Goodbye to the Old, Hello to the New
Willow and Tara spent the next couple of days trying to decide what they were going to do next. It soon occurred to them that, perhaps for the first time, they had numerous options available. Even though she had a second chance at life and brand new powers to explore, Tara's thoughts continued to drift back to the life she had left behind.
"Leo?" One morning she approached the other White Lighter, alone, in the kitchen. "Can I ask you a question?"
He looked up from the paper. "Oh, sure." He gestured for her to have a seat. "What's on your mind?
"I was wondering. Can we...White Lighters that is, are we able to travel between dimensions? I mean, given what you've been telling me about the Elders, is it even permitted?"
Leo sighed. "It's not exactly forbidden, so much as...discouraged. But yes, it is possible."
"Why? Where were you thinking about going?"
"Home," Tara replied. "I-I mean, I like it here, I really do, and I'll come back. I just need to see my friends again. To show them I'm okay and tell them good-bye." She saw the expression on his face and frowned. "What is it?"
"The truth is, I can't say for sure your powers will work there. I don't recall any White Lighters going to your particular dimension."
"You mean there's a chance I could be stuck there?" He nodded. "Well I guess there are worse places I could be." Tara shrugged. "That's just a chance I'll have to take."
"No." Willow walked into the room. "We will. I'm going with you."
"Are you sure?" Tara asked. "I know what you said before, about seeing the others again."
The redhead shrugged. "If they freak out, so be it. But I'm not letting you go again. I love you too damn much."
"I love you too." Tara took her lover's hand and kissed it, then turned to Leo. "So what do I do?"
"Well, the good news it, you already know how to orb," said Leo. "In fact you've taken to it faster than Paige. This is just an extension of that, really. You'll need to focus your thoughts on where you want to go to and then concentrate on something as concrete as possible. A person or, better yet, place, and then orb. You should be able to go right to it."
Tara nodded. "Okay. Tell the sisters we'll be back as soon as we can." They both smiled and then she orbed.
"Good luck," Leo said quietly.
The witches rematerialized in a place very familiar to the both of them. Their bedroom in Buffy's house. Normally a place of great comfort and a wide variety of joys. But now with a hole in a window and a red stain on the carpet, it was just a place that made the two of them feel cold. They ducked under the police tape across the doorway and walked out into the hall.
Willow shuddered. "Goddess. Never thought I'd be so happy to get out of there."
"Let's find the others," said Tara. "Deep breaths, Will." She took the redhead's hand. "It'll be fine."
They checked Buffy and Dawn's rooms first, then the bathroom, then downstairs. It was cold and dark. Not only wasn't anyone home, it didn't look like they'd been there at all in several days.
"I don't understand it," said Tara. "Where is everybody?"
"This is typical police MO," Willow offered. "Investigation in progress and all that. Our room is still considered a crime scene, after all. Even if the beautiful, guest-star victim isn't actually dead anymore." She shrugged her shoulders at Tara's bemused expression. "Cop shows. Buffy and Dawn both have a thing for that guy on CSI but personally I always kind of liked Angie..." She stopped immediately as Tara's eyebrow went up, and she knew enough to change the subject. "...so, uhhm, the gang?"
Tara crossed her arms. "If the police did tell them to stay away for a while, they'd need somewhere to sleep. You said Giles came back, but he's living in England now, right? So I doubt he has a place in Sunnydale anymore. That just leaves..."
"...Xander." Willow headed for the phone, then changed her mind. "Wait a second. Hey guys. I'm not dust and not only is Tara alive but she's kind of my guardian angel now and oh, by the way, we're going to move to another dimension is probably a little too big of an announcement to do over the phone, huh?"
Tara had always been impressed by her lover's ability to convey so much information in a single breath like that. It, and she, was so cute. "We can always walk. Sunnydale's not that big."
Unfortunately no one was home at Xander's either. But through the window they could see things scattered around the living room they both knew belonged to Buffy and Dawn, so they knew they were on the right track. Since neither felt like sitting and waiting for their friends to return they continued the search. Next they checked the Bronze, the coffee place, and what was left of the Magic Box, with no luck. By that time it was later in the afternoon and the witches were starting to run out of ideas.
"Wait." Willow put her hand on Tara's arm. "You were dead. Still are, to them. They couldn't have my body, but it's been a couple of days and they've most like done something with yours. We should check the cemeteries."
