Disclaimer: Doctor Who and BtVS do not belong to me, they belong to the BBC and Joss Whedon *pouts*
Tara bit her lip and sighed as she stepped out of the Magic Box and onto the Californian sunshine. Willow seemed to be on the road to recovery, and she was glad of it, but every time she saw her, and looked into those green, sorrowful eyes, she seemed only capable of feeling pain.
Willow, her soul mate…and her betrayer.
She had invaded her mind and manipulated her. It was hard thing to forgive, maybe even impossible…and yet, she still loved her. Slowly, Tara strolled down the street as she examined her heart. If she’d been asked only a few short months ago whether she could envision a future without Willow in it, she would have laughed in their face. Willow was her air, and her sun, and the moon, and the stars. Willow was the woman she’d been destined to love.
And all that was now left was pain and ashes.
Tara felt the tears rise up and angrily blinked them away. She had shed enough tears, felt enough sorrow. If only she didn’t feel so alone…
She halted at the corner of the small street, suddenly not wanting to go back to her small, empty apartment. Longingly, she looked across the street, at the small café filled with laughter and people. Her life had circled around Willow and the Scoobies for so long that the few friends she had made before they’d become a couple had long since drifted away and, while Buffy and Dawn still regarded her as a friend, Willow was family, and so she came first.
Tara smiled wryly as she turned the corner. This wasn’t the first time she’d walked through life alone; when her mother died, she’d thought she die from the loneliness. But she hadn’t, she’d survived, and she’d survive this. Tara Maclay was made of sterner stuff than people realised.
She quickened her pace as she felt her resolve stiffen. So maybe things weren’t perfect right now, maybe the future didn’t shine as brightly as it once had, but it was still no excuse to give up on life. The world was still full of beauty and possibilities; all she had to do was grasp them. And she would, starting today…
Tara halted in her tracks as she realised that she’d taken a wrong turn and ended up at the park. While her mind had decided to move on, her feet had let her down. The park had been one of her and Willow’s favourite haunts; they used to walk through it every day on the way back from college.
She remembered, with perfect clarity, the last time they’d been there; she’d been so happy, so in love, and she’d literally sung her love at the top of her voice. That had also been the day she’d discovered Willow had put a spell on her. The day Willow had broken her heart in two.
Tara gazed at the park, lost in her memories, had that really happened only a few weeks before? She looked at the pristine lawns, the leafy trees, and the row of park benches that lined the street. It looked exactly the same, except…it didn’t.
Frowning, Tara squinted against the sunlight and looked at the large blue box that stood solidly beside one of the benches. It was strange; it looked so out of place, yet people walked by it without so much as a second glance. Little warning bells went off in the back of her mind. This was Sunnydale, Hellmouth central, who knew what the box contained?
Tara absently pulled a stray lock of hair behind her ear as she let her gaze fall onto the bench beside it. On it sat a man, his long arms extended along the back of the bench, his head thrown back in the sun. He was dressed rather formally, by Californian standards, in a brown pinstriped suit and a long camel coloured coat, but a small, lopsided smile hovered on his lips, at odds with his attire. All in all, he looked like a man in perfect repose.
And it was all a lie. Tara knew that with every fibre of her being. This man was alone and in pain, and it emanated from him like a dark, viscous cloud. Before she even knew what she was doing, she was crossing the street, the instinct to help overriding her caution. It wasn’t until she reached edge of the bench that her step faltered. What in Hades was she doing? Hadn’t her time with the Scoobies taught her anything?
“So, are you just going to stand there all day, or are you going to say something?” Tara jumped as his dark eyes flickered open, and pinned her with an intent gaze.
“S-s-sorry,” she said, feeling her cheeks heating as she stammered. “I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“Nothing wrong with being a little rude, if it’s in a good cause.” His smile widened on his pale, angular face as he slid over and made room for her. “Sit down,” he said, then tilted his head as she hesitated. “I don’t bite…promise.”
Tara smiled, despite herself. He really did have an endearing manner, and his accent reminded her of Giles. “You’re British?” she asked shyly as she perched on the edge of the seat.
“No, not exactly,” he prevaricated. “I’m from somewhere…very far away.”
Her eyes automatically slid to the blue box, and the stranger laughed under his breath. “Observant little thing, aren’t you?”
“W-w-what is it?” Tara blurted out.
“It’s my home.” The pain was now roiling off him in waves, and Tara resisted the urge to flinch.
“It doesn’t look very roomy,” she ventured as she met his eyes. She regretted almost instantly. It was like looking in to a deep, black well; so filled with loneliness it almost took her breath away.
The stranger stiffened. “Well, well, well, aren’t you a turn up for the books,” he said softly as he sat up straight. “Haven’t met one of you
in a long, long while.”
Tara smiled nervously. “One of me?”
“Witch,” he said succinctly. “And one with a considerable amount of power at that.” He leaned forward, his nose almost meeting hers as his dark gaze searched her eyes. “Beautiful,” he whispered. “All bright and white, not a shred of darkness. Quite a feat, considering what we’re sitting on.”
Hastily, Tara dropped her gaze, and the stranger chuckled. “I’m the Doctor,” he proclaimed, sticking out his hand.
Cautiously, Tara shook it. “Tara,” she offered.
“Ah, Tara, seat of royalty, suits you.” Her hand was still enveloped in his as he stood. “Tell me, Tara, do you want to see something wondrous? Because I do; I really, really do.”
There was a smile on his face, and a cheerful lilt to his voice, but the grief and longing leeched through it all. He was so alone, so desperately alone. “You’re not human, are you?” she asked gently.
A shadow passed across his face. “No, I’m not,” he said solemnly. “Does it matter?”
Tara asked herself as she examined his pensive face and felt the warmth of his hand. Surprisingly, the answer came easily. No, it didn’t. Tara slowly got to her feet and smiled tentatively. “I’d love to see something wondrous,” she told him. “I really, really would.” TBC