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

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 Post subject: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 28th 2021)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2021 1:48 am 
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TITLE: Sparks In Dust

WRITER: leftindust

STORY RATING: PG to NC-17 (eventually)

CHAPTER RATING: PG

DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters, they all obviously belong to Joss and mutant enemy and yadayadayada you know the drill, I'm just having a laugh for no monetary gain.

SUMMARY: AU Sunnydale in the old west. Willow's travelled to a new town after hearing about some disturbing attacks in the area, she needs somewhere to stay, and the Maclay Ranch has a cabin. Love, violence, monsters, crime, politics - lot's going on at the turn of the century. [I have been obsessively playing red dead redemption 2, and I've always wanted to write a fic, so these two worlds collided. have fun!]

FEEDBACK: Please!

NOTE: This is my first fic, and I have absolutely no one to Beta so please be aware of that. If anyone wants to offer then go right ahead, I definitely need it. Thank you to the facebook group for encouraging me to give this a go. Also, I'm british and don't know a lot of about American history, but I'm trying to research and be as accurate as possible. Please forgive any slight issues but if I've made a big booboo, please let me know.

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CHAPTER 1

July, 1899


“Get on out of here, it’s late and we’re closin’, come back tomorrow!” The saloon’s batwing doors rattled shut, and the shuffling inebriated few wambled onto the dirty street.
A man in a simple brown shirt and trousers dragged his feet behind him as he stumbled towards his camp for the night. As he walked between two houses, he heard a woman's laugh, deep and seductive, and for a brief moment he was sure she said his name.
Navigating with less than a full deck, he wandered down the path between the homes, heading towards the dulcet tones of his siren.
His last sight was beauty, his last feeling was piercing pain, and his last breath was a gurgled scream.

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

“Here we are, Miss. Sunnydale! I hope you’ve got a place to stay, there’s been some horror stories around here of late.”
The driver stepped off the front of his coach and held the door open, his friendly eyes crinkled with slight concern. Willow stepped down from the carriage and nodded at him politely, giving no confirmation either way. The driver removed her case from the coach and handed it over to her, while she handed over his payment.
She took in her first sight of the town of Sunnydale. She had been reading through various newspapers and journals for the last few months, focusing on the tragic, violent and disturbing murders that had been running rampant around California. The last few weeks had been all concentrated in Sunnydale, so Willow Rosenberg had travelled to investigate further.
Her father would argue (and already had, in fact) that she had absolutely no business running off to Sunnydale to chase a random animal phenomenon, which is what the papers were pretending the murders were. She isn’t a journalist, she isn’t a hunter, she isn’t tough or trained in this area whatsoever. But Willow had spent her whole privileged life reading, learning, and wishing to live a normal life, and had a fascination with the macabre.
Ira Rosenberg owned one of the largest sugar plantations in California, making him one of the most powerful men in the state due to his connections and station. He had tried to raise Willow with his ideals so that she could perhaps marry a man worthy of inheriting the business, but no amount of home education and extensive hired help could get her to adhere to his principles. She spent her childhood breaking out of the mansion to climb trees, chase lizards, and scrape her knees. A definite disappointment to her father, she assumed.

With her first look at the town around her, Willow noticed that there were more lawmen on the street than she expected for a town of this size - they were patrolling with an alertness in their posture, and a slight haunting fear in their eyes. There were people openly crying in the street, and a general sense of sadness seemed to blanket the place. Willow’s eyes fell on a young boy selling newspapers on the corner, holding up the morning's issue which had the bold headline “TRAVELLER FOUND DEAD, ATTACK COUNT RISING” spread across the front.

Willow quickly paid the boy for a copy, and took stock of the area to start forming a plan for her research. She was going to book lodging in the local saloon they’d pulled in front of, but she hadn’t planned much further than that. She looked around and noted a library, as well as the sheriffs building. There were also your typical barbers and general store, so her everyday needs should be taken care of.

Hoisting her luggage up with slight difficulty, Willow headed towards the saloon, called ‘The Bronze Star’ and pushed through the batwing doors. Her nostrils were immediately assaulted with the smell of tobacco, slight mildew and old whiskey, and she paused to catch her breath before approaching the bar.
A portly older gentleman nodded at her while cleaning a glass and asked “What can I get ya? You new in town?” He put the glass away and rested his hands upon the bar.
“Oh, hello! I’m looking to book a room for a few nights, I’m staying for a while, could do with a more permanent residence but one thing at a time. Do you also do food here? I haven’t eaten in hours and I have a mighty need, I know I’m slight but I could eat as much as ten men right now, I don’t suppose you know where I could look for more long term lodging? Also my name’s Willow and what’s yours?” Her questions burst out of her at a surprising speed that she didn’t intend and she internally cursed herself for her usual babble. She glanced at the barman apologetically while he looked at her momentarily dazed, but thankfully recovered quickly.
“Oh, howdy ma’am, call me Jim. You can indeed book a room for as long as you like, not having as many people comin’ through town lately on account of the trouble. It’s just up the stairs to the right, the price may seem a little steep but it includes 2 meals a day, and it so happens we’ve got a nice mutton stew on the go this afternoon, want me to grab you a bowl?” Willow nodded gratefully as Jim smiled at her and went into the kitchen area behind the bar. She sat down at a nearby table and started reading her paper while she waited for her stew. Jim returned quite promptly, steaming bowl of stew in hand, and put it on the table in front of her.
“Here you go, Miss. I forgot to mention, if you’re lookin’ for longer lodging you may want to check the board outside the library, sometimes people leave notes there. Sorry I can’t be of more help” she thanked him and he went back behind the bar where a local drunk seemed to want his attention.
She read her paper and ate her meal simultaneously, thankful to be on steady ground for a while. Once she finished she brought her luggage upstairs to her new temporary living quarters.
The room was sparse and small, a modest single bed in one corner and a dresser alongside it. The only artwork being an aged framed painting of a horse on the plains.
She put her case under the bed, hoping Jim was fairly trustworthy and wouldn’t allow her belongings to fall into strangers hands, and walked downstairs and out of the saloon, heading for the library.

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

The heat stung across Tara’s back as she helped her brother, Donnie, fix the southern fence. For not the first time, the fence had dislodged due to one of their more aggressive mares bolting at a nearby gun shot. Without the funds to purchase new planes and posts, they were forced to try and repurpose what they had. Tara helped her brother raise the post back into its hole and held it so he could hammer it back into place. They worked for hours, making sure that the ranch’s perimeter was restored and that their cattle were safe, at least for now.

As they were finishing up, Dylan Maclay rode back into the ranch with a second horse trailing behind him. Hopping off the mare, he led her back into the paddock, towards his children.
“Took long enough, but I got her. She got spooked halfway to town.” he brushed her down as he spoke, giving the horse soothing encouragement as he did so.
“Just in time Pa, we’re basically done here” Donnie sighed out in mild exhaustion with his hands on his hips, his work shirt dampened in sweat from long hours in the sun.
“Would you both like some dinner?” Tara asked, feeling like her own limbs were going to drop off, but knowing more needed to be done before she could rest.
“Thank you, girl. That’d be great” Dylan confirmed, while throwing his arm over his daughters shoulder and steering them towards their house, Donnie eagerly following as fast as his tired feet would allow.

