Death Becomes HerAuthor:
Tara, the Highlander crew (mainly Richie)Rating:
15 for nowDisclaimer:
I do not own BtVS or Highlander. Some dialogue in this chapter was taken from the season 6 BtVS episode "Grave."
Tara rushed through the empty house. The blood stains inside and out confirmed something had happened. Her heart raced as she tried desperately to think of where the others could be.
It was in that moment that she was forced to the ground by a wave of magical energy, very dark energy. The waves poured over her and she knew in the depth of her heart that Willow would be at the center of it all.
Her chest was burning as she followed the source of the power to the bluff overlooking the city. Her heart plummeted as she saw Willow pulling energy from the bowels of the Earth. Tara fought the urge to turn away, to leave her beloved at the brink. She was not strong enough to deal with this problem. Her mind and heart were overloaded. But Willow's singsong voice captured her attention. It held her in place as she watched everything unfold.
Willow let the magic surround her, let the blackness engulf her soul. The world was crying out, she felt everything, so much hurt and she wanted it gone; she wanted it all gone. So with resolution in her closed heart, she began the summoning.
"From the pit of forgotten shadows, awaken, Sister of the Dark."
Tara watched in horror as some forgotten effigy rose from the ground. The earth shuttered and she felt her heart clench in fear. Then Willow began a conversation, though there was no one else around to hear it.
"Always the slayer, right to the last," Willow paused as if listening. "And it is the last, you know, for all your fighting..."
Tara realized she was talking to Buffy though she did not see the blonde anywhere. Hope seized her as she realized that Buffy would stop Willow. It was her thing, saving the world. But at what cost?
"Thinking you're saving the world. And in the end I'm the only one that can save it." Willow stopped, listening one more time. "It's the only way to stop the pain. I--I can't take it anymore..."
Tara's heart ached. Willow, her Willow, hurt so much. She knew in her mind that she should walk over to her. Tell her that she was okay, that everything would be right again, but something held her in place.
"But I know you Buffy... You're a warrior. You won't go out without a fight. I don't really have time for one. But you should go out fighting." Willow's voice was void of emotion although her face looked as if the final piece of a hard puzzle had been placed. "It was me who took you out of the earth. Well now... the earth wants you back."
Tara folded in on herself at the wave of power that washed from Willow. Wherever Buffy was, Tara prayed to the Goddess that she wasn't alone and that she could handle whatever was coming. Tara knew that Buffy wouldn't make it to Willow in time, that she couldn't stop what the redhead was about to do. She watched as Willow began the final steps to consume the world in darkness. She couldn't move, she couldn't breath, only watch.
"Proserpexa, let the cleansing fires from the depths burn away the suffering souls and bring sweet death." With outstretched arms, Willow was encased in swirling black dust as the energy poured into the effigy.
A movement jarred Tara from her fixation on Willow. She watched in horror as Xander stepped in front of the energy. His face held confidence, sorrow and resolve as he broke the stream of energy coming from his lifelong friend.
Tara’s heart tightened as she listened to Xander’s words. “Hey, black-eyed girl. Watcha doing?” Xander’s gaze locked on Willow, not backing down.
Willow was shocked by the interruption and looked toward him with no emotion on her face. “Get out of here,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Oh no, you’re not the only one with powers, you know. You may be a hopped up uber-witch, but this carpenter can drywall you into the next century.” Tara kept to her spot, caught up with the interaction between the two. If anyone could talk Willow down, it would be him. But she also knew, that Willow would not back down easily.
“I’m not joking Xander. Get out of my way. Now!” On that command, Willow hit him with a blast of pure black energy that flung him into the side of the effigy.
Tara looked away with a sharp intake of air as the energy flow began again and Xander lay crumpled on the ground. She missed seeing the falter of emotion play across Willow’s face after she hit him. Tara kept her head buried to block the sound of sobs that threatened to escape her throat. Then she heard Willow’s voice again.
“You can’t stop this.”
Tara jerked her head up in fascination that Xander, the normal one, had once again stepped in front of the stream. He was breathing heavily and a hint of pain was spread across his face.
“Yeah, I get that,” Xander stared at his friend with compassion. “It’s just, where else am I gonna go? You’ve been my best friend my whole life. World gonna end -- where else would I want to be?”
Tara felt as though she was watching a tennis match. Only the outcome of this match would mean life or death for the entire world.
Willow smiled wickedly, “Is this the master plan? You’re gonna stop me by telling me you love me?”
