Return to What Could Have Been Chapter Thirteen

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
June, 2011

...The look on your face was something akin to torture, your gaze transfixed on her. Only by waving my arms in front of your face did your attention drift back to me. There was an apology already written between the specks of yellow in your green eyes, and I couldn't bare to look, already knowing what your lips were moving to say. The words that came forth were no less heartbreaking. "I'm sorry."

You are thousands of miles away again, and I thought, for a moment, it would be better if I'd never found you, never known. Still, my darling, I had to say something, answer somehow, even when the words felt like bile spilling from my throat. "I love you." Certainly it's the truth, but you shook your head as if wasn't..

"I don't know what to say, I just..." You trailed off, looking away guiltily - but not shamefully enough to stop you from sparing a glance in her direction. The hollowness of your smile was for my benefit, the smile for hers.

"I was too late." I responded, forcing my eyes not to follow yours. Again you nodded, and I was surprised by the single tear that made it's way down your cheek, surprised by the way your eyes suddenly met mine. And finally, I saw it - the spark of them when you saw me wholly. I was too late, you'd already given yourself to someone else. But there was a chance once, my love, if only I'd known you when it was mine.

You stepped forward to embrace me, my heart wept as you wrapped me in your arms, your face embedded in my hair. I heard you inhale deeply, and as you pulled away, my surprise grew to find more tears rolling down your face. "I'll miss what we could have been."

I found a smile tugging at my lips, despite the sharp edge of your words shredding my heart into pieces. "What could have been." Despite the fact that she was standing there, waiting for you, you stayed, looking into my eyes as we were both lost to the ifs of our lives. It's what gave me the courage to lean forward, capturing your lips with mine. It began as a peck, but I pushed forward still, the images of my imagined us flowing through my mind. The breeze of a caress that this kiss was meant to be becomes much more, as I attempted to pour the years I would have loved you, the lifetime I would have given you, into the press of our lips. I didn't care that she was there, behind us, I didn't care that after that day I would have no reason to ever see you again, and these years I'd spent waiting, looking, and hoping will become a sad story I've never told.

That kiss, that moment with you will be all I'll ever have, so I made it mine, ours, and our what could have been becomes what should have been becomes what simply is, and finally, as our lips separated and you eyed me with a shocked expression, it is what was. What was, my love. What was. I left you then, not turning back. There are days when I still wish I had. Perhaps if I did, I would have found you waiting for me. That's why I didn't. It's that thought that keeps me warm at night - our ifs will never die. Our what could have been.

Willow allowed the pages of the book to flutter closed as she raised her tear stained eyes to the garden. She pushed her slippered feet against the old wooden boards of the porch, a heavy groan her answer, and she gazed out into the yard. The sun had begun to rise just an hour ago, and it bathed Tara's garden in beautiful gold light. She smiled at it, the image of Tara covered in dirt and sweat, humming to herself while she worked coming easily to her mind. Setting the book down beside her, she rose, picking up her coffee cup and wrapping her fingers around it for warmth, she stood at the railing, gazing out. Too many thoughts flooded her mind, and she wished, not for the first time that morning, that she had stayed curled up in bed, Tara's arms around her. She missed the warmth of her girlfriend now, in the cold dew of the morning. It was an ache she lived with most of her days, the wanting.

She wasn't surprised when a few moments later the screen door swung open, and a sweater was placed tenderly around her shoulders, supplemented nicely by the firm press of Tara's body into hers. Lips and warm breath pressed into the side of her neck, her ear, her chin. "Good morning, baby." Tara whispered, her gaze fixed, like Willow's, out into the garden.

"Mornin'." She answered warmly, easing back into the tight embrace.

"You're up very early." Tara's smile was evident in her tone, Willow closed her eyes, and again images of Tara came readily to her. "What are you doing out here?"

She paused, taking in their yard one last time before turning in the embrace, and placing a kiss on her girlfriend's expectant lips. She wrapped her arms around Tara's neck, snuggling her body in. Muffled, she replied, "Reading your book."

She didn't look up, but she heard the surprise in Tara's voice. "Oh." There was a pregnant pause. "Why?" Tara's voice was smaller now, the calm of sleepiness wearing off into slight panic.

Willow laughed, and finally raised her face to meet Tara's gaze. The evidence of her crying was clear. "I never did." She smiled, moving a hand to cup the woman's cheek. "I thought it was time now."

