The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:48 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Joined: Sat May 15, 2010 7:17 pm
Posts: 654
Location: The Land of Flowers
Hey Kittens,

It's LonelyTara again. As promised, here is my other new piece.


• Title - The Wish of Three Hearts
• Author name – LonelyTara
• Email Address - 9kodama@gmail.com
• Rating - PG-13, eventually R
• Disclaimer - While filled with plenty of angst, tension, and grief, please know this will be a happy fic in the end. Not just because of the rules, but because I love W/T too much to mess a great thing up! Oh, and all this belongs to Joss Whedon et al, I'm just borrowing, please don't sue.
• Feedback-Please, please!
• Summary- Wave is an AU post season 7. It's been three years since Tara's death. Willow travels to the canyon that was once Sunnydale California to celebrate her lost love's birthday. Willow makes a wish, and everything changes...
• Notes-Thanks to everyone who will read. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all associated characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Fox, and many other powerful entities. I am just a visitor in this world—please don’t sue me.


Chapter One

Sun Canyon was quiet and bathed in light. A cool wind blew from the south, carrying the scent of the Pacific. Birds wheeled in the air above the chasm that was once Sunnydale CA, a gulf in the earth now green with grasses and bright with wildflowers in a riot of color—the butter-orange of golden pansies, the pinks, blues and whites of puffy cornflowers, the purple spray of clover blooms. The only sounds were the cry of the distant birds and wind whistling through the long grass. Thin ribbons of white cloud, pale against the cerulean sky, moved high and fast in the gusts from the sea.

The serenity of the canyon was broken by the crunch of tires on gravel. A jeep was rolling up the overgrown remains of the highway to Sunnydale, bouncing on ridges of grass-threaded asphalt. The jeep rolled to a halt beneath an old oak with branches that drooped toward the ground. When the engine stopped the wind kicked up, and the branches seemed to draw closer to the vehicle, as if offering comfort, shelter.

The driver’s door of the jeep opened and a slender woman stepped out, clutching a small white box to her chest. As she walked beneath the oak the woman trailed one hand up against the branches, letting the leaves flutter beneath her fingertips. She was simply dressed, clothed in brown leather boots, blue jeans, and a pale, cream-colored sweater. When she moved out of the shadow of the oak the woman paused, raising a hand above her face to shield her eyes from the rising sun as she stared out over the canyon that had once been her home.

After a moment, Willow Rosenberg bowed her head and strode toward the edge of Sun Canyon, her red hair blazing in the light.

* * *

“Willow left already?”

Buffy looked up from her cup of coffee. Her sister, Dawn, was standing in the entryway to their apartment’s small kitchen, her arms crossed tightly over her chest.

“Yeah, she headed out a few hours ago.”

“I wish she would’ve let one of us go with her,” Dawn murmured, crossing the kitchen in a step and lifting the coffee pot to pour a cup for herself. “She shouldn’t be alone, not today.”

“I know,” Buffy replied, laying her hand on Dawn’s wrist. “But it’s what Will wants.” She paused and looked up at her younger sister with mock severity. “And don’t drink coffee, it’ll stunt your growth.”

Dawn smiled faintly at her sister’s attempt at a joke. Not yet nineteen, she towered over Buffy by more than half a foot. “Thanks, Buffy.”

“Hey, it’s what I do.”

* * *

When she reached the edge of the canyon, Willow sat down in the long grass, still cradling the small white box she carried against her chest. She crossed her legs and let the weight of her body settle against the earth, trying to pull comfort from her connection to the life she felt moving through the world.

“I know it’s early for our visit,” she said softly. “But I’ll still come this Friday too, I just couldn’t miss your—“ Willow face crumpled and her breath hitched in her chest. “Your big day.”

She took a few deep breaths and transferred the box she held into her right hand, reaching up with her left to brush tears from her cheeks.

“So, I know it’s only been a couple of days, but I still have some news. The new apartment is officially unpacked; we emptied out the last box yesterday. It’s nice to be in our own place, finally, but I still miss—“ Willow took a shuddering breath, fighting tears when she thought of the room she’d once shared with Tara.
“You know. Our place. Where I didn’t have to be brave.” She sighed. “Anyway, that last box. Of course, Buffy and Dawnie fought over where to hang the pictures that were in it, but we got it worked out in the end.

“We hung that picture of us all together, at Christmas, before, before Joyce—” Willow shook her head. “Well, anyway, we hung it over the little fireplace in the living room. Everything is little in that place,” she chuckled, “Well, except Dawnie. I think she grew another three inches yesterday.

“We put the rest of the pictures in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms, we went in alphabetical order by first name. Buffy said it was to be fair, but I think she was just happy that she’d be first, well, after the picture we have of Anya. It worked out just right though, because there’s a picture of you and I, back at UCS, right next to my bedroom door. I get to see your face every night before I go to sleep and first thing when I wake up in the morning.”

She found herself fighting tears again. Willow took a deep breath to cleanse her mind, and looked out over the valley. The view had changed so much in the past three years, the rubble and debris hidden, softened by layers of earth and vegetation. It was strange to see beauty overtake destruction in such a short time. She wondered where, in those leagues of grass, her lover’s body had come to rest.

“Well, that’s enough of me-babble. You’ll be happy to know that I managed to get us unpacked and organized without pulling out the multicolor pens. Well,” she confessed. “I used blue and green. But not to be organized, just because those are you favorite colors.” She paused, and bowed her head. “Were your favorite colors...”

Willow sat in silence for a long while. She could feel the sun creeping up the sky, warm on her cheek, on the top of her head. She didn’t move, didn’t blink, until the alarm on her watch chimed.

As it beeped its reminder, Willow unfolded the box she’d been holding. Inside was a single chocolate cupcake, frosted in a swirl of green and blue. Perched on top of it was a bright pink shrimp made of fondant.

“It’s October 16th, 2005. Twenty-five years ago, today, at this very moment, you came into the world. I’m so glad that I can celebrate that day. And look baby,” she said, laughing as she cried. “I took a cake decorating class just so I could make this for you. It’s a shrimp you can actually eat. I thought you’d like that, conquering shrimp allergies via frosting, chocolate-flavored, not shrimp-flavored. That would be weird, and ineffective.” She tried to smile, but a sob slipped out.

She slipped her hand into her pocket and pulled out a candle and a lighter. She laid the lighter on her leg and then gently pressed the candle into the dome of frosting, so that it was propped against the shrimp.

“There.”

Willow’s hand shook as she reached out with the lighter. When the candle blazed into life she slipped the lighter back into her pocket.

“Happy birthday, baby,” Willow whispered. “I’m going to make a wish for you, I know you won’t mind.”

She raised the cupcake to her lips and blew gently. The candle flame fluttered for a moment and then went out, leaving a thin, winding curl of smoke in the air.

Suddenly all she could see was Tara’s face, glowing in the light of the candle Willow had brought to her, on the night she finally told Tara that she loved her. Tara was so beautiful in the candle’s glow, a goddess. She could feel the warmth of Tara’s skin beneath her hands, hear her gasps of pleasure as Willow made love to her for the first time, there in Tara’s room, in the night, their flesh made silver in the moonlight.

Willow closed her eyes tightly, her brow furrowed with grief. Her shoulders began to shake.

“Oh, Tara,” Willow sobbed. Her lovely green eyes flew open and tears streamed down her cheeks. “I miss you so much, baby. I wish you hadn’t died.”

A hawk called its shrill cry high above Willow’s head, and a cloud passed beneath the sun, leaving her in shadow. It was as if the world itself called out with her grief.

* * *

At the same moment, in a small apartment on the north side of LA, Dawn burst into tears staring into the refrigerator.

“What is it?” Buffy asked, moving around the kitchen island and placing an arm around her sister’s shoulders.

“Look,” Dawn replied, tears still falling. “Look what at Willow did.”

Every free space in the refrigerator was filled with cupcakes. Little shrimps in varying levels of deformity perched on top of each one, except for two, up in the top of the door where the eggs were supposed to go, that were perfect.

“Oh Will,” Buffy sighed.

“She should’ve said something. I would’ve helped her bake, or clean up, or—”

“I know you would’ve, Dawnie.” Buffy laid a hand across her sister’s back. “She must’ve wanted to—needed to, do something special, on her own.”

“Buffy,” Dawn cried, turning and throwing her arms around her sister, mourning the woman she’d loved like a mother after Joyce’s death. “I wish Tara hadn’t died. I wish she was still with us.”

Buffy felt a tear slip down her cheek. “I wish it too, Dawn. I wish it too.”

* * *

It started as warmth, flowing up from the ground, into her legs, through her chest. Willow tried to calm her crying, catch her breath, afraid that she was hyperventilating. But then the wind stopped, and the birds fell silent. The warmth in her body increased, flowing up her neck, through her blood.

Willow looked up and stared at a hummingbird, jewel-green, frozen less than a foot from her face. She stood and spun around. There was a squirrel motionless on the side of the oak tree by the jeep. A hawk, stilled mid-turn, hung high above her head.

“What—“

The sense of warmth became overpowering. Tara’s cupcake tumbled out of Willow’s hands onto the ground. Out of her glowing hands. Willow felt a current, as if all the energies of the earth had been gathered up into a river that flowed directly into the core of her being. As white light flooded out of her fingertips, her mouth, her eyes, she rose up off of the ground and began spinning in a gentle circle. She felt like she should be afraid, but there wasn’t any fear. There was just warmth. She was being held aloft in a wave of comfort, solace.

As the energy coalesced in the air before her, Willow saw a golden form moving within it. Still spinning, she slowly fell back to the ground. As gently as she touched down, she felt utterly drained and stumbled backward, falling onto her knees in the grass.

The light kept growing. The golden swirls pooled, parted, and a woman walked out of the light, a beautiful, curvaceous woman with hair like honey, full lips, and sparkling blue eyes.

“Tara?” Willow whispered.

The figure looked down at Willow and smiled. So much like Tara, but it wasn’t her. This woman had a tiny round birthmark, strawberry-red, in the center of her left cheek, and her hair was streaked with gray; there were lines around her mouth and eyes.

“No, sweet Willow,” the woman replied. “My name is Jane Maclay. I’m Tara’s mother.”

“Her mother?” Willow felt dizzy, the energy she’d been feeling still pulsed through her, leaving her gasping. “But, Tara told me that you died.”

The golden-haired woman nodded, still smiling that same gorgeous, crooked smile that Willow had always loved to see on Tara’s face. “That’s right.”

“But why—how are you here?”

“I’m here because my daughter has been so well-loved. I want to thank you for that, Willow. After my death she was left on her own, but when she found you, she found a family again. As for the how, my answer is the same.

“You have all loved Tara so much, so well, that a miracle, a magic, has happened that hasn't been seen in millennia. The Ter Sis Animi has been invoked.”

“Ter Sis,” Willow began. “I don’t understand.” She struggled to her feet and walked closer to the ghost of Tara’s mother, amazed by the warmth she could feel radiating from the woman, winding with the energy of her own soul.

“The Ter Sis Animi is a gift, Willow, a rite, one powered by the force of true and undying love. And even though you and Tara hurt one-another at times, it doesn’t change the fact that you are soul mates, one soul bound in two bodies. Because you have come here, on this day, at this time, and remembered Tara, because the family that you helped her to find calls out with their shared grief, you can have your wish.”

“My wish?” It took a moment for her to understand, but then Willow’s face was transformed with joy. The weight of the past three years of sorrow melted away from her in an instant. “I can have Tara back?”

Jane Maclay smiled at Willow’s happiness, taking the young woman’s hands in her own and flooding Willow with warmth.

“With the Ter Sis Animi invoked,” she intoned, “With three hearts calling out in pure and honest love, time can be changed. Tara can be saved.”

“Please,” Willow begged, tears streaming down her face.

Before she could finish, her lover’s mother pressed a finger against her lips.

“Willow, Tara can be saved, but there will be a price. All the wrongs that were done in the wake of my daughter’s death must be repaid.”

