Return to Van Rosenberg Chapter Thirty-Five

Van Rosenberg

Author: Alcy
Rating: R for supernatural violence and (eventually) hot, gay lovin'
Disclaimers: I don't own any of the Buffy, Tomb Raider or Dracula characters. This fic is of course AU so no spoilers for any season.

Many thanks to Foo for the splendid banner.

As she awoke with her mind still fogged with sleep, Willow's immediate instinct was to bolt upright and scan her surroundings for any sign of danger. She found herself in the middle of her bed at Gordon Square. The royal blue covers were tucked securely around her legs and there was no sign of another soul, friend or foe, in the room. Despite the coast being clear, she felt as though there were piercing eyes watching and hunting her even in the supposed safety of her own home. Willow's next instinct was to find the sturdiest piece of furniture and crawl beneath it. However as she peeled back the covers and prepared to make a swift exit from the bed, the fog addling her brain finally lifted and she was able to experience a full spectrum of pain as her brain thumped against the inside of her skull. With a weak cry she stopped moving, remaining upright only long enough to acknowledge that she had to lie down once more. Gingerly she brought her aching head to rest on the pillows beneath her, trying to bury her head in their feathers as though that would put an end to the pounding.

She heard the door creak open but she could not muster the strength to fight or flee and continued to submerge her pain in the pillow. Willow heard someone crossing the room, approaching the bed and then there was the dull clunk of something being set down on the small table beside her bed. The smell of food reached her nostrils and immediately her stomach heaved in protest at the possibility of ingesting being forced to ingest food. A few moments later she was able to recognise cabbage soup and fresh bread. The aroma of even such simple fare seemed pungently unbearable.

"I know you're awake, Willow," it was Faith's reassuringly abrupt tone.

"Faith?" Willow tried to lift her head from the pillow. The second time around was no easier, she managed to push herself over onto her back so she could at least look at her friend. A tiny shaft of light sneaking through the otherwise closed curtains did not improve her headache. "Oh god, I feel as though someone has rammed my head repeatedly into a stone wall."

"That's because someone did ram your head into a stone wall," Faith answered in a matter-of-fact tone. "It didn't make you any prettier."

Willow could not even manage a smile in response to Faith's gentle jibe; instead she re-closed her eyes and tried to remember the events that had put her in bed with a head that felt as though it had been used for a football. When she lifted her hand to her head, she found it wrapped in a soft bandage. Even through the padding, her head felt extremely tender to the touch.

"I remember fighting Dracula..." Willow whispered as her fingers lingered over the bandage. "As much as I do not want to admit it, I think he had the upper hand..."

She remembered their duel in the rain soaked cemetery, the feeling of exhilaration as she clashed blades with the Lord of Vampires...and then she remembered the rage that had flowed through her veins as he taunted her mercilessly. A rage that had undoubtedly led to her defeat as her careful control gave way to desperation.

Willow let out a ragged sigh as she opened her eyes once more, "I let him bait me with his nonsense. Faith, I am truly an imbecile."

"I will not disagree with you there," Faith replied pointedly, she turned and reached for the soup that was sending tantalising tendrils of steam into the air. "You've slept for almost twelve hours...I was beginning to worry you wouldn't wake up until I heard you moaning away in your sleep."

"What did I say?" Willow asked as she eyed the soup warily as Faith balanced it on her lap.

"Nothing that should be repeated in polite company," Faith winked, as Willow prodded for further information with a demanding glance she continued, "Something about making love on the were rather vocal."

"Oh," Willow muttered, her face flushing a gorgeous scarlet. As she struggled to overcome her embarrassment, she heard the clink of the spoon against the bowl as Faith scooped a spoonful of the cabbage soup. Her stomach heaved just at the sound. "Please, I honestly can't stomach the thought of eating that."

Faith glanced down at the soup, "There's nothing wrong with it, I was raised on cabbage soup and it's perfectly fine..."

"No, not the soup...any food!" as soon as she gasped the words out, Willow retched painfully, her stomach was already empty so nothing emerged. However Faith very wisely took the hint and set the bowl back down with a shrug. "Sorry," Willow whispered, "Do you know what happened...I should be waking up in a torture chamber somewhere, not safe in my own bed."

The last thing she remembered was lying in the mud with Dracula's hands grasping at her clothing, then she supposed Dracula had rammed her into the aforementioned tombstone....and then there was only darkness. Given that she had set out alone without informing anyone, it seemed impossible that the evening could turn out as it had with no cavalry coming to her rescue. Willow searched Faith's expression for any hint of rebuke but she found nothing save concern and more than a hint of exhaustion about her eyes.

