Long Walk to Eternity

After finding out that there is this HUGE possibility that Tara's going to get herself OFFED this season, I decided to write a sudden fiction. Thank you to my English teacher, Mr. Kallio for making us read "Long Walk to Forever."

Disclaimer: You think Buffy is MINE?! WOW! I am SO flattered! But no, you dumb idiot. Long Walk to Forever was written by Kurt Vannegut.

Setting: Years after "New Moon Rising" However instead of choosing Tara, Willow chose Oz.

Their romance was short, barely lasting one year. But what did you expect of a relationship on the Hellmouth. Love was a harder flower to grow on the Hellmouth than anything else. Now it was five years after, they haven't seen each other since the day the werewolf had returned to claim his mate, pushing the shy witch from the yound woman's life. There had always been a playful, comfortable warmth between them, they had talked of love, but the flower was dead before it had begun to bloom.

Her name was Tara McClay. Her name was Willow Rosenburg. On that afternoon, Tara knocked on Willow's door.

Willow answered the door. In her hand was a fat glossy magazine totally dedicated to brides.

"Tara!" She said. She was surprised to see her.

"C-Could you co-come for a w-w-walk?" She said shyly. Even after all these years, the stutter Willow had recognized to easily and loved so whole- heartily, still remained. This manner of speaking had always been Tara's, even in manners that concerned her deeply.

"A walk?" Willow echoed.

"Y-You know...one foot in f-front of the other, though leaves, o-over bridges..." Tara's voice trailed off as she waited for Willow's response.

Silence.

"I had no idea you were in town..."

"I just got in." Tara smiled her signature half-smile, and bowed her head, a curtain of blondeness covering her face.

"Where do you live?" Willow said automatically, as if she had practiced this over and over in front of her mirror for many years.

"I tranfered t-to B-Berkely." Her clothes were still the same, Willow had noticed. Long skirts, very bohemian. Nothing had changed about her, the red- head was glad, though she stuttered less now. It was still there but not as much now. Tara held her hand out for the magazine. "L-Let's see the book."

Willow gave it to her. "I'm getting married, Tara."

"I know." She said as she flipped through the pages. "Let's go for a walk."

"I'm awfully busy, Tara." She said. "The wedding is only a week away."

"If we go for a walk, the chill will bring a flush to your cheeks, make you rosy." The blonde said. "It will make you a rosy bride." She flipped the pages and showed her the photos of all the models in wedding desses. "A rosy bride like her--like her...like her...and her..."

Willow turned rosy, thinking of the rosy brides.

"That will be my present to Oz." Said Tara. "By taking you for a walk, I'll be giving him a rosy bride."

"You know?" Asked Willow.

"Buffy wrote." She said simply.

"You'd like him-I mean, if it wasn't for him going all wolfy on you."

"Maybe." Tara whispered quietly. Though she very much doubted it.

"Can you come to the wedding?" She said.

"That, I really doubt." Her forehead tensed into a frown.

"Then..." Willow started, noticing Tara's look of discomfort. "What are you doing here?"

"Because I love you." Tara said matter-of-factly, as if Willow had known all along and had just forgotten. "Now can we take a walk? One foot in front og the other--through leaves over bridges--"



They were taking a the walk now, were in the woods with a brown-leafed floor. Willow was angry and rattled, close to tears. "Tara," She said suddenly. "This is absolutely crazy."

Tara's eyebrows rose up. "How so?"

"What a crazy time to tell me you love me!" She said, unable to keep the tone of anger from her voice. "You never talked that way before..." She stopped in her tracks.

"I've always wanted to tell you, Willow." She said. "Let's keep walking."

"No." Willow said firmly. "So far, no farther. I shouldn't have come out with you at all."

"You did."

"To get out of the house!" She nearly screamed, surprising Tara. "If someone walked in hearing you talking to me that way, a week before the wedding-!"

"What would they think?"

"They'd think you were crazy!"

"Why?"

Willow took a deep breath, like she always did before her babbles. "Let me say that I am deeply honored for this crazy thing you've done. I can't believe you really love me, but maybe you do. But-"

Tara corrected her. "I do."

Willow suddenly realized Tara's stutter had disappeared. "Well, I'm deeply honored." She said. "And I'm very fond of you as a friend, Tara, extremely fond-but it's just too late."

