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Cat's in the Cradle

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Denver Magic". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Willow doesn’t go to England with Giles, but somewhere else... Crossover with a Magnificent Seven AU

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Magnificent Seven, TheLylFR131318,59373221,09428 Feb 047 Jan 07No

Mourning Comes Softly

Part 1 - Mourning Comes Softly

Willow didn’t think the tears would ever stop.

Great wracking sobs that tore through her body like a garden hose through tissue. Her throat hurt, her eyes were puffy and her nose refused to stop running. She could feel the tight skin of her face, evidence of previous tears, hours old.

And with every sob, the black bands of misery seemed to tighten even more around her heart. The hair framing her red and swollen face was wet and stringy with her ever-present tears.

Shouldn’t there be a point where her body would no longer be able to produce the rivers of saline that was drowning her and her human ‘pillow’? But every time the witch considered stopping, the memories of why she was crying in the first place returned.

Her Tara was dead. Her love.

She would never hear that throaty laugh again - the one kept for private jokes between them. No more waking up to a sweet good morning kiss. No more walking into a room and smelling the flowery scent that belonged to Tara, and Tara alone. No more goofy grins on Willow’s face when she found an impossibly long strand of blonde hair on her clothes, hours after seeing her last. No more looking into a pair of soft and loving eyes, and knowing that whatever else she might be, she was simply beautiful to Tara.

No more kisses. No more secret glances. No more accidental brushes of their hands. No more not-so-accidental brushes. No more laughter . . . smiles . . . touches . . . secret sunrises . . .

No more love.

But most importantly . . .

No more Tara.

No one to stop her nervous babbling with simply a touch and a look. No one to nod and smile encouragingly during her excited babbling. No one to share her love of magic with - or say a word of caution when she attempted new spells.

No one to pull her back when she went too far - as was demonstrated earlier.

After Tara had broken up with her, Willow had felt miserable and depressed, but nothing like this - even with the withdrawal. Then, she had still been able to see Tara, know she was OK, and one day - hopefully - return to her. Not so this time. Tara wasn’t coming back, despite her best efforts.

Ever.

Another sob tore through her tired body, but still Willow couldn’t seem to stop. The hand that had been carding slowly through her hair, gradually increased in frequency with her new bout of sobbing.

Xander.

He hadn’t left her. He’d picked her up in his arms and carried her back to Buffy’s house. Her big, strong, carpenter-of-a-best friend had carried her like a child, and she’d never felt safer.

He’d been right with her the entire time, her head in his lap, letting her soak his jeans with her never-ending tears while running a hand through her damp red hair. He hadn’t said a word since the cliff, and neither had she. He’d simply lain her on the sofa and been her tower - or pillow - of strength as she poured out her grief.

“Mrww.”

Opening her red-rimmed eyes, Willow came nose to nose with the only other creature to love Tara as much as she had.

Large green feline eyes stared into teary human ones, looking for something in particular.

“Hey, Miss Kitty.” she whispered, though the words came out more as a rasp after hours of crying.

“Mrow?” the feline seemed to ask, neither blinking to break the shared stare.

“Sh-...she’s g-“Willow tried to tell the cat, but the words wouldn’t seem to leave her. Saying the words made everything so much more real, not just some horrible nightmare. Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes, Willow forced the words out.

“Tara’s dead. She’s not coming back.” The last was for her own benefit, re-enforcing the harsh reality of Tara’s death. But it still didn’t feel quite real. She felt like she was free-floating in time, not really connected with actual events. Willow knew she wasn’t dreaming - knew that it was all too real - but that didn’t stop the sense of unreality she’d been feeling since Tara had dropped to the bedroom floor. She felt detached, like she was watching a TV show, too engrossed to pull away.

Willow was abruptly pulled out of her depressing thoughts by a sudden movement on the couch, followed quickly by a slight jolt from her pillow. Opening her eyes, she saw that Miss Kitty had climbed onto the sofa - via Xander’s jean-clad legs - and was currently making herself comfortable against Willow’s chest, her soft fur tickling the witch’s chin.

“Sorry, Wills.” Xander apologized softly. “Cat has sharp claws.” he said by way of explanation.

Moving a hand to slowly stroke Miss Kitty’s soft fur, Willow felt the feline begin to vibrate.

“Rrrrrr. Rrrrrrr.”

And Willow’s tears dried up.

“Wills?” Xander asked softly, wanting to make sure his friend was still with him. Looking down, a small smile graced his features as he saw the small curve to her lips. “Is that a smile I see?” he teased, continuing to run a hand through her hair.

“I was just remembering...” she trailed off, as if unwilling to share a precious memory. “She’s so much like Tara.” Willow stated, continuously petting the purring fur ball that had curled up against her.

“Tara could sense my mood almost instantly. She knew when to leave me alone, and when not to.” Willow paused, savouring her cherished memories of the girl she had loved to distraction. “She knew the exact moment when a cuddle could make even the worst problems seem silly and far away.”

Xander said nothing, but continued to comfort his oldest and closest friend. They had both done this same thing after Jesse died - re-living the cherished memories they had of their friend.

“We were going to get another cat.” Willow told him, breaking the silence. “A kitty friend for Miss Kitty.” she clarified. “I asked Tara if we should get a girl kitty, because - hello - she was our cat and all; maybe she was gay too and that’s why she liked us so much. Tara said that a boy cat is what Miss Kitty wanted. I asked her if she was sure, and she got her ‘secret’ smile. You know, that smile she always got when she knew the answer to some silly thing I’d wondered about. Tara said that Miss Kitty was definitely a straight Kitty - like she was totally sure of the answer.

“Miss Kitty was always Tara’s cat, more than mine. They took to each other right away.”

More silence followed as they both relived their best memories of the blonde witch.

“A gay cat, Willow?” Xander teased, the smile evident in his voice.

Willow remained silent as the stroking of his hand and the purring of Miss Kitty Fantastico continued, lulling her into sleep with a small, sad smile on her face.

End Part 1
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