"The vampire saved your life," Faith admitted a little reluctantly.

Willow's eyes opened wide and she tried to rise from her pillows once again, a multitude of almost incomprehensible questions burst forth from her lips all at once, "Tara? How? Where is she? Is she still here? Faith, can I see her?"

Even as Willow began to sway in her semi-upright position, Faith reached out and clamped a hand firmly on each shoulder, "Calm down, Will, you'll do yourself further damage if you work yourself into a state."

It took some effort for Willow to force herself to look at Faith as opposed to the door in the faint hope that she would see Tara standing there, a small smile on her face. She drew in a deep breath and allowed Faith to place an additional pillow at her back before she lay down, now propped up at a better angle. Her head still pounded but the pain had lessened somewhat and the soup was almost making her mouth water.

"I can't remember anything after falling to the ground at Dracula's feet...I don't remember Tara being there at all...or bringing me here," Willow admitted, desperately trying to dredge up an image of Tara hovering above her with her lips slightly parted in concern and tears misting in her eyes.

"She used some sort of spell, I was alone in the training room and in the next instant I was almost flattened by the two of you appearing out of nowhere, soaking wet and you all bloodied. Although how she swiped you out from beneath Dracula's nose I cannot say...that will be a question you will have to ask of her," Faith explained gently. "I left her alone in the room with you last night...but when I checked an hour later she was gone."

"She stayed with me?" Willow whispered, closing her eyes. The image of Tara hovering over her sleeping form came easily into her mind and she smiled as broadly as her headache would allow her.

"Against my better judgement," Faith growled, annoyed at what she perceived as an insipid expression on Willow's face. "Although she didn't slay you in your sleep so I suppose my concerns were unfounded."

Willow's pleasant imaginings did not last long. She thought of Tara leaving Gordon Square and wondered at her reasons for going. Other speculations came into her mind, darker suspicions that she could not give voice to...and an element of doubt as to the blonde vampire's intentions. Tara had betrayed her once before. Willow could not rule out the possibility that her ‘rescue' was merely another ply on Tara's part as she was still in league with Dracula. Still, the alternative also came to mind. Tara had defied Dracula to swipe her out from beneath his nose and her life was in danger because of it. It was almost too much for Willow's mind to process.

She opened her eyes, "Did she tell you where she was going?"

"I'm sorry she didn't," Faith replied, the crestfallen expression on Willow's face was more than enough to make her regret behaving so coldly to Tara that previous evening. She retrieved the soup bowl, "Eat something...regain your strength, and I promise we'll find Tara...regardless of her plans."

Willow nodded in agreement, Faith knew her too well. She refused to be spoon-fed and swiped the bowl and spoon from Faith's careful grasp.

Faith may have been raised on cabbage soup but she most definitely could not make it herself. The soup was awful...but a determined Willow ate every, single drop.

As Willow ate she knew that Faith was right; regardless of Tara's plans...she had to be found.

Tara watched as the last of the suns rays disappeared below the horizon. Soon the city would be shrouded in darkness and they would come for her. She did not know how many he would send, whether they would be instructed to destroy her or drag her back to him in chains...but she did know that they would come.

When she eventually stood alone in the completely dark city, Tara did not seek the sanctuary of the shadows. Instead she continued walking down the middle of the street in a bold challenge to those demons who would seek to confront her.

When they came, the five came as one. They were a wave of vampires that surged from the shadows around her in every direction. Tara did not run, she knew that to do so once would mean she would be running always. The vampires tried to strike as one but Tara rose up out of their reaching grasp, as she did her body transformed into the dark mist of her other form. When she descended she engulfed one of the vampires below her, swirling about him and blinding him. The vampire was not as old as Tara, he screamed an awful sound as his arms flailed about his head in a vain attempt to wave away the oppressive force that assaulted him. Tara moved to encircle another of the vampires, throwing the small group into confusion. When Tara's body solidified once again she was standing in front of a female vampire with closely cropped blonde hair. If the female was surprised to find her own sword in Tara's hand, the expression did not have time to register on her face. A split second after Tara had formed with her feet solidly on the ground she brought the slender sword around in a savage swing. The vampire's head fell from her shoulders and hit the ground; it rolled and came to rest in the centre of the remaining four vampires. Tara stood facing them with her bloodied sword, daring the next to come at her.

