Tara laughed softly as she
stood with Amy and Sandi at the bar as Buffy held Sue up against the wall with her feet dangling off the floor after Sue had
interrupted them yet again. “Don’t hurt her, Tough Stuff.”
Buffy growled at Sue as she
lowered her to the floor. “Keep your hands off my ass!”
“But you guys were doing
the dead thing again!” Sue grinned at the irritated woman. “Had to make sure you were still breathing.” She’d
been surprised when her hands had no sooner touched Buffy’s leather clad ass when the woman turned and picked up, growling
at her as she carried her until her back hit the wall.
“By grabbing my ass?” Buffy raised a brow as she glared at the shorter woman.
“Well, you were all smooshed
up against each other, so I couldn’t grab your chest to check.” Sue
gave her a toothy grin and wiggled her fingers in a grabbing motion as Buffy bared one side of her teeth as she growled at
her again and slapped at her hands.
Tara decided to intervene before
one of them got hurt. “Okay, Kids, that’s enough!” She smiled at Sue as she grabbed the back of Buffy’s waistband and pulled the growling Slayer away
from the woman.
“Take away all my fun!” Buffy grumbled as Tara led her backwards to a stool and sat her down, poking her lower
lip out at not being able to hit yet another person tonight.
“Behave, or no more books.” Tara winked at her as she lowered her head to kiss the pouting Slayer.
Buffy smiled before Tara’s
lips reached hers. “I’ll be good.”
“I’m counting on
it, Slayer.” Tara whispered in her ear, gently nipping her earlobe before
she pulled back and winked again, receiving a goofy grin in response. She turned
back to finish talking with Amy about the spells as Buffy laced her fingers with the hand she had on the Slayer’s thigh,
Sandi having grabbed Sue to go collect their things over by the pool table.
Buffy smiled and continued
to play with Tara’s fingers as she turned when Cami bumped shoulders with her.
“Can you get our tab?”
Cami snorted softly. “You don’t have a tab.”
“Huh?” Buffy frowned at the grinning woman.
Cami laughed and shook her
head. “Aside from the entertainment value you two provided tonight, it’s
already been taken care of.” She pointed over to Sue and Sandi.
Buffy growled as she looked
towards the two women laughing by the pool table as they gathered their things. “They’re
not gonna buy their way out of me smacking them silly.”
“Tough Stuff!” Tara squeezed Buffy’s hand, turning her head to admonish her when she heard
Buffy pouted again as she looked
down at their entwined hands. “No fun!”
Tara and Cami shared a smile
before she went back to talking with Amy.
Cami leaned in to whisper in
Buffy’s ear. “You are sooo whipped, Tough Stuff.”
Buffy growled softly at the
waitress before smiling and shrugging as she looked up at her.
Cami laughed softly before
she became serious, eyes moving to glance at Tara before she turned them back on the Buffy, softly warning the Slayer. “Don’t hurt her, or you’ll have Michael and me to deal with.”
Buffy smiled at the woman as
she shook her head, glad that Tara had friends outside the Scoobies that wanted to protect her. “I won’t.” Then she frowned as she recalled
a few times in the past when she had upset the woman. “Not intentionally,
Cami nodded in understanding. No matter how hard you tried not to hurt someone, there were always going to be times
that you did. “She loves you, you know.
And it wouldn’t take much for her to be in love with you.” Cami ignored the polar freeze glare
that Tara sent her way, she’d seen her turning to them when she’d finished up with Amy, but she was partially
through what she was saying and finished anyway.
Buffy smiled and nodded. “I know.” She blushed and
looked down at their hands. “That goes both ways. I’ve had a chance to do a lot of thinking today.”
Cami let her eyes drift up
to Tara when Buffy looked away. She smiled and winked at the surprised woman
when Tara heard Buffy’s comment.
“I think she’s
the reason I’m still here… I didn’t want to be for the longest time.”
Buffy mumbled softly as she continued to look at their hands as she traced Tara’s fingers.
