Return to Coming Back Chapter Six

Coming Back

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
This chapter also replicates (so far as I can, doing the HTML by hand) emails in Yahoo! Mail and GMail, which are the source and owner of the formats and graphics used.

Greetings, New Freshman!

You know, I've always wondered about that term -- "freshman". We aren't men, so wouldn't we be considered "freshwomen"? But, then, that excludes males -- "freshpersons"? Maybe you're called something different in Europe?

Anyway, whoo and hoo! It's college time, baby! I can't believe we're in college, Tare. It's only been a month, but I can already tell it's going to be a very interesting experience, not to mention, very different. Hello! I'm in Boston! That alone is enough to turn my world upside-down...again. (The first time was just over 4 years ago.)

I had to buy a winter coat! A lifetime in Southern California certainly did not prepare me for that. I know I have your sympathy since you went through the same thing. Plus, you're a sympathetic person.

I met my advisor during orientation week. His name is Dr. Harold Bishop, but everyone calls him Doc Harry. I don't know why, but I'm sure I'll find out. He's very cool! His office is adorned with pictures and posters of theme parks -- especially the Disney parks. And he has little Disney and Looney Toons toys all over his desk. I like him! He's really really smart, but he doesn't take himself seriously. He's going to be a lot of fun...and I'm going to learn LOADS from him.

Anyway, we designed my degree program. After this semester, I'll have enough credit to be considered a junior! I guess all of those extra classes paid off. (I have a satisfied smirk on my face right now, by the way.) So, I have officially declared my majors -- Architectural Design and Computer Science. The program is just for me. No one else will have the same degree. Well, that's not true. Anyone who majors in both AD and CS will have the same degree title, but they wont have the same focus, or expertise. I'm like you, Tare...I don't want to choose. So, I'll not only be using the computer programs to do design, I will also be designing and developing the programs for use by architects and designers. Cool, huh? Best of both world, and I can test the programs myself with my design projects. Doc Harry says my combination is rare, so I'll be able to pick and choose when it comes time to graduate and find a job.

My roommate and I are still trying to adjust to sharing a space with someone else. She doesn't have any brothers or sisters either, so it's a big step for both of us. Fortunately, she cares about school and studies often. I'd hate to have a party animal for a's bad enough our neighbors are up at all hours. I just don't understand how people can pay so much money for tuition and then just blow off their classes. It makes no sense.

So you'll have to tell me all about England. At least you don't have to learn a new language to study there. Of course, we Americans have spent the last 200+ years bastardizing the English language, so maybe you will have to learn. It's a good thing you already like tea. Ya know, I'll see if I can come up with any more British stereotypes and include them in future letters. I think I'll try to include "sod off, you bloody git" in a conversation sometime...just for fun. (Please, imagine me rolling my eyes at myself.)

As always, Mom and Dad told me to say hello to you. They brought me to school last month. It took them each 2 weeks to arrange, but they were able to adjust their schedules so that their lectures and seminars were either in or near Boston at the beginning of the semester. And they stayed for 2 weeks! In many ways, it was like a family vacation -- we did a lot of sightseeing and shopping. I constantly had to remind Mom that I was living in a dorm and not a 4-bedroom/3-bath colonial. Dad, of course, just followed along, chuckling. His chuckles subsided when Mom stuck him with carrying all of her purchases.

I really think me being in college is affecting them more than any of us expected. I don't think my parents ever really realized that being so good at what they do would demand so much of their time. I know there are lots of people who think I was neglected. Once, when I was spending a weekend at Buffy's, Joyce asked if either Mom or Dad ever considered changing jobs to spend more time with me. Oh, she wasn't being judgmental; she was just curious. I'm sure my parents thought about it -- I saw how much it hurt them to miss out on the mundane things. But, I would never ask them to give up something like that. They love their work, much. Asking them to do something else just so they could greet me at the door after school would be like asking them to stop being themselves. I'm proud of Mom and Dad. Each is top in their respective fields and they are so highly respected. How can I not be proud of them?

So, yeah, that was a really wordy way of saying that my parents wanted to have as much fun as possible with me while they were here. Since their stay covered my first week of classes, one or both of them would walk me to and from classes. Every time I came out of a class and saw my mom waiting, she'd be carrying at least 3 bags worth of M.I.T. memorabilia -- t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, glasses, teddy bears, pencil holders, paperweights -- you name it, she bought it. She was on a first name basis with the staff at the campus store! It feels good to know how proud they are of me. They are going to try visiting again next month for a "Family Weekend" if they can work out their schedules. I wish you and Buffy could come too -- then my whole family would be here.

