Cassie 3- Uncharted Path

We have been in the car for hours and I know Tara still doesn't quite understand what's going on, but she is entitled to an explanation. If she were more talkative it would be easy enough, I'd just have to answer her questions... the problem is that she doesn't ask them and that forces me to bring the whole subject up. I know this will be far from pleasant but it has to be said.

"You must understand what happened, why you could not be allowed to go back before now." I say, breaking the silence.

"But I don't understand. Why did you keep me away? Why are we going back now? What's the difference between yesterday and today?"

"When you died Willow was on the brink of losing her mind," I explain, "the pain was more than she could handle and she gave in to the magic... completely. She killed the one who killed you but that was not enough. It was not enough to make the pain go away . She desperately wanted to stop the pain and she could only see one way to do that."

"What do you mean?" She asks, even though I'm pretty sure she already knows, or at least suspects, what the answer to her question is.

"The only way she knew to stop the pain was to destroy the world because suffering is part of life. She almost succeeded but in the end her friend Xander managed to get through to her. After that she was taken to an old coven in England where she learned how to control her power."

"She has killed? She tried to destroy the world?"


"She needed me and you knowingly kept me away from her?"


She hesitates for a moment before asking, "would I have been able to prevent it?"


"Then why did you do it? Why keep me away from her when I had the power to help her? Why make her go through all that?" I can count on one hand how many times I've seen Tara truly angry in this past year... seeing her now reminds me that that's a good thing.

"Because it was her grief when she was confronted with your death that caused Willow to discover the true extent of her powers. Because it was her guilt over Warren's murder that caused her to learn how to control those powers... and because in the end it was a combination of both of those things that enabled her to save the world. If Willow had known that you were alive Warren's life could have been saved and the whole world would have been doomed as a result. The events that culminated in the latest battle had already been set in motion long before you died."

"And now?" She whispers.

"Now the battle has been won and the time has come for you to go home. She's waiting for you."

"How can she be waiting for me when she thinks I'm dead? How am I supposed to explain this to her?" I can see she's growing increasingly anxious. Even though she has always been convinced that her friends will be able to deal with her immortality now that she is about to see them --or rather Willow-- again she's terrified, so I rush to reassure her.

"She's waiting for you because their enemy could take the form of any dead person it wanted and yet it never took your form. By now she's figured out that that can only mean one thing: that you are alive. As to how you explain it, the answer is simple... you tell her the truth and trust that she can handle it." I say knowing that it is the only way.

"But there's one thing I still don't understand... if the battle was won and the time has come for me to go home, why are we going to Cleveland? I mean, shouldn't we be going to California?" Okay, I can see the logic behind that question. Going to California would have been the natural choice under slightly different circumstances.

"Because the battle may be over and your friends may have won but that doesn't mean that their town is still standing," I say, "Sunnydale has been reduced to a huge crater. They will arrive in Cleveland tomorrow... and you should be prepared for something else. Willow met someone in this past year."

"Then maybe I shouldn't go back. I mean, if she's managed to move on then I don't have the right... and I understand. If she thought I was dead then it's only natural for her to have..."

"You, my dear, are a terrible liar," I say shaking my head... does she really expect me to believe that? "you may be willing to accept that Willow found someone new but having to turn your back on her would kill you and you know it, however you don't have to worry about that. That someone never made it out of Sunnydale and Willow needs you now more than ever."