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20 November 2007 @ 11:45 pm
Tea for Two - (ficlet)  
It's been forever since I posted any fic, and I have been getting antsy. I was looking through my files and found this little ficlet that was meant to be a scene in a larger story that I never completed. So I'm brushing it off for your reading pleasure. It's my first time writing Tara. How very exciting!

Title: Tea for Two
Author: ClawofCat
Timing: Post- The Gift
Rating: PG
Pairing: Spike, Tara
Warnings: A touch of angst
Summary: Set some weeks after “The Gift,” Spike and Tara share a quiet moment over tea. 

Disclaimer: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No profit is gained from my writerly endeavors and no copyright infringement is intended.
The house was silent. Had been silent for some time, excluding the days when Dawn went from one room to another, slamming doors and howling. Those were far and few between now.
Spike sat at the dining room table, his fingers wrapped around a mug of blood. Have to remember to drink. He kept forgetting the first few weeks.
The absence of sound in the house – sound that would have been produced by Joyce and Buffy – made his skin crawl. As a vampire, he was haunted by their presence, ghostly scents clinging to seat cushions, bedspreads, rugs, and tablecloths. Though the smells slowly dissipated and were replaced by Glinda and Red’s, they still niggled his senses, making it so he could never forget. Not for one second.
A hushed swishing of skirts heralded Tara’s quiet entrance. It was just them and the Bit tonight. Willow had flown the coop two days past to drive to Los Angeles on errand for a few choice ingredients for a spell. She had been vague about how long she would be gone, and no one had pressed her for details. There was no point, not when everything was in shambles.   
“Tea for two, is it?” Spike’s eyes rose from where they were fixed on the table. He tried to summon up a smile as Tara approached, balancing a tray holding a teapot and two cups.
“I thought you could use some company,” she offered. Seating herself two chairs down from him, she arranged her skirt and idly fussed with the crockery. There was solace in their routine, a companionable quiet that he could nestle himself into. Tara seemed to feel the same, as it was always she that sought him out during these lulls in the evening.
“Thanks, pet.” The warmth of his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. “How’s Niblet?” he asked, slouching into his chair.
Her eyes darted away. The gesture was almost bashful, but he knew better. “She’s sleeping, but you might have to go up if - ”
“I know.” His eyes dropped back down resignedly. Some things just didn’t need saying. “’S what the blood is for. Need my strength to contend with the nightmares.” Most nights, it wasn’t just Dawn’s he had to contend with.
Tara nodded and pushed a saucer toward him, a hopeful expression on her face. The liquid was near-black. He could see bits of leaf floating at the bottom. None of that Yank teabag swill. She knew what was what.
“But h-how are you doing?” She pushed a few strands of hair behind her ears and looked at him worriedly, taking in his gaunt cheekbones, unkempt hair.
He waved her off. “Me? Don’t worry yourself.”
She wasn’t convinced.
“You should sleep. I can watch Dawn tonight.” He was about to protest, to say that it was a two person job, but she cut him off, her voice laced with genuine sincerity. “You’ve done so much for Dawn, for us, already.”
She slid her hand across the table and gently took his in her own. It was warmed from palming the tea.
“You’re a good girl,” Spike murmured, affection beginning to breathe life into his extremities. A tentative smile formed at the comment.
Looking away from her, he bit his lip, unwelcome tears pricking at his eyes. It had been so hard. He knew what it was to care for someone, had done so willingly for over a century, but it was nothing like this, the dense grief, the unending tears, the halting guilt. He felt like an accomplice, somehow causative of the absence in their lives. He had no frame of reference to process these feelings. How could he guide Dawn if he could barely keep it together himself? He had promised to care for her, swore that he…
He was drawn back to the now when a set of fingers came up to rest on his sharp cheekbone. Tara’s touch lingered there for some moments until she turned his face to her.
“She’s proud of you, you know. Wherever she is,” Tara whispered, lightly cupping his face. “It’s a fight to get through everyday, but you do it. For her, for Dawnie. You’re strong. She knew you would be.”
A tiny choked cry escaped his lips at the words, the pain passing through him in quiet sobs. There would be plenty more where that came from. It only took her coming to him in his sleep for fresh tears to fall.
Rising to stand at his side, Tara’s hands gently slid into the loose curls of his unattended hair. He jerked back at the unexpected contact, but at Tara’s hushed coo, he settled into her touch. She smelled of thyme and sage, subtle and unobtrusive. Everything about her was tempered, patient. 
When she stayed her hand, he felt a surprising calm wash over him. Light ripples slid through him and around him, hugging him close. The soothing energy and its ethereal embrace emanated from her, he realized.
He reached for words, tried to offer her something, but her voice brushed the silence first. “Sometimes you have to get it out. It’s good, not holding it in.”
Twisting loose strands of Spike’s hair in her hands she smiled crookedly, a few dimples forming at the corners of her mouth. “Come on. I’ll bleach your hair for you.”
He quirked an eyebrow at her unexpected offer, searching her face for an explanation. Her eyes glinted playfully.
“It’s st-starting to look a little p-poncey,” she got out. Withdrawing her fingers, she tried to keep her grin from bursting through.
Although joyous moments were few and far between in the Summers household, Spike realized mirth hadn’t abandoned them yet, and let out an amused bark of laughter, his shoulders shaking with release.  

