Passion Never Dies

By Magrat

Copyright © 2003

Rating: T mostly maybe M later

Disclaimer: Not mine blah, blah.

Distribution: If you want it you can have it, just tell me first.

Spoilers: Up to Wrecked.

Feedback: Yes please.

Pairing: Willow/Tara

Author's Note: I apologize if I have any of the academic timings wrong but my family's degrees were all from Scottish Universities and all in scientific fields and my uncle has only just completed his PHD but then again he was left uni a long time before he went back.

Summary: Tara left Sunnydale after the events of Wrecked and went to live in England with Giles. This takes place about 5 years later.

Part 1

Five years, well actually nearer five and a half years since she had returned to Sunnydale. Looking round Heathrow's terminal three she gives a sigh of relief as she sees Giles walking towards her.

He leant forward to kiss the young woman who he now definitely considered to be his daughter. "Tara, I'm sorry I'm late, the traffic was horrendous."

Tara smiled her engaging lopsided grin. "Well we still have plenty of time to check in. Have you remembered everything?"

"Yes, I know you think I'm ancient but I still have some of my faculties left," said Giles. "I have my passport, visa, ticket and I have even remembered the wedding present."

"Good, good lets check-in then," said Tara.

Giles looked at the blonde with concern he had expected one of her cute giggles, but instead he realized she wasn't listening to him. It was easy to forget that although Giles himself was a frequent trans-Atlantic traveler. Tara had never returned to the States.

As they sat in the departure lounge Giles had already been re-buffed by the blonde when he asked if she wanted a drink, she had pulled out her laptop and explained she was working on a paper.

Giles came back from the bar and regarded the young woman who sat across from him. She had changed so much from the bedraggled, heartbroken girl who had knocked at his doors five years ago and asked to be taken in. Willow's magic addiction and attempted use of mind control had made Tara flee the country.

The watchers council had helped her change to Bath University and she had moved in with Giles. She was now Dr Maclay and working her way to becoming a well-respected social historian.

He worried so much about her. All she did was work. Her love life was almost totally non-existent. There had been women who had tried to pursue Tara but most gave up because of the lack of encouragement and interest shown by his young ward. Whenever he questioned her on it her stock reply was. "It's hard to keep a relationship when I'm studying all the time and also working for a secret organization that kills vampires and demons."

Thinking about it he knew that was another big change in the witch. The two of them plus another couple of younger members the council now actively fought vampires and demons. His reasoning being one slayer is busy on a Hellmouth and another is in jail but bad things happened everywhere. At first Tara had been invaluable because of her magical ability but she had decided she needed to learn to look after herself. She now possessed a black belt in Karate and Ju Jitsu and was proving herself to be a very adept fighter for her size. Giles knew this was just one more barrier that the blonde put between herself and the world.

Emotionally the only people she seemed to have any connection with was himself, Dawn and Buffy with whom she communicated with long open e-mails.

When they were on the plane he decided to take the plunge and try to get Tara to speak. " I know this is hard for you but I'm ready to listen to you if you need to talk about things. You have avoided going back to Sunnydale for so long. I don't know what I'm trying to say but I just wanted you to know I'll always be here for you."

He knew that he was being a coward and had avoided even saying the word but hoped Tara would understand that he was talking about Willow.

Tara looked at Giles not really sure what to say. "I 'm not sure how I feel and I'm scared of what will happen when I see Willow again. Maybe it'll be great and I'll get some sort of closure but I don't know." Tara took a deep breath and admitted something that she had tried to hide even from herself. "Giles the thing is even after everything that happened and all she did to me I think I'm still in love with her."

Giles smiled at her "Tara I've lived with you for over five years. I know you still love Willow and I wish I had made you go back before now."

Part 2

"Will are you ready, they'll be at the airport soon," shouted Buffy at her best friend who was still in her bedroom. "I'll leave without you." Shouted the impatient slayer.

"One minute Buffy," shouted Willow. The red head looked at herself in the mirror and decided that that would have to do. She felt physically sick with a mixture of excitement, dread and tension. TARA would be here in Sunnydale in half an hour. She'd almost given up hope of ever seeing the blonde again. She thanked her lucky stars that Xander and Anya had given it one last try and were at last getting married.

The slayer put her foot down all the way to the airport and despite all her protestations to Willow they still managed to be there 20 minutes before the flight was due. As they parked they heard a loud screech behind them, Willow shuddered realizing it was Dawn and knowing that the youngest Summers seemed to have developed big sister's style of driving.

"Dawn what are you doing here? You should be in class," said Buffy glaring at her sister.

"It was only study group and there is no way I'm missing meeting Tara and Giles. I miss them too," said Dawn.

The slayer's sister had matured in to a tall beautiful young woman who was handling university very well.

"You see them more than the rest of us. You spend nearly all your holidays in England," said Buffy

Willow tried to switch off as the other two bickered all the way to the arrivals lounge and carried on as they stood waiting. When the announcement of the flight came over the tannoy she felt like she wanted to run and hide. Her deep-seated feelings of guilt were threatening to overwhelm her, she wondered if Tara could forgive her for interfering with her memories not once but twice. She guessed not as there had been no communication between the two of them since Tara had gone to England.

"There's Giles," shouted Dawn.

Willow scanned the passengers walking towards them. Then she spotted her and the sight took her breath away. Tara looked stunning, even more beautiful than Willow remembered. She was dressed in figure hugging jeans and a white t-shirt. Her hair had been cut into shoulder length bob. The haircut and the dress were simple but very elegant. The first thought that went through Willow's mind was that she wasn't even in the same class as the blonde anymore.

Moving through customs Tara turned to Giles "I wish I hadn't come. I-I don't think I'm g-going to be able to see her. Giles d-do you know if she has someone new because I know I w-won't be able cope w-with that."

Giles shot Tara a look of concern he hadn't heard her stutter for years. "Don't worry as far as I can tell she's been as unable to move on with her personal life as you have with yours." He knew that sounded unkind but he felt it was about time these two intelligent women started to live for more than work and demon fighting.

Tara was so pre-occupied that she didn't see them. Her first contact with her old friends was to find herself engulfed in a bone-crushing hug.

"Tara I've missed you."

"I've missed you too Buffy but you are still one of the strongest people on the planet, do you think you could stop breaking my ribs," said Tara playfully but semi-seriously.

"Sorry" said the slayer looking embarrassed.

"I'll have to bring you with more often" said Giles. "It's usually me who has the crushed ribs"

One Summer's hug was replace by another. "Dr Maclay I presume," said Dawn.

"Dawnie, how are you and how is life at U.C Sunnydale?" said Tara.

"Fine," said Dawn. "But you don't want to hear about me and I want to hear all about England and you."

Tara smiled at Dawn. Much as she liked living in England and loved Giles deeply she did miss being part of the day-to-day life in the extended Summers family. She knew Giles and herself were still part of it but it wasn't quite the same as being part of it every day.

A hand was laid on her shoulder. "Hi Tara," said Willow in a small voice.

"W-Willow, hi I wasn't expecting you to be here," said Tara. "But it's nice to see you," she added quickly seeing the smile fall from the hackers face.

As the sounds of people greeting one another went on around them they regarded one another with an awkward silence.

Tara was the one to take the initiative and gathered her ex-lover in a hug and whispered in her ear. "It is good to see you Will."

The hacker felt like her heart was about to burst through her rib cage as Tara stepped back and gave her that lop-sided grin Willow had always found so enchanting.

She wanted to tell Tara how good it was to see her, how much she had missed her, how she had never found anyone to replace her and how she would give up anything to have Tara back in her life for good. None of these words came though as the hacker stood on the spot grinning like a love struck teenager.

"Will, Will. I think you broke her," said Buffy to Tara after trying in vain to get her best friend's attention.

"I think we should book into our hotel," said Giles. "Because I don't know about Tara but I could do with a shower and a nap."

Tara nodded in agreement "It's about 11.00 pm at home and I feel I'm about to crash."

Buffy drove the two tired travelers to Sunnydale's only five star hotel. Which was a couple of miles from the Summers house. Giles and Tara booked in and agreed to meet up with everyone for dinner about 8 o'clock.

At 7 o'clock Tara knocked on Giles door. The watcher had showered but still looked rather tired. "I always forget how tiring trans-Atlantic travel can be."

"Giles I'm going to stay here, I've got so much work to do..."

"Don't start giving me weak excuses Miss Maclay, I know you better than that," said Giles cutting in. "You've faced Willow so don't start losing your nerve now."

"It's not that," said Tara then noting the look on Giles face. "Okay it is but I don't know what to do. My life is mine now, but when I saw her again every feeling including the bad ones came flooding back."

"Tara this will not be easy but you have done the hard part. Don't put any pressure on yourself; just enjoy being with your old friends. Xander and Anya will be there and I'm sure they will be disappointed if you don't turn up. Go put your party clothes on and I will not take no for an answer," said Giles.

Part 3

Half an hour later Tara once again knocked on Giles door she was dressed in khaki pants with a white shirt knotted at the waist, with enough buttons left undone to show off her ample cleavage. "Will I do?"

"You look beautiful as always," said Giles. "I've phoned for a cab, the desk will ring up when it arrives."

Chaos reigned in the Summers house as three grown women attempted to get ready and prepare a meal for nine people at the same time.

The doorbell rang.

"Crap," said Buffy. "Can someone else answer that, I'm trying to chop the salad."

The doorbell rang again.

"I'll tell you what I'll just answer it myself. Everybody expects me to do everything, just because I'm the slayer," said Buffy as she goes to answer the door.

"Whoa, there cowboy is that how you answer the door to all your friends. I know you're the slayer but you can drop the act now and again," said the handsome black man grinning at Buffy.

"What?" said the slayer.

"The knife."

"Sorry, Gunn it's just the two other people who live in this house seem to leave everything to me for me to. Hi Fred. Come in make yourself at home and if the doorbell goes do you think one of you can get it," said Buffy and runs past them back in to the kitchen.

"Is it me or does Buffy seem a little wound," said Fred.

"No, it's not you," said Gunn.

The doorbell goes again.

"Welcome to the madhouse..." Gunn stopped as he realized he didn't have a clue who the young woman who stood before him is.

She gave him a sweet lopsided smile. "This is still Buffy's house?"

Giles appeared from behind her. "Charles it is good to see you again and where is your beautiful wife."

"She's in the lounge you old smoothie and talking of beauty's aren't you going to introduce you me to your date," said Gunn as he ushered them into the lounge.

Fred bounced off the settee and gave Giles a big hug "Hi Giles."

"You still haven't introduced us," said Gunn

"Well one thing she's not my date. This is Tara," said Giles. "And Tara these are two of Angel's associates Charles Gunn and his wife Fred."

"Tara," said Fred. "Oh Willow's ex..."

"We've heard lots about you," said Gunn cutting across his wife. Much to his relief the doorbell rang again. "That must Xander and Anya."

This time Tara answered the door wondering if she could make a run for it. She had this dread feeling in the pit of her stomach that the night was going to get even more awkward.

"And just trust me on this," said Xander his face twisting into a placating smile.

"Trust you after you left me at the alter. No siree there is no chance I'm going to let you have a bachelor party," said Anya.

"Aren't you having one and anyway it'll just be me, Giles, Gunn, Wesley, Angel and Connor," said Xander.

Isn't Lorne going," said Anya.

"No he said he'd rather be with the girls. Hi Tara" said Xander, then turning "Tara?" And before she knew it she was caught in the middle of a Xander, Anya sandwich.

"I'm so glad you're here," said Anya.

"You didn't think I'd miss your big day," said Tara.

Willow sat in her room. She could hear the laughing and joking coming from downstairs. There was a soft knock at her door. "Come in," said Willow.

"Hi," said Fred in her soft Texan drawl. "Everybody is here."

"Good I'll be down soon," said Willow.

"She's very pretty," said Fred. "Why don't you come down with me. Xander and Anya have center stage; maybe we can sneak in without causing too much fuss."

"Thanks Fred but..."

"But I'll hide in my cave like bedroom, been there remember, done that," said Fred "Is she as nice as she looks?"

Willow smiled remembering something Buffy said about only a grasshopper could follow a conversation between Fred and herself. "No, she's nicer, come on lets do this."

The meal had passed off fine; much to Buffy's relief and with only one small fight between Xander and Anya it could almost be called a triumph.

"Anyone for cheese and biscuits," said Buffy.

"No thanks," said everyone.

"I wouldn't mind a cognac though," said Giles.

"Help yourself," said Buffy.

"I would like one too, but I'm not allowed," said Anya mournfully.

"Anya, we weren't going to say anything yet," said Xander.

"But Xander I want to tell them," said Anya.

"Go ahead," said Xander not wanting to argue with his bride to be.

Anya fixed everyone with a huge proud smile. "I am with child."

"Congratulations," said Tara.

"Xander, you kept it a secret you freak," said Buffy.

"Well I think it's time to break out the bottle of champagne I brought with me," said Giles.

The whole room then dissolved into a big hug fest as everyone wanted to congratulate the happy couple and the party began in earnest.

Tara went outside and sat on the veranda swing, wanting a little time to herself, also the mixture of jet lag and alcohol was starting to make her feel a little light headed. She sensed a movement behind her. "Hi Fred."

"Oh," said Fred slightly taken a back. "How did you know it was me?"

"I can sense your aura," said Tara simply.

"I forgot you're a witch. Do you mind if I sit here a while?" asked Fred.

Tara was thinking of many reasons why she would like to refuse but in the end her natural friendliness won through "No, no be my guest."

"You didn't say much during dinner. Is it weird being here? You didn't have to answer if you don't want to. I speak too much, Charles is always telling me..."

"No, it's okay and yes its weird everything seems do similar, yet so much has changed. You and Charles for one," said Tara

"You know what happened?" asked Fred.

"Yeah," said Tara as painful memories came flooding back. "Giles told me everything; Buffy being shot by Warren, Spike trying to rape her. Willow being so out of it on magic that she practically lived at that warlock guy Rack's house. Xander and Anya splitting up and Anya turning to vengeance and how Dawn had to call in Giles and Angel as Sunnydale threatened to become over run with monsters. I know the story."

"Charles and I decided to stay and help everyone back on their feet after the initial fighting had finished," said Fred shuddering over what had been a dark time for everyone. She remembered the sound of Angel snapping Warren's neck as he held a gun to Connor's head. Of putting on a full assault on Rack's house and pulling out a wreck of person that was once Willow. How Angel and Cordy had sat praying at Buffy's bedside as she slowly recovered from the near fatal gun wound. "After that we realized we could open a branch of the agency here. Things to trivial for the slayer or even fixing squabbles between demons and of course we help Buffy if there is any real serious problems."

"I'm glad she has more people to rely on," said Tara. "Do you think they will ever forgive me for leaving."

"I don't understand," said Fred.

"Well if I had never left I none of that would ever have happened. Willow has started to kick the magic. Xander and Anya seemed so happy and how Buffy ended up with Spike I don't know, but if I had stayed I could maybe have helped."

"You don't know that," said Fred.

Tara wasn't listening instead her guilt from those past events were coming back to her. "Plus Giles wanted me to come back with him but I couldn't. I knew my friends were in terrible danger but I was so scared of what I might find I stayed in England."

"Is that why you've never come back before now," asked Fred surprised at the emotions coming from Tara.

"I suppose..."

"Tara I've phoned for a cab it'll arrive soon," said Giles.

"Okay I'd better get ready to go," said Tara.

Part 4

Giles and Tara faced each over breakfast, the watcher slightly hung over.

"Well that was a surprise about Xander and Anya. Although I'm not sure if the human race is ready for the results," said Giles.

"Come on Giles. It's sort of nice I'm sure they'll be very loving parents. Eccentric maybe but loving," said Tara.

"Anyway what have you planned today?" said Giles

"Working," said Tara.

"Aren't you on holiday," said Giles

"Yes but the paper is almost finished and I know you want to annoy Anya in the Magic Box and check the books even though she e-mails them to you every month," said Tara failing to add that he very rarely managed to open or look at them until she printed them off for him. "And anyway my favorite nephew is arriving some time after sunset and I promised him a guided tour of Sunnydale."

"Connor knows Sunnydale," said Giles with a sigh

"Maybe but he doesn't know all the places that students hangout, where he may accidentally bump into Dawn," said Tara.

"Do you really think you should be encouraging him?" said Giles

"Why because his father and Buffy don't approve. You would think they would have learnt the more you discourage them and forbid them the more they will rebel and at least this way I can keep an eye on them and anyway Dawn's not really interested she just finds him fun," said Tara.

Tara sat in her room and stared at the empty screen of her laptop; the words were just not flowing today. Thinking about what she said to Fred it was true she found it weird being back in Sunnydale. The whole feel of the place made her feel on edge she could feel the way the Hellmouth seemed to intrude on the place leaving an atmosphere that was truly charged and very forbidding. When she had first arrived she thought herself fanciful until she found out the truth, until she met Willow.

Willow. She tried when she was home never to think of her, it was just too hard, and here she could sense her. True her power had gone, but the way Tara feelings were attuned to nature meant she could feel her ex-love everywhere, screaming at her and it took a lot of strength to close it out. Tomorrow was going to be hard; Anya's bachelor party and everyone would be there. Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Cordy, Fred and a demon who she didn't know called Lorne.

Okay thought Tara lets not think about it. Instead her mind went to the meeting she was looking forward to tonight, Connor. Being involved with the slayer had brought many things into her life but Dawn and Connor were two of the most important things to her.

She remembered when she met Connor for the first time. Giles had bought him back with him after they had finished in Sunnydale. Angel hadn't been happy but the young man developed a bond with Giles and still held a lot of hate and resentment for his father. Giles persuaded Angel that to let Connor go voluntary would mean he would come back to him.

Giles contacted Tara and told her to meet him at his family's cottage in Cornwall. It was during the uni's summer break and she welcomed the chance to get away and work on some projects she had planned.

