"Okay baby, I know you and I swore that this day would never come... I know I promised we would be together forever but... these things happen and there's nothing that we can do about it. I'll not forget you though... I still love you," Willow sighed and closed her eyes, "And I promise that I won't let them melt you into scrap... and when this is all over we can be together again right... just like old times?"
Willow closed one fist around her Draken's stick, the other hand reached out to trace the instrument panel. She was saying goodbye to an old friend...
"And here we are, let me introduce you to your crate... fresh off the production line."
"How can you call that a crate? Look at it! It looks beautiful and dangerous just sitting there!"
"Well, you two will go together perfectly then."
Willow smiled at the young man standing beside her, before turning back to the Draken, running her hand up and down one of the prop blades, "Captain Thompson..."
"Teddy, call me Teddy please."
"Teddy then... it suits you... did they fill you in about... everything?" Willow asked in a small voice.
"By 'everything' you mean your 'irrational, reckless behaviour' in flying beneath the viaduct at the Amberly train station and the subsequent disciplinary hearing which almost saw you slapped with the most dishonourable of dishonourable discharges?" at Willow's tiny nod he continued in a jaunty tone, "Yes, Bryant explained he was sending me one of the stubbornest, most hot-headed pilots in all of Sky Command for me to straighten out... 'by any and all means necessary' I believe were his exact words."
"Nice to hear I'm thought so highly of by the brass."
"Yes well, I have the strictest orders to keep a close eye on you..." he flashed her a charmingly boyish grin that would have melted the heart of most girls and reduced them to quivering wrecks.
Willow, however, only had eyes for the plane in front of her.
"...but not too close," Teddy finished quietly, "You might as well jump on in... I'll leave the two of you to get acquainted. The squadron usually has drinks in the officers mess at seven... so I'll be seeing you there Red – that's my only order for the day."
"Captain Rosenberg sir?" someone was speaking to her, "Excuse me?"
Willow looked out over the side of the cockpit to see the young man who had escorted them to their quarters the day before. Not having really looked at him yesterday, she now saw a short, round-faced young man with thick glasses and the clipboard was obviously permanently attached to his hand. Clipboard man reached up and handed her a thin slip of paper. With a nod he turned on his heels and walked swiftly away.
Willow unfurled the paper to read a very brief, type-written note that requested her to report to General Quincy at 1100 hours. Willow crumpled the paper in her fist and lent her forehead on the Draken's lifeless instrument panel. In other words a certain red head was about to have her arse kicked yet again... although this time it would be official.
"Looks like we both fucked up Teddy," Willow whispered aloud.
Willow ran her hand over the Draken's stick for one last time before swiftly climbing from the cockpit before she started crying.
Willow spent most of the time until her meeting with the General wandering around Angel Island hopelessly lost as she looked for Tara. Several times she was approached by guardsmen and told politely to turn back the way she came as she had inadvertently entered an area that was off limits to all personal without clearance.
After searching their room, the mess hall and the gym she had not only found no sign of Tara but nor could she find a heated swimming pool anywhere. Finally she thought to try the first place she should have gone to find a pilot... the hanger. Sure enough, it was not long before she saw her lover kneeling on the wing of a Guardian, the plain unpainted metal giving it an unfinished look. Willow frowned, wondering what on earth she was doing.
"There you are," Willow said with some relief, "I've been looking for you everywhere."
Tara turned around and in doing so she revealed what she had been up to. She set down a thin paintbrush and a pot of paint as Willow lent against the fuselage with her arms folded, she raised her eyebrows at her lover. Tara smiled guiltily. Just beneath the cockpit she had painted a perfect little horned Devil, complete with trident and forked tail. He was smiling an evil, toothy grin.
"They wouldn't let me paint the whole plane red... although I asked them really nicely..." Tara began.
Willow knew it was absolutely perfect, one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for her. Yet all she could feel was the crumpled piece of paper she still clutched in her fist. Tara stopped talking, instantly noticing the distracted look on the other woman's face.
"Um, I-I know I'm a pretty awful artist but why the gloomy face? Is it bad? I can paint over it if you want?"
