Runner-up the I Am You Know award for Best Romance and Best Drama.

Spark to a Flame

Author: Auburn
Rating: NC-17 - there will be plenty of W/T loving but it'll take a while to get there... have faith.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters but the story is mine.
Feedback: If you want to send it, I will read it.
Summary: Tara admires Willow from a distance until an accident brings them closer together. Some angst, but obviously I wouldn't do anything too awful to read.

Note: What happens to Willow happened to someone very dear to me, they unfortunately didn't make it. The time I've spent writing this story is dedicated to them. You are forever with me...

Author's Website: A Bit of Fluff.

The world for any artist, be it a photographer, musician or writer, is a place of constant inspiration. Just sitting on a park bench and watching as people go about their day can be inspiring enough for someone to create a piece of art. If they're paying attention that is. For some artists one seemingly insignificant thing can be what fills them with revolutionary idea's, to express themselves wholeheartedly and create what other people can appreciate.

For Tara Maclay her inspiration was something of beauty, something she could sit and look at for hours and still not have seen enough. The mystery of something so beautiful sitting opposite her on the grassed area of Sunnydale park exhilarated her, made her wish and want and imagine. This inspirational thing sitting peacefully unaware of Tara's wistful gazes was the reason for Tara's creative thinking and works.

Being a writer in a small town like Sunnydale was a hard thing to do, being a successful writer was even harder, but somehow Tara had managed it. The pay wasn't good, or at least not yet having just published her first book Tara had high hopes, writing was something she had always dreamed of doing, but up until a year ago her dreams had almost been a lost cause.

It was visiting the park one winter morning when Tara had almost driven herself mad listening to the birds chirping and old Mrs Brown buffing the wooden floors of her apartment building when Tara decided to take a walk to the park. On reaching the park she then observed everything around her from the trees to the pond, up to the sky and down to the grass. Not one thing inspiring a spark of creativity. Just an edge of fidgety-ness and slight boredom.

Then something caught her eye, a red shimmer made her head turn to investigate the cause. Her eyes fixed firmly to a woman walking down the gravel path along the edge of the grass and Tara's eyes remained on the woman until their gazes met making her quickly look away.

Since that day, three months ago Tara had been coming to the same place every morning. Some days the red haired woman would arrive and sit peacefully on the grass, some days she would read or be writing frantically and some days she wouldn't show up at all, but when she did Tara would watch her. Everything she did was done with deliberation and an air of concentration that would give any normal person a headache.

On this morning Tara sat with her back resting against the tree as she always did. Making sure her long parker coat protected her bottom from the cold, damp grass and that her hat rested just past her ears to keep the bitter cold from turning them red. Her long blonde hair flattened by the material of the hat splayed out across her shoulders adding extra warmth.

She watched as birds swooped down onto the grass, hopping and twitching. Their movements lightening fast and deliberate.

Suddenly the birds unexpectedly flew off much to Tara's annoyance. Watching them had made her relax and forget about the piercing cold, but when the blonde saw two sneakered feet walk into the space where the birds had previously occupied she now understood their hurry to get away.

Following the pair of sneakers upwards to some jeaned legs Tara watched as the redheaded woman sat down on the grass about eight feet away and pulled out a book then began to read.

The blonde studied the mysterious woman's features carefully. Taking in every minute detail, the long lashes that graced the woman's eyelids, almost unnoticeable freckles that danced on the bridge of her nose and the teeth that gently bit the bottom lip in full concentration. The woman visibly shook against the light breeze of the mid winter weather and Tara inwardly chastised her for not wearing a scarf or a hat.

Sitting there for a few moments taking in the view the blonde then let out a huge sigh and paused as the woman looked up. She felt her cheeks begin to burn and internally smacked herself on the head as the woman's eyes studied her face for a few seconds before turning back to her book.

"Come on Missy let me in first." Tara chuckled as she almost tripped over her feline friend walking into her apartment. The cat playfully welcomed her mistress into their home by rubbing herself against the blonde's legs causing fur to transfer itself onto the material of Tara's clothes.

Tsking to herself the blonde shook her head and picked up the furry animal. "I can never look presentable with you around can I sweetheart?"

"Tara?" An old woman's voice called from down the hall. The blonde put her head around the door and saw Mrs Brown making her way over relying heavily on her cane.

