a pre-approved mercy, so to speak.


Quote:
I definitely thought of the First using Tara (although didn't anticipate it in this chapter) This is why Buffy and Dawn were worried yes? Tara is alive AND can be used by the First- that can be dangerous.

Exactly. Did The First have some part in ressurecting Tara in order to use/control her (like Spike) for it's own nefarious purpose? Dun dun dunnnnn
______________________________________________________________________________________________________




Buffy is terrified by Holden’s words. Spike siring? It’s impossible. It’s unthinkable. How can he? Between his soul and the chip, there is no way. And yet, the pile of dust at her feet begs to differ.

Sure, he’s been staying a Xander’s, but he isn’t a prisoner. Since Tara’s return, he’s actually seemed a bit . . . saner? They all chalked it up to one less voice in his head, but maybe something else has taken its place. Unless Tara knows something? And they are in on it together, somehow? No! Buffy shakes her head against the thought. That doesn’t make any sense, either. Tara’s been with them at the house almost constantly since returning. And Spike didn’t exactly want to stick around for Scooby research, so off he went—free to do his own thing.

Which, possibly . . . means killing people again.

It’s late. Early, she amends, glancing at her watch, but it can’t wait until morning. It’s too important. Hurrying, she makes her way to Xander’s.
____________________________________________________________________


The front door slams open as a very frantic Willow barrels through the entryway.

“Tara?” she calls out in alarm. “Buffy?”

She has one foot on the staircase when she notices light filtering into the darkened dining room from the kitchen. Unsure of what she will find, she creeps tentatively towards the kitchen, taking quiet steps.

Open containers of ingredients and clean baking trays lie scattered across the countertops. A bowl of half-mixed dough languishes in a bowl. The spoon, long forgotten, has slipped down into the batter. Puzzled, Willow turns to head upstairs but freezes when she sees a floury handprint on the handle of the oven, smearing down across its face. Another hesitant step brings Tara into view. She is crumpled on the floor, knees pulled up to her chest, head between them.

“Tara!” There’s no indication that Tara has heard her at all. She remains curled up, taking ragged, irregular, hitching breaths. “Oh god, Tara, are you alright?” Immediately her hands reach forward, but she pulls them back a moment, hesitating, as if unsure to touch. The uncertainty only lasts for a moment, and gently as she can, places a hand on Tara’s shoulder.

Despite the care Willow takes, Tara’s head shoots up at the touch, wide-eyed and terrified. “Willow?” she asks uncertainly, almost fearfully, as if doubtful of what she is seeing.

Willow exhales, relieved at a response, and delicately tries to assess if Tara is hurt, searching for any sort of obvious injury to explain the situation. Tara, for her part, ignores the ministrations. While Willow examines her for bodily harm, Tara searches Willow’s face. Not noticing the scrutiny, when she finally looks back, their eyes meet and she freezes.

They have not stared at each other like this, so openly, since Tara’s return. It’s been stolen stares out of the corners of eyes, avoiding glances and looking away quickly, bypassing their feelings and each other as much as possible.

Willow blisters under Tara’s deep, searching gaze, but she cannot tear herself away. “Tara?” she asks in a strangled voice. Willow is bare beneath Tara, naked to her core, exposed and raw, stinging like a freshly cleaned wound.

Fearful and doubtful of her own sanity, afraid of the past, afraid of the future, Tara searches Willow’s eyes, looking for any shred of the Willow who haunts her—the one who whispers words with flowers and presses forward blindly. Instead she finds deep knowing and shameful understanding. Someone who has faced her darkest truths and emerged awakened.

There is still much to talk about, but for once, Tara feels like it can wait; that they can talk about it—as equals on the same firm ground, and not grinding against each other like tectonic plates.

Tara knows, from looking deep within, that Willow is no longer a danger, to herself or to others. She has seen the deepest, darkest parts of herself and shone a light upon them until they no longer haunt the shadowed corners of her mind. Tara knows this as surely as she had known Willow had problems in the first place. As surely as she had left Willow, she has now come home.

Willow had promised she would always find Tara. Turns out, all Willow needed to do was find herself, and there she was.

As Tara gazes at Willow, a sob breaks, and she falls into her. Gathering each other up, they cling to each other, reunited.

And Willow? Willow drowns. Only, it isn’t the Blackness that pulls her down, but waves of Tara. She never wants to breathe again. Isn’t sure she even needs oxygen to subsist anymore when everything she needs is in her arms. Willow is reminded of why she wants to live.

Unsure of the reason, but not questioning why, Willow simply thanks every god in the pantheon for the wonder in her arms. It is more than she deserves, more than she ever thought she would have again. With every tear Tara sheds, Willow is anointed; bathed anew and baptized in what feels like forgiveness.

Something had happened in the kitchen that caused Tara to fall to her knees, welcoming Willow’s touch and making peace with the past. Her mind still presses with questions, but for now Willow simply lets them be and cherishes her miracle for what it is.

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((69/?-October 4th, 2019))
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:54 am 
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Rachel, holy wow!!! this is gorgeous!! Picture me, sitting on my porch step, stock still, brows furrowed in concentration reading your words slowly so I can take them in, not wanting to miss a single one- just wow.

Quote:
The spoon, long forgotten, has slipped down into the batter
it's descriptions like this that make your writing so good (and I am so taking notes) . It's a simple thing that says so much- how abruptly things happened, how long Tara has been floored, how affected she is.

Quote:
Willow had promised she would always find Tara. Turns out, all Willow needed to do was find herself, and there she was

and there she is- they both just needed to look, to see without the blinders of fear and shame. healing each other with simple faith

Just beautiful.

- Beth

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((69/?-October 4th, 2019))
PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:21 am 
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Quote:
Tara knows, from looking deep within, that Willow is no longer a danger, to herself or to others. She has seen the deepest, darkest parts of herself and shone a light upon them until they no longer haunt the shadowed corners of her mind. Tara knows this as surely as she had known Willow had problems in the first place. As surely as she had left Willow, she has now come home.

Willow had promised she would always find Tara. Turns out, all Willow needed to do was find herself, and there she was.

As Tara gazes at Willow, a sob breaks, and she falls into her. Gathering each other up, they cling to each other, reunited.

