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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:53 pm 
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:clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap Another great update imo!!! I like how you have the Scooby Gang welcome Tara and Angel back in and that the friendship between Angel and Tara has remained! :) I hope that Angel and Buffy can finally be together and that the human aspect of Angel's life right now remains so! :) Also, I hope that Tara and Willow can talk the way that Tara wants and that Willow can prove that she still loves her! :) Awesome update imo!!! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:01 am 
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Conversations with (formerly) Dead People


Angel rapped lightly on the connecting door as he stepped through into Willow and Buffy's room. He had to chuckle at the sight before him as he entered; Willow and Buffy were sitting at opposite ends of the couch, massaging each other's feet.

“If I'm interrupting, I can come back,” he said, a smile playing across his lips.

“No, no . . . no interruption. We were just . . . I mean . . . it's not what it looks like, I mean we're massaging each other's feet so it maybe it is what it looks like but it's not anything else to interrupt. . .” Willow began babbling before Buffy stopped her.

“Breathe, Willow. It's just a thing we do, no big,” she said looking at Angel.

Angel shrugged and said, “I just came over because you wanted to talk?”

Buffy nodded as Willow stood up and headed in the direction Angel had just come from. “I think I'll go talk to Tara since you two are in here and gonna talk and stuff.”

Angel smiled his thanks at Willow. “She's out on the balcony watching the sunset and staring at the stars. Good luck.”

Willow smiled and nodded as she slipped through the connecting doors, leaving Angel and Buffy alone.

Angel looked at Buffy, who sat up and motioned for him to join her on the couch. He sat away from her and hesitated, uncertain what to say.

“Buffy . . .” “Angel . . .”

They looked at each other and laughed. “You go first,” he said, smiling at her.

“I was just going to say how good it is to see you. It's been a long time.”

“Longer for me,” he said. “I've missed you, Buffy.” He shifted nervously in his seat. “I, uh, talked to Giles. He said if I wanted to come to England there was plenty of room and more than enough work to be done.” He looked directly at her and decided not to beat around the bush, the time for caution had passed and he just wanted her to know how he felt and he wanted to know what she felt, no matter the consequences.

Taking a deep breath, he plunged in, “However it happened, whatever it means, I'm human now and I want to be with you, Buffy. Wherever you are, that's where I want to call home. I don't know if there's any chance for us, or if you've got someone else or if you're ready, but when you are, if you ever are, I want to be there,” he took another deep breath and realized he probably hadn't said so many words all at once in . . . had he ever said that many words all at once? He looked up to see Buffy looking at him with a bemused smile on her face.

“I didn't know Willow's babbling was contagious,” she said, the smile becoming a grin.

He shook his head. “I didn't either. I didn't know I was capable of it.” He could feel a new sensation as his face got warm and he realized he was blushing, something he couldn't remember ever doing. How did she always make him feel like a teenager in love? He looked up at her again. This time her face was completely serious.

“I get what you're saying and I want you to come to England. But don't come for me. I can't promise you anything, Angel. Everything is so complicated right now. New slayers, new watchers, there's so much work to do.” She stood up and began to pace and he remembered the her from before had always needed to be in motion. She always said it helped her think better.

“I know I love you. Or, the you that used to be you.” She frowned in uncertainty then sighed. “Angel, the you that was here? He became a different guy, a guy I haven't seen in over a year.” She looked at him and he wondered where she was going with this.

“The you that you are? Is the you that you were before you became the you that was here.” She frowned again and he was wondering if she was as confused as he was.

She sighed and started again. “In your world, before you died, did you take over at Wolfram & Hart?”

He nodded. He'd done that to save Connor. No one but Tara knew that.

“Then what happened? You didn't get the amulet you brought me in this world, what happened after you went to work at Wolfram & Hart?”

“Nothing, I was only there,” he stopped to think about how long he'd been at the helm of Wolfram & Hart, “a week? Maybe two, before the First's uber-vamps showed up in L.A.. I'd done as you asked and created a second front, then I went to Sunnydale to find you. Or anyone who had survived. I found Tara. By the time she was well enough to travel, everyone I cared about in L.A. was gone.” Jasmine's birth had left Cordy in a coma, and the hospital had been the site of a massacre. He hadn't been able to find Fred or Wes and hoped they'd gotten out alive. He'd found Gunn's body in the parking structure of Wolfram & Hart. Lorne was nowhere to be found either. “I'm not sure I get where you're going with this, though,” he said, looking at her questioningly.

She looked at him as if wondering how much to tell him before sitting back down and looking him in the eyes. “You took over Wolfram & Hart and you changed, Angel. You became one of the people you always fought against. One of the people I always fought against. I couldn't, didn't, trust you anymore. Then, about a week after we got word that you were 'presumed dead', I got a letter from you telling me everything that had happened. About the Circle of Blackthorne and what you were going to do. It was delivered to me in Italy, the messenger said he'd had instructions to deliver if he hadn't heard from you by May 26th.” She paused and he tried to digest everything she was saying. He didn't change Wolfram & Hart, he changed into Wolfram & Hart. How had that happened?

“Buffy, I don't understand. When I took over at Wolfram & Hart, it was to change it from the inside. Make it better. What happened?” He was starting to feel like the rug had been pulled out from under him. “I didn't want to take over there, I . . .” he stopped. How could he tell her about Connor? About Cordy and Jasmine? “Buffy, what do you know about the year before I took over at Wolfram & Hart? You were getting ready to battle the First, I know that, but do you know anything about that year?”

“Some. I'm not sure I understand it all. It was a pretty intense letter,” she hesitated for a moment and he looked at her, reading the uncertainty in her eyes. Nodding as if she'd made up her mind she spoke softly when she said, “I know about Connor, Angel.”

He stared at her in disbelief. He'd never wanted anyone to know about Connor and he certainly hadn't wanted Buffy to find out in a letter. “Buffy,” he shook his head. He didn't know how to proceed, didn't know what to say.

She gently took his hands in hers. “I was wigged at first, but I understood why you didn't tell me. Does anyone know about him?”

“Tara. I was feeling sorry for myself one night and told her the story. He doesn't know me anymore, which is good, doesn't know anything at all about demons and hell dimensions and Gods and Goddesses. It needs to stay that way so he can just be a kid. I want to look in on him, but I don't want to disrupt his life.” His mind began racing. Who else knew? Was Connor in danger?

As if reading his mind she softly said, “He's fine, Angel. When I got your letter, I sent someone to watch over him, make sure he was safe and stayed that way. He remembers you, Angel. You didn't give me any details, just that something had happened and his memories were restored but that he'd been able to resume his 'normal' life, the reason you took over Wolfram & Hart.” She looked at him sympathetically. “How much of that happened in your reality?”

“I took over Wolfram & Hart because they offered me the chance to save Connor. The rest? I guess it never had time to happen. The First took over and nothing else mattered after that. It was just staying alive.” He was at a loss. He couldn't imagine what Buffy was telling him and there wasn't anyone left to ask. Except Connor. He shook his head. No, he wouldn't do that to Connor, wouldn't disrupt the boy's life.

“Angel?” Buffy's voice broke through his thoughts.

“Huh? Oh, sorry, Buffy. Lot to take in.” He couldn't even think straight.

“I'm sorry, Angel, but there's something else,” she looked sad and uncertain.

“What? What else is there?” He couldn't fathom that there was anything else.

“I didn't share everything that was in the letter with the others, but you said in order to take down the Circle of Blackthorne you had to 'sign away your right to shanshu' and I didn't know what that meant so I asked Giles about it. He tried to research it but couldn't find anything. Do you know what that means?”

“It's part of a prophecy. It means I won't become human,” he frowned in puzzlement. “But, I am human. I don't get it.”

“I get it even less than you do, we'll have to ask Giles or maybe Dawn can track something down about it. I have the letter, it's in England. I don't know why I didn't think to bring it,” she said. “To answer your other questions; yes, I would like it if you came to England but I can't make any promises about 'us'. I know we could use your help. There isn't anyone in my life. Well, except for Dawn, Xander, Willow and Giles – the people I trust and count on. I would like to add you to that list whether we become an 'us' again or not. Okay?”

He nodded, “I can definitely live with that.” He quirked his lips into that half smile that she’d said gave her tummy flutters. “I might push, just a little, though, if that’s okay?”

She just smiled mysteriously.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Willow knocked lightly before entering Tara's room, calling out for Tara as she walked through the door. The sight of Tara sitting out on the balcony in the waning sunlight caused her to stop and just gaze at the blonde. 'Goddess, she is still so beautiful,' Willow thought. Tara looked so calm and serene, Willow considered leaving without letting Tara know she was there. The thought that 'I can go hang out with Xander while Buffy and Angel are talking,' was quickly followed by, 'no, I need to talk to her. Now. Before we can have a hope of moving forward. If we can.' She sighed and gave herself a good talking to, 'Rosenberg, you need to have this conversation sooner rather than later. No matter how uncomfortable this may be, Tara deserves to know the truth before she makes any decisions about her future.'

Squaring her shoulders, she walked over to the glass doors leading out onto the balcony and tapped lightly on them, feeling guilty as Tara jumped and disturbed Miss Kitty. Guilty, that is, until Tara smiled and motioned for her to come outside.

“Big pineapple?” Willow asked, smiling as she stepped out into the cooling California night.

Tara ducked her head, answering, “Moose taking a sponge bath.”

Willow grinned and sat down next to Tara on the bench seat. “I just thought, you know, since Angel and Buffy are doing the talking thing, I'd, uh, you know, come over here and give them some privacy and maybe we could do the talking thing if you're not too tired. Are you tired? You're tired, of course you're tired, I'll go hang out with Xander,” she babbled , starting to stand up.

Tara gently placed a hand on Willow's arm and Willow felt the same tingles she'd always gotten whenever Tara had touched her. “Stay? Please? I-I'd like to talk. I'm tired, but not, you know?” she asked.

Willow nodded and sat back down, smiling softly at Tara. “Yeah, I know,” she said.

“It's just so strange being here,” Tara said. “I'm glad, I'm just having trouble wrapping my head around it. And there's so many decisions to make. It's making my head a little ready to explode. I'm not sure which thought to think first.”

Willow nodded her understanding. “Yeah, I know. It's been two years,” she hesitated a moment before looking up and meeting Tara's gaze. “I've missed you Tara,” she said, “I don't think I realized how much until I saw you.”

Tara nodded back and smiled shyly. “Yeah, I know. I mean, I knew I was missing you but seeing you in my meditations . . .” Tara trailed off as tears formed in her eyes, threatening to spill down her cheeks. She blinked several times to clear them before continuing. “I mean, I didn't know what to think, it was all so surreal. You were so real, I thought it was a hallucination or some demon or something.” Shaking her head, her voice dropped to a whisper, “Goddess, Will, I can't believe this is happening.”

Willow tentatively slipped her hand into Tara's and was relieved when Tara squeezed her hand lightly. “Yeah,” Willow whispered back, “I know.”

The two of them sat there in silence, holding hands, for several moments. 'This is so nice,' Willow thought, 'I need to do this now. I can't put this off, I have to tell her before we get in too deep . . . okay, so it's too late for me, I'm already in over my head but she's not. Is she?' she sighed.

“Willow?” Tara's blue eyes were full of concern.

Willow smiled reassuringly, for herself as much as for Tara. “Have you thought about what you want to do?” Willow asked, hoping that was the best way to get where she needed to go with the conversation.

“Some. I'm not sure what options I have. I mean, I know England is one choice,” her gaze once again sought out Willow's, this time her expression was inscrutable. “I'm not sure what other choices I have or even if I really have any others.”

Willow thought for a moment, trying to decide the best way to let Tara know she wanted Tara in her life, without putting any pressure on the blonde. “Tara, whatever you want, we can help. If you want to go to school or open an art gallery or a bookstore or any kind of store, we can help. We've got pretty much unlimited resources to help you start your new life.” Willow paused and took a deep breath. “I'd love it if you wanted to come to England. We could use your help, sure, but,” she hesitated, “but more importantly, I've missed you and would like you there with me.”

Tara nodded thoughtfully, her expression still unreadable. “Willow,” she started, “it's not that I don't want to be with you or that I want to be with you . . . I . . . we don't know each other anymore and . . .” she trailed off as though unable to find the right words.

'Now or never,' Willow thought. “Tara,” she said, letting go of Tara's hand and turning toward her on the bench to face her, “we've been apart for two years, living different lives and having different experiences. It'd be craziness to think we could just pick up where we left off – which, uh, needed work as it was,” the words were out of her mouth before she thought them through and she felt the blush that covered her face and ears start at her toes as she remembered just where they had left off. Clearing her throat, she started again, knowing that she was going to babble but unable to help herself. “You remember when we were, uh, separated? You said, ‘there’s so much to work through. Trust has to be built again, on both sides. You have to learn if you’re even the same people you were, if you can fit in each other’s lives. It’s a long, important process and can we skip it? Can you just be kissing me right now?’ I think . . . we can’t skip it this time. As much as I might like to do that. To just start kissing you, hold you and never let you go. I love you. In all our time apart, I never stopped. But there are some things, things you should know . . .” Willow trailed off, unsure of how to continue.

“Kennedy?” Tara smiled.

“How did you know?” Willow was surprised that Tara had guessed at one of the things that Willow wanted to talk to her about before they started the long process that would, hopefully, lead to reconciliation. ‘Kisses and gay love, would also not be a bad thing,’ she thought.

“My world…”

“Did you?” Willow thought how strange would that be? She and Tara both having been with Kennedy.

“No,” Tara shook her head, a slight smile playing at her lips. “I didn’t. I was lonely but that just wasn't a good enough reason.”

“What do you mean?” Willow was puzzled. Kennedy was nice and she was easy on the eyes. 'And persistent, don't forget persistent,' she thought. Willow knew without question that Kennedy would have made a play for Tara. She smiled inwardly. Of course she would have, Tara was beautiful and smart and funny and sweet.

“I didn’t want or need the distraction and lonely isn't a very good reason to start a relationship.”