"Wha..." Willow looked up with a look on her face that said plainly she had been thinking about something entirely different, then she finally realised what Tara had been saying, "Oh no baby, it's perfect."
She reached up and put both arms around Tara's waist, helping her down from the wing until she was standing in her arms.
"Is it not scary enough?"
"It's absolutely fine, it scares the heck out of me honestly. Thank you so much."
"Just don't get any holes in it... please?"
"Promise," Willow sighed.
"What is it?" Tara asked, convinced that whatever was up with Willow had nothing to do with her ability as an artist.
Willow looked down at her hand and then held the piece of paper up to Tara. Tara took it slowly and unfolded it, smoothing it out until she could read it through. A few moments later she looked up at Willow.
"A disciplinary meeting?"
Willow nodded, "I guess the brass aren't too happy with their officers working out differences with their fists. We would have been better off doing it with a game of checkers."
"B-but... I can come with you, testify in your defence!" Tara knew it was stupid before she said it... and yet she needed to say it anyway.
"That's really sweet of you... thank you... but really, what is there to defend?" Willow asked honestly.
"What do you think will happen?"
"Well, every other time I've committed a gross violation of military regulations they've packed me up and shipped me off somewhere to learn my lesson... I honestly don't think they can find anywhere worse to send me than this frozen rock... did I tell you that there is no heated swimming pool here?"
"Will," Tara said levelly.
Willow sighed, "I know... not a time for levity. Well... they might strip my command from me... bust me back to being a non-com... although there is a bright side to that, I'll have to call you sir."
"I don't want to you to call me sir," Tara said firmly, "But I do wish you would take these things seriously."
"I am... I mean I will... it's just that I'm worried..."
"The meeting will go fine... I'm sure."
"Oh, I'm not worried about seeing General Whatshisface... although it's all connected in a way... Tara... what's my problem?" Willow asked in a small voice.
"Your problem? What do you mean by that?" Tara frowned, stroking a strand of hair from Willow's face.
"I just can not seem to do anything right in my life... well, except flying but even then my track record hasn't been so good of late..."
"And making love," Tara said kissing Willow's forehead, "I'm not much of an expert... but I think you do that pretty right."
Willow closed her eyes and brought both hands up to cup Tara's cheeks, stroking the soft skin with her fingertips, "I thought you said no levity."
"I'm being serious Will... whatever happens... I love you for who you are, bad temper and all," Tara brushed the bruised lips with a feather-like kiss, "Although... it is somewhat of a struggle loving you looking the way you do right now."
Giles suddenly interrupted the two of them with a cough,
Both girls looked up, Willow frowned while Tara smiled softly. She disentangled herself from Willow and ran into Giles' arms. To Willow it appeared as though the blonde had been wanting to hug the bespectacled scientist the moment she first laid eyes on him the day before. Although, in the group of pilots, it would have not been appropriate conduct.
Tara drew out of Giles' embrace and went to stand beside Willow, "Giles, I did not get a chance to introduce you two properly yesterday..."
"Captain Willow Rosenberg," Giles rattled off quickly before Tara had a chance to complete the introduction, "Your reputation proceeds you."
"It always does," Willow replied with a knowing smile, "So... how do you know Tara... if the answer's not classified that is?"
"Well, ah no..." Giles looked as though he were having some trouble, "Um, I was sent to Sunnydale a few years ago, to do some... research and we met there."
"I see," Willow nodded, although really she did not. There was nothing in that brief explanation that even indicated that why they were so familiar with one another. Willow suspected there was more to the story than either of them were letting on. However, she wisely decided that now was not exactly a good time to press for further information.
"Want me to show you how this new-fangled thing works?" he asked, waving his hand at the Guardian.
As he did so he noticed the small character that impaired the otherwise flawless metal finish. Giles hastily stripped off his glasses, gave them a thorough cleaning and put them back on. He took a few steps forward and saw the paint can.
"Who... who..." he waved his finger at the Devil design and then back to the two girls, his eyes narrowed when he saw a small smear of red paint on Tara's cheek, "You did that? To my plane?"