I almost forgot to tell you! I've decided to take one class per semester that is purely "just because" -- a class that you and I might take together if we were at the same school. Doc Harry was in complete agreement: "One class that is completely irrelevant to your major is a marvelous idea! Great way to maintain your sanity." Of course, finding out there's a need to maintain my sanity made me shudder, but it will be easy to do cuz it will feel like you're here with me in the "just because" class. Even mild insanity is worth it if I can have that feeling for one class.

Hey! We are physically closer to each other now! I moved east and you moved west. So we're 4 or 5 time zones closer now? Is that right? I'll have to look it up. I can't believe I haven't done that already.

Speaking of time, I need to go. I have an 8am class and it's late, so I should go to bed. I can't wait to hear from you and learn about your new school. And you have to tell me about all of your new friends - I need to give my stamp of approval, you know.

Bye, babe. I miss you.



P.S. Buffy says, "Hi from Sunny San Diego!" She's enjoying UCSD quite a bit. I think she just likes studying at the beach so she can check out guys at the same time. I have to admit, I'm jealous...of the studying at the beach, not the boy watching.

My dear Will,

Well, Christmas break is over and I'm back to school. I did well first term. I only got one maths (oh, look at me with the British spelling). Oh well. It's not like I'm going to need math once I'm out of school - and I've just left myself open to a Willow Rosenberg patented lecture on the 1001 ways I'll need math in 10 years, haven't I?

Mom and Daddy came to London for the holiday. Donnie had to stay at school because of his internship - he's hoping it will turn into a permanent job this summer after he graduates. So, Mom and Daddy split their time between us - two weeks with me and a week with Donnie. Then Donnie is going to come see me for a weekend next month. It's a good thing my scholarships pay for a single room at the hall - I can easily convert my studio space into a ''guest room.'' Saves everyone money not having to pay for a hotel. So, there's plenty of room here for you if you ever have time to visit.

I have to agree with what you said in your last letter...doing Joint Honours is more difficult than it sounds. At least we can both easily combine our majors. Art History and Painting don't exactly clash. It's interesting to apply history to my painting. Sometimes I'll hole up in my studio space and try to apply the various styles we study in the history classes to my own painting. I have so many 16 x 20 canvases covered with various versions of Big Ben. Most of them aren't very good though. One or two are all right. I suspect I'll get better as I go. I figure it will serve me well after graduation. I'd like to have a go at restoration and reproduction when school is over. The paychecks from that would allow me to work on my own stuff. And if my stuff doesn't sell, at least I won't be a stereotypical ''starving artist.'' Honestly, I'd be happy with gallery shows. You'll come to them, right?

I'm glad Buffy's dating again. It must have been so hard for her after what Josh did to her. I knew you'd help Buffy when you got home for break. You're a good friend, Willow. Buffy is lucky to have you there for her. I'm sure she's told you the same thing. Please say hello for me next time you talk to her.

You know, Will, I'm a little jealous of Buffy. She gets to have you near her. She can just pick up the phone to call you and not worry about giving up food money for a week. I've often thought about calling you for just two minutes, just to hear your voice. But I know I can't. I know if I hear your voice, two minutes won't be enough. I'll never want to hang up the phone. We're less than 3 1/2 years until our date, Will. We've made it this long, right? Time will go by even faster since we're so busy with college. It has to. I miss you so much. I thought it would get easier with time, but it doesn't. I miss you more today than I ever have...and I'll miss you even more tomorrow.

I miss us, and me, sitting under our tree...without a care in the world. I think about that so much. I had a dream last week about the day Daddy helped us hang the swing. We had so much fun that day, didn't we? In my dream, we fell asleep under our tree. Your head was on my lap and I was leaning against the tree, just like we used to be. Except we weren't was now. I remember being so comfortable. You were on your side with your back to me and you had your arms wrapped around my leg, just above the knee. I had one hand on your shoulder and the other hand ran through your hair. We just fell asleep like that.

