"Conversation With... Willow"
By A.M. Glass
Copyright: April 15th –25th, 2003
Revised: April 27, 2003
Spoilers: “New Moon Rising,” “I Was Made To Love You,” “Listening To Fear,” “Tough Love,” “Once More With Feeling,” “Seeing Red,” “Villains,” “Two To Go,” and “Grave”.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Fox Studios, Mutant Enemy, et al, have something to do with "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". No copyright infringement is intended or inferred. The story along with any/all original characters are the sole property of the author and can not be used without expressed permission first.
Author’s Note: This is the sixth of six parks in the “Conversation...” series. The first being Dawn, followed by Anya, Xander, Giles and Buffy. It’s very important that you read the others first, as I mention certain incidents that take place in them. This is a somewhat angst-filled story.
2nd Author’s Note: This story was not originally meant to be Willow’s section of the Conversation series, it was written based around a spoiler I’d read for an upcoming episode. I realized however that it could be substituted for the one I’ve been writing for almost a year. That story is completely different from the one you’re about to read and when I finish it, I will post it on my site. BTW... this starts off a bit differently from the rest of the stories.
Special Thanks: To Kirk, not only for the beta, but for the suggestions, comments, and his words – some of which you’ll find here.
A little something special: Click here if you'd like to see the other two versions of this story.
“Shh... it’s fine... go back to sleep,” Willow murmured as Kennedy seemed to sense her departure from the bed. Willow smiled briefly as the Potential brought her pillow closer and grunted softly before settling down once more.
Willow left the bedroom – grabbing her robe along the way – and walked downstairs. She paused momentarily as she gazed into the living room - sleeping bags seemed to take up most of the floor – each filled with other potential slayers.
Although Willow knew what she was doing, a passing thought wandered through her mind: ‘You don’t know when the First is going to strike again. No one knows.’ She acknowledged that fact and knew that if the First wanted to, It could cause serious damage before anyone could get to her – if not physically then at least emotionally.
However, she wasn’t foolhardy enough not to take precautions against the normal everyday vampire. Should be every night vampire, otherwise they’d go poof.’ Willow laughed to herself as she grabbed a crucifix and took it with her as she silently walked through the living room, into the kitchen and out the back door.
Willow wrapped her robe closer against her body as the cool night air pressed down upon her. Making sure she’d closed the door behind her, she walked down the few steps and made her way to the bench.
She absentmindedly took in the beautiful evening – glancing up she spotted the “Big Pineapple” and smiled, no matter how bittersweet the memory it brought was. She sat down, feeling as if her body would no longer support her.
She was tired.
They all were.
And she wasn’t sure when things would get back to normal, even if it were Hellmouth normal.
Sitting in the dark, she found herself thinking about Kennedy – which was no surprise. They had taken the next step in their ... relationship? Willow had a feeling that if she’d asked the dark-haired beauty what it was she thought they’d done, one possible answer could have been: Made love.
Willow however couldn’t answer that way.
It wasn’t as if she didn’t feel anything for Kennedy – she did.
But... it wasn’t love.
Willow cared a great deal for Kennedy and knew she would be distressed if something were to happen to her.
But, she simply did not feel the same for Kennedy as she did... Tara.
And that’s where the difference laid.
If something happened to Kennedy – Willow was absolutely positive that she would not go off the deep end. She’d be able to deal with Kennedy’s death in a rational way. She would mourn the loss of someone special, however, she would not want to kill her friends – or attempt to end the world.
Sighing heavily Willow shivered as she looked up to the second story window. Her eyes focused on the windowpane. Then the glass itself. It looked so innocuous. She never would have guessed that it held the power to shatter her world. Her very existence. Her soul.
In her mind it was happening again - the glass shattering. Tara's last words... “Your shirt...”
So much blood.
Tears filled her eyes, as the old, familiar panic started to set in. She remembered the meditative techniques the coven had taught her in England and closed her eyes, breathing deeply as she tried to settle herself.
