So this is just a little short-story I've been working on for about a month or so now. It's based on an idea that during "Wrecked", when Willow was breaking down, what if she went to Tara for help with the whole 'Magick Addiction' thing.
There's only one or two chapters of this, but they both are long, so...take from it what ye wish. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
"Dawnie, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." As she fell to the ground, her tears effectively blinding her, Willow felt the world around her beginning to slip away. The realization of what she had done continued to pour through every inch of her mind, making sure that she couldn't escape from it, even if she used Magick to do so. Ahead of her, Buffy, Spike, and Dawn continued to move forward, their footsteps echoing to the Witch's ears as if it were part of her punishment. Looking up from where she had fallen, Willow saw Buffy looking back at her, the anger in her eyes visible enough to set the night surrounding her on fire.
"Buffy…" Just barely able to saw the girl's name before her sobs transformed her words into barely understandable gibberish, the red-head felt her heart break once again as the Slayer turned and walked away with Spike, the vampire still supporting Dawn as they disappeared into the night. As she struggled to her feet, Willow could barely see from the way her tears had blinded her. Underneath her, her feet seemingly refused to work properly and caused her to once again fall to the cold Earth beneath her.
"Please, I'm sorry…" Saying the statement to nothing more than the air that surrounded her, the Witch rested her head against the cold dirt that she was lying against. Inside her, the Magicks she had used continued to swirl, infecting every corner of her insides, mind and body. What had given her pleasure not even half an hour ago was feeling like a curse. As the events of the past weeks came flooding back to her, she looked back on what she had done, to both Buffy and Tara. The memories unfolding in front of her eyes, it felt as if she were watching them in another body, watching someone that she wished wasn't her.
As the Magicks inside of her continued to cycle through her system, they made her muscles tingle with the vague remnants of what she had experienced earlier. The memories still flashing in front of her vision, Willow's thoughts seemingly repeated the same scenes over and over again without a single break. Her promise to Tara ran out through her ears, overwhelming the sense as it tried to drown out her thoughts.
"Tara…I'm sorry…" Pushing the words out of her mouth, even though she knew that the girl wouldn't be able to hear her, the Witch continued to feel the Magicks building and swelling inside her. Around her, the world continued to feel farther and farther away as her thoughts focused solely on her memories of the girl. Gathering into a single focus, the Magicks spread out to every inch of her body before resting down into her finger-tips. As the girl's fingers curled and uncurled seemingly on their own accord, the Witch's form disappeared from the scene of the wrecked car, and reappeared in a new location that had no relation to the previous events.
Her face still held to the ground, the red-head could feel the change in how the dirt below her felt. As her open green eyes looked at the substance beneath her, confusion ran rampant through her mind. …Carpet? Looking up from the different ground underneath her, Willow could see the familiar hallway of the University's dorms. Her eyes catching sight of the numbers stamped next to the door, her heart dropped to the bottom of her body as she recognized the dorm's resident.
"Willow?" As she looked down at the girl lying on the floor in front of the door, Tara's eyes grew large with a mix of shock and barely noticeable anger. "W-What are you doing he-"
"Tara?" Saying the girl's name through her sobs, Willow wrapped her arms around the other girl's ankles. "Tara, I'm sorry…"
"Willow, you need to leave." Still looking down at the girl holding onto her, Tara knew that she should walk away, but she found herself strangely rooted to the place where she was standing.
"Tara, I…I hurt everyone…" Her sobs resuming with renewed strength, Willow buried her head into the blonde girl's bare-feet. "Please…"
"What do you mean?"
"You, Dawnie, Buffy…" As the names passed from her lips, the red-head closed her eyes as her body seemingly began to grow heavier and heavier. Her mind couldn't even begin to comprehend how she had gotten to the Dorms, other than somehow the Magicks had teleported her here. "I didn't mean to…"
"Willow, what happened?" Kneeling down in order to look at the other girl's face, Tara saw the way dirt had been stained around the other girl's usually clean face.
"Dawnie…car…Magick…Demon…" Were all that the red-head was able to force out before her voice once again degraded into a combination of sobs, dry heaves, and gasps for breath.
"Willow, look at me. What happened?"