After polishing off modest but filling plates of bread, eggs and tinned corned beef, Donnie stretched and headed for bed while Tara cleaned up the table.
“Tara, I’ve got a task for you in the mornin’. We need money, as you know. I want to rent out that spare cabin, I need you to go into town and put up this advert for me.” He handed her a piece of paper, outlining all the details. “I’d ask Harris to do it but he aint due back for a few days and your brother has to muck out the barn. Take some money too, you know what we need” he handed her a small amount of coins, nodded and went to bed. With her last ounce of energy she finished her cleaning duties and turned in for the night, knowing she needed to be up very early in the morning for the trek into town.

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

“Goddammit, girl! Would you relax?!” Dylan was frantically trying to subdue the same mare as the day before, who was pulling away from Dylan as roughly as she could. Tara came running out onto the paddock towards the commotion.
“Daddy, I got it. I got it” she ran towards the horse and put her hand on the mare’s flank, slowly smoothing with her hand as she started to quietly sing to the horse. She felt little trembles of energy flow from her hand into the horse, and within seconds the horse calmed down completely.
Dylan had backed away in exasperation, and although he’d seen his daughters magic touch with the horses before, he always felt stunned with how effectively she could calm a horse.
“That’s my girl. Thank you.” He smiled at her, and she smiled back, but the smile was so familiar to him that he instantly saddened. He shook his head briefly, and gestured towards the gate. “Now get on with you, we need that lodger”. Without a second look, he turned away towards the barn, presumably to milk the cows.
Tara had never really been able to keep up with her father’s hot and cold approach to affection. When she was a child he was a very loving and attentive father while managing to be strict and hardworking with her and her brother on the ranch. But after their mother got sick, and then sadly passed, he would flitter between a complete cold detachment or an almost desperate love and affection. Sometimes, she wasn’t sure which she preferred. She just missed her mother so much, for her own sake as well as her families.
Tara walked up to her stallion, Jack. Briefly greeting him with an affectionate pat, she loaded up his saddle, mounted him and pulled out her cowboy hat, once ready she headed out towards Sunnydale.

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

After a long few hours' ride, arriving in Sunnydale and loading up on supplies at the general store, Tara hitched her horse to a post outside the library. She wasn’t a big fan of the town and tended to avoid it whenever she could, as too many people around made her uncomfortable. Most of the people she’d encountered in her life outside of the family were either other ranchers for some business or another, or rustlers and bandits trying their luck with the ranch. As far as she was concerned, most people were dangerous and they should be avoided at all costs.

Heading towards the notice board outside the library, she felt a sudden weight hit her, and found herself keeled over and lying flat on her back on the dusty ground. The weight hadn’t moved from her person, and as she looked up, she found herself staring into the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.
“I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to bump into you like that, where are my manners? two seconds in the real world and I’m already causing trouble! Stupid Willow! what’s the matter with you?” The completely captivating stranger, still partially on top of her, continued to berate herself while Tara tried to regain the ability to speak.
“I’m sorry too, it’s okay, no harm done” Tara managed to breathe out quietly in response to her gorgeous tackler. She tried to push herself into a seating position but the woman hadn’t moved fully yet.
“Oh my lord I’m all over you. I’m sorry again, I’ll move”. Willow, completely mortified, sprang up like she’d been bitten by a rattlesnake. After finding herself fully standing again, she held her hand out to the woman she had knocked over.
“Let me help you, I’m Willow, by the way” Willow smiled at her meekly while helping the woman stand up fully.
“My name’s Tara. And really, it’s all okay.” Tara smiled back at Willow, not being able to let the woman she’d just met continue to feel bad about the situation.
Standing in front of the notice board, and not knowing how to continue the conversation, Tara pulled out the advert her father gave her and started pinning it to the board.
“You’re renting out a place?” Willow enquired, partly for her own needs and partly just because of a weird pull she felt to continue talking to this woman.
“Yep. My family has a ranch, a few hours east of here. We got an empty cabin, need the cash” Tara shrugged, wishing she had more of a reason to be in the town if it meant she could spend more time with this red headed angel she had literally stumbled across.
“Well, that’s fortuitous. I have cash, and I need somewhere to stay” Willow smiled at her, Tara warmly smiled back.
“Well, you’ll have to talk to Daddy first, he won’t rent to just no one. But it’ll probably be fine. When you’re ready just pop down to the ranch and he’ll show you the cabin. Head out the main road, follow the first exit east, and it’s about a 3 hours ride. If you’re not sure, most wagon drivers know where we are. Be seein’ ya!” Tara managed to say more in that one sentence than she had for the past year and decided she probably couldn’t handle much more, so she tipped her hat and jumped back on Jack, heading out of the town in the directions she’d just shared with Willow.
Willow stared at her departure, smiling to herself.

END OF CHAPTER 1

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Last edited by GrimCityGirl on Tue Jul 27, 2021 11:22 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | ONGOING (July 1st 2021)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2021 4:52 am 
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Very interesting start! Something tells me these two will find themselves in each other's company very soon :wink

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | ONGOING (July 1st 2021)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2021 9:58 am 
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Fresh concept, looking forward to seeing this develop. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | ONGOING (July 1st 2021)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2021 10:22 am 
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Intrigued- looking forward to more!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | ONGOING (July 1st 2021)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2021 4:31 am 
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Very promising start! I love AU-fics with our girls in the past.

Quote:
Tara walked up to her stallion, Jack. Briefly greeting him with an affectionate pat, she loaded up his saddle, mounted him and pulled out her cowboy hat, once ready she headed out towards Sunnydale.

From this description I assume Tara is dressed in men's clothing (more practical for farm labour and riding then a dress).
I'm wondering if Willow is dressed like the rich "lady" her father wants her to be or also in men's clothing.
Maybe you can mention something about their attire in the next chapter so I can imagine the future scenes better?

Now I'm curious if "your" Willow will rent a horse and ride to the Maclay ranch herself or if she is afraid of horses like the "original" Willow and will hire someone to drive her there (maybe Xander Harris?).


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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | ONGOING (July 1st 2021)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2021 5:53 am 
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Laragh wrote:
Very interesting start! Something tells me these two will find themselves in each other's company very soon :wink


Thank you!

Rutkowski wrote:
Fresh concept, looking forward to seeing this develop. :)


Yeah I thought it could be an interesting idea, but I'm a little bit of a fan of some of the typical Willow/Tara fan fiction dynamics so there will still be a lot of familiarity later on, I should imagine.

shirrey wrote:
Intrigued- looking forward to more!


Thanks!

Will's redemption wrote:
Very promising start! I love AU-fics with our girls in the past.

Quote:
Tara walked up to her stallion, Jack. Briefly greeting him with an affectionate pat, she loaded up his saddle, mounted him and pulled out her cowboy hat, once ready she headed out towards Sunnydale.

From this description I assume Tara is dressed in men's clothing (more practical for farm labour and riding then a dress).
I'm wondering if Willow is dressed like the rich "lady" her father wants her to be or also in men's clothing.
Maybe you can mention something about their attire in the next chapter so I can imagine the future scenes better?

Now I'm curious if "your" Willow will rent a horse and ride to the Maclay ranch herself or if she is afraid of horses like the "original" Willow and will hire someone to drive her there (maybe Xander Harris?).


Yeah I didn't realize how obviously I bypassed their clothing, bit of an oversight on my part. I will definitely try and address that slightly more in future chapters.