Cami and Tara both had to strain
to hear the Slayer’s whispered words, Cami closing her mouth when Tara shook her head as her eyes filled with tears,
the sadness palpable in the woman’s blue eyes. She didn’t know what
Buffy was talking about but obviously Tara did, and didn’t want her digging into it.
Changing tactics she decided on a less lethal question. “Why all
the games tonight?”
Buffy chuckled softly as she
looked up and smiled at the waitress. “It started off as a joke.” She shrugged and smiled a bit wider. “But
I really don’t think we’d be where we are if not for it.” She
sank into Tara’s body as the Wiccan moved against her side.
Tara smiled and squeezed Buffy’s
hand as she moved closer to the Slayer, kissing the back of her head as she wrapped her free arm around her. “No we wouldn’t be. We’d still be dancing
around it, and neither of us bringing it up.” She lowered her head for
a soft kiss when Buffy turned to smile at her.
“All done with Amy?” Buffy laid her head on Tara’s shoulder.
“Yes.” Tara kissed Buffy’s forehead as she smiled at Cami.
“Good.” Buffy lifted her head and smiled at Cami. “If you’ll
excuse us?” She didn’t wait for an answer as she spun on the stool. “Michael?” She smiled and
pointed to the stereo when Michael looked up at her.
Michael sighed and rolled his
eyes as if put out by the request, before smiling and doing as asked.
“You are sooo whipped,
Michael!” Cami laughed and squeezed Buffy shoulder as she winked at Tara. “Have fun.”
Buffy hopped off the stool
and led Tara to the dance floor, not bothering to wait for the slow song to be put on.
Tara smiled and happily followed.
“Oh God, here they go
again!” Sue groaned with a smile as she and Sandi came back to the bar.
“Leave ‘em alone!” Cami warned the little imp as she continued to watch the couple.
Buffy turned when she got to
the dance floor, guiding Tara’s hand around her waist before releasing it to wrap her own arms around the Wiccan’s
Tara smiled as she wrapped
her arms around Buffy. “I thought you were ready to leave?”
Buffy shook her head slightly. “Not just yet.” Then she
blushed and dropped her eyes with the memory of her earlier need to rush out of the Bronze.
“I’ve calmed down a bit.”
Tara laughed softly and kissed
the Slayer’s forehead. “I didn’t mean for that to happen, Sweetie.”
“You better have meant
it!” Buffy laughed herself as she looked up and winked at Tara.
“We’ll see.” Tara felt her face flush, both with the heat of desire to do what she’d whispered
into the Slayer’s ear, and the fact that she’d actually said it.
“Now see, there’s
the Tara I know.” Buffy smiled as she watched the woman’s face get
a little redder. “Question is, and I know I’ve asked this before… Where’d you come from?” She
laughed softly as Tara giggled and hid her face against her neck. “That
wasn’t a bad thing, you know?” Buffy kissed the Wiccan’s temple
as she rubbed her hands over her upper back. “I’ve seen glimpses
of her.” Buffy frowned as she thought about those glimpses. “Usually when I’ve pissed you off in some way.”
Tara sighed and nodded before
lifting her head, biting her lip as she got her thoughts in order. “You
can be so frustrating at times.” She smiled to take the sting out of her
Buffy nodded knowing that was
true. “More often, than not.”
“No.” Tara shook her head slightly, sadness in her eyes. “You
had good reason to be, Sweetie.”
Buffy wasn’t sure that
she wanted to continue this conversation anymore as she laid her head on Tara’s shoulder.
Tara kissed Buffy’s temple
and ran her hands up and down her back a couple of times as she rested her cheek against the Slayer’s head. “What was frustrating was watching you waste away, and knowing that there was nothing I could do
to help you.” Tara tightened her hold around the Slayer, kissing her temple
again and leaving her lips there. “It hurt to watch you struggling on your
Buffy whimpered softly as her
hold on the Wiccan tightened.
“You’ve come a
long way, Sweetie.” Tara smiled as Buffy nodded against her neck.
“Still have my moments.” Buffy sighed as she shook off the pain of being brought back, she didn’t want
to fall back into the darkness now.
