a Cordelia x Angel fanmix
For tarathevampireslayer - The Buffy Exchange
The Buffy Exchange: Some Willow/Tara cuddle for morwentheslayer :)
Buffy Exchange for goldhund.
Summary: An alternate universe was falling apart and threatening to destroy our world with it. To save it, Willow went and destroyed that world but found the Tara of that universe to bring back with her. It is now a few days later and Willow is craving closure on the events of Villains, Two to Go, and Grave. Sort of a character study. Thoughts are in italics. I have the background story for this written is anyone is interested. Just tell me if you want it posted.
The wall of the room had a hole. Tara inspected it with interest. Of course, she understood that the people she was staying with were far from normal, but seeing evidence of it imprinted in the house was fascinating to her. While staring at the wall, Tara reflected on the past two days.
Dinner had been awkward, but not any more so than the rest of the previous day. Nobody would say much, but it was clear that she was not the first Tara that had spent time in the Summer’s household. When she had asked, startled, about the picture of her lookalike hanging from the wall, she had merely been told that the Tara from the picture “was gone”. I guess this kind of confusion is what you get when you practice cross-dimensional travel she thought idly.
When Willow had come to destroy her world, it was obvious that the redheaded witch had not been expecting any humans to remain on Tara’s Earth-turned-hell-dimension. Instead of finding a barren land of vampires though, Willow found a single human. Tara. After a small breakdown, Willow had proceeded to forcibly remove her from her home as it collapsed around her. At first it had all been very confusing, but now Tara felt as though she understood all she needed to. She was no longer on her own world, and the Tara here had died. Most of Willow’s friends made friendly conversation with her, and she had struck up a sort of awkward friendship with the young Dawn, but the redhead herself had been avoiding Tara like the plague ever since they had crossed back into Willow’s home world.
Now, sitting alone in Buffy’s bedroom-turned-guestroom, Tara could not help but wonder why Willow refused to even look at her, at least when she thought that Tara was watching. The blonde had caught Willow staring at her multiple times. On every occasion a painful play of emotions seemed to cross the redhead’s beautiful features. Beautiful? No. Father made it perfectly clear before he died that such thoughts are wrong. Tara couldn’t help but wonder if Willow was embarrassed by the show that she had put on as she ended Tara’s world. Her black-rooted hair, dark-eyes, and forceful manner had all indicated that the young witch had been dealing with dark forces.
If she were honest with herself, Tara would have admitted that Willow intrigued her. Intrigued her and terrified her. The other women obviously had large amounts of power, and when she harnessed it she was a sight to see, but at other times Willow seemed almost demure in stature and character, as if she were trying to hide from both herself and the world around her.
Lost in these thoughts, Tara jumped slightly at the knock she heard on the bedroom door. It surprised her that anybody was in the house. Buffy had asked her after dinner if she wanted to accompany the rest of the group to a club, someplace called The Bronze. Upon turning down the offer, Tara had figured that she would be alone until late that night. This is why the blonde was shocked when she opened the door to a nervous looking Willow, with two cups of tea precariously perched on one hand, the other still raised to knock.
They stated at each other for a moment before Willow raised the hand with the tea. “I brought you a drink,” she said unnecessarily. Tara stood stalk still for a moment before shaking her head slightly, as if coming out of a daze.
“Y-yes Willow, come i-in.” Silently curing her stutter, Tara moved aside to let Willow into the room. The redhead quickly complied and set one of the teacups down on the small desk crammed into the corner of the room. The other she handed to Tara, though Willow held the edge of the glass as if determined not to touch the other woman’s hand.
Tara uttered a thanks before taking a sip. Her eyes widened as she tasted the drink. “Jasmine with two teaspoons of sugar and a dash of skim milk!” Willow tried to wipe a self-satisfied smile off her face. “How did you know?” As soon as Tara voiced her question, she knew the answer, and she could see from the look in Willow’s eyes the simple question had stung.
One of them, however, had an agenda, and she did not let Tara’s innocent question get to her as she sat down on a chair, motioning for Tara to sit on the bed. “Actually,” she started, “that is was I came to talk to you about.” Nervously, Tara looked up from her tea. “I know that everyone’s been all weird around you, especially, well, me. I know that’s not fair. You are in a strange place with strange people. You shouldn’t be alone in this.” When Willow’s mouth opened to continue her small speech, which was, by the sound of it, obviously rehearsed, Tara put up her hand.