I'm trying to stick to some historical accuracy, so from my research women mostly only wore pants when they were in working roles, so Tara is definitely in a pants, shirt, and cowboy hat kind of deal because she's frequently involved in physical labour.
With Willow, as rebellious as she is in this fic, she isn't so rebellious as to draw unwanted attention to herself so her dress in my mind is more simple dresses and skirts and blouses kind of situation. Hair up in a bun, occasionally wearing a short jacket, that kind of thing.

Here's a rough example of what I mean -
Image

Thank you for the advice though, it's reflected a little in the next (small) chapter. I will keep it in mind in the future as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | ONGOING (July 1st 2021)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2021 6:00 am 
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UPDATE!
This is a shorter chapter, purely because this one section seemed to go on a while and it made sense more as it's own piece. Others will be coming soon :)


CHAPTER 2

Smiling at the woman’s departure, Willow looked down at the advert in her hands to check the details.

“ Small cabin to rent.
Includes bed, furniture, small kitchen area and bath.
$8 a month.
One meal a day included at main house.

MACLAY RANCH, ask for Dylan”


She knew the polite thing to do would be to put the advert back in its place, but she already knew she was going to the ranch and she didn’t want someone enquiring before her, so she looked around quickly to ensure she wasn’t being watched, and then quickly pocketed it into her skirt.

Guiltily, she knew she wouldn’t be heading out for a few days, wanting a kick start on her research in the town, but she couldn’t risk the cabin going before she had her chance.

She rationalized to herself that she was in a better financial situation than most, and could provide more money and stability as a tenant for the Maclay's in the long run.

Nodding to herself in confirmation, she headed inside the library, as was her original intention.

For a library, it was a modest selection of books and some previous issues of the local paper. She wasn’t surprised but as a book lover, it always saddened her to see such meager offerings for local bookworms to choose from.

She walked over to the rack of previous papers and started scanning through them for the older attacks. She pulled out her journal to note specific details that could lead to more information. Most of the articles were brief, focusing more on the damage and death than the specific details of the attacks, but she started to notice a pattern.

In the most recent issue she’d read during her lunch, other patrons claimed to have overheard a woman laughing before the man screamed (quickly being found dead moments later). While looking through the older reports in the paper she had found some similar claims to hearing a woman’s voice.

It wasn’t much of a lead, but it did intrigue Willow.

She got out of her seat, straightened her blouse and put the papers back, nodding at the librarian as she walked out of the library.

She decided to walk around and get acquainted with the town, mulling over the mysterious woman tied to the attacks, when she heard loud whispers from a nearby house.

Carefully, she crept near to the corner of the house, identifying the whispering happening near the backdoor. Quickly peeking round she realized it was a lawman and a woman having a heated discussion.

“It don’t make no sense, Mary Beth! I swear, these killin’s, it’s like a bear tore through em’, covered in bite marks, drained of their blood, but more than that - they’ve all been robbed! What BEAR is robbin’ people Mary Beth?! I swear, I’m gonna quit, I aint gettin’ robbed by no bears!” The lawman looked quite terrified, while his wife looked back in mild annoyance.

“Calm your nonsense Walt, Bears aint robbers and this is no time to be quittin’! We can barely afford this house as it is!”
As they continued bickering, Willow thought about the ‘robbery’ tip, and decided some risky maneuvers were in order.

She walked towards the Sheriff’s office and noticed him discussing something on the porch with some other gentlemen. She carefully snuck herself behind the building, figuring this chance would be as good as any.

Looking around quickly, she removed a bobby pin from her hair and used it to pick the back lock. With a surprising level of experience and ease, Willow popped the door open.

Sneaking in, she kept an ear out and could tell the Sheriff was still out the front. She was standing in the back hallway, which was lined with lawmen coats and boots. To the left a door was ajar, and she could see a table with items laid out and assumed this was where any evidence was kept.

She crept in as quietly as she could, and saw brown clothing laid out. Next to the plain clothing there was an empty wallet, a local map and a packet of oatcakes.

It wasn’t much to go on, but the empty wallet confirmed the robberies she’d heard from the bickering couple. Paying closer attention to the clothing, she couldn’t believe the amount of blood that had soaked into them. She had read so much about disturbing topics but she’d never actually seen evidence of attacks before, and for a moment she was a little nauseous. Hearing a sound from the front, she quickly got over her apprehension and decided to get out of dodge.

From the doorway she couldn’t see anyone coming, so she decided to make a break for it and snuck back down the hallway and outside of the sheriff’s building. With a sigh of relief, she walked back onto the main street.

On the hill behind, the figure of a blonde woman, dressed in black pants, shirt and a black hat, sitting on top of a stocky black mare can be seen, staring down at Willow’s retreating form.

END OF CHAPTER 2

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 7th 2021)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2021 6:18 am 
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Oooooh, this is getting interesting! Will they be inadvertent cool monster fighters together? Very intriguing!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 7th 2021)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2021 11:18 pm 
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So cool how you are melding the Sunnydale world with the old west. I wonder who this laughing woman is ( for a moment I thought ,Tara? But I think I am wrong) I also love how bookish willow is even in these times when woman often weren't allowed to be, although she seems to be a bit of a willow- y rebel. Gotta love that!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 7th 2021)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2021 2:39 am 
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Laragh wrote:
Oooooh, this is getting interesting! Will they be inadvertent cool monster fighters together? Very intriguing!

We shall see!
shirrey wrote:
So cool how you are melding the Sunnydale world with the old west. I wonder who this laughing woman is ( for a moment I thought ,Tara? But I think I am wrong) I also love how bookish willow is even in these times when woman often weren't allowed to be, although she seems to be a bit of a willow- y rebel. Gotta love that!

1. There will be a lot more melding of sunnydales, as soon as I had the idea I could connect things in so many ways that it just had to be done, excited to get there with everyone.
2. Spoiler, it isn't Tara.
3. Yeah my logic with Willow's bookishness is that her father had the financial station to actually educate her, and with how unhappy Willow was in her stifling home world she would reach for novels and the written word as a form of escape, so it can explain the super bookishness of her.

Glad people are still enjoying!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 7th 2021)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2021 2:48 am 
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UPDATE - I felt the chapter I posted yesterday was way too short after a weeks delay, so I'm throwing the next chonky chapter at you now.
The next chapter will have a bigger gap though, so fair warning on that.

CHAPTER 3

On her third day in Sunnydale, Willow had created a comfortable routine of eating her ‘on the house’ meal in the saloon while reading the day's paper.

She was secretly very proud of herself for feeling comfortable in an establishment full of the harsher edges of reality.
Loud poker games happened in one corner, slightly out of tune piano played from another, and a mass of drunks would meander in and out of the doors from dawn til dusk, and frequently until dawn again.
By all accounts, she should be bewildered and frightened by such vagrants, as her father would have put it, but she found herself soaking up the culture, and the mystique of it all kept her feeling alive.

In this morning's issue, there was coverage of a fresh attack, this time located near the Mayor’s hall. A more specific account than most, Willow stared slightly slack jawed as she read the end of the piece.

“...Lawmen report of puncture wounds on the neck and thighs of the victim, leading to further investigation. Sheriff Finn is contacting external experts to discuss non-animal sources for the attacks”.


