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

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 Post subject: re: bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 6:25 am 
Ah, Tulipp. Once again you amaze me with your writing. Heartbreakingly beautiful. Painful, yes, but exquisite in its honesty. My most humble apologies for not replying to this earlier - I've been a bit MIA recently. But this is definitely worth reappearing for. Lovely.



-BB



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 Post subject: Re: re: bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 6:45 am 
Tulipp,



I just found this story, and I must say WOW. I always imagined what happened the night Buffy died. They had to have time to grieve, and I am sure W/T had to adjust to being Dawn's guardians and reconnecting with one another again.

Tara: My heart doesn't stutter.


Tara: Willow, I got so lost.

Willow: I found you. I will always find you.




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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 8:57 am 
Tulipp-

I am so glad to read another fic by you!! :bounce You brought out the lurker in me with Terra Firma and I have been patiently waiting for another wonderful story.:angel

I wish I could be as eloquent as the other kittens in describing how your story speaks to me. I love the fact that you are addressing life after "The Gift". I have often wondered how the Scoobies dealt with the loss of Buffy. How Willow and Tara filled the role of Dawn's caretakers and all the responsibilities that come with those roles. And in Bargaining, they briefly discuss the meeting when Willow becomes the leader by Xander's declaration of Willow being 'the boss of us'. That's a critical moment in the Scoobies lives. And yet, all that was, in my opinion, downplayed. (Or perhaps I am just biased. :whistle )

Anyway, I love how you have begun this tale, as angst-y as it may be. I don't think I can say anything new or different from what all the other kittens have posted. I can only add to the overwhelming support and praise this story already deserves. And encourage one of most favorite W/T writers to keep it coming!! :bounce



~~Lisa


"You have to believe we are magic. Nothin' can stand in our way."---Olivia Newton-John.



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 9:48 am 
This was a wonderful start, Tulipp. I think what resounded with me was the rawness of it. You've opened up some wounds, unloaded some baggage that we never had the opportunity to see onscreen. And it's important, especially to our girls, because what happened with Glory was a turning point for Willow and Tara. They were together, sure, but to everyone around them, they were relatively low-key. I think that the whole Glory situation really stressed the strength and validity of Willow and Tara's relationship. I mean, Willow was willing to do anything for her girl. And she did. Good or bad, she went all out for Tara. But what you've done here is show the strain that had to have accompanied it all. Willow never asked to get a glimpse into Tara's mind, but she got it, and naturally, she feels guilty for having taken a gander into Tara's life without permission. I understand her feelings. But I can also see how Willow might feel a little hurt that Tara was unable to share all of herself with her. Tara, of course feels equally as bad, but for different reasons. She sees herself as a burden, as incapable of providing her lover with happiness and even gratitude for having saved her. And that's what I really enjoyed about your start here, Tulipp--that you were able to create this tension with conflicting emotions and misunderstanding without losing that basic connection of love. Thanks. This is the kind of angst I enjoy.



--Sela



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 Post subject: Bread Part I
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 2:43 pm 
Kittens, I am overwhelmed by your feedback. O. Ver. Whelmed. Wow, and thank you all so much for reading and for writing back.



Sea, thanks so much for reading this. I’m a sucker for happy endings myself, and I assure you that this fic has one. I guess happy endings these days are always a little bittersweet, but for me that’s enough.



Ralst31, wow…you know, I was never a huge fan of Dawn on the show, but both my fics have been hugely about Dawn. And that missing time between seasons 5 and 6 always perplexed me: the show asked us to accept that Willow and Tara stepped into these caretaker roles and that Dawn accepted them, but…it never made a lot of sense to me. Thank you for your really thoughtful feedback.



Mrs Vertigo, you are much too kind, but thank you. I have a feeling that my non-W/T writing on topics like feminine metaphors in writing instruction scholarship would bore you to tears. I know it does me. ") Most of the non W/T stuff I’ve tried to write….well, looking at it now, I kind of cringe. Maybe someday….for now, thank you for saying such lovely things!



VampNo12, I so appreciate the way you can get inside a chapter and talk about what happens, in this case, especially what you call the name game. I like what you said about the bruise, and in fact, that’s exactly how I see that part now; all the hurt is under the surface at this point, and in some ways that’s worse. That line you mention about the best things happening when you’re not looking for them—I was thinking of that as an echo of something Willow said when she first told Buffy about Tara in NMR: “it wasn’t something I was looking for.” Thank you so much for your wonderful, as always, feedback.



Sister Bertrille, the truth is that I don’t have enough gay male friends because I Completely. Forgot. About Ben. Dang. I’d like to offer a coherent theory about the fact that Glory and Ben, although occupying the same subject position and physical body, are unaware of one another, but we know that’s not true after watching that whole “he said, she said” scene…you know, the one where Dawn stood by like a big dumb ox and watched?



So I notice the recurrence of money in your comments (only this time, I got it right away), and I love that idea of currency as a means of communication, and of the currency—especially of words—being the thing that is so easily available here and yet so out of reach. And the need for someone to start talking? Well, maybe you read my mind. For me, that willful, fearful not-talking that you describe is pretty much how season 6 of BTVS played out. We all play with Willow’s babbling, but she often just clammed up. As did the others. That’s how I saw it, anyway. Thanks for your great feedback.



Blameburner, hey, you! I was wondering what you were up to lately. I’m so glad the writing here worked, in a painful kind of way. Would you believe this started off as an attempt at a fluff piece? But it wasn’t going anywhere, and so I had to start giving it pain injections. But you wouldn't know anything about angsty fic, would you? ;)



The Rose24, thanks for reading this. I thought a lot about the way these three would grieve for Buffy, and what it would look like, and in the end I decided to let most of that happen off-screen, you know, to skip the most tearful parts. At least the actual fact of them, if not the lingering effects. Now I’m not so sure I actually did that.



SlayerSydney. Lisa, hi, long time! But I’m so glad you read this (and your sig is great, btw). Yes, I can’t let the angst alone; I try to write something simple and happy and quiet, and instead I get Angst World. But then, angst is the lifeblood of fanfic, isn’t it? That moment you point to with Willow becoming the boss…yeah, that’s exactly it. We had to accept that these huge changes had happened in season 6 even though they were really inconsistent with the characters we knew. Even after what happened, I don’t see Willow settling so easily into being the “big gun” that she couldn’t believe Buffy thought she was. Even then. Thanks so much for your great feedback!



Sela, thank you so much. I’ve always seen what happened with Glory as a turning point with Willow and Tara, and I was always amazed that the show seemed to present that as mostly a change for Willow, not so much a change for Tara. It’s one of those moments—I think everyone has them—that I have spun in my head a thousand ways. Only two in writing so far, but there are more lurking. Your feedback is so thoughtful; I really appreciate it.





I plan to post the next chapter tomorrow at the latest. As the prologue said, it skips ahead another month, with all the baby steps in progress that a month can bring, not all of which are spelled out either in print or in W/T/D's minds. Just wanted to mention that.



Thank you for reading this, Kittens, and thank you for the really amazing feedback. :kiss to you all. And now I'm off to talk Hemingway and reader-response theory with 35 people who would rather be somewhere else. :)

"And I'm eating this banana. Lunchtime be damned!" -- Willow in "Doppelgangland



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 Post subject: ...
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 11:39 pm 
This is so wonderful. It has a certain feeling of sorrow, yet conflict is wherein interest lies, and i am so very interested in this fic. Have you read Hemingway's book Garden of Eden?



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 Post subject: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 5:41 pm 
Frau Rosenclay, thanks for reading! Yes, there's definitely some sorrow; I seem to be unable to let it go when I write about Willow and Tara, but at the same time, I hope that there's hope in this, too. As for Hemingway, I actually haven't read "Garden of Eden"; should I? I'm not always crazy about Hemingway, but I do like his idea that every story is an iceberg, and only 1/8 of the iceberg should be visible. The rest is underwater. I like that idea a lot. Tell me about "Garden of Eden"....please!

