AN: I know it's been a while since I updated this, but there's a reason for it. I had more written, but I decided that I hated what I had written about older Willow in younger Willow land. So, while I've been trying to figure out how to rewrite it, I've been absent. However, I decided that I could just post the younger Willow in older Willow land parts. I know it's different than the other chapters, but at least you're getting something. Hope you can understand.
So, remember that this is just younger Willow, and enjoy!
She curled up on her new bed, clutching her stuffed elephant to her chest. It felt weird lying on Joyce's bed, holding her stuffed animal that actually belonged to another her. Looking around the room that had belonged to Buffy's mother, it was too surreal to see some of her stuff mixed with another person's. No matter her denial of the situation, Willow couldn't deny that this room had her flavor in it. She leaned back into the two pillows, and breathed in deeply. Looking over to the left side of the bed – well, the left to her – she looked at the stray blonde hairs that were left there, glinting in the light of the lamp. Propping herself up, Mr. Barrymore (her elephant) forgotten, she leaned into the plumped up pillow, and again took a deep breath.
The smell that had shocked her awake swirled up to her nose again, and she wondered if that was the smell of Tara herself, or of her shampoo. Whatever it was, it soothed her, and she flopped down, hugging the pillow to her chest in lieu of Mr. Barrymore. No matter that it should have been weirder for her to abandon her stuffed animal for the smell of another person. Unbidden, images of the woman who called herself Tara Maclay filled her mind.
Willow suddenly felt her fingers itching. Sitting up and brushing a long red bang behind her ear (it was time to trim it again) her eyes scanned for the item that she knew HAD to be in the room, if a Willow actually lived in it. The laptop blinked at her from across the room, sitting on the desk. Grinning widely, she abandoned everything and jumped off the bed.
Quickly typing in the password and glad that this Willow hadn't changed it, she quickly logged onto the internet and did a search and some hacking for one Tara Maclay.
About an hour later, she sat back. So. Tara was not a demon. She was a human. After also hacking into her counterpart's diary, she had read the story of what happened on her 20th birthday, and tried not to feel guilty.
She was still blushing, though. Willow obviously loved this woman. It was so weird to see her own mannerisms applied to love letters and comments to another woman, but she guessed it wasn't all that weird. Since her vampire counterpart had seemed gay anyway, Willow wasn't all that surprised that she had landed in an alternate dimension where time passed faster and she was gay – yet again.
Putting her hands to her head, she leaned back in the desk chair and sighed. Not for the first time, she wondered what it would be like to kiss a woman. That morning, Tara had seemed so warm, so pleasant. Even if she did have Oz back home, Willow's eyes couldn't help following Tara wherever she went.
She was so graceful, so classically beautiful. So eager and patient. Her eyes shone so much love towards Willow, and every touch that she slipped up on promised so much that it heated her skin just thinking about it. The teenager blushed. It was obvious just how close 20 year old Willow was to Tara. And, if she was honest with herself, she could see how Willow would have fallen for her. Tara had everything Willow always looked for, and even some that Oz lacked.
Oh… Her mind hurt. All this thinking of another her that wasn't her but was supposed to be her but couldn't be her because she couldn't imagine her life ever ending up this way, was making her head feel like exploding. Swinging out of her chair, she decided that she'd go find Dawn and talk to her.
Dawn was the obvious choice because she was the only one that Willow didn't know, other than Tara, but, Willow shuffled her shoulders, what she wanted to talk about wouldn't probably be the best thing to talk about with Tara. Besides, because Dawn was also around her age, the redhead had a feeling that she would relate more than any of the suddenly grownup Scoobies. Besides, it was weird looking at them anyway. They all had another impression of her that she knew they would have a hard time trying to shake off to talk to her like she would want. They had more experiences and memories together.
So, with only a little hesitance, she knocked on the door of the room that had a sign on it that proclaimed 'Dawn's Room! Keep Out!'. In her memory, this room had been a catchall for the junk and books that the Summers family, consisting of Buffy and her mother, had had.
"Just a minute!" The music that had been blaring somewhat noisily became quieter. "There, it's down," Dawn called again, and Willow sighed.
Knocking again, she said, "Dawn, it's… uh… Me. Willow. Can we talk?"
