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

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 Post subject: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 3:26 am 
Title: Tempus Fugit
Rating: R.
Disclaimer: all characters belong to Joss & Co. except for a few minor characters. The story and all original material belongs to me. To quote the fabulous Missy Elliot "copywritten so...don't copy me."
Explanation: these are two interconnected stories. one set in S4 and one in S7. this started as a writing exercise for me and got out of hand. They both use the same 'device' to different ends. So if you're looking for more light-hearted Willow and Tara, the S4 Tempus Fugit is more for you. Looking for a bit of angst? Start reading below.
*note my fabulous beta recommends reading S4 first for backstory or you will miss some of the references.
Spoilers: None. This story diverges from canon after S6. I started writing it months ago so there is no crossover whatsoever with the suckfest known as S7.
Feedback: yes, please.
Warning: this is going to be a long ride with lots of angst, but I'm a Kitten at heart so don't worry about our girls. I will take care of them. No Arrg. Promise.

Chapter 1: Introductions
Willow looked up from her laptop and scanned the room with unfocused eyes. For the past hour she had worked on the same email, but still sat staring at two short words and a blinking cursor on a field of white.

Dear Giles,

Slowly her eyes focused on her surroundings and she felt a deep frown crease her forehead. It was a familiar room, the guest room in the Summer’s house, but it had been altered. All of the furniture, everything that had been theirs – hers and Tara’s – was gone. Erased. Removed to the basement where no one could stumble on it accidentally and injure themselves. She knew why they had done it. For her. And probably for themselves as well, but now that the familiar four-poster bed, paintings and rugs had been replaced by cheap catalog furniture the room just felt sterile as if someone had scoured it with antiseptic to remove a deadly infection.

Her fingers moved in a blur over the keyboard finally coming to rest on the cool laminate surface of the desk.

Dear Giles,
Xander is too friendly, too accommodating and full of self-help book inspired advice. Buffy can’t look at me. Dawn doesn’t even see me and when she does her eyes are full of blame and anger. And everything in this terrible town reminds me of her.
How was your day?

The cursor slowly backed over the words on the screen as the redhead released a long sigh. It wasn’t fair to unload on Giles. He had done so much for her over the past months, had been the only one to truly accept and forgive her. To ask her to forgive him. Because, as he explained it she had needed a Watcher, a mentor desperately, but he had been so focused on his Slayer that he let her growing power go un-schooled. Willow’s case had been an eye-opener for the Council. They had even begun a new Watcher program with the redhead as test case. Witchy Watchers was the term she used in private with Giles to make him smile. The old Willow could make everyone smile and she had begun to practice on him hoping to find pieces of that old Willow again.

Old Willow. She cycled through the words that would describe her old self: Hacker. Best Friend. Nerd. Sidekick. Junior Scientist.

So much for me being the scientist, she thought ruefully. Now it’s Willow Rosenburg, guinea pig.

Another long sigh and her eyes fell on the hard, ugly lines of a cheap Ikea knockoff bookshelf. Tara would never have allowed such a monstrosity near the Summers house. She permitted herself a small smile at the memory of the gentle look of disapproval Tara would only occasionally allow herself to express.

Tara.

But she isn’t here. She'll never be here again...

It terrified her sometimes. All of the great novels about love lost and grief spoke of the haunting afterward. Seeing their ghost everywhere. But she was back in Sunnydale, back in the same room where she and Tara had shared so much -- love, lust and pain, everything – but there was nothing now. The connection was gone. Wasn’t their love supposed to last forever even after death?

But it hadn’t. It had died in this room with a bullet and a god and that was the terrible thing, the thing that couldn’t be discussed or shared with anyone because it meant she had failed. The dark magic she had unleashed had somehow managed to sever her tie to the only thing that had ever really mattered in her life. The only light.

Tara.

How many times can I fail you?

For the thousandth time since her arrival she considered rushing down to the basement and dragging up every piece of furniture until the room was bursting with it. At least then she would have something of Tara around her. Objects that had been touched by Tara’s hands, pieces of the past that possibly even smelled like her still. But she knew this exorcism was not just for her, it was for Dawn too. The teenager still couldn’t discuss the blonde without crying. Twice Willow had stumbled on the girl speaking quietly to a framed photo of Tara that hung in the hall.

Dawn had always confided in Tara and now there was no one. And the black hole that Tara’s death had torn into the fabric of their lives continued to pull at them all with its terrible gravity. Weighing them down. They were all trying to escape its pull, to regain what they had lost with jokes and everyday acts, but there was no way to reverse the process that brought them here. No way to turn that black hole back into the bright star it had once been. Entropy. First law of the universe. Every system tends toward disorder. Chaos. But this system had found a terrible order that was artificial and suffocating. Unnatural.

Willow looked once again at her laptop. Maybe it wasn’t a black hole for her anymore. It hadn’t really been since that day on the hillside when she had tried to take away everyone’s pain for good. Since then the place in her heart where Tara had been felt more like a blank. A white space. Like the agonizing white of the blank email.

Dear Giles,
White is the color of mourning in the East.

Realizing that the email was not going to get done, she shut the laptop with one shaky hand and looked at the clean lines of the box springs and mattress they called a bed. She was so tired. Exhausted. But she knew what that bed meant -- dreams and nightmares. She could handle the nightmares, the endless visions of blood and power that always began with that one line, "Willow… your shirt." She was a Scooby after all, used to waking up shaking with fear.

It was the dream that tore at her soul and left her sobbing in desperation. The same dream. It always began in impressionistic gasps, the fractured sensations of waking. Waking in Tara’s arms. It started with the warmth of her body against Willow’s, the perfect Tara-shaped landscape of flesh fitted against her own, an arm thrown across her chest. The weight of Tara’s arm was warmth and home. The temperature of love. And then it became a world of Tara smell. The blonde witch’s personal chemistry mingled with jasmine and sandalwood and something else. Something uniquely Tara that spoke directly to the deepest place in Willow’s mind. The primitive brain that searched for the simple things – food, sex, shelter, comfort. The things that mattered.

And then sound. The gentle flutter of her love’s breath through red hair, breezing over sensitive ears. A sleepy sigh falling on her own lips like a kiss. Because she was that close in the dream. Her breath mingling with Tara’s, the air of the room passing through one body and into the other. It was always at this point that her dreaming self began to run through the possibilities: stay still, open her eyes and watch Tara sleep? Or wake her with slow easy kisses, fingers and open mouths. Her hands would begin to roam, moving lightly over soft skin eliciting another breathy sigh. Feeling the flush and braille of her lover’s arousal as her fingers made their slow and steady progress. This was the story of their love written in skin and breath, sighs and wet and Willow wanted to read it all, but there would be no open eyes. That was the dream and the dark and the end. No vision, no sight. She would never see her love again. Not even in sleep.

Willow took a deep breath to cleanse her mind before laying her head down wearily on the cool plastic surface of her desk to rest. Not to sleep.

*****

Buffy tilted her head back to look up at the stars, rubbing the well-worn wood of her favorite stake between her palms. It was a slow night. Her Slayer senses picked up no supernatural activity, just the endless burrowing of earthworms beneath her, the gentle movement of the breeze around her.

But this was the place. She knew it from the vivid dreams that had haunted her nights since Willow’s return.

Willow.

The thought of the redhead made her grimace, her forehead becoming deeply lined. She hadn’t had these morbid thoughts since Willow’s departure to England. but since her return the Slayer had found her thoughts drifting back to that dark empty place she had fallen into after her resurrection. Because they had brought her back to make things the same, but nothing had been. Nothing. Especially not her friendship. The powerful magic her best friend summoned to bring her back had damaged their relationship irrevocably, had increased the distance between them to a space so much larger than the line between life and death. And there was no magic that could span that gap.

She felt her jaw clenching in anger at all she had lost. Angel. Riley. Tara. Her mother. Even Faith. But the loss she couldn’t seem to get over was Willow because she had been there for the Slayer through everything. And then she wasn’t. And worse, the redhead was there in the house haunting her. A ghost she couldn’t touch or see clearly. A reminder of everything she had lost and could never retrieve. Because that wasn’t her Willow. The demon with the dark hair and eyes had swept her Willow away and no matter how much therapy she had received in England, Buffy could see her still in the familiar green eyes. And a small part of her blamed Tara, but the larger part blamed herself. She was the Slayer. It was her job to protect her family from evil.

The hairs on the back of her neck began to stand at the memory of that other Willow. The demon of grief and anger. The only enemy Buffy had faced and failed to defeat.