And now...

Title: Bread. Part II: July.
Author: Tulipp.
E-mail: tulipp30@yahoo.com
Feedback: Yes, please, especially if it’s constructive.
Spoilers: Through BTVS season 5, “The Gift.”
Disclaimer: All characters and an occasional bit of dialogue are borrowed from Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: Willow, Tara, and Dawn struggle to come to terms with the events of season 5, Buffy’s death, and an uncertain future. (Second of three parts.)
Acknowledgments: Thanks again to Ruth and darkmagicwillow and Ruby and J., all of whom showed me places that were off or incomplete or overly complete. This chapter is much better because of them.


Part II: July

Your hands are sweeter than nut-brown bread when you touch me.
Your shoulder brushes my arm—a south-west wind crosses the pier.
I forget your hands and your shoulder and I say again:
Nothing else in this song—only your face.
Nothing else here—only your drinking, night-gray eyes.
—Carl Sandburg, “Paula”


Dawn’s ears popped a little as the plane descended into a place that wasn’t California, and she wondered what she would say to her father when they got back to his house—her house now—and she stood in the kitchen of her new life.

She didn’t really know how she felt. She wanted to see her dad, but her stomach also hurt a little bit about leaving. She’d hardly even been anyplace other than California. Peering out the rounded window as the plane took off a few hours earlier, Dawn had been amazed at how small Sunnydale looked from the air. When you lived over the Hellmouth, she’d thought….everything was life and death. The world was always about to end, and sometimes it did. It was huge.

But from the air…well, it was just so tiny: Little streets. Little houses. And somewhere under the ground….tiny little vampires. And she was high above all of it, sitting in an airplane, feeling partly sad…and partly excited. She was heading off to a place where the breakfast menu every morning was not going to be Scrambled Sad with a side of Wishful Thinking.

Running a finger over the soft, buttery cover of the book in her lap, Dawn thought how strange it was to be sitting alone in the sky, sandwiched in between a heavy man with a shiny suit and a heavy woman with curly red hair. Not in between Buffy and her mother.

Not in between Willow and Tara...who hadn’t actually seemed that surprised when she’d sat them down at one morning and anxiously explained her news: she’d called her father, and he wanted her to come; of course he did. If Dawn didn’t know better, she might have thought that they were just a tiny bit relieved. If she didn’t know better. The truth was… she was more than a tiny bit relieved herself. It wasn’t that she didn’t love them; she did. But…but it was new where she was going, and the people there—at least her father and his secretary—were living. They were just living. And when she got there, she’d be just living too.

She had said goodbye to Willow the night before. It was Tara who had awakened her early the next morning, creeping into her room in the gray dawn and shaking her lightly. Tara who had pointed out the gray birds chattering on the roof when they’d pulled out of the driveway. Tara who had driven her to the airport and waited with her for the plane, alternately thumb wrestling and going for hash browns and orange juice.


“The plane’s going to be a little late,” Tara had announced finally, wandering back from the ticket counter, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her lace-trimmed jeans and stretching her shoulders. “I guess we might as well get comfortable for a little while. We could...” she considered, her eyes crinkling as a mischievous smile twisted one corner of her mouth. She pulled her hand out of her pocket and held out a fistful of tiny elastic bands. “Do you want to give me crazy braids?”

Squealing, Dawn bounced a little bit and then couldn’t help glancing around to make sure no one had seeing her acting like a kid. Tara folded herself onto the floor in front of Dawn’s chair and crossed her legs, resting one hand on each knee. Dawn set the pile of elastic bands on the seat next to her and wiggled her fingers. Tara hardly ever let her do crazy braids.

Tara’s hair was soft but not fine. It fell like feathers when Dawn let it sift through her figers, but it was heavy when she held it; strong. She liked that about Tara’s hair. You couldn’t really braid Willow’s hair, and Buffy had never let her. She would swat her hand away.

Dawn felt instantly sorry, instantly sad again, for thinking something bad like that, and she tried to focus on the fifth tiny braid, starting over Tara’s ear and weaving the hair backwards. But her hand shook and pulled a little.

“Hey, sweetie,” Tara said without turning around. “What are you thinking about?”

Dawn concentrated on the braid. “Maybe I shouldn’t feel excited,” she said quietly, and then Tara did turn around.

“I just,” Dawn stretched the elastic band in her fingers. “I felt happy for going to see my dad, you know? But then…feeling happy makes me feel sad again.”

“Did you ever make bread?” Tara said, and Dawn looked up in confusion. Sometimes Tara said the strangest things, and even when you wanted to just go with it….well, just sometimes Tara said the strangest things.

“If you make bread…from scratch, you know?…you have to let it rise.” Tara’s voice was calming, but Dawn still raised her eyes. She shook her head helplessly; she didn’t see the connection.

“Just listen,” Tara smiled. “It’s this lump of dough, and you have to punch it down, and then you have to cover it with a towel for awhile and leave it alone, and all by itself, it starts to rise up. It gets light and puffy, but then you have to punch it down again, and it rises up again. You know what I mean?”

“Um, not really,” Dawn said, noticing that Tara’s braids looked crooked from the front. She would have to start over. Right now, while it was still just the two of them.

“You have to have both, the punching down and the rising up?” Tara had said, taking Dawn’s hand in hers and looking at her closely. “To get bread in the end…you have to have them both.”


Now, angling for an inch more room on the armrest, Dawn thought she might write it down in the book Willow had given her: Tara’s thing about the bread. It made sense; at least it had at the time. But then the plane was touching down with a series of little bumps, and she peered out the tiny window at Not California, and she forgot about the book in her excitement to see her father. She copied the people next to her: waiting for the light to go on before unbuckling her seatbelt even though she could hardly sit still, then reaching for the bag she had stuffed under the seat in front of her.

One foot in front of the other, she edged off the plane and toward the train that she had been told would take her to the main terminal where people waited. She knew that every step took her a little further from her mother and her sister and the daily presence of two girls she loved almost as much. She knew that she was walking away from her family. But she knew that she was walking towards a different family.

Dawn stepped off the train, and followed the crowd toward the escalator, and as she rose on the moving stairway, she scanned the faces of the people coming into view at the top. Anxious faces, most of them, searching for the people they were waiting for. Maybe that was how everyone greeted planes from Sunnydale: never quite sure if their loved one was going to emerge, alive and whole, from a town where people routinely disappeared. A surge of relief as they caught a glimpse of tanned arm.

Then Dawn saw him. The lines of his face were familiar, and Dawn felt her throat tighten and her heart beat faster as she walked toward him: a little uncertain, a little nervous. She registered that another man she recognized stood just behind him—the secretary—but she had eyes only for her father.

He was just yards away now, lifting his hand in the familiar half-wave she hadn’t seen in months and months, and the bones of his hand looked strong and solid against the memory of everything that had crumbled.

Dawn smiled. And she ran the last few steps.



* * * * *



The house was empty when Willow woke, and for a moment, she felt confused, unsure what day or week or month it was. As she blinked in the sunlight, it could have been any of a dozen mornings that summer when she had woken alone, unable to say where Tara had gone or whether she had taken Dawn with her. But this morning was different. Willow felt rested. She had slept deeply, and she felt…a little better.

Sitting up, Willow saw her stuffed dog in perfect yoga position, face down on the rug with his little doggy rear end in the air, and she was glad to see him there. If he had been on the bed, in her arms, that would have meant she’d been clutching him all night to stop herself from reaching for Tara. But he was on the floor, so she hadn’t dreamed Tara wrapping around her in the night, Tara murmuring into her ear as she drifted into sleep.