"Well... actually it's Willow's plane," Tara replied cheekily, "But she'll take good care of it."
Willow looked at her watch and the knot in her stomach worsened, "I have... somewhere to be. Nice to meet you Giles."
With one last tight-lipped smiled at Tara, she made her exit.
She was out of sight before Giles opened his mouth, somewhat disgruntled, "She's doing it already!"
"Giles," Tara said softly, "Everyone calls you Giles because you know you don't really mind. If you had just asked Willow to call you 'Mr Giles' she would have done so."
Giles shrugged rather than admit Tara was right. There were a few moments silence before he turned to her and gave her a steady stare. Tara did not even want to meet his gaze.
"You haven't told her anything have you?" he asked quietly.
"You know I can't."
"What if..." Giles began.
Tara's fists clenched, "What if it happens to her as well?"
Tara shuddered uncontrollably when the most unpleasant memory she possessed tried to surface. She forced it back to the most hidden depths of her mind but even as she did she felt as though she wanted to start mourning all over again.
"You know it might... you two are intimate?"
Tara's cheeks coloured and she ducked her head.
"I'll take that as a yes," Giles guessed, although it was hardly necessary, even a blind man would not have missed the chemistry between the two of them.
"Giles... she's my lover, not my blood... she'll be fine, I know she will," Tara sounded unconvincing even to her own ears, "She has to be..."
"Willow walks your dreams doesn't she?" Giles asked in a compassionate voice.
Tara sighed, "Yes," she whispered.
Giles placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, he lent a little closer to her ear as he whispered, "I'm not a military man so it's easy for me to say this... there are some orders have to be broken, especially in the face of something even more important."
"You shouldn't be saying things like that to me Giles," Tara said softly, "But I'm glad you did."
Willow was not at all surprised to find Buffy Summers already standing in the General's office when she opened the door. She took her spot in front of the desk... having done this too many times she was no stranger to the formality. Willow drew her chin up as the General with far too many stars on his shoulder stared them both down. She didn't even risk a sideline glance at Buffy, she already knew that the blonde would be doing exactly the same as she was. Standing ramrod straight with her hands clasped tightly behind her back.
"Captain Willow Rosenberg... Captain Elizabeth Summers..."
Buffy and Willow couldn't help but wonder at the emphasis in his voice, wondering if it meant they were indeed losing the pips on their shoulders. General Quincy was cut from the mould of Air Vice Marshal Bryant rather than Boone... much to Willow's relief. Even so, he was angry... and she felt his anger from where she stood a few feet away.
"Frankly, I am not going to ask either of you for an explanation because I do not want to listen to any of your bullshit," Quincy folded his arms and lent back in his chair, managing to make even that simple act look threatening, So I get to do most of the talking not because I am in love with the sound of my own voice but because my word is the only one that counts for anything in this room."
He paused to leaf through sheets of paper. As Willow stood there she reflected on how it never failed to amaze her how much paperwork the military managed to amass. They were in the middle of a war, having arrived on the island just the day before and already the General in charge had comprehensive files on them both. If there was one thing that Willow could be proud of during her time in the military, it was that she had succeeded in generating a vast amount of paperwork.
"Summers, your record reads like a textbook... clear and yet boring," Willow thought she saw Buffy bristle slightly out of the corner of her eye, Quincy continued, "Rosenberg, in part your record reads like an exemplar to all pilots as to what we want in our flyers..." he paused for effect, "... and in part like the transcript from a military court! How the hell you are still allowed in the cockpit of a fighter plane, let alone in charge of your own squadron completely escapes me. The only explanation I can think of is that someone higher up than either of us has seen fit to gloss over your numerous transgressions... also for reasons unknown."
Here it comes... I can hear it already, Janitor Rosenberg, Willow thought glumly, Trade in your fighter plane for a mop.
"And to add to the list... fist-fighting in the midst of your men? If the enemy could see the calibre of the Captains we have at our disposal they would be laughing all the way to world domination!"