As soon as she allowed the words to settle in her mind, Willow downed the rest of her lunch and swiftly left for the Police station.

Willow opened the door gently, and looked towards the first desk in the Sheriff’s office. Sat in front of her was a strong looking man in his mid 20s, wearing matching brown pinstripe trousers and waistcoat over a white shirt with roughly rolled up sleeves, and a loose tie at his neck. He had a strong jaw that was decorated with a bushy moustache that seemed to counter his short trim hair style. He had various documents on the desk in front of him.

“May I help you, miss?” the man asked as he looked up at her.

“I’m sorry to trouble you, Mr?”

“Finn, but you can call me Sheriff. I know I look a little young for the role but you may have heard our previous Sheriff had a … bad experience round here.” Finn adjusted himself uncomfortably as he tried to explain.

“I’m so sorry Sheriff, my name is Willow, Willow Rosenberg? I am in the area for research and I read in the paper that you’re looking for external experts surrounding the attacks. One of those experts wouldn’t happen to be Professor Ruper Giles, would it?” Willow asked as politely as she could manage, but still betrayed herself with eagerness.

Finn stood and looked at her with slight suspicion “And how would you know a name like that, Miss Rosenberg?” Willow, briefly alarmed at the question, tried to brush it off with a feminine energy she doesn’t naturally possess.
“Oh it’s silly, I’m, uh... writing a novel, you see. It’s a horror book? I needed some information regarding ghouls and goblins and the like, and I felt an expert in occult lore would be of great use. We have been corresponding for quite some time now. I knew he lived in this state but it never occurred to me that he would be local. Is he, by any chance? I’d love to sit and discuss my book with him in person” Willow tried to squeeze as much truth into her lie as possible to appear more convincing, although drama had never been her strong suit.

Finn narrowed his eyes slightly and then shrugged. “Well, I don’t know much about what he deals in, he’s an odd fella. He doesn’t live too far, has his own cottage about two hours east of here. We’ve asked him to look into the case a little, that’s all. He knows about some weird stuff, we’re curious if he has any insights. At this point we’ll try anything, to be frank. It’s gettin’ scary round here”.
Finn sat back down, feeling a little silly at being so distrusting of the lady, but everyone had itchy trigger fingers of late, so he rationalised to himself that it was an understandable instinct.

Willow, on the other hand, had visibly relaxed when Finn had sat down and managed to internally scream at herself not to let out a ‘woohoo!’ at her own subterfuge.
“Oh thank you Sheriff, I appreciate your assistance. I won’t keep him too busy, I assure you. Good luck with your investigation!” with that she hastily headed towards the exit, but as she opened the door a blonde woman in black trousers, a leather jacket and a cowboy hat with a screaming, gagged man over her shoulder was blocking her exit onto the porch.
“Oh, um, excuse me?” she politely pointed in an outward direction and the bounty hunter stepped aside so she could leave.
The blonde stared after Willow for a few seconds before carrying the body inside the station.

Without a word she walked inside and took a turn to the right, to the open jail cell. She easily threw the man onto the bed, as he wailed miserably, and then closed the door behind her, using it’s locking mechanism on the outside.

She quickly strode up to Finn’s desk and slapped a crumpled wanted poster onto it.

“Larry Boyce, wanted for 3 counts of murder and 2 counts of theft. You owe me $50, and who’s the red head? What did she want?” The woman had both hands pressed onto the desk, looking at the sheriff with annoyance.

“Well, hello Summers! How nice of you to drop in! Have you been well?” Finn smiled in slight amusement and leaned back in his chair slightly, putting his hands behind his head.

“Finn. Give me what I’m owed, and tell me what I want to know” Summers, looking increasingly irritated, stood up straight and put her hands on her hips, fingers gracing the side of her gun belt.

“Oh geez, lighten up would ya! It don’t cost nothin’ to be nice now does it?”

“Fine. Give me my payment and the information I asked for. Pretty please, with a cherry on top” Summers gave him an almost disturbing fake smile that never reached her eyes.

Finn sighed and opened his draw, putting a money clip on his desk towards her.

“There’s your payment. Good catch, Summers. He’s evaded my men for a while now. The red head was just askin’ about Ruper Giles’s location, apparently they’re pen pals. You know old man Giles right? He’s a few wheels short of a wagon, if you ask me.”

Summers picked up the clip from the desk, tipped her hat at the sheriff, and left without a responding word.

“It really don’t cost to be nice” Finn mutters to himself, sighing wistfully at Summers departure.

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

Willow quickly jogged towards the stagecoach station and hired a driver, giving him rough directions. Without thinking she handed him payment straight away, eager to meet the infamous Rupert Giles.

After a two hour ride, the stagecoach pulled up outside of a quaint little hillside cottage.
There was a small garden outside with various herbs and vegetables, and a small stable with a speckled grey horse inside.

The cottage seemed fairly standard until Willow walked towards the front door and realized the wood had thousands of small symbols carved into it, all over the building. From her own readings she could recognize religious iconography and some runes, but a lot of the imagery was completely alien to her.

Slightly concerned, she lightly knocked on the door.
She heard a shuffle behind the door, but instead of it opening, she heard an English man say “Who goes there?” through the wood.

“Does professor Giles live here? My name is Willow Rosenberg” Willow responded, feeling more and more unsettled.
The door opened slightly, and a head peered through the gap. With a quick look up and down, he opened the door fully and visibly relaxed.

Before her stood a tall, older gentleman, around his early 50s. His grey woollen sweater and grey pants matched perfectly with his greying hair, making him look more distinguished than old, as she had imagined. He wore spectacles and seemed a little skittish, but overall she felt calmer now in his presence.

“I’m sorry, Miss Rosenberg. It’s been a dangerous few weeks around here. Can’t be too careful. It’s lovely to meet you in person finally” Giles extended his hand and smiled at her warmly.

“It’s lovely to finally meet you too.” She took his hand and shook it enthusiastically, which caused Giles’s smile to crinkle in amusement at her.

“Come in, come in! I am having some tea, would you like some? It’s my own mix. Some ginseng and mint, I grow both outside.” He gestured towards a teapot on a small table with two chairs in the main sitting area.

The cottage appeared quite modest to Willow, the table in question sat against the wall on the right side of the main room, with a small fireplace on the left wall, with a single armchair sat near it, and a large sleeping dog on a small carpet in front of the fire. In the back of the main area was a corner kitchen, and there seemed to be a small hallway further back on the right, presumably to other rooms.

“I would love some, thank you” she accepted. Giles gestured to the wooden chair nearest to her and he quickly collected a second cup from his kitchen, putting it down in front of Willow and pouring the tea in. He immediately sat down opposite her.

“Did you send a letter telling me of your arrival? If so I’m afraid it hasn’t arrived yet” Giles asked, before sipping his cup.
“Actually, no. This wasn’t really planned. I came to Sunnydale to get more direct research about the attacks. It’s truly fascinating. I happened to read that the sheriff was contacting ‘external experts’, I asked if you were one of them and he confirmed. I didn’t realise you lived so close to Sunnydale, although considering the more colourful history of the town I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.”

Willow sipped her tea, and was surprised at the bitterness she tasted, but the mint helped balance the flavour slightly. It wasn’t the most enjoyable beverage but knowing the properties of ginseng, she was willing to soldier on. Briefly wondering if there was a reason Giles was drinking such a concoction.