"You cannot run from our Master forever!" the nearest growled, he stabbed a trembling finger in Tara's direction.

"I am not running," Tara replied calmly, extending the point of her sword towards the quartet of vampires, "It is not my back but my face that you see...and the sword in my hand, leave me be or you will taste the same dusty fate as your companion."

What happened next definitely cleared up any doubt as to Dracula's orders regarding Tara. None of the vampires heeded her warning; all four surged forward with their own weapons drawn. The vampire who had challenged her wielded a sword of his own; he was clad in tight leathers that bared his whip-cord thin arms. Tara met his blade, her cloak swirling like liquid through the air as she moved. They danced across the cobbles and their blades clashed, a metallic clang ringing out with each strike. The fierce power behind her strokes forced him to the ground. Even as he fell a second female vampire took his place quickly, twin knives in her hands. Lined up on either side of her were a pair of burly male vampires whose matching haircuts and clothing made them appeared identical. Both obviously preferred their fists.

The knife-wielding vampire came at Tara with the knives whirling in her skilled fingers. Tara caught one hand in the fold of her cloak, the vampire's wrist tangled and the blade was trapped, usable. However the loss of one blade did not distract her and she brought the other whipping around to slice through Tara's sleeve.

Tara did not flinch as she felt the razor sharp metal nip at her flesh. She twisted around completely, her opponents arm was still caught in her cloak. It meant that she was unable to strike again quickly. With a deft flick of her wrist, Tara reversed her blade and drove it backwards. Her blade plunged through the soft flesh of the vampire's stomach until it was buried almost to the hilt. When she turned the trapped female was snarling with rage, lashing out wildly with her knife. Tara caught her wrist with her free hand and with a savage twist, broke the bone, the audible snap ringing out in the night air.

Crack! Tara was sent sprawling sideways as one of the burly vampires stepped between her and the screeching vampire skewered on her blade. She lost her grip and went stumbling backwards, hitting something solid. Before she could turn, her arms were pinned behind her back by the remaining vampire.

Even as she struggled violently, her assailant struck her a second time. His knuckles split the skin above her eye and Tara was barely able to suppress the cry that she wanted to make.

However, she recovered quickly and defiantly thrust her chin forward. She calmly met the gaze of the vampire in front of her with her piercing blue eyes challenging him to strike her again. However, just as she expected the next blow to smash into her face she saw him pause with a look of shock passing across his face. A second later Tara felt the firm grip restraining her disappear, dust swirled past her body. Instinctively she stepped to one side and was not surprised to see a crossbow bolt slam into the vampire who moments earlier had been mercilessly pummelling her with his fists. The look of surprise was still fixed on his face as his body exploded.

When Tara turned she saw a vision of power and death striding towards her. Clad in scarlet leather, with her dark hair swirling about her face and a spent crossbow held in her hand, Faith flicked a tiny smile in Tara's direction. She tossed the crossbow to the cobbles and with a wide flourish drew her silver sword.

There were now only two vampires remaining. The female one Tara had gutted earlier had drawn the sword from her own belly and was wielding it like an angry banshee. With a shriek she hurled herself towards Faith. Her efforts were greeted with a hoarse laugh from Faith who no doubt viewed the impending contest as terribly uneven.

A weaponless Tara was left to face the thin vampire she had brushed aside first. It was clear his pride had been damaged and he was eager to see her pay for it. With blood now trickling into her eyes, Tara stumbled backwards awkwardly as he came surging towards her.

Time almost stopped, Tara saw the vampire falling towards her with his blade drawn out behind him. In mere seconds he would bring it sweeping towards her neck. Tara stared at oblivion and found herself surprised to be welcoming it.

Faith's hoarse cry interrupted her vision of destruction, "Tara, catch!"

Tara whirled and plucked the stake the Faith tossed out of the air. She used the vampire's own momentum as he came at her and he drove himself forward onto the wood. The air was forced from her lungs as he came crashing down atop her and knocked her to the ground. A split second later however he exploded in a gritty shower of dust.

Clutching the stake to her chest, Tara tried to rise to her feet but she found her legs would not support her. With the dust from the vampire she had slain still swirling about her, Tara sank to her knees in the damp earth. As she struggled for breath, she realised that she had not eaten for days and her strength was almost exhausted. She was forced to face the fact that she would need to feed if she expected to be able to survive on the streets. The hunted needed their strength. Faith's footsteps sounded firmly on the cobbles behind her. She glanced over her shoulder but did not rise to her feet.