He slammed down the papers in his hand and took up a nearby pencil. There was no sound in the office except the scratching of the lead across paper as he scribbled a something on a sheet of paper and slid it across the desk.
"Look at it," he waved at it, turning in his chair to face away from them both, looking into nothing.
Both Buffy and Willow looked down at it to see an impossibly large number.
"Do either of you have any idea what that is? You can speak now."
"No sir," they replied in unison.
"That, is an estimate of how many people have been killed by the enemy... military personal, civilians... men, women, children... how does that make you feel? Honestly."
"Sad sir," Buffy replied.
"Angry sir," Willow said through gritted teeth.
"Precisely! And what military we have left are all that stops who's left from becoming just another number. Those planes sitting down in that hanger... are a work of genius, possibly could even turn the tide of this war in our favour and yet they are nothing but piles of very expensive scrap metal without the pilots to fly them," Quincy stood, pushing his chair back so hard it hit the wall behind him, he turned to jab his finger at the pair of them, "I want to be able to slam a court martial on you both, especially you Rosenberg... I'd very much like to get you the hell out of the military but you know what I want more? I want to blow up every single one of those blasted damn bloody little..." he struggled for words.
"Little Green Fuckers," Willow decided to risk speaking up, "LGFs."
Quincy looked as though he were about to chomp her head off with one bite before he drew a short breath and nodded sharply, "Appropriate," he said tersely, "And the only way I can do that is to get pilots into those planes and into the air. All the technology in the world is useless without people who can operate it."
Willow felt a small spark of hope... the prospect of becoming a janitor looking less likely the more Quincy said.
"So... against my better judgment, I'm letting you both off the hook... at least until after the war... and if we're all alive then I might just be so damn happy that I'll forget this incident."
"Thank you sir!" Buffy and Willow both breathed a common sigh of relief.
"Don't thank me," Quincy said angrily, "I'm not that nice. Dismissed Rosenberg... Summers, stay there."
"Sir!" Willow saluted smartly and left the office without so much as a glance back.
The door shut firmly behind her and she heard nothing more that was said within the room. She briefly wondered what the hell was going on but was much too relieved to dwell on it for long... she had to find Tara.
"Now this is what I call luxury," Willow purred as she rubbed her sweater covered back over the small radiator heater in the corner of their room.
After the entire afternoon and much of the evening had been spent freezing their arses off in a drab little room that served as a training facility, the pilots had finally been released. Willow's head hurt from studying diagrams of the Guardian and how it operated. Although she had a good head for technical knowledge of any kind, she was a practical rather than a theory person. Sitting down at a desk with nothing but books and sheets of paper in front of her did not make for a happy Willow.
Only now was she was beginning to feel a little better. It felt wonderful to be in a room that wasn't the temperature of an icebox. Also, the fact that she and Buffy had been let off the hook had sunken in fully. Willow had already vowed many times to never let it happen again.
Tara turned from the mirror after setting her hairbrush down on the table. The dark-blonde strands hung in glassy waves, ends curling slightly. Willow ceased rubbing her back against the heater and just stared, drool threatening to gather at the corners of her mouth. Even though she had not done anything exceptional with her appearance, Tara was absolutely gorgeous. She wore her Air Command issue white woollen jumper, the roll neck concealing her lovely pale throat. The woollen long-johns she wore hugged her shapely legs, the curve of her buttock just visible where the jumper ended. Thick socks were pulled up almost to her knees. Definitely not the most glamorous outfit the world had ever seen... and yet Willow felt a swell of love and warm desire flowing through her body.
"What?" Tara asked simply.
"Don't ever get all dolled up in a posh cocktail dress with your make-up and hair done all properly," Willow said quietly, leaving the warmth of the heater to cross to an even more pleasant source of heat, "At least not in front of me."
"Will!" Tara chuckled, wrapping her arms around the toasty warm young woman, "If I ever did get all dolled up like that, not that I ever have... I don't even own a tube of lipstick... anyway, if I ever did, it would only be for you. Why should I not?"
"Because you'll take my breath away and I'll probably die from lack of oxygen to the brain. Although... I would die a very happy woman."