All the therapy in the world isn’t going to make Willow right, she thought bitterly. That was the worst part, that she would never really be able to understand what had happened. Why Willow had gone all black magic. But then she hadn’t really felt close to Willow in a long time. Long before the resurrection. And some of it was Tara and that made her feel guilty. Because it had been different than Oz. Even when Willow was deeply involved with the guitarist she had always made time for Buffy, but as soon as Tara entered the picture Buffy had felt like an outsider.

Not like you tried really hard, she chastised herself. She knew she hadn’t made time for her best friend, but there were good reasons. Riley reasons and then resurrection reasons and finally… Tara. It was hard to admit, but she had begun to prize her friendship with the blonde. She found herself sneaking around to meet Tara for coffee in secret and not to talk about Willow or to help Willow. To help herself. Because Willow looked for solutions when you talked to her about problems. And sometimes she wasn’t looking for a solution. But she found that she could tell Tara her secrets and problems and Tara would just let them be. She would take in Buffy’s nightmares with that deep blue gaze and give comfort not answers. She felt the tears well up in her eyes at the thought of the sweet blonde.

Tara I’m so sorry…

A hard blow to the back of her head sent the Slayer to her knees. As she tried to regain her balance, the sounds of a loud scuffle became audible behind her.

to be continued...

Edited because I forgot to turn off HTML!!!ack.



Edited by: lipkandy at: 3/5/03 5:02:26 pm


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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 4:14 am 
the end for now??? no!! that's no good! Nuh uh! Please, you gotta continue with this fic or I'm gonna have to personally hassle you. ;)



Caz

Tara: I got so lost
Willow: I found you... I will always find you



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 4:57 am 
Hey Lipkandy~~You write extremely well, which is probably NOT the first time you've heard that! You do a great job of taking us inside W's and B's minds in a way that really illuminates much of their recent (and not-so-recent) history. Every reaction/thought you describe is very believable, very in keeping with how the characters have been developed on-screen. And boy, do you capture grief well... I'm looking forward to more of your story.



M~



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 8:31 am 
Really great start!! :)

I'm totally hooked!

Can't wait for more!

------------------
"I got so lost"
"I found you, i will always find you"



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 10:31 am 
You've captured the differing methods for dealing with grief well. Willow's longing to immerse herself in objects that would remind her of Tara versus Dawn's reticence to be reminded.



Willow's dream was lovely; I liked the descriptions of the various stimuli, the scent, sound etc.



An interesting insight into Buffy's thoughts too.



Adding up the total of a love that's true, multiply life by the power of two
Indigo Girls



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 12:16 pm 
This is really sad but a great start :) You write their grief very well. I wonder what smacked Buffy on the head. Lookin' forward to more :D



--Michelle



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 12:17 pm 
Very interesting take on Willow's sorrow and thoughts about Tara.

Also interesting insight into Buffy, sounds like she really cares!

Would like to see more!

BV

"In front of total strangers won't you kiss me, Flowers for no reason but you miss me - OOH, I wanna be in love"

Melissa Etheridge-Skin



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 2:14 pm 
God, that's some gorgeous writing. Painful and true.



I loved these two lines in particular:



Quote:
This was the story of their love written in skin and breath....



And worse, the redhead was there in the house haunting her. A ghost she couldn’t touch or see clearly. A reminder of everything she had lost and could never retrieve....




It's so important to see Buffy working through this, to see her recognizing the multiple losses and how that has affected her. And it is so Willow to need to unburden herself to Giles but in the end not to let herself do that.



In some ways, I'm finding it harder instead of easier to read post-season 6 stuff these days. But when it resonates, when I can still feel it on my skin after I stop looking at the story, I know I need to read it. So I will. Thanks.


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

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



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 3:16 pm 
Interesting opening to your story here. It's immediate and direct. I think what impressed me most was the intensely careful way that you delved into Willow's mind and didn't rush her reactions or her actions. Your exploration of the senses was a joy to read, particularly the idea of "braille". That was so visceral to me, and very real.



I look forward to reading more of this. Thank you. :)


----------
"You exquisite little tart!" ~ Diana Lethaby



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 Post subject: part II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 2:57 am 
okay, thanks for all the encouragement. I know these post-S6 fics are hard to take, but thanks to all of you giving it a try. and as for the feedback to the feedback I'm a painfully shy lurker most of the time so.... you have been warned [img]http://www.ezboard.com/intl/aenglish/images/emoticons/smile.gif]

on to the feedback:
centauri sorry for the [/img]antigone what can I say? thank you again. I'm glad you found the tone, thoughts, etc. to be believable. It's difficult to write. I usually listen to Beth Orton's Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine when I lose my angsty train of thought...

snuggle and pikescoob don't worry there's more and more and more...

tulipp be still my heart [img]http://www.ezboard.com/intl/aenglish/images/emoticons/smile.gif] your fic is, IMO, a classic. I know what you mean about S7 fics being difficult. I think that's one of the reasons I started the S4 version. to keep this story from moving to far into the dismal and heavy. your S7 fic was exquisite. it inspired me to forge on with this one....

tommo um, uh... I'm speechless. oh goddess of the beautifully crafted smut..., ahem! anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. and I think you pointed out the difference between good fic and great fic (like your own and tulipp's) the care you take with the characters. I hope I can give our girls the care they deserve.

BTW -- I won't be posting fic updates nightly. My GF told me I was being a fic-tease so I thought I'd post a few more pages.

and on with the fic...

Part II


[/img] I failed you again Tara…
       
"No! No Buffy it’s not…I’m not…" she scrambled for the light switch finally finding it to illuminate the hallway in the harsh light of a seventy watt bulb. "I was writing an email to Giles and I just put my head down for a second." Buffy stood staring up at her, blinking her eyes against the hard light. "I mean, I must have fallen asleep and what time is it?"
       
Several moments passed as the Slayer stared up at her in silence. Finally her mouth opened a bit and her features softened slightly with relief and Willow let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.
       
"Eleven o’clock and Dawn’s not here." All hope the redhead had died with the taut sound of her friend’s voice. Former friend she reminded herself. And hopefully future friend. Again. Maybe.
       
"Did you check the frig? Maybe she left a note?" she offered in a small voice. A deep crease formed between the Slayer’s eyebrows in response. "You know, cause that’s the rule in the Summers house –" Willow stammered hastily.
       
"No I didn’t check the frig because there is no note because Dawn knows she’s supposed to stay here tonight," Willow watched her friend’s back as the blonde Slayer retreated angrily down the stairs toward the kitchen. "Because I told her to in my most Mom-like voice!" The redhead summoned every bit of strength she possessed to follow her down the stairs. At least she’s talking. Buffy talking is good. Talking to me is even better. This was the most Buffy had spoken to her since her return. She followed her carefully, trying to remain silent so her friend would have more room to speak. "…she knows how dangerous everything is right now and she knew she shouldn’t…"
       
There was a pause as Buffy ripped down a note that was taped to the refrigerator.
       
"Damnit!"

Willow winced as the note was slammed violently against the kitchen counter.

"What part of no does she not understand?"

"Well, probably the part spelled N-O. You know, it has a whole other definition when you’re sixteen. I mean, I know that was like forty years ago, but I still remember you not doing well with the whole n-o thing either. Maybe it’s a Summer’s girl thing?" Willow kept her voice soft and upbeat hoping that she wouldn’t alarm her friend or worse, enrage her. "But, um, danger…there’s danger?"
       
Buffy’s eyes fell on her as the question squeaked out of her mouth and Willow froze in terror. The blonde’s eyes narrowed as she studied the redhead’s features, her eyes focusing somewhere behind her. And Willow could feel then, could sense it with some other part of herself. It wasn’t Buffy behind those eyes. It was the Slayer, studying her with all of her senses, both physical and supernatural. Assessing the threat.
       
Willow swallowed past the lump in her throat, wondering again what the Slayer saw when she looked at her. Why she never met her eyes. Did she see the dark magic there? Because it would always be there. She knew that now. It was a part of her, a part she could control. A part she never wanted to see again. The coven had explained that to her. There was no difference between dark and light magic, it was how you used it. And she had used it badly, but there was no way to reverse that. There was only the way forward if her friends would allow her that. Just that one small thing.
       
The only problem with forward was that it lead farther and farther from Tara. That was a conflict she hadn’t been able to resolve yet. Maybe she would find a way to go forward without leaving everything behind. Maybe sideways? Or on a diagonal?
       
Buffy shook her head and met Willow’s eyes for the first time. "Yeah, danger. Of the Big Bad variety." The Slayer’s forehead furrowed and she looked at the floor.
       
