Tara picks up the phone, hesitating momentarily, before punching the number for the Summers’ residence. As the phone rings she picks up the blanket, folding and placing it on the end of the couch, that her friend Jamie was letting her sleep on.
“Hi Buffy. How are you doing today?” Tara questions softly, worried about the slayer.
“I’m okay.” Buffy answers disheartened. “Just getting ready for work.” Buffy sits down on the stool.
“You know if you n-need someone to talk to…” Tara trails off, wondering if she should bring up Spike.
“Thanks, Tara.” Buffy smiles briefly, thinking about the caring witch. “I appreciate you letting me…” Buffy hesitates briefly, looking down. “Letting me unload on you.”
“Buffy, I can be there for you. You don’t have to deal with this by yourself.” Tara whispers quietly. “You shouldn’t deal with this by yourself.”
“I---I’ll consider it.” Buffy finally answers. “You are coming to Dawn’s birthday party, right?” Buffy questions hopefully.
“I’ll be there.” Tara acknowledges. “But, I kind of need to talk to Willow. Is she there?”
“Are you thinking about…?” Buffy questions, wondering if the two women were finally getting back together, in a way, hoping they did. But in another way, thinking that their newfound friendship and closeness wouldn’t have come about, if it weren’t for the two women splitting.
“That’s what I need to talk to Willow about.” Tara admits quietly. “I think I should discuss it with her, before anyone else.”
Buffy nods her head, before realizing that Tara can’t see her. “Okay. You know, you can talk to me, too. If you need to.”
“Thanks, Buffy.” Tara smiles softly, thinking about the slayer, even with everything happening to her, she still worries about everyone else.
“Let me get her. Don’t be a stranger, maybe we can get together for coffee or something.” Buffy offers.
“That sounds wonderful.” Tara bites her lip as she hears Buffy calling for Willow.
“Here she is.” Buffy lets Tara know as she hands the phone to Willow. “I’m going to work.”
Willow watches as Buffy leaves the house, frowning at the dejected slayer. “Tara?” Willow questions, her heart picking up at the thought that maybe Tara was willing to forgive her and come back home.
“Hi, W-willow.” Tara stutters before taking a deep breath to get her thoughts in order. “I want to meet and talk with you. Discuss our relationship.”
Willow swallows hearing the sad note in Tara’s voice. “Ummm. Sure. When and where?” Willow clenches her teeth, her gut clenching in a hard knot.
“Espresso Pump in an hour?” Tara offers up, frowning at the tense note in Willow’s voice.
“I’ll be there…” Willow rubs a hand across her forehead, feeling a headache starting. “This isn’t going to be good, is it?”
“We’ll talk in an hour.” Tara whispers into the phone. “’Bye, Willow.” Tara gently hangs the phone up, feeling tears coming to her eyes. Sadly wiping them away, she walks towards the bathroom to get ready.
Willow walks slowly towards the Espresso Pump, feeling the urge to run back to the house, so whatever is going to happen, doesn’t. Looking up, she shoves her hands in her jacket pockets as she sees Tara sitting outside, sipping her mug of tea, with probably a mocha in front of the other seat for herself. Finishing walking the last couple yards, she watches as blue eyes look up, making eye contact with her as she sits down across from her ex-lover.
Smiling nervously, Willow reaches for the mocha, looking down after seeing the sad look in Tara’s eyes. “I assume this is for me?”
“Yes.” Tara answers simply, watching Willow closely.
“Is it over?” Willow whimpers, tears coming to her eyes looking up at Tara.
Tara looks down into her tea, cupping both hands around the mug. “I want you to know a part of me will always love you, Willow.” Tara glances up into the teary eyed face of her ex-lover. “But I can’t ever trust you or be with you again.” Tara finishes on a quiet whisper.
“But… no magic… I’m…” Willow trails off, tears streaming down her face. “I love you.” She cries out.
