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title (> Call It Another Name
author (> Briar
feedback (> Criticism welcome. Please send feedback to "I feedback therefore I am"
distribution (> list archives only, my site
rating (> PG13, mild R
summary (> Things are changing, and sometimes they break apart.
fandom (> BtVS, season 6 spoilers
disclaim(> Joss thunk it up.
dedication (> To the archivists because you do it for the love. Also celebrating the new BFA-L archive.
notes(> Thank you to Isabeau for beta. Also, Saber for imput and CGB for suggesting "The Plumes." Thanks to Dani and Soulstar for encouragement.

How does it happen that a self-described magicks junkie walks down a dirty alley in the middle of night, shuffling through sludge and dirty puddles that exist in scarred concrete, in an alleyway full of wet stink, something rotten --

But it's not Denmark, just a dark slinky place full of detritus; the crap that was here earlier, it's gonna be the same stuff that will come back tomorrow.

But it's dark, and it's cold. Somebody alone and full of badness, somebody good is walking down this alley, on this particular night, because Dawnie is out on a sleepover and "You don't mind, do you?" with Buffy's wide, calm eyes, that are deader than fish, sometimes they're as dead as the dust she must surely breath nightly, night after night, killing the same thing she's fucking right now.

When Buffy looks at Willow on nights just like this, it goes without saying and is kept the unspoken.

"You, of all people, must surely understand."

So it's night. And there's Willow. There is Willow in the night.

And wouldn't you know it, fuck, couldn't you figure---how the fuck did she get here anyways? How do her cutesy little witchy-mojo Willow feet know to take her here, now. This place, this empty spot.

The air vibrates; is she imagi- no. She clenches her brain, fingers almost frozen clutching the insides of her coat pockets with the same vehemence and fury that sent all her shit to hell.

Sent everything hurtling, like skidding tires. Away. Off.

Everything. Every one.

The air vibrates; if it's shaking, it is only her own shivers.

This is the spot that Amy brought her to, excited and grateful for all those times Willow would sit in front of the cage while Tara was at class, and read aloud spells to do like bedtime stories.

When Willow figured out, that the "Reading Spell for Rodents" might work, and would let Amy run around the room, books strewn across the floor for a little mammal's nose to poke and sniff. Books were left open for beady black eyes to read.

It must have worked, 'cause how else could Amy have learnt so much as a rat-witch without even graduating high school, much less reaching third level status. Not too heavy on the dark, with a couple of black tricks. Third level "fooling around with the bad stuff. The fun stuff..." So much fun, that people almost died.

Somebody almost got hurt. Oh, yeah. Wait, that's right. Somebody did.



Her heart has frozen over, and so now she's imagining things.

"Ta- //gasp/cant/be

/cantbreathe/oh// "Tara."

What, she's making it up now? Heart caught, pretending to see things she can't have.


It's not really a question, more a statement of surprise. Tara astounded, like being hit with something her sensibility doesn't want and didn't need to consider tonight.

Exhale. Exhale.

"Oh, geez. Tara."

"But you don't believe in Jesus."

It hits Willow like a couple of bricks from a super soaker, except it's all dry, full of pain like bullets of ice and the redhead's forehead scrunches as she keeps her mouth open.

That was a quick response, for a Tara. A Tara that's clearly marked 'Can't Touch This.'

"Why wouldn't you return my calls?"

"The motel's cheaper without the phone, besides which, I'm making that up. 'Cause I didn't want to hear it."

"It's been a month." The whisper sounds plaintive, whiny even to Willow's ears.

Tara-mouth used to kiss, lick and nibble...

"A couple of weeks, but who's counting."

The Magic Shop, and nobody there. So a Willow grabbed a Tara as gently as she could muster, but needy, by the waist, because She in gold letters was already turning to leave and would walk out the door and Willow wasn't ready to hear that little bell ding, and "Please" oh please, so yes, that brief moment. A kiss, a rub, a wetness and sigh. But before clothes fastening open, she'd opened her mouth to begin but the blonde put a finger to her lips. Don't Speak. A condition, met by assent.

She had moaned anyway.

"Why are you "

"Why am I what?"

"Speaking so fast."

"It's cold. I want to go inside."


"Tara, if all we can be is be friends...Dawn misses you..."

"Willow, please don't pull any cards with me. You don't need to do that."

"You're being..." she trails off not uncertainly, but from the pain. It's very hard to get used to.

Moon, Star, Sun. The planets revolving, a tipping of scales. Justice, blind; some vaguely ugly man in dark robes with a scythe. She could be wrong; right now, Willow's confused. An old hag, bitter and alone.

A tarot of ash, like a wick after it blows out. The light, how it bounces off Tara-hair.

It's a very specific glint when you're looking for it. Like a prism catching moonsun starshine, but velvet, soft with a scent.

So the other is silent, with watchful eyes, like so many other times. But all things are not as they should be, and they both know who has the say-so this time around, who now held the cards.

"What is it? What am I being?" Finally, it was easy to stop holding it in; Willow breaks.

"Stop it! Stop it!! Why do you--"'

"Why do I what? Why was it always me?" Tara's voice is louder, less upset and in control.

"Why are you doing this?"

Now they have upset each other just as much. Tara speaks clearly, miserably.

"Haven't you figured it out? It's not me, Willow, it's you. It's not just the magic. You push people to suit whatever it is you think ought to be. But that doesn't make it right. You want to get your way, the only way-- and you slap people around."

Tara Maclay turns from her lover, ex, recent as last week or has it been forever? She turns and walks and says it in low tones that echo for the other person standing, in the alley, watching her leave:

"I've got to go."

Giles' hand was heavy, it smarted. She swallowed the sting then because it had felt like a badge of pride. Precious and strong as metal, now reversed so that she had none left to swallow. All was gone but for the sting.

When Dawn hit her and gave smack, it had got a drop of blood or two in it. Goes with somebody trying to press against a wound to stop the bleeding. Splatter, just flecks. But the magicks-bruised body was sensitive and vibrating. Willow imagined she'd felt the red spray of a microscopic wave.

A tidal, when earth turned to sky and heavens combined to mix into water. Small as a puddle.

To her, it had felt like a tsunami.

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