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

General Chat  || Kitten  || WaV  || Pens  || Mi2  || GMP  || TiE  || FAQ  || Feed - The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe

All times are UTC - 8 hours



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 21 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Tabula for One [COMPLETE]
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:49 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
• Title: Tabula for One
• Author: Rutkowski
• Feedback: Please do.
• Distribution: Archived on AO3
• Spoilers: Everything up to the beginning of Tabula Rasa
• Rating: Teen
• Disclaimer: A repost of my already finished story previously posted on AO3. Some dialogue in the first chapter is taken taken from the beginning of Tabula Rasa but after that it's my own writing.
• Summary: After Tara confront Willow for wiping her memory of their fight, Willow actually realize what she's been doing and decides to stop using magic for a week.

Which ends up with Willow being the only Scooby getting mindwiped by the Tabula Rasa spell.

Oh yeah; she was the only one who actually knew how to end the spell.
• Note: This is the first story I wrote that isn't primarily in Willow's PoV. It's mostly Tara but also some Anya and Xander. Starts out at the beginning of Tabula Rasa but quickly diverges. Eight chapters in total.

Italics indicate journal entries, '.' is thoughts and "." is dialogue.







It was at the impromptu meeting at Xander's apartment that the group had reconvened following last night's ghastly revelations at the Bronze. They were shocked and disgusted to find out they had - by accident or malpractice - dragged Buffy screaming out of heaven when they resurrected her six weeks earlier. The tense silence was finally broken by the most likely suspect as Anya finally began.

"Do you think she walked around on clouds wearing, like, birkenstocks and played a harp? 'Cause those are just not flattering. You know, the clunky sandals, not a harp. I mean, who doesn't look good with a harp?" Willow looked at her in frustration while Tara turned to her cup in embarrassment. Xander just looked at her in confusion. "What? I-I'm just saying what everyone's thinking. Right, baby?"

She turned to Xander who offered his boilerplate grin of appeasement.

"You are attractive and have many good qualities."

Anya looked back at him, hurt, but bit her tongue to hold back the venomous retort that first came to mind. Tara looked up at her and gave her the acknowledgement she expected.

"It's totally not stupid... To wonder what it was like for Buffy. But it could have been any one of a zillion heavenly dimensions. All we know is that it was a good place and she was happy there."

"We took her away from that. We wrecked it for her," Willow whispered guiltily as her gaze remained locked at her tired hands. The hands who had hurt her friend so very much.

"We didn't wreck. We didn't know," Xander tried as he attempted to soothe their broken hearts as best as he could.

It was of no use. "We didn't want to know. We were so selfish. I was so selfish," she admitted while silently continuing her train of thought in her mind. 'Why couldn't I just had left her be and kept things going. We could have made it work eventually, we were getting better and dealing with it all.'

Xander shook his head in frustration. "Maybe we were. I just feel weird feeling bad that my friend's not dead. It's too mind-boggling. So I've decided to simplify the whole thing. Me like Buffy. Buffy's alive, so me glad." He didn't know he wanted to convince the most; Willow and the others or just himself. All he knew that it wasn't working and Willow's small nod was an empty gesture that satisfied nobody.

"Not to be miss psycho pep squad, but we have got to stop obsessing about what we did... And start trying to make things better for Buffy," Tara offered. They had screwed up but they could still help if Buffy let them. They could still try to make it easier for her in some other way.

Anya's spirits rose slightly. "I'm with miss psycho pep squad!"

Xander decided to approach the problem head-on. "We need to spend more time with her, just hang out. Maybe have weekly dinners over here, or a book club... Short books... videos." He'd always been one for solution-based approached. It was the planning for said solutions that he was more lacking in.

Willow looked up at him. "I can fix it. I know a spell-"

"No," Tara interrupted harshly. "No more spells."

"Then what?" Willow was grasping for straws as she felt overruled at every turn. How was she supposed to help if nobody would let her even try? "This isn't something that's gonna be fixed by a video club. I know I messed up, okay, and I wanna fix it."

Tara's frustration was obvious to everyone at the table. They hadn't failed to notice the repeated butting of heads between the two witches in regard to their respective attitudes when it came to magic, spellcasting and the situations that warranted them. "I can't believe that we are talking about this again. You know how powerful magic is, how dangerous. You could hurt someone. You could hurt yourself."

"But I know a spell that will make her forget she was ever in heaven," Willow offered. She knew the spell would work. She had used it before

"God, what is wrong with you?!"

Tara's outburst was a signal that no, things were not going to be solved that evening. It would get a lot worse before it got any better. Xander stood up and moved towards the bedroom.

"I'm gonna go get that phone you probably don't hear it. High-pitched ring. Ears like a dog."

Anya followed him soon after. "I'm gonna help you with that."

As the door closed behind them Tara sighed deeply at her girlfriend. "Do you think I'm stupid? I know you used that spell on me."

Willow had been frozen in place - her mouth gaping open as Tara let loose on her - but now realized the situation she herself had put them in. "Tara, I'm sorry, I..."

"Don't. Just... don't. There's nothing you can say." She shook her head in frustration and still had a hard time believing that Willow would ever do something like that to her.

"Tara, I didn't mean to-"

"To what," she spat out. "Violate my mind like that? How could you, Willow? How could you after what Glory did to me?" Her voice lost its edge and quickly moved from justified anger to despondent sadness.

Willow's brain, usually a wonder of activity that could juggle several complex processes simultaneously while maintaining a regular conversation on expert subjects, suddenly froze with only one train of thought slowly limping through her head. "Violate you? I... I didn't mean anything like that. I-I just wanted us not to fight anymore. I love you."

"If you don't want to fight, you don't fight. You don't use magic to make a fight disappear." Tara suddenly realized with the utmost clarity where this conversation would inevitably end up and felt her heart shatter into a million pieces as it dropped to the bottom of her stomach.

Willow, however, had no idea what was coming. "But I... I just wanted to make things better... better for us."

"But you don't get to decide what is better for us, Will. We're in a relationship. We are supposed to decide together." Tara felt as if she was reading from a script - that she was just regurgitating the words that her heart already knew she had to say to lead them to the now inevitable conclusion.

"Okay. I realize that I-I did it wrong," Willow offered. She now knew she had screwed up beyond recognition. This was worse than anything she had ever done before and she knew it.

"You did it the way you're doing everything. When things get rough, you-you don't even consider the options. You just... You just do a spell. It's not good for you, Willow. And it's not what magic is for."

Willow had heard it before and hadn't listened to it then. "But I... I just wanna help people." She pleaded but knew she was grasping at straws.

"Maybe that's how it started, but... You're helping yourself now, fixing things to your liking." Willow knew Tara was right. During the summer she had been forced to use magic to manage the responsibilities of Buffy's funeral, fostering Dawn, organizing patrols, repairing and reprogramming the Buffybot and helping Tara recover from both physical and mental trauma. "Including me," Tara then sadly added.

"Tara, no!" That was not what she was trying to do. Willow was so afraid of Tara leaving her, she always was. Not that she didn't trust Tara but ever since Buffy died things hadn't been the same between them. Willow was always exhausted and when she had free time it was as if she didn't have the energy for anything anymore - not until she started to use a few spells here and there to get the schedule to work enough that she actually had time and energy to be with her love.

Tara looked down at the table and sighed as she gathered the willpower she required to utter the seven words she had never thought she would have to say to Willow. "I don't think this is gonna work."

"Hey. It is. It... it's working. Tara, please. I... I need you, baby. I... I need you. I-I don't need magic. I-I don't. I... let me prove it to you. Okay? I-I will go a month... Without doing any magic. I-I won't do a single spell. I swear." Willow already knew it was over. She had driven away the only one who could still stand to be around her these days. She had ruined everything. Again.

"Go a week. One week without magic." Tara didn't know why she gave Willow this final hope. She already figured Willow wouldn't be able to manage a week but at least she would know she had given Willow the chance to prove herself. She'd given herself an out with definitive parameters.

"Fine. Fine. That's easy." She would do this. Willow would do this to prove her love and then Tara would see that Willow had nothing else to offer her.

"Go a week, and then we'll see. I don't know, I just... I think we both need some, I don't know, space." Willow felt her blood turn cold. There would be no doubt what was coming for them. "I can't believe I'm saying this," Tara continued while fighting back tears.

Willow had to ask despite already knowing the answer. "Are you saying you're gonna leave me?"

Tara couldn't even summon the strength to look at her. "One week, Willow. One. Week."







It was early morning the next day when Dawn and Tara stood by the end of the stairs and waited impatiently for Willow to join them for today's meeting at the Magic Box. Giles had summoned the Scoobies for some news and expected everyone to show up.

It was the teenager that finally had enough. "Willow, come on. You ready?"

"Not so much," Willow confirmed as she appeared at the top of the stairs newly showered and covered in towels. "You go ahead. Tell Giles to hold up. I'll be there in a sec."

Tara didn't have the patience for this. She just wanted the meeting over with as she knew what would happen. They'd find a new monster and Willow would manage to convince Buffy and Xander that they just had to let her cast a spell to save the day and thereby validating her continued magic use. "Fine," she almost spat out.

Dawn noticed the added venom in the reply but kept her cool demeanor. "Hurry up. You don't wanna miss the lowdown on our latest featured creature."

Willow nodded with a mirthless smile and watched as the two left the Summers Residence. She heard them talking as she moved back up the stairs while the tears kept pushing their way to the forefront.







November 13

I might have been wrong. Willow apparently did understand just how serious I was when I told her yesterday that I'd leave if she couldn't go without using magic for a week.

So she left us first. Left me. Once Dawnie and I had left for the Scooby meeting that Mr. Giles had called she packed up all her stuff and moved out of Buffy's home. She left a note and explained she'd keep her promise and stay clean but that she wouldn't be able to do so surrounded by all the magic paraphernalia and the danger that always appeared at Revello Drive so she's moved back to her parents.

Dawnie and Buffy doesn't know yet. After Giles told us that he's going back to England tomorrow (for good?) none of us were much in the mood to talk. Anya wasn't in a good mood at all once a group of vampires came for Spike's head and made a mess of the Magic Box. He and Buffy disposed of them easily and then went out on patrol but she was really upset by the news from Giles so I don't know how she'll take Willow moving out on top of everything else.

Despite everything I still miss her. I think she'll come back after the week though. She hasn't taken any pictures with her and only took clothes, her laptop and her toiletry when she left. I did find a bag filled with that damned Lethe's Bramble in a drawer so it doesn't seem like she's going to try that crap again so hey at least that's something. Going to see if Anya want to buy them off me. If I never see the plant again it'll still be too soon.

The time apart will do us both some good and even though she hates it at home she'll at least be safe there. Amy the rat doesn't seem to appreciate her absence though - just how much does the poor girl understand from her surroundings? Should we have put a blanket over her during our private time?








November 14

Giles is on a plane back to England for the second time in three months. Nobody saw him off this time as I think we're all pretty mad at him for abandoning not just Buffy but everyone else. Isn't he still a Watcher and if so isn't Buffy his, well, job if nothing else?

As soon as we got the call that he's about to board the plane Dawn finally asked where Willow were hiding and why she didn't show up at the Box yesterday. I gave her the note and explained what had happened since Halloween - she deserved to know why we're taking a break - and she said that it's probably for the best that Willow is out for a while or Dawn would kick her ass for what she had done to me.

I hate that I didn't find feel bad for not defending Willow.

I hate that we've become so broken.

I hate that I fear that we might not be able to fix this. I love her but can't trust her and it hurts so damn much.

Later in the day I heard her tell Buffy that Willow had moved out. Buffy just asked if Dawn knew if Willow had paid this month's rent before she left. I think she's a lot more detached from the world than we had feared but she just refuses to talk about it.








November 18

Okay I'm actually getting kinda worried here. Nobody has seen or heard from Willow(other when I think I got a quick glimpse of her at the campus but she moved out of sight before I could confirm it was her) since she moved out. All we've gotten is an automated letter from the USPS that contained a receipt and confirmation of her change of address to her childhood home.

I fear she has failed at her goal and is cutting us all off so she'll be able to abuse magic without intervention from her friends. Her family.

I think I have lost her for good.








November 20

A week has passed and still nothing from Willow. I've caught another glimpse at her again and this time I know it was her despite the clothes she was wearing. Haven't seen them before but they did resemble some of the stuff I saw in the old pictures she tried to hide when we first moved in together. I also found the Doll's Eye Crystal hidden in the back of a drawer. If nothing else she must come back for that.

I asked Spike to keep an eye out if he is ever around in her area. He answered noncommittally but said he would try to keep me updated if he ever spotted her.

I asked Anya at the Box if Willow's been around but she hasn't seen her since the fight at Xander’s place either. She didn't even know that Willow had moved out and was gonna ask Xander if he knows anything. So yay at least she hasn't been buying supplies but I thought that Xander and Anya had been told already; this might be the longest that Willow had gone without speaking to him since I met her.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Last edited by Rutkowski on Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Chapter 2
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:58 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
It was a quiet afternoon for Tara that sleepy November Friday. Buffy was still asleep despite the time being well past noon and Dawn's school schedule finished for the day so the teen was headed back from school. Tara herself had no classes on Fridays and there was still a couple of hours before she'd go to the Box.

She had promised to help cover the evening hours while Anya visited some bridal shop that she had a scheduled meeting at but until then Tara had decided to relax with a cup of tea in the silent kitchen. Anya and Xander had a really hectic schedule this week with the pre-wedding planning and organizing - especially since Willow had previously promised to help out in that area, a promise she would obviously not be able to keep anymore - and Tara felt that helping them keep the Magic Box up and running was the least she could do to help them out.

This was a time that usually was dedicated to Willowy things. The absence of the subject material in question gave Tara a lot more free time and she had quickly realized she had no idea what to do with all those extra hours. She's all caught up with her courses and their home was as clean as it could ever be. She didn't have to be with Willow to be a person - it's not like she wasn't a full-fledged individual by herself - but if Tara were honest to herself she would have admit that she wanted to meet Willow again.

She hated how she had no idea how Willow was doing. She didn't know if her girlfriend managed to stay clean these ten long days and if so why did she stay away from the entire gang? Why had nobody heard from her? If Tara hadn't seen Willow those two times at the campus she'd be fearing for her safety but she felt reasonably certain that she wasn't in any immediate danger.

What if she failed her magic sobriety? Did that mean she had given up on her relationship with Tara? And would Tara really blame her for that considering the very clear ground rules she had set out before this entire mess began. Could it even be so simple as Willow just giving her space and shedding all power in their relationship until Tara decided to contact her when she was ready for it?

Only the front door opening shook Tara from a spiral of fear, anger and sadness as she repeatedly contemplated the different scenarios that explained Willow's disappearance.

"It's just me Tara. Final class ended ten minutes early so I had no reason to linger around school like a dweeb. Got the mail though but that package I had ordered seems to be running late."

Tara smiled at her in gratitude and reached for the envelope the teen had dumped on the kitchen island. "Thanks Sweetie! Any homework you need help with for the weekend?"

Dawn shrugged before she headed towards the fridge. "Nah, I got it all covered. It's all easy stuff except for Trig but I'll just ask Wi-"

She stopped herself with a frown and withdrew a soda from the bottom shelf. "Sorry, I'm still getting used to the 'her being all not-here' sitch. I'll manage with Trig though as I know that's not exactly your favorite subject and all."

Tara forced a smile. "It's okay Dawnie. I'm still getting used to the new situation myself. This place just feels so... empty without her around."

"So why haven't you called her already? She went away to get better didn't she? If she's doing well then isn't it time for you two to at least try to talk?"

Tara was about to answer when she saw the last envelope in the pile. It wasn't the usual bills or directed ads. The address on the front was hand-written in letters that Tara would've recognized anywhere. He quickly tore it open and unfolded the letter inside.







Hello Tara.

I did it. I managed a full week(and more!) of withdrawals and nightmares and pain but I did it. I went a week without a single spell cast and I upheld my promise to you. I know that it's too little and far too late and I realize that you have no reason to ever trust me again and I don't ever expect you to. But there's no worry! I'm not going to be in a position to betray your trust like that ever again.

Because you were right. I violated your mind and I didn't even realize I did something wrong until you confronted me with my disgusting abuse. I turned that which brought us together into something to hurt you with and nothing I could ever do would or should make it right again.

Problem is that I can't deal with abstaining magic by myself in the long run. I'm not strong enough. This week has been hell and I have no idea how to handle this alone.

Okay I didn't until two hours ago from the time I'm writing this. I then snuck into the Box and took a branch of Lethe's Bramble(and you can tell Anya that I paid for it and the money is under the register, she can keep the change) and after I get back home once I've mailed this to you I'm going to erase my mind of all memories of magic. I can't cast spells if I don't know they exist in the first place now can I?

I realize this means that I'm giving up the chance of us being together again. But then again; both of us know that I threw away my chance for a life with you when I cast that spell on you in the first place. Our relationship has always been grounded in trust, love and magic and I've destroyed the first and have given up the latter. I still love you - Goddess do I love you above everything else in the entire world - but love should not be the reason for you to remain in an abusive relationship.

And that's what I turned us into. I totally abused you and if we got back together there won't be a day where you wouldn't be wondering if I've erased yet another memory of yours; if I've taken away another piece of you. And you know that too. So do the rest of the gang.

For the record I did it that one time. It doesn't make it any better but you deserve to know the truth if nothing else.

And trust me when I say that what I am without magic is not who you would ever want to know. You've only known me for the last two years and never saw the childish trainwreck that was my life up until I turned eighteen.

In case you wonder I did actually understand your demand that day in Xander's apartment. You already knew that without magic I'd be someone you had never known and you'd have no reason to stay with my crap. I'm sorry I put you in this position in the first place and I do not blame you for anything as everything has been my fault.

I mean it's not like it's the first time I hurt other people with my misuse of magic. What I've done to Buffy is completely unforgivable and she's far from the first victim of the Willow Whirlwind. I don't blame any of you all for completely avoiding me since I moved out since really no-one could ever be sure that I wouldn't hurt you. Again.

Tell Buffy I'm sorry for everything and if she ever want to hurt me for what I've done she knows where I live. Tell Giles I'm sorry for what I said when he returned. Tell Xander that I'm sorry for missing his wedding but I can't go to a celebration with constant reminders of what I've lost. Tell Amy I'm sorry for being unable to turn her back. Please take care of her if you could as she's had a rough life. Kiss Dawnie goodbye from me and tell her she was the best foster child I could have ever wanted.

Most of all I'm sorry for all I've done to hurt you. I don't know what's going to replace my memories of magic but I'm almost completely certain it's not going to be anything dangerous. This is my final spell and I'm casting it on myself - nobody else - and I don't think that's violating anything or anyone.

I'm probably wrong again but I hope I'm not. If I am then... Then I don't know what to do because my brain is coming up all spells and I don't want to do that anymore. I'm tired of disappointing you and being a complete failure.

Please keep our friends safe.

I love you and I'm going to miss you.

