Alrighty, we're back. So, enjoy! As always reviews/thoughts are appreciated :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the other characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
Outside, the rain continued to pour down at a furious pace, the drops soaking every square inch of ground they came in contact with. As Tara nearly pushed her into the Mansion, Willow could feel every strand of her red-hair sticking to her face in wet clumps, a product of getting caught in the middle of the rain storm. Closing the door behind her, the vampire shook her head in an attempt to get rid of some of the excess water that soaked her body.
"Can…can y-you start t-the f-f-fire?" Frowning as she heard the other girl stuttering as she spoke, Tara took a few steps towards her, her eyes picking up on how much the red-head was shaking in her soaked clothes.
"Come on, let's get you warmed up." Resting her hand gently on the other girl's shoulder, the vampire slowly led her into the main room, the remnants of a fire continuing to smolder. There were still enough logs stacked up beside the building to build another, making the vampire hope that it would be enough to make the other girl warm again.
"Sit down." Obeying the vampire's command, Willow sat down and leaned into the couch, rubbing her hands up and down her arms in an attempt to warm herself up. Closing her eyes, she tried to remember what it was like to be warm, to be curled up underneath the cozy sheets of a bed, to actually be able to sleep without having to worry about anything.
"Willow?" Opening her tired and cold eyes, the red-head felt her heart-beat skip as she saw the other girl standing in front of her, completely devoid of the wet clothing she had been wearing only moments before. Seeing the girl's rapid attention, Tara smiled slightly as she pulled Willow onto her feet. "The fire's starting. Take off your clothes or you won't get warm."
Looking behind the vampire, Willow could see the pockets of flames beginning to spread across the fresh logs that lay above them. The bright colors reminded her of the warm feeling that she felt whenever the vampire fed on her, and a smile gradually came to her lips before the realization of how cold she was came back in full force. Nodding her head slightly, the Witch tried to grip the bottom of her shirt, her cold and freezing fingers unable to hold still long enough to slip underneath the article.
"T-too c-c-cold." She said, her body continuing to shake as she let her hands fall back to her sides with a defeated wet clap.
"It's ok." Taking the other girl's hands, Tara let her over to the floor directly in front of the fire, the warmth from the flames spreading across both of their bodies. Unaffected by the cold, the vampire slipped her fingers underneath the other girl's shirt, the article coming off with a slight struggle before landing on the ground with a wet plop. Her shoes and socks followed the same path, with the vampire's hands moving quickly and silently.
As the flames continued to roar inside the fireplace, Willow felt some degree of relief as the sensation of warmth began to spread across her back. The sound of the rain pounding against the Mansion echoed into the room, filling every inch of the building with its constant drum-like rhythm. Her mind focused on the fire behind her, the red-head felt Tara's fingers continuing to toy with the top portion of her soaked jeans.
"Just stand still." As the button came undone, the Witch felt more and more of the fire's warmth make its way into her body. "Lift your legs." Stepping out of the soaking wet jeans, the red-head heard the tell-tale plop they made before Tara's hands were on her body once more.
"Feeling any better?" She asked, her cold fingers toying with the straps of the other girl's bra.
"A l-little." Her teeth still chattering inside her mouth, Willow kept her eyes closed in an attempt to retain all the heat in her body. As the vampire's fingers gently unsnapped the bra, she pulled it off of the other girl's body, the article adding to the pile of wet clothing that lay at the red-head's feet. Her arms wrapping around her chest, the Witch continued to shiver from the combination of the cold and Tara's fingers moving across her back. Sensing how tense the other girl was, Tara pressed her lips against the red-head's ear, causing the girl to melt into her touch. Her fingers continued to move lower and lower until they reached the top of the red-head's panties.
"It's ok, it's just me." As the other girl relaxed, the vampire pulled the girl's panties down completely, leaving no single shred of the red-head's skin unexposed to the flame. "I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to get you warm again. Just step out."
"Just sit down." As she guided the red-head down onto the warm stone situated directly in front of the fireplace, Tara wrapped her arm around the girl's waist in a comforting gesture. Willow's shakes had begun to finally taper off as the fire's warmth continued to spread through her cold and damp body. Her head resting against Tara's shoulder, the red-head reveled in the silence that had spread throughout the room.
