Author's Note: Thank you amberholic89 and Raven Aorla for your lovely reviews :D. Amberholic89- This chapter doesn't deal with Tara's feelings about Warren very much, but I promise you that future chapters will. Thank you :), Cate.
Tara is home from the hospital, carefully tucked into their bed. Willow hovers nervously and awkwardly, always on hand to bring Tara every combination of soup and ice cream she can think of. Every time Tara's eyes can't quite meet hers, Willow feels her heart sink deeper into her chest. Neither of them seems to know quite what to say, so the silence hangs around them. When night finally comes, Willow hesitantly slips under the covers, careful not to touch Tara. Willow is petrified of hurting Tara, but she can't ignore the ache of not holding Tara at night. Looking at Tara without cuddling her finally becomes too much to bear, and she turns away, a tear slipping out.
Willow tries not to allow the sadness to overwhelm her, focusing instead on the sound of Tara's breathing. She tries to make her own breathing match Tara's, a habit of hers from happier days.
Willow stirs to the sound of whimpering.
"Tara?" Willow asks worried, trying to wake up fully. She opens her eyes to find Tara shaking, her eyes open, yet unaware of Willow.
"Tara," Willow whispers her voice breaking slightly. Her hand lightly touches Tara's shoulder, and Tara flinches. Tara's eyes frantically search the darkness until she finds Willow watching her with great alarm.
"D-dream," Tara explains. She pauses, trying to slow her breathing. After a moment she speaks again. "I-I had a nightmare, but it didn't go away when I woke up. Will? What... what if I get lost again? I don't want to get lost..." Tara speaks slowly, her voice breaking at the end.
"Hey, shush," Willow coos gently, her hand stroking Tara's cheek. "Then just I'll find you again," she assures Tara, adding with a teasing smile, "I already know all the places to look."
Tara returns the smile, and then moves closer to her, so Willow can pull her into her arms. Tara lets out a sigh, allowing herself to relax in Willow's arms. She's feeling quite safe until a thought starts to intrude.
"Willow?" she asks softly.
"Yes?" Willow replies.
"Are you going to start using magick again?" she asks hesitantly, biting her lip.
"No baby! Of course not," Willow replies adamantly.
Tara is silent for a moment.
"Will- you have to know- if you use dark magick again, you're going to get lost soon, and then there will be no one to find us," Tara tells her.
"I know," Willow replies, gently squeezing Tara's hand.
Willow slips into the bathroom, quietly clicking the lock into place. Sitting down on the cold floor, she lays everything out, focusing on the ritual to calm her nerves. She knows this is what has to be done. Still, her hands tremble slightly.
Willow raises her head towards the sky, allowing the dark magick to course through her once more, its strength nearly causing her to collapse against the bathroom floor.
"Osiris, I call upon you," she cries out as the candles flicker and the walls groan. "Oh Osiris, show me the underworld, make death course through me," she demands, her voice gaining in strength.
Candles sputter and extinguish, and the room is filled with a darkness beyond the blackest of moonless nights. Willow's heart thuds in her chest, the air pressing hard against her skin. She feels the floor drop, and an icy wetness slides across her skin, her eyes still blind in the dark.
Her skin begins to burn, raw and painfully cold. A blinding light erupts from the vast unknown, and her head jerks away involuntarily. Willow strains against her reflexes as her forces her eyes to open and look directly into the light.
"Osiris, my hands are unclean, stained with his blood. I stand before you, Osiris, ruler of the underworld. Make his blood mix with mine, so I may know of all that I have done," Willow bellows, her hands outstretched and her hair whipping around her face.
A great rumbling echoes around Willow, and the light pierces her skin, her magicks bleeding from the wounds.
Her life- its heartbeat, pulse, and breath- shutters and trembles, fading and fighting. Pain rips through her chest, and she feels his fear consume every inch of her. Their bodies fight death as one, her fate intertwined with his. Murder stabs into her soul. Not just his, but every killing, each life taken without the right. Bullets, swords, and fists mark her body, all the violence poisoning her soul with its bitter, selfish vengeance. Tears flow down her cheeks as she weeps for each life, for the loss of your humanity. She cries for both the murdered and the murderer, their souls ripped from them in that violent act.
As she cries harder, sobs beginning to rack her body, she cries for Tara, Warren, and herself. Her body shudders under the weight of her actions, filled with the knowledge of what he felt when she torn his skin from his body. The horrible pain is just a prick compared to the pain thrust into her heart. She took his life, and that violence can never be undone.
She feels her life draining, no magick left in her to fight the sweeping darkness. She lets go of everything but her love for Tara, allowing whatever fate she deserves judge and sentence her.
The lighting and pain begin to fade, and she feels her body shaking. She hears her name being called, and she wonders if this is how death begins.
"Willow!" the voice calls again, and it sounds familiar. It's not a God's voice at all, it's a girl's. Buffy.
Willow weakly opens her eyes to find her friend shaking her frantically.
Buffy stops shaking her and hugs her fiercely.
"You scared the hell out of me," Buffy whispers, trying to maintain a joking tone despite her panic.
"S-Sorry," Willow mumbles, clinging to the comfort her friend provides.
Buffy gathers Willow in her arms, carrying her into her bedroom. She brushes Willow's hair from her face before leaving to call Giles and reassure Tara and Dawn that Willow is okay.
"You did a very stupid thing," Giles' voice breaks into Willow's light sleep. She turns to looks at him, grateful for the fatherly protectiveness he radiates.
"I know," she mumbles, blushing. "But I atoned, Giles. I felt the violence of my actions, and the damage I caused. I know it won't go away Giles, but I've taken responsibility. It was worth it, despite the price," Willow tells him softly.
Giles regards her, silently and sombrely.
"I wasn't- I wasn't trying to kill myself, Giles," she adds quietly.
He nods his head, taking her hand.
"I'm glad you took responsibility, Willow. You'll have to continue to take responsibility. The next couple months aren't going to be easy, Willow, but I'd be here for you. You're going to have to learn to accept others help, least you resort to dark magicks again," Giles tells her sternly.
Willow nods, and Giles squeezes her hand before leaving the room.
Willow turns to find Buffy gently helping Tara into the bedroom. Tara's face is tense with worry, but she manages a soft smile for Willow. Buffy eases Tara down onto the bed beside Willow.
"Call you if you need me, Tara," Buffy says softly before leaving them alone.
Tara's fingers slowly brush Willow's cheek.
"You used magicks," Tara says softly.
Willow turns away in shame, her face burning. "Yes. Tara- I'm sorry, I'm really sorry. Are you going to leave me again?" she asks, her voice quiet and raw.
Tara tugs Willow to face her. "I understand why you did it, Wil. I'm not going to lie and say it doesn't scare me, but I think it was probably the right thing to do. I'm not leaving you, Willow Rosenberg," she whispers with a smile.
Willow's face breaks into a grin. Wrapping her arm around Tara's waist, she pulls Tara against her and kisses her.
"I love you," she whispers, intertwining her hand with Tara's.
"I love you too," Tara replies with a smile, her hand stroking Willow's.
"Tara- the spell- I, um, I wouldn't be able to do any magicks at all for at least a month. After visiting Osiris, I'm powerless. I'm not a witch..." she trails off, her voice quivering.
"I always loved you beyond magick and witch-iness, Wil. I love Willow, the girl who loves computers, happy endings and apparently dressed quite nerdy in high school from the stories I've been told," Tara gently teases. "You know, I've always had a thing for nerdy girls," she adds with a wink.
Willow smiles and kisses Tara. As she begins to feel exhausted again, she curls against Tara, their breathing once again in sync.