You're my forever.
Willow








Tara read through the entire letter twice before her legs finally gave out as she stumbled backwards. She ended up on the floor with her back against the kitchen counter as her world crashed and burned around her. Dawn grabbed her shoulders and tried to talk to her but got no response as Tara sat in teary-eyed silence and blankly stared into the opposite wall.

It wasn't until Dawn had read through the letter herself that Tara started her walk back into the land of the coherent. When she finally started to come to her senses she saw a fuming teenager who was muttering some very creative curses to properly describe her state of mind.

"I have to go to her. I have to convince her to undo the spell," Tara mumbled as she shakily rose to her feet.

"No," Dawn interrupted. She wouldn't let Willow do this to Tara or herself. Willow had spiralled into a black hole of despair and Tara were well on her way to join her so it was up to Dawn to organize a plan to steady the ship. "What you have to do is wake up my sister and then call a meeting at the Box. You promised Anya to help out and that's exactly what you're going to do. Call for a meeting that starts in an hour and I'll join you once I've gone to talk to Willow. I'm going to find out just much she has screwed up this time."

Tara knew she wasn't in a rational state of mind and would be of little use in a constructive confrontation with Willow. "But what if she is lost and need me?"

"She is not going to react well if you get there and start shouting at her for using magic again, no matter the cause. I can go there and talk to her and try to convince her that we all love her and for her to not do anything drastic. I'll bring the rest of you up-to-speed once I'm done at her parents' place, okay?"

Tara nodded nervously. "Okay. Yes. That sounds good. I'll wake up Buffy and we'll meet up at the box in an hour. Thank you Dawnie."

The lanky teen shrugged. "Just remember this the next time Buffy says I'm completely useless when it comes to stressful situations and then we're even!"







Dawn had gotten to the Rosenberg house in what she felt was record time. Buffy may have the Slayer speed but Dawn knew that her long legs gave her an advantage most girls her age didn't have. Okay; two advantages but only one that was applicable to her current situation.

The house in front of her was larger than the one they lived in but the empty yard showed signs of the absences that Dawn knew had characterized Willow's entire childhood. The lack of involvement into her life was probably the main reason Willow went back there after her fight with Tara. By going home she knew it could be weeks - possibly even months - before she would see a familiar face again. Dawn hadn't failed to notice that all windows but the ones in the living room were completely dark and it seemed like nobody had been living there for quite some time.

'Well, phooey to that because the Dawnster is going to make everything better again! I'll just remind her of how much I appreciated her and Tara this summer when Buffy was... gone.'

She shook her head to clear the anxiety that always followed that train of thought and rang the doorbell. After a couple of seconds she noticed a quiet shuffling from inside and could have sworn she had heard the cover from the peephole being lifted. She then heard both the deadbolt and the regular lock being turned and the door eventually opened. It revealed a wide-eyed Willow who sported an expression that made it very obvious that she did not expect any visitors.

"H-hi! C-can I help you?"

The woman in front of her looked shaken to her core. She was wearing floods that were obviously a size too small for her and a fluffy top that Dawn barely recognized. She remembered seeing Willow in a similar one that was of a different color but that had been several years ago; back when Buffy still kept her identity as the Slayer a secret from their mom.

"Will! I'm so glad to see you again, I've missed you sooo much!"

Her eyes somehow managed to grow even wider as she shrank back behind the door.

"M-missed me? Do I know y-you?"

Dawn felt her throat constrict as she saw no signs of recognition in Willow's eyes. She was too late.

'Well shit.'







The last hour had been a living hell for Tara. She had explained to Anya the contents of the letter and the ex-demon apologized for not being able to take part in the meeting. Her deposit would be void if she cancelled the scheduled meeting at the bridal shop but promised to call and order Xander to head to the Box posthaste.

Buffy hadn't been friendly to the wakeup call but once she was informed that Willow might be in danger she acquiesced and arrived on schedule. She was followed by Xander less than a minute later and the two of them quietly sat down at the designated Scooby table. He looked very distraught when he arrived and Tara thanked the Gods that it was a slow day for the store as no customers currently perused the inner shelves and counters of the store.

Only moments later the bell rang again and Dawn showed up with an expression that told Tara more than she had ever wished for. The teen shook her head at Tara and moved to the table to take a seat next to her sister just as Spike entered through the basement door.

Xander didn't delay his protest to the latest attendee. "What the hell is Captain Peroxide doing here? I thought this was for Willow's friends and family?"

"I called him here Xander. We need everyone to be on the same page for this," Tara answered.

"Just exactly what is going on Tara? You told me that Willow might be in trouble but that's not exactly a rarity for us these days? Did you go and see her or how did you find out what's going on?"

"No. I did," Dawn answered tentatively and put the letter from Willow on the table. Buffy picked it up and read it out loud for the entire group while Tara moved the sign on the front door to 'closed' and shut the blinds once the last customer had left. Once Buffy finished she exhaled and turned to Tara.

"Do you know if she's gone through with the spell?"

Dawn rolled her eyes at her sister's complete inability to recognize her role in the events. "I just came from her place and it... it's just bad. She didn't recognize me at all. Even after I tried to explain my relationship to her through Buffy she looked extremely confused. She claimed to barely know you either and that you were in different circles at Sunnydale High. Apparently she only had two friends in High School and that was Xander and Jesse. After Jesse mysteriously disappeared she was left alone for the last three years as Xander started to hang with a new group. That apparently consisted of you two, Faith, Cordelia Chase and some musician she only knew as Osbourne."

"Oi, Red even removed the memory of Wolf Boy? That's beyond the drastic. What about her bird?"

"But how? I thought she would just remove her memories of magic? Did she mention anything about vampires and spells and stuff?"

"Yes Buffy that was the first thing she brought up to what was for her a complete and total stranger." Buffy glared daggers at her younger sister who promptly ignored her. "But no she didn't. I did not get the chance to ask but I got the impression that she didn't just lose her memories of magic use but that her mind created a whole new life for her where she has been one of the many townies who just won't recognize the stuff that happen in this city. It seems that she removed herself from the memories that involved magic somehow."

Tara had the clarity of mind to take a seat by the table before she asked the question which she currently dreaded the most. "D-does she know about me, about us?"

Dawn couldn't summon the strength to look at Tara as she answered. "I mentioned your name a couple of times to see if I could get a reaction but... Nothing. I don't think she has any memory of you at all. I'm so sorry Tara."

Xander was fuming. He had lost his best friend and didn't even realize it until it was over. "Why didn't any of you even talk to her before she went and did something so stupid? She's been gone for over a week and nobody had the idea to even pick up the phone?"

Buffy's icy demeanor brook no regret or apologies. "She said she needed to leave so she left. It's not like you even knew about her moving out until yesterday."

"Nobody told me she and Tara had broken up! How was I to know!"

"You could've talked to her," Dawn responded. "Isn't she supposed to be your best friend?"

"I've been busy with Anya and the wedding and we're in a crunch at the site and I didn't even know things were that bad! Tara could have told me before!"

Tara glared daggers at him and was just done with the constant infighting in the group. "I'm so sorry that I didn't immediately call you up to tell you that the woman I love used magic to tamper with my memories and then moved out without telling me. I'll make sure I keep you in the loop the next time my private life get more horrible news so you don't have to engage with your best friend any more than absolutely necessary," Tara spat out from clenched teeth. The four pairs of shocked eyes that stared at her offered no levity to the situation and she soon collapsed into her arms with a silent sob.

"I lost her. I lost her and there's nothing I can do to make it all better again."







November 24

I finally reached Mr. Giles today. I tried calling him yesterday evening but then I remembered the time differences and today he's been out of the office almost the entire day. It didn't seem like he had much to offer in the way of help and I fear the harsh words he had exchanged with Willow last month soured him on any attempt to bring her back into our world. I get the impression he's rather content that she won't be using magic again.

My Willow is gone. She was so afraid of her own power that she basically killed the version of herself that she's been since meeting Buffy. Since meeting me.

It seems like her mind created new memories of being completely without friends since Buffy arrived. The only three people other than Xander she had been close to were Amy, Jesse and her old computer teacher Ms. Calendar. Jesse was turned and dusted when Buffy moved to Sunnydale, Amy is now a rat and Ms. Calendar was murdered by a psycho vampire.

In Willow's memories Jesse had run away and never came back while Amy did the same in senior year. Ms. Calendar had been murdered and found in Mr. Giles' home and Dawn had the impression that Willow have always suspected him for the death. That's gonna be a hurdle to overcome if he ever comes back to town.

Her parents are as distant as ever and some more snooping on Dawn's part revealed that they've not been home for at least two months and will probably still be away on the lecture circuit until after New Year's Eve.

I hate this. I hate how she was too stubborn to realize that I wanted her and not the magic. It's always been her. It's always been Willow.

But now I'm a complete stranger to her. I'm nothing to her now.

Xander and Dawn are already already devising some kind of plan to see if we can help bring her back. Xander called her this morning and convinced her to meet up and get coffee under the guise that he's getting married and want to invite his childhood friend to the wedding.

I mean we're not exactly lying to her.

I don't know how I'll be able to handle seeing her on campus next week. I hate how she didn't even give us a chance to work it out. I hate that I made her think she wasn't able to give me a chance.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Chapter 3
PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 6:56 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Xander had a hard time hiding his nervous ticks as he sat in the Espresso Pump booth while he waited for Willow. He was a few minutes early as he would take no chances with this first meeting and thereby risk losing his best and oldest friend for good. He didn't know what kind of magic Willow had used to completely rewrite her memories but that wasn't really his job in the group.

Tara and Anya(and perhaps Dawn if they were able to hide her activities from an increasingly distant Buffy) knew more on how to find out the details with magic and spells. Buffy(and Spike if they were really desperate) fought the bad guys and Xander was there to make sure everyone else could focus on doing what they were the best at while he handled everything in-between. If that meant getting donuts or fixing a broken chair that's just fine and dandy for him. At least he is helping and he's doing so in a way he's really good at. He knew that nobody could juggle five different specialized pizza orders in their head like he could.

Except this time he was in charge of the big stuff at this stage of the current crisis. Because losing Willow to... To what exactly? Herself? A lack of magic?

If Xander could be completely honest - and he knew that those times weren't as common as he'd like to otherwise pretend - he could see certain advantages of Willow becoming 'normal' again. Becoming just like him, except smarter. They've been growing apart from each other for years now and the magic use only sped up the process. He'd enjoy being able to converse with her more as an equal and not like the pathetic also-ran that so often had defined his role in the group.

But then he remembered that in Willow's memories he had abandoned her like a complete asshole when Jesse was killed. He'd do the one thing they had promised each other as kids to never do and no matter the consequences he absolutely refused to take the blame for something that he was actually completely innocent for.

When Willow arrived she was right on time. She had always been extremely punctual and Xander realized that it should've been a huge and blinking warning sign that something wasn't right the day she moved out of Buffy's house instead of attending Giles' final gathering.

She wouldn't just flake on a meeting like that without due cause but they had all been distracted by Giles leaving them. Again. Then there had been so much of life to deal with and he completely forgot that the last time he had seen Willow was when she was about to be brought to task for using that spell against Tara.

Tara. Oh God how he felt for her pain. He had imagined how he would react if Anya one day started to walk around with no memories of him and their shared love ever existing. He imagined how she would still be there and alive and he would remember everything but she wouldn't remember a single thing about the life they've shared. It was an entirely new and incredibly disconcerting type of nightmare that he knew he'd carry with him for a very long time from this moment on.

At first Anya had only gotten tangentially involved out of a sense of duty to Tara. But when she had returned after the bridal shop meeting and joined the rest of them at the Magic Box she read Willow's letter. After that her motivations and energy dedicated to Willow had changed radically. She was now all-in on the crisis despite the shocked glares of the other Scoobies following the declaration. Her mutual animosity with Willow wasn't exactly a well-kept secret within the group and the two rarely got along well at the best of times.

But then Anya had explained how she knew that if she had lost all of her own memories of her life - 1200 years' worth of memories both good and bad - she would've wanted those around her to do everything they could to bring her back again. She would've expected them to help just like how she'd help them.

Willow had only a fraction of that time but Anya claimed that she knew that Willow would want her memories back no matter the cost. Especially if the new memories lacked the influence of both Xander and Tara.

And Anya herself obviously. It would just be torture for Willow to completely miss out on the entire Anya experience.

Willow sat down across the table with a shy smile and a small decaf in her hands as she examined him with wide eyes. At first Xander thought he had spilled some coffee on his shirt but when he found nothing of the sort he heard her quietly apologize for staring at him. He noticed how she looked down in shame at her hands that now rested on the table and hid her eyes behind her red hair.

He was both entranced and eerily confused by the woman sitting in front of him. Gone was the more grown-up and confident Willow who - while still riddled with almost neurotic anxieties and fears - could face down a ten-foot-tall monster without blinking an eye before incinerating him from the inside. Now he just saw an almost carbon copy of the girl he had known back in High School. Except now she seemed even more shy and withdrawn than she had ever been, even when the Cordys and other students made their life hell almost daily for years.

She wore a plaid red dress with black squares and her arms and legs were covered by white leggings and sleeves that seemed almost Amish in their coverage of her skin. The only immediate difference between the old her and the girl in front of him was the much shorter hair but somehow she still managed to wear it almost as she had six years in the past.

"I'm sorry for staring," she quietly repeated as if he'd go up and leave if she took up too much social space. "I just d-didn't recognize you at first. I mean you were never small but now you're all svelte and buff. I mean it makes sense that you'd grow up like everyone else did but it's still weird to me, you know?"

He offered his most disarming smile and leaned forward conspiratorially.

"Hey it's no big Willster. I barely recognize myself anymore and there's times I wake up and see myself in the mirror in the morning and go all 'hey Anya who's that guy and why is he in our bedroom'!"

Willow smiled and the sight of it broke Xander's heart. He was glad he'd be able to provoke a positive response from her despite everything else but it seemed to him like it almost physically hurt her to smile. Like it wasn't something she did very often.

"G-good. I-I was so glad to hear from you. I missed you after Jesse ran away." She somehow managed to become even more quiet as she continued. "I-I still miss you."

Xander's head was a myriad of conflicting thoughts and emotions. First he felt guilty for abandoning her to a life in solitude so many years ago. Then he almost growled at her as he realized that he never did those things and it was Willow's own twisted head that had created those memories. It was Willow who had cast the spell to flee from a reality where she had been the one who had betrayed Tara.

Then sadness overcame him as he remembered how scared Tara had been when she realized that Willow had felt she had no other choice. Willow knew she couldn't trust that she could handle abstaining magic all by herself and saw herself as a pariah in their group who didn't deserve the help she so desperately needed.

And that's when it hit him. He actually had abandoned her.

Not five years ago, no, but just two weeks ago. He had known that she would have need to talk to him after the fight with Tara instead but he had stayed away from her. He had felt too busy to listen to his oldest friend and didn't even try to seek her out after Willow had up and disappeared following the argument.

"Listen to me Will." She barely lifted her head as her gaze met his own from behind the crimson curtain her hair had formed in front of her eyes. "I'm sorry for abandoning you like I did. It was immature and stupid and my own fears made me forget the promise we made so many years ago and I am so very sorry for failing you like I did. Acting like that has been one of the dumbest mistakes I've ever made and you know how rough that competition is for me."

She dared another shy smile. "I do remember that attempt to be all Evil Knievel Junior and how you tried to jump from your dad's garage with your bike."

He winced with a grin as he remembered how she had helped him into her home and put puppy-patterned band-aids on the dozen or so of the small cuts and scrapes that fortunately were the only injuries he had suffered that day. "And still that's an Einstein-level move compared to being an ass to you like I've been."

She lifted her head slightly and wiped away a tear that was escaping the side of her eye. "Thank you. I never understood why Jesse left us or what I did to make you leave me as well but you have no idea how much it helps to hear you say that. I-I was afraid I had..."

She turned silent as the words drifted away and he continued where she had left off once he was certain she wouldn't finish the sentence. "You had what?"

"That I had chased you away by the stupid crush on you that I had in those days. I mean it's not a thing at all anymore and I'm happy you're getting married but it just felt like I had done something to tip you off and you that felt so disgusted that you couldn't stand to be around me anymore."

Xander realized that he really wanted to punch the version of him that had tormented Willow's memories. If he ever got his hand onto one of those magic dividing rods that had hit him last year he would make sure to get in a extra couple of groin shots before going back to normal. It'd be worth the pain.

"No that's not it, not it at all. I don't know if you've realized but I was pretty dense back then. I still am actually in case you've somehow missed it. It wasn't until Junior year that I realized you used to have a crush on me so that had no bearing at all on my idiocy. Nothing you did was wrong or anything like that. I was just acting like a dumb jerk. Being a dumb jerk."

"Well you DID hang out with Cordelia so her jerkness must've rubbed off on you during those closet makeouts you two had all the time."

"Wait, you knew about those? I thought we were really careful to avoid getting caught."

"Hey Xander," she teased. "Just because nobody ever noticed me in school doesn't mean I didn't notice myself what was going on between my worst enemy and my former best friend. I'm not going to lie to you and say it didn't hurt when you got together with my eternal tormentor but it did seem like you had a good influence on her at the end. I mean by our graduation she was actually rather nice to me. Sometimes. Once or twice."

"Yeah? Well she's living in Los Angeles now working for an old friend of ours and helping the helpless."

"What? She's working at a charity? Are you sure we're talking about the same Cordelia Chase? Tall, brown hair, supermodel body and completely void of any traces of a soul?"

"No charity. It's more of a private investigator outfit that focus on helping the downtrodden, or so they claim. I heard they're doing good stuff from even though her boss is a complete ass."

"Really? Never would've guessed she'd go into anything else than Evil Inc. By the way there's something that always been bugging me; how come you didn't go with Cordelia at the prom? I heard you went with that new girl; Anna Jensen or something like that? One of Cordelia's hangarounds."

"Hah. Yeah that's Anya Jenkins. Or in a couple of months it'll be Anya Harris!"

"That's who you're marrying? Wow you bagged yourself a cute one mister. Err, I-I mean, if one is inclined that w-way," she mumbled and shifted her eyes nervously from side to side.

"Willow? If one happen to be of the inclination that they fancy women while also being of the womany kind I'd be completely supportive of that."

She raised an eyebrow at him.

"I mean that not in a pervy oh-that's-hot way. Okay a little bit of that but mostly in a hey-that's-cool-I-hope-you-find-someone-that-makes-you-happy way. Do you get what I mean despite the foot in my mouth that's currently messing up my words?"

She hesitated as if she was about to reveal something extremely private but ended up just nodding with the shy smile that kept brightening up his day.

"So you and Anya huh? So you've really been together ever since I last saw you at prom? That's a good run and from what you're telling me it only seems to be the start of it."

He grinned at her. "Oh yeah that's the plan. I mean we didn't click immediately and it took a couple of months to actually become a 'thing' but we're living together in a rather fancy apartment now and doing just great. I'm doing good construction work and she's one of the owners of a store called 'the Magic Box' downtown."

"The Magic Box? Isn't that one of those hokey stores that makes money fleecing new age college girls and hippie has-beens trying to revive their golden days?"