And Willow? Willow drowns. Only, it isn’t the Blackness that pulls her down, but waves of Tara. She never wants to breathe again. Isn’t sure she even needs oxygen to subsist anymore when everything she needs is in her arms. Willow is reminded of why she wants to live.

Unsure of the reason, but not questioning why, Willow simply thanks every god in the pantheon for the wonder in her arms. It is more than she deserves, more than she ever thought she would have again. With every tear Tara sheds, Willow is anointed; bathed anew and baptized in what feels like forgiveness.


Finally the reunion they have both been yearning for (and us readers as well)! :applause :banana
Yay that Tara has come to the conviction that Willow has overcome her darkness and can be trusted again and that Willow is finally able to believe that she truly got her soulmate back, that this is no cruel joke of the powers that be.

If the First can somehow see them now it must be pretty pissed that it's plan backfired so tremendously. First, just face it, those two witches will kick your butt - with help from Buffy and the other scoobies of course!


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((69/?-October 4th, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:45 pm 
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@shirrey:
aaaah, what a visual, I love it! what's this porch like - enclosed? backyard or front yard? adirondack chairs or hammock?

thank you, as always <3 <3

@Will's redemption:
The reunion! It's finally here! Only *checks watch* 10 years and 53,217 words in :laugh

The First is DEFINITELY pissed. It's not done meddling, but it has a much tougher fight ahead of it now that Tara's in the picture again
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It isn’t long after Buffy comes home slamming the door hard enough to rattle the doorframe, that a gathering is called.

“And it took the forms of your mother, and you,” Giles says, turning to Willow, clarifying, “Tara.” Both girls nod solemnly, harrowed by the memory.

“I haven’t seen any ghosties since Tara,” Spike says. “And she’s been real for days. Can I go now?”

“No,” Buffy barks , eyeing him distrustfully. Twisting his lip into a half-hearted sneer that looks more like a pout, Spike flops back on the couch, none too pleased. “And no one is going anywhere until we figure this out.”

“I’m not certain how much there is to know at this moment, Buffy,” Giles admits. “We don’t know what the nature of this evil is, only that it can take many forms. And, though, causing great emotional pain, seems to be non-corporeal, thus causing no physical harm.”

“So what, that’s it? A shape-shifting ghost, that’s all we’ve got?” irritation and impatience drip off Anya in waves.

“We’ve worked with less before,” Xander points out.

Tara tucks one leg under as she slides onto the couch. “It thinks Willow is a threat.”

“What, it’s afraid of redheads?”

Tara ducks almost nervously. “It tried to get me to kill her.”

The room goes still for a brief moment before Buffy yelps incredulously when she finally processes Tara’s words. “It what?”

“Me too,” Willow adds, before Tara can respond. “I mean, it wanted me to kill myself, too,” she admits in a soft, nearly shameful voice.

“It what!?” Xander and Dawn join Buffy’s vocal disbelief. Tara, for her part, regards Willow with a calm, curious look. Willow picks nervously at her sleeve, uncomfortable under their gazes.

“Well there’s no way that’s happening,” Xander states firmly. “I vote no more dying for anyone this year. All in favor say ‘aye’,” he finishes, raising his hand. Dawn raises hers immediately in agreement.

“No one’s dying,” Buffy vows. “And the sooner we figure out how you became alive again, the better. This thing is messing with us, and we need to figure out the answers to the old questions before we start with new ones. Got it?” Everyone nods, Spike included, until he realizes what he’s doing, makes a face, and stops.

“Wait a minute,” Tara muses, wheels turning. “Spike, you said you saw other ghosts before, besides me. Who else have you seen?”

Before he can answer, Giles interrupts with a question. “Do you think there could be a connection?”

“Maybe,” Tara offers.

“If this thing tried to get to Will out of the picture, maybe it’s doing the same thing to Spike.”

“How is Spike being crazy the same thing as trying to kill Willow,” asks Xander in an increasingly agitated tone.

“Because while Willow and Tara were being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, I was getting a free therapy session from a psych major-turned-vampire who says Spike sired him.”

Everyone’s eyes widened in surprise, save Spike who practically growls at the notion. “Bollocks,” he spits in disgust.

“I’m just telling you what the dead guy said,” Buffy raises her arms in defense.

“Well he’s wrong,” Spike snarls. “I didn’t cross the ocean, go to the end of the underworld to get my soul back only to rot it by killing again.”

Buffy regards him for a moment, pondering everything that’s come to light. “Well, until we know for sure, you’re staying here, where someone can keep an eye on you,” she declares with finality. “Any questions?”

He scowls and huffs back into the couch disgruntled, but doesn’t argue.

Hands on hips, Buffy faces the group, and in her most Slayer-like voice that suffers no argument, speaks, “We figure out what’s going on, and we figure it out now.”
________________________________________________________________________

It’s been over two weeks, but Tara still has a hard time with the quiet.

It used to be her preference, in a world full of violence and noise, to keep the safe haven of home a place of quiet solace. It always calmed and centered her. Now the quiet reminds her too much of where she’d been, with its’ unnatural, stifling stillness. But since coming back, Tara leaves a radio or television on low - not loud enough to hear the program, but just enough to remind her she’s not alone. To ground her.

She keeps windows open, too, regardless of the approaching winter, letting the blissful sounds of the suburbs -cars passing, dogs barking, lawn mowers buzzing- comfort her. Especially on evenings when sleep is elusive, slipping through her fingers with each passing hour. Nights such as this.

She lays quietly in the dark with Dawn’s even breaths rising and falling nearby in a soothing rhythmic pattern. It’s been hours but still the memory of the figure in the kitchen earlier haunts her. Though it hadn’t been her real mother, Tara still feel almost dirty with the transaction. As if she’d somehow betrayed her mother’s memory as opposed to it having been twisted and hijacked by an unnamed evil. What memories she had of her mother were precious and few enough; they feel tainted now, somehow, bookended by such corruption, and she burns hot with anger and resentment. At least if anything, she’ll use the outrage to strengthen her resolve.

The sound of the screen door creaking open and shut filters up through the open window, interrupting her thoughts. It gives her the excuse to abandon pretense of sleep, so she peels the covers down, slips on a robe, and heads downstairs.
The house is quiet and dark as she creeps through the first floor. A small light illuminates the stovetop where the kettle sits, steam escaping, left open as to not whistle. Tara pauses, pulls a mug from the cupboard, and pours herself a cup before stepping outside.