"Hurt…everyone…" As she laid her head back onto the ground below her, Willow's sobs tampered off as her mind shut down and forced her body to fall asleep. Her hands still clutching the other girl's ankles, the Witch felt everything around her slip into black.
"Willow?" Her attention still solely focused on the other girl, Tara gently cupped the red-head's cheeks and looked at her face. "Willow?"
As no response came from the other girl, Tara managed to pull the other girl onto her feet. Noticing the way her body was limp, she pressed her hand against the girl's throat. Able to feel a pulse through the skin, she sighed, her mind satisfied that the red-head was alright. If only for a moment. Managing to half-drag, half-help the red-head towards the sole bed in the room, she gently set the girl down onto the mattress, unable to not notice how cold Willow's skin was.
Easing herself down into a sitting position next to the bed, she looked at the way the other girl's chest rose and fell without any specific pattern. Uncertain of how much time had passed since the incidents Willow had vaguely managed to describe, she reached for the phone, her eyes never once leaving the other girl except when it came time to dial the number she wanted. Her thumb moving in quick succession, she pressed the phone to her ear and returned her gaze to the other girl. Goddess, what happened…
"Hi, you've reached the Summers. We're not home right now, so just leave your number and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks!" As Dawn's voice flowed out from the speaker and into her ear, Tara sighed and waited for the sign to leave her message.
"Buffy? It's Tara, are you there?" Waiting a minute or so in case there was someone at the house, the Wiccan finally sighed and hung up. As she set the phone back onto the table, she thought she saw a small smutch of black work its way off of Willow's hand and into her vein. Her eyes mesmerized by the sight, she pulled up the other girl's sleeve and watched as the black color shot up through the red-head's otherwise invisible veins. Finally disappearing as it reached the Witch's elbow, it was as if the color hadn't existed.
"Willow?" Pulling the girl's jacket sleeve back down into its appropriate place, Tara looked up at the red-head's face. The dirt was still there, its color stained with the pathways from the tears that the girl had obviously cried. Hearing no response from the Witch, the blonde Wiccan pushed herself back onto her feet and headed towards the closet. Not even bothering to turn on the light that lay on the ceiling, she pulled a blanket off of the top shelf and returned to where the red-head was still lying silently. Setting the blanket down beside where the girl was lying, she set to work on undoing the red-head's shoes. Letting the objects fall to the floor as she finished untying them, Tara considered removing Willow's jacket but decided against it. Unsure of what else she could do apart from make sure the other girl was warm, Tara unraveled the blanket and spread it out across the other girl's body.
Making her way around the bed, she moved one of the pillows and gently set it underneath the Witch's head. Still showing no signs of being awake or even being in the midst of a dream. It was as if she were completely void of feeling anything. Pressing her palm against the girl's forehead, Tara almost pulled away as she felt the direct contrast in temperature. Where only minutes before, Willow's skin had been ice cold, it now was slightly warm, the feeling reminding the blonde Wiccan of someone with a fever. The combination of the changed temperature and the black spot disappearing into the girl's body weighing heavy on the Wiccan's mind, Tara considered calling Buffy again, just to make sure that the Slayer was home.
For yet another moment in her life, she was unsure of what to do.
Opening her eyes, Willow found a familiar face watching her. Closing her eyes due to the blurriness that had clouded her vision, the red-head moved her hand out from the material covering it and rubbed her exhausted green eyes.
"Willow?" As Tara's voice ran through her ears, the Witch realized where she was. The memories from the previous night beginning to return, she felt fear sink into her heart.
"Tara…" Unsure of what exactly to say, she tried to push herself into a sitting position until she felt the other girl's hands pushing her back down. "I shouldn't have come here…"
"Do you remember how you got here?" Seemingly ignoring what the red-head had said, Tara looked into the girl's green eyes. "Willow…how did you get here?"
"I…oh, god, I don't know…"
"Y-You don't remember?"
"No, Tara, I don't know. I remember being on the ground, and then I was looking up at you." Looking down at the material covering her, Willow recognized the same blanket that she had laid upon numerous times with the other girl. The object sending a wave of hurt through her heart, she once again tried to get up. "I should go."
"No, you came here, you're done making decisions."
