A Love Beyond the Stars

Author: Dax
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are registered trademarks of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Battlestar Galactica, created by Ronald D. Moore. Based upon the 1978 Series Battlestar Galactica created by Glen A. Larson. Copyright 2004 USA Cable Entertainment Inc. Chapter titles come courtesy of Babylon 5, created by J. Michael Straczynski. Copyright 1997 Warner Bros. PAY TV.
Feedback: Please leave feedback on the A Love Beyond the Stars thread on the Kitten Board.

Summary: Ever wondered what exactly happened at St. Cedd's College, Oxbridge, that made Tara leave Gemenon for Caprica City?

The Mouse That Roared
A Love Beyond the Stars Flashback

Part One
Shadows of the Past

"Hm, I've almost forgotten how good that felt. You me, no magic," Willow purred, scooting her naked body closer to her equally nude girlfriend.

"There was plenty of magic," Tara answered, still emanating in a post orgasmic glow.

Willow frowned. "Why are we talking about magic?"

"I don't know," Tara smiled and kissed the top of Willow's head. "You started it, though last night really was magical." She gently lifted Willow head so she could look into her girlfriends green eyes. "How much I've missed sleeping with you," she said and gently kissed her again. "And I love you so very much."

"I love you too," Willow whispered back, "let's never have such secrets again okay?"

"Okay," Tara agreed.

"After all, we're all that we've got," Willow went on, pulling herself up so her head rested right next to Tara's. "We've all lost so much, relatives and friends back in the colonies. Things have been so bleak and difficult since we're on the run.

"Not to mention all the trouble surrounding my coming out," Willow added as an afterthought and Tara raised a questioning eyebrow.

"Your coming out?" Tara asked and Willow could feel there being a hint of a hard edge to her voice.

"Well I did come out, didn't I?" Willow wondered.

"Yes, but you made it sound like you were the only one who came out."

"But you did come out years ago, on Geminon?"

"Yes," Tara said quietly. "But within the fleet only Laura, Wally and Billy really knew about it. So in a way I had to come out all over again."

"Right," Willow mumbled, "sorry."

"You don't have to be sorry," Tara hastily said, kissing Willow on her cheek. "I didn't want to upset you. It's just..." She paused for a bit. "Coming out on Geminon was really hard for me and I guess when you just made your coming out sound so easy, I was a bit jealous. Coming out to my father wasn't that hard. I told him just before I left his house for good and went to college." Tara let out a sigh. "No, the really hard thing was my forced outing by my raging ex Rene." Tara fell silent and Willow wrapped her into a loving embrace.

"So how was it?" Willow asked. "I know some of it, but you never really told me the whole story." She kissed her again. "Only if you want to of course."

Tara took a deep breath, before she thought back to her past life on the colonial planet of Geminon.

St. Cedd's College - Oxbridge University
Planet Geminon
Four years prior to the Cylons attacks

'Peep, peep, peep, peep, peep, peep.'

"Grumpfh," Tara mumbled while her hand blindly slapped around on her nightstand, in search of that infernal alarm-clock that had hurled her so cruelly from of a very pleasant dream. A dream revolving around the most lovely and sexist redhead Tara had ever seen - from behind that is. The redhead had just been about to turn around when the dream had come to an abrupt end because of this fraking alarm.

"Aha!" Tara cried and hit the snooze button with the force of a human sledge hammer. For the next ten minutes Tara kept lying in her bed wide awake, yet her eyes still tightly closed.

"You know you have to get up,' she thought to herself. 'You have lectures to hold and papers to grade and continue to prepare the finale exams on Colonial History, even though exams won't be for another three months...' Tara groaned in frustration. Not because of today's workload - no, not because of that. "Maybe I should get myself a pet," she mumbled. "A cat perhaps, that would make sure that I get out of bed in time."

