Thank you to Oxnate
for Betaing this chapter for me, he did much more than just checked the language.
A couple of days later she was sitting in a roadside cafeteria filled with travelers. Her gaze automatically swept for threats as she was drinking her coffee, being in a public place after sunset made her twitchy. She groaned when she saw a tall biker coming towards her. She gulped down the rest of her coffee and tried to leave before he got to her, but the biker cut her off. She stared at him. "Please, I'd like to l—leave now." She said.
He snorted. "I can't let such a pretty girl leave... not yet."
"I don't want any trouble."
"No trouble at all, just fun."
She snarled and locked her eyes on his. "I just want to leave."
When he caught her by the arm, all her blood rushed to her heart. Days and nights alone on a bus without sleep, and now this?
She tried to calm herself, they were surrounded by people, he wouldn't do anything. When he squeezed her arm harder she growled, partly in anger, partly in distress. She looked up at him with fierce, hateful eyes.
Suddenly he let her hand go, and stared his bleeding arm. "Fucking bitch! You cut me!"
"I did not." She denied, wondering why she was so calm.
When he stepped closer to her a dark haired man came between them. "That's enough," He stated. "you'd best leave her be; she'll go to her bus and you sit down."
"But that bitch cut me! Arrest her."
“I'm not on duty,” The second man said and turned to her. "did you cut him?"
"No, and I don't have any weapons to cut him with."
He nodded and turned back to the biker. "Like I said, sit down, and you," He pointed at her. "go back to your bus."
She nodded and smiled to him. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it. Just leave. I'll keep him here until your bus leaves."
She nodded. "Thank you again." She said. When she left the cafeteria a light breeze sprung up, and she shivered.
She tried to open the door of the bus, but it was locked. She leaned against the bus and when she saw the biker staring at her through the window of the restaurant, she again felt blood rushing through her veins. She closed her eyes, breathed deeply and steadied herself, staring intently into the blackness of her eyelids. The air was so moist that the slightest breeze gave a little sensation of cold, and her jacket was locked inside the bus. She wrinkled her nose when the wind brought the awful smell of the bus driver’s aftershave to her nostrils.
She smiled to him when he opened the door for her. “Thank you.”
She quickly got to her seat, pressed her head against the cool window and nervously fingered the locket around her neck. Then her eyes again fixed on the biker who could no longer see her through the tinted window. She watched him in silence until bus started to move, then she turned her head and closed her eyes. Maybe she could get some sleep.
The next day, as she walked through the streets of New York there was a great lump of something weighing her down. She sat on the bench. Guilt.
bout running away, wanting to hide and start over. She had no idea what she should do next. If she should go back to Sunnydale, or stay on the path she, in her panic, had chosen; even if it would hurt everyone. She took her suitcase and continued her slow walk through the streets. For a long time she just walked. And walked. When the sun was going down, she had been walking for hours, and her legs hurt.
She went into a corner café, got her tea, and seated herself down near the exit and sighed. She had just enough money for few meals, but that was it. She didn't have enough money to pay for a room in even the cheapest motel. She had come to New York because she knew a witch here who Willow didn't know about. She hadn't actually met her, but she had often talked with her on the phone. She could call her and ask, if not beg, her to accommodate her for few days. She stared her phone. She should make that call. She whined aloud and wrapped her hands around her tea cup, just to feel its warmth.
"You okay, hon?" She raised her eyes and met dark eyes of a beautiful brunette girl wearing an apron and a name tag.
“You been starin' at that phone like it's gonna bite ya.” the waitress said.
Tara sighed, maybe she should go back to hiding behind her hair, life had been much easier when people hadn't noticed her. "I just... came to the city—"
"New York is a bad place to be alone."
"I'm not alone... I'm just gathering courage to call... a friend who asked me to come and visit her."
“Staring your phone won't help.”
“I'm just... nervous.”
“Then call now. Waiting only makes it harder.” With that, the waitress left for the next table.
Tara nodded, she was right. She pressed the call button before she could talk herself out of it.
“Um... Clea?” Tara asked.
“Tara? You're alive?”
“Yeah... y—you said that I—I could v—visit you...”
“Yeah, that would be nice. Are you coming to New York?”
She sighed deeply. “Um... I—I kinda am here... I... Willow... she...”
“Yes, I know, all of the witches in the world felt it. You're scared, huh?”
Tara frowned. Felt what? What has Willow done?
“Um... yeah. She, she thinks I'm d—dead.”
“It's probably a good thing. Maybe it's best to let her believe that you're dead. Where are you? I'll come and get you.”