Connor had seemed almost feral, but Giles worked hard taming him. Taking him fishing and even arranged for some old friends and their sons to come down to Newquay and they had gone surfing on Fistral beach. At first Tara hadn't joined in; she was studying and checking out local folklore. She even considered joining a coven there, but she had only practiced magic with her mother and Willow and it seemed weird to practice with anyone else. She didn't realize it but she had cut herself off from the two men she was sharing with. Connor had changed all that through his innocence.

He had asked her why she spent so much time on her own. She told him she liked to read. He said his father, meaning Holtz, had taught him to read. He asked her to show him what she was reading. As it was she was reading about Tintagel and in the end partly because she wanted to look herself she took him and explained the legend of King Arthur, his round table and Merlin. The young man had listened wide mouthed and enjoyed himself immensely. Tara found he had a huge streak of romance in him so she had feed his imagination with classic books. His favorite turned out to be Wuthering Heights and when Giles took him to Bodmin Moor, he imagined himself to be in Yorkshire and that he was Heathcliff. He also was totally in love with Tara and had a secret fantasy that she was his Kathy.

The summer had become very enjoyable and the two had developed a close bond. He had seemed to understand about her sexuality and she had talked to him about Willow. She also told him all the facts she knew about Angel and because he trusted her he went back to L.A and although it wasn't an easy relationship they were now as close as any other father and son. It was something she was very proud of.

Back in Sunnydale the night didn't go quite as she planned. Connor and Tara spent the night at The Bronze playing pool and talking. He claimed he was no longer interested in chasing Dawn, but instead spent the time quizzing her on what she had done since she had arrived and how she was getting on with Willow.

Tara looked round the bar. "It seems strange being here and not see Spike sleazing around."

"Well he got what he deserved," said Connor with a grim look on his face.

Dawn after she found out what he had done to Buffy had been devastated. When he arrived back from his trip she had went to his crypt where he had been going on and on about getting his soul back. He had cried saying how sorry he was for all the things he had done, but she wasn't taken in by him and when he went to hug her she pushed a stake through his heart. The gang were shocked but not many people had shed a tear for the bleach blonde vampire.

The next night Giles found himself banging on Tara's door. She answered dressed still in her bathrobe

"Tara what will a wear?" said the watcher with a panicked look on his face. "Do you think Xander will want to go to a strip joint?"

Tara laughed out loud "I don't know but if you do take him keep it a secret from Anya. Just put on some casual trousers and a shirt, no tie."

"What are you wearing?" said Giles.

"Oh just my little black number" said Tara.

"Have fun" said Giles. "Where are you going?"

"I don't know Lorne said he was arranging everything," said Tara.

"You like karaoke then," laughed Giles.

"You are having me on," said Tara.

Giles just shook his head and laughed.

Lorne greeted everyone at the door of Willy's place. "I hope you ladies appreciate the hard work I've had to put in to make this dump look semi-presentable and by the way Buffy you are off duty and so are any of the usual patrons who come in here."

"Yeah, yeah, I've been read the riot act already. I'll be on my best behavior. Just make sure no-one gets in my face," said Buffy not too happy.

Lorne gives Buffy a look. "Come on girls, lets just have some fun."

They walk in and Willy's looks like it has never looked before. A big glitter ball has been set up in the middle of the bar. A small stage has been built with a karaoke machine set up and there was banners and streamers all over the walls and ceilings.

"Oh Lorne," said Anya. You did all this for me. You shouldn't have."

"No, he really shouldn't have," said Cordy shuddering at the bad taste and tack.

The night got into full swing with some of the worst crimes ever being committed in Sunnydale. Tara hoped she would forget a camp young vampire's quavering, tearful version of "I Will Survive" and then the silence in the bar as Cordy sang "Here Comes The Sun". It hadn't taken a lot of persuasion from the afore mentioned demon hunter for her to get involved in a few rounds of tequila slammers with Cordy, Willow and Dawn.

She didn't know how but she found herself sat in a corner booth with Willow.

"How you doing hm T-Tara?" said Willow

"I do believe you are pissed," said Tara.

"I'm not mad I feel pretty mellow," said Willow looking puzzled.

Tara started to giggle. " Come on you are totally lagging."

"I don't understand," said Willow

"Drunk," explained Tara.

"You have spent too long in England," said Willow laughing then the mood changed she looked into Tara's smoky blue eyes and cupped her face in her hands. "You really have spent too much time away."

Tara could feel the draw and she just gave in to the green eyes that were looking so sexy. She lent in and the moment their lips met the spark of passion fanned the flames within her. Willow's hands stroked Tara's face and neck as the kiss deepened and their tongues wrestled for superiority. Willow then moved onto Tara legs. The short black dress the blonde had worn that night had turned Willow on the moment she saw it. She couldn't wait to touch Tara's lovely legs and her excitement grew as her hands pushed upwards and she felt the naked flesh at the top her stockings. This was just too much to take the, image of Tara in stockings and suspender belt flashed through Willow's fevered mind.

"We have to get out of here," said Willow urgently. "It'll take about 15 minutes to walk home from here. Come with me"

Tara's usual slow and logical responses just went out the window. She didn't think about what she was doing she just reacted. A nod of the head was all it took and she would regret it later, but at that moment there was nothing she wanted more. They left the bar quickly and walked home kissing and groping one another all the way. By the time they reached the house they were primed and ready for action. Willow's hand went to the zipper of Tara's dress. Tara stopped her "I think we should wait 'til we are upstairs. You don't want Buffy or Dawn walking in."

They made it to the bedroom without removing too much of their clothes. As soon as the door was shut Willow pulled Tara's dress off and stood letting her eyes drink in a sight that she had missed so much. The fact that blonde was dressed in a black bra, panties and suspender set made the sight even better for the red head.

"God you are the most sexy woman I've ever seen," said Willow her voice a low growl suffused with passion.

Tara went too Willow their lips met, but there was nothing romantic about it, this was raw animal passion something neither had give into for a long, long time. It didn't take long before they were naked on the bed Willow's head between Tara's thighs her tongue searching for the sweetness she desired. She loved the taste of this woman and she sucked and licked Tara's clit until heard the blonde's breathing become ragged. Knowing that Tara was near her peak she entered her with two fingers and started pumping her hard. Tara's back arched and she screamed Willow's name as she came hard.

Tara returned the complement but at a slower pace enjoying the feel of having her former lover underneath her. She kissed, sucked and bit her way down the hacker's lean body. Stopping and concentrating on any spot that seemed to get more of a reaction, until she reached her goal. Willow was wet and more than ready for Tara when started to fuck her slowly and rhythmically with two slick fingers. It didn't take Willow long to come she hadn't been touched in so long she felt wonderful. She gathered Tara in her arms and whispered, "I love you," into her ear, feeling more happy and contented than she had done for years Willow drifted off to sleep.

Tara woke with start, where the hell was she then the memories of the previous night came flooding back what had she done? How could she have been so stupid? This was not the way things were supposed to go. She looked at Willow's peaceful sleeping face. She couldn't be here when Willow woke up and rather than face the awkwardness she took the coward's way out. She quickly and quietly dressed and left the room. She cried all the way back to the hotel knowing that she had probably compounded one mistake with another.

Part 5

Ring ring, ring ring. Giles looks at his bedside phone with deep hatred. His head feels like there is a million people tap dancing on it. "Yeah what?"

"Giles is that how you always answer the phone," said Buffy. "Because I always thought you people on the other side of the pond had better manners than that. Talking of things people do in England you haven't got involved in any bucks night jokes and put Xander on a train to Mexico City or anything like that."

"Yes, Buffy I apologize but I'm not really in the mood for a morning chat," said Giles impatience sounding in his voice. "Now is there a reason why you have phoned me at this early hour the morning after Xander's stag night?"

"I'm worried about Willow and Tara," said Buffy.

"Oh," said Giles his tone changing immediately at the mention of Tara's name. "Why are they missing do you need me to come over right now."

"No, it's not that," said Buffy quickly to calm Giles fears "They both disappeared from the party early and Willow has spent the morning lying in bed sobbing. I can't get anything out of her about what happened. Do you think they had a fight?"

"I'll try and find out but you know what Tara is like she hates talking about herself, but I'll try my best and by the way we sent Xander to Montreal," said Giles and quickly replaced the receiver as the slayer started to squawk.

He lay back in his bed his mind racing on how the best way to tackle this. He decided to phone her room first to try and gauge what sort of mood she was in.

The phone rang out for quite a while and he is at the point of jumping out bed and banging on the door until he sees her.

"H-hello," said Tara in small voice.

"Tara, thank god I was getting ready to send a search part out for you," said Giles.

"Giles, are you decent because I think I really need to talk to you," said Tara a slight edge of desperation sounding in her voice.

"I'm still in bed give me 5 minutes to have a shower and I will call round to your room," said Giles.

"Hurry please," said Tara.

Giles readied himself at break neck speed; he had never heard Tara sound like that before and after the phone call from Buffy he can't imagine what happened to have the two them in that state.

Giles knocked on Tara's door. She opened it, walked away and climbed back on her un-slept in bed. She still has her dress on from the night before and she sat in the middle of the bed hugging her knees for protection. Her face was tear stained and her eyes were red from crying.

"Tara, darling what happened?" said Giles totally crushed by the state of his daughter "Tell me please?"

"I did something terrible last night. I think I've made the biggest mistake of my life," said Tara and she started to cry again and can no longer get any coherent speech out.

"Shh, shh baby," said Giles cradling her in his arms trying desperately to take the hurt away and he held her until the sobbing subsides. "What happened, it couldn't be that bad, could it?"

"Giles I got very drunk last night," said Tara.

"Well I can tell you that you weren't the only one and I think if any demon wanted to invade Sunnydale today they would be onto a winner," said Giles making a weak joke to try and put a smile on the blonde witch's face.

"Willow was drunk too," said Tara. "And we sort of lost control and we ended up..."

"You ended up, oh," said Giles as realization dawned on his face. "Well I shouldn't worry about it. These things happen when people are under the influence. I should know, look what happened between Joyce and myself."

"There is more," said Tara

"More?" said Giles nervously not really sure if he wanted to hear any details.

"I couldn't face her so I just left," said Tara a look of shame on her face.

"Well obviously you're here," said Giles not sure where this was going.

"I left her a sleep. I just got dressed and left her to wake up on her own. I am such a bastard. I can't believe I was so cowardly and rather than talk to her about what we did, I just left," said Tara.

"Yeah, I agree that was a bad thing but why do you always set yourself higher standards than other people. You acted on instinct, you didn't go out to hurt Willow and I think you're probably hurting just as much as she is," said Giles.

"I want to go back to England," said Tara.

"No, I will not let you," said Giles. " You can't keep running away Tara. You've made a mistake; well so do most adults on this planet. Talk to her, apologize, but if you leave now you can never come back and is that what you really want? You could look in the bright side at least there still seems to be some passion and fire left between the two of you."

Tara throws her arms round Giles neck" Have I told you how much I love you."

"Yes, but I'll never get bored of you telling me. Go on get cleaned up have a nice hot shower and I will treat you to breakfast," said Giles

Fred stood next to Buffy and listened to the sobbing coming from the other side of the door. "I don't understand why you think she may talk to me Buffy. I mean you're her best friend and all."

"That's true, but I'm also a close friend of Tara. Maybe she needs someone who isn't so close to the whole situation. Does that make sense?" Said Buffy.

"Sort of," said Fred "But if she doesn't want to I can't make her talk."

Fred knocks gently on the door "Will."

"Go away," said the voice from the other side of the door.

"Not going to happen," said Fred and walks into the room.

Willow is lying on her side facing away from Fred; tissues litter the bedspread.

"What happened did you and Tara have a fight," said Fred.

"Not a fight," said Willow.

"If you didn't fight what happened?" asked Fred.

"I don't want to talk about it," said Willow.

"Maybe you don't want to but what you want and what you need are probably two different things. Willow something is hurting you real bad and if you just leave it inside it'll get worse," said Fred. "Please talk to me"

"She thinks I'm dirty, some slutty cheap ho," said Willow

"I'm sure..."

"No it's true," said Willow tears running freely down the red heads face as she turns to look at Fred. "Do you know what we did last night; we fucked. We didn't make love or speak; we fucked and the fool that I am, I thought it meant something different, I thought it meant we still had a chance, that we could get back together again. I couldn't have been more wrong if I tried."

"How do you come to that conclusion?" asked Fred "Surely it means that she wants you as much as you want her."

Willow gives out a hollow laugh "I don't think so. I think she is probably ashamed to have ever touched me again."

"Willow don't say that."

"Why Fred?" said Willow fiercely shouting now "She left me, while I was a sleep. She just got up and left so tell me now how much she wants me."

Fred looks at Willow shocked remembering the conversation she had had with Tara a couple of nights ago. It didn't seem something she could have imagined the pensive blonde doing. "You don't know why Tara left."

"Oh I do, she probably took one look at me and thought why the hell am I here," said Willow on the brink of hysterics.

"Will try and calm down. You don't know her reasons. I think you two really need to sit down together and talk," said Fred.

"I can't do that. How could I face her again?" said Willow

"Willow you've done nothing wrong. It takes two people to do what you did last night. Maybe she is feeling just as hurt and confused as you. So take my advice have a hot shower and wait for her to contact you because unless I have totally misjudged the situation I think she will want to talk to you and maybe even apologize," said Fred. "And if she doesn't she won't be worth these tears you are spilling anyway."

Part 6

Tara and Giles had decided not to breakfast at the hotel but instead walked to the Espresso Pump, Tara having expressed a desire to get some fresh air. "Two cappuccinos please," said Giles and to Tara "Do you want anything to eat?"

"Pancakes and syrup please," answered the young witch.

"Pancakes for the lady," repeated Giles to the waitress.

They grabbed a table and sat down.

"After all those years living in England you still haven't got out of the habit of eating those things for breakfast," remarked Giles.

"Excuse me mister while you continue to eat black pudding I will accept no colonial superiority over the subject of breakfast," said Tara giggling.

"It's good to see you smile," said Giles "It's something I didn't think I would see today."

"Are you ashamed of me?" asked Tara timidly.

"No, no in no way could I ever be ashamed of you. We all make mistakes and I've made more than I care to remember, and yours it doesn't even compare to the things I've done so I don't want to hear anymore about it. Just enjoy your breakfast and I'll tell you how bad Xander's party was" said Giles.

"Deal," replied Tara.

"I've come to collect my lovely wife and take her to breakfast," said Gunn. "Seeing as she didn't have time for any before she rushed out."

"Hi Gunn, she's in the kitchen helping to empty all my cupboards," said Buffy.

"Hey Fred you wanna go out for breakfast?" shouted Gunn.

"Sure I'll be with you in one minute Charles," said Fred.

Fred and Gunn headed towards the Espresso Pump "Are you going to tell me why Buffy had you rush out the house at first dawn this morning," said Gunn

Fred looks fondly at the young man who walks beside her "It was hardly first dawn Charles and it's private, girls talk."

"Oh I get it you lot go up to something last night and you don't want the men to find out about it," said Gunn

"No it's not that...I don't believe it," said Fred starring into the Espresso Pump.

Gunn watched in surprise as his wife stormed into the covered part of the coffee shop.

" I can't believe I defended you this morning and here you are laughing and joking as if nothing has happened. Do you know what you have done to Willow? She's a wreck; you've totally destroyed her. Does it mean anything to you?" said Fred her face full of anger.

"I d-d-d, I d-didn't m-mean..." Tara stumbled over her words but no others would come out as the tears she had been keeping in abeyance overwhelmed her.

Fred looked sharply at blonde and realized she had totally misjudged the situation. Tara's eyes were pink and her face swollen from all the tears she had shed. Fred's heart went out to the girl "I'm sorry, it's just I saw you smiling and I've just come from Willow."

"Lets get her across to the Magic Box," said Giles who had looked on helpless, as the events had unfolded.

"Giles I'm sorry," said Fred as she threw an arm round Tara and between her and Giles they maneuvered the distraught girl across the road and into the shop leaving a confused Gunn in their wake.

"What the hell is going on?" demanded Gunn as he thudded into the shop.

"I'll explain later honey," said Fred.

Connor who had been using the punch bag in the training room rushed in when he heard the commotion coming from the main part of the shop "What's going on. Tara, god Tara what's wrong? Please don't cry, has someone hurt her because if they have I will personally kill them."

"Connor calm down, you are not helping things," said Giles to the passionate young man knowing that he wasn't joking and would probably kill to look after Tara.

Connor ignored Giles completely swept Tara off her feet and carried her into the training room; he sat on the couch rocking her back and fore waiting for the sobs to subside "Tara please I'll do anything. Don't cry. Is there anything I can do to make the pain go away? "

It killed him seeing her in pain; he was still very much in love with the blonde witch. She had been the first person to treat him as an individual, not just Angel's son or part of a prophecy but a real live teenager who was hurt and angry at the world. A world in which he no longer knew who was good or bad or the truth anymore. Tara had taught him that there was tenderness, beauty and love in the world and she showed none of the bitterness and hate that Holtz had shown him. It may have started as a teenage crush but it had now matured into a love and deep respect, which meant that no matter what happened a small part of his heart, would always belong to her.

"Connor," said Tara her breathing starting to normalize. She felt stupid about her behavior but it hurt so much to know she had caused Willow that much pain. "If you want to kill the person who hurt me; you'll have to kill me."

"I don't understand," said Connor

"I did something stupid and thoughtless and I've hurt Willow very much," said Tara.

"I don't believe you," said Connor.

"Neither you should," said Giles. "They've both been a little stupid but I've talked to Fred and I think that not all is lost. Tara I think you should go back to the hotel and have a lie down. Gunn is waiting outside in his truck."

She just nodded at Giles numbly and made her way out of the shop.

"I should go with her," said Connor

"No I need you here," said Giles

"But..."

"No buts, do you want to help Tara?" asked Giles

Connor glared at the older man "Of course I do that's a stupid question to ask."

"Good, Fred come in here," shouted Giles "Okay any ideas how we are going to get Tara and Willow talking again."

"Are we trying to get them back together again," asked Fred

"No," said Giles firmly "We just want them talking. If anything else happens that is up to them."

"I don't see how I can help," said Connor.

"Well I've had a small idea of my own and you and Dawn are the most important part," said Giles.

