There were guests waiting for her to appear. Tara knew this as she sat at her dressing table casually stroking her hair with a large brush. It was odd to have festivals in her honor. The years had not made them more pleasant. She didn't care to go at all but this was the price she paid for the spoils she had.
The Prophet watched as Willow carefully reordered her books by color and size on the other side of the room. As she finished her current row, she turned to look at her with that messed up, half-breed face. Tara could see the human as easily as she could see the vampire.
Tara had, perhaps, made a silly promise to Spike. It was never as simple as 'I can fix this.' Especially since this wasn't like what Dru went through. I wasn't like anything she had encountered in all her years.
Add to that the fact that she was endangering her position by harboring and caring for such a creature. Such a creature, indeed. That was kind phrasing for what they would think of a vampire in this place of worship.
Willow finished her reorganization, which included building a barrier in the corner with the end tables. She climbed behind them and sat with her knees to her chest. Tara could see her boots peeking out from a space at the bottom of the furniture.
"You think I'm insane, don't you?" Her voice was level and devoid of emotion.
"I think no such thing," Tara replied. "I..."
"I guess I am," Willow interrupted, almost as if she was talking to herself.
"Maybe you're not insane, just quirky."
Willow's head popped over the end tables with a raised eyebrow. "Quirky?"
"Well, you don't sound very insane right now."
The end tables suddenly skidded across the chamber where they crashed into a stone wall and broke into bits and pieces. A snarling, fully-morphed vampire stood, her furniture busting feet now firmly holding her upright.
"You think I don't know about you? You think Spike never told me about you?"
"I'd expect nothing less." Tara crossed her arms over her chest defiantly. She was not used to being questioned or provoked. It bristled her...yet it was somehow exciting.
Willow glided around the blonde, her yellow eyes level and predatory. Her lack of confidence faded with the person that moved to the background. When she finally slinked behind Tara, she leaned next to her ear, pulling her long blonde hair away and asked, "Are you afraid?"
"No," Tara replied calmly, without even turning around. Willow's tongue drew a path up her neck. A shiver ran its course through Tara's frame but it could hardly be credited to fear.
"You'd like to play."
It wasn't a question.
Tara's hands moved in a flash and caught the redhead who was now lunging in her direction. She flipped the vampire over her own body. Willow landed in a heap across the floor. A green-eyed girl who looked frail and tired stared at her in full awe.
"What are you?"
That was the question.
And while the demon thought it knew, the woman did not.
Tara could sense the hesitancy in Willow as she gathered herself. The human side was so strikingly different in demeanor. She had been a very young thing when she was taken. It was hard for Tara to consider it in years. Immortality made time pass at a strange pace and she didn't think in terms of intervals anymore.
Willow brushed herself off and felt the confusing swirl in her mind. There was a demon there...and it was wrong. When she focused, it was her body. When she didn't, 'they' had to share. She said funny things when that happened. She did odd things.
'They' weren't meant to occupy the same space.
When she gave up the constant struggle, the demon had control.
It scared her.
It scared her because she knew it would kill. It would 'play'. She knew she couldn't keep the demon away. She could hardly keep in control very long. It was tiring.
So, this was it. She was some sort of freakish, screwed up vampire now.
She didn't know why it was such a surprise, really. A screw up in life and in death.
From the start, she had been an outcast in her brief twenty years. Her mother died in childbirth, making her the only child of a lesser lord. They had a decent amount of wealth yet lived in a small village among the lower classes. While her father became important in this society, Willow was constantly resented.
She was also too smart for her own good; she always challenged the idiocy of her peers and elders. She tried to school with the boys, who were taught more complex subjects, but the schoolmaster refused. She, instead, attended a girl's school where she was ridiculed for, not only her brains, but her lack of grace and femininity.
It had been an existence and nothing more. Her only solace had been a young, goofy farmer's son named Xander that she befriended as she tutored him through school.
She remembered the end of her living days clearly. She had been arranged to marry Xander by their fathers. She had no love for him in that way, and neither did he, but it was thought best. The night before the wedding she went to the tavern and began to drink. She met two people - an enchanting brunette and an interesting dark blonde man from out of town. Willow, aided by her inebriation, told her story of woe freely. Oddly, these people seemed to listen, to care. They talked of books they had read and places they had been. Her new friends were unique and worldly and fun. Willow danced with them both, and watched with glee as they waltzed around the dump in steps she did not know. She thought something was strange about them, but she didn't care. It was the best night of her life. And when the fangs of the blonde pierced her neck some hours later, she didn't struggle. It was still the best night.
Willow dragged her fingers through her wispy red hair as she looked down at her clothes. The silk red shirt and black leather pants were a different look. Plus, she had a lot more cleavage than she remembered. It wasn't that bad, she supposed. Nicer than any of the foolish clothes she used to have.
She shook off the errant thought. It seemed her mind wandered just as much as it always had.
Of course, wandering was much easier than thinking of the problem at hand. Willow didn't think she could live as a vampire. Just the feeding alone. Yuck. It made her feel dizzy.
"I'm not sure I belong here anymore."
Damn right, you don't.
"This is your home."
"I'm not sure I want to be here again."
Let me send you back.
"Can I be returned to where I was?"
Sure, the sooner the better.
"It must've been nice, right?"
Peaches and puppies.
It must've been nice. She didn't remember killing or drinking blood there.
"It's confusing, isn't it?" Tara's melodic voice cut into the cacophony of Willow's mind. The Prophet had been watching her self conversation as it reflected in the mirror.
Willow grabbed her head as it began throbbing with pain. The vampire snarled to morph to the surface but Willow held her ground as wetness formed at the corner of her eyes.
"What?" Willow asked through her misery.
Tara sighed as she looked at the beautiful creature. So long I have waited for you.
"It was for me too."
Tara didn't look but she felt Willow's eyes staring at her with profound curiosity and intensity.