Another five minutes later, Tara slowly sat up and swung her legs out of the bed. With the blanket still wrapped around her body, Tara fought the yearning to lie down again and hide from the world beneath that snugly blanket. However, following a short internal fight, the love for her work triumphed and Tara pushed the blanket away and got to her feet. With her eyes still shut, Tara made the first steps towards her bathroom.

"This is ridiculous," she whispered to herself. "You have to open your eyes eventually, Tara Maclay, or you'll stub your toe at that sideboard - again!"

Only reluctantly Tara opened her eyes and wanted to close them right away again. Not because the sun was hurting her eyes. Dawn was only breaking, filling the room with the right kind of soft light to start the day. Unfortunately it also was bright enough to see the room Tara had been sleeping in since she moved in. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with the bedroom, or the living room, or the small study for that matter. But even though Tara had done her best to furnish and decorate these rooms to her own taste, they still didn't feel like home to her.

But then what was her taste? For most of her life, ever since her mother had died, Tara had lived her life according to other people's wishes and rules. First it had been her father who had decided what she wore, who she met and even what her goals in life should be. Furthermore a homosexual daughter was the last thing he would ever except. To this day Tara still suspected that he knew that she was gay before she did. Coming out to him, in front of the gathered graduates of her high school year, was the first time she ever defied her father and the last, since he cast her out on that same day.

As she made her way to the bathroom, Tara dropped one piece of clothing after the other leaving a small trail until she entered the bathroom completely nude. Rene had always hated it when dirty laundry was discarded on the bedroom floor. Not that Tara had ever been an untidy person, she always picket her clothing up on her way back and put it in the laundry basket when she returned from showering.

Rene Snider, daughter of a high school principal, art consultant and ex girlfriend. How in the name of the Lords of Kobol could she ever have fallen for someone like Rene? But then how could she not? Tall with short blond hair - the kind of oxidised homemade blond - Rene was deadly attractive. But that wasn't what had drawn Tara to her when she had taken her first shy steps into Geminon City's LGBT community, it had been Rene's air of strength and pride.

Never before in her life had Tara met a lesbian who was that out and proud. And when this very role model of a proud lesbian made a move on Tara, flirting with her, Tara's reason and common sense abandoned ship and she fell head over heels for the woman six years her senior.

After that everything happened very fast and less than three months later Tara moved out of her little on campus apartment at Geminon City University, where she was working on her doctorate, and into Rene's place. In addition to her teaching responsibilities at UGC Tara took up another part time job in order to pay her share (chair ist ein Stuhl! Hat mich zum Lachen gebracht, sorry) of their household. Or more to the point, Rene's household in which Tara lived too.

For the next year things went well. Tara made a good progress on her papers and much sooner than she had expected she became Doctor Maclay. Already before she had completed her doctorate, Tara had been offered the chair of Colonial history at St. Cedd's College, Oxbridge right outside Geminon City.

It was at this point that things took a bit of a turn. The job offer from Oxbridge had come with a flat near campus but even though Rene could do her work as an art consultant literally from any place on Planet Geminon she refused to leave Geminon City and instead pressured Tara into going to Oxbridge every day by Transrapid train. Ninety minutes to and another ninety minutes from Oxbridge every day and although this meant for Tara to get up very early in the morning and coming home late, she had never thought of challenging Rene on her decision. Tara loved her and the unconscious fear of being left alone, left her blind to the fact that by now Rene was controlling her life as much as her father had done before. She had escaped her father's control, only to get herself willingly under Rene's control.

But then half a year ago a friend told Tara that she had seen Rene in a bar and very close with another woman - snuggling close to her. Confronted with this Rene dismissed it as a harmless flirt and accused Tara of overreacting to a totally harmless situation. Again Tara not only believed it, but also acted like it was expected from her, even when she witnessed Rene flirting excessively again and again.

Of course Rene kept on dismissing her flirtations and even promised to stop flirting because Tara was "the only one she wanted in her bed."