“It’s okay to touch me,” Tara had whispered, and her fingers had traced the words on Willow’s hip. “It’s okay to need me.” It was progress, too, that the words had not pulled Willow wide-awake again. They were lavender words, sleepytime tea words, and they had become the pillow under her head and the sheet pulled up to her shoulder, and she had nestled in and slept in them. In Tara.

That was movement. That meant it was July now, and not June, and time was happening around them just as she’d known, but not really believed, it would.

All the same, as she strained to hear Tara in the shower or Dawn watching television or…anything…she could feel that the house was quiet, the bathroom—when she peeked around the slightly open door—empty of steam. Noting the dry towels and the closed blinds, she walked through to the hallway, still listening for any noise of girls in the morning and hearing none.

They had really gone, then, and she was—for a little while—alone.

Willow knew there would be no answer, but she tapped on the door to Dawn’s room anyway and waited; when no answer came, she had a moment of déjà vu. She could remember easing Dawn’s door open weeks before, holding the adopted teddy bear to her face and finding that the brown plush held nothing of Buffy’s scent. She had distracted herself by poking around in a snarl of beads and necklaces on Dawn’s dresser and finding…caught in a cheap, shiny chain…a dried flower.

She could remember reminding herself to have words with Anya about casually letting a teenager take home—even by accident—an intact sprig of Lethe’s Bramble. But even more, she could remember the shiver of recognition as she twisted the peculiar, branching brown flower in her fingers.

She had wished, then, that she’d had the nerve to do it, to wipe her and Dawn’s and Tara’s memories clean of the Big Bads that haunted them. But instead, she had sighed and tucked the bramble into the bowl on Joyce’s dresser where it had remained since. She still thought about it most days, still considered using it. It was a ridiculously easy spell; a baby could pull it off.

The temptation always itched more when she was alone in the house; Willow had noticed that early on, and she had kept herself busy to avoid it. Helping Anya run the store from her wheelchair, posting Xander’s on-line resumes, e-mailing Giles with updates. And working on the Buffybot—although Tara had finally convinced her that even with an imitation Slayer, they were no match for the forces of darkness.


“What happens if something goes wrong and the Buffybot slips a circuit or pops a rod or whatever happens and there we are in the alley with a bunch of demons?” Tara had asked, incredulous and gently scoffing. “We take up axings? Can you just picture me doing that?”

Laughing, Tara had raised an eyebrow and gone back to making soap, the latest development in what Willow teasingly called her lesbian commune tendencies.

In fact, trying to picture it was…impossible. Willow couldn’t see it. No matter how she turned the idea in her mind, squinted, turned her head…she couldn’t find an image of Tara holding up an axe or Tara fighting off vampires with her fish-swimmy fists that would come into focus. It just seemed so…not Tara. Willow didn’t know how else to put it.

Dismantling the last pieces of the Buffybot, Willow had run her fingers over the silicone cheekbones one final time. She had understood that she couldn’t hold onto Buffy that way. They couldn’t bring her back. Without Buffy, they were just…without Buffy. Buffyless. No longer in the Buff.

It hurt. God, it hurt, but it was the truth. Tara couldn’t be not Tara. And she herself….she couldn’t be Buffy. When she tried to be Buffy—to find a way to keep the Slaying going—she only succeeded in being not Willow. Not being Willow, she had corrected herself, but it sounded more true the first way. She couldn’t be not Willow. She could only be herself.

And with the thought, something strange had happened. It had been a hot July day, and even the basement had felt dry and warm, but with the thought something chill and dank had pressed up against her, raising the gooseflesh on her arms and the hair on her neck and then, just as suddenly, moved on. She had stood up abruptly, Buffybot pieces clattering to the floor around her, but there was nothing there.

And she was only herself.


She thought it again now, June becoming July once more as she eased the door to Dawn’s room open and peeked inside at the bare furniture, the blank walls. Dawn was still going to be Dawn but just somewhere else, and Tara was still Tara, and she…she was only herself. Always herself. Herself alone.

Except…except that she wasn’t alone. Well, she was alone in the house at the moment because Tara was probably still at the airport, but really…she wasn’t alone. They were.

Willow stood with her hand on the doorknob to Dawn’s empty room, it sank into her skin that she and Tara were…alone. Really alone. Alone for the first time in months.

Not in the “only two people in this kitchen and one of them better be making coffee” kind of alone. Or the “only two people in the shop for five minutes before Xander finishes playing healing touch with Anya in the back” alone. Or the “there you are on your side of the bed for seven hours and here I am on mine” alone.

No. They were alone now in the “when I look up from my calculus homework, you’re the only one in the house, and I kind of like it that way because we don’t have to close the door to our room so I can just grab you now” kind of alone.

Willow shivered. She could remember the last time she and Tara had been alone that way.

It had been just an hour, a brief recess from Glory and fear and death. Willow had pulled off her sadness with her boots. She had unclasped her fears with her earrings and cradled them in her palm, setting them gently down on the night-table: they would be safe and protected until she could come back to them. She had watched Tara slide off her sympathy as she slid off her jeans. They had looked at one another and smiled in a way they would never have let Dawn or Buffy see, not in those days. It had been relief, that smile. It might have been temporary, but it was real.

And then…they had touched one another, and it had been free and frolicky and actually kind of embarrassing, if Willow thought about it now. To be on your knees, pushed up against a headboard or a wall or a closet door so that all you could see was your own hand holding yourself up. To have someone very naked behind you touching your very naked places. To lose your balance and fall over and take your very naked person with you and to laugh, both of you, so hard that you fall over again and end up in a very naked tangle on the carpet. And then to look up and stop seeing very naked and only see your person and to reach for her….

Willow let go of the doorknob. It had been so good. For one hour, it had been so good. But everything had changed after that hour. They had never gotten a chance to get comfortable in their clothes again.

Until now, maybe. Dawn had gone off with her father, and Giles had called to say he would be staying on a few more months in England. Xander and Anya had finally decided to get one good thing out of the summer and go get married, and Willow and Tara were alone. No one to comfort but each other. No one to be with but each other. It was just the two of them.

Willow let her fingers graze over her hip and recalled Tara’s hand resting there the night before. It was just the two of them now, alone in an “I can hear you breathing when you stand inside my life with me” kind of alone.

Willow had to try out the picture in her mind, to see if the edges stayed blurry when she tried to imagine it. She was so used to being one in a group and two in a group that it was hard to visualize being just two together. And it was also sad and a little lonely because it meant that people she really, really loved were gone.

But—Willow heard the distant click of the kitchen door and began to pad quietly down the stairs—but it was also a little bit exciting. Was she a terrible person to feel that way? To feel a little glad and a little not-sad at that moment? Willow paused in the kitchen doorway for a moment and watched Tara backing through the door with canvas bags of groceries. Even from behind, she looked calm, almost peaceful, and Willow saw the picture in her mind sharpening, the blurred edges becoming crisp.

They were alone.



* * * * *



“Something smells good.”

Turning around to set her bags on the kitchen counter, Tara saw Willow hovering in the kitchen doorway, frowsy and rumpled in her pajamas. She looked so…cute, Tara thought with surprise. So young and pretty. It wasn’t that she was surprised that Willow was pretty; it was just…when had Tara stopped noticing that? When had she started seeing only the older, darker woman where there was also this young girl wearing a pair of Hello Kitty pajamas that Tara was fairly certain she’d swiped from Dawn?

She smiled and glanced at the kitchen clock. “You’re up early, in a noon kind of way,” she teased, and Willow ran her hands over her pajamas.

“They’re just so comfortable,” Willow said, the corners of her mouth lifting in a smile. She looked different, Tara thought. Hopeful. Eager in a quiet way. She watched as Willow reached for the cabinet where they kept the coffee, yawning and looking ten years old. Her pajama sleeve looked fuzzy, and Tara remembered that it felt that way, too.

