Disclaimer: I don't own the characters Joss does, but if I did Willow and Tara would be married and on honeymoon by now.
Distribution: Anywhere else...just let me know where you want it.
The Mystic Muse: http://mysticmuse.net
Spoilers: BTVS Season 4 and beyond.
Feedback: Sure but be kind, I am a gentle soul after all: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: Tara makes an emotional visit to her mother's grave.
She had been sitting on the bed all day just staring out of the bedroom window. At least Tara appeared to be staring out the window but if you looked closely at her blue eyes you would see that they were slightly glazed over, as if she were staring into another universe, far from the one she inhabited.
Tara didn't hear the knocking at the bedroom door; nor did she hear the door opening or the footsteps that crossed to her bed. It was only when she felt a gentle shaking of her shoulder that she started, suddenly out of her dream-like state.
"D...Dawn?" Tara looked at the teen wondering what she was doing home at this time. Shouldn't she have Spanish now? "What are you doing home from school so early?"
The teenager's eyebrows raised in astonishment. "Early? Tara it's 6:30, I've been home since four. Are you alright, you seemed a bit out of it there? The concern in the youngsters voice was clear, she knew a little of how Tara had suffered in life from her family after Willow told Buffy, herself and the rest of the gang, and she didn't like to think that her substitute mother, sister and best friend was hurting any more. The youngster had been surrounded by love since birth and could never understand how it was that this young woman who had a heart filled with so much love could come from a home filled with none.
"Yeah, I'm fine sweetie, just got a lot on my mind that's all." The blonde smiled at the younger girl fondly and brushed some strands of hair behind her ear. Tara knew she was lying to the youngster but didn't want Dawn worry about her. She could do plenty of that all by herself
"So does that mean you're still up for a trip to the cinema, I have a stash of peanut M&Ms hidden away, so I'd be getting nummy chocolaty goodness and healthy nutty goodness, the best of both worlds," Dawn finished with a grin.
Tara couldn't help but laugh at the girl's cheeriness. Maybe a trip out in Dawn's company will do me some good, she thought.
"Alright," the blonde agreed, "but you're gonna have something leafy green for dinner first."
"I was thinking more along the lines of pizza," the young girl said with a cheeky grin.
"Ummm, pizza," Tara said mock seriously as she rubbed her chin with her hand. "Should I let you have pizza or force you to eat salad?"
"Go on, you know you wanna. It'll save you from cooking," Dawn continued still with the same cheeky grin.
Tara could resist no more and gave the girl a lopsided smile as she yielded to the teen's suggestion.
"Good, cos I already ordered." There was a sudden knocking on the door downstairs. "And that should be them now."
"Oh god you didn't did you?" the blonde girl asked of her adopted sister, more amused than shocked.
"Oh yeah," the young brunette said, the grin not having left her face once. She held her hand out for Tara to take. "Now are you gonna help me eat it or what?"
Tara just grinned back in return, took Dawn's hand and allowed the girl to lead her downstairs. "Ok," she said on the way down, "but if Buffy finds out I'm not taking the blame."
Willow and Tara had settled down for the night and were in bed. Willow was reading Fingersmith while Tara was again lost in a universe of her own. Now and again she would glance out of the corner of her eye in the direction of her girlfriend wanting to talk about what was on her mind, but nervous at the same time. Willow pretended not to notice, knowing that when Tara was ready to speak she would. Then the sighs began.
They were not big sighs by any means, they were small and light and seemed to fit the girl's gentle personality perfectly but Willow knew deep down that the young woman she'd given her heart to so completely had something she needed to get off her chest, something important. Willow glanced once in the blonde's direction, and put her book down on her bedside table. She wrapped her arms around Tara's waist and snuggled up closer to her girlfriend.
"You ok Tare bear," she asked gently giving her girl a soft kiss on the shoulder.
"I'm fine," the blonde replied smiling but the catch in her voice told a different story.
"You sure, you seem to be a little...distant tonight," Willow was hesitant in the question. She wanted to know what concerned Tara, but didn't want to push the girl into silence either.
"Yeah, it's just that well, lately I've been thinking about my mother a great deal." Her voice wavered a little with emotion. "You know I've done s...so much since I came to Sunnydale and she hasn't been around to see any of the things I‘ve done, or meet my friends. Or meet you." She looked deep into Willow's eyes and soul with her sapphire coloured orbs at these last words. Eventually she continued, "And its j... just...I just, god I m...miss her so much." The emotion finally became too much for her to hold within, the dam broke and Tara started to cry heavily.
She fell into Willow's embrace who held her close and gently stroked her hair while the blonde wept into the shoulder of her pyjama top soaking it. Willow knew her girl had been through a great deal of pain in her young life but had also seen her recover from the shy, quiet, shell of a girl she had been to the strong, quietly confident young woman she now shared her life with. Eventually Tara felt better again and, pulling back slightly so she could look her girlfriend straight in the eye, she continued talking.
"Willow, I want to visit my mother's grave."
The red head nodded her understanding.
"And I really want you to come with me. I...if you're able to that is."
