Author: Tardis Traveler
The first rays of twilight reflected on the side of a huge rock edifice signaling the peaceful setting of the cooling sun. Suddenly and mysteriously the stillness was disturbed by a whooshing mechanical sound as the Tardis materialized at its programmed destination and time. Once the blue police callbox became a part of the landscape, tranquility returned to Stonehenge.
Inside the Tardis, Ace was impatiently circling the control panel and periodically whining for The Doctor to finish what ever he was doing at the Console and give her some attention. It had only taken her a couple of minutes to become bored looking out the porthole at the ancient boulders that had created this prehistoric place of worship named Stonehenge. Now she needed some action.
Ace was here because the Doctor was here and like dozens of other companions she was enthralled by the Doctor and his awe inspiring lifestyle.
Ace's earth name had been Buffy, but she preferred to be called Ace since joining the Doctor on his travels. It was what she did to all their opponents and it seemed to fit her new life better than Buffy did.
Ace had met the Doctor two or one or maybe three years ago. It was difficult to be accurate after traveling backwards and forwards in time so often. She really wasn't quite sure how much time had actually elapsed. Anyway, it had been a serendipity type meeting, when by chance... nothing new about that for the Tardis... the Doctor had landed in Sunnydale just in time to help Buffy and her friends.
At that time, Buffy was a vampire slayer. She and her team of assistants known as, the Scoobies, needed the Doctor's help to exterminate a deadly alien vampire known as "The Great Vampire". The Doctor had told them that the Great Vampire was the last of a race of vampires thought to have been destroyed by the Time Lords. Thanks to all their efforts, these vampires now had become very extinct!
After their victory, Buffy and another slayer named Faith had resumed their on going battle for control over the Scoobies. It was then that she had elected to join the Doctor for some galactic adventures... to see the cosmos... so to speak.
Since doing so, Ace had traveled through time to dozens of strange new worlds and engaged in deadly encounters with Cybermen, Daleks, Cheetah People, and even Viking Vampires, which had made her a bit homesick! She had also survived an encounter with the Doctor's worst antagonist of all: The Master. Buffy had, had her own experiences with a Master, but the Doctor's Time Lord Master was truly an elusive and formidable foe.
Buffy loved every minute with the Doctor, even the life threatening ones. In truth, she had developed very deep feelings for him. He reminded her in many ways of her former earth mentor, named Giles.
Both men were highly intelligent, peace loving, caring souls with equally impatient natures... only Giles had been much better at concealing his impatience than the Doctor! She and the Doctor, whom she called professor at times, had formed a lasting bond and with occasional trips back to earth and visits with her friends, Buffy was quite happy and content... except when she had to wait for a preoccupied Doctor and the Doctor was always preoccupied!
Ace had not been pleased when the Doctor had told her of his plans go to the coven. So it went without saying that she had done a very large amount of pouting and moping by the time they had arrived. She had totally dreaded the idea of having to stay stationary for more than two days at a time! Stuck in one place was awful enough. Stuck with a group of witches was worse, but stuck with all women was the worst part of all... the absolute pits! Thanks to the merciful nature of the goddess, salvation from boredom had emerged to rescue poor Ace!
Now Buffy may have assumed a new name: Ace. She may have taken on a new life: the Doctor's companion. True, she had new enemies to fight, new playing fields, even new time periods, but it was still the same Buffy! Buffy or Ace, they were both most certainly one hundred percent action gals. She was the epitome of the "rolling stone gathering no moss"! Too much down time made Ace feel rusty. So how had it been possible for this action gal to end up deliriously happy at the coven... in spite of the lack of beefy hunks?
Well, it seemed that the only thing Ace enjoyed more than fighting "baddies" was retelling the adventures to anyone who would listen. The coven had ended up being the perfect "captive" audience!
Much to her ego's satisfaction, Ace had soon become quite the celebrity. Everyone had wanted to hear of her adventures. She had been in a temporary state of Nirvana, which had left a very relieved Doctor free to be with Tara.
Ace had ended up storytelling around the clock. She was a natural and the size of her audience didn't matter in the least. On more than one occasion, she had even tracked down individual witches when she had felt that they had missed a really great story! The wonderful part had been that she hadn't even needed to exaggerate. Her truthful accounts were exciting and action packed all by themselves. The witches had been especially interested in her Buffy the Vampire Slayer tales. They had intense discussions regarding how the coven might have aided her and different spells they could have used!