In her mind she heard Tara's voice. It both surprised and comforted her.
‘You have to be with the person you lo-love.’
“I can’t Baby... you’re not here,” she whispered into the night air.
“Of course I am.”
Willow felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise and trembled in fear. Her heart was pounding against her ribcage as she leapt to her feet, her eyes scanning the surrounding darkness for a presence.
Apparently the First was making a return appearance, and it was finally doing what it had failed to do originally.
‘No, not Tara!’ She swore at it in her mind. “Leave her out of this!”
The redhead's eyes slammed shut. If she didn't look, it couldn't use Tara’s face against her. “I won't fall for this! You're not her!”
“I know about what happened with Cassie, and I'm sorry.”
Willow faltered slightly. She wanted to look. Had to. “N-No...”
“Sweetie, please. I know this is hard for you, but I need you to believe it's me. Please. I love you, Willow.”
Now the redhead did turn. Her eyes were red with tears. “Tara?”
The figure sitting on the bench smiled and waved. “Hi.”
“Tara? You... you’re old?” she said incredulously.
The look this older version of Tara gave her reminded her of the time she and Xander had made comments about the April-bot. She instantly quashed those memories, not allowing herself to think of April’s maker. Tara was still looking at her – her arms crossed, her eyebrows slightly arched.
“Not... not that you aren’t beautiful Baby – you are,” Willow said truthfully.
Dressed simply in a sundress, her hair tucked behind her ears, Tara was radiant. The years that she would never see – seemed to have been easy on her. When she smiled, Willow could see laugh lines at the corner of her eyes and wondered who or what could have put them there.
“Did? Did what?” she asked as she found herself unable to tear her eyes off her soul mate, her mind furiously trying to figure out why her beloved had aged and not being able to come up with an answer.
“The lines,” Tara answered as she smiled.
“Lines?” Willow repeated.
“The laugh lines doofus.”
“Hey!” Willow replied indignantly when it hit her, “HEY!” She watched as Tara laughed – a sound she had not heard in what seemed an eternity. “How... how did – how do you do that?”
“Years of practice.”
“Years? You’ve only been gone...”
“I know Sweetie... I know,” she replied as she sensed the waves of grief rolling off Willow.
“I-I don't understand.”
Willow was still trying to wrap her mind around what the others had told her. Buffy and Dawn recounted their meetings with Tara after she overhead them discussing it one night. Soon after she confronted Xander, Giles and Anya as well.
She knew without question after she heard their stories, that it would soon be her turn. So she waited.
Waited for the chance to see her baby again.
To talk to her.
Maybe even hold her.
Her heart soared at the prospect.
But then the hours turned into days, and the days into weeks. The longer she waited the more she withdrew into herself. Perhaps Tara had changed her mind about seeing her. Or worse, maybe she had gotten in trouble for doing this at all.
Hadn't Buffy explained to her what Tara had said? That she wasn't supposed to have seen... spoken with the others? That she was only meant to see her?
Now, after all that time, here she was. Tara. Her light. Her life. Her love. Only, older.
“Will, do you think you could trust me? Enough to sit by me?” Tara asked as she patted the empty space on the bench.
‘If this is the First... it can’t touch me,’ Willow thought as reason warred against her emotions. There was really no way to verify that this wasn’t some elaborate trap – some ruse – to drive her insane. No matter what she felt, she had to protect herself.
“Honey... I know I can’t prove who I am, and you have every right to question anything and everything I might say... but please... please give me a chance?”
“STOP doing that!!”
Dipping her head, Tara whispered “Sorry.”
Willow took a closer look at the apparition, it, she? was perfect, even if older. “Why don’t I just stay here, in this much less confusing and far more safer spot,” she replied.
“All right. I’m not going to force you,” Tara said as she looked up.
“Yeah... so,” Willow echoed. She couldn’t get over the fact – her baby was older, years and years older and yet, she was still breathtakingly beautiful. “What?” she asked as she watched Tara dipping her head.