"Well yeah sure but not just that! Okay for Anya it's a lot about that as she's pretty deep into the whole making-money thing but they also cater a lot to those really in the know."

"In the know? If you say so, can't ever see myself going all witchcraft and broomsticks though. I'm still all about the computers and tech stuff."

His forced grin hid the pang of longing for the missing friend he had known for the last five years. He already missed the woman who could bend the rules of nature with her mind and who had a literal hellgod on the ropes more than once. A mind that was now so broken she was a pale shadow of her former self.

"So how about you? What have the Willster been doing since then?"

"Oh not much. I graduated, despite that gas leak explosion that killed so many, and then made the really dumb decision to NOT go to Oxford or Harvard or Yale or any school I actually wanted to go to and were accepted to and instead just stayed here at our crappy college. But I now live in a really big house that is probably worth a lot of money with plenty of rooms and-and-and yes you've guessed right I'm still in the same room that you last saw half a decade ago," she sighed. "Not all of us managed to get somewhere and get something done with their lives."

He frowned as he realized that she no longer remembered the reason she had remained in Sunnydale. Since Buffy was never a big part of her memories Willow had also never bravely faced down Faith's bladed threats and never decided to stay and fight evil at the Hellmouth. She had instead just thrown away a brilliant future for... nothing. She now had no friends left. She had no family that actually cared for her and there was really nothing keeping her in the city except for the memories she no longer had.

"But hey! At least I got a single dorm at UCS from the beginning! And sure my psych prof died first semester though so that was a bummer. She was kinda harsh but really good at her job and the TA was always friendly - to me at least. After she died I've had no clue on what I want to do with the poor excuse I call life and have studied buncha useless stuff like history, mythology, english lit and computer science. Okay CompSci is never useless but it doesn't really go well with the rest of my course-load. I really got nothing I can do anything useful in real life but I think I've finally found what I'll do so I decided to moved back home until then. I mean solitude in a dorm is really the same thing as solitude in my own home except a lot more expensive so instead I'm just staying put at home until the end of the school year."

He smirked as he listened to the impassioned babble with a fond familiarity but then he suddenly got a really bad feeling about where the discussion was headed. "Oh? What's happening to you at the end of spring?"

"I'm finally going to do what I should've done in the first place. I'm going to a better school to finally get away from the pathetic wreck that's my life here and start over completely fresh. I'm finally getting out of Sunnydale for good!"






"So she's really leaving Sunnydale," Buffy asked in the apathetic tone that had become all too familiar ever since she came back from the dead. "Just like that she's moving away and she said it's for good?"

"Yeah." Xander nodded with tired eyes. "She's finishing the school year but she's planning to do her senior year somewhere else. Somewhere where she actually has a future. Somewhere not here."

"But she must have something to keep her around even if she's completely forgotten everything about her magic use. Didn't she use to have other friends than us?"

"Red is all alone, pet. All of her chums were the pathetic geeks in this little gang and once the bint lost you people there really was nothing left for her," Spike responded matter-of-factly. "Do none of you remember how bloody lonely she was after wolfboy left her? When both you and the whelp got tired of her constant whining and pining?"

Buffy did remember that time far too well. Willow had put up with her continued venting about Parker for over a month but after Oz cheated on Willow and then left her after 18 months of going steady Buffy had barely lasted a week and a half before she sought out every excuse to avoid the Willow Pity Fest o'99. "But that all ended when she met Tara and-"

"...and she met me through the Wicca group that she joined to possibly expand her magic ability after Mr. Giles refused to give her any training. And then we got to know each other through dates that were organized with magic training being used as an excuse. I mean my first one-on-one meeting with Willow was when we fled from monsters and cast a spell together to survive. I'm not even a face in the crowd to her anymore."

Buffy looked at her with sympathetic eyes. "Have you or Anya found any way to reverse the spell? Any memory retrieval magic we can use?"

Tara shook her head. "No. And even if I found such a spell I wouldn't cast it on her without her expressed consent. I pushed her away after she messed with my memory and I'll be a real bitch if I ever did the same to her after all that."

"But this is different. She removed things from you," Dawn pleaded, "you're just giving her back what she lost."

"We don't actually know that she lost anything she didn't want to lose. She might have aimed for this exact result to ensure she'll never be tempted by magic again," Tara answered gloomily. "I mean wouldn't she had come back to bring back some mementos from our home if she planned to remember us? She had left everything behind that reminded her of the times after her Sophomore year in High School. I've been in her old room at her parents' place and she moved out all the pictures that included you two or Joyce when we relocated to Revello Drive. There might be a picture or two of her with Xander from her early teenage years remaining but nothing else. She also left most of her clothing she had here so all she would find after rewriting her memories were those she wore before I met her."

"I don't believe that. I can't believe that. Even if Willow didn't want to use magic anymore - and I doubt that very much as she's been all about the magic since even before I tried to trick her to make me a demon again - she still wouldn't want to lose everything else," Anya contributed. "If nothing else she wouldn't want to lose all those sweet orgasm memories with Tara!" Xander groaned at the addendum while Spike flashed a huge grin behind his back.

"As crass as Anya might be she's probably right," Buffy added. "Why would she ever willingly resign herself to a life in crippling isolation and solitude? What would make her give up everything she ever loved in life?"

"Guilt." The group turned to Tara with wide eyes. "Willow has always been a walking vessel of self-loathing and anxiety with the constant feeling of inadequacy that's been one of her prime motivators, even since even before I got to know her. Her parents have never given her any praise or support and instead all they've given her is marginally less criticism when she's done well. At school she's always been ridiculed for her mental prowess and that hasn't really been different with you guys."

"Hey I've always been-" Buffy protested before being cut off by Dawn.

"No. You haven't always been. Sure everyone has enjoyed the fruits of Willow's research chops but that has also always been expected of her. We all know she'll get it done so we take it for granted and the times she stumble we give her crap for not being perfect in the field."

"Dawnie's right, Buffy." Tara added with regret. "I still remember that fight you guys had before defeating Adam. Willow was battling government-level encryptions and all you did was give her crap for not immediately solving it on the spot with a laptop that was made for studying and listen to music - maybe edit some photos if she was feeling really bold. And don't get me wrong; I'm not saying I'm innocent here. Willow has been pushing the limits on magic to keep us all safe. For years now she's been encouraged to go further to be the 'Big Gun' we expect her to be and all I've done for the last six months is give her crap for it. Yes; she went way too far by the end but when we've all allowed and encouraged her to push the limits how can we be surprised when she continued to do so on her own?"

"But I never asked her to do that! I've only asked her when it's been completely necessary," Buffy objected.

"Not really Buff," Xander interjected. "You've asked her in the past to use magic for non-emergency stuff, even when we could've done without it. And after she got into those really darky spells and attacked Glory you only gave her grief for not following your orders, not for the dark magic. Then you kept pushing her to use more of the same type of spells every chance you got because we all expected her to deal with it on her own. And Willow always want to help, we all know that, so of course she'll continue to push her limits beyond the breaking point to do what we've asked of her."

"And then she broke," Tara added, "and was left in a position where she either had to give up the only thing that she felt made her useful," Tara held up a hand to prevent any interruptions. "No matter what we might feel about her contributions she still feel like it's only the magic that's of any value to us both as a friend and Scooby. And it's not just for the group, not really. She really thought she had nothing to offer me once she gave up witchcraft for me and that's why she finally left. Remember; she did actually manage the entire week, just as she had promised, but she said she couldn't handle going at it alone anymore. That's the reason she cast that final spell. What else was left for her when she's been made to feel guilty for everything she's excelled at?"

"But she wasn't alone! She didn't even ask for any help and just left when we were all distracted," Buffy added in protest without realizing the irony of her accusations.

"Just what were her last memories of us? I had pretty much told her to give up magic or I'd leave her which to her was the same choice for both alternatives. The last time she saw Buffy you had stormed out of the Bronze after being forced to reveal that we - including Willow - had torn you away from your paradise. Giles has been cold and distant to her ever since he came back from England and their last one-on-one conversation he called her a 'rank arrogant amateur' for resurrecting you which, to be fair, led to her threatening him in a way she immediately regretted but still happened. Xander and Anya have been dodging Willow ever since I put down my ultimatum and that pretty much left Dawn as the only one who hadn't made it very clear that she wasn't interested in talking with her."

Dawn tried to bring out a proud smile but then she remembered the clincher. "And then none of us spoke to her for over a week. She was suffering with withdrawal and guilt and we treated her like the plague."

Tara nodded sadly. "So I think this wasn't an accident at all. I think she did got this result on purpose to punish herself for all the times she felt that she had let us down; both the times it had actually happened but also the times she just claimed responsibility even when it wasn't her burden to carry."

"...fuck," Buffy growled. "So what should we do? I don't want to lose her but it's hard to reach out when she doesn't remember anyone except Xander."

"And me," Anya added with a grin. "Xandy told me she remembered me from the prom!"

"And Anya," Buffy added. "And it's not like she's safe right now. Even if she has the regular Sunnydale Caution and doesn't invite vampires or hang out in dark alleys at night she has made quite the number of enemies over the years by associating with us. With me. She's not really a physical powerhouse and without magic she's kind of-"

"...Useless? That's what you're saying," Dawn added with a venomous tone. "It's no wonder Willow feel like she's a burden to you without the magic propping her up. She's just a useless little girl without any special skills or physical strength, isn't she? I have no idea how she could ever give you the impression she's nothing but dead weight in that situation."

Dawn didn't wait for an answer from her older sister as she stomped up the stairs before slamming her bedroom door closed in frustration and anger. The poignant silence that filled the room in her absence spoke volumes on Dawn's own sense of belonging.

Tara sighed. She knew it'd be up to her to try to mend the fences between the Summers sisters but that would have to wait for now. "I got an idea on what we can do." The four people remaining in the living room all turned to her.

"We keep Willow in the dark about the supernatural world and we won't mention anything from her old memories. Xander will continue to keep contact with her and keep us updated and we gradually start to bring her into our world and she'll at least know that she have people that care for her-"

"Except me," Spike interjected.

"...except Spike," Tara corrected. "That way if she still decides to leave at the end of next semester then she'll made the choice in a more informed manner. We won't remove the spell unless she explicitly ask for it, understood? I won't compromise on that issue and I'll prevent anyone who tries from messing with her mind," she finished her statement by staring into the eyes of each of them them in turn to punctuate her implicit threat.

Tara wasn't exactly known to be the most terrifying of the group - the complete opposite was closer to the truth - but when it came to the well-being of Willow they knew she weren't just making empty promises. Two of them still remembered how she had brutally slain the leader of the Hellion bikers with a battleaxe once he had tried to gut her girl.

"How about Will's safety," Anya queried. "If she's going to be all geeky and no witchy she'll be needing protection or we'll be ending up with her entrails spread over the tri-county area and I think she'd object if we were to drag her to safety kicking and screaming. Maybe a gag so she won't bother the neighbours while we chain her up?"

Buffy bit back the insult and instead offered a temporary solution. "Spike? I know you don't care for her but could you please use some of that lurking-"

"Standing about!"

"-'standing about' talent to keep her safe until we've found a more permanent solution? I'll stock up on better blood here as payment but we're already stretched thin as it is since Giles refuse to help out."

He gazed out of a nearby window and looked like he was contemplating the options with heavy gravitas. "Fine. But you'll need to deliver the blood to my crypt when you patrol. I can't be running through here every time I get an itch to scratch."

"...Fine," she conceded. She knew what he was trying to accomplish and hoped she'd be able to gather enough willpower to not fall for his feeble attempts at charming her back to his bed.

Again.

Okay maybe no more than once or twice but then they'd be done.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One
PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2021 9:22 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:37 am
Posts: 242
Topics: 8
Location: Pacific Northwest
Welcome to the Kitten board! I have seen your work over on AO3 (I go by onebuttoneye there)

Interesting premise on Willow's reaction to the aftermath of the Tabula Rasa events (and those leading up to it). I like Dawn's agency although was a little surprised she would think that Tara would seek out Willow to shout at her, I always think of Dawn as ride-or-die for Tara though. Curious how this will all play out and further exploration of what Willow has re-storied in her mind. .

_________________
You ARE Magic ~ Tara


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:06 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
That's because Tara is at the time of the story not in a very pro-Willow-using-magic mood. Dawn knows how much the first forget spell hurt Tara and about the fight they've had about magic use before. She's very much in a let's-try-not-pushing-each-other-apart mindset at the moment. Since Wrecked didn't happen she was still in the Tillow camp rather than 100% pro-Tara camp that the crash lead her to.

And thanks for the welcome! Following your work there as well, eagerly awaiting the next update of Wilderness. :)

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Chapter 4
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:50 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
November 26

And thus the countdown is now set. The whole gang agreed to go along with my plan and we got until the end of spring to convince Willow to remain in Sunnydale. I'm still not completely sure if that's even the right thing to do.

On one hand she deserves to spread her wings and get the chance to do whatever she want with her life and I feel like a complete ass for even thinking otherwise.

On the other hand from what Xander and Dawnie have told me she's so damn miserable that it's almost physically painful. It's no wonder she wants to leave when she hasn't had a friend - or even casual acquaintance - for almost three years. I mean if she had her memories back and despite that still wanted to leave I'd support her to fully because then she'd be making an informed decision but right now? Right now she's hanging on to the cliff's edge with her very last nail and she doesn't even know there's friends on top of the cliff she can ask for help.

I saw her again at school. She didn't quickly disappear like the first two times and I think it's because she isn't actively avoiding me anymore. No reason for her since she doesn't remember us. It was a good though since I barely recognized her at in the clothes she's now wearing. Gone are the oh-so-hot and form fitting clothes she's taken to in the last year and a half and instead she's now back to her mid-teen style. She is even more withdrawn than I ever was when I first moved to Sunnydale and that's saying something.

Dawn has informed me that Xander invited Willow to meet him at the Box at the end of the week before going to dinner together with Anya. Since Willow have some memories of Anya from school it wouldn't seem too strange for them to meet since she's engaged to a childhood friend of Willow's.

In her memories Buffy also went to the same class as for three years so she at least know who she is and since Dawn is Buffy's sister which also provides an 'in' to establish first contact.

The only one who really has to avoid her is me. Have I mentioned already how much I hate this crap?

I just want her back. We can work it out if she'll just give us a chance.








November 30

I'm going to go off-book. It was Dawnie's idea actually. I'm not going to establish first contact but I want to at least become a face in the crowd for her. I deserve that much.

We've all agreed to remove all the photos in our homes that includes her. This is to ensure no accidental reveals happen in case she were to drop by for some reason but it feels like yet another step towards her completely disappearing from our lives. I've put all of my own photos of her in an album that I've already looked through several times per day.

I refuse to give up on her. I refuse to give up on us.








Tara took her sweet time perusing the familiar shelves of the Magic Box while Anya went through the usual process of closing up for the day. The ex-demon was a lot more twitchy than her usual self and Tara knew the cause for it. She also knew that Anya wouldn't call Tara out for her tardiness as the meeting between her, Xander and Willow wasn't supposed to reach Tara's ears in the first place. The engaged couple felt that she was too close to be rational about Willow's missing memories and tried to keep crucial information on a need-to-know basis.

It could have worked if it weren't for Anya's constant underestimation of Dawn. The teenager was often treated like barely more than a toddler by the blunt store-owner and Dawn was often ignored while she did her homework at the research table as Anya ran the store. Or - as it was in this particular situation - talked with Xander on the phone about their planned meetup and dinner with Willow. Dawn always hated the constant disrespect she received from Anya and had always loved Tara's appreciation so when the time came to make a choice about the information she'd stumbled upon it didn't take long for Dawn to make her allegiance known to Tara.

And that's how Tara was being uncharacteristically sluggish in her stated attempt to choose exactly the right candle she was planning on purchasing. It's also how she was dressed in what she knew was her Willow's favorite corsaged top and blue jeans. It's why her hair was set up in a faux-casual tied knot in a way the red-head always appreciated for the ability to sneak kisses at Tara's neck.

It's why Tara wasn't playing fair and she gave exactly zero shits about not doing so.

She heard Xander loudly talking to someone as he approached the store and then she went into action. She picked a candle at random(which she knew would infuriate the increasingly impatient store owner who had by now had also heard her fiance approaching) and moved to the counter to pay for the item.

"Finally. I thought you'd have to set up camp in the back if you'd take any longer. Which you can't because we're not licensed to take on tenants in the store and the Guild of Commerce has been cracking down on squatters this fall!"

Tara offered a friendly grin as she patiently waited for Anya to give her the change on her bill. The feigned surprise she displayed afterwards when Willow entered through the door with Xander seemed genuine enough that Tara felt the performance was Oscar-worthy. She didn't really care if Anya or Xander bought it either way but she felt she would at least put in the token effort.

As it was her plan didn't involve actually any real interaction with Willow except for a friendly greeting as they passed each other. It wasn't much but it would be enough for her to then have an excuse to talk with her if they would meet again in the future. She'd no longer be a complete stranger to her girlfriend.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it's been a strange year for the young couple.

She followed her plan fully once it was put in motion. She simply walked past the shy woman - with maybe a bit more sway in her hips than would usually be considered normal for Tara - and offered a crooked grin and quiet "Hi" before she left the store. She knew her plan had worked once she saw in the reflection of the storefront Willow's wide eyes checking Tara out as she was leaving.

'Oh yeah I still got it,' she thought with a grin as she contently walked the familiar route back home where she just knew Dawn would wait for a mission report.







"And this is the balcony. It's nice isn't it? We're really happy with the place and we hope you're happy for us too!"

Anya loved showing her friends all the nice things she's managed to accumulate over her few years as a human and now she was enjoying the unique chance to do so for the second time to the same person. Okay, the Willow in front of her had a radically different personality than the one she's known for the last three years but she felt that the fundamentals were the same.

Despite Tara's obvious intrusion on their planned meet at the Box(and she was going to make sure that little brat Dawn were in no position to intercept any more of their plans in the future) the 'first' dinner with Willow had gone rather well. They had gone to one of the fancier restaurants in the city and even paid for Willow's dinner(Xander had convinced Anya that it'd be a good incitement for future dinners if Willow didn't feel like she would be going broke each time they met). Their guest offered almost no conversation hooks by herself and gave them very little to work with about and still they invited her in to their place for some decaf coffee and casual chat to properly (re-)establish new channels of communication and a fresh repertoire.

And it gave Anya the opportunity to show off all the nice things she had but that was just a fringe benefit. Yup. That's her story and she was sticking to it. She was very happy she remembered to remove all the pictures that contained Willow(which was infuriatingly many of those that also contained Xander, an annoyance Anya never really managed to get past) so she wouldn't be the one that messed with the gang's previously agreed-upon plans. Her bet was on one of the Summers sisters blabbing - or perhaps Spike if he felt extra mischievous - to be the reason the plan would eventually collapse.