However, all good things do ultimately come to an end.
Now Ace was ready to move on. All of her stories had been told and some had been retold! She had even thrown in one the Doctor had told her about a former companion named Sarah Jane. Of course, she was sure that her embellishments had greatly improved the yarn. Ace was more than pleased that this was the day that the spell would be performed. In fact, she was impatient to get things started. The Doctor rarely moved as quickly as Ace wanted him to.
"Professor, come on we need to get going", she whined. "What on Gallifrey are you doing at those controls all the time anyway?"
Ace found it quite amusing to replace "earth" with the Doctor's home planet of "Gallifrey" when ever she could. The Doctor's annoyance only enhanced her amusement!
"Ace!" impatiently shouted the Doctor.
"Professssssorrr... I'm getting bored here. Come on let's get the magic show on the road. The sooner you get with the spell mumbo jumbo the quicker we can get moving again."
"We're going to be late... Doctor!"
Ace proceeded to look over the Doctor's shoulder and reach out to touch an especially attractive glowing red dial.
The Doctor quickly responded by swatting her hand away from the pulsating dial.
"Ace! Don't touch anything and for goodness sakes stop your nagging!"
"I have everything under control." "I am never late... and don't you dare say a word!" "Now where did I leave my hat?"
Ace rolled her eyes and let out an exaggerated sigh before she plunked the Doctor's colorful straw hat on his head and gave him a quick wink.
He smiled and gave her a gentle tap on her nose with his finger, while he wrinkled his nose at her.
"Come on, Professor!"
The Doctor was here... well, why was the Doctor ever at any place... or any time... it was what HE did!
While most Time Lords studied and talked about time travel, the Doctor TRAVELED! Of course, he had, had hundreds of years of practice traveling around the universes forwards and backwards through time materializing into endless adventures. So many, in fact, that sometimes he had great difficulty remembering exactly why he was where he was and when he was!
Ah yes, Doctor #7 was here, at this sacred place, to do a rather unusual and potentially dangerous spell with a young powerful Wicca by the name of Tara Maclay.
Giles, Buffy's former earth mentor, had told the Doctor about Tara and of her powers and superior knowledge of demonology and ancient texts. Ever hungry for new ideas and challenges, the Doctor had come to the Wiltshire Coven seeking Tara. He wanted to study Wicca and enlist Tara's help in performing an ancient alchemist spell that he hoped would be of use in future confrontations with Cybermen.
Cybermen encounters were tantamount to those with the Daleks. All seven of the Doctors were at the top of their, "Exterminate on Sight" lists.
Cybermen are emotionless sliver metallic giant men-like robots from the now destroyed planet of Mondas. They have the strength of ten human men and share the Doctor's keen logic, but are devoid of the Doctor's superior intelligence, innate curiosity, kindness, caring, and non-violent ways. They roam the galaxies searching for energy and have come to earth on many occasions always to be thwarted by the Doctors and their companions.
Ace had already had an encounter with them when the Doctor was trying to keep the Silver Nemesis from falling under their control. The Nemesis was a silver statue made from validium, an extremely powerful living metal created by a former Time Lord by the name of Rassilon. Rassilon had intended for it to be used for the ultimate defense of Gallifrey... the Doctor's home planet. After an attempt to steal it, the Doctor had concealed it in a rocket-powered asteroid which eventually had landed on the earth in Windsor, England in 1988.A group of Cybermen had been waiting to usurp it. In the course of defeating them, Ace learned that gold is about the only way to kill them. Fortunately, she had a bag of gold sovereigns, a great aim, and a lot of help from the Doctor!
It was the quest for gold that had led the Doctor to seek out the shy, innocent, young Wicca. About the safest and most effective way to kill Cybermen was with gold dust blown into their breathing apparatus. They could be killed by Raston Warrior Robots, sleek silver killing machines, but they were even nastier than the Cybermen! Naturally, they weren't too fond of the Doctors either.