She had woken up in the embrace of that fuzzy pajama sleeve…when had it been…only this morning? Yesterday? “I want to touch you,” Willow had whispered, and the words had been warm breath on Tara’s neck and pink cotton under her cheek and fresh air at the window. Those words had been her morning. She went soft for a moment, remembering.

“So?” Willow mumbled through her yawn.

“So what?” Tara handed her the jar of coffee from the fridge.

Willow spooned coffee into a filter. “So what smells good?” Tara watched Willow go through the entirely routine motions of sliding the basket into the coffeemaker and filling the carafe with water and flipping the switch, and for a moment she could scarcely speak. She felt overcome. She had gone through so much, lost so much and almost more, and now she stood in the kitchen watching her girlfriend make coffee. She was so lucky.

But Willow was still waiting for her answer. “Oh, I stopped to pick up a few groceries on the way home, and there was this new bakery, and I could smell it from the car, and…I don’t know…I just had to stop.” She nodded at one of the canvas bags and grinned sheepishly as Willow began pulling out white paper-wrapped packages. “I might have overdone it a little.”

“I don’t know,” Willow said, smiling shyly at Tara. “I’m pretty hungry.” The coffee bubbled into the pot, and when it spluttered out its last little splutters, Willow reached for two mugs. Willow liked her coffee strong, Tara knew, and she was learning to like it that way, too.

When Willow turned back around, Tara was holding one of the baguettes, still tucked into its paper cover, and she walked backward with it through the dining room, holding it out in front of her. Willow followed, balancing the mugs carefully, eyes on the bread.

They sat side by side on the sofa, Willow’s long legs stretched out onto the coffee table in front of them, and sipped their coffee. Willow reached for the baguette and ripped a piece off, and when she bit into it, she made a little “mmph” of satisfaction. Hearing it, Tara thought that everything felt different today, different lately. It wasn’t that things were perfect….she knew better than anyone that you couldn’t just shake off the death of someone you loved as if it hadn’t happened…but today….

“My mother used to make bread every morning,” she said abruptly, stretching her fingers around her coffee mug until they met in the middle. “Did I ever tell you that?” She pretended not to notice Willow’s sharp sideways glance. “Well, almost every morning,” she admitted. “Talking to Dawn at the airport made me think of it.”

Willow sat still for a moment, and then, a little too casually, lifted her coffee cup and sipped. Tara had told Willow little about her family, only dropped occasional bits and pieces for her to puzzle together. And she knew that Willow had only a dark sense of the Maclays: the glimpse she’d seen when her father and brother came to town, the taste she’d swallowed when she had restored Tara’s sanity.

“Sometimes at night, when I went to bed, I would feel so hopeless, like…nothing would ever change. My father would yell, and Donnie would….” Tara stopped, shaking her head. That hadn’t been what she’d meant to say. To Willow, her past had been pain, but it hadn’t always been like that. Not always.

Willow’s eyes were trained on her coffee cup, but her body was rigid with listening. Tara closed her eyes to get back to the memory she had wanted, and then she smiled a little, remembering. “I always knew when it was morning because I could smell the bread baking downstairs. My mother…she would get up really early and make the dough and let it rise, and then—I never needed an alarm clock because I would be lying there, kind of half-awake, you know?” Willow just listened.

“Well, I would just sort of drift in and out of sleep, thinking about what kind of day it was going to be, and then the air would go…buttery. I could smell the bread just starting to bake, and I knew it was time to get up. I knew that everything could be okay that day—normal—because my mother was downstairs, and there was bread….”

Tara faltered, her eyes full of an image of her mother, waist-long blonde hair twisted into a knot at the nape of her neck, arms bare and dusted with flour. If Tara closed her eyes and concentrated on the heat of her mug and the fresh scent of the baguette on the coffee table in front of her, she could almost be back there, in her mother’s kitchen. She could feel her mother sitting at the round brown table, sipping tea and waiting for her to slip down the stairs so they could talk a little while before the upstairs shower went on and her father’s footsteps sounded above.

There had been a small mirror hanging by the back door, hung on a nail with a ribbon, Tara remembered with a small shock. She had almost forgotten.

Once, she had managed to creep down the stairs silently; pausing in the doorway, she had seen her mother not at her usual place at the table but standing in front of that mirror, staring at her reflection. Silently, Tara had watched her mother lift one pale, slender arm and touch the image of her face in the mirror. She had looked…blank. As if she didn’t recognize her own reflection in that tiny mirror. As if she were looking at someone else. But she had caught sight of Tara then and turned toward her, toward the warm oven and the fresh loaf and her daughter, and everything had been fine.

Except that after that day, Tara had always been careful to step heavily on the creakiest steps when she came down in the morning.

The touch of Willow’s thigh against hers, just a whisper of contact, brought Tara back to the present with a start, and she turned up one side of her mouth apologetically and looked up through the hair that had fallen across her face. Tara lifted her legs onto the coffee table, too, so that her foot bumped up against Willow’s foot.

“She made it almost every day, right up until the end, when she was too sick?” Tara went on. “And then I would make it and take it up to her. She couldn’t always eat it, but she loved the smell. She said it made her feel human. I think I kind of understand now what she meant, you know? Just human.”

Tara turned to Willow again and this time came face to face with the rumpled red hair and the gentle green eyes and the bittersweet, morning scent of fresh bread. Willow said nothing, only held her gaze, but Tara could see that she understood: What she meant. Why she had told her now. All that she had said, and all that remained unspoken between them.

“How do you do it?” Willow asked finally, the lines of her mouth softening. “How do you forget everything you’ve been through and go on like you do?”

“I don’t,” Tara said gently. It was a window into Willow, that question, and she knew it. “I don’t forget. I try to remember; that’s all I can do.” She searched Willow’s eyes for confirmation. “That’s all we can do: remember.”

She watched as Willow’s lips pressed together, and she felt Willow’s fingers, still warm from her coffee cup, touch her cheek. “You’re so brave,” Willow whispered.

Tara shook her head dismissively. “Oh, Will,” she said, sighing. “When will you get it? My mother…she was the bravest person I ever knew, and all she really did was teach me some Wicca and bake bread.” Reaching to touch Willow’s cheekbone, Tara followed the line of her own hand up past the knuckles to her fingertips and an inch past that to eyes that were soft and wide open and green. Willow’s fingers were hot on Tara’s cheek, and Willow’s cheek burned under her fingers. It was the closest they had been in months.

After a moment, Tara let her fingers fall again, and Willow took her hand back to reach for another piece of bread. Wrapping her fingers more tightly around her coffee cup, Tara let her head drop sideways onto Willow’s neck and felt an arm slip around her shoulders. Closing her eyes, she felt as if the soft, moist warmth of home had enveloped her: A heated oven. A hotly damp kitchen. The scent of hot bread baked fresh.

To be continued in Part III: August.

"And I'm eating this banana. Lunchtime be damned!" -- Willow in "Doppelgangland

Edited by: Tulipp at: 1/11/03 8:43:15 am


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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:56 pm 
I was watching “Fail Safe” late last night and 3 things happened. 1 - I realized that Larry Hagman always makes the same expression, whether he’s a military translator, a Texas tycoon or simply yelling “Jeannie!” 2 - I finally remembered where I had first heard the expression “five by five” long before Faith uttered it. And 3 - I had a night full of dreams about being blowed up. The last thing was the least pleasant of the three.



What does this have to do with “Bread”? As soon as I sat down and started reading it this morning and was brought into Dawn’s mind, you once again gave me more understanding of her character. She referred to wherever she was going as “Not California”. She’s all about the “Anywhere but here”, but not in a crappy-Ashley-Judd-movie kind of way. Her actual location doesn’t matter to her or to us. It’s not the Hellmouth and that's all that matters.