"Of course I'll go with you, do you really need to ask?" Willow said smiling gently.
The smile suddenly turned into a frown as a thought crossed her mind.
"Tara, where your mother's buried...its in Oregon isn't it, near your family's farm. We won't be going anywhere near them will we, cos I really don't relish the idea of another meeting with your dad or brother, especially if the other's aren't there?"
At this Tara's chin jutted forward and her blue eyes shone with a cold, steely hardness that Willow had never seen before in her lover's gaze. The sight of it made the hacker shudder inwardly.
"They're not my family anymore, Willow," the blonde replied in a quiet but firm voice. "They stopped being my family a long time ago. You, Buffy, Xander, Dawn, Mr. Giles, Anya, Spike, you guys are my family now."
"Oookay," Willow said hesitantly, "so we won't be going anywhere near your old home then. So when do you want to go?" As she spoke she started to gently stroke Tara's arm that was wrapped around her, loving the smoothness of the skin and the silkiness of the fair hairs that lay there.
Tara relaxed again, aided in no small part by Willow gently stroking her arm and her eyes returned to their usual softer hue. "I was thinking next weekend. It'll be Labor Day on the following Monday so we can have a mini break. I...if you don't have anything else to do that is."
"Well I was thinking of starting work on all next semesters essays but I guess I can hold off for a bit," Willow joked and got the smile from Tara she wanted to see. "Well tomorrow's Friday so after class I'll book some tickets for the journey and a hire car so we'll be ready and I'll see if Buffy or Xander can drive us so someone can take care of the car whilst we're away. Oh," Willow started again, "and we can pack our cases after class tomorrow as well so that we're really prepared."
As Willow went through the list of things that the couple would have to do to prepare for the following week Tara just looked on in amazement.
"What?" questioned Willow after noticing Tara had just been staring at her for a while.
"What did I ever do to deserve you?" Tara replied. "You're doing all this just for me and I don't understand why."
"Because I love you," Willow answered simply, slightly surprised at the question. "You're the most wonderful, beautiful person I have ever known. You make me so happy and I want to do all I can to make you happy in return." The answer was completely honest and Tara knew that what her lover told her was the absolute truth.
"Willow, just by being here with me you make me happy," she replied, her sapphire blue eyes shining with love at the young woman holding her close.
"Well yeah...but it doesn't feel like it's enough, I just keep thinking that there should be more I could do for you."
Tara's eyes started to smoulder as she slowly ran her hands up and down the length of Willows sides, taking in every little quirk in the skin and committing it to memory.
"Well, there is something you could do for me," the blonde said, smiling slyly. Her right hand softly brushing lightly against the side of Willows breast, whilst the left was on the redhead's hip and was stroking it in a circular pattern with her finger. She heard the breath catch in Willow's throat. She knew these were two of her girlfriend's most sensitive spots. Even as she herself was stroking the body of her lover, she felt Willow reciprocate by stroking up and down her spine with a feather light touch. Tara could feel the wetness between her legs slowly spread across her thighs.
Willow didn't need any further encouragement; she pressed her body more firmly into Tara's forcing the girl down on to the bed, a hand on either side of Tara's head. Her own head hovered just a little above the blondes. Green stared into blue, then Willow kissed Tara.
It was a soft, gentle kiss full of longing and anticipation of what was to come. The girls tongue slowly slipped out and licked around the full, luscious lips of the blonde, making her moan softly. Tara's hands slid from the sides of Willow's body, across the flesh, slid up under her pyjama top and raked her nails down the back of her lover making Willow gasp.
Willow got a purchase hold on Tara's bottom lip and took it, sucking and licking it with sexual hunger, now and again nibbling it gently, wanting, almost demanding access. Tara parted her lips to grant Willow's wish and moved her hands again, now to the back of her lover's head, her fingers running through Willows red locks. The women's tongues writhed around in sensual combat, each trying to gain dominance over the other. There was a fire now, burning white hot in the core's of the two girls and they were both fully aware of the slick wetness emanating from within.
Finally they came up for air and Willow pulled back a little from her love.
"Is that all you've got?" Tara pouted teasingly. "Cos I'm still hungry for more."
"Oh don't worry baby, there's plenty more where that came from," the hacker replied. "I was just thinking we might be a little overdressed for the occasion, what you think?" she said with a cheeky grin.
Tara considered Willow's teddy bear jammies and her own sports vest top and boxer shorts and returned the grin.
"I think you may be right, we are a little overdressed. What do you suggest?"
"Well," Willow said, "I think we should get butt nekkid damn quick. Then we'll see what I can do to make you scream."
Tara raised an eyebrow at this and a smile curled at the corners of her mouth. "Did you say what you can do to make me scream? You do fancy your chances, don't you, young lady?"
Willow looked down on her lover with half closed eyes and a very sultry smile on her mouth. "I'm pretty sure I can. So are we gonna do this, or should I go back to my book."
With that Tara quickly tugged her vest top off and reached down to push off her shorts. This was not as easy a task as you might think as Tara was distracted by the sight of Willow, standing on the bed, unbuttoning her jammies top from the bottom up, revealing her pale white flesh. Not once did contact break between either girl's eyes.