“Willow. It’s o-okay, really. I know that whatever… happened… with her was hard on all of you. You shouldn’t have to relive that just because I had to be saved.” If Willow was surprised by her response, as Tara would have expected, she did not show it. Instead, a small smile graced her lips as she took a long sip of her own tea.
“Tara,” Willow said softly, gazing at the other women with an expression similar to the tone in her voice, “you deserve to know what is going on. You deserve to know everything. And…” The redhead’s earlier expression of apprehension returned. Unsure of what to do, Tara just nodded in encouragement.
A moment of silence passed between the two women before Willow again began to speak. “And I need to tell you some stuff. I know you’re not her, and can never be her, but you are the closest thing that I will ever have. So I am doing this for you. Right now you must be so lost and so scared… but I’m doing this for myself too. I… I have some stuff to confess, and I also have some stuff to apologize for.”
Tara looked distinctly uncomfortable. “Willow… I don’t know you. Y-You can’t just tell me all of you private thoughts. You’re right, I’m not her, and you need to r-remember that.” Though her word warned the redhead away, the tone in her voice did not. Tara sounded concerned, yet very curious.
Willow, however, seemed to take the blonde’s words at face value. “Oh. I-I mean, this was stupid. I can leave. I just thought… I’m sorry to bug you.” Standing up to leave, Willow gave Tara an apologetic smile, but before she could get far, the other women spoke again.
“No. It’s okay. I-I want to help you, and, well, I’m k-kind of curious.” She gave Willow one f her trademark half-smiles. “I need you to remember that I am not her.”
At Tara’s smile, Willow visibly relaxed, comforted by the familiar expression. “Good!” she said, half to herself. “Good! And I can remember that. I mean, I do. I could never forget. My Tara died in my arms. I will never forget.” Willow sat down hard on the chair, letting out a breath, as Tara looked on, surprised at the revelation.
“I-I’m sorry,” she whispered. My Tara. Interesting choice of words…
“So am I,” replied Willow, her expression darkening suddenly. “And I am also sorry for what I did afterwards. I wish that I could tell her that, you know? She must have been looking on from wherever she is now, hating me for everything that I have done.”
Shaking her head, Tara extended her hand across the small space to the chair and placed her hand on Willow’s knee. It was meant to be a comforting gesture, but she withdrew her hand immediately as she felt Willow stiffen. “I’m sure she could never hate you,” was all that Tara could think to say.
Willow shook her head. “No you don’t understand. She was there in my arms. She still looked like the women I loved but she was so… dead. That’s what she was. Dead!” The words coming from the redhead’s lips were harsh and raw, and, despite Willow’s revelation of the nature of her relationship with her other self, Tara knew that there would be time to discuss the matter in the future, but not at that moment. It was not actually all that surprising. Willow was significantly more jumpy around her than the others.
Instead of butting in to add her own thoughts, Tara simply nodded, telling Willow that it was okay if she continued. “I was so lost. I had just gotten her back and I had hurt her so badly, and then she was just gone. It was kind of numbing actually, like I couldn’t feel anything except for anger and rage. When I went to find the books on dark magic, I had no thought in mind but to get revenge. I didn’t even allow myself to grieve. The man who shot her, Warren, was the monster who killed her. I still don’t really see the difference between him and the demons that we fight on a regular basis. Goddess, don’t tell Buffy this, but I don’t regret what I did to him. He deserved it.” At this, Willow let out a breath, as if she had just relieved a large burden from her chest. It was like she had just revealed a secret, one that she had realized that she had no energy to keep for a moment longer.
Meanwhile, Tara’s brain was working in overdrive. Okay. Other me was shot. Willow went to get revenge. That sounds bad. Just gotten her back? Were they not together for some reason? Had something happened to her/me before? Willow didn’t regret it… The last statement is what reverberated in Tara’s mind. It begged the question, “What did you do to him?” Her question was quiet and careful, as if she expected Willow to lash out at any moment. The waves of emotion and raw magical power coming off the redhead were intense.