And it would. The plan was a horrible one but she didn't have a better suggestion and thus agreed to help out as best as she could. She were not of the same opinion as Tara when it came to removing the spell Willow had cast upon herself. Anya saw no good reason to not bring out all the stops to help the metaphorically blind witch and she knew that Xander was on her side as well. Spike had expressed the same thought in private but she hadn't mentioned that to Xander yet as he'd take it as a sign that they were in the wrong only because Spike had agreed with them. In fact, most of the Scoobies probably considered his support to be a poison pill for whatever side he stood by and Anya started wondering if she'd ask him to publicly support Tara instead.

Buffy didn't seem to have an opinion on the matter but appeared to have sided with Tara and Dawn by default if only to keep the peace at home.

Anya had no problem admitting that she rather enjoyed this new Willow in many ways. She wasn't as arrogant and rude as their old Willow had often been and not once that evening had she interrupted Anya or protested against some of her more literal descriptions of the flexible and varied love life she enjoyed with Xander. Instead she just smiled slightly and turned almost as red as her hair each time it was brought up which was another bonus for Anya as it was fun to watch!

Her new clothing was just horrible so that was a clear mark in the negative column. Not that Anya used to be a fan of Willow's usual clothes but these ones were worse than anything she had worn, at least while Anya had known her. The lack of magic interest also meant that Anya had lost one of her most reliable small-scale customers and that was of the bad as well.

And if she had to be completely honest she did kind of miss the incessant verbal sparring the two often engaged in. This new version of Willow completely lacked a spine when it came to sarcastic snipes and humorous insults and would provide no challenge at all! With Tara being Tara and Buffy remaining in the state she's been in for months they were both in no shape to provide any fun resistance and that'd leave just Dawn and picking on a child was just inviting reprisal from the rest of the group.

No; she thought she really wanted their old Willow back.

The trio kept a friendly - if somewhat shallow - chat going but there was something really off with how Willow was acting that evening. Not just the 'memories gone and now has no friends or family for the last three to five years'-off as was expected but something else that Anya couldn't completely pin down at first.

It wasn't until the end of their evening - when Xander offered to give Willow a ride - that Anya realized what had been bothering her all night. When Willow had rewritten her own memories she had also erased herself growing up, emotionally. It wasn't really something one could fake and since her life of growing up as an young adult had been unavoidably tied to the supernatural she didn't have anything to replace those events with. She was by, all purposes, a 16-year old girl in the body of a 22-year old woman. And that was on top of all the crippling anxiety and stunted social skills that her new memories had enhanced with ears of solitude and misery.

No; Anya HAD to bring their old Willow back.

Even if Tara was correct in her assumption that the new memories were by design and Willow had cast the spell without a hitch otherwise she witch could not have predicted the stunted growth that resulted from the rewrites. She was already six years behind everyone else and in an age where that would determine her entire future no matter where she lived in the world that could be a potentially crippling disadvantage.

Fortunately she had just the treatment that Doctor Anya(PHD) had ordered. What psychiatrists liked to call the 'flooding treatment' to be more specific.

"Hey Willow?" The mousy girl looked at her apprehensively as Anya suddenly interrupted the current discussion. She didn't remember the subject but was sure it was something completely inane. "How about you come as an honored guest to our wedding in April? We'd love to have you over and there's going to be a lot of fun guests to talk to and we'd really appreciate if you'd come!"

Xander was stunned. He had first planned to invite Willow at his coffee-meeting with her but once he realized the girl was in no position to deal with his family and their hurtful bigoted attitude(and that's not even mentioning the dozens of literal demons Anya had invited from her side) he decided against it. And when they had decided to go with Tara's plan to not introduce her to the supernatural world the wedding would be completely out of the question. Or at least; that was the plan but Anya had apparently decided otherwise. Without asking him.

Again.

He was about to rescind the invitation with an excuse that all seats were full already but then he saw the smiling eyes that Willow directed towards them both and all attempts to put up any objections to the invitation immediately evaporated. He would not hurt her like that again.

He was not, however, looking forward to tomorrow's Scooby meeting.







"One week! You couldn't even follow the agreed-upon plan for one single week?" Dawn's shrill screaming ensured that nobody else had any doubt on her opinion in the 'wedding issue.'

"You never said we couldn't invite her. Besides it's my wedding anyway so I don't get why you're in any position to object," Anya stated matter-of-factly. "And it's not like she didn't already have an invitation in the first place."

Tara was so very sick of this. How would they help Willow if they couldn't even follow the extremely simple plan they had all agreed upon. "We all agreed she wouldn't be exposed to any magic or demons and how exactly would you describe your half of the guests to the wedding, Anya?"

"Colorful. And much friendlier than Xander's half if anything," Anya rebuked with a smug smirk.

"She's actually not wrong on that account," Xander shared.

"They're still demons! Just how do you think Willow will react to seeing them? The 'circus folk'-excuse won't work on her as she isn't as stupid as Xander's family! Uhh no offence Xan," Dawn smiled apologetically.

"None taken," he conceded with a shrug and a sad smirk. "It's a fair shake."

"Facts remain that you've taken away her ability to make a choice after that," Tara reiterated.

"See how she likes being forced out of her happy little world for a change."

Buffy's bitter outburst was her first and final contribution to the discussion as she coldly rose to her feet and walked out the front door of the Magic Box, the rest of the remaining Scoobies staring at her in stunned silence.

"Let's talk about following the plan then Tara," Anya said as she ignored both the comment and disappearance of their oft-absent member. "What was with your obvious stalling during yesterday's shopping trip at the Magic Box? You don't think I'd notice how you remained only to 'accidentally' run into Willow when she arrived for our dinner?"

"You mean the dinner you kept a secret from the rest of us for no good reason," Dawn interjected. "And it's not like she interrupted the plan by doing so and there was no cause for her to not be able to at least see Willow despite you sneaking around to push your own agenda."

"She screwed up the spell!" Anya had just about enough with the constant questioning of her motivations and actions. One would think that after years of support and co-operation with the gang they'd offer her a little bit more faith in her decisions. "She accidently crippled herself socially and emotionally by removing the events that were instrumental in her growing up as an adult but then had nothing to replace them with. She's sixteen but in the body of an adult! She has damaged herself for life unless we reverse the spell!"

The room fell silent as the group considered the implications of Anya's revelation. Nobody said a word for several minutes until Tara stood up and spoke through clenched teeth.

"Please give Dawnie a ride home. I'll be home later but I need to take a walk for now."

She hurried out of the store before the others would notice the tears that had started to flow freely down her cheeks.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Chapter 5
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 6:32 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
December 1

Crap.

Anya was right.

Against all hope it seems like everything points towards Anya being correct with her conclusion. When she said that Willow had crippled herself by removing all the events that helped make her into the adult she were I didn't want to believe her and I still really don't. I just wanted her to get the chance for a normal life but that's just not going to happen now. And to make it even worse; unless we reverse the spell it's going to be a recurring handicap for the rest of her life.

But I can't do it. I can't go and mess around with her mind like that. I have to confront the problem head-on instead of violating her mind.

Fortunately I have an idea on just how to do approach the issue. I know where Willow take her Monday lunch coffee(yeah it's the Espresso Hut obviously come on she's still Willow and the world hasn't ended so it's gonna be at the Hut) and I'll just 'accidentally' run into her there and strike up a conversation. I can't trust anymore that Xander and Anya will handle it the way we all agreed upon; they've already gone against our plan without consulting the rest of us and nothing prevents them from doing it again.

I'll have to handle this on my own.








Tara took a deep breath as she opened the front door to the Espresso Hut and stepped inside. She was just in time to avoid the rain that just began to fall from the sky and she inwardly chided herself for not bringing an umbrella for the walk back home. As she entered she immediately saw Willow reading a book in a booth by the corner the furthest away from the door and Tara smiled. Despite everything Tara still longed for her and wanted nothing more than to kiss Willow's memories back and carry the frail woman to their bedroom like nothing had ever gone wrong.

Like they hadn't been so damaged.

But she knew it wouldn't be that easy. It was never that easy. She also knew that she only had one chance to make a real first impression as she would try to start up a conversation. It's why she had donned a more casual version of the outfit she had at the Box the Friday before. The corsaged top still remained but the jeans were replaced by a patterned skirt and she let her hair rest freely on her shoulders; all in the service of presenting a less intimidating front for the shy girl who no longer had any memories of ever being bold in her interactions with people.

Tara ordered her favorite coffee and made a small but visible show of recognizing Willow and approached her booth with a sly grin. "Hey there! Is this seat taken or can anyone grab it?"

Willow looked up from her book and her eyes flashed - first with happy recognition and then with sad realization as she closed the book and dropped her gaze towards the table. "N-no, it's free. Just give me a moment and I'll g-get my things and leave so you'll get some-"

"I don't mean you have to leave Sweetie," Tara protested with pleading eyes. "I wondered if you wanted some company. I recognized you from the Magic Box the other day and, well, coffee is more fun when you drink it with fun people!"

Willow's eyes lit up and a small smile started to appear. "I-I can't promise I'm much of a fun person but s-some company would be nice," she shyly extended her hand in greeting. "I'm Willow!"

Tara shook the offered hand with a smile. "Hi there Willow. And I'm sure you're wrong about not being a fun person. I mean - you're reading Roadside Picnic and that's just a great book so at least we know you got good literary taste!"

"You really think so? I've never met anyone who has even heard of it before now. For some reason old those Soviet and dusty philosophical novels have a limited audience in small-town California these days."

Tara gave a genuine laugh and delighted in the flush that was discreetly appearing on her counterpart. "I guess they would. It was actually my ex who loved the book so that's how I first encountered it. You see; I used to have really bad stuttering impediment and read far too slow for my classes so my partner offered to read the books out loud for me when we studied together. The first book she read that wasn't obligatory coursework was Roadside Picnic and I guess it just stuck with me."

"Oh yeah, you used to take English lit didn't you," Willow dared. "I'm pretty sure we shared the same class for a semester about a year ago."

Tara's throat constricted as she realized that Willow did still have some memories of her. They had picked that course together but she didn't realize that Willow hadn't just rewritten the memories to remove Tara completely. It was with relief that she comprehended that apparently even the face-in-the-crowd version of herself were enough for Willow to remember her even a year later on.

"Y-yeah I did. I knew I recognized you from somewhere; you don't exactly forget those big and pretty emerald eyes once you've gotten the opportunity to dive into them."

Willow dropped her gaze downward as the shy flush could no longer be prevented and Tara could hear the hitch in her breathing.

"I'm sorry. I didn't want to make you uncomfortable," Tara offered as an apology. It was time for her to go for the first Hail Mary move of the day. "If you're uncomfortable I'll back away and you won't have to talk to me ever again."

Willow whispered a response as she kept her gaze locked downwards.

"I'm sorry?" Tara asked and she leaned towards Willow.

"Please don't leave. I enjoy talking with you," Willow whimpered as she looked up from behind the curtain her hair formed to protect her eyes and Tara felt her heart ache in recognition of the defensive act. She used to do it all the time her first two years in Sunnydale - and many years before she moved to California - and only got rid of the bad habit through the sympathetic urging from the girl on the other side of the table.

Tara flashed the friendliest smile she could muster "Then I'd love to stay. But if we're going to chat on could you try to do something for me?" Willow nodded in response. "Please don't hide away those pretty eyes or that cute face. Don't get me wrong because I love what you've done with your hair - it looks really good on you - but I always feel a conversation is more productive for both parts when they can actually see each other."

"I-I'll try," Willow conceded. "I'm just not used to people saying nice things to me. Or things at all, really."

"I know the feeling Sweetie. For my first year here I did the exact same move as you just did. I always hid behind my hair to avoid people looking at me as I felt judged under their perceived scrutiny. Then I met who would become my ex who taught me that I only hurt myself if I resigned into myself and hid away like that."

"And that actually worked?" Willow's large eyes grew wide as she listened with the attentiveness of someone learning the secrets of the universe.

"Like a charm," Tara fibbed. "Okay, not really because it took a really long time before I managed to mostly get rid of the habit and it felt weird for quite some time not doing so but trust me when I say it's worth it."

Willow's smile grew wide and she sat up straight in an attempt to follow Tara's suggestion.

"So your ex, he really helped you once you moved to Sunnydale? Where are you from originally?"

Tara smiled as she recognized Willow's sly attempt at discreetly probing into her history. She lead with the real objective but misdirected first with a question that seemed the most relevant and then a distraction that at first glance looked like the real meat of the discussion. It would probably be unnoticable for everyone else but Tara had gotten to know the multitudes of small quirks that formed the core of Willow's interactions and behaviors.

"Yeah, she actually helped me a lot. And for what it's worth I'm from a small one-horse town up in Oregon; you wouldn't recognize it."

Willow's eyes lit up as she tried to hide the excitement she felt upon hearing the sought-after answer.

"T-that's nice for her. Of her. For you," she stammered and dip her head back down again. "I'm sorry. I'm just not very good at the whole talking with people and being around humans and not just leaving to give people the Willow-free space people ask for most of the time they talk with me in the first place and now I'm just being white noise so I'll shut up now."

"Hey Willow? I'm sorry people have been so cruel to you but you got nothing to prove here, okay? And do you remember what we said about hiding those pretty eyes?"

"It's hard. I'm s-sorry," she whimpered.

"You got nothing to be sorry for. I still remember what my ex used to say; 'hey Tara if you keep staring at your feet I'm going to put notes on your shoes so remind you to look forward when you walk or we'll be bankrupted by the hospital bills!'"

Willow giggled for a moment before blanching. "Wait! Y-you're name is Tara? Tara as in friend of that Summers girl?"

"Yes I'm T-Tara," she answered nervously as she suddenly realized she hadn't given Willow her name.

A sob from across the table shook Tara to her core. "I knew it! It was all too good to be true," Willow exclaimed with a teary voice as she quickly stood up and ran out with her bag in hand. She left both a shocked Tara and Willow's copy of 'Roadside Picnic' on the table as she disappeared down into the street and the remaining woman just stared silently at the seat in the booth she had just vacated.

'What the hell just happened?'

She finally took notice of the book on the table and grabbed it as she hurried out after Willow. The rain had stopped but the heavy clouds remained. They kept the weather at a brisk temperature but despite the raw conditions the streets were still too crowded to let her easily pick out the elfin-like red-head.

'Where the hell did she just go?'







It had turned into the late afternoon when Tara finally reached the Rosenberg home. She had gone through Willow's usual haunts - the library and the different lecture halls for the afternoon classes - but had found no trace of the woman ever since Willow fled their shared coffee. She still didn't understand what she had said to set Willow off and led her to flee the coffee shop with such urgency.

When she saw the lights in the windows of Willow's childhood home Tara knew she had finally found her. She didn't recognize the rental car in the driveway or the muffled voices from inside the building but decided she couldn't wait for Willow to be alone again. That's how Tara promptly rang the Rosenbergs' doorbell for the first time in her life.

Every single time she's been at the house in the past it has been while accompanying Willow(and for their first summer break she even lived there for a few weeks once Willow had realized she had been living in a motel room once the dorms closed) and had felt strange as she waited by the door like a stranger. It got even weirder when she realized she was for all intents and purposes a complete stranger to her girlfriend and a pang struck her as she was yet again reminded of how much she missed her own lovely Will-o-Witch.

To her shock it wasn't Willow who opened the door. Instead it was the timid man Tara recognized as Ira Rosenberg, Willow's distant father. Tara didn't expect for Willow's parents to have come back home and thought they wouldn't be in town until the beginning of January and she suddenly felt very self-conscious as she realized she probably looked quite odd as Tara stood at their front door desperately clinging to an old and worn Russian novel.

"Can I help you miss...?"

Tara crooked a brow in confusion. She had met Ira once; back when Willow had introduced them a about year ago. He didn't approve of her - it was hard enough to overcome her total lack of Jewish genealogy but the lesbian factor went past it on the mental list he kept over why Tara wasn't good enough for Willow - but Tara didn't think that he'd already completely forgotten her.

"I-is Willow home?"

He pulled the door back slightly to reveal a red-eyed and pajamas-clad Willow. She stood at the top of the stairs with an expression that read both sadness and anger.

"Baby girl, do you want to entertain visitors right now? I mean if you're still writing that fast-track application for NYU so the distraction would probably just delay you but the deadline isn't until tomorrow afternoon..."

Before Willow could answer they were interrupted by a rushed Sheila Rosenberg who appeared by the front door in outerwear and with a coat in her arms.

"Ira dear, she's probably far too busy for that. Now put on your coat so we won't miss the plane and then Willow will be left alone to finish the application in peace."

The two pushed past her with their luggage in tow and closed the door without any recognition of her continued presence. As they moved towards the car Tara was left standing, stunned into silence, by their front door with the novel clutched in her hands. It wasn't until she heard the car drive away from the house that she gathered enough strength to dare ringing the doorbell again. This time it was Willow herself who opened.

"W-what do you want?"

Tara almost recoiled from the bitterness in her voice. "I j-just wanted to give you back your book. You forgot it at the Hut and it'd be a shame if you had to get a new one."

"Why," Willow asked through clenched teeth. "Did Xander put you up to this too? Is this part of his great big plan?"

Tara almost stumbled as Willow grabbed the book from her hands and had no clue what was going on between them. Had Willow found out about the memory spell? Had Xander or Anya told her what was going on and now she hated them for trying to bring the old Willow back?

"W-what plan? I'm here because I wanted to give the book back and to talk to you."

"I'm here and you're talking," Willow replied as Tara suddenly noticed a necklace that she hadn't seen before. In the pendant of the necklace was a charred crystal that radiated of magic and suddenly Tara had realized how Willow had performed the spell that rewrote her own memories.

Tar surmised that Willow had used a pure crystal to contain all her old memories while the new memories had created a bogus cover story that made the container a treasured keepsake. It was likely to ensure Willow would never willingly get rid of it. It appeared like an attempt from her subconscious to create a hidden safeguard and prevent Willow from permanently losing all of her old memories and eventually grant her the chance to regain what she had forsaken.

The temptation in Tara to just reach out and smash the crystal was almost overwhelming. It would be quick; Willow wouldn't see it coming and then she'd be back to her normal self.

Her depressed, anxious and guilt-ridden normal self that thought all her friends hated her. Her old self that felt desperate enough to rewrite her memories in the first place.

"I don't understand what I did to make you so angry at me," Tara whispered. "I'm sorry I offended you but I didn't mean to."

Willow exhaled loudly in frustration. "Sure you didn't. I'm sure it's just a huuuge coincidinky that the younger sister of a classmate I never really interacted with just appeared out of nowhere and start talking nonsense about magic and a bunch of people that I've never heard of or haven't really known for years if ever. One of those being a certain 'Tara' who I later find out is the woman I've had a huge crush on for the last two years."

Tears started to appear in the corner of Willow's eyes as she continued. "And then my best friend since Kindergarten - a friend who completely abandoned me after our only other friend ran away over five years ago - suddenly call me up and ask for a coffee to 'catch up and reconnect.' He then starts talking about his great life and how he's done so well and is getting married to his High School sweetheart and then invites me to meet her at dinner. And who do I see when I meet them at his fiance's store? The same woman I've crushed after for years."