Part 7

"Dawn, I'm really not in the mood for this," said Willow

"But you've got to come," pleaded Dawn

"Why?" asked Willow.

"You know why. Buffy and Angel kick up such a fuss if I go out with Connor," said Dawn.

Willow sighed, "Just tell her you are going out with some friends from college."

"Yeah like we go bowling all the time, please, please Willow at least this way if she finds out she'll know we weren't alone," said Dawn.

"Okay," said Willow with a roll of her eyes.

Connor and Tara walk towards Sunnydale's bowling alley. "Tell me what happened?" asked Connor.

"What?" asked Tara.

"Between you and Willow," said the young man.

"It was nothing," said Tara.

"Yeah it really looked like it, with you having hysterics in the middle of the street," said Connor. "Because you do that all the time. No wait a minute you never do that."

"Connor don't," said Tara.

"Well answer me. You don't usually shut me out so don't now," said the young man.

"Okay we slept together and then while she was still a sleep I got out of bed, dressed and left her," said the witch.

"Oh," said Connor.

"Do you see me in a different light now?" said Tara.

"No," said Connor. "If you had been walking about not bothered at all then maybe but the fact that you are so upset tells me that you are just the same lovely person I always thought you were"

"Now that's just the Irish charm in you," laughed Tara. "What time are we meeting Dawn?"

"In about 10 minutes but I suppose she'll be late," said Connor with a sigh "She usually is."

"Why do you bother Connor?" said Tara "I love Dawn as much as anyone but she leads you a merry dance most of the time."

Connor smiles fondly at the blonde "You forget I'm a hunter and half the thrill is in the chase. How about you and Willow, do you think you'll ever get back together?

"After last nights fiasco I think hell will freeze over before Willow would have me back. Not that I want to go back mind, last night was a mistake." said Tara.

Connor starts to laugh, "Who are you trying to convince me or you? Here they, I mean she comes now."

Tara turns to look and sees Dawn walking down the street with Willow "Connor what have you done?"

"Nothing, out nearest and dearest both seem to think Dawn and I need chaperones so we've arranged some." Said Connor.

"I can't f-face her," stuttered Tara.

"Well you can't run away from her either," said Connor simply.

"There's Connor," said Dawn.

"And there's Tara" said Willow. "How could you Dawn. You know what she did to me."

"I think you two should really talk," said Dawn. "Anyway we're here now try and have some fun"

Willow just snorts at that suggestion.

"Are you two ladies ready to have ready to have your ass kicked?" said Connor.

"Oh no, way are you being on the same team as Tara" said Dawn.

"Why?" countered Connor.

"Well Tara has witchy power and your reflex's are almost as fast as Buffy's" pouted Dawn.

"Okay I'll have you," said Connor with a salacious wink. "And Tara can go with Willow.

Willow looks like she is about to argue but just shrugs her shoulders "Whatever."

"You put a spell on my ball," complains Connor as his ball once again disappears into the gutter.

"No dear Connor, you are just rubbish," said Tara.

"One more game," said Dawn. "We'll pay. C'mon Connor lets fetch some sodas too" and she drags him off with her.

Willow had hardly said a word all evening and had kept a frost silence with her bowling partner the entire time.

"Willow," said Tara.

No response from the redhead not even a turn of the head in Tara's direction.

"Willow" repeats Tara "I can't tell you how sorry I am about last night and you probably don't believe me but I didn't mean to hurt you."

"Well you did" said Willow practically between clenched teeth.

"I didn't mean for any of this to happen and I deeply regret it." said Tara.

"You regret sleeping with me?" said Willow accusingly.

"No, yes, no, I uhm mean w-we shouldn't of and there is there is no excuse for w-what I did and I'm sorry." Said Tara stumbling over her words.

"You're right, there is no excuse for what you did. You made me feel dirty and used" shouted Willow anger flashing in her eyes.

"Look" said Tara. "I'm sorry. I was a coward."

"You forgot user." Said Willow.

"Well at least I didn't do a spell on you to make you forget what happened," said the blonde her temper now gone.

"It's a pity you didn't then I wouldn't keep remembering the shit time I had" flashed the hacker. "Maybe I left so I didn't have to fake any emotion the way I had to fake something else last night," shouted Tara.

"You bitch" said Willow slapping Tara hard round the face.

The red marks were livid against the blonde's usual pallor and the air crackled between the two of them. Realizing things had gone too far Tara turns on her heals and leaves with Willow's parting shot ringing in her ears

"That's right run away. It's the one thing you are good at."

Dawn and Connor walk back just in time to catch the final scene

"Well that can't be good," said Dawn.

"I'll go after Tara, you stay with Willow," said Connor.

Connor quickly catches up with the angry witch "What happened?"

"We had a fight," said Tara.

"I worked that out," said Connor.

"She can't forgive me, I don't blame her and I still resent some of the things that happened in the past," snapped Tara.

"But apart from that things went well," said Connor

"Ha bloody ha" said Tara. "I'm tired, my head hurts, and I just want to get back to the hotel, have a stiff drink and go to sleep."

"And tomorrow?" asked Connor.

"Tomorrow, I'm going to practice my Katas and then I'm going to batter the punch bag till I'm knackered" said Tara.

"Fancy a training partner?" asked Connor.

"Sure," answered Tara.

Willow was slumped in her chair with her head in her hands.

"Will what happened?" said Dawn gently.

"I blew it, she apologized and she really meant it, but me and my stupid pride, I wouldn't accept it. We said some terrible things to one another and I slapped her Dawn," said Willow tears starting to fall.

"Lets go home," said Dawn. "We'll talk to Giles and try and sort things in the morning."

Part 8

Angel and Giles sit in the hotel bar having a quiet drink discussing this and that. They look up in surprise when they see Tara and Connor enter. They move to join them but are sent back when Connor gives them a surreptitious shake of the head. They watch in even bigger surprise as Tara downs a couple of large vodkas.

"Giles, Tara doesn't normally drink like that does she?" enquired Angel.

"No she doesn't" said Giles with a worried look on his face.

"Are you sure we shouldn't go over and see what happened," said Angel.

"I trust Connor," said Giles. "If he doesn't want us to go over there I think we should leave it."

They carried on watching as Tara has one more drink, kissed Connor on the cheek and disappeared off to bed. They young man picked up his drink and headed towards the two older men.

"I think that was one of the most uncomfortable nights I have ever had since I ended up back in this dimension," said Connor ruefully.

"That bad, huh?" asked Angel.

"Worse," answered Connor. "They wouldn't talk to one another and then when Dawn and I left them alone they ended up having a big fight and Willow slapped Tara."

"Willow did what?" said Giles.

"She slapped her," said Connor.

At that moment Dawn walked into the bar and sits down with them "Has Connor..."

"Yes," cuts in Giles. "He's told us that Willow slapped Tara."

"It's not that simple Giles. Willow really regrets it, in fact she regrets the whole fight," said Dawn. "What about Tara? How is she?"

"She's hurting and she's mad," answered Connor.

"Do you think there is anyway we can get them speaking again Giles?" said Dawn.

"I don't know, maybe we should back off for awhile, let them blew off steam before we try any thing else," said Giles

"The wedding is in four days," warned Angel "Shouldn't we try and make sure they are on speaking terms by then."

"I understand what you are saying Angel but I really think we should give them at least a couple of days to get over this. Maybe we've tried to force the issue to much," said Giles.

"I'll keep my eye on Tara tomorrow anyway," said Connor. "We are training together at the Magic Box."

The next morning Dawn knocks on Willow's bedroom door "Will are you up?"

"Yeah, come in Dawn," said Willow,

"What did Giles say?" said Willow.

"He said that maybe we should stop trying to push you two together and that you could do with some space," said Dawn.

"Oh," said Willow. "So it really does look like I have blown any chance of at least becoming Tara's friend again."

"I could tell you where Tara will be all day," said Dawn coyly.

"Where?" asked Willow jumping to her feet.

"I don't know if I should tell you," said Dawn.

"Dawn," said Willow sharply.

"Okay, okay I'll tell you but only if you promise that you will play nice and not lose your temper this time," said Dawn.

"Dawn," said Willow again.

"I mean it. I want you to promise me," said Dawn.

"Okay I promise that I will not lose my temper. I just want to go and say sorry and try to be friends with her," said Willow

"Nothing more?" said Dawn

"Dawn, it would make me happy just to have her friendship at the moment to hope for anything else..." sighed Willow "I don't know if it would be possible. Now tell me where will she be?"

"At the Magic Box training with Connor," said Dawn.

Tara had got to the Magic Box before Connor and she exchanged a few pleasantries with Anya before entering the training room. She was already dressed in her training gear; a pair of black kick pants and a white vest t-shirt.

She went straight into her stretching routine feeling good as she could feel the loosening and the blood starting to flow into her muscles.

"Hi Tar, you've really worked on your flexibility," said Connor as he arrived.

"Hey that's not fair I was always quite flexible," said Tara. "I'm going to practice my katas while you stretch."

"Is Tara and Connor in there?" asked Willow.

"Yeah they're training," said Anya. "The dresses have arrived I need you to come round to the apartment for one last fitting tonight."

"Sure," replied Willow going to the door of the training room.

She stood on the threshold of the training room watching Tara train, she wasn't sure of the technicalities but she watched mesmerized by the blonde's movements. She looked so graceful and her movements were so fluid as she spun, jumped, kicked and punched her away through her routine. It struck Willow that it didn't seem to matter what Tara did she made it look beautiful and graceful.

Tara stopped and grabbed a bottle of water. Willow took the opportunity to announce her presence.

"Hi," said the hacker nervously.

Connor turned and looked in surprise to see Willow standing there "I'm not up for a repeat of last night so can you go away and let us train."

"Connor, I'm sorry about last night but I need to talk to Tara alone," said Willow.

"That's up to Tara," said the young man folding his arms.

"It's okay Connor," said Tara.

"I'll be just outside if you want me," he replied.

She nodded and he left the room.

Willow cleared her throat, she was very nervous "I've just come to say I'm so sorry about the things I said last night and I can't tell you how bad I feel about striking you."

"I've had worse," said Tara gruffly.

"That's all I wanted to say," said Willow and turned to leave.

Tara bursts out laughing "Will, come here. We couldn't have messed this up much worse if we had tried. Could we?"

The redhead gave a relieved smile. "Not really."

"I am truly sorry for what I said too and by the way," said the blonde with her trademark-crooked smile. "I didn't fake anything the other night."

"I know," said Willow. "I'll go and leave you and Connor to train. I think we still have a lot of things to sort out but I do want us to be friends. Do you think it's possible?"

Tara's hand goes to Willow's upper arm and pulled her in close, her troubled blue eyes searching the hacker's green "It's what I want. I don't want to be fighting with you Will. I've got this horrible tense feeling within me all the time and I just want to relax and enjoy myself."

"Tara," said Willow finding the touch and the look in those beautiful blue eyes almost to intense to stand "You know I still care about you so much. I wish...I don't know sometime there just seems to be to many regrets in my life.

Willow pulled away finally no longer stand the intensity of her feelings. "Are you going to Anya's tonight."

"Yes," said Tara.

"I'll see you there then," said Willow

"Okay," said Tara then darting forward she places a small kiss on Willow's cheek." I did mean what I said at the airport. It is good to see you again."

Part 9

"Do we really have to wear these?" whispered Tara to Buffy

"Hey, if you think these are bad you should have seen the ones for the original wedding," said Buffy.

"Bad?" said Tara

Buffy just shuddered in response.

"Wow," said Anya "You all look so beautiful I can't wait until the wedding. Does everybody want to get changed now. We don't want to mess up the dresses do we?"

"No, can't be doing that," whispered Cordy.

"Tara, can I speak to you a second?" asked Anya.

"Sure," said Tara. "What's up?"

"Will you be my matron of honor?" asked Anya.

"Of course sweetie. It will be a real honor, thank you," said Tara. "But don't you want someone who you see more often?"

"I talk to you all the time and I still think of you as my best friend, so I can't think of anyone better," replied Anya.

"Okay," said Tara genuinely touched by the ex-demons request.

Willow laid a hand on Tara's shoulder as Anya walked away "It's just as well we are talking what with me being best man and all."

"I didn't think it is absolutely necessary for best man and matron of honor to be friends," teased Tara.

"Maybe not, but I do believe they have to flirt a lot," replied Willow winking at Tara.

"Is that so Miss Rosenberg," said Tara "Willow are you doing anything tomorrow?"

"Well I have some work to do in the morning but I'm free in the afternoon. Why?" asked Willow.

"I thought we might spend some time together. You now catch up and talk a little," replied Tara "If you don't w-want to it doesn't really matter." "No, no it'll be good," said Willow quickly before Tara talked herself out of the idea. "Where do you want to meet?"

"Uhm, just call at my hotel when you are ready," said Tara

"Why are you meeting her?" enquired Connor as he and Tara went for an early morning swim in the hotel swimming pool.

"I just want to clear the air," answered Tara.

"I thought you did that yesterday," counters Connor.

"Conn, we still have a lot to talk about," said Tara "We've been apart for so long. I want to catch up; find out what she's been doing."

"So you're just going to forgive her everything, everything she did to you," said Connor with an incredulous look on his face. "I know when I went to Cornwall you helped me, but I remember the pain you were in too. I know how long it has taken you to rebuild your life and you're just going to go out with her like nothing happened."

"Connor it's not that simple..."

"You mean you are still in love with her and if you can you're going to go back with her," said the young man angrily "Tara she'll just hurt you again, can't you see that? She slapped you," he added weakly.

"And I provoked her. I've forgiven her, so you should forget it," said Tara simply.

"Why do you have to do that?" asked Connor "Be so God damn nice."

"What's the point of being bitter? It's just a negative emotion and I don't have time for negativity," said Tara. "We are not getting back together, we are just going to be friends."

"Yeah right" retorts Connor. "'Cause you sleep with all your friends."

"Enough Connor. I don't want to hear another word," said Tara her patience with the young man slipping away.

"Fine," he said getting out the pool. "But when she hurts you don't expect me to be a shoulder to cry on." And with those words he storms off.

"Great," said Tara to herself. "Just one more thing I can do without."

Willow impatiently finished the program she had been writing, not that the work she was doing was taxing, it just paid the bills but she wanted to meet Tara as soon as possible.

It surprised her the blonde had asked for this. She was quite curious about the things Tara had done whilst she had been in England and she felt the excitement rise within her as she made way to the hotel.

Tara's bedside phone rang " Dr Maclay there is a Miss Rosenberg waiting for you in the lobby," said the voice on the other end of the line.

"Good tell her I'll be down in a second," said Tara.

Tara smiles as she sees Willow standing in the lobby looking a little shy and lost "Hi Will, have you had lunch yet?"

"No," confesses the hacker "I just came straight over to see you."

"Well the hotel restaurant is excellent. I'll treat you if you want." replies Tara.

"Are you sure?" asked Willow.

"Yeah, I'll charge it on expenses to the council," grinned the witch.

They were shown to a quiet table and order their food.

"How's it working out for you being a watcher?" asked Willow

"It's nothing special to be honest, I think in away they wish Giles and I weren't there, but they can't get rid of us because of our connection to Buffy, plus we are about the only ones fighting monsters in Britain," said Tara.

"You've moved on so much with you life, living with Giles in a foreign country and you a doctor now and once again I find myself telling someone that I'm still here, in the same old Sunnydale," said Willow.

"Doesn't mean you haven't changed," replied Tara.

Willow stared at Tara surprised at they way she had used the exact words Oz had all those years ago and the memories of the start of her relationship with Tara came flooding back to her. Tara was so different now, a confident woman, not the shy wallflower Willow had fallen in love and she found herself keener than ever to get to know this person that was sitting in front of her. The fact that she was absolutely gorgeous and sexy was a huge help too, Willow admitted to herself.

"Will are you okay?" said Tara pulling the redhead out her revelry.

"Yeah, so apart from fight monsters what do you do with your free time in England?" asked Willow.

"Well I do martial arts as you've seen, I've bought myself a horse and I do a lot of riding, plus I have to look after Giles," smiled Tara.

"Has there been anyone else?" asked Willow nervously just wanting to get the question out.

"No, not really. You?" said Tara.

"No one could replace you," said Willow.

They held each other's gaze for a second not really sure what to say.

"Would you like to order dessert?" asked the waitress breaking the spell between them.

"No thank you," said Tara. "Willow?"

"No," answered the redhead. "Do you want go anywhere this afternoon."

Feeling the pull that she did towards Willow had scarred her slightly and Connor's words of caution kept reverberating in the back of her head. "Willow can I give it a rain check, it must be the jet lag but every now and then this tiredness seems to catch up with me."

"O-okay," said Willow a little disappointed.

"Tomorrow if you want," said Tara feeling a complete coward again.

" 'Kay, I'll phone," said Willow and kissed Tara softly on the cheek before she left.

Part 10

Tara went up to her room not sure why she had just ducked out of spending time with Willow. The lunch had been so much fun, in fact she couldn't remember the last time she had felt so comfortable and at home with someone. She knew Giles was at the Magic Box and decided to go and talk to him.

"Hey I thought you were going to gone all afternoon," said Buffy. "You two didn't have another fight," she added seeing the glum face of her buddy.

"No" said Willow. "She bought me lunch..."

"Well that's got to be good doesn't it?" said Buffy cutting in.

"Then she made some excuse about being tired and went. I don't know Buffy we seemed to be having so much fun and I don't know if I was too pushy or something." Said Willow.

"Will, it's not going to be easy for either of you. Just give her time, at least you two are talking which is more than you've done for the last five years," said Buffy.

"I suppose... it's just this week has started off with such total disasters...I don't know. Buffy, I've never stopped loving her you know," said Willow.

"I know, but do you now how she feels?" asked Buffy.

"I'm too scared to ask. I don't want to blow it. I mean what if she just doesn't want to know?" said Willow

"It's a chance you've got to take," answered Buffy. "I mean you've let her go for five years; it hasn't exactly worked out for you has it?"