"Hi, Mrs Brown." The young woman greeted.

"Oh now you know I wish you wouldn't call me that you make me feel like an old woman when I'm still in my prime."

"Sorry Lydia." Tara smiled as the woman playfully greeted the ginger and white furball that was enjoying all the attention.

"I don't mean to be a nuisance dear, but I was wondering if you could perhaps do my grocery shopping for me on Friday instead of Wednesday. Some of the girls and I from the bingo hall will be having a little get together for Agatha's birthday so I won't be home until late that day and Thursday I'll need a long hard rest."

"Oh of course Mrs... Uh I mean Lydia that would be fine." Tara assured, letting her furry friend down to have a sniff around "Just give me your shopping list on Thursday it won't be a problem."

"Oh you're such a sweetheart my dear girl I do appreciate it." The old woman smiled gratefully showing her perfectly polished dentures. "Now I won't keep you I'm sure you have something much more interesting to do. Have a lovely night my dear."

"You to Mrs Brown." The blonde called to the woman's retreating back.

"Come on you lets get you some dinner I know that's the only reason your being so nice." Tara chuckled receiving a 'meow' from the mischievous face of her beloved cat. "Yeah that's right I've got you all figured out."

The bitter cold once again whipped itself around Tara's thin frame as she made her way to the park, walking carefully so as not to slip on the black ice on the concrete that had set in the night before.

Making her way to her favourite tree Tara observed the white ice that rested on leafless branches reminding her just how cold it was. Wrapping the scarf more firmly around her neck she seated herself against the tree getting as comfortable as she could then pulled out a pen and writing paper from her bag.

Her mind got lost in a world that she had created, her imagination running wild with the lives of her characters creating their personalities and building the atmosphere around them, writing out their beginning, knowing the path they were to take, but not yet knowing their end.

In her writing Tara could live out a fantasy and escape the reality where routine became a chore and the days blended together in a blur. Her writing was her happiness and for a while she had lost that.

The crackling of fallen leaves being stood on made Tara lift her gaze, she peeked above the pad she had been busily writing on and saw the familiar beautiful face that had inspired a surge within her and watched the woman kick the leaves out of the way before she sat down and just idly picked at the grass.

Tara noted that the redhead looked a little more lost in thought today than she normally did, dark circles under the woman's eyes indicated lack of sleep and her hair was a little more wayward than usual. The blonde prayed that whatever was bothering this beautiful woman wasn't anything to serious.

Seeing the woman turn to face her Tara quickly averted her eyes and tried to look busy with what she was doing.

Trying to balance a stack of books in one hand Willow Rosenberg frantically searched for her keys with the other, propping her knee up on the door to relieve some of the weight she then dug her hand deep into the pocket of her jeans and successfully fished them out putting the needed key in the lock she then turned and pushed desperately trying not to drop any of the books.

"Here let me help you with that." A young man passed her carefully and held the door open.

"Thank you Oz." Willow smiled walking in and placing the books down on the first available surface.

"This place is nice." He complemented, awe struck by the large house.

"Yeah well my Mom picked it out for me, it was expensive, but they knocked the price down because it needs a lot of maintenance work." Taking her coat off the woman then walked over to the door and shut it before turning to the young man standing in the doorway.

"Is there something I can do for you?"

Sighing heavily he looked down at his feet as if trying to find the words. Looking back at Willow he smiled softly.

"I know things between you and I have been a little off lately and I'm sorry about that, you've been busy with work, I've been busy with the band..."

"It doesn't feel like we're in a relationship Oz." The young woman confessed walking out of the entrance hall she went into the kitchen and began searching through boxes for the coffee machine.

"Yeah and I want to rectify that." He stated, following her into the other room.

Glancing up at him the red-haired woman seemed nonchalant about the discussion.

"Willow throw me a bone here, I'm trying."

"Ah ha." She said triumphantly pulling out the coffee machine from a box on top of the kitchen counter. "We have coffee."

Making his way through the mess Oz reached the young woman and removed the coffee machine from her hands then turned her to face him.

"Willow please we can get through this. I'm sorry I haven't been around things have been so hectic, but I'm here now and I'm trying to make it right."

Taking a step back Willow picked up the coffee machine and went about setting it up.

"I'm not sure you can fix this. I'm not sure WE can fix this Oz." She said honestly her eyes never looking up at him.

