Feedback: Please leave feedback on the Bedtime Stories thread on the Kitten Board.
Disclaimer: Joss / ME / etc. owns these characters. This story is just for fun and not for profit.
Me: "So how's this going to work, exactly?" Willow asked. She had her eyes closed, and she was leaning back against Tara, who held her.
Me: "How do you mean?"
Me: "Well, I mean, what happens when somebody else is around, for example? Uh, last time you kind of, you know, went poof, and then I didn't see you for ages."
Me: She sighed in utter contentment when Tara brought a warm sponge to the back of her neck. She dipped her chin lower, barely skimming the bathwater, and swept wet strands of hair out of the way for easier access.
Mel: o-o They are in a bath?
Me: "As far as I know, nobody else will be able to see me," Tara said.
Me: Willow swiveled a few inches around, swishing the water as the turned. "What do you mean, as far as you know?"
Me: "Well, I'm kind of new at this."
Me: "Oh." It hadn't really crossed Willow's mind that angels had beginnings. "Well, so how'd that work? Were you assigned to me, or something?"
Me: "Not exactly. We got to pick, but..." Tara lathered up Willow's scalp while she searched for the right words. "I think there might have been some kind kind of...um...I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say. We were told we'd get to choose who we'd be angels for, but you were the first person I saw, and I just kind of...I knew. If that makes any sense. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't picked you; once I saw you, it wasn't an option."
Mel: Awww ^^
Me: "So, does everybody have an angel?"
Me: Tara paused the conversation and shifted backward to lower Willow's head back toward the water, and she began rinsing the suds from her hair, eliciting a happy purr.
Me: "I don't think so. Not from what I heard, anyway."
Me: Willow frowned. She wasn't sure what to think about that. On the one hand, it did kind of make her feel special. It made her Tara seem that much more precious. But it also meant that there were people out there who were completely alone, which is what she had always feared.
Me: "Why me?" she wondered aloud. "How come I get a...you?" When Tara's fingers continued their massage of her scalp, she added, "Not that I am in any way complaining..."
Me: "I didn't ask," Tara admitted. "But you...it seemed like you needed an angel. Maybe it's need-based. Turn?"
Me: She maneuvered her body around, an awkward motion that sloshed some water over the edge of the tub. Willow usually poured deep baths, and she hadn't expected the extra body at the time. When she settled back into the water, Tara guided her feet to either side of her, and Willow felt Tara's toes wriggle underneath her. Tara lathered up the bath sponge and attacked her feet, and Willow squirmed, on the brink of ticklishness.
Mel: Willow is ticklish on her feet!
Me: "So are...yeeeh...are you really sta...eee...staying for good? I mean, you're not disappearing, again?"
Mel: *listens intently*
Me: "I'd like to. It's...I mean, I don't really have the ultimate say, of course. But I like being here. It brings back memories."
Me: "Memories? Of what?"
Mel: Oh jeez, Willow beat me to the question
Me: "Well, of life, I guess. You know, it might be a rough place to live at times, but it sure is an interesting place."
Mel: She was alive once o-o?
Me: Tara released Willow's foot, much to Willow's relief, and added, "There's not really anywhere else like it."
Mel: Well, I suppose Angels are alive, huh?
Me: "So you've been here before? Were you somebody else's angel?" She immediately felt guilty for it, but the thought of Tara having been an angel to someone before her caused jealousy to bare its fangs.
Me: "Well, I lived here, once. It was a while ago."
Me: "You mean a regular old person like me?"
Me: Tara chuckled. "I wouldn't call you regular, but yes. I wasn't always an angel. Like I said, I'm actually very new at this."
Me: "Oh..." Willow considered this. "What...I mean...uh..."
Me: "What happened?"
Me: "Yeah. Well, if you don't mind sharing. I guess that's a pretty rude question, huh?"
Me: Tara set the sponge down on the side of the tub. "No, I don't mind, but...talking of death isn't...are you certain you want to hear that kind of thing?"
Mel: *raises hand* I'm not to sure
Me: Willow sighed regretfully. "No, you're probably right. That's me: curiosity before all other brain wave activity." She reached for the sponge. "Your turn."
Me: "Oh, you don't need to."
Mel: ^^ Of course she does
Me: Willow raised an eyebrow.
Me: "I'm not exactly...corporeal," Tara said.
Me: "What? Yeah you are."
Me: "No, it's true. I don't have a physical form."
Me: Willow shook her head. "But you've been touching me...and you held me last night. And you just now held that sponge."
Me: "That's not what others would have seen," Tara explained. "It's...well, we learned how to explain this kind of stuff, but of course I've completely forgotten the whole lesson, so I'll try to wing it. When I'm here with you, there's sort of this pocket of...well, it's still reality, but it's only reality for you."
Mel: o-o *brain explodes*
Me: The corner of Willow's mouth twitched. "It is like an imaginary friend, isn't it?" She wasn't pleased by that idea.
Me: "Well, I can assure you, I'm not a figment of your imagination. I've got my own thoughts and history and everything, which aren't being created by your mind. But what you experience--my touch, for instance--it's only happening to you. Somebody watching wouldn't experience it the same way."
Me: Willow blinked. "Uh, so...what? You can't get smelly?"
Me: Tara laughed. "Well, I could if I felt like it, but I'd rather not."
Mel: But Willow wants to clean you!
Me: A knock on the bathroom door silenced them. "Willow?" Millie's voice carried through the door.
Me: "Everything okay? You don't have a phone in there, do you?"
Me: "Uh...no. I mean, yeah, everything's fine. No phone."
Me: "Okay." She could hear her aunt remain near the door for another few seconds before retreating.
Me: "Right. Where were we?" Willow said. She eyed the sponge in her hand, then began lathering it up. "Your turn."
Mel: That's it?
Mel: We're done?
Mel: No bath time Tara?
Me: She experienced a moment of panic when her aunt leaned into her bedroom to say goodnight, but sure enough, despite Tara's presence beside her, Millie seemed oblivious.
Mel: Damn, no bathtime Tara
Me: They snuggled under the covers. Tara lay on her back, and Willow nestled close to her, resting her head on the soft hollow just south of her shoulder. She draped one arm across Tara's tummy, and Tara cupped her shoulder, holding her securely against her body. Far beneath the covers, their feet grazed each other, then finally intertwined.
Me: Tara had a calming presence; despite the emotional roller coaster of the last week, Willow felt completely at ease. Her muscles relaxed, releasing days of coiled tension.
Me: Tara hummed a soothing lullaby, and Willow let the melody float her toward dreams.