Her head fell and she continued the outburst while staring at her feet. "They spend the entire dinner bragging about their sex life in disgusting detail and then they bring me to their luxury home where they not only brag about all the expensive stuff they have and the great future they'll have together. To really twist the knife they invite me to their wedding to really ensure I'd feel extra welcome in their perfect little life."

"B-but how's that-" Tara tried but Willow ignored the interruption. "And then the woman of my dreams show up again the next Monday and is not only completely of the super-hot but also comes on to me really strongly out of the blue. It wasn't until you slipped and outed your name that I finally realized what was going on and everything fell into place. Begin with the introduction of a friendly face that I wouldn't recognize in Summers' younger sister. The almost complete lack of any photos in Xander's home. Your feigned interest both in that magic store and earlier today. It suddenly became so obvious and I think I should re-evaluate my self-illusion of being a pretty smart girl since it took me so long to put the pieces together.

"What I don't get is why you're all doing this to me. What did I do to suddenly make Xander and his gang set up this elaborate ploy to humiliate me? What was the plan? Was he going to cover me in pig's blood at the wedding as a prank - which for your information would probably be considered rather anti-Semitic as I'm a Jew but maybe that was the point - or are you all gathering blackmail material for some reason?" She looked up from her feet and glared daggers into Tara's eyes.

"But what really pisses me off is how you acted towards me. Did you know beforehand that I've never been hit on before? Nobody has ever expressed any interest in me like that and the first time it ever happened it was... It was you! The beautiful and mysterious woman who I've adored from a distance suddenly wanted to talk with the most pathetic individual in this hellhole of a city! I guess you must've seen me stealing glances at you over the years at UCS and realized it was the best way to really hurt me and congratulations; it worked perfectly! Tell that Dawn girl that she was a bit too obvious in her probing for information when she first came here; she'll need to work on her poker face before trying the ploy on some other poor schmuck."

She moved back to close the door again and allowed no response as the tears flowed freely down her cheeks. "And tell Xander that I gracefully reject the invitation to his wedding. I have to miss it because I'm going to transfer at the end of this semester and can't really be assed to fly across the country to entertain some cruel asshole who just want to make my miserable life even worse. And for the record? Mission accomplished! Great work but could use adjustment to really stick the landing."

She slammed the door shut and Tara was left standing outside the Rosenberg home for the second time in just a few minutes. She slowly started to shuffle back in a daze towards Revello Drive as Willow's loud cries accompanied her from the other side of the door.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:50 am 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 457
Dibs! :whip
My heart aches for poor Willow! Believing that Tara, Xander, Anya and Dawn plotted to play some cruel prank on her after having some fragile hope when her "long lost friend" Xander reached out to her again and the "long pined after dream girl" not only noticed but also flirted with her must be a crippling blow for her! :cry

I really hope that Tara will come to her senses and realize that undoing the spell is the only way to save Willow from a future in total misery.

Quote:
We won't remove the spell unless she explicitly ask for it, understood?

That plan was flawed from the start, how on earth could Willow ever be able to ask for a removal of the spell if she has no idea that magic exists and that her memories were altered by a spell?!

Quote:
"She screwed up the spell!" Anya had just about enough with the constant questioning of her motivations and actions. One would think that after years of support and co-operation with the gang they'd offer her a little bit more faith in her decisions. "She accidently crippled herself socially and emotionally by removing the events that were instrumental in her growing up as an adult but then had nothing to replace them with. She's sixteen but in the body of an adult! She has damaged herself for life unless we reverse the spell!"

Anya has totally nailed it! What a refreshing "plot twist" that Anya is the only Scooby who really understands the gravity of Willow's situation and that she needs to be saved.

Buffy's behaviour in the last chapter really pissed me off. I get that she's still traumatized etc., but that remark is so wrong:

Quote:
"See how she likes being forced out of her happy little world for a change."

Buffy's bitter outburst was her first and final contribution to the discussion as she coldly rose to her feet and walked out the front door of the Magic Box, the rest of the remaining Scoobies staring at her in stunned silence.

:fit Buffy knows full well that Willow's "new world" isn't happy but totally miserable!

I'm looking forward to the next chapter, thanks for posting so frequently!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2021 5:59 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Will's redemption wrote:
Dibs! :whip
My heart aches for poor Willow! Believing that Tara, Xander, Anya and Dawn plotted to play some cruel prank on her after having some fragile hope when her "long lost friend" Xander reached out to her again and the "long pined after dream girl" not only noticed but also flirted with her must be a crippling blow for her! :cry

Yeah when my wife suggested her to completely read the situation wrong - but with the right mindset from someone in the mundane world who has been socially isolated for years - I was both happy with my final result and worried about her devious mind. ;)

Quote:
I really hope that Tara will come to her senses and realize that undoing the spell is the only way to save Willow from a future in total misery.

That plan was flawed from the start, how on earth could Willow ever be able to ask for a removal of the spell if she has no idea that magic exists and that her memories were altered by a spell?!

There's a way, actually. :) But yes, it was a flawed plan because they're all acting on snippets of information they've gathered and with their own prejudices coloring their preferred outcomes.

Quote:
Anya has totally nailed it! What a refreshing "plot twist" that Anya is the only Scooby who really understands the gravity of Willow's situation and that she needs to be saved.

She's the only one who hasn't first-hand experience of artificially "growing up" emotionally so there's no reason anyone else figure it out.

When the fic is finished I'll post the "rules" I set up for the spell Willow used so my logic will hopefully be cleared up in case anyone misunderstand what I'm trying to do. I'm boring that I like clear parameters for the mystical - I know - but I just have the personal rule that I won't use 'a wizard did it'-rules to magic I employ.

Quote:
Buffy's behaviour in the last chapter really pissed me off. I get that she's still traumatized etc., but that remark is so wrong:

:fit Buffy knows full well that Willow's "new world" isn't happy but totally miserable!

Buffy is, at this moment in time, kind of a dick and especially to Willow.

I totes respect being depressed - I'm living with chronic depression myself and have done so for my entire life AFAIK - but the way she put all blame on Willow for her return while handwaving the others' responsibilities in the ritual.

Also I am of the opinion that Buffy wasn't in heaven and that resurrecting her was an absolute good for everyone but Willow but that's a different story entirely(and one I've actually written and will mirror on the Kitten once I'm finished here!)

Quote:
I'm looking forward to the next chapter, thanks for posting so frequently!

No prob and thanks for the feedback! As mentioned, it's all written up already so I only have to do some format editing and extra proofing when I post the chapters. It's one of my shorter stories in that it's only eight chapters so I'll be done before the week is over, methinks.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Chapter 6
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:08 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
It had already turned dark by the time Tara returned to the Summers residence. She shut herself in the darkness of the unlit room and silently sat down on the bed she used to share with Willow.

The heavy clouds hadn't set free the heavy rain they've kept at bay just yet but the people in the city were just waiting for the downpour to begin as the air was thick with the humidity. Tara sat on the bed in complete darkness and folded her legs as she hugged her knees; silently weeping into her skirt. She wanted to scream and wail but numerous beatings as a child had taught her the folly of those actions. Crying wasn't tolerated back home and if her dad ever heard her expressing her inner turmoil she'd suffer holy retribution for not respecting his commands.

She wept for that she had already lost and who she would lose for good in just a few days. Soon Willow would be approved at NYU - she'd easily make the cut with her academic record proving an expedited transfer would be in everyone's best interest - and then she'd move to the other coast as soon as humanly possible.

That would be the last they ever saw of her again.

She'd also be living a life based on self-taught lies and a life where her emotional maturity has been stunted for years and Tara convinced herself she only had one person to blame for it all.

Tara.

Tara was the one who had trapped Willow in a Catch 22 situation with her ultimatum. Tara was the one who refused to talk with Willow after she moved out and back to her parents' house. Tara came up with the plan that had collapsed within days and Tara was the one who had screwed up so badly that Willow moved the planned transfer from months in the future to just days. She should've realized Willow would sense something was up when she suddenly went from no social interactions to a veritable barrage within a week.

However, she had no idea Willow would ever come to the conclusion she did. She also had no clue that this Willow had in her memories apparently crushed on her for years now despite them never interacting in her world.

She knew Willow had a hard time trusting people in her normal state of mind and after half a decade of betrayal and isolation it was a natural reaction to second-guess an unexpected and sudden turnaround in her social fortunes. Her sense of imminent treachery wasn't exactly pulled out of nowhere either as the Scoobies had all lied to her, repeatedly, ever since they had re-established contact after she rewrote her memories. Willow really had no reason to trust any of them because they haven't given her any.

So she sat. And she wept. It wasn't until midnight were only minutes away that she managed to let go of her legs and take a long and hard look at her room and what would become her new life.

Tara realized she was now living with the best friend of her former girlfriend and suddenly felt a deep sense of alienation. Said ex would never talk to her again once she moved away from Sunnydale - even if they would ever meet again Willow would always associate Tara with the botched attempt at public humiliation - and the woman she was living with spared little sympathy for Tara as one of the four people who had given Buffy the biggest trauma of her lives. The only other people she spent any time with was a soulless vampire, a couple about to be married who fought with each other almost as often as they fought against evil and a teenage girl who was the closest thing Tara had to a friend of her own.

A girl who was six years younger than herself was her closest friend and really the only confidante ever since Willow extradited herself from their life.

She hated what Willow had done to her that Halloween. Taking her memories was disgusting and wrong and she knew was right to confront her over it. She also knew that Willow didn't reach the situation by herself where she had felt that casting the spell on Tara was the only way of remaining someone worthy of love and friendship. Willow and Tara had failed each other long before that fight and they hadn't taken the time to really talk about their squabbles; instead they let them grow into recurring arguments and infested hostility.

In lieu of talking they had been distant and their schedules was overwrought with more unavoidable chores and duties than one should expect of any young woman. It inevitably led to exhaustion and frail nerves making each argument just a little bit worse than the one that came before.

But she never wanted to break it off with Willow for good. She had been honest when she said they needed some time apart; they had been forced into roles none of them were prepared or ready for when they became Dawn's foster parents and chief protectors of the Hellmouth once Buffy's death had vacated the role. Tara wanted to give them both a chance to take stock of their lives and ambitions and then hopefully reunite for good because no matter how much they had messed things up she still wanted Willow. She still loved Willow.

And what she suddenly realized is that she still trusted Willow.

Willow knew she had screwed up, that much was obvious. She wouldn't have gone to such drastic - if extremely foolish - measures otherwise. Tara was sure Willow didn't expect them to remove the spell or she'd provide leads on how to do so. No; Willow completely expected to spend the rest of her life in solitude as a twisted penance for the pain she had inflicted upon others.

And her friends had given her no reason to think she was alone with that opinion when they all had abandoned her.

It was time for Tara to give herself one final, if remote, opportunity to get her Willow back.

She wouldn't use any magic to do it - she still refused to cast anything on Willow without her expressed consent - but she would at least show Willow the life she was going to miss out on if she moved to New York. If Willow still wanted to go away Tara knew she would have to accept it but until then she'd do almost anything to bring Willow back home on her own volition.

Home to her Tara.







By the time Tara was back at the Rosenberg residence it had slowly begun to rain. She had brought her leather jacket with her this time and crouched forward - to cover her ace in the hole from the rain - as she rang the doorbell and waited for a response. She heard the cover from the peephole being removed and then replaced but the door remained locked.

The door remained closed.

And Tara remained on the outside.

As the seconds turned into minutes the rain continued its downpour in even larger volumes and then the turn of the first hour approached. As she sat down and her tears became indistinguishable from the rain she soon realized the thick book in front of her would be completely soaked if she didn't act. There was no cover from the rain on the front porch and she was reduced to protect the book with her jacket to ensure it wouldn't be destroyed.

By the time the door finally opened she had already been soaked completely through. The only dry area remaining was her freezing hands that held the treasured memento under her jacket. The ace in the hole had still managed to escape destruction through the cover of her jacket which had left the rest of her completely at the mercy of the freezing rain. She was shaking, both from the dampness and the dropping temperature, and didn't even hear when the door opened. As a result she jumped slightly in her seat on the ground when Willow finally spoke.

"J-just how long are you going to sit there? Sunnydale isn't very safe at night in case you've m-missed it."

"Until you give me one final chance to explain myself," she answered once she had gotten a measure of control of the sobs.

Willow sighed. "I don't understand why you even bother but I guess I can give you one chance before you freeze to death."

"Just one," Tara insisted, "and then you'll never have to see me again."

"Okay," Willow coldly answered and stepped back into her home as she left the door open. Tara didn't move, her was back still turned towards the front door, and Willow returned to the opened door. "Unless you want to grow frog feet - and if you do you'll never be allowed inside because I'm not that insane - I recommend you come inside at once. I'll even try to be a decent host and whip up some hot chocolate while you dry yourself up by the fire."

Tara slowly got to her feet and headed inside with her head dipped low.

It was as if she had entered an entirely different world once she got inside. The house was cold and sterile by design - the Rosenbergs never put any worth in the comfortable alternatives when furnishing their home - but the living room was relatively warm and the couch by the fireplace had been decorated with comfortable blankets and throw pillows. The corner was so out of place in a way that led Tara to suspect that it was the only part of the house - other than her own bedroom - that Willow had any influence over.

Willow had left the room as soon as Tara closed the front door and now she returned with a bundle in her arms. "Here's a pair of towels and a spare robe so you won't get pneumonia. The robe is mine so it might be a bit small but it's better than you dying on my couch and then rotting for weeks before my parents get back home. You can leave your wet clothes on the hanger by the fireplace and change into the robe while I go to the kitchen to get that hot cocoa running. Would you like anything to eat as well?"

"N-no, that's okay. I'm only here to talk but I really appreciate the kindness," Tara answered truthfully. She didn't recognize the cold and distant tone that Willow used to address her but she realized her mere presence was currently inflicting more pain and wanted to fix their situation before it really became irreversible.

When Willow returned with a pair of steaming mugs in hand Tara was already sitting down in the couch wrapped in both the borrowed robe and a comforter that she had found on the seat. Willow handed her the mug with a small but polite smile. Tara considered if it was genuine or just a forced display of common courtesy to her unwelcome guest.

"Thanks. Please, sit with me." She patted on the seat next to her and Willow followed the directions after a moment's worth of consideration.

"So. What's your one play to prove to me that I'm to humor Xander's cruel attempt at public humiliation?"

"I'm not here for Xander. I'm here for you. For us."

"There's no us. There's only me alone and you trying to honeypot me."

"Just... please," Tara took a deep breath. "I'm going to tell you some things and you'll have a hard time believing me but by the time we're done you'll be ready to look through this book with me which will explain everything. If you still don't want me to stay after that then I'll call a friend who'll pick me up and you'll never see me again no matter how much it'll hurt for me to accept it."

Tara was going to play her final Hail Mary for the day but she knew that it was a better one than the first she had attempted. Willow was very obviously curious about the book that lacked both a cover or title. It was of no obvious origin and Willow would likely be able to listen to the entire pitch just to find out what kind of book Tara had brought with her and protected so carefully from the rain.

"Okay. I'll try to keep an open mind but I promise nothing. Let's get going and don't forget the chocolate before it turns cold."

Tara smiled and sipped on the hot cocoa before beginning her approach. "Okay. Just as a beginning I'm going to reveal that magic is real. Not just magic itself but vampires and demons and evil gods and spirits and werewolves. Yes it sounds stupid but it's true. I'm a witch and I've been one since I was a small child."

"Then prove it," Willow defiantly demanded.

When Tara used the power of her will to pull a blanket from a nearby cupboard and wrap it around the sceptic redhead she almost began to worry that Willow's eyes would grow too big for her head and eventually pop out.

"O-okay. I'll just t-take you on your word for n-now."

Tara grinned and continued. "Sunnydale is, just like you said, not very safe at night. Of the entire world it's the city with the biggest number of vampires and demons - and other otherworldly monsters - per capita. And that's by an enormous margin. The reason for this abnormality is because Sunnydale is built upon a portal that lead to a number of different hell dimensions, a portal called the 'Hellmouth' by those in the know."

Willow seemed skeptical "So where's this dangerous portal?"

"Under what used to be your High School's library."

"That is... Actually, that explains a lot. Especially about the people who used to hang around the library and why us geeks were all but persona non-grata. No wonder the librarian murdered poor Ms. Calendar."

"Actually, he didn't. I'll explain more about that later on."

Willow seemed even less trusting of that suggestion than she was of the existence of the supernatural world but Tara continued her pitch.

"The only reason the world hasn't been destroyed about half a dozen times is because for years a small but dedicated group of locals have fought against both incomprehensible and immeasurable evils to keep everything safe. That group call themselves the Scooby Gang and was first formed around one of your old classmates, Buffy Summers."

"Buffy? The shallow blonde who's both extremely clumsy and quite the ditzy airhead? Really?"

"Yup. She's actually a lot smarter than she presents herself and has superhuman strength, speed, senses and healing. She's also a really good friend and kinder than anyone could ever expect. She's the current Vampire Slayer - a chosen warrior who inherit the role once the previous Slayer dies. Buffy is different from all who's come before her though. That's because she has surrounded herself with loyal friends who fight by her side to keep her safe and sound. From the start it was just her, a young girl who'd eventually become a powerful witch, your old friend Xander and the librarian."

"Mr. Giles and Xander fought evil? Xander? Mister I-wore-underwear-on-my-head-when-I-was-eight fought demons and vampires?"

"I know. It's kind of ridiculous how he's survived this long but somehow he always manage to get out ahead. But their group grew and changed over time. They were joined by a guy known as Oz who eventually became a werewolf - yes that's true just stay with me - and the vampire with a soul called Angel. Your old teacher Jenny Calendar was also part of this group for a while and so was Cordelia Chase."

"Okay now I know you're just messing with me. Cordelia Chase fought evil? Wouldn't that be considered treason for her?"

"I've actually only met her once - which was years after this - so I don't know how much of the fighting she did but she was part of the group until she moved to LA. The group eventually also included myself, a former demon - that's Xander's fiance Anya, Buffy's baby sister Dawn and a different vampire who's unable from hurting humans due to a chip in his head. For a while we also had a demon-hunting soldier trained by the US army called Riley Finn but-"

"Riley Finn? Dopey Finn? My old Teacher's Assistant Finn was a secret soldier and demon hunter?"

"Yeah and his boss was your psych professor Walsh who was killed by a frankensteinian monster she made out of demons, humans and robot parts. Stuff's weird in this city, okay?"

Willow laughed out loud at that. "I must say it's easier than I thought to accept all of this. I mean there's no way you'd make something like this up because it's so out of this world and if you didn't have a way to prove it all I'll be pretty miffed. Just be forewarned that you got a high bar set for whatever evidence you can scrounge up."

"I'll make sure to pass that bar then, I haven't forgotten your tendency to favor empiricism."

"You mentioned that ex of yours earlier today, was she also part of this funky outfit?"

"Yeah. She was that first girl who eventually became the witch. She was actually the one who introduced me to the group during her freshman year in college when we met and eventually fell in love. You'll be fully introduced to her eventually, okay?"