Giles' face had a slightly sterner expression, as he nodded in response.

“Yes, I was contacted. There seems to be some odd circumstances around the deaths, they want me to research if there’s any supernatural beings that could cause the sort of marks and savagery they’ve found. I believe they are under the assumption that there is a sort of cult of people trying to replicate the actions of some kind of monster, they’ve ruled out typical animal attacks as they do not really match some of the facts found so far”.

Giles seemed to choose his words carefully, which intrigued Willow.

“Do you agree with their assumption? That this is just… people?” Willow looked at Giles with an excited spark in her eyes, which Giles’ was unsure how to read.

“I currently don’t know much about the attacks. I’ve been relaxing, enjoying my recent retirement. I need to read through the papers the Sheriff left and get myself acquainted with the case and then do some further research. I’m afraid I don’t have much to comment on so far.” Giles continued to be careful with his wording and Willow realised that the conversation she was hoping to achieve would not happen immediately.

Wanting to continue conversing and get to know the man in person however, she decided to change the topic.
“Oh yes, your retirement. I remember you mentioning it in one of your letters. You were teaching History, correct? I know you wrote a lot of pieces on folklore, the occult and mythology, but History was your primary subject?” Willow smiled, while reaching for her cup again. Despite it’s bitter taste, she assumed the Englishman would appreciate the polite effort of finishing the drink.

“Yes, you are correct. You have a good memory! It was a delightful job but I am happy to have some time to myself. I will still publish, though. I fear I would be too bored in this house alone, with nothing to do. So I will continue my research, and publish more pieces.”
“I look forward to reading them, as you know I’m a fan of your work” Willow smiled at him.

She put her cup down on the table, and looked at him earnestly.
“I am going to be staying nearby for a few weeks. I find the current situation here fascinating and I’m trying to experience the ‘real’ world, away from my fathers influence. I would love to pick your brain some more, if you have the time for me” her eyes pleaded with him to agree.

Giles smiled briefly at the young woman’s request.
“I think that would be fine, Miss Rosenberg.” They smiled at each other and Willow got up from her seat.

“Well, I’ve taken up too much of your time today already. I will leave you to do your local research, but I’ll pop by soon?” she asked, extending her hand for a parting shake.
“Of course, I would love that. It was nice to finally put a face to our letters” she returned the shake.
“Same with you, Professor,” she smiled.
“Call me Rupert, if you’d like.” he offered, opening the front door for her.

“Okay, Rupert. Thank you again” she left the cottage and after making it to the nearby road she quickly realized that her stagecoach had left without her. Realizing far too late that she’d never instructed him to stay, and had paid him up front. She felt foolish but realized the Maclay ranch would only be an hour's ride away from here, and figured she would start walking, hoping to arrive there before dark. At least she could hopefully have a bed for the evening and then organize retrieving her belongings from the saloon the following day.

She started following the road down the hill, and the professor stood in the doorway, drinking his tea and watching her retreat.

Summers crept into the room from the hallway, and stood beside the professor. He didn’t flinch or react in any way.

“Interesting girl. Did you catch all of that?” The bounty hunter gave a quiet “mmhmm” noise from deep in her throat.

“Keep an eye on her. Just in case.” He instructed, turning away from the door to sit back inside.

Summers watched on, as Willow walked on in the distance.

END OF CHAPTER 3

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED...AGAIN? (July 8th 2021)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:27 am 
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I'm super impressed with the world you've built in just three chapters! Looking forward to Willow's arrival at the Maclay ranch.

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED...AGAIN? (July 8th 2021)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2021 8:45 pm 
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Agree with Laragh on the world building - this is really interesting and mysterious. Excited for more!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED...AGAIN? (July 8th 2021)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2021 11:35 am 
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Also, Riley gets to be cowboy guy!!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED...AGAIN? (July 8th 2021)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2021 12:52 pm 
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Cool premise. Looking forward to reading more. I'm going to PM you.

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED...AGAIN? (July 8th 2021)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2021 9:51 pm 
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Laragh wrote:
I'm super impressed with the world you've built in just three chapters! Looking forward to Willow's arrival at the Maclay ranch.


shirrey wrote:
Agree with Laragh on the world building - this is really interesting and mysterious. Excited for more!


Thanks! I'm glad it's working for you guys, I really want to establish all the elements well as I have quite a lot planned.

shirrey wrote:
Also, Riley gets to be cowboy guy!!


You have no idea how badly I wanted to make him a travelling salesman but I needed a sheriff and he seemed perfect.

taranwillow4ever wrote:
Cool premise. Looking forward to reading more. I'm going to PM you.


Thank you!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED...AGAIN? (July 8th 2021)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2021 9:56 pm 
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UPDATE - I wanna thank shirrey for being my beta for this chapter! I feel more confident posting now :) Sorry for the long delay between chapters, I've been recording an EP all week so I've been busy, but I should have more time from now on.

CHAPTER 4
It had been two full torturous days since Tara had met Willow, and she had thought of nothing else.

When she first arrived home, she informed her father that she may have found a potential tenant. He only asked if she looked like she could afford it, and Tara simply nodded. Dylan dropped the issue at her confirmation.

Since then she had been busying herself with all the work needed on the ranch. Usually, the summer is a great time for the ranch, but with their current financial situation they couldn’t afford to hire extra field hands, so the family was exhausting itself trying to do the work of 10 men.

The cattle had to be taken to pasture and watched each day to fend off potential rustlers, the calves born in the spring were needing to be weaned from their mothers, hay needed cutting and prepping for storage, and the usual daily chores of ranch life had to be undertaken as well.

Tara was hard working, and usually focused, but no matter what task she undertook the red head was on her mind.

She was milking the cows in the barn and she considered if Willow had ever had milk that fresh herself. She fed the chickens and she wondered how Willow liked her eggs in the morning. She cleared out the stables and hoped Willow wouldn’t arrive before she’d have a chance to have a bath.
No matter what she did, she would catch herself staring towards the ranch gates, praying she’d appear.

While Tara was brushing down the horses, her brother rode in on his own steed. He steered the horse into an empty stall and closed the door behind him. After some brief calming tones to his horse, he turned towards his sister.

“Hey sis, how’s she doin’?” He gestured towards the more aggressive mare they had been having issues with that Tara was currently brushing. The large shire had a deep chestnut colour to most of its body with large boot-like white hair around it’s legs and feet. She was easily the tallest horse on the ranch.

“She’s good. I’m not sure why she’s such trouble for you and pa, she’s fine with just me.” Tara smiled at the horse and it closed its eyes and snorted in satisfaction.

“Yeah. She liked Ma too. Maybe she just prefers the fairer sex” Donnie chuckled to himself, removing his cowboy hat from his head to ruffle his hair, quite clearly matted in sweat from
the day’s labour.

“How has the weaning been?” Tara turned and asked her brother, while she guided the shire back to it’s stall.
“Oh can’t you hear them from here? There’s only a fence between em’ but you’d think I’d moved the calves to Mexico with all the noise they’re makin’”. Donnie put his hat over his heart and looked softly at his sister.

“You know, you’ve been kinda quiet the last few days. Not that you were ever a chatterbox
but, still. Are you alright?” He gave her a serious look of brotherly concern.

“I’m good Donnie, it’s fine” she dismissed his concern with a gentle smile.