It’s Willow on the stoop, and she turns around at the sound of the door latch, brightening instantly. Tara winces as the screen door creaks despite trying to carefully ease it shut, “Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all,” Willow smiles warmly, scooching over a little to make more room.

Tara blows on the tea, trying to cool it before taking a tentative sip. “Maybe one day we’ll sleep at night again like regular people,” she remarks dryly.

“Pretty sure I’ve been disqualified from being a regular person since spending high school fighting monsters.” Willow jokes briefly sobering under the nights’ heavy events. “You okay?”

Tara thinks a moment before responding. “For the first time in a long time, I feel like it will be.”

Willow nods, as if digesting the words, but the line of worry on her forehead only deepens. A question pulls at her. “How can we be sure?” Tara regards Willow with a confused look, uncertain of what she meant. “About what it said. A-about me,” Willow clarifies nervously, referring to the shades that tormented them a few hours ago.

Tara contemplates the question thoroughly, quietly, while Willow holds her breath. After what seems like forever, Tara finally opens her mouth, and speaks slowly, giving weight to her words. “If it were true, it wouldn’t have needed to try so hard.”

It might have been logical, but still Willow’s doubts linger. Tara sees it on her face, as she always did, and lays a hand atop hers. “The magic is a part of you, Willow. But that’s all it is; a part.”

They sit in silence a few moments longer until- “You were right,” Willow admits suddenly. “About everything. You always were.” She twists the mug tightly. “And I think knew, too. That day at the fair? When-” she inhales sharply as the memory slices anew, “When we had our first fight. Do you remember?”

Tara stiffens. Everything about that wretched day was broken into her bones.

“I didn’t want to listen, but I think maybe part of me knew and lashed out, ‘cause I didn’t want to think about it. If you were right or wrong, who that would make me.”

The past presses so heavily, Tara feels like she’s strangling on it. A dark, shameful secret, darker than the prison of her mind she was trapped in with Glory, long since pushed to the deepest fathoms of her heart rises like bile. “It’s my fault,” she chokes. “The fight. I was afraid.”

“Of me, I know. You were ri-”

“No.” Tara shakes her head, insistently. “I wasn’t. You were learning so much, so fast. And I...I was worried. That if I didn’t have anything left to teach you. . . “

Willow sits stunned as she absorbs the admission, eyes growing wide as understanding dawns. “The magic. You thought...you thought I was going to outgrow you.”

Tara nods miserably, unable to meet Willow’s gaze. The secret has burned in her since that day, but like too many important things, there was never a chance to talk about it. There was Glory, and Buffy, and Dawn, and…by then it was too late.

Part of her had felt what happened after was punishment. That she had driven her own insecurities into Willow, planted seeds of doubt that had never been there, and questioned Willow’s love. Falling victim to Glory was nothing less than what she deserved. She’d been a monster after all.

“Tara, look at me.” Willow nudges Tara, who refuses to meet her eyes. When she does, Willow’s eyes are gentle, full of nothing but tenderness. Tara feels her gaze bore into her so deeply it scrapes her insides hollow, and remembers why she had fallen in love with her so quickly. “Magic brought us together, but its not why I fell in love with you. You are why I fell in love with you. The magic was just...extra. Tara, I could never outgrow you. If anything, you’re the fertilizer. You...you’re the sun.”

Tara’s heart clenches painfully against Willow’s love. She hadn’t realized it already found its way back to Willow until this moment as it aches in a chest that isn’t her own. “Are you sure?” she mumbles, feeling home slip into place again as seamlessly as it had the first time. “Cause I’m feeling pretty dark right now.”

Willow dismisses the thought with a wave. “So you had a momentary wiggins. It happens. And I didn’t exactly help by overreacting.” She looks down at the cup of tea in her hands before continuing. “It’s kinda funny, actually. One of the reasons- the biggest reasons- I didn’t want to give up magic last year because I thought the magic was why you kept loving me.” Tara’s jaw drops, hanging slack and insulted at the concept. Willow smiles wryly. “We’re kinda silly, aren’t we. You were afraid I wouldn’t love you without the magic, and there I was, off doing the same thing.”

Tara can only look at her in incredulity. Willow shrugs, as if the truth is obvious. “You didn’t know who I was, before. I was nobody. And I was afraid you wouldn’t like who she was. If I gave up the one thing that made me special, who would that have made me?”

There’s so much to unpack in Willow’s self-loathing. How could she have not seen how deep and insidiously it had taken root, before? There are hundreds of words of rebuttal in her heart, bursting at the seams, but all Tara choke out is, “Someone I love very much. I only ever wanted you to be you, Will.”

She looks over with a sad smile. “I’m not so sure who that is, anymore. Or who it ever even was.”

A thought comes to her mind, completely unbidden, and seemingly disparate, but suddenly the connection appears, clear as day. “Did I ever tell you about lobsters?” It’s something Tara learned from her mother; making something out of nothing.

“The Big Pineapple,” she’d said once, patiently and lovingly, under the stars.
That was one of the things she loved about Willow - the patient way she’d wait for her words to make sense. Tara never felt like a helplessly awkward freak.

“Their flesh is soft, but the shell is hard and doesn’t expand. As the lobster grows, it becomes more uncomfortable under pressure from the shell until it sheds and grows a new one. It does that multiple times and every time, the lobster is uncomfortable then vulnerable, but it needs to shed its shell or else it dies.” A shooting star passes overhead. “I think you stayed inside the shell too long, Will,” Tara laments.

She can feel Willow’s hard swallow as her own as she takes a long sip of tea. “I guess that’s another reason the Rosenbergs were never much for shellfish,” Willow remarks emptily.

Tara meets her eyes, seeing the self-loathing, shame, and regret. But she also sees strength, wisdom, and self-awareness. There’s nowhere else to hide, anymore. “I have a feeling the Willow you’re becoming now is the biggest and strongest one yet.”

Having had the unnamed evil test her so viciously and cruelly, to have had it try and sow more doubts in Tara’s mind and convince them otherwise, is proof alone of this certainty. Armed with the knowledge that Willow has learned from her mistakes, learned her lessons in the hardest, most painful ways possible, Tara knows what Willow will choose, next time, when faced with the tough call; herself.

