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

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 Post subject: New Fic: The Cross [Complete!] :D
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:40 pm 
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3. Flaming O

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Posts: 114
TITLE: The Cross (May change title later!)

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again? (Dude O.o Loooong summary xD)

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

ANGST: YES. Seriously. If you can't stand angst, hit that lovely little blue-well, it's blue for me, anyways xD- 'back' button right now, because this is not the story for you.

Author's Note 1: This idea was heavily influenced by the amazing song 'The Cross' (hence the title, since I couldn't think of anything better xD) which belongs to the amazing band Within Temptation.

Author's Note 2: Alright, I was planning on posting this tomorrow, but a lot of people posted on Saving Grace that they were wondering if I had anything else in mind, and since I've had the idea kicking around for awhile, I decided to just post it. ^.^ This is a lot different from Saving Grace- No Faith D:- though, exploring the darker side of Buffy. Like if Buffy, Xander, and Anya had abandoned Willow if she had come out to them in high school. I guess I just like to make people suffer. xD Enjoy, regardless! ^.^


PART 1
-------------------------------------------------------------
It had been a long time since Willow Rosenberg had been happy.

God knows how much time had passed. Days didn’t mean much to Willow, except for those two days every week when she was momentarily released from her everyday torture. The weekend was her on ally, it seemed, against her enemy. The whole world had turned its back to her-not before reminding her how stupid and worthless she was and the world would be better off without her- but the weekend stuck close by, offering her the familiar warmth of her comforter and the promise of TV show and old movie re-run marathons. Not that Willow ever watched the old movies. Watching old movies was a tradition she had shared with her and Willow had vowed to never watch another old movie if her life depended on it, and, so far, she had kept her promise.

Buffy Summers, athletic extraordinaire. Commonly referred to as ‘The Slayer’ because of her talent/obsession with the ways of the sword and her ability to take down any guy three times her size. Every gym teacher’s dream. Willow’s ex-best friend and one of her tormentors, Buffy had been the body of the group.

Buffy was nothing like Cordelia Chase- or ‘Queen C’ as Buffy referred to her; resident cheerleader and winner of the ‘Bitch of the Year’ award for a whopping whatever-the-hell-her-age-was years in a row- in her torment. There were no snide remarks, the knocking of her books from her hands, or even the classic trip-the-nerd-down-the-stairs. No, Buffy’s actions could hardly be considered a torment, but the quick glances of mingled pity and disgust and her effort to avoid Willow in the halls cut her deeper than any word from Cordy’s mouth.

And there was Xander. Alexander ‘Xander’ Harris (No one would ever take him seriously while calling him ‘Alexander’) had been her best friend for as long as she could remember, and his betrayal had been an unforgiving blow to her already-broken heart. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but with a sensitive, sweet nature and a fierce loyalty, Xander had been with her through thick and thin- until that moment Willow had revealed her biggest secret and scared him off permanently- and he had been the heart of the group.

And then there was Anya. The most, well, insane of the group, Anya had a strange sense of humor and a slight obsession with money-and Xander- but she had always been blunt and truthful, something that tended to drive a wedge between her and Willow, but something she had always admired.

Well, had admired. Even though Anya had made a futile effort to wave at her in the halls and talk to her in the few classes they had together- something Willow had appreciated- the struggling red-head had been unable to re-cooperate the gesture, until even Anya drifted away, and now failed to acknowledge her.

And Willow? She’d been the quirky one of the group, the one who copied down notes in a system of different colored pens that made perfect sense to her but was indecipherable to the others. (Black for things that were important, red for things she didn’t quite understand, blue for keywords, and the rest was all in pencil- how hard was that to understand?) The brains of the group, the one who you could go to for tutoring or any school-related problems. Unchanging. Always there. Old reliable.

Of course, Willow had shattered that identity with a single sentence.

“Buffy, I’m gay!”

Willow hadn’t meant for it to come out; it had just come out when Willow, getting sick of Buffy’s bashing of gay people, had blurted it out.

There had been a shocked silence, and Willow, mortified, had flushed a deep red, but refused to take back her words. She had been struggling with sexuality for some time and that moment had defined it, no matter what anyone tried to do to change it.

Xander had stared at her, shocked speechless. Anya had started grinning, something Willow hadn’t been able to comprehend. Only Buffy spoke up.

“You can’t be serious."

Willow’s ears had gone red, but she had refused to back down.

“I’m. Gay.” She had said each word slowly, emphasizing them. “Do you have a problem with that?”

Buffy hadn’t answered, just flushed a brilliant red, and stormed off without another word. Xander had lingered, pleading with her.

“Wil, can’t you just…change back?”

Willow had blinked at him in surprise. “This is who I am. Can’t you accept that?”

The loud “I can!” from Anya had been ignored by the best friends.

“If you can’t accept me, then I guess you really aren’t my friend.” It had been unfair of Willow to pull the ‘you-said-you-were-my-friend’ guilt-trip card, but she was starting to feel desperate, the tears from Buffy’s abrupt departure starting to spill over.

“Then I guess this goodbye.”

Willow had blinked, and the tears had increased as the last of her dignity-and self-control- had smashed on the ground. “What? Xander, you’re my best friend!”

“You like girls, Willow.” He had seemed disgusted by the fact.

Her head had been reeling; she hadn’t been thinking right when she snapped back furiously: “So do you!”

That had been the final straw. “You like them in a way you’re not supposed to.” And he had followed Buffy down the street, leaving Willow with Anya.

She had patted Willow’s shoulder, and then, in what she had meant to be a comforting tone, said: “I don’t think that, Willow. In fact, I think it’s very okay. Not that I’m gay or anything. Since I have such a love for Xander’s penis, but-”

“Anya!” Wounded, and still in a bit of shock, Willow hadn’t been thinking straight, and had only dug herself a deeper hole. “If you love Xander’s penis so much, why aren’t you with him?”

Anya had taken a step back, and looked a little hurt. “I was only trying to help. Especially since no one wants to talk to your miserable gay-ass anymore. Not the best way to come out, Willow.” And then she had spun on her heel, and disappeared, because wherever Xander went, Anya was sure to follow.

The loud ringing of the shrill bell that indicated the end of class startled Willow from her thoughts, and made her realize she was crying. Ducking her head so her crimson hair semi-blocked her tear-swollen eyes, she gathered her books, and made a break for the door before half the students were even from their seats.

“Oh, Willow? Could you stay a moment?”

Damn it. Willow was forced to stop in her tracks, watching the other students- the lucky bastards- dart out the door to enjoy their dismissal. The door slammed loudly behind the last student, leaving Willow alone with the teacher.

Wiping quickly at her eyes with the sleeve of her black sweater she turned to face Miss Kelley, her language arts teacher.

Miss Kelley had only been teaching for about a year. She was still young- early twenties, Willow estimated- and she had not yet been hardened by the students’ ferocity. She was a kind teacher who never raised her voice about a normal volume, no matter how unruly the class got. She had been Willow’s favorite teacher before, in her old life. When she had been happy.

“Ma’m?”

“Are you okay?” Miss Kelley had her head tilted, studying Willow with something more than professional concern. The soft brown wings of hair that framed her face accented her delicate features. An open, friendly face, one people could trust.

But Willow couldn’t trust anybody.

“Of course,” She said with her most convincing smile.

It must have been pretty pathetic, because Miss Kelley grimaced in response.