"Well, I don't have a cocktail dress stowed in my duffle bag," Tara stepped back from Willow's embrace and peeled off her jumper, with a casual toss she threw it on the floor, "But what about this..."
The ugly, prickly woollen vest and thick socks very quickly went the same way as the jumper. Then pausing to wink at a very quiet Willow, Tara ever so slowly slid the long-johns downwards, revealing her long, creamy legs. Willow's lips parted, she slipped into full-fledged gape mode. Her fists clenched behind her back as she fought the urge to help Tara take the stockings off... with her teeth.
An eternity later, Tara stood in front of her wearing just her cotton knickers and bra... and a dazzling but shy smile.
"T-that's... good too," Willow swallowed hastily.
"Now close your eyes," Tara commanded in a soft whisper.
Tara-in-charge... I like it! Willow thought with a delicious shiver as she complied.
She stood in the middle of the room and heard Tara's footsteps pad across the room. There was a small click... the light was off.
Willow couldn't hear much over her beating heart, she stood waiting for a few moments. She could smell Tara a few feet away and ached to be able to reach out to her. When she finally did touch her, Willow jumped slightly. Tara's hand closed over her own. Gently, the blonde picked it up, running her fingers lightly all over Willow's... the tips, over her knuckles. She turned the hand over so her palm was facing upwards, moments later Willow felt moist lips kissing her palm, callused from too many hours spent gripping a control stick. She shivered again even though the room was a perfectly warm temperature. When Tara took one of her fingers in her mouth, Willow let out a small sigh.
"Touch me Will," Tara lifted Willow's hand and placed it on her breast.
Willow let out a soft growl of desire as she felt the firm mound beneath her sensitive fingers. She massaged it gently, feeling the way the nipple responded to her touch. Eagerly, she brought her other hand up as well so she had her hands completely full with Tara's breasts. Willow could only think of a very few things that made her happier.
Willow ran her hands down over Tara's hard stomach before circling around her back. They busied themselves in the small of her back, caressing tenderly before exploring lower. Willow met the curve of her buttocks and cupped both cheeks in her hand, kneading the firm flesh between her fingers. While one hand continued to stroke and fondle Tara's arse, she moved the other around to her front. She cupped Tara's warm sex with her hand, feeling the downy curls beneath her skin. Her index finger probed deeper into the warmth, finding her slit she slipped inside.
"You're so wet!" Willow breathed excitedly, she crushed her lips against Tara's... well and truly forgetting the one little problem..."Ow!" the cut on her lip protested at the rough treatment.
Willow pulled back slightly, feeling immensely sorry for herself.
"Stop your whining and take your clothes off," Tara whispered fiercely in Willow's ear, "I'll kiss you somewhere else."
Moments later, Willow was lying on her back... her own clothes strewn about the floor with Tara's. Tara was kissing her... exploring her breasts, stomach. Everywhere she left a trail of fire in her wake, as well as glistening saliva. Willow's head pressed back into he pillow behind her, her hands clutched at the sheet beneath her. She balled the fabric up in her tightly clenched fists.
Then Tara was moving her legs apart, spreading them with a gentle touch on the inside of her thighs. Willow clenched her teeth as Tara's breath fell fast and heavy on her exposed sex. So close to what she needed... Willow began to reach down a hand to press Tara's head between her legs. With a small moan she stopped and forced herself to be patient. Tara had never done this before.
With trembling hands, Tara spread Willow's folds open. A low moan from Willow followed her touch. She flicked her tongue nervously over Willow's warm sex, tasting her for the first time. Willow moaned again, this time a little louder.
Willow lifted her head slightly from the pillow, watching the blonde hair fanned out over her stomach as Tara explored her soaking wet sex. She was so tentative and hesitant, her tongue darting everywhere at once as though she was not sure just where to put it. It was still driving Willow crazy. With gentle hands she guided Tara's head, she cried out when the blonde began teasing the hard nub at her core.
Her head sank back into pillow, eyes closed, hands still resting lightly on Tara's head. She became detached from the rest of the physical world and lost herself in a place where just she and Tara existed. As her cries filled her own ears they drowned everything else out... the war, Buffy, Tara's secrets...