“Anything,” Willow replied. “I will do—“ She paused and her face fell. “Wait, I promised Tara that I wouldn’t do this anymore, this black magic.” Another, more terrible thought hit her, left her gasping. “Will I be hurting her? Will it be like it was for Buffy?” Willow gave a little sob. “Will I be pulling her out of heaven?”

Jane smiled at Willow kindly and held her arms out, gathering the weeping woman into her embrace.

“This isn’t dark magic, Willow. This is the lifeblood of all the bright goddesses of the earth, working their will together, to invoke the Wish of Three Hearts. Tara won’t be hurt. Besides,” Jane continued. “She’s not in heaven.”

Willow slipped out of Jane Maclay’s embrace, horrified. “Tara was a good person, the best of all of us, why, why isn’t she—“

“She’s waiting for you, Willow.” Jane reached out a brushed a lock of sweaty red hair away from Willow’s eyes. “There is a place, between earth and heaven, where powerful witches can channel their souls, to watch over and wait for those who love them.”

“Tara can see me?” Willow looked around herself wildly, struck with a sudden shame. “She saw what happened between me and—“ She couldn’t bring herself to say the name of the woman who had tried and failed to mend her broken heart.

Tara’s mother tilted her head, still gracing Willow with her gentle smile. “Tara rejoices in your joy and grieves with you when you feel sorrow. She isn’t angry or hurt that you tried to find love again, Willow. She knows it never diminished the way you felt for her. She never wanted you to be lonely.”

Willow felt like a gulf opened at her feet. She sank back to her knees. “But I am alone!” She cried. “Every second of every day that Tara isn’t with me, I’m alone. I look at the world, I move through it, and I turn to her to share it all with her, and she isn’t there! I am so lonely!” She curled up on the ground, wracked with sobs that tore from her painfully.

She felt herself gathered into the spirit-woman’s arms, held like an infant against her chest.

“She can be with you again, Willow. You’ve made that possible. Now, will you repay the debt?”

Willow nodded, clutching at Tara’s mother. “Anything. I will do anything to have Tara with me again.” She felt Tara’s mother brush tears from her cheek.

“So be it. Close your eyes, Willow.”

The two women disappeared in a flash of brilliant white light. Slowly, sound returned to the world. The hummingbird’s wings pulsed. In pursuit of nectar, it flew off into the beautiful town of Sunnydale, CA.


Last edited by LonelyTara on Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:37 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:42 pm
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Ooh La La! Time travel? Neaaaaaaaaaaatttt................... :kgeek , not many author do that.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:40 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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I hope I can do it justice. :) I really like this story and all the potential angst of it, so I hope you'll enjoy it too! I will post an update soon. Thanks so much for the feedback!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:48 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Here I am again :P Can't wait for the next one!

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Every Step That I Retrace/Always Leads Me Back to You/But I've Loved You All Along
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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 12:10 am 
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3. Flaming O
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:party
i love time traveling!
-thinks-
:sheep your right, no one really does time travel for BtVS!
I love the intro and hope that this story continues
-mutters 'unlike my own'-
i have to admit i have high expectations for this story, good luck!

:kgeek
J-en

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:25 am 
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Very, very good beginning. I can't wait to red more. Time travel...could be very very interesting in deed.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:59 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Hey, check me out, I'm a floating rose now! So excited! :) Thanks for the feedback so far, Kittens. I'm trying to be good and hold to posting once a week (so I stay on a regular schedule) but I think, since these are my first two fics, when I hit 200 reads on both I'll post a 2nd bonus chapter! :)


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:55 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Joined: Sat May 15, 2010 7:17 pm
Posts: 654
Location: The Land of Flowers
Okay, so TWOTH and Wave are both over 200 now (woot!) so here, as promised, is the 2nd chapter of TWOTH. I hope you enjoy and look forward to your feedback!

• Title - The Wish of Three Hearts
• Author name – LonelyTara
• Email Address - 9kodama@gmail.com
• Rating - R (Maybe NC-17? I don't think so though...)
• Disclaimer - While filled with plenty of angst, tension, and grief, please know this will be a happy fic in the end. Not just because of the rules, but because I love W/T too much to mess a great thing up! Oh, and all this belongs to Joss Whedon et al, I'm just borrowing, please don't sue.
• Feedback-Please, please!
• Summary- Wave is an AU post season 7. It's been three years since Tara's death. Willow travels to the canyon that was once Sunnydale California to celebrate her lost love's birthday. Willow makes a wish, and everything changes...
• Notes-Thanks to everyone who will read. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all associated characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Fox, and many other powerful entities. I am just a visitor in this world—please don’t sue me.


Chapter Two

Willow could feel the warmth beating through her body, still feel arms wrapped around her, protecting her. She stirred and her cheek brushed warm, soft flesh.

“Are you awake, Will?”

Willow froze, clutching the arms the held her. She was afraid to open her eyes, afraid that she had been dreaming.

“Come on, sleepy head, it’s getting late.”

Willow felt a kiss on her forehead, her cheek, the soft, sweet brush of lips against her lips.

Willow opened her eyes.

The light in the room was blinding, as she blinked against the shock of it, the deep red sheet she was wrapped in came into focus. They’d picked the sheets, she and Tara, red with a gold trim and crazy golden paisley patterns, because Tara liked the name on the package—Cinnamon Wine. The sheets wound around Willow’s pale legs, against her chest, under the flawless peaches-and-cream arms wrapped around her. Willow took in a deep breath. The air smelled of honeysuckle.

“Welcome back to the world, sleepy girl.” The woman’s voice was a sweet purr, so melodic; it was a voice that Willow hadn’t heard in over three years.

Willow looked up to see Tara smiling down at her. She was cradling Willow in her arms.

“Baby—“ Tara began.

Willow sat up in bed and took Tara’s face in her hands. “You’re here,” she said softly. The light coming through their window made Tara’s hair blaze like a halo.

Tara smiled. “I’m here.”

Willow took in a huge, shuddering breath. A lifetime’s grief had built in her over the past three years, and it was all fighting its way out of her.

“You were gone,” Willow said, it the words slipping from her between gasps, sobs. “You were gone, but now you’re here, you’re with me.” She burst into tears, harsh, wrenching cries that left her shaking. Willow pulled herself against Tara.

“Willow,” Tara sighed, holding her close and running a hand down her lover’s hair. “Oh baby, I’m so sorry. Please, no tears, I promise you, I’m not going anywhere. I’m yours remember? Always.”

Willow saw Tara lying in her arms, her face as peaceful as if she were sleeping, mouth hanging open and golden hair streaming, but her chest torn open by gunfire. She saw her own hand, tracing Tara’s name on a tombstone.

“Please don’t leave me,” Willow begged, “Please, please be real. This can’t just be a dream. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t live without you.”

“Willow,” Tara said. She tried to sit up, but Willow sobbed again, pulling her closer. “Willow, you have to look at me.” Tara gently untangled herself from her lover’s panicked embrace and held her hands. “Look at me, baby.”

Willow felt the warmth of Tara’s hands in her own. She looked and saw the beautiful blue eyes of her lover, her soul mate, staring down at her, at Tara’s brow, furrowed with worry.

“We’re here, this is real. You woke up in my arms yesterday; you woke up in them again today. And if it’s up to me, that’s how every day will start for the rest of our lives.” Tara paused and wiped the tears off of Willow’s cheeks. “I can’t believe you forgot yesterday anyway,” She continued, trying to tease a smile out of her love. “Its not every day that Dawnie catches me walking around n-naked in a sheet.”

“Oh god, Tara,” Willow murmured, throwing her arms around her lover’s neck, reveling in the warmth of their bodies pressed together. Her body shook with another sob. She’d never thought she would feel this love again, burning in her. “I love you. I missed you so much.”

Willow shivered as Tara stroked her fingers down the curve of her spine. “I love you, too.” Tara replied.

Willow closed her eyes and just let herself feel the bliss of having Tara with her again, the sweet scent and warmth of her. She could feel Tara’s joy, her love, radiating from her skin. There was so much that she had missed, she wanted to touch Tara, to talk to her until the sun fell, till the moon rose, talk to her and touch her and love her until the sun came up again. Tara gave Willow a gentle squeeze and kissed her hair.

“Tara,” Willow said.

“Yes love?”

“Will you do something for me?”

Tara chuckled, low and loving. “Anything.”

“Sing to me.” Willow’s voice broke as she asked it. Tara had such a beautiful voice. Their time alone together had always been filled with song, a gift Tara shared only with Willow. The echo of her lover’s voice had haunted the long, lonely nights after her death.

Willow tried to push the sad thought away as she sighed and snuggled into Tara’s shoulder. The past didn’t matter anymore. Tara ran her hand down Willow’s hair, stroking it again and again.

Tara hummed at first, just a few bars to warm her throat.

“Never knew I could feel like this…. “ She began, barely above a whisper.

Willow felt the warm press of Tara’s lips on her forehead. She remembered the night they’d gone to see Moulin Rouge together on a double date with Xander and Anya, how she’d held Tara and wept with her as Selene died. Anya had grumbled about the preponderance of mages in France that could have healed consumption in less than twenty-seven seconds, but it had done nothing to spoil the moment.

When Tara began again, she sang to her lover, passion clear in every word “Like I've never seen the sky before.” Tara sighed happily and tilted Willow’s chin up so she could stare into her lover’s eyes.

“Want to vanish inside your kiss.
Every day I’m loving you more and more.
Listen to my heart, can you hear it sing?
Come back to me, and forgive everything
Seasons may change, winter to spring
But I love you, until the end of time.”

With her head laid against Tara’s chest, Willow could feel the warmth of her; hear the steady beating of her heart. “You’re really here.”

“I’m really here.” Tara kissed the top of Willow’s head, caressed the soft, sensitive skin over Willow’s collarbone. “And I love you.” Tara paused, and when she spoke again her voice was husky. “I need you, Willow.”

Willow felt warmth spread through her belly. She pressed her lips against the tender skin of Tara’s throat, traced her fingertips along her lover’s jaw. Tara gave a throaty moan as Willow kissed her, tugging Tara’s lower lip gently between her teeth. Their tongues flicked together and their embrace tightened. Willow breathed in the sweet honeysuckle scent of her love’s perfume, ran her hands through Tara’s golden hair, down her back, brushed them against the sides of her perfect breasts.

Tara arched against Willow, kissing her more urgently. She traced tiny figure eights on Willow’s back, a habit that Willow had always called Tara waltzing her love. The joy of it—that simple gesture of her affection—sent silent tears streaming down Willow’s face even as she kissed Tara more deeply. She traced her hands down the curves of Tara’s hips, brushed her lower back with a touch as light as spider’s silk.

In unspoken agreement the pair settled back against the pillows. Willow laid her head on Tara’s shoulder and reached up with a shaking hand to gently stroke her breast. Tara gasped with pleasure of it, her flesh pebbling as it hardened under Willow’s touch. When Willow leaned over and took Tara into her mouth she cried out, pulling Willow tightly against her.

Willow flicked her tongue against Tara’s flesh, brushing her hand gently against the bottom of her breasts, down her stomach, until she came to rest on Tara’s center, letting the weight of her hand rest there, one finger gently tracing the curls at the top her thighs.

“Willow,” she panted. “I want you.” Tara reached down and ran her hands along Willow’s sides, slipped her long, thin fingers between their bodies to stroke Willow’s breasts. “Please, love me.”

Willow smiled, feeling a joy rush through her body that burned as warm as her passion. She released Tara’s breast and tilted her head back, meeting Tara in a fierce kiss. Tara’s stroking became more insistent; she tugged lightly on Willow’s chest, giving a moan of absolute pleasure as Willow gasped.

Willow couldn’t wait any longer. “I do love you, she murmured. “I missed you, Tara, so much.”