“I’m worried about you, Willow,” She admitted, “Before you used to dress so colorfully, and now you dress in all black. You used to have your hand up to answer each question, and now I can barely get one word out of you. I spoke with your other teachers-”

“You talked to my other teachers?!” Willow gasped, horrified, before she could stop herself. Alerting her teachers meant invoking their concern- and their watchful eyes. Now she would get no peace.

“-and they mentioned that they were also concerned.” Miss Kelley’s eyebrows rose at the outburst, but she did not comment. “We feel that maybe you should-”

“I don’t need counseling, if that’s what you mean,” Willow interrupted, her tone sharper than she had intended it to be.

“Of course not, Willow.” Did the concern in Miss Kelley’s eyes deepen? “I only meant, that, well…” She paused, and took a deep breath. “My sister was killed last week. My niece was injured in the struggle, not now she is coming to live with me.”

“I’m sorry,” Willow said quietly- and she was sorry. She knew what it was like to lose someone important to you. “But I don’t understand why you’re telling me this.”

Miss Kelley sighed, “It’s just that…she’s very traumatized by the attack, my niece, and she had a hard enough time making friends before that. I’m afraid she’ll be alone and draw deeper into herself. She was very close to her mother, and her loss was hard on her. She’s released from the hospital next Tuesday, and will come to school on the Friday. I was hoping you could maybe…befriend her, help her get settled?”

Willow blinked, not sure what to make of the odd request. On one hand, she resented the idea of attempting to open her heart to another who would surely break it, but, on the other, the poor girl was on her own…

Before she had even made the decision, her mouth was moving. “Okay. I’ll do it.”


Damn it. Me and my big mouth. Why did you do that, mouth? Why? Traitor.

Miss Kelley beamed at her. “Thank the heavens there are people like you. Thank you so much, Willow. This means a lot to me. You can go now.”

Willow nodded, shifted the strap of her shoulder bag, and managed another fake smile. She was just opened the door when Miss Kelley stopped her. “And Willow?”

Willow paused, and turned to face her. “Yeah?”

Her smile was genuine, but there was a touch of worry in her eyes. “You used to be so full of life. Take care of yourself.”

For the first time in a long time, Willow actually smiled. It was a tiny smile, just the ghost of what she might have once smiled, barely there before it was gone. But it was still a smile. “I will.”

It wasn’t until she was out of the school doors did she realize she’d meant what she’d said.

[center]***[/center]

It was the same routine, day in, day out.

Willow watched the bag of popcorn rotate in the microwave as she sipped her hot chocolate. Same as always. She’d come home, drop her backpack in the entrance, kick of her tennis shoes without even bothering to aim them towards the shoe closet, then head for the kitchen, knowing very well that no one was home. No one was ever home, not since Ira’s affair/betrayal, and departure. Mommy Dearest- a.k.a Shelia Rosenberg, parenting extraordinaire- had thrown herself into work even more to try and ‘forget that bastard’ (or, Ira Rosenberg, Willow’s dear old daddy.)

So Willow was left in her own company- which she preferred- for a good time after she finally managed to fall asleep around midnight each night. Sheila was usually asleep when Willow left for school, and was gone before the time she got home. Sometimes she didn’t even come home. Even on the weekends, they saw almost nothing of each other. Willow stayed locked in her room, and Sheila in her office.

Might as well live on my own. The microwave beeped, and Willow pulled the bag from it, grabbing it by the bottom, and, of course, burning her fingers in the process like she did every day.

A few minutes later, bowl of popcorn in hand, bag in the other, Willow dragged herself up the stairs to her room. Willow’s family of two was rich. Really rich. But Willow wasn’t too concerned about that. Money couldn’t buy happiness, despite what Sheila believed, as Willow has discovered herself. So Willow didn’t ever brag about her riches, her room, her terrace, or anything. She kept her mouth shut. Permanently.

As she settled herself down in front of her 42”, Willow couldn’t help but wonder about the new girl, Miss Kelley’s niece. Why had she agreed to show her around? What use would she be, an abandoned loser, to a traumatized girl who had just lost her mother?

Willow sighed, and clicked off her TV. She couldn’t do it, couldn’t follow her routine. Not today. Leaving the popcorn behind, she went through the double glass doors that led to her own private terrace. It was abnormally warm for September, almost hot, so Willow took off her dark sweater and leaned against the railing. She let her hair down as well, relishing in the feeling of the light breeze tousling her hair. Here, on her own, she was free.

Here, she didn’t have to hide the ugly red scars that marred her wrists and her heart.

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Last edited by lilcheesenip on Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:37 pm, edited 19 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:16 pm 
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2. Floating Rose

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Woohoo new fic and I'm first, well I hope I'm first after this reply lol, very impressive summary by the way. Dark, angsty, both characters, hurting inside and out, abandoned by the ones they love by choice or the acts of others. I love it! Can't wait for more.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:46 am 
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Interesting beginning...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:21 am 
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That's good start ... please continue! :D

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:06 am 
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You don't see many fics were Buffy and Xander turn their backs on Willow being gay
It's something different
I like it
Can't wait for more

Ash :peace


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:17 am 
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Wow. This is certainly different.

I read despite the angst warning because it looks freaking awesome. Although I may have to wait and read it all in one go when you finish, just so I know the happy ending is there.

I love the premise though, inner demons playing a very big role for both girls.

Quote:
Here, she didn’t have to hide the ugly red scars that marred her wrists and her heart.


So Willow's a cutter? That's really sad. I haye Buffy and Xander for making her feel like that. At least Anya had...well, a little niceness.

I feel for Tara, too, obviously being attacked and losing her mother in said attack. Is her father to play here or was it some other random thing? I look forward to you letting us know and seeing how the girls interact with each other.

The writing so far was amazing, keep it up.


:peace

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:37 am 
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ohhh licking the start of this ;)

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:37 pm 
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This is a very nice story that is well written to boot. I can't wait to see what happens.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:24 pm 
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Another fic from you Yay!!! :bounce

And man! when you said angst you meant it... This story is going to be quite a ride. It's so sad to read that the gang abandoned Willow when she came out, not to mention that the idea of them treating her like that it's hard to digest since I'm used to them being supportive but none the less I know that you'll make this an interesting story to read even if it means seeing things from a completely different side...

Quote:
Here, she didn’t have to hide the ugly red scars that marred her wrists and her heart.


Yep it's going to be hard to read but I bet it'll be worthwhile.

So again you have me hooked.

Thanks for the new story. Oh! And that sequel from Saving Grace... Yes please!!!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 1] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 8:37 pm 
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@whirlwindcharmer- You liked my summary? I'm glad ^.^ Glad you like the idea. I was afraid everyone would click on it expecting something like Saving Grace, read the first chapter, go 'ewww' and never read it again xD Enjoy this next chapter!

@Zampsa1975- Thank-you ^.^ Hope you find it enjoyable, even if it is dark. Enjoy this next chapter!

@LittleBit- Thank-you. ^.^ And most certainly. Enjoy this next chapter!

@ashcrash71590- Yup, that's me, always pushing the boundaries...sorta... xD Good to know you like it ^.^ Enjoy this next chapter!

@Laragh- Who said anything about a happy ending T.T Nah, just kidding! xD There will be a happy ending. Or, at least a hopeful/lighter one, better than how it started out. Depends. But shhhh. It's a secret. :sh Yes, Willow, sadly, is a cutter in this fic. Yeah. Sort of. In the special Anya way. ^.^ Thanks so much for the amazing feedback! Enjoy this next chapter!