“Do you really think I’m still beautiful?” she asked softly.
“Of course you are,” Willow replied without hesitation only to cringe seconds later. She hadn’t meant to say anything. Hadn’t meant to react as if this thing were Tara. But she couldn’t help herself. Her heart demanded that she respond in such a manner as to allay her baby’s doubts. “Well... wh-what do you want? What do you have to tell me?” she asked, finally over-ruling her heart for the moment.
Tara looked into Willow’s expressive green eyes and saw fear and anguish. “I... I wanted to let you kn-know, it’s okay.”
Willow looked confused, “What’s okay?”
“You-you and Kennedy.”
Willow felt her heart drop to the pit of her stomach.
“I mean... I kno-know I didn’t expect you to wa-wait. I want you to be happy, Will. If... if she hel-helps you... If she makes you feel as if you can live again... it doesn't mean you've forgotten me. Or that you ever will.”
It was no use going over what-ifs anymore. Things would not - could not change, she was gone and if time had showed her anything it was this - she and Willow would be together again. Until then, she shoved aside whatever resentment she might have felt toward Kennedy's being with Willow now, and focused on Willow's happiness instead.
Willow sank to her knees. Her mind had decided that this seemed like the perfect time to shut down for a second or two... or thirty.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was only going to tell her baby that it was okay and that she still loved her. Willow wasn’t supposed to be on her knees.
“I... I... didn’t... wa-want,” Willow was barely able to speak.
Unable to sit passively by any longer, Tara got up from the bench and slowly walked towards Willow. “You have to believe me when I say this Willow, I understand, honestly I do,” she said as she sank to her knees next to the redhead.
“Do... do you still love me? Even after what I did?” Willow asked, fearing the answer as her eyes filled with tears.
“Always,” Tara replied quickly. Reaching out, she cupped Willow’s face and caressed her cheek, “You once told me something... something I couldn’t respond to, but I-I knew it was true. It’s as true now as it was when you first said it.”
“You’re my girl... my always. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“Oh Goddess,” Willow gasped as the memories of the time she’d spoken those words came rushing back to her.
“I heard you Sweetie... I heard you,” Tara whispered as she found herself suddenly holding onto Willow as the redhead flung her arms around her body. Tara closed her eyes and relished the sensation of Willow’s arms – her body once more pressed against hers.
She reached up and slid her fingers through the copper strands. Tara felt Willow’s arms tighten and she could not resist the temptation, she pulled back slowly – looking into Willow’s tearful eyes – she cupped her cheeks, wiping at the tears with her thumbs and brought her closer.
Willow ached when Tara pulled away, “Tara?” she sniffled.
“We will be together again Willow... I promise.”
She knew as soon as those words passed Tara’s lips, that something was going to happen. When she felt Tara’s mouth on hers, Willow was engulfed by memories – their first kiss – the first time they made love – their first everything.
Willow was awe-struck...
She was in love...
And she was loved – still.
As they continued to kiss, images, events Willow knew nothing about rushed passed her eyes. She could see Tara watching over her as she breathed her last breath with the people she loved all around her.
“Children?” Willow uttered as she broke away.
Tara simply nodded and smiled.
“We? Us... parents? How? When...?”
“Shh... it’s okay Will. It’s not going to happen for a long time.”
“Shh...” Tara said as she continued to caress Willow’s face. “I love you – they – Alex and Anne - they love you as well.”
“A boy and a girl?”
Tara wanted to tell her all about their children, everything... but looking up quickly, she noticed the position of the moon had changed. They had been out here quite some time. “Sweetie... I have to go.”
“I have to.”
“Then, I'm coming with you!” Willow shouted. There was no way on heaven or the Hellmouth she was going to lose Tara again.
Tara felt a cold grip of fear around her heart. She knew what was in Willow's mind at that very moment, and it terrified her. “Absolutely not!”
Tara gripped the redhead's trembling shoulders. “Listen to me! Willow, you have to stay here. It's not your time... I promise you...” She touched their brows together. “...we will see each other again. But you have to stay here. You have to live.”