Slowly coming down from the throes of passion, Willow felt Tara's weight shift. The blonde crawled up her body until she lay along Willow's length, their breasts pressed together, Tara's leg nestled between Willow's sweaty thighs.
Willow grinned and rubbed her cheek against Taras, not caring as her bruised flesh protested with twinges of pain.
"I could fuck you all night," Willow whispered throatily in Tara's ear.
"That's the best idea I've ever heard," Tara replied, her fingers slipping across Willow's sweat soaked back, "What are you waiting for?"
Willow giggled, "I think I've unleashed a vixen," her hands stroked Tara's silken flesh, feeling the blonde tremble with need beneath her.
"Well, I'm never wrong... and I did say you were good at making love," Tara kissed Willow's forehead as the red head's hands went eagerly to her breasts.
It was hours later when Tara finally pulled the blankets up over their sweaty, entwined bodies and the two pilots fell into an exhausted sleep.
"Dream... dream, dream, dream... dammit, where's a Tara when I need one?"
Willow took a hesitant step forward, hearing a squelch beneath her feet as she did so. When she looked down she saw the ground was soaked in blood. It mixed with the dirt to make an awful mud. Hearing her heart beat in her ears she spun around slowly, keeping her entire body tense.
She did not know where she was, she was inside a non-descript building... everything was destroyed, nothing recognisable except as rubble. It was all dark... black and it stank. There were no windows, the only light came from the dying embers of several small fires around her. Willow tripped and fell forward heavily, she scrambled to see what she had fallen over and almost vomited when she saw a body. The sightless eyes of a young women stared at her, pleading for Willow to save her. It was much too late... there was a gaping hole in her chest... shattered bone and bloody, pulpy flesh protruded sickeningly.
On all fours, Willow hastily backed away from the body before standing up again, she choked, fighting the bile that rose in her throat. She was a pilot... even in war she was not supposed the horrible reality of death...not so close anyway. All she ever did was push a button or watch as machines erupted in balls of flame or plunged into the ground. There wasn't supposed to be any blood.
The shifting of rubble off to her right caught her attention. Willow peered anxiously into the darkness. Slowly she crouched down to pick up a twisted piece of metal... holding it in front of her like a club.
A shadow moved, more shifting of rubble... heavy footfalls. Willow backed away, really wanting to turn tail and run like hell.
<Now would be a really good time to wake up... just wake up Willow... there are Tara snuggles waiting for you if you do... come on!>
The shadow suddenly erupted into the light, a large shape bursting forth without any warning. Willow screamed but no sound came out, she fell backwards over the body at her feet as the hulking shape advanced on her. It would be on her in seconds but all she could do was stare...
It was one of them...
Only it wasn't little... it stood well over six feet...
And it wasn't green... for the most part, the humanoid shape was covered in bulky armour, its chest, groin, legs and upper arms. Also its head was covered in a large, ornate helmet... what little skin she could see was dark... near black in the dim light although as it came closer she could see it was a an almost purple crimson.
Willow met its eyes and wished fervently she had not. It hated her... she didn't know how she knew, nor did she need to know any more than that...
It was almost on her. Willow jumped to her feet, she could smell it, like an abattoir rank and putrid... death and decay. Not knowing what she was doing Willow swung the metal in her hands with all the force she could muster. A guttural half-scream, half-roar tore from her throat as she did so.
Although Willow was dwarfed by the creature, she caught it off guard. The swinging weapon caught it on the side of the helmet with a dull thump. Her hand jarred painfully with the impact as the head barely reacted to her blow. She brought it back around for another swing but this time the metal club ended up trapped within a huge, rock solid fist. With one swift tug, it was torn from her fingers and tossed aside like a stick. Willow had time to gulp once before she was backhanded and thrown backwards. With a thud she landed meters away, crying out as a shard of concrete dug into her back. She had barely a moment to reflect on her pain when, with a roar, it advanced. Willow scrambled backwards like a crab, her fingers clawing at the rubble beneath them. The skin scraped and tore and yet all she could think about was getting away. The hopelessness of any action she might attempt did not escape her, yet she had to at least try. Her fingers curled around a brick, she lifted it and flung it. The creature swatted it away like a bug and lurched forward. The hand swung though the air... Willow lifted her hand in a futile gesture to fend it off.