Tara felt as if her heart had been transfixed with a spear of ice, but she maintained her face clear of any upset. She had promised herself before arriving in Sunnydale that she would not show weakness, and would only accept defeat if nescassary. What only mattered was Willow's happiness.

"You've never even made love to me!" Willow blurted out in a very pitiful defense. She lifted her hands in front of her as if to protect herself. "I don't mean you should do it!" She said quickly. "I mean this is all so unexpected, I don't know how to respond!"

"Just walk some more." Tara turned her back to the red-head. "Have some fun."

They started walking again.

"How did you expect me to react?" Willow asked.

"How would I know what to expect?" The blonde witch shrugged. "I've never done anything like this before. You were my first."

"First what?" Willow said curiously.

"First love."

Silence.

"Did you expect me to throw myself into your arms?"

"Maybe."

"I'm sorry to disappoint you..." The hacker said, almost sadly. Tara had been one of her most closest friends way back when. It hurt her to have to break the other woman's heart, but she had to do it...for Oz. She remembered how fragile Tara was...is. Willow could look straight through the mask of bravery and nonchalance she had put on to meet with her. Tara had not changed one bit.

"I'm not disappointed." Tara said. "I really wasn't counting on it. This is very nice, just walking."

Willow stopped again. "You know what happens next?"

"Nope." Tara sighed.

"We shake hands and part as friends." She wanted to run away from Tara as fast as she could. "That's what happens next!"

Tara nodded, she knew Willow wouldn't stay long. "Alright. But...remember me from time to time? How much I love you?"

Involuntarily, Willow bursted into tears. She turned her back to Tara and stared into the infinite colonnade of woods.

Tara longed to hold Willow in her arms and apologize for making her cry but instead she spoke gently. "What does that mean?"

"Rage!" She snapped in fury. "You had no right to-"

"I had to find out..." The other said ruefully, but in truth.

"If I'd loved you, I would've let you known!"

"You would?" Tara said, not believing.

"Yes! I'm not very clever at hiding my feelings. You know that!" Tara noticed the accusing tone.

Tara looked closer at Willow's face. To her consertation, she realized that what she said had been true; Willow couldn't hide her love.

She was seeing love now and she did what she had to do. She kissed her.

"What the hell!" Willow sputtered in rage when Tara had let go. "You really shouldn't have done that!"

"You didn't like it?" What Tara meant to say was 'Sorry'.

"What did you expect? Wild...unbridled..." Willow struggled with the words. "GAY LOVE?"

"I keep telling you, I never know what's going to happen next."

"We say goodbye."

Tara bit her lip, as if trying to keep herself from screaming out loud. "Alright." She said quietly.

Willow started to make a speech. Not a babble-speech, just a speech. "I'm sorry we kissed. That was sweet though. We should have kissed, we've been so close. I'll always remember you, Tara. Good luck."

Tara smiled weakly, it was killing her inside but she couldn't tell Willow that. "You too, Willow."

"Thank you, Tara."

Both stood there unmoving for awhile, each afraid to move for fear that if they did, if they shattered this moment and if they walked away, neither would see each other again. Willow finally spoke again.

She said contritely. "Tara, I know you're hurting...but I didn't ask you to come here."

"Yeah you did." Tara smiled, and with a tilt of her neck, her face was gone behind the shower of gold.

Willow looked at her, confused.

"In here." Tara tapped her chest with her forefinger. "I could feel you. You were calling and I came. I was lost, you found me. You always knew how to find me."

Willow opened her mouth, as is to say something but then stopped to think, before continuing. "False alarm then."

Tara nodded and stared at the ground. She mentally willed herself not to cry, Willow had chosen, time to split. "No...wishful thinking." She turned to leave.

"I know you thought I was in trouble and needed help. You came running trying to be my hero." Willow said. "Don't try again."

Tara stopped and lifted her face to the sky, her back still turned to Willow. "Must be nice...to be a hero." She said outloud to no-one in particular. "I wonder. Is Oz a hero?"

"He might be, if he got the chance." Willow noted in uneasiness that she had began to walk toward Tara. The farewell was forgotten.

"You really love him?" Tara asked once Willow was by her side again.

"Of course!" Willow answered immediately, with no hesitation.

