Return to What Could Have Been Chapter Three

What Could Have Been

Author: Chance
Rating: R-NC-17
Disclaimer: W/T and BTVS characters belong exclusively to JW, ME, and anybody else they actually belong to. Don't sue me. I'm broke and a student and all you'll get is my DVD collection.
Feedback: I love feedback. It's quite encouraging. Please feel free to be as constructive as possible, telling me what you liked and what you didn't. I can't promise I'll always take it to heart, but I'm always interested to hear it. Please leave feedback on the What Could Have Been thread on the Kitten Board.
Distribution: If you have a desire to put this elsewhere, absolutely let me know, and then I'll give you my permission, and then y'know... you can put it there.

Portland, Oregon
February, 2007

Tara smiled politely over the rim of her wine glass, tilting it back over her full lips. The liquid warmed her whole body and loosened the ever present tension in her shoulders. She felt slightly awkward in the clothes Anya had picked out for her, the shirt too revealing, the pants just too tight on her curves, she felt open for display. Not that my date seems to notice, she thought to herself with a bit of a smile, watching the woman's eyes as they seemed to continually sweep her face looking for signs of merriment or displeasure. She's so nervous. Tara couldn't hold back a full blown grin at her date, who instantly saw the expression. Her leg began shaking under the table nervously, even as she continued to babble on. "I didn't really think you would go out with me. I mean, you've turned down everyone else at work who's asked you, and I thought... well, you're so unbelievably beautiful, I just..."

Tara sighed. It was true, she went to the same coffee shop three times a week, and every employee there must have asked her out. Twice. She had grown so used to it that it was mostly routine of her day. And then Vi started working there a few weeks before, and she had instantly liked the younger woman. She was nervous, watching customers intently as they ordered and still not getting their order quite right. When she had seemed to take the same interest in Tara that all the others did, Tara seriously debated whether or not she could be attracted to her. It was not the first time she'd been attracted to a woman that wasn't Willow in the past seven years, hell, it wasn't even the first date she'd been on. But it was the first time she'd been hopeful beforehand.

Tara zoned back into the words that were coming from Vi's mouth, and her cheeks instantly reddened, shooting down her neck and flushing her chest as well. She's nice. Really young. But she's very sweet. Oh Anya, why did I let you talk me into this? "Thank you." She said, interrupting the babblefest, her eyes cast down to the hem of her shirt, where she picked off some invisible lint to avoid having to look the girl in the eye.

"Oh, no need to thank me." Vi smiled. "Thank you."

If we just keep thanking each other for nothing, this is never going to go anywhere. "So tell me about yourself then." Tara smiled at the girl reassuringly as she went white as a ghost.

"About me?" Vi looked both scared and perplexed. "Why would you want to know about me?"

Tara shook her head, her brow furrowing in confusion. "Well, that is what people do, isn't it? It's been awhile since I've been out on a date, but I was sure there was talking about ourselves involved." She smiled, this time hoping to encourage.

"But you're the interesting one! You write, right? That's what Rona said. Rona, she works with me..."

Tara did know Rona, as they had shared a laugh every few mornings when Tara had come in for her usual drink. She was surprised to find out anyone actually knew who she was, though in this town, she supposed she shouldn't be. "I do. I write children's books." And erotic poetry. Tara hid a giggle behind a wide smile. But if I tell you that right now, you may explode. "And you work at Stumptown."

"Yeah, I do." Vi's eyes stared up at Tara in total wonder, her statement an afterthought.

When Vi didn't continue, Tara tried to hide her disappointment. The conversation continued, mostly with Vi gazing up in wonder at her dinner companion, and Tara feeling very much like a zoo exhibit. When their dinners were finally cleared, the waiter approached with the typical offer of coffee and dessert. They politely declined, and stood to head out the door.

As they neared the end of the block walking towards Tara's car, Vi broke the silence. "I had a really, really great time tonight, Tara. I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me on Friday?"

Tara found herself looking up into Vi's expectant smile, and felt her heart break at the ever so hopeful look on the woman's face. I thought I could do this, but I can't. I'm sorry, Vi, looking at you makes my heart ache for someone else. You like me so much, and it's very flattering, but you're just not what I want. Oh well, be as polite as possible, make her feel good, and then get the hell out.

Sunnydale, California
August 2002

Ira Rosenberg had always known his daughter was different. From the moment she was born, holding her in his arms, she looked magnificentally small. And yet, as he moved his hand to check her fingers and toes, as he touched his hand to her face for the first time, he could feel something in her reach out to him. It was almost ghostly, his experience, the feel of her essence reaching out to touch him in that room that smelled of medicine and science and clean.

He felt the same way when he heard her voice in his mind when she was six and broke her arm several blocks away from home. He had been at his office, reading an article of interest when he heard her, clear as day, call out for him. He could still remember the panic in her voice, the first and last time he remembered her truly needing him. He had convinced himself that was hearing things until his wife called him a few hours later. The sitter had called her, she explained, and then she had met them at the hospital. Willow was fine, and she was getting some work done in the waiting room. He had rolled his eyes at his wife's bored tone.