Tara felt a warmth growing in her centre again, her mouth was going dry and she licked her lips slowly at the sight of her own personal angel's gorgeous body. The pale flat, smooth stomach with the outie belly button, one of Tara's favourite areas to explore with her tongue. Her eyes moved up the body to the just freshly uncovered breasts. Two miniature mountains of flesh, decorated with a spattering of freckles. Each breast capped with a bright red nipple, both of which were hardening a little as the change in temperature affected the girl's body.
Finally Tara was able to remove her top and, like Willow, threw it, not caring where it landed. She was pushing her shorts down past her ankles with her feet as Willow unbuttoned her pyjama pants and they puddled around her feet.
On Tara the sight was breath taking. There, before her eyes, was the sight that always took her breath away. A small gathering of copper coloured hairs that lay above the clit while through said opening streamed a clear, sticky, liquid running down her upper thigh. Willow bent slightly, dipped her finger into her own pussy, rose up and slowly sucked the liquid off the finger and moaned deeply. All the time she kept her eyes locked with Tara's.
"Oh my, I'm all wet," the redhead said teasingly, watching Tara's reaction.
Ohgod,ohgod,ohgod,ohmyfuckinggod, Tara thought, wide eyed and jaw dropped, as she watched Willow's performance.
"See something ya like?" Willow asked coquettishly, a smirk on her face. Tara could only nod; she could never get over how stunning her girlfriend was naked. Or clothed for that matter. Oh to heck with it, Willow's stunning all the time, Tara thought to herself.
Willow dropped to her knees on the bed and quickly pulled back the bed-covers. Now it was her turn to be gob-smacked. She took in Tara's smooth, cream-colored flesh, the big, full, round breasts she loved to play with so much, the hardened nipples that were of a much darker hue, the firm stomach, in fact Willow's eye's didn't know where to look first. There was just so much of her love to take in.
"You're perfect, you know that," the redhead sighed, admiring the body of the woman she adored so much.
Those words stunned Tara slightly and she blushed a little, "No, no one's ever said that to me before."
"Well you are, and I'm gonna show you how much I love you starting right now."
With that Willow leaned forward over her girl's body and kissed the blonde fully on the lips again. The kiss was slower this time as the lovers took their time to rediscover each others lip flavour. Definitely chocolate, the redhead thought. This time she didn't need to ask for entry as it was given immediately and again the lover's tongues embarked on an incredibly aroused combat. Tara wrapped one of her arms round Willow's back, holding her closer while the other hand stroked and squeezed the girls tight ass making her gasp and squeal in pleasure.
Willow's lips moved across to Tara's cheek, which she kissed with fierce abandon then moved down the face to the collarbone. Tara threw her head back allowing Willow to kiss her along her sensitive neck. Willow traced a route along the neck with her lips. Kissing, nibbling gently and licking with a feather soft touch. Eventually she arrived at her destination; the blonde's pulse point, and she quickly set to sucking and nibbling on it. She heard the blonde moan in exultation and increased her sucking as Tara ran her fingers through her red locks. Finally Willow stopped sucking on the pulse and gently kissed it a couple of times before pulling back slightly, making her lover whimper at the loss of contact. Boy, that's gonna leave a mark tomorrow, she thought admiring her handiwork as the purple/black bruising of a hickey started to reveal itself.
Willow suddenly felt Tara's hand press down on her head returning it to the flesh of her neck and the redhead continued kissing her way down till she reached the breast. There she clamped down on a darkened nipple, plump and firm like a ripened berry and proceeded to flick and swirl around the tender area until it became hard.
"Ooooh, baby that's so good," Tara moaned, her eyes closed as she rested her head back against the pillow. Whilst one hand was kept at the back of Willow's head pushing it further on to the breast and encouraging the girl astride her to increase her efforts on Tara's boobs the other stayed on the redheads butt, massaging and squeezing it.
With difficulty Willow moved her hand across to her lover's other breast and started to massage and knead the soft, pliant flesh whilst continuing to suck on the first breast. Eventually she got hold of Tara's other nipple and began to squeeze it with her forefinger and thumb. At the same time Willow started to feel her own arousal increase.
Willow slid her thigh so it lay between Tara's legs and began to grind increasing the heat within her centre as well as that of her lover's. It was starting to get too much for Willow to keep going and she had to break contact with Tarataste so that she could let out a long moan of satisfaction, and breathe again, but kept up with the grinding.
"Whadd'ya stop for?" Tara complained, whilst running her fingers through Willow's fiery locks.
"Sorry," Willow gasped out, "oxygen becoming an issue." She grinned down at her lover who responded with a lopsided smile as they locked eyes.
"Will, could you...you know... cos I'm..." Tara couldn't even complete the sentence as she felt Willow grinding into her spot.
"What, Tara?" Willow asked. "Do you want me to touch you?"
"Oh god yes," came the reply, almost a whisper as she strained to speak, Willow's activities were driving her crazy.