"Um, okay…" Willow fumbled unsure of what to say. There was a Big Bad and no one had told her about it. Of course, she had sensed something, had discussed it Giles, but the fact that the rest of the Scoobies hadn’t thought to confide in her…did they think she was involved in some way? "So, is it demon, hell-god or…oh my God! Is Dawn dating a frat boy?"
       
Buffy almost laughed at Willow’s attempt at humor, "Don’t even joke about Dawn dating frat boys…or Dawn dating. Remember how that turned out the last time…" And then her friend’s smile quickly faded into deep sadness. "It’s…things and some vision that Cordelia had," Buffy’s eyes rolled up into her head as she mentioned the former cheerleader’s supernatural powers. Well, at least some things never changed. They would always be able to bond over Cordelia-bashing.
       
Willow took a deep breath worried suddenly about the contents of this vision. "So, what did the former Queen of Mean see?"
       
There were a few moments of silence as the two stood facing each other. Willow knew that Buffy was weighing the situation in her mind. Whether to trust her or not. With a loud sigh, the Slayer finally pulled a small wooden box from her pocket and set it on the formica counter next to them.
       
"This. And some other things that I didn’t believe, but…" the Slayer shrugged.
       
"Theycame true," Willow finished for her and the blonde nodded slightly. "Like?"
       
"Well, they were all so ridiculous. Like, would you believe it if someone told you Faith would save my life?" Buffy asked pacing the room, the strong muscles in her jaw working visibly under the skin.
       
"No." Willow’s knees felt weak. Faith. Well, that was certainly the last thing she could imagine. The Dark Slayer had simply dropped off their radar since her last appearance. Her betrayal had seemed so insignificant when they were facing a hell-God and Buffy’s death. Not to mention Dark Magic Willow. But there it was, the old anger that Faith’s name inevitably roused in the redhead. And jealousy, Willow admitted to herself guiltily. It was always jealousy. She could feel it burrowing its way down toward the dark places where the magic waited. Waiting to punish Faith for the past. But she was different now. Everything was different now.
       
"But she did…save your life?" Willow asked carefully and paused to pull two bottles of water from the refrigerator handing one to her best friend.
       
Buffy looked surprised by the response, but accepted the water with a genuine if slight smile. "Thanks." The Slayer stopped to take a drink and Willow jumped up to sit on the counter. "Yeah, I was ambushed by about six vamps," she recounted without emotion as if trying to distance herself from the events. "Somebody or some body hit me from behind and when I came to, Faith was there. She staked two of them and gave me enough time to recover…" she trailed off suddenly and looked out the window at the dark sky.

"You know, I swore the next time I saw her…" Buffy failed to finish her sentence again and Willow followed her friend’s thoughts to their obvious conclusion. Because Buffy had sworn to kill Faith for what she had done to her lover and to herself. But she hadn’t and Willow had. Willow had taken her own murderous revenge and it had cost them all dearly.
       
"So that’s what Cordy saw?" Willow tried to steer their conversation back to the events at hand because as much as they needed to have that discussion she knew she wasn’t ready to have it yet. Not with Buffy.
       
"Yeah, that and the box," she motioned to the wooden box on the counter and then shivered. "Which totally gives me the wiggins, by the way."
       
Willow felt her forehead tighten into deep lines. The Slayer’s ‘wiggins’ were never to be taken lightly. "What about the box?" she asked past the sudden tightness in her throat.
       
"Oh, you know, your run of the mill end of the world stuff," Buffy answered in her stock, impending-apocalypse flippant voice.

"Except in this version you and I use it to set off the end of the world. Or some big mega-merging of dimensions, blah, blah, blah."
       
Willow’s face grew pale and she felt for the cold counter to steady herself. "Oh, great." She squeaked. "So, I’m thinking we get it out of here, like, now."
       
Buffy grimaced, "That’s funny, that’s what Faith said too. That we should let her have it –" she rolled her eyes again. "like I would trust her with some end-of-the-world thingie." Buffy took another long slow drink from her water bottle. "Besides, I’m thinking that this is one for Scooby research. Cordy wasn’t all that clear on the details… actually she wasn’t really clear on anything besides Faith, so I’m thinking we should see what we can dig up."
       
The world was spinning around Willow. She felt faint. Two weeks back in Sunnydale and she was working on another apocalypse that might be set off by her own actions. Again.
       
End of the world. End of the world. End of the world. Why is it always the end of the world? Couldn’t it be the end of cheese or something?
       
"Wil? You okay with this?" Buffy asked gently, looking intently into Willow’s eyes. The redhead took a deep breath and nodded emphatically.
       
"What do you need me to do?"
       
And a miracle happened. Buffy actually smiled at the familiar words that still hung in the air between them. Willow had said them hundreds of times to her best friend, but this was the first time…since. And maybe, Willow thought as her heart raced, maybe this can be the first step forward… even if it does mean the end of the world, she thought with a wry smile and then felt the familiar set of resolve face spread over her features. End of the world schmend of the world! Who cares. Her world had ended in the upstairs bedroom four months ago. All she had left was in the kitchen with her now and she would do anything to get it back. To go forward from here. Willow nodded and smiled at the comforting sounds of Buffy running through the finer points of her "plan."

****

Okay, so things are almost back to normal, whatever normal is, Buffy thought as she walked briskly to the first house on her list. Dawn’s newest friend, Rain. Dawn had gushed about her for the past week so it was a safe bet that her sister was here. And what kind of name is Rain anyway? Hi, I’m Storm Summers. Okay, like Buffy’s such a normal name...
       
Buffy stopped on the sidewalk in front of a modest-looking, but well-kept home, not the mansion she was expecting after the endless Rain monologue: Rain drives a Mercedes. Rain went to Paris this summer. The younger Summers’ mantra of the past weeks cycled in her head. Rain, Rain, Rain. Her inner rant was cut short by the unmistakable feeling of her ‘spidey senses’ going into overdrive.
       
"Great, my sister’s a runaway and the place is crawling with vampires," she muttered and began a quick visual sweep of the neighborhood. Nothing.
       
She sucked in an enormous breath and steeled herself for the coming confrontation. "Hi Mr. and Mrs. Rain, sorry to bother you at nine thirty, but there are vampires in your yard and my sister’s a…"
       
Her voice caught in her throat as every hair on her body seemed to stand on end at once, but this was different than the normal vampire alert. Something powerful was nearby, something familiar. It felt as if the air was charged, like lightning was about to strike. She had only felt this way around…
       
"Faith!" she called angrily at the stand of her trees to her right. All of this Dawn drama had brought her to the end of what was becoming a very short rope. Her temper was about to flare white hot.
       
After a few long moments the Dark Slayer emerged, arms crossed clad in her usual black leather pants and boots. A tight black top under a dark leather jacket made the image complete. Great! Dark Slayer meet Twinkie Slayer dressed in her ready-to-meet-the-parents yuppie wear. Buffy sighed. Round two and she was already at a disadvantage.
       
"Took you long enough B, thought you were getting deaf in your old age." Faith smirked as she assessed Buffy’s ensemble. "So how’s the whole Meg Ryan look working out for you?"
       
The blonde Slayer took another long, deep cleansing breath and tried to suppress the rage that threatened to overwhelm her at the mere sight of the other Slayer.
       
"You know, I was so looking for an ass to kick tonight," she began, shedding the silk jacket as she took a step toward Faith, "might as well be yours." She took a swing and missed by a millimeter as the other Slayer ducked in surprise. "Besides, I owe you one," Buffy muttered as she circled her prey. "Or two, or three…"
       
"Whoa!" Faith’s face had changed from her usual arrogant smirk to a look of desperate confusion. "Look, B," she held her hands up in front of her body, palms forward. "Believe it or not I didn’t come here to fight."
       
Buffy continued to circle Faith, but the Dark Slayer still refused to engage her standing flat-footed with her hands up. Fight me you psycho! "Um, how about…not!" Buffy challenged.
       
"Didn’t Angel tell you –"
       
"Oh, that’s right, you two are buddies now. Guess you finally won that one," Buffy spat the words at the younger Slayer and swung catching her with a straight right. Faith’s fell to her knees in Rain’s perfectly manicured yard and the blonde Slayer quickly prepared herself for a counter-attack, but it didn’t come. Faith stayed kneeling on the ground, her head ducked in submission.
       
"Don’t exactly remember winning anything except a prison sentence," she heard the Dark Slayer mutter.
       