"T-Tara?" As she pushed the name past her cold lips, Willow felt the other girl tighten her hold on her.
"What a-are we going to d-do?" Tilting her head in order to look into the red-head's eyes, Tara saw the conflict raging in the girl's eyes. "We can't hide you forever."
"We'll worry about it later. We're trying to dry you off." Pressing her lips against the girl's cheek, the vampire pulled Willow closer to her in the process. "After that you're going to sleep."
"I'm not tired." Morphing her lips into a pout, the red-head felt the vampire gently pinch her thigh.
"No arguing. You need your sleep." As the flames continued to roar behind them inside the stone stonework, Willow felt the last pangs of the cold become extinguished. Her hair beginning to finally dry, the red-head looked down at her fingers, feeling a sense of satisfaction that the digits were no longer shaking.
"Tara, I'm not tired. Really."
"I said no arguing." As the vampire pinched her hip this time, a squeak made its way out of the Witch's mouth, the sound sending a smile across the other girl's face. "I don't need sleep, you do."
"Suppose you don't anymore, do you?" The sound of the clock ticking across the room echoed its way to the girl's ears, ringing in both of their heads in the process.
"Come on, off to bed." Hearing the playful tone Tara's voice had, Willow smiled.
"Ok, mom." Rolling her eyes upon hearing the girl's response, the vampire snorted in order to avoid laughing.
"Sarcasm, Tare, just sarcasm."
"Bed. Now." Helping the girl onto her feet, Tara led her towards the bedroom, leaving their still soaking wet clothes in a heap by the fire. Within a few hours, they'd be dry enough to wear again. As the vampire helped the other girl into the bed and underneath the red sheets, she smiled, noticing how innocent the red-head looked for a single moment.
"What time is it?" Willow asked, settling her body into the bed as she spoke.
"Late enough. Sleep."
"Are you coming to bed too?" She continued, her lips changing into a pout once more and her eyes taking on a sad quality to them. "I'm lonely."
"In a minute. Don't want your clothes to get set on fire." Flashing the red-head a sly grin, Tara slipped out of the room. As the sound of wet clothes echoed into the room as they were laid down on a solid piece of stone, Willow closed her eyes, the sheets beneath her surprisingly warm to the touch. It felt somewhat strange to know that Angel and Buffy had most likely once laid on these same sheets…bad thoughts, bad thoughts, bad thoughts
"Alright. I'm satisfied that a stray spark won't set them ablaze." Smiling, the vampire made her way over to the side of the bed, and pulled the sheets over-top of her, causing the red-head to open her eyes. "Not that I mind the view I'm having."
"I thought you wanted me to go to sleep?"
"I do." Kissing the girl's forehead, Tara sank deeper into the sheets. "Doesn't mean that I can't entertain a few thoughts here and there. Go to sleep. You need rest." Closing her eyes, the other girl smiled, her mind beginning to feel the need for rest. As she pulled the girl closer to her body, Tara closed her own eyes as the sound of Willow's heart-beat continued to fill her ears.
As she unleashed another fit of coughs into her pillow and sheets, Willow felt like she was dying inside. She was alone in the Dorm room, with Tara obviously stuck inside the Mansion, unable to move by the light of day. Buffy and Dawn had stopped by numerous times already within the past two days in order to make sure she was ok. Neither had commented on the state of the room, which gave the girl a small sense of relief. But she knew that she wouldn't be able to keep up the charade forever. Sooner or later, she and Tara were going to have to tell Buffy the truth about what was happening.
It hurt her to realize that the vampire was starving as she lay in bed coughing. Tara relied on the blood that she brought her, and apart from the single time that the vampire had hunted someone, that was how she had fed. But now, there was truly nothing that the red-head could do. She could barely stand up by herself without the contents of her stomach trying to escape through her mouth. Being sick was helping neither of them, and the Witch had considered using magick in order to eradicate the virus from her system, but she had been unable to read the books in order to find the proper spell.
Across the room, the TV continued to play on, the volume muted in order to prevent the massive headache from sneaking back into the girl's head, and threatening to split it apart. It had happened at least two or three times now, and it could come back at any time.