“Well, whatever it is. You know I’m around. You have any trouble you get me, you hear?” He threw his arms around her and pulled her in for a gentle hug. Tara, slightly surprised, pushed herself further into his chest and smiled.

She loved Donnie, but knew she couldn’t tell him what was on her mind.

She knew having this sort of infatuation for another woman was considered wrong, and that her family would not forgive her if they found out, but she felt no shame.

From a young age, she had read her mothers romance novels and found herself holding no affection for the male characters, finding the descriptions of the women far more interesting.

All of the men she encountered in her life confirmed that she had little to no interest in them.

She didn’t have much interaction with women her own age and assumed she would just not find anyone she would feel anything for, until she met Willow.

She knew her feelings were something she could not explore, but nevertheless she yearned to spend time with the woman and to be near her.

She pulled away from Donnie’s chest and looked up at him.

“Thank you.” she smiled.

“No problem, sis” he nodded, and turned away from the barn, leaving his sister to finish her work.

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

She had been walking for about two hours when she heard the first roll of thunder. She hadn’t seen a single horse or carriage on the main road and it had been dark for half an hour already.

“Ohhh no. That's not good” Willow muttered to herself, hitching her skirt up slightly to move at a quicker pace.

After another two hours Willow was completely exhausted and it had started to rain heavily. The thunder had been getting louder and closer throughout her journey and suddenly she heard a loud crack, as a lightning bolt struck nearby.

She screamed and fell over, slipping in the mud. Her already drenched clothes were now smeared and she felt close to completely breaking down, when she heard a horse in the distance. As if by magic, someone on a horse had galloped towards her at full pelt and picked her up as they went, practically throwing her onto the back of their horse.

“HEY!” she screamed, briefly worried for her life.

“HOLD ON, it’s not safe” A woman yelled back at her. Not one to argue and without other options, Willow held onto the woman's hips for dear life and let the woman ride.
The weather was getting more and more dangerous as they rode, but the driver slowed down slightly and turned her head towards Willow’s direction.

“Where are you headin’?” she yelled over the storm.

“Maclay Ranch?” She yelled back, suddenly unsure if turning up like this was the best idea.

“I know it'' the woman responded, and went back to her breakneck pace.

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

She was swirling in a beautiful, unintelligible haze of pleasure when she was suddenly shaken awake.

“TARA!” her brother yelled near her face, shoving her back and forth on her shoulder.
Tara shot up in bed in surprise, her chest heaving partly from the shock and partly from the intense dream she had been having.

“Wha...what’s going on?” she asked, trying to regain her composure and take stock of the situation.

It was still dark outside her window and she felt exhausted, suggesting she hadn’t been asleep very long.

“There’s a storm Tara, we got trouble, get dressed. GET YOUR BOOTS!” Her brother, clothed in only dusty trousers and a vest, threw himself down the ladder of her loft room.

She quickly threw on some work pants and a shirt, followed her brother down the ladder and picked up her cowboy boots. She ran straight for the front door and saw the state of the ranch.

A nearby tree had clearly been struck by lightning and had crashed into the fence that they had already fixed twice in the last few days. The barn door was wide open and some of the horses could be seen running away from the broken fence, away from the ranch.

“Goddamn it all,” she muttered to herself before rushing to the barn, finding her father and brother mounting up.

“We’ve gotta move that tree if we have a hope in hell of keeping the cattle in, the Shire and the Morgan have gotten out again, I’ve got a buyer for the Morgan, we can’t lose those horses! Can you bring them back?” Dylan barked towards his daughter and was already riding out of the barn without waiting for her response, knowing she would do what she could.

Without pause Tara saddled up and mounted Jack, riding full speed towards the fence and instructing Jack to jump, clearing the fence cleanly. They rode up the opposing hill, gaining on the horses.

Tara kept her hand hovering over her lasso, hanging from her saddle, but opted for a more natural approach, hoping she could be heard over the storm.

Tara slowed her speed slightly and continued to follow the horses, but started to sing loudly and evenly.

The words of ‘Amazing Grace’ started to reach the horses, and the horses started to slow.

Tara continued her song, matching the horses speeds, smiling to herself.

The horses still seemed agitated by the storm but something was stopping them from bolting away, and they slowed to a stop.

Tara dismounted, still singing, and slowly walked towards the horses. She placed a hand on each of the horses' flanks, and finished her song.

The horses had completely calmed and were both looking towards Tara, almost in a trance.

“Let’s go home” Tara told them, while mounting Jack again. The two horses followed behind her, completely untethered.

Meanwhile, Dylan and Donnie managed to use their horses to pull the tree trunk from the fence area, leaving just the hole for them to deal with. Seeing Tara on the hill they stood guard to stop any cattle leaving but left the space open so Tara could bring the horses in.

Tara had moved Jack behind the horses, to suggest that she had herded them home, fearing the truth might disturb her father.

“My God, you did it. You’re a miracle worker, girl!” Her father smiled from ear to ear at his daughter as she guided the horses back in.

“You go get them hitched up in the barn, we’ll do what we can with the fence.” Tara nodded at her father, heading for the barn.

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

By the time Tara had dealt with the horses, her brother and father were soaked to the skin, and walking back towards the house.

“The fence is a mess, we can’t fix that until the storm lets up. We’re just going to move the wagon in front of the gap for now” Dylan informed Tara, as Donnie jogged towards the wagon near the house.

As soon as Dylan finished his sentence, lightning struck in the distance and a black horse rode into the ranch, ridden by a mysterious blonde woman, who was escorting the woman of Tara’s dreams.

END OF CHAPTER 4

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 17th 2021)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 8:03 pm 
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Willow has already captured Tara's mind and heart! It's nice to see that Maclays are nicer people, at least for now, Tara does seem to have some worries about both her sexuality and her witchcraft (yay that you are keeping that!) and I always love when Tara has an affinity with animals...
I love Buffy as a badass horse riding hero (at least assuming that was Buffy!)

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 17th 2021)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 5:58 am 
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GrimCityGirl, I agree with you that Riley is perfect as the sheriff. I always liked Riley and hope he won't be killed by the "monster". Maybe he could even crack the hard shell of the grim bounty hunter Buffy Summers and win her heart? :wink
Speaking of Buffy, assuming that she has the same figure and statue as in canon, she seems to be supernaturally strong being able to easily carry a man like you described:
Quote:
but as she opened the door a blonde woman in black trousers, a leather jacket and a cowboy hat with a screaming, gagged man over her shoulder was blocking her exit onto the porch.
“Oh, um, excuse me?” she politely pointed in an outward direction and the bounty hunter stepped aside so she could leave.
The blonde stared after Willow for a few seconds before carrying the body inside the station.

Without a word she walked inside and took a turn to the right, to the open jail cell. She easily threw the man onto the bed, as he wailed miserably, and then closed the door behind her, using it’s locking mechanism on the outside.

Quote:
Summers crept into the room from the hallway, and stood beside the professor. He didn’t flinch or react in any way.

“Interesting girl. Did you catch all of that?” The bounty hunter gave a quiet “mmhmm” noise from deep in her throat.

“Keep an eye on her. Just in case.” He instructed, turning away from the door to sit back inside.

My guess is that Buffy and Giles are Slayer and Watcher in this story too. Bounty hunter is an ideal "everyday profession" for a slayer in the wild west.