"Do you want me to stroke you? Slide my fingers into you? Fuck you...hard? Is that what you want, Tara?"
"God yes," Tara was practically pleading. "Fuck me, Willow. I want you to fuck me so hard. Will you please?"
Willow smiled and leaned in close to kiss Tara full on the lips then moved down the blonde girl's body, kissing all the way. When she reached the stomach the redhead suckled on the belly button making Tara giggle a little before she continued down to the clit. There she raised her head up slightly to take in a sight that never failed to fill her with awe. That of Tara's pussy and the tightly shaved triangle of honey coloured hair that curled just above it. The redhead bought her hands down to the other girl's hips to help balance herself and moved a little way down Tara's body. She placed her mouth over her lover's arousal and flicked it with her tongue several times before she swirled around it. Willow felt Tara again place pressure on the back of her head, gently holding it in place, whilst encouraging Willow and making her anticipate her own orgasms.
The feel of Willow's tongue on her clit was making Tara tremble with excitement inside. This suddenly increased as Tara suddenly felt Willow's tongue enter her pussy and lick around the inner walls. She let out a ragged gasp as she felt faint tremors starting in the stomach and knew that Willow was going to bring her to a tremendous climax. Tara then felt the tongue being exchanged for two cool fingers and the tongue wrapped itself around the tight clit. As the fingers started to pump away, slowly at first but growing harder and faster by the second, the tongue kept sucking and licking at the clit, now and again Willow gave a gentle nibble that sent shudders through the blonde's body. Tara arched her back, pushing herself up with her legs as much as possible so she could so that the girl's hands could reach even further inside.
Tara could feel the orgasm coming, her breath becoming more shallow and rapid. Her head rising, Willow saw with glee as her girlfriend's nipples became as hard as bullets and goose bumps grew on the blonde's inner thigh, could feel the muscles within her girls body clench and tighten even more round her hand.
"D'ya like that baby, is that good?" In response Tara shakily nodded her head and started to speak.
"Y...yes Willow...oh god Willow... Willow WILLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW..." The name wasn't so much yelled as howled as she was bought to an intense climax. Her eyes were shut and she saw a firework display of bright lights whilst feeling so lightheaded she may have been flying. Willow didn't let up though, she kept plunging her eager hand into Tara's soft body, allowing it to become thoroughly coated in her juices.
Tara came again and again it was the most amazing experience in her life, as the orgasm crashed through her two more times. The redhead helped bring her in for a gentle landing and for several seconds afterwards, though it seemed much longer, Tara felt as if she were floating on a magic carpet. While she waited for the other girl to recover Willow slowly licked the juices off her hand, absorbing it as if it were ambrosia, which as far as the redhead was concerned it was.
When she believed her lover was back from her orgasmic induced high Willow scooted back up her body and kissed her full on the lips.
"You ok now Tare bear," she asked.
"Much better now thanks," Tara replied still coming down from her high and drinking in oxygen with a new appreciation of Willow's earlier comment about it being an issue. She snuggled closer to her girl resting her head on Willow's bosom, a contented smile on her lips.
"Thanks," she said to the red head holding her tightly.
"For what?" Willow asked, grinning sleepily.
"For just...y'know listening and understanding."
Willow stopped grinning and looked down on Tara with complete seriousness
"You're my baby and I want to be, no, am going to be here for you always, because I love you more than anything in the world." I love you more than you know, Tara, thought Willow.
Tara reached a hand up and gently stroked her girlfriends face with her thumb.
"I know you do sweetie, and I love you more than anything else in the world Willow Rosenberg. I just love you." I love you more than you know, Willow, thought Tara.
Willow smiled at the words then kissed Tara on the top of her head, wrapped her arms more tightly round the blonde girls naked body and the two of them slowly drifted off into a contented blissful sleep.
The following Friday was miserable, dank and overcast, almost as if the day itself were anticipating the girls reason for travelling and was trying to provide suitable conditions.
"Aw jeez, look at those clouds," Willow said in a tone that was half depressed half annoyed as her gaze took in the ominous skies overhead.
"According to the weather forecast it's going to be fine in Oregon this weekend," Tara replied, quickly drying her hair before tugging her blue sweater on and slipping into her cargo pants. She crossed over to the window where Willow was gazing, wrapping her arms round her girl's waist and rested her head on the redheads shoulder. She sighed slightly disconsolately, at clouds that looked as if they were ready to open and release their contents at any minute.
"I hope so, its not going to be much fun for you if you're at your mother's grave and it's pouring with rain."
"Don't worry sweetie, it'll be alright," the blonde said soothingly.
"But what if its not? Have you packed any warm clothing, thick jumpers or thermal vests are usually pretty good. And don't forget you may need a raincoat or an umbrella, cos you really don't wanna get wet right...not when you're visiting your mothers grave cos you could end up catching a cold or even pneumonia and that just would not be of the nice y'know with the constant sneezing and nose blowing and..."