Willow nodded impatiently and Tara could've sworn she saw a hint of jealousy in those big green eyes.

"What you don't realize is that you've actually seen the after-effects of the many battles fought in this city over the years. Do you remember what happened at your graduation?"

"Yeah. There was a gas leak and then an explosion that blew up the school. I got sick and fainted from the gas though so I didn't see the explosion myself. It's a shame because the only out member of the student body died that day. Larry was a cruel and creepy jock until he came out and suddenly became a bit of a protector of those of us who needed it. I mean we weren't friends but he really tried to make up for the stuff he had done."

"Actually, that's not what happened. What happened is that the mayor was turned into a gigantic snake demon and ate the principal before killing several students, including Larry. I was told he died while fighting the demon with a flamethrower. Buffy then lured the demony Mayor into the library where they killed him by detonating a bomb that blew up the snake. Aaaaand the entire school went with him."

"...bullcrap."

"No bull and no poop. As I said I wasn't there to see it for myself but I've been told many of the stories over the years so I could probably answer your questions almost as well as anyone else if there's any certain events you want to know the truth about."

"Okay. The laryngitis outbreak! That one always seemed iffy to me because it's actually not that contagious by itself and there's no recorded instanced of an entire city - or even a village - being contaminated at once."

"Oh that's easy because it's the day I actually first met my ex. What happened was a group of fairytale boogeymen called the 'Gentlemen' stole the voices of everyone in the city and then tried to cut out the hearts of seven people before Buffy eventually stopped them."

"How did she stop them?"

"She got her voice back and then shrieked so loud that their head exploded. True story."

"...riiiiiight."

"Another one! Come on, we got plenty of fun stories here! Okay so there's plenty of horrible stories too but it's exciting to be the storyteller for once!"

Willow smiled at Tara's genuine excitement and her guest could see more and more of the cold exterior melt away as they continued their talk by the open fire.

"Oh! The mall bombing of '98! No victims and no suspects was always strange to me. I was there but only saw the aftermath."

"Oh that's a doozy. For her birthday Buffy's friends stole a rocket launcher from the military base outside of town. She used it to destroy a demon that was about to vaporize everyone in the mall. I think Buffy still got it laying around in the attic somewhere and we should probably ask her to get rid of it now when I think about it because that's just not safe."

Willow stared at her with wide eyes and decided to just push for more of the outlandish stories. "Ooookay. How about Buffy's warrant for murder at the end of our Junior year?"

"A group of vampires attacker her friends at the school and when she arrived to help out the poor girl was already dead and she got framed for the murder. I don't know too much about the details as it was before my time and the gang never liked talking about those events."

Tara noticed Willow had suddenly stopped moving and now sat still with her face displaying the lingering scars of an old wound.

"Do you know what happened to my friends Jesse McNally and Amy Madison? They both just ran away from me at different times and I worry that they're in danger."

Tara sighed and looked at Willow with sorrowful eyes. "Jesse was killed and turned into a vampire. I'm sorry. Amy is still alive but, well..."

"Well what," Willow pushed anxiously.

"She was a witch. So was her by now dead mother. But Amy played with dark magics and turned herself into a rat to flee a mob that tried to burn her alive. We've tried but we were never able to turn her back. She's currently living in my bedroom in a very comfortable habitat though! And that's only until we've found a way to turn her back."

"That's something. At least she got a chance to come back. Doesn't sound like she'll be very healthy though, even if you do manage to turn her back. Just losing three years or more of your life like that is bound to do some emotional scarring," Willow sympathized without realizing the irony of her statement.

Tara took a deep breath as she realized the moment had come to deliver the big '1-2 combo.'

"That actually bring me to the big reveal before you're allowed to explore the book with me. Are you ready?"

Willow looked at her with a confused frown but nodded.

"That ex I've mentioned a couple of times? Well, her name is Willow Danielle Rosenberg and she is currently sitting next to me and wondering if I'm to be trusted or if she should call the cops and have me put away."

Willow stared at her without saying a word. That was part one of the combo.

"For what it's worth I'm hoping you'll trust me because this isn't a regular book. It's a photo album of your life for the last five years, including the last two years where we've been a couple."

And that's part two.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Chapter 7
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 10:09 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
The minutes felt like hours as Willow stared at her guest in baffled silence. She had accepted a lot on pure faith since she opened her front door and let in the woman she had thought was the central figure in a childish plot meant to lure her into an ambush and publically humiliate her. That she been had someone who lived an entirely different life as a powerful witch who had a beautiful girlfriend and loyal friends baffled her more than the existence of demons, magic and vampires had in the first place. The first scenario demanded a leap of faith, the second was so against the very nature of Willow that she couldn't even dare to hope it had any relation to the truth.

She had seen proof of the magic Tara could wield but she had no experience at all with love, romance or loyal friends.

At the same time as Willow was reeling from the latest bombshell Tara was afraid that she had went with the wrong approach. She had emphasized their love at the big reveal instead of the other social connections her Willow had enjoyed over the years. Despite the brave front she tried to put up the old lingering doubts that she would ever be enough for Willow were beginning to resurface in force as she doubted she would be enough to tempt Willow into going deeper into the rabbit hole. Tara feared Willow would resist the temptation of the photo album in front of her that could give Tara the gravitas and proof she needed to even have a small chance of convincing Willow to come back to her and their friends.

"Okay. Not saying I believe you on this - because I really don't - but are you saying I have some kind of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde thing going? Or am I some kind of inverted Weregeek and only become less inept at being a human at the full moon? If that's the case then who bit me and if it's that Jonathan Levinson asshole I'm going to perform brain surgery on him with a rusty spoon and-"

Tara's spontaneous giggle broke Willow's irritated rant as the melodious sound distracted her enough to lose track of where she was going. At first she took offense to the interruption but soon joined Tara in an uncontrollable eruption of laughter and tears. Willow's exhausted mind no longer managed to approach every new outrageous twist with a skeptic and pragmatic mind but instead was forced to rationalize it as the absurd melodrama that it first appeared to be.

The other woman didn't do much better for her own part. For Tara it was like a barrier had been smashed through - that the revelation of the love they had shared was the Achilles Heel for the Willowian Walls that kept Tara at an arm's length - and now she had no reason to hold anything back. There would be no going back to normal for Willow anymore, not even if she decided to just throw Tara out and then move to New York without ever looking back. Willow were now in a position to make an informed choice - of sorts - and going deeper would only make things clearer in the long run, despite the potential of heartache and pain that followed.

"How about this," Tara finally managed after wiping away the tears her hysterical giggling had let loose. "I'll explain to you what I know of your life over these years and at the end I'll tell you everything I know about your current condition, okay? As I said before I wasn't there for the first three years of my story but you've told me so many exciting and heartbreaking tales of those years that it often felt like I've experienced them with you."

"...so we used to talk about that kind of stuff?" Willow's nervousness overtook her own uncontrollable laughter as she foolishly dared to imagine the life of love and excitement her supposed girlfriend had revealed to her.

"Always, Sweetie. I've never been much of a talker but I loved listening to your babble, especially when you excitedly told of some of the outrageous stuff that happened before I came into your life."

"So why have you referred to me as your ex all this time? What did I do to ruin something so great as a life with... you?"

"We never really broke up actually. I used the 'ex' moniker because we're technically not together right now and it's be presumptuous to expect you to feel anything like you did before."

"You presumed wrongly there. I think. I don't know how I felt before whatever happened, happened."

"Do you want for me to show you?"

Willow's green eyes grew wide as she nodded with an ill-concealed excitement forming a grin on her lips. Tara opened the first page of the album and allowed her host to gradually shuffle closer to her as they began to relive the journey of Willow's last six years.






The first dozen or so of pages were filled with pictures of Willow with mostly Xander and Buffy but both Giles and Jenny Calendar became recurring guests as they went further into the album. Even Amy and Dawn made rare appearances at this stage, as did a tall and brooding man with brown hair and a fixed sneer on almost every photo they saw with him.

"Okay. To begin Xander never abandoned you. What actually happened was that Buffy transferred here from LA. She is the Vampire Slayer, just like I've told you, and during her first week here your friend Jesse was captured by vampires and turned into one. Now one thing you must know about the vamps is that when someone is turned they die and their soul is vacated. What remain is possessed by a demonic spirit who take over the body and becomes a vampire. The vampire inherit traits from the person that owned the body and twist those characteristics into cruel and always evil parodies of the usual selves. So when Jesse became vamped he died and there was no saving him anymore. Xander was forced to dust - that's what we call slaying the vampire - the demon that resembled your friend and it has haunted him ever since."

"But you said there was a vampire with a soul? Why is he different?"

"The vampire with a soul was cursed for his evil actions he committed as a vampire. He suffers with regret and anguish for the hundreds of years of evils he committed and if he ever gets too happy he'll lose his soul again thus turning on everyone around him."

"That's dumb. That's a dumb curse that only give the demon a way to get back while hurting innocents around him."

"We know. It's not a very thought-out idea."

"Yeah I mean what if that dude was a huge fan of - I don't know - hockey? He's a huge LA Kings fan and what if he become too happy as they win the Stanley Cup and start slaughtering everyone else in the arena?"

"As I said, not a good idea to give an out."

"Well, at least he would pick the right team because the Kings are baaa-aaad. Or at least that's what my dad always shouts when he watches their games the few times he's actually home."

Tara grinned at her and continued.

"That guy there," she pointed towards Angel in one of the pictures. "That's the vampire with a soul, Angel. He helped you guys out and dated Buffy for a while. It ended poorly due to no fault of his or her own."

Willow glanced at her with a curious look before turning back to the photos.

"For the first year it was mostly you, Xander, Buffy and Giles but both Ms. Calendar and Angel helped out in the fight against evil. Even Cordelia Chase joined in a few times that first year before becoming a regular member of the Scooby Gang for the last two years of High School. During the second year you met Oz and started dating before-"

"Wait what, who and what? I dated Daniel Osbourne? The cool guitarist and - even more importantly - the person who I'm pretty sure is a guy with guy parts and all that?"

"Just when did you realize you were a lesbian," Tara asked pointedly.

"Err, halfway through my first year in college or so," she answered dutifully. "About the same time I first saw you," she continued as her voice quickly dropped in volume until only a shy whisper remained.

"Then it's the same as it was in our story. I really should get two toaster ovens if I managed to turn you gay both times!"

Willow giggled for a moment before turning back to the album. "Okay. Let's say you're right and I somehow dated Oz for a short while. What happened after that?"

"Well he got turned into a Werewolf and-"

"I DATED A WEREWOLF?!"

Tara grinned at the stupefied expression on Willow's face. "You eventually slept with a werewolf, actually! And it wasn't his fault and he locked himself in a cage every full moon so he couldn't hurt innocent people. And it wasn't just for a short time, it was roughly a year and a half. And before you ask; no he didn't bite you. But as I was saying; he got turned into a Werewolf and Buffy's relationship with Angel got more serious. After they made love he got too happy with his happy and lost his soul and became Angelus again; the worst vampire in modern history. He was the one who killed Ms. Calendar, not Mr. Giles. Angelus left her corpse in his apartment to break his spirit and almost managed to do so."

"So vampires killed both my friend and my favorite teacher? But not Amy?"

"No. Not Amy. She's still around as a rat. It's weird."

"So what happened? Did Buffy kill Angelus or did he get away?"

"It was complicated. Ms. Calendar had found the curse that first gave him his soul and you stumbled upon it. After his vampire minions put you in a coma and killed that poor Kendra girl you woke up again and managed to curse him again."

"I cursed him with his soul again?"

"Yeah. Not only did you manage to perform an extremely complicated and powerful spell as your first spell ever but you did it while recovering from a coma while still in a hospital bed. Mr. Giles should've realized even then just how powerful you could become but he messed up and you were forced to learn magic almost completely on your own."

"Really? Wow. But wait, does that mean everyone just forgave what Angelus had done?"

"Not really. Buffy was forced to banish him to a hell dimension to prevent an apocalypse and when he returned months later people were still pretty angry at him for what he had done. He ended up moving to LA and now run a private investigation firm with Cordelia Chase and a former colleague to Mr. Giles; an ex-watcher called Wesley. I've never met him but you said he wasn't much to write home about."

"Oh yeah, Xander mentioned them. They 'help the hopeless' or something like that."

"Yup, that's them. But we're getting ahead of ourselves," she flipped the page to reveal the first page of the pictures taken during their senior year. "In your senior year you became a lot more proficient with magic and was a crucial piece in the fight against the Mayor and his followers. During that time you also encountered a vampiric döppleganger of yourself."

She turned the page again to reveal a photo of Willow in a revealing leather outfit, heavy makeup and who flashed a smug grin even as she was being restrained by Buffy as they posed for the camera. Buffy sported a huge smile as she held her prisoner like it was the winning catch in a fishing competition.

"Wait what?"

"Yeah. She was... pulled from an alternate dimension where you had been turned into a powerful - and evil - vampire and tried to both turn you into one in this dimension as well but also tried to do other 'fun' stuff with you. You've said this was the first time you had real doubts of your attraction to men."

"A lesbian dominatrix vampire Willow turned me gay? That's really the story you're going with here?"

"Technically you've said she was pansexual. And you didn't fully realize you were a lesbian until about a year later. Still, you managed to send her back to her own dimension and she's never returned since. It wasn't long after that you decided to stay in Sunnydale to fight evil after you graduated. Well, you didn't really expect to survive your graduation."

"So that's why I remained here. I haven't been able to figure out why I stayed in this hellhole - which is rather fitting of a descriptor I now realize - instead of going to Harvard or Yale or Oxford."

"Yeah, that's why. You wanted to fight the good fight and so you've done up until about three weeks ago. More on that when we get to it."

Tara turned the page again and displayed a photo of the gang in front of a smoldering husk that was all that remained of Sunnydale High.

"First you had to design the bomb that destroyed the school and killed the Mayor in his demonic form. It actually made international news - except if was blamed on a gas leak - which was as far as we know the first time something the gang did made waves over the world."

"...I think my mom would have a heart attack if she found out I had blown up an academic establishment, even one as crappy as Sunny High."

"Not really. Unfortunately your mom is just as distant as you probably remember her to be. It got even worse after she - with a bunch of other local adults - tried to burn you, Amy and Buffy alive at the stake."

"My mom tried to burn us alive? My mom? Sheila Rosenberg?"

"Yup. That's also when Amy turned herself into a rat. It was an awkward day for everyone involved."

"I still remember when she ran away. We weren't that close in High School but she used to visit a lot back in Junior High. Before that Dawn girl visited the other week I hadn't had a single visitor since Amy was over in the summer before Senior year and now you're saying I have several close friends and just don't know about it?"

Tara nodded sadly as it pained her to witness the extreme solitude that this Willow never managed to escape.

"The summer that followed was tumultuous for your group. Angel and Cordelia moved to LA, Xander went on a summer-long road trip and you rarely saw your Oz as he had constant small tours with his band that led to both of you slowly growing apart. Then came college where you ended up sharing a dorm with Buffy while Xander bounced between odd jobs but also got together with Anya," she pointed at the familiar couple in a picture that also included Giles, Willow, Willow's old TA for the psychology course, Buffy, Dawn, an older blonde woman between the two sisters that Willow figured was their mother, and finally Oz.

"I don't see you here? I thought you said we met that year?"

"That was later. First came the start of the school year. Oz ended up cheating on you with another Werewolf and then left town to find a cure. Not for his cheating but for his wolf."

"...figures. I bet she was real hot and wore leather too. Oh and she probably played in a band so no big surprise there that he found someone more exciting than Wetrag Willow."

"Will! Give yourself some credit. And - I can't believe I'm saying this - him too. He loved you for what it's worth but you seriously underestimate the allure of the Will-o-Witch. Just trust me on that one."

Willow turned crimson as she blushed at the rare compliment and bit her tongue to force the imminent nervous babble to stay away.

"At the same time Buffy got together with Riley and-"

"Wait? Wasn't he the TA for a class she was in too? Isn't that both unethical and also illegal in many states?"

"Just trust me when I say that ethics weren't the top priority for your professor Walsh."

"Oh yeah. You said she built cyborg demons and ran an underground military operation that Riley was part of, right?"

"Yup. He deserted later on though and was together with Buffy until about a year ago before she found him going to what was essentially vampire brothels. We don't really miss him."

"Yeah he doesn't really sound like much of a catch."

Tara turned the page and a photo of a smiling Willow in a dark room with christmas lights covering the top of the walls formed the centerpiece of the new spread.

"Remember the laryngitis outbreak?" Willow nodded. "That's when we first met. The same day everyone became mute I saw you in a Wicca meeting. You were there trying to find someone to practice magic with but everyone else were nothing but frauds. I tried to speak up but, well, let's just say that before I met you I was a lot more shy and were rarely able to string two words together without stuttering."

"So how'd we end up talking if nobody could and none of us were of the extrovert inclination?"

"Well our voices got stolen by a group of fairytale demons called the Gentlemen. I thought we could try a spell together to restore our voices and tried to get to your dorm when I was ambushed. I fled and crashed into you while they chased me. We eventually ended up in the basement laundry room where we cast our first spell together and barricaded the door until Buffy could defeat the demons altogether. That's when we got our voices back."

Willow silently stared into the fireplace as she tried to blink away the tears that were forming.

"What's the matter Sweetie?"

"That evening was the first time I saw you. I saw you through the window as you were walking outside my dorm and I immediately fell in love with you. I never even knew your name and only ever saw you at a distance because I didn't dare to approach. And now you're telling me that's when we actually first met?"

"Yeah. Over the rest of the year you and your friends fought the Initiative - that's Riley's old group - and the rest of your free time you spent in my dorm where we practiced magic and got to know each other. And I mean that both literally and in a very doubley-entendrey way. We kissed for the first time after about a month and a half of 'friendly' meetings. You hadn't realized that you weren't straight until then but after that there was no doubt of your love of the womanly ways, something our very enthusiastic makeout sessions cemented in both our minds."

"How did my friends react when I came out?"

"Well you didn't really tell them at first. You were growing apart - like people do when they get older and find different partners - but that all changed after Oz came back."

"That cheating jerk came back? Why?"

"He thought he had cured himself. He could control the wolf during the full moon. Problem was that when he got angry it kinda stopped working and after he, well, smelled your scent on me he got mad and all furry. It ended up with him leaving again, us becoming a couple for real and Riley deserting the Initiative. Oh yeah you came out to Buffy and soon after that to the rest of the group. They took it rather well and I can say that there's never been a moment where I didn't feel accepted by them. They're usually very good people. I mean they must be if you're friends with them."

Their eyes met and both blushed with matching smiles. Tara continued to move through the album as they explored their first summer together as an out couple. Tara spoke of their encounter with the legendary Dracula, Spike's growing participation in the group and the technology that allowed his continued survival. It wasn't until they got to what Tara knew was 'her' Willow's favorite picture; the photo of them hovering above the floor at the Bronze as they danced in celebration of Tara's birthday.

"Wait? We actually hovered like that? In public? And people didn't freak?"