To the day two months ago, Tara returned much earlier than usual, thanks to a student prank involving a car standing in the middle of her class room and several hundred (if not thousand) balloons or similar blown up rubber objects. So she had to cancel her last two lectures, left in high spirits and with the romantic idea of surprising her girlfriend with some roses and hot afternoon sex.

Upon arriving home, there was sex and there certainly was a surprise, just not in the way Tara had romantically planed it on her Transrapid ride home. The surprise was all on Tara's side, while Rene had sex with a slut she called honey bush. In fact she was about to come when it dawned on Tara that it was her time to leave.

The following fight got as ugly as it could be and the fact that this chick walked boldly naked around the room collecting her things didn't help much either. After much yelling on Tara's part and Rene blunt attempt to dismiss what had happened as something of no importance, Tara finally drew the line.

It took Tara less than fifteen minutes to collect her things - which were depressingly few, only two suitcases and another three boxes - call a cab and flee the scene of her utter humiliation, intending to never see the woman again who had treated her so cruelly.

After showering and brushing her teeth, Tara blow-dried her hair. Leaving the towel in the bathroom she walked back into the bedroom and collected her discarded cloths to put them in the laundry basket standing at the foot of her bed. After a moment's hesitation, Tara decided on a with blouse, a knee long plain blue skirt and a matching blazer. How she had missed wearing skirts! Rene had preferred her wearing pants and of course Tara had obeyed.

In the kitchen Tara prepared some sandwiches for breakfast and went with a steaming cup of hot chocolate into her study to do some catching up on today's lectures while eating her breakfast. Half an hour later, Tara left her flat for the short walk over the campus to her office at Stevenson Hall.

"Until next week I want you to read chapters three to eight of Gordon's Short History of Geminon!" Tara called out to the assembled students, while she powered down her trusty laptop.

"And those of you, who are in my English Lit class tomorrow, might wanna have another look at the play we've been working on last week," she added before she dismissed the class for lunch break. As usually the class showed their respect for their teacher by knocking onto their tables before hurrying out of the class room.

'Wow, I love my job!' Tara thought to herself and packed her things. "You coming?" she asked Vanessa, her TA.

"Right away Dr. Maclay, just want to finish the preparations for your next lecture," Vanessa, while she cleaned the board.

"Okay, but don't take too long," Tara advised with a laugh, "you too are entitled to a break."

"I wont take long and then I'll take my break Dr. Maclay," Vanessa assured her. Tara thanked Vanessa for her work, gathered her things and left.

Stopping briefly by her office to leave her things and get lunch and a blanket, Tara went outside. She settled in her favourite place on the entire campus under a great old willow tree. As soon as Tara had sat down on her blanket under the big tree with its long branches, she felt at peace, no matter how stressful the day was or how lonely she sometimes felt when coming home into her flat.

The clock tower on campus had just announced the hour and after she had finished her lunch, Tara leaned against the tree's mighty trunk and closed her eyes. She was just about to drift into a short nap when a voice came to her ear - a voice she had hoped to never again hear in her life.

"Hello beautiful," Rene said seductively.

'No this can't be happening,' Tara thought desperately. Not after she had worked so hard to get on with her life.

"So you're going to pretend to be asleep, hoping that I'm leaving again?" Rene asked, more than just a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "Because you know it won't work. I'm going to keep standing here until you hear me say my peace."

'So much for that plan,' Tara thought and reluctantly opened her eyes. Rene stood right in front of her as beautiful and self-confident as ever, though Tara forbid herself to have a closer look at her ex's body, instead she got to her feet and brushed some leaves from her skirt before she asked: "What do you want?"

"What? No hello, nice to see you? Or what a surprise? Just what do you want?" Rene asked, still smiling her special seductive smile, that once used to melt Tara's heart in an instant.

Bracing herself against her ex's seductiveness, Tara took a deep breath and wrapped her arms around her torso - her usual protective posture - and said: "Hello Rene, what do you want?!"