Time. Time was something that she and Tara didn't have. It was something that was keeping them apart. Something that was hurting them.
Tara, I'll be there soon. I promise.
Hunger. That was the single thing that existed inside her body, the sensation eradicating any other feeling, emotion, touch, or thought. As she lay underneath the sheets, Tara struggled to control her body's urge for blood, her senses existing as if they were there purely to drive her insane. It wasn't nearly as bad as it had been the night she had risen from the dead, when the thirst for blood had been the only thing she could possible think of, memories be damned. But in many ways, it all came down to a single thing. Pain or Hunger.
More than anything, she wanted Willow to be there with her, to make the pain go away. It had crossed her mind that the girl could be sick, considering how wet and cold she had been nights before, after they had been trapped inside the rain storm. It pained her to imagine the girl in pain, suffering from an ailment that she could do nothing about. Inside her unbeating heart, the vampire felt nothing but love for the girl. She focused in on that emotion, letting it battle the hunger within her. Her brain struggled to call any memory that would inflict emotions. Sadness, hunger, anger, happiness, anything was better than feeling nothing but pain and hunger.
She thought of Willow, of how the girl's smile and laughter made her feel alive again. Of how cold the girl had been nights before after the rain had drenched her down to the bones inside her. Of how red her hair was in even the dimmest lighting of the fire behind them. Of how attracted she had been to her that day she had walked into the Wicca group, of how much power she could sense inside the red-head's aura. How much love her still heart held for her.
Willow would come. She wouldn't abandon her to the hunger.
Again, the thirst took over her stomach, twisting her insides over and over again. Gripping the red-sheets in her hand even tighter, she tried to bury the need, wanting nothing more than to slip into sleep until the red-head came to awaken her.
As the minutes continued to pass by, Tara could only lay and suffer, praying that Willow would come.
"You ok in here, Wills?" Poking her head inside the door, Buffy took the groan inside the room as a 'no.' "Still not feeling any better?"
"I feel like I'm dying." Rolling over onto her back, Willow stared across the room at the other girl. "Am I dead?"
"You're still breathing and talking, so that's a good sign."
"Your sarcasm isn't helping me here."
"Sorry." Turning her head to the side as if someone were talking to her, the blonde offered the red-head a smile. "Hey, I gotta go. Get better, ok? Dawnie will be by later."
"Ok." Burying her head into the pillow, the red-head heard the door gently shut and then the silence again took command of the room. The TV in the corner was still playing, the screen displaying some older movie that she had never seen before. The headaches had finally stopped, but she didn't want to risk them coming back by turning the sound on. She needed to get better, needed to go see Tara. Tara would be hungry, would be waiting for her. Tara needed blood, and she was the only one who could bring it to her.
"Feel free to stop hurting at any time." She said, pangs of pain beginning to erupt inside her brain. Goddess, why did I even think about the headaches?
"Tara?" Willow shouted out into the darkness that controlled every inch of the Mansion. The structure was eerily silent, with the fire in the fireplace having died days ago due to a lack of attention. Her heart dropping at the lack of any response to her question, the Witch pushed on into the structure, her eyes frantic to catch even the faintest glimpse of movement. And yet, with each step she took, the only sound that echoed back to her ears was that of her own footsteps on the cold concrete floor.
"Tara?!" She said again, her voice breaking due to her throat's soreness. "Tara?!" Turning her head slightly, the Witch caught sight of a crumbled form on the floor.
"Wil…Willow?" As she looked at the vampire in front of her, Willow could see the hunger that had all but overtaken Tara's eyes. The girl's features were contorted into visible pain, providing all the evidence that the red-head needed to know that she hadn't fed within the three days she hadn't visited her.
"Tara, oh my Goddess..."
"Willow, y-you c...came." Having to push the last word out of her mouth, the vampire looked up at the other girl as she felt Willow's hands pulling her up off the ground that she had been lying on for so long.
"Sssshhh, Tara, I'm here, it's alright." There was a noticeable fear in the red-head's tone, making the vampire wonder how bad she really looked, if it matched how she felt inside. The hunger had finally overtaken her mind, despite everything she had tried to prevent otherwise. She remembered stumbling out of bed, trying to make it to the doors in order to go out and hunt, but the floor had been what had greeted her instead. How much time had passed? Minutes, hours, days? Everything seemed to have blended together, forming one single moment of blackness.