"I suppose I should be happy you're taking an interest in my work." The teasing tone was back.

"You know I have a great interest in your work."

Tara couldn't help but smile at that. "So you showed me last night. Quite the inspiration, you are." A quiet calm grew between them as they gazed at each other. "I thought you read it years ago."

Willow glanced down shyly. "I couldn't. When I knew it was yours, that you had written it, I couldn't read it. I knew it was about us, and I didn't want to know that you had exorcised me by writing your book."

"Exorcised you?" Tara asked.

"That you used your book as a way to get over me." Willow responded.

Tara's hold on her tightened. "And now?"

"Now I'm just sad for us." Willow's eyes opened in panic, and she rushed to continue. "The us in your book. We lost each other." She sighed, tracing her fingers over Tara's face. "I can't imagine a world where that would happen."

Tara nodded, understanding. "I was lost when I wrote it."

"I found you." Willow's fingers dropped back, her arm wrapping back around Tara's neck.

She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the redhead's lips. "I found you." She smiled, kissing up Willow's chin before resting her lips against her ear. "I'll always find you." She murmured.

"Or Dawn will find us." Willow grinned.

Tara's head flew back, and she caught sight of her girlfriend's grin, and they both began to laugh. "Dawn will always find us."

"That's so true, it's scary." They continued to laugh, unencumbered by worry. "I love you."

"I love you too, baby." Tara led them back to the swing, and they sat, sipping their coffee, and watching the sun light up their yard with the day.

Sunnydale, California
June, 2012

The clinking of glass and bottles was ignored as the party was cleaned up around them. Slightly drunk and more than happy, the seven of them sat around the last table, drinking the end of their cocktails, refusing to allow the night to end.

"Does anybody else think they've made a terrible mistake?" Buffy whined from her seat, eagerly awaiting back up from any one of her friends.

"Aww, c'mon, Buffster, it's not hard to see that those crazy kids really care about each other." Xander responded, resting a hand on Buffy's shoulder in a symbol of solidarity.

"It's just, they haven't been together that long! It's only been a few years, and we're all still so young, I just don't know if I'm ready for this." Buffy bit her lip and looked up at Xander, her eyes pleading with him.

"Look at it this way, B - there's nothing you can do about it now." Buffy sighed as Faith spoke up, returning from the bar with a fresh round of drinks.

"Doesn't mean I have to like it." She responded, before picking her new drink up, and offering the girl a look of thanks.

Giles nodded. "Don't worry, Buffy." He responded kindly, offering her a smile. "I believe those two have a real chance together."

"Listen to the G-Man, B, he's got years of experience at this marriage thing." Faith dropped her body into a seat beside Buffy.

Buffy nodded reluctantly. "I suppose you're right, I guess there's just a part of me that's not ever going to be ready to deal with it."

"Like how you can't deal about sex?" Anya asked, her face the perfect picture of innocence as she sipped from the straw of her fruity drink, the paper umbrella brushing against the top of her lip.

Buffy sighed, long suffering. "No, Anya. Not like sex at all."

"An's got a point there, Buff, you are kind of a no go on the sex life these days." Xander helpfully filled in from his supportive position behind her. A position that in no way spared him from the death glare that came his way.

"Well, it's hard when everyone around me is so... active."

"Especially your sister!" Anya exclaimed happily.

"Anya!" The voice came from behind them, and the assorted group turned to see Willow and Tara approaching from the direction of the bathroom. "You shouldn't be making Buffy feel bad, especially not today." Tara chastised her long time friend. "And you all shouldn't be helping."

Looking appropriately remiss, they all muttered apologies directed towards Buffy, who positively beamed at the kindness of someone who finally stood up for her. Which is probably why she was so shocked as Willow chimed in, "Especially since Dawn's been at it like a rabbit lately!"

Faith let out a throaty laugh as Anya nodded her approval. Giles' glasses were swept off of his face in a familiarly comforting gesture, and Buffy and Xander sat with their mouths open, staring at their best friend - who never used to say things like that. "Willow." Tara was the only one who could answer, though even she seemed to be fighting back a chuckle. "Leave your friend alone." After all, Dawn had been staying with them recently, and it wasn't entirely untrue.

Willow's laughing eyes caught Buffy's, and she grinned. "Sorry. I get into the spirit of teasing and I just can't stop myself."