"Oh!" An excited squeak sounded, and then suddenly Dawn appeared at the door. Grabbing her by the hand, she pulled her in. Suddenly, Willow was back into the world of teenagedom that she was used to Buffy's room being in, and she didn't feel so out of place. Leading her to sit onto the other teenager's bed, Dawn took a seat across from her, an eager expression on her face.
"This is so cool," the brunette echoed from that afternoon, "It's so weird seeing you like this when we're closer in age! What are you, 16, 17, 18 years old? The others couldn't see it – including Tara, she told me – but I can." Dawn leaned in, her hazel eyes intent. Studying her for a second, making Willow feel just a bit like she was on the receiving end of a microscope, Dawn nodded. "Yep! You're face is a bit rounder, and you're just a bit shorter." Satisfied with herself, she sat back and asked, "So, what did you want to talk about?"
Willow blushed immediately. Recognizing the sounds from the CD player that Dawn had been listening to before she had come, Willow tried to divert attention away from her reason for being there. "I…uhm… That's Greenday, right?"
Buffy's sister nodded. "Their older music's better."
"Mmm." Willow turned back to her. Now or never. "Uhm… Dawn? Can you tell me about me and- uhm… Tara and Willow?"
A big grin engulfed the other girl's face. "That's so cute!" she crowed, throwing her arms around a startled Willow, hugging her closely, "Eeeh! You guys are so cute together!"
What was she getting herself into?
Trembling, Willow quietly shut the door to Dawn's room behind her. Taking a few seconds to compose herself, she finished with a few deep breaths, before beginning to return to her new room. Well, that was her plan. She was going to curl up under the covers, hug her elephant to her and try not to worry about the fact that the elephant was two years older than her own elephant, and devise a plan on how to get home the quickest. She had a brain, a laptop that could plug into the wall, and enough fluid and solids in her body that she could exist for three days without leaving. She was even going to devise a way to go to the bathroom without having to leave the room, and, heaven forbid, run into Tara.
Who was standing right in front of her when she opened her eyes. Jumping, Willow eeped, flattening against Dawn's door with a loud thud.
"Willow?" Tara asked, her voice concerned, frowning at the teen, "You okay?"
Nodding madly, Willow babbled, "Yup! Ahuh! Everything fine! Especially in the Willowness of me being me – not that I'm YOUR Willow! No! Your Willow just happens to be all fine and where I'm supposed to be – well, I think she's fine. She should be fine! I would be very put out if Willow wasn't fine, seeing as she's me and I'm her, and if anything happened to her – or me – then I wouldn't be fine, and that would be very, very bad." And, with one more mad giggle, Willow ran to the room and slammed the door behind her.
Once inside the master bedroom, the teenager felt like slamming her head repeatedly against the wall. Over and over again. It just wasn't fair. Willow and Tara loved each other so much. But here, Willow wanted Oz…not Tara. Didn't she?
A soft knock sounded on the door, and a second later, it opened. Stepping through with a concerned look on her face, Tara quietly closed it behind her. Raising her hand in a little hello, the blonde smiled lopsidedly and spoke, her voice soft, "Hey."
Willow smiled back, her expression wobbly. She scanned the walls beside her and then wrung her hands together, "Hey, yourself."
"I…" Tara tucked some hair behind her ear. Thrusting her thumb out behind her, twisting her waist, she gestured out the door. "I, uh, I was going to go o-out and g-get some food…"
"Oh." Willow nodded. "That's great. Getting food. We all need that!" A blush heightened her face.
"No." Tara shook her head. The look she gave Willow was completely shy. "I was w-wondering if you would want to go with me? Like… Like a late-n-night snack?" Her blue eyes beseeched Willow.
The redhead paused. Finally, with no excuse to think of, she nodded. "Okay."
"What?" Tara's eyes widened.
"Okay." Willow smiled hesitantly at her, "I'll go."
"Oh. Good!" A smile bloomed onto the blonde's face, and Willow was struck with just how beautiful she was when she was happy. Her stomach twinged, and she started to walk forward, grabbing her coat off of the bed. Better to walk in front of her than to look at her, right?
She wished. Now she had mental images of Tara checking out her butt. She sighed, her cheeks tingeing pink. Why hadn't Oz ever affected her this much?