“ When you lived over the Hellmouth, she’d thought….everything was life and death. The world was always about to end, and sometimes it did. It was huge.”



And that’s the most important thing with Dawn’s involvement in this story. I think the show itself deals with everything very nonchalantly, and in this story you give it real meaning. It's the reality of death and destruction and apocalyptic endings. Just like Moscow and New York City being blown up, which is where I was going with that whole “Fail Safe” thing. But I don’t think I was really clear, so I’ll just move on.



I love how you write Tara. You’ve got how she makes a statement into a question. She always does that like she’s not even sure what she’s saying. Or maybe she is sure, but she knows no one else is. Like you mentioned with :



“ ‘Did you ever make bread?’Tara said, and Dawn looked up in confusion. Sometimes Tara said the strangest things, and even when you wanted to just go with it….well, just sometimes Tara said the strangest things.”



And finally, I was reminded of 2 parents whose children have all left. Willow’s walking around the empty house with all these emotions about finally being alone with Tara. Kind of indefinitely alone with Tara. And she’s happy, but kind of guilty about being happy and she has all these reservations about it. I sort of imagined my parents like that after I went off to college. Only it’s not really the same thing because I think they hate each other. (My parents, not Willow and Tara.)



This is what I believe post-Season 5 should have been. Extra, bonus. I always thought the show should have ended after “The Gift”. Perfect ending to the season and the series. I view Season 6 and 7 as bonus episodes for the fans. A sort of “this is one way things could have happened after Buffy died”. I even had a theory that they would pull a “Kiss Me Deadly” and there would be the WB ending of "The Gift” and then an alternate ending when it debuted on UPN. But that didn’t happen.



So - what the hell am I trying to say with all this? I’m saying you make the show better, for me anyway. The addition of Drew Goddard was the best thing to happen as far as what we actually see on Tuesday nights at 8:00. But you’re the best thing to happen to what we don’t see.



And you also make bread better. I tried that toast thing. Amazing!



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

"Two? What do you mean you only opened two? ... Well, I can't figure out just two! So let's pretend you opened 200." - The Incompetent Math Teacher, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:57 pm 
Ok this is so not the feedback you wanna hear but I suddenly got the 'One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind'-phrase in my head when I read this update *tries to shake phrase from her head*



Anyway I think that having Dawn being away for a while might be very therapeutic for Willow and Tara :)

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

'I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad..it's depressing' - Tara



www.amberbenson-online.cjb.net



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 11:41 pm 
Oh Juli, your style is so fabulous. And this story is so wonderful it defies description. It's like the slowly moving surface of some great, deep lake. It's almost...serene, and yet fraught with emotion: love, sorrow, fear, hope, joy. I absolutely love it. Thank you so much.



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 11:53 pm 
Wow, you did it again :clap , (no i'm not going all Britney on you:laugh ) you swept me of my feet:thud .

It's so true and so disturbing, in the good way! and yes there is a good way to be disturbing when for example you tell about grieving, loneliness, and hope in a sincere and non-patronizing way, when you get to the core of the wound not pondering over and over again if it would be painfull to go there , knowing trully well it had to be done before getting into the healing phase. Ok i'll stop here before i get in the long complicated rant sorry:blush , just to say: it was GREAT:bounce

Oh and for the fun i loved that line

Quote:
And somewhere under the ground….tiny little vampires




The earth is blue like an orange
Paul Eluard



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 2:30 am 
one word:

amazing...





incredible, brilliant..



ok more then one word.





all I can really say is thank you.

Tara nodded in agreement "She has magic fingers." TheWisdom of War, Chris Golden



You dont really think this is like, Psycho Buffy Cheer Squad central, do you?-Xita ala Julia "Lessons Parody"





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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 4:59 am 
I am glad W/T are reconnecting with one another. They are falling into a routine. I love how W/T slept better because they held each other in their arms. :heart

Tara: My heart doesn't stutter.


Tara: Willow, I got so lost.

Willow: I found you. I will always find you.




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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 5:49 am 
I love the way you write Tara. You really capture her calm spirit. And I could just see Willow all cute and rumpled in her jammies. I laughed out loud at the secretary being a man. And now we know Dawn is to blame for the crazy braids of Tabula Rasa. God and it's been since that afternoon in Tough Love for these girls? I'm so glad they are finding themselves again.

Autumn

-----------

BUFFY: I could wrestle naked in grease for a living and still be cleaner than after a shift at the Doublemeat.

WILLOW: Plus, I'd visit you at work every single day.



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 6:10 am 
so glad you're back in the game :) and tackling post S5 no less. beautifully I might add. I love it that you're truly rewriting it. no more buffybot, xander and anya slipping off to get married, dawn reconnecting with her 'father', willow giving up her role as the Slayer replacement. it all feels so right - unlike the ME version. they glossed over so many enormous issues (Tara's mind-rape at the hands of Glory, Dawn's double loss of Joyce and Buffy) that you are handling with your usual insight and skill.

but most important (to me) willow is refusing to be notWillow, making the right choices again. choosing Tara over power because she would. Because she's Willow.

Elegant is always the word that comes to mind when I read your stories.



-melissa



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 6:57 am 
:cry



What a story. It's painful and wonderful at the same time. Thanks for sharing it with us.



Rai



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 8:16 pm 
Amazing. Your writing is just amazing. I am sad it's only 3 parts ;) but I'll take anything. I like the set up for the incident later with the lethe's bramble (sp?) . It shows Willow's intentions not being as malicious as one might think. The reasons for having it ready not sinister. And though I am struck by the beauty of the bread metaphor and comforted by seeing them getting back to each other, it makes me sad because i know it isn't long before they grow apart again.

If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.

Tallulah Bankhead



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 9:00 pm 
Well, this gives whole new meaning to the phrase baguette magique! (Sorry, gay male influence again!)



I really, really appreciate how you tie together W/T’s first fight and Lethe’s Bramble here. I don’t think the show ever adequately built up to Willow’s using it after W/T’s second fight in “All the Way,” and that irked me. There is only so much subtextual inferring screenwriters can expect viewers to do, even brilliant, hard-working Kittens :) , before they risk being labeled lazy, sloppy, or cowardly, and that second fight (with its memory-wiping aftermath) was one of those occasions. I think that we were supposed to believe that it had something to do with Willow’s wanting to avoid any disagreement at all with Tara, since their first led to such a chain of horrors, but come on people, do we have to do all the heavy lifting?!



I always felt cheated that we weren’t shown this reconciliation (although after what happened with the reconciliation we finally did see, maybe it was for the best). I can’t imagine it was easy, what with Buffy’s taking the flying leap and all. How long did it take Willow to allow herself to feel happy that she had Tara back when Buffy was dead? How long did it take her to stop feeling guilty for being happy? What scars were left?



So can I just say how fortunate we are to have you bench-pressing this story for us? Not only are we seeing this first and I think more difficult reconciliation take place, but thanks to you we see it unfolding incrementally, poetically, and responsibly. Memo to ME: you can let these characters grow up – it makes them even more appealing!



Some fabulous things (yeah, yeah, gay boys again):
Quote:
They had really gone, then, and she was – for a little while – alone.



Dawn was still going to be Dawn but just somewhere else, and Tara was still Tara, and she…she was only herself. Always herself. Herself alone.



Except…except that she wasn’t alone. Well, she was alone in the house at the moment because Tara was probably still at the airport, but really…she wasn’t alone. They were.



Willow stood with her hand on the doorknob to Dawn’s empty room, it sank into her skin that she and Tara were…alone. Really alone. Alone for the first time in months.



No one to be with but each other. It was just the two of them.