Tara threw a look at Willow, and they both sat with the rest of the group. Tara offered some kindness. "Buffy, she looked beautiful today. She was so happy."

Buffy's eyes filled with tears again. "I can't believe my Dawnie got married."

"It is hard to believe the Dawnster beat us all out." Xander kissed the top of Buffy's head as he finished speaking. Giles coughed, and Xander quickly added, "Except Giles. Giles was married in the Stone Age."

Before Giles could object, Anya exclaimed, "Ha! More like the Stoned Age. You guys should really see some of the photos from his wedding."

Out of politeness, Buffy, Xander, Tara, and Willow all managed to hold back their chuckles. Faith, on the other hand, joined Anya in nearly spitting out her drink with laughter.

"Yes well, I'm so glad I've made friends with you lot. Lesbians, neurotics and sex addicts - at least I manage to hold my tongue." Giles sighed, finally placing his glasses back on his face in time to see them all holding their tongues. He rolled his eyes. "Alright, time then for old men to get some rest." He stood. "Congratulations Buffy." He raised his glass and a genuine smile creeped onto his face. "Congratulations to our little family." To the toast, they all raised their glasses. After he downed his, Giles slid away from the table, pressing a hand into Buffy, and then Tara's shoulders and heading out the door.

They all called out various forms of "goodnight, Giles", and turned back to their conversation. They were so involved, they missed the bride and groom sneaking back into the ballroom. A very happy Dawn pounced on her sister. "Hi guys!" She called, as Buffy let out an "oomph." Justin slid into a seat next to Xander and Faith, who slapped him on the back in congratulations.

"What are you doing down here?" Willow asked, happy to see them.

"Dawn missed you guys." Justin smiled at his new bride. "Besides, we don't leave for the honeymoon until the morning, so we figured - why not hang out with the family?"

Dawn smiled back at Justin adoringly, before shifting her gaze back to the group. "We love you all. Thank you so much for all of your help. We never could have done this without you!" Buffy and Tara made no effort to hide their tears as they looked proudly on the two recent college graduates. Faith and Xander both conveniently got "something in their eye", and glanced away. Dawn leaned down to whisper to her sister. "And thank you. For everything. And for giving me away." She smiled, and placed a kiss on her forehead that echoed Xander's from before. Her eyes raised from Buffy to Xander. "And thank you for being my big brother." Dawn ignored the tears welling up in her eyes, content that they were out of gratitude. "So, who's getting me a drink?"

"That would be me. What would you like?" Justin jumped up.

"Woah dude, you are way whipped." Faith rose with him, before casting a wink to Dawn. "Way to go, Dawnie." Justin and Dawn grinned at each other in response. "Eww, enough, let's just go get you two some drinks."

Dawn rose from Buffy's lap, and strode over to Willow and Tara. "You know, without you two this wouldn't be possible."

"You would have found each other, Dawn." Willow responded.

"Maybe, yeah. But... it was because of you two that I believe it's possible to have a good marriage."

Tara looked at Dawn quizically. "We're not married."

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Really? 'Cuz, duh." She knelt between them. "What I mean is, it's because of you two that I believe it's possible that love can be enough. You waited eight years for each other, and I think that the truth is, you would have waited much longer. And that is amazing. Enough to make even the most hardened cynic..." Dawn glanced over her shoulder, purposefully shooting Buffy a look, "believe in love."

"Dawn, I don't know what to say." Tara responded, crying again.

"Don't say anything. Just, thank you." Dawn wrapped Tara in a hug before turning to Willow. "And thank you for being my sister, too. You mean the world to me." She wrapped her arms around Willow as well. Pulling back, she shifted her gaze mischeviously from one of them to the next. "Now, when are you two going to get married?"

Portland, Oregon
January, 2009

Willow snored. It was adorable, really, in the face of everything else that the redheaded wonder of a girl was, she was a snorer. Over the past few months, Tara had spent more than one night lying awake in her bed, listening to her new girlfriend. Not only did she snore, but she also had a habit of speaking while she slept. For the most part, this was a harmless thing to do, she often spoke nonsensical things that almost certainly related to her dreams. There was, however, the odd evening when the things Willow said were not nonsensical at all. Tara was certain they were related to her dreams the same way the other things Willow said were, except on these few occassions, Willow said truly dirty things. Amazingly dirty things. The kind of things that woke Tara up from a sound sleep because her sleeping brain found them arousing enough to force Tara awake. Suddenly. The first time it happened, Tara's eyes were open only for a moment before she heard her girlfriend.