During the Cyber Wars, a Glitter Gun had been developed by a group of scientists. The gun fired gold dust that ended up suffocating the Cybermen if aimed at their breathing apparatuses. However, gold had become very scarce, especially after the Cybermen had blown up Vogan, a planet composed of gold. So now, the seventh Doctor was looking for a more simplified and effective way to destroy them. Befriending a Raston was absurd and carrying a bag of gold dust around didn't seem like a feasible plan either.
Fortunately, after days locked in his study researching, the Doctor had discovered a reference to an ancient alchemist spell that enabled the caster to create gold dust on command.
Luckily, he had become on fairly good terms with his fellow Time Lords again. This was thanks to his fifth regeneration (aided by four of his other selves) who had regained The Doctor's good standing with the Gallifrey Council. This momentous feat had been accomplished by stopping President Borusa from achieving immortality in the tomb of Rassilon. As a reward, Chancellor Flavia thought she had convinced the Doctor to return to Gallifrey and become the new President, but as in the beginning of his travels, the Doctor had managed to escape with the title... not the service!
Thus, the seventh Doctor had been able to return home... just long enough to search Gallifrey's vast archives until he had located the gold dust spell.
The quest for the perfect witch to instruct him and eventually perform the spell had proven to be a more awesome task. A very powerful white witch was needed... a witch totally in tune with Wicca ways, in balance with nature and the elements, and most importantly, with a purity of soul. It was the latter that had led him to Tara.
After learning that she was living at the Wiltshire coven, he and Ace had immediately set out in the Tardis to meet her. At first, the high priestess of the coven had refused to disturb Tara because she was still mourning the loss of her beloved wife. When the Doctor had failed to convince her to relent, the Doctor had let Ace take over. It had been one of those rare moments when the Doctor was pleased that Ace had such a dynamic personality. He had often fumed that even a Dalek would crumble under her persistent nagging. After ten minutes of listening to Ace, the high priestess finally agreed to send a note in to Tara explaining the situation. Two days later, Tara had finally sent word that she would meet with the Doctor.
The instant the Doctor's eyes had looked into Tara's mesmerizing blue orbs, he had felt an almost hypnotic attraction. It had been like peering into the depths of an ancient soul. Her eyes had radiated with innocence, warmth, wisdom, and kindness, but they had also spoken of sadness, of loss, and of unbearable sorrow. Their eyes had stayed locked together for what seemed like hours and he had felt as though she too had delved through all his many selves into his very core.
The rareness of this meeting had startled him actually. He was living in his seventh regeneration... was hundreds of years old... had traveled to as many different worlds and time periods... had lost count of all the life forms he had met... and yet , he had stood gazing into those clear shiny blue eyes of the young blond witch literally tingling with the anticipation of working with her. That was how companions felt about the Doctor... NOT the reverse. He had felt a bit unnerved by the unique experience. He remembered wondering if Tara had felt the same anticipation. If she had, she had hid it well.
Just as Ace and the Doctor were about to engage in another round, they were interrupted by the sound of a chamber door swooshing open and quickly closing again. They both glanced down the long corridor and saw Tara slowing advancing towards them. She was wearing a long hooded purple robe that concealed all but her angelic face. She carried a large worn leather bag draped casually over her shoulder and gifted them with a warm smile when she finally raised her head and acknowledged their presence.
The three stared at each other briefly, until the silence was broken by Tara.
"Um, are you r-r-ready Doctor?" she quietly inquired with just a faint hint of a stutter appearing. "I-I have everything t-t-that we'll n-n-need and the moon will be f-full and overhead s-shortly." Frustrated by her speech, Tara averted her eyes and took a deep breath.
The Doctor nodded and slowly walked up to her and gently took her hands in his and bent down to look at her face to face. A warm smile spread across his countenance... he found it quite impossible to look at this gentle young woman and not smile.
"Yes, as ready as I'll ever be. How about you?" he asked. "I can tell by the way you're talking that you must be a bit nervous. Are you?" he inquired as he raised his eyebrows waiting for an answer.
Tara's smile faded and sadness filled her now hollow eyes. There had been a glorious time when it had not been obvious to everyone when she was nervous or upset! It had been that brief period of a time when her stutter had been replaced by laughter and love! Her mind fought to keep those painful memories from flooding into her consciousness... especially now when they were about to cast this spell. That brief period, was back in the time before they both had died!
