Return to Coming Back Chapter Five



Coming Back
CHAPTER SIX

Author: GayNow
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: BtVS characters, concepts and dialog belong to Mutant Enemy, Fox, The WB, UPN and others. The story, however, came out of my delusional little brain.

Note: This story uses two fonts to represent Willow and Tara's handwriting in sections. These fonts are available for download here: CatholicSchoolGirls BB and Hybi 4. If these fonts are not installed on your PC, sections of this story will be rendered in large text. Fonts sourced from dafont.com.


Dear Tara,

Hey, babe, whatís going on? You doing okay? I was so happy when I got your last letter - I was having such a bad day, but getting a letter from you made it all better.

School still going well? Seems like your classes are more fun this year - though Iím sure you donít consider geometry Ďfuní. Thanks for sending the syllabi for your classes - I love knowing what youíre taking each year. I put together some shortcuts and study guides for you, like I did last year with algebra. I sent you my syllabi too. Of course, you already know that since youíve obviously opened the envelope this letter and the study guide were in. Hi, my name is Ms. States-the-obvious. Fair warning, I may be asking you for help with that Art Appreciation class theyíre making me take. I donít think I have a single arty cell in me.

OH! Guess what?! I made a new friend! Her name is Buffy Summers. Iíve heard a few people laugh at her name, but I think it suits her. Besides, who am I to say anything about "strange" names? Hello! Darned hippy parents, naming me after a tree.

Anyway, back to Buffy. Sheís really cool, Tare. I think youíd like her. Sheís new at school - started 4 weeks in. She and her Mom moved from LA. Iím going to be studying with her to help her get caught up since I took all of the same classes over the summer. Weíre in History together first period, so we can quiz each other. But you know what the best part is? She didnít ask me to help her! Buffy came to talk to me just to talk and get to know me. I offered to help her. She tried to refuse, but I insisted. I like her, Tare. She makes me laugh; I even babbled again! Not the way I used to, but it was still babble. It was the first time since you left, so she has to be pretty special, ya know? I think sheís going to be a good friend. Sheíll be my only friend, besides you, of course. Youíll always be my best friend. But I have a feeling about Buffy. I canít wait for you to meet her. I think sheíll make the time until I see you again go by faster...and seem less painful.

Okay! Enough! We promised no more sad stuff. So, moving on....

How is your family? Tell them all hi for me...yeah, even Donnie. Does he like college? You know, Tare, Donnie was always such a pain, but Iím glad he decided to go to college there. Iím happy youíll have him there with you. He doesnít show it, but I know he loves his baby sister. How could he not? Youíre so lovable.

I loved the pressed flowers, by the way. Those were from your momís rose garden, huh? I had them laminated and then framed...I made it. The frame, I mean, I designed and built it. Itís 2 inches deep, so it looks like the flowers are floating. You canít even tell that theyíre laminated. Oh, and thereís glass on both sides...so it doesnít matter which way itís facing...and the light shows through it...itís cool. Guess I do have a few arty cells in me after all. I keep it on my nightstand by my bed. Every time I look at it, I think of you. Of course, I think of you without looking at it too. But itís the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night - I say, "goodnight, Tara" and then I go to sleep. And when I wake up in the morning, I see the flowers and say, "good morning, Tara" before I get out of bed. I wonder if you can hear me when I say that? I hope so, even though it isnít morning or night when I say it. Oh! My morning is your afternoon, so it may be strange for you to hear me say "good morning" in the middle of the afternoon.

Oh wow! Itís getting late. I still need to finish some homework thatís due next week, so I should go. Buffy and I are meeting in the library before school tomorrow, so I need to get up a little early too.

Canít wait to get your next letter. Try to write soon.

Love and miss you bunches,

Will


Dear Will,

Thank you so much for the care package! And how cute of you to come up with a theme -- ''Sunnydale in Your Heart.'' I love it! But you really didn't have to, Will. I don't need a box of stuff from you for me to know that Sunnydale is in my heart. After all, Sweetie, you're in Sunnydale, so it's always in my heart.

Did you go to all of these dances and plays, Will? The posters and programs make them seem interesting. I wish I could have been there for Brigadoon -- I've always thought the Highlands of Scotland would be wonderful to paint. Maybe I'll get a chance one day. I think it would be fun to play Fiona, too. But I'd be too scared to get in front of all those people. Maybe you and I could do a scene or song one day. I think I could do it if it were just you and me, but hundreds of people? No way.