"I've been okay," said Willow

"Yeah sure you have" laughed Buffy. "You may have got a good degree and a highly paid job but what do you do apart from work and help me? You haven't even come close to having a girlfriend since Tara left."

"How could I...I mean how do you go about it? Hi so and so, you seem really nice how would like to be involved in my little dangerous world, you may have fun but there is always a chance that you may be killed, be attacked by a hell god and turned crazy or even better my addictive personality might reassert it's self and I'll make your life hell," said Willow panting slightly as she finished her rant.

"That had nothing to do with being with someone new did it?" asked Buffy. "I think you have just given all the reasons why you think Tara won't be interested in you again."

"Maybe Buffy, but I hurt her and we never really sorted anything. How do I know what she really thinks?" said Willow.

"Well I suggest the radical plan of asking her," said Buffy.

"Easier said than done Buffy. What if she thinks I'm trying to crowd her or something? I don't want to scare her off," said Willow.

"And are you forgetting she goes back to England in just over a week? You have to do something soon if you want her," said Buffy.

Well that is another thing, what am I supposed to say? You've built a great new life for yourself in England but I want you to give it up and come back and live on a Hellmouth," said Willow. "What an offer, what woman could resist that?"

"Will, it's up to you. I think you should go for it or you may spend another five years regretting letting her go again." said Buffy.

"I thought you said I should give her some time," said Willow.

"I'm allowed to change my mind," said Buffy. "Now we've got some planning to do; the seduction of Dr Maclay by Willow Rosenberg"

"Buffy," said Willow in mild protest. "And anyway I've already managed to do that." added the redhead with a wicked grin on her face.

"I meant of a more permanent arrangement than last time," said Buffy giving the grinning hacker a mild look of disapproval. "Lets set to work."

Tara arrives at the Magic Box and a soon as she arrived she could hear Xander and Anya arguing, it always amazed her the way they could live like that with their constant bickering. She spotted Giles cringing in a corner desperately trying not to be drawn into the fight.

"Giles can I talk to you a moment?" asked Tara. "Privately in the training room"

"Yes," said Giles looking relived at being pulled away from what was threatening to be an all out war between the soon to be newly weds. "What is it?"

"Willow," replied Tara.

"What's she done now?" said Giles.

"Nothing" said Tara "In fact we had a nice lunch together"

"So your problem is?" said Giles.

"I wanted her. I mean really wanted her, but we haven't really talked about anything that happened before or since. I mean how do I know I can trust her? I know her power is gone but she knew what Glory had done to me but still went ahead and interfered with my mind. How do you forgive someone something like that?" asked Tara.

"I can't answer those questions for you Tara," said Giles." The only thing I can say is that I have seen a lot of Willow these past five years and she's changed and what I mean by that is she's tried to cure herself of all those destructive qualities she had in the past. What I would suggest is just spend a little time with her get to know her again. Use your own judgment."

"Is it worth it though Giles?" said Tara "I'll be going back to England soon and to be honest I don't think I want to change my life to the point that I would have to move back here."

Giles gave the blonde a long stare. "Aren't you running before you can walk? You're not necessarily planning a life long commitment, just friendship or maybe just a little romance. Take it easy, it might lead to something more but don't put to much pressure on yourself or her for that matter. I know this one of those things people say and they can't tell you how to do it but have fun."

"Fun, I think, I remember fun" said the witch softly. "Connor said she'd just hurt me again"

"And at 21 and only five of those years spent on this dimension Connor is the great relationship expert because?" asked Giles.

Tara smiled at Giles. "I wish you were my real father. You always seem to manage to say the right thing."

"Tara, I couldn't love you more if you were my own flesh and blood," said the older man with great sincerity. "And I think it's time you let yourself be happy."

Part 11

Tara sat in her room reading but her eyes kept being drawn towards her travel clock. It was 4.30 in the afternoon and Willow still hadn't contacted her, maybe she had blown it by being so reticent the day before.

The phone rang and her heart leapt.

"Hi Wi...oh Buffy," said Tara the disappointment evident in her voice.

"Tara, I'm sorry I should have phoned earlier, Willow had to go to Seattle on business. She said she would see you at the rehearsal and the dinner," said the slayer.

"Okay," said Tara.

"Tara," said Buffy. "Before you go can I ask you a question?"

"Wow that sounds ominous but fire away," said the witch.

"Do you still like Will?" asked Buffy.

"Of course I do," answered Tara.

"No, what I mean is do you think you two still have a future together?" said Buffy.

Tara sighed slightly "Buffy I don't know, I don't want to think that far ahead, but I do know that I still feel a lot for her. Why?"

"No reason," said the slayer smiling to herself at the other end of the phone. "Anyway I'll see you at the rehearsal and rest assured at least this time Xander's family haven't been invited to the wedding."

"Were they really that bad?" asked Tara

"Oh yeah," said Buffy shuddering at the memory of Xander and Anya's disastrous first attempt at a wedding. "See you."

"Bye Buffy," said Tara.

"Hurry up Will," said Buffy. "We've go to get you ready for the rehearsal."

"Buffy, I've just got off the plane. I was thinking of phoning Xander and asking if he really needed me there; I'm just so tired."

"No you've got to go," said Buffy.

Willow gave Buffy a long stare "Why?"

"Look, I talked to Tara and I think you are in with a good chance," said Buffy. "Fred and I have picked out some clothes and we are ready to give you a make over when I get you home"

"Buffy, what did you say?" asked Willow.

"Nothing much, but I know you she still likes you and I think you should go all out to impress. Come on Will what harm can it do?" said Buffy grinning at the hacker.

The rehearsal went well and the wedding party went back to the hotel where Giles had paid for the dinner as his wedding present to the young couple, but as he kept stressing to everyone he bought the first lot of wine for the table and then the rest of the drinks they would be coughing up for themselves.

Willow looked stunning having been dressed in a dusty pink dress with very soft and subdued makeup.

Tara found herself sat between Fred and Willow and was starting to feel like she had been sat between two nervous machine guns with words being lined up and shot at her. She decided maybe it was time to assert herself into the conversation. "So Will how was uhm business?"

"Fine, this bank wanted us to look at their non-existent security. Why we had to go to their head quarters I don't know and they expect us to help them with software when the problem is that their hardware belongs in the last century...and you are starting to lose interest aren't you," said Willow.

"No, well, I suppose a little," said Tara. "You know I never was a computer person"

"Hey, I've seen your laptop; very state of the art," said Willow laughing.

Tara smiled "I use it as a convenient, intelligent word processor."

"Now that is an abuse of the machine you own," said Willow still laughing and rolling her eyes.

"Will," said Tara suddenly serious. "You look good tonight, that color really suits you"

Willow looked embarrassed "You really think so?"

"I do," said the blonde witch.

"Fred and Buffy dressed me. Well when I say dress I meant they helped me choose out my clothes," said Willow blushing an even brighter color of red.

"I've got that," said Tara finding Willow's discomfiture quite endearing.

"You always look good. Hell did I say that out loud?" said the hacker.

"I'm afraid so," said Tara. "Is this what you meant by the best man has to flirt with the matron of honor?"

"Hey that's not fair. You started flirting first," pouted Willow.

Tara leant close into Willow and whispered in her ear "I wasn't flirting."

Willow swallowed hard and looked into a pair of smoky, sexy blue eyes "You are still so beautiful. I don't understand how I could let you go"

"Maybe because you were too busy overdosing on magic to notice what you had," said a very drunk Connor appearing behind them.

"Connor, I've told you this is not your concern," said Tara.

"Nothing in your life is ever my concern. Is it?" said the young man.

"Connor please..."

"Tara I love you. I would never have hurt you the way she did," said Connor now shouting at the top his voice, he turned to Willow "I know she will never be mine but if you hurt again I will kill you, I swear."

"Connor calm down," said Fred and puts her arm on his shoulder

He shrugs her off "This has nothing to do with you Fred. You know nothing of what happened. She wiped her mind; she took her memories and now look at them making eyes at one another like nothing went on."

"Connor that was along time ago. Please, you're drunk just go to bed before you do or say something that you'll regret," said Tara desperately trying to calm the agitated young man down.

"What the truth. I forgot we're not supposed to tell that, are we..."

Angel grabbed hold of his son and pulled him away. "I apologize ladies. I will take him upstairs to bed."

"Leave me alone," said Connor throwing his father off him but Buffy had anticipated this and was on hand to subdue the super strong youngster.

Angel once again mouthed "Sorry," as he and Buffy dragged Connor away.

"Well I thought we wouldn't have any fighting if we didn't invite Xander's family," said Anya mournfully.

"Sorry," said Tara.

"Don't worry it's not your fault," said Anya. "But someone is going to have to keep him away from Guinness tomorrow."

"I think that better be left between Buffy and Angel," said Gunn. "I don't think anyone else could control him."

"Anyway the desserts haven't come round yet so do we think we can enjoy what's left of the dinner," said Giles.

"I think I'll skip it," said Willow. "I'm a bit wiped out after my trip and I want to be fresh for tomorrow so that I can stop Xander making a break for it"

"He better not" said Anya "Or this time..."

"Ahn she's just joking" said Xander.

Willow used the cover of the arguing duo to make a quick and quiet exit.

"Will, you were leaving without saying goodbye" said Tara following behind her.

"I thought it was best," said the hacker "You know after..."

"Look ignore Connor, he was just drunk," said Tara.

"Maybe, but he was right about one thing I've got no right to expect you just to forget everything," Willow laughed bitterly to herself. "Forget. Do you know there is not a day goes by when I don't regret the use of that one word?"

"Will, I know. I'm only here for one more week and I've decided that I would like to enjoy as much of it as possible and the best way I can think of enjoying myself is being with you. If you don't mind?" said Tara

Willow's face lit up "Honest, you really want to spend some time with me."

"I do," said Tara. She moved close to Willow gathered her in her arms and kissed her gently "Tomorrow."

Tara turned and walked back into the restaurant leaving Willow standing grinning into space.

Part 12

Tara had resisted Anya's suggestion of staying at the apartment; instead she had elected to stay in the hotel and met the rest of the wedding party at the hall just before the service. She had argued with Anya that she could manage to dress on her own.

She knew someone was standing outside her door and she knew who it was. She waited in trepidation for the knock. She opened the door. "Connor I'm too busy for round 2."

Connor goes to enter the room and noted with a great deal of shame how Tara jumped back from him looking slightly fearful. "I've come to apologize for last night. I was really drunk and I'm sorry."

Tara sighed "Connor, you've got to realize I'm a big girl now and I don't need you to run my life for me and one other thing if you really want to get into my good books, I want you to say sorry to Willow."

"Tara," said the young man with a slight whine in his voice.

"No I mean it if you want to make things right between us you have to apologize to her and I mean it," said Tara.

"But Tara, she did hurt you," said Connor.

"Connor I'm not going through it again. The subject is closed and I'll say this to you once more but in a little stronger terms if you still want to remain my friend apologize to Willow. Now leave because I need to change," said Tara and pushed a stunned Connor out the door."

"Buffy, Willow," said Anya. "Are you ready yet"

"Okay," said Willow to Buffy "Who let Anya into the house."

"It was probably Dawn. If we stay quiet maybe she'll go away," giggled Buffy. "We're just about ready Anya, we'll be down in a few seconds."

"Oh well here goes, do you think Xander will go through with it this time?" Asked Willow.

"He will, either that or I will drag him up the aisle this time," said Buffy. "Yeah, I think they're more grown up this time, so I think it'll work and talking of things more grown up how about you and Tara, you seemed really close last night."

"It's going good Buffy. I don't want to get to excited but she kissed me last night and I had that fluttery feeling in my stomach and I felt just like a kid again," said Willow.

"She kissed you, how did I miss that?" exclaimed Buffy.

"You were taking the avenger of her honor upstairs to bed to sleep off his drinking binge," explained Willow.

"C'mon I don't want to be late," said an impatient Anya. "It's bad enough that all of us didn't get ready together but if I'm late Xander might think I've dumped him and run away again."

"Anya we have two hours to get to the place so don't worry," said Buffy.

"Don't worry; we have to collect Tara and Cordelia from the hotel, make sure the flowers are okay and check the caterers..."

"Anya, Giles is already there, you have nothing to worry about," said Willow.

Willow was proved right and the wedding went without a hitch. Anya was looked radiant, Xander stumbled through his vows but they got there in the end. They had decided against a sit down meal and instead had a finger buffet and a disco.

"Hey Tara" said Gunn. " Do you want to dance?"

"Sure why not," laughed the witch.

"Why has your husband stolen my dancing partner?" asked Willow who had just returned from the rest room.

"You've been monopolizing her all night and I want you to spill the beans," said Fred.

"There's nothing to tell," giggled Willow. "Well not yet anyway."

"Willow can I speak to you a moment," said Connor

"Connor I'm not sure..."

"It's okay Fred I'm not looking for trouble," said Connor. "I just need to talk to Willow."

"Okay I'm listening," said the redhead warily.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said those things to you yesterday," said Connor.

"Did Tara tell you to apologize?" asked Willow

"Yes," admitted Connor.

"So you don't really mean it," said Willow

"Actually I've been thinking about all day, I do mean it. Willow I'm as jealous as hell over you, but I want Tara to be happy and I think you are the only person who can make her happy so if you two are going to be together I'm going to have to get on with you," said the young man.

"I accept your apology Connor," said Willow.

"Good, but one thing I meant, if you hurt her again, I will kill you" said Connor

"Connor I promise you I will never hurt her again, not intentionally anyway, I love her in fact I don't think I have ever not been in love with her," said Willow.

Tara came up from behind them and wrapped her arms round Willow. "Hey You."

"Hey Tara, enjoy yourself with Gunn?" said Willow.

"Yeah he's a nice guy. What have you two been talking about?" asked the blonde.

"Connor's just been saying how sorry his about last night," said Willow.

"Is that true?" asked Tara.

"It is," said Connor. "Anyway I'm going to leave you two on your own and Dawn has promised me a dance."

They watched him walk away "I'm glad he said sorry to you," said Tara.

"Actually I don't blame him for the things he said. He's just in love with you and I can sort of relate to that," said Willow turning round to face Tara.

"Will I..." Tara stopped entranced by the beautiful green eyes looking into her own. She reached up with her hand and pushed a lock of red hair off Willow's face.

The D.J had changed the pace and had started to put some slow songs on. Willow led Tara onto the dance floor and they started to dance a bone achingly seductive dance together, their bodies matching one another's pace and molding into one. Tara dipped her head and starts to kiss Willow slowly and gently just brushing her lips against the hacker's barely touching.

Willow tried to deepen the kiss but Tara broke away "This is too much, we made the mistake before, if we carry on I'm going to want sleep with you."

"Tara what's wrong with that," said the panting hacker.

"You know what's wrong, we've let passion over take us before..."

"You mean you just want us to be friends," said Willow

"No that is not what I mean at all. I just want us to take it slow, enjoy being with one another," said Tara. "And I think I'm falling in love with you all over again"

Willow started to cry, "I didn't think I would ever hear those words from your lips again"

"Will have you got to work next week?" asked Tara.

"I can put anything off for you," said Willow

"Do you want to hang?" said Tara.

"For sure, try and keep me away," said Willow.

The next week the two of them couldn't be separated. They did everything together; they went to movies, had picnics and Tara even managed to get Willow on a horse. The time went so fast it took them both by surprise when they realized it was time for Tara to go back to England.

They stood at the airport both of them not sure what to say to the other. Tara embraced Willow. "I'm going to miss you."

"I wish you weren't going," said Willow

"I know but I have to go," said Tara.

Willow bit her lip holding back so much that she felt inside but she had decided that there was no way she could ask Tara to stay on a Hellmouth.

She watched as the love of her life disappeared and went into the departure lounge with Giles.

Willow lay on her bed feeling a black well of loneliness engulf her, she had never felt so alone in all her life. Why had she let Tara leave again?

She heard a gentle knock on her door. "Come in, oh Fred."

"Giles gave me this to give you," said Fred handing Willow a piece of paper.

All it had on it was a date for the next week and address; L'Hermitage, Beaumont St Peter, Jersey.

Part 13

Willow stared at the piece of paper in front of her for about the hundredth time. She also noticed that there was a telephone number scribbled on the bottom.

"Are you going to phone the number or just stare at it?" asked Fred. "Giles gave me it to give to you so he must have wanted you to use it."

"I know but it seems so strange. I mean, do you think Tara knows anything about it?" asked Willow.

"Just phone it Willow," said Fred.

"Okay," said Willow meekly knowing she was just stalling for time just in case the number turned out to be a disappointment. "What time is it in the U.K?"

"It's late afternoon so I don't think you are going to have any trouble contacting a hotel. Just phone the number or I'll do it for you," said Fred.

"Okay, okay," said Willow. "Give me the phone."

The receptionist on the other side of the phone answered, "L'Hermitage, Beaumont St. Peter, can I help you?"

"Uhm yes have you any rooms free next week?" asked Willow.

"Sorry we're fully booked," said the receptionist.

"Oh," said Willow disappointment sounding heavy in her voice.

"If you give me your name I could phone you if we have any cancellations," suggested the receptionist.

"My name is Willow Rosenberg..."

"Ah, Miss Rosenberg, Mr. Rupert Giles has already booked you in, he said you would be joining Dr Maclay and himself. Is that correct?" asked the receptionist.

"Y-yes. It's just he never said," said Willow.

"He only phoned a couple of days ago saying the you would be sharing Dr Maclay's twin room. Is that okay?"

"Oh yeah," said Willow grinning to herself.

Willow arrived at Jersey's small airport. She had been told by the airline that there would be a taxi to take her hotel. A small man in a uniform stood with a sign saying L'Hermitage and she soon found herself at the hotel.

The taxi pulled up on to the drive. The hotel was a lovely looking old building with beautiful gardens.

A young Irish man was standing waiting for the taxi. He helped take Willow's suitcase into the reception then explained to her "Dr Maclay is already in the room so I'll just carry your suitcase out there. You are staying in the plaza."

He led Willow out of the main body of the hotel into a large lawn with an outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by sun beds and palm trees. The rooms themselves were on three sides of pool in a single story terrace. Willow had to admit to herself it looked very quaint.