She slid her finger across Tara, and as soon as she felt the warmth, the wet of the woman she’d missed for so long, as Tara cried out in joy and longing, Willow was swept over by the heat of climax. She cried out, arching herself against Tara, still stroking her. Tara began to shudder, voicing little moans as her hips rocked to the rhythm of Willow’s lovemaking. Willow shifted to stroke with her thumb and slid her fingers back, entering Tara slowly, meeting the motion of her hips. Tara gasped and began to rock more quickly, crying out each time Willow moved inside of her. After a long, slow build, she came and clutched Willow to her, crying out her name with each pulse of her orgasm. Willow felt her lover’s body contracting around her slim fingers.

Before she could move, Tara pressed her hand against Willow’s, keeping her inside. “Not yet,” she whispered.

Tara slid her hand down Willow’s stomach, and Willow opened to her. As she touched Willow she smiled, biting her lower lip. Willow felt her lover enter her and came again, felt herself spasm around Tara’s fingers.

“Wow,” Tara murmured happily. She slid her fingers gently in and out, the palm of her hand rubbing Willow with every thrust. Willow began moving her hand in time with Tara’s until the two of them were rocking in perfect synch, crying out with joy at their pleasure, their love.

When the last echoes of their lovemaking faded, they settled down onto the pillows, holding each other tightly. Willow peppered Tara’s face with quick, light kisses, pausing only to draw an earlobe into her mouth.

“None of that, naughty girl,” Tara laughed, stroking Willow’s cheek. “I’m all worn out.” She pulled her lover closer. “At least for now.”

Willow nodded, felt her eyes burning with tears. She was whole. She could feel the joy of being with her lover again filling the empty space that loss and sorrow had left in her for so long. My Tara, Willow thought. Thank you for coming back to me.

As if she could hear Willow’s thought, Tara began to hum again, rocking Willow gently.

“Come what may,” Tara sang. “Come what may, I will love you—“ She trailed off, kissed Willow’s hair. “I love you, Willow.”

“I love you too, baby,” Willow whispered, a tear trailed down her check.

“I will love you,” Tara sang. “Until my dying day…”

Willow felt a wave of cold fear sweep over her as Tara sang. She stared around the bedroom at their tangled bedclothes, the desk, covered in papers from where they’d spent the previous evening researching schematics. Just the papers, no computer, no disk, because those were downstairs, where they’d explained the geek bank heist scheme to Xander and Buffy. They’d found the clues that Buffy needed to confront Warren once and for all. They’d thought it was over, but it wasn’t.

It was today.

Today was the day everything ended, when she lost herself because her lover lost her life, the day that Tara died. Bile burned in her throat. Was this her punishment? The price that Jane Maclay said must be repaid? To be reunited with Tara, just to have her taken away again?

Willow sat bolt upright in bed, shaking her head, trying not to be sick.

“Willow?” Tara asked, “Will, w-what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

How could she tell her? How could she explain what had happened without sounding mad, or worse, without making Tara think she was using dark magic again?

“My stomach hurts,” Willow murmured, “Just a cramp.”

“Poor Will,” Tara replied, rubbing her hand over Willow’s belly. “Maybe we should get up, have some breakfast?” Tara looked at the clock and gave a little chuckle. “Lunch I guess? Thank goodness Dawnie’s at school.”

Willow grabbed Tara’s hand and held it against her stomach, trying to think. Tara’s mother had said her daughter could be saved. That had to mean there was a way, a way for Willow to protect her.

“Baby,” Tara said, brow furrowing. Willow was pale, her skin clammy to the touch. Tara didn’t understand what has caused such a sudden change in her lover’s demeanor, but she wanted happy Willow again. “I packed your favorite sweater, that sky blue one you got me before—“ She paused, not wanting to mention their time apart. “Before my birthday, my pre-birthday present, remember? You said it brings out my eyes.”

She tilted her head, trying to catch Willow’s eye, but the slender red head was staring down at the bed, lost in thought.

“Why don’t we get dressed and go downstairs for something to eat? It’ll help your stomach. I’ll wear my sweater and you can wear that white blouse I love so much. The frilly one you always say is too low on the butch. Okay?”

There was Tara, framed so beautifully in the sunlight streaming through their window. Before there’d been time to process the faint shouting coming from the yard, before they heard the concussive pop of gunfire, there was a tinkle of glass breaking, and Willow looking down at blood spattering across her blouse—

Your shirt…

“No!” She cried convulsively, weeping and clutching Tara to her, “No don’t.”

“Willow—“ Tara began, the alarm in her voice was clear.

“I’m all right,” Willow replied, but she couldn’t stop the tears, didn’t loosen her grip on her lover. “I’ll be all right. Please, just stay here with me, stay right here.”

“Willow, what’s wrong? Please, no more secrets.”

“No secrets,” Willow replied, hiccupping. “If you’ll hold me, just for a little while, I’ll explain everything.”

“You’re scaring me,” Tara replied, staring down at the bed.

“I know, baby, I'm sorry.”

Tara didn’t look up at her. With tears still running down her cheeks, Willow reached out to Tara, pulling her into a tight embrace.

“I just need to find the words,” Willow whispered. “Please Tara, you’re my everything. Please trust me.”

The pain and panic were so clear in Willow’s voice that Tara thought her heart would break. “I do,” she replied. She wrapped her arms around Willow in a gentle embrace. “I just wish I understood—“

There was an almost musical crunch as the glass of their bedroom window shattered and fell to the floor, closely followed by the dull thud of the bullet hitting wood of the doorframe, by the echo of its firing. Tara screamed and Willow threw herself on top of her lover, shielding with her own body. They trembled in the silence.

“Ow,” Tara said, stirring beneath her. There was an edge of terror in her voice. “Willow, my chest it’s burning—”

“Oh god, no,” Willow replied, sitting up. She pulled Tara’s hands away and looked at her lover’s chest, rolling her over to look at her back. There was nothing, not a mark.

“Willow,” Tara repeated. “What is this burning?” She rubbed her hand over her heart. “What happened?”

“Baby please,” Willow begged. “You have to stay with me, you have to be okay.” The pain in her stomach intensified.

Tara lay beneath Willow, gasping, her face pale. Suddenly she reached up and grabbed Willow’s hands. “I’m all right,” she panted. “It’s fading, it’s fading.”

“Oh, thank the goddess and all things holy.” Willow laughed through her tears and looked heavenward. “Thank you.” Tara wasn’t hurt. Tara would live.

“Willow?” Tara’s voice shook, her eyes welled with unshed tears. “Will, d-did you know that was going to happen?” She sat up, pulling Willow’s hands against her chest. “How did you know that was going to happen?” Tara’s face crumpled. “Please, Willow, tell me it wasn’t a spell, that you aren’t using dark magic.”

“No,” Willow replied, shaking her head. “No, I haven’t done any dark magic in over three years, not since—“ Willow froze as Tara’s face contorted in confusion.

“Three years? Willow, you and I have only been apart for a few months—“

“A few months for you,” Willow whispered. As she opened her mouth to tell Tara the truth of what had happened, a searing pain ripped through her abdomen. She cried out and fell back in the bed, cradling her stomach.

“Will, baby what’s wrong?” All of Tara’s consternation vanished at the site of her love in pain. “Talk to me Willow.”

Another flash of pain moved through her and Willow cried out, her back muscles clenching so tightly that she curved up from the bed like a bow being drawn, waiting to hear her spine crack with the strain.

“Oh god!” Tara screamed. “Willow? What’s happening?”

With the pain there came a slow boil of rage in the pit of Willow’s stomach. She felt it bubbling up inside of her, drawing out her pain and hate, calling to the dark magic that she’d fought to suppress for so many years.

“No, no,” Willow begged. “It hurts, Tara, it hurts. There’s something wrong.” She gasped at a fresh wave of pain, called out to the current of life and light running through the earth to give her the strength to resist the terrible power she felt rising up inside of her. She’d felt this power before. It was the same power that had consumed her after Tara’s death.

In was in that instant Willow knew the truth. This was the price. The debt she had to repay.

“Run, Tara.” Willow pleaded, reaching out to touch her lover’s hand. “I can’t stop it.”

She prayed that Tara would leave; that she wouldn’t see what Willow was about to become. Her voice broke as she screamed again; her resistance against the darkness was tearing her apart.

“Willow you have to tell me what’s happening. Please, let me help you.”

She shook her head. Willow couldn’t speak; her jaw was clenched tight against the agony writhing through her body so she wouldn’t swallow her own tongue. Tara was staring down at her, weeping. She had to make her lover understand. Pulling on her dwindling stores of strength, Willow reached out to her lover with her mind.

‘Baby, you have to run,’ Willow thought, and let out another low, agonized scream. ‘I can’t lose you again.’

Willow could see the shock in Tara’s face at the touch of her mind. She tried to shield her lover from the pain that she was feeling, but knew she couldn’t block it all. Another wave of searing pain burned through her nerve endings and she saw Tara go pale and wince in sympathy.

“I told you, I’m not going anywhere.” Tara pulled Willow close, pressing the slender witch against her as she buckled with agony.

‘But you did.’ As she thought it, Willow sobbed. ‘You went away.’ She struggled to hold back another scream, but sobs escaped her in a low growl. ‘Three years ago, Warren came here to kill Buffy.’ Willow fell into a coughing fit, her throat raw from screaming. ‘He shot at her over and over, and one of the bullets came through our window.’

Before Willow could stop it, the image of Tara’s body in her arms lanced across her mind, pouring the shadow of all the pain and grief of that moment across the link into her love.

“Willow?” Even through her pain, she could hear the fear in Tara’s voice.

‘You died baby.’ Willow’s body was on fire, her joints popping as the magic moved through her. When it reached her chest she wondered if her heart would stop. ‘He shot you, and you died’ she panted, fighting to remain conscious. ‘But now you’re back, we’re together.’ She screamed again, a long broken wail of anguish.

“Oh god, Willow, baby, please, stay with me.” Tara held her close. I died, the words kept repeating in her head, I died, I died, but now I’m back, I’m with the woman I love. Please goddess, please, don’t take Willow from me.

‘I’m so sorry,’ Willow sent to her. ‘So sorry for this pain.’

“How?” Tara was pale, trembling. “How…d-did you save me?’

Willow knew she was thinking of Buffy’s resurrection. Nausea rippled through her and she thought she might pass out, but she held on to the warm grip of Tara’s hand like a lifeline.

“How Willow?” Tara repeated. There was a hysteric edge to the question.

‘Your mother,’ Willow let the images of Tara’s mother play through her mind. Tara’s eyes welled with fresh tears. ‘She came to me, she told me that the people who missed you, who loved you, invoked a wish through me.’ She gritted her teeth as her body began to shake and buck with pain. ‘Ter Sis Animi, warned me…price. Debt, must be repaid.’

Tara’s voice shook when she spoke. “How could you risk yourself this way?”

Willow forced herself to speak; she wanted Tara to hear the words from her mouth. “Would do anything…for you. You are…my everything.” As she spoke, looking into her lover’s beautiful face, Willow felt her connection to the earth snap. An inhuman shriek was torn from her body.

“Willow,” Tara cried, “Your eyes!”


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:05 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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OH! Dibs! Wow. That was great update. I like the use of the time travel to try and right her wrongs...update soon! please. Please? :pray

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:43 pm 
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oooh intense! I kind of thought the price would be Buffy dying (which I guess it still could be) but I'm very intrigued and curious! I hope 200 more people read quickly :P

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:05 pm 
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I forgot a song credit here too.

Come What May is the property of David Baerwald. Please don’t sue.

And thanks for the quick replies, I'll try to update soon.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:07 am 
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This story is awesome.

I'm not normally one for the angst but I'm so drawn into this story. I hope Willow doesn't lose herself in the darkness again :(

At least Tara's there this time.

You portrayed Willow's anguish and grief and joy at having Tara back so well.

Great job, looking forward to more!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:16 am 
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Thanks so much for the kind words--it gives me such a big confidence boost! I'll post again by Friday, promise. And thank you, thank you to all who are reading. I can't believe I'm over 300 already, woot! :pinky


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:01 am 
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Nicely done! Looking forward to seeing where you take this!

Keep up the great work!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:31 pm 
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I sensed angst and sure enough, there's angst a plenty! Love it.