And yet he had always known he was no better than her, with her clinical detachment. He loved his wife, she was a brilliant woman, but she was not particularly maternal. And yet, what was he? Paternal. No, no better. He should have rushed to her the moment he knew he was needed. Instead he had sat, reading in his office, convincing himself that Willow was fine. And so he had done for most of her childhood, truly believing that such an intelligent, capable child had no need for his guidance. How much he had missed he was only painfully aware of now.

Now, as he watched Willow pace back and forth in front of him, he realized with a stunning clarity that this is exactly what she had come to tell him. She was different. Finally, she turned on her heel and looked at him. "Dad." She paused, searching his face for a reaction he had yet to form. She took a sigh, and began to pace again. Ira glanced at his watch out of habit, regretting it instantly when he saw his daughter sigh, screwing her eyes closed.

"Bren..." he began, sinking easily into habit again.

"Dad, I have something to tell you, and it's hard. It's hard for me to tell you, because, well, you're my father, and..." She shook her head, as if to clear it, and took a deep breath that cleansed her. She opened her eyes. "I'm gay."

For a moment, it felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. His expression did not break, merely staying on her without seeing her. He inhaled sharply through his nose, a whirlwind of reactions coursing through his brain. What does this mean for you, my dear daughter? What will this world do to you? And finally, the one he voiced. "Are you happy, Willow?"

It surprised her how strong his voice was, how tender, how filled with emotion. It was the first time in her life Willow ever truly felt the depth of her father's love. "I'm happy, yes." She smiled, feeling the truth in her words.

"Then what else is there to say?" There was silence between them as they gazed at each other, their eyes meeting. The same smile formed on both their lips, a product of genetics.

Finally, Willow broke the silence. "Can you help me tell Mom?"

Ira's eyes grew wide, before he began to laugh. "There is no power on this Earth great enough to help you tell your Mother, Willow."

Willow laughed at him, smiling wide, her tongue pushing out from between her teeth in pure delight.

Portland, Oregon
August, 2001

Tara stared at her reflection in the glass window, looking carefully at her outfit. She shot a dejected look at herself, feeling silly. Am I dressed right? How do you dress right for this kind of occasion? She sighed, not knowing the answer. Hesitantly, she pushed open the door of the old house, now converted to a coffee shop and glanced around. Not seeing anyone close to whom she was supposed to be meeting, she looked for someone to direct her. Finally, she flagged down a waitress' attention. "H-hi. I-I'm supposed to b-be meeting someone." She frowned at her stumbling.

"Oh!" The waitress brought her hand to her forehead in a salute. "Right this way..." She began walking back out the door that Tara had entered from, and lead her to an outdoor sitting area. There, sitting off in a corner was a pretty woman with blond hair. The waitress pointed at her. "Good luck." She whispered before scurrying back in the other direction.

During Tara's walk towards her, she felt the woman's eyes appraising her. "Well, you're shy, aren't you?" Anya called when Tara was ten feet away, her head slightly bowed.

"I guess I am." Tara laughed, feeling relaxed by the honesty.

"So, why are you moving?" Anya asked, still eyeing Tara up and down.

"Oh, well, my apartment is the first place I moved into when I got here, and I guess I'm looking for something... nicer?" She took a seat on the bench opposite Anya.

"What's your name?" She leaned forward to pick up a cup of coffee sitting in front of her.

"Tara Maclay." She answered, her fingers pulling at the napkin on the table in front of her.

"Good name. You seem very honest." Anya reached over and picked up Tara's hand, examining her skin in the light. "You have soft skin and clean hands." Anya seemed to check off some kind of list in her mind. "Do you shower regularly? Personal hygeine is a must."

Tara nodded, somewhat bewildered by this strange creature. "I'm very neat."

"Well, that answers my next question." Another check. "Do you steal?"

"No." Check.

"Do you have loud friends and late parties?"

"No." Half-check.

"Do you mind if I do?"

"With some warning?" Anya nodded goodnaturedly. "No, not really." Check.

"Well, you'll do. My name is Anya Jenkins. I would love for you to be my new roommate." The girl smiled, the expression covering most of her face.

Tara nodded, despite herself. "When can I see the apartment?"

"Oh. Well, when you move in, of course. Don't worry, you'll love it." Anya continued to smile at her. "So, do you have a lot of sex? Is your shy demeanor really just a ploy to get people into bed with you? Because it's very convincing." Tara stared at Anya, not quite knowing what to say. She found herself enjoying the strange girl's presence. And she found herself agreeing despite herself when Anya looked at her straight in the eyes and said "I think we're going to be best friends!"

Continue to What Could Have Been Chapter Five

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