Tara sat in her room reading the Sunday papers, waiting for Giles to return from his morning drive, so that they could go out for the afternoon. Her door went. "Come in Giles..." She stopped stunned to see Willow standing there.

"I'll just bring Miss Rosenberg's bags in," said the young man.

"Thank you," said Willow unable to take her eyes off the young woman sprawled on the bed. "I didn't know you wore glasses."

"Just for reading," explained Tara who had got off the bed and locked the room door.

"They suit you," said Willow.

"Tara couldn't contain herself any longer. She threw her arms round the smaller woman and pulled her in close. She bent her head and kissed Willow deeply. It was passionate and breathtaking. She pulled away for a second "Goddess, I've missed you." And it was true the week away from Willow had seemed worse that the five years they had spent apart. The pain had seemed far more acute than ever before; the pleasurable time she had spent in Sunnydale compared to the dark week of loneliness she had just spent.

Willow's hand had gone to Tara's shirt, fumbling with the buttons.

"No," said Tara. "Giles will be coming soon..."

"Giles arranged all this," said Willow. "I don't think he's coming back anytime soon."

"Giles did this?" said Tara.

"He left me the address of the hotel and booked me into your room," grinned the hacker.

"The sneaky... I had no idea," said the blonde.

"Now where were we," said Willow gently stroking Tara's face and then pulling the witch to her; biting the blonde's full lips before flicking her tongue into her mouth and Willow's pulse raced as she is rewarded with a groan and a tightening embrace from the blonde. This time there is no resistance from Tara as she slowly unbuttons her shirt. Her mouth follows her hands downwards kissing her neck; sucking gently on Tara's pulse point before running her tongue along the witch's collarbone.

"Will," said Tara breathlessly. "Slow, just take it slowly, we have all afternoon and night and I want to enjoy every minute." The blonde the led the hacker towards the bed. She sat on it facing Willow and she started to slowly undress the redhead until she is standing only in her bra and panties. She wrapped her legs round Willow's hips and her arm round her back and unfastens her bra. Her mouth goes to Willow's breasts and she pulls one of the erect nipples into her mouth.

Willow groans and her knees start to buckle. She didn't think she could stand Tara's assault on her senses' much longer before falling. "Tara, I need to..."

The blonde loosened her grip on the Willow's body and moved back right on to the bed. Willow took her chance and knelt on the bed between Tara's legs. "I think it's time you lost those shorts and that bra, it must come off."

She proved as good as her word, unhooking Tara's front fastening bra and revealing her glorious breasts. Willow stared entranced by the woman lying before her. "You are so beautiful." She noted that Tara's body has changed slightly, still wonderfully curvy, but with a little more muscle than before. She covered the blonde's body with her own and started to slowly kiss and explore all of her hollows and curves, until she reached Tara's shorts waistband. She unzips her cotton shorts and pulls them off. "Naughty, naughty no panties and you said you weren't expecting me," said Willow teasingly.

Tara went to protest but couldn't get any words out as Willow continued her exploration downwards making her squirm by bringing her tongue in long sweeps along her inner thighs. The teasing movement making the blonde even more acutely aware of the heat and wetness she could feel between her legs. "Willow please I need you."

Willow looks at Tara with a mischievous light in her eye "I thought you wanted to take it slow."

"Please..."

Willow dipped her tongue into the blondes wetness "Is this what you want?"

"Yes, oh god Willow stop teasing me," said Tara.

Willow no longer able to resist any way started to slowly lick and suck Tara engorged clit. The blonde arched her back in response totally lost in the rhythm that Willow is beating out with her talented tongue.

Feeling Tara's clit start to throb Willow pulls it between her lips and sucks hard. She heard Tara scream and call her name as her orgasm rips through her.

Willow scooted up the bed and pulled Tara into her arms "I remember I used to have to work a lot harder to satisfy you."

"I wonder how long will it take to push you over the edge," said Tara.

"Can we find out later, I think jetlag has finally caught up with me, so if you don't mind can I have a nap in your arms and then I promise you, I'm yours to do with whatever you please," said Willow yawning.

Part 14

Willow woke with a start not sure where she was as the light from the window was coming in at an unfamiliar angle. She went to sit up until a lazy arm pulled her back down into bed and she turned to a tousled blonde head and beautiful blue eyes.

"Hey, Rip Van Winkle, I was beginning to worry you weren't ever going to wake up. I even had to have dinner brought to the room last night," said Tara indicating to the tray at the side of the room "I didn't want you to wake up and think I had run off and left you again."

"How long have I been asleep?" asked Willow.

"Oh about 16 hours. I didn't want to disturb you; you looked so peaceful," answered Tara.

"I was so tired," said Willow "I don't think I've slept a wink since you left Sunnydale."

In response Tara pulled her love in close and kissed her gently on the forehead.

Willow pressed her head into Tara's full breasts wanting to lose herself in their softness. A wave of contentment washed over her. Surely this was pure love, this blissful warmth and happiness.

"Will," said Tara.

"Hmm," said the redhead not wanting to move from her current position.

"It's eight o'clock and you haven't eaten for hours. Lets have a quick shower and go the dinning room for breakfast," said Tara.

Willow gave Tara a wicked grin "I know what I want to eat and it's not breakfast and how about a nice long shower together?"

Tara gulped and almost gave into seductive green eyes "No, I want to enjoy you all week and I think you won't be much good unless you have a few regular meals."

Willow pouted slightly but the rumble she felt in her stomach told her that Tara was right.

Giles sat at the table wondering if he was going to have any company from his young companions when he saw them walking towards the table and he smiled as he noticed Tara do that little skip she did when she was really happy. "Morning ladies and did you have a good flight Willow."

"Fine," the hacker but her eyes hardly ever left the women sitting opposite her.

"Have you two any plans for the day," asked the watcher.

"Not really," admitted Tara.

"Would you like to go on one of the rallies with me today?" asked Giles.

"Eh?" said Willow looking confused.

"I don't suppose you two have had much of a conversation about the reason why we are in Jersey," said Giles wryly.

"W-willow was jet lagged and slept all night," said Tara.

Giles shook his head and grinned. "Anyway Willow the reason that I come to Jersey every year is that I bought myself a vintage MG and I joined an owners club and we come here to have a rally every year and Tara usually joins me".

"But your car is only two seater," objected Tara.

"I'm sure you can find someone else to ride with just this once and it'll be a great way for Willow to see the island," argued Giles.

"But..."

"Come on humor an old man just this once. You can have her too yourself the rest of the week" said Giles.

Tara rolled her eyes but gave in "Okay and you're not that old."

They walked to the car park of the hotel, which was filled with people cleaning and polishing their cars.

"This is mine," said Giles proudly pointing to a bright red soft-top MG circa 1950.

"It's beautiful," said Willow.

Tara had gone off grumbling and hooked up with an old friend from Uni who was also there for the rally.

As they went round the island Giles started to point out all the points of interest around the island.

"Has Tara said where she is going to take you yet?" said Giles.

"She said something about taking me to the zoo and a hospital; it doesn't sound too exciting," said Willow.

"Oh I think you may be surprised" smiled Giles "I take it that she hasn't explained about how unique they are?"

"No?" answered Willow

"Well I won't spoil her surprise," said Giles. "And talking of my daughter I have to ask you what your intentions towards her are?"

My intentions...? But she's not your daughter," said Willow.

"To all intents and purposes she is and I mean it; I know I set this up but I really need to know if I will be picking up the pieces again in few months time," said Giles. "She was a wreck when she came to live with me. She won't tell you of the nightmares and nights she lay awake crying but I can't forget them. I've encouraged her to get involved with you again because I think you have both grown up and I know she is still in love with you but I need to know how you feel."

"I love her," said Willow the tears welling up in her eyes. "I didn't mean to cause her any pain and I'm going to do my best to make it up to her. I don't know what is going to happen in the future but I promise you Giles I'll do my best to make her happy."

Giles looks across at the redhead and smiled "I believe you. I just wanted you to know how devastated she was about all the bad things that went on the past and to be honest I know she gives off this more confident, brash air than she had before but underneath she is still the same old Tara and I don't know if she could survive another heartbreak."

"I mean it Giles I'm so in love with her; more than ever before. The only thing is what do I do in the future; I don't think I can ask her to live with me in Sunnydale. She deserves better than living on a Hellmouth," said Willow.

"I can't tell you what to do," said Giles "But I hope you're not using the Hellmouth as an excuse..."

"No, no way will I let her slip from my grasp again. I'll just have to come up with a solution and hey I'm the research girl and really want her in my life for keeps this time," said Willow

Giles laughed "Okay if your intentions are as pure as you say I will do everything in my power to aid you in your pursuit."

"Is that your strange British way of telling me you give me your blessing to be involved with your daughter?" said Willow

"I suppose," said Giles.

Part 15

They arrived back at the hotel mid afternoon with Willow desperate to talk to Tara.

The blonde and her friend had arrived a couple of minutes before Giles and Willow and she was all smiles waiting for them in car park." Nice trip?" she asked.

"Great," said Willow. "Jersey is beautiful."

Tara noticed the pensive look on her girlfriend's face "What's up?"

"I...can we go back to the room. I need to talk to you," said Willow.

Tara felt like her heart was going to burst, fearing the worse, Willow was going to tell her that she just wanted to be friends. "O-okay"

They walked quickly across the car park towards the room leaving Giles a little stunned by the sudden strained atmosphere between the two.

Tara opened the door of the room trying to fight back the blind panic that was rising within her. She was scared and she didn't want to lose her dignity. She wrapped her arms tightly around herself in an effort to ward of the pain she felt sure was coming her way. She kept her back to Willow just hoping the redhead would say what she needed to say quickly.

"Tara turn round," said Willow gently wondering what was wrong with blonde.

She turned but wouldn't raise her eyes to met Willow's.

Willow sighed she wasn't really sure how to broach the subject "Tara I was...Giles told me...I mean. He said that when you moved in with him you were suffering from really bad nightmares."

"Oh," said Tara surprised "You looked so serious I thought you were going to tell me you just wanted to be friends"

"No, no that's never going to happen. I mean I hope we'll always be friends but I want a whole lot more than that," said Willow.

Tara felt the relief flood through her body, she moved in close to Willow and pulled the hacker into her arms.

Willow gently pushed Tara away "Tell me about the nightmares."

A frown crossed the blonde's usually pretty features "It was s-such a long time ago, you don't w-want to hear about t-that."

Willow knew she had hit a sore point as soon as Tara's stutter had started "Now come on don't go all avoidy on me,"

"I'm not," said Tara "I just really don't want bring it all up again."

"Baby we can't start by hiding things from one another," said Willow. "Please I want to know."

"You really don't," said Tara with a shake of the head.

"I do, now don't argue with me, see I have my resolve face on, you know what it means," said Willow looking serious.

Tara took a deep breath. "I-I just had a lot of nightmares t-that's all."

"Tara," said Willow sternly.

"Okay," said the witch looking defeated. "You win," the blonde sat down heavily on the bed and her voice seemed to be coming from a long way away and she couldn't bring herself to look at Willow. "They started before I went to England but they just seemed to get worse when I got there."

"They are always the same, it starts with me sitting on that damn bench during the fair. I sit there by myself, when someone holds my hand I turn to smile thinking it's you, when it happened for real I look up and it's Glory, but in my dream it is you. It doesn't matter though you do all the things Glory did too me; torture me, break my hand and eventually take my sanity." Tara shudders as the memories come flooding back to her. "I had them night after night sometimes two or three times a night, it got so bad that Giles tried to get me to go see a doctor about them, but in the end I found a mixture of meditation and martial arts got me through."

Willow looked dumbstruck not sure what to say. She knew she had caused Tara pain but this was the first time it had really hit home how much she had hurt the quiet blonde whose only crime had been to fall in love with her. "How can you forgive me?"

"Because I don't want to live with bitterness and hate and besides you weren't your self at the time," said Tara simply.

"You are just incredible, do you know that? I crossed so many lines at that time, but the stupid thing is, all the things I did to you were to try and stop you from leaving, pretty dumb huh?" said the hacker. " I've learnt the hard way that you can't make people do things against their own will and I if I could take back any of the hurt I caused you I would. Tara I'm so in love with you and I promise with all my heart that I will never cause you that kind of pain again."

Willow holds on Tara's hand and looks deep into her eyes hoping that her depth of feelings can being transmitted to the other girl.

"K," said Tara softly "I believe you but it's been hard, you know, to try and trust you again but it seems to get easier the more time I spend with you."

"I guess you'll have to spend as much time as possible with me then," said Willow with a smile, which is answered by one of Tara's sweet half smiles.

"I suppose I'll have to force myself," said the blonde with a giggle relieved that the moment of tension had past.

Part 16

"What else did Giles to talk you about?" asked Tara curiously.

"He just wanted to know what my intentions were towards you," said Willow.

"Excuse me?" said Tara a little shocked.

"He's just trying to protect you. I wish I had someone who looked out for me, the way he looks out for you," said Willow "You're very lucky."

"You have Buffy and Fred," said Tara.

"I suppose... but not quite the same. They're friends but he told me he was your father," said willow.

"H-he has looked after me since I came to live in England. He's everything my own father wasn't; he's kind, loving generous and he would do anything to help me out of trouble. I guess you're right. I am lucky," said Tara. "So what did you say?"

"What?" said Willow confused as Tara produced a Willow style jump in the conversation.

"About your intentions towards me?" asked the blonde.

"I told him that I intend to have great sex with you for a week..."

"Will," squealed Tara once again looking shocked.

"I'm joking," said the redhead. "I told him I'd be keeping you prisoner in the room..."

"I can see I'm not going to get any sense from you," said Tara. "Come on Will just tell me."

"No," said the hacker "I don't want to inflate your ego too much."

"Oh that good" said Tara grinning. "What do you wanna do for the rest of the afternoon."

"Funny you should ask that" said Willow. "but I feel the need to lie down."

"You tired baby?" asked Tara playing the innocent. "You want me too leave you so you can sleep?"

"I think I need you to lie down with me for a totally satisfying experience," said Willow

"And what sort of experience are you after?" asked Tara.

"Come here and I'll show you" said Willow sitting on the bed indicating to the blonde to sit next to her.

"Nothing you are suggesting is going to lead to sleep," said Tara.

"I said I wanted to lie down, who said anything about going too sleep?" said Willow. "And I thought you were going to see how quickly you could please me"

Tara knelt on the bed bedside Willow and looked into her eyes "How about if I see how long I can keep you on the edge."

"On the edge..."

Tara pushed Willow down on the bed "I think it's my turn to be in charge."

Willow sighed gently as Tara starts to nibble on her neck; soon she stopped sighing, soon she started to scream.

"This is a weird hotel," said Willow starring out the window.

Tara raised her head from the pillow and looked blearily at her girlfriend. "What now?"

"It's weird," said Willow.

"I got that part sweetie, so weird how and what time is it?" said Tara.

Willow looked at her watch "Sorry, baby it's only 6:30, go back too sleep if you want."

Tara smiled "I'm already awake, so tell me what you want to tell me."

"Ducks," said Willow.

"Ducks?" said Tara. "Did I just fall back to sleep then and miss a part of the conversation?"

"On the pool, there is a family of ducks swimming on the pool," said the hacker. "And the staff have walked past but no one has tried to shoo them off."

"They usually sleep under the lounger," explained Tara, "Someone will come and clean the pool when they finish."

"See I told you; weird," said Willow.

The blonde levers herself out of bed "Actually you being here has knocked me out of my routine."

"I can disappear if you want," said Willow playfully.

"Don't you dare," said Tara "All I was going to say is do you want go for a swim."

"I thought you weren't allowed to use the pool until after 8:30," said Willow

"Oh I forgot to show you the other pool and stuff, it opens at seven, come on," said Tara.

Tara led Willow out of the courtyard towards the car park.

"Okay more weirdness," said Willow glancing around the car park. It was full of bustling people cleaning their MGs.

Tara giggles and whispers to Willow "Some of these will have been up since five and talking of obsessed with their cars. Hi Giles"

"Oh hi girls. Lovely day, any plans for today?" asked Giles.

"I thought I'd hire a car and take Willow to the zoo," said Tara. "Or you could lend me yours."

Giles turned puce.

"Don't worry I'm only joking," said Tara.

"Very funny" said Giles. "You going for a swim?"

"Yeah catch you later," said Willow.

They crossed over the car park to a small building. They entered it. It was a small heated pool and next to it was a large Jacuzzi.

"Wow," said Willow "It's lovely and I want to use the Jacuzzi."

"Don't you think you should get changed first" said Tara.

They arrived at the zoo just after 10 o'clock a beautiful warm Jersey day in front of them.

"I thought you didn't approve of zoos," said Willow.

"This zoo is different. Gerald Durrell started it and it is one of the main conservation zoos for great apes in the whole world," said Tara. "Plus apes funny"

Willow was amazed by the size of the zoo and the amount of animals that were just free to roam around. Tara pointed out the family of Golden Lion Tamarins who were free to roam about the woods and could go anywhere in the island but they always came back.

Willow could tell her girlfriend felt very passionate about the conservation work the zoo was involved in and it felt just nice listening as she explained all the workings of the zoo. She just smiled and found that she was having the most fun she had had in years.

Willow was then brought almost to tears as Tara told her about the tale Jambo who used to be the zoo's Silverback Gorilla. She told her how a small boy had fallen from the wall surrounding the Gorillas' enclosure and fractured his skull and how this huge ape had approached the boy, much to his parents' horror, and just sat with him stroking his head until the keepers could get help for the boy.

"Do you want some lunch?" asked Tara.

"Sure," said Willow.

They sat in silence eating their lunch for a while.

"You love it here, don't you?" said Willow

"Yeah it's nice but I like a lot of places in Britain," said Tara smiling. "Bath's lovely, so's Scotland, Cornwall and other places. I'll have to show you sometime"

"That would be nice," said Willow smiling, but at the back of her mind thoughts of what they would do in the future started to lay its ugly seeds.

