a/n: Sorry its been over a week....got hit by flu season.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: PRESENT DAY
Tara sighed, looking across to Buffy on the couch. “That was the night before I was shot.”
Buffy sat quietly, digesting what Tara had told her. Surprised that her friend had told another about the Hellmouth and Slayers, but trusting Tara to know that she could trust this Amanda person with that information. Buffy knew Tara had paused at this point because it was right before her traumatic death. She decided that some humor was in order.
“It’s a very interesting story so far, Tara. However I must take exception to something you told Amanda about me.” Buffy said with stern tone to her voice.
Tara thought she knew what Buffy was talking about. “I’m sorry for telling her about you being the Slayer Buffy, but I trusted her.” Tara lowered her eyes, looking at the wine in her glass.
Buffy shook her head, a sly gleam in her eye. “No, I trust you Tara. That’s not my problem. I have a problem with you telling Amanda that I am so straight and would never contemplate being with a woman, much less you.”
Tara’s eyes snapped up to stare at her friend in shock. For the first time in over a year, she could do nothing but stutter. “Wh – Wh – Wh…” Tara trailed off, knowing she could not even complete the one word.
Buffy smiled before leaning across the table. She reached out with one finger and gently used it to close Tara’s mouth. Leaning back, she kept her eyes on Tara. “Let’s just say that I contemplated another woman before you and I even met. I was too… well I wasn’t ready for those thoughts back then, More recently I’ve dealt with those thoughts in a…” She paused before stressing the next word. “…very physical way.”
Buffy smirked as the blonde witch blushed a deep red, even falling in to her old habit of hiding behind her hair. Buffy continued her teasing tone. “And I also have a problem with you thinking I could never contemplate you as a woman I might find an interest in. I have to admit to you that when I broke down in your lap about Spike and you not only comforted me, but so easily and lovingly forgave me, I wanted to kiss you in more than just a peck on the cheek kind of way.”
Tara glanced back at Buffy, seeing the truth in her eyes. Suddenly she laughed, “Now, that may have changed a lot of what happened three years ago.” She paused. “As long as we are being honest here, I’ll admit to some interesting thoughts going through my head when you had your head in my lap back then.”
Now it was Buffy’s turn to blush, and Tara laughed some more. “Thank you, Buffy.”
“For making me laugh. The next part of my story is painful for me, so I guess the sooner I tell it, the sooner we can talk some more about certain thoughts we were both having when your head was in my lap.”
“Just be happy Slayer, I’m going to spare you the details of the reunion between Willow and I.”
Buffy blushed as Tara giggled.
SUNNYDALE, CALIFORNIA 2002
Tara heard the gunshots. She felt pain erupt in her back and chest. She was looking at Willow when she saw the red heads favorite shirt sprayed with a thick red liquid. Even with all of the information she had, she couldn’t figure out why she suddenly felt so strange and tired. The only thing she could think about was Willow.
“Your shirt.” She said, as all strength left her. Tara knew she was falling, but she never felt herself land. Everything just stopped.
Tara gasped, eyes snapping open. It was either completely dark, or she was blind. She was also quite cold. Trying to move, she felt very confined. She was covered in some thick material. She was also naked.
Taking a deep breath, she calmed herself with a quick meditation. She remembered everything. She pieced together the information she had and realized she had been shot. She moved her right hand to her chest and felt nothing but skin. No wound or bandage. Pressing her hand up she came in contact with the thick vinyl material the surrounded her body. A zipper! She relaxed once more, meditating. She whispered a word and the zipper above her body began to open.
It was very cold. She still couldn’t see, so she created a small fairy light so she could look around and started to panic. She was in a body bag. The bag was in a small coffin like space with metal walls. She had some space to move and slowly she emerged from the body bag, pushing its sides underneath herself until she was on top of it. Instructing the tiny ball of light to move above her head, she looked for the door of the morgue tray she knew she was on. She sighed and directed the ball down toward her feet.
“Well, there’s the door Tara.” She whispered to herself. “Now what?”