The tense moment did not pass, and Willow’s eyes grew hard as they stared forward at empty space. “I sought him out and tortured him. I showed him visions of another woman that he had killed. His ex, I believe. Then, I just did the same thing to him that he did to Tara. I shot him. Magically, of course, and a lot more slowly. Oh, the pain he must have felt… then, when I was done with him, I flayed him alive.”
Only when Willow realized that Tara was slowly moving as far away as possible did she realize that her hands were crackling with energy. “After that,” she said, knowing that she was scaring the one person who she loved more than anything else on the planet, “I tried to destroy the world. The only reason I could be stopped was because Giles dossed me with light magic.” She laughed bitterly, and the frightened, slightly horrified look on Tara’s face told her everything that she needed to know. She wasn’t forgiven. At that, she turned and fled from the room with tears in her eyes.
What Willow didn’t realize was that Tara wasn’t horrified, simply frightened. Okay, maybe a little bit horrified. The redhead’s sheer magical power, when combined with her pain, created a powerful, crackling energy that had left Tara’s hair frizzled. Hard, deep breaths could be heard coming from the blonde. She slumped against the wall, feeling relieved in Willow’s absence.
Her next move was not nearly as calculated or thought out as she liked to believe her actions normally were. “Willow!” she heard herself shout. Before she knew what she was doing, Tara found herself following Willow out the front door.
Luckily, over the past few days she had come to know the Summer’s house quite well, so she was able to make it down the stairs and out the front door quickly but safety in the fading light. Willow, however, had not had the same luck with the front steps of the porch.
Lying on the ground, the previously intimidating redhead looked like she could easily disintegrate into nothing. She had fallen into a puddle by the side of the house, and the water stuck her clothes to her body, framing her boney hips and prominent ribcage. It was obvious that the woman had not ben enough.
Tara approached the shaking figure slowly, knowing that while Willow would never hurt her intentionally, the witch was dangerous. “Hey, Willow?” Afraid that she would frighten the redhead, Tara kept her voice to a low whisper. As she had expected, Willow did not respond. With a bravery she did not know she possessed, Tara knelt in the puddle next to Willow.
Not until she put her hands on Willow’s shoulders did Tara manage to elicit a reaction from Willow. A shiver ran down her spine as shining green eyes met hers. Willow’s breath was heavy and hot against her neck. Not the time. Definitely not the time. “Willow,” she said slowly, “I am going to need you to calm down, alright?”
It was all that Willow could do to nod. Still shaking, she became lost in the depths of Tara’s gaze. Tara was so close. She had told her secret and Tara was still here, holding her in the mud. But why?
After Willow’s full body tremors became quivers, Tara felt that it was appropriate to speak. “I know that you have been through a lot. You have seen and done a lot of things that should never need to be seen or done. “ As she spoke, Tara briefly wondered at her strong voice, one that held no trace of a stutter as she tried to comfort the gorgeous, grieving woman in front of her. “Willow, I need you to know that while your actions can never be forgotten, they can be forgiven. By your friends and by me. You got that?”
Tara knew that the words of forgiveness coming from her mouth were what Willow needed. In truth, she was not all that sure of their accuracy, at least not at that time, but she also knew that hearing those words coming from the form of her deceased lover was what Willow truly needed.
“I’m going to be here for you,” she said. The words had just left her mouth when Willow fell into her arms, folding herself into Tara’s forgiving embrace.
Written for sam-is-unamoosed, as part of The Buffy Exchange
Summary: The Roadhouse is a dilapidated old bar just off one of the many nameless exits between Omaha and Denver. The bar’s a decent sized place, though certainly it’s seen better days. It is safe at least and that was no small feat these days. Faith likes to stop by whenever she’s in the area; grab a drink, catch a game of pool, loosen up a bit.
Read on AO3
"That gift is your destiny. It made you everything you are, and it has ruined you."
-Oedipus the King
The Buffy Exchange for lisathevampireslayer
Perhaps the Core Four Scoobies were able to retain that very coreness of their dynamic for so long because they, as individuals, represent each of the Hogwarts Houses, epitomizing the strengths of each house while offsetting the others’ weaknesses…