"Are you trying to wind up dusted...or dead, or whatever the hell happens to a vampire with a bloody soul?" Faith demanded as she slid her bloody sword into its scabbard. She cocked her head to one side and narrowed her eyes with curiosity, "How can you be killed anyway?"

"In truth I do not know," was all Tara said.

Faith realised her curiosity was hardly important and she waved it aside. She reached out her hand towards Tara. After staring at it for a moment, Tara clasped the offered hand and allowed Faith to draw her back to her feet. The two women continued to stare at one another before something broke inside Faith and she sighed.

"You left the safety of the house for this?" Faith asked, indicating the stake in Tara's hand and the dust of several vampires coating her cloak.

"I couldn't stay..." Tara began.

"You ran!" Faith accused her.

It was Tara's turn to narrow her eyes, "You hardly wanted me to stay."

"You should not care what I want...Willow wanted you to stay!" Faith fired back.

Tara paused and smiled sadly, "Willow only wants to confront me."

"So let her confront you...or are you a bloody coward?" Faith demanded.

"I would prefer not to set foot in that house," was all Tara would say, refusing to be baited by Faith's angry demands.

Faith's fists were clenched at her sides; she was obviously contemplating whether she could force Tara to accompany her back to Gordon Square. She eventually realised that short of seizing Tara by the hair, there was no way the blonde vampire would agree to accompany her.

"If not to Gordon Square, then at least allow me to escort you to the museum. You would be even safer there," Faith suggested, there was no trace of reluctance in her voice as there had been the previous evening.

Tara looked steadily at Faith, she knew that acceptance of any such offer would require admitting to herself that she could no longer stubbornly stand apart and alone from those around her.

She also remembered the brief moment during which Willow gazed into her eyes and her heart fluttered as she dared to hope that the gaze was something other than that of a delirious woman. Finally, she allowed herself to make the curt nod that was the first step towards reconciliation.

Willow shifted in her bed in a vain effort to find some measure of comfort and warmth. However, no matter how soft the feathers in her pillow or mattress, or how many blankets her friends piled atop her body, she could not seem to reach either state.

Thankfully, the throbbing in her head had eased somewhat following food and a little sleep but she could not stomach the thought of remaining in bed for yet another day. Mindful that Faith could be waiting just beyond her door, ready to pounce if she tried to leave her room, Willow rose and tugged on a thick velvet robe over her woollen underwear.

Faith was not lying in wait just beyond her door, however as she crept downstairs she heard a great deal of noise emanating from the kitchen. The clash of pots and pans was accompanied by a series of foul epithets at regular intervals. Willow suspected that Faith was trying to concoct another batch of her cabbage soup...or something equally as unpalatable. Wanting to avoid a confrontation, Willow moved instead into the library and down the hidden passageway to the training room. Once she was within the room, with its familiar smells of sweat and polish, she felt somewhat at ease. Training of any sort was out of the question but Willow could still run her hands over each of the weapons, feel their strength at her fingertips and see if any needed attention. She was almost disappointed to find each blade sharp; no doubt Faith had kept Myles busy for many hours honing each blade to perfection.

She then crossed to the heavily laden bookshelves. Their leather spines were free of dust but they were packed in tightly, too neatly, as though they had not been disturbed in their slumber for some time. Willow continued to run her hands over their spines as though reassuring them that despite her newfound skills, she still cared for the written word as much as she ever had.

Willow paused with her hand on one particular volume. She let her fingers linger for a moment before she felt a chill run through her body. Moments after reading the title, she snatched her hand away and took a step backwards. Most Horrid Magicks. She continued to stare at the black, otherwise innocuous spine, its gilt lettering seeming to glimmer slightly in the light.

Part of Willow wanted to turn her back on the book run from the training was the sensible part of her she knew she ought to listen to. However, Willow found herself subconsciously reaching towards the book once more and it was as though she were watching herself from afar. Her fingers closed once more on the spine, she felt chilled once more, clearly in anticipation of what lay beyond the hidden doorway.

With one savage tug, she dislodged Most Horrid Magicks from its place between its neighbours. She then snatched her hand away, as though afraid of what she had just done. Indeed, she felt as though she had unleashed a savage beast.

