A million times Willow played the moment in her mind, wanting it to be true with every day since she had first met the blonde. She would walk forward, or perhaps Tara would... she'd ask, always ask, but the answer would never change and soon they would be melding together, caressing and adoring one another's mouths, and bodies.
Her hands would slowly slide, memorizing every curve, adoring every ache, bruise or scratch that had ever lived on Tara's beautiful skin. A million times more had she imagined Tara willingly doing the same to her. And yet, even when you wish for something so strong, and make it as vivid as reality with every dream, it is never the same as real life.
At first Willow couldn't help glancing quickly up to Tara's eyes and back down to her mouth - her luscious mouth that was slowly pursing itself. Was this too fast? Did Tara want this as much as her? But soon it was apparent that the blonde's eyes were no longer open to check with. She was leaning in as well as the starlight slipped off her cheek - her face submersed in darkness heading towards Willow's.
When eyes could no longer lead and hands couldn't follow the couple's senses were heightened. It was all sound, smell... and taste.
It was impossible for the blonde to get enough of Willow's scent - a sort of spice reminding her of rain, flowers, dew on the morning leaves and warm evenings by a fire all at once. Ever since they first met, she remembered, Tara could smell the girl's presence. Only now had it occurred to her as all she could smell was Willow. The redhead was surrounding her, suffocating every pore that welcomed the incoming change to the outside world's harsh and perfume.
Softly brushing, barely touching and a kiss was borne on the lips between the two women.
It was small - a light feel searching for yes, love. Tentative questioning soon transforming into certainty. Lightly enjoying one another's newfound home moved into stronger brushing, massaging the pains and joys of the world away into happy oblivion. If ecstasy could be interchangeable with insanity then the two had found it: to be so close, and yet not close enough. To tempt and have no remedy for the scratch only made the kiss pulsate - grow fiercely into a stronger force beyond the strength of the two women. Exploring turned deeper, pushing farther - it seemed as though one breathed - stole - the breath from the other as it was becoming impossible to respire.
They broke - if only for a second - and rested brows.
Willow looked up with watery eyes and saw Tara looking back with as much emotion written on her face as hers.
Her hand crept up to Tara's face, and pulled a strand of blonde down to her fingers, curling and twisting it between digits.
"Please..." Willow's voice croaked. So long begging, waiting, praying, hoping and desperately wanting...
"Please don't leave me."
It was a simple request.
And yet, Tara thought shrewdly, isn't that what she was going to do to her? But soon she knew what Willow was really requesting - a companion for the night, some one to keep her warm - inside and out - during the darker hours.
Her brow furrowed; it was hard enough to conceal what was finally uncovered, how would she, how could she keep up the appearance of non-chalant-warrior when she herself wanted to keep Willow close and hold her and goddess this was hard...
"I can't..." she cracked, too much, it was too much all at once. Her mind raced with images: war, battles, pain, death, fire and then there was Willow. Pure and whole Willow - no substitutions, no worry and no uncertainties.
Willow's face crinkled in hurt, turning her head down in shame for the impulsive reaction. But she was helpless to the intense feelings that were being shot through her mortal skin. It was all too easy to beg for more... and yet impossible to reach what she desired... not now, anyway.
"I have to keep you safe, remember?" Tara said cupping the girl's chin, forcing her eyes to look again - liquid forming there.
"Correction, we have to keep each other safe - keep my heart safe Tara? Please? You keep mine a-and I'll keep yours and we'll make a pact not to ever let go unless the sky falls and the ground swallows up the world," Willow said sniffing, "never, ever..."
"Deal. One heart for another, never to be traded back unless sky falls, check," she smiled at the silliness of it all even as tears escaped her eyes. She caressed the cheek of her love and slicked back the now teary strands of red clasping to the girl's brow.
"Good..." her nostrils scrunched up in protest of the mucus forming - in all of her dreams this was not how she imagined herself, blubbering and making a mess of herself. And yet, it was perfect: Tara was accepting her, wanting her, and understanding, as always. "Tara..." she was breaking, the reality of the situation sinking in. She was in a death trap, and unable to leave without Tara who was a part of those that wanted her dead. But the Sacrament's final day... if all would go to plan... it wouldn't be a matter of death, but escape.
But did she want to leave and in so doing leave what had so quickly become her world?
It would be death.
No matter what she faced death.
"Shsh..." Tara nipped at the girl's lips and caressed her nose lightly with hers, "It'll be okay... .we'll get you out... you'll..." Why am I crying? "...you'll be safe soon..." Without me...
