Didn't Turn Back

Buffy the vampire slayer. Buffy doesn't go back to Willow at the end of Wrecked. Hours later Spike finds Willow with a bruised head and shredded arms nearly dead. Love vs guilt.

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12. Meet Willow Rosenberg

“W-welcome to The DoubleMeat Palace. W-what w-would you like today?” Asked Tara from behind the register with a practiced smile. Cordelia Chase was scanning the menu that hung from the ceiling. She bit her bottom lip. “I'm not sure, what's the DoubleMeat Medley like?” Tara parroted out the response the manager had given her on her first day, nearly two weeks ago. Cordelia Chase ordered something, Tara pushed some buttons, Cordelia handed the blonde the money for her food and, after several minutes, Tara gave her what she ordered. The brunette chuckled under her breath at the uniform the server wore as she walked away. Unaware that the girl she just spoke to was the love of her former high school friends life. Each costumer's face, order and form of payment blurred together. Each hour Tara Macley worked here passed in blurs. She only payed enough attention to get by, focusing, with everything she could, on keeping her love safe. Her routine had become boring and normal. Each day the witch would get up at 6:15AM, go for a 2 mile run, do her 8 hour shift at The DoubleMeat Palace, rest for an hour, go to her intern job at the mental health facility that her love lived at, study and go take her evening classes, go back to her apartment, study more, then curl up in bed and wait for sleep to take her. When Tara got home that night she didn't bother trying to study, she was too exhausted. The blonde plopped her backpack on her desk chair and wanted to just fall into bed, but forced herself to change into her pajamas first. She pulled back her bed covers and climbed in and lay on the right side. Tara rolled onto her side and hovered her hand over the empty clothes lain out beside her. The clothes slowly filled with an unseen person and the blonde rested her head on the blue shirts chest. Its sleeves wrapped around her like arms and held her close. She sleepily muttered a few latin words and the oh so familiar smell of her former girlfriend wafted throughout the room as she began to weep. She moaned, snuggling closer to the hollow form, and let her suppressed tears fall. “Willow.” The blonde said in a barely audible whisper. [Summers House 4:28PM The Next Day]> “Buffy c'mon, hurry up!” The younger Summers bellowed up the stairs. When she heard her sisters door open and shut, Dawn turned to the front door and exited, quickly followed by Anya. The slayer came down the stairs, muttering out a check list of who knows what, counting down things on her fingers. She nodded when she reached her ring finger and looked at the carpenter waiting by the door. “Okay, we're good. Lets go.” She said and rushed out to her car. Xander said “Right behind ya, Buff.” as he locked the door behind him. He turned and also went to the Summers car, to the drivers seat. They had decided days ago that he would drive to and from their visit to LA. “Who's ready to see our witchy friends?” He asked with a broad smile as he started the car. [A Street About A Block Away From Tara's Apartment 4:48PM]> It had started to rain a little in LA on Tara's walk back to her apartment. She checked her watch, which she had enchanted to not break or get water damage. Okay, still got 22 minutes. She said in her head as she sped up. The steps up to the apartment building were slick with rain water, she nearly slipped on the last step. The blonde's hand fumbled around in her pocket, trying to find her key. Her fingers brushed over the cold metal and she pulled it out. The buildings foyer was no warmer than the rain roofed streets outside. Up the first flight of stairs, up the second, up the third, then finally the witch went up the fourth. The trek up the stairs to her door were difficult the first few days she lived here, but she'd gotten used to them. Tara switched which key on her key ring she was holding and unlocked her door. “Hello, blondy.” Said an all too familiar slurred voice from behind her. “H-hi T-Terry.” She said as she turned around to face the man. Her neighbor, who lived across the hall from her, was a tall, not athletic, not over weight, bald man who smelled like he lived in a liquor and didn't know how to bathe. “What'ya doing later?” He asked as his sickening breath reached for her. “I'm w-working soon.” She answered, forcing her body to hide her nervousness. Even though she could send him through a wall with magic if she wanted to, he still scared her more than she'd care to admit. “Liar.” He said with a lazy grin. “You don't start work for another hour.” Has he