Great take on a post season 7 fic. I've always found it fascinating to explore the concept of Tara confronting Willow for what she became at the end of season 6 with all the complexities and character-examination that would entail.

I look forward to reading more.

:peace

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:21 pm 
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Thanks Alcy and FIRESIGN. Delicious, painful angst! ;-)


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:41 pm 
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tricky gifts! What would happen now? CAn't know if you don't update soon.
Enjoying the fic so far, so please keep it up


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:29 pm 
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Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading! Early update, I couldn't wait till tomorrow!

• Title - The Wish of Three Hearts
• Author name – LonelyTara
• Email Address - 9kodama@gmail.com
• Rating - PG-13, eventually R
• Disclaimer - While filled with plenty of angst, tension, and grief, please know this will be a happy fic in the end. Not just because of the rules, but because I love W/T too much to mess a great thing up! Oh, and all this belongs to Joss Whedon et al, I'm just borrowing, please don't sue.
• Feedback-Please, please!
• Summary- Wave is an AU post season 7. It's been three years since Tara's death. Willow travels to the canyon that was once Sunnydale California to celebrate her lost love's birthday. Willow makes a wish, and everything changes...
• Notes-Thanks to everyone who will read. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all associated characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Fox, and many other powerful entities. I am just a visitor in this world—please don’t sue me.



Chapter Three

‘You have to leave me,’ Willow repeated, her jaw locked in pain. She could feel something coming, drawn to her darkness, her power.

Grey smoke boiled on the ceiling as Tara stared, horror-struck at her lover’s burning eyes. Willow was shaking like she was freezing to death, but her skin was almost blisteringly hot to the touch.

She’s afraid of me, Willow thought, and as she began to feel the spike of grief she felt it pulled away, down into the darkness rising in her chest. She should be.

“I am afraid,” Tara whispered, “Afraid for you, baby. Not of you.”

The cloud rolling across the ceiling of their bedroom thickened, spread, pulling light into itself until the room was dark as twilight in the middle of the day. A face appeared in the clinging mist, hollow-eyed, misshapen. Osiris.

“THERE IS NO DEATH HERE,” A roar, low like the grind of bone on bone, shook Willow and Tara in their bed. “WHY HAVE YOU SUMMONED ME, WITCH?”

“W-Willow?” Tara asked, voice quivering with fear.

“SPEAK!”

A tendril spun free of the hovering cloud and brushed Willow’s wrist. She shrieked in pain again and again, crying out against the scythe-sharp presence of the death god within her mind.

“BROKEN, WEAK. MOVED BY FORCES, NOT THE MOVER.”

The tendril wound up Willow’s arm, to her, neck, around her head, squeezing her like a vise.

“No,” Tara growled. “Stop hurting her.” She held up her hand and a flash of grass-green light flared.

Willow felt the death god release its hold on her, saw coils forming all around the room, descending toward Tara. ‘Tara, above you,’ Willow warned.

Her love looked up at the ceiling, saw the threat moving toward them. “Oh goddess,” Tara murmured. She held Willow against her chest and pushed off with her feet, sending them both spilling to the floor. The tendrils of the angered god thrashed above their heads. One snaked down and wrapped around Tara’s ankle.
Tara screamed in agony, dragged up into the air.

“TOUCHED BY DEATH, BUT UNDYING. RESTORED.”

“No,” Willow moaned, watching her lover dangling above her, crying out. The darkness in her pushed free. “No!” She screamed, and a funnel of energy struck out at the rolling, cloudy face above her.

The being recoiled and Tara dropped to the floor, whimpering. Willow choked and wretched. The power left the taste of ashes in her mouth.

“IMPUDENCE. DO NOT SUMMON ME FOR THE NEXT DEATH, WITCH.”

For the next death. Willow was gripped with terror. She’d saved Tara, but Buffy had still been shot. Her best friend was dying.

The pressure of the death god’s presence began to lift. His face faded, drawn into the rolling smoke on the ceiling. It faded from gray to white, dispersing into mist as light came streaming back into the room.

“Tara,” she croaked.

Tara lowered her shaking love to the ground. She felt a swell of relief when Willow looked up at her—the fire had faded from her eyes.

“There’s my beautiful green-eyed girl,” Tara murmured, a tear slipped down cheek even as she flashed a tiny half grin at her lover.

Willow tried to return the grin and felt a grimace stretch across her face. The darkness and rage was still a burning knot at her core, and it was growing.

“Are you all right?” Tara asked. “Is it o-over?”

“Help,” Willow said, struggling to speak. She could feel her strength draining as the dark magic rode through her bones, soon she would run dry. They had to help Buffy, but she couldn’t even send the thought now.

“Of course I’ll help you, baby,” Tara murmured. She stood and pulled a blanket off the bed, tucking it around Willow’s body. “I’ll get Buffy, we’ll get you help.”

Tara paused long enough to throw on a nightshirt and ran out of the room. Willow could hear her footsteps pounding down the staircase. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she tried to sit up, to call out to her soul mate, but she couldn’t move, she couldn’t make a sound.


The living room of the Summers house was quiet. Tara crept through the room on the balls of her feet, ears straining for any sound of movement. She needed to find Buffy, but she wasn’t going to take a chance that she’d run into an armed Warren unprepared. She moved into the sitting room and found it empty; there was just a paper plate with three desiccated pizza crusts on the coffee table.

“Dawnie,” Tara murmured, and then gave out a little shriek as she tripped over a pair of the teen’s sneakers, stuffed with dirty socks. She caught herself on the arm of the old sofa, gasping for breath. Tara’s heart was pounding in her chest, protesting the steady diet of adrenaline she was providing. She couldn’t help reveling in it for a moment. Tara placed her hand against her heart. Keep beating. For me, for Willow.

The kitchen was as empty as the rooms Tara had already searched. She was just about to go down into the basement when she saw movement in the backyard. Xander was there, staring at something on the ground. Tara tugged self-consciously at the short nightshirt she was wearing, but her embarrassment wouldn’t keep her from getting help for Will.

“Xander, is he gone? Is Warren gone?” She asked softly, stepping out the door into the backyard. The paneling of the small deck was rough under her feet. “X-Xander,” she repeated, but he didn’t answer. She stepped onto the grass. “X-Xander, you have to help me, Willow—”

Xander turned to Tara, his face was gray, his mouth hanging slack. “Tara, I don’t know—I don’t know what to do.” His shirt was splattered with blood.

“Oh my, oh Xander,” Tara said, rushing toward him. “Are you hurt?”

He shook his head, and looked back to the ground. Tara followed his gaze. Buffy was lying at Xander’s feet, bleeding.

“Buffy!” Tara cried. She crouched down and pressed her hands against Buffy’s chest, trying to stop the blood that was seeping out of the slayer with each heartbeat. “Xander, I need you to go inside and get a towel, we have to put more pressure on this.”

Xander was staring down at them both, unblinking.

“You have to snap out of it!” Tara screamed. “Buffy and Willow need us, Xander.” Buffy shuddered beneath her hands, took in a shallow gasp of breath. Tara was desperate; she lashed out in the only way she could think of to break his haze.

“Don’t make me have Anya go all vengeance demon on your ass, Harris. Get moving, soldier!”

Xander blinked and stared at Tara liked she’d appeared out of thin air.

“I need towels Xander, as many as you can carry, she’s freezing. When you are done with that, go back inside, call 911, and then go and check on Willow.”

“Will?” Xander asked dully. “Did he shoot her—”

She didn’t have time to explain. “She hasn’t been shot, she-she’s sick. Now go get the damned towels.”

Xander turned and ran into the house. Buffy’s chest began to heave under Tara’s hands. She felt a dull lance of fear, but when she looked down, Buffy was actually grinning up at her. Tara realized she was trying to laugh, even as she bled out onto the grass.

“Ferocious Tara…makes another appearance,” Buffy gasped. “Scary.”

“Shush,” Tara soothed. “You’ll be all right, Buffy. I’ll take care of you. I’ll take care of both of you.”

Even as she said the words Tara could feel fear building inside her. Willow was in agony, Buffy was dying, if this was the price that had to be paid for her life, maybe it was too high.

“I got towels.” Xander was standing above her with towels piled to his chin.

“Give me one,” Tara replied. She held out her left hand, but kept the right pressed against Buffy’s wound. Xander handed her a thick white towel with shaking hands. Tara slipped it beneath her right hand and leaned against it with all her strength.

“Cover her legs and her stomach with the rest,” Tara told him, alarmed to see hints of red already spreading across the towel like hellish snowflakes. “Then 911, and then Willow. Can you do that, Xander?”

“911, and Will,” Xander murmured.

“Help’s on the way, Buffy,” Tara said gently. “You just have to hang in there for a little while. I’ll be right here with you.”

“Dawn,” Buffy murmured. There was a bluish tinge around her lips.

“Dawnie’s all right,” Tara said. “She’s safe, she’s at school. Warren didn’t hurt her.”

“Take, care of Dawn.” As Buffy said the words a tear slipped down her cheek. “You and Will, promise me, you’ll take care of her. You make her happy.”

“No, we’ll all take care of Dawn together,” Tara insisted. “She needs us all, all her family, together.”

Buffy didn’t answer her; she just stared up at the sky. Tara smacked her friend lightly on the cheek.

“Stay with me, Buffy, no wandering off. You can’t make Dawnie lose you again, I don’t think she could bear it.”

Buffy took a rattling breath and coughed, spraying Tara’s nightshirt with blood. “You hit me,” she murmured. “You hit the shot girl.”

“I’m so, s-sorry, Buffy. Please, don’t die.”

“Trying,” Buffy said. There were still no sirens pealing in the distance. Buffy’s eyes rolled back in her head.

“No, no,” Tara cried. “Keep your eyes open.” Fear and grief chilled her. If Buffy died, how would she tell Willow that her best friend was dead? Would Willow survive it?

The thought of losing her friend was terrifying, but at the thought of losing Willow Tara began to weep, hunched over Buffy’s body. Still holding the pressure against the tiny slayer’s chest, Tara sobbed, fighting the panic rising in her like a wave.

Tara’s swell of emotion cut Willow like a knife.

“Tara!” Willow screamed, curling up on the floor of their bedroom.

The dark magic pulsed in her chest, she could feel sources of power scattered throughout Sunnydale calling out to the shadow growing in her. The power was hungry, and she wasn’t enough to sate it. The shadow would seek out other magics to keep itself fed, and with every measure of power it took she would lose more of what made her Willow. And if she didn’t take that power, the darkness would pull from her, over and over, until she had nothing left to give.

But if she was going to keep Tara safe, to fulfill the terms of the Ter Sis Animi, Willow couldn’t give herself over to that force. She would do anything to keep Tara safe.

Even if meant that she would die.

“You’re mine,” Willow growled, focusing all of her strength on reconnecting to the power of the earth, pulling from that energy to fight the darkness rising in her chest. “My rage, my, pain, my power. You won’t control me.” There was a power, a painful burning friction roaring through her where earth magic touched darkness. “I will go to her.”

Willow let out a low groan of pain as her body lifted up off of the floor. She levitated toward the bed and struggled to pull on the pale green chemise hanging off the foot of the bed. In the end she took energy from her connection to the earth to move her arms, her hands, to slide the light cloth over her body. Each movement as she warped the power to her will was like her bones were blades, cutting her flesh from the inside.

She floated out into the hall and found herself face to face with Xander.

When he saw Willow his mouth fell open. “Will,” he said hoarsely. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Where is Tara?” She started to float past but Xander grabbed her arm.

“Willow, you don’t want her to see you like this. You lost her once because of dark magic, don’t do it again.”

She didn’t have time for this. “Where is Tara, Xander?”

“Will, what happened to you?” He shuddered under the glare of his friend’s strange eyes. “She’s downstairs, in the back. She-she’s with Buffy.”

“Buffy’s still alive?”

“How did you—” Xander shook his head. “She was when I came up here to find you. Tara’s taking care of her.” Xander’s eyes widened and he grabbed Willow’s shoulders. “Tara said you were sick, is that what this is, you’re sick?”