Only now is she wholly, truly, Willow.

It’s Willow’s turn to break. “I’m sorry it took me so long to understand.” The words are choked out in a strangled voice, but she herself is finally free.

In this grace, Tara can finally see room for herself there too, and she smiles wetly. “Better late than never, right?”
Willow’s face crumbles with a fresh wave of tears and this time Tara doesn’t hold back--no guarding, no conflict. There is nothing between them now. She closes the space between them and gathers up the sobbing Willow in her arms. Her own tears well hot and thick, but Tara holds on, desperate to grip this moment of honesty and forgiveness. Love, like always, carries them through.

They cling to each other for several long minutes, as the grief and regret ebb, replaced by hope and the soft white of a new beginning.

In a cruel, self-fulfilling prophecy, blinded by fear and insecurity, they’d both gotten lost on the same lonely path, forgetting the magic wasn’t what was stronger when they’re together: they were. True magic crackles between them with every breath and touch, lighting them up from within, and sharing that light in the darkness. Love is brave and hard.

And when the world presses down, love lifts up.

They rise.

_________________
Lotus


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((71/?-October 16th, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:15 am 
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DIBS :applause :banana :eatme

That was so awesome. What they say makes so much sense in relation to them as characters/people. Spot on.

TWFE alias Sena

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((71/?-October 16th, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:46 am 
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Another great chapter! :bow

Quote:
“Wait a minute,” Tara muses, wheels turning. “Spike, you said you saw other ghosts before, besides me. Who else have you seen?”

Tara's question wasn't answered during this conversation - I fear that they might regret that later...

Quote:
Everything about that wretched day was broken into her bones.

What a powerful image! I'm sure Tara feels that the fracture of her hand-bones was the least severe injury on that day...

Quote:
The past presses so heavily, Tara feels like she’s strangling on it. A dark, shameful secret, darker than the prison of her mind she was trapped in with Glory, long since pushed to the deepest fathoms of her heart rises like bile. “It’s my fault,” she chokes. “The fight. I was afraid.”

“Of me, I know. You were ri-”

“No.” Tara shakes her head, insistently. “I wasn’t. You were learning so much, so fast. And I...I was worried. That if I didn’t have anything left to teach you. . . “

Willow sits stunned as she absorbs the admission, eyes growing wide as understanding dawns. “The magic. You thought...you thought I was going to outgrow you.”

Tara nods miserably, unable to meet Willow’s gaze. The secret has burned in her since that day, but like too many important things, there was never a chance to talk about it. There was Glory, and Buffy, and Dawn, and…by then it was too late.


Wow, what a revelation. I never thought about it before, but until this episode the magic we saw from Willow didn't really justify a fear that she was abusing it or channeling any dark power - it makes sense that Tara didn't really have that fear, but was scared of being "left behind".

Quote:
“Tara, look at me.” Willow nudges Tara, who refuses to meet her eyes. When she does, Willow’s eyes are gentle, full of nothing but tenderness. Tara feels her gaze bore into her so deeply it scrapes her insides hollow, and remembers why she had fallen in love with her so quickly. “Magic brought us together, but its not why I fell in love with you. You are why I fell in love with you. The magic was just...extra. Tara, I could never outgrow you. If anything, you’re the fertilizer. You...you’re the sun.”

Just beautiful! :flower

Quote:
A thought comes to her mind, completely unbidden, and seemingly disparate, but suddenly the connection appears, clear as day. “Did I ever tell you about lobsters?” It’s something Tara learned from her mother; making something out of nothing.

“The Big Pineapple,” she’d said once, patiently and lovingly, under the stars. That was one of the things she loved about Willow - the patient way she’d wait for her words to make sense. Tara never felt like a helplessly awkward freak.

“Their flesh is soft, but the shell is hard and doesn’t expand. As the lobster grows, it becomes more uncomfortable under pressure from the shell until it sheds and grows a new one. It does that multiple times and every time, the lobster is uncomfortable then vulnerable, but it needs to shed its shell or else it dies.” A shooting star passes overhead. “I think you stayed inside the shell too long, Will,” Tara laments.

Beautiful imagery again, but I have to admit I don't understand what Tara means. In my eyes one could say Willow "shed the shell" of the "old reliable hacker" she was in highschool when she started practicing magic "in earnest" in season 4. So which other shell didn't she shed on time in Tara's opinion? Being a witch? But Tara knows now that Willow's attempt to stop doing magic forever wasn't the right solution, doesn't she? Or does Tara mean Willow's self-doubts/self-hatred?

Quote:
Armed with the knowledge that Willow has learned from her mistakes, learned her lessons in the hardest, most painful ways possible, Tara knows what Willow will choose, next time, when faced with the tough call; herself.


I feel kind of stupid because I don't understand the end of that sentence either. Who do you mean with "herself", Tara or Willow, and what choice? Willow having to choose between magic and Tara (that would feel "so season 6" and not be fitting now, I think)? Or a choice between the desire to "make everything right" with her magical powers and trying to solve the problems "on her own", f.e. with her intellect / knowledge? Or something else entirely?

Quote:
It’s Willow’s turn to break. “I’m sorry it took me so long to understand.”

At least you do now, proving you're cleverer than me, lol.

Quote:
Willow’s face crumbles with a fresh wave of tears and this time Tara doesn’t hold back--no guarding, no conflict. There is nothing between them now. She closes the space between them and gathers up the sobbing Willow in her arms. Her own tears well hot and thick, but Tara holds on, desperate to grip this moment of honesty and forgiveness. Love, like always, carries them through.

They cling to each other for several long minutes, as the grief and regret ebb, replaced by hope and the soft white of a new beginning.

In a cruel, self-fulfilling prophecy, blinded by fear and insecurity, they’d both gotten lost on the same lonely path, forgetting the magic wasn’t what was stronger when they’re together: they were. True magic crackles between them with every breath and touch, lighting them up from within, and sharing that light in the darkness. Love is brave and hard.

And when the world presses down, love lifts up.

They rise.

YAY! :dumbo :flower
Is there a chance for some Willow-Tara kissage in the next chapter? :wtkiss


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((71/?-October 16th, 2019))
PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 5:59 pm 
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Beautiful again.