"Tara-" Starting to say something, Willow saw how much anger was beginning to sink into the other girl's voice.
"Willow, do you even remember what you did last night? You almost killed Dawn!" The volume of the girl's words hurting her ears, Willow closed her eyes. "What's wrong with you?"
"I don't know, Tara…" Opening her eyes, the red-head remained largely silent in case Tara found the need to yell at her again.
"Willow, do you realize why she got hurt? Because you couldn't control yourself!" Realizing that she was in effect only making the other girl feel worse, Tara sighed and rubbed her eyes. "I'm sorry I yelled."
"I deserve it." Seemingly shrinking into the blanket still covering her, the red-head almost felt like wishing for the Earth to swallow her up. "Go on, don't let me stop you."
"I let a demon attack-"
"I know. Buffy told me on the phone." Upon hearing the Slayer's name, the Witch's eyes shot open, her irises completely filled to the brim with fear.
"Oh, god, you didn't tell her I was here, did you?" Sighing, Tara looked at the other girl with her eyes and face awash with emotion.
"No, I didn't."
"Why not?" Almost every emotion had drained out of the red-head's tone by now, causing her to seem entirely lifeless. The illusion only added to by the state of her clothes and the mixture of dirt and dried tears on her cheeks, Willow looked up at the other girl as if she were nothing more than a shell. "I wouldn't have blamed you."
"Because you need help." Her gaze shifting in order to allow her to look into the other girl's eyes, Tara sighed once more. "And I'm going to give it to you."
"What?" As an emotion finally filled out her voice, Willow tried once again to push herself into a sitting position, but the other girl simply repeated what she had done earlier and pushed her back into the mattress.
"Willow, I got rid of everything in the room that could be used for Magick." Seeing the way the red-head was looking around the room, Tara saw the girl's gaze eventually turn back onto her. "There's nothing here other than what you would see in a normal room."
"It's all somewhere where you can't find it." Her blue eyes hardening somewhat, Tara reached down and pulled a wet rag out of a sitting bowel. "So don't bother looking for any of it."
"Tara, I need to leave…"
"I already told you, you're not going anywhere." Pressing the wet rag against the other girl's cheeks, the blonde Wiccan started to clean off some of the dirt that still lay there. "Buffy doesn't know you're here, so you're safe."
"Tara, let me go." Starting to get back onto her feet for the umpteenth time, Willow saw Tara look towards the phone still lying silent on the nearby table.
"I could call Buffy and have her come get you. Is that what you want?" Her green eyes now focused on the phone, the red-head shook her head as the fear of the Slayer finding her sank in.
"Then you're staying here. Lay still." Moving the wet rag over the red-head's cheeks once more, the blonde Wiccan went to work on trying to clean up the other girl.
"I'm fine. Really." Turning her head slightly in order to avoid looking at the other girl's eyes, Willow knew that she was only lying to herself by saying that she was fine. The images of how she had hurt Dawn the previous night continued to move through her mind, infecting every other memory in the process.
"No, Willow, you're not." Setting the rag down for a moment, Tara looked down at the other girl. "Even you know that's not true."
"I'm fine." Saying the sentence with even less enthusiasm that she had only a moment before, the red-head kept her eyes focused on something else in the room.
"Willow, look me in the eyes and say that."
"I'm fine." Turning her head in order to look at the other girl's face, the Witch was only able to look at the blonde's chin before her mind refused to let her gaze go any further.
"In. My. Eyes."
"I'm…" Finally able to make her eyes look into Tara's blue irises, Willow felt the rest of the words die inside of her mouth.
"You can't do it, can you?"
"Tara, I...I need help…" As tears started to fall from her eyes, Willow felt the hand holding her down to the bed soften slightly, but it still maintained its strong grip. "I tried to stop…"
"But you can't." Finishing the other girl's sentence, Tara closed her eyes as she shook her head. "Willow, you can. You just don't want to."
"I tried, but it hurts." Still crying, the red-head gave up trying to return to her feet, and collapsed fully onto the mattress beneath her. "Tara, I need help…"
"You can stop." Her hand rising and falling with the other girl's somewhat ragged breath, Tara tried her best to maintain the somewhat angry expression that lay on her face. "Willow, you can."