Part 17

The next day shone as bright and as blue as the last. Willow felt more energized than the night before when she had went to bed and left Tara, Giles and their friends from the MG club in the bar. Tara has wanted to come with her but she had rebuffed the blonde saying she felt jet lagged and just wanted to sleep.

Her mind was churning over their future. She knew that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Tara but she also knew she didn't want a long distance relationship, being apart from the beautiful blonde would be just too much to take. She didn't know what to do for the best.

She tossed and turned all night but she had felt better when Tara had come back and spooned herself behind her, crooning softly, words of love in her ear

Now in the morning light she made a decision; the future was just that the future. She had missed spending one night with Tara because of her brooding and that was just stupid.

"Morning sweetie," said Tara. "You feeling better this morning?"

"Uhm, yes baby I'm sorry about last night," said Willow.

"T-that's okay. Are you sure I didn't upset you in anyway," said Tara. "Because I would hate to think..."

"No it wasn't you honey," said Willow then quickly changing the subject "What we doing today?"

"I thought I'd take you to the hospital," said Tara.

"I told you I was feeling better," said Willow.

Tara laughed

"I can't believe Jersey has a tourist attraction which is a hospital," said Willow.

"I think you will be surprised," said Tara.

Willow looked agog out the car window as they traveled the short distance to the hospital. Jersey although small seemed to have spectacular narrow winding roads set in beautiful green countryside.

Tara pulls up in a car park and Willow is surprised because all she can see on first sight is what looks like a restaurant.

"Are we going to have something to eat first?" asked Willow.

"Why are you hungry, I thought we would just buy our entrance tickets and go in to the hospital," said Tara looking puzzled

"Okay it's just...it doesn't matter," said Willow.

"Will, I should have told you about the hospital. I don't know if you know but the Channel Islands were occupied by the Nazis' during the war," said Tara.

"I remember reading about it when I was kid," admitted Willow.

"Well they built this an underground barrack and munitions storage but eventually used it as an emergency hospital," said Tara leading Willow to the café/ticket office.

They paid for their tickets then walked back to the entrance of the hospital. Willow felt the chill as they descended into the tunnels.

"You know Buffy would have theories that the commanders were all vampires for them to live down here," said Willow.

"It might explain the evil that they did," said Tara shuddering. "No, nothing could explain the evil that the did."

The walked from tunnel to tunnel, taking in the picture shows and memorabilia of the occupation of the island. Tara explained to Willow how many prisoners of war from all over Europe had died building this vast underground complex. Willow remembered her parents telling her about the cold, disturbing, feelings that they had when they had went to Poland and visited Auschwitz and although this place didn't feel that bad, the knowledge that so many people had died there because of that evil regime chilled her to the bone.

They entered a main tunnel that held the memories of the people of Jersey. How they almost died of starvation near the end of the war and how people tried to escape and also put up a resistance against the occupying forces. The memories told how the so-called "friendly occupation" was a lie with people shipped to main land Europe POW camps and one brave young man shot on the beach as he tried to make his escape.

Willow wandered around the memories taking them all in, touched by the struggle and knowing that members of her own family had faced the same or much, much worse.

Her eyes were drawn towards the little exhibition about Violette Szabo the heroic British spy who after her French husbands death had parachuted behind enemies' lines and had helped the French resistance before being captured and shot but it was a piece of poetry connected to her that really caught her eye:

The life that I have is all that I have And the life that I have is yours The love that I have of the life that I have Is your and yours and yours.

A sleep that I have A rest I shall have, Yet death will be but a pause, For the peace of my years in the long green grass Will be yours and yours and yours.

Willow blinked away tears as she read it and her eyes focused on the blonde who was wondering around reading little bits and pieces. That one small piece of poetry seemed to encapsulate everything she felt for Tara. She knew deep in this underground cavern that her life had finally reached a point where she would give up everything for the gentle woman that she loved.

"Tara come here," said Willow.

"What is it sweetie," asked the blonde.

"Have you read this poem before?" said Willow.

"Yes it's beautiful," said Tara.

"All these words could be written by me too you," said the hacker. "I-it's how I feel about you and I want spend the rest of my life with you."

Tara looks into serious green eyes and she can feel the love radiating from Willow and she fights back tears. Never in her life did she think she would ever find love like this but know that she had a second chance of it she knew she couldn't allow it too walk away from her.

Part 18

Willow kept rubbing her hand against Tara's leg as she drove back to the hotel.

"Hey baby if you keep doing that I'll end up smashing the car," said Tara.

"I just can't keep my hands off you," said Willow.

"Will, what's going on with you, last night you seemed so off with me and now..."

"Please don't worry Tara, it's just sometimes I think too much, you know," explained Willow.

Tara pulled into the hotel car park then turned to Willow "W-what's worrying you?"

"Nothing now, I know what I have to do," said Willow.

"What's that?" countered Tara.

"Chase you to our room and make love to all afternoon to make up for last night," said Willow.

Tara started to giggle.

"I'm serious," said Willow. "I want you baby and I'm not taking no for an answer" The redhead lent into the blonde and whispered seductively in her ear. "And if you don't start to move, I'll have you here in the car."

Tara heart started to pound as her girlfriend started to lick her neck and her hands started to sneak under her skirt "Will please."

Willow stops what she is doing "Please what?"

"Wait, someone will see..."

"And?" said the hacker.

"Willow let me get back to the room and you can have anything you want," said Tara pleading with her love, because although the witch was turned on she really didn't want to get caught by Giles.

"Okay but you better come up with the goodies when we get to the room," said Willow.

Tara quickly got out of the car and didn't even look behind her knowing the hacker would only be a couple of paces behind.

She pulled open their room door and barely had time to close it before Willow pounced on her with a passion that was almost ferocious pining the blonde against the door, Tara's skirt was pulled up round her waist and Willow pushed her hand into her panties and at the same time started sucking on Tara's pulse point "Will I... "

"Hush now, you promised me anything and I want my payment," said Willow her hand hovering just over the other woman's heat. "You burn me you know, every part of me wants you."

Her hand moved on, feeling the witch's damp curls. "And you can't lie to me I feel your desire, open your eyes, I want to see your soul when I posses you."

Tara opened her eyes stunned suddenly by the way Willow was demanding her. She could feel the hacker enter her slowly, her pace changed. She tried to look away from intense green eyes that were watching her every reaction.

"Don't look away, keep up the contact with me. I need to be with you the whole way," said Willow as she moved her thumb gently over Tara's clit, just one small caress, but the witch gasped needing it more than she knew. The movements were small but so intense; two fingers deep inside Tara and Willow's thumb making small circles round her engorged nub.

They lost themselves in one another eyes. Mouths meet in what started as a gentle, almost chaste kiss but their passion soon overwhelms them, a passion that could never be contained. Willow's free hand moved to Tara's hair luxuriating in its softness for a second before gripping, pulling the blonde in closer, and her tongue exploring the velvety wetness of her mouth.

Willow felt the blonde's breathing start to become ragged so she increased her pressure on her loves clit and moved her mouth back to Tara's ear. "I want this forever, you and me in harmony, making our own magic. I love being inside you, being part of you."

Tara's neck started to arch as she felt the mind-blowing orgasm rising within her, taken over the edge by Willow's caresses and words. Her mind wiped clean by passion and desire but one word escapes her lips. "Yours."

They lie together, talking, giggling both are tired from their afternoon exertions "We'll have to get up soon," said Tara.

"Oh, do we have to," said Willow

"Yes we do," said Tara

Willow swallowed for a second, she knows exactly what she is about to do, the plan that had hit her with absolute clarity when she was at the hospital but this was going to be the hardest part "Tara."

"Hmm," said the witch playing with a lock of the hacker's hair.

"Last night my company paged me, I have to go back to the States..."

The blonde jumped back as if she had been slapped. "You have too...you knew this when we were...why didn't you tell me this morning, instead of..."

"Tara, baby, I'm sorry I just wanted us to have a perfect day together before I left," said Willow grabbing hold of her hand. "Believe me I don't want to go but I have to..."

"You're going tomorrow?" said Tara tears and disbelief showing in her eyes.

"Baby, please don't cry," said Willow gently caressing Tara's beautiful face, she felt terrible for causing her any pain but this was something Willow felt she just had to do. "I meant everything I said to you; I want you forever, don't ever, ever forget that."

Tara stood at the airport feeling absolutely desolate. She watched Willow and Giles talking together, they both kept glancing her way, but they seemed to deep in conversation to really notice what she was going through. She couldn't believe it could be over so soon. Her mind was trying to search for some logical answer to Willow's strange behavior yesterday, but nothing was making any sense and she decided that she needed to concentrate on holding herself together.

They tannoy announced the Heathrow flight for the second time.

"I'm so sorry baby but I have to go now, I love you," said Willow and held Tara close to her and not caring what anyone would say or think she kissed her with all the love and passion she could muster. "I promise I will be back to you soon, you know I can't stay away."

"Don't go," pleaded Tara urgently, tears flowing down her face. "I can't manage without you."

Willow's resolve almost broke but she knew that they both had to go through this small pain to get to a larger more important prize in the future. Her tears mingled with her beloved as they clung together. Willow just hoped that what she had planned would be worth this heartbreak. "I have to. Please Tara, don't make this any harder than it already is"

"H-how can you say that, do you even care?" said the blonde knowing she was being unreasonable but not really caring. She turned and ran from the airport.

Willow went to run after Tara but Giles held onto her shoulder. "Willow you are doing the right thing. I will calm Tara down but you must do what you said. Go tie up the lose ends."

Giles sprinted hard out of the small airport and to his relief he spotted Tara sitting on the pavement sobbing her heart out. He sat down beside her and puts his arm round her. "Willow hasn't done this to hurt you, you know."

"I know and you must think me a real spoilt brat to have behaved the way I did," said Tara snuggling into his comforting embrace.

"No, I know how much you love her and believe me, she has convinced me about how much she loves you. She told me that she wants you to enjoy what's left of the holiday and I mean to see that you do"

"Giles, I just want to go home," said Tara.

"No," said the older man. "I won't let you, Willow hasn't left you..."

"She did," argued Tara.

"No she didn't. I will not allow you to wallow in self-pity. I know I'm no substitute for Willow but seeing as how she has had you all to herself for the last few days, I'm pleased to be able to spend some time with you before our holiday is finished," said Giles.

Tara smiles weekly from behind her veil of tears. "I don't know what I would do without you."

"I just want you too be happy," said Giles. He kept his fingers crossed hoping that Willow had been totally honest with him

Willow pushed her head back into the headrest gulping back the tears. God, had she made a huge mistake; should she have just told Tara what she was about to do? No, it had to be this way because Tara had to understand everything; everything that Willow was about to give up for the beautiful blonde.

Willow phoned Buffy from Heathrow to ask her to pick her up. In her haste to leave Jersey she had neglected to phone the slayer.

Buffy and Dawn drove to the airport worried out of their minds. They hated to think what must have gone wrong for Willow to have come home three days early and to phone them from the airport in such a rush to get home

"We should have phoned Giles," said Dawn.

"I tried but they were out," said Buffy

"I don't understand, I thought they had started to get on so well together," said Dawn. "Did you see the smirk on Connor's face when you were speaking to Angel."

"To be honest, I'm more worried about what sort of state Willow will be in when we see her," said Buffy

They sat in the car looking at the doors of the airport. "We had better go in," said Dawn.

The sisters moved to the arrivals with real trepidation. They spotted the hacker walking towards them. Dawn runs and throws her arms round the smaller woman "Oh Willow I'm so sorry."

"S-sorry about what?" said Willow looking astonished.

"About Tara..."

"S-something's happened to Tara," said Willow an icy fear pricking her backbone.

"No," said Dawn. "We just thought that because you had to come back so quickly that something must have happened between..."

"No, nothing happened," said Willow cutting in.

"Then why are you here," said the slayer narrowing her eyes at the red head.

"I'll explain when we get home," said Willow.

"Are you mad?" shouted the slayer.

Willow looked at her friend surprised. "I thought you'd be pleased for me."

"Pleased for you, have you even asked Tara?" said Buffy.

"This isn't about Tara," said Willow.

"So you are moving to England, away from your friends, giving up your job because of the climate," argued Buffy.

"I think you are right to go," said Dawn in a small voice. "But I don't understand what you mean by it's not about Tara."

Willow smiled at her two friends. "I'm not explaining myself very well. Five years ago I messed things up real bad between Tara and myself. I couldn't do one thing for her; give up magic for a week. I want to show her how much I've changed. This isn't about Tara; it's about my commitment to her."

"I get that, I really do," said Buffy.

"But? I know you have one, so lets hear your but," sighed Willow.

"Couldn't you ask her to move here?" asked the slayer.

"No, because that wouldn't prove anything," said Willow,

"Do you have to prove anything?" said Buffy.

"Oh, god yes, I have so much to prove to Tara and to myself," said Willow.

"I don't understand, what if it doesn't work?" said Buffy.

"Then I'll know, but I have to try. I've been given another chance Buffy; do you know how lucky I am. I have to do this not for Tara, but for me. I want her so bad, every fiber of my body aches because I know I won't see her for days, or be able to touch her, taste her..."

"Hey Will, too much information here," said the slayer turning scarlet. "I understand. I guess I just don't want you to go. When are you going? "

"As soon as I can," said Willow.

"Where are you going to live and what about work," said the slayer but knowing it was hopeless, that Willow probably already had it all worked out.

"Giles said as long as Tara agrees I can move in with him 'til I get some where to live, hopefully with Tara. Buffy I have quite a bit of savings and I have had approaches from companies in Europe trying to headhunt me before; so I'm not really worried about getting another job," said Willow.

"Your mind's made up then," said the slayer sadly.

"I'm sorry Buffy it is," said Willow.

Part 19

Willow climbed into her bed and from the moment she lay down even the tiniest doubts that she had were chased away; the bed seemed so big without her Tara.

Willow had phoned Giles and was relieved when the watcher said Tara had calmed down. She hoped her love would understand.

She checked her clock on the nightstand 10:30 it would be 5:30am in Jersey, she wondered if Tara was awake yet.

Her mind played little fantasy games about what their domestic life would be like. Cooking together, shopping and a dog, she wanted a dog. They could all go on long walks together...

Willow drifted off to sleep dreaming of a life she so richly deserved.

Tara turned over in her sleep a slight smile playing on her face, her dreams invaded by images of Willow and herself walking in the park; an elegant little Italian greyhound dancing at their heels.

Breakfast time in the Summers' residence tended to always be slightly fraught at the best of times and with the news of Willow's imminent departure things were even busier than ever.

Buffy watched Xander tucked into a huge plate of bacon and eggs "Your wife's not feeding you?"

"It's the morning sickness, she said watching me eat made her feel queasy," said Xander in between ramming as much food into his mouth that he can.

"I wonder why?" said the slayer.

Willow groggily enters the kitchen.

"Will, your up," said Buffy.

"That would probably explain me being here," said the hacker "Although probably not Xander, Fred and Gunn"

"You're leaving," said Xander reproachfully.

"News sure travels fast around here," said Willow.

Xander regarded his oldest friend and can't help but notice the radiance that is coming off her in waves, as if someone had turned the contrast up on Willow alone, making her shine that bit brighter than everyone else. He had never in all of his years of knowing the redhead ever seen her this happy or look so beautiful.

All the words of caution he had; the plea that she had to stay and be auntie to his child all died. Instead he reached forward and hugged her fiercely. "Congratulations, if Tara makes you glow with this much happiness, you should go."

"She does," said Willow an angelic smile on her face so pleased that Xander understood.

"But you haven't even told her yet," said Buffy.

"What do you mean she hasn't told her?" asked Xander.

"She hasn't told Tara that she's moving to England yet," said Buffy.

Xander stared at Willow "I thought you two had discussed it and come to a joint decision."

Willow sighed not really wanting to explain everything again "I know what Tara's like. If I had told her she would have wanted everything done properly. Every detail mapped and planned; it would have taken months".

"What's wrong with that?" asked Gunn

"Everything," said Willow looking around at everybody in the room. "We all live very dangerous lives, one wrong move and we could be dead tomorrow. Tara and Giles lives are exactly the same. I've already wasted 5 years I don't want to waste anymore time."

"You're right," said Fred grabbing her husband's hand. "If there is one lesson I have learnt in my life, if you have a chance of happiness grab it with both hands."

"Plus she's a hottie," said Gunn earning himself a punch in the ribs from his wife.

Willow closed her eyes and images of creamy white flesh flash across her heated imagination "She sure is."

Willow punched in Tara's cell phone number into her phone.

"Hi, sweetie," said a familiar voice.

Willow smiled relieved "You're not mad with me anymore."

"No," said the witch "and I'm sorry for behaving so badly at the airport. You have to work, I had no right..."

"I miss you," said Willow cutting in. "I miss you so much I feel like I can hardly breathe. I thought I was in love with you before but nothing compares to this."

"Will, I don't know what to do?" said Tara. "What do you want from me? I'll move to be with you if you want," said Tara.

"Tara it's something to think about for the future but your teaching and writing career should take precedence," said the hacker, her mind racing. "I have a lot more freedom than you. I can fly into see you when ever you want me."

"How about all the time and always," said Tara.

"That sounds good to me," admits Willow hungrily. "Tara I have to go but please don't ever doubt that I love you."

"Bye darling, I love you," said the witch close to tears.

Tara and Giles are sat in a small restaurant in St. Helier "Giles I can't believe how everything has turned around so quickly."

The older man smiled affectionately at his charge "You were always meant to be with Willow."

"Do you really think that?" asked Tara.

Yes, I do," said Giles. "I'd despaired of ever seeing you happy again."

"Do you think I should move to Sunnydale?" asked the witch.

"Not yet," said Giles. "You want to become a lecturer don't you?"

"Yes," said Tara "But..."

"But you think you can carry on your academic career in the U.S?" said Giles.

"I don't see why not," said Tara.

"You are starting to make a name for yourself in Europe, you've had articles published..."

"I know what I've done," snapped the witch, immediately regretting it. "I'm sorry Giles; you're right of course, in fact Willow said almost exactly the same thing. I'm just missing her so much. I don't think I'm at my most rational at the moment."