Much as she adored it, Tara put a stop to her girlfriends babble with a kiss on the lips which, despite being intended to only last a few seconds quickly turned into minutes as Tara increased the pressure of her lips against Willow's, seeking entry with her tongue. Access was quickly granted and she slid into her girlfriend's mouth where they engaged in a soft sensual dance, arms slowly encircled waists and bodies leaned closer into one another. Tara moaned deeply into her girls' mouth as Willow slowly slid her hands up the blonde's jumper and ran her fingers up and down Tara's spine.
Tara tingled all over as Willowfingers started to do their magic. She pulled back slightly from the kiss and exhaled with a shudder, "Oh god, Willow, how do you do that, how do you always make me feel that way?"
The redhead raised her green orbs to those deep sapphire pools that she loved to drown in and gave a sly smile, "What, and give away my trade secrets! I should think not, young lady. And don't forget it was you who kissed me first so you only have yourself to blame if I end up turning you on."
"Vixen," Tara replied, an equally sly smile on her lips and a smoky haze to her eyes. She suddenly noticed the wall clock and reluctantly released Willow. "Shit, I have to go honey, or I'll miss my class," she said and put on her faux leather coat, picked her folder and books up off the bed then gave Willow a quick kiss on the forehead. "I'll be back after the class ok sweetie."
"Okie doke," the redhead replied. "I got a call while you were in the shower, class has been cancelled so I'll get the bags out ready, Xander is gonna pick us up at quarter to one, our flight is at two thirty and Dawnie is gonna look after Miss Kitty," she glanced up at the clock, "and you are now officially late, Tara Maclay."
"Oh crap," the blonde said as she hurriedly dashed out the door and prayed she wouldn't get into too much trouble.
"Honey, I'm home," Tara called out cheerily to an empty house. "But you're not I see," she said to herself. She put her books and folder on the couch just as Willow exited the kitchen with two small foil wrapped packets.
"Hey Tara," the redhead said.
"Hey yourself," Tara replied, wondering what her girlfriend was carrying.
As if she could read her mind Willow said "I made us some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the journey and we have a bottle of water each, cos we haven't had breakfast and I don't know how long the journey is and airline food is just, well yucky. Remember when we went to England last year to see Giles, I had that curry and it made me sick."
"Yeah, I thought you did that on purpose just so I'd rub your tummy," Tara replied with a smirk.
"Well, yeah it did have its benefits," agreed Willow, grinning as she placed the sandwiches into a smaller shoulder bag. A knock at the door informed the duo that their chauffer had arrived. "Could you just get our bags sweetie?" she asked Tara. "They're upstairs on the bed. Our cases and my laptop bag."
"Is that all?" Tara asked, a hint of mirth in her voice as she ascended the stairs.
"Well I did think of packing the kitchen sink but I thought Buffy may need it more," replied Willow with a wink as she opened the door.
"Ladies," Xander said as he stepped into the hallway of Buffy's home, "are you ready for the ride of your lives?"
"Xander, you're only taking us to the airport," Willow said rolling her eyes with good-natured exasperation, "not the other side of the world."
"Well yeah but I have to make it sound better than it is," the young man replied mock grudgingly. "I mean, a trip to the airport, how ordinary is that huh? Now a trip around the world; that would be something else entirely. And with you and Tara, maybe more fun too," he said with a jokey wink of the eye.
"Yeah, but then Anya would be pretty pissed," replied Willow jokingly, "I mean, you all alone with two hot mama yama's, tut, tut, tut no Anya would not be happy at all."
"Why wouldn't Anya be happy and could you give me a hand sweetie," asked Tara as she appeared at the top of the stairs carrying all four bags. Willow went to her aid whilst reiterating the conversation she had had with Xander.
"So you wanna go around the world with two hot lesbians, do you?" Tara asked, a sultry quality to her voice as she raised an eyebrow. There was a mischievous grin on her face. All Xander could do was roll his eyes and grin as he admitted defeat.
"Alright, alright, maybe removing Anya from a worldwide trip would be a bad idea, but can you blame me?"
"Xander, as long as you think we're still hot you can have as many of these dreams as you like. Just don't tell Anya, ok?" Tara said with a wink.
"Do you two think we could get to the airport before we miss our plane," said Willow, slightly bemused at the thought of her girlfriend and best male friend coming on to one another.
"Ok, ok lead on Macbeth," said Xander rolling his eyes.
"That's Macduff," corrected Willow as she exited the house, Tara and Xander following close behind sharing a smile at the hyper intelligence of the redhead.
The girls arrived at the airport in plenty of time and booking in was done very quickly. As they had an hour before boarding they had a coffee and Tara bought herself a magazine on art while Willow purchased a copy of New Scientist.
The time came to board and they quickly found their seats and settled down for the flight, which was quiet and uneventful. The girls watched a Jennifer Aniston rom-com, which they both agreed, was one of the crappiest, most puke inducing things they had ever watched. Willow read a bit more of her book, Tara listened to a couple of C.Ds from her record collection and both ate Willow's sandwiches in a companionable silence.