"So you’re just here to help," Buffy growled, her words dripping with sarcasm.
       
"Yeah. Angel told me that things were about to get ugly for you and that I had to do something about it. Cordy and her fucking visions or whatever."
       
"So what did he tell you?" she challenged.
       
"That you were in danger and something about that box…it’s not cool," the dark slayer continued still looking straight ahead. Buffy remembered a Psych paper with sudden clarity. Something about prison inmates unable to look people in the eye after their release. That juxtaposed with a film about wolves and their complicated non-verbal language. Because we’re all still animals and a direct stare is a direct threat in that other language that most of us have forgotten.
       
"I just can’t believe they let you out. You’re a murderer."
       
Faith’s head snapped up to face her and Buffy felt a smug satisfaction. Finally. Maybe now they could fight. Maybe they could finish this once and for all. But all of the fight left her body when she saw the deep pain in Faith’s eyes. And the blood. Her lip was torn and bloody from the blonde Slayer’s punch and her arms hung limp at her sides.
       
"Neither can I," she said hoarsely and then cleared her throat. "Look, just give me the box, B. Let me do the right thing for once."
       
Buffy felt something break inside her at the sound of the other Slayer’s voice. She hadn’t even dared to hope for a moment like this. She had buried any idea of it so far down that it now surprised her how much hope she had. But it wasn’t possible. This was another game. Faith was playing them all again. Angel. Cordy. Everyone.
       
"You! Do the right thing! How many chances am I supposed to give you?" Buffy found herself yelling at the top of her voice. And worse, she was now standing over the kneeling Slayer threatening her with her fists. She felt separated from herself, but the other Slayer had always done this to her. Brought out the demon in her. "You don’t know how to do the right thing Faith. You never—"
       
"B, it’s you and Red who start the apocalypse in Cordy’s vision. Not me." she said it calmly. Her voice even and soft.
       
"Buffy?" It was Dawn’s voice behind her. "What are you doing out here? Are you insane?"
       
Buffy swung in one quick movement to confront her sister. "What are you doing here Dawn? I told you –"
       
"Faith?" Dawn interrupted her sister and bounded down the stairs toward the Dark Slayer. Buffy paused for a moment, they know each other? Of course they know each other. The monks, she reminded herself. She realized with a start that she was staring at a very nervous, very pretty girl who was standing in the bright light on the porch.
        "Um, hi, I’m Buffy. You must be Rain," she managed and the girl gave her a small nervous wave. Way to make an entrance Buffy, she chastised herself again. The sound of her sister’s ecstatic squeals finally made her turn to the Dark Slayer who was now swinging her sister in a high arc.
        When she finally touched ground again Dawn stood laughing and admiring the younger Slayer. "When did you get out…" Dawn glanced back at the porch nervously. "…of school?"
       
Faith smiled and rolled her eyes and Buffy could have sworn she saw tears. "I, um, graduated in June," she smiled and then regained a little of her characteristic bravado. "And you’re looking hot Half Pint. When did you grow up?"
       
Dawn blushed and ducked her head and Buffy felt the monks’ implanted memories wash over her filling in the gaps. Images of Dawn following the Dark Slayer around all moony-eyed. Her sister had idolized Faith from the moment she had set eyes on her. And Faith had always given the girl her undivided attention even sneaking Dawn out on a patrol with her when her sister was only eleven. "What? The girl needs to know how to defend herself," was the only defense Faith had offered at the time. And at some point Dawn’s idolization had blossomed into a full-blown crush and Faith teased her lightly whenever she got the chance.
       
Buffy found herself smiling at the memories. Even if they aren’t real, she thought sadly, they are accurate. Look at the two of them. It’s disgusting. Faith did everything she could to hurt me and Dawn thinks she’s the coolest thing since sliced cheese or whatever.
       
Once again, she felt the anger rising up in her throat. It wasn’t fair. Dawn hated her and loved this evil…
       
"I’m as tall as you now so maybe I can finally borrow your leather pants?" Dawn flirted playfully.
       
"Sure if you don’t mind that I wear them commando –" the Dark Slayer began with an amused smirk only to be cut off abruptly.
       
"Ew!" Dawn squealed and pushed the Dark Slayer’s shoulder turning Faith directly into the light from the porch. Her sister’s smile disappeared immediately. "Faith, what…?" she whirled on Buffy in a rage, "What did you do to her?"
       
Before Buffy could answer Faith intervened. "Hey, down, Half Pint. It was a v- ..." Faith glanced at Rain on the porch and managed a pathetic "…v-very big mugger." She wiped at the blood with her sleeve and smiled brightly at Dawn. "Besides, you think your sister could do this much damage? Look at her, she’s so thin, she’d break if she hit me this hard."
       
Dawn’s face turned slowly from rage to amused doubt. Buffy knew her sister didn’t believe the story, but with a quick nervous glance at Rain still on the porch, Dawn had decided to let it go. For now.
       
Buffy decided to go on the offensive before her sister could recover. "Dawn, I told you to stay home tonight."
       
Dawn immediately went into righteous angry teenager mode. "I know but Rain wanted to do a whole Matrix fest and you weren’t around…" Buffy put her hand up to stop the inevitable ten minute monologue. "Fine. But you’re grounded for two weeks. And be home at ten tomorrow morning and ready to do dishes."

Dawn groaned, but accepted her punishment. She turned back to Faith." And don’t leave without stopping by this time. Okay?"

Faith managed a pained smile as she exchanged a quick glance with Buffy. They both knew that the last time Faith had ‘failed to say good-bye,’ she had actually taken Joyce hostage in their home and switched bodies with Dawn’s sister." How about Sunday, I’ll come around and hang out if it’s okay with your sister."

"Cool!" she turned to Buffy with her best pleading, puppy-dog face. "Can she Buffy? Please, please, please…" Buffy stared at her little sister and back at Faith narrowing her eyes slightly. Once again, she was the bad guy and Faith was the hero. Well, at least that way she could keep an eye on the rogue Slayer because she knew she couldn’t deny Dawn another person that the teenager had lost. Just her luck that Faith had managed to come back. Not Tara.

"Alright! But dishes…"

Dawn began to dance in place with excitement and Buffy felt her own eyes roll in disgust.

"Yes! Ten o’clock. Dishes and maybe I’ll even vacuum." Dawn ran squealing up the porch. "Oh my god Rain, I can’t believe Faith is back!"

"And Dawn, stay here all night. And don’t invite anyone in…" Buffy yelled after her.

"Yep," her sister responded absently.

"And no wishes!" she finished hotly.

The two teenagers turned to enter the house and she could hear Rain speaking in hushed tones, "so were they, like, together or something before? You know like Willow and Tara…"

Dawn’s response was lost as the door closed leaving the two Slayers alone again in the dark. She knew Faith had heard Rain’s question and waited for the inevitable barbs and innuendo. But there was nothing, just strained silence.

Well congratulations,"she began half-heartedly. "My sister still thinks you hung the sun."

"Um, it’s the moon I think," Faith corrected gently. "Thanks… you know, for not…whatever."

Buffy found herself speechless for the fifth or sixth time that night. First an apology and now thanks. Well, almost thanks.

"Kind of had other things on my mind," she responded testily. "And the last thing Dawn needed after Mom died was to hear that her hero was an…" Buffy trailed off unable to find the nastiness the end of the statement required. Why did it always go this way with Faith? Why couldn’t she control herself, her emotions around this girl?

"Evil bitch?" Faith offered, one eyebrow raising slightly.

"Yeah. That works," Buffy snapped back and then surprised herself by smiling briefly. And there was silence again.

"So, the box…"

"You’re not getting it." Buffy stared down the younger Slayer daring her to challenge her, but Faith just shrugged and looked up at the moon.

"Then you’re not getting rid of me," she said softly and returned her stare to the blonde. Their eyes locked for long moments until Faith finally smiled and looked away.

"Great,"the blonde muttered as she picked up her jacket and began the long walk home. A long walk that meant too much time to think about her actions tonight. She had been right to attack Faith hadn’t she? No matter what the Dark Slayer said, she couldn’t be trusted… and she was stalking her, which was so not cool. I was definitely in the right on that one…right?

Just walk. You have more important things to worry about tonight. Just walk and breathe and forget about her.

Buffy walked and didn’t bother to look back. Faith would follow her like a shadow. Like regret. Some things never changed.


to be continued...






Edited by: lipkandy at: 10/22/02 7:12:53 pm


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 Post subject: Re: part II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 4:31 am 
Excellent start! Your handling of all the characters is g reat. I really like what you've done with Faith in this part, especially her relationship with Dawn.