A claw sliced into her palm, Willow cried out and drew her hand into her chest. She looked up, bravely meeting its soulless eyes despite her terror.
<Now would be a really good time to wake up!>
Willow opened her eyes to find nothing but darkness... and yet this time it was a pleasant darkness. She smelt Tara immediately and smiled in relief.
"You were thrashing about something terrible," Tara said softly, "Bad dream?"
"Not anymore," Willow replied quietly.
She could feel Tara leaning over her own huddled form, her hair brushing against her face. Tara reached across her body to the lamp.
Willow squinted at the sudden brightness but her eyes gradually came into focus to find Tara looking down at her. The sight of her beautiful eyes, tinged with gold as they reflected the lamplight, was more than enough to remind Willow that it had all just been a dream... and dreams were not real.
She reached up to run her hand through blonde hair, trace luscious lips with her fingertips... and remember exactly what those lips had done just a few hours ago. Even just the memory of Tara bringing her to climax sent shivers down her spine... and stirred more than a little desire in her gut once again. She stroked the arm that was still reaching across her, moving for the watch on the bedside table.
"Good gracious," Tara said softly, "It's almost five-thirty already... I feel as though I just closed my eyes."
"Well, that happens when you make love until the small hours of the morning," Willow smiled, "I'm sorry... next time we'll have to make sure we don't stay up past ten o'clock... no wasting time at bedtime, straight to the sex, then to the orgasms – only one each though, that's all we have time for – and then to sleep!"
"Willow!" Tara giggled.
She crawled over Willow, fighting the urge to run her hands over the beautiful naked body beneath her. Tara clambered out of bed quickly and began tugging on the clothes that she had discarded the night before. Doing up her pants and tucking her woollen skivvy in she looked back to the bed to see Willow hadn't made a move at all.
"Come on, we have to be in the hanger at six and I want breakfast first, I'm starving!" on cue Tara's stomach rumbled insistently.
"I'm not hungry," Willow burrowed her head back into the pillow, "Can you just bring me a cup of tea?"
"There's no room service here remember?" Tara picked up Willow's chemise and through it at her.
Willow's hand shot up and caught it, "Alright, alright..."
Willow frowned as she sat up, looking at the piece of cotton in her hand... a bright red smear had stained it.
"But I'm not..." Willow looked at the palm of her hand to see an angry slash going across it, "... bleeding." She watched half-fascinated and half-terrified as the blood flow over the palm of her hand.
Tara had crossed the floor in an instant, she took Willow's hand in her own and quickly pressed the already stained chemise against the wound.
"How on earth did you manage to do this? You have only been awake for a minute and you haven't even gotten out of bed yet?" Tara was asking.
"I-I don't know... my hand was slashed in my dream but..."
"What did you say?" Willow looked up to see Tara's eyes wide and frightened.
"In my dream... nightmare really... this thing attacked me and cut my hand exactly like this," Willow pressed down on her cloth covered hand and winced.
"This thing attacked you?" Tara asked, her voice quavering.
"Yes, great big nasty looking brute wearing armour. I don't know why but I had the feeling that it was one of them, you know... an LGF."
"One of them?"
"Yes... Tara, why do you keep repeating everything I say?" Willow reached up her good hand to cup Tara's cheek, "Why do I get the feeling that you know something about this?"
Tara's eyes were brimming with unshed tears and her mouth worked, but no sound emerged. A sudden sob erupted from her throat and she lent into Willow's touch, nuzzling the hand with her cheek, her nose, kissing it softy. Willow was growing increasingly alarmed, needing some answers.
"Okay, I had a dream... is that it... you had the same dream? You weren't there though..." Tara tore away from Willow's touch and stood up shakily, Willow reached out to her, pleading with her to come back, "Tara, please tell me what the fuck is going on here. Why am I having these crazy, fucked up dreams? And if you know then can you tell me how the hell we make them stop?"