“Yes.” Willow replied in a whisper. She felt hot tears spill down her cheeks. “There’s something wrong, but I can still help them, I can still save Buffy.”

Xander released her arms and followed Willow down the staircase.

“Tara told me to call 911,” Xander told her when they walked into the kitchen. He stared at the floor so he wouldn’t have to see Willow’s face.

Willow nodded. “Do what you have to do.” She pulled open the door and floated out onto the deck.

The sight of Tara safe, alive, sent a way of joy through her. It pierced the darkness moving through her and she dropped to her hands and knees on the deck, her arms and legs left shaking.

“Willow?” Tara cried, still pressing the white towel to Buffy’s chest. “Will, are you all right? Where’s Xander?”

“I’m okay, baby.” Willow lied. She could feel herself weakening; the call of the dark powers throughout Sunnydale was becoming stronger. “Xander is calling 911, but we won’t need them.”

“We needed them five minutes ago,” Tara replied. “I don’t know how much longer she can hold on.”

“It’ll be all right, Tara,” Willow promised. She struggled to her feet and tottered toward her true love, toward her fallen friend. “I can help her.”

“Willow, no,” Tara protested. Her lover’s eyes were strange, like mother-of-pearl swirled with ink, black as pitch. “You can’t use dark magic, not even for this. Buffy wouldn’t want you to do this to yourself. I don’t want you to do this to yourself.”

“She’s dying, Tara. I have to help her.” She dropped to her knees next to Tara and laid her hands on top of her beloved’s, adding her pressure to help staunch Buffy’s loss of blood. She wanted to explain that she wouldn’t pull from dark magics, that she was fighting it, but couldn't find the words. “I promised that I would undo all the wrongs that I did—” Willow paused, she could feel her pulse quicken with shame and fear. “That I did after you died.”

“Willow—”

“I hurt so many people, Tara.” Willow whispered, crying again. She was amazed she had tears left to weep. “Please, I have to save Buffy.” Willow looked into her lover’s eyes expecting Tara to flinch, or to look away like Xander had, but Tara’s beautiful steely-blue gaze was unflinching.

“You can’t save her like this, Willow.”

“I saved her before,” Willow insisted. “I can do it again. I can suppress the darkness.”

Tara took her lover’s hand and pressed it against her chest. “I’m here, let me help you. Together, we can save her, the light can save her.” Her face was perfect, impassive, but a tear slipped down her cheek.

Willow just stared at Tara for a moment, but then, to Tara’s great relief, the ebony and pearl faded from her lover’s eyes. Willow was flooded by the warmth and love she could feel pulsing through Tara’s touch. The darkness within her retreated, but she could feel it lurking, waiting for her weakness, for her wrath.

“I know we can,” Willow whispered in reply. “I love you, Tara Maclay.”

“And I love you, Willow Rosenberg.”

Willow looked into her lover’s eyes, allowed herself just an instant to rejoice that they were together again. “Tara, how are we going to cast this?” She asked softly. “I don’t have anything here, no more safety net, remember?”

She nodded. “I remember. We just need one thing Will; I hope you kept it. The doll’s eye crystal.”

Willow’s eyes widened, there was a hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth. “Of course I kept it, it was your grandmother’s. And the first gift you ever gave me.” Her ghost of a smile faltered, leaving behind a look of guilt and sadness.

My poor Willow, Tara thought, we’ll make this better, baby.

“Tara,” Willow continued. “I don’t know where it is. I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t be tempted to use it, so I asked Buffy to hide it.

Tara closed her eyes. The slayer knew so many parts of the city, little nooks, crannies and crypts, spaces that no other human would stray into. The stone could be anywhere, and every second they waited to cast the spell brought Buffy closer to death. Tara felt Willow’s hand squeeze hers and Tara opened her eyes.

“It’s in the house somewhere, baby. I asked Buffy to hide it here so—” she paused, and Tara could see her deciding whether or not to go on. “So I could have something of you near me.”

Sadness for her lover’s pain and regret for the time they spent apart warred with her gratitude that Willow had been strong enough to ask that the crystal be kept close by, but safe from her temptation.

“We’ll find it, Willow,” Tara replied, brushing her thumb over Willow’s knuckles. “Xander,” she called. There was no movement in the house. “Xander!” She cried again, this time Willow added her voice to the call.

Xander came running out of the kitchen, still pale. “The ambulance isn’t here yet,” he said, wringing his hands. “Is she—”

“She’s unconscious, but she’s alive,” Tara said. “We’re going to help her Xander, but first I need you to help me.”

He crept cautiously across the yard and then sat back on his heels between the young witches.

“What can I do?” Xander whispered.

“I need you to find something for me, something that you probably won’t be able to see.”

Xander’s brow crinkled with confusion. “Tara, I have to admit, I don’t get it.”

“It’s okay, you don’t have to. Just trust me. I’m going to bless your eyes, so you can find what we need.” She paused, trying to smile at him to calm his fears. “Come here,” she said.

Xander leaned closer to Tara and she shifted toward him too, until their faces were inches apart.

“Close your eyes,” she whispered.

Xander closed his eyes as he’d been told, and Tara placed a soft, feather-light kiss on each of his eyelids.

“Aradia, make the blinded see, send a path, guide to our key. Blessed be his sight, so we implore, obeisance to you evermore.”

“Hey,” Willow said softly. “Nobody said anything about my girlfriend kissing my best friend.”

Tara nodded at Willow, moved by her attempt to find laughter even in such a dark moment. “Willow, it was just eyelids,” she teased.

“But look at his face,” she pouted.

Xander was staring around the yard with a goofy grin plastered to his face. “Well you do have impressively soft lips, Tara,” he joked.

“Hey!” Willow cried again.

“Easy, Will. I’m smiling because it worked. There’s some kind of green squiggly smoke thing going into the house.”

“Follow it Xander,” Tara said firmly. “And hurry, she’s almost out of time.”

Xander nodded and fled into the house.

“Hold on, Buffy,” Willow murmured. A tear dripped down her chin onto the pink stain spreading across the white towel pressed to her best friend’s chest. “Just a little while longer.”

Xander ran back into the Summers’ kitchen and swore beneath his breath. The path that was so clear outside was less distinct here, fragmented in several directions. He took the stairs down into the basement only to find that the path curled back in upon itself. He followed the trail back up into the kitchen and then moved into the living room. He could see the path wind around a few pieces of furniture, but then it went upstairs.

Xander moved up the staircase in a sprint, taking two steps at a time, and then followed the path down the hall into Buffy’s room. He knew immediately that he’d found the right place, finally. Buffy’s whole bed had a green haze around it. Xander felt tears welling in his eyes as he realized that the trail he’d followed must’ve been Buffy wandering all over the house trying to find the safest place for the crystal, the final decision, of course, had been where she could guard it.

“Oh Buff,” Xander whispered.

The glow was brightest around the bottom of the bed, so Xander dropped to his stomach. When he lifted the bedspread to look underneath he saw a small box. He pulled it out into the light. The box was glowing green. The object he needed was in a plain cardboard box that had the word WISHES written across it in Buffy’s slanted script.

“Hopefully me helping to save your life will override me going through your stuff,” Xander murmured as he opened the box. “Otherwise Xander is going to be a very broken boy.”

As soon as Xander saw the contents of the box a sob rocked his frame. The box was full of pictures of her family, when they were happy. Giles, waving. Joyce, with her arms around Buffy and Dawn. Willow and Tara looking adoringly at one another, oblivious to the bustle of the Magic Box all around them. Anya, dozing off in Xander’s lap on one of the rare Scooby movie nights.

There was a message on the inside of the box lid, a hope that Buffy had sent out to the universe: Let my family find their way back to each other, to their happiness again. Let us remember those we’ve lost with love, and live on together. Nestled in the middle of the pictures was a large rose-colored crystal, surrounded by a green glow.

Xander was still crying when he made his way back downstairs with the crystal in hand, out to where Tara and Willow were waiting for him so they could save Buffy’s life.

We’ll make it right, Buff. Xander thought as he handed the crystal to Tara without a word. Willow and Tara found their way back to each other, the rest of us can be happy too.

“Are you ready?” Tara asked.

Willow nodded, but Tara could see the exhaustion in her face. She was so pale; the shadows under her eyes were dark as bruises.

“Xander, we’ll need you to keep the pressure on the wound while we cast,”

Tara’s voice shook a bit as she spoke. The sun was so bright, and she could hear birds singing. It didn’t seem like such beauty and such pain should be able to exist in the same world.

“But when I tell you,” she continued. “You have to move the towel. Understand?”

“Yes.” Xander nodded, staring down at where their hands held the towel against Buffy’s chest. Yes.”

Tara and Willow lifted their hands from the towel and Xander was right there, reaching in to staunch the blood flow. Tara pressed Willow’s hands against the crystal and then covered Willow’s hands with her own.

“Together, Will, okay?” Tara sent thoughts of joy and love through her warm touch. She was happy to see a bit of color return to Willow’s cheeks.

“Okay, Tara.” Her voice was a weak whisper, but she still found a smile for her love.

“Per vox dea,” Tara said, Willow’s voice a softer, higher echo. “Per lux lucis orbis terrarum quod divum, permissum mulier existo vigoratus.” By the power of the goddess, by the light of the earth and sky, let this woman be healed. They repeated the chant over Buffy’s body three times, felt the crystal glowing warm under their hands. Willow could feel the frayed edges where her essence held a fragile connection to the earth, struggling against the darkness at her core. The world swam in and out of focus.

“Magnes, duco sicco!” Tara and Willow called out together as the crystal burned hot beneath their hands. Magnet, draw it out. “Move it now Xander,” Tara cried.

He pulled the towel away and watch blood pool up from the wound on Buffy’s chest. The crystal was white in Tara and Willow’s hands. Blood welled again as Buffy took a breath, and then a tiny wad of metal slid from her flesh and moved slowly through the air, up toward the crystal.

Xander grabbed the bullet as it floated past his face. “It’s so small,” he murmured.

Willow’s head snapped up, startled to hear the words she’d spoken in another life echoed from his lips.

“Willow,” Tara murmured, gently guiding her lover back to their casting.

“Per vox o tre, matris, virgo, altus, permissum tre vicis tre dies curatio obduco.” By the power of three, maiden, mother, and crone, let three times three days healing pass here. Again the spell was spoken three times. On the third round of the chant the crystal turned to liquid in their hands, sliding down into the wound on Buffy’s chest. As it moved to fill the hole the bullet had torn in the slayer, blood was drawn back into Buffy’s body, staining the clear fluid pink. The last traces of blood disappeared from her skin and all that was left behind was an angry puckered circle, purple-red, just above her breast. Buffy took in a great gasping breath.

“Nine days of slayer healing,” Willow murmured happily. She looked at Tara and squeezed her hands gently. “Thank you, Tara, for saving her.”

Before Tara could reply, Willow’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and she went limp. Tara’s firm grip was the only thing that kept her from hitting her head on the ground.

“Willow, no!” Tara moaned, pulling her lover to her. Willow was so light, so cold. The bones of her face stood out in sharp relief under her skin. “Will,” Tara said, barely audible above wind moving through the trees. “Please baby, wake up. Come back to me.” She pressed her lips against Willow’s forehead. “I love you, always, no matter what. Just wake up, and I’ll take care of everything. I promise.”

“What’s wrong?” Buffy groaned, stirring on the ground. “Tara, what’s happening?”

“Buffy!” Xander pulled the slayer upright into a gentle embrace. “Thank you, god. You okay?”

“Besides feeling like a rhino tried to cuddle me and gored me with his horn,” Buffy groaned, rubbing her aching chest. “What happened? What’s wrong with Will?”

“Warren shot you, Buff,” Xander replied. His voice was low, solemn. “Will and Tara saved you.” He opened his hand and Buffy took the bullet fragment between her thumb and forefinger.

“Jesus,” she whispered. “Thank you, Tara, thank you.” Buffy’s brow furrowed, watching Willow curled against Tara’s chest. Her face was slack, her breathing quick and shallow. “So is this, is this my fault?” She took Willow’s hand and gasped, it was ice-cold.