"What do I want?" Rene asked back. "Isn't it obvious? I mean I took it upon myself to travel all the way out here from Geminon City. Have you any idea how long a trip, even on a fast train like the Transrapid, out here takes?"

'Do I know?' Tara thought sarcastically, 'you made me take this trip twice a day!' Out loud she said nothing, she didn't wasn't in the mood to start arguing with her ex.

"I want you back," Rene finally answered Tara's question and her chin literally fell to the ground and Rene smiled upon seeing her reaction.

"You've got to be kidding!" Tara managed to say, once she regained the use of her vocal cords and started gathering up her things.

"No I'm serious," Rene said. "I know I frakked up. But I want you back - I miss you!"

"You really believe this, don't you?" Tara asked unbelievingly. "You really believe that after all you have done to me, you can waltz up here uninvited, say you're sorry... No not even that. You say 'I want you back' and you honestly expect me to be Little Miss Goodie Two Shoes and obediently trot back to your side?"

Rene looked a bit taken aback, "Well I did want to say I'm sorry too," she said, not really sounding it.

"You've got some nerve Rene Snider," Tara said calmly though inside she was boiling in rage by now. "After all you did," she repeated.

"After all I did to you?" Rene asked back. "After all there had been some overreacting on your part in this break up."

"You were flirting around Rene," Tara said quietly. "Right in front of my eyes! You slept with other woman in what was supposed to be 'our' bed!. Though at the same time of course you always made it quiet clear that this really was your place.

"And you managed my life like you owned me, too."

It was time for Tara to end this and so phrased her next words very careful, so not to let them in any way be misunderstood. "I've learned a few things after I left you Rene. One is that for a relationship to work it needs two equals, not one dominating the other, not to mentioning that there should always be trust and honesty. But most of all I learned that I'm no longer content with 'being the one you want in your bed', as you put it while you kept flirting and sleeping around. I need trust and commitment in a relationship, Rene, and that is something I know you are unable to give me."

"So how many women have you slept with in the past month?" Rene asked coldly.

Tara shook her head. 'How very typically of Rene,' she thought, to resolve to cruelty when reason failed her. Not that she had ever expected her and Rene to end up together again in a equal relationship or even that Rene would actually ever change her ways. But she had hoped that there could be a point where she and her ex could meet in the street and exchange some friendly words.

Calmly Tara picked up her things. "Good bye Rene, I wish you all the best. But it is over between us. You have to accept that and go on, believe me, I have." That said Tara briskly walked around the woman who had once played such a dominant role in her life.

Tara was half-way across the now more crowded campus when Rene's voice cut through the air: "So that's it lover!?" she cried, her voice stone cold. Rene had never been the person to accept defeat lightly, Tara remembered as she stopped dead in her steps. "You push me out of your bed and out of your life so easily and expect me to do the same!" by now Rene's voice had switched from cold to whiny, She stood right in front of Tara, their faces just inches apart.

"Why are you doing this?" Tara asked whisperingly.

Rene's lips turned into an ugly smile. "You figure it out for yourself smart ass." She hissed, her voice poised with spite. "Don't tell me Tara," she quietly went on. "You never told them you're a dyke!?" she cried the last word out loud and then she grabbed Tara's face with her hands and kissed her firmly on her lips.

Before Tara had any chance to push her away, Rene let go of her and turning around she walked away fast and Tara didn't need to see her face to know that a vicious smile was plastered all over it.

'What a bitch,' Tara thought. 'I bet this was her plan all along.'

Feeling quite baffled by what had just happened Tara kept staring into the direction Rene had walked away, before she swiftly turned around and walked back to her office. As preoccupied as she was she didn't notice the look of surprise on most of the students' faces who had witnessed Rene's little scene. But then luckily she also didn't notice the looks of disgust and anger in other faces, there were however some looks of admiration and pride too.