--

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



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 Post subject: Re: part II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 10:26 am 
Buffy deciding on whether to trust Willow or not. I'm glad she took the sensible option and included Willow!



The dynamic of the Dawn / Faith friendship is interesting, as is Buffy's jealousy over Dawn's heroworship of Faith.



Looking forward to finding out more about this wooden box and Cordelia's vision.



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 Post subject: Re: part II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 12:19 pm 
cool! The Faith & Dawn friendship is really interesting.

Can't wait for more!

"I got so lost"

"I found you, i will always find you"



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 Post subject: Re: part II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 1:38 pm 
:hmm Faith coming back to help Buffy?

Dawn and Faith being friends, cute. Looking forward to more

BV

"In front of total strangers won't you kiss me, Flowers for no reason but you miss me - OOH, I wanna be in love"

Melissa Etheridge-Skin



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 Post subject: Re: part II
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 5:31 pm 
*wipes brow* Phew, it wasn't the end. Don't worry me like that! :p



I think the Dawn/Faith friendship is quite realistic because, for one, Dawn always goes for things that she knows her sister will hate. Consciously or not. I'm glad Faith is back, she's a really interesting character.



I feel really sorry for Willow though. It's not fair that Buffy's not able to trust her. She's already had so much taken from her, her best friend would just be the icing. Luckily, Buffy seems to be becoming more relaxed around her now.



Can't wait for the next update. It'll be soon right?



Caz

Tara: I got so lost
Willow: I found you... I will always find you





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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 6:44 pm 
I like how Buffy does not know think about the problems she has to deal with. Willow does not know what people think of her.

Tara: Assume Crash

Positions



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 7:28 pm 
So Dawn doesn't know what Faith did... wonder how long that will last, heh. Dawn doesn't want anyone to keep childish secrets around her ? Fine with me, welcome to the real world. I am soooo gonna enjoy that, yes I'm evil I know.



Why ever did Buffy invite Faith to come over ? All Faith wants is that box, just keep it close and don't let Faith near it. Keeping an eye on Faith is pointless, as for the "then you're not getting rid of me" comment, well I have SOME ideas to fix that..... The nerve to just intrude on the same people she treated so badly just like that, sheesh.



Oh yeah, better tell Willow way in advance that Faith (you know; 'the slayer that held you hostage and put a knife to your throat') is coming over for dinner. If I were Willow I would skip that dinner.



For once I agree with Buffy on something; there is just no reason to trust Faith. Heck, if she has such troubles trusting Willow again, Faith will take forever. (1x man-slaughter and 1x murder makes only four years in prison? shame).



I liked Faith, even after she accidently killed Allen. Started to dislike her when she wanted to blame it on Buffy. Hated her when she threathend Willow. (never liked Angel so I didn't care to much for that poison thing, sorry). The attempt to slightly redeem her in Season4 didn't work much for me, I don't see those two events related much.



I just see no reason to forgive Faith, four years in prison surely ain't gonna buy that. I'll allow her to live, just have her do that somewhere else.



Good, someone I can actively hate in this fic... makes for good reading :D



Lets at least figure out what that box does first, preferably destory it afterwards. I noted that Faith never mentioned what she wanted to do with the box either. No matter how much I dislike Buffy I would still trust her with such a device several times more then Faith. (who has been shown to switch sides a lot)



All done now..



Grimmy

"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 8:17 pm 
okay, I'm gonna respond to everyone's feedback (it's all incredible) but I just had to say something about Faith. First, I'm glad the fic got such an emotional response. Yes, I knew bringing Faith back was risky, but I just had to do it. For me, she was really the first victim of ME's lesbian cliche: butch lesbian (I mean, come on ms. dushku is pretty large with the butch) can't have the girl she wants (buffy -- we all know bad girls was Faith's valentine to Buffy) so she goes psycho/evil and tries to kill the object of her 'unnatural' lust (cause that's what us lesbians do when we can't get the girl) and all her friends. not to mention bringing on the inevitable catfight that all the boys at the network love.

and what made it such a betrayal by ME was that they had so many opportunities to turn Faith into a truly three-dimensional character -- flawed, but heroic (like buffy -- or unlike buffy). hmmm, ME underdeveloping a compelling and very popular character who happens to fall into the non-hetero camp...sound familiar?

phew! okay, my little rant is done. thanks for giving me the opportunity grim...

that's not to say that Faith is all fluffy and sweet this time around. just that I'd like to see her get a chance to be more than a two-dimensional foil for 'good slayer' buffy.



xomelissa

Edited by: lipkandy at: 10/23/02 2:38:21 pm


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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 11:39 pm 
I am loving this idea...The two pronged attack, hehe. I will be avidly reading both tracks.



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 1:50 am 
Hmm... I'm not sure if you/me want to discuss Faith being good or bad here. Lots was posted on that years ago on newsgroups and it's currently discussed as Faith will return end of season7. For the record; I don't like her and don't feel sorry for her. My views are likely to be biased :) .



I have never seen ANY episode from the serie _Angel_ and Faith is in some of those as well I think. Doing evil things and being talked into giving herself up by Angel. Thats as far as I know anyway. My opinion of Faith is purely based on BtvS as on TV and assuming Faith went to prison at/after the end of WYA. I personally don't see why I should have to watch two series to keep up with one charachter :) .



Ok, now how to put this nicely...



[nice]

I really don't see ANY cliche involving Faith at all. I wouldn't recommend throwing terms like 'lesbian cliche' around at things you don't like (not talking about W/T S6 here). Feel free to do it anyway, but I feel it detracts from your other arguments and makes for an easy target. Avoiding LC yes/no discussion here, feel free to email.

[/nice]



Faith wasn't developed much as she was only in season 3. As such it is hard to say that Faith turning evil is out of charachter at all. Faith slept with Xander we know that much (made poor Willow cry, capital offense right there), in my anaytical mind that rules out her being a lesbian in that season. My opinion is that Faith pretty much likes/liked all things sex-wise or at least tended to *tell* everyone she did. She valued her (bad-ass) image a lot. Which is a problem in itself 'cos it makes it hard to really see Faith as a person since she hides so damned much of herself. Gives a writer lotsa things to play with though.



I do blame bad handling by Buffy and Giles on Faith turning away from them. I don't blame Faith much for killing the deputy-mayor but faaaar more for killing (as in 1st degree murder) that docter at the museum. Her only motive for that was to make the mayor happy. That pretty much made her evil, as was probably intended. (avoiding other off-topic theory here)



I'm always amazed at how easily Faith is forgiven in some fan-fics. Could be me, but I just don't see that happen. To be perfectly honest I mostly hate Faith 'cos she treated Willow badly :) . The museum-docter happens to be perfect evidence of Faith being evil, but not my primairy concern.



Now what if Faith had been around from season 1 onwards. That would have made it much better story wise. (my opinion anyway). I have read several stories in which I did like Faith, but that was mostly because I just ignored her history while reading the fic :) . You're heading directly for it however, assume crash positions.



Anyway, having not-likable people in a fic is somewhat needed I think, makes it interesting. I'll be back to see what happens to Faith for sure, heh. If you want to discuss Faith somewhere else (this is a W/T board after all) feel free to tell/mail me. There is this new chat thread on Pens :D . Don't want to pollute the story thread to much with off-topic stuff (unless the writer makes it on-topic, heh).



Isn't this amazing, less chapters in this s7 fic yet I've posted more feedback then in the s4 thread. Shamefull :D .



Grimmy (who still wants to have the original season4 scripts/arcs)

"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 2:13 am 


see Grimlock, this is why I don't (usually) post and certainly not in threads that debate highly emotional issues. because I can never get my point across effectively. I did not mean to compare Faith to Tara in any way, shape or form. Just pointing out a pattern of behavior at ME and the networks in general.



[very nice]

so how about this?

end of Faith discussion?

[/very nice]



'cause I'm a writer, not a debater, so I'm going to stick to writing... :)













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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 2:48 am 
grr just accidentally deleted my feedback as I tried to post. ..

So I read your other fic and loved it and had to check out this one too. Very different feel but equally compelling and beautifully written. I avoided season 7 fics for a while because I didn't want to read about a reality where Tara was dead and Willow in misery but I'm so glad I read this. And actually the way you conveyed Willow's grief was so moving it felt cathartic since I'm still grieving what was done to both their characters on the show.