Tara drew in a ragged breath, "I should have stopped it before it ever came to this... but god... I love you Will! You have to understand that... I... can't tell you!"
Willow threw the covers off her naked body and stood in front of Tara. She ached, wanting just to take the young woman in her arms and tell her everything was going to be fine. How can you tell her that? You don't even know what the hell is going on!
"How can you not tell me?" Willow tried to keep her voice even, "I thought I could respect your wish to keep whatever twisted secret you're carrying inside you, I still want to but I think I'm in much too deep now... I have to know! How else am I going to keep you safe?" Willow honestly meant it, even though she was the one standing with a torn palm, blood soaking through the cloth wrapped around the wound.
"I'm not the one in danger," Tara took a few steps backward, "And it doesn't matter what you say... I still cannot tell you."
"It doesn't matter what I say?" Willow couldn't stop the anger from creeping into her voice even though shouting at the girl she loved was the last thing she ever wanted to do, "What about if I say I love you... that I have since the moment I first laid eyes on you... before I even saw your face," she choked back her anger, replacing it with tears, "A-and the one thing that's getting me through all of this madness, keeping me going, is the thought that I want to spend the rest of my life with you! Every single day of it... eating, talking, holding you in my arms, making love to you with everything I am or just fucking you senseless until you don't even have the strength to cry out my name anymore... hell, I even want to do the goddamn housework together!"
"It's never going to happen Willow," Tara sounded so very sad it almost wrenched Willow's heart from her chest.
Willow was struck speechless, not even for a moment did she want to believe that she and Tara were not going to be together forever.
"Tara?" she croaked pleadingly.
"I have to get away from you... as far as possible..." Tara moved to the door.
"Tara wait!" Willow crossed the room in a heartbeat to stand right beside Tara as she opened the door.
"Don't... just don't," the blonde stepped out into the corridor, "Stay there... please."
Willow obeyed and yet it was the last thing she wanted to do. Run after her you ninny... hello, naked? Who the hell cares... stop that damn woman!
She thrust her hand against the door, stopping Tara from closing it as she stepped out into the corridor. Tara began walking away and Willow followed in a determined march.
"Just let me go Willow!" Tara didn't even look over her shoulder, each step that took her away from what she and Willow shared felt as though knives were driving into her feet.
"You can't just walk away from me like this!" Willow protested, "Have you any idea what you're doing to me?"
Tara whirled around and Willow almost walked straight into her.
"Have you any idea what I will do to you if I don't stay the hell away from you? No? Then I'll tell you... you'll die Willow, very painfully and messily and there won't be anything you can do to stop it!"
Tara glared at her before turning and continuing to walk down the corridor. She heard no steps behind her and sighed a ragged sigh of relief. Once she was safely around the corner and only then... did she allow the sobs she had been holding back to break free.
Willow stood in the middle of the corridor, the cold air causing goosebumps to prick her skin but she couldn't feel them at all. She was numb.
Footsteps behind her.
"Willow?" it was Tad, he rushed to her side and threw a bulky coat over her shoulders, "Did you know you're standing naked in the middle of the corridor?"
"I am?" Willow mumbled.
Tad gently propelled her back to her room and she went without a fuss... like an automaton.
"Do you need anything?" he asked as Willow started shutting the door on his face.
"Ah, no," Willow replied quietly as she shook her head, "I have to be in the hanger at six... I'm going to be late."
"Okay..." Tad nodded but then frowned, "Where's Tara?"
"In the process of getting away from me," Willow replied, then she quickly shut the door in Tad's face.
"Okay, bye then," Tad said from the other side of the door.
Willow heard his bootfalls as he walked away, no doubt thinking that she was absolutely nuts. Wondering what the hell she had done, Willow sank down against the door and drew her knees up to her chest. As she hugged them closed to her, her jaw set determinedly... she would find out what Tara was keeping from her. Whatever the cost and no matter how the answer would affect her... she had to know.