“Oh. Okay,” Willow said, blushing again as she realized that's what she had done; used Kennedy as a distraction to ease her pain and loneliness. She nodded before continuing, “That’s only some of what you need to know. What do we do? Do we do anything? Can we?”

“I-I think we start as f-friends again. T-trying to b-be friends, that is. Th-there's so much to take in. Y-you’re doing majick again. The l-last t-time you did majick in m-my experience, you used it on me. I need t-time to adjust to that, time to t-trust that you won’t. You’re alive and that’s kind of a big change. I'm not hiding or living i-in fear. I t-took m-my first h-hot shower and had my first hot meal in over a year. Th-that’s a lot of ch-changes. W-we do need time to s-see i-if a-and h-how we fit in each other’s l-lives. I’m scared. B-but I know I-I m-missed you - every day. I know I want to try. I-I m-mean, if y-you d-do.”

Willow listened to what Tara said but also noticed that Tara’s stutter was worse than Willow remembered ever hearing it. ‘Why is she so scared?’ Willow thought before saying, “I do. Want to try, that is. I missed you, too. Goddess, how I missed you. Before you make any decisions though, there’s something you have to know. Something I’m not proud of but it's not something I want you to hear about from someone else.” Willow took a deep breath, almost afraid to continue but knowing she had to. “The majick? How I was addicted? When I lost you, I, uh, sort of, no, I really lost control. I lost myself in grief and vengeance. Tara . . .” Willow looked at Tara then looked away, afraid to say what she knew she had to say. “I let the majick take control. I tracked down the man that killed you and I tortured and killed him, Not even ‘sort of’, not ‘oh, look, there you are in that well and it’s raining, but I’m going to leave you there’ but…” she took a deep breath, “it was deliberate, it was cold and pretty well thought out and um, pretty gross.” She paused, waiting for the horror to pass from Tara’s face and tangled her fingers together, examining her nails before she continued. “I lost it. I lost me. I hurt all of my . . . our . . . friends and there’s no excuse. It wasn’t just the majicks, it was me that did it. If it hadn’t been for Giles and Xander,” she shook her head at the memory. “I was about to destroy the world.” She looked at Tara’s now carefully blank face and clarified, “Like . . . literally.”

Tara took a deep breath and asked in a very quiet voice, “So what happened?”

Willow ducked her head and shrugged and muttered, “I also got rid of a real creep of a warlock who was basically selling drugs, though no one really counted him, you know, with the whole ‘bad guy’ thing – except me….”

Tara’s eyes widened, “They don’t count him? Who?”

“The Watcher’s Council – I guess they counted the evil warlock on the same level as a demon or vampire.” She shrugged. “They didn’t come get me for that one but they were the ones who stepped in when I killed Warren. Xander calmed me down and stopped the whole world-destroying thing, but Giles and the Council took over from there. They whisked me off to England and Giles did a whole Dumbledore thing.”

Tara nodded, obviously still processing.

“They took me to the coven, in England. It was amazing. Terese, this little tiny lady who runs the coven, is so amazingly powerful . . . I guess witches from all over the world are sent to her to be sorted out. She just . . . makes them uncrazy or unaddicted or something and does a lot of teaching and training. She helped me so much. Her energy is so calming and warm and working on the farm is so healing. Well, that and the witches there could kill you if you step outta line. It makes for a heckuva rehab center.” Willow studied her fingers more. “I still go there a lot. It’s just a short walk away from Scooby Central.”

Willow looked up at Tara’s face, afraid of what she might see reflected there. Tara’s eyes looked worried but sympathetic and she had a small smile on her face.

“Thank you. I know how hard that must have been and I’m glad you told me. I went to talk to Giles because I thought he’d be able to explain - about how you were using majick and … why… the change in your aura. There’s power and grief and regret that were never there before. He told me,” she said, “in not a lot of detail,, because . . . you know, that you’d killed the man that had killed me, that the majick was now a part of you and that you had come a long way in understanding that.” Tara smiled softly. “‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ It’s a hard lesson to learn. So, that you told me? And you told me before we started getting to know each other again,” her eyes softened and her voice dropped to a whisper, “before you made me fall in love with you again? You know, I’m . . . I’m n-not good with you k-killing someone – not even the guy who killed you . . . um . . . m-me . . . killed us both, really. But that you told me, that m-means a lot.”

Willow nodded, unsure how she felt about Giles telling Tara about Warren. She was a little angry, a little hurt at what she thought of as a betrayal. On the other hand, having heard it from Giles may have made it easier on both of them in the long run. Tara had been prepared for what Willow had to tell her. “Tara,” she said softy, “I know how much I hurt you and I understand what I did with the forget spell. Only time will let you see that and begin to trust me. And, even if it had cost me any chance at all I might have had to win you back,” she shook her head, “I didn’t want that between us. There’s a lot we need to talk about and stuff to catch up on. But those two things, I wanted you to know up front. Those were too big to wait.”

Tara smiled softly. “Thank you, Willow. It makes my decision a little easier.” Tara looked directly at Willow. “I want to get to know you again, Willow. To see if there's anything left of us, enough of us to be us again. Even if there's not and we can only be friends, I'd rather have you in my life than not.” She smiled her special 'for Willow only' smile and Willow felt her spirit buoyed by hope.

Willow smiled her special 'for Tara only' smile back at Tara before saying, “That's how I feel, too.” She took Tara's hand in hers again, reveling in the contact as they sat in silence watching the stars.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Next Week: Starting Over

_________________
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I found you...I will always find you

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Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:45 pm 
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That was a neat, touching update, imo! :) I especially liked the Willow/Tara conversation and how Willow told Tara the truth. :) I thought that this part was very encouraging for both couples. I hope that Angel can remain human and that Buffy can somehow be able to include him in her life as her boyfriend. :) I'm looking forward to the next chapter! :) Nice update, imo! :) :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:35 am 
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Starting Over


She heard the glass shatter and watched as Willow fell to the floor with a soft thud, red blooming over her chest.

Sitting up and wildly looking around, Tara panicked as dreams and memories flooded through her and she wondered what the noise had been and where she was. Slowly, the events of the past day came back to her. She was safe. In a hotel, with Willow sleeping in the room next door. Her Willow. Or was she? This Willow was so powerful but no one seemed to be afraid of her or what she might do. She had been relieved the night before when Willow had come to talk with her. Willow had been so open and honest that Tara could definitely see the girl she'd loved in the woman she'd become. Her heart had skipped a beat when Willow smiled at her. It was the same smile it had always been.

'I'm safe,' she thought, 'Willow sent Buffy to get me.' She looked over and saw Angel still asleep in the other bed and the sight of him peacefully sleeping helped calm her. She took a deep breath. 'Safe. I'm safe.'

Miss Kitty jumped onto the bed and nudged her head against Tara's hand. Smiling, Tara stroked the soft fur of her black and white friend. Miss Kitty purred as she allowed herself to be stroked for a moment before eyeing Tara and letting out a loud “mrowrrr”. Tara giggled.

“Shh, you'll wake Angel. I guess this means I'm awake and you want to be fed.” Slipping quietly from the bed, she silently padded over to the small kitchenette and filled Miss Kitty's food and water dishes as she waited for the water for her tea to boil.

She realized she hadn't slept well in over a year, 'Abject terror will do that to you,' she mused, 'but what woke me up?' Shrugging, she prepared her tea and went out to the balcony to greet the day.

As the sun came over the horizon, Tara was surprised to see Willow. The sight took Tara's breath away. Willow was seated at the edge of a pond, sunlight dancing in her hair like the embers of campfire and an aura of complete serenity surrounding her. 'Goddess,' she thought. 'That wasn't there yesterday.' Wondering where it had come from, Tara continued to watch Willow in spite of the fact that Willow wasn't actually doing anything but sitting quietly, obviously enjoying the peace and quiet of the early morning.

As Willow walked back toward the hotel, Tara went back into her room and gathered her things for a shower before breakfast. She sighed when she realized she really did need to go shopping, but also knew she had no money to pay for anything new. She started the shower and looked in the mirror, still shocked at how thin and pale she was. The dark circles under her eyes told the story of her life over the past year. The fear was still there and she knew it was going to take time for that to fade. “I need a job,” she said to the stranger in the glass. 'I need an identity more,' she thought wryly as she stepped into the shower. As she luxuriated under the hot water and deeply breathed in the scent of the body wash, she considered the fact that she was a non-person in this world. She didn't exist. Well, she sort of existed, but she was dead. No credit history, no driver's license, no high school degree, no social security card. She sighed deeply. This was not going to be easy – the paperwork alone to become “undead” was going to be a nightmare. Hell, actually becoming undead was easier than that, as the vampires, demons and zombies they’d fought over the years had proven. Idly, she wondered if the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration had any on staff – it would explain their ruthlessness. She thought about her family as she shampooed her hair. She was dead to them. Saddened though she was by that, she realized they were probably relieved when they heard she was dead. 'Stop that,' she thought, 'in their own strange way they did love me.' But she knew she couldn't explain to them how she'd come back, so even visiting was out of the question.

She rinsed the conditioner out of her hair and turned the water off. As she stepped out of the shower, there was a soft knock at the door.

“Tara?”

She smiled at the sound of Willow's voice. “Be out in a minute.” She quickly dressed and stepped into the bedroom, suppressing a shiver as the cool air conditioning touched her warm, still slightly damp skin.

Willow's eyes were full of concern. “Are you okay? I mean, you're not getting sick or anything, are you?”

“No,” she grinned, “hot shower, cold room.”

“Oh,” Willow smiled back at her. “Angel came in to use our bathroom, 'cause, uh, well, you know,” she said blushing at the blonde who giggled. “We're getting ready to go down to breakfast, if you wanna join us?”

Tara nodded. “That sounds great, gimme a minute to brush out my hair?”

“Sure, just come on over to our room when you're ready,” Willow said smiling.

Tara looked at Willow's aura as the redhead went back to her room and noted that, while it wasn't as filled with serenity as it had been this morning, Willow was still very content.

As she gently pulled the brush through her hair, she realized she really needed a haircut; her ends were split and even though it was definitely soft and shiny, it still didn't feel as healthy as it used to. 'A manicure and pedicure wouldn't be unwelcome either,' she sighed. 'Identity first, then the niceties. Well,' she corrected herself, 'breakfast first,' and headed into Willow's room.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Willow watched as Tara studied the menu and wished she'd learned to read auras so she could get a feel for where Tara was at emotionally. 'Of course, asking her would never occur to me,' she thought wryly, as the waitress came and took their order.

“All right, then, what would you two like to do today?” Giles asked after taking a sip of his coffee.

“I need to go into Los Angeles and check on some things,” Angel answered him.

“I'm going with, when you go,” Buffy said.

“Buffy, do you think that's wise?” Giles asked, arching an eyebrow at her as he settled his coffee cup back on the table and sat back in his chair.

“Yes. I think it's a very good idea, essential. He's human now, if something or someone is looking for him, he doesn't have his vampireness to protect him,” she said. “And, why wouldn't it be?” she looked genuinely confused.

'Oh, boy,' Willow thought looking from Buffy to Giles.

“Uh, Buff,” she started to say but Angel interrupted.

“Buffy, you and me together? Alone? In a hotel room? I’m a different me and you’re a different you, but… you’re still Buffy. Think about it,” he said gently.

Buffy blushed several very pretty shades of red as she stammered, “Well, that's . . . I mean . . . come on! We are adults, you know.”

Giles didn't respond verbally. He again arched an eyebrow and folded his arms across his chest.

“Buff,” Xander said, “it's not that we don't trust you but,” he hesitated.

“You don't trust me.” Buffy said flatly. “Look, I'm not going to let him go alone. We don't know what he's walking into. The last thing he did before he died was completely betray Wolfram and Hart. He took down the Circle of Blackthorne,” she said, totally ignoring the fact that Angel was sitting right there. “They see him, they're not going to care that it's not the him that did it. He's human. Human senses, reflexes, vulnerabilities.” She looked and sounded rational and calm, but Willow could see in her posture and the set of her jaw that Buff was more than a little angry.

“Do I get a say in this?” Angel asked, looking at Buffy. His face was blank, he didn’t even look miffed at her pronouncement of his new, apparent, human frailty.

Giles smothered a smirk as Buffy turned to Angel and said, “No.”

Angel grinned at her. “I was going to agree with you, but if you don't want my support…” he shrugged.

Willow shifted her focus from Buffy and Giles to Buffy and Angel.

Giles cleared his throat. “Buffy, be reasonable. You two do not have a good track record. While I appreciate your concern for Angel and I agree that he probably shouldn't go into L.A. alone, I'm not sure you're the best person to go with him.”

“Who better? Hello, Slayer?” Buffy stared at Giles. “Do you honestly believe that we couldn't control our hormones? We don't even know each other, I'm not going to hop into bed with a stranger, Giles. And he's human now.” She may not have said it but the look on Buffy's face said “duh” with a side helping of indignant.

Giles removed his glasses and began polishing them. “So it would seem, but we don't know if it's permanent or why it is. We also don't know if the curse has been lifted with his re-humanization.” Re-balancing his glasses on his nose he looked seriously at Buffy. “We just don't know enough about what's happened to him.”

“Giles,” Angel said, seeming to measure his words carefully. “I understand why you feel the way you do,” he said, not meeting Giles' eyes and shifting uncomfortably in his chair. Taking a deep breath, he looked up and looked directly into Giles' eyes. “But like Buffy said, we're adults and, essentially, strangers. We have a lot to talk about and there are things to work through. We're not going to L.A. for a lost weekend, I have business to do and I agree with Buffy about my safety. I'm not a coward and I'll fight if it comes to it, but I recognize that I now have limitations I'm not used to.” He kept Giles' gaze as the Watcher considered what Angel had said.

Sighing, he said “I don't suppose it will do me any good to argue. I do hope you two know what you're doing.” He looked to the others. “Do any of you have an opinion?”

“Giles,” Tara said quietly, “I think we can trust Buffy and Angel to be careful and do the right thing.”