At first nothing happened, the training room was silent save for her own urgent breathing. Almost a minute passed until Willow heard the sound of grinding bones and gears creaking in protest at being disturbed. A section of the bookcase jolted slightly, dislodging decade's worth of dust from hidden crevices and other places Myles had not cared to clean. Very slowly, the bookcase swung inward to expose a dark passageway. Willow was immediately assaulted by a bevy of aromas, all indistinguishable at first. However as she stood fixed in the doorway she realised that although it was made up of damp, rot, earth and stale air, the aroma was that of utter despair.

She had no desire to venture into that dark place but something compelled her inwards, a desire to know, to experience the hell that lay within. Willow tentatively planted one foot after the other. With each step she felt an increasing weight bear down on her slender shoulders.

It was dark. No light shone from within and little of the training room's light seemed to penetrate beyond an invisible line on the floor where the bookcase had stood. Willow paused for another moment to give her eyes the chance to adjust to the gloom. Gradually she made out the roughly hewn stone walls that surrounded her and the one place where they gave way to a door. The rusted iron bars had been left open. Drawing a deep breath, Willow stepped through the door and into Tara's cell.

The darkness within the cell was overwhelming, it hemmed her in from all sides and threatened to collapse in on her and seal her in the cell forever. A strangled cry escaped her throat as she was driven to her knees by the weight of the emotions sealed within the room. She remained there for several minutes, gasping for much needed air as she struggled to overcome her terror.

Willow did not succeed but as her breathing evened out and she was able to lift her chin up, she realised she never would. The stones within the cell held too much suffering to allow her to relax. Her eyes roamed over the long dried bloodstains on the floor and walls of the cell. She almost cried when she saw the desperate scratches in the stone, scratches made by mere fingernails.

She had been in the cell for the barest fraction of time compared to the years Tara spent imprisoned and yet already she marvelled that her former lover could have survived.

"Because you loved me..." Willow whispered. As her own small voice filled the chamber she wondered what Tara had said during all those years she was alone in the dark, had she spoken at all? She remembered the vision Giles had shown her and the half-mad creature that had he and Jeremiah Croft had released from the cell.

With an immense effort, Willow pushed herself to her feet and stumbled towards the door of the cell. She felt as though her limbs were moving through quicksand and try as she might, she could move no faster. When she finally did break through into the training room she was coughing and gasping for air as though she had been drowning.

At the moment that Willow emerged from the passage way, Faith entered the training room. It had obviously been the brunette's intention to train but as she saw Willow stumbling out into the room in front of her, all thoughts of pummelling practice dummies was wiped instantly. She watched as Willow tottered on unsteady legs.

"Will?" Faith dashed quickly across the training room just in time to wrap her arms around Willow's waist and hold her firmly upright. She cast a quick glance in the direction Willow had come and saw nothing but darkness, leading to what she did not know. When she looked at Willow, she found that all colour had drained from the redhead's face, she was as white as the bandage wrapped around her head. "You're as white as a sheet! What the bloody heck were you doing down there?"

"I had to see for myself," Willow replied in fading but determined voice.

Faith frowned, "You had to see what?"

"I had to see what it was like for was the only way I could think of to be close to her," Willow whispered in a broken voice. "I needed..."

"You need nothing but rest!" Faith interrupted in an angry voice, clearly disturbed by the manner in which Willow was acting. She saw the wild look in Willow's eyes and felt the tremors running through her body as she held her.

Willow however was not interested in Faith's concerns. "Faith, please!" she protested as she mustered the strongest voice she could manage, "Let me be...I'm just feeling a little faint tis all."

"And you will keel over and hit your head!" Faith growled in annoyance as Willow tried to shrug out of her grasp. "What are you even doing out of bed?"

When Willow tried to shrug out of her grip for the second time, Faith reluctantly released her but hovered close in case she appeared at all unsteady. However, Willow was no longer focused on remaining upright; she was staring back over her shoulder at the doorway from which she had just emerged. Faith followed her gaze and suppressed a shiver of her own at the sight of the dark passage. However well lit the training room was, no light filtered through the bookcase doorway. It was as though all the light had been swallowed.

"Will, what the devil is down there?" Faith asked quietly. The only immediate reply from her friend was a noticeable shiver. She started towards the passage to see for herself but Willow's hand shot out and grasped her own before she could move past her. "Will?"

"Sorrow lingers there," Willow whispered, convinced Faith would not try and enter the passage; she let go of her hand. "Faith, would you be so kind as to destroy the door mechanism and board up the passage? I know it seems rather trivial when there are more pressing matters at hand..."

