'So, the three of us met at my house that weekend. It started off normally enough, but after two bad horror movies and several conversions about various things, the topic of discussion turned to love, or in some cases the lack thereof.'
"So, Buffy, how are you and Angel?" Willow asked. Tara nodded, clearly wanted the answered to that question as well.
"Uh," I took a deep breath, "Bad. Really, really bad."
"Oh, no. W-why is that?" Tara and Willow both shared a look of confusion.
"Yeah, I thought you were in love?"
"We are, it's just..."
"He's becoming really controlling."
"Controlling how? Telling you to do, um, 'things'?"
"I little, but no not those 'things', he's just trying to change me. Ever since we made love-"
"YOU WHAT?!" To say Joy was shocked would be an understatement.
"You slept with him!? All those talks of no sex outside of marriage or serious commitment, and you slept with a guy before you were even eighteen?!"
"Hey! I meant what I said. This is one of those 'do as I say not as I do' moments, alright."
"Joy, you have no idea know much I wish I could have taken the higher road in that situation. I wish I had waited. Believe me. I've told you to save yourself for one simple fact. If you wait, you can give the person you love something truly special. Something no one else could ever have."
"Oh. I'm sorry mom. I didn't mean to be so harsh."
"I know. And I get it, believe me."
"Did you sleep with Dad before you got married?"
"No. I didn't sleep with anyone else until I got married. I learned that lesson."
"What lesson is that?"
"Sex, no matter who you are with, or what you do, changes things."
"He has been mean, overprotective, and controlling. He tries to tell me what to wear, what to eat, even who to talk too. Yesterday he told me that you two weren't really my friends and hated me, and that I should only spend time with him."
"No, I'm not," I remember that I didn't even notice that I was crying. That was until I tasted the salt on my lips. Willow and Tara did notice and came over to me and they both hugged me, letting me cry. After a few minutes of release and sobs. I stopped.
"S-so what are you going to go?" Tara inquired as she and Willow pulled back enough for me to look them in the eyes.
"I just don't know. I want to know, but I don't. What should I do?"
"Leave him. If he doesn't love you for who and what you are, he doesn't deserve you," Willow stated with resolve. I nodded. I knew deep down she was right.
"I agree. I mean, I know you love him, but what he feels for you isn't love. It's not healthy for you, and if you don't end it now it could get worse. Just think what he might do to you if you don't do what he says? No one deserves to be controlled, to be told that you're worthless, nothing, less than human, that what you want is wrong, and never deserve to be happy. Believe me, it hurts to have someone you love hurt you..." Tara began to tear up as well.
"Tara?" Willow put her hand on Tara's. She looked in her eyes. "Who hurt you?"
"I-I can't tell."
"Tara, what happened? You can tell us anything, we love you," any thoughts I had of Angel were pushed to the back of my mind. I had to know who would have thought to harm Tara. I knew Willow was thinking the same thing.
Tara smiled lightly at us. She took a deep breath, "Buffy, do you re-remember when w-we first m-met, and I told you that Alabama was b-bad?"
"Yeah," Willow and I exchanged worried glances at each other quickly before turning back to Tara.
"Well, Alabama is where my father and brother are."
"You don't mean?"
"My father u-used to beat my mother, and once I was old enough to do chores, he beat me too. If dinner wasn't ready when he said, or the house wasn't clean enough, there was p-punishments. My mother tried to keep me safe, but he would still get me. He even got my brother to join in. Th-they would smack me, or kick, they would scream, calling us freaks and worthless.
Things were like that every day until a week before I can here. That night, my father was drunk, as usual, as was Donnie. They decided they didn't want what they asked us to make for them. That was the worst beating I could recall. Father started by throwing his plate on the floor at our feet. He grabbed Mama and threw her against the fridge. It knocked her out.
The two of them then turned to me, and I remember thinking that they looked like two lions going after their prey, and that I was the zebra. Father got to me first slapping me across the face, then Donnie pushed me in the nose. I felt the tears burning my eyes, but I couldn't cry, because crying always made it worse. They took turns hitting me until a hard left from Donnie knocked me to the floor. That's when the kicking started. I don't know how long they kicked me for, but eventually they got bored and left the house, saying they were going out to eat.
I crawled to Mama as she woke up. She helped me up and took me to my room.'
"What do you want to bring with you?" She asked as we reached my room.
"What?" I asked her as she reached into my closet and pulled out a suitcase.
"We're leaving tonight. We're going somewhere safe. Away from here. I have a car loaded up with my stuff in a safe place and some money set aside. We're going to get what you need and the last of my things and leaving."
"Really?" I was so hopeful. Leaving that place? Never coming back? It sounded like the beating had made me delusional.
"Really." So Mama packed my bags and what little she had left of hers in her room. She left the house for a few minutes and came with a car, we loaded it up and left that night."
'I looked at Tara shell-shocked. I remember feeling like taking a flight to Alabama, ripping the male MaClays' heads off, and kicking the bodies until my legs gave out. I looked to Willow and I've never seen her so upset.'
"I'm so sorry," Willow whispered as she crawled over to Tara, who was crying by this time. Willow put her arms around Tara, hugging her to her chest, and stroked her hair tenderly. "I'll never let anyone hurt you again," she swore as she rocked lightly back and forth. I then calmed down, inched over to the two of them wrapping myself around them.'
"Oh My God. Mom, did that really happen?" Joy asked in a voice so light, it was barely audible. She had tears in her eyes and a lump at the back of her throat.
"That was my reaction. I was stunned that anyone or anything could do that to Tara."
"How can someone be so mean?"
"Some people are monsters, and sometimes there isn't a slayer for them."
"Know I understand why she got upset when me, Rupert and Alex would roughhouse."
"Yeah, that was one thing that I learned that year, life isn't always wonderful." Buffy looked to her child, who in turn sighed. "But that's why you have recognize happiness and hold on to it when you find it."
"That was deep Mom."
"Especially from someone as shallow as you!" Joy quipped.
"What?!?!? Okay that was mean! That's it! We're stopping for the night, and no more story for today!" Buffy gave her daughter an evil eye was normally reserved for when she was cut off in traffic.
"No! Mom I'm sorry! Please don't stop! I've got to know what happens!"
"Nope, you were really mean. Besides, this is the hotel on Willow's list anyway." She pointed out of the window to the large building.
"I can't believe your stopping like that!" Joy huffed as she unclicked her seatbelt.
"I can't believe you fell for that!" Buffy replied as she shut the car door behind her, a smirk gracing her lips.
"What!?" Joy's eyes widened in surprise.
"I was kidding! I'll pick up where I left off after we check in and get dinner."
"I can't believe you!"
"I can't believe you! Oh please. Yeesh, you've got your father's wit that's for sure."
"What are you twelve?"
"If I'm twelve than so are you! Now grab your bag and get checked in before all the good rooms are taken."