“N-no,” Tara replied. She pulled Willow closer. “It was a powerful light-based spell and—” Tara’s voice broke and she started to cry silently. She pressed her forehead to Willow’s murmuring, “Wake up baby, wake up,” over and over.

“She’s sick, Buff,” Xander said. “Tara says she’s sick.”

Tara didn’t look up at them; she just stroked her lover’s face.

“She is sick, right?” Xander asked again, growing more insistent. “That’s why she went all scary floating weird-eyes Willow?”

“Tara?” Buffy asked gently, laying her hand on the blonde witch’s arm.

She looked up at Buffy and Xander, her eyes filled with tears, her face haunted in a way Buffy hadn’t seen since they day they helped to free her from her abusive father and brother.

“S-something ha-ha-happened,” Tara stammered, giving a little sob. “W-Willow, she, she s-said—” Tara shook her head; tears were streaming down her face.

Buffy reached down and took Tara by the hand. “Tara, it’s all right. We won’t let anything happen to Will. Take a breath, and try again.”

Tara nodded once, taking a long inhale, and then slowly letting it out. “When w-we woke up this morning,” she said, staring down at Willow. “Will was acting odd, a little c-confused.”

Xander opened his mouth to ask another question but Buffy shook her head, she could see that Tara was trembling, tears still welling in her eyes. They had to find out what happened before she broke down completely.

“She seemed shocked to find me next to her. At first I thought it was b-b-b,” Tara sighed and a tear slipped down her cheek.

“Because,” Buffy said quietly.

Tara nodded, “Of, the t-time we were apart. But then, when I s-suggested we get up for breakfast, she got, r-really hysterical. Just c-crying and crying. S-she, she wouldn’t tell me what was w-wrong,” Tara said earnestly, looking up at Xander and Buffy. “B-but she promised s-she would explain when she c-calmed down.” Tara reached down a stroked a lock of hair from Willow’s face. “That’s was w-w-when W-Warren shot at you, one of the shots smashed our window.”

“Oh God,” Buffy said, “But neither of you—”

“It h-hit the wall, by the door,” Tara replied. Her face was pale and her lower lip trembled. “But there was this terrible burning in my chest.”

“Did you get hit by shrapnel?” Xander asked.

Tara smiled weakly at Xander’s holdover soldier memories. “There’s not a s-scratch on me. But W-Willow was so scared.” Tara paused. “S-she knew that bullet was going to come in the w-window. She s-saved me from getting shot.”

“But Tara,” Buffy asked, “How did she know?”

Xander sighed and rubbed his hand on Buffy’s back. “She’s relapsing Buff. That’s what you meant, isn’t it Tara? She’s sick. She’s using again.”

“No,” Tara insisted. “S-she’s not. I’m n-n-not, I’m not explaining it r-r-right.”

“Breathe, Tara” Buffy reminded her.

Tara nodded, tears spilling down her cheeks. She watched them, her sky blue eyes gone gray. “I died.”

The words slipped out of her so easily, just as they’d repeated in her mind. Buffy and Xander stared, mouths open, eyes wide.

“I died, but now I'm back. Willow saved me.”

The wind kicked up around them, set the leaves rustling in the trees, the branches creaking. Tara could feel grass tickling against her ankle, teased by the wind. The earth hummed through her bones, and she sent all it had to give her into Willow, praying that her love would wake up, like a princess in a fairytale. That all would be made well.

“Willow,” Buffy began. Tara could see the fear and doubt blooming in the young slayer’s face.

“It w-wasn’t dark magic,” Tara said, rocking Willow gently.

“Then how?” Xander asked.

“Willow told me about a rite, a wish, she c-called it Ter Sis Animi. It brought her b-back, so she could save me.”

“Brought her back?” Buffy’s brow was furrowed.

“Three years,” Tara murmured, staring down at Willow. She was so pale. “I was d-dead for three years.”

The confusion was so clear in their faces. Tara told them what she’d seen in Willow’s mind, the vision of her own mother, of Willow holding her body and weeping.

“She couldn’t tell me much,” Tara whispered, fighting and failing to hold back a sob. “She was in such pain. All I know is, to bring me back, Willow agreed to pay a price. To repay the debt of the things she did…after I died. And I’m s-so afraid.”

Tara began to weep, a high, keening sound of grief that broke Buffy and Xander’s hearts. They looked at each other solemnly; it was only too easy to imagine the kind of havoc Willow would’ve wreaked if anything happened to Tara.

“I’m so afraid,” Tara gasped. “That I’ll lose her, it’s too h-high a price,” she sobbed. “Too high. I don’t want to live if she dies.”

Buffy rubbed Tara’s back softly with her free hand. “We won’t let that happen. We just have to find out more about this Terror Sis Anime thing, so we can help her.”

“Ter Sis Animi, Buff,” Xander murmured.

“Right, that. Tara,” Buffy said, squeezing her friend’s hand gently until the girl met her eyes. “We’ll help her. It’ll be okay.”

“T-thank you.”

“We should take her to the Magic Box,” Xander said, standing. “There’s bound to be some information on this thing in some of Giles’ books.”

Tara nodded.

“Let’s get her to the car,” Buffy said softly.

Tara allowed the slayer to lift Willow out of her arms, but kept her lover’s hand held tightly in her own. Stay with me. She thought to Willow. Please. Even unconscious, Tara could feel waves of fear coming from her soul mate. Tara sent waves of calm to her, of peace. Tara didn’t, couldn’t understand that Willow’s fear was rising because she could hear them, because she knew that they were taking her to the Magic Box, one of the strongest sources of dark magic in Sunnydale.

_________________
Wave ... The Wish of Three Hearts
The Yuletide Present ... In From the Cold

"We're in love. We're lovers. We're lesbian, gay-type lovers."


Last edited by LonelyTara on Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:40 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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great update. This just draws me in. Can't wait for the next update.
:-D

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:17 pm 
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At least they don't have to take her to the school library... which I imagine would cause much more harm than good! This was so intense! Glad you posted early :P

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:33 am 
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Staggeringly powerful update. (Hope nobody gets arrested for turning in a false alarm...or failing to report a gunshot..or, well....)

I can see definite angst settling in for the very long term. (side note: Is Willow going to recover in time to prevent some other bad Off-Topic things? I mean, most of them have a good safety margin but Cordelia not so much. *grin)

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:06 am 
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I just wanted to take a sec and thank everyone who has been reading. It really does a lot to keep me motivated to write, particularly the kind feedback I've been getting from everyone.

I'm hard at work, writing away, and so my next update will happen by Friday, maybe early again if I just can't wait. :)

Hidden In You1023—I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

leonhart17—LOL, yeah, thank goodness no SDH library…yet! Thanks so much for taking the time to post here and FF.net, you're so sweet!

DaddyCatALSO—Thank you for the kind words. I'm working hard, it’s great to know you’re enjoying the fic! The cops are used to weird goings-on in Sunnydale, they’ll just be relieved ;) As for what Willow will and won’t be able to prevent, you’ll have to wait and see. Good question though!


:wtkiss

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Wave ... The Wish of Three Hearts
The Yuletide Present ... In From the Cold

"We're in love. We're lovers. We're lesbian, gay-type lovers."


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts (Updated 7/31)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:13 pm 
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• Title - The Wish of Three Hearts
• Author name – LonelyTara
• Email Address - 9kodama@gmail.com
• Rating - PG-13, eventually R
• Disclaimer - While filled with plenty of angst, tension, and grief, please know this will be a happy fic in the end. Not just because of the rules, but because I love W/T too much to mess a great thing up! Oh, and all this belongs to Joss Whedon et al, I'm just borrowing, please don't sue.
• Feedback-Please, please!
• Summary- Wave is an AU post season 7. It's been three years since Tara's death. Willow travels to the canyon that was once Sunnydale California to celebrate her lost love's birthday. Willow makes a wish, and everything changes...
• Notes-Thanks to everyone who will read. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all associated characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Fox, and many other powerful entities. I am just a visitor in this world—please don’t sue me. Some dialogue in this episode belongs to the writers of S6E20 Villains. Oh, and sorry for the late post, I missed Friday by like ten minutes. :blush



Chapter Four

Warren Mears strolled into the demon bar on 4th feeling like king of the universe. Warren one, slayer absolute zero, he chuckled to himself. He felt jittery with energy, like his skin was two sizes too small and he was going to burst out of it, free and clear like a snake shedding, casting off the old and worn to reveal something new, something bright and wonderful.

The bar was cool and dark so he pulled off his sunglasses, sauntering past vampires and demons in a half dozen different horrific varieties.

“Whiskey, straight up!” He cried, throwing his arms out. “And get a round for the house, I’m feeling expansive!” What’s a little money when I can just steal more? No slayer to stop me… He gave a gleeful little chuckle.

Warren slid onto a barstool next to a vamp watching television with hungry intent. He took a quick glance and repressed a little shudder. Some crocodile was gnawing away at a gazelle, breaking off hunks of meat, staining the water around it pink. Warren took a sip of his whiskey to distract him from the nauseating sight. His leg hopped as his foot bounced up and down on the crossbar of the barstool.

“Hey,” Warren said, leaning in towards the vampire. “I bet you don’t get a lot of humans in—”

Warren froze, swallowing thickly as the vampire reached out with lightning speed to grab his shoulder. He resisted the urge to wince at the painful pressure from the vampire’s hand.

“I’m watching my program,” the vampire said slowly, locking his yellow eyes on Warren.

Warren had a sudden thought that he knew what the gazelle felt like when the crocodile popped out of the river. He shrugged the thought aside as soon as it occurred, letting his eyes travel over the bar again. Vampires, demons, trolls, gods, none of them had been able to kill the slayer, kill her and keep her down. Only he, only Warren Mears, had been able to get the job done.

“Wouldn’t want to interrupt your me time,” Warren breezed, smiling, knocking back his whiskey. “Not even to buy the guy who killed the slayer a drink.” He spoke the last words at the top of his lungs, grinning. Let this vamp find out who he was messing with.

The bar fell silent. Warren could feel every eye in the house on him. The croc-loving vampire turned toward him at a glacial pace. “What’s that?” There was an edge in the vamp’s voice that made him break out in gooseflesh. He didn’t know if he was terrified or thrilled. Maybe both.

“Took her out myself. I’ve been heading an organization. The Trio?” Warren smiled. “You’ve heard of us.” And now we’ll go down in history, I’ll go down in history. Slayer-killer.

The vampire’s eyes narrowed. It took a moment, with the forehead issue and all, for Warren to realize it was confusion. The vampire locked eyes with the bartender and then looked back at Warren. “Uh, no.”

Warren felt a brief flare of disappointment that crumbled into smoldering anger. They didn’t know about the Trio. Fine. It didn’t matter. It was all about him, it was all Warren Mears now, baby.

“Not important,” Warren said, forcing a laugh. “I cut them loose. I figure, now that Buffy’s out of the picture, some things have got to change around here.”

The vampire was still just staring at him with those disconcerting eyes, so Warren shifted his gaze to the bartender, widening his smile. “I need a real gang, you know, not a, not a couple of wannabes.” He liked looking at the bartender. The bartender made him feel handsome. I thought I had skin issues, he thought, barely holding in a chuckle.

“And you killed the slayer?” The bartender drawled. His voice was like someone crunching a handful of gravel.

“With these hands,” Warren said, taking another sip of his drink. There was movement in his peripheral vision. He took a quick glance around the bar and saw some of the patrons were standing, craning to get a better look at him. Some were even moving closer to the counter.

“What are you, a warlock?” The bartender asked.

Warren did laugh this time, long and loud. “It’s funny you mention that. You know, I’ve explored all the dark arts—witchcraft, demonology. You name, I tried it against the slayer. But you know what I found really works?

Pause for effect, Warren thought. “Gun,” he purred.

“You killed the slayer with a gun?” The vampire next to him asked. Warren looked at croc-lover and saw the vampire’s face spread in a wide, toothy smile.

