"Okay, we're taking the civilians with us. We're going to leave this solar system and we're not gonna come back. [...] This war is over. We lost. [...]
Midnight on the Firing Line
'It's better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all.'
This long gone playwright surely had never found love in one moment, only to have it taken from him the very next, Willow thought bitterly.
And that was precisely what had happened to Willow. She had been falling head over heals in love with the beautiful blond. Only the fact that, until now she'd never thought that she could actually fall in love with another woman, had kept her from realising it right away, when she had seen her for the first time in the hallway.
But then the moment she finally realised that she was in love with Tara, turned out to be the same one, that the Cylons brutally took her from her again. Now she would never have the chance to see her again and tell her. Deep inside her she knew that Tara had been feeling the same way.
Looking back at the evening of the reception, it was obvious to her, Tara had that been flirting with her the entire evening.
And she knew that, even if only subconsciously, she had been flirting back.
More then ever Willow wished she'd be able to cry, to grief for all the people that she had lost during these last days. But her eyes where as try as the desert. Not a single tear for her parents, her granny, her Sunnydale friends, Xander and Tara too.
Why couldn't she cry?
Not even for Xander, as long as she could remember there had always been Xander Harris. They even had been going steady for some time. That was until he stole her dolly, ok back then they had been only five years old.
Until halve an hour ago, Willow had been recovering the body's of the seventy nine members of the DC units, except for the seven souls that had been sucked out into space, that had been killed by the fire and move them into the prepared morgue in Hangar Deck B.
Seventy nine, including Xander Harries. He'd been burned so badly - beyond recognition, she had to check his identity disks in order to make sure that it was really him.
Now he lay together with his comrades in Hangar Deck B, until they could find time to give them a proper funeral service.
Willow blindly walked down Galactica's cheer endless hallways. Right now there wasn't much to do for her. The Galactica was docked to the Ragnar Anchorage ammunitions depot and the crew was busy loading every peace of ammunition they could get into the Galactica's storage compartments. They even had been fortunate enough to find ten brand new Mark VII Vipers stored at Ragnar. Witch was lucky for them, because with only the old Mark II they where bound to running short of Viper's at some point and now they even had some spare machines.
Luckily there still where outpost, like Ragnar Anchorage. Stations like this had originally been established during the Cylon war. Not only to provide Battlestar's with the necessary ammunition, but replacement fighters as well.
Willow would be flying her next combat assignment in her very own Viper again. Because soon after her unfortunate 'burnout', Xander had modified one of the Mark II spare engines and had started to fit it into her Mark VII. It had been a completely unorthodox procedure and Chief Tyrol had been furious when he'd found out. But following the fire he had allowed Cally to complete Xander's work.
Now her Viper stood in the starboard hangar bay, side by side with the old Mark II's, as well as the brand new Mark VII's, while each available specialist was busy erasing the CMP navigational program from the Viper's memory banks.
Dr. Baltar had discovered that the Cylons had somehow found a way to use the CMP, in order to infiltrate every computer system that had this program installed on its mainframe.
This way the CMP had provided the Cylons with a backdoor to enter the system of the Viper's of Galactica's Alpha Squadron, order it to shut down and then wipe them out without any resistance. Even the most advanced ship in the fleet, the Battlestar Atlantia had posed no threat at all to the Cylons.
In retrospect all the man and woman aboard the Galactica, had been saved by Commander Adama's strict refusal to allow any kind of network-computerised system aboard this Battlestar. Still so countless many people had been lost and all that was left of Willow's friends and family was her best friend Buffy Summers, Buffy who had always been there for her.
'Let's see how Buffy is doing,' she thought and turned her steps towards the hangar bay again, where 'Slayer' possibly was still busy working on her Viper. 'There's certainly something do for me as well,' Willow thought.
Something that would keep her from going crazy from all the sorrow in her heart.
Most of all she needed to distract herself from the sorrow that hurt the most. The sorrow of having lost the love of her life - Tara.
Willow stopped and looked around. "Well isn't that something," she said to herself. "I lost my way. I'm no way even near the starboard hangar bay." She shook her read haired head.
'I must be getting old and these are the visitors quarters,' she thought and was just about to turn around, when she saw a young blond woman coming out of her quarter right in front of her. She then closed the bulkhead behind her and turned around.
Willow stopped dead in her steps, her mouth dropped open and her eyes went larger then life, for she could not believe whom she was seeing standing right in front of her - Tara!
'That's Tara! And she's alive!' Her heart screamed. But her mind wasn't willing to accept this so easily. 'Look,' it said, 'you just lost your way on a Battlestar you've been serving on for the past year. And now you're so desperate that you start imagining that the woman you fell in love with is not dead, but standing right in front of you.'
'That's crazy, I know,' Willow thought to herself, 'I'm going slightly mad.'
"Fifty thousand megaton nuclear explosion. The Cylons are moving of." Echoed Lt. Gaeta's voice thru her mind.
'You've been there, you saw it.' Her mind went on. 'You have to accept she's gone.'
Even though some part of her was about to give in to reason, the far larger part of her could not. This seamed far to real to be a mere desperate illusion.
