Setting: The Chosen, our Buffy virtual continuation, is a 22 "episode" series that picks up where the real thing left off. Logically speaking then, this story contains spoilers for not only every episode that aired on TV, but also all those that have come before it in the continuation. If you're interested and would like to not be spoiled, our advice is to head to episode #1 and start from there.
Notes: Episodes are posted to btvschosen-dot-com weekly, at 8pm EST on Tuesdays, all pretty and HTML'd with graphics and oo! Credits. We have credits, too. Eps will appear the following Friday or Saturday on ff-dot-net. So if you don't want to wait all that extra time (and really, how could you?), the site is the way to go.
(30 October 2004)
Episode 17: "The Wren"
Story by: Jet Wolf, Novareinna & Ultrace
Written by: Novareinna & Jet Wolf
The sun shone happily on Willow and Tara as they moved down the streets of Trillium's shopping district. While there could be no denying that the two women were, indeed, walking together – they maintained the same pace and were more or less side-by-side – a generous helping of personal space had been established between them. Not enough room for a person to step between the witches, but several inches that prevented hands from accidentally brushing and making a slightly awkward situation more so.
"This is good," Willow declared, looking at the stores around them. "This is nice. You. Me. Sunny day. An afternoon's pleasure in the purchasing of fine wares from local vendors."
Nodding, Tara expressed her agreement at the statement. "Thanks. For coming with me. Though I'm sure I could've found it myself."
"Well sure – Trillium, not exactly Los Angeles, you know?" The redhead considered this for a moment. "Which wouldn't necessarily be bad, since we'd have Angel and Cordy and Fred and everything, though the weather's completely wrong for L.A., and this is so entirely not the point." Favoring Tara with a small smile, she assured, "I wanted to come. Plus, I gotta admit – ulterior motive."
At the questioning eyebrow, Willow produced a slightly crumpled piece of paper from her pocket. "Book list," she explained. "I've been doing some research on our ... our 'problem'. With the powers?" At Tara's nod of understanding, Willow stuffed the page back into her coat. "I've got some new leads."
Tara dodged around a couple moving swiftly in the opposite direction and glanced at the other witch. "Mr. Giles has been working with me, seeing what's different? I think he's right, I think that spell you did to ... to save me? It's ... There's something there now. Between us. I can feel it." A moment of contemplative silence passed. "I think I could use some of your power now. I-If I had to."
Neither responded to this statement, and they continued onward without comment, the tension causing both women to fidget uncomfortably.
"I'm sorry," Willow apologized in a quiet voice.
Clearly not understanding, Tara frowned and shook her head. Willow attempted to explain. "You shouldn't have to ... I mean, I don't want to deal with it most of the time. And now here you are, pulled out of—" The redhead glanced over nervously. "Forced to go through who-knows-what, made to think you had to do terrible stuff, and what's your big reward at the end of the day?"
Willow blinked at Tara, unsure of how to respond as Tara met Willow's gaze.
"And that's something. Right?"
"It's everything." As soon as the words had left Willow's mouth, she appeared to want nothing more than to snatch them out of the air and stuff them back into her mouth where the traitorous things should never have escaped in the first place. Unable to do that, she settled for turning away as a flush crept its way up her neck. Consequently, her eyes lit upon a flier displayed in the window of a record store, its vibrant colors causing it to stand out among the dozens or so others that coated the glass.
Immediately interested, Willow came to a halt. "Oh, neat!" she exclaimed.
Having stopped just a pace or two after the redhead, Tara stepped closer and followed Willow's pointing finger. "Renaissance festival?" Tara read, casting a dubious glance at the still-bare trees that surrounded them. "Now?"
Willow was undaunted. "This is so great! I've always wanted to go to one of these things! Everything so ... chivalrous and medieval, with- with knights and armor and fair damsels all flowing and chiffony." Her expression lit up like someone in Willow's brain had just flipped a switch, and she spun to regard Tara. "You would look so good all flowing and chiffony!"
"Oh, would I, now?" contested the blonde in a flat tone that was entirely betrayed by the amused glint in her eye.
Immediately flustered, Willow's previously rampant enthusiasm began to fizzle uncertainly. "O-Or shiny and armor-y. Being a ... a bold, independent woman of today, there's absolutely no reason why you have to be a fair damsel ... Not that you aren't! I mean, even in chainmail, you'd be a damsel, in the base definition of the word, and the fairness of you – well, that's just a given, so—"
Tara cut in, still highly entertained judging from her smirk. "Will. Breathe."
"Breathing good. Yes." Willow nodded with much gusto. "I'm in support of oxygen. Go oxygen."
Shaking her head, Tara turned her attentions back to the flier. "Hey, look, they still have booths for rent."
Hopefully but tentatively, Willow ventured, "You wanna maybe get one? You an' me?" As the blonde looked uncertain and leaning toward the 'I don't think that's such a good idea' response, Willow hastened to add: "Just a fun thing, in a nice, safe, entirely platonic sense. We can sell little charms and some potion stuff in pretty bottles – all harmless, of course." Her eyes began to shine again with the possibilities. "It'll be like the- The Magic Box! Only, you know, not a box. A booth. A stall. 'The Magic Stall'?" Her face crinkled in disapproval. "Nnn."
"Maybe ... all of us?" Tara offered.
But Willow was still deeply pondering naming options. "'The Magic Shanty'?" She bopped her head back and forth, seeming to consider the suggestion had potential, then focused once more on the blonde. "All of us?" she repeated.
"You, me, Buffy, Xander ... Dawn. I think this could be good for Dawnie. Help get her mind off stuff." The witches resumed their walking, and Tara's eyebrows furrowed. "I'm worried about her."
Willow seemed quite amenable to this idea. "Yeah. Be good for Buffy, too. I haven't seen her this stressed out since ..." Glancing up, she searched her memory. "Well, just a couple weeks ago, but still. We could all use something light and fun and brightly colored." Her lips pulled back in a challenging grin and she leaned toward Tara. "So, you in?"
"I'm in," Tara agreed with a smile.
Beaming happily, the redhead gave a nearly imperceptible skip. "This'll be great. Bright gowns, fake royalty, way too many 'Wilt thou's and 'Forsooth's, a disturbingly vast array of food items on sticks ..." She smiled and spread her arms wide. "It'll be like a whole 'nother world."