"Home tomorrow," said Giles changing the subject "Have you any plans?"

"I'm going to Moira's cottage. I was hoping to do a lot of writing this summer and I haven't even started yet, plus I think I need some time to be alone and meditate."

"Well Cruden Bay will be crawling with tourists this time of the year and Moira will be?" asked Giles.

"In Egypt on a dig, they are expecting some big nasty to rise by all accounts," said Tara talking about one of the small band of watchers that actively fought against demons.

"Hmm, it's a long time since I've been to Egypt," said the watcher wistfully. "I thought you might have headed back to Sunnydale."

"I don't want to d-disturb W-will while she's working," said Tara.

Giles touched Tara's hand to calm the girl "Willow loves you."

"I know," said the witch, she then picks her head up and gives Giles one of her beautiful smiles "I know she does."

Part 20

Tara drove the country lanes to Moira's cottage; she loved the wild countryside of the east coast of Scotland. She had stayed the night in Edinburgh but hadn't made her usual circuit of the bars to take the buzz of the pre-festival excitement in. She couldn't, being without Willow was hard and the thought of trying to pretend she was having fun with some Uni friends wasn't really what she wanted.

She pulled up at the cottage to be met by the bluff Scotswoman, she was in her 40's and had a wind beaten complexion and short-cropped dark hair with piercing blue eyes. "Ah Tara my dear. Rupert hasn't made the trip up with you?"

"No" said Tara hugging her friend. "He decided to stay in Bath, he had some new demon texts he wanted to go through and translate and you know how excited he gets when he was something new"

Moira tousled her hair affectionately "How was home?"

"Home?" asked Tara.

"The Hellmouth, the wedding and ex-girlfriend?" said Moira wiggling her eyebrows at Tara suggestively. "Surely you haven't forgotten already"

Tara couldn't hide her grin "It was good...oh hell it was better than good. It was perfect."

Moira grabbed Tara's suitcase and ushered her into house and as they entered the living room she was attacked by Moira's over affectionate golden retriever "Get down Maggie you daft old thing. Tara I can't tell you how grateful I am to you for looking after her".

Tara tickled the elderly dog's ears. "It's a pleasure she's never any problems"

"Would you like a cup of tea or maybe a wee drop of malt?" said Moira.

"Tea, please although I may take you up on the malt later" said Tara sitting down and was immediately pounced upon by the dog. "Come on Maggie wait 'til your mom has gone before you start jumping on the furniture."

"No sugar, isn't it" Tara nodded in agreement. Moira walked back into the room with tea things and a plate of biscuits. "Now I've got a day before I go to Egypt so I want all the details"

"Details?" said Tara trying to look innocent.

"Of the perfect lassie. I've been trying to find one all my life so I want to hear all about this one." Said Moira " and I'll keep on to you all night until tell me."

Tara blushed and then grinned, "Maybe later depending on how good the malt is"

Willow had started packing her things into boxes she felt a sense of relief at finally doing something with her life. Since Tara and herself had split up she felt like her life had been in suspended animation, but now it felt real. She didn't mind moving to England because she knew where ever Tara was would be her home from now on.

She heard a knock on the door and turned to see Connor "What do you want?"

The young man put both hands in the air as a show of surrender "I've come to see if you want a hand. I heard about you moving to be with Tara and I'm surprised but I'm happy for Tara I suppose"

"Hardly a glowing seal of recommendation" said Willow eyeing the young man warily.

"Hey I know we've had our differences but I think what your doing is great. I want Tara to be happy, but I meant what I said before if you hurt her..."

"Connor if I hurt her you don't have to come down on me, I'll be doing that myself. I know you have found this hard but I really do love her, more than life it's self," said Willow.

The young man nodded as if that last statement was what he had came to hear "So do you need any heavy lifting because I have super strength."

"No" said Willow giggling. "You may not have noticed but I live with the slayer. I don't have that much stuff really all my computer things are packed away. These are all going freight; I'm just taking some clothes and my laptop with me."

Connor stops Willow with a hand on her shoulder "You'll look after her won't you?"

Willow smiles "Of course"

Willow walked into The Magic Box, she was doing her rounds saying goodbye to everyone before she leaves.

Buffy, Xander and Anya were sat round the big table in the middle of the shop. Anya jumps from the table and gives willow a big hug "I'm so pleased you're going"

Willow looks at the shopkeeper a little taken aback "Hey I know we didn't get on but..."

"No not like that. You and Tara can buy a nice house in England and then Xander and I will have somewhere nice to go for our holidays," said Anya as way of explanation.

"You've finished packing?" asked the slayer.

"Yes"-said Willow.

"I don't understand why you have to be gone so soon," said Buffy folding her arms defensively.

"I've explained this to you Buffy a hundred times now. I need to be with Tara. I know this hurting you, but would you want me to miss out on this chance of being happy?" asked Willow

The slayer stood up and threw her arms round her best friend "It's just I'm gonna miss you so much."

"I know" said Willow and she started to cry along with her friend. "I'm going to miss you too but it's for the best"

"When are you leaving?" asked Xander.

"Tomorrow morning, early" said Willow. "So no party, I just want to leave without any fuss."

"You are really leaving then," said Xander as if the words had really only just sunk in. "I always thought we would be friends forever"

"We will be Xan; it's just I will be in England but you know the phone, e: mail and I.M it's not like you won't be able contact me" said Willow,

Xander gets up from the table and joins in a group hug, the three main Scoobies then spring apart a little embarrassed by their group show of emotion.

"Who's taking you to the airport?" asked Xander.

"Buffy. I don't want a fuss," said Willow. "Which is why I'm saying goodbye now."

Part 21

"I hate airports," said Tara.

Moira smiled at Tara. "You're going to miss me then"

"No, yes, you know what I meant," said the blonde starting to blush.

"Don't worry Tara, I know what you mean. Your missing her aren't you?" asked the older woman.

"It's weird, you know, I hadn't seen her in so long, but now I feel like my right hand's been cut off. I didn't think we would get back together. It's been so intense. Maybe I need to catch my breath a little," said Tara.

"Tara, a word from an old women, don't back away from this, you'll just regret it. Do you want to spend you life saying what if? If you want her, make sure you tell her. Tara I have known you for over 5 years and in all that time I have never seen you truly happy. That is until yesterday and you deserve happiness," said Moira moving forward and giving her you friend a hug.

"I love you, do you know that?" asked Tara.

"Now you tell me," said Moira giving Tara a cheerful wink. "Anyway, that's my flight, have a nice time and don't let Maggie fool you into feeding her 10 times a day."

"I won't, be careful Moira this thing in Egypt could be nasty" said Tara a little shadow passing over face.

"Don't worry I'll keep well away from the action, I'm hoping to bind this thing before it gets a chance to rise" said Moira giving the blonde a devil may care grin.

Tara shook her head knowing that if there was any action Moira was always the first into the fray. "Stay safe Mo, I want you to meet Willow, you know."

Moira smiled "Well I'll try and bind this thing quickly, 'cause I really want to meet the woman who has put that smile on your face."

"Buffy are you ready yet" said Willow. "I don't want to miss the plane"

"Jeez Will, you have hours until you have to check in" said Buffy.

Willow just rolled her eyes knowing how long her friend could take to get ready. That was one thing she wasn't going to miss. She felt strange the biggest part of her knew she was doing the right thing, but that still didn't stop part of her heart weeping for what she was about to lose. She was also a little hurt and upset about Dawn. She hadn't seen the slayer's younger sister since yesterday morning and the only message they had received was a phone call to say she was going to be staying at a friend's house all night. She had hoped the younger girl would be there

"Okay Will I'm ready. You got everything?" asked the slayer.

"Yes my stuff has been packed in the car since last night and I put my hand luggage in there after I got dressed" said the hacker,

Now it was Buffy's turn to roll her eyes. "I'm amazed you didn't have everything shipped to the airport, just to make sure nothing went wrong."

"Miss Summers your laughing now but I'm sure you will miss me when you try and organize the household bills and shopping" said Willow teasing her friend.

Buffy put her hand on Willow's shoulder "I'm gonna miss you all the time"

The two friends stand for a second sharing a deeply emotional moment. Words not able to express everything they meant to one another and all the things they had been through.

"We had better be going," said Willow breaking away from the slayer, her voice just a little too bright.

They pulled into the airport car park.

"Do you want to come in with me or do you want to take off now?" asked Willow.

Buffy looked slightly hurt "Of course I want to go with you"

"I just thought it maybe easier for you" said Willow.

They walked to the airport in silence. Not sure what to say to one another.

"Hey Willow did you really think we would let you get away that easy" said a familiar voice as she entered the airport building. She was dumfounded to see Xander, Anya, Dawn, Fred and Gunn. With balloons and a banner saying Good luck Willow we miss you.

"Oh guys, you shouldn't of," said the hacker her eyes filling up with tears.

Xander moved to his friend and gave her a bone crushing hug "Do you think I was just going to let you sneak out of the country?"

"We are all going to miss you so much," said Fred. "We just wanted to let you know"

The floodgates opened and the redhead burst into tears. "Thank you, everybody. I'm gonna miss you all so much."

"Just make sure Tara knows how lucky she is" said Xander.

"I will," said Willow as he released her.

Fred and Gunn replaced him both whispering words of good luck. She was then almost knocked over by one of Anya's bear hugs.

Dawn had stayed at Xander's the night before to help organize the banners and balloons. She also thought that maybe Willow and her sister might want some alone time before Willow left the country. She hung back a little until Willow had disengaged herself from the ex-demon "Did you really think I would let you leave without saying goodbye?"

"Oh Dawnie, I'm going to miss you so much," said Willow the tears falling hard now

"You've been like another sister to me, but I think what you're doing is the right thing. I hope you and Tara have many happy years together," said Dawn holding Willow fiercely.

"I hope so," said Willow in a choked voice hardly able to get the words out.

Buffy joined in the hug holding onto her sister and best friend wishing with all her heart that she could find away to keep Willow there, but knowing that she wanted her friend to be happy. "Willow if anything goes wrong, you know you will always have a home with me and Dawn. We both love you so much."

"I know Buffy but I'm hoping its something I never need. I really want to make this work with Tara. I'm not screwing up again," said Willow a look of determination showing through her tears. "I don't know what to say to you guys, but thank you. I love you all and I'm gonna miss you all so much. I know I have said that already but it's true."

The flight to L.A was announced and Willow pulled herself away from Buffy and Dawn "That's my connection. I'll phone you when I get to Bath."

Giles had driven to Heathrow to meet Willow. He watched as he saw the redhead appear looking tired but happy.

"Hey Giles, you didn't have to come and meet me" said Willow.

"I did, I've booked you into a hotel tonight and I've booked you a flight to Aberdeen tomorrow." Said Giles

"Aberdeen?" asked Willow looking surprised.

"Tara's up there, looking after a friend's house and I didn't think you would want to waste any time going up to see her," said Giles.

"Thanks Giles" said Willow smiling. "But how will I find her?"

I've bought some maps; it isn't difficult navigating around that part of the country, lots of little roads but not much traffic. I'll show you the easiest route." Said Giles.

Tara was sitting in Moira's back garden sipping her tea and proofing a paper she was writing when Maggie started to go crazy, "Someone there Mags? Lets go see."

Tara made her way through the house and was surprised to hear the door being knocked. Most local people would just come round the side to Moira's back door hardly anyone used the front door in this part of the world. She was even more surprised when she opened the door and saw "W-willow?"

"Hi Tara you're probably a little surprised to see me here and who would blame you, but I'm here for a very important reason and have you noticed I babble more when I'm nervous?" said Willow panting slightly having just spoken in one long breath.

"Come in," said Tara her voice shaky. "You look tired"

"Not tired more nervous," said Willow entering the house to be almost bowled over by Maggie.

"Maggie down, sorry Willow. She's just a little over affectionate," said Tara. "So why the nerves because your nerves are making me nervous."

Willow takes a deep breath just wanting to tell Tara everything she felt. "I've moved to England for good because I want to be with you. I know you are thinking I should have discussed this with you first but I wanted you to know...I wanted you to know I was prepared to give up everything for you. I would go anywhere to be with you. I just want to show you my commitment to this relationship."

Tara felt the tears well up in her eyes, Willow's declaration love touching her deep in her heart. "Oh god Willow, you really mean it? You're going to stay with me?"

Willow felt relief flooding through her body "For as long as you want me."

"How about forever" said Tara before pulling Willow into an earth shattering, passionate kiss that seemed to last for hours.

Part 22

After what seemed like an eternity Tara breaks from the kiss. "It's really you and your really here, to stay? I can't believe it."

"Tara believe it," said Willow. "How could I ever stay away from you? We've had 5 years apart. I don't want to spend any more time away from you."

Tara grabbed Willow's case. "Come through we can't have you standing in the hall."

"Are you sure, your friend won't mind me staying?" asked Willow.

"I'm sure," said Tara. "Are you hungry, thirsty, you're tired, I bet you're t-tired?"

"Tara, slow down. What's wrong?" asked Willow. "Don't you want me..."

"No, Will. It isn't that...it's just a bit of a shock. A good shock but still a shock. I wasn't excepting you so soon or forever; not yet anyway," said Tara.

"Tara, I'm sorry I have sprung this on you," said Willow smiling. "Do you want me to go back too Bath and give you some breathing space, get used to the whole me being in England idea?"

"Don't you dare go anywhere," said the blonde possessively. "Miss Rosenberg if you think for one moment I'm gonna let you walk away you have another thing coming." Tara pulled Willow close, her hand in the redhead's hair. Their lips met and Willow reacted straight away biting Tara's full lips and her hands' get busy attempting to unfasten Tara's shirt. "Hey baby you in a hurry for something?"

"Just for you, hey I missed you," said Willow.

"You must be tired," said Tara enjoying the physical contact with her love but worried because Willow looked so pale and weary.

"No, funnily enough the sight of you seemed to have energized me," said the computer hacker.

"You must be tired, the long flight plus how did you get here. Did you motor from London or fly to Glasgow? Wait a sec how did you find the house?" asked Tara looking puzzled

"Okay I don't feel all that tired. Giles met in London last night and I stayed in a hotel. I flew into Aberdeen and he gave me directions on how to get here," said Willow with a little smile on her face.

"Giles knew," said Tara looking at Willow in disbelief "Giles knew and he didn't say anything to me."

Willow looked at Tara a little worried that she may have upset the blonde witch. "I mad him promise that...I'm sorry I just thought it would be better like this. Have I upset you because I didn't mean too."

The blonde just gave her a lazy grin and pulled the hacker on to her lap. " Relax, a little, you're so tense. Do you need a snuggle." With her words the witch started to stroke the other woman's hair

Willow felt the change within her. She felt engulfed by tiredness and tension; the emotion of the last few days catching up on her. She started to cry, not knowing quite why but feeling strangely relieved by the emotion flooding from her.

Tara cradled her love gently against her breast, cooing softly a word of love in her ear until the sobs decreased and the hackers breathing became rhythmic. She felt she had won a small victory over the hacker's stubbornness. Willow had looked so tired and drained when she had entered the house. Tara knew she would never have got her loveable but occasionally pig headed girlfriend to admit it. The blonde moved gently and picked up some papers that were on the side. She started to read for a while just enjoying their closeness. She pulled away with great reluctance but thought that maybe Willow could do with a good meal.

Willow woke to the smell of something lovely cooking. She stretched and arched her body luxuriantly like a cat waking from a nap. "Hmm something smells nice."

Tara walked in from the kitchen and bent to kiss Willow gently on the cheek "Have you had a nice nap?"

"Yes, thank you, I don't think I realized how tired I was, so what's cooking 'cause suddenly I have an appetite that Xander would be proud of," said Willow smiling at her lover.

"Just a spaghetti sauce nothing fancy. Would you like a glass of wine?" asked Tara.

"Please," said Willow.

"Tara returned and poured Willow a glass of red wine. "There you go sweetie, dinner is just about ready, and do you want to come through?"

Willow followed Tara through to the kitchen; she had been expecting something rustic but was surprised to find herself in large, modern, well-equipped kitchen. She sat at the table, which was laid out for two.

"Willow do you think you could get the salad out of the fridge for me, it's already prepared," said Tara as she started to serve out the spaghetti. It wasn't long before they were tucking into to their food.

"This is lovely, are you always going to cook for me because that is something I could definitely get used to," said Willow with a playful grin.

At this Tara started to look slightly somber "Will, what have you got planned for the future? I mean um w-what do you want from me?" asked the Wicca.

"I was hoping we could eventually get our own place, you know live together. Giles said if it was okay with you I could move into his flat...you know if I'm crowding you...I just hoped that...I have savings and I don't think it will be difficult for me to get a job...I mean I have had some offers before from British firms. I can take care of you...I just want show you...I don't know... "

Tara reached forward and gently cupped Willow's chin to stop the stream of anxious words coming from the redhead "This is more that I ever hoped for but I don't want you to look after me, we can look after one another. I want this to be an equal partnership. I know you probably have more money than me, but you know the Watchers council wage isn't to bad and if you want to spend time getting the right job for you I don't mind. Have you done anything about your immigration status?"

"Giles said the watchers council would fix it which ever way I want. It's funny they have so much power and yet..."

"Are so totally inept. You should try working for them" said Tara laughing.

"Giles said they could probably do with their computer system updating and to be honest, if you and Giles are the examples of the most forward thinking members of the council, I shudder at how outdated it will be," said the redhead throwing Tara a wicked grin.

"Will," squeaked the blonde.

"How much has me being here thrown you?" asked Willow changing the subject, feeling that for the good of their future together everything had to be out in the open.

"A lot," said the blonde. "I umm wish that you or Giles had told me what you were planning."

"Why?" asked Willow.

"So I could have been prepared. It's a big step, living together," said Tara.

"No it's not," said Willow.

"Will, I have to disagree..."