“Mmm. But they’re getting fewer and further between.” She’d
still catch Buffy with a haunted, longing look in her eyes on occasion, but she was happy to say that those occasions were
the exception rather than the rule nowadays. “I don’t feel like strangling
you every other day now.” Tara smiled again when Buffy laughed. There had been times when she’d gotten so frustrated that she’d go to her room, slamming the
door before she’d toss herself onto her bed and scream into her pillow. The
frustration quickly passing as she’d curl up with the pillow hugged tightly to her chest as her tears silently fell,
wanting so badly just to hug the Slayer and hold on tight until the storm passed.
“You should have just
mojoed my ass.” Buffy smiled as she lifted her head. She’d heard Tara’s bedroom door slam on a few occasions and the woman scream into her pillow,
she didn’t doubt that the woman really did want to strangle her on those days.
“Why didn’t you? I mean use the hocus pocus, not strangle
me. ‘Cause we both know you can.”
She laughed as she looked towards where they’d been standing earlier tonight when Tara had taken down Spike and
Willow, before turning back to Tara.
Tara shook her head and smiled
sadly. “Would that have solved anything?” Tara shook her head again to answer her own question. “Remember
when you thought you were Joan, and then the spell came crashing down.” She
kissed Buffy’s forehead as the Slayer flinched with the memories. “False
hope wasn’t what you needed, Sweetie.” Tara ran her hands up and
down Buffy’s back as the Slayer laid her head on her shoulder again.
that sucked.” Buffy sighed as she leaned into the Wiccan again. “But that still doesn’t tell me where you came from?”
Tara chuckled and kissed Buffy’s
temple. “That’s easy, from living with you these past months.” She laughed as Buffy’s head came up with a surprised look on her face. “I had the choice of running screaming into the night, or sticking around to
butt heads with a stubborn Slayer.” Tara shrugged and smiled. “I chose option two.”
you did.” Buffy chuckled softly before she became serious. “Though, I’m glad that you did.”
“There wasn’t really
much choice in the matter.” Tara winked at her as she ran her hands up
and down Buffy’s back, kissing her temple as Buffy laid her head on her shoulder.
“There was no way I was leaving you on your own, Sweetie.”
Buffy tightened her arms in
silent thanks as her eyes filled with tears. The woman had become her rock over
time, a steadying, calming influence, a balm to her ravaged soul.
Tara wrapped her arms tightly
around the Slayer and kissed her temple again, resting her cheek there and swaying gently to the music as she let Buffy’s
emotions ease off a bit. There was still one difficult question she had to ask. Though she was pretty sure of the answer, she needed to hear it from Buffy herself.
When Buffy could speak without
her voice breaking, she whispered softly. “Thank you. You’ll never know how much I owe you.”
“Shh.” Tara shook her head slightly against the side of Buffy’s. “I
owe you just as much, if not more, Buffy.” She wasn’t surprised when
Buffy inched her head out from under hers, looking up with questioning eyes. “You’ve
given me so much, and made me a stronger person, Sweetie.” Tara smiled
softly at her as Buffy’s brows furrowed. “I’m not talking just
a roof over my head. I’m talking about the strength to stand up on my own,
and fight for what I believe in.”
Buffy was still confused. The confusion must have showed on her face because Tara continued.
“When you stood up to
my family that day, even after I’d almost gotten you all hurt, or worse, killed.”
Tara frowned at the memory of doing a stupid spell to try to hide who she thought she was from the Scoobies. Shaking off the regret she continued. “You standing
up for me, even though you really didn’t know me at all, gave me the strength to stand up for myself against my family. And that was only the beginning.” Tara
kissed her forehead. “You gave me a family that I could be proud of that
day. You gave me back something that I hadn’t had since my mom died.” Tara swallowed the lump lodged in her throat so she could continue as she willed back
the tears that had formed in her eyes. “The next major thing was when you
and the others took things I said during research mode into serious consideration, and not just brushing it aside.” Tara smiled softly as she thought about that being one more way of being included
in the close knit group she called family.