"I can't…" Still crying, Willow reached up and laid her hand atop the other girl's digits. "Tara, I can't…" Managing to push herself into a sitting position, the red-head laid her head onto the Wiccan's lap. The other girl's hand still onto her own, Tara slowly rested her free hand atop the other girl's red hair.
"Tara, I can't stop…"
"Tara, are you sure that you haven't seen her?" As she stood in the doorway, Buffy watched as the other girl continued to pack various clothes and objects into a waiting box. Willow had been missing for almost a week now, and although the anger she felt towards the other girl had subsided somewhat, it still lingered within her.
"No, I haven't." Looking up from the box she had been packing, Tara saw the image of the red-head sleeping off the effects of her withdrawal. "Not since she was here with Amy."
"I feel terrible. We just left her there, crying and hurt." Looking down at the floor, Buffy's tone showed a noticeable amount of regret. "I know we were angry, but we shouldn't have just left her there."
"Buffy, Dawn was hurt. There was nothing wrong with what you did."
"Willow needs help. I think she saw that." Her gaze moving up towards the other girl, the Slayer moved aside as Tara picked up the box and started to head towards the door.
"If she did, then maybe she'll come back." As the words left the Wiccan's mouth, Tara's gaze refused to meet the other girl's eyes. "Maybe she'll get better."
As she closed the door behind her, Tara considered turning on the lights before remembering that she wasn't alone in the room. Her body wrapped underneath the sheets of the sole bed situated in the middle of the room, Willow whimpered slightly. Still, she tried to remain quiet, considering that Tara had tried to make sure no-one outside of the room knew that she was there.
"Willow?" As she said the red-head's name, there was an audible sound of sheets being shifted that could be heard before the other girl responded to her name being called. Making her way through the darkened room illuminated only by the Christmas lights scattered across the ceiling, Tara eased herself down into a portion of the bed that was unoccupied. Reaching over and grabbing the wash-cloth from where it lay undisturbed in the bowl of water on the table, she rang the material out and laid it across the other girl's forehead.
"Are you feeling any better?"
"No." Shaking her head, the red-head closed her eyes as she felt the cool material covering her forehead.
"It's just the Magicks. Your body isn't used to not using them." Frowning, Tara looked at the small bowl of soup that lay on the table where the other girl could have easily gotten at it. "Did you try to eat anything?"
Nodding, Willow opened her green eyes, and struggled to focus them on the girl sitting next to her. The Christmas lights that crisscrossed the room were the only source of light within the entire room, causing her already slightly blurred vision to become even more strained.
"Could you keep it down?"
"No." Closing her eyes as her stomach rolled over at the mention of food, the red-head felt the cool cloth on her forehead disappear as the other girl removed it and dipped it back into the bowl.
"Do you want to try again?" Taking the bowl of uneaten soup into her hands, Tara continued to look down at the red-head. "I could heat this up for you."
"No, I don't feel good." Shaking her head, Willow turned onto her side and buried her head into the pillow that she had been laying against for the past few days. "I don't want to even think about food."
"You need to eat though. It'll probably help." Looking down at the bowl again, the blonde Wiccan got back onto her feet and headed towards the small microwave that lay across the room. "I'll just heat it up and leave it for you in case you get hungry."
"Ok." Barely whispering the word, Willow turned over again in the bed. She had been doing the same thing for almost an hour now, considering that she hadn't been anything close to comfortable for the past few days. Minutes passed before the other girl returned to the side of the bed. As she set the bowl of reheated soup down onto the table, Tara felt Willow's hand come to rest on top of her arm.
"Why are you helping me?"
"Because you need it." Frowning, the blonde felt the other girl remove her hand as if she were going to lose the limb by simply having it in contact with her. "Why do you think I'm doing this?"
"So you can punish me later." Pulling her hand back underneath the sheets that she was, for all intents and purposes , hiding underneath, Willow closed her eyes as she waited for the other girl to confirm her suspicions. "I wouldn't blame you. I hurt Buffy, I hurt Dawn, and I hurt you. I deserve it."