I woke up from the dream smiling and I felt so happy. When I realized it was just a dream, I started to get sad, missing you even more in that moment. I told mom about the dream when she called me that morning to tell me how her doctor's appointment went (she's doing well, by the way). She said to me, ''Baby-girl, don't let the good dreams bring you down. Grab on to that feeling you had when you woke up and don't let it go. Cherish it. Carry it around in your pocket and, every now and then, take it out and look at it. Remember the good things, Tara.'' So, I picked you up, put you in my pocket, and carried you with me all day, Willow. It was a good day.

I should go, Sweetie. I came to the library to study, but when I checked my pigeon-hole on the way and saw your letter, studying went right out of my mind. So here it is, 2 hours later, and I haven't cracked a book. I know you'll understand - the math exam is in 2 days. Two days and no more math!

Write when you can, Will. Oh! I finally had someone at the computer centre teach me about email and such. I have two addresses: '''' and '''' If you want to try the email thing, you can use either address. Though, I have a funny feeling I know which one you'll use. I can't guarantee how often I'll get to check my mail, so don't get upset if you don't get a quick reply. And don't be surprised if you still get regular, old-fashioned letters from me. You know me; I'm a traditionalist at heart.

Take care, Sweetie. Remember I miss you more and more every second of every day.



P.S. I've sent you a list of common British terms and their meanings...use them wisely.

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Date: 08 Sep 2001 13:15:35 +0100
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: Hey!

Hi, babe!

I have a few minutes before my study group, so I thought I would send you a quick note to say hi. So, "HI!"

It's so weird, Tare. I'm officially in my second year of college, but I'm considered a 2nd semester Junior. I'm used to people in my classes looking at me cross-eyed because I do well, but now they are looking at me funny because I'm in courses it took them 3 years to get into. I can't tell if it's jealousy or animosity. All I know is they don't seem very happy to see me in class with them. But, I'm not letting it bother me. The professors like me and I like them. I'm here for an education, not to be popular. Besides, since my new roommate and I are getting along so swimmingly, I'm not completely friendless. There are only two friends I care about keeping, anyway. Unfortunately, you're in England and Buffy's in California. But, not for too much longer...less than 3 years, Tara! Whoo and hoo!

So how are things across the pond? I love the drawings you sent me. I designed and made a collage frame for them. I have it hanging right over my desk. That way, whenever I'm studying and I just need a quick break, I look up and see those lovely images. It makes me feel like you're there with me. I'm sure you can guess that I look up from my books quite often.

Okay...I have to run. I've got 10 minutes to dash across campus. Write when you can. Please say hello to your family for me. I'm so glad your mom is well.

Love ya to bits,


Are you okay?! W. Rosenberg's Inbox
Tara Maclay to me More Options Sep 11, 2001

Will, please tell me you're okay. Where are your parents? Have you talked to them? I tried calling you, but all the lines were busy and I couldn't get through. God, please tell me you are okay, sweetie.


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Date: 11 Sep 2001 11:34:53 +0100
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: Re: Are you okay?!

I'm fine, baby. So are my parents - I talked to them this morning. They are in Georgia. My roommate wasn't as fortunate -- her brother was there. As soon as classes were canceled, I ran back to the dorm to be with her. She left about an hour ago to meet her parents and be with her family. We're having a hall meeting, so I have to go. I'll write again very soon, I promise.

Love you, Tare.


Miss you W. Rosenberg's Inbox
Tara Maclay to me More Options Nov 15, 2001


I'm going to get the hard stuff out of the way...I'm glad you're not flying home for the holidays. I mean, I'm sorry you'll be alone for Thanksgiving (maybe we'll have time to talk on messenger), but I still don't feel comfortable with you flying yet. I know everyone has said it's safe. There's been so much terrorism and mass tragedy on this side of the world; people seem to take it more in stride. So there are fewer qualms about traveling.

I admit this bothered me at first. The patriot in me grew indignant at the seeming lack of concern. But then the human in me won out. People here did grieve for the victims, their families, and our country. They just did it in their own way. It's not that they're desensitized, they've just got a longer history of wars and attacks; they react to these acts of violence in a different way. It's not like they don't care, because a lot of them were very shocked and crying, but one phrase that crops up again and again is 'life must go on'. It's so surreal, Will.

I am glad your mom and dad will be in Boston for Hanukah/Christmas. The trip you all have planned to Maine sounds beautiful. Remember to write everything in your diary. And if you take pictures, put those in your diary, too. Knowing you, they'll be organized chronologically with a story accompanying each image (written in different colors, of course).