And with that, the discussion was ended. Willow marveled at Tara's self-assuredness. 'A far cry from the scared, stuttering wicca I met all those years ago,' she thought with admiration.

“When do you want to go?” Giles asked.

“I thought I'd leave this afternoon,” Angel answered, “if that's okay with you, Buffy?”

“Uh, no. Tomorrow,” she grinned. “Willow and I have plans with Tara today.”

Tara looked at Buffy. She was surprised but was stopped from asking anything when the waitress came with their breakfasts. Once the waitress walked away, Tara looked quizzically at Buffy. “Plans? What plans?”

“It's a surprise and it's girls only,” Buffy answered, stopping the question Xander was about to ask. “You guys find something to do. Go shopping,” she said, grinning. “Angel needs clothes. I think he'd look good in black.”

After a group chuckle, conversation became desultory as they ate their breakfasts. Willow watched Tara and hoped she enjoyed the surprise. Shopping was part of it but she smiled inwardly as she thought about the second surprise. She was sure Tara would be thrilled.

After they finished breakfast, the group headed to the lobby.

“Do you girls need the car?” Xander asked. “If you don't, I think we probably should go get Angel something to wear,” he said, shaking his head as he looked at Angel, who was wearing a pair of khaki wool trousers on loan from Giles and a red and black flannel shirt, courtesy of Xander's closet.

Buffy grinned. “No, we've got a car. Oh, it's here!” she cheered as a limousine pulled up outside. “You have fun, we'll be back after dinner.”

Willow grinned at Buffy and they each linked an arm through one of Tara's, giggling and pulling her outside to the waiting car.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Tara was overwhelmed. She looked at the two women sitting opposite her who were chattering excitedly about the day's plan and cleared her throat.

They both looked at her and smiled.

“Yes?” Willow's smile widened.

“Uh, not to seem ungrateful but a limo seems a little, um, excessive,” she said, looking at them.

“No way! We're celebrating. It's just enough,” Buffy smiled.

Tara shifted uncomfortably. She couldn't help pay for the limousine, let alone anything else her friends had planned for the day. They had already paid for her meals and the room she was staying in at the hotel.

“Tara?” Willow's green eyes were full of concern as Tara met her gaze. “What's wrong?”

Tara ducked her head, letting her hair fall into her face. “It-it's not that I-i d-don't appreciate it, b-but I d-don't know when I'll have any m-money to p-pay you back for all of this. The meals, the hotel room, an-and n-now the limousine p-plus whatever you have planned today,” she said quietly. She didn't like being a burden to them.

“Hey, Tara, no,” Willow said, “no pay back necessary. It's taken care of. All of it.”

Tara looked up and shook her head. “No, Willow, I can't let you do that. I-i don't w-want you to th-think you . . .” Tara trailed off not sure how to put what she was feeling into words. She didn't want to mislead Willow and didn't want to feel obligated to her. How could she make a decision about her future – their future – if she was indebted to Willow?

“How about me? Or Giles? Or Xander?” Buffy said and Tara looked at her.

“I, what d-do you m-mean?” Tara was confused.

“Tara, we've got all the money we could need with more coming in every day,” Willow explained. “We are the Watcher's Council now. Money is a non-issue. We pulled you into this world, of course we're going to help you get on your feet. Not gonna just say 'okay, here ya are, good luck',” Willow smiled and added, “no strings. If it makes you feel better, when you're on your feet, if you want to pay it back you can but, really? It's not a big deal.” Willow shrugged but Tara saw the hurt in her eyes and felt the shift in her energy.

'Great,' she thought, 'I insulted her and hurt her feelings.' She sighed inwardly.

Thankfully, the limo stopped and the driver opened the doors for them.

“Great! First stop – shopping!” Buffy said with forced exuberance as she bounced out of the car.

Willow followed Buffy out and Tara hesitated and missed the chance to apologize. Sighing, she followed the other two girls out of the car, determined to make it up to them.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
They had been shopping for three hours and, with Buffy buffering them, the moment in the limousine was put behind them. Standing in the seventh store of the day, Tara was sifting through shirts, just browsing when Willow tapped her on the shoulder.

Willow held up a blue, three-quarter length sleeve soft cotton t-shirt. “Uh, this'll look great on you,” she blushed, “it, uh, matches your eyes.”

Tara smiled warmly at what she recognized was a sort of truce offering from Willow and took the shirt. “Thanks,” she said, heading to the dressing room to try it on.

Looking in the mirror, she had to admit, Willow was right. It did look great on her. She shook her head and smiled, changing back into clothes purchased earlier in their excursion. She was getting tired and her feet were starting to hurt. They had bought everything from hats to shoes. Buffy wouldn't listen to any protests and just kept adding things to the bundles in their arms.

Stepping out of the dressing room, she walked back to Willow. “You were right, it looks good on me. I'll take this one, but then I'm done, okay?” she asked. “I'm getting tired and I really don't think I need even half of what we bought.”

“Of course you do,” Buffy said as she joined the two girls. “But we're done shopping, it's time for lunch and our appointments are in two hours so that gives us plenty of time.” She grinned.

“Great, let's get these last few things and head out,” Willow said, grinning right along with Buffy.

Tara shook her head wondering at her luck at finding these two amazing women, not once in her lifetime, but twice.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Buffy felt the tension leave her body as the masseur worked her shoulder, back and neck muscles. She smiled as she remembered Tara's face light up when they pulled up to the spa and Willow had told her they were going to have a light lunch, get an afternoon of beauty treatment including seaweed wraps, facials, massages, manicures, pedicures and getting their hair done. Buffy also hadn't missed Willow's reaction to Tara's reaction. Willow looked like someone had just handed her the moon.

Buffy had asked at the front desk when they got back from getting Angel and Tara if there was anywhere to get a manicure and the clerk had given her the number for the day spa. When she called, she told the woman who answered that their friend had just gotten back from the peace corps and was in need of some pampering. The woman had been very helpful and had made all the arrangements for the three of them.

She sighed as the masseur worked out knots that had been there since she staked her first vamp. 'God, I so need one of these full time,' she thought. 'Wonder if Angel . . . no, stop right there. No Angel-y future thoughts. But,' she silently admitted, 'he is still gorgeous and the way he is with Tara is something I don't think I've ever seen before.' She frowned and realized she really didn't know Angel very well at all anymore. They hadn't really seen much of each other since he moved to LA. She knew he had gotten close to Cordelia, but didn't know how close. She sighed again, and forced herself to relax and stop thinking about Angel. 'Time enough to get to know him when we get to England,' she thought.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Sitting in the limousine on their way back to the hotel, Willow stared out the window, lost in thought. She understood that Tara didn't want to feel obligated or indebted to her. She totally got that and she really didn't want Tara to feel like she owed Willow anything. But it had hurt that Tara would think Willow would expect anything. She sighed deeply. They had been successful in building Tara a wardrobe and they had all enjoyed their day at the spa. All three girls had gotten manicures, pedicures and had their hair done. Though several inches had been cut, Tara had left her hair longer and, after discussing whether to go with the icy blonde of Kim Novak, the cool honey blonde of Veronica Lake or the warm golden blonde of Marilyn Monroe, Tara settled on the cool honey blonde she had always favored with icy blonde highlights that were really becoming on her. Willow and Buffy had both gotten trims and highlights as well; Willow's cut and highlights creating a striking contrast between the deeper reds of her natural color and the highlights causing a sort of firelight effect that she was really enjoying and Buffy, after much complaining about the weather in England, decided on the warmer golden blonde tones of Marilyn.

The sound of Tara clearing her throat brought Willow out of her reverie. The three girls were all tired and had lapsed into silence when they got into the limousine after dinner. She and Buffy looked at Tara, who smiled at them. Willow marveled at the fact that Tara still took her breath away.

“I just wanna say, uh, thanks. For everything. I mean, this day has been great and your company and coming to get me and Angel . . .” Tara shook her head and her eyes started to fill with tears. “It's just amazing to have friends like you, thank you so much.”

Willow and Buffy smiled at Tara.

“Hey, that's what we do,” Buffy said, “save our friends from certain doom and apocalypse.” She grinned and Tara laughed.

As they pulled up to the hotel, the girls got out and Buffy went to pay the driver and started grabbing the packages from the trunk. Willow moved to help her but a hand on her arm stopped her. She looked at Tara quizzically.

Tara looked at her and said softly, “I'm sorry about earlier. I didn't mean . . .” she trailed off, as if not knowing what to say.

Willow smiled softly and place a hand on Tara's, squeezing gently. “I know,” she said, “I understand.”

“I just . . .” Tara sighed.

“It's okay, I know.” Willow knew Tara was trying not to hurt her again and she appreciated the effort. But she really didn't want Tara to say the words implying that Willow was trying to buy Tara's love. “Let's help Buffy,” she said. “She may have slayer strength, but she's only got so much arm space,” she grinned at Tara who smiled back.

“Thank you, Willow,” she said softly.

Willow smiled in response as they went and helped Buffy carry everything into the hotel.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Next Week: Sonnets & Spears

_________________
Willow? I got so lost...
I found you...I will always find you

Willow's Promise on Myspace
Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 9:13 pm 
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:clap :clap :clap :clap :clap Well you've come up with another good chapter, imo! I like how Angel is welcomed in - even though Giles is nervous about he and Buffy going to LA alone - and I loved the shopping trip part that Willow and Buffy took Tara on! :) I can tell that it's going to take time, but I'm hopeful that all will work out with Willow and Tara...and hopefully Buffy and Angel! I liked this one a lot! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:27 am 
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Sonnets & Spears


The next morning Tara was again awakened by a sound. She was less terrified, but still couldn't get back to sleep. Following her routine of the day before, she fed Miss Kitty and made herself a cup of tea, then wandered onto the balcony to watch the sunrise. As she stepped out onto the balcony with her tea, she was once again captivated by the sight of Willow who was sitting in the same place, beside the pond, as she had been the day before. Yesterday, the sunlight made embers dance in Willow's hair. Today that same sunlight bounced through the new color and highlights creating a full bonfire of color. Tara smiled a half smile and realized this must be a ritual for Willow, something to help her center herself first thing in the morning because, again, Willow's aura was bathed in warm serenity. She also realized the sound that had woken her two mornings in a row now was nothing more dangerous than Willow leaving the room next door. Tara smiled and, unbeknownst to Willow, enjoyed the sunrise with the redhead.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


After breakfast, Buffy and Angel left for L.A. and Giles excused himself to make arrangements for Angel and Tara's things to be placed on their airplane and to try and arrange for Ethel's passage to England. Xander excused himself to call Dawn and 'check in on the construction'. Willow grinned at him as he stood up and he blushed before hurrying off.

“What was that about?” Tara asked from across the table, leaning back in her chair.

Willow smiled at her and leaned in, conspiratorially, elbows on the table. “Xander and Dawn have fallen in love.”

Tara gaped at her. “Xander? And Dawn? How did that happen? How are you and Buffy with that?”

Standing up, Willow offered her hand to Tara and smiled when, after a slight initial hesitation, Tara took it. “Come on, let's take a walk and I'll fill you in on Dawn and Xander.”

She led Tara to a bench beside the pond and Tara let go of Willow's hand to sit at the opposite end of the bench. They sat quietly for several moments, each leaning quietly on her respective armrest, watching the breeze send ripples through the pond and the ducks drifting on the water.

“So, uh, Dawn and Xander?” Tara asked, breaking the silence.

“Yeah,” Willow grinned and turned toward Tara, “so, Dawn and Xander were spending all this time together, right? She was helping him with the blueprints and ordering materials and stuff and I guess it just sort of happened. You know how it happens sometimes; common interests, spending a lot of time alone together and before you know it you're talking about everything and thinking about what you're going to do together tomorrow and when you'll see her next and, uh,” Willow blushed as her babble took her back to the beginning of her relationship with Tara. 'Focus, Willow,' she thought, 'you can do this.' Taking a deep breath, she plunged in again, “she was really mad at him for a couple of days because he was being all 'I've-only-got-one-eye-and-you're-so-much-younger-and-Buffy-will-kill-me' about it. But, he finally decided that being with Dawn was worth the risk.” Reaching out to touch Tara's arm, Willow ignored Tara's slight flinch at the contact as she continued. “You won't believe how grown up Dawn is. She's in England because we needed someone to run things while we were gone. It was funny when we all realized that Dawn knew everything there was to know about running the place.” Willow shook her head. “You'll be so proud of her.”

Despite the reflexive muscle tension from Willow's touch, Tara had to grin as the redhead ran out of steam and stopped babbling. She thought and debated for a moment then soberly asked one of a million questions that had been on her mind for days. “About that, how did he lose his eye? And what made him decide, finally, that Dawn was worth the risk?”

Willow smiled softly back at her. “He lost his eye when The First's right hand man, Caleb, put it out.” She mimed the thumb-pressing action as her face sobered at the memory. “It was awful. That whole year was awful.”

Tara nodded, “Yeah. For me too.”

Willow looked at her sympathetically, “I'm sorry, I forgot you went through that year too. Then last year with the hiding and the fear. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been.”

Tara shook her head, unable to meet Willow's gaze. “It was awful. If it hadn't been for Angel . . .” she trailed off, and Willow suspected she didn't want to dwell on what might have happened if Angel hadn't found her. “But, that's over now,” Tara said, looking up. “You found me,” she added softly then continued quickly without stopping for a breath. “And Xander? Why the sudden change of heart?”

Willow accepted the shift of topic, not wanting to make Tara think about the horrors of the last year. She took Tara’s hand again and said quietly, “Us. He saw how the Taramares were affecting me and got to thinking about what I'd have given for more time with you. He figured he didn't want to spend the rest of his life regretting the things he didn't do. He decided Dawn was worth risking the wrath of Buffy.” She smiled, hoping to see an answering one in the blonde's eyes.

“Well, that's good, I guess,” Tara said uncertainly, again dropping her gaze. “I wouldn't have thought of them as a couple.” She seemed to think about it for a minute before saying, “I guess if they're happy, that's all that matters.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes, quietly holding hands and lost in their own thoughts, before Tara turned to Willow.