Quote:
It used to be her preference, in a world full of violence and noise, to keep the safe haven of home a place of quiet solace. It always calmed and centered her. Now the quiet reminds her too much of where she’d been, with its’ unnatural, stifling stillness. But since coming back, Tara leaves a radio or television on low - not loud enough to hear the program, but just enough to remind her she’s not alone. To ground her.

Darling Tara


I really like that you explored that quarrel they had in Tough Love. I always thought that that is what Tara was going to say before she got derailed by the 'boy's town' comment- she had been nervously talking about Willow's power and how it frightened (impressed) her and I always believed that Tara was going down the road of 'what if you don't need me anymore?' because you have passed me magically, that that is what "I don't know where I will fit in again" meant- soooo, I was thrilled to see you write it here.

Quote:
Willow dismisses the thought with a wave. “So you had a momentary wiggins. It happens. And I didn’t exactly help by overreacting.” She looks down at the cup of tea in her hands before continuing. “It’s kinda funny, actually. One of the reasons- the biggest reasons- I didn’t want to give up magic last year because I thought the magic was why you kept loving me.” Tara’s jaw drops, hanging slack and insulted at the concept. Willow smiles wryly. “We’re kinda silly, aren’t we. You were afraid I wouldn’t love you without the magic, and there I was, off doing the same thing.”

Tara can only look at her in incredulity. Willow shrugs, as if the truth is obvious. “You didn’t know who I was, before. I was nobody. And I was afraid you wouldn’t like who she was. If I gave up the one thing that made me special, who would that have made me?”


This feels so right to who they are- they both see the other through their own lens, the true belief in the other's strength and capability and beauty, the truth of who they are, and it makes no sense that the other wouldn't feel what each sees.
And then there is the fact that they both, in many ways, are terribly insecure. And I think especially when someone is 'the insecure one', a role they have both played, one assumes that, of course, the insecurity is on them b/c that's who they are. Does this make ANY sense?? lol

Quote:
Part of her had felt what happened after was punishment. That she had driven her own insecurities into Willow, planted seeds of doubt that had never been there, and questioned Willow’s love. Falling victim to Glory was nothing less than what she deserved. She’d been a monster after all.


Tara proves this by blaming herself for what happened because in her mind, her insecurities ' fucked up everything again' So much self-loathing, which is healing thankfully, but ouch, I want to squeeze Tara and remind her that she is perfect (or perfectly imperfect.)

That Willow calls them both on letting fear get between them shows how much she has grown, she can admit it of Tara and instantly forgive her, and she can't admit it of herself, and finally forgive that too

Tara is a smart cookie! She puts it all together, the First is scared of Willow and that means not only is Willow powerful, but she is a force of good.

Quote:
Love is brave and hard
I just love this

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((71/?-October 16th, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:42 pm 
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Okay, I recently rediscovered this fic and I'm glad I did and I had so many comments I wanted to make on specifics, and I'm still a chapter behind but I have to respond to the first of The First. If this were the actual S-7 (and maybe in some world it was; just like in at least one other universe Aly decided to pull a David Caruso and so Willow was standing closer to the window) I can imagine that ALternate Ourverse version of Amber being fine with doing it. And finally seeing Mrs Maclay (I can't visualize her as anyone other than Linda Hamilton) I heart that. And I'm kind of glad nothing happened to Dawn (yet!) Leaving aside the psychological trauma she went through, all that broken glass, wire, integrated circuits on the floor and Dawn, unusually, was barefoot in"CWDP," well, it was truly painful to watch.

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Kim: (breaks off the kissing) I l... (Sue stops her with a hand)
Sue: We don't talk about things like that right after, you know that, no saying those things in The Moment.
Kim: (moves the hand aside) Screw The Moment. I *love* you.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((71/?-October 16th, 2019))
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:43 pm 
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So glad they made not just progress, but real wide-ranging, dealing-with-the-past progress. Kind of miss not seeing Anya's reunion with Tara; given that she sees Tara as her best friend, and that Tara raises no objections, and how emotional Anya gets, it was probably something!

Xander's reaction: Happiness mixed with disaffection. Absolutely well phrased under the circumstances. (I had a similar reaction from him for different reasons; after Tara comes back, Willow, understandably, cancels on a destination wedding she was supposed to go to with him, which leaves him on a hotel floor with Cordy, Angel, Spike Wes, Harmony, and Faith, so he arrives in a bad mood.)

Isis: A mother goddess, one of t he most powerful of them, no better choice for Tara to approach, truly beautiful. in my own main 'verse, Willow goes to her and Osiris's colleague Bes, to earn a wish. She gets it, based on Tara's consent Bes grants it, and just before Willow poofs back to her apartment, Osiris invites her to talk with him over goblets of beer and he's the one who advises her to seek out Jewish traditions to give her perspective, so as a student of religion I liked how you wove that sort of thing in. He also suggests that sometimes, instead of casting a spell herself, she should act a s a power source for Tara (or for Jonathan, whom she got back a s a side effect.)

I really wouldn't want to be the First with W&T back together. (Of coruse, i do rrecall at the Mark Watches site, I once expressed the opinion that , given the problems with S-7 a nd the S-8/9 comics, Tara was lucky to be gone.)

Haven't heard JetWolf mentioned in a *long* time! Good source. bobk

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____________________________________________________________
Kim: (breaks off the kissing) I l... (Sue stops her with a hand)
Sue: We don't talk about things like that right after, you know that, no saying those things in The Moment.
Kim: (moves the hand aside) Screw The Moment. I *love* you.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((71/?-October 16th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:08 pm 
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@taranwillow4ever:
Nice dibs! I'm glad everything makes sense for them as characters, that's always my highest priority!

@Will's redemption:
Oops, you're right, it wasn't. Eek! Author oversight. It's not much of a spoiler to say it's just an accident that the question wasn't answered. Sorry for the false alarm, but excellent catch!

Quote:
Wow, what a revelation. I never thought about it before, but until this episode the magic we saw from Willow didn't really justify a fear that she was abusing it or channeling any dark power - it makes sense that Tara didn't really have that fear, but was scared of being "left behind".

I cannot even describe to you how far my jaw dropped when I had the same realization. I was in the middle of writing this chapter when I stopped mid-word and went "Holy. Shit. Everything I knew about their fight is wrong." I then word-vomited about it on tumblrand had to re-work the chapter. Talk about a mind-blowing revelation!