Tara became curious. "Why?"

"Do you have any idea about how offensive you're being!" Willow said hotly. This was beginning to seriously tick her off.

Tara noted how Willow's aura flickered and flared. Once again, she had opened her big mouth without thinking and offended her love. "I'm sorry." Stupid! She thought to herself. She looked at Willow again and saw the look of yearning upon her face. Not yearning for Oz but for someone else.

Tara kissed her again. She kissed her again because Willow wanted to.

They were now in a large orchard.

"How did we get so far from home, Tara?"

"One foot in front of the other--through leaves, over bridges..." Tara voice trailed off distantly.

"They add up." Willow said. "The steps, I mean."

Bells rang in a tower of a school for the blind.

"Since when did Sunnydale have a school for the blind?" Tara raised her eyebrow.

"Two years ago." Willow answered. She shook her head in a drowsy wonder. "I have to go now." She said as she turned to leave.

She had barely taken three steps when Tara grabbed her hand and pulled her back.

Willowhand. Tara thought. "Say goodbye."

"Everytime I do. I seem to get kissed." There was no anger on her face like the times before, only a sad smile.

"Sit down with me." Tara pleaded as she sat down on the neatly cropped grass beneathe an apple tree..

"No." Willow shook her head, her resolve face one.

Tara looked at Willow for a second. "I won't touch you. You know that."

"Right now, I'm not sure of what I know about you, Tara." She sat down under another tree, twenty-feet away from hers. She closed her eyes.

Tara smiled at how peaceful Willow looked, like an angel. "Dream of Oz."

"What?"

"Your husband-to-be." Tara clarified.

"All right, I will!" Willow closed her eyes tighter, trying catching glimpses of her wonderful fiancee. But her mind seemed to forget how Oz looked like. Tara seemed to take his place within her head. How is that possible? How can I not remember what he looks like? I only saw him this morning making me that wonderful breakfast!

Twenty-feet away, Tara wiped her eyes sadly. Failure again, little Tara. Your love seeks happiness with another. Suddenly she was furious with herself. How can you be so sad! You should be happy for Willow that she has found the one she loves! What kind of person are you to wallow in sadness when you should be happy for her sake! Fiercely determained to be strong, she chased away her mournful thoughts as she folded her legs into a lotus- position and began to meditate.

The bees were humming in the trees, and Willow almost fells asleep. When she opened her eyes, she found Tara in a deep state of trance. Her breathing regulated and composed, Tara was fully awake but her mind elseware. It would be awhile until she came back.

Willow let Tara meditate for an hour, adoring her while she did. The shadows of the apple trees grew to the east. The bells for the school of the blind rang again.

A crow cawed in the distance. Somewhere for away a car started, nagged and failed. Nagged and failed and then went still.

Willow came out from under the tree and knelt by Tara.

"Tar?"

"Hm?" Tara snapped out of her meditation.

"It's late."

Tara opened her azure eyes and gazed lovingly at the one who would always hold her heart, and smiled. "Hey, Will." She said.

"Hey Tar." She said.

"I love you."

"I know."

"Too late." Tara sighed.

"Too late." Willow shook her head in agreement.

Tara got up and stretched. "A very nice walk!"

"I thought so too." Willow said softly, nodding.

Tara shifted her eyes back to Willow, which were full of sorrow. "Part here?"

A nod once more. "How will you get back?"

"Hitch-hiking!"

"Good luck." The red-head said.

"You too." Tara reached out and captured Willow's hand in her own. Icy blue eyes met gentle green, and Tara smiled. "I don't regret coming back. I'll never forget today." She lifted Willow's hand to her lips and kissed her knuckles, her eyes never leaving Willow's. "You call, I come running. You'll always hold my heart." With that she turned and walked away.

Willow watched her grow smaller and smaller into the distance. Something broke inside of her, watching Tara walk away. Something of the past, holding on to Oz with every fiber of her being, she forgot how to really love, how to love not out of desperation. The things artificial were left behind in the dust as Willow ran to Tara, who turned to see her love running toward her with tears streaming down her beautiful face.

Willow threw herself into Tara's arms and sobbed. She cried, and could not speak.

End

Ok, that sucked. Now don't be shy, I'm a pyro so FLAME ME!!!