She scooted down towards the door placing her feet against it. Sitting up as much as she could in the small space, she pushed as hard as she could. No movement. Sighing once more, she relaxed back down on the body bag. Closing her eyes, she gathered the magic energy from the earth and reached out with her mind.
The room outside of the door was dark but was not pitch black like where she was now. There was a wall with morgue twelve morgue tray doors. She gathered a small bit of air in the outside room and hardened it before slowly pinging it against each door. The fifth door she tried was hers. She let the hardened air go back to its natural state and opened the door to her body drawer. Pushing against the walls she slowly pushed out the body tray she was on.
Tara sat up and swung her legs around to the side of the tray and hopped off. Padding across the room to the desk there, she looked at the files corresponding to each door. Seeing her name on one, she snatched it while calling the fairy light over.
“Oh my Goddess.” She exclaimed to her self. The file explained in gruesome detail both the entrance and exit wounds on her body. There were even pictures of each. There were further details in the autopsy report and more pictures showing her chest opened in the standard way. The bullet had entered her back just left of her spine, passed through the right ventricle of her heart before shattering a rib on its way out the side of her left breast.
She slowly placed the file back on the desk, before again feeling her body. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Not even the scar from the autopsy was visible. She collapsed in to the office chair. The first thing that came to mind made her gasp. Quickly she searched for her pulse and was greatly relieved to find one. Her next thought was of Willow.
She picked up the phone and dialed the house. No answer. She tried the Magic Box and Xander’s with the same result. Placing the phone back she turned and looked around the room. The window showed it was night outside, and the clock on the wall read 2AM. She leaned back in the chair to think.
After a minute she looked around the room once more and saw a stack of boxes. She moved across the room to them, the fairly light floating behind her. One of the boxes had her name on it. She pulled her box out and opened it. Inside were the clothes she had been wearing when she was shot. The bra and shirt were a total loss but the sweat pants were serviceable. Deciding the half dressed was better than anything, she quickly donned the sweats. Looking back in the box she saw her small wallet and pulled it out along with a necklace she had been wearing. Tara placed the necklace in her pants pocket for now. Opening the wallet, a business card fell out and fluttered to the ground.
Picking up the card, she headed back to the phone. She knew this is what Amanda had meant when she said that Tara would know when she needed Amanda’s help. Tara had been dead and was now alive. Amanda’s aura had shown many lifetimes of experience. She must have known somehow. Quickly dialing the number on the card, Tara only had to wait for two rings before the other end picked up.
“Amanda? It’s Tara.” She said, her voice nervous.
“Tara, I am so sorry. Where are you?”
“I’ll explain later. Where are you now?” Amanda asked once more.
“The morgue. Umm, can you bring me a shirt?”
“Yes, I’ll be right there. Don’t move around and don’t go outside.”
“I certainly won’t do that.”
“Good girl. See you soon.”
Tara said goodbye and hung up the phone. Looking around the room once more, she saw a lap coat hanging on a hook near the door. She wrapped the lab coat around herself, sat back down in the office chair and waited for Amanda to arrive.
Just over ten minutes had passed when the door to the room quietly opened and Amanda slipped through. Seeing Tara, she crossed the room and handed her some clothes.
“Change in to those, you need to leave your other stuff here.”
“Why.” Tara asked.
“I’ll explain everything in a bit, right now I need you to trust me.”
Tara nodded once before Amanda spoke again. “Get changed, I’ll be right back.”
Once Amanda had left the room, Tara quickly changed out of the lab coat and sweats and into the clothes Amanda had brought. A minute later the door opened once more and Amanda came in dragging a few cardboard boxes loaded with phone books. Looking around the room she went to the still open body drawer. “Yours right?”
“Yea, what are you doing?”
“We’re making it so there won’t be any questions. Now give me a hand.”
Tara walked over and they placed the boxes in to the body bag. Amanda turned to Tara and said. “Now, first make the boxes meld together then cast a glamour on them so they appear to be you.”
Tara nodded and cast the spell. The boxes shimmered, almost melting together in a body sized lump. Another word from Tara caused the indeterminate mound to become a twin of Tara. Amanda zipped the bag closed and pushed the tray back in to the wall and shut the door.