"People in this town are very adept at ignoring the supernatural if they get the chance to. Besides it was mostly friends of ours at the Bronze that day since we were celebrating my 20th birthday."

"Oh? Was it fun? It seems fun."

"It was both extremely harrowing and also the best day of my life. You see; there's something about my past I haven't told you and when I turned 20 I still hadn't told you. I was raised by a bigot father and with a cruel brother and both beat it me into believing that the day I turned 20 I'd turn into a demon. I know it sounds silly now but it was all I had ever known. Even my usually clever mom believed she was a demon as well even as she died three years earlier. It wasn't until I turned 18 that I were able to flee my home and start over in college here but they eventually found me and tried to drag me back home with them for the 'treatment'."

"...Do I dare to ask? Do you want to answer?"

"Beating, forced physical labor and complete isolation from the outside world for the rest of my life."

Willow put her hand on one of Tara's in sympathy. "Then what happened?"

"I screwed up. I tried to cast a spell to prevent you all from seeing my demon side and when I removed the spell my dad, my brother and my cousin came to take me away. I was so ashamed for messing up that I would've gone with them if it weren't for you. You told my dad that it was my decision and when they still pushed me the rest of the group forced them to leave. I haven't seen or heard from any of them since then and I'm glad I never have to see them again. You and the Scoobies have been my family ever since. That's when it became the best day of my life."

"Something tells me there's a 'but' coming."

"Correct. Buffy and Dawn's mom got cancer and eventually died from an aneurysm. She was like a mother for not just the sisters but for you, Xander and Anya as well. I liked her too despite not knowing her too well and Giles was a really good friend to her. Even Spike had been friends with her even since before he got that behavioral modification chip installed. At the same time we were under constant threat from a Hellgod called Glorificus who tried to destroy the world in order for her to return to her own."

"We fought a Hellgod?"

"We fled a Hellgod. Buffy couldn't touch her and for a long time nobody could do any damage to her."

"How did we win?"

"Barely. You and I had a fight. Not a big one but we both had some issues that none of us were prepared to deal with at the moment. It led to me being isolated by Glory who drained my sanity."

"She did what?"

Tara winced as she heard the familiar tone of a Willow who had never tolerated anything that could threaten her partner.

"She was constantly losing her mind due to being stuck in our dimension so she had to drain the sanity of humans to remain stable. Well, stable-ish at best. Eventually she got to me and there was no sign of any kind of cure. To be honest, there was no real cure. She fed on the sanity and if it was drained for too long she'd consume it completely and there would be nothing left."

"So how did we fix it? Because you seem pretty sane to me. I mean you're speaking of demons and magic and gods and vampires but otherwise you seem to got it all together!"

Willow grinned and Tara smiled in appreciation of the friendly jest. Oh how she had missed her beloved and happy Willow.

"You did but you paid a price far too steep. You turned to dark magic - which is often faster and stronger but is addictive and causes long-term damage to the caster - and used it to attack Glory all on your own. They later told me that you were so angry at Buffy for her willingness to sacrifice me and everyone else and refusing to even try to attack Glory with everything she got. You did some damage in your attack before Buffy came and helped you escape once Glory got the upper hand. It was the first time anyone had ever hurt her but she soon recovered."

"But didn't that just show that dark magic was useful if that was the only way to hurt her?"

Tara's face fell as she was reminded of so many arguments in their past.

"All magic could hurt her, not just dark magic. Dark magic is sometimes easier to summon but not worth it, just trust me. When you're 'in the game' you don't need to use any dark magic to win against even the strongest foes and the price you pay is not worth it. It's never worth it."

"O-okay."

"You would've known that back then if Mr. Giles had ever set you up with a mentor to teach you the rules and consequences of magic back when you first started. Instead you've been forced to learn the basics by trial & error which is not a safe way when it comes to magics. Just trust me when I say that this is an issue that's caused us both more pain than I could've ever wished on my worst enemy."

"Tara? For what it's worth; I'm sorry I didn't understand that before and I'm sure you know what you're doing since you're the witch and I'm just a mundane geek with a sweet tooth. How did they help you come back to normalcy?"

"That was all you Sweetie. First there was a series of small fights with Glory and a third group but then she captured Dawn - who she needed to destroy the world in a story that's so complicated I'm just gonna skip right over it - and we were forced to attack her once and for all. Okay, not me. I was there to lead you to where Glory was; a side effect of the brain drain is that her victims were drawn to her at a certain moment. Once we found her you managed to reverse the drain which dealt her more of a setback than any other spell or attack had in the past. And it wasn't dark magic."

Tara turned to her with proud eyes.

"It worked perfectly. I was back to normal - except for a broken hand and some recurring nightmares - and eventually Buffy managed to defeat and kill Glory. Unfortunately she ended up having to sacrifice her own life to prevent the apocalypse."

"S-so she's dead? Is that Dawn girl all alone now or is their father around?"

"Her dad isn't around but," she sighed as she remembered that painful summer, "Buffy was returned to us a couple of months ago."

"What? How? Is she a vampire?"

"No. She died and we buried her. Problem was that without her protecting the city from the Hellmouth and the demons who kept threatening it we were all in big trouble. I was injured from Glory's attacks and both Giles and Anya had suffered serious injuries in the last few days of fighting. Spike was really only around because he had an obsession with Buffy and even though he helped out at times he mostly just kept to himself as he grieved Buffy's death. Dawn was obviously heartbroken and all alone so you and I moved in with her to raise her."

"Raise her? Isn't she like seventeen? I'm only 20!"

"She's fifteen now but yeah, it was a rough situation for everyone. We both love Dawnie and she loves us but she isn't doing too well. She lost her mom and sister within the span of a few months and her father has been out of reach since before even that. We had a robot copy of Buffy - that's a long and disgusting story I can tell you later - that we used to put up an illusion that the Slayer wasn't dead which lead to demons being more avoidy and the child services not taking Dawnie away from us."

"So it was a tough summer?"

"The toughest. But it was also wonderful in other ways. Our little family of three was something special and I wouldn't trade our time together for the world. Our problems were that we were getting overwhelmed by everything else. The grief, the constant repairs and maintenance of the Buffybot, the patrolling, the summer classes to cover what we missed during the fights... We just couldn't do it all. We needed a Slayer and we all feared Buffy was stuck in an hell dimension like Angel had been."

"So we brought her back," Willow surmised and buried her face in her palms. "What did I do wrong?"

"It wasn't just you! We all did wrong. We did the spell correctly but demon bikers - no I'm still not making this up - interrupted the ritual and almost killed us all in the process. Buffy came back and helped us but wasn't just the same afterwards. She's extremely depressed and bitter at us all and we couldn't understand why until just recently when she was forced to admit that she hadn't been in hell as we thought - and she had told us before she had been saved from hell - but instead she revealed that she had been some kind of heaven."

"She was in..."

"That's what she's saying. At the same time you've been having problems with a growing addiction to dark magic and it all imploded when you used a spell to..."

Tara paused as she tried to find the best way to formulate the pain Willow had put her through. She never got the chance.

"...I hurt you, didn't I?"

Tara nodded sadly. "More than I ever thought you could. You used a spell to remove a memory from my mind. It wasn't a huge thing you took away but you did it in secret and even more importantly; without my permission. And then you tried to hide it from me."

They sat like in painful silence for several minutes before Willow spoke up.

"Why would you even come here? Shouldn't you just be glad I'm out of your life so I can't do anything like that to you again?"

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:28 pm 
Offline
8. Vixen

Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:33 pm
Posts: 720
Topics: 2
Location: North Carolina, USA
I absolutely love this story. I look forward to reading the rest. Thanks for writing

_________________
Atlantic Antics Meeting Expectations
Learning to Laugh What I Discovered at Band Camp


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2021 7:46 am 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 457
Quote:
She wept for that she had already lost and who she would lose for good in just a few days. Soon Willow would be approved at NYU - she'd easily make the cut with her academic record proving an expedited transfer would be in everyone's best interest - and then she'd move to the other coast as soon as humanly possible.

That would be the last they ever saw of her again.

She'd also be living a life based on self-taught lies and a life where her emotional maturity has been stunted for years and Tara convinced herself she only had one person to blame for it all.

Tara.

Tara was the one who had trapped Willow in a Catch 22 situation with her ultimatum. Tara was the one who refused to talk with Willow after she moved out and back to her parents' house. Tara came up with the plan that had collapsed within days and Tara was the one who had screwed up so badly that Willow moved the planned transfer from months in the future to just days. She should've realized Willow would sense something was up when she suddenly went from no social interactions to a veritable barrage within a week.

Poor Tara! :cry She exaggerated here by only blaming herself. Willow was the one who chose to perform the "Tabula rasa" spell on herself without giving Tara the opportunity to stop her.

I'm glad that Tara decided to screw her own plan and tell Willow (almost) the whole truth - not mentioning the whole "Dawn is a mystical key and our memories (and photos) of her in our earlier past are fake" is probably a good thing in this situation where she wants to convince Willow that her spell-induced memories of the last five years are wrong.
I think Willow took all those revelations pretty well.

Quote:
"...I hurt you, didn't I?"

Tara nodded sadly. "More than I ever thought you could. You used a spell to remove a memory from my mind. It wasn't a huge thing you took away but you did it in secret and even more importantly; without my permission. And then you tried to hide it from me."

They sat like in painful silence for several minutes before Willow spoke up.

"Why would you even come here? Shouldn't you just be glad I'm out of your life so I can't do anything like that to you again?"

Now we come to the most important part of the talk, Tara convincing Willow that she is willing to forgive her and help her to get a "proper magical education" and wants her back as a girlfriend...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2021 10:42 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
taranwillow4ever wrote:
I absolutely love this story. I look forward to reading the rest. Thanks for writing

Thank you! it was an idea I had when I discussed the stupidity of the 'magic addiction'-storyline of S6 with my wife and how Willow was acting so OoC-ly and would act a lot more in character after being confronted with the Forget spell if she turned to her recurring self-loathing.

In particular, I do not see her staying at Buffy's place while Tara is becoming homeless. She would've moved out before letting Tara move to a motel(which are famously not protected against vampires) for example.

Will's redemption wrote:
Poor Tara! :cry She exaggerated here by only blaming herself. Willow was the one who chose to perform the "Tabula rasa" spell on herself without giving Tara the opportunity to stop her.

Yeah she's sinking into that famous Scooby self-deprecating guilt trips here. Willow is the most at fault but to Tara the "current" Willow isn't really guilty as it never happened in her reality AFASK.

Quote:
I'm glad that Tara decided to screw her own plan and tell Willow (almost) the whole truth - not mentioning the whole "Dawn is a mystical key and our memories (and photos) of her in our earlier past are fake" is probably a good thing in this situation where she wants to convince Willow that her spell-induced memories of the last five years are wrong.
I think Willow took all those revelations pretty well.

That was omitted because it's a bunch of extra stuff that isn't really important to Willow(or in convincing her) at the moment and if she decides to come back she'll get get the lost stuff back.

Probably.

Maybe.

Quote:
Now we come to the most important part of the talk, Tara convincing Willow that she is willing to forgive her and help her to get a "proper magical education" and wants her back as a girlfriend..

Yup. That's what's left for Chapter 8 and then there's just an infodump on the spell left. :)

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Chapter 8
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:17 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Tara sat in silence as she considered just how to formulate her answer to such a loaded question.

"...Willow, the thing is that it's complicated and-"

"No," she interrupted. "It's really not. I violated you and tried to hide it and then something happened to free you from the risk of me ever doing that again," Willow spoke slowly and deliberately. "That's a good thing, isn't it?"

"No, it's not. I miss you. Your friends miss you. We love you and don't want to lose you."

"If none of you did this to me then just what happened to make me forget all those years? Did some magical justice spirit curse me or did I try to hurt you again and accidently hit myself instead?"

Tara took a deep breath and turned to her. "There's a little bit more to tell you about first; what happened after I found out about the spell. That's if you want to hear it."

Willow nodded slowly as her gaze remained firmly set towards her hands that were fiddling with a loose thread from the pyjamas.

"After you cast the spell I did find out. I will not lie to you; I was mad as hell and felt betrayed in a way that I've never been before. Glory and my family had hurt me and tried to control me but you were the only one I've ever trusted so completely. I confronted you and it ended up with us duking it out as I delivered the ultimatum; stay away from magic for a week or I'd leave you. To be honest I didn't think you'd manage the full week but I was wrong. I was wrong in so many ways," she mumbled as she tried to blink away tears.

"What do you mean?"

"You did. You did all it by yourself. I had completely failed to realize the motivation behind your actions so I was blindsided when you moved out of our home the very next day and came back here. For a week you didn't speak to anyone and still completely managed to control your impulses. Our problem was that you had misunderstood my intentions and I had failed to fully comprehend your anxieties. You thought I wanted you to stop using magic altogether in the long run and felt that you had nothing more to offer me if you gave it all up."

Tara took Willow's small hands in her own, the pale fingers trembling from the touch.

"Which is wrong. It's so completely wrong and I'm sorry that I haven't been clear enough to properly make you realize that yet."

"You're stalling. What happened to make me blank out on all this witchy stuff?"

"You cast one final spell. Soon after managing the full week you cast a modified version of the spell you had used on me and removed all of your own memories of magic use and the supernatural world. You had such a hard time with the withdrawal effects of the magic addiction and thought you had to brave it all by yourself so you decided to start over instead. You thought we all had given you up for good and decided to cut the final cord yourself."

"So I did something right at the end. At least that's something," Willow bitterly concluded.

"But it was wrong! We failed to give you proper support so you thought you were all alone but you're not! We want you back Willow, all of us! I want you and I need you so damn much."

Willow withdrew her hands from Tara's and coldly turned back towards the fireplace.

"What if I don't want to risk it again? If I'm the kind of person who goes all willy nilly and violate the mind of my girlfriend then I'm not sure it's someone I want to turn back to again. It sounds like being a witch has made me an user of both people and magic and I'm not sure I want to go back to that life."







They were silent for a minute before Tara closed the photo album and held it against her chest.

"It wasn't willy nilly," she whispered and Willow turned to her with raised eyebrows.

"Huh?"

"It wasn't willy nilly. You didn't get there on your own. While you did cast the spell on me we all have to take part of the responsibility in how you reached that point in the first place. For years Giles had constantly refused to give you proper training once you first became a witch and my own attempts were mishandled as I was far too rigid and reactionary. Before she had died Buffy kept pushing you to new limits no matter the consequences and when she was gone we all expected you to handle far too much by yourself without any real preparation or training. We were both drowning in grief and responsibilities as bills piled up and exhaustion crept up on us. You used your magic to keep us alive and we all looked the other way as you had to deal with the backlash."

She took another deep breath as she ran her fingers over the front cover of the album.

"We've all been falling apart recently, not just you and me. Giles has abandoned us and moved back to England, Buffy is bitter and angry because we brought her back and the two of us has been unable to deal with what's been going on this year. And I want to do that, I want us to talk and be together. I love you and I want this-," she paused. "I want us to work because I don't know how to do it without you right here next to me."

"It seems I've mostly made it harder for you," Willow countered.

"That's just not true. The time I was drained by Glory? You not only fed me, clothed me and took care of me during every waking hour. Dawnie told me that you had pledged - and none of us have ever doubted your honesty there - to always take care of me even if I wouldn't get better. You created from scratch an entirely new spell to bring me back from a lifetime of nightmarish torment and then you helped me recover during a summer where you grieved the death of your best friend. When my family tried to take me away you pledged your love and support even before we found out I wouldn't become a demon and you did it without any hesitation. You called me your forever and I like to believe you meant it."

"But I messed with your mind," Willow still protested. "I did the same thing to you that you said your family and Glory had done before. How can you forget that?"

"I can never forget it. I never will. I have forgiven you though, fully and completely. And it's not like you're the only one who's messed up in our relationship. I kept the knowledge about my expected demonic ascension a secret for almost a year. When it was all about to be exposed I then cast a spell on you all that risked everyone's lives and made you unable to see any demons at all. And what did you do after you found out about both of those things at the same time? You told me you loved me and forgave me on the spot."

They sat silent for a couple of minutes while Willow tried to comprehend everything she'd been told that evening.

"Do you know how to remove the spell?"

"Yes."

"Will it hurt?"

"I don't know."

"Will it be quick?"

"I don't know. I think so."

Tara could feel hesitation that preceded Willow's next inquiry. "...are you going to leave me as soon as I go back to normal?"

Tara cupped Willow's face in her hands and forced their eyes to meet. Her own blue eyes were still sparkling from the tears she'd shed. "Not unless you make me leave. Or if you ever mess with my mind like that again. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you but I can't let you control me just like you can't let me control you. We're a team and we have to work together."

Willow smiled for the first time in what felt like an eternity.

"What would we do if she-, if I came back? It sounded like we used to live together until rather recently."

"Yeah, we do. We did. We lived at Buffy's place but I think we can't do that anymore. Buffy resent us for bringing her back and I think we need to move out, at least for a while, so she can get some distance and perspective while we still provide support when she ask for it."

"Where would we live instead? I'm not sure my parents would allow you to move in here. They don't even know I'm gay yet."

"Actually, they do. They took it... like they took to you staying in Sunnydale."

"Ouch. That bad?"

"They don't complain about it! Mostly because you almost never speak with them but that was the rule even before you introduced them to me."

"Sounds like them alright. Do you think they recognized you when you met today?"

Tara shrugged. "Don't know, don't care. I don't want their approval, I want your approval. But to answer your question - I still got my old dorm. I had to keep it for my scholarship requirements and we lived in it before this summer and I would love to share it with you again."

"That sounds nice. My only experience with the dorms is the crippling loneliness of a single but this sounds like a much better situation."

Tara smiled at the goofy girl in front of her.

"And if you want I'd love to help you do a kind of soft restart of your magical training. You're much more powerful than I've ever been but I was trained by my mother since I was a small child while you've had to learn on the go. I won't force you to make a decision about that until - if - you get your memories back. It's not fair to expect you to commit to anything until you got all the facts."

Willow smiled at her again.

"Will the others be mad that I'm moving away from Buffy and her sister? I mean we would be stiffing them on the bills, wouldn't we?"

"Then we can all help out and pitch in. We've paid for the bills the entire summer and most of the fall and we're not even the ones with any money."

"And I can see if I can't borrow some cash from my parents' 'rainy day' fund. It's just gathering dust anyway and they've told me before to use it in emergencies but they never specified it had to be my own emergency!" Willow grinned widely as Tara extended her arms to let Willow rest in her lap.

After she rested her head she let Tara run her fingers through Willow's crimson hair and Tara felt her heart almost explode from all the familiar feelings the sensation woke in her.

"How do I remove the spell," Willow asked after a short moment of comfortable silence.

"That necklace you're carrying around your neck? The crystal within it contain all your stored memories so destroying it would bring them back again."

Willow frowned. "What? But this is my bubbie's old necklace? She gave it to me in her will when I was fifteen. You must be mistaken, it's something else."

"Will? I've known every piece of jewelry, clothing and other apparel you've ever worn for the last two years and I've never seen it before now. Besides, I can feel the magic radiating from it."