Inside her, Tara felt nothing but shock running through her. She had made sure that Willow knew that she was angry with her, but to hear that the other girl thought she meant to punish her…it was unbelievable, to say the least. Kneeling down onto her knees beside the bed, the blonde Wiccan looked at the red-head's face.
"Willow, I'm not going to hurt you. I couldn't do that. I want you to get better so you can fix what you've done."
"I can't fix it." Her eyes still closed against the room around her, the Witch shook her head slightly. Seeing the reaction, the blonde reluctantly placed her hand against the other girl's warm cheek.
"You can. You just have to try."
"Tara, please, don't." Opening her eyes, Willow looked at the other girl. "I don't deserve to hear you say that."
"Please, just stop." Turning over in the bed, the red-head closed her eyes and tried to will back to sleep. Frowning, Tara realized that fighting about this wasn't what the other girl needed, no-matter how much she needed to hear her reasoning. As she got back onto her feet, the blonde Wiccan looked up at the Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, and sighed.
"Are you sure that you don't want to eat something?"
"I can try…" Opening her eyes once more, the girl looked at Tara with hurt lining her irises as she tried to push herself up into a comfortable sitting position.
"Don't get up, it'll make you hurt more." Sitting back down on the mattress, the Wiccan rested her hands on the red-head's shoulders. "Just lay back down."
"Can't eat if I'm laying down." Saying the joke with hardly any tone of amusement to her voice, Willow looked at the bowl of reheated soup. "Unless you get me a straw or something."
"Just lay down." Reaching up and laying the back of her palm against the girl's forehead, Tara sighed. "You're still really warm."
"It comes and goes. I'll be warm and then I'll be cold." Replying as she watched the blonde girl take the bowl into her hands, Willow sighed. "I'm a regular California weather cycle."
"Here." Lifting the bowl up to the red-head's lips, Tara watched as the other girl closed her eyes and began to drink the contents of the bowl. Her head peacefully resting on the pillow behind her, the Witch drank as much as her stomach would allow before placing her hands against the bowl and giving it a small push to show Tara that she had had enough.
"Better?" Setting the bowl down onto the table once again, Tara turned in time to see Willow snuggling deeper into the sheets surrounding her, her expression showing nothing but content and peace. The sight causing her to smile, the Wiccan reached out and pushed some of the girl's red-hair behind her ear before pulling the sheets up until they met Willow's chin. Unable to lift her eyes' gaze from the red-head's face, she found the girl's hand, and entwined her fingers with it.
Opening her sleep-drenched eyes, Tara shook her head slightly as a constantly recurring sound brought her out of her dream. Turning herself over from where she was lying in the makes-shift bed on the floor, her eyes were confronted with a bright beam of light. Pushing herself up into a sitting position, she wiped her eyes in an attempt to wake herself up. The room around her was otherwise silent, save for the sound that kept pouring out of the bathroom. As she got onto her feet, the blonde Wiccan looked into the bed beside her, and upon finding it empty, she knew who was making the noise.
As she took a few steps towards the light, Tara again heard the sound that awakened her, the sound of it filling out the entire room. Crying?...
"Willow?" Stopping just outside of the connecting bathroom, Tara saw Willow look up from where she was laying in front of the toilet, tears staining her green eyes. "Are you alright?"
"The soup came back up." Closing her eyes, the red-head rested her head back onto the makeshift pillow she had made out of nearby towels. Frowning as she saw the condition the other girl was in, Tara made her way into the room.
"Come on, let's get you back to bed." Traversing the last few steps towards the other girl, Tara reached down and grabbed the other girl's hands. As her palms rested against the red-head's fingers, the Wiccan felt how cold Willow really was. The difference in temperature was even more noticeable than it had been before. It was as if Willow was getting colder and colder with each passing day that she went without using any Magick. "You'll feel better if you get warmed up."
"I don't feel good…" Pouting, the red-head allowed the other girl to help her onto her wobbly feet. "I think I should lay back down, in case I get sick."
"If you get sick, there's a garbage can next to the bed. Don't get up again." Turning off the light behind her, Tara made her way back to the bed with the other girl held close to her. "You'll get worse if you just lay on the bathroom floor."