"Nonsense," Faith replied quickly, "If that is what you want done..."

"It is," Willow whispered with a decisive nod.

"Then Myles and I shall do it immediately," Faith reassured her with another brief touch on Willow's arm, "However, only if you promise to return to bed."

Willow nodded again in reply. She took one last look at the passage leading to Tara's cell before gratefully turning her back on it. The boarding up and sealing of the entrance would go some way to easing her ill feelings about the place but she knew she would not be able to rid herself of the memory of being within that space. As long as she lived at Gordon Square, she would be aware of the presence of the cell beneath the house.

As Faith watched Willow walk away she contemplated calling out to her, letting her know that she had been forced to save Tara's life just hours ago and that she was now in the Museum's basement. However, she remembered the blankness in Willow's eyes and now saw her slumped shoulders as she trudged towards the stairs. It could wait.

Oblivious to Faith's concerns, Willow made her way back to her room. She felt as though her skin was crawling with filth after being in the god-awful cell. While she wanted nothing more than a bath she did not want to summon Faith or Myles to have them draw one for her and she already knew that they would not allow her to tote her own buckets of hot water. She settled for dashing a liberal amount of water from the pitcher atop her dresser into its matching bowl and scrubbed at every inch of exposed skin. After her effort, she glanced in her mirror to find her face, neck and lower arms red raw. Still she felt filthy.

With her head pounding once again, Willow eased herself down onto her bed and closed her eyes. However, as soon as her vision descended into darkness, images of the cell came unbidden into her mind and along with them, an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and oppression. Her eyes flew open as she found herself struggling for a breath with a thin sheen of sweat covering her brow as though she had been back in the cell. When she turned her head, searching for the light pouring in the window, her gaze was instead drawn to the portrait of Tara perched on her bedside table. The portrait's small smile seemed sad as though she understood all too well what Willow felt.

Without hesitation, Willow reached out and picked up the frame. She held it close; so close that Tara's face was the only image that filled her frame of view. The longer she stared at the beautiful lines that made up the likeness of the woman she had loved, the easier her breathing became.

A few minutes later she laid the portrait on her chest. When she closed her eyes again, she no longer saw the damp walls of the cell; instead she saw Tara's smiling face. Her grip tightened on the frame as though she could somehow summon the woman herself through just the contact with her likeness. Willow knew that the Tara that was in the drawing was long gone, that the person who walked the earth was as much a vampire as anything else...and yet she knew deep down in her heart that she wanted to be with Tara no matter what she had become. Her earlier thought that she may still be in league with Dracula was dismissed as being nothing but unfounded suspicion. Tara's soul was in Tara's body...therefore the sombre, dark-cloaked woman that haunted her steps, was Tara.

As she gripped the frame tightly in her fingers, the backing suddenly slipped away. Willow glanced down to see that her fierce grip had broken the frame. With a sigh she picked up the two pieces. As she did something white fluttered out from between them and came to rest on her stomach. She immediately clutched at it and drew herself into a sitting position. When she stared down into her hand she found paper which had been tightly folded into a small square.

With trembling fingers Willow quickly unfolded the paper. Her heart missed a few beats when she saw one side was covered in a neat, upright script. Even before she stared reading, Willow recognised the handwriting as belonging to her brother.

Dearest sister, I write this knowing that you have been give the second chance you deserve even though it pains me to know that you will find out what I did and think ill of me because of it. Please know that everything I did was for you...including placing the skull you died for somewhere safe, where it will always be with you.

Willow stared at the small scrap of paper as though expecting the short message to change and reveal something that was actually useful. It was the only clue she had that even hinted at the whereabouts of the skull but the longer she stared at it, the more unhelpful the message became. Having her brother admit that everything he did was solely for her, including torturing Tara, did not improve her mood.

"You knew full well I would never have condoned what you did to her, demon or not," Willow whispered, her voice sounding lonely in the empty room, "I was ready to let her go, you should have been look at the mess you've made..."

Although she felt like tearing the message into shreds out of sheer frustration, Willow instead folded it into a tight square and jammed it in her pocket. She gazed out at the world beyond her window and knew that somehow she had to escape Faith, who was no doubt watching her like a hawk, and make her way to the Museum to see Giles. If anyone could possibly shed light on her brother's cryptic message it would be the centuries-old warlock.

Continue to Van Rosenberg Chapter Thirty-Seven

Return to Story Archive
Return to Main Page