@tarawillow<3- ^.^ Good to hear! Enjoy this next chapter!

@Bellalocke- Thank-you ^.^ Glad to know you're enjoying it! Enjoy this next chapter!

@Egnalos- ^.^ Hey, I warned you; it was fair game xD Yeah. I'm one of those weird people who like to twist things so they're completely different from what they usually are. ^.^' Yay. I have you hooked. That makes me happy. ^.^ A sequel is definitely a possibility. I was also thinking about that today. I think if I did do one, it would be more Faith centered, since Willow and Tara are together and happy. Of course, they'll still be the main thing, but Faith will become more important, digging into her past, and such. ^.^ Plus Melanie, 'cuz Melanie's cool. xD Enjoy this next chapter!



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

TITLE: The Cross (May change title later!)

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again?

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

PART 2
----------------------------------
Friday came more quickly than Willow could keep up. Lost in a flurry of extra homework- she had found most of her spare time had gone to wondering about the mystery girl, Miss Kelley’s niece- and nerves, Friday cruelly jumped on her when her back was turned. So when she walked into language arts, and saw an unfamiliar girl standing uncertainly next to Miss Kelley’s desk, eyes on the floor, her heart nearly stopped.

Oh, shit. It’s Friday. How could I have forgotten?! I obsessed over it all week, and now Miss Kelley’s niece is here, and I gotta-oh. Wow.

Willow’s inner turmoil was interrupted when her cause of panic lifted her head just enough to meet her eyes for a fraction of a second before she dropped them. It was enough for Willow to catch a clear glimpse of the hollow cheekbones and the blank azure eyes hidden under a fringe of blonde bangs.

Neither of them knew, but the same thought was running through both their heads, despite the general emotionless look on Tara’s face.

Oh my god. She’s gorgeous.

Heated whispers broke out across the class at the spectacle. Willow hurriedly averted her eyes, blushing fiercely as she stumbled over to her seat. Miss Kelley cleared her throat loudly, unaware of what had just taken place between her niece and favorite student, meeting the eyes of each student except for Willow, who refused to look up from her notebook, until the room quieted.

“Thank-you.” Her tone was slightly sarcastic; a few of the students chuckled. Unsure if it was at Miss Kelley, or at herself, Willow’s ears went bright red. “Now, students” –the word was also slightly sarcastic; Miss Kelley didn’t believe in calling them students; usually she just referred to them as guys and girls- “this is Tara. She’s my niece, as in blood-related, so treat her with respect. Understood?”

A few nodded. Miss Kelley never had to raise her voice because she was respected that much by the student body. Willow was too busy keeping her eyes on her books to even look up, though she tingled all the way to her toes at her name.

Tara. It suits her. It’s beautiful. Like her. No! Stop it, Willow! No lusting after the beautiful girl! Ugh!

Willow dropped her head to the desk with a muffled thud. The minor pain didn’t distract her from the inner chaos, and she closed her eyes, trying to calm her suddenly-racing heart and reign in her emotions before they got completely out of control.

“Willow? I know language arts can be boring, but at least pretend you’re paying attention. ”

The class giggled, and Willow lifted her head quickly. Unfortunately, her eyes flickered automatically to where Tara had been standing, but she wasn’t there any longer. Her eyes moved on to Miss Kelley, who was standing, one hand on her hip, with a bit of a smirk on her face. The smirk overshadowed the concern in her eyes.

Willow looked away, to the side, only to find Tara had transferred from the front of the room to the desk beside her. She jumped slightly, and then quickly dropped her eyes.

Well, no shit, Willow. That’s the only desk empty. God, could you be more of an idiot? Seriously. Get a grip.

Class seemed to progress slowly. Willow’s heart pounded through the whole thing nervously, and- though she didn’t know it- in anticipation. But she resisted the urge to peek over at Tara, and kept her eyes either down or on Miss Kelley.

And then, before she knew it, class was over, and she was completely unprepared for what she was to do next.

The classroom was emptying fast. Willow knew she had to get to the next class, and Tara was waiting at the front of the classroom. Miss Kelley glanced over at her expectantly, and she had no choice. Gathering her books quickly, she stood up to face her fears.

Miss Kelley smiled at her as she walked up to them. “Thanks for doing this, Willow. I know she’ll be safe with you.”

Why wouldn’t she be safe? Willow just smiled, and nodded. “It’s no problem. Umm…” She hesitated, and then turned to Tara, who still wasn’t looking at her, eyes locked with the floor in some sort of strange staring contest.

Willow cleared her throat, and managed another smile. “Hi. I’m Willow.”

Tara didn’t answer. Miss Kelley nudged her, obviously telling her to respond, but Tara refused to look up from the floor.

Willow’s fake smile was replaced by a frown. Uncertainly, she reached out a hand, intending to offer it for a handshake, but Tara flinched away from her, hands flying up instinctively to protect her face. For the first time, Willow noticed the long black gloves that covered the skin from the tips of her fingers up to her elbow.

Her frown deepened, and she dropped her hand. “S-sorry…” Her eyes moved to Miss Kelley, and she half-smiled, half-grimaced to tell her it was okay.

“Tara, why don’t you go with Willow? She’ll take you to your next class.” Miss Kelley paused, then sighed when Tara didn’t answer, and turned to Willow. “She doesn’t need to go to her locker; she has all her things.”

Willow nodded, still bewildered by Tara’s strange behavior. Miss Kelley half-smiled at her, then turned back to Tara.

“Go with Willow. She’ll keep you safe.” She spoke calmly, yet firmly. As if to a child. Tara hugged her books to her chest, and nodded a fraction- her first response.

“Yeah. I’ll keep you safe,” Willow said softly, so only the blonde could hear. Her eyes flickered to her for a brief moment, and then back to the floor. She nodded again. She wanted to reach out, take Tara’s hand, and lead her out, crack a joke, even a stupid one, just to see her smile. The desire surprised her; she had never wanted to do that before.

Willow kept her hand at her side; on its own, it curled into a tight fist, fingernails digging into her palm, so hard she felt the skin break. But she only pressed tighter.

Miss Kelley nudged Tara forward a bit. Tara took a few steps until she was in front of Willow, though still kept a good distance. When Willow looked over at Miss Kelley, she shrugged, as if to say: “This is as good as it’s going to get” and very softly patted Tara’s shoulder once. Tara flinched. Willow couldn’t help but stare. She was no expert, but weren’t you supposed to be happy when your family gave you a friendly hug, or an encouraging pat on the shoulder? Tara didn’t look happy; she just looked scared. Her eyes were squeezed shut, and her breathing was labored; she was panicking. Why, Willow couldn’t be sure.

So she said loudly “C’mon, Tara. We have math next.” She turned and headed for the door, pausing to check over her shoulder that Tara was following. She was, eyes still on the floor, shuffling behind her obediently like a wronged child. Willow’s uncertain eyes moved to Miss Kelley. She smiled in encouragement, but her eyes were sad.

Willow held the door open for Tara, then followed her out. As soon as they were out into the crowded halls, voices ringing through the crammed space, Tara froze, knees locking like a startled colt’s, and balked.

Willow’s hand took her elbow, calm, reassuring. When Tara automatically cringed away from her, she tightened her grip just enough so she couldn’t pull away.