"No! I-I-I can't live without - It's like I'm... I don't understand half of what has happened to me in the past ten days, all I know is that I at first all I wanted was to go back home and be ‘happy' again but then you came and now all I want is for you to hold me and stay with me and there's no way because that'd take you away from your home - "
Just ask, Willow, just ask - and I'll make a new, better, brighter home... with you.
She looked up, tears sparkling.
She'd never come with me... I can't ask her to leave all that she knows - I'd never...
"I don't understand anything and all I really want is you to hold me. Please, just... hold me?" Green eyes of a child sparkled through the woman's frame, pleading, begging. It was impossible for Tara to comply.
It was a redundant question in that Tara's arms were already circumventing the redhead's waist and back. But the blonde clung closer anyway. Neither knew how or when they ended up on the floor, holding onto each other's arms.
Willow lay peacefully on Tara's torso as her arms draped over the redhead's.
For what seemed like a minute - but in reality was over an hour - the two sat, holding onto each other for life, for love and for their homes that slowly were being built on the souls of each other. The blonde leant her head down every once in a while and planted a small kiss on the soft hair below her chin. Willow was softly running her hands up and down the blonde's arm, tingling every cell of the skin - goose-bumps rose in her fingers' stead even after an hour.
Questions bogged each mind. But words were useless now. All that held the two together was the balance they created: the world may be chaos - but right now, right here, they had each other.
And that was all that mattered.
May 7, 1890
Running - racing for life - the child ran after her mother. Caranthia ran as the air, sweeping past tree, brush and bush. Her mother was in danger - this she knew from the second she stepped out into the thunderous night - she was the faster girl in the tribe - yet, she felt infinitely running neither gaining nor retreating in pace. Now, as the rain pelted her young skin, the fear could not be satiated - no matter how hard she ran it still was not hard enough; if she wasn't at her mother's side, she wasn't quick enough.
She broke through the opening of the jungle's mouth and saw a fire crackling, a man stood over a humbled body yelling - screaming. Caranthia waited, terrified shivering through her heavy breaths.
Another figure could be seen through the grass opening - a little girl, around her age, crying obnoxiously, trying to fight off the larger figure of the man.
He was screaming, and slammed his fist into the young girl as the lady that Caranthia was glad to know wasn't her mother tried to crawl away from the brute. It seemed his anger was impossible to quell.
The little girl was flung to the side so easily - dead, most likely. But Caranthia's eyes were trained on the face of the woman that was slowly crawling towards her, away from the man. The woman cried out in pain, whimpering, clutching her side. He noticed and walked up to her, shouting all the way in a language her ears did not recognize.
"I SAID LISTEN TO ME WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU! LISTEN TO ME GODDAMMIT!"
He grabbed at her wrists as he shook her, blood was forming on her cheek where he had last made contact.
"YOU'RE GOING TO LISTEN TO ME IF IT'S THE LAST THING YOU DO!"
And that's when the woman, Caranthia noticed, finally saw her death - she saw how she would end, in the arms of her husband. But Caranthia also noticed where the woman's eyes landed: the small figure of her child humbled on the jungle's floor nearby where the campsite had been formed, no longer moving.
Death was easier, it seemed, with her knowing that her child, her world, had been taken from her. She looked up to the man she once called home, had shared sacred vows with and broke in pain by his hand.
A crack thundered above their heads as Donald MaClay let the woman drop to the ground with his final blow - soon there was a scream, footsteps, and Caranthia saw what she had been waiting fearfully for.
Her mother ran forward, long knife in hand, yelling her powerful war-cry that everyone else in the tribe had learned to fear.
"MUERSA BRAG ISTA!"
Death to evil.
A fight ensued and the man barely kept his footing with the swift woman. Caranthia's view increased, as her mother cornered him against the back of a tree before her childish eyes. Ranthia triumphantly held her sword high for the final blow that would have been his death - but in that split second, in that millisecond, she saw her only child staring right back at her - fear in her eyes and tears forming where brown shone through.
"Momma..." a whisper escaped her mouth against her will.
That's when Donald MaClay grabbed the woman's knife and embedded it in her stomach, the blood left to flow as he pushed the dying body off of his stomach.
That's when Caranthia's world came apart - leaving only hatred for his eyes, the eyes that smiled even through death.
Figures of the women she grew up with swarmed the area as they saw the product of one man's anger... .
But she had to get back to the tribe... if she had stayed... if she had only stayed... maybe if she ran back to the hut as quickly as possible - she was the fastest girl in the tribe - it could be amended, her mother would come back as he promised; she promised. She said she'd be back...if only she had stayed...maybe if she went back now...if she went back as if she never left...maybe her mother would return.
So she ran.
And the rain kept pouring down.