"Goddess, how long has it been since you fed?"
"D-days." Pulling the brunette's arm around her shoulders, Willow moved as fast as her already tired system could manage, the bed being the sole thing she could think of other than the vampire at her side. The girl's skin felt colder than it had before, making her wonder how long the demon had been on the floor.
"Tara, stay with me here, look at me." The girl's tired eyes staring into hers, the Witch felt the vampire's hand gripping her shirt tighter and tighter.
"I'm so...hungry...It hurts..."
"I brought you blood, just stay here." Her body turning to run towards the door, Willow felt the vampire holding her in place, her other hand reaching out to grab her shirt.
"Need...you...now." Her face morphing into its true form, Tara's yellow eyes looked up at the other girl with an almost animalistic trait running through her pupils.
"Tara, I brou-" The red-head started before the other girl pulled her onto the bed, flipping her over onto her back before climbing on top of her.
"Hungry." Was the only word that left her lips before her head fell down to the other girl's neck, her fangs breaking the skin without the slightest concern for haste. A scream escaping from her lips, Willow felt the warmth flow through her, the sensation doing little to calm her frantic mind. The look that Tara had on her face, it was the same that she had worn the night she had risen, when the hunger had been the only thing on her mind.
The vampire would kill her, and she had only seconds to react.
"T-T-Tar-a." She said, hands curling on the vampire's stomach in an attempt to push her off of her. The girl made no response to her name being called, her full attention on the blood entering her system. "G-g-get o-off of m-me!"
The strength in her body beginning to fade as black dots began to blanket her vision, Willow kept struggling until her arms refused to follow her commands. The bed beneath her feeling more and more soft, the red-head closed her eyes, the black overtaking her senses and wrapping her in warmth that she couldn't even possibly ever imagine being real. Was this what it felt like to die? To feel like this for all eternity?
With one final push, the Witch finally fell still, her heart-beat barely keeping a rhythm anymore.
Withdrawing her fangs from the girl beneath her, Tara could feel a steady stream falling down and collecting on her chin. The pain inside her stomach finally had faded, replaced with a satisfied feeling as her stomach continued to lay filled to the brim with blood. Her face morphing back into its human guise, the vampire looked down at the red-head upon which her body was straddled.
"Willow?" Smiling, the girl expected to hear the red-head mutter something about being sleepy, just as she always did when she let the vampire drink from her. Her senses returning to their normal capabilities, Tara's smile disappeared when she realized the girl's heart-beat was almost entirely non-existent.
"Willow?" Her tone beginning to fill up with concern, Willow pulled the other girl up to her face by her forearms. "Willow, honey, answer me!" With silence being the only thing that circulated through the room, Tara's eyes light up with pure, unrestrained fear.
As she hung her coat up onto the rack, Buffy moved silently across the floor, not wanting to wake the other occupants of the house. As she mounted the stairs, a sharp ring shot through the house, actually making the Slayer cringe as the sound filled her ears. Rushing to the phone, she pulled the receiver off the hook, the ringing ceasing almost instantly as she did so.
"Buffy?! It's Tara."
"Tara? What's wrong? It's pretty late for a social ca-"
"WILL YOU SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO ME?!" Pulling her ear away from the receiver, Buffy could hear the sound of the Witch screaming circling through the rest of the house.
"Tara, ok, you sound completely wigged, what's going on?"
"Get down to the hospital right now. Willow's hurt."
"What?!" Her own voice rising in volume, the Slayer wasn't surprised when she heard two sets of footsteps beginning to make their way down the stairs. "What happened?!"
"Just get down here. The sun will be rising soon, and I can't watch her during the day."
"What..." The word had barely left her lips before she heard the line cut off on the other end, a constant tone replacing it before the blonde set the receiver back down onto the table and rushed towards the door.
"Buffy, what's going on?" Dawn asked, yawning in the process.
"Willow's hurt, stay here, I'll call when I get more info." Not bothering to hear her sister and mother's responses, Buffy was out the door and running, her mind knowing the route to the hospital by heart, having been there too many times in the past few months.
Somewhere in her mind, the pieces began to click into place.