They were alone.
I think the expectation is, when seeing “alone” repeated like that throughout a text, that it is an undesirable state, one to be feared. So it was a pleasant jolt when I got to that last one that in fact it was an “at last!” and not an “oh, shit!” alone. Way to subvert expectations!



Quote:
Even from behind, she looked calm, almost peaceful, and Willow saw the picture in her mind sharpening, the blurred edges becoming crisp.
Here the meld subtly brings Willow closer to and not farther away from Tara. Why shouldn’t it have a positive as well as negative effect?

Quote:
She knew that she was walking away from her family. But she knew that she was walking towards a different family.
Not so different, eh?! Finally:
Quote:
Running a finger over the soft, buttery cover of the book in her lap, Dawn thought how strange it was to be sitting alone in the sky, sandwiched in between a heavy man with a shiny suit and a heavy woman with curly red hair.
Omigod! These are the exact same people who sit next to me every time I go to Paris!



Doing that kowtowing thing to you,



SB





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 Post subject: Replies to Feedback for Bread II
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 9:22 pm 
Hi, Kittens, and thanks for taking time out of your weekends to read this. I love how insightful Kittens are: they see everything—intention and result and bad jokes. I'm feeling pretty lucky right now to be able to try something like this out on such great readers! Thank you, thank you.



Snipp. Toast is great, isn’t it? I thought you’d like it. The first morning I ever woke up at my gf's house--many years ago--I asked what she had to eat, and she told me, with great excitement, that she had "stuff for toast." I asked her if she meant bread. She said yes.



I wish I could see season 7 as bonus, but I’m not there yet…I don’t even know who Drew Goddard is. I much prefer your idea of UPN having done an alternate ending. That would have been perfect. But yes…where Dawn’s going doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s not Sunnydale. I suppose I could play the whole “wherever you go, there you are” thing and hire Ashley Judd to star as the charming local woman who finds Dawn living on Saltines and wearing polyester pants at the local Wal-Mart and takes her home to show her how tragedy lives everywhere, not just in Sunnydale, but….it’s been done, no? But hey, I love the way your mind works.



Little M, See, I think Willow and Tara do love Dawn a lot and never questioned or resented their roles as caretakers; they just did it because that’s who they are. And yet….focusing on her needs, as they would need to do, would necessarily involve some lessening of their ability to focus on their own needs. I mean, if you’re always making pancakes for someone else first, then you stay hungry just a little bit longer, right? Thanks!



Caoilin, thank you for reading this! I like what you say about the lake, especially because I always associate Tara with water, and I love trying to see under her surface in fanfic. Maybe that’s what all fanfic is—seeing under the surface of the show. I just know I’d much rather take up lake diving than drown in the three inches of water that ME gives us.



Tawilove, I can’t even hear that line from Britney Spears anymore without thinking of Jack and Grace on “Will and Grace” doing the little Britney dance. I guess I need to find something new to do at 7:30 every evening because I’m just watching “W&G” reruns over and over. But I think I know just what you mean about the fact that it’s painful not just to deal with a loss but painful to give up the loss in the way you kind of have to give it up to move on. You know? Oh, and I’m so glad you liked the tiny little vampires…that was a late addition, but it shows how it pays to revise. :) Thanks.



WiccansIllusion, thanks for all three words, really. Honestly? I would take a “doesn’t suck,” too. That’s all I was going for: not sucking. And not just in a Glory not sucking Tara's brain kind of way.



The Rose24, Yes, routine is in some ways the key here: going on, daily life, the way things go on. I don’t know if this came across, but I tried NOT to show who made the first step. Willow remembered going to sleep in Tara’s arms and hearing Tara’s words, and Tara remembered waking up in Willow’s arms and to Willow’s words, BUT it wasn’t clear who went first. Because I guess that’s not important. Thanks for reading.



Autumn, hey, stop calling me Tara. Sorry, couldn’t resist. And I couldn’t resist falling prey to “everyone’s gay” syndrome, even though it’s vaguely ridiculous. Or is it? Her dad, with that blonde hair and the suggestion of a little cleft in his chin…mm hmm, mm hmm. And yay! That’s exactly what I was going for with the crazy braids. As for Willow and Tara not being together that way since Tough Love…yeah. I have the sense that they might possibly have had at least some version of sex since then, but it wouldn’t have been the kind of connection they needed, full as it would have been of thoughts of Buffy and others. Just a sense I have. Thanks for reading this.



Lipkandy. Melissa, thank you so much for reading this; I’ll admit I was hoping you would, as I love your stories so much. And thanks for your insightful reply: those are just the things I was trying to touch on, just the things I always missed in season 6. For me, Tara’s mind-rape is a hugely critical event in the history of the show, her character, and Willow’s character, and I wanted to try using it as a branching-off point, as one of the things that changes everything.



RaiStarr, Thanks for reading. I’ve tried to write non-painful W/T stuff, and it seems to be beyond my reach. I love the happier stories, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to write one yet. There's a real skill to it that so many Kittens do so well. Maybe some day.



Xita, I LOVE your fat kitten avatar! I can’t stop staring at it, especially since one of my cats, Charlotte, has gained a lot of weight lately (she had a seizure triggered by low blood sugar several months ago, so we stopped limiting her food, and now she is getting quite large.) But thanks for your reply. Don’t be sad, though; the thing with this story is that it’s NOT a fill-in. In this version, Willow and Tara don’t grow apart again; they grow together, and they head off into the sunset. Literally, in fact, only without the sunset, just with the “heading off.” Thanks, Xita.



Sister Bertrille, my thoughts exactly…the part about how difficult it would have been for Willow to feel really happy with Tara when Buffy was gone….and maybe also the way that she might have felt that the solution was to bring Buffy back again. But that Lethe’s Bramble didn’t just walk in the front door of the Summers’ house and put itself in the bowl for Willow to find in ATW. I mean, hello! Potent magical artifacts with no history or context do not simply show up in the Summers house without warn…oh. Oh, damn. I forgot we were talking about BTVS. Never mind.



But I will say this: the Willow I got to know on the show wasn’t fueled by spontaneity. Anyone who cross-references class notes in different colored pens is going to ponder a mind-altering spell at least a little bit before she does it; Willow would be the one person who actually checked with her doctor before starting this or any exercise program, right? When she went after Glory, she was all pumped up with fear adrenaline, and although she is still suffering loss and grief, I think her heart rate has slowed down a little. Thanks for your great feedback.



Again, thanks, all you lovely Kittens.

"And I'm eating this banana. Lunchtime be damned!" -- Willow in "Doppelgangland



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 Post subject: Re: Replies to Feedback for Bread II
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 1:39 am 
Hey, Tulipp--What a great way to wrap up a weekend: reading your update! You know, it's times like these that I wish I'd taken a few English/Literature courses in college and not spent my time so exclusively on psychology, because I'd feel a little better equipped to express my thoughts about the quality of this writing and why I find it so compelling. I'm sure there are theories and terms for what I end up saying that would permit me to say it w/ a little more clarity (not to mention succinctness). As it is, I'll simply plow right into it like a bull in a china shop or, alternatively, a shrink in a literary theory salon.



So...here's what I was picking up and responding to in this latest installment: the idea of returning to one's essence, returning to that time (and perhaps place) where one began, before all of the scars and the emotional deflowerings and the utterly inescapable truth that life doesn't call you up to ask for your definition of "fair" and then proceed to abide by it. Dawn is returning home, literally and figuratively, and to the one significant person in her life who doesn't see life (and her) through the filter of impending catastrophe. (By the way, the revelation of the secretary's gender was both gratifyingly understated AND an important assumption check. I admit it, much to my chagrin: I had thought, w/o even realizing that I thought it, that the secretary was female. Mea honkin' culpa, indeed.) Willow is wearing "Hello Kitty" pajamas that could easily have been hers in a younger time. Tara smells bread and it calls her home in multiple senses of that word. It seems to reflect and continue the idea of identities as you broached it in Part I.