Hey! I got a B in geometry last term! Leave it to you to find a way to tutor me from a completely different continent. My tutor was so confused when I told him that I didn't need his help anymore. Then he saw your study guides. He even asked to make copies of them! I just smiled and thought, ''That's my Willow!'' He'll still be available if I need him at any point, but I don't think I will. Not when I have you...and your brilliantly organized notes.

Some of my drawings were included in a show at school. I submitted two and my art teacher submitted two of my class projects, without telling me. They all got accepted. I was told I'm the first student to have more than 2 drawings in the show. It was very exciting. The newspaper clipping is at the end of this letter. My name is in print, Will! How cool is that?

Donnie took a trip to Switzerland with some friends for spring break. One of his friends has a van, so they all piled in and drove there -- I guess they even slept in it to save money. I wish I could have been there. The sight of Donnie trying to stay upright HAD to be hilarious! He came home with bruises and was walking funny for a couple of days, but at least he didn't break anything. He got me a present too, Will. Can you believe it? Donald Maclay, Jr. was being NICE to me! Anyway, he brought back this little snow globe for me...it has a little Swiss chalet sitting on top of a mountain inside the globe part. It's very cute. Never thought I would be using ''cute'' in a paragraph about Donnie.

Mom and I have been working on my dress for the ''Spring Fling'' this year. I donít really want to go, but since Mom and Daddy are going to be chaperones, theyíre kinda making me go. I guess if I put up a fight, they would give in and let me stay home, but I know it would make them happy for me to go. So Iíll go. Who knows...maybe Iíll convince Daddy to dance with me. I just hope he doesnít try to do the ''Funky Chicken'' again. I have to admit, though, I was laughing really hard when Donnie told me about Daddy doing that when he and Mom chaperoned the senior prom last year. I just donít think I want to see it.

I canít believe there are only 4 more weeks left of school. Weíll be juniors next year, Will. Iím guessing you will be taking summer school classes again this summer. Have you signed up yet? What are you going to take? Make me a promise, Will...promise me youíll take something just for fun. And, I know you think math and computer classes are fun. But, take something just because....just because you think it will be interesting, and not because it will look good on your college applications. Okay? Promise me?

I need to go, Willow. Iím in study hall right now, and I really should be studying for the history test I have to take this afternoon. I look forward to your next letter. Write soon.

Love always,

Tara


Tara-babe,

Hi! Hi! Hi!

Can you believe it? Weíre seniors!! Okay, maybe not officially - but junior year is over. I had my last final exam today and tomorrow Buffy and I are going to L.A. for a week. Buffyís mom is taking us with her on her business trip. So while Joyce is at her meetings and such, Buffy is going to show me around L.A. and take me to the beach.

Oh! And Mom and Dad were so cool! Mom gave me two $100 bills and Dad gave me a credit card with my own name on it! He said, "Be responsible, but have a good time." When I asked him if a round trip ticket to Germany could be considered responsible, yet fun, he just raised an eyebrow at me and held out his hand like he wanted the credit card back. I took that as my cue to say, "just kidding" and get my tushy out of the room. I get credit for trying, right? Oh! And, hey! Just because I canít buy a plane ticket doesnít mean I canít spend a little money. So Buffy and I are gonna pick out some neat "you can only get it in L.A." stuff for you. Itís going to be a fun week. The only way it would be better is if you were coming with us.

Remember that crabby calculus teacher I told you about? Well, I heard that heís "on probation" next year. Seems like the principal got tired of hearing complaints from so many students about him - including yours truly - so he decided to bring in a "panel of experts" to observe his class and look at studentsí notes and exams. They came to the same conclusion I did (two weeks into the class...Hello!): his teaching methods are too rigid and donít leave room for creativity. He and the experts had to regrade ALL of the exams for the ENTIRE year! Everyoneís grades got adjusted accordingly - which means I got 120% (I did lots of extra credit to make up for the points he was wrongfully taking away). Go me!

BUT, GUESS WHATíS EVEN COOLER?!