“Willow? My f-family? D-do they know I-i died?” she asked quietly.

Willow felt her stomach drop to her feet. She didn't know the answer to that. “Oh, Tara,” she started, “I don't know. I . . .” she stopped, not knowing how to proceed.

“Oh. Right,” Tara said, her face falling and her voice taking on an edge that hadn't been there earlier. “You weren't there.”

“We can ask Buffy and Xander, they'd have been the ones . . .” Willow started.

“No, I can ask them later, I was just wondering about it. If they knew, if they cared, how they are.”

Tara shrugged as if it was no big deal but Willow could feel that it was. She felt the shift in energy. Tara had pulled away, not physically, but emotionally. They lapsed into silence again, but this time it definitely wasn't an easy or comfortable one. Willow could feel Tara's disappointment. Disappointment in her. She tried to think of something – anything – to say to get them back to that earlier easy companionship.

“Uh, the complex that we're living in? It's near the coven. You'd really like the members there. Especially Terese. She's the one who told me that I was going to find you.” Willow said, desperately trying to reconnect with Tara, to recapture the comfortableness they had had just moments ago. Tara's response, though, let her know that she'd chosen the wrong topic.

“A powerful coven? I know you said that you went there a lot, but I thought that was a probation thing. Is it wise for you to be interacting with that much power?” Tara pulled her hand away and crossed her arms over her chest. The edge in her voice grew harder and told Willow that Tara was far from trusting the majick that Willow was using.

“Uh, well, they're training me and, uh . . .” Willow stammered.

Overwhelmed, Tara stood up abruptly and looked at Willow, her face ashen and the lines of stress that had been receding forming again. “I'm tired, I think I'll go rest for awhile. I’ll see you at lunch,” she said as she turned and walked back to the hotel. Left to look at the blonde's retreating form, Willow's heart was in her throat and she could feel tears threatening to break free.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Tara got to her room and began pacing, her thoughts racing furiously. 'She's not the same Willow. She's not addicted to the majicks. But,' she argued with herself, 'she's so powerful and she lost control once. Because of me. What if I reject her now? Can I? Or would that send her over the edge again? Did anyone even bother to tell my family that the other me died? Did my family even notice?' Enraged at the apparent lack of respect and consideration for her other self and her family, but impotent to do anything about it, she stopped pacing and dropped into a chair. She began taking deep breaths and willing herself to calm down, smiling as Miss Kitty jumped into her lap.

“Oh, kitty,” she said softly as she stroked the cat gently, “I don't know what to think or do.” She missed Angel. She needed to talk to someone but didn't know who. There was Giles or Xander. Shaking her head, she discounted Xander. Because of his relationship with Willow, Tara doubted he could be objective. She wasn't sure she could talk to Giles about this either. He was convinced that Willow was fine. 'I just overreacted,' she thought. 'Willow was telling me about the coven because she thought I'd be interested, right? Not because she's still obsessed with power.' Tara sighed and realized it was times like this she really missed her mother. It was her mother and grandmother who had taught her about the majicks and the rules about the majicks. Her mother would have known how to tell if Willow was on the right path.

She knew that if she were honest with herself, she'd admit that she was afraid to trust Willow again. She couldn't separate the Willow she'd lost with this Willow. They were both her Willow. She knew that but the Willow she knew and remembered had a problem with majick – she used it all the time, it was her answer to every problem. She didn't know about this Willow, if she still turned to majick for everything or if she'd learned that majick should be the last resort, not the first.

Sighing, she stood up and set Miss Kitty on the chair before going to lie down on the bed. She was tired, the emotional stress was wearing her out. Seeing Willow, being this close to her but not being able to touch her was wearing on her. It would be so easy to fall into a relationship with Willow, to just let Willow take care of her – take care of everything. Easy, sure, but would it be the right thing? That relationship would be achieved at what cost to her? She turned over and thought about that. It had been two years. What did she have to offer Willow? Could she accept what Willow was offering? Every moment she spent with Willow brought with it a flood of mostly good memories. When the other witch had mentioned the coven, though, Tara had remembered the Willow that manipulated her mind. A tear slipped free as she wondered if she'd ever be able to trust a majick-using Willow.

She lay there for what seemed like a long time before finally falling into a fitful sleep full of dreams and nightmares of Willow.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Willow refused to cry. It wouldn't accomplish anything. She had known this would take time, had known that Tara would be wary of her and her use of majick. She sat where Tara had left her for a long while, thinking about what they'd shared and wondering if Tara could ever trust her again. 'Heck, I didn't even trust me at first,' she thought. It had only been a couple of days and Willow knew she needed to give Tara time to get to know the her of now – the Willow of here. 'I'm not the same person,' Willow thought, 'and neither is she.' She sighed and stood up, heading back to the hotel, knowing that only time would convince Tara that she wasn't still obsessed with majick and power.

As she unlocked her room door, she heard Tara cry out and rushed through the adjoining doors.

Tara was tossing violently, crying out, “No, don't, please.”

Willow went to the bed, afraid to touch Tara, but wanting to wake her from whatever nightmare had a hold on her. Gently touching Tara's shoulder, Willow offered calming energy as she called out to the blonde. “Tara? Tara, sweetie, wake up. You're safe. It's okay, now.”

Tara jolted up and looked at Willow with stark terror in her eyes. “Get away from me!” she said, with such force that Willow felt herself physically knocked backward. Tara had struck out against Willow with majick.

Willow gaped at Tara but forced herself to remain calm, reminding herself that Tara had been through hell. She continued offering the calming energy, talking soothingly to Tara as she did so. “Tara? It's me, it's Willow. You're safe, remember? Buffy came and got you and Angel out. You're in a hotel room, no one is going to hurt you.” She felt Tara's resistance to the calming energy and didn't force it on her, just kept it flowing in offering. It was several moments before Tara's vision seemed to clear, focusing on Willow. She still looked scared and was still resisting the energy but she was no longer pushing back against Willow. After several more moments, Tara accepted the energy and broke down crying. Willow hurried over to her and wrapped her in a hug.

“Shh, it's okay, Tara. You're okay, you're safe,” Willow said soothingly, rocking the blonde gently.

They sat there for what seemed like hours before Tara pulled back.

“Thank you,” she said softly, sniffling, “I was . . .” she sighed and started again. “I was having a nightmare about,” she looked at Willow with teary eyes, “you. Y-you w-were really p-powerful and s-scary.” Tears began flowing down her cheeks again. “I-i'm s-sorry, Willow,” Tara pulled out of Willow's embrace, moving away from her as she looked at the redhead sadly. “I-i d-don't th-think this . . .” she took a deep breath and started again, “I don't think this is going to work. I just,” she looked away from Willow as she finished softly, “don't think I'll ever be able trust you.”

Willow stood up, feeling like she'd been punched in the stomach. “Oh,” she said. Unable to think of anything else to say, she looked at Tara sadly and left without another word, afraid that if she did say something, the sob caught in her throat would break free. She wanted to get away before she broke down. She didn't want Tara to see her cry.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Tara watched as Willow left the room. Once she was gone, she curled up on the bed and silently cried until she ran out of tears. She knew she'd hurt Willow and it felt horrible, but she'd had to be honest. Despite all Willow had done, Tara didn't trust Willow's majick. 'Although,' she thought, 'she didn't force the energy on me. She offered it and when I pushed with my majick, she didn't push back or lash out at me.' Tara sighed deeply, unable to think clearly enough to decide what to believe. Was Willow's majick under control? Were her nightmares just her subconscious?

Getting up, she went and made herself some tea then went out to sit on the balcony again. She knew she should be hungry, it was past midday, but her stomach was in such a tangle that eating was the last thing she wanted to do. She looked out over the pond, watching the ducks lazily paddle around and letting her thoughts drift of their own accord.

How much different would her life have been without Willow? She smiled softly. Life with Willow had been anything but boring. Demons, vampires and other assorted uglies aside, there was nothing quite like Willow-babble. There was nothing like the way Willow got flustered when she was embarrassed. Willow's pajamas. Willow's love and loyalty to her friends. Tara closed her eyes against the fresh tears threatening to fall. Without Willow, there'd have been no reason to stay in Sunnydale when her father came to get her for her twentieth birthday. Without Willow, there'd have been no Glory mind-sucking her. But if there had been Glory mind-sucking without Willow – there'd have been no Willow to reverse it. Without Willow, she'd still be scared, lonely and unsure of herself. With Willow, she'd found the strength to stand up for herself. Because Willow and her friends – no, family – had shown her how. She owed Willow so much, but what did that mean in the here and now? Had she been fair just now? Had she really given Willow a fair chance to show her that the majick wasn't an obsession? Or had she just reacted unreasonably? Tara knew her guard was still up and that it was going to take time, possibly a lot of time, for her to let it down again.

Setting her tea cup down, she pulled her legs up and wrapped her arms around them, resting her chin in her knees. What now? Should she apologize? Should she let it go and hope that they could still become friends again? 'Goddess, help me,' she thought, 'I am so confused and I don't know what to do. Please, show me the way.' Sending the silent prayer out to the universe, she unfolded herself and went back inside thinking a bubble bath would help.

“Yes,” she said out loud, “a bubble bath is definitely in order.” She gathered her things and went into the bathroom, intent on a long soak.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Once in her own room Willow closed the adjoining door behind her then slid to the floor, arms wrapped around her knees, crying without a sound. She rocked herself silently, unable to think, allowing the hurt to just wash over her. When her tears finally stopped, she took several deep breaths and re-centered herself. 'She was scared. Maybe we can't be lovers, but we can still be friends. Goddess, please, at least let us be friends,' she silently pleaded, refusing to think about her life without Tara in it.

There was a knock on the opposite adjoining door and Xander came in, his normal lopsided grin immediately replaced by a look of concern when he saw her. Quickly moving to her side and kneeling next to her he asked, “Will? What's wrong? What happened?”

She shook her head. “Nothing Xander. Tara and I had an argument, kind of. No, that's not it either,” she sighed, “she woke up from a nightmare about me and was all . . .” Willow waved her hands like a bomb exploding. “She doesn't think she can ever trust me again. It just caught me by surprise. I mean, I shouldn't be surprised but I was and it caused an emotional overload and so when I came in I just kind of broke down but, really, I'm okay.” She smiled a watery smile and stood up. “I can't blame her. I'm sure she'll go to England to see Dawn, but after that,” Willow shrugged as if it didn't matter. It did, though. She just lost Tara all over again, only this time it was worse because she lost Tara for a reason that didn't exist. She didn't lose Tara over misuse of majick or because of stray bullet. Willow had lost Tara, not through anything she'd done directly in the here and now, but because of an outdated image Tara held of the redhead.

Xander stood up and hugged her. “I know it's gotta hurt, Will. Time heals everything, you know that. Maybe once Tara sees you as you are,” he shrugged, “instead of how you were, you know?”

Willow nodded. “Thanks, Xan. Maybe you're right. Maybe she just felt too much pressure and she just can't see the me I am now.” She smiled at her oldest friend. “How'd you get so smart?”

“Hanging around you and Dawn,” he grinned. “I was just coming to see if you were ready for lunch?”

Willow thought about that, and nodded. “Yeah, I'm actually hungry.” She was pleased that, despite the emotional upheaval, she was hungry. While everything was going on with the Taramares and Kennedy, she hadn't been able to eat. Maybe she was right when she told Buffy that losing Tara wouldn't really be losing Tara because she'd lost Tara so long ago. She tried to mentally shrug it off. It's not like this was her Tara. It wasn't. Her Tara was dead, this was just . . . she sighed and gave up. This was Tara. Period.

“Okay, then. I was thinking we'd go out somewhere,” Xander said. “Think Giles and Tara are hungry?” They heard the water start in Tara and Angel's room. “That answers Tara. You want to go check with Giles and I'll let Tara know we're leaving and see if she wants to come with?”

Willow nodded. “Yeah, better you go to Tara. Less awkward, no pressure,” she said and headed out of her room and down the hall to see if Giles wanted to join them.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


“Tara?” Xander said softly as he rapped on the bathroom door. “It's Xander. Willow and I are gonna head into town for lunch, you want us to wait for you?”

“No, Xander, thank you,” came the quiet reply. “I'm not really hungry. Thank you, though.”

Xander nodded then realized Tara couldn't see him, 'Duh,' he thought. “Okay, we won't be gone too long.”

“Okay.”

Xander wasn't surprised that Tara hadn't wanted to come, but he felt badly for Will. He knew how much Tara had meant to her; how much Tara still meant to her. He sighed and went back to Willow's room to wait for her to come back from Giles' room.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Arriving in L.A. at mid-afternoon, Buffy and Angel checked into separate rooms at a mid-range hotel. While they didn't want to want to draw attention to themselves by spending money lavishly, they also didn't want to tempt fate at a seedier one.

Waiting for Buffy to finish showering, Angel stood on his balcony and drew a deep breath, marveling at how good it felt to breathe. How good everything felt. Turning his face to the sun, he enjoyed the warmth on his skin. He hadn't been cold, exactly, as a vampire, he just hadn't been warm. And his heartbeat. He raised his hand to his chest and could feel the thumping beneath his skin. For the first time in over two hundred years he was warm, he was breathing and his heart was beating.

He was alive. He stood there, listening to his heartbeat and breathing. Listening to the difference between deep breaths and shallow ones. He sighed. God, he felt good.

“Penny for your thoughts,” Buffy's voice cut through his thoughts. Turning toward her, he smiled as his pulse quickened at the sound of her voice.

“I was just thinking about how good I felt,” he answered quietly. “I'm warm, I can feel the sun on my face. I can take deep breaths and,” looking right at her, “I can feel my pulse race at the sight of you.”

She smiled at him and he again reveled in the warmth that spread through his chest and the staccato beat of his pulse.

“Oh,” he said, grinning, “and I'm starving.”

She laughed. “Why don't we find Connor and see if he'd like to have lunch with us. Maybe he can shed some light on your last day.”