The computer centre is about to close, so I need to finish up. It's late, but I'm not tired. I wish the centre wasn't closing so early. I guess I'll go home and paint. My homework is finished and I just can't study anymore. So, I'll put in the CD you made for me and lose myself in my paints. That CD always makes me think of you...and thinking of you gives me inspiration. I'll bet you thought you only helped me with maths, huh?

They're kicking me out, Sweetie. Write soon.



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Date: 10 Feb 2002 22:10:05 +0100
From: "B Summers" <>
Subject: Help?

Hey, Tara!

How are things in Merry Old England? Tired of long walks along the Thames yet? If you ever run into Prince William, give him my phone number, would ya? Oh hell, you can give it to Harry too. (teehee)

I've got a favor to ask, O Best Friend of My Best Friend. Remember that Art History 101 class I told you about? The one my advisor is making me take? Well, you were right -- I love it. (sigh) I hate it when I'm wrong.

Anyway, I was wondering if you would look at my midterm paper for me? I'd normally bug Will, but you're the expert in this area. I really want to do well in this class so the professor will give me permission to take her senior level course. I really need to impress her.

So, will ya? I have the first draft done, and it's not due for three weeks. So there's lots of time. All you have to do is say the word and I can attach it to an email in no time. (bats eye lashes) Please?

Thanks, Tara! Take care. Gotta run.


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Date: 23 Feb 2002 19:26:11 -0800
From: "Tara Maclay" <>
Subject: You're such a worrywart

Hi, Buffy.

Here's your paper. It's really quite good. Nice work.

I've typed in some comments and suggestions for you -- I made the font green so you could see it more easily. I also added some sources at the end of the paper. If your library has them, they'll give you a couple of ideas that'll fit in your paper nicely. Don't get me wrong; the paper is really good as it is. Some of the arguments you made are fascinating! I was motivated to look some stuff up in my own texts and to discuss them with my advisor. She agrees with me -- she thinks you'd be a great Art Historian. (*wink*)

Anyway, let me know if you have any questions or need anything else. I'm always happy to help a friend.

And I do consider you a friend, by the way. So, no, you don't need to send me a box of cookies and brownies. Just remember me when you're a famous advertiser and I'm still a lowly starving artist who needs some help getting noticed. We'll call it even.

Take care, Buffy.


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Date: 2 Aug 2002 01:23:11 +0100
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: Guess What?!

They let me in, Tara! Approved the degree program I designed and everything. Doc Harry told me today. Apparently the selection committee was impressed by the design I submitted. Yay!

So, at the end of this semester, I graduate with my undergraduate degree and in January, I'll be a graduate student. I'll complete the master's degree in one year. By the time of our date, I should be a full-fledged member of the work force. That means...dinner is on me! LOL

Okay, I have to go call the folks to let them know. You're the first person I've told - I ran back to my room and sat down to type this as soon as Doc Harry gave me the news. I think Mom and Dad should be next. Then Buffy.

Love and miss you, Tare. Say hi to the family for me. Write soon.


Yes! W. Rosenberg's Inbox
B Summers to me More Options Oct 11, 2002

We did it, Will! The campaign worked! Everyone got behind it.

Now it's time for you to work your magic. Go get 'em!


P.S. We're having a victory celebration. I'll have a drink for you.

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Date: 11 Oct 2002 18:52:53 -0800
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: Re: Yes!

You're the best, Buffy!

My "magic" is going FedEx Overnight as I type. Let's hope I can pull the rabbit out of the hat.

I love you, Buff. You ROCK!


Happy New Year W. Rosenberg's Inbox
Tara Maclay to me More Options Dec 31, 2002

My sweet Willow.

Tonight marks the last day of 2002. After tonight, we will only have to wait through one more tick of the annual calendar until the year of our date is here. So close, Will. So close. I can hardly wait.

Mom, Dad and Donnie all say hello. Itís nice to be spending the holidays together. This is the first time all four of us have been in the same place at the same time for Christmas since we were in high school. Weíre all going to a reception at the Officerís club this evening, but we are coming back home early. All of us decided we wanted to ring in the New Year having our own, private gathering. So, weíve pulled out the games, some movies, lots of snacks, and a couple bottles of wine. Itís family night. Wish you were here to spend the time with us.