It was painful seeing how Willow is also having to deal with the loss of Buffy's trust and how this has affected their friendship, I liked how your Willow has a strength and courage in dealing with it all. Liked her sticking up for Dawn, trying to get Buffy to remember how she was at that age.



Very interesting that Faith is around, I love the character, didn't think she was 2 dimensional, thought she was one of the most complex characters ever on the show (though I can see what you mean lipkandy re M.E's take on the 'lesbian but not lesbian' character). Loved Dawn's crush on Faith and let's face it, if Faith was around why would Dawn ever think about the yellow crayon dork.



Seems like regaining trust might be a theme in this fic- Buffy and Faith, Buffy and Willow, Willow and Faith, maybe Willow and Dawn all need to build up trust between them plus all these characters need to develop trust in themselves after things they have done in the past. Not to mention what the revelation of Cordelia's vision might do to Willow and Buffy's self doubts. So glad that it included Buffy as potentially destroying the world, she can be holier than thou sometimes. And while I don't want to minimise all that Faith has done it's only luck that Buffy isn't also guilty of manslaughter and murder. If Ted had been human he'd be dead and she tried her best and nearly succeeded in killing Faith. anyway rambled on enough so i'll go now. Thanks for a great read.





'' A bit of tongue, Miss Astley dear ? ''




from Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 6:18 am 
lipkandy,



I really liked what you said about faith, and I agree. of course I didn't watch buffy pre-tara, so I haven't actually seen most of the faith ep's, but I know of them, and I do think that ME really missed the mark on leaving her so underdeveloped. I value what you're trying to do with her! (plus...her and buffy...:blush )



more please! soon please!



--jenny

I'm under your spell...lost in ecstasy, spread beneath my willow tree...



"We find magic everywhere" --Dar Williams



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 6:38 am 
Lipkandy--First of all, that was an ingenious move, bringing Dawn and Faith into a pre-existing relationship. That was inspired, and it opens up so much potential for Buffy to see Faith in a different light; the fact that it's Dawn's light (and Dawn is a part of Buffy) makes it that much more fascinating.



As always, I love your deft touches of humor. Why couldn't it be the end of cheese? And Dark Slayer vs. Twinkie Slayer--great image!



I was really touched, too, by the desperation of Willow's efforts to be brought back fully into Buffy's friendship and trust. She knows Buffy doesn't trust her completely yet, and goddess love her, it's painful to watch her envision all the ways she might have messed up, even in her sleep.



Thanks for the great fic.

Mary



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 Post subject: Re: NEW FIC -- TEMPUS FUGIT (S7)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 7:08 am 
A most excellent fic so far!



You've captured Willow's detachment from everything so well. It's almost how I pictured it would be at the start of this season. And of cousre, the sadness and emptiness of Tara being gone.



I too enjoy the relationship of Faith and Dawn. I've watched Buffy from the start and she has always been one of my favorite re-occuring characters. (I look forward to her return this year.) She always has had a lot of possibilities both on the show and in fan fiction.



looking forward to the next installment-

hermitstull

"...and if you've got no other choice, you know you can follow my voice, through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town..."--Hedwig and the Angry Inch



"Stinky herbs are a go." Cordelia in Becoming pt. 2



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 Post subject: Part III
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2002 10:08 pm 
sorry for the delay. had a minor migraine event so...no looking at the computer screen for me for a while.
anyway, um, feedback...

hotfoot happy to have you along for the ride both rides...

grimlock glad we can agree to disagree misscalendar thanks, I needed that. as for the trust issue, it's a biggie. I don't usually deconstruct as I write, just write a REALLY vague outline and kind of go with it and see what develops, but it's such an interesting connection Buffy/Willow, Buffy/Faith not to mention Dawn's issues. Both Willow and Buffy tried to kill her last season. so, um, yeah...am I making any sense?

jewwitch yes, Faith is back...with a vengeance

antigone as usual Mary your feeback is so inspired... and inspiring. and my deft touches of humor? Your [/img]hermitstull apparently I[/img]so on with the fic

Part III


Willow smiled again at the laptop screen. Even though she had spent the past two hours searching in vain for anything about the object in the box, she still felt somehow victorious. She was useful again. She was a Scooby. Even if it was a bit strange that the Slayer had suddenly decided to trust her with something this dangerous. Not gonna dwell on that. Moving forward…
       
But there was still the box, or more importantly, its contents. It had taken her over ten minutes to get the nerve up to open it only to find that it didn’t contain a boobytrap or a doomsday device that began counting down as soon as the top was lifted. Inside was an innocuous-looking, beautifully crafted metal object resting in black velvet. A series of small stars was etched into its otherwise seamless surface, but their arrangement seemed random. Not a constellation, or at least not one I recognize, which brought Willow’s thoughts back to Tara and her universe of unique constellations. Well, if you close one eye it could be the Big Pineapple, she smiled wistfully and then shook her head as her eyes began to tear up. There was something compelling about those stars, something familiar and sad…
       
Okay, not gonna go there right now.
Forward Rosenburg …or diagonal maybe.

When she finished the minor tweaks to the search bot she fired off an email to Giles about their situation and was surprised to receive an autoresponder reporting that the Watcher was ‘out of the office’ until the end of the month. An autoresponder? From Giles? It was inconceivable from a man who took such pride in despising all things digital. It had taken Willow nearly two hours to show him how to simply open the email client. Another three to teach him to send and retrieve mail.
       
"Giles, you sneaky…." What would make the Watcher go AWOL now when he knew she needed him? A rueful smile played across her lips. Because she needed him. And so did Buffy. The Slayer would undoubtedly try to contact the Watcher for a second opinion on the situation. An opinion other than Willow’s. And the Watcher was forcing their hand. Forcing them to work together again. Or maybe he’s got a hot date, she thought with a chuckle. I hope you have a hot date Giles, ‘cause someone in the Scoobies definitely should be getting some…
       
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door slamming downstairs and then the unmistakable sound of the Slayer’s angry footfalls on the stairs. Great, now what have I done?
       
Willow hit the key to launch her customized search bot and turned to face whatever fury the Slayer had in store for her, but Buffy stopped short at the door to Willow’s room like a Vampire without an invitation. The blonde’s forehead was deeply etched in angry lines. Willow took a deep breath waiting for the inevitable accusations and recriminations, but again, there was only silence.
       
"Buff? Are you okay?" The Slayer nodded once and gestured toward the wooden box.
       
"Find anything?"
       
Willow shook her head, her worry growing by the second. In her vast experience, a quiet Slayer was a dangerous Slayer. It was a warning sign: Hurricane Buffy ahead. "Um, no, not yet." She typed in a few more commands and turned back to the Slayer. "Did you find Dawn?"
       
"Uh huh." The Slayer nodded and then dropped back into her brooding, folding her arms tightly around herself.
       
Willow frowned at a new security feature in the Council’s access codes and looked back to Buffy. She wanted to laugh and share the Council’s pathetic attempts at security with her best friend, but knew she would draw at best a blank stare. So she opted for a loud, meaningful sigh instead. "Is this twenty questions? ‘Cause if it is that’s cool, but it would probably take less time…"
       
"Dawn was at Rain’s house-"
       
"Rain? As in forty percent chance of?" Willow couldn’t mask her amusement.
       
"Yeah, I know – Willow tree…" the Slayer almost smiled again, but immediately dropped into a terrifying frown.
       
"So I take it something happened?" the redhead prodded her friend gently. "Something besides your usual Summers sisters argument?"
       
The muscles in Buffy’s jaw clenched immediately and Willow knew she was in dangerous territory. One misstep and the fury the Slayer was suppressing would be misdirected -- in her direction.
       
"Uh-huh."
       
And then she knew without any doubt the only thing that could put Buffy in such a state without actually hurting anyone. Well, except Spike.
       
"Faith." Willow whispered the word as if the Dark Slayer’s name could somehow conjure her into the room. Felt the hissing of its soft sounds slip between them like a knife.
       
"Uh-huh."
       
"Did she hurt Dawn?" Willow asked and suddenly remembered the Dark Slayer’s affectionate relationship with the younger Summers. Dawn was the only person in Buffy’s world Faith hadn’t attacked. Why would she try to hurt her now?

"No. No hurting. She’d never hurt Dawn….she just…" Buffy let out an angry laugh and frowned. "She said she wants to help! Do you believe that?" And suddenly, they were too close to Willow’s own situation. Her own desperation and need. To be believed. To be forgiven. How ironic that she and Faith finally had something in common. Buffy, thankfully, didn’t seem to see the parallel.
       
"Do you?" Willow asked without thinking. "Believe that?"
       