He smiled. “Meet you in the hall,” he said, turning to go back into his room.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Two mornings later, Willow was again sitting at the edge of the pond. Two long, frustrating days full of polite conversation and careful avoidance. Thank the Goddess that Buffy and Angel would be back today and they'd all be leaving for England tomorrow morning. She didn't think she could take much more of Tara avoiding her. The only time they saw each other was at breakfast and dinner. Tara had been absent for lunch both days.

Sighing, she stood up. This morning's meditation hadn't help much and trying to force herself to meditate just sent her brain into high gear – doing anything but clearing and calming. 'I just hope Buffy and Angel are getting along better than Tara and I are,' she thought as she walked back to the hotel. 'Of course, getting along better than Tara and I? Not so much the big accomplishment at this point.' Shaking her head, she entered her room and decided the best way to deal with the situation was to not deal with it. Curling up on the bed, she drew the comforter over her and drifted off to sleep, welcoming the coming oblivion.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Angel once again sat on the balcony, this time staring at nothing. The past two days had been informative but far from fun.

Buffy had been keeping track of Connor since she'd gotten Angel's letter, so finding him hadn't been difficult. He'd been unable to meet with them that first day but had agreed to lunch yesterday so he and Buffy had spent their first day in L.A. trying to find any of his other friends. When they had found news, it hadn't been good news.

After spending a day in the library searching old newspaper files, Wesley, Gunn, and Cordelia were confirmed dead. Lorne, Spike and Fred had vanished, whereabouts and status were unknown. Wes and Gunn's deaths were considered murders and the investigations were ongoing. Angel, Fred, Spike and Lorne were wanted for questioning in the cases.

A stop at the bank had confirmed that Angel's accounts had all been closed, per instructions from Angel's attorney, and all the monies had been transferred to a trust fund for Connor.

The day had taken its toll on him and he had excused himself from Buffy's company for the evening. He smiled at the memory of her not letting him “get all broody”. She had insisted they visit the graves of those they knew, get a little closure. Then they'd gotten something to eat, not speaking to each other but it wasn't an uncomfortable silence. She let him keep his thoughts to himself and simply let him know she was there if he needed her.

The next day, when they'd met with Connor, the boy had seemed genuinely glad to see Angel. Connor filled in the blanks of how Connor had found Angel and why and how the boy's memories had returned. Angel had listened with rapt attention as Connor described that last day that the other Angel had spent. Without a doubt, Angel realized that his loved ones had all sacrificed their lives that day, just as they had in the other universe.

Apparently, Angel hadn't just written a letter to Buffy but to Connor as well. Connor's letter explained about the Circle of Blackthorn, the fight that day and the probability that Angel wouldn't survive. He'd told Connor about the money and told him that the attorney, who wasn't from Wolfram and Hart, would be contacting him. To his credit, Connor had offered to give the money back to Angel, but Angel had declined it figuring that was the least he could do for Connor – as this one was still alive.

Connor had told Angel about his life and his family and, when they finally parted company, Connor had surprised Angel with a hug and a heartfelt “thanks for everything”. Buffy had given Connor the contact information in England, telling Connor to feel free to call or visit anytime. Angel still marveled at Buffy's capacity for love - at the size of her heart. He had taken her hand as they walked out of the restaurant, turned her toward him and whispered “thank you” before kissing her softly. He could hear the blood roaring in his ears as she returned the kiss. They'd spent the evening walking, talking very little, holding hands and trading kisses.

That was yesterday and today they were headed back to the little hotel where Giles, Willow, Xander and Tara were waiting for them. He smiled thinking about Tara, unable to believe how much he'd missed her company. As much as he loved Buffy, he still missed the young woman he'd come to regard as his best friend. He hoped she and Willow were getting along as well as he and Buffy were.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Traffic had been horrible. Getting out of L.A. had taken them three hours and it had been another two back to the hotel. Buffy had offered to split the driving, but Angel remembered Buffy's driving skills – or, rather, her lack of driving skills – and had insisted he could handle it. She had dozed most of the way back. By the time they got back it was nearing dinner time so they headed for the dining room.

Angel knew when they walked in, something was wrong. Everyone seemed too – something. Whatever it was, was wrong. Taking a moment he realized what it was. They were all too stiff, they weren't talking, even Xander wasn't smiling. Willow and Tara were as far apart as they could be and were being very careful not to make eye contact with each other. Giles was polishing his glasses like they'd just been retrieved from a mud puddle. Food wasn't actually being eaten. It was being pushed around the plates to give the appearance of having been eaten.

He turned to Buffy just as she turned to him.

“You feel what I'm seeing?” he asked her at the same time she was asking him, “You see what I'm feeling?”

Grinning at her he thought about their trip. It had been sad but, in more ways than one, successful.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Next Week: More With the Conversing

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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:59 pm 
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See, they fooled everybody about Cordelia, they really did, even you :) .

Very owchy installment; Tara really needs to be able to open up, to soembody. I hope Angel can help this time. I know you've said this has a happy ending but I'm worried.


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:22 am 
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More With the Conversing


In their room after an uncomfortable and interminably long dinner, Buffy and Willow were getting their things together. Giles had said, that since Buffy and Angel were back, there was no need to prolong their stay in California so they were leaving right after breakfast the next morning.

“So, Buffy . . .” Willow said, a little too casually, “you and Angel were all with the snugglies at dinner. Something you want to tell me?” Willow grinned at her best friend as Buffy turned several shades of red and pretended to be really interested in folding the shirt she was holding.

“Nothing like, I mean – we didn't – 'cause we don't know if this human thing is for real and love Angel but Angelus? Not so much. We just had a really nice time together. We got to talk and be alone and, yeah, okay, smoochies were had,” Buffy blushed again and grinned before continuing, “but it was just nice. Nothing forced or pressured.” Buffy hesitated a moment, looking at her best friend. “So . . . you wanna tell me what was going on down there?” she asked quietly, watching as Willow struggled with her emotions.

“It's weird, Buffy,” she said. “I don't get it, it seems so easy for you and Angel,” she continued, folding and refolding the same pair of pants as she spoke. “I don't know, she had this nightmare the other day and she's been avoiding me ever since, kind of like she's afraid of me,” Willow sighed and sat down on the floor, her back against the bed and looked up at Buffy. “ And when she is around me, she's really guarded. I get one word answers but no real conversation. Well, you saw it at dinner. That's how it's been since you and Angel left two days ago. But when I catch her in an unguarded moment with Xander or Giles,” Willow took a deep breath still trying to keep her emotions in check, “she's Tara. Maybe not the exact Tara I lost, but still most definitely my Tara.” Finally losing the battle with her emotions, Willow pulled her knees up to her chest and folded her arms over them, burying her head in her arms.

Buffy hurried to sit next to Willow and put an arm around her shoulders. “Hey, Will,” she said softly, “it's going to be harder for you and Tara. Angel and I had worked most of our issues out years ago. When he died here and I died there, we were friends. The last words we said to each other, in both worlds, was about the future and how maybe there'd be one for him and me.”

Buffy stroked Willow's hair, trying to lend her some strength. She could feel how much Willow hurt.

“But,” Willow said softly, leaning into Buffy, “Tara and I had reconciled before the bullet. She doesn’t trust me. She said so. Shouldn't it be easier than this?” she asked, looking to her best friend for confirmation.

Buffy smiled sadly, knowing how hard this was for Willow. Shaking her head she tried to say what she had to say as gently as possible. “Will, I know you want this and I know you think it should be easier, but,” she paused briefly looking sympathetically at Willow, stroking her hair softly as Willow leaned on her, “you and Tara had just reconciled and were in your honeymoon stage but you were a dry drunk. It wasn’t under control yet. You weren't using majick and the reason you weren't was because you'd become hooked on the power.” Buffy's voice softened as she continued, “You used that power against Tara. Now, she comes back and you're all mega-powerful-majick-using-white-witch. It's gotta be a little hard to deal, you know? Then throw the Warren and Kennedy factors in the mix.” Buffy smiled softly at her friend. “Give it time, Will. Give her time. She's just having a wiggins over everything that's happened, to her and you. Once she's had time to think and get to know you again, it'll be okay.”

Willow nodded and turned to hug Buffy. “Thanks, Buffy,” she whispered, “for everything.”

“Hey, that's what friends are for,” Buffy said, hugging her back. “They're also for kicking your butt into gear. Come on,” she broke the hug and grinned at Willow, “we still have a lot of packing to do.” Standing up, she offered Willow a hand up before frowning at the pile of clothes on the bed. “I thought we went shopping for Tara and Angel – how did I end up with so much stuff?”

Willow giggled and nudged Buffy with an elbow, “Just lucky?”

“Right, nothing to do with being a shopaholic and an impulse buyer,” Buffy giggled. “Come on, these clothes aren't going to pack themselves,” she said, picking up another shirt and beginning to fold it as Willow joined her.

As they continued packing in silence, Buffy found herself hoping she was right; that, given time, Tara would come around.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


“So, how was L.A.?” Tara asked Angel as they were packing. He and Buffy had gotten back just before dinner and the gang was leaving in the morning. Giles had asked her after dinner if she was accompanying them to England. She had told him that she'd be going with them to see Dawn but didn't know how long she'd be staying. Tara hadn't missed the look that had crossed his face. Maybe he was afraid of what Willow would do. 'No,' she thought, 'it wasn't fear, it was more regret or sadness.'

“For the most part it was okay,” he said.

“What happened?” she prodded gently.

“Everyone was gone. Cordie wasn't at the hospital and they told me she died about two months ago. I had to fake amnesia because the woman at the hospital said I'd been notified as her next of kin,” he sighed sadly and sat down on the bed. “We stopped by Caritas, too. You know – Lorne's club? - and it was deserted, a sign on the door said 'for sale or lease'. No sign of Lorne anywhere. We found obituaries for Wes and Gunn,” he smiled sadly, “Buffy dragged me to the cemetary for 'closure'. It ended up being a good idea. No sign of Fred. Authorities are looking for her, Lorne, Spike and me to question us about Wes and Gunn's 'murders',” he shook his head as if he couldn't believe they were all gone.

Tara sat next to him and took his hand. “If that's an 'okay' trip, I don't think I want to know your 'bad' trips,” she said, smiling softly. Hesitating a moment, she asked “What about Connor?”

The transformation in Angel's face was amazing. His smile took up his whole face. “Alive and doing great. He's at Stanford and doing really well. He was surprised to see me. Shocked is probably a better word. He thought I was dead so we had to explain the whole space-time continuum thing. I guess his father sent him a letter, too, and had all his assets turned over to him, which is what I would have done, too. Buffy got to meet him and we got to really talk about Holtz and Jasmine and his memories. I guess we cleared the air before I died in this reality.” He was grinning from ear to ear and Tara couldn't believe how animated Angel was. “He doesn't hate me and he helped the other me in the battle on that last day. We’ll never be father and son going out to see a ball game, but I think we left as, well, friends I guess.” He smiled softly at her, “Buffy gave him all the information in England. It was good,” he nodded, “really good. Turned out to be a good kid,” he added, almost to himself and sounding rather wistful. He was silent for a moment then looked at Tara. “You want to talk about what was going on when Buffy and I came in?” he asked.

Tara dropped his hand and stood up, moving toward the balcony windows and wrapping her arms around herself as she stared out at the gathering darkness. “I don't know Angel. When Willow and I talked that first night, I told her we'd start as friends but,” her voice lowered to almost a whisper, “I can't. I'm too afraid of her power, of what she might do, of what she's capable of doing. I had a nightmare the other morning and,” tears started to fill her eyes and she let them fall, “I told her I couldn't do it and that I didn't think I'd ever be able to trust her again.” She lowered her head, hot tears coursing down her face.

“Okay,” he said. She heard him get up and felt his presence as he neared her. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders. “Tara, you still love her, I know that,” he said softly. “So is it just the majick use or is something else holding you back?”

She sighed and her shoulders slumped. “I'm afraid of this Angel. I'm afraid of her. I know I still love her, but what if she isn't in control and uses the majick to change me again or do something like kill someone or try and blow up the world? She has that kind of power – look at what she did in just bringing us here. That’s inter-dimensional travel. Do you know how huge that is? Giles told me it's part of her now. What if she loses the control she has and goes all dark? We could all die. What if . . .” Tara trailed off, not wanting to give voice to her biggest fears.

“What if she doesn't love you?” he asked her gently.

“No, I know she loves me, or she loved the me of two years ago, or the me of her world who was me two years ago, or… “ she threw up her hands and continued,” … and that's okay,” she turned around to face him, tears still shimmering in her eyes and falling unheeded down her face. “What if I'm not good enough anymore? I'm not anywhere near as powerful as she is. And even if she does want to be with me . . .” she shook her head, “what's the point of doing any of it – of even being here - when it can all end so suddenly? I'm not sure I could bear losing her again, Angel,” she finished in a whisper.

Angel was silent for a moment before he said anything. “Tara, you are one of the strongest women I've ever met. You lived in hell for a year and you survived. You lost her before and you survived,” he paused, then tilted her chin up so he could look her in the eyes. “If you'd known, two years ago, what would happen – that Willow would die four days after you reconciled – would you still have reconciled with her?”

“Of course,” Tara said without thinking. “Oh,” she said as she realized what she'd said.

He smiled at her. “You know what you want to do,” he said quietly, “ so do it.” He dropped his hand and sighed. “And now, I think we need to get back to packing. We're leaving in the morning, right?”

“Yeah, Giles said as soon as you and Buffy got back from L.A., we'd be on our way to England.” She grinned as wickedly at him as she could, “Speaking of L.A. – you, Buffy,” she quirked an eyebrow in question.

He grinned and averted his eyes, suddenly very interested in packing. “We definitely reconnected with the time alone. It's good,” he said. “Really good. None of the, uh, heavier relationship stuff until we figure out this human thing. But it was good.”

“I'm happy for you, Angel,” she smiled at him as she began folding shirts and putting them into the newly purchased luggage.