ldyavalonldyavalon on November 21st, 2007 05:31 am (UTC)
If anybody could understand Spike's grief, it would be Tara.

Beautifully written :)
ClawofCat: spikesmilesclawofcat on November 21st, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was really lovely writing this scene. Tara and Spike just make me go "awww." She's such a kind soul, so compassionate, and an influence that Spike could definately use in his life. I wish there was more Spara out there *turns to mush*
M: ComicB Willow cute hairspankulert on February 1st, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
Beautiful fic. Loved how her offering to cleach his hair again towards the end conveyed so much of a deeper relationship. Tara really would have been the mother/caretaker of the household because it just comes so naturally to her.
ClawofCat: Sparaclawofcat on February 3rd, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's somewhat surprising to me that there aren't more fics set in the summers between seasons of BtVS. That's three or four months of accountetd Scoobie time that we were never shown, which creates the potential for so many possibilities. I believe that Tara likely did take up a lot of Joyce-like roles in Buffy's stead, and became the primary caretaker with Spike supplementing a lot of attention on Dawn. Given the amount of time we're meant to infer he spent with them, it makes sense to me that he and Tara would have developed a considerable bond over Dawn, at the very least. She has a beautiful kind soul, and I like thinking of their interactions in this way. She always was surprisingly nonjudgemental concerning Buffy's confession about sleeping with Spike, and even somewhat justified his love for her. *sigh* Never enough Spara in the world. Maybe I'll write some more of them in the future.
M: Spike so I was a bad man yeahspankulert on February 3rd, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
There aren't? Huh. I would have thought there'd be tons. Don't have much of an overview myself, just started reading/writing fic about 2 months ago so...

hehe she wasn't always so non-judgemental though. When they thought S/B was going on(ByffyBot incident) her reaction was more like "What? No. She's crazy!" It did always strike a wrong cord with me how hostile they got against Spike when she came back though, what with him hanging/fighting with them all summer.
caraway_caraway_ on June 1st, 2008 06:46 am (UTC)
That was a lovely moment. Thanks!
ClawofCat: Sparaclawofcat on June 1st, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. This scene is one of my favorites. It just makes me want to write more Tara. She's such a dear. If only a plot bunny or opportunity would arise!

Out of curiosity, how did you find your way to my LJ? I haven't seen you here before and I always like to get acquainted with everyone. :)
dragonflylady77: angel hairdragonflylady77 on August 18th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
Hi! Thanks for linking me to this gorgeously sad story. I found it quite heartbreaking and beautiful. You wrote Tara so true.
I always did wonder too about the Spike hating in season 6 after he helped them all that summer. Maybe they felt so guilty about the ripping Buffy out of Heaven thing that they took it out on him cos he was there and in love with Buffy and formerly evil and quietly supportive and they hated that about him?