The weather forecast had indeed been right when promising good weather in Oregon for that weekend and the sun shone down brilliantly as the plane landed at the town of Salem. After having collected their bags and going through the customs they went to the car rental agency, picked up the vehicle allocated them and set off to Tara's hometown of Corvallis, another 59 miles away.
"It's a pity we couldn't bring Herbie on the trip," Tara said referring to her and Willow's yellow Volkswagen beetle.
"Well yeah, but would you really want to partake in a 1000 mile round trip with me?"
"Oh I don't know, it may have had some advantages. You and me alone in the back seat, on a side verge." The blonde raised an eyebrow and smirked at her companion.
"You are a very bad girl," Willow replied grinning at her girlfriend's suggestive ideas. "I do believe that I'll have to punish you later."
"Ooh yes ma'am," Tara replied with an equally large grin on her face.
The town of Hammond was not unlike Sunnydale. It was reasonably sized with a goodly population and a town centre filled with the usual mall and shops such as Barnes and Noble and Toys ‘R' Us. There was also a 4-screen multiplex, tenpin bowling, pizza parlour, video arcade and a nightclub. It was hard for Willow to believe that a few short miles outside the town lay Tara's family's farm, especially as the town seemed so modern.
They pulled into a small motel that Willow had located using her computer on the flight. Booking in was relatively easy though the man at the desk, a fat, balding, ruddy cheeked individual wearing a filthy vest that didn't quite cover his rotund belly. He had a look in his eyes that suggested he knew the girls were a couple and that he'd like to watch them being intimate together.
"God did you see the look on that creeps face?" Willow complained as she closed the door to their room behind her. The room was quite nicely decorated with matching yellow curtains and bedcovers and pastel green wallpaper which Tara found very soothing. There was the standard TV, tea and coffee making equipment and a small bathroom.
As Willow continued her diatribe against the desk clerk it slowly came to her attention that Tara wasn't responding in anyway. She looked up and saw her girlfriend looking out the window to where distant fields rolled green and yellow with grass and corn.
"Tara, are you ok?" Willow asked with concern. Though she hadn't said anything, deep down this trip had un-nerved her. The thought of going to Tara's hometown was scary enough. What if they did meet the rest of the Maclay clan, and they were able to take Tara away from her. Willow didn't think she could cope if that ever happened. Then there was visiting the Tara's mothers grave itself. Would Tara be all right or would she fall into a deep depression. All of these thoughts weighed heavily on Willow's mind and the fact that Tara didn't say anything served to un-nerve the redhead even more.
"Tara?" Willow questioned, wondering if her lover had heard her.
"It's strange you know, being here again," Tara finally answered her voice a little quieter than normal, "Returning after all this time. So many memories." The girl's voice faded as she started to choke back tears and Willow crossed the room to wrap an arm round Tara's waist.
"You don't have to do anything you don't want to, but if...y'know, you wanted to see your family, try and clear the air or something." Willow's voice faded as she looked at Tara whose gaze was still concentrated in the direction of her family's farm. There was another long silence before Tara replied.
"No," the blonde replied finally looking at the one person who meant more to her than anything in the world. "No I...I don't want to see them, and that's the problem. What if we do bump into any of them, either on the way to or from the cemetery tomorrow? What I told you at home, about them not being my family anymore, I meant it."
The redhead looked at her girlfriend with nothing but sympathy and a great appreciation of the pain and suffering she had endured at the hands of those meant to love and protect her.
"Look, I was going to take you out for dinner, but if you're afraid of...seeing your family, I can always go get some takeout if you'd prefer. We can stay and watch some TV; I think they have meerkats on the Discovery Channel."
Tara looked at her girlfriend and for the first time since they had arrived in Hammond she smiled in that way that always made her face shine. She mirrored her lover's actions by placing her arm round Willow's waist, kissed her tenderly on the forehead then led her over to the bed and sat them both down.
"What did I ever do to deserve you? You're always so kind to me." Tara held Willow's gaze for a time then spoke again. "No, fuck them, Willow, I'm not going to hide from my family in fear because I'm in town. If they see me then that's their problem. It's not your problem and it's certainly not mine. Where were you planning on going?"
"Well, there didn't seem to be much I could find on the Internet but there was one place."
"The Golden Dragon," Tara ventured.
"Er, yeah how did you...oh yeah because you used to live here. I can't think how I forgot that, especially as we came here for you."
Tara placed her lips gently on those of her soul-mate instantly stopping her babble, then she spoke again.
"People round here really like their Chinese food. We even came at least once a year for Donny's birthday and if I was home alone and I had the money for it I'd order a take out. I can heartily recommend their pork balls and egg fried rice."
"So that's a yes then for going out for food," said Willow, glad that Tara was happy again."
"Definitely, now there's something I owe you."
"This." The blonde wrapped her arms around the redhead's body and kissed her fully on the mouth before moving her kisses progressively lower. Eventually, Tara released a breathless Willow.
"Wow; that was wow. Er...what was that for, not that I'm complaining at all, I just you know...wondered?"