Quote:
In my eyes one could say Willow "shed the shell" of the "old reliable hacker" she was in highschool when she started practicing magic "in earnest" in season 4. So which other shell didn't she shed on time in Tara's opinion? Being a witch? But Tara knows now that Willow's attempt to stop doing magic forever wasn't the right solution, doesn't she? Or does Tara mean Willow's self-doubts/self-hatred?

The latter. It comes down to two moments that bring me to that interpretation: Willow's nightmare/dream in 'Restless' and her confession to Buffy in 'Wrecked'. Both confirm to us that despite dressing better, getting a cute haircut, being a cool monster fighter and powerful witch, her biggest fear is that no matter what she does or looks like, she'll still be 'old reliable hacker'; she'll still just be 'some girl'. A girl that isn't worthy or special or anything other than an invisible sidekick. She stayed in that shell because it was comfortable and she didn't want to confront her fears. It's a cocoon of self-doubts, self-hatred, and fear that ended up suffocating her.

Quote:
Who do you mean with "herself", Tara or Willow, and what choice? Willow having to choose between magic and Tara (that would feel "so season 6" and not be fitting now, I think)? Or a choice between the desire to "make everything right" with her magical powers and trying to solve the problems "on her own", f.e. with her intellect / knowledge? Or something else entirely?
Don't feel stupid! It was a failure on my part to not make it clear! My intention was that Willow will chose Willow. She'll choose herself and her skills and not a shortcut. She won't choose to avoid the hard problems or the hard questions: she'll confront them, communicate, and work through them the right way.

@shirrey:
Quote:
I always believed that Tara was going down the road of 'what if you don't need me anymore?' because you have passed me magically, that that is what "I don't know where I will fit in again" meant- soooo, I was thrilled to see you write it here.

You were like 10,000 steps ahead of me, there. Way to continue to so goddamn astute

Quote:
And then there is the fact that they both, in many ways, are terribly insecure. And I think especially when someone is 'the insecure one', a role they have both played, one assumes that, of course, the insecurity is on them b/c that's who they are. Does this make ANY sense?? lol

It COMPLETELY makes sense! Especially when you think about the fact that they wanted Willow's new friend to mimic early Willow's insecurity and shyness. It played out EXACTLY as you said it. Which is why neither of them TALKED ABOUT IT, the goobers.

Quote:
Tara proves this by blaming herself for what happened because in her mind, her insecurities ' fucked up everything again' So much self-loathing, which is healing thankfully, but ouch, I want to squeeze Tara and remind her that she is perfect (or perfectly imperfect.)

I want to squeeze Tara constantly.
In an all-encompassing supportive loving way, not......well, you know what I mean :laugh

Quote:
She puts it all together, the First is scared of Willow and that means not only is Willow powerful, but she is a force of good.

You're so good at putting things together in such a clear, succinct way. That's exactly what I was trying to convey :)

@DaddyCatALSO:
There are so many good versions of S7/Tara resurrections out there.

Oh my gosh, Linda Hamilton, that's...certain a visual, especially considering the latest trailers for the new Terminator movie XD

Poor Dawn needed a trauma break, y'know? Her First visit didn't move forward plot or character progression so I was glad to cut it entirely.

Quote:
Kind of miss not seeing Anya's reunion with Tara; given that she sees Tara as her best friend, and that Tara raises no objections, and how emotional Anya gets, it was probably something!

I do too. I missed the boat on Tara-Anya chapters, and it's readers like you who have pointed out such rich opportunities. Unfortunately, moments like these are not written, but it could certainly be a nice post-story treat :)

Quote:
given the problems with S-7 a nd the S-8/9 comics, Tara was lucky to be gone

Oh yeah, with actual canon? Tara was suuuuper lucky to be gone for all that garbage. The only flawless resurrection I've seen that makes sense both character and plot-wise is JW's The Chosen. It's been over a decade and I'm still not over it XD

_______________________________________________________________________________________



Note: This chapter takes place in 'Never Leave Me', Episode 9 of Season 7. They're sort of like scenes in-between what we, the viewers, saw. Think about them logistically and place them chronologically. Any questions, please feel free to ask!





“Alright, that’s twice you’ve tried to kill me since last night. I’m starting to think you might not appreciate my hospitality,” Buffy grunts as she ties the restraints tighter for the third time.

Tara hovers in the doorway, arms crossed nervously. “I’m worried about him.”

Giving the last knot a strong yank for good measure, Buffy steps back to survey her work. Fully vamped, Spike gnashes at her mindlessly, struggling against the ropes, giving no sign of having heard her. “Me too,” she says with a frown. “He’s getting worse.”

“Well you’re the ones who thought keeping a psychotic murderer as a houseguest was a good idea,” Anya huffs from under a pile of bedding.

Buffy rolls her eyes. “Not helping, Anya.”

Tara bites her lip. “Even in the basement he was never this bad. Even when he was crazy, he was still . . .”

“Himself,” Buffy finishes for her.

Tara nods. “It’s like he’s not even there anymore.”

“Sorry about the rope,” Tara apologized while Spike thrashed, gnashing at her wildly, without any recognition. He flickers back and forth with no warning; it was worse than it’d ever been before. She held herself back from holding his hand as it only served to tempt him with warm flesh. She sits as close as she can without him trying to bite her. “We’ll figure this out, Spike, I promise. Come back,” she pleads.

“He needs blood,” Anya dumps a stack of sheets into Tara’s hands. “Stat. If he’s been killing, no wonder he’s going wild without it.”

Buffy makes a movement to go but Tara stops her. “I’ll go,” she volunteers. Buffy opens her mouth to argue, but Tara interjects. “He’s calmer when you’re around. Stay with him.” To Willow, she adds, “I’ll be back before you know it. Promise.”

As much Willow and Tara had been avoiding each other before, now they’re barely apart, taking comfort in a low, chaste closeness, as if making up for the months of separation all at once. Willow looks as if she’s going to protest, but closes her mouth and relents with a nod. Tearing herself away, Tara leaves with a last lingering look at Spike, just as Anya offers to go back to her place to grab a pair of handcuffs. She shakes her head against the visual.