Have I mentioned I suck at analysing things?? :)
ClawofCat: pondersclawofcat on August 19th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for linking me to this gorgeously sad story. I found it quite heartbreaking and beautiful. You wrote Tara so true.
Your welcome! And thanks for reading it. It's one of my personal favorites. After writing this I've really wanted to write Tara again, but alas, no plot bunnies have nipped me in the arse yet. I think it does follow the "Shallow Cuts" story quite well though. I'll pretend it's my personal canon.

As for the dislike of Spike in Season 6, I actually don't think anyone really disliked him except maybe Xander, who was perhaps more dismissive of his feelings, if anything, until he slept with Anya (and had a right to be majorly upset about that.) Tara playdully teases him in "Older and Far Away," I don't recall Willow even having any scenes with Spike. Giles was in England and Dawn barely interacted with him, as well (boo!). It wasn't until the end of the season when the attempted rape came out that people started to really get upset with him. Up until that point, nearly all of Spike's scenes were exclusively with Buffy.

And it never hurts to try and have a go at analyzing things. That's what LJ is here for. To try and work up the nerve to discuss common interests with people :)
dragonflylady77dragonflylady77 on August 19th, 2008 08:36 am (UTC)
Hey you're right.. Oh there was that time when Willow crashed the car with Dawn in it and Spike and Buffy arrived but he did seem to spend most of his time with just Buffy. Sad for Dawn really. Well, and him.

Re the last point, I always sucked at essays when I was at Uni cos of that. If people make me think about it, then yes, I get there, but by myself? I think my brain just enjoys it, yanno, top layer. I feel very dumb saying that.. Oh well.. *sigh*
Not My First Timelizette77 on August 25th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
nice. I love s/t or even s&t do u have anymore? It's hard to find much spara. I'm really a diehard spuffy freak. But a good spara or spawn really hits the spot. Thxs
ClawofCat: Sparaclawofcat on August 25th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
I very much enjoy Spara, as well, but this is my only piece with the two of them to date. It's a relationship that I would love to explore further in the future.

I'm really a diehard spuffy freak.
Well, hee, if you look over to the right of my sidebar, it's pretty obvious that Spike and Buffy get starring roles in about half of my fics. But following them, Spawn is 100% my fave. And Faith/Angel and... lots of others. It's all about the het whoever it may be for me.
Not My First Timelizette77 on August 26th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely gonna take a look at ur spuffy I just read "Out of Africa" *fans face*. Also I'm trying to write my first fic right now and I'm not sure how to find a beta. Any suggestions?
ClawofCat: fangel wisdomclawofcat on August 26th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to write my first fic right now and I'm not sure how to find a beta. Any suggestions?
Sure! I guess the first question to ask is what pairing are you writing? The Bloodshedverse, which is a Spuffy archive, has a thread on their forum specifically for those either willing to beta or looking for a beta. If your story is Spuffy, you could make a post there advertising what the story is about and what you would like from a potential beta. Some people are great at grammar and typo/catching, others are better content editors (like myself) who can help with characterization, plot, pacing and style. When it comes to Spuffy, I would always specify whether it is canon or AU/AH as some people will flat out not read AH stories. Of course, there are plenty who will :)

If your story is not Spuffy (and even if it is), you could appeal to your flist for help, approach an author who you would like to work with as your beta, or post to riters_r_us. The community frequently discusses the mechanics of writing and many of its members are betas themselves, including the moderator.

I'm also going to link you to a post recently made by my beta/betee eowyn_315: Beta Thoughts. Although this post was actually geared toward betas themselves, you might find it useful because it describes the editing process a bit and what type of feedback you might expect to get from a beta.

I hope this is helpful to you. And, since I'm curious now, what is your story about, hun?
Not My First Timelizette77 on August 26th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
I know The Bloodshedverse, that's a great idea.

My fic is spuffy and it is AU/AH. One where they meet as children are great friends then have a fallling out as teens (with all that teen sexual angst) then they meet up later in life and try to work it out.

I got the idea from reading 1974 by Mrs. Muir (great ficlet..if u do AH)
Thxs for ur help!