"Well we can't just let it go, not after all this time." Leaning against the kitchen counter he put his hand on her arm to gain her attention. "Come to dinner with me. We'll talk."

Believing she at least owed him that the red-haired woman nodded her agreement.

Tara stepped out of her apartment building wincing as the cold air hit her face. She pushed her delicate hands further into the warmth of her coat pocket and hurriedly made her way to the park, after spending most of the night unable to stop her mind from whirling around with ideas she succumb to the fact that she wasn't going to get any sleep and spent the rest of the night writing, then reading what she wrote, deleting parts and re-writing them.

This was the routine she often found herself following and it frustrated her that she couldn't just write something and stick to it. Her Copy Editor said it was because all writers were perfectionists even if with nothing else, but their writing.

The blonde shivered slightly and berated herself for being out in such weather, Mrs Brown had told her that it was cold, but she just thought it was her landlord over exaggerating as she had a tendency to do.

Catching a familiar red shimmer of the mystery woman's hair Tara coked her head to the side and knitted her brows together.

In the past three months not once had the young woman beaten her to the park. Tara had always gotten there first so she could watch the redhead stroll elegantly along the pebbled path and sometimes feed the ducks.

Shrugging her shoulders Tara removed her pad and pen from her bag and sat down against her tree, as soon as pen touched paper her mind went somewhere else.

Setting her coffee mug on her desk Willow rubbed her temples with her fingers and let out a frustrated moan, if there wasn't one problem at this office then there was another. Often before work she would take a walk in the park to prepare for her day in the office, bathing in the nature, watching the ducks and that blonde woman who always seemed so lost in whatever it was she was writing. Things in Willow's life at the moment were a little hectic, but she could always count on that blonde woman being in the same place at the same time whenever she went to the park. Her presence was somehow heart warming. Pressing the button that put her through to her secretary Willow waiting for the girl to answer.

"Yes Miss Rosenberg?"

"Hey Buffy, could you call Grace and tell her I need to see her in my office immediately please."

"Yes Ma'am."

Stretching her tensed muscled the redhead leant back in her chair and tapped her pencil against her cheek waiting patiently until she saw a very nervous looking Grace walking as briskly as possible towards her office. The woman spoke to Amanda before polite knocking on the door once and walking straight in.

"Take a seat Grace." Willow instructed pointing at the chair on the other side of her desk.

"Thank you." The young woman smiled nervously taking the offered seat.

"Grace, there seems to be a problem." Willow spoke with authority getting straight to the point. "It seems the art and animation department is running slower than all the others and I need everything to be synchronised or the game is going to go to hell. I'm tired of engineers calling me and complaining that the project their working on can't be completed until they have the art and animation all set, what's going on down there?"

"Well... I." The woman fidgeted in her chair as if finding it very uncomfortable. "I... Don't really have an answer Miss Rosenberg, the project is harder than we've ever done before. I'm a perfectionist and the team is trying to make the animation as realistic as possible, quality takes time." Grace explained as best she could hoping that was good enough.

"I appreciate that you want to make it realistic here Grace, but were working on a time limit the creators want this game out by next summer which means you're going to have to shape up."

"Ok Miss Rosenberg, I will, Thank you."

"Ok, Oh and Grace, I've taken a look at an animation sample it really is good." The redhead gave her employee a smile.

"Thank you." The woman beamed, leaving her Boss' office.

Glad to have gotten that job out of the way Willow stood from her chair and stretched her aching back. Straightening out some papers the young woman then carefully placed them into a black folder and wrapped an elastic band around it.

Seeing the red light flashing on her phone Willow pushed the button that put her through to Buffy.

"It's Oz on line one ma'am."

Sighing heavily she picked up the phone and answered in her authoritative voice.

"This Is Willow Rosenberg."

"Willow? Do you have to use that tone with me?"

"Can I help you Oz? I'm a little busy right now." Taking a seat the young woman poured herself another coffee from the coffee machine.

"I was just wondering if I could take you out tonight, I'm free."

"I don't know, It's busy here today I don't think I'll be finished till late."

"That's ok, Willow please. We really need to talk this through."

Pinching the bridge of her nose the red-haired woman relented. "Ok, make reservations for six at the Drake and I'll meet you there."

"OK see you later Willow."

Continue to Spark to a Flame Chapter Two

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