It’s not that far to the butcher shop, but with Spike in the state he is, Tara wants to be back as quickly as possible. She reaches for the car keys in the dish next to the front door but pauses halfway, remembering she doesn’t have her license. Presumably it’s somewhere, though she’s not about to use identification for someone with a date of death in their record. She frowns, filing it away as yet another complication of her existence to reconcile before grabbing the house keys and hurrying out the door.

The journey is longer by foot, but with every block traveled, Tara feels more at peace. Everything looks the same as it did in Limboland, but it couldn’t be more different. Tara roamed these streets a thousand times over those months, but never like this; never so full of life.

Women push strollers, kids whiz past on bicycles and skateboards, cars honk, and people walk, part of a blissfully, magical regular day. Tara inhales deeply, basking in connectivity, letting the fabric of humanity slowly stitch her back together.

The walk continues pleasantly, until she senses a strange, dark energy as she gets closer to the butcher shop. She concentrates as she enters, scanning quickly to see if any clientele are demons, but everyone appears to be human. It’s midday, too early for vampires, so what is this energy she feels, so cold and deep? She turns in time to catch a figure in a familiar looking black cloak at the corner of her eye, but by the time Tara rounds the entryway the person is gone. She frowns, pushing the possibility from her mind. There’s no way it can be Spike. The way he’s tied up at the house and the sun shining makes sure of that.

So why does something seem so eerily recognizable?


Paying for the blood, she makes her way out as quickly as possible and hurries home.
_________________________________

Everyone, not just Willow, is parked in front of the table, texts spread open. They decide, given the strange apparitions haunting and preying on them, that safety is better in numbers. When there are multiple witnesses. And fewer opportunities for manipulative ghosts to prey on them. An exception has been made for Xander to go out and make a quick snack run before settling at the table with everyone else. Though neither Buffy, Tara, or Willow have much of an appetite.

She berates herself for not thinking about it earlier. She’s been so focused on alternate dimensions, portals between worlds, realms beyond death, those sorts of things. How could she have not looked into the very spell Tara used to escape in the first place? That spell must be the key, and Willow’s been completely blind to it.

Of course she has, she thought bitterly. When’s the last time she’d done research like this? Sure, she’s been back for a month or two . . . But serious research mode? She’d turned to magic for every shortcut, last year and at every turn she’d gotten lost. How can she have missed it? Research is the thing she’s supposed to be good at, from before the magic even came into her life. This should have come to her as naturally as breathing.

She shakes her head, squeezing her eyes tight against that trail of thought. She takes a slow, deep breath, finds her center the way the Coven has taught her and with renewed determination, grabs a book on deities. Tara’s spell invoked Isis, the feminine archetype of creation, Egyptian goddess of rebirth, Giver of Life, Goddess of Magic, Wife of. . . .
Ice fills her veins. She hears screaming in her ears from far away. It’s only when Xander shakes her gently that she realizes it’s only a memory. It rises up like bile—the Blackness. Her vision swims and she squeezes her eyes tight against it, taking a sharp breath.

Everyone looks at her in concern.

“Will?”

It takes everything to stay grounded and awake—to find the hum that Ms. Hartness has taught her, and let the earth cradle instead of swallow her. She can’t afford to lose it, now. The stakes are too high—Tara is on the line. “Osiris,” she breathes.

“Who?” asks Dawn.

Xander squints, “Wasn’t he the guy we used last year to bring Buffy back?”

“You don’t ‘use’ a god, Xander,” Anya retorts peevishly. “He’s not a kleenex.”

Willow can feel Tara eyeing her curiously. She can feel Tara with every fiber of her being, and panic rises. The bile turns to sludge.

He had come to her so easily, after. Barely holding onto Tara, fingers clutching desperately at her neck, already starting to let the rage and pain and unfairness of it all roll over her like a storm. Tara’s body was still warm in her arms and she was already starting to let go.

“How? How is this natural?” she had asked, childlike and peevish with the powers of a god. To a god.

Gunshots and shattering glass echo in her ears. The hum is slipping away and she feels the Blackness tug. “It was me,” she whispers. “It’s my fault. I did this to you,” Willow says desperately, trying to make them understand. “To Tara.” Urgency propels her every movement, she taps an impatient finger at an open book. “Osiris.”

Everyone looks at her blankly.

“I summoned him, right after . . .” her eyes flick guiltily towards Tara.

Giles takes off his glasses and regards Willow curiously. “You used Osiris to resurrect Buffy,” he says quietly, putting the pieces together, “And thought to do the same with Tara.” Willow nods miserably, the disgust and self-loathing palpable. They all sit for a moment, absorbing Giles’ words.

Anya eventually breaks the silence. “So what happened?” she asks matter-of-factly. “I mean, it clearly didn’t work or else you wouldn’t have gone all evil and tried to kill us and end the world.” Xander looks at her sharply, but she either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. “So what happened?”

“He said, ‘No.’”

“He said, ‘No’?”

“He said it wasn’t a mystical death so nothing could be done, that it was the natural order of things.”
Tara squirms uncomfortably in her seat.

“Will . . .” Buffy comforts, eyeing Tara’s reaction but saying nothing. “I get the guilt, but if nothing happened, what could have possibly been your fault?”

“I did something, after. When he wouldn’t help, I—” Willow swallows hard and closes her eyes with a frown, remembering. “Didn’t take it so well. I remember screaming and lightning and then he—” she gulps, “He disappeared.”

“If he left, how is that a bad thing?”

Willow frowns, trying to describe what happened, “I think . . . I think I made him disappear.”

“You can’t make a god disappear,” Anya clarifies with exasperation. “Trust me, I’ve tried. There were plenty of times a deity or two got involved at work after some vengeance wishes got messy, and it took ages to deal with the paperwork.”

“Anya’s right, Willow,” Giles looks at her kindly. “Despite how powerful you’ve become, it’s not possible to summon a god by sheer force of will.”

“But Giles—” she immediately protests, before being cut off by a wave of his hand.

“There’s simply no way to communicate without the magical ingredients necessary to amplify spiritual energies in order to bridge the mystical and physical realms.”

Willow’s jaw works silently, trying to process, still doubtful. “But the magics—”

“Are only a tool. They cannot overcome law.”