“Well, I was gonna walk you off a cliff and hand you an anvil, but it seemed kind of cartoony.” Xander cocked his head slightly as Willow responded, “Still making jokes.”
Tara felt the truth ring through Xander’s seemingly light statement. He would walk her off the cliff to save the world, but he would be the anvil. If he took her out, he would follow right behind her. Tara knew that it would be his last resort and she prayed that he would not need to carry out that scenario.
His face hardened as he continued, “I’m not joking. I know you’re in pain. I can’t imagine the pain you’re in. And I know you’re about to do something apocalyptically evil and stupid, and hey, I still want to hang. You’re Willow.”
Tara knew, just as he did, that the talking was reaching through the darkness and touching the spark inside her, the spark that represented the Willow that she and everyone else knew and loved.
“Don’t call me that,” the emotions played across Willow’s face.
Tara cheered Xander on as he reached into his arsenal of memories to bring their Willow back. “The first day of kindergarten you cried because you broke the yellow crayon and you were too afraid to tell anyone. You’ve come pretty far. Ending the world -- not a terrific notion. But the thing is, yeah, I love you. I love crayon-breaky Willow and I love scary-veiny Willow. So if I’m going out, it’s here. If you want to kill the world, well then, start with me. I’ve earned that.”
Tears openly flowed down Tara’s face as Xander stared Willow down.
“You think I won’t?” Willow was shaking. It was like a war was being fought inside her and Xander’s voice was the nuclear weapon against the darkness.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll still love you.” Xander took a groundbreaking step toward her.
“Shut up.” Tara recoiled as she watched the magic hit Xander. He came up with blood streaming from the claw marks on his face. But he looked resolved, as if he knew that he would win.
Tara’s heart opened as he spoke the words, “I love you.” She whispered it too.
The war within Willow deepened as she responded, “Shut up!” She blasted him with the black lightning. Only to see it start to fritz as the emotions ripped through her body.
Tara gasped at the site of Xander’s bloodied chest. The deep red gashes slowly staining his front. They were right across his heart. But he was not deterred.
“I love you Willow.” Tara watched as she flinched at his use of her name.
“Stop!” Willow cried out, but her magic didn’t come. The darkness around her was dissipating.
“I love you.” Xander was now only and arms length from her.
“Stop!” Willow shouted through her sobs. Then she resorted to physical exertion, hitting Xander’s chest and crying as the pain poured out. They collapsed to the ground with the morning light shining down on them.
Xander encompassed Willow’s small, frail form with his arms as he whispered one more time, “I love you.”
Tara watched for what seemed like eternity. Slowly reality came back to her as she realized that Willow was grieving. She was grieving for the lost of the girl she loved. Tara knew that to Willow and the others she was dead. She also knew the pain that would occur if they found out otherwise. It would be a repeat of Buffy’s death and resurrection.
Tara looked toward the sobbing form of Willow and made the most difficult and heart breaking decision in her life. “I will always be yours, my love. Our souls are entwined. Mother Earth will watch and protect you Willow.” Tara spoke the words softly, closed her eyes and then turned away. Away from her life in Sunnydale and away from Willow. And goddess help her, she didn’t know if she could ever return.
So she ran. She let her hurt and sadness fuel the energy. She reached the small room she had been living in and collapsed to the floor. She knew that she had to leave Sunnydale behind. But where could she go? She couldn’t go to her family and everyone else she knew was here. There was nobody.
As the depression began to overwhelm her, her hand moved to grab the small, flat stone sitting on the nightstand. The coldness of the stone immediately warmed as she traced her fingers around its surface. The warmth spread throughout her until it reached her mind. The calming presence cleared the pain, despair and agony from the front of her mind. In their place, Tara was left with an image of a sandy-haired man; a man who had helped her once before and told her to contact him if she ever needed help.
In a rush, Tara yanked the nightstand drawer open. She had someone who could help. He wouldn’t and couldn’t, she told herself, know the truth, but maybe, just maybe, he could help comfort her. Searching through the jumble of papers and miscellaneous items, she found the business card Richie had given her for a blue's bar. He told her to contact Joe if she ever needed to reach him.
With resolve in her heart, Tara grabbed a change of clothes from the back of the closet, took a picture of her mother and one of Willow that would not be missed and walked out the door. Hopefully she could make a new life in Seacouver, Washington, with the help of the only possible friend she had left.To Be Continued...