Iím looking forward to starting my job when I get back to London. I know itís only part time, so I wonít be making much money. But itís the Tate, Will! Iíll be able to put my studies to use. Iím very excited. The curator seemed very nice and said if I do well, he will see about expanding my duties. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Well, Donnie just came by to walk me home, so I need to go. We have to get ready for the reception.


LOL Yep! Thatís my brother!

Happy New Year, Sweetie. I canít wait to hear from you again.

All my love,


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Date: 13 Jan 2003 21:54:02 -0800
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: Whoo Hoo!

I got it, Buffy!!

Re: Whoo Hoo! W. Rosenberg's Inbox
B Summers to me More Options Jan 14, 2003

Oh HELL Yeah!!

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Date: 23 Apr 2003 14:22:35 +0100
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: Re: Surprise for you

Tara, are you screwing around with my mind? Is this some sort of practical joke? It's too late for April Fools, you know! My little heart can't take it.

Re: Surprise W. Rosenberg's Inbox
Tara Maclay to me More Options Apr 23, 2003

Oh, Will. I wouldn't do that to you.

I'm completely serious.

Is it okay?



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Date: 24 Apr 2003 08:24:53 -0800
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: OH MY GOD



I'm hyperventilating, Buffy. me...for TWO WEEKS!

She used the money from her job at the Tate Gallery. She's flying in when neither of us have classes.

Buffy, what am I going to wear?! Help me!

I need to go lay down - I'm dizzy. I'll call you soon.



Re: OH MY GOD W. Rosenberg's Inbox
B Summers to me More Options Apr 24, 2003

Willow, that ROCKS!! I'm so happy for you two! I even did a little happy dance after I read your email.

You have...what...3 or 4 months before she's here? There's plenty of time. Just take a deep, calming breath. We'll figure out what you'll wear.

Yay, Will!

Love you!


P.S. If you don't confess-n-kiss when she's here, I'm gonna kick your ass!

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Date: 10 Jun 2003 23:14:23 +0100
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: I'm sorry

I'm so sorry, baby! Please forgive me. I don't know why I said all those things, Tare. I was just so upset. But that's no excuse for the things I said.

Please, Tara - forgive me.



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Date: 22 Jun 2003 22:16:54 +0100
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: Please talk to me

Tara, please. It's been almost 2 weeks. I've sent so many emails and two letters...and I've yet to hear from you.

God, I'm sorry, Tare! You must hate me for what I did - you can't possibly hate me more than I hate myself.

I was selfish and unfeeling. I know that. Honestly. I shouldn't have said ANYTHING. I should have waited until I calmed down before going off the deep end like that.

Please, baby. Please talk to me.

With all my heart,


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Date: 25 Jun 2003 16:11:35 +0100
From: "B Summers" <>
Subject: Hi, Friend

Hey, Tara. Willow told me what happened. She's so sorry. She's really beating herself up over everything, Tara. I don't want to get in the middle of things...or take sides...I won't do that, it's between you and Willow.

Look, I'm Will's friend, and I know it's none of my business, but you're so important to her. Will didn't ask me to write to you; I decided to do this on my own...because I consider you a friend, too. I hate to see you two hurting like this.

I know it may not seem like much, considering I'm on another continent and we never met in person, but if you need anything, all you have to do is let me know.


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Date: 28 Jun 2003 09:02:16 -0800
From: "Tara Maclay" <>
Subject: Re: Hi, Friend

Thanks, Buffy. I'm glad Willow has you to be there for her. You can tell her that I'm fine. But, right now, I need to work some things out. I don't hate her, but I just need to keep a distance right now.

This has really shaken me to the core, Buffy. And I don't really know why. I have to figure this out. Willow said some things I never EVER expected her to say...EVER. The hurt is pretty deep. Again, I don't know why. It shouldn't have been that big of a deal. In the big universal sense, it's a small thing. And that is why I need time to figure stuff out.

Thank you, again, Buffy. The only thing I would ask of you is that you keep me up to date on how Willow is doing...and that you take care of her for me.


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Date: 30 Jun 2003 21:13:35 +0100
From: "w rosenberg" <>
Subject: I understand

I'm sorry, Tara. I know I've said it so many times. And it has probably gotten to the point where it doesn't mean anything to you anymore. But I *am* sorry. Buffy let me know what you said. I understand and will respect your wishes. When you're ready, you'll talk to me again. I won't stop writing in my diary and I'll always let you know where I am.

I love you, Tare.

Yours Always,


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