Amanda walked over to the box that had held all of Tara’s personal effects. “Okay, put everything that was in here back inside.”
Tara put the necklace and wallet in first, followed by her sweats. Placing the bloody shirt and bra that must have been cut from her body on top of her sweats, she closed the lid to the box. Placing it back in the stack of boxes where she had found it, she turned once more to Amanda.
“Okay, put that lab coat back where you found it. Did you touch anything else?”
“Just my file on the desk, it goes in slot five.”
Amanda gathered up the file and placed it back while Tara hung the lab coat by the door. Walking back to the door to stand by Tara, Amanda gave the room one more look. “Oh, get rid of your fairy light.”
Tara ended the light spell and both women exited the room. They walked down a few hallways before coming to a door at the back of the building. Amanda handed her car keys to Tara. “Go ahead and get in the car. I used a lock pick to open this door, but it won’t lock it again. I’ll lock it from the inside and slip out a window and be with you in a minute. Then we’ll go somewhere and talk. I promise to explain everything.”
“Okay, and thanks Amanda.”
Amanda nodded and opened the door enough for Tara to slip outside before closing it once more and turning the lock. A minute later, Tara watched from the car as Amanda climbed out a second story window. She hung by one arm from the ledge while pulling the window back down. Once the window was closed, Amanda looked down before dropping gracefully to the ground. A half hour later, after a quick stop at a Wal-Mart for shoes and a late night drive through, both women entered Amanda’s hotel room.
As they ate, Tara relayed what had happened since they had parted the night before. First her reunion with Willow, leaving out the intimate details of course. Then she relayed the events of the morning up to the shooting and continuing from when she woke up at the morgue.
As they finished eating, Tara said, “I have to call Willow.”
Amanda reached across small hotel room table and grasped Tara’s hand. “I’m sorry Tara, but you can’t do that.”
“What do you mean?”
Amanda sighed. “Tara, you died. You need to remain dead to your friends. I know your friends could handle what you have become because of who they are and their knowledge of slayers and witchcraft, but you need to do this for you.”
“What I have become? What do you mean?” Tara asked, worried.
“Tara, you are now an Immortal. You need to cut ties with your past. You will need training, lots of it. Your magic gives you an advantage, but you are still like a lamb ready for slaughter. Some Immortals are like me, basically good people. We help new Immortals like you. But there are others, evil, and they wish nothing more than to cut off your head. You can die and come back. But if someone takes your head, you die forever. You live for as long as you keep your head. If you remain in contact with your friends and your life you will bring danger to them. Evil Immortals will use them against you. Plus you will have to watch them grow old and die while you remain exactly how you are now.”
Tara began to shake with nervous energy. “W-w-w-hat do you mean b-b-by someone t-t-taking my h-h-h-head?”
Amanda, still holding Tara’s hand, got up and took the single step needed to be next to Tara’s chair. Kneeling next to the chair, she brought her other hand up to Tara’s shoulder. “In short, Immortals fight each other in the Great Game. Sometime in the future, we don’t know when, will be The Gathering. At that point, all Immortals left will battle until there is only one left. There are all kind of theories on what will happen then, the Immortal will become ruler of the world, or perhaps lead mankind in to a golden age. We just don’t know. But we do know that every time an Immortal takes another’s head, they experience a Quickening. We basically absorb all the experience, skills and power of the one who’s head we take. You especially are in danger. Your magic will be very tempting for other Immortals. You need to train and prepare. I can help you, and I have friends who can help as well. We must leave this place.”
Tara slowly digested through everything Amanda had said. She knew Amanda spoke from experience but she just couldn’t leave Willow thinking she was dead. It would destroy her. “Amanda, I know you mean well, but Willow… She’s m-m-y everything. She’ll be destroyed by this.”
“Tara, I know you love her. I’ve only known you for a short time and I wish I had the kind of love you share with her. But think about this. If you go back to her now, especially without training, you will make her extremely happy once more until another Immortal comes along and take your head. That will destroy her even more than your apparent death now would. Even worse is what an Immortal could potentially do to your friends, especially those without power, just to throw you off balance. What if an immortal went after the Slayers sister you told me about, just to get at you?”