“I’ll take care of you,” She said gently. There was no chance anyone but Tara could have heard. Tara lifted her eyes briefly; their eyes met for a moment, and, before she dropped them again, Tara nodded.

Willow smiled, and started walking, keeping her hand on her elbow to guide her. “It can get a bit overwhelming at first, so many people, you know.” Meaningless babble to fill the awkward silence as they maneuvered through the hall.

Tara didn’t answer. The muscles in her arms were tense. Willow considered letting go, but decided if she did, Tara could have panic even more. So she fell silent, and kept moving. Several people stared. Willow didn’t bother to acknowledge them; Tara didn’t look up from her feet. But her eyes strayed to three people who had stopped in the middle of the hall, blocking their path.

Shock was all she could see on Buffy and Xander’s face. Anya was grinning.

“Got yourself a girlfriend, Willow?”

Willow, keeping her eyes only on her so she didn’t have to see the disgust on the other two’ faces, barely smiled as she shook her head. “Excuse me,” She said, keeping her tone even and calm.

Anya’s grin widened. “Sorry,” She said with mock shame and a bit of a smirk as she stepped aside, giving Willow and Tara enough room to squeeze by.

Just as Willow slipped by, her eyes moved inevitably to the right. Her eyes locked with Buffy’s. Buffy stared back in mingled surprise and revulsion. Willow met her eyes only briefly, then ducked her head, fighting back fresh tears, and kept walking, pulling Tara with her.

She let go just a foot away from the math classroom. She took a slight step away as her eyes moved curiously to the side to rest on the taller girl beside her. She still didn’t speak, not even to comment on the strange incident.

Willow wanted to speak, say something to break the nervous silence, but the only things she could think of were completely stupid. So she kept her mouth shut, shifted uneasily, and gestured that Tara could go through the door first. She was being courteous. And it also gave her a nice view.

Not that she was looking. That would break her never-check-out-a-girl-in-your-life-or-at-least-wait-‘till-you’re-out-of-high-school rule. And she never broke that rule. Ever.

Mr. Brown, their math teacher with sunken eyes, a gaunt face, and the general creepiness of a serial killer, scowled at them as they stumbled in together just as the bell rang, and jerked his head towards the rows of desks. Since the only empty one that Willow could think of was-ironically-next to her, she pointed to the pair of desks, silently indicating Tara to sit, and sit fast, as she hurried to take her seat.

As Mr. Brown continued to drone on in a voice similar to a wheezy vacuum cleaner-which wasn’t too surprising because he was so old it should have been illegal for him to still be teaching- Willow slid into her seat, and Tara sat next to her without a word, immediately ducking her head so her hair hid her face. Willow took a moment to compose herself, got out her pens and pencil, and went to work copying down the notes on the board in her famous system of different colored pens. Unfortunately, it seemed, her mind was less focused on her work and more infatuated with person occupying the desk beside her; her eyes constantly flickered between her, her notebook, and the board.

What if she thinks it’s weird? I mean, Buffy and the others made fun of my pen system. Said it was, well, insane. Stupid me; why’d you have to be so damned out of your mind?

Her eyes did their routine sweep of the board to make sure there was nothing new to write down, then moved on to Tara like a moth that was, unfortunately, drawn to a flame. Tara was writing more slowly than Willow, her grip on her pencil almost awkward. Her hand was shaking so bad it was a wonder her pencil didn’t fly all over the page. At first Willow thought it was nerves. But then Tara lifted her head just high enough that she could peek at the board, and Willow caught a glance of her expression.

Is that…pain…? Is she in pain? Does her hand hurt? Did it happen when her mom was killed? Is that why her hand’s shaking so much? Does she need help? Should I ask her? Would it scare her off if I did?

A million questions raced through Willow’s mind as she sat, frozen with her indecision. But then Mr. Brown wheezed past her, dropping a work sheet onto her desk as he did, and she looked down automatically. She scanned the questions quickly-all easy; she could finish it in ten minutes- then moved her eyes back to Tara, and found her moment to ask was gone. Tara already had the notes down, and was leaning over the work sheet, reading the questions, oblivious to the eyes on her.

Too late.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:15 pm 
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2. Floating Rose

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Damn, poor Tara, hmm so reasons for gloves, burns? Some kind of nerve damage? Cuts? Gah, stupid Buffy, least they have each other. This is going to be a long slow process yay, lol. Would it be remiss of me to hope that Buffy and Xander change their tune and become more supportive of Willow?


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:02 am 
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Yay for good update-y goodness... I hope Willow is able to slowly break through Tara's barriers...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:38 am 
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Please more, I like where this is going. Not really a surprise what will happen in the end, but your writing is refreshing enough so that its not a stagnant story in the meantime

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:45 pm 
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Man this is going to be a looooooooooong and painful ride. And we don't even know what's up with Tara yet, but it's obvious that she's in a very bad situation too. Hopefully they'll help each other soon :pray

Keep up the good work.

I love your story. Please more soonnn!! :bounce

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:02 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

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Be happy; I made an account here because of you. xD I figured it was easier to praise you if I did. Now, onto the mentioned praise:

Nice writing so far. Adding in the information about the gloves Tara is wearing brings out a lot of my curiosity. Like others have guessed, could it be burns, scars, or something else, from the accident? That alone pulls me a lot. Maybe not burns or scars; depending on how much time has passed, I would assume that the physical pain from the wounds would've died down a little, but then again, I could be wrong.

How will others react to the new girl? High school's never a smooth ride, after all. What will they think because she hangs- not really her choice, but you get the point- out with Willow? Whether she's made fun of or not, others are bound to see that Willow's been a lone wolf for a while.

Can't wait to see what else you can come up with, Cheese. As usual, you've made me a fan of your recent work, even if there's no Faith. xD


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:39 pm 
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Great beginning. Looking forward to learning the story of Tara.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:20 am 
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5. Willowhand
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aw poor Tara
she had to have gone through a lot to be acting that way
I'm glad that Willow is standing her ground though
and not letting the way Tara is acting push her away
or make her think it's pointless to try to be friends with her
can't wait for more

Ash :peace


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 6:53 am 
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3. Flaming O
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Wow...
I Have To Say, That This Is Probably Going to Be One Of Those Stories Where I Will Pop In Every Once And A While To Check On.
Most Of The Time I Lurk, Yep I Am A World Class Lurker (got a trophy and everything!)
I'm Good With Angst, It Builds To Better Character Development. Which Is Always Good, Makes The Charaters More Relatable. Though I Find Myself Completely Curiouse As To Why Tara's Mother Was Attacked...
:read


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J

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:58 pm 
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Still no update?? :tumble

Hope everything is ok with you.

I'll be waiting for more.

:wave

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 5:44 pm 
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Oooh this is a great start to a better story! I can't wait to hear all of the details of Tara's injuries. I hope she starts to trust Willow more soon, and they start to heal each other. And is it petty of me to want a large heavy object to fall on Buffy and Xander? (I like Anya in this fic)

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:10 pm 
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@whirlwindcharmer- Heh, you'll have to wait and find out. Buffy and Xander? Eh. I wouldn't count on it. Enjoy this next chapter!

@Zampsa1975- Let us hope! Enjoy this next chapter!

@Zooeys_Bridge- Wow, thanks. ^.^ Enjoy this next chapter!

@Egnalos- Yup. Long and painful. That would be my expertise. Thanks for checking up here; really sorry about the long wait! ^.^' Enjoy this next chapter!

