DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. There is angst ahead.
SPOILER: Up to the season 6 finale.
RATING: R (US) 15 (UK)
PAIRING: Willow/Tara

Finding Heaven
By Marilda

Chapter 12

Tara grabs the towel off the rack and proceeds to dry herself off, taking her time in the process. No point in hurrying, she thinks, no reason to anymore. She hums a song under her breath, not actually paying attention to the melody. As she puts on the robe she realizes that it's the Smurf's theme. La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la LA. She bursts out laughing. Of all the songs stuck in her head….

She goes to the medicine cabinet, wipes off the steam with the hem of the robe and goes about her morning ritual – brushing teeth, putting on lotion, etc. As she does this, she begins thinking about the Smurfs. Yes, okay, she hasn't watched the show in – ever, so the details are a bit fuzzy, but she remembers the population of girls to boys being vaguely disproportionate.

Well that's just sexist! She thinks. Stupid little blue men! They're so threatened by women that they have to eradicate the whole gender? Of all the nerve! Then she stops, ponders and seems to vaguely recall their being a female Smurf in the group, but only one. Well that's just typical, she continues. Only one female? She was what? Their domestic slave? Probably in the kitchen all day slaving to make a vast amount of food for a bunch of ungrateful slobs. Stupid little men! They should all just die - wait, die?

Hmm, how did the Smurfs further their population?

Her eyes widen as she realizes that the female Smurf was also their SEX Slave!! And Ew! Wasn't there an old man too? Yuck! She had to sleep with the old man?! Why that's the most disgusting thing she's ever heard of. First of all, there had to have been wrinkle issues and….


Tara turns from the mirror and into the face of a certain redhead who's leaning against the bathroom door.

"Hmm?" She asks.

"What are you thinking about?"

Tara reflects for a moment, realizes the weird turn her internal monologue has taken and vows for discretion.

"You baby. Always you."

Chapter 13

Moments later and they sit on the bed staring at each other. One set of eyes conveying questions, the other trepidation for giving the answers. The air is tense, thick with anxiety and the disparity of discourse. But it is underlined by something else, something constant that calms the rough winds of confrontation and revelation. It is underlined by devotion and a deep-seated knowledge of rightness and fate. Willow leans in and kisses the blonde, delicately, slowly, not thinking about passion or desire, well not as much as normal, rather thinking about love and belonging. She takes the other women's lips in her own, caressing them, caressing her. Those lips convey rightness, understanding, loyalty and love.

"Baby," she begins. "If you wanna wait…."

Tara sighs into her lover's lips and mentally steels herself for the revelations she is about to disclose. "No, you need to know, I just…" She trails off, knowing that what she has to say will cause the redhead pain and she would rather go to the depths of hell rather than see her girlfriend suffer.

She is overcome by urgency, needing to convey the importance of her next words. She grabs the redhead's hands into her own, moving them to rest between her breasts, mentally urging them to feel every emotion that is making tidal waves in her heart. "Sweetie, you're my world," she imparts frantically. "N-Nothing…" She pauses, catches her breath and starts again. "You have my heart. Since I met you, since I saw you…" she pauses again, cursing her mind for not knowing how to decipher the truth so blatantly evident in her soul, cursing the world for not inventing the words. She sighs "You just…you have my heart. I need you to know that, to understand that."

Willow nods, trepidation making its way into the confines of her mind, trying to find a place to stake claim, make roots.

"What did you do?" She whispers softly, illogically hoping that the words didn't carry over, that the questions plaguing her mind would disappear into the air.

"I remembered," Tara replies.

"You'd forgotten?"

"I was here when you were crying in Buffy's arms, when you asked her if I was happy."

"Oh God." Willow takes her hands out of the other girl's grasp. "Oh baby, I'm sorry." Her eyes widen as she realizes that it was her fault. "It was me wasn't it? You WERE happy and then you saw me with the crying and the pain…oh God, I made you forget the happiness?"

"Wait. Sweetie…" She says as she tries to take the other women's hand back in her own. "Listen okay?" When Willow again moves to take her hands away, Tara reinforces the grip. "Please." She gets a slow nod from the redhead and begins to tell the tale of her ascension to heaven and return to earth.

"I remember floating and feeling dizzy. Like my body felt weightless and my mind didn't know how to adjust to the concept? Then I was there. I can't describe it, not really." She thinks. "It, it's beyond words. I was looking around, you know? Trying to take it all in?"

Willow listens intently, trying to mentally picture herself in the situation. She gives a slight nod, urging the blonde to continue.

"I was still trying to figure out what the heck was going on when I felt something, someone. H-he was just there. And seeing him, I knew. I knew what happened, where I was. And sweetie, I didn't care. Once I figured it out all I could think about was trying to get back to you." Tears fill her eyes, threaten to overflow.