"You take the bed. I'll sleep on the floor." Shaking her head slightly, Willow tried to prevent the blonde from sitting her back onto the sheets that she had struggled out of only half an hour earlier.
"Willow, you're taking the bed. End of discussion."
"Willow, just try to sleep." As she pressed the girl onto her side and pulled the sheets back over-top of her, Tara sighed. "We're not going to argue about this."
"Why not? We've argued about everything els-"
"Don't." Looking back at the other girl, the blonde Wiccan shook her head. "We're not going back to that."
"Tara, I know you're trying to help, but I can't stop feeling like this. It hurts too much."
"When did this go wrong?" Looking up at the other girl, Willow's green eyes glowed slightly in the dim lighting offered by the hanging Christmas lights. "I thought I was helping people…"
"You were." Moving some of the girl's red-hair out of her face, Tara sighed. "You just got out of control."
"Things fall apart, don't they?"
"Willow, you just-" Seeing how the Witch's gaze had fallen away from her, the blonde Wiccan could see that she wanted to say something. "What is it?"
"Am I really that unlovable?" Bringing her knees up to her chest in order to try and preserve some of her warmth, Willow stared back at the girl. "What's wrong with me?"
"There's nothing wrong with you, it's what you do."
"People say they love me, and then they leave. Oz loved me, he said he had never loved anything more, and he left. You left, and you said you were mine. And now you're here, and I can't even look at you without wanting you."
"Willow, I…I want you too, but we can't…It wouldn't be right."
"Because of what I did to you." Burying her head into the sheets beneath her, Willow coughed slightly as her body refused to allow anymore tears to come from it. "It all comes back to me. I ruin everything."
"Willow, look at me." Seeing the lack of response from the other girl, Tara scootched herself closer to where the girl was lying underneath the warmed sheets and comforter. "Sweetie, just listen to me."
Her mind unable to stop herself from using the pet-name, the Wiccan watched as the other girl lifted her head from the bed, and looked at her.
"I…I need to know that if I come back to you, that you won't hurt me again. If I had stayed, there wouldn't be anything left of me. Can you understand that?" Waiting until she saw Willow nod her head in response, Tara took a breath before she continued. "What you did…that hurt. Do you even realize how much that hurt me? After what I went through with Glory, the thought that you did that to me…"
"It hurt." Nodding, Tara watched as those green eyes continued to stare at her.
"Tara, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, how many times do I have to say it?!" As more tears feel from her eyes, Willow coughed slightly as her body begged her to stop. "I'm sorry that I'm such an idiot for trying to control you. I'm terrible for thinking that Magick could make things better. I'm evil for trying to make you forget…"
As her voice finally began to break, the red-head buried her head back into the pillow underneath her.
"I want things to go back to the way they were!"
"They can't, honey, not exactly. Please, just try to calm down, you're just upset."
"I want them back!" Raising her head again, the red-head looked at the other girl from behind tear-filled eyes. "Please, Tara, tell me you'll let me love you again…"
Hearing the way the Witch's voice effectively broke as the words left her mouth, Tara opened her mouth to speak, but found all the words she wanted to say remaining locked inside her throat.
"Please?" Saying the word with even more desperation behind it, Willow felt a tear roll down her cheek. Inside her chest, she could feel her heart beginning to break. "Tara…please…"
"I…I don't know. You're still not better yet." Even as she saw the girl's crumbling spirits in front of her, the Wiccan continued on. "We have to wait and see."
"You're saying 'no.'" Turning her head away from the girl, Willow buried it underneath the pillow beneath her. "You don't want me to love you."
"Sweetie, I…I do." Laying her hand on the girl's shoulder, Tara sighed. "Things are complicated."
"I…I need to sleep." Burying her head deeper into the pillow and mattress, the red-head continued to let tears slide down her cheek as she cried. Her chest actually beginning to physically hurt, the other girl pushed herself off of the bed and grabbed one of the books from her bag. Focusing on anything besides what was happening at that moment was better. Easing herself down onto the make-shift bed she had made beside the mattress, Tara tried her best not to siege on the urge to jump into the bed and hold onto the girl in order to make her stop crying.
Opening the text-book, she started to read, her hearing only able to pick up on that of Willow's silent tears, and the way her heart pounded in her ears.