@Spider- Heh. Wow. I do feel quite special. I love when you speculate xD It's so funny, because most of the time, you're right. You know me too well xD Aw, I know. No Faith=D: Enjoy this next chapter!

@taranwillow4ever- Thanks! ^.^ Enjoy this next chapter

@ashcrash71590- Yup, Willow's a tough cookie. Sorta. She's just right- not too hard, not too soft. Horrible analogy xD Enjoy this next chapter!

@Vamp_Willz- Wow, a trophy and everything? xD I'm jealous. Yeah, angst is always a great thing. ^.^ Enjoy this next chapter!

@AmberGoddess- Thanks. ^.^ No, not really; I feel the same way xD Anya's always amazingly cool, and, well...Anya. xD Enjoy this next chapter!

****************************
TITLE: The Cross (May change title later!)

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again?

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

Author's Note: God, I am soooooooooooooo sorry 'bout this wait! I mean, wow! I kinda lost inspiration for it, plus I started NaNoWriMo, so I've been focussing on that. Hopefully updates will come more quickly! (Like I said, lost inspiration. I had to struggle to write this next update, and it's short.) Fingers crossed, everyone! ^.^

PART 3
-----------------------------------

Willow kept her eyes on her work through math, afraid of scaring Tara off, but when the bell rang, she couldn’t help but try and speak again.

“So,” She said loudly, trying her best to ignore the half-curious, half-mocking stares of the other students, who were so accustomed to seeing her alone, “I have Spanish next. What about you?”

Tara didn’t answer; she didn’t even look at her. She just waited for Willow to go through the doorway, then followed behind.

Willow stopped abruptly, and Tara, who was walking slightly behind her, was forced to stop as well, lest she run into her. Willow turned to face her, the students milling around her forgotten, and tried to catch Tara’s eye, a feat near impossible considering Tara wouldn’t look up from the floor.

But Willow wasn’t one to give up easily. Even as broken and bruised as she was, she still had her determination. She knew better than to try and touch Tara, so she ducked to try and meet her gaze. Tara turned her head to the side, avoiding her eyes, but Willow mirrored her movements until Tara was finally forced to look at her.

As soon as their eyes met, Willow stilled her movements. “Have I done something to offend you?”

Tara shook her head once, and lowered her eyes.

Finally exasperated, Willow’s hand shot out on its own accord to grab Tara’s chin, stopping her, then tilting her head up so she could hold her gaze. Tara flinched, and automatically tried to pull away, but Willow only tightened her grip.

“You can talk to me. I’m not going to hurt you.”

Willow waited patiently, keeping her own expression blank as the fear, then indecision flashed through the other girl’s eyes, quite content to have an excuse to stare into Tara’s eyes.

Tara met her gaze again, and opened her mouth, but, before she could get a word out, someone rudely stomped right between them, breaking them apart. Tara let out a squeak of fear, and darted to the side, away from whoever had pushed between them, a startled rabbit, while Willow stumbled backwards, then regained her balance.

“Get a room, ladies.”

Willow glared at the offender, then ducked around him to grab Tara’s arm before she could get any further down the hallway, pulling her to a stop. “Screw you, Larry.”

He held up his hands, feigning innocence. “Hey. As much as I’d love to see two girls making out, I’m looking out for you two.” He glanced around him, then leaned closer to whisper: “It would ruin your reputations. Ya know, if you had one.” He barked a laugh, and leaned away.

Willow’s face hardened. “Can’t you go be a dick somewhere else?”

He grinned. “Ooh, rough talk from the lezzi. No need to be so mean. I thought gay people were happy.”

Willow glowered at him, but didn’t waste her breath on another retort. Keeping her firm grip on Tara, she started walking, pulling the taller girl with her. “C’mon, Tara.”

Larry’s laughter followed them down the hallway, and he called after them: “Hey, girls! I think Room 227 is open this period!”

Willow’s ears burned, and she gritted her teeth. A quick glance at Tara- cheeks flaming, visibly trembling from head to toe- decided it. Spinning on her heel so Larry could see her nasty smile, she called back to him: “Really? Guess I know where I can find you and your boyfriend if I need you, huh?”

Larry went bright red as several people in the crowd that had gathered chuckled. But Willow only held onto that satisfaction for a moment before she turned, and, with Tara in tow, continued on her way down the hallway.

Larry, having somewhat recovered, yelled after them: “Hey, girls, try to keep the screams down! Some of us want to keep our innocence.”

Before Willow could even react, Tara had spun around to face him. She gave him a sweet smile. “Larry, is it?” She said, speaking for the first time while Willow stared, open-mouthed.

“The one and only.”

“Great name. Strong. Manly. Do me a favor, will you, Larry?”

He arched an eyebrow, and gave her a cocky grin; Willow scowled. “Anything for you, baby.”

Tara’s smile disappeared, and her face hardened. “Get your head out of your ass, and take a look around, baby. You think you’re funny? You think you’re cool? Not a chance. These people are only nice to you because they feel sorry for you. So get the hell out of here, and take your bastard friends with you!”

Everything went silent, and in the silence, Tara’s expression went from furious to uncertain, then scared. She whirled on her heel, and started running.

“Tara!” Broken from her daze, Willow gave chase.

Tara didn’t stop running until they reached the double doors of the entrance of the school. And just before she ran through them, Willow grabbed her arm, and pulled her to a stop. She was shaking, and every time she drew in a deep breath, she trembled visibly. She made a half-hearted attempt to pull away from Willow, but Willow only tightened her fingers a fraction.

“Tara, I…”

“G-g-g-god…” Tara choked out. She was a deathly white; Willow felt her stomach knot with anxiety. “O-o-o-oh…g-g-god…”

Willow studied the side of her head- her face was turned away from her, her blonde hair guarding it- for a moment, then smiled bleakly. “That was amazing.”

Willow felt the blonde’s whole body fall still. After a moment, Tara peeked out from her curtain of hair, unsure. “Wh-wh-?”

“No, really,” Willow assured her with a brilliant smile, “No one’s ever stood up to Larry before ‘cept me and… well, my old friends. And no one’s ever stood up for me like that in a long time.”

Tara’s forehead creased, as if she didn’t understand, but she didn’t speak.

Willow smiled dryly at the unspoken question. “Yeah. Pretty pathetic, aren’t I? We should get to class, though. What do you have next?” On an afterthought, she released her grip on the blonde’s arm.

Tara straightened, and smoothed the creases of her shirt, almost subconsciously, then hugged herself, arms wrapped around her abdomen. “…L-L-Latin…”

Willow nodded, a little disappointed that they would have to separate. “Oh. I have Spanish next...which I already told you.” She laughed nervously. But then she brightened considerably. “But I can walk you to class and meet up with you after? We could eat lunch together…i-if you don’t have other plans.” She was suddenly uncertain.

There was a long moment of silence. And then, slowly, a small smile stretched across Tara’s face. “I-I-I’d like that.”

Nodding again, Willow smiled. “Okay,” She said softly. Then she held out her hand. “C’mon. Your aunt’ll kill me if I don’t get you to class on time.”

Tara stared at the offered hand for a long moment in silence. Then her eyes lowered to the floor.

Idiot. Willow internally cursed herself, and dropped her hand. “Right. Um…do you have Mr. Malicout for Latin?”

Tara nodded wordlessly, her eyes still on the ground.

Nice work, dumbass. You were having a nice little moment, and then you had to go and ruin it. Real smooth, Rosenberg. Reaaal smooth.