"I need to be inside you. Please, let me fuck you." Willow's voice was clear as day, and Tara, for all of her lack of sleep, had been perfectly willing to let her girlfriend do whatever she needed. She wanted to fulfill all of Willow's needs. So when she had turned towards her girlfriend, pulling on the redhead's hand to push it down her pajamas, she was... surprised... when Willow let out a moan of dissatisfaction, and turned on her side away from her. This had led to the first of Tara's "Willow talks in her sleep" discoveries.

Tonight, Willow was in rare form. "I'm so wet, please, fuck me, please. I'm wet for you, baby. I want you to fill me."

Tara followed her first instincts, and slipped her hand into her own pajamas, feeling a little guilty in the process. Still, the sound of Willow begging to be fucked didn't bode well for Tara sleeping soundly through the night. It would have been rude to wake up her girlfriend (especially since Tara had yet to mention her discovery for fear it would stop). She slipped a finger between her lips, and bit back the moan that came as she pushed down across her clit. Listening to Willow had made her very wet. She rolled her hips, and began a steady rhythm with her finger, circling her own clit and moaning into her pillow. Tara was close, but not nearly close enough as Willow began anew. "Fuck me, baby, please, so hard. I need you, fuck, yes, god, bigger, more, fuck."

Unable to control herself, she rolled onto her side, pushing into Willow's ass with her hips. Her head rolled back, and she thrust her hips forward, her finger still curled around her clit. She made no attempt to hold back the moans, desperately wanting Willow to wake up so she could comply with the redhead's requests.

Willow, for her part, was asleep - but not stupid. As the thrusting began, she felt herself being pulled out of her very satisfying dream, and back into it in her waking world. She felt Tara thrust against her ass, the hand that Tara had snaked down her own pajamas, and her own arousal. She moaned at the next thrust, and almost again when she heard Tara moan her name behind her.


Willow couldn't believe her luck. She had always imagined that she and Tara would have a healthy sex life, but nothing had prepared her for how amazing it actually was. In the past three months, her knowledge of her own sexuality and of sex in general had quadrupled with each experience they had together. After their first time, things between them had only gotten better, easier, sexier. Tara's continued moans and thrusts finally clued Willow in to the fact that something was happening without her.

"Baby?" She reponded to Tara's earlier inquiry.

"Oh." She moaned. "Thank God." She thrust. "You're awake."

"And you are...?" Willow asked, knowing the answer, but desperately wanting to hear it from her girlfriend's mouth.

"Fucking myself." The response was short in words, but long in action. Willow found herself suddenly pushed and thrust down as Tara climbed on top of her. She continued her thrusts, but now she brought herself down against Willow's pelvis, which instinctively rose to meet her. Willow's eyes sought Tara's, and when they met, a sexy smile sprung onto Tara's lips. Continuing to ride Willow, and reached and pulled her sleeping shirt up and over her head, her large breasts spilling out and bouncing with the rest of her body. Willow's hands reached up and cupped them, she arched her back up and took one in her mouth as her fingers grazed, tweaked, and gently pulled the other. She grazed the nipple with her teeth, trying to match Tara's bounces up, down, up, down. Tara's arms raised over her head, crossing at the wrists, and her blue eyes bore down at Willow beneath her. "Willow." She said the name like a statement, a command.

"Baby?" The answer was a question, Willow seeking direction from the goddess riding her lap.

"Are you wet?" Tara's voice was steel, her gaze soft, sensual.

"Soaked." Willow answered, raising her hips to meet Tara's thrust again.

"Do you want me to fuck you?" She asked, leaning forward and trapping Willow's face between her breasts, forcing her girlfriend back down onto the bed, and trapping her arms over her head.

"Yes." Willow breathed, too softly from between Tara's ample breasts.

"What baby?" Tara asked again, arching her back to trail a hardened nipple over Willow's cheek and dropping it into her mouth.

Willow's lips wrapped around the offering, and she sucked it deep into her mouth, once, twice, again, before releasing it and looking up into her girlfriend's eyes. "I want you to fuck me."

