Return to All Our Masks Chapter Nine

All Our Masks

Author: Jacks aka WiccanHandprintz
Rating: PG-13, might change later
Disclaimer: Neither Willow, nor Tara, nor anybody else recognizable from the Buffyverse belong to me. The story itself has a good helping of angst in the beginning and will have some action of both the dangerous weaponry and the gay lovin' kinds.
Feedback: YES, please!

The first time was almost an accident. It had been late, and dark, and the girl had been so eager for something just a little bit naughty. She had practically crawled into the handcuffs, begging him to make it hurt just a bit. Her voice, half-choked by the pressure of his fingers around her throat, had been lined with sex, and he'd been blinded by it. By the time he realized that she'd stopped talking, it was too late; climax was upon him. By the time he realized she'd stopped breathing, too, it hadn't been a major upset. After all, he'd finished with her, hadn't he?

Raimey was eighteen years old when he killed the girl in Washington, her death a muffled, muted ecstasy in the cheap bedroom of a Motel 6.

When he saw how easy it was, and how little it affected him, it was like first grade math. An equation of simple, single-digit life. They always tell you to do what you're good at, don't they?

Now, sitting in a rented maroon Volvo, Raimey reflected back on that night, almost twenty years past. There had been a few other pleasure kills, and then a long string of business hits that had, eventually, gotten him locked up with seven life sentences and a pending death penalty.

And now, with just a little more business out of the way, I can try my hand at the old kill-for-fun game again, he thought, a little smile curving his thin lips. Starting with the Doc, of course. She was always so helpful.

The thought of Willow Rosenberg, with her petite frame and her lush red hair, sent a jolt of ribbony lust through his gut. Raimey remembered the first time they'd met, when he was still... employed. His employer, in fact, had been the one to send him to a psychiatrist; the old bastard hadn't been a fool, and hadn't been one for taking chances, either. He'd seen the way Raimey made his kills, and eventually had laid down an ultimatum: shape up, or disappear. Permanently. So Raimey had made the wise choice, and gone to the address he'd been handed.

For the longest time, ol' Doc R. had thought he was just an accountant from Missouri with obsessive compulsive disorder and a tendency towards mild, controllable social anxiety disorder.

And then, Raimey had decided enough was enough. He'd gone through seven months of therapy, and everyone has their limits.

So that was when he'd taken the Doc back to his nondescript, owned-under-another-name rural South Carolina home, tied her to a birch tree, and set her on fire.

Raimey smiled at the memory, putting aside the fact that it was that incident that had actually gotten him arrested and put away. He had another chance, now. Just find Miss Maclay, and then-

"Do you want a sandwich?"


"A s-sandwich." Willow looked up from her computer, where she'd finally gotten some writing done, to see Tara standing demurely in the doorway, completely decent. It was almost three, Willow realized, and the plate the blond was holding smelled almost ridiculously good. "It's grilled cheese."

"Sure," Willow replied, willing herself not to blush. It was nothing. We're both women. Women see other women shirtless all the time. She stood up, reaching out to take the plate. Sitting back down, she swiveled in her chair to face the computer again. It was rude, yes, but she honestly wasn't sure she could handle a prolonged confrontation with the other woman right then.

There was a pause, and then retreating footsteps.

When the door snicked quietly shut, Willow let out a breath. She was suddenly unsure of whether or not she was relieved at all.

Peeling off her gloves, Willow laid them carefully beside her keyboard. She picked up the grilled cheese sandwich, inhaling once, and then took a bite. She moaned before she could help it, and was then very glad indeed that Tara had left the room. Looking at the sandwich, Willow noted that there were several different shades of melted cheesy delight, and wondered how long the blond had taken in preparing it. Shaking her head, Willow finished the rest of the grilled cheese in a matter of minutes, making sure to lick the grease from her fingertips. There was also a small pile of Saltine crackers on the plate, which made her snort a little. Apparently, Tara couldn't find much in the kitchen to work with. Willow wasn't surprised.