“Oh, Goddess.” Tara runs a shaking hand over her face before making eye contact with Willow. “I am so proud of you for not doing magic, Willow. You’re doing great.” Tara looks down briefly, running her finger over the handle of her mug. Taking a deep breath, she looks back up. “You lied to me, Willow. You promised me no magic, then you performed another forget spell less than twenty-four hours later. I will be able to forgive you in time, but I’ll never be able to forget.” Tara looks sadly at the hacker. “I can’t be with someone that would knowingly reach in and steal my memories, my life away from me, Willow.” Standing up, Tara buttons her jacket and picks up her purse. “I do love you, Willow. But we can’t ever have what we did. Maybe, when you can see past all this, we can be friends again. I really would like that.” Tara whispers, tears rolling down her face as she turns and quickly walks away.
Willow whimpers, watching the love of her life walk away from her, knowing in her heart that she’s lost the woman for good. Feeling a surge of anger start to work through her body, she clamps down on those feelings, realizing that’s what got her into trouble to begin with. Roughly wiping the tears away from her face, she sighs looking down into her mocha cup. Pushing it away, she slowly stands and trudges back to the house.
Tara walks around town, not paying attention to where she’s going. Wondering to herself if she’s done the right thing, but knowing in her heart she can never be with Willow again. Wrapping her arms around her waist, she looks down as she walks, not realizing she’s been walking for hours and hours.
Buffy sighs as she clocks out, pulling off her ridiculous hat and putting it up in the break room. Groaning at the smell of greasy fried foods oozing from her pores, she walks out of the DMP heading towards home. After walking at a good clip for a couple blocks, she sees a familiar figure hunched over, walking ahead of her. Picking up the pace, she pulls up beside Tara. Glancing over, waiting for Tara to acknowledge her, she sees her tear streaked face.
Tara looks out of the corner of her eyes, seeing Buffy walking beside her, smiling sadly, she turns her head to look at her fully. “I ended it for good.” She whispers, tears starting to fall from her eyes again.
Buffy places a hand on her arm, pulling Tara to a stop. Facing the witch she sees the sadness, heartbreak and pain. “Oh, Tara.” Buffy hesitantly reaches out for the witch, surprised, when Tara buries her head in her shoulder, sobbing and wrapping her arms around her in a crushing embrace. Placing her arms gingerly around the witch, rubbing her hands gently on the witch’s back.
Not having any idea what to say, Buffy just holds and tries to comfort the witch. After long minutes, Buffy realizes Tara’s finally stopped crying, just having the occasional hiccup from the tears. “You know I just finished work and smell like a big greasy burger right?” Buffy tries to joke quietly.
Snorting out a half-sob half-laugh, Tara nods her head against Buffy’s shoulder. “I noticed.” She whispers rubbing her face against Buffy before releasing her death grip on the slayer, slowly backing away. “I’m sorry for…” Tara waves her hand towards Buffy’s shoulder while looking down.
“Nothing to be sorry over. But if we make this a habit, we’re going to need to invest in a tissue company.” Buffy smiles sadly starting to reach for the witch, dropping her hand back to her side. “Do you want to talk?”
Tara looks up as Buffy’s hand drops back, frowning before looking into the sad hazel eyes. “I told her that we were through. I can’t ever trust her again. Even though one day I’ll forgive her, I’ll never be able to forget, or be with her again.” Starting to slowly walk down the street, she glances at Buffy as she falls in beside her.
“It’s hard.” Buffy murmurs watching her feet as they walk. “Sometimes, I feel so angry at her for bringing me back. Then the rest of the time, I don’t feel much of anything.”
“How are things between you and…” Tara frowns, hating to mention the vampire’s name.
“The same.” Buffy admits glancing up looking down the road. “Beat each other up then fuck each other. Go home nursing the bruises.”
“Buffy.” Tara starts hating the dead empty sound of the slayer’s voice.
“I know.” Buffy looks down. “It isn’t healthy and I’m being self-destructive. I hate it and I hate myself for doing it.”
“What do you need, Buffy?” Tara whispers, bringing the slayer to a halt looking at her.
“If I knew that, I would tell you in a heartbeat.” Buffy clenches her jaw before looking into worried blue eyes. “I’ll work through it, Tara. I appreciate you being here for me to talk to.” Looking up at the slowly darkening sky, she frowns. “You need to head home…” Buffy stops and looks at the witch. “Where are you living at?”
Tara looks down, tucking her hands back in her jacket pockets. “I’m sleeping on the couch at a friend’s house.” Seeing the disturbed and guilty look crossing Buffy’s face, she shakes her head. “I’m fine. I couldn’t get back into the dorms, so Jamie, a friend from one of my classes, offered me use of her couch.”
