I had a feeling something was up when Miss Kitty came scampering out of the bedroom. As much as she tries to look all nonchalant, Kitty loves Willow over me…and I can accept that. They bonded instantaneously – All that time ago in my dorm, with the ball of string and auditions for Drama class and I knew it was love for both of them.
So when Kitty sauntered out as soon as she had stepped in, I knew something was bothering Willow, and usually she shared things with me. I didn’t want to approach my gut feeling straight off though. It had been a long and tough day for Willow and I just didn’t feel twenty questions was the way to go. I figured a hug and rest would aid the healing process. It was our unofficial remedy to all the world’s evils.
I sat down beside her on the bed, I could see her brain was working serious overtime and her brow was a little furrowed. We made very little conversation, it just felt weird. So many nights since we’ve been together we would use this quiet time to bare our souls to each other. But this time she kept it locked away, I could see in her eyes that she was on the edge of something, but what could it be? We found her, we saved her, admittedly with a few cuts and bruises on the way but for the most part of the evening she seemed slowly to be recovering from her ordeal.
I leaned across the bed to kiss her and she pulled away, my heart sank so far in my chest I didn’t think I could ever catch my breath. I could feel the cold sweat over me and my lungs constricting. She didn’t want me to be near her. Before I had even thought about it I asked her if something was wrong. There had to be something wrong, right? I had to believe that she still loved me and there was something else causing her to be this way.
She must have caught that look of sheer terror in my eyes…she sat there and apologised to me but I just couldn’t be there, I had to get myself together and the only way to do that was to be on my own. I told her that I needed to clean up the kitchen and she nodded and turned over to go to sleep.
I don’t know how long I sat there at the table, staring aimlessly out of the window into the night; I just couldn’t stop replaying the whole thing in my head – my own personal torture. Didn’t she want me anymore? Was it because I couldn’t protect her? Did she just fall out of love with me just like that? I began to shake my head, closing my eyes when I heard the scream from the bedroom.
I rushed in to see Willow crying and shaking, I ran to the edge of the bed and tried to put my arms around her, but she pushed me away. Damn it! I wasn’t going to let her keep pushing me away. I put my arms around her a second time let her resist me until she stopped thrashing and refused to let her go. We were both there, huddled together – both lost and afraid yet some how impossibly together. I promised I’d share the rest of my life with her and that meant seeing it through all the hard times ahead.
She kept mumbling that it hurt and that Spike had hurt her, I made my mind up then that I would find Spike and pay him a little visit, on my own…one day…when he’d forgotten and when I was a little more focused and powerful.
But although I was angry that Spike had dared to cause Willow pain of any sort I had no idea that even all the mad thoughts of what had happened that day to Willow, was no way near the extent to Spike’s involvement or cruelty.
I stroked Willow’s hair as she sobbed into my arms and told her it was only a dream, but even I knew that this was something far worse. I could hear her sobs slowing and her weight pressing into me and knew she was slowly drifting into sleep. I lowered down to the pillows and covered her with the blanket. I lay there beside her just keeping a watchful eye over her.
She didn’t sleep soundly at all, her brow furrowed and pensive. I ran my fingers gently through her hair, hoping that maybe even this light touch could bring her some comfort. I wished I could have done more for her, but I could only wait until she would let me in. I drifted off for an hour or two but woke again before Willow started shifting in her sleep some more.
She woke and called my name. I smiled gently.
“I’m sorry, did I wake you?” She said wearily.
I shook my head. “No, I’ve been awake for a while.”
Then like she’d just woken up and remembered she tried to get up and away from me. I did my best to reassure her, telling her she should do what she wanted if it would make her feel better. I tried to get her to talk to me but she didn’t want to. I cursed myself inside, because I knew that I should be patient. I offered her an alternative.
“How about if I give you a hug...is that a start to feeling a little more comfortable?” I waited before I approached, the last thing I wanted to do was to scare her back to pushing me away from her.
“A hug..that..that would be nice.” She said and let me put my arms around her. My heart sighed, at the warmth and the connection. Every time I touch her I always feel that same electricity.
We sat there and whispered conversation to each other in the dark. Talk of what the world could be like outside of Sunnydale.
“Sometimes I think it would be nice to just see what it would be like to be somewhere not so close to the Hellmouth. Do you think the grass would be greener?” I said.
Willow shrugged. “I don't know, I mean I could've gone away to school, and I thought about leaving Sunnydale but then I thought I wouldn't have met you and who knows. But maybe. Or maybe it's just more mossy.”
I smiled a little, a little Willowbabble and I knew things were beginning to come back on track.
“We should get away from Sunnydale for a while, just you know…for a bit?” I said, trying to gage any kind of reaction. But Willow changed the subject.
