It was always the same, she tried her best to escape but she could never turn away, could never leave the room. It was small, cramped and she was freezing. Tara knew what was in the corner and no matter how much she fought against her own body it never worked; she still turned. The next thing that she dreaded and could never stop was her eyes slowly rising to the wooden box that dominated the room. She knew what was in it. She didn't want to approach, to look, but there was nothing she could do. The tears started to roll down her face as she looked at her mother's cold, dead body. Heavily made up by the mortician, the face could almost have been anyone. Her blonde wig seemingly ridiculously perched on her head, worn in life to cover the ravages of the useless chemotherapy, in death it seemed an added indignity that her father thought was proper rather than the bandanna her mother liked to wear.
Tara's eyes went back to the body and she stifled a scream as the flesh on her mother's face started to rot in front of her until all that was left was a box full maggots and worms. The screams couldn't be held back; now they came long and loud.
"Tara, Tara," whispered Willow urgently; gently shaking the blonde to try and rouse her from her sleep before her cries woke the rest of the Harris household.
The blonde came back to world like a diver breaking the surface of the water coming back up for air. She was gasping, trembling and her body was covered in a cold sweat. Usually when this would happen she would lie in the darkness, waiting for heartbeat to return to normal before getting out of bed to sit in a chair in her living room listening to music all night. This night was different; this night soft hands stroked through her hair, soft lips kissed the nape of her neck. Tara felt her heart slow and the trembling stop.
"Are you okay?" asked Willow gently, holding Tara to her.
"N-nightmares... I... I get nightmares sometimes," said Tara, feeling as if she would be diminished in Willow's eyes, no longer the brave cop but just a girl, scared and weak.
"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Willow concerned.
"No, not right now... maybe later," offered Tara, melting under the tenderness of the hand that was stroking her skin, she relaxed and let Willow hold her. "That feels so good. Usually when this happens I can forget about sleep for the rest of the night."
"That's okay sweetie," said Willow, pulling her even closer, nestling Tara's head against her breast. "You can sleep tonight baby, I promise I won't let you go.
"Promise?" whispered Tara, as she felt sleep creep upon her.
"I promise," said Willow, kissing Tara's head.
Willow lay listening to Tara's breathing, her mind drifting back over the evening. It has been fun and immensely exciting. There was something about Tara that made her throw caution to the wind. She felt a surge of adrenaline when she thought of their love-making in the garden. It shocked her to think they could have been discovered at anytime. The act itself had been mind blowing; she wasn't sure what was happening to her: at first she had been inclined to blame it on too much beer, but she knew even if she had been stone cold sober she would have wanted it.
When they had finally came back to reality they had dressed and then kissed so softly that Willow had been overcome and a few tears had sprung to her eyes. Tara had been so wonderfully attentive, wondering if she had been too rough, telling Willow she was hers, her stutter becoming as pronounced as Willow had ever heard it. Willow in a halting voice explained to Tara that everything was fine that she had just been overcome with emotion. They had kissed again, gentle but consuming. Willow felt like she was losing herself in her feelings for Tara, in the lust, in the excitement and, yes, in the love.
After a while Tara had suggested they go back to the party. When they returned they had found the party over and Xander and Chrissie tidying up. They had helped and then sat with the other couple at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee. Willow smiled to herself as she thought about the way Tara had kept an almost constant contact with her, either by stroking her hand or her hair. It had made Willow feel so relaxed and content.
The feelings of happiness and contentment washed over Willow and she followed Tara into sleep