Buffy turned on her, mouth open, face pinched in righteous anger and Willow prepared herself for the coming storm. But it didn’t arrive. The Slayer stood above her in a threatening posture, finger pointing at the redhead accusingly, but there was only confusion in her face now.
       
"I don’t know," she mumbled softly and her face tightened again, hands falling useless to her sides. "I mean, I want…’cause even Angel’s all with the forgiveness…but she’s, like, the queen of the double cross and backstabbing…and she took my Mom hostage and Angel with the poison…" The Slayer threw her hands up in the air in angry frustration. "And I…" Buffy’s eyes found Willow’s and looked deeply into them, as if she were searching for answers hidden there. The two women remained that way, Willow forcing herself to meet the pain and fear in her best friend’s hazel gaze. "I just don’t know if I can ever trust her again, you know?" the Slayer finally said softly.
       
Willow swallowed the sob that threatened to erupt into the room, but the tears, she couldn’t hold those back. They streamed down her face as she nodded once almost imperceptibly to let the Slayer know that she understood. That they were no longer talking about Faith. Buffy’s eyes were tearing up as well, her bottom lip quivering as she tried to keep her grief in check. At the sight of the Slayer’s tears Willow felt suddenly detached, studying the strange mix of emotions as if from a distance. It was a trick Ruth had taught her. A way to buy time before acting out her grief and pain with magic.

She noted with sadness the part of herself that wanted to rise up in angry defense of her own actions -- Buffy had stabbed Faith for Angel, why couldn’t she be forgiven for wanting to avenge Tara? -- but the larger part wanted to take her longtime friend in her arms and hold her, finally give Buffy the comfort she had been searching for. She wanted to forgive her friend for not being able to forgive her.

But she couldn’t. Her arms were bound to her sides by fear and grief. She couldn’t touch anyone. Not since Tara…

"I’m sorry B-" Willow began, her voice hoarse with unshed tears, but she was interrupted abruptly by an insistent ‘bing’ from the laptop.
       
Both women looked up simultaneously to find the source of the intrusion.
       
"Um, search bot," Willow explained, wiping clumsily at the tears on her face. She turned with a mixture of regret and relief to the comfort of her laptop and away from the bright pain waiting between herself and Buffy. "It’s probably nothing…" she began expecting another long list of mis-hits, but there it was. It was obvious from the keywords that someone knew what they were talking about. She clicked on the promising link and began to scan the contents of the page rapidly.
       
"So, is it Tiffany? Can we take it on the Antiques Roadshow?" Buffy joked nervously and Willow noted in her peripheral vision that the Slayer was carefully drying her eyes.
       
"Um, it’s demon," she answered absently as she was drawn into the star chart that matched the strange configuration on the object almost exactly. "So, not exactly Antiques Roadshow material. Well, maybe the English version…" which elicited a grateful smile from Buffy. She returned her attention to the page and clicked on a few links. It wasn’t much, but at least they had something. Her eyes returned to the object in the box and she felt the familiar feeling of sadness and longing wash over her again.
       
"Anything interesting?" Buffy prodded gently and Willow shook herself out of her reverie.
       
"Um, yeah. The stars etched into the surface. I thought they were just ornamental, but it looks like they’re a constellation…" she trailed off concentrating again on the text before her.
       
"Like the Big Dipper?"
       
Willow smiled slightly and looked up at the Slayer, "Not exactly. A constellation that’s only visible in a demon dimension."
       
"Oh. So more like the Big Ripper?"
       
Willow nodded, but kept her attention fixed on the page before her. It was fascinating. If this page was accurate, she was reading a legend born in a different dimension. A demon fairy tale. But for all the differences it sounded strangely familiar. She felt Buffy move behind her in the room and deduced quickly that the Slayer was checking out the demon device. It struck her suddenly that she had only been alone in this room since her return. No other living human body had shared this space with Willow since that day four months ago…
       
"Oh Orpheus!" Willow was shocked by her own outburst, but the realization had struck her like a thunderbolt and demanded release. "It’s the Orpheus myth."
       
"Who?"
       
Willow turned to find the Slayer with her hand still in mid-air hovering over the device. "Orpheus. And no, I haven’t gotten up the nerve to actually touch it yet," she answered Buffy’s unspoken question. The Slayer nodded once and removed the metallic object carefully from the box.
       
"So who is this Orifice guy?" she asked casually.
       
"Um, Orpheus." Willow stifled a laugh at the Slayer’s typical malapropism. It was comforting to know that some things never changed. "It’s Greek mythology." When her explanation was met by a blank stare, Willow continued, "Okay, Orpheus was this superstar lyre player in ancient Greece who fell in love. Only, um, she died…his love I mean." The redhead stumbled and took a deep breath, "But he couldn’t live without her, so he went to Hades, played his lyre for the big demon god in charge and Big Demon was so impressed he said that Orpheus could take her back…" Willow’s voice trailed off again. The details of the legend eluded her for a moment, becoming mixed with the distorted details of the demon legend and her own experience.
       
"But there was a catch?" the Slayer’s comment brought Willow back to the room and her explanation.
       
"Um, yeah."
       
"There’s always a catch," Buffy smiled proud of her correct assessment.
       
"The deal was that Orpheus could have his love back, that she could follow him back to the surface, but he had to keep playing and not stop."
       
"That’s all," Buffy asked obviously disappointed.
       
"Well, he also couldn’t look back to make sure she was behind him," the redhead answered, careful to keep any emotion out of her voice.
       
"I take it he looked."
       
"Yep," Willow nodded once and Buffy rolled her eyes in disgust.

"Just before he got to the surface." A strange silence had descended on the room and Willow found herself automatically filling the empty space. Just like Old Willow would, she thought as the words tumbled out of her. "The last thing he saw of her, was her soul being pulled back into hell." She shivered at the image that had haunted her since childhood. For some reason her mother had decided that the myth of Orpheus was suitable bedtime reading for a nine year-old. "Gotta love those Greeks and their flair for gut-wrenching tragedy…"
       
"Oh my God. That’s…" the Slayer began and then trailed off shaking her head.
       
"So sad, I know," Willow finished for her.
       
"No, it’s so stupid!" Somehow Willow had stumbled unwittingly onto the trigger for the Slayer’s pent-up fury. She was expecting the Slayer to draw a parallel between the myth and her own experience sending Angel to hell, but Buffy never did the expected. She was now pacing angrily, clenching the demon device tightly in her palm as she muttered about Xander leaving Anya at the altar and then something indecipherable about Riley.
       
"Um, Buffy…" Willow began, motioning carefully toward the Slayer’s clenched fist. Oh god, we have no idea how this device actually works. Anything could set it off.
       
"I mean, what is wrong with these people? Can’t they just…"
       
"It’s just a myth," Willow interrupted gently hoping to defuse the situation automatically closing her eyes to begin one of Ruth’s meditation techniques gently extending the circle of calm to include her friend. "And the device…"
       
"Yeah, I know it’s just…" Buffy paused and removed the demon device from her iron grip. "Well, at least we know it doesn’t crush easily," she offered with a smile releasing her anger with a shrug.
       
Willow blinked slowly and allowed herself one more cleansing breath before focusing once more on the metallic object that Buffy now held between her thumb and forefinger. "That could be a good thing…or a bad thing if we actually want to destroy this demon-end-of-the-world machine."
       
The Slayer studied the object carefully as she mumbled absently to her friend, "Are you sure it’s a machine? ‘Cause I’m not seeing any screws or seams or anything…"

Willow turned her attention back to the keyboard, quickly modifying a program to break the Council’s weak security precaution. "No. I don’t know what it is. So far the only clue we have is this demon myth and whatever Cordy told you." Buffy again rolled her eyes at the mention of the Seer.
       
"It doesn’t sound like much of a demon myth to me. I mean, what kind of demon plays a liar and gets all mushy over love and…"
       
"I said it sounded like Orpheus. The demon version was some kind of warrior-cannibal whose love slave gets killed so he goes and defeats all of the underworld god’s gladiators to get her back and…" Willow trailed off as the look on Buffy’s face turned to one of focused concentration. "Did you find something?"
       
"Yeah," the Slayer mumbled absently and then scraped at something with her fingernail. Willow cringed visibly trying to hide her growing panic and disapproval. Delicate was never a word used to describe the Slayer and delicacy was definitely an asset when dealing with an apocalyptic demon device.
       
"There’s something written here…" Buffy squinted and held the device closer to her face.
       