I, Willow Rosenberg, will be teaching 11th grade pre-calculus AND serving as a teacherís aide in 12th grade calculus! The regular pre-calc teacher quit after this year - I guess heís getting married and is moving to wherever his fiancťeís job is - and they donít have the budget to replace him since there are so few students taking pre-calc next year. So, rather than cancel the class all together, they are going to let me teach it (under supervision, of course) and Iíll get elective credits. Isnít that cool?! I think they only reason they are having me T.A. calc is because they want me to spy on Mr. "Probation". I donít mind though. It will be fun. And even though he was too rigid about grading and techniques, heís confident speaking in front of people. So I can still try to learn from him. I canít wait for fall - SENIORS!

What are you doing over summer break, Tare? I wish you could make a trip home...but I understand that your mom needs you there. How is she? Knowing you, youíll be drawing and painting, which is fine by me! I love the drawings you send me. I get everything laminated as soon as I get it out of the envelope. (I should buy my own laminating machine.) I used to keep everything in my diary - Iíd put it all in the on the date I received it. But it got too big. So, Iíve made a separate scrapbook for all of your drawings and clippings and class schedules - everything you send me - and I went back through my diary and put a catalogue number in the corresponding daily entry. Then I marked the scrapbook page with the same number. That way I can easily reference them. I use a different color for each type of item you send me - blue for drawings, green for clippings, and so on. It will make it easier for you to follow along when you read it. Weíre almost 3 years closer to our date, Tare.

Well, I need to finish packing. Buffy and Joyce are picking me up really early in the morning. Actually, Iíve been packed for a couple of days, but I need to go over my list again and make sure I have everything. I know, I know...Iím "quirky".

I miss you, Tara...so much. I think about you all the time. Canít wait to hear from you. Write soon.

Lots of love,

Will

P.S. I decided to take "Movie Musicals" this summer. I figured that's a class you would take if you were here. I'll tell you all about it...maybe you can watch the same movies and it will be as if we're taking it together.


Hi, Sweetie!

I got the last of the ''L.A.'' gifts yesterday. I wonder if your parents realize it would have been cheaper for them to buy you that ticket to come visit me (heehee). I love everything - all four packages worth. Hey! THATíS how your parents didnít figure it out! You split it up and didnít send everything at once...so it didnít seem like you spent as much money as you really did. Youíre so sneaky! My room should have a title...I think Iíll call it ''Sunnydale Scenarios.'' Okay, so itís not all from Sunnydale...there are things from L.A. and San Diego, too. But whenever I look at any of it, I think of Sunnydale...and you...home. I canít help but look at the stuff either. My walls and shelves are covered with the things youíve sent me. Theyíre so great. Thank you, Will.

So, I think Iím going to enjoy this ''being a senior'' business. I really like my classes this year. Iím taking an extra art class since I was able to test out of math. I know Iíve said it many times before, but THANK YOU! The study program you put together for me was so wonderful. Youíre all the rage around here, Will. All the math teachers use your notes and study guides in class now. And I canít tell you how many students - from all grades - seek me out to ask me to thank you. Youíve made me quite popular.

Anyway, my classes are fun this year (my schedule is the last page of the letter). They are geared toward getting me into the universities that combine Art History and technique. Iíve made it clear to my teachers that I donít want to choose between scholarship and practice, and theyíve been very careful to keep that in mind when we choose my classes. Mrs. Schultz is even letting me do an independent study with her, which is pretty rare from what Iíve been told. Itís called ''Early Feminism: Pre-Greek Women in Art.'' We are going to focus on religious art that predates Judaism and Christianity - so, mostly pagan and pantheistic religions.

Mom was very excited when I told her about it. Lilith and the Greek pantheon have always fascinated her. Daddy was a little worried when I mentioned ''paganism'', but once Mom and I explained that pagans do not worship the devil and sacrifice virgins to the ''goat gods,'' he was okay. He even seemed interested when I mentioned witchcraft and Wicca as religions. He has images of ugly women on brooms. I think heís seen The Wizard of Oz a few too many times.

The family is doing well. Daddy is always busy at the hospital and works long hours. But he makes sure we all have family time on the weekends. This is what he tells his staff: ''From 2100 hours on Friday until 0600 hours on Monday, Iím just Don Maclay - husband, father, and all around good guy. Between those hours I am not an Air Force Colonel or Command Surgeon. So, ladies and gentlemen, unless there is a situation that involves world security, do not disturb me during family time.'' Daddyís kinda cute when he gets all command-y with his staff. But donít ever let him know I said that.