“You made sense.” Buffy chuckled softly.
“Mmm… unlike some
of my jokes, right?” Tara winked at her as she laughed herself.
Buffy grinned sheepishly. “I still haven’t gotten a few of them.”
Tara kissed her forehead as
she blushed in remembrance of at least one time she tried out a joke that went over everyone’s head but Willow’s. “I don’t think many of you did.”
Tara sighed before she made her next point. “Then when everything
happened with Glory and she found me at the Cultural Faire.” Tara shrugged,
shivering with the memory.
“Why didn’t you
just do some type of mojo on her?” Buffy frowned as she lifted her head. “And I never thanked you for that. I’m
sorry I couldn’t get there to stop her.”
Tara shook her head to Buffy’s
apology. The Slayer couldn’t be everywhere at once, nor could she save
everyone, nor did she expect her to, and she would never blame her for not being there that day. “Willow was foolish to even try.” Tara frowned
as she thought about her ex-girlfriend going after Glory on her own thinking that she could take down the Hell God by her
self. “We had no way of knowing if magic would even work against Glory,
and she shouldn’t have gone after her on her own.” Tara growled softly
as she spit out her next comment. “She was even more foolhardy to do what
she did next!”
Buffy’s eyes opened wide
at the venom in Tara’s voice. “But she got you back, Tara.” She frowned not knowing where the anger suddenly came from, and not understanding
how Tara could think that getting her mind back was a bad thing.
“Luckily, yes.” Tara sighed and leaned her forehead against Buffy’s. “But there was no guarantee of that, Buffy.” Tara
sighed again as she lifted her head. “I knew my fate when Glory found me
at the Faire. I was willing to accept that fate if it kept Glory from finding
out who the Key was.” Tara shook her head, willing the Slayer to see it
in her eyes that she spoke the truth. “I knew what would happen when I
refused to tell her that it was Dawn she wanted. If losing my mind was the price
to pay for keeping that knowledge secret for a little while longer… I gladly paid the price, Buffy. It gave you guys that much more time to figure out how to deal with her.” Tara frowned again as she continued. “What Willow did,
getting my mind back, I’ll always be grateful to her for that. But she
was foolhardy to do it. Not only could she have failed, but she could have made
“Worse? How?” Buffy knew that some of Willow’s spells
were hit or miss, but she couldn’t think of anything worse than not getting Tara’s mind back.
“The human mind is a
fragile and complex thing. For Willow to even attempt to do what she did was
beyond foolish. Yeah, it worked, and surprisingly well. But she could have done irreparable damage, Buffy.” Seeing
the confusion still on Buffy’s face she blew out a breath and elaborated. “She
could have scrambled all our minds and made everything so much worse than it already was.
Not only just the three of us, Glory, Willow, and myself, but everyone that was anywhere in the vicinity when she did
Buffy’s eyes opened wide
with the knowledge. The damage that an even more crazy Glory could have done
with her Hell God strength, not to mention a seriously crazed Slayer running around and hurting people. Not to mention the fact that everyone who knew about and fought the undead and demons on the Hellmouth
would have basically had their minds fried, leaving all the things that go bump in the night to run rampant on Sunnydale and
beyond. Buffy swallowed and shivered with the thought, nodding. “Not a good thing.”
Tara nodded. “No, definitely not a good thing.” She sighed. “Willow doesn’t think of the consequences when she does magic, she just
thinks of the end results should she succeed. And if it doesn’t succeed,
she’ll find another spell, and another, and so on.” Tara shook her
head sadly. “She’s dangerous, and would eventually get herself or
someone else hurt or killed. That’s why I stripped her of her power.”
“Your power.” Buffy nodded as she thought about some of the spells that had gone wrong in the past,
shivering as she thought about being betrothed to Spike during one such case.
Tara nodded. “My power, Amy’s power, and all the other powers she’d borrowed. I sent them back where they belonged.”
“I still don’t
get it?” Buffy frowned as she looked at Tara. “I mean… you knew she was taking your power, but…”
She shook her head in confusion.