"Living together isn't a big step making it work is. I think we can do that; make it work. I didn't see the point in hanging around...I told Buffy, so I'll tell you. We all live very dangerous lives, none of us really know if we will be dead tomorrow or not. If we don't take this chance to make it work we might regret it and I already have too many regrets in my life over you. Tara I love you and for the first time in my life I have the confidence to know you love me for me not for what I am; what I know or who I happen to hang around with," said Willow panting slightly as she always did when she was trying to convey anything important. "It's taken a long time but I've finally made peace with myself."

Willow reached forward and gently brushed an errant blonde hair from Tara's eyes "I always thought I had to be someone else to be special but now I know I'm special and I think I had to find that before I could do this. Does any of this make sense to you?"

"I think so," said Tara smiling, slight tears in her eyes. " You know I never thought this day would come and you've always been special to me. I probably sound like a horrible cliché but I think you had to learn to love yourself before you really believed that I love you and I do Willow more than anything in the world. Would you like some dessert?" asked the blonde finding the moment becoming too unbearably intense. "I made this raspberry mousse thing."

"Can I have you for dessert?" asked Willow giving Tara a none to subtle leer. "Although I can think of an alternative use for the mousse."

"I thought you wanted to talk," said Tara trying her best to suppress a grin and look innocent.

"Done too much talking, want you now," said Willow subconsciously slipping into vamp Willow mode.

"Will," squeaked Tara once again.

"Well come on, I've been in the country more than 24 hours and I haven't been laid yet; not good enough as far as I'm concerned," said Willow winking at Tara and smacking her playfully on the butt.

Tara laughed but let herself slip into her lover's playful mood. "And you want me to do something about it?"

"Well I couldn't think of anyone else but if you insist that I need to go elsewhere..."

"You just dare Miss Rosenberg..."

"Tara," said Willow reaching up and grabbing Tara's arm. "Before we...look there was one more thing." The hacker shook with nerves wondering if this was the right moment. Her hand reached into her pocket and made sure it's precious cargo was still there. She took one deep breath and dropped to one knee. Tara will you marry me?"

"No" said Tara.

"No?" asked Willow closing her eyes, feeling like her heart was about to be ripped to shreds.

"We have just got back together. If you feel the same, ask me in a year. I'm sorry but I want it to be just right, the right time for both of us. I mean I love you with all my heart but, I think we should wait a little," said Tara worried that she was saying all the wrong things.

Willow was stunned for a second but once she thought about it made sense. It proved the point she had made to Buffy if things had been left to Tara they still would be living in opposite parts of the world. Maybe this was the whole point why they worked. Sometimes Willow needed Tara's steadying hand and sometimes Tara needed to be pushed by the fiery redhead.

"Willow, I'm sorry," said the witch now wondering if she had blown it. "I will..."

"No, no your right. I'll wait but you will be my wife," said Willow with utter confidence. "And now I want you to be my lover."

"I can do that, I can so do that" said Tara a grin splitting her face as she pulled Willow into her arms.

Part 23

"I'm glad it's sunny," said Tara. "It shows off Aberdeen so much better, makes the granite shine."

Willow looked down the Scottish city's main street and was struck by the beauty of it as the sun reflected silver off the granite, that most of the city center was made of.

They had ventured into town to do get some food, as Tara had only shopped for one. After they had finished she had taken Willow on a short tour of Aberdeen's spectacular silver buildings. Willow loved the fairy tale aspects of all the turrets and spires. The Uni's Marsichal College, the theatre and the music hall had really impressed her; amazed that a city that small could have such outstanding architecture.

They stood outside another one of Aberdeen's grand buildings; office that was now; the outside granite facade gave way to a huge room with marble pillars inside.

"Wow not my idea of typical British pub," said Willow.

"It's not," said Tara. "It was converted from a bank's head office so it's very grand, plus bonus of huge non-smoking area"

Tara smiled at the barmaid. "Coke please," she turned to the redhead "Willow?"

"I'll have a white wine seeing as I don't have to drive," answered Willow.

"White wine for the lady," said Tara laughing and rolling her eyes.

They took their drinks and went to sit in one of the quiet booths.

"You know a lot about Aberdeen," remarked Willow.

"Moira's influence must be rubbing off on me," said Tara.

"You visit her a lot?" Asked Willow ashamed at the spark of jealousy she was feeling.

"Yes,"-said Tara. "She's been a good friend over the years."

"Close?" Asked Willow.

"Very," answered Tara.

"How close?" Asked Willow nervously, this was something she really shouldn't be doing.

"Will, there's never been anything between us, if that's what you're thinking," said Tara mildly not wanting to make an issue out of it.

"But she's gay?" Asked Willow knowing she shouldn't be pursuing the matter but finding it like an itch she couldn't leave alone.

"She is," said Tara. "But believe me she is like an older sister to me. Giles introduced us not long after I arrived in Bath. He knew she was gay and a practicing Wicca. I stayed with her in Scotland and she like Giles helped me get over my nightmares."

"About me?" Asked Willow.

"Yes,"-answered Tara.

"So she's not going to be my best friend," said Willow.

"You'd be surprised," said Tara. "She's looking forward to meeting you."

Willow looked at Tara in pure disbelief; she couldn't see how someone who was so close to Tara would be able to trust her.

Tara could see by the look in Willow's eyes that she didn't believe her "Honestly Moira said she can't wait to see you. Anyway you don't have to worry about it for a few weeks. She should be in Egypt for quite a while."

"Who would think a watcher's job could be so glamorous," teased Willow happy now to change the subject.

"You know it isn't all American and British sewers, we get to invade sewers all over the world," said Tara ruefully. "Hey, Sweetie on the way home do you want to see Dracula's castle?"

"Are you forgetting something Baby?" Asked Willow. "Buffy already slayed that vamp."

"No," said Tara laughing. "When Brams Stoker wrote his book he spent a lot of time in Cruden Bay and the description of the castle is alleged to be based on Slains Castle."

"Okay why am I not keen on going anywhere called Slains," said Willow.

Tara still laughing at her girlfriend shook her head. "The biggest danger you'll have is slipping over the edge of the cliff. It's a ruined castle on a spectacular part of the coast besides it's on the way home."

"You've twisted my arm," said the hacker.

Willow was surprised when Tara pulled over into a small shale parking lot that just seemed to back on an ordinary field. No sign of a castle anywhere.

She could see the tourist information for the castle and a path across the field. Tara reached out for her hand they started their walk. The redhead felt like she had died and gone to heaven. They walked not talking, holding hands and enjoying the peace and quiet.

When they were out of sight of the road Tara pulled Willow into her arms and kissed her before continuing to walk.

The hacker could now see the ruins of the castle. "I can't believe that they built on a sheer cliff like that. It's so lonely."

They read the plaque at the side of the castle advising of the danger of the cliff and a little memorial to a young boy who had slipped and died.

Willow shivered as she watched the sea crash on the rocks below.

The blonde put her arm round Willow and pulling her in close. "Cold?"

"No, thinking about how dangerous the sea looks," said Willow before reaching to kiss Tara. "But that makes me feel better though."

"Happy to oblige," answered the witch hugging Willow once more, before pulling her into the ruins by the hand.

They explored the ruined building, which apart from a few dark corners was totally open to the air.

"Do many people come here?" Asked Willow.

"Oh yes," answered Tara. "Because of the Brams Stoker connection it is teeming with tourist during the holiday season and at weekends of course. The local kids come here at night time."

Willow looked around not seeing any lighting and she had noticed there were no lights on the road. "Isn't it a bit dark?"

"I think that's why they come," said Tara giving Willow her cute half smile.

"Oh," said Willow getting it. "They come up here for ..."

Tara nodded her head. "It's a well known spot."

"Have you ever fancied it out here?" asked Willow playfully.

"Never been here with someone I've wanted to be with" said Tara. "Until today."

Willow backed Tara up against a wall, one of her arms against it. "And now?"

"Willow we can't" said Tara looking around anxiously, her pulse increasing through a mixture of nervousness and excitement. She could feel the redhead's hot breath against her neck, a hand on her hips pulling at the waistband of her soft cotton pants. She could feel the wetness between her legs as Willow's hand slides under the waistband and her other hand wrapped in the blonde's hair as she pulled her in for a passionate kiss. Her hand continued moving until it reached Tara's now aching clit.

Tara knew it wouldn't take long; the mixture of the thrill and dread of being caught turning her on beyond belief. She pushed further into her lover's embrace feeling her orgasm growing with every movement of Willow's strong fingers. She came short but hard, panting against the hacker's shoulder. They held onto one another surprised by the boldness they had displayed.

"Do you want to head back?" Asked Tara whispering softly in Willow's ear. "I think we should continue this on in private."

Willow shivered as Tara rocked her thigh between her legs before pushing her away. Leaving Willow panting for more.

"C'mon" said Tara. "Let's get back."

"Yeah," said Willow. "And quickly." Her voice deep with lust.

Willow emerged from the shower; one towel wrapped her body and another around her head. Her nose started to twitch as the house was filled with the delicious scent of Tara's cooking.

She dressed quickly not wanting to spend a moment too long from Tara. Willow bounded into the kitchen and caught Tara round the waist hugging her from behind. "So what has my kitchen goddess prepared for tonight's dinner?" asked Willow before releasing Tara and stealing a piece of carrot from the chopping board.

"Hey," said Tara slapping Willow's hand away "That's for dinner."

"Well I suddenly find myself ravenous," said Willow with a mischievous wink. "Must have been all the energy I used up."

Tara rolled her eyes and shook her head at the redhead before running her fingers down the inside of Willow's arm before squeezing her hand. "Dinner will be ready in an hour. Now get out of my kitchen." She rolled her eyes again as Willow grabbed a stick of celery.

"What ya making anyway?" Asked Willow.

"Just a casserole," said Tara. "Now out."

"Anymore of the raspberry mousse left from the other night or did I eat it all?" Asked Willow smirking at Tara remembering how she had put the dessert to good use.

"Willow you are incorrigible, but I still want you out of my kitchen," said Tara playful flicking her with a dishtowel.

The doorbell rang just as Willow attempted to wrestle the towel from the witch's grasp. "Are we expecting visitors?" Asked the hacker.

Tara shrugged her shoulders and walked through the house to open the door but was surprised to hear a key in the lock. The door swung open to reveal "Moira?"

"What are you doing here? You've only been a gone a few days," said Tara staring at her friend.

"Well that's a warm welcome I must say," said Moira winking at the blonde.

"I didn't mean..."

"I know sweetpea. Seems the researchers in Egypt got it wrong by a couple of hundred years. Didn't fancy hanging around Cairo for that long so I caught the next available flight home. Do you think you can help me in with the cases that the cab driver dumped in the middle of the drive and then you can introduce me to Willow," said Moira her eyes twinkling when she saw Tara jump at the mention of her girlfriend's name.

"You don't think I didn't notice the strange hire car in the driveway. Simple deduction my dear Tara, she couldn't stay away from you. Could she?"

"No I couldn't," said Willow emerging from the house. "I'm Willow," said the redhead extending her hand.

"And I'm Moira," said the older woman ignoring the outstretched hand and instead enveloping Willow in a huge bear hug.

Maggie chose that moment to bound from the house, reacting joyfully to her owner's voice. Moira released Willow and scratched the dog behind her ear. "Hello old thing. I hope she's been good."

"As gold," said Tara storing the last bag in the hallway. "Do you want a cup of tea?"

"Yes please," said Moira gratefully following the younger woman into the house. "You're an angel."

Willow went to follow Tara into the kitchen

"Go and speak to her," whispered Tara.

"I don't know what to say," said Willow helplessly.

"Just go speak to her," whispered Tara fiercely, pushing Willow from the kitchen.

"Hey," said the redhead feeling a little tongue-tied.

"Hello," said Moira watching Willow's discomfort. "You're expecting a lecture aren't you?"

"Y-yes," said Willow uncertain where this conversation was going.

"I won't. I know all of your problems. I know everything you've been through," said Moira.

"I know Tara told you about..."

"No Willow that's not what I meant. I know ALL you've been through. I've felt the darkness you've felt, the power," said the older witch.

"You mean you were addicted to magick?" asked Willow her voice not masking her disbelief.

"No" said Moira. "Any more than you are." Throwing a hand out to quiet the hacker. "You've never been addicted to true magick, you've been addicted to the power, to the darkness... I can help you Willow, I can help you practice safely."

Willow shook her head. "I can't believe you, you're trying to test me. I won't do anything that would hurt Tara. I will never practice magick again."

"Neither would I hurt that woman in there. If I thought for one moment that you were not serious about your feelings for her, believe me when I say you would suffer an unfortunate accident," said Moira but again before Willow could say anything she continued. "I want you to know this, Tara, already knows about what I think. Sleep on it, leave it as long as you want, but I know you have real power and talent."

"You're serious aren't you?" Asked Willow.

"Oh god yes, when Tara first came to me, I wanted so much to meet you. I couldn't because she needed me far too much. You've only just met me and I don't blame you for being a little wary but please I will help you. You remind me so much of me when I was young but you had the luck of finding a gorgeous woman and I'm still waiting," said Moira grinning.

Tara walked from the kitchen. "Here's the tea, dinner won't be long."

Moira smiled watching Willow take the tray from Tara lay it down on the table and kiss the blonde soundly on the lips. It made her heart sing to see these young women so happy and she decided she would do anything to make sure that happiness would never end.

Epilogue

One year later…

Willow watched Tara emerge from the bathroom of their hotel room clad only in a towel. Her eyes didn't leave her girlfriend once as she started to pick out some clothes from the wardrobe. "I missed you this afternoon."

"Well, The Dean wanted to show me round the campus. Anyway I thought you had enough work to keep you busy, oh and did the real estate agent call?" asked Tara.

"Yeah they have some apartments in the center of town and some houses out by the campus, in Currie that we can view, said Willow.

"That would be handy," said the blonde.

"Yeah, but I wish Giles had told us how expensive Edinburgh was," said Willow.

Tara frowned at Willow. "Out of our reach?"

"No, but more expensive than Bath," said Willow. She came off the bed as Tara dropped the towel. "Are you sure you want to go out tonight? I feel all deprived of you."

"Hmm tempting as that is..." said Tara closing her eyes, enjoying the soft kisses that Willow was leaving on her neck and collarbone. She could feel her lover's skillful hands tracing patterns on her back and hips. Tara swallowed hard, it would be so easy to give into the passion and lust that Willow had triggered so simply.

"Why don't you just give into temptation?" breathed Willow hoarsely in Tara's ear.

With deep regret the blonde pushed her lover gently away "Will, the tables booked, we don't want to get a reputation for no shows, do we?"

Willow grumbled to herself but nodded her agreement.

Irene stretched out her back, stiff from standing. She stood behind the bar of her restaurant surveying the room with a great deal of pride. Her friends had told her she was mad 10 years ago, when she had given up a prestige job as head chef in a top trendy London bistro, to come home and open of all things a gay restaurant. It had been a success. Not straight away. She didn't like to think of the sleepless nights, endless shifts and begging letters to the bank and creditors that had punctuated it's first year of existence.

"Any sign of our young American friends?" asked Jayne.

"Not yet, is everything prepared?" asked Irene smiling at her lover and business partner.

"Yep, champagne is on ice and I have the ring," said Jayne.

"Good," said Irene. "We don't want to add to her nervousness."

Jayne started to giggle. "Hard to believe such a beautiful woman could be worried that she'll be turned down."

"I don't think that is what's bothering her. She told me she wants to make sure tonight's perfect," said Irene. "Okay, here she is."

Jayne looked up and gave a low whistle between her teeth. "They make a stunning couple."

Willow was dressed simply in a peach sheath, which set off her delicate features and red hair to the full. Tara had on a low cut blue dress with a plunging back. More than a few patrons head's were turned as the proprietor greeted them.

"Dr. Maclay, Ms Rosenberg please let me show you to your table," said Irene leading them to a quiet table for two.

"Thank you," said Tara.

Willow was just finishing her main course when she noticed Tara had stopped eating and was starring into space. "Are you okay? You've been very quiet tonight."

"I'm f-fine," said Tara.

"No, you're not," said Willow noticing Tara tense. "I can't remember the last time you stuttered. Is it the new job?"

"M-maybe..."

"You'll knock them dead. They'll be lining up to go to lectures with the beautiful, new History professor," said Willow reaching out to give Tara's hand a reassuring squeeze.

Tara smiled and rubbed her fingers over the top of Willow's hand "I love you. You always know the right things to say."

Willow picked up Tara's hand and brought it to her lips. "That's easy when you fall in love with an angel," she smiled as her lover started to blush.

"So a year of living with me hasn't put you off?" asked Tara.

"No, every day seems to get better and I can't wait 'til we buy our first house together," said Willow.

"It'll be sad to move away from Giles," said Tara.

"He can visit any times he wants, anyway I don't think he thought it would take us a year to move out. It's hard to believe where the time went to," laughed Willow. "And we'll be closer to Moira."

"True," said Tara.

"Hmm Tara, I have something to tell you," said Willow.

"Oh-oh, that sounds ominous," said the blonde.

"Not really," said Willow. "I spoke to Moira today and finally decided to do it. With both your help, I'm going to start practicing magick again."

This time it was Tara that squeezed her lover's hand. "I'm so pleased. I know it's going to be hard but I know you'll succeed. I'm so proud of you."

They looked into one another's eyes lost for a moment. Then Tara turned her head and nodded to Jayne who stood waiting for the next signal. "I have something important to say as well. This time last year you left your friends in America to be with me."

Willow went to speak but Tara gently placed a finger on her lips.

"Please Willow, let me finish. You asked me to marry you and I said wait a year and if you still feel the same then ask me. A year has past and it has been the happiest year of my life, so I think it's me that it should be me who asks the woman who is my everything. Willow Rosenberg will you marry me?" asked Tara.

Willow sat back stunned her mouth open in surprise. Then a huge grin lit up the redhead's pixie features. "Tara, I would marry you yesterday."

The blonde gave a small wave to Jayne who nodded and a minute later had arrived at the table with the champagne and small box that she handed to Tara.

"I b-bought this ring, if you don't like it..."

Willow opened the box Tara handed to her and inside it was delicate gold band set with an exquisite diamond. "It's perfect and so are you," with those words Willow reached across the table and captured Tara's lips in a passionate kiss.

The End