“Don’t leave me again... please,” Willow begged.
“Oh Willow... I’ll never leave you... never.”
Tara brought their lips together once more, only this time there was a surge of energy which made her tingle. Willow's eyelids fluttered closed and she slumped to the ground. Brushing the hair from her beloved's face, the blonde called for Buffy.
The Slayer looked worried as she approached them. “It’s done?”
Tara nodded. “She needs to get inside and stay warm.”
Buffy easily swept the redhead's unconscious body up into her arms. “Is she going to be okay?”
“She’ll be fine.”
“What’s going to happen?” Buffy looked at Tara before turning back and gazing into Willow’s face.
“She’ll remember this – up to a certain point,” Tara replied as they walked back to the house.
Buffy had been surprised and instantly on guard when Tara came to her earlier in the evening, she hadn’t recognized her. She knew right away that it wasn’t a trick – she could feel it and knew she’d do anything she could to help. She thought back to the conversation they’d had earlier – the reason she’d been waiting for Tara’s signal.
“I’ll need your help later,” Tara had said.
“Why?” she replied.
“I’m going to take something from her.”
“Wadda mean – you’re going to take something from her?”
“I’m going to give her the future Buffy… our future – everything.”
“And what’s so wrong with that?”
“I... I don’t want her to do something… reckless.”
“Oh.” Buffy understood.
“What about Kennedy?” Buffy asked as they reached the back door.
Tara sighed softly, “I can’t answer that. I wasn’t here for her,” she said as she kept her eyes focused on Willow.
“What about you?”
“I... I’m done... for now. They’ll be okay, she knows I love her and it’s all right.”
“Will we see you again?”
Tara shook her head, “No. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be here.”
“It... it was nice to see you again Tara,” Buffy whispered.
Tara smiled, “You too Buffy. Kiss Dawnie for me? Tell everyone else hi?”
Buffy simply nodded, unable to get any words passed her throat.
Reaching out one last time, Tara caressed Willow’s face, “I love you Sweetie.”
Tara was gone.
Giving up the fight to keep her tears back, Buffy let them fall. Turning around she entered the house, kicking the door closed. She walked through the kitchen and headed up to her bedroom. She sensed that whatever was affecting Willow would not last much longer. Walking into her room, Buffy went to the bed, gently placed Willow on it, sat down next to her best friend and waited.
She had a feeling Willow would be in the mood to talk.
It had been almost a year since Buffy had had her conversation with Tara in the park and she’d given up the possibility that the blonde Wiccan would return.
But she had.
Of course it took some explaining on Tara’s part as to why she looked the way she did - Buffy still couldn’t quite understand it.
Tara had gone on to say that in the heavenly dimension – the plain of existence where she resided, she and Willow were living the life they were destined to have had. That’s why she appeared the way she did.
Time moved differently – although she had actually gone back in time to see Willow, her age had changed. She was no longer twenty – she was the ripe old age of seventy.
“So when you go back – Willow’s all ready there?”
She still didn’t get it.
“Here we go,” Buffy whispered.
“How ya doin’ Will?”
“Tara?” she asked as she looked around quickly. “Was I dreaming?”
“No,” Buffy shook her head. “No dream.”
“She was here?” Willow’s voice cracked.
“Yeah... how are you feeling?”
“She was here,” she said softly. “Confused... but strangely enough... lighter? somehow.”
Buffy knew the feeling rather well. After her initial talk with Tara – she remembered running back to the house and holding on to both Giles and Dawn telling them that she loved them both. She felt drained and as Willow had said, lighter.
Her burden – her secret anguish – how she felt ultimately responsible for Tara’s death, how her warwith Jonathan, Andrew and Warren – had killed Tara as surely as if she had pulled the trigger herself, had been lifted.
“I know what you mean.”
“She was here Buffy,” Willow said once more as tears cascaded down her cheeks.