Mom is okay - she has really great days most of the time. The bad days, however, have us concerned. So far, the tests havenít shown anything, but sheís scheduled for more next week. She does her best to not let it slow her down, but we can see that some days are just too hard. Iím glad Donnie stayed home again this year rather than moving in with his friends. Heís been a big help.

Itís weird, Will. Donnie doesnít seem like my brother these days. It feels more like heís my friend. I guess that means weíre growing up. It feels good. I think there will always be a part of him that is still my dorky brother though (thank goodness). Donnie finally decided on a major. Heís going to get his degree in International Commerce with minors in finance and German. Heís really taken to the language out here. Heís not fluent yet, but he can usually hold his own in a conversation. Iím much better at Latin, but who speaks Latin anymore? I can speak a little French, but not enough to hold a conversation. I can pretty much say ''The monkey is under the table'' - how often do you think I can work that into a discussion?

Lunch hour is almost over, so I should go. Iíll mail this right after school. I miss you, Willow. Weíre nearly halfway there. Write soon.

Yours,

Tara


Dear Tara,

I know we said we wouldn't write to each other on bad days, but I really just need to feel close to you right now. Writing in my diary isn't doing the trick today. So, I came out to our tree and swayed on the swing for a while. Now I'm sitting against our tree pretending you're here with me...and that I'm talking to you rather than writing.

Prom is coming up in 3 months. The "prom date frenzy" has started. Buffy has already turned down 3 boys. I expect her to get many more offers. Sheís not being deliberately coy, but she said she won't say yes to anyone until I agree to go to prom. She says if I don't go, she won't go and the two of us will stay home and watch bad teen movies while gorging ourselves on chocolate and ice cream.

Here's the thing...I think that would be a blast. Movie night is preferable to prom in my book. **sigh** But I know how much Buffy wants to go...and I don't want to be the reason her night is ruined and for her to end up blaming me for missing SENIOR PROM for the rest of her life. I mean, I know she went last year when Steve asked her, so it's not like she's never been to prom, but we're seniors this year -- this is our prom -- she should go if she wants to so badly. And I know she would have turned down those 3 boys anyway since Steve said he'd come in for the weekend. But I also know she'll be true to her word -- Buffy will tell Steve to stay at school and then she'll go to the store for a gallon of Ben and Jerry's.

I just really don't want to go, Tare. It's just one more reminder of something you and I can't experience together. I can't help thinking about how much fun we would have if you were here. Just think about it, Tare. We could double date...well, triple date with Buffy...or say "to hell with dates" and go together. Actually, I think that would be the most fun. We could go dress shopping together and get corsages and Iíd come pick you up at your house. And it would be cool because we'd be together and we know each other so well. We wouldn't have to worry about "does my date like me" or "my date isn't very fun" because we'd already know. We wouldn't have to be all Nervy McNerves with each other. We could just be Tara and Willow. That's my idea of a perfect prom.

Nope! Iíve decided. I'm not going. I'll make Buffy go, but I'm not going. I'm not going to waste time and energy on a night that is bound to be less than perfect, especially when I keep thinking of how perfect it could have been. When you get home, we'll have our own prom -- a perfect prom. But I'm not going to this one! (I know you can't see it, but I have my resolve face on.) I.Am.Not.Going.

I feel better now. Thank you, Tara. Just being able to tell you all of this makes me feel better. It's kinda hard to explain to Buffy. I mean, she understands about you and me. She knows you're my bestest best friend and she's always told me "that's how it should be, Will." But she's my best friend, too, Tare. And she's always been so good to me. Sometimes I feel like I might hurt her feelings by talking about you so much. I mean, I know Buffy, and I know she wouldn't really be hurt; at least that's what logic says. But I'm still afraid of hurting her. I can't wait for you to meet Buffy. You're gonna love her, Tare.

Okay, it's getting dark so I should head home. I have some studying to do anyway. I'll try to write you a happier letter tomorrow.

Love and miss you, babe!

Will


My dear willowy Willow,

We did it! High school is over! Yay!

Iím sorry itís taken me longer than usual to write back to you. The end of the term was more hectic than I expected. Between exams and my senior gallery project, Iíve barely had time to breathe. But I got it all done - with straight As to boot. I know thatís a normal occurrence for you, but itís the first time with no minuses for me. So it was a good way to end my high school years. I canít begin to tell you how happy I am.