“You and Willow will figure it out, Tara. Just trust yourself.” He mated some socks and threw them into his bag. “You're definitely coming with us tomorrow, then?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said as she continued folding. “I want to spend some time with Dawn. I don't know how long I'll stay. I guess that'll depend on how Willow and I do.” She paused, then impulsively hugged him. “Thank you Angel, for everything. I don't know what I'd have done without you,” she said, smiling gratefully.

Angel just shrugged and continued packing. “Friends, you know?”

She shook her head and mused on how this man had become her brother over the past year. She thought about all of them - the whole Scooby Gang – they were her family. Though, Willow wasn't her sister because that would be weird. She shut down that line of thinking quickly and took a few moments to enjoy all of these weird, wacky people. Her blood family had never been as supportive, giving or loving as her chosen family. She made the decision that she wouldn't give that up without a fight.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Next Week: The Journey Home

_________________
Willow? I got so lost...
I found you...I will always find you

Willow's Promise on Myspace
Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:26 pm 
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Hmm, you could call the gang her friends-in-law :p but that leaves out how she's bonded individually with Dawn, Buffy, and Angel.


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:13 pm 
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I'm at Sonnets and Spears so I've not quite caught up, but I didn't want you to think I wasn't reading! I'll leave some fb as soon as I've caught back up! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 2:16 pm 
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That was really good!!!! I feel badly for Willow and Tara and their confusion on how the other one feels, but I'm hopeful it will work out and that they will get back together again, as friends at the very least. :) I'm nervous about being happy about Buffy and Angel knowing how precarious the relationship has been in the past. I hope his being human is a permanent thing so that they can date and get married and have babies and all that wonderful stuff that I wished for them!!! :) Great update! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:18 am 
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*grins* I'm glad y'all are enjoying...not much more to go now...

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Willow? I got so lost...
I found you...I will always find you

Willow's Promise on Myspace
Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:26 am 
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The Journey Home


Willow had, as usual, risen before the sun and was now seated at the edge of a small pond that was part of the hotel grounds. Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths to clear her mind then once again offered silent prayers to Theia, Eos, and Hecate thanking them for their assistance and asking for their continued guidance. Once her prayers were finished, she opened her eyes and looked across the pond allowing her thoughts to drift.

They were leaving for England in a few short hours and Willow still wasn't sure if Tara would be joining them. Willow felt completely out of the loop. They'd been in the hotel for almost a week and everyone else seemed to be adjusting. They laughed and joked and talked easily with one another. Willow just couldn't get in the groove of things, she was too much inside her head trying to figure out how to convince Tara to come with them. Willow sighed as she thought about the past week.

When she and Buffy had taken Tara shopping, Tara had been like a kid on Christmas morning. Well, what she imagined a kid on Christmas morning would be like since, hey, still Jewish. Willow had noticed, as Tara tried on clothes, that while Tara was still on the thin side her soft curves were coming back and the haunted look in her eyes was there less frequently. After the shopping spree, the girls had treated themselves to a day of pampering at a spa; hair cuts, highlights, mud baths, massages, facials, seaweed wraps, manicures and pedicures left all three girls relaxed and content. After the one bad moment in the limo, the three girls had completely enjoyed their day together, talking about nothing really and giggling about it.

After that second day, though, Willow had lost her way somehow. Buffy, after much discussion and arguing, had gone with Angel to check on things in Los Angeles, “just in case there's trouble. No more super strength for Angel could mean badness if he runs into the wrong person,” had been the official reason but when they returned yesterday, it was apparent that something had changed between them while they were in L.A. A small smile spread across Willow's face. She was happy Buffy and Angel seemed to be finding their way back to each other. There had been a few tense moments when the wrong thing was said but they seemed to shrug it off and move on. That they were falling in love with each other again was obvious to anyone with eyes. And, if she were being honest with herself, Willow was jealous. Just a little. Their connection seemed so easy and she wondered why it was so hard for her and Tara. Despite her conversation with Buffy the night before, she knew there was more to it than just the differences in their histories. And it had to be more than just one nightmare.

She felt someone coming up behind her and knew by the way her skin was humming that it had to be Tara.

“Can we talk?” came the soft request.

Willow turned her head and smiled at the beautiful blonde she still adored. “Of course,” she replied, indicating Tara should join her.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Tara woke again as Willow slipped out of the room next door. Tara had partaken of Willow's morning ritual every day, watching from the balcony as the redhead grew calm and serene, the sun creeping over the horizon. Willow had been so open and honest that Tara could definitely see the girl she'd loved in the woman she'd become. Her heart still skipped a beat when Willow smiled at her. It was the same smile it had always been.

Getting out of bed, quietly so as not to wake Angel, she went into the little kitchenette to complete what had become her morning routine. She fixed herself a cup of tea, feeding Miss Kitty while waiting for it to steep. Taking the tea to the balcony, she sat quietly watching the sunrise. As the sun came over the horizon, she once again spotted Willow and the sight took Tara's breath away. Willow was seated at the edge of the pond, as always, but the sunlight glinting off her new highlights and the aura of complete serenity surrounding her was a sight Tara would never get tired of. Tara continued to watch Willow in spite of the fact that Willow wasn't actually doing anything but sitting quietly, seemingly enjoying the peace and quiet of the early morning.

Buffy and Angel were falling in love, that much was obvious. Why was it so easy for them and so difficult for her and Willow? Tara knew the answer: it was her. She was holding back, not giving Willow a way in. She was afraid to love Willow again. Not that she had a choice in that; she was already in love with the woman but she was afraid to let it be what it was. She was afraid of the majick use. Willow had killed a man in vengeance over Tara's death. Tara wasn't sure how she felt about that. When Tara had talked to Angel last night, he had hit upon the real reason. She was less afraid of Willow than she was of losing Willow again. She knew Willow loved her but Tara was afraid she was no longer good enough for Willow. What if . . . 'No,' she thought, 'no more what if. What is,' she reminded herself. 'And what is, is that I still love her.' Angel had been right. She knew what she wanted and knew what she had to do, now she just had to do it.

Tara sighed. They were leaving for England this morning and she still didn't know what she was going to do. No, that wasn't exactly true. She had told Giles last night that she'd be joining them to see Dawn if nothing else. Once there, she'd have to decide on whether she was staying or not. As she looked at Willow, Tara made up her mind. She'd go talk to Willow. Really talk to her, not the perfunctory conversations they'd been having. Tara had said they'd start again as friends but she had to admit that she hadn't made it very easy for Willow to start again. She had thrown up barriers and avoided Willow for the past two days. If she wanted to find her way back to Willow, she'd have to take a leap of faith and trust Willow. At least, trust her enough to get to know her again.

She dressed quickly and quietly, smiling as she pulled a blue t-shirt over her head. Willow had chosen this one because, she said, it matched the color of Tara's eyes. That day had been so wonderful. Buffy and Willow had taken her shopping and promised when they go to England, they'd have a bonfire and burn all of Tara's old clothing. The trip to the spa had been a surprise and a treat. Her hair was back to its normal shiny, soft self; her skin felt gloriously soft and her nails, both finger and toe, were no longer rough and jagged. She actually felt, well, like a woman again.

She closed the door silently behind her and walked toward the pond. She knew Willow was aware of her approach, she saw the change in Willow's aura. It went from serene to guarded. This wasn't going to be easy. 'Nothing worth having or doing ever is,' she thought.

“Can we talk?” she asked softly, knowing Willow knew she was there, but not wanting to break the peace.

Tara's breath caught as Willow turned her head and smiled. “Of course,” she said and patted the ground next to her.

Tara sat down, her body half turned toward the pond, half toward Willow.

“What's up?” Willow asked her, the smile had changed and was less breathtaking and more nervous.

“Will . . .” Tara started, unsure how to proceed. She gnawed her lower lip looking for the right words, not even sure what she wanted to say.

Willow turned to face her, the smile changing again, this time less nervous and more encouraging. “Hey, whatever it is, I'm sure we can figure it out, okay?”

Tara nodded. “Okay. Here's the thing, I-I s-said we should start over as f-friends and we should. Thing is, I haven't been very friendly.” She looked at Willow who nodded and kept smiling, encouraging her to continue. Tara smiled back and took Willow's hand. She could feel the power Willow had and, even though she knew Giles, Buffy and Xander all said she had it under control and Willow said she had it under control, Tara was still nervous about that kind of power. She held onto Willow's hand as she started again. “I've been too afraid to let you in, to talk to you. I'm still kind of afraid – of your power and what you're capable of, and if I'm going to be good enough for you . . .”

“Wait,” Willow interrupted her. “What do you mean, 'good enough'? Of course you're good enough. You've never been anything but good enough, if not even better. We've had this argument, remember? Where you fit when I get so powerful . . . is right by my side. Always.” Willow looked seriously at the blonde and Tara had no doubt Willow meant every word.

Looking intently into Willow's eyes she said softly, “I want to trust you again, I want us back. The us we were before that bullet shattered more than the window.”

“You mean . . .” Willow asked without asking a question.

“I mean. Okay?” Tara smiled. The words were the same as they'd been all those years ago but their roles were reversed. “I want to come to England, Willow. Not just to visit Dawn. Can we – do you think we can find each other again?”

Willow took her free hand and gently cupped Tara's cheek. “I will always find you.”

Tara leaned into Willow's hand and smiled. “Then I'm going to try to stand still so it's easier.”

Willow grinned. “Deal.”

They sat there for several moments, simply looking at each other and talking without words, until Tara's stomach growled in protest and she blushed.

Willow giggled, “Breakfast?”

Tara nodded and the two girls stood up and headed back into the hotel to rouse the others, get something to eat and head for home.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Next Week: New Old Friends

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Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 8:42 pm 
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:clap :clap :clap :clap :clap I'm glad that Tara has made the decision to trust Willow again and is going to England with the group!!! :) Yay! Great update!!! :) Happy New Year!!! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:21 am 
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:) we're almost done...3 more chapters... hope you enjoy it all the way to the end

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Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:42 am 
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New Old Friends


Tara was sitting in a corner of the library sifting through some of the things the Romany had given to Angel. The boxes the old man had sent with them had been hastily piled into the library to await cataloging. She'd started making piles: books, notebooks, parchments, documents and scrolls. The past week had been a blur and she was trying to sort everything in her head out. Sorting through the old Romany's things seemed to be a good way to let her mind process everything. Plus, it gave her something to do. She had to admit she was a little bored. She got lost in thought for a moment as she considered everything that had happened over the past week.

Dawn had practically bowled Tara over when Tara had gotten out of the car. Tears and laughter mingled as they hugged, neither really wanting to let go. When they finally parted, Tara was surprised to see how self-assured, grown up and beautiful Dawn had become. Seeing her, then seeing her and Xander together, she had to agree that them falling in love made perfect sense. There'd always been affection there, falling in love seemed like a logical step.

Then had come a whirlwind of activities – Willow had taken her to the coven, Xander had shown her around the construction site, and Buffy and Giles had given her a few of the highlights of the creation of Slayer Central, and the finding and training of slayers and watchers. Tara knew they were trying to let her know there was a place for her, that her help would be both welcome and needed but there was so much to take in and process that Tara was exhausted. Then, after three days of constant and whirlwind activities, there was nothing. Giles, Buffy, Xander, Dawn and Willow had gotten busy with the work that needed to be done to create Slayer, Inc. as a real business. Willow was talking to the coven about potential witches to assist the active slayers, Dawn was looking into the problems of conducting business internationally including finding out how to make sure all the “employees” had health care no matter where in the world they were. Giles was consulting with legal and financial experts to find out what needed to be done to keep doing business as The Watchers' Council and to make sure both the council and Slayer, Inc. stayed financially sound.

So Tara was bored. She had explored the mansion a bit. She'd be given the room next to Dawn's and Angel was in the room next to Tara's. She had investigated Willow's workshop and was surprised at the care that had gone into cataloging and keeping track of the supplies. There seemed to be some sort of checks and balance system in place so that abusing majick was near impossible; if Willow ran out of something too soon, Giles and Dawn would know about it because every purchase went through them. Tara wondered if that meant they didn't trust Willow or if Willow herself had insisted so that there would never be a hint of impropriety. If something went missing or was depleted, the three of them would know. If Willow was abusing her power again, Dawn and Giles would have advance warning. Somehow, that made her feel a little better, knowing that there was system in place.

She had wandered out to a small hill and sat under a beautiful tree. She imagined sunrise would be beautiful out there and made a mental note to get up early tomorrow to see it. Curiosity had struck and she had gone to the library to find out what kind of tree it was. A quick check of the computer had given here the answer: it was an ash tree. It was as she was sitting at the computer that she saw the boxes and decided to start investigating.

Tara realized she was missing Angel. She hadn’t really seen much of him except in passing or at meal times and she sighed as she thought about how weird that was. For over a year, they had been constant companions and he had been essential for her survival; it was a difficult adjustment not seeing him or talking to him. ‘Right now,’ she thought, ‘he’s the only one who might understand.’ She was feeling a little lost. While she was excited to have her family back, she wasn’t sure where, or if, she fit in now. Despite how hard everyone had tried to let her know she was loved and wanted here, she wasn't sure if it was really her they wanted or if they thought they were getting the other her. Which made no sense because they were both her. She sighed deeply.

“Deep thoughts,” came a familiar voice.

“Angel!” Tara smiled and jumped up to hug him. “I was just thinking about you.”

He smiled. “Yeah. I've been missing you too.” He motioned to the floor and they both sat down. “So, what are you up to? Other than hiding, that is,” he said.

“I-I’m n-not . . .” she stammered as she felt the heat rise in her cheeks.

Angel quirked an eyebrow and gave her a knowing look.

Tara smiled. “Okay. I’m looking through the old Romany’s things. I was sitting around, kinda bored and just thinking about the changes in my life. Then I got to wondering about something.” She gestured at the boxes. “There must be a reason he wanted these things to come through with us. And, well, since I needed a distraction this seemed like a good place to start.”

“Willow.” It wasn’t a question.