Buffy placed an arm around Willow’s shoulders and brought her closer.
Willow took the opportunity and let all the tears she hadn’t cried – the ones she’d locked away – finally fall.
Buffy looked up suddenly and saw Kennedy standing in the doorway. ‘Give her some time,’ she mouthed.
Kennedy wanted nothing more than to go after whatever had made her girlfriend cry and knew there was nothing she could do. A part of her hurt – hurt because the redhead could not turn to her for comfort. It had taken Willow long enough to acknowledge her attraction to her, let alone anything else.
Nodding once, Kennedy turned around and went back to their room. She knew Willow would come back and she’d make sure to do what she could to help – even if it was pretending to be asleep. Just as she had when Willow left earlier.
As she slipped under the blankets, Kennedy thought about Tara. She’d seen a picture of the love of Willow’s life before, she had seen the light that shone from inside. She knew then, that she would never come close to what Tara meant – still means – to Willow. She accepted it – although she always held out hope that perhaps one day – Willow might feel something – anything for her.
“You’re one tough act to follow,” she said out loud, closing her eyes, feigning sleep.
“She... Tara knows about Kennedy,” Willow said suddenly.
“She... she said she understood... that she loves me... and-and it’s okay.”
Buffy smiled briefly – in the short time Tara had been with them, Buffy could see her doing just this. Not only letting Willow know that she still loved her – but basically giving the green light to keep living. Something Willow hadn’t done, not really. Buffy smiled to herself as the words: “Going through the motions” popped up. That’s what her best friend had been doing – regardless of the tentative steps she’d taken with Kennedy.
And Buffy hoped that she’d still be around when Willow – her Willow – finally reappeared.
“That’s great Will... that’s really great,” she replied, silently adding, ‘Thank you Tara.’
“You’re welcome Buffy,” Tara silently acknowledged as she walked out of the room unnoticed.
Tara made her way to Willow's bedroom, knowing full well it wouldn't be empty. She had lied to Buffy. She had one more stop to make before she left.
“I know you're awake,” she said to the figure on the bed, huddled under the covers. “And I know you can hear me.”
Kennedy's voice rang out, though she didn't move. “And?”
“I have two things to say to you.”
Kennedy sat up. “Only two?” She looked at the blonde.
It was her... it was Tara.
“One, no one messes with my girl.”
The brunette felt some resentment at this. “Hey!”
“I know you care for Willow. And I-I want to thank you for looking after her. But if you ever do anything to hurt her, I swear...”
“What's the other thing you have to tell me?” she interrupted. Even with everything she had seen and done since coming to Sunnydale, Kennedy couldn't believe it. The ghost of her girlfriend’s ex was warning her.
Tara smiled. She knew it wouldn't make much sense to the Potential, but it would to Willow and that was what mattered. “Ask Willow about vague disclaimers.”
“What?” Kennedy shook her head. “What does that...” The blonde was gone. “...mean?”
“Kennedy... are you all right?” Willow asked as she entered the room. She could have sworn she heard two voices.
“Yeah... I’m fine. Hey, Willow... what do you know about vague disclaimers?”
“Did you see her... me?”
“You know how it went,” Tara replied as she sat down next to Willow – her always.
“Yeah, I do. Just thought I’d ask,” Willow answered taking Tara’s hand in hers. “I love you,” she said as she watched Tara look out to the expanse of their front yard – grandchildren playing all around. Willow smiled as the years melted off Tara’s body – in her eyes Tara would always be as young as the day they met.
“You’re a charmer,” she replied. She turned briefly and looked into Willow’s sparkling eyes, she too saw Willow as a young woman – to every one else, they appeared to be in their seventies. “I love you too – always,” she gave Willow’s hand a gentle squeeze. “Dawn!! You be careful!” she called out.
“Yes Panma,” the three year old answered.
“Panma,” Willow chuckled. “Do you think she’ll ever say Grandma?”
“Hope not. I kinda like it,” she smiled.
|A. M. Glass||Buffy||Main Index|