In most cities that would have been a relatively quick and easy task. In Sunnydale...not so much. This town had almost as many cemeteries as it did churches. Nothing came of the first three but on the fourth they stumbled across Xander's car in the parking lot. Both witches felt knots in their stomach as they went in looking for their friends. It didn't take long to find them. Buffy, Xander and Giles were standing, Dawn kneeling, in front of a pair of tombstones. For some reason this surprised them, and they paused behind a group of trees, out of site as they listened to their friends talking. They could also hear Dawn crying.
"...so wrong, not having them here," Xander was saying.
"It is," said Giles. "Terribly wrong. There is a hole in our lives, without them."
Buffy nodded. "Yeah, it hurts. But I don't feel like crying anymore. I can't feel too sad for them. 'cause they're in a better place now. Trust me, I speak from experience here. And you know the most important thing?"
"They're together." Dawn stood up and wiped her eyes. "They're together, and they're happy."
Buffy put an arm around her sisters shoulders. "Exactly. So, we're done here. We've mourned them. Now, let's go celebrate them. What do you guys say to mochas at the Bronze? On Giles?"
The Watcher smiled sadly. "Yes, quite."
"A solid plan." Xander glanced over his shoulders. "See ya."
Once they were gone, Willow and Tara stepped through the trees and looked at the headstones. What they saw made them tear up, and reach for one another. On the left it read:
1980 -- 2002
Loved by Willow
And on the right the other read:
1981 -- 2002
Loved by Tara
Willow lost it and started to cry. "They did care. They don't hate me?"
"Never. I told you." Tara stroked her lover's hair and rested her head on her shoulder. "What about your parents?"
"Assuming they ever notice? I'm sure they'll be upset, for a while. We're survivors, we Rosenberg's."
"I guess our friends are better off believing we're dead," said Tara. "They're right you know. We are together, and we are in a better place. We can start over, Will. Make a brand new life for ourselves. One without the taint of the Hellmouth."
Willow nodded. "There may still be demons to deal with from time to time. But at least we don't have to fight vampires anymore." She took her lover's hand. "I'll tell you one thing. I'm not going to miss washing all that dust out of my clothes."
Tara took a last look around and sighed. "Let's go home."
The underworld had been quiet and empty for days, ever since the power-mad Source decimated his own demonic legions. The creatures, which survived the initial onslaught, were split between supplicating themselves to the dark powers in the hopes of surviving his return, or else vying for dominance and control on the off-chance he did not.
But as it turned out, there were other threats they should have been wary of as well.
Out of the shadows they came. A cloud of screeching, winged creatures with blood-red eyes and sharp fangs. They descended upon a few of the weaker demons, draining them of their blood in seconds. Some surrendered immediately, recognizing the wisdom of that human adage "Live to fight another day". Some fled. Others fought back, even managing to kill a handful of their attackers, before succumbing to superior numbers and sheer, animalistic ferocity. One way or another it was over in only a few bloody minutes.
Throughout the underworld hastily extinguished torches flared to life once again. At this apparent signal the swarm of bats turned as one and made their way quickly to the throne room, which was no longer empty.
A single, human-like figure in blood-red robes sat on the throne. The bats clung, upside-down, to the ceiling and grew silent. "You have done exceedingly well my children." The voice was quiet and sensuous. "I am pleased." The figure swept its hood back to reveal a beautiful woman's face; almond-shaped eyes, flawless alabaster skin, a delicate nose, black lips. "But we still have much work ahead of us. Go now. Claim quarters, if you wish, and rest. I will call you when it is time."
One by one the bats dropped from the ceiling. Just before they touched the ground they transformed; into pale, eerily beautiful, women, and a few men, all dressed in black. They bowed to the woman on the throne before leaving. One, a scantily clad, pixie-like blond, remained. Slowly, as if to not offend the woman, she approached the throne. "My Queen?"
"Is there anything you require?"
The Queen, for she had no other name, shook her head. "Just privacy, child."
"Yes, my Queen." Lyla kept her head bowed and backed out of the room.
Sighing, the Queen considered her next move. She had hoped to have Belthazar by her side, which was why she had approached him earlier in the Charmed Ones basement. His refusal had surprised her, and forced her to destroy the demons who would stand in her way, instead of using his influence to simply bend them to her will. She also realized the Charmed Ones might be a problem in the future, one that could be postponed simply by relocating to another city, if and when she needed to operate above ground.
"Long have we suffered in exile." She smirked, baring a double-set of razor sharp fangs. "But now, it is a whole new world."
Coming Soon: WITCHES
Willow and Tara's Adventures in an all new setting