Tara thought about Dawn. Knowing Immortals could get around much better in public than demons or vampires, she knew Dawn would be at risk. So would Xander and Giles.
“Perhaps you’re right. But I need to check on Willow. Make sure she’ll be okay. Then I’ll go with you.”
Amanda leaned back on her heels, seeing the resolve in the young witch’s face. “Okay Tara. We’ll check in on her. But she can’t see you or know you are there. We’ll make sure she and your friends will be all right.”
Tara, tears in her eyes, nodded to Amanda. “Thank you.”
Authors Note, Added 1/18/2013, 4 years after this chapter was released.
Well. It has been a long time. Why you ask? The story had been fully written. Sadly, not long after posting the 4th chapter, I lost my job and apartment. I was even homeless for awhile. In that time, I lost all of my saved data. It has been a long struggle to get back to a place somewhat stable. Reading things on this site actually helped with some of my depression over these past four years, but I just couldn't find it in me to write. Especially to rewrite something I had completed. I would never match what I had or be happy with the new. To be honest, I have little memory of what I had written. I will post a couple of details that I do remember to help folks have some sense of where the story would go.
There would have been a training flashback or two with Tara and Duncan. The gym in St. Louis is copy of Duncan's in Seacouver. Think of it as a small chain. Duncan began to set up a couple of his trainees in business. Tara's gym is a franchise. Surpisingly, she's a darn good boxing coach!
Buffy is immortal now, but not in the Highlander way. She is not part of The Game. She doesn't produce the warning to Highlander immortals. She would not receive a quickening. The discovery of her immortality would have happened in the story.
Tara and Willow would not have met in the story, nor would Buffy ever tell Willow about Tara. In fact she would not have informed the council about immortals at all. The two watcher councils has once been linked long ago....think pre-Christ. Buffy's council was still aware of the other before the attack on council headquarters in season 7 (Giles never knew). The immortal watcher's council was aware of Slayers up until the black death, when through a combination of death from disease and the Slayer Council shenanigans, they lost the knowledge.
Dawn was scheduled to make an appearance. She is just nosy enough to find out about Tara. Buffy and Tara would have convinced her to keep silent. She would do the research and find info about the immortal watchers in the slayer watchers archives and conveniently lose that info. She would, at first, not like Tara/Buffy but wouldn't take too long to change her mind.
The vampire army that was being created was a direct threat of another immortal (original character) targeting Tara and her magic. This character was unaware of slayers. Amanda and Mythos are aware of slayers, Duncan was not until after the eventual Duncan-Buffy training showdown with Tara watching from the sidelines with a lovely smirk.... :)
Tara, as a new immortal, is resistant to the game. After some time spent with Cassandra she slowly realizes she needs to fight and protect herself from those who would use her quickening for evil. At one point she does offer her own head to Duncan though.
The end battle with the leader of the vampire army would reveal Buffy's immortality. The two lovebirds would have used this to allow Buffy to "die" to her friends and run off together....with new friends like Amanda, Duncan, and Mythos. Dawn would be the only Scooby to find out (it would take a couple years and an epilog). She would keep their secret.
I honestly can't remember at all what I did with Joe Dawson and how much, if any, of the Slayers and their council he would discover. I like the character though and can only surmise he would learn at least some of the truth.
I know some scoobies would have appeared in some scattered scenes with Dawn doing stuff at the watchers council but I can't remember who, although I assume at least Xander and Faith at the least. Along with a small scene that shows Dawn that Willow really is happy with Kennedy.
Other details are pretty much lost to the ether....
I have recently added another story that is both short and complete. It was something that I just had to write, but I am not completely happy with it. 4 years has withered away my writing talent it seems. I also don't know if I will write more as that was the first time in those 4 years I felt the urge...
I hope that any readers still getting notifications on this story can forgive the way things have happened and can find some closure with the story with these tidbits. I also hope any new readers who come across this now marked complete story can deal with sudden and unfulfilled ending.
I would also ask that if any authors wish to delve in to this work to complete it in any way they wish, to please contact me through the review system.