The silence stretched longer. Willow started to feel uncomfortable, and, of course, her natural defense mechanism kicked in, and, before she could stop herself, she was babbling.

“God, I feel for you. That man is such a creep. He always used to eye me up when I was in class, and he always tried to get me to help him after school. Always gave me great marks, even when I knew I had messed up. That’s why I dropped the class, and went to Spanish. If he starts eyeing you up, ‘cuz, you know, you’re so gorgeous, let me know, ‘cuz I’ll- Oh my god, kill me now.”

Willow ducked her head, cheeks burning with mortification, and closed her eyes. Oh. My. God. Did you really just say that, self? I mean, god, she must’ve found out by now that I’m gay, or she will, and she’s going to think I’m interested in her, and I’ll scare her off. Of course, I am interested in her, quite a bit actually, but-Gah!

Willow peered up through her bangs, and squinted at Tara’s expression. She had her head tilted to her side in such an adorable way that Willow’s heart lurched, and there was a thoughtful, but shocked, half-smile on her face that brightened her blue eyes. Her cheeks were dusted with a faint pink. Their eyes met, and Tara smiled at her, just for a moment, before dropping her head again.

The bell rang, startling both of them. Willow jumped, and her eyes darted across the hall until she found a clock.

“Oh, for the love of Hecate, is that really the time? You’re gonna be late!” Without thinking, she grabbed Tara’s hand, and started dragging her down the hall, maneuvering through the last few stragglers effortlessly. Tara had no choice but to let herself be pulled along, still in two much shock to protest.

She thinks I’m pretty, She mused to herself quietly, Gorgeous. She said gorgeous. I thought the same thing when I saw her…No. Tara, no. Don’t even start. You know what happens when…just don’t even bother.

Willow didn’t drop Tara’s hand until they reached the classroom. When she’d realized what she had done, she had been caught in a whirlwind of conflict- she knew she should have let go, but, god, she didn’t want to. She looked over uncertainly at Tara, only to find that the smile she had seen before was now gone, and her expression was carefully distant.

Willow sighed internally. She’d scared her off.

“So, um…” She shuffled her feet awkwardly. “I’ll see you after class…if you’re still up for it?”

Don’t nod, Tara, don’t nod. Don’t- Tara nodded, and offered her another tentative half-smile.

Damn.

Willow smiled, and touched her shoulder- just a brief touch, her fingers barely grazing the sweater she was wearing, something that could easily be mistaken for a friendly way to send a silent good-luck between friends. But for both girls, it was something completely different.
Tara stiffened as a jolt of electricity shot up from her core and weakened her knees, muddled her mind. A strange vulnerability overcame her; she knew right there that one movement from Willow could save her or destroy her. For that brief moment, her whole being rested in Willow’s hands, and she knew that whatever the redhead wished would be her command.

And as soon as the realization settled in, she slapped her wall of defense back into place before Willow could invade her anymore and shatter the wall forever.

Willow saw Tara’s expression darken, and quickly withdrew her fingers, mentally berating herself. The sudden coldness in the blonde’s eyes shocked her; she stumbled back a few steps, putting distance between them automatically. “U-um…s-see you after, Tara.” Her tongue felt ten times too big; it tripped and stumbled over the simple words. Her cheeks burned again.

And then she turned on her heel, and fled down the hall to her classroom.

Tara watched her until she disappeared through a doorway, and then sighed aloud. Willow’s sudden absence weakened her self-control once more; she wanted more than anything to chase after the hall, grab the redhead, apologize to her, hug her…kiss her.

Tara shook her head. No. There was no time for that kind of thinking. It was unacceptable; there was no way in hell she was even going to consider that. She knew Willow would never feel that way for her; and even though Tara did, she was not going to act on it. People would only turn on you, and they just weren’t worth the effort anymore.

From in the classroom, the teacher evil-eyed her through the doorway, then did a double take. A slow smile spread across his face- a smile she didn’t like at all. He beckoned to her, and Tara knew she had no choice but to obey him. She ducked her head, letting her hair fall in front of her face, and, sighing internally, trudged through the door and into her own personal hell.

Damn.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 3] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:29 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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DIBS! Woot.

Okay, I really really really times -insert number of your choice here- like this fic! Its dark and angsty, but the characters are great, and you have really funny moments. I can't wait for the next update! Post soon plzplzplzplzplzplzplzplzplz :pray :pray :pray :pray

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 3] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:40 pm 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... I truly hope that both start to weaken each other's defencive walls...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 3] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:34 pm 
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Poor Willow,abandoned by her friends. :( At least she has Tara. :)


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 3] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:10 pm 
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Tara seems to be in a bad place internally (If another relationship ever becomes a possibility for me, trust will be an issue) which is bad enough, and apparently also externally. (Is the creepy teacher getting further with her than he did with Willow?) Hope for improvements!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 3] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:38 pm 
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You weren't kidding about the angst warning. It'll be interesting to get into Tara's head though.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 2] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:51 pm 
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lilcheesenip wrote:
Don’t nod, Tara, don’t nod. Don’t- Tara nodded, and offered her another tentative half-smile.

Damn.



Love it!
I am sooo in love with your story that it makes me sad when there is no new chapter posted.

But hopefully with lots and lots of reviews you'll post more!!!
*mumbles* hopefully


~J

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"Japanese commercials are weird."
I think we all can agree on that subject.


Last edited by Vamp_Willz on Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 3] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:21 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:48 am
Posts: 114
@AmberGoddess- I've failed you; this wasn't soon at all. But it's still here, if that counts for anything? Also, thank-you. ^.^ I've never actually gone through anything this dark, so it's good to know I'm getting it somewhat right. Enjoy this next update!

@Zampsa1975- Here's hoping! ;D Enjoy this next update!

@Taralover- Yeah. It really is sad. D: But, yup, she's got Tara, and Tara's got her, so I think we're gonna be okay. ^.^ Enjoy this next update!

@DaddyCatALSO- Exactly where she is. You're good. ;D Enjoy this next update!

@Morrigan- Nope. 100% Serious. There's a bit of reflection on Tara's part, so I hope you enjoy that. ^.^ Enjoy this next update!

@Vamp_Willz- Heh, you're making me feel all warm and fuzzy and wanting to write a lot again. Hopefully, with the holidays, there will be more frequent updates. ^.^' Enjoy this next update!

*************************************************
TITLE: The Cross (May change title later!)

AUTHOR: lilcheesenip

RATING: 14A (Is that a rating? xD) for swearing, and generally just darker topics like suicide, drugs, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I don't own any of the characters. Wish I did, but Joss Whedon does. >.>

SUMMARY: When Willow Rosenberg came out to her friends, she expected their full support-or at least some of it. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that they would turn their backs on her, leaving her to navigate the hallways of hell in high school friendless. Now alone, and depressed, Willow struggles to make it through life day-by-day until she agrees to show her language arts teacher's niece around school, and her life changes drastically.

Tara is beautiful, and kind, but that is hardly shown. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, which she witnessed and could not stop, she refuses to let down the walls she has built around herself. Willow tries to break through them only to discover she has similar walls around herself. Can two damaged hearts meet, and finally find peace again?

SPOILERS: None that I can think of. It's all AU, so no monsters, or anything. ^.^ May steal dialogue hear and there.