"Wait! I’ll get a magnifying glass," she crossed the room quickly to search through her nightstand. The soft sounds of the Slayer’s muttering were barely audible over the noise of her desperate search for a glass. "Um, and you might not want to hold it that close to your…"
       
"Oh! What does Tempus Fugit…?"
       
"No!" Willow practically leapt across the room to cover her best friend’s mouth with her hand, but it was too late. The spell was cast. "Oh God Buffy…" As the energy coalesced around them she felt herself involuntarily reaching down into her own power to protect them or worse, to strike out against the magical charge. As the power poured out of her she felt it circling with the energy of the device in a terrifying feedback loop. Okay, this definitely has the potential to become an apocalyptic event, she had to give Cordy that much.
       
"Wha-" The Slayer’s words were lost in the energy cyclone of the spell as it spun around then, distorting timespace and drawing them into a smaller and smaller space. Willow was rapidly losing her internal battle for control and the Slayer’s panicked gaze locked with her own only made the pull stronger. Everything in her was screaming that she needed to protect them, to save Buffy. That no one else she loved could be lost. And the dark magic moved in deepening waves through her system like nausea. Like pain and grief. The riptide of magic and power pulling her farther and farther from the shore of herself until…
       
With sudden clarity her eyes found a small photo of Tara visible on the shelf behind Buffy’s head. It was the only photo of the blonde she allowed herself. Willow had taken it at that first birthday of Tara’s at the Bronze. The first birthday they had shared. Her blonde hair was tousled from a stolen moment with Willow in the bathroom. Her lips were red and swollen from kissing, but it was the smile in her eyes that mattered. That lopsided smile that was only for Willow. A smile of promise and love.
       
Tara.
       
The world spun around her, but the pull receded until there was just the two of them. Tara soothing her with gentle fingers of calm weaving through red hair, through the everything of them.
       
Tara…
       
And then the light and the heat…and nothing.
       
****
       
"Willow!"       
       
The room was too bright, migraine-bright. She raised a heavy hand to shield her eyes from the glare.
       
"Wha?"
       
"Willow what did you do?" Blinking her eyes against terrible white, Willow tried to focus on the source of the sound. Buffy. A very angry Buffy. What did I do?
       
"Buffy?" she croaked and opened her eyes slightly, still struggling to orient herself. Everything seemed slightly…off. She couldn’t seem to find her balance in the blinding room. Thankfully she was sitting on something soft. The bed? But the room shouldn’t be bright, it was dark outside.
       
And then she remembered. The device, the demon myth and Buffy speaking something in Latin. And then the Dark Magic.
       
Tempus Fugit.
        Don’t say it. Don’t say it out loud.
        Time flies…

"What did you do Willow?" The Slayer’s voice was rising in pitch moving rapidly toward angry hysteria.
       
"What…I didn’t do anything." Willow mumbled and opened her eyes a little further.
       
"I saw your eyes! They went all black and then…and then we were here!"
       
Oh god, where are we? Some demon dimension?
       
Willow opened her eyes through a stabbing headache of white to find that they were in their dorm room on campus. She looked around in disbelief at the twin beds, their stuffed animals and the Chocolate poster on the back of their door.
       
Okay, this is strange. Our dorm room? Doesn’t seem too demon-y yet…
       
Her mind began to cycle rapidly through the possibilities: demon device so I’m thinking either alternate reality where Buffy and I still live in the dorms or…this is some kind of joint hallucination…
       
"Undo it!"
       
"What?" Willow looked up to find the Slayer staring down at her with hands on hips. Everything about her posture was threatening.
       
"You did this Willow," the Slayer gestured at the familiar objects in the room, her voice rapidly dropping into a growl, "so make with the undoing. Now."
       
Willow took a long breath and tried to center herself.
       
"I didn’t do it Buffy…" she began calmly only to be interrupted by a desperate Slayer.
       
"I saw your eyes…"
       
And that was it. She had tried for so long to win her best friend’s trust. To earn it through her actions, not with explanations and promises, but this was too much.
       
"You did it Buffy! You! Not me!" Willow yelled and then put her hand over her eyes again to shield them from the light and her own blinding rage. Buffy still stood above her and Willow sighed deeply, "It was the device. The demon device. Remember?" Buffy’s expression was still angry, but her head tilted slightly to the left.
       
"How…"
       
"The engraving on the back," Willow got up and walked past her friend to the mini-frig. She pulled out a water, pressed its cool surface to her forehead and turned back to Buffy. "When you said the words out loud it must have activated it."
       
"Temp-"
       
"Don’t!" Willow’s eyes flew open and she noticed that the muscles in Buffy’s jaw were knotted with pent-up fury. Well, at least if she beats me to death I won’t have to deal with this migraine. Careful to keep her voice calm and low she approached the Slayer, "I wouldn’t say it again. We don’t know what it’ll do."
       
"So if that’s true then what was with all the black?" Buffy challenged suspiciously, but Willow noted with relief that the Slayer’s shoulders were relaxed slightly. The threat had passed. Almost.
       
"I tried to stop it," she replied in a matter-of-fact tone. "The spell," she added as an afterthought and then began to study her surroundings. She couldn’t remember exactly what was in their dorm room, but this definitely felt right. The anonymous stuffed animals on her bed, Mr. Gordo on Buffy’s. And Buffy’s outfit was so…freshman year. The incessant whine of a Britney Spears song was audible from next door. She looked down to find that she was dressed in a long blue skirt she’d thrown out a year ago and a favorite t-shirt that she hadn’t been able to throw it out even though it was so worn as to be unwearable. Because I wore this shirt the first time Tara and I kissed…
       
She looked down again at the bright colors of her t-shirt.
       
And it looks brand new.
       
"Oh God," Willow looked around the room wildly, searching for something to confirm her suspicions.
       
"What is it?" Buffy’s voice was tight with concern. "Wil what’s going on? Where are we? I mean, okay, I know we’re in our dorm…" All of the anger was gone from her friend’s body and voice replaced now by fear.
       
"I don’t…" Willow began and then scanned her friend’s clothing before letting her eyes rest on the calendar above The Slayer’s bed. She couldn’t see the date, but she didn’t have to, looking instead to the black bulky watch on her wrist. "I’m thinking maybe it’s when we are that matters."
       
to be continued...




Edited by: lipkandy at: 10/25/02 6:09:39 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Part III
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2002 11:40 pm 
Poor Willow so convinced when she heard the angry sounding Slayerfeet on the stairs that she was the cause. Her drawing comparisons of herself to Faith. That was wonderfully insightful. I hadn't even considered that parallel.



I can easily picture Sheila telling Greek tragedies to 9 year old Willow.



Buffy's reaction annoyed me. Okay, Willow did start using the dark magic, but she controlled it. Anyway, the transition started from before then. I'm glad Willow got angry with Buffy, it might stop Buffy's sanctimonious attitude.

Adding up the total of a love that's true, multiply life by the power of two
Indigo Girls



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 Post subject: Re: Part III
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2002 11:50 pm 
Going back to the second part, I'm glad you brought Faith back. Certainly your opening chapter established your style and confidence with the narrative and the characters. I'm looking forward to seeing you develop Faith in your fic. She's a hard character to write and so many people don't layer her in the way that Eliza did on the show itself. However, you've managed to bring her in in a way that makes her explosive and causes emotional reactions to her. That's the way she was in Season 3 and, in some ways, in Season 4 too. That's the way, in my opinion, that she should be written. I like it. It works for me.



As for the rest of your story, it's crafted in a way that makes me want to read more. And that in itself is wonderful to see. Thank you so much. :)



You exquisite little tart!" ~ Diana Letharby



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 Post subject: Re: Part III
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2002 12:08 am 
Typical Buffy, she is responsible for this, but all she could say is, that Willow did it and that she was all DMW again... :spin

Very interesting turn of events.

Great update! :)

Snuggle79 :wave

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

"I got so lost"

"I found you, i will always find you"







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 Post subject: Re: Part III
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2002 1:55 am 
:jaw



oh my goddess...this is so intense! I can't even imagine how hard it's going to be on willow when she sees tara in this wonky timeline, and for her, she's seeing her lost love again, and for tara, it'll be...not like that. and willow will know that she can't freak because it's such a delicate time in their relationship (first kiss time!) that she'll worry she might blip their whole relationship out of existence if she does anything differently...but how can she not do anything differently?!



whew. great update. poor will. I'm glad she yelled at buffy-- it was definitely slayer reality-check time.



next update soon? :pray



--jenny

I'm under your spell...lost in ecstasy, spread beneath my willow tree...



"We find magic everywhere" --Dar Williams



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