Tara was here, at Stonehenge, because memories of Willow, her soul mate, entrapped her here.
Tara had come to the Wiltshire Coven seeking refuge from her abusive father and brother. She was a descendant of a long line of powerful witches, who, as the history of the religion can verify, were persecuted and forced to practice in secret. She had witnessed this first hand observing her father's constant harassment of her gentle mother and later of her.
Her mother had spoken of the coven and of her desire for Tara to someday escape from their so called "home" and become a member. After her mother's death, that was exactly what Tara had done.
The coven had readily accepted her physical presence, but somehow she had never felt like she was truly one of them. After six months with the group, she had still felt a deep sense of isolation and loneliness. She blamed herself and her upbringing. She was frustratingly shy... she was reluctant to open herself up for fear of rejection... she had felt inferior and ugly and worst of all she had stuttered when she felt nervous... and she had felt nervous all the time! She had long ago reconciled herself to a life of merely observing other people's happiness rather than ever experiencing any for herself.
Even so, she had prayed to the goddesses at night while in the darkness of her empty room... prayed that one of the deities would bless her with a friend. Tara hadn't really thought that was too much to ask for. Waiting for her prayers to be answered, Tara's life had become similar to the zombies she had read about in her texts. She too, had walked emotionlessly through her day to day life hidden behind a shy half smile and a stutter... a master of invisibility within a crowd!
Then, like the red glow from a supernova, SHE, had appeared. Instead of destruction however, two lonely souls were fused together for all times! Her name was Willow Rosenberg!
Willow had come to the coven on the advice of Mr. Giles, a visiting Professor at Oxford. They had struck up a casual relationship when she had attended his class on "Wicca Influences Throughout England's History".
She had revealed her interest in witchcraft and had been surprised when he had admitted that he had sensed her powers. He had expressed concern when learning that she had mostly taught herself and had suggested that she might benefit from some time at the coven. So, Willow had taken a break from University and had gone to the Wiltshire Coven to study her witchcraft and learn about the Wicca lifestyle. That decision had resulted in the best and worst moments in Tara's life.
Tara had thought of that momentous life altering meeting with her Willow hundreds of times. Since the night she had begun counting, it was 604 times to be exact. Every night, since they had both died, she had reenacted the scene in an attempt to let the rescuing arms of slumber give her a brief escape from her grief and despair.
The meeting room had been buzzing with commotion as her sisters had been speculating about the new student and gossiping regarding who she was and why she was coming. Tara had reflected a moment on how extremely uncomfortable and self conscious she had felt then, as the only silent spot it the room had been her... not that anyone but her had noticed! Then the door had opened and the din dissolved into silence as Tara first beheld Willow... there SHE stood... this placid redheaded goddess! The room had instantly become a vacuum where only two soul halves existed!
Tara had always lived vicariously through books and novels. She had always scoffed at the notion of "love at first sight"... until that moment! As soon as she had seen Willow, she knew that it would have taken an act of divine intervention to keep her away from this beautiful young woman.
Later, during those intimate times in her lover's arms when she retold the event to her embarrassed soul mate, Tara had always insisted, that she had quite literally floated to the redhead as the attraction had been so strong. It had felt like she had just suddenly teleported and there she was standing directly in front of her... breathless... with a rapidly pulsating heart... mushy knees... whispering a quick plea to the Goddess that she wasn't visibly drooling in front of this beautiful human goddess!
Just gazing into Willow's incredibly expressive emerald eyes had been enough to send Tara spiraling into bliss. Then, oh praise be to the Goddess, SHE had smiled... at TARA ... the most gorgeous warm inviting smile she had ever seen! Tara had felt as though she had been catapulted into heaven!
She and her lover had more than once tried to imagine just how long they would have stood there smiling at each other. Once, when Willow had been in one of her mischievous moods, she had insisted they "act it out" to see how long they could actually do it. Tara wasn't sure which one of them caved into giggles first, but she did recall the huge tickle fest that had followed it!
Fortunately, both spellbound future lovers had been jolted back into reality after the on lookers in the room had recovered. Tara had always been delighted remembering the shocked and stunned expressions on her sister's faces. They had never witnessed Tara behaving in such a wild aggressive manner before... either had Tara.