"It's me trying to show you as best I can how much I love you. You mean so much to me, more than I can ever possibly say in words. All I can say is Willow Rosenberg I do love you with all my heart and soul and I'm never ever going to leave, no matter what happens."
Now it was Willow's turn to blink back tears as she looked deeply into the blue eyes of the blondes loving gaze. The young hacker felt overwhelmed with love, a real honest true love, which she could now call her own.
"You don't have to do anything to prove your love to me," she said. "Just by being the one who was, is, here for me is more than enough." Willow's gaze turned down to the carpet as the memories of two years previous came flooding back to her.
"After Oz left I kinda just fell to pieces you know. I was kinda lucky in a way cos Buffy and Xander were there for me, but at the time I didn't think that, I was just so pissed and angry at how he'd treated me," Willow wiped a couple of tears from her eyes before continuing.
"But then I met you and you became so much more to me than a friend and you've been so good to me, better than I ever was to myself and oh god Tara, I don't know what I'd do without you," by now tears were falling freely from the redheads eyes. Tara wiped them gently away with her thumbs before kissing Willow softly on her cheek and embracing her.
"I just knew you were special, that you were the girl for me. But I could also see you hurting and I just wanted to be there for you and I'm gonna tell you something that's just between us girls. Oz was AND is a moron for hurting you so badly." Tara kissed Willow again, on the lips this time then just held her for a long time until they both fell asleep on the bed in each other arms. They slept the rest of the late afternoon and all through the night.
The following day shone bright and clear when the girls awoke, both incredibly hungry after missing the previous night's proposed Chinese banquet. They both quickly got showered and dressed, then went for breakfast at a nearby diner where they feasted on scrambled and toast, waffles with maple syrup, juice and coffee before visiting the grave of Tara's mother.
The sun shone overhead like a giant yellow beach ball in a sea as blue as Tara's eyes, as the two girls made their way to the cemetery hand in hand. They stopped off at a small florist along the way and bought some white lilies, Tara's mother's favourite flower.
Willow was surprised when she arrived at the cemetery as she had expected it to be overgrowing with grass and weeds. However it was all neatly trimmed and attention had obviously been paid to keep all the gravestones in perfect condition and vandalism free. Tara led her lover through the iron gates of the graveyard and along a path, which wound round the back of the small stone chapel. Willow could not suppress the small shudder that went through her frame as the duo made their way between the headstones and gravestones. She had never really liked graveyards, a dislike which had grown since Joyce Summers had passed away.
Finally they arrived at their destination. It was a simple, small grave of white stone with words carefully etched into it along with the image of a cherub.
Tara's eyes were watering slightly as she looked upon the rock that marked her mothers resting place and Willow squeezed her hand for comfort.
Tara gazed gently at her girlfriend with her eyes of sapphire, happy that she had agreed to come with her but this next stage she needed to do alone.
"What is it honey?" the redhead enquired apprehensively.
"Could you just leave me alone with momma for a little while? Just so...you know."
Willow smiled quietly "Ok baby, if you need me I'll be over there," she indicated a small spot amongst the graves," she pulled Tara into a gentle, loving embrace and gave her a tender kiss on the lips. "I love you baby," Willow told her girlfriend, with nothing less than total sincerity.
"I love you too, Willow," Tara replied in equal sincerity and kissed the redhead full on her lips. The two gazed at each other for a long moment then slowly let go of each other, allowing Willow to go stand amongst the graves, looking as uncomfortable as she felt.
Tara knelt down in front of the grave and carefully placed the flowers she had purchased earlier between herself and the grave. She gently traced the words on the stone and tears silently made their way down her face.
"Hey momma, I know it's been a long time since I spoke with you but I've not been around these parts for the past few years, though I guess you know that already. I moved away a few years ago, I got accepted at a university and, oh momma it's been the most wonderful time of my life. I've been studying art and painting; remember how I always loved to paint, and the books that you showed me with all those beautiful pictures in them."
The young woman smiled fondly at the memory of happier times. Days spent on her mothers lap looking at books with the most amazing pictures in them. Portraits, landscapes, the renaissance and cubist pictures had filled her days when she was a child and she had been introduced to so many artists, Reuben's, Lautrec, Van Gogh, Turner, and L.S. Lowry. Her favourite painter had been Dali and she had especially loved a painting of his entitled ‘Swans Reflecting Elephants.' It was a picture of swans on water in some bizarre African landscape, but if observed upside down looked three elephants. To a young Tara the picture had seemed like magic and it was this one particular picture that had made Tara determined to go to college or university and study art with the dream of creating works as genuinely magical as this had been.
Though her mother had encouraged Tara in her dream her father had been vehemently set against it, saying that the only place for a woman was in the kitchen cooking or the bedroom for breeding. As these memories passed others took their place, her mother becoming ill with cancer, the woman's body wasting away due to the illness and Tara becoming so afraid to touch the mother she loved so much, partly from fear of catching the illness, partly from fear of hurting the now frail woman. The memories changed again, now it was the cold deep winter and Tara holding her fathers hand, standing in front of her mother's grave. Tara could remember his words, even after all these years.