Quote:
She felt foolish but realized the Maclay ranch would only be an hour's ride away from here, and figured she would start walking, hoping to arrive there before dark.

I was worried that Willow would need rescuing from an encounter with the otherworldly female killer (who doesn't seem to be a vampire considering the amount of blood which was spilled on the victims clothes instead of "neatly" drunk).
I'm relieved that Willow "just" stumbled into bad weather but glad that Buffy saved her nontheless.

It's cute that Tara is already completely smitten by Willow. I hope that Willow will soon feel the same when Tara cares for her after her drenched arrival.

Like Shirrey I like that Donny is a "good", caring big brother for Tara and that her father treats her with respect as well (although he distances himself emotionally from her at times because she reminds him of her mother).


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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 17th 2021)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2021 5:22 am 
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Oh I'm so glad Tara doesn't have to deal with a bad brother and father in that horrible time when they could have gotten away with so much worse! I also love that this seems to be more than 'just' a wild west story and is incorporating some of the supernatural!

Very excited for our girls second-first meeting!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 17th 2021)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2021 5:36 pm 
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OH, YES! And I say again, OH YES!
Can't wait to see the meet and greet and then of course get to the smoochies and gay love!
Why, yes, I Have been told I'm a Very impatient person.
Blessings

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 17th 2021)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2021 11:16 pm 
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Shirrey
shirrey wrote:
Willow has already captured Tara's mind and heart! It's nice to see that Maclays are nicer people, at least for now, Tara does seem to have some worries about both her sexuality and her witchcraft (yay that you are keeping that!) and I always love when Tara has an affinity with animals...
I love Buffy as a badass horse riding hero (at least assuming that was Buffy!)

Oh yeah, it is Buffy. but Willow so far doesn't know who she is, hence the ambiguity. I love Tara having a sort of 'natural' power and relationship with magic, so I had to include that element into this story.

Will's Redemption
Will's redemption wrote:
GrimCityGirl, I agree with you that Riley is perfect as the sheriff. I always liked Riley and hope he won't be killed by the "monster". Maybe he could even crack the hard shell of the grim bounty hunter Buffy Summers and win her heart? :wink
Speaking of Buffy, assuming that she has the same figure and statue as in canon, she seems to be supernaturally strong being able to easily carry a man like you described:
Quote:
but as she opened the door a blonde woman in black trousers, a leather jacket and a cowboy hat with a screaming, gagged man over her shoulder was blocking her exit onto the porch.
“Oh, um, excuse me?” she politely pointed in an outward direction and the bounty hunter stepped aside so she could leave.
The blonde stared after Willow for a few seconds before carrying the body inside the station.

Without a word she walked inside and took a turn to the right, to the open jail cell. She easily threw the man onto the bed, as he wailed miserably, and then closed the door behind her, using it’s locking mechanism on the outside.

Quote:
Summers crept into the room from the hallway, and stood beside the professor. He didn’t flinch or react in any way.

“Interesting girl. Did you catch all of that?” The bounty hunter gave a quiet “mmhmm” noise from deep in her throat.

“Keep an eye on her. Just in case.” He instructed, turning away from the door to sit back inside.

My guess is that Buffy and Giles are Slayer and Watcher in this story too. Bounty hunter is an ideal "everyday profession" for a slayer in the wild west.

Quote:
She felt foolish but realized the Maclay ranch would only be an hour's ride away from here, and figured she would start walking, hoping to arrive there before dark.

I was worried that Willow would need rescuing from an encounter with the otherworldly female killer (who doesn't seem to be a vampire considering the amount of blood which was spilled on the victims clothes instead of "neatly" drunk).
I'm relieved that Willow "just" stumbled into bad weather but glad that Buffy saved her nontheless.

It's cute that Tara is already completely smitten by Willow. I hope that Willow will soon feel the same when Tara cares for her after her drenched arrival.

Like Shirrey I like that Donny is a "good", caring big brother for Tara and that her father treats her with respect as well (although he distances himself emotionally from her at times because she reminds him of her mother).


I am actually not a Riley fan, never have been, but when I was thinking about the different aspects of the fic, I wanted the sheriff character to feel 'real' and not just a random stereotypical sheriff, and Riley immediately sprung to mind. I like the idea of a slightly more goofy version of Riley in that kind of role, not sure where he's going yet though.

With Tara being aware of her feelings so easily, I liked the idea of the juxtaposition of Tara being outwardly shy but internally very self aware, while Willow is surprisingly bold and brave, while being totally lost on some things on the inside. I'm hoping that's coming across but we shall see!

Laragh
Laragh wrote:
Oh I'm so glad Tara doesn't have to deal with a bad brother and father in that horrible time when they could have gotten away with so much worse! I also love that this seems to be more than 'just' a wild west story and is incorporating some of the supernatural!

Very excited for our girls second-first meeting!


Yeah, I have no interest in bad family vibes for Tara. There's definitely stuff going on there but, I want her home life to be inherently good. I have too much of a soft spot for Tara to hurt her like that. weird take on it I know haha

There's definitely a lot of supernatural in this, don't you worry haha


MotherD
MotherD wrote:
OH, YES! And I say again, OH YES!
Can't wait to see the meet and greet and then of course get to the smoochies and gay love!
Why, yes, I Have been told I'm a Very impatient person.
Blessings


I'm glad you're enthusiastic, but I'm afraid that this will be somewhat of a slow burn, you may be waiting a while!

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 17th 2021)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2021 11:19 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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New update - Thanks again to shirrey for her beta help, and thanks to everyone else who's enjoying the story so far, it means the world to me!


CHAPTER 5

The towering black mare rode purposefully into the ranch, skidding to a halt in the mud in front of the Maclays.

Summers jumped down from the animal and immediately picked up Willow from her resting place behind the saddle, hoisting her down from the tall horse with ease.

Dylan walked in front of his family and immediately bellowed “Who in the Sam Hill are you?!” yelling to be heard over the storm.

Willow, beaten down further by the rain, tried to raise her head in response, but Tara rushed forward to help her while raising her voice back at her father.

“This is the Rosenberg woman I told you about, the tenant! Let’s all get inside!” without confirmation she started steering Willow towards the ranch’s front door.

Dylan nodded, eager to get out of the rain himself “Yes of course, me and Donnie will sort the wagon then be right in. you’re welcome to come in as well!” he yelled towards Summers, but she was already remounting her horse.

“No thank you, I’ve got to go” Willow started to object, but Summers had already tightened her legs into the horses sides, uttered a “Come on, Faith!” and rode out of the ranch at full speed.

Tara hurried Willow inside the front door of the house while her brother and father dealt with the wagon.

Willow stepped inside and let her eyes take in the large house. In front of her was an open plan living space. A kitchen and dining area immediately in front of her, with a fireplace and living room on the opposite side.

There were two corridors with other rooms on the left and right sides of the house, and what looked like another room up a ladder next to the kitchen.

“The fire is lit, why don’t you sit in front of it and warm up? I will get you some tea and something to eat” Tara gestured to the living area and turned towards the kitchen, not waiting for any argument.
Willow perched on the edge of a chair nearest the fire, still feeling chilled at the core but appreciating the warmth starting to permeate her skin from the hearth.