“In her own backyard,” Warren agreed. “Don’t underestimate science, my friend. Good, old-fashioned metal meets propulsion.” He smacked his hands together and started to laugh.

“Holy shit,” the bartender drawled. “Take your money back.” He shoved Warren’s bills back across the counter. “Drinks are on me,” the demon roared. “The slayer’s dead!”

The bar broke into a riot of cheers, growls, and ear-splitting shrieks. Warren found himself buffeted on every side by demons swarming up to the bar for their free drinks, a few taking the time to pat him on the back. Each hand, claw, and thing that hit him felt like it would leave a bruise, but he didn’t care. These were his people. Well, not people. The bartender gave him a drink, then his vampire neighbor at the bar. Some tentacley fellow bought him a double. Pretty soon he was feeling a buzz that him humming.

“Let’s watch Baywatch!” Warren cried. The crocodiles disappeared, replaced with a static-blurred beach scene covered with sunbathing beauties. “That’s more like it!” He tossed back another drink.

“Hot blond running!” A demon called from the back of the bar. Catcalls and whistles rang throughout the place.

Warren was enjoying the show and yet another whiskey when the bell over the door rang. He didn’t pay it any mind until his barstool was nearly knocked out from under him by a scrawny kid with curly, mousy hair and huge, thick glasses.

“Hey, watch it,” Warren snarled. He reached out to push the newcomer, only to find the croc-loving vamp holding his arm.

“I wouldn’t buddy,” the vampire said. “He’s a Slod demon. He might decide you’ve got some rare organs he wants for his collection.”

“Gus,” the kid panted, waving down the bartender. “I’ve got an update for the pool.”

“Too late kid, we already know the slayer’s dead.” The bartender laughed. “Have a drink, relax, we’ll update the bets tonight.” He pushed a glass of milky blue liquid toward the Slod demon. “You didn’t have money riding on that one did you? Hell of a long shot.”

“Gus,” the kid repeated. He grabbed his drink and emptied it with one toss. When he spoke again pale blue smoke rolled out of his mouth. “The slayer isn’t dead.”

Warren froze, whiskey glass half way to his mouth. He kept his eyes locked on the television. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. But if it was—

“What?” The bartender asked in a growl. No one in the bar was making a sound now. The television sounded tinny and strange, warped.

The Slod kid nodded his head, setting his dishwater curls bouncing crazily. “I heard some normal tried to shoot the slayer, but it didn’t take, as if it would.” He laughed, long and high and shrill, sending a huge curl of smoke into the air. “And the best part? Her pet witches saved her! Time to update the pool, Gus. I just won big!”

“Hold him,” the bartender told the croc-loving vamp.

At first Warren felt a flash of relief, expecting to see the Slod kid seized, but it only lasted for an instant as he gasped at the burning pressure of the vampire gripping his upper arm.

“Hey,” Warren began. The vampire shook him so hard his teeth clacked together.

“Shut up, normal.”

“I’m shutting up,” Warren babbled, holding up his hands in surrender.

The bartender turned to the paneled wall behind him and muttered a single word in some demonic tongue, waving his hand in front of the dark wood. As his gesture ended, the wall dissolved, leaving behind a chalkboard covered in phosphorescent green chalk scrawls. The demon waved his hand again and the text began to scroll upwards, line after line of it, until Warren saw a block labeled Slayer Death. There were a hundred deaths listed, from choking to vamp bite to being hit by a bus.
There were two places where lines had been drawn through a death in a deep purple-red streak: death by drowning and death by god. At the very bottom of the list was death by gun.

“You better hope this is a waste of my blood,” the bartender said, looking over his shoulder at Warren.

“I don’t know what that means,” Warren whined, crying out as the vampire tightened his grip, shaking him again.

“I told you, shut up. Won’t tell you again.”

The bartender watched their exchange with a grim smile, and with no change in expression, reached up and bit the tip off his own index finger. Blood streamed from the wound.

“Let’s see what we have boys,” the bartender called as he chewed. Warren cringed at the sound grind of teeth on bone.

Gus the finger-eating bartender reached out and dragged his stump across the line on the board that read death by gun. The blood left a tarry black smear. Warren could hear demons in the bar behind him muttering and whispering. The demon kid was bouncing up and down as he watched the board, the puffs of smoke from his breath barely visible now.

The new blood on the board began to burn. Warren held his free hand up in front of his face against the flare of light. When it faded, he looked back at the board. The line over death by gun now glowed the same purple-red as the other failed slayer deaths.

“You’re screwed,” the vampire chuckled.

“It didn’t fuckin’ TAKE!” The bartender roared, smashing his hand to the counter.

Feeling a strange sense of detachment that fogged his bladder-weakening terror, Warren noticed that the bartender’s finger had already begun to grow back, a claw-tipped bone emerging slowly from the torn flesh. Demons throughout the bar were screaming out for Warren’s death. It didn’t take, Warren thought. It didn’t take…

“Everybody shut up!” The bartender screamed. The patrons fell silent again, the air in the room left heavy with unspoken anger. You’re a dead man,” the bartender told Warren. “But not until you earn back some of the money you cost me tonight. We’re taking a new bet, boys!”

The bartender waved his arm and the text on the board scrolled until bare black was revealed. Another gesture of his hand and text began to burn green across the space. It read Slayer Kills Normal.

“All right, I’m taking times, bets are for cash or kittens, no swap-out,” the bartender told the watching crowd. “How long till the slayer squashes this bug?”

Warren watched demons betting his life away. Some gave him minutes, some gave him days, and some took riskier bets by including how the slayer would kill him. The little Slod demon that’d ruined his life, spoiled his victory, bet that Buffy would use the witches to do him in. Demon after demon jumped on the Slod bet. The witches. The witches. The slayer and her damned witches. It was all their fault.

“Nobody touches him,” the bartender called out to his patrons, eyeballing every grumbling demon until the place was silent as the grave. “Nobody touches him except the slayer. I find out that anybody went after him because they lost cash on that gun bet and they’ll have me to deal with.”

“Good news for you, kid,” the croc-loving vampire growled, teeth inches from Warren’s face. “I was gonna drain you dry for making me watch Baywatch, but now you’re safe.” The vampire laughed, sending a wave of hot breath at him. Warren gagged at the smell of old, rotten meat. “Till the slayer and her witches find you.”

The vampire pushed Warren off his barstool and he couldn’t catch himself, he landed painfully on the bare cement floor. He pulled himself to his feet under the baleful gaze of the bartender, saw the Slod kid smirking at him.

“We’ll just see about that,” Warren said. But his squeaking bravado sounded hollow, even to him.

Warren ran for the door, waiting to feel a claw or a knife in the back, but it never came. He went outside and scrambled up the steps into the daylight, panting for breath. The light was stinging his eyes so he pulled out his sunglasses, only to find the lenses were cracked, frame bent by his unceremonious shove to the floor. Warren felt a little burst of anger at the loss of the expensive glasses and then laughed as a wave of nausea clenched his stomach. Now wasn’t the time to be worried about a stupid pair of sunglasses. Buffy wasn’t dead. Buffy and her witches would be looking for him.

“Three to one,” Warren muttered. “It’s time to even those odds.”

* * *

Willow woke to the hum of tires on asphalt. She felt the darkness boiling in her belly and grief lanced through her. She knew what she would see when she opened her eyes—the vast expanse of desert, pale sand, and the bleached green of life struggling to exist in a desiccated, lonely land. The sky would be fading to lavender on the horizon. They were driving, hunting Warren. I'm hunting Warren, because I’m a killer. How could Tara ever love a killer? It didn’t matter of course, because if she opened her eyes and saw that desert, it meant that her Tara was still gone…

When Willow opened her eyes and saw the streets of Sunnydale rolling past the window, looked down and saw the arms of her lover wrapped around her, she couldn’t hold in the sob that rose in her throat. Relief warred with the darkness.

“Willow?” Tara’s voice was shaking, so worried, but the sound of it made Willow’s heart sing. “Are you awake baby?”

“Tara,” Willow croaked, rolling her head back so she could look up into that beautiful face, those bright eyes. “Hi.”

“Hi baby,” Tara whispered, her crooked smile seeming out of place with the tears streaming down her cheeks. “Guys, she’s awake.”

“Hey Wills.” She could just see the back of Xander’s head over the driver’s seat, the white-knuckled grip where his hand clutched the steering wheel.

“Welcome back, Will.” Buffy said, turning to face them.

“Buffy,” Willow whispered. “You okay?” Tara grieved the hesitance and fear she could hear in her lover’s voice.

Buffy smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Don’t be worried about me, silly. You’re the one who’s been out for almost an hour.

“Yeah, no more sleeping on the job,” Xander quipped. He was trying to sound light-hearted, but Willow could hear the tension in his voice, the anxiety.

“Xander!” Buffy said, sounding stern.

“Kidding,” Xander replied hurriedly.

“S’okay,” Willow said, wincing at the raw needles of pain in her throat. “Don’t fight.” Willow closed her eyes again against the tears she could feel brimming. Tara and Buffy, both so pale, so strained.

“They’re not fighting,” Tara soothed, brushing her hands over Willow’s hair. “They’re just worried about you, baby. We’re all worried about you.”

Still causing them pain, Willow thought. The sorrow of it dropped like a stone into the seething mass of her belly. She felt a tear fall.

“Shush,” Tara said, rocking Willow now. “It’s all right.”

Willow shook her head. She was so tired. Every inch of her body ached; she could swear the throbbing even wound through her hair. Xander took a corner a little too sharply; there was a hint of a squeal from the tires. Willow slid on the seat, but didn’t mind, it pushed her closer to Tara. She shifted her head to lie pillowed on her love’s chest, listened to the soothing sound of her heartbeat. It was fast, but steady, strong. She smiled when Tara gave her a gentle squeeze.

“Love you,” Tara murmured, pressing her lips to Willow’s hair.

“Love you, so much,” Willow replied, looking up into Tara’s eyes.

Xander took the car around another sharp bend and Buffy muttered something to him about never being able to joke about her driving skills again. Willow shook with a little chuckle at the hint of normalcy and a delighted smile spread across Tara’s face.

“There’s my happy girl,” Tara said. Her stomach fought between fluttering and clenching as Willow smiled up at her. It was wonderful to see that smile, but Willow was so ashen, looked so frail.

“We’re almost there,” Xander announced.

As soon as he spoke the words, Willow felt the dark power inside her, moving, straining, imagined it like a hyena rising up off the savannah, testing the air, scenting a kill. No, she thought. Oh please, no. Xander, he told them to take me to the Magic Box. They’re taking me to the Magic Box.

Tara watched the smile vanish from Willow’s face, but she was still shaking. “Baby?”

“Don’t—” Willow whispered, and her eyes began to change, pupils widening, growing until the green of her iris disappeared all together.

Willow bucked in Tara’s arms, hand clenching as her arms and legs went rigid. The whites of her eyes began to glow, shift opalescent. She felt like she was being stretched, pulled thin as paper, and soon she would tear apart.

“No,” Willow said between gritted teeth, shaking harder and harder.

“Buffy!” Tara cried. Willow began to seize, jerking in her arms.

The slayer took one look at the situation in the back seat and unbuckled her seatbelt, slipping back to help Tara told the thrashing redhead.

“Hurry up, Xander!” Buffy said, wrapping her arms around Willow’s legs.

“Oh god,” Xander groaned, watching from the rearview mirror. The jeep jumped forward as he hit the accelerator.

“Willow,” Tara begged. “Stay with me, please.”

The love of her life seized two more times; writhing so fiercely that she almost pulled her legs free from Buffy’s grip. And then her eyes closed, and her breath rattled in her chest. Tara stared down at her frozen. She heard Buffy speak, but had no idea what the slayer was saying. Willow was so still, so small.

“Tara,” Buffy said, reaching out and shaking the blonde witch. Tara pulled her gaze away from Willow and looked at Buffy open-mouthed. “Is she breathing?”

“Buffy?” Tara asked, her voice shaking. It was like the slayer was whispering to her from the other side of the world.