Buffy chimes in. “If she didn’t summon him, how did he go all Thor in my bedroom? And where did he go? Playing hide-and-seek with a god once wasn’t fun the first time around, and I’m not too psyched for an encore performance.”

“That is an excellent question, Buffy. One I suggest we continue to research.”

“You could just ask him,” Anya blurts out casually.

It’s clear this is an option no one has considered—or even knows is a possibility—and everyone stares at her like she’s crazy. “What?” she defends herself. “Why waste time looking for answers when we can just go to the source itself?”
All eyes turn to Giles, who considers it for a moment. “Well, yes, I suppose we could—”

“See?” Anya interrupts, beaming triumphantly.

“So what, we just call up a god and say ‘Hey, remember us? Have any more snakes for us to puke up?’ Or—”

“Xander . . .” Tara chides, with a gentle hand on his shoulder.

He stands abruptly, the chair making an awful scraping noise against the floor. “No! No ‘Xander’. That was some messed up stuff we dealt with last year. And we never talked about it. So excuse me for not being too thrilled at the thought of bringing back the god of Nightmare on Elm Street for a fireside chat.”

“It wouldn’t be like that,” Tara explains patiently.

“How do you know?” he demands, spinning towards her. Xander looks haunted, the faint scars on his cheek catch the light and seem to glow. That day, that year, is reflected tenfold in this moment.

“There’s no desire to transfer mystical or magical energies. Merely communication,” Giles offers. “It would be more akin to a long-distance phone call.”

Xander crosses his arms, slightly less antagonistic, but still not pleased at being outnumbered. “Fine,” he says finally, “But if any snakes show up, I’m hangin’ up,” and storms out of the room.

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Lotus


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((73/?-October 29th, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:30 am 
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Okay, so in this universe, Andrew what, s aw Tara and ran away instead of buying the stuff first a nd being waylaid by Willow? Interesting in itself.

Smart of Tara being reluctant to use her license. A California license I believe requires fingerprints so if she'd been caught, it would be more than just an arrest for stolen ID, it would raise a *lot* of questions when they checked the prints! (I took the easy w ay out; when Bes granted Willow's wish, he changed all the death records to say "Rita.")

Presumably (unlike what Jane Espenson said in her commentary,) you don't have Osiris destroyed by Willow's cry of anguished rage, which makes much more sense. Next chapter sounds scary.

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Snapshots:http://thekittenboard.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10210 a Love Story
____________________________________________________________
Kim: (breaks off the kissing) I l... (Sue stops her with a hand)
Sue: We don't talk about things like that right after, you know that, no saying those things in The Moment.
Kim: (moves the hand aside) Screw The Moment. I *love* you.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((73/?-October 29th, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:24 am 
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you called the girls goobers :laugh

Quote:
Tara’s body was still warm in her arms and she was already starting to let go.


oof that is beautiful and it makes me ache. Its so true though, and it makes Willow's actions even more egregious and yet- she can't handle it so she goes where she knows she has power and can release the pain

I love Tara 'restitching' herself with humanity- what a lovely image, especially this joy coming from someone who hid herself from the world for so long. She finally can see that she is part of it all.
Time for more Tara squeezes :)

I did not see the Osiris link coming, not like that- so if Willow put Tara in Limboland, did she also keep her alive? maybe in the end her choice was the lesser of two bad scenarios.

Can't wait for more!!

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((73/?-October 29th, 2019))
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:17 am 
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I actually head to read the summary of the canon-episode to understand why Spike is all of a sudden completely insane and bound to a chair.
I loved this reminder that Tara and Spike are close friends now:
Quote:
She held herself back from holding his hand as it only served to tempt him with warm flesh. She sits as close as she can without him trying to bite her. “We’ll figure this out, Spike, I promise. Come back,” she pleads.


Quote:
To Willow, she adds, “I’ll be back before you know it. Promise.”

As much Willow and Tara had been avoiding each other before, now they’re barely apart, taking comfort in a low, chaste closeness, as if making up for the months of separation all at once.

Aww, yay for the closeness! They don't have to keep it that chaste though, some kisses would surely help their emotional healing process… :flirt :wtkiss

Quote:
It takes everything to stay grounded and awake—to find the hum that Ms. Hartness has taught her, and let the earth cradle instead of swallow her. She can’t afford to lose it, now. The stakes are too high—Tara is on the line.

I love that Willow fights harder now to stay conscious in such a situation because ner need to protect Tara overrules everything else.

Quote:
“Anya’s right, Willow,” Giles looks at her kindly. “Despite how powerful you’ve become, it’s not possible to summon a god by sheer force of will.”

“But Giles—” she immediately protests, before being cut off by a wave of his hand.

“There’s simply no way to communicate without the magical ingredients necessary to amplify spiritual energies in order to bridge the mystical and physical realms.”

Willow’s jaw works silently, trying to process, still doubtful. “But the magics—”

“Are only a tool. They cannot overcome law.”

Buffy chimes in. “If she didn’t summon him, how did he go all Thor in my bedroom?


Very good question, Buffy. Why did Osiris pop up after some "natural death" if he didn't follow Willow's call? Maybe the circumstances of Tara's death weren't so natural after all and Osiris lied to Willow? But to what purpose?

Quote:
“No! No ‘Xander’. That was some messed up stuff we dealt with last year. And we never talked about it. So excuse me for not being too thrilled at the thought of bringing back the god of Nightmare on Elm Street for a fireside chat.”

“It wouldn’t be like that,” Tara explains patiently.

“How do you know?” he demands, spinning towards her. Xander looks haunted, the faint scars on his cheek catch the light and seem to glow. That day, that year, is reflected tenfold in this moment.

“There’s no desire to transfer mystical or magical energies. Merely communication,” Giles offers. “It would be more akin to a long-distance phone call.”

Xander crosses his arms, slightly less antagonistic, but still not pleased at being outnumbered. “Fine,” he says finally, “But if any snakes show up, I’m hangin’ up,” and storms out of the room.


Poor Xander! Very powerful reminder of how traumatic the events around Buffy's resurrection (and Willow's following downfall into magic-addiction) were for him. And he points out one of the main problems of the scoobies: they never truly talked about all the traumatic experiences they suffered over the years. What a shame those poor guys can't go to a shrink for therapy because he would believe they were totally insane if they told them the truth.


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