The face she was looking at, framed by golden blond hair, the disbelieving smile on these perfect red lips. She could even smell Tara's all to familiar perfume.
'And even if this is just an illusion', her heart said, 'let it be and let's embrace it for what it might be, even though it can't be more then an illusion.'
But then, with tears in her eyes, this wonderful illusion reached out and took Willow's hand into her own and the moment their fingers touched, all doubts was washed away by a title wave of happiness.
Tara Maclay it is you, it is you! Willow's heart sang. This was real, she wasn't dreaming.
Willow met Tara's gaze again, and suddenly it all started to overwhelm her, and silent tears started to ran freely down Willow's face. Oblivious to her surroundings, she cried harder, until her small body was racked with sobs.
Tara didn't say a word, but instead took Willow by the hand, and lead her into her quarter. She directed her to sit down on her bed.
Sitting down next to her, Tara reached out to put her arm around the young woman. At first she shied away from her, but then turned and buried her face in her chest. For a moment Tara just sat there rocking her, letting her get it all out.
Willow continued to cry, to shed tears for all the people, friends and family she lost. But she also cried tears of happiness, for having the love of her life returned to her safely.
Eventually her tears stopped, but Willow remained in this loving embrace of Tara, feeling warm and protected, while Tara's hands softly moved comforting over her back.
They kept sitting in this loving embrace for she didn't knew how long, until something tiny, warm and rather fury tried to make it's way onto her lap.
Willow leaned back a little and looked down to be surprised by a little black & white cat looking back up to her. After she had successfully made her way onto her lap, that is.
Slightly puzzled, Willow looked at Tara, who in return looked a little uncomfortable. "That's Miss Kitty Fantastico", she explained shyly. "My cat. I smuggled her aboard." She handed Willow a tissue from her nightstand.
Willow dried her tears and out of puffy red eyes she asked: "You smuggled a cat ... onboard a Battlestar? When?" Willow felt somewhat confused as she started to gently stroke the tiny creature in her lap, who responded by purring loudly.
"Of course I already broad her with me when I arrived two..." Tara glanced on her watch, "three nights ago."
"So what you're saying is, you brought your cat, on a three day trip on to a military installation?" Willow could not help but smile, this kind of behaviour was simply to cute to be true.
Tara on the other hand looked slightly embarrassed, "Well I had no one to look after her, and I don't like to be separated from her anyway. And so I simply broad her with me."
"As simple as that, but how?"
"Now, I have this special transport coffer", Tara pointed to the floor and a what looked like a normal small travel pack, but the down zipped front revealed it to be very cat-comfortable transport box, that even included a litter box .
"It's inconspicuous, and it fits exactly under the seat."
"But what about the controls?"
Willow smile grew ever brighter and she felt even more drawn towards this woman, who cared so much for her tiny cat. Out of an spontaneous impulse, Willow leaned forward to kiss Tara upon her soft lips. Quiet surprising herself, she would never have thought herself to be that bold. But that soon was forgotten, when their lips finally touched.
Even though they barley touched, and the kiss only lasted for a short breathtaking moment, it was enough to blow Willow's mind away.
Even the most passionate kisses, she had ever exchanged with Oz, where but a tiny candle in the darkness, compared to the huge fire this supper soft and supper tender kiss was setting ablaze inside her.
Willow slowly opened her eyes, only now realising she had closed them in the first place, and looked into Tara's just opening deep blue eyes. I'm lost in your eyes, Willow wanted to say, but she was able to get out was: "Wow, that was.. wow."
Tara didn't answerer to that babble, but instead she leaned in for another kiss. Like the first one it was soft and tender at first, but soon it became more passionate. Forgetting everything around them the two woman started to make out carefully.
Right now all that existed where Willow and Tara and nothing else. Not the devastated Colonies, neither the Cylon threat was on their minds. Not even tiny Miss Kitty, who was playing with Willow's identity disks, dangling freely between the two lovers.
"So this is ok?" Tara asked after a while.
"Oh very ok," Willow assured her, and to prove it she leaned forward again for another kiss and so they both happily started another make out session and this time Tara started to kiss not only Willow's lips but her face and her neck as well.
'Funny,' Willow thought, 'when Oz had kissed me upon my neck it had felt only funny, but now with Tara forming little flowers out of kisses upon my neck it is... wow!'
In return she kissed Tara's delicate formed ears, her hands kept moving true the soft blonde hair that smelt so good, like spring flowers and apple blossoms.
Lying arm in arm, on the bed they continued to hold and kiss each other, until reality caught up with them again. Bursting their little bubble of happiness when Lt. Gaeta's voice echoed throughout the ship:
"Action stations, action stations! Set condition one throughout ship. This is not a drill. I repeat. Action stations, action stations! Set condition one throughout ship. This is not a drill. I repeat..."
Only reluctantly Willow separated herself from Tara. "That's my call," she sighted. "Guess the Cylons have found us as last." She took up Miss Kitty, who just tried to make her way back on to her lap again and placed her carefully next to the teddy, sitting at the top of the bed.