"So, uh," she paused at the bottom of the stairs, "Are we going to walk?"
Tara nodded. "If that's o-okay? I, uh," she gave a small lopsided smile, "I don't know how to drive."
"Okay." Willow shook herself. Why was she so concerned? Maybe, a stray thought flashed through her mind, I'm afraid of spending a lot of time with her?
Tara walked forward and held open the door for her, making sure that nothing was out there. It was only about an hour after dusk, but Willow knew how dangerous it could be. She smiled unconsciously at the gesture, and found the smile given back to be just as she felt: nervous.
They walked silently down the street, awareness making their steps faster. However, as the light steps of the woman next to her dogged her own, Willow knew that something inside of her had changed.
Willow had to admit that she was having fun. Tara really was quite an amazing woman, and, she thought, blushing, a great date. It had taken a while, but they had both warmed up to each other. Choosing a small 24 hour Thai restaurant that Willow didn't remember being there, they had sat down across from each other, near the back. The lighting was a little low, but Willow didn't know if that was because it was naturally dim and it was night, or because of something else. Either way, it caused an unavoidable feeling of romance in the air.
Tucking her elbows solidly against her waist, the redhead accepted the menu given to her. Tara did the same, and there was silence for a second as they both looked it over. "I, uhm, didn't know that we were really going to go to a real restaurant," Willow said shyly over the plastic. She looked to see how Tara was going to reply.
"Oh." The blonde looked down for a second. "I didn't even think about it." A smile grew on her face, "You and I would…" She stopped. Her eyes flicked to Willow's face, and the redhead could see some of her pain.
The younger girl suddenly felt hot. Swallowing, she lightly nodded and waited for the older woman to continue.
After a second, Tara's blue eyes were settled, and she folded the menu down onto the table. "This was W-willow's and mine f-favorite place to go after-hours. I guess it w-was just h-habit." She tried to grin. "They do have the b-best Weeping Tiger."
"It is beautiful," Willow agreed, looking around at the décor. Instead of the usual seedy reputation that 24 hour restaurants usually held, she could see that they really had done a good job on keeping an authentic Thai feel.
A young handsome Asian waiter stepped up to Willow's shoulder, and he nodded at them. "Ms Maclay, Rosenberg! How nice it is to see you again tonight." He held up a notepad and made a show of tucking it away into his black slacks. "The usual?" He smiled, looking back and forth between them confidently.
"The usual?" Willow asked hesitantly. She didn't want to corrupt any image of herself as the real Willow.
"Pad se ew," Tara supplied, smiling comfortingly at her.
"Oh, okay," Willow nodded, blushing slightly. "Just making sure. Great." She shoved her menu at the man, wanting him to go away as fast as he could. Acquiescing to her inner wish, he bowed and walked away. "Thanks," she admitted to Tara.
Tara just smiled. Tucking her hair back behind her shoulder, she grabbed the napkin from in front of her and unfolded it, placing it gracefully onto her lap; Willow noticed that she had the most attractive hands she had ever seen. Which was odd, she chided herself, turning her head to the side to make it seem that she wasn't staring, you've never noticed something like that before!
"I assume that you like Pad se ew?"
"What? Oh. Yeah. I don't think I would suddenly develop a liking to it, would I?" Or, she added internally, it could have just been a quirk of this dimension, right? However, Willow couldn't help realizing that she was beginning to believe more and more that it really wasn't an alternate dimension. Maybe because…
Because she was developing a fascination for the woman she was supposed to love in a few years. What had Oz DONE?
"Yeah." Tara nodded. "Al-although I didn't really k-know if you would or n-not. You just al-always ordered it. It…" the blonde laughed to herself, "It was one of your quirks."
Willow noticed, even as she blushed, that Tara wasn't stuttering as much around her. Taking a big breath, she figured that she was going to be as mature as she could. There was something bothering her, and even if she did feel almost bowled over by the maturity that Tara had, she knew that this had to be addressed.
Grabbing the glass of water that was set down in front of her to take a sip, she cleared her throat. "This must be SO awkward for you." Willow squeezed her eyes shut for a second. Upon opening them, she looked up to lock Tara's eyes with her own. "Hello," she said simply, "I'm Willow Rosenberg. Tell me about yourself."