I could just make out through the darkness, Willow’s eyes raised to the ceiling. “Have you told Buffy about..you know..what happened?”
I shook my head. “I figure you should tell people if and when you want them to know Will. I’m here with the big ole support wagon.”
Her eyes turned back to me. “I know and you are so doing the support gal thing really well. I don't know what I'd do without you.”
Immediately I remembered the weekend I had gone out of town with the Art History Class. “You'd probably forget to eat.”
“Eating? What's..that?” She grinned sheepishly, obviously having the same memory as mine.
We giggled for a little while and I could see that Willow was beginning to relax a little more. It warmed my heart. Everything had hit her so hard and I had no idea how hard originally.
“So...I guess. We’ll get past this huh?” Willow asked, cautiously.
I looked her in the eyes. “Yes, a resounding yes.”
I noticed her shoulders tense up a little. “How, how are we going to get past this?”
“We're going to carry on like we do every day...one foot in front of the other, laugh in the face of danger as Xander would say and end up reading stacks of musty old books, together, probably until we’re at least half as old as some of them.”
“Can we skip the books?” Willow said with an automatic pout.
I nodded with a smirk. “Totally - I never end up reading them anyway.”
“I know, I just look at the pictures mostly.” Willow sighed as if giving away some terrible secret.
“I’m too busy looking at you looking at the pictures, pretending not to notice I’m looking at you.” I smiled.
Willow frowned a little. She felt uncomfortable with herself, I could see that. I pulled her close to me and rested her head just above my heart.
“You feel like home.” Willow sighed.
I knew something big was going to happen; her breathing changed and became more ragged. Then she lifted her head and began to shift way across bed like taking comfort in me was wrong. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know what else was going on in her mind. I told her that I needed her to tell me, to let me in.
“I’m....sorry Tara..I’m trying...trying to do all I can..I'll do more..I promise, I will...I'll get over this silly thing and ..I promise to do better.” She said with tears filling her eyes.
I reached out for her hand before she had a chance to get up and leave and I wasn’t willing to let go any time soon. “No, this isn't a silly thing to get over - I understand that. I don't want you to do better. I just don't want you to walk away when you feel it's too much. Talk to me Will.”
“But...this is ..so hard for me to get out.” She looked down at my hand over hers.
“Say it exactly how it is up there.” I pointed to her head and her eyes followed before she gulped.
“I feel .. like something in me changed. Like something I didn't want to. Like it was taken away. Stolen. Like if I could've just..broken away I could've had a chance. Like I have to stop being so reliant on others.” Willow shifted and I watched the shadows change on her face as she frowned.
“If I could just, you know figure this out the way out, I could get there. I love you and I don't want to push you away. I fear like I'm going to. Like it's all going to be permanently jumbled forever and it’s never going to be clear. I don't know how to make it go poof. I don't... know how to make it better. I know magic can't, I don't know anymore, like what's real.” She stopped and I squeezed on her hand.
She clenched her jaw, trying to hold herself together before she continued. “I know you are, but I feel like I'm just, falling apart. I feel like Willow's gone somewhere dark. I need out.”
“Then let it out, all of it...you'll be safe because I'll be here.” I said, my hand gently holding her face.
“It..was..so..so..bad..It..was horrible, He... held me down and... I couldn't move..and..”
I chewed on my bottom lip, trying to not to cry. Suddenly it was all becoming far too clear, How could I have missed it? I wasn’t sure I wanted her to continue, I didn’t want to hear it – but I was being selfish. She needed this...and she needed me to be here for her and hear it. I spoke gently, with a little quiver in my voice. “And?”
“He like..tore at my clothes.. I mean..ok so vampires do that all the time. But..he wouldn't...stop and I pounded at him.... I ...tried to use my mind to like....I don't know move something heavy on his head but I couldn't..my thoughts were too scattered.” She stopped, to gather herself together as tears streamed down her face.
I didn’t ask permission, I pulled her close to me and wrapped my arms round her tightly.
“So.. I closed my eyes tight, as tight as they would go and... tried to think of something happy instead..you know like funny shaped pancakes..but..that didn't work and he..uhhh.” She sniffed and swallowed loudly.
“He started to touch me and…and covered my mouth so I couldn't scream and... then...I saw an empty wine bottle on the floor and I...managed to raise it with my mind…I hit him with it. He fell, which was kind of funny and he passed out but I was kind of half naked and cold.” She shrugged into me and almost let out a terrified laugh.
“Eventually he woke up and didn't remember too much what he did, just that he wanted to tie me up again and so he did.” She was shaking violently.
