I Still Sing to You
A.N.: Set right after "Conversations with Dead People." That episode bothered me so much and I felt such pain for Willow that I decided it was time for Tara to really visit her.
It was 12 am, and Willow still couldn't sleep. The girl that had supposedly brought a message from Tara still haunted her thoughts, tearing at memories, cruelly mocking her pain. "She still sings to you, even though you can't hear it," the girl had said, and Willow had truly believed that Tara was speaking through her. Her heart broke all over again when she discovered the façade, cringing at the girl's cruel laughter. But even after the demon disappeared, one thought still nagged at Willow. Did Tara still sing to her? Did Tara remember her?
Willow rolled over and hugged her pillow, wishing it were Tara.
For a moment, Willow thought she'd dropped off. Why else would she be hearing Tara's voice?
It couldn't be…but then where was the bright light coming from?
Swallowing hard, Willow slowly rolled over and looked at the end of her bed. There was Tara, sitting cross-legged on the quilt and smiling sadly.
"T-Tara?" Willow asked hoarsely, her eyes welling with tears.
Tara smiled sadly. "Yes, Willow. It's me."
Willow backed up against the headboard of her bead in fear. "How do I know you're not the First Evil? How do I know you haven't come to hurt me again?"
Tara winced. "Oh, baby, I can prove it. When the demon came to town and made us all sing I sang to you on the bri-"
"The First said that to me! It told me lies! It hurt me! How do I know you're not the First coming to hurt me again? Was Cassie not convincing enough?"
Willow was sobbing, curled up into a ball at the head of the bed and watching Tara's spirit fearfully. Tara too was crying, stunned and hurt by Willow's accusations. "Willow…" the ghost said carefully, voice quavering as she moved towards the redhead and placed a ghostly hand on her shoulder. In that simple and barest of touches, Willow knew that her true love had indeed come to her.
"Oh Tara!" Willow sobbed, moving to hug the girl. Her arms went right through the blonde, causing Willow to sob even more. "Oh G-God, I'm s-so s-sorry!" she choked out. "I c-can't b-believe I thought you w-were the First! I should've known better! You're too kind and too pure for the First to possess you!"
Tara smiled sadly. "I know," she sighed. "And I felt the First's presence here. I knew she'd go for you and the others, so I made a bargain with the Powers That Be."
"What bargain?" Willow asked a bit suspiciously, wiping away some of her tears.
"I've been allowed to visit you until dawn, but after that, we can never see each other until you pass on."
"No!" Willow cried, reaching for Tara again, and again failing. "Why can't I hold you!"
"I'm just a spirit, sweetie. But you can still feel me. And I can feel you." Tara reached out and caressed Willow's cheek, careful not to press to hard so that her hand didn't pass through the redhead. Willow's eyes fluttered shut as she felt Tara's warm hand on her skin. In turn, she reached out to touch Tara's cheek, savoring the sensation of being close to her love again. When the two leaned forward for the gentlest of kisses, they both felt love coursing through them, binding them together as they once had been.
Tara smiled when they finally pulled away. "I figured there were a few things you should know."
Willow bit her lip. "I'm listening."
"Well," Tara began. "I do still s-sing to you. Even though you can't hear me. The F-First was right about that." Not wanting to hurt her true love further, she put her hand gently on Willow's thigh as best she could. "But when you sleep, I sing to you. And I'm always watching over you."
Willow actually winced. "You saw what I did…what happened to me…"
Tara nodded. "But you came back. You pulled away from the darkness."
"Xander was the one who did it, not me," Willow began, but Tara held a finger up to silence her.
"Xander helped, yes, but you were the one who pulled through. You did it, Willow. Xander woke up the real you inside the blackness, and you fought your way through into the light. You came back to the real world. And even when you were shrouded in darkness, I still loved you. Nothing will ever change that."
Willow began sobbing again, and Tara planted soft kisses on her lover's forehead, brushing her bare arms gently. Though the touch was almost nonexistent, Willow felt it as if she and Tara were locked tightly together.
"Oh baby, I'm so lonely without you," Willow said.
It was Tara's turn to wince. "I know, sweetie. I know." There was a pause as both young women hung their heads. "Here," Tara finally said. "Crawl under the covers. I'd tuck you in if I could."
Willow smiled at the thought as she obeyed. Once she'd gotten comfortable, Tara lay down beside her and stroked her lover's cheek. "There's something I need you to do for me, Willow."
The redhead nodded. "Anything."
"I need you to love again."
Willow's eyes shot open. "What? But I – you – we're meant to be together forever!"
"And we will be," Tara said. "But the Powers That Be also granted me a look into your future, and there is a special someone coming your way."
"But you're my special someone!" Willow protested. Tara smiled.
"Is it a crime to love more than one person?" The blonde spirit sighed and cupped Willow's chin. "Love again, Willow. Don't fake it – love again. And when you meet her, I know you will love her."
"Tara – "
"Shh, darling…" Tara resumed stroking Willow's cheek. "Open your heart. Love again. Know that in the end we will be together forever, and that we will always be bound to one another. But learn to love others as well. You can't spend your whole life waiting to join me, and don't you dare take the First's 'advice' and bring yourself here early." Willow gulped and nodded. Tara smiled warmly at her. "I love you so much, baby. And I want you to love again. I know I'll still be in your heart."
"Always," Willow replied, starting to cry again. Tara wished desperately that she could truly kiss the tears away, hold the redhead tightly and take away all the pain. It was then that Tara felt as if she was being gently tugged, and she knew she had to go soon.
"I have to leave…" Tara began sadly.
"No! Oh baby, don't go!"
"Shh," Tara said, kissing Willow as best she could. "I'll always be with you. Don't ever forget that." She stroked Willow's hair. "Sleep now. I'll stay with you until you fall asleep." She kissed Willow again, and the two moved their mouths against one another's as deeply as they could.
"I love you, Tara."
"I love you too, Willow. Now close your eyes."
Willow obeyed, and she felt Tara stroke her back as the girl sang to her – sang the song only Willow had ever heard.
"I lived my life in shadow,
Never the sun on my face
It didn't seem so sad though,
I figured that was my place,"
Willow smiled as Tara continued to sing in a voice that could make angels weep. She knew now that Tara would truly, truly be there. She knew now that Tara had never really left her, and never would. And even though she would follow Tara's instructions and love again, she would never, ever leave Tara. Even the First Evil could break the bond between the two witches. Willow fell asleep peacefully just as her true love sang, "You make me believe."
But Tara did not leave until she had finished the song. "I love you," she whispered again as she kissed Willow's cheek. And then she was gone, leaving only the sound of Willow's peaceful breathing in her wake.
And sure enough, a few days later, three potential Slayers came to the Summers' house, one of them by the name of Kennedy. She and Willow talked as Willow tried to figure out the sleeping arrangements. After listening to Kennedy's tips, the redhead sighed and surrendered control. "Great!" Kennedy said as she took the sheets. "You'd better not hog the covers." And with that she ran up the stairs, leaving a slack-jawed Willow watching her go. But the more Willow thought about it, and the more she got to know this spunky girl named Kennedy, the more she began to believe that maybe, just maybe, she could give the whole love thing a second chance.