“Is she breathing?” Buffy repeated urgently.

Tara leaned over Willow’s face, fighting the urge to retch. She saw a lock of her own blonde hair brushing over her lover’s cheek, but Willow didn’t move, didn’t respond in any way. Oh goddess, oh goddess no. She could feel a scream building in her chest. And then it happened. It was so soft, and so cool, that Tara thought she was imagining it. Several long, long seconds passed, and there it was again. A breath. Tara moved a shaking hand up to Willow’s throat and felt a pulse, fast and thready, pounding beneath her fingertips.

“She’s b-breathing,” Tara said with a shaking laugh. “She’s alive.”

“Okay,” Buffy murmured, squeezing Willow’s legs gently. “Okay.”

Tara could hear Xander let out a long, rattling breath in the front seat, knew that his face was just as tear-streaked as her own, as Buffy’s. The car rolled to a stop.

“We’re here,” Xander murmured, and his voice was thick with tears.

Tara pulled Willow into her lap and reached for the door handle, but stopped when she felt the slayer’s warm hand on her leg.

“Wait,” Buffy said softly. “Let me check first, okay?”

“I d-don’t—”

“Warren,” Xander said, turning in his seat to face them. “Oh man, Warren is still on the loose out here somewhere. What are we going to do about him?”

His face was twisted, red. Tara didn’t think she’d ever seen the gentle man so angry. So scared, Tara realized. She looked from Xander to Buffy, saw how numb and worn the slayer looked. Shock. Terror. With everything they’d seen, everything they’d been through, nothing had ever rocked them as much as seeing Willow like this, seeing her so broken. Tara bit her lip, felt the copper tang of blood on her tongue. There wasn’t time for tears. She had to take care of her girl. I’ll take care of you, Willow. Tara thought at her love. I’ll keep everybody safe, somehow.

“I don’t care about Warren,” Tara said firmly. “We have to take care of Willow. Let Mears take care of himself.”

Buffy blinked and nodded her head, flashing Tara a weak smile. “I just need to make sure the coast is clear. Xander, you take Willow. Tara, you follow them and I’ll take the rear okay? Let’s just get everybody in there safe and sound.”

Xander opened his door and rolled out of the car, crouching as he walked toward their door. At the same time Buffy hopped out her door, closing it gently as she darted to the sidewalk to check the street. Before Xander had time to put his hand on the handle of Tara’s door, Buffy was already moving back into the alley, checking for threats. She came back to the car as Xander opened the door, sliding Willow gently from Tara’s lap. It took everything in the blonde to let him lift Willow away. Again, Tara thought bitterly, thinking of the night of Buffy’s resurrection. She wanted to hold on to Willow’s hand, keep in contact so her lover would know she was there, but didn’t want to risk impeding Xander’s movements.

“Okay, let’s go,” Buffy murmured.

Xander ran toward the magic box, clutching Willow to his chest. Tara followed behind him at a jog, crouching down when she felt the gentle pressure of Buffy’s hand on the back of her head. They reached the door of the Magic Box and Xander twisted to reach the knob, kicking the door open the rest of the way. Tara was right behind him, she stepped into the shop and Buffy slipped in right after her, throwing the bolt and the chain on the door. Tara heard the click of heels on the tile floor, the panel in the counter flipping up.

“Oh no, I was right,” Anya said. “I’m so sorry I was right. I’m mean, it happens a lot,” she said mournfully. “But this time I wish I was wrong. I’m really sorry. How did it happen, how did Tara—”

“How did I what?” Tara asked, stepping out from behind Xander.

The ex-vengeance demon’s mouth dropped open and her face went pale. Tara thought for a moment that Anya would faint, but instead she threw out her arms and dashed across the shop, sweeping Tara into a tight embrace.

“Tara,” she said, sounding joyous and tearful. “I'm so glad you’re not dead!”

“Anya,” Tara began, touched by her friend’s happiness and returning the curly bottle-blonde’s hug gently. “I’m sorry you w-were w-worried—”

“Wait,” Anya interrupted, pulling away from her. “What happened to Willow? If you’re all right, what’s with the whole war and summoning Osiris?”

“War?” Buffy asked, walking up to Xander laying a hand on Willow’s head. “What do you mean war?”

“And h-how did you k-know about Osiris?” Tara murmured.

Anya threw her arms into the air and groaned. “There’s a war in Willow, dark and light. It’s tearing her apart.” She stared around at Xander and Buffy and Tara and then rolled her eyes. “Xander I can understand. But you,” she said pointing at Buffy. “Slayer of dark things. And you,” she said, turning to Tara with a frown. “Major powerful Wicca. How can the two of you not feel that?”

To Tara’s amazement, and, she was sure, the amazement of Buffy and Xander as well, Anya walked over and laid a gentle hand against Willow’s forehead, her face crumpled, a moment away from tears.

“It’s okay, Willow.” Anya said softly. “I know that all our friends are stupid. But I’m pretty bright. We’ll get you through this. Now,” she said loudly, stepping away from Willow and putting her hands on her hips. “Can one of you tell me what the hell is going on?”

“Ahn,” Xander said. “We’ll tell you what we know, but maybe I should lay her down somewhere first?”

“Let’s put her on the table in the back,” Buffy said.

Xander took a step in that direction and stopped when he found himself confronted by Anya, barring his path with her arms spread.

“My god, I know you people are stupid, but I didn’t think you were complete and total idiots. War,” she said slowly. “Going on in Willow. We need to keep her away from magic stuff, especially dark magic stuff. Books bad,” she said, pointing back toward the table. “Keep her up here.”

Tara watched the exchange between Anya, Xander, and Buffy without saying a word. Major powerful Wicca, Tara thought. She opened up her senses to the energy swirling around the magic box, gasped when she looked at Willow. The girl’s aura was a wreck. The beautiful ambers and greens that usually glowed around her like light filtering down through forest leaves were nearly completely eclipsed by the same jet that kept filling her eyes. Flares of iridescent white flowed and flared sporadically through the black, like heat lightning. It was Willow, Tara realized, Willow fighting to hold on to herself. She slid Willow’s hand free of Xander’s grasp and held it against her chest, and repeated one thought again and again: I love you Willow, I love you.

Anya looked around the room for a moment, biting her lip. “Yeah, if she has to be here at all, it better be right here. You can lay her here,” Anya said, pointing to the center of the floor between the front door and the counter. She pulled off the black sweater she was wearing and balled it up on the floor.

Tara kept hold of Willow’s hand as Xander walked over to the sweater, lowering herself to the ground as he laid Willow down, using the sweater like a pillow to cushion her head from the hard tile of the floor. Buffy straightened Willow’s legs and pulled off her own jacket, using it to cover Willow’s legs.

“Thanks Buffy,” Tara said gratefully, pressing Willow’s hand against her lips.

“Don’t forget about my sweater,” Anya quipped. “That’s a three hundred and fifty dollar pillow your girl is laying on there.” She bit the tip of her thumb thoughtfully, looking around the shop. “We’ve got to get this stuff away from her. She walked over to the counter and kicked the wood, seemed satisfied by the thunk. “It’s yarrow, it’ll block a lot of the potency of this stuff.” Without any preamble, she swept everything on top of the counter off onto the floor behind it.

“Anya,” Buffy began.

“Don’t just stand there, super-strength,” Anya replied, grabbing an armful of statues from the shelf next to the counter and throwing them over as well. “Pick up some magic stuff and dump it back here, or back there,” she said waving toward the research table. Just get it away from Willow.”

“Anh,” Xander said softly, wincing as another armful of merchandise went crashing behind the counter. “You’re breaking stuff, shouldn’t we be more gentle?”

“This is no time to worry about money or about being gentle, Xander.” She shook her head. “You never knew when to be rough in the sack either. Look,” she said sternly. “This isn’t housework, Xander, because you’re not at home. It’s a shop, so get with the moving.” She lifted an armful of books off the lower shelf and tossed them over, then grabbed a large sculpted metal pentagram and sent it flying across the shop with a clang.

“Oh god,” Xander murmured. Tara watched his eyes dart to Willow and then back to his ex-fiancée. “This is bad. It’s got to be really bad. Anya’s not worried about losing money.”

“Hah hah, I joke at the expense of the newest human,” Anya said, rolling her eyes. “Enough jokes. Just help me, Xander. Besides,” Tara heard Anya murmur as she walked past with another armload of goods. “I’m so billing the watcher’s council for this.”

Buffy paused with an armload of Magic Box merchandise in her arms, poised to throw it over the counter. “Anya, we could just put her in the practice room, no bad magic mojo back there.”

“Sure Buffy,” Anya wheezed, struggling with the weight of a huge amethyst geode she was carrying. She threw it over the counter and sighed at the tinkling sound of glass breaking. “Then she’ll have plenty of weapons to impale and chop us with when she snaps.”

Tara felt a hot wash of anger sweep through her body. She knew the vengeance demon believed in total honesty, that life was too short not to speak your mind, but she’d gone too far.

“Anya,” she said, voice shaking. “Willow would never, ever hurt us.”

Anya turned to Tara with a look of such sorrow, such tender kindness, that it left the blonde shaken. “I hope you’re right,” she said, smiling softly as she chucked a bronze Buddha statue over her shoulder, sending it unerringly behind the counter though she’d never taken a look. “But let’s not test it now, okay?”

* * *

“That guys’ been looking at me,” Jonathan Levinson whispered to his cellmate. “I think he wants to make me his butt monkey.”

Jonathan shifted closer to Andrew, who was nearly lost in the deep shadows already filling their cell though it couldn’t have been past three o’clock.

Andrew sighed, rubbing his hands over his face as he tried not to think about the springs biting into his back through his thin mattress. About how many years, decades he would probably spend lying on the same type of bed. He ran his fingers over his arms again, searching for the telltale sign of a chip, a transponder, anything…

“Don’t flatter yourself,” he told Jonathan with a smirk. “I heard him talking to the guard. He’s in here for parking tickets.”

“That doesn’t mean anything,” Jonathan squeaked, leaning towards Andrew. “The joint changes you. I hear they like the small ones, with little hands, like their girlfriends.”

“Well, it’s a good thing I’m breaking you out of here then, huh my girlie-handed minions?”

Andrew couldn’t believe it. Jonathan was staring over his shoulder toward the window, mouth hanging open. When he turned to see what Jonathan was staring at, a beatific smile spread across Andrew’s face.

“Warren,” he breathed.

“Hey guys, time to go. Unless you’d like to stay?” Warren asked, grinning from the other side of their bars.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:28 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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I'm glad Anya knows what's going on! I love how she's setting the rest of them straight! Hopefully they can wake Willow up soon! And the trio is due for an ass kicking (just a suggestion!)

Great update! Very exciting!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:51 am 
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3. Flaming O

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Score one for Anya :kitty . I get what she's trying to say... 'scuse me, Tare. I'm with Anya on this one. :kgeek Sometimes coddling won't get you anywhere.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:33 am 
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3. Flaming O
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wow...great chapter. go Anya.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:40 am 
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19. Yummy Face
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Yay for great update-y goodness... Big yay for Anya figuring out what's going on inside Willow... I truly hope that Scoobies very soon kick some Trio butt and put Warren out of his misery preferably in a way that prevents Amy from rescuing him...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:04 am 
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4. Extra Flamey
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:sheep One of the best Willow/Tara fics I've read in forever-er! I bouncing up and down in excitement for the next update, which will probably be awhile seeing as you only just updated it *pout* Anyway, the whole plot is very realistic and believeable. I love the stories that bring Tara back but I don't think it should happen without consequences. Loved Anya in the last chapter! Scratch that just love all of them in every chapter.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:23 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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Hoping that Anya's plan will help keep Willow safe and once she gets better she can assist Buffy and the gang in going after Warren. Willow just got Tara back, they have to make it through this.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fiction: The Wish of Three Hearts
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:25 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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I liked the way you stretched out Warren's time in the demon bar. On air, he went straight from blinded by his own conceit to running out panicking; here he had the chance to really learn how insignificant he was.

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