Graduation was a lot of fun. The ceremony itself was typical - all pomp and circumstance - very much like yours, Iím sure. Afterwards, we all spent about an hour milling around...talking to other graduates and their families, exchanging contact information with promises to keep in contact during college, and generally reveling in being done with school.

But the best part of the day? I could see Mom, Daddy and Donnie from where I was sitting. Iíve never seen the three of them with bigger smiles on their faces (yeah, even Donnie). When my name was called, Mom - in a rather uncharacteristic move - jumped out of her seat and yelled, ''I love you, baby-girl!'' And then she got applause! Sheís made so many friends on base and at the hospital. So I wasnít the only one happy to see her doing so well. She still has bad days now and then, but that day wasnít one of them. At that moment - hearing Mom yell and seeing her bouncing up and down with excitement - thatís when I knew in my heart that Momís going to be okay. The only thing that could have made the day better is if I had shared it with you.

I love the picture you sent from your graduation. So thatís Buffy, huh? Youíre right...she is pretty. But you know what? Youíre beautiful. I like the way you cut your hair. But, then, Iíve always loved your hair. I found a frame to put it in at this little art store I go to. Once I finish painting it, Iím going to put the picture in the frame and keep it next to my bed. Iím going to use my special paints for the frame - I mixed the colors myself. I only use these paints on very special projects. This certainly qualifies.

Oh! I havenít told you about prom. We had a blast. I told you that I went with a big group, right? Well, it got even bigger. By the time prom night got here, there were 10 of us - Kathy, Christy, Helen, Robert, Keith, Matthew, Becky, Kim, me, and... **drum roll**...Donnie! I couldnít believe it. Donnie came to my room a few days before prom asking if I "needed help" studying for exams. Of course, Donnie never studies, so I knew something was up. Plus, he wouldnít look at me...he kept looking at the stuff on the walls or picking up stuff from the shelves. I finally just asked him what was on his mind. It took him a few minutes, but he finally asked if he could escort me to prom. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I had to laugh after a few minutes though. He suddenly reminded me of you, Will. Donnie BABBLED! It was so cute to hear him go on about how proud he is of me and that he feels bad for being such a jerk when we were younger. I couldnít stop myself from jumping up and hugging the stuffing out of him. But when I heard him sniff and say, ''I love you, Tare'' I just squeezed him tighter and we cried together.

Obviously, after that breakthrough in our relationship, I couldnít say no to him. But I did make sure he knew that there would be a group of us...and he seemed to like that idea. Needless-to-say, I had the best escort at prom this year. Mom and Daddy chaperoned again, so it was like a big family outing. Iím sure youíve seen the picture I included with this letter. Clearly, thatís the four of us at prom. Mom looked so beautiful...and Daddy and Donnie were the most handsome men there. Donnie, Mom and I convinced Daddy that the ''Funky Chicken'' was much too outdated. Instead, he tried to do the ''Running Man''...I think we should have left well enough alone.

I would now like to take this moment to say, ''I told you so!'' I knew you would have a good time at prom, Will. Iím so glad you decided to go. Iím also happy to hear that Michael was a perfect gentleman. It would be a shame if I had to hurt him. Though, Iím sure Buffy and Steve were suitable substitutes in my absence and would have clobbered Michael if heíd gotten out of line. Actually, Iím glad you took my advice and invited Michael. He was always nice to us in junior high and I always considered him a friend. I hope you wrote all of the details of the night in your diary, Will. I did in mine. I canít wait until we can read them together. Weíre half way there.

College, Sweetie! Weíre going to college! I can hardly wait. But, for now, Iím just going to enjoy my last carefree summer and spend a lot of time with my family. Mom is doing really well, but she has a few more tests in a couple of weeks. After that, we are all going on a short vacation. Weíre not sure exactly where weíre going yet, but we are going. Daddy deserves a break and I know Mom will enjoy the time away from hospitals and home. Iíll be sure to send you something from our trip.

Okay, wow...itís 2am. I really should get some sleep. I canít wait to hear from you, Will. Write soon. I want to hear all about your summer plans. And if you say youíre taking summer school again, Iím going to be mad at you. Fair warning.

Missing you more and more,

Your Tara


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