Tara's smile was predatory, and in a smooth motion, Tara and Willow's pants were sliding off of Willow's body. Tara trailed up Willow's left leg with her tongue and teeth, licking and nipping at the skin. She paid special attention to the freckles, humming to herself as she slowly edged up towards the intoxicating fountain of Willow. She placed a kiss at the apex of Willow's lips before trailing back down the right leg. Willow thrust her hips forward impatiently, not expecting Tara to slip easily through the river of her and slide three fingers deep inside.

Willow gasped, raising her hips off the bed. Tara pulled herself back up Willow's body, fingers still deep inside, and began placing light kisses all over the redhead's face. "Are you okay?" She whispered.

"I'm good." Willow replied shakily. "You're huge."

Tara grinned, before flexing her fingers inside of her girlfriend. "You like it?"

Willow experiementally raised her hips before slamming them back down, and moaned loudly. "I want it."

With a kiss, Tara began to pump her fingers in and out of her girlfriend, pinning her hips down with her stomach, and trailing down her neck. She began to murmur quietly under her breath, but Willow could hear her. "You talk while you sleep, normally cute little things, like, the monkey is attacking the licorice fort, or something silly. Very Willow, I like it. But sometimes, you start saying things." She reached her thumb up and caught Willow's clit. "Tonight you begged for someone to fuck you." She began a relentless pattern of running over it with alternating pressures, and felt Willow's muscles clench at her fingers. "I couldn't help myself." She stilled for a moment, pulling her fingers out to the tips. "I wanted to fuck you so badly." She pushed all three fingers hard and deep, causing Willow to throw her head back, calling out some expletive. Tara grinned, resuming the clit play. She licked a bead of sweat that had begun to roll down Willow's chest. "I want you." She twisted her hand inside of Willow, pushing all three fingers upward, and began to thrust at an angle.

Willow's hips leaped off the bed, and her mouth opened and words poured from it. "Oh fuck. Oh, fuck me. Oh fuck. Oh, God. Baby. Tara. Please. Oh, God. Harder. Oh, right there, baby, oh fuck me, please, I want it, I want you, please baby, Tara please hard, hard, hard."

Tara felt Willow's muscles begin to tighten around her fingers, saw her hands clench to fists, her words died down to incoherent moans, and Tara stopped all of her movements completely. "I want you, Willow." She repeated, her voice was rough from the flood of sex through her blood. She forced three quick thrusts into Willow, and the redhead's toes curled. A sure sign things had begun. She remained still inside of her girlfriend, waiting for the shaking to stop. Slowly, she pulled her fingers loose, and climbed till their faces met.

Willow's heavy breathing didn't stop her smile. "That's some way to wake up."

"I love you, Willow." Tara kissed each of Willow's eyelids in turn.

"I love you, Tara." They pressed their lips together, before melting back onto the bed. "Best time ever?" Willow asked after a pause. Her voice was as sleepy as it had been when she first felt Tara against her.

"Best time yet." Tara's lips kissed her lover's shoulder as they both drifted back to sleep.

Portland, Oregon
November, 2023

"We have a very special speaker today, as part of our Wordstock series. Early in her career, she wrote children's books, as well as erotic poetry compilations under the name Tara Adams. Please welcome her to the Wordstock Festival, you know her as Portland's own, Tara Maclay."

The audience erupted with applause as Tara took the stage with a smile. Her eyes swept over the crowd, resting finally on some distant spot in the back of the auditorium. The smile on her face changed over into a grin. "It's a great honor to be here today. I love Portland, and I love Wordstock. I've been coming to this festival ever since my career started, meeting authors I loved and celebrating words, language, and writing. In many ways, this City has been a lifesaver for me. So many good things have happened here, and I'm honored to be a respresentative of it to the world. As many of you probably know, my writing hasn't changed much over the years, and this is true in one very specific regard: I only write about one thing. My beautiful muse." She paused, her eyes moving back to that same spot in the distance. "My wife. Without her, I wouldn't be here. Thank you, baby. I love you." She shook her head, an attempt to refocus on the task at hand. "Today, I'm going to read you 'Landscape'."

bushes of thorns
frequent the landscape
sun sets
on breeze kissed cheeks
amphitheater echoes silence

our busied mouths foreground
lights up with the mood
blanketing wind curls
around our melded forms

elder couple
rooted at the ankles
limbs twisted around
each other
mirror our history and
smile wisely

are lost in the thaw
I can see the edge
of forever
and it glows


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