Tara lowered her eyes and nodded,
it taking a moment before she looked back up into the Slayer’s eyes. “Love
makes you do foolish things.” Tara shrugged, not really having any other
excuse. “At first I thought it was a way to bring us together, she wanted
so much to learn magic.” Tara sighed, not really knowing how to explain
it, other than love having a major role in it. “I’d been on my own
for a couple of years when I met Willow at the Wicca meeting. I missed being
able to do magic with someone. My mom was the only other person that I’d
ever done magic with, and I latched onto the prospect of having a magic partner again.”
Tara looked away, sadness in her eyes.
Buffy pulled Tara close. “I’m sorry.”
Tara nodded as she laid her
head on the Slayer’s shoulder. “I quickly fell in love with her,
and there went any rational thinking on my part. I blame myself for everything.”
“Don’t, Tara.” Buffy kissed Tara’s temple as she ran her hands over her upper back. “Even if you hadn’t been willing, I’m sure Willow would have found a way to get what
she wanted, anyway.”
“It just got to the point
where there wasn’t any turning back, or so it seemed.” Tara sighed
as she leaned into the Slayer’s offered comfort. “I let it get out
of hand, I’m sorry.”
“Shh.” Buffy kissed her temple again, knowing the woman would keep kicking herself for what had happened with
Willow. “My only question is why didn’t we ever know how powerful
you really are?”
Tara shrugged. “She needed the spotlight, I didn’t, nor do I want it.”
As long as the mood was still somber Tara decided to ask her question. “Can
I ask you something?”
“You know you can.” Buffy chuckled softly. After all the
head butting and getting to know each other, just about anything went with them now.
Tara bit her lip before she
lifted her head, wanting to see into the Slayer’s eyes.
Buffy nodded seeing the seriousness
in the Wiccan.
Tara let the question roll
off her lips before she could chicken out. “Will I still have to worry
every night that you won’t be coming home? Beyond the normal Hellmouth
worry, that is.”
Buffy frowned for a moment,
turning the woman’s question over in her head to figure out what she’d meant.
Her eyes suddenly opening wide as she finally understood what Tara was asking.
Tara nodded before the Slayer
dropped her eyes and looked away. She kissed Buffy’s forehead as she whispered. “Yes, I knew.” She guided
the Slayer’s head to her shoulder with a kiss to her temple as she held her close, eyes filling with tears. “I always worried that there would come a day when we’d find your beaten and broken body after
you didn’t come home some night. That you’d finally give in to the
want, and let some demon finish you off without a fight. There was no guarantee
that you would have gone back there.”
Buffy nodded against Tara’s
shoulder, her own eyes filling with tears. “I know.”
Tara held her quietly for long
moments before Buffy lifted her head.
Buffy shook her head slightly
as she looked Tara in the eye and answered honestly. “No, you don’t.”
Tara gave her a relieved smile
and a soft kiss, a single tear falling off her lash. “Thank you.” She kissed her temple again as Buffy laid her head back on her shoulder with a sigh. “You know I’ll be here for you when those feelings creep up on you. I know they still do, even if it’s not as often as before.”
Buffy nodded and held on a
little tighter to the Wiccan. Some days the longing for what she’d lost
was strong, and she knew that there would still be many more days when she wished she hadn’t been ripped from where
she’d been. Whether Tara knew it or not, she had helped. “You already have helped, Tara.” Buffy softly
kissed Tara’s neck.
Tara smiled with the soft press
of lips to her throat. “I was hoping that I had.” She winked at the look of concern on Cami’s face as the waitress skirted the dance floor delivering
Cami nodded and smiled as she
continued on her way, feeling a bit better that things were still on the right track with Buffy and Tara. She had kept the troublemakers from interrupting the couple on the dance floor, going so far as to threaten
to kick their asses out, without Amy.
Amy having nodded in agreement
having seen the seriousness of whatever Buffy and Tara had been discussing.
Sue and Sandi grumbled, biding
their time until they could harass them again.