FEEDBACK: Absolutely! I live for it. ^.^

Author's Note: Okay, this update was easier to write. And the holidays have come. I have no particular plans, so hopefully writing on this story will happen often. ^.^'

PART 4
-----------------------------------------------

Willow looked uncertainly down the hall. She took a few steps forward, then darted back just as quickly. She could see Tara, dutifully waiting, books clasped to her chest, eyes locked with the ground, but, suddenly she couldn’t bring her feet to move where her heart wanted her to be the most.

She danced a little on the spot as she thought, shifting her weight from foot-to-foot, ignoring the odd looks she was getting- she had been stared at so much in her life, she had just tuned it out. She entertained the thought of running in the opposite direction for a second, just a second, because she was almost positive that would be physically impossible for her. She disgusted herself. How could she even think of abandoning Tara when she knew how it felt? She’d been abandoned herself, and that was still a living hell for her. But at least she knew the faces- the ones to look out for, and the ones that were half-decent. She knew the hallways better than her own house, each little hiding nook she could cram herself into if need be, each detour she could take to avoid someone she really didn’t feel like taking, the ability to take a completely different route and still make it to class in record time.

Tara didn’t have any of that. And Willow was pretty sure the only faces she really recognized was Willow’s herself, Larry’s, and her aunt’s.

She was so vulnerable. Willow could see it in the way she was standing-shoulders hunched, anticipating any sort of attack from behind, head ducked, but still watchful, peeking up every few seconds to assure herself, feet planted a shoulder’s width apart, automatically bracing herself for any sort of assault. One arm holding her books to her chest, the other wrapped securely around her abdomen. A shield. Every time a student came near, she shuffled a few steps back.

How horrible, to be so afraid that you couldn’t go a single second without letting your guard down. At least Willow felt safe at home.

Willow couldn’t leave her there. On top of her newly developed feelings for Tara, an almost bone-deep need to protect, she still had a heart, even if she no longer wore it on her sleeve like she once had. It was impossible to just walk away from her.

That was it. Her decision was made. Squaring her shoulders, Willow made her way through the crowd, eyes fixed on her destination.

The door next to Tara opened; Mr. Malicout stepped out. With a slight frown, Willow increased her pace, almost to the point of a run, elbowing people out of her way as she sped up. She felt her heart jump from her chest to her throat when he laid a hand on Tara’s arm, spoke to her softly. Tara jerked away, shaking her head, and squeezing her eyes shut. Her lips moved hastily, but Willow couldn’t hear what she was saying from where she was.

One last person in her way: little Jonathon, carefully balancing a Big Gulp in one hand, his textbooks in another. Willow barely managed to throw an apology in his direction when she shoved him aside and knocked his books from his hands.

She sidled up to Tara just as Mr. Malicout stepped forward again. She moved quickly, linking her arm with Tara’s spinning her around, and steering her down the opposite way. As they walked away as swiftly as Tara, who had reduced to a sweaty, pale, quivering mess as soon as Willow had appeared, could manage, Willow looked over her shoulder darkly at the teacher.

She’s mine, She told him silently as she glared, Leave her be.

He stared right back, one hand resting on the wall, his eyes never leaving the two girls, even when Willow faced the front again. His eyes told a different story.

We’ll see about that.

[center]***[/center]

Willow didn’t even really realize what she was doing until they were already at the door of one of the girls’ restrooms. Without speaking, she opened the door, and led Tara in. She left Tara briefly then, pulling her arm free, but only to return seconds later with a handful of Kleenex. Still not uttering a word, she directed Tara towards the radiator against the wall, and sat down on the edge, gesturing that Tara should do the same.

Tara visibly wilted. She rested against the radiator, but didn’t sit fully, burying her face in her hands. Her body trembled, but Willow didn’t hear a sound; she wasn’t crying. Willow reached out, touched her arm; the skin burned under her touch.

“You’re hot,” She said, shocked, then immediately cursed herself for her choice of words.

Tara shifted away from her. “I-I’m fine.”

“But you…” Willow shook her head, and gave up.

A long moment passed in silence. Willow stared at the handful of useless tissues she clutched, then, suddenly, she shook her head. “God, Tara, I…”

“Y-y-you w-w-warned me…” Tara choked out from beside her.

Willow looked up at her. She still had her face hidden, but her body had fallen still. She looked so sallow and unhealthy; Willow prayed it was the fluorescent lights humming above them.

“What did he say to you?”

Tara was quiet for a long moment. Then she spoke. “H-h-he asked m-me if I w-w-wanted to eat l-lunch with him.”

Willow swore quietly under her breath. “Bastard. You should really report him.”

Finally, Tara looked up. There was a lingering tear on her right cheek, and her eyes were too red. But she hadn’t been crying hard. “F-f-for trying to b-be nice to m-me?” She asked, a bit sarcastically.

Willow saw her logic plainly; she wasn’t stupid. There was no chance Principal Snyder would listen to them with that only reason, especially since Willow had fallen out of his favor when she had started skipping, failing to hand in assignments, and generally screwing up her academic career. Still, she struggled to find a solution.

“Well, he’s such a creep! There must be someone who can help us! Maybe…maybe…”

Tara didn’t answer, but Willow understood what she was saying so clearly with her silent.

Who will help us?

Willow stared at her hands again. Then she looked up. Tara was staring blankly at the floor, her eyes unfocused, clearly in her own thoughts. That little bead of saltwater was still on her cheek.

Willow lifted a Kleenex hesitantly. “Um, you’ve got a little…” She reached forward to wipe the last tear away, but, as soon as she made contact, Tara twisted, throwing up her hands, catching Willow solidly in the jaw, and cringed.

“Don’t touch me!”

Jaw and eyes stinging, Willow lowered her eyes, and retreated back a few inches, staring hard at her hands, blinking to try and clear the tears before they made it out of her eyes.

It was too late. The big, fat, hot tears burned her eyes, rolled down her cheeks, dripped to her hands. She shook her head fiercely, trying to clear her eyes, but the tears kept coming.

As soon as it all clicked, as soon as everything registered, and as soon as Tara saw the sight of Willow’s tears, she instantly berated herself.

What the hell are you thinking, you stupid cow? She’s trying to help! What the hell are you even doing here in this bathroom, alone, with her? What if she hurts you? What if it’s all just a trap? Why are you even sitting here, thinking about this? Get out of here!

Tara stood, backed up a few inches. She wanted to apologize, take back the words she had said, stuff them back the throat and erase them, erase Willow’s tears. But she couldn’t.

Without a word, she turned on her heel, and fled the bathroom, leaving Willow behind, sitting alone on the radiator, clutching a handful of tissues.

[center]***[/center]

Tara ran for a long time.

She had used to enjoy running, hadn’t she? When she had been younger, running had been exciting. An adventure. So many different sensations, acting all together, blending and mingling to create one, joyous feeling. Leg and arm muscles pulling, stretching, propelling her forward. Lungs expanding and compressing, taking in air, tasting it, pulling the oxygen she needed, and expelling the rest. Wind whistling past her, dragging back her hair, tugging on it playfully, a welcome coolness against her heated skin. Sweat pooling on her forehead, running down her arms. The sound of her feet hitting the ground, loosening millions of tiny stones, scattering them, tearing into grass and dirt as they pushed her forward.