Looking back on these days years later, it still surprised Tara how very fast events had unfolded in the days that followed. By the time Tara returned home for her weekend, she had already put the unfortunate incident with her ex girlfriend aside, convinced that now that she had had her big exit Rene would finally let the matter rest and stay out of her life.

However arriving at her office on Monday morning, Tara discovered that for Rene the matter wasn't over yet.

"These flowers just arrived for you Dr. Maclay," Tara's secretary said after she had entered the office and she didn't need to see the card to know that Rene had send them.

I know I frakked up.
But I love you and I want you back.
Love Rene

The card read, before Tara tore it to peaces and threw it in the trash bin.

"You like azaleas?" she asked Janet Pears her secretary.


"Then they're yours."

'She got some nerves sending me flowers,' Tara thought furiously as she entered her office with a cup of Janet's special hot chocca.

Working over the papers for today's lectures, Tara's thoughts kept returning to Rene though they were soon pushed way aside when Jena handed Tara a stack of messages. The topmost document soon caught Tara's attention.

"These are requests for leaving my courses," she observed, sorting through several pieces of paper and Janet nodded. "Fourteen to be exact. When did they turn up?"

"Today, all of them," Janet answered, obviously feeling uncomfortable being the bringer of bad news.

"Did they give any reason why they want to switch so shortly before exams?"

Janet shook her head.

"Not even one of them?" Tara asked. Janet looked as uncomfortable as ever. "What's going on Janet?" Tara asked gently. "We've been a good team you and me. Don't hold things back from me now."

"Doctor Maclay," Janet began, "most of them really didn't say a reason and after all they're not required to. However there were students who said that their parents had learned that their teacher was said to be gay and had insisted on them switching. None of those three though seem to have shared their parents views on the matter but were forced to oblige."

Tara nodded, old habits, she knew, died only slowly and the notion that children had to obey their parents, even though her students were almost grown ups, was still very much part of Geminon culture.

"So is it true?" Janet asked.

"That I'm gay?"

"Yes." Janet blushed slightly.

"I am gay, Janet," Tara said calmly, not sure how her secretary would react to her coming out. "Is that a problem for you?"

"Honestly, I do have a problem with the mere idea of two woman or two men for that matter being in a sexual relationship," Janet begun and Tara felt taken aback. "But," Janet went on, "and it's an important but, whatever problems I have with your way of living, I will never allow it from keeping me from working with a bright woman as you are Dr. Maclay."

"So you're okay with that?" Tara said unsure if she really understood her secretary's statement.

"It will not interfere with my work for you," Janet assured her. "Just spare me the details of what's going on in your bed."

"Deal," Tara said, "thank you, Janet."

"You're welcome."

Janet Pears might have been okay with working for a gay superior and Tara had even gotten some supporting letters from students that had not left her lectures, there had even been an anonymous one of a gay female student who wrote that she hoped to one day be strong enough to be out and proud as Tara too.

Others however were more than not okay and unfortunately, as Tara found out, many of them were on the Board of Governors of Oxbridge University.

It began with a raised interest in Tara's lecture plans and exam papers. Nothing to obvious anti gay, 'They' just called for a closer look into her department because of the fall out of students. Not that any more students had left, several had even retuned a short while later.

Next thing was the summoning to a faculty meeting that had gotten 'lost', making Tara miss that meeting and Tara arrived late and not completely prepared for another meeting because she wasn't informed of a change in the schedule. Of course neither Tara nor Janet could actually prove any misconduct on the side of the Dean's office.

Then less than three months after Rene's scene and right after the end of summer exams, Tara got summoned to Dean Demetrius Zaarin, who told her that sometimes working relationships did not work out and that one might have envisioned it and that the board of governors had come to the conclusion that Doctor Tara Maclay's talents as a teacher and faculty head could serve better at a different university.

Quite stunned Tara listened to Dean Zaarin rambling on some other phoney excuses before she finally asked: "Am I being fired?"

Continue to A Love Beyond the Stars Flashbacks - The Mouse That Roared Part Two

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