The wonderful upside had been the unanimous opinion that it must have been a sign from the Goddess that Tara was meant to be the one to work with Willow!
Tara had felt reborn at that moment. In truth, life began for her right then and there and continued to improve daily! She didn't know what act she had done to deserve this miracle. Maybe it was a belated thank you for something her mother or grandmother had done for the Goddess? What ever the reason, Tara had sent all the deities her thanks for answering her prayers by sending not only a friend, but a soul mate!
Since it had been decided that she and Willow were to work together, the two had become inseparable. Her intelligent and curious future lover had been quick to learn about the Wicca approach to life and magic. Tara had discovered that Willow had power too and an inexhaustible curiosity. Everyday with Willow had been magical and filled with joy and happiness! Her brilliant mind... her dazzling smile... her innate kindness... her wonderful quirky humor... her inner purity... Tara had discovered and loved all these traits of Willow's. She hadn't forgotten about that killer redhair either! For the first time in her life Tara had felt truly wanted and respected by someone other than her mother. Willow had made her laugh, made her feel special, made her feel wanted, and best of all made her feel loved!
Of course, Tara had loved Willow immediately, but her insecurities and shyness hounded her and since Willow was also rather shy it had taken them several weeks to even confirm their mutual deep friendship for one another! To Tara, that too had seemed like a miracle. She would have never dreamed that such a spectacular person as Willow, who's beautiful exterior was matched by an equally beautiful interior, could actually like her and want to be her friend!
The cataclysmic event had occurred the evening they had finally decided they were ready to perform their first solstice spell together. The clear night sky had been filled with stars and a huge glowing moon. When their hands had touched, so had their hearts! Tara had instantly felt the jolt of energy course through her right into her very soul. She had hoped and prayed that Willow had experienced the same sensation. Then, they had begun the spell and their energies had mingled together. Tara had been so sure she had also felt Willow's love for her flowing through her too. She had almost lost her focus as she had been so desperate to know if Willow shared her feelings. Afterwards, when they had quietly sat beneath the starry night sky, Willow's words had, for the first time, confirmed her true feelings! YES, Willow had finally said those most powerful magical words of all, "I love you "! Tara had erupted with happiness, followed immediately by," I love you too", happy tears, and a very tender explosive first kiss. It had turned into a night of tender kisses, warm embraces, and dozens of "I love yous"!
Friendship had finally turned into love and a few months later love had turned into a life time commitment. Two souls had found each other and united together for what Tara had thought would be a life time... at least a longer life time then it had turned out to be!
Tara had now spent 604 desolate agonizing days pondering the words and events that had ended Willow's physical life and her will to continue living her life. How ironic it had been, that the very characteristic Tara had cherished and admired most about her precious wife had been the ultimate cause of their deaths.
The coven had been asked to find a rare binding spell. A very evil and powerful Warlock had been killing London witches seeking their special powers. It had been agreed to by the Wicca Council, that it would be more prudent to bind his powers rather than attempt to destroy him. Since the Wiltshire Coven had a repetition for being able to handle high level emergencies, it was only natural that their help had been sought. It was also only natural, that Willow had taken the lead in the research. Her darling beloved Willow had proven that she was truly gifted in that area, especially when she used her computer.
One of the many attributes that Tara had loved (and still did love) about her beloved wife was her giving and helpful nature. Willow's first instincts had always been to selflessly help others in anyway she could. However, after the spell had been discovered and volunteers had been called upon to cast it, Willow had failed to join the group!
Tara hadn't thought of this since their deaths... it just hurt too damn much! Goddess, if only she had been granted her wish to relive that night and take back her words! Somehow, she had managed to bury it all deep within her subconscious self for all this time. Why then were those painful thoughts suddenly invading her mind now? Maybe it was the spell she was about to do with the Doctor? All she knew was that these buried thoughts had chosen to surface now.
Willow had not volunteered! Tara had wondered about that and had to know why. The chance to question her love hadn't come until nightfall.