Tara looked around her. Where was she?
“I—I'm not sure...” She snagged the brunette as she passed by again. “where are we?” She asked.
The brunette took her phone and told Clea where they were at. For a moment, Tara's eyes were drawn to the girl's body. As she raised her eyes she met brunette's gaze and she smirked to her; Tara blushed, she knew she'd been caught looking. I just left Willow and already I'm ogling other girls,
"No worries, I don't mind," the brunette said, handing back the phone. "she's coming soon. She said she's nearby. So... Really bad break up, huh?"
Right after she had asked that a blonde woman walked to them. “Tara?” She asked.
The brunette raised her brow. “Apparently she was very
close.” Not wanting to intrude, she wandered to the next table.
Tara looked at the blonde woman. “Clea?” She hoped it was her, she had no intention of telling her story to the brunette.
Clea smiled to her. “Yes, I am. Where's your luggage?”
Tara pointed at her suitcase. “Here.”
Clea offered her hand to Tara. “Let's go, I have a spare room, you can stay as long as you want.”
Tara stood up and smiled at the waitress who was now a few tables away. “It was nice to meet you.”
She smiled. “You too, come back soon.”
Tara blushed. “I will.”
Clea smirked. “I'm sure you will. Now, let's go.”
Tara followed her out, and after three or four steps, Clea stopped. "Come." She said and turned in the doorway and Tara followed her. She was nervous, Clea smiled to her. "we'll teleport."
Tara groaned, and Clea looked wonderingly at her. "I don't like it when people use too much magic." Tara explained.
Clea nodded and took her hand. "Good. Neither do I." She said as they disappeared.
Tara woke up after a fitful sleep. She was sweaty and still felt extremely tired. Every time she closed her eyes and fell asleep she felt how her heart exploded. Even after she woke up she still had the taste of blood in her mouth.
She heard people talking and got up to listen. Clea was talking with a man, and they were talking about her. When Tara heard that she'd been shot through the heart she pulled open her shirt collar and glanced down at her chest. There was no sign of any scar, much less a bullet hole. She wanted to hear the whole story, so she followed the voices.
“M—morning.” She said when she entered the small kitchen. The aura of the man in there filled the room, it had some darkness in it, but not enough to worry her. Taking a deep breath, Tara sighed, she felt uneasy meeting the man in front of her.
“Morning. Did you sleep well?” Clea asked.
Clea smiled. “Don't be, you were tired. This is my boss, Doctor Stephen Strange. He's a—“
“Wizard, I know,” Tara smiled to him. “incredible aura.”
Doctor Strange nodded. “May I ask, how did you survive?”
Tara sat down. “I don't know, I woke up in the m—m—morgue. I didn't know I was shot until I overheard you.”
Doctor Strange raised his brow. Tara looked down at her feet, she was intimidated by the older man. “Interesting,” Doctor Strange said. “I have few questions about Willow Rosenberg, she might be as powerful as I am. And she's very dangerous. If she's given up to the darkness—”
“Not now,” Clea said. “can't you see that she's scared and tired. Now she should eat. I'll tell you when I feel she's ready to talk with you. Now go and leave us.”
Doctor Strange sighed. “As you wish. But later I really have to talk with her.” He said and left.
“Damn that man's arrogant,” Clea said. “I'll make some breakfast for you.”
Tara enjoyed the meal, but not so much the talk, Clea reluctantly told her what Willow had done and Tara felt a tremendous weight of guilt on her shoulders. She was about to call Giles, to tell him that she was alive, but Clea talked her out of it. At least for now.
After breakfast she went back to her room. For a long time she laid on the bed, staring at her hand, trying to figure out if she'd imagined those claws. She sighed, like that was her biggest problem.
Apparently she had died and walked away from that, and her girlfriend had tried to end the world and what did she worry about? Some stupid bone claws that came out of her hand.
She closed her eyes, she missed Willow.
She loved her, but... she also was afraid of her, and she was ashamed of being afraid. She wasn't strong enough to face Willow now, not with all the guilt she felt. She knew that if she went back to Willow everyone would expect her to guide Willow back to the right track. And she wasn't ready to do that. Willow had the coven and Giles and her friends to do that now.
She knew now, that she wasn't going to go back. They both had to figure out how to live their lives without each other.
And she'd never get a better chance to start again than she had now. This time, she reminded herself, at least the start wouldn't be from zero; she had a friend who wanted to help her. She'd just have to take it day by day, she'd have to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. Who she wanted to be.
Who she was.