I see the extension of that in another intriguing theme that I have a real fondness for: the idea of learning the truth of a thing (or oneself) through the elimination of what it is not. (Who was the sculptor who said that he saw what was within the stone and then took away everything that wasn't it?) I was struck by the repetition of that idea throughout this chapter. Dawn is on a plane flying to Not California; Willow is reflecting on who she is through the lens of iterating who she isn't: Buffy's side-kick, a demon-fighter, etc. That process, it seems, is imperative in an ironic way, I think: in order for Willow to return most truthfully to being Tara's partner, she has to define herself first in the relative absence of external anchorings. She has to rediscover Essential Willow--not that she returns to being that Willow, but that she realizes and remembers that there ever was that Willow.



I also love the shifting of perspectives or frames of reference within this part. I noticed this particularly in Dawn's inner world as she recedes from Sunnydale and looks below seeing little streets and little houses, envisioning little vampires below all of that. The overwhelming reality of her life within the past year has been that of danger and the fragility of life; as she moves to her new life, those things take on a new size and shape.



Finally, there are just so many little pictures that make your writing so fall-into-able (whaddya mean it's not a word?): Tara padding softly down the stairs and seeing her mother; Tara thereafter stepping on the noisiest step on the stairs; Dawn looking at the people waiting at the airport for loved ones hopefully disembarking from Sunnydale, never knowing if they'll actually see the person.



Thanks for writing this, Tulipp. You draw us these women so wonderfully, and so evocatively. I'm enjoying this immensely.



Mary





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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 2:15 am 
Quote:
Sitting up, Willow saw her stuffed dog in perfect yoga position, face down on the rug with his little doggy rear end in the air
:eyebrow





Another beautiful update. I read the part about the male secretary three times and then just burst out laughing. Juli, honey, I scared the dog!:eek How do you make me like Dawn? You did it with TF too. From your POV I can really see her for what she is, this lonely kid looking for hope. And Willow and Tara finally alone - did they ever really get that from ME? I suppose that's not really the point for ME though, is it? Thinking about that makes me bitter all over again. Knowing how good things could have been - this good - well, best not dwell on their shortcomings. Better to celebrate your immense talent. :clap I wondered what you meant when you told me you were fighting with a "quiet story." Now I understand. Despite all the angst and loss, there is a quiet hope in all of them. Beautifully done.







"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Chinese Proverb.



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 Post subject: Yeast
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 5:16 am 
If you want your bread to rise, you have to add the right amount of yeast. If you add too little, then your bread won't rise and you end up with a dense, unpalatable mass. If you add too much, your bread rises and rises until it has no substance and collapses in on itself, its structure no longer able to support its own weight.



If a story is a loaf of bread, the yeast are all the subtle actions and words, small and seemingly insignifcant in themselves but that together make the big events happens. This story happens in the moment that the bread is covered, after the punching down of The Gift, and before the rising that you've promised us at the end of summer.



We saw in season six what happens when you add too much yeast, letting Willow take little step after little step forward without any wisdom to prevent her from taking so many little actions that they became big ones. She brought back Buffy, found tremendous power in her magic, rising and rising until she had no moral subtance remaining. By the forget spell, the actions were so big that it was too late to turn back. In Tabula Rasa, we discovered the inevitable consequences of that lack of substance, and everything began to come crashing down.



Here we see hints of that rising in Willow's slow contemplation of the Lethe's bramble, but more imporantly we see the little actions and words that temper Willow's rush to rise upwards. A few softly spoken words and gentle touches here and now can do more to save them from the painful tragedies that could happen than all the magicks and wishes in the world could afterwards.



Dawn's absence allows them to be alone together, allowing them to focus inwards on each other instead of outwards on a child they had to take care of. Tara's gently funny words begin to steer Willow away from the Buffybot, and through it the entire need to replace Buffy either in herself or through resurrection. Willow's realization that despite her disbelief in time change does come brings her to understand that she can be at home again with Tara, that there is bravery outside of fighting monsters and perhaps it's a more important type of courage.



I just love the presence of bread in so many levels of this story: actual bread in the past with Tara's mother making a home every morning for her daughter with her bread, the soft, warm feelings of fresh bread in Willow's embrace of Tara as home, metaphorical bread in Tara's talk with Dawn at the airport, the temporal placement of this story in between the punching down and the rising up, and of course in my own amazingly overextended imagery in this post. (-;

--

"Omnia mutantur, nihil interit." -- "Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost."

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 1/12/03 8:17:07 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 5:37 am 
I agree with Xita: it is sad this will only be three parts. And I also have to agree with her that although it's three parts, I am thankful for those three parts. Why is this you wonder?:hmm The answer is simple really: I Love Your Writing. :clap



I really enjoy how you write all the characters. Which goes along with enjoying how you write the different character's perspectives. (Which also reminds me of Terra Firma's chapter when Tara walks into the Magic Box and we see all the character's thoughts for the same moment in time.) Overall, your writng style really captivates me.



For example:

Quote:
She was heading off to a place where the breakfast menu every morning was not going to be Scrambled Sad with a side of Wishful Thinking.


I felt the pain Dawn was in after reading this line. The hopelessness one feels when they hit what appears to be rock bottom.





Then there was this:

Quote:
That meant it was July now, and not June, and time was happening around them just as she’d known, but not really believed, it would.


Willow's thoughts about time and how inevitably it does continue to go on. Something about this line just struck me.



And finally, these lines:

Quote:
She registered that another man she recognized stood just behind him—the secretary—but she had eyes only for her father. AND Laughing, Tara had raised an eyebrow and gone back to making soap, the latest development in what Willow teasingly called her lesbian commune tendencies.


You have a talent for making me laugh through some serious emotional turmoil of the characters.



Ahh..now a breath...anyway..I guess I could have summed up my thoughts for this recent update by simply saying:



Hey- Great update. Wouldn't have expected anything less than wonderful from you. :grin


"You have to believe we are magic. Nothin' can stand in our way."---Olivia Newton-John.



The quest for certainty blocks the quest for meaning.---Erich Fromm



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 8:47 am 
I have one word for you: AMAZING!!! :clap



Seems like that Tara and Willow slowly find their way back to each other...



Stef :p

Edited by: deixs at: 1/13/03 5:05:39 am


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 Post subject: I Forgot to Gush
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 4:09 pm 
In all the fun I was having exploring the delicious bread imagery of this chapter, I forgot to gush! Truth be told, it's not something I'm very good at, tending to listen to my head and forget my heart. Yet that's why I love your writing--it touches my heart.



It's the small moments that do it. Dawn's eager but worried anticipation of meeting her father. Willow's reconstruction of their aloneness to mean that they're together. Their sweet and very naked frolic. Tara's mother baking bread every morning. Their embrace at the end, Tara's head on Willow's shoulder.



Structure, imagery, plot, all of that is there to bring those moments home and bind them together in a whole that's greater than the parts. It's your superlative ability to not only compassionately see beauty and change and recreate it in those little moments, but also to bring them together into a coherent whole that makes your writing so wonderful to read.

--

"Omnia mutantur, nihil interit." -- "Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost."