"Really? You can do that?"

"We can do that."

Willow fiddled with the crystal for a minute until her yawn broke the silence. "Would it be okay if I did it tomorrow? Even if the memories are fake like you say they still feel real to me, you know? My bubbie is one of the few people I've ever been really close to." She paused and turned in Tara's lap to look at her supposed girlfriend's eyes. "Wait, that's not false too is it? Please tell me she didn't actually hate me and I just made up our close friendship."

"I never met her but you've always spoken of her with the deepest of love, Sweetie. That was not made up."

Willow released the breath she didn't realize she'd held and silently observed the charred crystal.

"And you promise me that this isn't some cruel prank?"

Tara nodded.

"Even though we won't crack the crystal until tomorrow would it be okay if I kissed you? Just a teensy little bit."

Tara flashed the half-grin she knew Willow adored. "I would love to kiss you, Will."

The tired girl sat up slowly and nervously leaned towards Tara. Willow's lips met Tara's in a chaste kiss that only lasted for a second before pulling back an inch. Instead of letting Willow move further away the older woman pulled her back into a deeply passionate kiss and Willow returned it with loving fervor as Tara's fingers became entwined in Willow's hair while the other hand held her close by the waist.

After half a minute of an intense make out session they inched away from each other and Willow's dilated pupils sang the praises of the feelings Tara had woken in her.

"That... That was... Wow!"

"Yeah," Tara agreed with a smile.

Suddenly Willow grabbed the necklace and pulled the long chain over her head. Before Tara could react she had put it down on the floor next to them and smashed it with her heel.

Then, for an instant, Willow's entire world flashed brightly as her eyes momentarily turned completely white.

When the light faded Willow met her lover's eyes with a beaming smile.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Tabula Rasa Specifics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:00 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
And that's it! Not that long of a story but one I'm stupidly proud of(and currently my most popular on AO3 with My Dark Disquiet in a distant second) and I at least like to pretend the concept is original. Well, at least I haven't seen this particular twist of Tabula Rasa before.

So here's the rules I set up for the spell Willow cast for herself. I spent far too much time working out the kinks. :)

Quote:
So yeah here's a few notes on how the spell worked for those of us who just don't like the 'a wizard did it'-excuse:
(TSN is shorthand for The Supernatural)
1. If her memories of events can't be explained without TSN then they're removed completely.
1a: If a friend is 100% connected to TSN they're removed completely(Spike and Angel) or becomes a face in the crowd(Tara and Buffy)
1b: If a friend become 100% connected to TSN at a certain point after befriending pre!Willow they're written out from then on(Xander)
1c: As a result amnesia!Willow has no friends left and has been completely alone since S3 and she only had four friends before S1E1 and two of them are dead, one is a rat and the last one is 100% immersed with TSN

2. Deaths and major events are treated like the townies treat them i.e. Willow think it's PCP gangs and gas leaks
2a: Jesse and Amy just disappeared, Calendar was murdered and her killer never caught but amnesia!Willow is certain it's Giles
2b: Judge was terror bombing, Graduation Day was gas leak explosion, Gentlemen was laryngitis outbreak, Glory's Big Day was a really bad storm and she missed on OMWF completely as she didn't meet anyone during those days as college was closed so she didn't actually talk to anyone and therefore Alyson Hannigan's request for the bare minimum of Willowy songs is upheld

3. Some memories are rewritten but won't hold up to scrutiny in any way
3a: History of living arrangements and existence of photos from real memories are clear examples
3b: Other people's memories are completely unaltered
3c: The Rosenbergs didn't notice anything strange as they don't really know Willow or her life in the first place

4. To reiterate; only Willow's memories were affected by the spell.
4a: My headcanon is that magic withdrawal is entirely psychosomatic because it was a dumb plot point in the first place so I'm trying to polish that turd and that's why amnesia!Willow has no withdrawal symptoms
4b: Nobody but pre!Willow know the dispelling process as she does have a tendency to modify her spells which is why neither Anya or Tara managed to find it in an existing spellbook before abandoning that strategy
4c: Willow doesn't manually rewrite her memories but instead she designated what to remove(knowledge and memories of all of TSN) and her(very damaged) subconscious innately created the new memories for her
4d: Anya was correct when it came to amnesia!Willow no longer being an adult(emotionally). I mean all the scoobies are stunted emotionally due to boatloads of heavy trauma and poor parenting but pre!Willow completely removed all those defining memories of moments where she 'grew up' and had nothing comparative to replace them with so she is now severely underdeveloped on top of her other already substantial anxiety and crippling social isolation

5. Spell is cancelled like Tabula Rasa is in the show; with the destruction of the charred crystal
5a: Reason nobody in the fic realized it until that last evening is just like in the show; nobody knew about it until they accidently destroyed the crystal
5b: Tara only knew of Lethe's Bramble being used for mind-altering and memory spells, not what specific spell pre!Willow had cast
5c: Not shown in fic: destroying the crystal does gives back all old memories but the fake ones are kept(like in the episode) but with a distance like if seen on a show

Finally, sorry for the abrupt ending. Had a really hard time trying to find a way to wrap this piece up without getting bogged down in minutiae. There's no epilogue but if you're curious Tara survives S6 since they moved to a place of their own again because fuck the Bury Your Gays trope.

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One [COMPLETE]
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 4:12 pm 
Offline
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:22 pm
Posts: 4547
Topics: 44
Thanks for this unique spin through season six and for giving us another great fic for the board :) I love how detailed you were with the rules! Shows how much effort you put into the continuity. And of course, a Tara kiss is responsible for smashing those crystals...what else would be?! :D

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

Love, The SeriesTwo For Joy/21+InevitableConfidential Eternal

A Twisted DateDachsund Through The Snow


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One [COMPLETE]
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:38 am 
Offline
6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 457
Quote:
Our problem was that you had misunderstood my intentions and I had failed to fully comprehend your anxieties. You thought I wanted you to stop using magic altogether in the long run and felt that you had nothing more to offer me if you gave it all up."

Tara took Willow's small hands in her own, the pale fingers trembling from the touch.

"Which is wrong. It's so completely wrong and I'm sorry that I haven't been clear enough to properly make you realize that yet."

Quote:
You had such a hard time with the withdrawal effects of the magic addiction and thought you had to brave it all by yourself so you decided to start over instead. You thought we all had given you up for good and decided to cut the final cord yourself."

"So I did something right at the end. At least that's something," Willow bitterly concluded.

"But it was wrong! We failed to give you proper support so you thought you were all alone but you're not! We want you back Willow, all of us! I want you and I need you so damn much."

Quote:
"It wasn't willy nilly. You didn't get there on your own. While you did cast the spell on me we all have to take part of the responsibility in how you reached that point in the first place. For years Giles had constantly refused to give you proper training once you first became a witch and my own attempts were mishandled as I was far too rigid and reactionary. Before she had died Buffy kept pushing you to new limits no matter the consequences and when she was gone we all expected you to handle far too much by yourself without any real preparation or training. We were both drowning in grief and responsibilities as bills piled up and exhaustion crept up on us. You used your magic to keep us alive and we all looked the other way as you had to deal with the backlash."

She took another deep breath as she ran her fingers over the front cover of the album.

"We've all been falling apart recently, not just you and me. Giles has abandoned us and moved back to England, Buffy is bitter and angry because we brought her back and the two of us has been unable to deal with what's been going on this year. And I want to do that, I want us to talk and be together. I love you and I want this-," she paused. "I want us to work because I don't know how to do it without you right here next to me."

I'm glad that Tara realized her own mistakes and how hard she fights to win Willow back here.

Quote:
"But I messed with your mind," Willow still protested. "I did the same thing to you that you said your family and Glory had done before. How can you forget that?"

"I can never forget it. I never will. I have forgiven you though, fully and completely. And it's not like you're the only one who's messed up in our relationship. I kept the knowledge about my expected demonic ascension a secret for almost a year. When it was all about to be exposed I then cast a spell on you all that risked everyone's lives and made you unable to see any demons at all. And what did you do after you found out about both of those things at the same time? You told me you loved me and forgave me on the spot."

YES! It always bothered me that in canon it was never acknowledged that Tara basically did the same to Willow and all the other scoobies as Willow did to her, using magic to manipulate their minds.

Quote:
"What would we do if she-, if I came back? It sounded like we used to live together until rather recently."

"Yeah, we do. We did. We lived at Buffy's place but I think we can't do that anymore. Buffy resent us for bringing her back and I think we need to move out, at least for a while, so she can get some distance and perspective while we still provide support when she ask for it."

Quote:
But to answer your question - I still got my old dorm. I had to keep it for my scholarship requirements and we lived in it before this summer and I would love to share it with you again."

Good plan - although I can imagine Dawn won't be thrilled about it...

Quote:
"And if you want I'd love to help you do a kind of soft restart of your magical training. You're much more powerful than I've ever been but I was trained by my mother since I was a small child while you've had to learn on the go.

I'm not sure if it's the best idea that Tara and Willow just train magic together on their own again. A training with experienced witches as teachers (who aren't romantically involved with her) would probably be the best for Willow. Maybe they can contact Giles and he can still organize a training at the coven in England (for both our beloved witches, of course).

Quote:
After half a minute of an intense make out session they inched away from each other and Willow's dilated pupils sang the praises of the feelings Tara had woken in her.

"That... That was... Wow!"

"Yeah," Tara agreed with a smile.

Suddenly Willow grabbed the necklace and pulled the long chain over her head. Before Tara could react she had put it down on the floor next to them and smashed it with her heel.

Then, for an instant, Willow's entire world flashed brightly as her eyes momentarily turned completely white.

When the light faded Willow met her lover's eyes with a beaming smile.

Yay, welcome back Willow! :bounce

Thank you very much for this great story, Rutkowski! :bow


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One [COMPLETE]
PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 7:32 am 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Laragh wrote:
Thanks for this unique spin through season six and for giving us another great fic for the board :) I love how detailed you were with the rules! Shows how much effort you put into the continuity. And of course, a Tara kiss is responsible for smashing those crystals...what else would be?! :D

Thank you! Even if ME refuse to follow their own rules when it comes to magic("magic addiction?!" bleh!) doesn't mean I'm gonna be as lazy as them. ;)

And it felt like quintessential Willow to have a set plan that seems sensible and grounded and then immediately 'just skip it' when she realize what she's actually missing.

Will's redemption wrote:
I'm glad that Tara realized her own mistakes and how hard she fights to win Willow back here.

Yeah. I love Tara but I do have an issue with her stance with magic(which is very flexible later on due to varying quality of scriptwriters) and she is far from a passive bystander when it comes to the group's magic use, especially with the resurrection.

Once again, does not excuse the Forget spell in any way. I am never trying to whitewash that violation even if I do enjoy putting it in context.

Quote:
YES! It always bothered me that in canon it was never acknowledged that Tara basically did the same to Willow and all the other scoobies as Willow did to her, using magic to manipulate their minds.

While not exactly the same it was quite the breach of trust. She did lie to Willow for almost a year and then was about to either leave without any warning or use a spell that would risk everyone's lives both short- and long term. I completely understand that she panicked at the end there and saw no other option but to use magic to be able to stay with Willow but that's kind of my point, Willow saw no other option in using Tabula Rasa(canon or this one) because in her mind Tara had already decided to leave her.

And to be fair, she kinda had. Willow was set up to fail and just like every other time she had a crisis of faith/identity the rest of the scoobies hung her out to dry. The only difference is that this time Tara joined the scoobies, not her.

Quote:
Good plan - although I can imagine Dawn won't be thrilled about it...

While I sympathize with Dawn and I love the W/T/D 'family' Buffy has made that living situation untenable.

Quote:
I'm not sure if it's the best idea that Tara and Willow just train magic together on their own again. A training with experienced witches as teachers (who aren't romantically involved with her) would probably be the best for Willow. Maybe they can contact Giles and he can still organize a training at the coven in England (for both our beloved witches, of course).

Giles has always been a shit mentor to Willow(and to everyone but Buffy(and in S6-7 her as well) really) when it comes to magic. He's demeaned and opposed her at almost every turn since even before she started and I *hate* how it's all ignored between S6-7 where he's suddenly this awesome mentor when really he's been shit all along.

Yes, I got a grudge there. I've ranted about this extensively. Giles is a bad mentor is like my #3 Top Controversial Take*.

Quote:
Yay, welcome back Willow! :bounce

Thank you very much for this great story, Rutkowski! :bow

Thank YOU for reading and FBing! I write what I want to read, everyone else providing input is just a huge bonus! =)

*#1 is 'Buffy wasn't in heaven and the resurrection of her was a good thing for everyone but Willow.' #2 is 'all scoobies(especially Buffy) except Tara treated Willow like shit wrt magic use in season 4-7 and are equally responsible for her issues with magic in the later seasons.

Sign up for my newsletter to hear more of Rutkowski's Annoying Hot Takes That Nobody Cares About. ;)

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One [COMPLETE]
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:50 pm 
Offline
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:37 am
Posts: 242
Topics: 8
Location: Pacific Northwest
I finally caught up with and finished this- I enjoy it alot!

The part about Tara not making a sound when upset because it would draw anger and abuse in her past is so heartbreaking, but rings true.

I think Tara was right to not make the decision for Willow to bring her memories back, it has to be Willow's choice but I am glad she brought the proof of the pictures and recapped Will's history and their history with a different perspective maybe than Willow sees it.

It has a lovely fairytale feel with the love at first sight and the kiss being prompting the breaking of the spell

I do see a few things a little differently in regards to Tara's actions- we see Willow brush off Tara's concerns and gentle warnings about magic quite a few times. Tara maybe was too passive but when she did push harder, Willow got angry and defensive. Also, I do agree that Tara has some culpability in using magic to blind the others regarding her demon, but the spell went wrong- Tara's intentions were that they only could not see her, and it was done in the face of being dragged back to an abusive household, plus she does it once and immediately feels remorse and never does it again. Willow's actions are more deliberate and in the show she immediately uses the Lethe's bramble on Tara again, for the same purpose- she doesn't in your fic of course and that makes a huge difference- doing it once and learning from it is one thing, doing it twice with deliberate intent is another. Willow is an intelligent and compassionate person, it wasn't up to Tara to force her to see the morality of using magic- although I also understand why Will got so lost. And yes, Giles should have been guiding her more.

Thank you for bringing up that Tara and Will were paying bills! they had to have been, I think them moving out is the right choice, but I do feel for Dawn, she is going to be even lonelier.

I would love to know how, after will gets her memories back, it all works out, I am assuming she remembers everything she and Tara talked about. And that Willow did go the week without magic says alot in her intent, also I agree that Tara never wanted Will to give up magic, she just cannot use it to manipulate the world to her liking.

thanks for sharing your story with us!

_________________
You ARE Magic ~ Tara


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Tabula for One [COMPLETE]
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2021 3:07 pm 
Offline
3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 54
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
shirrey wrote:
I finally caught up with and finished this- I enjoy it alot!

The part about Tara not making a sound when upset because it would draw anger and abuse in her past is so heartbreaking, but rings true.

Yeeeaaah, I might be drawing from personal experience there.

Quote:
I think Tara was right to not make the decision for Willow to bring her memories back, it has to be Willow's choice but I am glad she brought the proof of the pictures and recapped Will's history and their history with a different perspective maybe than Willow sees it.

It has a lovely fairytale feel with the love at first sight and the kiss being prompting the breaking of the spell

Thank you! I had a hard time balancing Tara's painful longing for Willow's well-being with her, mostly unshaken, principle of not influencing the mind of others' with magic. She was forced to be more "brute force" by the moved-up deadline but the idea was always to slowly ease Willow back into their lives and then give her the choice.

Quote:
I do see a few things a little differently in regards to Tara's actions- we see Willow brush off Tara's concerns and gentle warnings about magic quite a few times.

Agreed, mostly.

Mainly, the only real warning I see from Tara before S6 is in Tough Love and uuuugh does that fight feel to forced and contrived. Not just the magic part, the "back to boystown" thing was completely out of the blue and the entire fight was only to setup up the braining later on.

Quote:
Tara maybe was too passive but when she did push harder, Willow got angry and defensive.

Agreed(even though again, mostly in S6). That said, it's not like Tara hasn't used magic for frivolous means before they decided to turn their spellcasting(out of combat or warding) from a love metaphor to an addiction metaphor. ;)

Quote:
Also, I do agree that Tara has some culpability in using magic to blind the others regarding her demon, but the spell went wrong- Tara's intentions were that they only could not see her, and it was done in the face of being dragged back to an abusive household, plus she does it once and immediately feels remorse and never does it again.

Oh agreed. She screwed up and she learned from it. Willow screwed up a lot of times due to the way she'd been forced to learn and she mostly learned from it. And I in no way wish to diminish the urgent situation Tara was in, I know the panic that preempt the risk of getting pulled back to an abusive home, I hope I didn't give any impression otherwise.

Quote:
Willow's actions are more deliberate and in the show she immediately uses the Lethe's bramble on Tara again, for the same purpose- she doesn't in your fic of course and that makes a huge difference- doing it once and learning from it is one thing, doing it twice with deliberate intent is another.

Agreed 100%. IMO she is out of character in ATW and Tabula Rasa in how damn calculating she is against Tara but since it's canon what she's doing I can in no way pretend she isn't. This fic was a way to try to explain her reasoning in a way that she show never really did.

Quote:
Willow is an intelligent and compassionate person, it wasn't up to Tara to force her to see the morality of using magic- although I also understand why Will got so lost.

Same there. Tara had no obligation in staying with Willow once the abuse started - I've helped too many escape abusive homes to ever claim otherwise - and Tara wasn't Willow's keeper.

One day I'll post Confessions of a Bad Witch on here. It's Wrecked-divergent instead and my first fic ever and mainly Willow-PoW so yay for angst and self-loathing! =)

Quote:
And yes, Giles should have been guiding her more.

Oh God yes.

Quote:
Thank you for bringing up that Tara and Will were paying bills! they had to have been, I think them moving out is the right choice, but I do feel for Dawn, she is going to be even lonelier.

There's apparently a lot of people(especially Spuffy fans) who think that the only one who paid any bills or took care of Dawn between S5-S6 was, well Spike? Apparently W&T only slouched around and lived on Joyce's remaining belongings for shits and giggles.

Quote:
I would love to know how, after will gets her memories back, it all works out, I am assuming she remembers everything she and Tara talked about. And that Willow did go the week without magic says alot in her intent, also I agree that Tara never wanted Will to give up magic, she just cannot use it to manipulate the world to her liking.

I thought about continuing the fic but felt that it'd just drag on and I've already done a rewrite of S6 so it felt like I'd just rehash stuff I had written a month earlier.

But yes, she remembers everything, just like how everyone remembered everything in Tabula Rasa post-breakage.

Quote:
thanks for sharing your story with us!

Thanks for reading and FBing!

_________________
My Dark Disquiet[AO3]
Tabula for One[AO3]
The Vaesen and the Society[WIP][AO3]
AO3 Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 21 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  

W/T Love 24/7 since July 2000
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group