She picked up one of the crackers and ate it, breaking it in two and then swallowing the halves. There was a tearing pain in the bottom of her throat as one of the halves turned sideways and refused to go down; Willow coughed loudly and swallowed again.

"Are you ok?" The voice from behind her was so unexpected that Willow almost choked again, and spun around. Tara stood about two feet from the door, a glass of water in one hand. She must have come in when I coughed the first time, Willow thought rapidly. Then, she saw that Tara wasn't looking at her face at all. Instead, those soft eyes were fixed on a point decidedly lower. There was an instant of mixed indignation and pleasure, when Willow thought she must be staring at her chest, but then those emotions joined forces and turned to unabated horror as she realized that it wasn't her chest at all.

My gloves!

Instantly, Willow snatched at the desk, her bare, scarred hands moving like lightning. She pulled her gloves on harshly, ducking her head so that her hair fell across her face to hide her expression.

"Thank you for the food," she said roughly, smoothing her covered hands across her lap. "Please leave me alone. I have to work."

"Willow..." Sharply, Willow looked up. Her face, she knew, was a mask of self-composure. Tara's, on the other hand, was... somewhat different. "I brought you some water."

The blond walked across the room, holding out the glass. Slowly, without dropping her gaze, Willow reached out and took it. Tara didn't quite let go as soon as Willow touched the glass, however; for a long moment, their fingers lay there side by side. Willow could feel the warmth of Tara's skin through the thin leather of her gloves, and then her breathing was coming just a little bit faster.

"Thank you," she said again, much softer now. Tara let go, her hand dropping to her side. The blond woman paused, her lips barely parted, seeming to be debating something inwardly. Then, with a slight, natural smile, she held out the hand again.

"Do you have a hairb-b-band I could borrow?" It was all Willow could do not to drop her jaw, the question was so out of the blue.

"Um, yes," she answered, after a moment of silence. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a black hairtie and held it out. Tara took it, pulling her honey-colored waterfall into a high ponytail. Picking up the plate, she turned to leave the room.

Willow nearly gasped aloud at the sight of the thin, razor-wire-like scar that threaded across the back of Tara's neck. The wound, whatever it was, had been deep enough to leave a raised white line that was clear and distinct against Tara's skin, despite having been hidden until now by the fall of her hair. Turning her head slightly, Tara shot Willow a shy, but strangely self-assured, smile.

"Funny what comes out when you change just a little," she said, before walking out of the room. Though her voice was quiet and measured, she didn't stutter at all.

And I found this song, which reminds me so much of Willow in this story that I simply HAD to post the lyrics. It's called 'My Skin', by Natalie Merchant.

Take a look at my body; look at my hands...
There's so much here that I don't understand.
Your face says these promises, whispered like prayers...
I don't need them.
'Cause I've been treated so wrong;
I've been treated so long as if I'm becoming untouchable...
Well, contempt loves the silence.
It thrives in the dark,
In fine-winding tendrils that poison the heart.
They say that promises sweeten the blow,
But I don't need them, no, I don't need them.
I've been treated so wrong;
I've been treated so long as if I'm becoming untouchable...
I'm a slow-dying flower; frost-killing hour;
The sweet turning sour and untouchable.
Oh, I need the darkness, the sweetness,
The sadness, the weakness-
Oh, I need this.
I need a lullaby, a kiss goodnight-
Angel, sweet love of my life...
Oh, I need this.
I'm a slow-dying flower; frost-killing hour,
The sweet turning sour and untouchable.
Do you remember the way that you touched me before?
All the trembling sweetness I loved and adored.
Your face saying promises, whispered like prayers-
I don't need them!
Oh, I need the darkness, the sweetness,
The sadness, the weakness-
Oh, I need this.
I need a lullaby, a kiss goodnight-
Angel, sweet love of my life...
Oh, I need this.
Well, is it dark enough?
Can you see me? Do you want me? Can you reach me?
Or I'm leaving...
You better shut your mouth, hold your breath;
You kiss me now, you'll catch your death.
Oh, I mean this.
Oh, I mean this

Continue to All Our Masks Chapter Eleven

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