Their room had been bathed in moonlight and a warm jasmine scented breeze floated in from the open window. Just minutes before, they both had been at the heights of orgasmic bliss. Then they had contentedly laid nestled in each others warm arms relaxing in the after glow of their love making. Willow had her head cuddled between her two favorite pillows listening to Tara's heartbeat returning to normal. Tara had already begun slowing running her fingers through Willow's tangled moist hair, which was ablaze from the moon's glow. She had kissed the top of Willow's head and whispered a soft, "Darling, I love you". Willow had looked up at her with a beaming smile and pulled her down until their lips had met for a slow, loving, passionate kiss. Tara had remembered thinking, "Well, I guess she's still awake!"
Never contented with just one kiss, a second and a third had followed. Willow had then ended up burrowing into Tara's neck while Tara softly stroked her cheek and nuzzled her ear lobe. The tenderness of the moment had been broken when Tara had whispered her question into her wife's ear.
"Honey, why didn't you volunteer to perform the spell?
Willow had slowly turned and raised herself up on her elbows so she could look at her Tara. She had answered with a question.
"Well baby, do you think I should have?"
Tara remembered caressing her wife's cheeks and giving her a quick peck on her lips before answering.
"I was just wondering why you didn't, sweetheart."
"I mean, usually you are the first one to offer to help... so?"
"It's no big deal... sometimes I'm just like my beautiful redheaded wife... a curiosity gal." She had smiled and lowered her head a bit feeling a little embarrassed.
Willow had raised her eyebrows and chuckled softly, before leaning down and lovingly kissing each of Tara's eyelids, her nose, and lastly her lips.
"And I love my beautiful sexy curiosity gal and don't you ever forget that." Tara never had.
Then, their conversation had turned serious. Willow had explained that the spell was dangerous and risky. To be successful, everyone in the group had to stay completely focused. She had also been concerned about the time lapse between casting the binding spell and when it would actually bind the Warlock's powers. He was very strong and would not be bound without a fight. They had talked about this for several minutes before the real reason slipped out.
Willow didn't think it would be right to put herself into such danger when she had Tara to consider. It wasn't just her life anymore. Besides, she had felt confident that the volunteers could do very well without her help.
Tara had listened carefully and then had taken great pains to explain her thoughts. She had told her love that she shouldn't have to stop being who she was just for her sake. What would happen to them was in the hands of the Goddess. While she didn't want Willow to be foolhardy, she didn't want her to feel that she couldn't be true to herself. In the end, Willow had said she would join the group. She had then snuggled up behind Tara and draped her arm over her wife's shoulder. Before slipping into slumber, Tara had heard her whisper softly in her ear, "Anything for you my sweet beautiful wife."
This was what had plagued Tara ever since. Had she talked Willow into doing the spell? She knew Willow loved her and would do anything for her. Had Willow changed her mind thinking she was pleasing Tara? These thoughts haunted her constantly.
The group had decided to perform the spell at Stonehenge. It was their sacred site and the mystical energy was very high there. The high priestess had insisted that all the sisters not involved in the spell stay at the coven.
How thankful Tara had been that her last words with her wife had been words of love. They had held each other close and expressed the depths of their feelings and had thanked each other for the happiness they had received. That morning, they had meditated together and asked the Goddess to protect Willow and the other sisters. Their final kiss had been sensual, passionate and filled with endless love.
Then... SHE... was gone. Tara had known the instant their lives had ended. She had felt her life energy suddenly sucked from her... replaced by this overwhelming feeling of emptiness.
She hadn't needed to know the details: a sister losing focus, a brief period of time before the binding took affect, a Warlock's desperate revenge. Tara hadn't cared. Two other sisters had died... Tara hadn't cared. Her Willow was gone. Her life was over. Tara had ceased to care about anything!
How many times since then had Tara wished that she hadn't spoken those words? She would take that anguish and guilt with her to her grave. It had been the reason that she had finally decided to help the Doctor.
The loving life enhancing memories of her soul mate were what had kept her bound to this place. They had comforted her and offered her some small reason to continue living. Well, that was only half true. The real reason Tara had not joined her love was out of fear that taking her own life might keep her apart from her soul mate in the next life. Since the Doctor's arrival, things had changed. Now, all her memories did were remind her of the utopia lost to her 604 days ago!
Willow had been her only love, her other half, her reason to start and end each day... her life! There would never be a replacement.
If she had any blessings left, the spell with the Doctor would finally end her suffering!
"Alright then, let's get started," said the Doctor.