Tara nodded. “We really haven’t talked since we got here. I mean really talked. To figure out who we are to each other or even what we want to be to each other. It’s so weird. I have no life here. At all. Anywhere. I know Giles said we were wanted and needed here but they're all so busy with the incorporating and setting up all of the stuff for the business, there hasn't really been time to give me anything to do,” she sighed and leaned back against the book shelf, her eyes closed. “I’m just a little, I don't know – lost, I guess.” She shook her head then continued to sort through the boxes, “I just don't know where or how I fit in here.”

“Yeah, I know,” he nodded, grabbing a stack of stuff and sorting it into Tara's growing piles. “Buffy’s been busy too. It seems like we all want the same thing but are afraid that if we make time for it, it'll disappear.” He frowned and looked at all of the things that now surrounded them. “Uh, Tara? Is there a, um, system here?”

Tara grinned at him. “Not really. I've been sorting according to media: parchment versus document versus scroll versus book. I thought after that, I'd have to sub-sort into languages and/or what the item has to do with.” At his puzzled expression, she elaborated. “Demon or prophecy or laundry list,. You know?”

He grinned and nodded, continuing to assist her. “Do you and Willow, I mean, what's going on there? Did you talk to her?”

Tara smiled at him. “I saw Willow and everything came rushing back. I love her as much now as I did the first time I saw her. There have been so many changes and we have so much to work through. She’s more confident, more sure of herself, her power has grown but she’s still Willow, you know?” Tara shook her head.

“Yeah. I do. Same thing with Buffy.” He shook his head. “At least you and Willow have a chance. Me and Buffy, we want it but . . .” Angel trailed off, a pained look on his face.

“That’s another reason I was down here. I was thinking that there has to be a way to remove the curse - that is, if it’s still on you, with everything that’s happened. I-I mean, that’s what made me come over here to start looking through the Romany’s stuff. Something isn’t right. You said the old man said something about ‘twin destinies’ and one of the guys at the Kalderash place said something about ‘twin destinies leading to shanshu,'” she frowned in thought before adding, “and you said that the other you sent Buffy a letter saying something about shanshu. Things don’t add up. The old Romany wanted this stuff to come with you into this reality. He knew we were leaving and wanted you to get this stuff. There has to be a reason. Angel, what is 'shanshu'?” she asked, looking over at him. At his expression, she clarified, “I know we’ve sort of talked about it, but really, everything you know, from the literal meaning to the myth… the man, the myth, the champion, my hero…” she pointed at him and grinned.

He interrupted her, “Don't . . . shanshu was part of the Aberjian prophecy. It said that a vampire with a soul would shanshu – Wesley said that meant I was going to die but, in order to die, I had to live. Or, as Spike said, I’d become a real boy,” he shook his head and looked at Tara. “Buffy said in the letter the other me sent her, I'd signed away my right to shanshu so I'm not sure how I could have shanshu'd. And I don't understand how can anyone have twin destinies,” he frowned in thought.

Tara looked at him as the something she'd been wondering about finally gelled in her head. “Angel, you did have two destinies. Didn’t Buffy say you were presumed dead while preventing an apocalypse?”

Angel nodded, his face registering what she was saying. “Okay, so I fulfilled my destiny in this world by dying to prevent an apocalypse. We're still stuck with the fact that I apparently signed away my right to shanshu. Don’t forget that I died here.”

“Right, but you're here now,” she said, grinning. “You're not dead.”

“I still signed away the shanshu.” He shook his head.

“No, Angel, YOU didn't. The other you did.”

He looked at her suspiciously. “But, isn't it the same?” He frowned in thought and shifted positions to look at her more fully. “Whatever me I am, signed away the shanshu.”

“No, Angel. It's not the same, it can't be because you, personally, didn't sign it away.” She was getting excited, she knew was on the right track; she just knew it.

He stared at her and in a hushed voice asked, “Tara if I’m human is my soul still cursed?” He looked at her hopefully.

“I don’t know. First, we need to find out for sure if you’ve shanshu'd and are human. Then we need to figure out about twin destinies.” She shook her head and frowned. “I think we should get the rest of the group in on research. There’s a lot of stuff here and it’ll take you and me forever to get through it. I know they've got other things going on, but I get the feeling this is going to be a priority.”

Angel stood up, offering Tara his hand. “Then let’s go find the others.”

She took it but had a sudden inspiration. “I think you should go to a doctor.”

“I don’t need a damned leech to tell me if I’m human, Tara.”

She stared at him and giggled. “They don’t do that anymore, Angel, but he should be able to tell you if you’re normal and healthy for a human, at least. That’ll help rule out something at least.” When he nodded, she smiled and said, “Let’s get the others.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Next Week: Destiny

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Willow? I got so lost...
I found you...I will always find you

Willow's Promise on Myspace
Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:50 am 
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:clap :clap :clap :clap :clap Nice update!! :) Oh I'm hopeful that Angel will find out he is human from the doctor and is okay! :) I hope that he can lead a human life and be with Buffy! :heart :)


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:14 am 
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Destiny


Except for the rustling of pages and the periodic clacking of computer keys, the library was quiet. After she and Angel had found the others yesterday, they'd all convened in the library and had spent yesterday and this morning sifting through the myriad of things the old Romany had given to Angel. After a brief lunch break, they'd all trooped back into the library to continue their quest to discover the secret of Angel's apparent humanity. The doctor had pronounced Angel to be a perfectly healthy, perfectly normal thirty-five year old man, albeit with rather high cholesterol. He’d advised cutting down on the bloody meat and advocated more salads. Angel had assented with nothing more than a smile.

Sighing, Tara stretched and rolled her neck and shoulders. There was so much to go through and the only thing they knew for sure they were looking for was the Aberjian Prophecy or a copy of it anyway. Wolfram & Hart had been the last known holders of the “shanshu” information and The Scoobies were all pretty sure that The Dark Side’s lawyers wouldn't give it up willingly. They figured that somehow the Romany had gotten a hold of it in the good-guys-lostverse that Tara and Angel had come from. They’d collectively decided that it could be the only reason that the Rom had demanded Angel take the trailer full of magical library cast-offs.

Tara had developed a habit of watching Willow surreptitiously anytime the redhead wasn't looking or was deeply engrossed in something else. Tara was fairly certain that Willow could pull the relevant document out of the mountain of paper and was a little surprised that, not only didn't Willow majick the document out of the piles, no one even suggested Willow try to extract it. Willow also walked across the room to get whatever she needed instead of just summoning it. It was little things like that Tara had been noticing. Willow was almost always barefoot now, which made Tara grin a little wondering if it was because she wanted to be in touch with the ground and nature - or wood floors, as the case may be, or if it was because Tara wasn't around to keep track of the redhead's shoes and no one else had been able to either. There were times when it seemed like Buffy and Willow were talking without saying a word and Tara was sure she'd seen the same thing with Xander and the two young women. Will was a little more serene now. Still funny and sweet, sexy and beautiful and still a complete spaz when she'd had one mocha too many but she was much quieter and even more reflective than she had been. In Tara's opinion, life had aged Willow beyond her years and Tara couldn't help but think that while Willow had accepted that the majick was part of her, she wasn't really comfortable with it yet.

Sighing as thoughts of Willow ran away with her – again – Tara grabbed the next parchment in the pile she'd put in front of herself. Aramaic. They were looking for Sumerian.

“Everyone?” she said quietly as a sudden thought struck her. The sound was loud in the quiet of the room and she blushed as they all looked at her. “I-I know we're l-looking for the Aberjian Prophecy, b-but is there anything else? I mean, we know of the Aberjian Prophecy and shanshu but is that going to give us all the information? Maybe there’s another document with the same stuff or, like, similar stuff on it? Or are we just going to be looking through all these puzzle pieces again?”

“Oh, good Lord,” Giles said. “I hadn't even considered that but it would seem to make sense. Why else would the Romany have sent all of this with you if all we needed was a copy of the Aberjian Prophecy? But until we find that we don't know what else we might be looking for.” He sighed heavily, running his fingers through his hair and looking completely frustrated. “Damn!”

“Okay, we've already gone through a bunch of these but,” Buffy interjected, “why don't we start making notes and attaching them to the documents – you know, a highlights of this document type thing. So when we need to look back through it, we've got cliff notes.” As she'd been talking, Buffy had crossed over to the supply cabinets and grabbed seven spiral notebooks, several pens and pencils, some sticky notes, and two boxes of paper clips. Handing everyone a notebook and a sticky pad, she tossed the pens, pencils and paper clips on the table.

“Good idea, Buff,” Willow said, grabbing a pen.

“This is also a wonderful way to begin cataloging all of this for incorporation into the library,” said Giles with a triumphant smirk.

The others collectively rolled their eyes and followed Willow’s lead. Tara again noticed that Buffy had gotten the supplies and Willow had stood up to get a pen instead of just summoning everything to her as she once would have.

Tara grabbed a pencil and started jotting notes about the parchment in front of her. Her mother and grandmother had taught her to read several of the ancient languages, such as Aramaic and Sumerian, as she was growing up. It had served a dual purpose; Tara knew several of the languages that many older majick texts were written in and her studies had helped keep her mind off the fact that she had no friends to play with. She thought about how her life had changed so much since meeting Willow. She looked around the room at her friends – no, family – and thought again how lucky she'd been to have found this wonderful, if quirky, bunch of people not just once, but twice. She smiled softly to herself then turned back to the parchment in front of her. Reading through it, she jotted down 'The Resjendian Prophecy. Mostly Aramaic. Highlights: true champion in the darkness, twin sorceresses, fire and ice, torn asunder. Hm, that's interesting,' she thought.

She stretched and looked across the table at Willow, who was deeply involved in whatever she was reading. Tara smiled. For all of the changes she'd gone through, Willow still chewed the end of her pen and tucked her hair behind her ear when she was deeply engrossed in something.

It was about an hour later when Dawn gleefully announced she had found a copy of the Aberjian prophecy. Between Tara, Giles, and Dawn's translator program, they found the relevant passage.

“All right, here it is, the vampire with a soul, once he fulfills his destiny,” Giles frowned, “will Shanshu. The word Shanshu has roots in many different languages. The most ancient source is the Proto-Bantu and they consider life and death to be the same thing, part of a cycle, only a thing that's not alive never dies – can't die.” Giles paused for a moment as he concentrated over the passage, the arm of his glasses tucked in his mouth. “Wesley was right, it does seem to be saying – that you get to live until you die. It does seem that you become human.” Giles frowned, “There's something here about surviving the coming darkness, the apocalyptic battles, a few plagues, and some fiends that will be unleashed. It also says your connection to the Powers That Be will be severed.” He looked up at Angel, “But it does seem that your reward is to become human.”

Angel frowned, “Okay, that's what we know but what are we missing? I mean, if I signed away my right to Shanshu in this plane, and I had twin destinies – what does that mean?” he closed his eyes for a moment before saying, “Okay, we know what happened in the reality I was in with Tara – I was cut off from the Powers, I did survive the darkness and battled some fiends. Apparently, I did that here, too. Battled fiends and Cordy died,” he shook his head, “does that mean my connection to the Powers here was severed as well? Or did Cordy ascend? We know what happened, sort of, on my last day here and we know what happened in the world Tara and I came from.” He started pacing, his forehead creased in though.

“Well,” Giles said, “I think it's reasonable to assume that you averted the apocalypse since L.A. is still . . . well, then again.” He quirked a brow as if in thought.

“Funny, but yeah, probably,” Buffy added

“So it seems like everything in the prophecy came to pass, but I signed away my right to shanshu here,” Angel looked at Giles, “why didn't I shanshu in the world Tara and I came from?”

Tara frowned at the copy they were all huddled around and noticed something about the paragraph above the relevant passage. “Look here, Giles,” she said, pointing it out, “it says something about the vampire with a soul 'preserving the ice until the fire is found' connecting destiny to destiny, completing the cycle of shanshu, ending the journey of The Chosen.”

Giles nodded and picked up the parchment, studying it intently. “I think there was a deliberate mislead here,” he finally said. “The wording is such that one wouldn't necessarily understand them to mean 'twin destinies' but perhaps meaning connecting the vampire with a soul's destiny to that of the ice.” He glanced at Tara. “How did you catch that?”

“I was looking for it,” she said, looking down and flushing with pleasure. “The old Romany said twin destinies. Why would anyone think to look at that as two destinies of one being instead of two destinies of two beings? How many people have two destinies? I mean,” she thought for a moment, “doesn't destiny sort of imply one?”

Willow giggled and they all looked at her. Blushing, she said, “Prophecies are tricky things.”

Everyone chuckled, except Giles who merely said “Indeed,” and Tara, who grinned at Willow and felt her heart skip a beat when Willow flashed Tara a bright smile in return.

Angel stopped pacing and looked at Giles. “How does shanshu end the journey of The Chosen? Who is 'The Chosen'?”

Giles frowned and studied the page again. “It could be the vampire with a soul, I suppose – erm – you.”

“But I'm not the only one. There was Spike, too.”

“It kind of makes sense,” Willow spoke up, “he couldn't do it all here, in this plane. Twin destinies, the one here and the one there. So he did them both, here he signed away shanshu and averted the apocalypse but didn't survive the coming darkness,” frowning for a moment, as if trying to put the thoughts together, she continued, “there he didn't avert the apocalypse but did survive the coming darkness. So he did all of that – just in two different planes.” She took Angel's place in pacing as she thought out loud. “Okay, so he needed the planes to connect but they don't just connect by accident, something had to cause them to connect. Probably fire and ice,” She frowned, “does that make sense?”

Giles nodded thoughtfully, “Yes, actually, it makes a lot of sense. Ice is the catalyst. In order to shanshu, Angel needed to preserve the ice.” It was his turn to frown again as he looked at Angel. “So, the ice needed to be preserved until the fire was found and it was up to you to make sure that the ice was preserved, but it was up to the ice to cause the connecting of the destinies.”

Dawn chimed in, “But what are the fire and ice? What did Angel preserve? I mean, it was hotter where they were, wasn't it? Gates of Hell being open and all.”

“Right, and England – not really known for its heat waves,” Buffy added.