"This is where your mother's buried Tara," he told her in that cold flat tone he had always used. Tara couldn't remember a time when he had spoken with love or kindness to her.
"Isn't she in heaven poppa?" she had asked, her small voice tremulous with fear for her departed parent.
"Nope, she's just a stone cold body lying under all that soil." These words, spoken so coldly had just about broken the poor girl's heart.
"Now Tara you're the woman of the house, you're gonna have to look after me and your brother, and once your schoolings done you're gonna be helping out on the farm a whole lot more."
And with those words Tara's father had planned her whole life out for her. This was one of the reasons Tara had come to visit her mother's grave, so she could show how much she had achieved to her late parent. Learning of her mother's inheritance for her from the family solicitor, being able to escape from the farm and her father's tyrannical grasp by getting a scholarship to U.C. Sunnydale and study the subject that brought so much joy to her, then meeting a slowly but surely falling head over heels in love with a certain gorgeous redhead.
"Oh momma I've missed you so much," the tears were flowing more freely now. "I love you so much, I just wish you were her with me now so I could talk to you and show you all the wonderful things in my life." Tara just sat staring at the gravestone for a long time the tears, a miniature waterfall of saltwater making its way down the girls face.
From where she stood Willow could see and hear Tara crying her heart out and just wanted to go over to where the woman she loved and hold her close, stroke her hair and whispering comforting words softly in her loves ear. But she knew that this was something that Tara had to do on her own; letting out her grief over her mother's grave was of great import to Tara. Willow understood this and respected the need for her to keep her distance, til Tara needed her at least.
After a while Tara was able to speak again, though her voice was croaky from crying so much.
"Momma, I want you to meet someone who's very special to me, in fact she IS the most important person in my life."
Tara turned to where Willow stood a few feet away looking a bit awkward amongst the graves. She caught the redhead's eye and beckoned her over, rising to meet her as she came to the grave and entwining their hands together. She looked at Willow almost in astonishment, as if she were seeing the girl for the first time. Her flame red hair, the soft face with the gentle sprinkling of freckles, the emerald green eyes that revealed a soul that was filled with nothing but love and adoration for the blonde. Tara's jaw hung slightly slack and her eyes drank in every part of Willow's face. She seemed to be in awe of her girlfriend and again a veritable waterfall of tears poured from her eyes and she wrapped herself tight to Willow who held her close stroking her long blonde locks.
"I love you, Willow, god I love you so much," the blonde girl sobbed in to her lovers shoulder.
"I know you do, Tara baby, and I love you too. There's no way I'm ever letting you go, ever." The two girls just stood there holding each other so tightly that a molecule of air could barely pass between them. Tara just sobbed for what was the longest time. Finally when she felt a little more composed she held Willow's hand again.
"Momma," the girl said between sniffles, her voice still a little choked with emotion. "Momma, this is Willow."
The redhead gave a small wave with her free hand and softly said 'Hi'.
"Momma, I know you'll be so happy to hear this. You remember when I was thirteen and I told you how I felt towards girls. You told me it was ok to feel that way and it didn't matter who I loved as long as I genuinely loved them and they genuinely loved me in return.
Well, momma, I love Willow. She's my girlfriend...my soul mate and I love her with all my heart and soul, and I know she loves me just as much. She makes me so happy; she's the sunshine in my life and she's done so much for me. This one time dad and Donny and cousin Beth came to Sunnydale to try and take me away from the university. They told Willow that I was evil, but Willow and her friends stood up for me and they were willing to fight for me. Momma, Willow is the one for me I can feel it in my heart and she's the one I'm going to marry." She suddenly turned to Willow, "If you'll have me, that is?"
During Tara's speech Willow looked at her girlfriend with great pride in her, knowing how far she had come and understanding how hard the road must have been for Tara, especially when her father and brother discovered she was gay. But when she heard Tara wanted to marry her, a whole new feeling overtook her. A feeling of great and overpowering love that completely overwhelmed Willow and just made her giddy with happiness.
"Oh god," the redhead said looking at her girlfriend, "do you mean that, do you really want to marry me?"
Tara looked at Willow for a moment before answering with a wry smile
"Well someone's gonna have to, it may as well be me," the blonde turned serious again. "Willow, I've wanted you for so long now, not just as my girlfriend or lover but as the woman I spend the rest of my life with, raise a family with, grow old with."
It was the redhead's turn to gape at her lover, merely because she just didn't know what to say. She was so overwhelmed with love and compassion for this young woman who had come into her life by accident but had changed it so completely. Tara was the most amazing person she'd ever met and Willow was equally amazed and humbled that Tara wanted to spend the rest of her life with her. She could feel her eyes start to water. She used her free hand to stroke the blonde's cheek and tucked some of the fair hair behind Tara's ear. She tried to speak but no words would come, all she could do was nod her head then she leaned in and kissed her girlfriend. No, fiancee, she corrected herself internally. Now it was Tara's turn to hold Willow close to her and they both stood there in each other's arms, revelling in how their love for one another had taken a bold new step.
And somewhere in Heaven, an angel smiled down on them both.
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