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 1/13/03 7:09:58 am


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 Post subject: Re: I Forgot to Gush
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 5:06 pm 
great update :grin





you can't just go declaring shenanigans on innocent people, that's how wars get started!
I'm not stealing, I'm just taking things without paying for them. In what twisted dictionary is that stealing?
He's not dangerous, he's just stupid



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 Post subject: And another thing...
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 8:06 pm 
Hey Tulipp--I forgot to mention in my last tome how much I like (and this is going to sound odd) Anya in a wheelchair. The show has been so blindingly white, and able-bodied, and curiously free of financial concerns (w/ the exception of Buffy in that one season) that it just seems ridiculous. Obviously, we were all psyched to see lesbian characters; but look at their treatment of racial and ethnic diversity: there was Kendra, who was promptly killed off. I don't think I'm missing anyone else, and if I am, she/he was obviously not a major player. (I've heard of Principal Wood this year; let's see how long he lasts before he gets eaten.) It's been a lamentably homogeneous character pool for seven years with regard to race, body type, ability, socio-economic status--and this in a show set in a California suburb. Prior to "Seeing Red," that was my primary complaint. Anyway, I was glad to see some diversity, and certainly it's realistic that people engaged in demon fighting would suffer major injuries. I also like it that Xander and Anya still have their rollicking sex lives. Kudos to you for expanding horizons.



Mary



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: Bread
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 9:39 pm 
I never thought much of bread, really. My mom treats bread as the source of all evil or something, because it's made of white flower. She says white flower's worse than refined suger when you eat it. So whever I eat white bread, I kinnda feel something's a little wrong. The wierdest feeling is when my mom buys bread. That really gets me... sort of annoyed.



What I'm trying to say is... in your writing... you just go ahead and hook two things up in a way that makes them mean more than they did apart. Like making coffee. I know its not the most meaningful part of the day, but now I have this image stuck in my head... and I think I won't be making a lot of coffee in the next couple of days just so I won't mess up that image. Does that make any sense?



That must be an awfully lonely time in Willow's life. When I think of the Willow you're describing, I kinnda see her staring off into the space above the book she's reading, not really looking at anything and feeling a vague lump of discomfort in her stomach.



The one line that's still on repeat mode in my head is:

Quote:
"When will you get it? My mother…she was the bravest person I ever knew, and all she really did was teach me some Wicca and bake bread"


On Buffy, Season 7: ”Bored now…”



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 5:07 am 
Tulipp, on rare occasions I read a piece of literature or in this case a fic, where I'm just left speechless (completely blown away). This fic (and this update in particular) has rendered me in this condition. Your writing can amazingly probe ("dig") underneath the surface, creates a "whirlwind" of emotions, I find this piece has a "quietness" (it's subtle) where even in the small moments (such as Dawn "crazy braiding" Tara's hair) pack such a punch/truly resonate with me, and no matter the angst I find these characters never give into total despair (ie it may take some time, but they find a hidden reserve of strength, a determination to "rise" above the pain and reach out).



Between the "bread metaphor", Dawn getting a "fresh start" with her observations of how little everything looks from the perspective of the plane especially her thinking, ("She was heading off to a place where the breakfast menu every morning was not going to be Scrambled Sad with a side of Wishful Thinking."), Willow realizing (and accepting) "She couldn't be not Willow. She could only be herself.", and W&T inching ever so closer (making a connection) with Tara reminiscing about her mother, as well as her poignantly saying, ("I don't forget. I try to remember, that's all I can do."..... "That's all we can do: remember."), your words, the moments you capture are just simply stunning. With this in mind, I can see W&T are taking steps to truly find each other again, where the "key" is allowing the other to "see" beneath the surface in order to heal (move beyond the pain), and find the hope in what a better tomorrow can/will bring. Can't wait for the last part!

Edited by: VampNo12  at: 1/13/03 9:56:53 pm


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 Post subject: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 3:50 pm 
Hello Kittens, and thank you again for this truly generous feedback; I am drinking coffee and thanking my lucky stars that I have Pens right now, and people who come to a story ready to like what they see. You are all really, really kind, and it makes me really, really happy.



Antigone Unbound, Mary, hi. If I could go back in time, I’d trade you some lit classes for some psych classes in a second; I never had a single one. I only have a smattering of psychoanalytic theory and a family who believes in self-help books. But I have a bad memory, so even if you did mention a literary theory, I probably wouldn’t recognize it. ;)



I like what you say about eliminating what isn’t to find truth. I thought about this story for a long time before the drafts started going anywhere, and the trouble was also eliminating roadblocks: I had a set of assumptions in my head that I couldn’t get rid of: how does Tara get so supportive so fast when she’s been through this trauma? how does Willow avoid resurrecting Buffy this time? If she does, how do she and Tara avoid social workers coming to the house? If they decide to leave town, how do they do it without being accused of kidnapping? For me, it was all about eliminations…what small steps around these roadblocks would allow them to move on?



Oh, and I’m so glad you mentioned the wheelchair; it was just one more way to show a slight disconnect between canon post-season 5 and my own post-season 5. But I figure that Anya will always be Anya, wheels or not.



TromDeGrey, I thought you’d appreciate downward facing stuffed dog. :) As for Dawn…you know, I always hated the way she enunciated her words so carefully on the show; it never fit with my vision of her. So maybe I take some liberties. I think maybe going away will be good for Dawn; I know it will be good for Willow and Tara. And the secretary...well, I couldn't help it. I'm thinking of naming him "Monty."



Darkmagicwillow, ooh, extended metaphor feedback; I love it, especially this idea of too much yeast contributing to Willow’s rising without substance. What a great way to look at that. For me, that’s what BTVS has become…the “structure no longer able to support its own weight.” I wish I felt differently. But I have this sense that in spite of the importance of magic and evil-fighting on the show, change really comes through nuances of character, and that’s one of the ways the show went wrong. The way Willow used or abused her magical abilities was never really about the magic; it was about herself, her character. I like all the presences of bread you see, especially those in your great feedback.



p.s. if you start gushing, then I’m going to have to gush back, and then before you know it, we’ll be in a gushing war. Okay, I admit; I like it. Of course, you read this with a good eye and saw where those little moments needed to be slightly bigger, so thanks for that!



SlayerSydney, hi, and thanks for laughing at thesecretary. I thought maybe people would roll their eyes at that (and maybe some people did), but I could not resist. I know that the level of humor in this story isn’t really BTVS caliber, but then again, that humor has struck me false for awhile, considering. So I’m so glad that the little bits I do manage work. As for three parts….you, know, I spent December trying to make it longer, but it just wouldn’t work; the story just got…muddy. In the end I decided to just stick with the original plan: three days, three chapters. Thanks so much for your nice feedback!



Deixs, hey, thank you so much. And that’s exactly what it seems like to me, too, so I'm glad it came across.



Grimaldi, thanks! I’m so glad you read this.



Mrs. Vertigo, well I suppose you could try some wheat bread? You know, when I was a kid, my sack lunches often had peanut butter sandwiches on homemade bread, and at the time, I was always embarrassed by them because they were so unwieldy and not at all soft like all the other kids’ sandwiches. Of course, now…what wouldn’t I give for that kind of bread all the time. Little kids can be so stupid. And hey! making coffee is totally one of the most meaningful parts of the day! But what I’m trying to say is that that idea of you not messing up the coffee-making image gave me the happiest kind of little shiver; what a nice thing to say. As for the Willow you describe…yes, that’s exactly it, although as I see it, in this last chapter she finally looked down at the pages of that book she wasn’t reading. Thanks, Mrs. V!



And last but not least, the woman who put the V in Feedback: VampNo12. I’m so glad you see the quiet here; that’s the primary thing I wanted to get at, this sense of quiet change, although as you suggest, what looks quiet on the surface tends to feel anything but quiet underneath. You see so much; it really clarifies things for me, and I especially like the way you put it: “rising above the pain.” It's interesting about the "key"....in my last story, Dawn was literally the key; but here, it's the absence of the Key (among other things) that is, in the end, the key. Thanks for your great feedback!



Thanks again, Kittens, for reading and replying. Next part in a couple of days, I think. Hope everyone's having a good Tuesday!





"And I'm eating this banana. Lunchtime be damned!" -- Willow in "Doppelgangland



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