But it had been a long time since she had enjoyed running. When she had gotten older, when the abuse had started, first on her mother, and then on her, running had changed for her. It was no longer a thrill; it was a horror. An escape. The sensations changed. Suddenly, her muscles weren’t just moving because she wanted them to, but because they had to. If they failed her, she failed. Air was harder to get then; her lungs worked desperately, but most of the time, she didn’t get the oxygen she craved. They would burn, and she would start to see black spots at the edge of her vision until she finally managed to draw in a shaky breath and get some relief. The wind was no longer a playful companion, but an enemy, pulling her back, slowing her speed. The sweat blinded her, burned in her eyes and screwed with her vision. The sound of footfalls were a horrendous melody to her now, one that haunted her everywhere she went.

Tara ran.

People stared at her, but didn’t try to stop her; she weaved through them, ducked around those who didn’t move. She ran to her aunt’s classroom, and ran further still. Kept running until she burst through the double doors that were the entrance to the school. Her body begged her to stop, but she forced herself to keep going, even as she felt a wave of dizziness screw up her footsteps.

There was a cluster of bushes across the street; she could see them clearly. Barely pausing to check for traffic, Tara bolted across the street and made a beeline towards them, dropping to her knees to crawl.

Brambles scraped against her skin and tore her clothes as she crashed through the bushes, swatting branches away, ripping through the tangles of vegetation. Just as she had prayed, there was a clearing, a small circle she estimated big enough for two people at the most. Gratefully, she dropped her bag, and collapsed on her side, curling into a fetal position, trying to stop the tremors racing through her, calm the fever burning through her body.

As far back as she could remember, she’d always had the fever. It had hardly surfaced when she had been younger; her mother had kept her safe, kept her calm and happy. But when she had disappeared, the fever had stepped up to take her place. It was a constant enemy, always lurking at the edge of her subconscious, waiting until the fear had consumed her before it could completely overtake her. It was always waiting, hoping, for the fear. Because without the fear, it could not fully exist; the fever only came when she was truly afraid.

Tara shivered, and wrapped her arms around her knees, hugging them to her. Her mouth and throat were dry; her body, scorched and sticky, shook with each raspy breath she sucked in. But as she squeezed her eyes shut and hugged her knees tighter, her hyperventilation began to cease. The fever started to retreat. Birds chattered to each other above her; somewhere nearby, a small animal- squirrel?- snuffled through the leaves. It was a peaceful place.

You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re safe. The words hummed through her head like a soothing melody, calming her, wrapping her in their false sense of security that everything was going to be okay, helped her concentrate. Slowly, she uncurled, and sat up, brushing dirt off her arm and pant leg. She pulled a leaf from her mussed hair, then froze when she heard branches snapping.

Someone was making their way nosily into the clearing.

Tara’s first instinct was to run. But she couldn’t make her body move. She went completely still, listening hard as the intruder neared, muscles tensed and ready for an escape, praying whoever was coming would change their mind, turn, and leave her.

She was just about to make a break for it, regardless of the noise she would make, when a blonde head poked through the branches. A very familiar blonde head. Tara hesitated, just for a moment, but it was a moment too long; before she could crawl into the safety of the knots of branches behind her, Anya pulled herself halfway into the clearing.

“Damned branches. Always blocking my way. Screw all that environmental crap; I’ll just bring a chainsaw next time and chop out a path. Maybe I’ll catch a bunny on the way, and I can-oh.”
Anya paused when she saw Tara, ridged, across the clearing. There was a moment of stunned silence as the two blondes stared at each other. Then Anya’s face broke into a grin.

“Well, well. A figurative frightened rabbit. I’d call you a real frightened rabbit, but that would just be insulting.” Anya heaved the rest of her body into the clearing while Tara waited, hardly daring to breathe, calculating her chances of getting out of the bushes without Anya catching her. She didn’t know Anya’s athletic ability, but, judging by her small frame, she must have had some kind of skill in pursuit; she would at least fit through the branches more easily. Tara had to admit her chances of getting out were pretty sad.

Anya turned, and hauled a small backpack in. Then she turned back, and arranged herself cross-legged across from Tara. She rummaged through her bag, pulled out a can of Sprite, then looked up at Tara as she pulled back the tab.

“Why so serious? If you’re worried about me hurting you, don’t. You’re Willow’s girlfriend. Me and her? We go way back.”

The can hissed. Tara watched as a bit of the pop foamed over the top. “M-m-me and W-Willow aren’t r-r-really-”

“Oh, bullshit.” Anya took a sip, then held out the can in offering. “I saw you two gazing at each other like love-sick puppies. Want some?”

And risk getting poisoned? No chance in hell. Tara shook her head.

Anya shrugged, and took another big gulp from the can. “Your loss. Hey, aren’t you supposed to be meeting Wil for a big lunch date or something?”

Tara looked at her, startled. “H-how did y-y-you…?”

Shrugging again, Anya said: “Stuff gets around. And I passed you two in the hallway when you were planning it.”

Tara felt a bit of an accusation leak into her eyes, having only remembered the hallways empty, but didn’t speak up. Somehow, Anya noticed. She held up her hands defensively.

“Hey, I was going to the bathroom. I have a right. And you two were so wrapped up with each other that you didn’t notice. So there.” She nodded, satisfied with her logic, and leaned back. Tara only stared. “Anyways, Willow’s gonna be real disappointed that you skipped out on her. You know, standing people up is just awful. It’s almost as bad as communism. She’s had enough crap to deal with, her being gay and people hating her and all, and she doesn’t need this kind of stuff from her-”

“W-w-wait,” Tara interrupted quietly, “P-people hating h-her?”

Anya, looking a little indignant at the interruption, shrugged again. “Yeah. Buffy. Xander. Everyone.”

Tara’s forehead creased with confusion.

Anya sighed theatrically, and shook her head. “Do I have to explain everything? Buffy, Xander, Wil, and me used to be a group. Best friends, even if me and Willow fought about a lot of things, like if bunnies are scary or not-which they are. But then Willow came out-not very graciously, I must add- and they all argued. Buffy and Xander hate gay people, and they couldn’t stand to be around Willow. And where Xander and his penis go, I must go also.”

Tara’s nose wrinkled with disgust.

Anya shrugged calmly, not at all offended. “To each her own. Anyways, I tried to keep talking to her, but she just kind of…gave up.”

“G-g-gave up?” Tara repeated softly.

Anya nodded. Her eyes were suddenly sad. “Gave up. On everything. Her friends, school, her family, going out…she just gave up on living.” Anya paused, then tilted her head, almost thoughtfully. When she spoke again, her words came out slowly. Uncertainty. “I guess I have to say I kind of gave up on her too. She was so vulnerable, so fragile; the tiniest thing could upset her. But she was healing. She was coping, barely.” Anya looked up to meet Tara’s gaze, and the solemn grief in her eyes startled the other blonde; it was almost as if Anya was mourning the death of a friend. The death of Willow.

“I just didn’t want to be the one to break her into pieces again.”

_________________
|Saving Grace| |The Cross||Never Let You Go| |Keeping Destiny|


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 4] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:47 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 8:32 am
Posts: 295
Location: Hmm... Don't you wish you knew?
So sad! What the hell happened to Tara and when will she let Willow in? Can't wait for more!

_________________
I'm under your spell...

I am the Queen of Mosquitoes personified, feel my annoying wrath! ~Willow, The Rose

False Euphoria ~~~ Eternity Again


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: The Cross [Part 4] ANGST WARNING
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 6:02 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Mon May 21, 2007 7:53 pm
Posts: 490
Location: Whitstable, UK
Poor Willow and Tara. :(


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