“Hell, I’m sorry, Tara. I didn’t even think about where you would go when you moved out.” Buffy mutters kicking at the ground as they start walking again.
“Buffy, it isn’t your fault.” Tara admonishes gently. “It isn’t your fault that things go wrong. We screw up our lives just fine on our own.” Sighing quietly, Tara glances up at the lights starting to come on down the street. “All I ever really wanted was someone to love and to love me back. Someone I could trust with my mind, body, heart and soul. I’m starting to think that’s an impossibility.” Tara shakes her head. “I’m staying around the block.”
“I’ll make sure you get in okay.” Buffy glances at Tara before questioning softly. “How did she take it?”
“She was upset, hurt. She knew why I called.” Tara wipes a tear from her face. Sighing she turns up the walkway to the older apartment building. “I don’t know if it’ll be possible, but I hope that someday we may be able to be friends.” Tara unlocks the door to the apartment building, turning to look at Buffy. “Thanks for walking me home.”
Buffy nods frowning. “She probably needs someone to talk to.”
“Probably.” Tara looks down picking at her skirt. “If you don’t want to, maybe you can get Xander to take her out and talk to her.”
“I’ll do it.” Buffy whispers. “I need to get back into the land of the living.” Buffy thinks to herself how truer words have never been spoken.
“Be careful and take care of yourself, Buffy.” Tara softly voices the words. “You’ve got people that care about you and love you. Remember that.” Tara quickly turns on her heel and heads into the building.
Buffy stands there for a long moment staring at the closed door before turning around and heading home.
Walking in the door, Buffy slowly works her way up the stairs. Seeing the door to Willow’s room closed, she sighs as she listens to the heart breaking sobs coming from behind the door. Deciding to hold off for a few moments, she goes to her room, grabbing a pair of jeans and shirt to change into before going to the bathroom to take a shower.
Knocking lightly on the door, Buffy listens for some kind of acknowledgement from Willow. Waiting for a few minutes, Buffy knocks a little louder sighing. Hearing the sobs still coming from Willow, Buffy finally pushes open the door to slowly walk into the hacker’s room. Easing down to sit beside Willow, Buffy reaches out hesitantly and places her hand on the woman’s shaking shoulders. Frowning at how the hacker is scrunched up in a tight ball.
“It’ll get better.” Buffy whispers gently squeezing Willow’s shoulder.
Willow impossibly, squeezes into an even smaller ball. “No it won’t.” She shudders, the tears still falling. “I fucked up so bad. She isn’t ever taking me back. Not even a chance of her coming back to me.” Willow brokenly gets out between sobs.
“I’m sorry.” Buffy sighs. “I wish I could make everything right for you, Willow.”
Willow snorts out a sarcastic laugh. “Why? I fucked you up worse than I did myself. You were happy, finally at peace and what does the witch with a God complex do? Brings you back to this Hellhole. Why are you letting me stay here? Why do you even care that I’m in here crying myself into a red-faced, swollen-eyed mess? I’m such a major screw up, Buffy. Goddess, I love her so much and what do I do? I take her memories away from her, not once, but twice! And you know what she said was the reason she can’t take me back? Was it stealing her memories? No, it was the fact that I promised her to not do any magic. She found out about the first memory swipe and almost left me then, I begged and pleaded with her to stay, to forgive me. She finally relented, stayed with me. So did I learn my lesson? Did I realize how close I came to losing the most wonderful thing in my life? Hell no!! I decide to play God, tried to fix you and her, AFTER promising her not to do any magic for a week. That worked well, didn’t it?”
Buffy sits there stunned as everything Willow told her slowly sinks in. Never knowing what the actual cause of the split between the two women, she has a hard time believing Willow would do something like that… until she remembers the big forget spell that thankfully backfired. Not knowing what to say, Buffy continues the stroking of Willow’s shoulder.
Willow slowly uncurls herself and sits up, rubbing her hands across her face roughly. “I’m going to move back home, Buffy. I need to get my head back together. Do me a favor. I don’t know where she’s staying, but see if you can get Tara to move back in here with you guys. Dawnie loves her and she loves Dawnie. She’ll be better for you two than I am.”