I leaned back against the headboard clutching Willow as close to me as I could and gathered the blanket with one hand. I placed it over her and ran my hand down her shoulder and arm.
“I promise I will never let anything like that happen to you again.”
We must have fallen asleep tangled together like that with ‘I love yous’ and tears. The next thing I remember was waking up alone, the sun just starting to filter in through the window. I panicked a little as I remembered the revelations from the night before. I got up and grabbed my robe – throwing it on and fastening it as I made my way out to the back door. I cursed as stood on a tiny piece of glass I managed to miss from cleaning up. I looked up to see the back door was wide open. For some reason I felt a calm fall over me, I knew Willow was near and it stilled my panic. I approached the back door quietly, looking out side across the porch and onto the grass.
Willow was standing in the middle of the grass, her back mostly to me staring at a large oak tree in the garden. I leaned against the door frame and watched her. The tree began to smoke and quickly caught fire. I cleared my throat.
“You know, the neighbors will complain…”
She turned to me in one smooth motion and I could see her eyes were the color of charcoal. They looked almost lifeless. I tried not to show my fright.
“Willow doesn’t care.” She said with a little growl.
I crossed my arms.
She tilted her head and gave me a cruel grin. “What?”
“So is this how it’s going to be?” I said.
Willow’s face dropped back to icy cold. “Leave me alone. I’m dead anyway.” She turned back to the tree.
“You're dead?” I said with a little anger in my voice. I was beginning to hurt. All the support I had tried to give seemed to have been wasted.
Willow shifted opening and clenching her fist repeatedly before answering. “Feels like it.”
I was angry now; I lifted myself away from the door frame and stepped out onto the porch. “So this is a 'wish I was' without actually saying it thing? Because it’s not funny Willow.”
With her back still to me she shrugged. “Who’s laughing?”
“It must be me then? Doing ALL the laughing?!” I said, hurting.
She stormed off across the grass and closer to the tree. “You don’t understand.”
I stepped out with bare feet onto the dewy grass and took a deep breath of the cool morning air, closing my eyes and trying to find my calm – like Mamma had shown me when I was younger.
“I can’t be here for you if you’re going to hold it all in again.” I said gently.
Willow had sat down on the grass and was concentrating on a twig in front of her. She tried to float it, but it was unsteady. She clenched her fists and tried to focus before letting out a yelp of frustration and pain. The twig flew violently across the garden and hit the fence before dropping to the floor. I slowly approached her slumped form and placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned her head and looked at me – her dark eyes changing back to emeralds.
“I can’t do this.” She sobbed. “I can’t control it all.”
“Yes you can.” I sat down next to her on the grass. I closed my eyes and focused on the twig Willow had been floating before. The twig raised itself from the floor. “We can do this together.” I extended my hand.
“What? Float the twig?...Cos, well you’re alr..” Willow began.
“I thought you might want to do something crazy with it…like make it dance like Fred Astaire?”
“I don't know..Maybe it'll become kind of sharp and pointy?!” Willow exclaimed.
I grabbed her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
Willow sighed. “Okay, but I’m closing my eyes now so if it turns into some big ol spear and launches itself at us, not going to be able to see it.”
We sat there, holding hands on the grass. I felt Willow’s breathing become synchronized with mine. I knew she had become relaxed and opened my eyes. The twig was twirling like baton in a figure eight motion. I smiled and looked across to Willow. Her eyes were still closed and she had the tiniest knot across her brow as she concentrated. I tucked some stray red hair anyway from her face and behind her ear. She opened one eye cautiously squinting at me and I smiled. Then I tilted my head in the direction of the twig, raising my eyebrows. She turned and opened both eyes. Smiling, she concentrated a little harder – changing the twig’s spin direction.
The twig began to float across the grass to us. With one last effort, Willow lowered the twig to the floor. She collapsed back on the grass sweating and giggling.
“Well I know I turned out to be the tree hugging hippie my Daddy had nightmares about, but my ass is getting cold out here...what say we go back inside?” I asked.
She nodded and sat up. “Okay…if you think I won’t destroy the couch, with a mere look.”
I shook my head with a smile and stood up, pulling Willow up with me and we headed inside. We were both greeted by Miss Kitty at the door. Willow picked her up, made a fuss and we went inside. We sat and had breakfast, mostly in silence watching Kitty practice her hunting skills on a moth in the living room.
Willow suddenly broke the silence. “Maybe we should take that trip, you know? Away from here?”
“Then let’s go, pack some stuff up and we’ll go right now.” I was pleased that she hadn’t ignored my question last night. I felt that maybe, this was the best thing to do.
She nodded her head and got up from the table. When Willow went to pack the bags I picked up the phone and dialed Buffy’s number.