Willow scanned the fireplace and noticed two aged photographs. One was a wedding photograph with Tara’s father, looking much more like the brother in the photo she noticed, standing next to a beautiful woman who looked strikingly similar to Tara. The other photograph was a family of four, two small children, a girl and a boy, and the same smiling happy couple, all sitting outside a barn.

Willow briefly wondered about the woman when Tara returned a moment later, with a steaming cup of tea and a plate with a few chunks of bread on it.

“Sorry it’s um, not a proper meal” Tara blushed, sitting on the opposite side of the fire to Willow, fearing her proximity may give her eagerness away.

“Oh, no, of course. It’s far too late, I appreciate this” Willow smiled and quickly picked up some bread, devouring it. She hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she smelled the fresh bread in her hands.

She picked up the tea and noted a very familiar scent to it. She took a small sip, after blowing off a little steam from the top, and immediately recognized it as a similar blend to what she had tasted at Mr. Giles’s.

Willow’s eyebrows raised in slight suspicion at the realization, and gave Tara a sideways glance in curiosity.

Tara, who had been trying to covertly stare at Willow’s face while she ate, jumped at Willow’s eyes suddenly turning to her, and accidentally spilled tea all over herself.

“S.S.Sorry, clumsy me, I will be right back” Tara immediately got out of her seat to retrieve a rag and mop up the mess she caused.

Mortified with herself, Tara cleaned up the mess and moved back towards the kitchen.

At the same time, Dylan and Donnie came back in through the front door.

They were both soaked to the skin and looked in dampened spirits, but after kicking off their boots at the door and sitting down in front of the fire, the pair of them seemed to immediately brighten a little.

“Ah, Miss Rosenberg! Sorry for the hurried hello, We’ve had a bit of an evening” Dylan smiled politely at Willow, taking the seat Tara had previously vacated.

“Yes sir, quite the storm. I am so sorry for arriving so late and unexpectedly - I was caught out and rescued by that woman and well, now I’m here!” Willow meekly gestured around her and smiled back at him.

“No worries at all, we have a spare room in the house that you’re welcome to use tonight. Were you definitely interested in renting a cabin from us?” Dylan enquired.

“Oh yes, definitely. I had intended to arrive with my belongings tomorrow, at a more agreeable time. Is it still available for rent?” Willow took another sip of her suspicious tea, finding that she already felt a little warmer on the inside since her first sip.

“Yes, yes it is.” Just as Dylan was about to talk more, Tara came back into the living area with two more mugs of tea and placed them in front of her brother and father.

“Is everything okay with the fence?” Tara quietly asked, looking at her father and purposely not looking at the redhead, still somewhat embarrassed.

“Oh, no. I’m afraid not. We’ll need more wood to fix it, can’t keep making do with what we have, the posts are fine but the slats are done in.”

“If we had more ranch hands we could’ve killed two birds, used that log that fell and made the slats ourselves” Donnie piped up slightly annoyed.

“Quiet, boy” Dylan said, staring up at his son with a hardened glare. Donnie shifted uncomfortably in his seat and kept his gaze on his cup.

Dylan laughed a little to break the tension and gestured towards the mug in front of him “I’m sorry for my daughter’s taste in drinks, I personally prefer coffee, but she insists on giving me this weird herb concoction”.

Tara interjected “It’s too late for coffee, Pa. The tea is good for you” she calmly sat down in the last available seat, now next to Willow, and sipped her tea.

“I know girl, I know. You know best” He eye rolled good naturedly at Willow and took a long sip.

Willow, not used to feeling uncomfortable enough to enforce personal silence, just nodded and finished her tea.

“Well Miss Rosenberg, we’ll let you get some sleep. Tara can show you the cabin in the morning, to see if you’re still interested.” Dylan nodded without another word and moved to the corridor left of the front door, with Donnie not too far behind.

Two separate doors closed, and Willow and Tara were left alone in front of the fire.

“Sorry for my family. We uh, don’t usually have visitors” Tara explained, trying not to stare at Willow’s features too much.

“That’s okay. My family aren’t exactly the most inviting” Willow shrugged and smiled towards Tara. Feeling surprisingly comfortable in the strange girl's presence.

They both placed their empty mugs on the table in front of them at the same time, accidentally brushing their knuckles together.

The brief contact surprised Willow and ignited Tara, and both looked at each other in the eyes in response.

“Let me show you around, Miss Rosenberg.” Tara almost whispered, holding Willow’s gaze.
“Call me Willow” she responded in a similar whisper, before stepping up out of her seat.

A flurry of emotions slid through Tara’s mind and body, and she stood up too, trying to suppress them.

Willow felt a flutter in her chest at the brief exchange as well, but was completely clueless as to why.

Mildly confused, she pushed the feeling down and followed Tara,

“This is the living area, should be pretty obvious. Down that hallway are my brother and fathers rooms. Down this other hallway is the washroom, and opposite here is the spare room that you’ll be staying in tonight.” Tara quickly skipped into the wash room and brought out a nightgown.
“This is mine, your clothes are all wet. You’re welcome to borrow this to um, sleep in, for tonight. Sorry it’s not your size.” she handed the garment over to Willow, who smiled at her for the gesture and felt the worn, but comfortable fabric in her fingers.

“I will leave you to it. If you need me, my room is up the ladder by the kitchen.”

“How come your room isn’t this spare room?” Willow asked with a slight smile, causing Tara to pause her exit.

“Oh, it used to be a storage area, but we built a large window bay up there, and I moved my room. I love to sleep under the stars” Tara responded, slightly blushing again as she never usually mentioned that last part to anyone.

Willow found herself finding the notion endearing, and smiled wider at Tara.

“Goodnight, Willow” Tara bowed her head and quietly bid her goodnight.

“Goodnight, Tara. Thank you.” Willow responded sincerely. They smiled at each other, and Willow turned into the spare room, closing the door behind her.

Willow, without thinking, held the nightgown to her chest and clutched it tightly, and smiled to herself about how sweet Tara was.

Tara climbed the ladder, lay in bed, and couldn’t stop smiling.

END OF CHAPTER 5

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 Post subject: Re: Sparks In Dust | UPDATED (July 28th 2021)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2021 12:43 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 471
Dibs! :whip

Quote:
you’re welcome to come in as well!” he yelled towards Summers, but she was already remounting her horse.

“No thank you, I’ve got to go” Willow started to object, but Summers had already tightened her legs into the horses sides, uttered a “Come on, Faith!” and rode out of the ranch at full speed.

I was wondering if and in what role Faith would show up in the story. Funny that Buffy named her horse Faith (now I'm just wondering if she named it after a person and if this human Faith will make an appearance as well).

Quote:
They both placed their empty mugs on the table in front of them at the same time, accidentally brushing their knuckles together.

The brief contact surprised Willow and ignited Tara, and both looked at each other in the eyes in response.

“Let me show you around, Miss Rosenberg.” Tara almost whispered, holding Willow’s gaze.
“Call me Willow” she responded in a similar whisper, before stepping up out of her seat.

A flurry of emotions slid through Tara’s mind and body, and she stood up too, trying to suppress them.

Willow felt a flutter in her chest at the brief exchange as well, but was completely clueless as to why.

Awww, how cute! :flower So apparently Willow has no idea that she is gay? I fear Tara will have to pine secretly for her for quite some time before Willow will become aware of the depth of her feelings, but hopefully they will become friends first pretty soon.


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