Together the two women stood up, holding Tara's hand Willow looked into her eyes, "Listen," she said, "if we make it thru the night there's something I want to tell you. Will you wait for me?" Tara gently got hold of Willow's hand, rose it to her mouth and gently kissed her fingertips, sending small shivers throughout Willow's entire body.
"Of course I wait," she said. "Don't you know? I waited my whole life to be with you. I'll always be waiting for you."
She kissed Willow one last time goodbye upon her lips and then the young Viper pilot left the quarter to report to the pilots briefing room.
In the squadron's briefing room, Willow sat next to her wing men Buffy, who right away noticed a certain glow emanating from her best friend and quiet correctly concluded, that despite all the horrible things happening around them, Willow had found love.
Unfortunately, there was no time for personal questions and so they turned their attention towards their new CAG, Captain Lee Adama - 'Apollo', the successor of 'Spike' - the late Captain William Jackson Spencer, who just called the meeting to order.
He soon cut to the chase, confirming what Willow had already concluded herself:
"The war is over. We lost and we're running."
He then briefed them about the tactical situation, from a recon mission flown just an hour ago by 'Starbuck'. Just outside the magnetic storm of Ragnar Anchorage, where two Cylon Basestar's, with ten squadrons of Raiders and two recon drones attachment waiting for them to come out.
After he had given them their instructions for the upcoming battle, they went to the hangar bay, ready for action.
"Good hunting 'Red'," Buffy said and climbed aboard her Mark II Viper.
"Good hunting 'Slayer'," Willow answered and made her way towards the Viper, that had been with her, ever since she had reported for her first assignment aboard the Battlestar Orion VII, and where Specialist Cally just completed the last check on the newly installed engine.
Stepping right beside her, Willow had a close look upon her old/new Viper.
"Good work Cally. Good work," she said and gave the young specialist a friendly slap on her shoulder.
"I didn't do that much," Cally said a little uncomfortable. "The X-Man had already done most of the work. I merely finished it."
"Oh you did much more then that," Willow said facing the specialist at her side, and noticing how very cute the young woman was.
'Stop it! You have a girlfriend now!' A small voice inside her mind ordered, bringing Willow to focus again on the matter at hand. "I know that it was you, who convinced the Chief to let you complete Xander's work and for that I thank you."
Willow gave her another slap on her shoulder and then climbed into the cockpit, to make herself ready for launch.
As Cally handed her the checklist, Willow could see that the young specialist was fighting hart not to cry, as she said: "I only did what was the right way to honour a good comrade."
"And a good friend, Cally", Willow said with a warm smile, signet and handed her back the checklist. Cally then helped her to put on her helmet and connect it to the Viper's life-support system. Following a final check Willow yelled: "Set!" and closed the cockpit, while Cally removed the ladder.
Moments later the order to launch Viper's came, and again following 'Slayer', 'Red' was shoot out of the Galactica to hold of the Cylons, so the civilian ships could make the jump.
"Open formation. Razzle dazzle. Don't let them use their targeting computers and for Frak sake keep out of Galactica's firing solution!" Apollo ordered as they advanced towards the enemy.
It was quite a sight to see, wave after wave of approaching Cylon Raiders, the two Basestar's firing missiles, while at the same time the Galactica fired the enemy suppression barrage, creating a perimeter in witch they had to keep the Cylon Raiders from going after the civilian ships.
But 'Red' didn't only fight, to ensure the civilians save escape, but also to keep her love alive and well aboard Galactica. And every single Raider she shoot down, was payback, payback for her mother and father, her granny and for Xander.
They did well, even though they lost another three pilots of their own, but they destroyed more enemy fighters in return. Then, after the last civilian ship had made the jump, Dualla ordered them all back: "Break off pursuit. Come on home. Repeat, come on home."
'Red', 'Slayer' and the other returned to Galactica for an immediate combat landing. Meaning they broad their fighters as fast as they could down at the port landing bay and out of the way of the next following Viper.
All that was left to do for Willow, was to wait until the Galactica had retracted and secured the landing port's and - hopefully - jumped to safety.
After that they would start bringing the Viper's back down in the star board hangar bays again. The pot was almost completely retracted, when Willow saw the Viper's of 'Apollo' and 'Starbuck' literally wedged tight into each other, coming in hot for what properly was the worst landing in the history of the Colonial Forces. But at least the two had made it too, Willow thought. As well as Buffy and myself. And Tara.
Now of course they where on the run and the Cylons would certainly keep on perusing them without mercy. After all they where machines - cold, passionless and able to hunt them forever if necessary.
This wasn't the most comforting thought, Willow knew. But then there hadn't been much good and positive happening during the last three nights.
Except one thing of course - Tara.
Not only had she found her and fallen in love with her, but the Lords of Kobol had also returned Tara safely back to her, when it had seamed that all and everything had been lost forever.
And with Tara at her side, Willow was certain, it could never be completely dark and hopeless.
The Galactica made the jump and with the help of her FTL drive broad them way beyond the red-line and to the Proma-sector and hopefully some safety.