Willow leans in and rests her forehead against the other woman.

"I went kind of crazy," she continues, smiling sheepishly at the notion. " T-they let me see you, let me come to you. That's when, you know, with Buffy…"

Willow leans back and stares at the other women's eyes. "I knew I felt you."

Tara just nods. "They told me it was a chance to say goodbye but I...I couldn't accept that. So they…." She trails off.

"What?" Willow asks, squeezing Tara's hand reassuringly. "They what?"

"My memories. They took my memories."

Willow looks up, aghast. "Oh, baby…"

"The memories of you, of us, God, all of them were just gone. Everything went away even…" She stops, pain momentarily flashing in her eyes, she mentally shakes her head and continues. "Then I remembered again. I don't know how long I was without them, how long I forgot." She looks up. "How long was it?"

Willow looks at her, not comprehending. "What? Oh. Months. You were dea-, you were gone a couple of months."

Tara nods, storing the information. "Then I remembered and I had to get back. So I figured out a way, made a deal with someone and then I was here." She smiles, shrugs and hopes that it's enough. Hopes that Willow won't ask more. But Willow, her Willow, was anything if not intuitive.

"Even what Tara?"

Tara looks up, confused for a second, thinking that Willow was going to ask about the other.


"You forgot even what?"

Tara releases her lover's hands, not prepared for THIS confrontation. She stands up off the bed and walks over to the dresser, frantically searching for something to do with her hands. She looks over her shoulder and grins half-heartedly.

"Does it matter?" She asks hopefully. "They made me forget you. That, I can never forgive them for."

"Even what?" Willow asks again. Her face set in grimly determined lines. She remembers conversations had in the past, childhood traumas not fully known, haunting only in dreams and chased away by the sun. There remnants only visible through a haze of mist.

"Willow please…" Tara pleads. Her hands now face down in the dresser, trying to find purchase.

But Willow is like a dog with an itch, scratching and prodding, feeling the hurt it is causing itself in the process, but determined to make the itching stop.

"Tara. Even what?"

"My dad." Tara replies softly. "Even the dreams were forgotten."

Willows discharges a shuddered breath. Knowing that the next question has to be asked, knowing that the answer will stab at her heart.

"And when you remembered again?"

Tara closes her eyes, her hands now in fists on the counter, their trembling barely restrained.

"I remembered you."

"Tara…" Willow warns.

The hand struck her suddenly, snapping her head back, bruising her cheek. There was a voice, deep, male, angry. Telling her she was worthless, making her feel as if she deserved the pain.

Tara turns around, her eyes pleading with Willow not to make her say it. "Sweetie, it doesn't matter," she says almost desperately. Knowing how Willow will take the situation, knowing she'll blame herself. She would rather go through the depths of hell, she thinks again.

Willow stands up, approaches the blonde. "Baby, I need to know."

A voice raised in anger, sweet sickly breath blowing on her ear, telling her to be a good girl. Hard fingers, piercing pain.

Resigned, she looks down. Her arms crossed defensively over her chest, her hand at her sides, her fingers digging into flesh.

"The dreams became clear." She disheartenely professes.

Willow's heart begins to break. Her voice trembles. "You remember everything?"

Tara, still looking down, nods.

The dam inside of Willow breaks, anguish for her lover, for the torments now clearly present. What was a mirage became a reality, what was a mist in the night became a razor-sharp image clear in the glare of the sun. Tears flow freely, her heart breaking for Tara, for what remembering cost her.

It was all her fault, she thinks. Tara remembered and now she didn't even have the comfort of dreams. God, Willow thinks. She remembers waking up to Tara screaming, to sickening sounds of a child in pain. She remembers gathering the blonde in her arms and gently guiding her awake. And she knows, she knows, that Tara didn't remember everything. Yes, she felt the fear, yes she felt the pain, but the dreams were always masked. And now…God.

She reaches out to try to comfort the blonde but pulls her hand back down. She doesn't know how. A silent sob escapes and she tries again. Her hand touches the blonde's face and forces her to look into her eyes.

Tara looks up and sees Willow's tears. Her pain forgotten at the sight of Willow's anguish. "Oh sweetie, no…" She starts, she too, reaching for her lover's face. "Sweetie, please don't cry." She says and palms her hand on her lover's cheek. Her voice breaks. "I can't stand to see you cry."

Willow breaks, wanting the comfort of her lover's body; she enfolds the blonde in her arms. She hangs on tightly, her body betraying her, contradicting her mind, contradicting what she KNOWS she has to do, what she has to say.

"You have to go back."

To Be Continued

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