Summary: Willow's recklessness continues its disturbing ascent, catching Tara along the way.

Characters: Tara, Willow

Timeline: Takes place in season 6 between "Life Serial" and "All the Way".

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Credits & Acknowledgements: Thanks to Fox for everything, always!


.

"Sweetie?"

Tara's voice echoed through the house after the front door closed. She took a peek through the first floor rooms but they were empty.

"Willow?" she repeated as she climbed the stairs. Her footsteps were light but quick. She had just managed to get the brightest moonstone she'd ever seen and at an incredible price! Even though she'd wanted this to be a Halloween surprise for Willow, Tara was too excited to keep it a secret.

Maybe she's napping?

Except Tara heard Willow's voice in a mumble or a whisper. And then, as she approached their bedroom, she smelled a tinge of smoke like a candle had recently been extinguished.

"Will?"

She found Willow on her knees in the middle of the floor, waving away the remnants of something charred in her bowl. Tara's hand-hewn turquoise bowl that was gifted to her by a shaman she had once helped. It was a bowl she had saved for specific healing spells. Special ones that she used only when communing with the earth and sky gods. Willow knew this. What was going on?

As Willow waved the rest of the lingering smoke away, Tara caught a bitter whiff. Jimson weed.

"Willow, what are you doing?" she asked, both concern and disappointment on her face. That was a dangerous ingredient, and they had been saving it for something.

Willow bristled suddenly, apparently not having noticed Tara's arrival. She turned, needing to steady herself with her hand.

"Oh, hey! When did you get back?"

"Just about now," Tara replied gently. She stepped into the room to see her notes near the bowl. "I… I thought we were going to try that spell together?"

Willow shifted like she was drunk, gesturing over the spell remnants dismissively. "I was just testing it out. No big."

But it was big. Big to Tara, at least. It was a spell that would allow them to practice a rare Native American healing technique. Tara had spent so much free time researching and preparing for it.

"But the ingredients are really toxic! And I wasn't entirely sure the amounts I worked out would be safe! What if you were poisoned?" Fear rose in Tara, vying for the level of disappointment she had been feeling.

Willow giggled for a moment and brushed away the suggestion. "I'm fine. Anyway, we were wrong. It's not that powerful of a spell. I only got to channel a chief or something, and he wasn't really giving up any secrets. It was kind of a waste."

Tara's eyes watered, but she took a deep breath to hold her emotions back.

"Come on, I've got a better idea," Willow said then, suggestively. "For a different kind of magic." She pulled herself up and approached Tara, reaching for the witch's hands. Tara let her, though pulled back slightly when Willow leaned in to kiss her.

"What? Don't worry about it." Willow's eyes tried to focus on Tara's face. The spell had made her drunk with power, and the jimson weed's poison still had her hallucinating a bit. She had the urge to cough some of it out.

"Will, I don't… M-maybe we…"

Tara's words were cut off by Willow's lips on hers. The kiss was sloppy and long enough that Tara had no choice but to breathe in some of the spell remnants that were still trapped inside Willow's lungs.

She felt her thoughts dull a bit after a few moments. What were we talking about again?