“Does fire have to mean heat?” asked Xander. “Love, passion, firetrucks, tempers are all . . .” he trailed off as they all looked at him, “what? Fire doesn't have to be FIRE! Right?”

“Xander, much as it pains me to admit, has a good point,” Giles said, “we're reading prophecies not novels. Fire could be anything having to do with fire, heat, passion, power, light. The ice could be cold, controlled, cool, calm.”

“Okay,” Willow said, heading to the supply cupboard, “let's start with what we do know.”

Tara watched as Willow grabbed a whiteboard and an easel and set them up. At the top of the board she wrote:

SHANSHU

WILLOW'S WORLD | TARA'S WORLD


Then placed what they knew under each world.

“Why's it gotta be Willow's World?” Xander asked. “Could be Xander's World.”

Willow glared at him, eyes blazing. “Xander! It's Willow's World,” she said carefully, in an obvious attempt to control her irritation at the interruption of her thoughts, “because there was no Tara here.”

“Oh, right. And Tara's World 'cause . . . right – got it – shutting up now,” he said but continued in a mutter “geez with the random act of redhead temper.” When Tara looked confused, he continued without trying to hide it, “If looks could kill, I'd be toast.” He shook his hand as if it burned.

“Sorry, Xand,” Willow said, blushing, “touchy subject.”

“Yeah, I get that,” he said, smiling and glancing at Tara.

Tara watched as Willow returned to the board and thought about that uncharacteristic show of anger. 'Well, I'm not used to it but maybe – no, Xander said it was unusual for this Willow, too,' she sighed to herself. 'This Willow. My Willow. I need to accept that this is my Willow. She's changed but she'd have changed over the two years even if we hadn't lost each other. Maybe the Willow of my world would have eventually lost control and become the Willow of this world.'

Willow had added several things to the board; fire under Willow's World, ice under Tara's, The Chosen with a question mark between the two worlds. Tara noticed the small wrinkle between Willow's eyes as the redheaded witch puzzled over the board.

“Willow?” she asked.

“Hm?” The redhead turned and looked at Tara.

“We know the ice was in m-my world, but are we sure the fire was or is in yours?”

Willow's frown deepened as she looked around the room. “I . . . I guess I just assumed since Angel had to preserve the ice until the fire was found that fire would be found here but maybe fire had something to do with an event there?”

“Does anyone else's head hurt?” Xander asked.

The group all nodded and murmured their assents.

Tara had been thinking while they'd all been talking. She sighed and they all looked at her. “I just read something about an hour or so ago about fire and ice. I think,” she smiled wryly, “the reason the old Romany sent all of this stuff through with us is because we're looking for more than one prophecy. Like, a bunch of them that are linked. Fire and ice and the vampire with a soul and The Chosen,” she frowned, considering for a moment. “Like maybe as things shifted and changed and elements fell into place, the prophecies were made. Different elements in different prophecies,” she looked at them uncertainly. “Does that make sense?”

Giles again nodded thoughtfully and went to his personal bookshelf. Browsing for a moment, he pulled a thin volume out and brought it back to the table. “This is the Pergamum Codex,” he said, “it prophesied Buffy's death at the hands of the Master and is considered one of the most accurate of the prophetic texts dealing with Slayer lore.” He began thumbing through the pages. “Perhaps, if the prophecy has anything to do with the Slayer line, the blueprint is in here, a checklist of sorts.”

He settled in to go through the Codex as the others went back to wading through the rest of the parchments and texts. Once again silence settled over the group with the sounds of pens and pencils scratching paper joining the rustle of the ancient pages.

Angel's voice was the next one raised in excitement. “Giles! Look at this,” he said, waving a text that had definitely seen better days. “It's the Tiberius Manifesto!” The others looked at him with bewilderment. Tara was again surprised at Angel's level of animation. Maybe becoming human had something to do with it.

“What? But, but,” Giles sputtered, “that's been lost for thousands of years.” He came over to Angel and looked at it, a grin splitting his face. “Oh, this is a find,” he cooed in answer to the questioning looks of the others. “The Tiberius Manifesto, along with the Pergamum Codex, is considered to be one to the most comprehensive and reliable prophetic texts. May I?” he begged Angel, extending a hand that looked like he was desperately trying not to snatch the book away.

Angel handed him the book and Giles greedily began looking through the pages. “Oh, oh, here's something,” he said, “Twin sorceresses, fire and ice, eternally joined too soon parted. Re-joined, or reunited, by the divinities and,” Giles paused and frowned at the text before snatching up the Pergamum Codex and scanning it while muttering and flipping pages furiously, “well, this is odd,” he said as he looked at the group, “ Twin sorceresses, fire and ice, eternally joined too soon parted. Re-joined, or reunited, by the divinities and the star-crossed lovers of time.” He frowned, clearly puzzled by the text. “The Codex has an interesting passage referencing the vampire with a soul and his journey to shanshu and points to the Tiberius Manifesto and three other prophecies; The Aberjian, the Resjendian and the Star of Quazinal Diaries for the rest of the puzzle.”

“I just had the Resjendian Prophecy!” Tara exclaimed as she began rifling through the mass of papers on floor next to her chair. After several moments she held up the document in triumph. “Here it is. It talks about the true champion in the darkness, twin sorceresses, fire and ice, torn asunder.”

“Which repeats what's here in the Manifesto,” Giles said, frowning. “Well, I think we need to translate that, what is it? The Resjendian Prophecy?” Tara nodded that that was the name and he continued, “Tara, if you and Willow can work on translating that, I'll start work on the Manifesto and the rest of you,” he looked at the others, “can try and track down the Star of Quazinal Diaries.”

Tara nodded as Willow came around the table and sat next to her. As the others began looking in earnest for the remaining puzzle piece, Giles settled in with the Codex on one side and the Manifesto on the other, lovingly stroking each text.

Tara and Willow put their heads together as they worked on translating the document with the help of a laptop and several obscure dictionaries. Tara had to smile as she was close enough to smell Willow’s ‘cinnamon and sunshine' scent. Little pulses of electricity zipped through Tara every time her and Willow's hands touched as they worked slowly through the document; discarding passages that had nothing to do with the shanshu prophecy, jotting down notes about the twin sorceresses and the true champion until they finally came to two passages that dealt exclusively with the three people in question.

“Tara, do you see this?” Willow asked, pointing to a phrase. “Twin sorceresses, fire and ice, eternally joined too soon ripped asunder creating the darkness navigated only by the true champion. He alone will find the fire in the dark, releasing her to await the return of the ice.” Willow frowned and looked at Tara. “You don't think . . . I mean . . .could this be us?”

Tara gaped at her and tried to remember the other bits and pieces they'd found. “Oh, gods, Willow.” Tara couldn't form a thought. It made sense. It all made sense. Fire and Ice, power and control, impulsive passion and calm reason. It fit them perfectly. She giggled as she looked at the fiery colors in Willow's hair and thought of the cool blonde of hers. “It makes sense, Will,” the blue-eyed witch said grinning, “right down to our hair.” Eternally joined. She and Willow were supposed to be together. Prophecy – destiny – was telling them that they were meant to find each other, meant to be torn apart and meant to be reunited.

Tara tried to decide how she felt about that and realized it didn't matter. She loved Willow, had from almost the moment they'd met. Time, space, distance, planes and dimensions hadn't changed anything. She looked at the beautiful redhead, “Oh Willow,” she said softly, before throwing her arms around the redhead's neck and hugging her tightly, feeling Willow's arms tighten around her.

Pulling back slightly, she looked seriously at Willow. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, baby,” came the soft reply. “Welcome home.”

Tara wasn't sure who made the first move but it didn't matter. They were kissing, deeply, full of love and passion and hope. Tara got lost in the kiss reveling in having found Willow not once, but twice in her lifetime. She held on to Willow, enjoying the taste, feel, and scent of the beautiful redhead.

A soft cough reminded them they weren't alone. They broke apart and looked up, both of them blushing furiously and muttering their “sorries.”

“Sorry, everyone,” Tara said, the blush still gracing her cheeks, eyes bright with unshed tears, “it seems the Resjendian prophecy has given us some of the answers and I got a little over excited.” She grinned and filled the others in on what the prophecy said.

“Well, then,” Giles said thoughtfully, “if that's true then . . . Xander . . .” he looked at the young man who was, Tara noted, watching Dawn.

“What?” Xander said, “I didn't do it.”

“Yes, actually, you did,” Giles said, a small smile playing at his lips. “You're the true champion.”

“I'm the what now?” Xander asked, looking stunned.

“The prophecy the girls just read, about the fire and ice and the true champion being the only one to navigate the darkness. You're the one who brought Willow, the fire, out of the darkness.”

“Huh?”

Giles looked at him with a vaguely amused grin that hinted at 'duh'. “When you told the yellow crayon story . . . you brought Willow . . .” he trailed off as Xander interrupted.

“Oh, well, yeah, of course I did. I'm not just some Zeppo here,” he thumped his chest with a delighted grin, “I do hero stuff, too, you know.”

Buffy and Willow grinned at him. “See,” Buffy said, “we told you.”

Angel chuckled and looked at Xander. “Welcome to the club,” he said before turning to Giles. “Okay, we've got two thirds, then? We've got the shanshu and we know about the fire and ice. We just need whatever it is that ties it all together. We're missing the middle?”

“I'm not sure if it's the middle,” Giles picked up a notebook and starting making notes as he talked. “We know that the vampire with a soul will shanshu, become human, after fulfilling both his destinies. One of those is to avert the apocalypse, the other is, oh, good lord,” he stopped and looked at Tara and Willow, “to preserve the ice until fire is found. Your second destiny was to help reunite Tara with Willow,” he said, turning to Angel. “Your destinies have connected. Angel, you're human. Again. I mean mortal. Erm, it seems as though you may have done it.”

Angel just stared at him and Tara couldn't begin to imagine what was going through his mind. The whole room was silent until Buffy launched herself at Angel, hugging him tightly. Then the room exploded with noise – laughter, talking, crying – every sound wrapped into one.

“But wait,” Angel choked out above the cacophony, “how? I mean, I signed it away, didn't I?”

“No, you didn't. The you of this dimension did. And he's gone. Apparently, the universe isn't differentiating the you of here from the you of there except in that the you of here signed the document. He averted the apocalypse, but died in the process so was unable to shanshu. You kept Tara safe until she was reunited with Willow so you shanshu because both destinies were met.”

Tara looked at Angel, “That's why it took us a year to get through. The 'you' of here hadn't met his part of the destiny. We had to wait until, well, you weren't here anymore.”

“Ow,” Angel shook his head, “I'm just going to accept that you two know what you're talking about. So we know most of what we need to know, then. We just don't know how shanshu ends the journey of The Chosen. Or why, or even who The Chosen is.”

“You know,” Xander said, “if I'm the true champion and Willow is the fire, doesn't it make sense that Buff is The Chosen? I mean, we know she's 'Chosen' because she's 'The Slayer,' but can't she be this 'The Chosen,' too? What?” he asked, his fingers still up in quotation marks, as they all gaped at him. “Sometimes I have thoughts.”

Giles grinned and shook his head, “Yes, Xander, you do. And I think that may be the right thought. I think we need to find the Star of Quazinal Diaries to put the final pieces together.” He looked at his watch. “It is rather late, perhaps dinner first?”

They all agreed, though there was a definite pout on Dawn's face at having to stop for some measly meal, and went to the kitchen to assemble a quick supper, the excitement palpable. Willow and she were meant to be. Angel was human. What more was there?

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Over the course of the next several days, Willow felt the barriers between her and Tara melt away. It seemed as if the prophecy had given Tara permission to relax. The atmosphere of the house was expectant and excited as they sifted through the piles of stuff the old Romany had sent with Angel and Tara.

It was just after lunch on the fourth day of searching that Buffy finally held up a thin volume and asked, “Is this it? There's a Q in the middle of a Star but I can't read the language at all.” Giles took the book from her and smiled broadly. Tara recognized the book as one she’d read while in the basement.

“Yes, yes this is it,” he said, opening it carefully. The pages were brittle and Willow was afraid they might turn to dust under Giles' fingers, but the paper held together. It was several moments before Giles smiled softly then looked up at Buffy. “You are The Chosen. I've not got it fully or even well translated but I've read enough that it definitely points to you. 'And The Chosen will stand with the true champion and fire by her side, creating an army of warriors to push back the dark tides of evil.'”

“Ohhh, see Buff, you were wrong,” Xander said.

“About what?” Buffy looked puzzled.

“When we got into that big fight with each other before Adam – you said you were beginning to understand why there was no ancient prophecy about the Chosen One and her friends,” he grinned at her, “see, there is one after all.”

Willow looked at her two best friends and saw them looking at her and each other. They'd been together nine years and had seen every imaginable hell together. If the prophecies were right their journeys, though probably not their adventures, were at an end. They'd found their places in the world – with each other. The Fire smiled as The Chosen and The True Champion converged on her, enveloping her in a hug.

Home. They were all finally home.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Next Week: Happy Ever After & Epilogue

_________________
Willow? I got so lost...
I found you...I will always find you

Willow's Promise on Myspace
Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:32 am 
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I must say... Brava! *insert happy clap dance* This is by far one of the best BTVS stories I have read in a long time. I will be the first to admit that I am picky when it comes to the buffyverse and fanfiction and you have earned a high place. Please keep this story going and I look forward to next week's update.

~Amber~


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 Post subject: Re: Willow's Promise (W/T, B/A, X/D)(Teen)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:15 pm 
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:) Thank you so much!

I'm glad everyone's enjoyed it (or, at least, those who have posted about it have) and next week's post will be bittersweet as it will be the final chapter and the epilogue.

Thanks to everyone who's responded (both on the board and off, the positive and the negative). It took just over two years to write and not quite a year to post the whole thing. This was definitely a labor of love and I'm gratified that folks have (for the most part) enjoyed the effort.

Thank you again,
Laurie

_________________
Willow? I got so lost...
I found you...I will always find you

Willow's Promise on Myspace
Willow's Promise: the happy ending Willow & Tara *should* have had


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