Buffy stares in shock at Willow, her mouth opening and closing before she shakes her head. “Willow…”
“Don’t, Buffy.” Willow interrupts looking at the confused slayer. “Bring her home. I’ll get my stuff together tonight and move back home tomorrow. No arguments.” Willow stands and reaches into the closet, grabbing out her luggage. “Mom’s home right now. I’ll have her help me get the stuff back to the house.”
Buffy watches Willow start filling the luggage with her clothes. “Won’t you think about this?”
“I have.” Willow doesn’t look at Buffy, continuing to pack her clothes. “In between crying and sleeping.” Willow makes brief eye contact with Buffy. “Dawnie knows her phone number. Take care of her for me.” Willow turns back around emptying the drawers to the dresser, stopping momentarily as she comes across one of Tara’s shirts. Running her fingers over it, she inhales deeply before placing it aside.
“Wills.” Buffy tries again.
“Don’t, Buffy. This is hard enough as it is. Just let me go, please.” Willow begs quietly. “You need to go on patrol.”
Buffy frowns, not knowing what to say. Slowly standing she watches Willow with sad eyes.
“Go, please.” Willow hunches her shoulders looking down at the dresser, clenching the edge tightly in her hands as she feels the slayer’s eyes on her.
Buffy finally walks towards the door, leaving the hacker alone.
Willow sighs as she hears the door shut behind the slayer. “I’ve got to figure out my life, Buffy. I’m sorry.” Willow whispers to the empty room.
Buffy works slowly through the cemetery, slowing down as she comes across a fresh grave. Hopping up on a tombstone, she pulls out a stake, spinning it absentmindedly in her hand, waiting for the vampire to show.
Thinking about what Willow asked of her, she feels her heart aching at the obvious hurt the hacker is feeling. Opening her eyes wide in shock, as she realizes she’s actually feeling something besides anger, it takes her a moment to realize the vampire has climbed out of the grave. Jumping down, she does a quick spin kick, knocking it back a couple feet before slamming his jaw with a hard uppercut. As he falls back on the ground dazed, Buffy quickly stakes him. Tucking her stake back away, she walks around the cemetery before heading back out on patrol. After walking a couple blocks, she feels a vampire near, waiting for it to show itself she continues strolling along. When she gets a whiff of cigarette smoke and makes out the blonde hair ahead of her, she frowns.
Pulling up beside the bleached blonde vampire, Buffy shakes her head. “Spike, I can’t do this anymore.”
“What’s wrong, luv?” Spike throws his cigarette on the ground, crushing it under his boot. “I thought we got something good goin’ here.”
“No, we beat the hell out of each other then have violent sex.” Buffy growls quietly, looking up into the ice blue eyes of the vampire. “I’ve got to go on with my life, Spike. And you aren’t part of that. You can’t be part of that. I finally realized that I need someone that I can walk in the sun with. Share my whole life with. You can’t be that person. Hopefully, someday I’ll find someone.”
“Oh, right.” Spike sarcastically mutters. “Getting holier than thou, now?” Spike reaches out grabbing the slayer by both arms, jerking her into his body. “You enjoy the demon in me, Slayer. I know it, you know it.”
Buffy pushes him away, ripping her arms from his grasp. “Spike, I can’t. I can’t go through this anymore. I need to get back to the land of the living. I can’t do that with you. Please, just accept the fact that we’re through, and leave me alone. Please.” Buffy whispers stepping back away from the vampire. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for us, for Dawn. But we’re through.”
“So, it’s gonna be like that, is it?” Spike growls pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. “You’ll be back, luv. You like the violence. You need it. You ain’t gonna find it with any regular person.”
“No, I don’t need it.” Buffy shakes her head, realizing finally, what Tara had previously been trying to tell her. “I need love and understanding. You don’t know what that is, no matter what you might think or believe. I’m sorry, but just leave me alone.” Buffy slowly walks away, leaving the vampire behind.
Spike clenches his jaw, inhaling deeply of the cigarette. “You’re not going to get rid of me that easily, Slayer.” Spike growls out flicking his cigarette away. “I’ll figure out a way to get back in your pants.” He spins around his leather coat swaying around his body before heading in the opposite direction from the way the slayer went.