been following me? Tara worriedly asked inside her head. The thought of Terry Fletcher following her around with or without her knowing about it was very, very frightening. “I'm f-filling in f-for a f-friend.” She told him and mentally yelled at herself for letting her stutter come back so fiercely the past couple of weeks. “Well, I'm having some friends of mine over later, but one of the gang said she couldn't make it. Maybe you could fill in for her? And uh, maybe make your works worth at the same time.” He suggested and took a step forward. The blonde forced her fear as far down as she could to keep Terry from seeing it. “N-no thanks.” She turned back to her door. “Well if you don't like the group seen, maybe I could cancel with them and we could do something. Just the two of us?” He said with a predators smile. Okay Tara, even though he might try to break your face for saying no, say no. The witch told herself. “N-no thanks.” She said again. He took another step closer. “Come on,” Another step. “it'll be fun, you seem in need of some fun.” He was one footstep away from standing up against her. Think, think Tara. “I'm d-dating someone.” Why did you say that? There're a million other things you a could have said. Why'd you go with 'I'm dating someone'? He took a tiny step back. “How big is he?” He asked. Okay, since it's too late to back paddle, make the person you're dating tough. “S-she's a kick-boxer.” The blonde lied, hoping she had been convincing. Terry's brows rose. “She?” He asked, he hadn't expected that. “Y-yeah. She. H-her name is S-Sandy.” Sandy? Who's Sandy? You don't even like that name. Tara asked herself. “Kick-boxer eh?” Tara nodded. “Y-yep.” Terry nodded, looking her up and down. That predators smile crept back onto his face. “Let me know if'ya think about swinging back.” With that, he turned and reentered his apartment. Tara turned and went into hers. She checked her watch when her door shut. It read 4:57PM. Her eyes widened in panic. 4:57? I'm gonna be late. Why did I start talking with Terry? The blonde asked herself as she quickly emptied her bag and filled it with her white nurse uniform. She tied her hair back and grabbed some money out of her safe, then left. “S-sorry I'm l-late.” The witch said when she walked into the staff room. Her boss was standing by the coffee machine, drinking from a mug. “You're not, your watch is fast.” He said, and jerked his chin at the wall clock by the door. It read 4:55PM, Tara's watch read 5:08PM. “Oh, o-okay.” Tara said, forcing herself to take deep breaths to slow her heart. The blonde pulled off her soaked jacket and hung it on the coat rack. She opened her bag and took out her nurse uniform. “I'm j-just going t-to change, Sam.” “Okay.” Her boss, Sam, said. And she walked to the bathroom. [Willow's Mind]> “There's something here. There's something eating at peoples minds. It's gonna eat mine to. I don't want it to. If it eats my mind I won't be able to stop myself from hurting Tara. I can't hurt Tara again. I can't do that. I can't hurt her again. I won't.” Those are the words the young redhead repeats to herself. Over and over and over as she walked endlessly throughout the never ending blackness. “I don't want-” She paused, a question she hadn't realized was there crashed into her. Willow spun around, searching the dark for the answer, but she couldn't find it. The witch whispered the question. “Where am I?” [Buffy's Car]> “Are we there yet?” Dawn asked as the car slowed to a stop. Xander parked, still smiling the same smile he smiled when they started driving.“Yes. We are, finally, here.” Buffy told her sister. In a second, Dawn Summers had undone her seatbelt, opened her door, practically jumped out and started down the pathway to the mental facilities entrance. Buffy, Xander and Anya rushed out of their seats to and ran to catch up with the youngest Summers. The four Scoobies burst through the door and slowed to a very quick walk. Buffy went to the receptionists desk, but Anya zoomed in front of her. “Where's Willow? We demand you let us see her now.” She said. The receptionist looked up at the group. “Uh” She said, not completely sure how to respond. Buffy got to the desk and smiled nervously at the black haired woman. “Um we're here to see Willow Rosenberg, I'm Buffy Summers, I called earlier.” The woman glanced at her computer and clicked her mouse several times. “Uh, yeah. Here you are Ms Summers. And the rest of you are,” She leaned closer to the computer screen. “Dawn Summers, Tara Maclay, Anya Jenkins and Alexander Harris?” “Yep, that's me, Anya Jenkins.” Anya said cheerfully. “Alexander Harris.” Xander said, his smile that he smiled when he started the cars engine that morning still plastered to his face. “And I'm the second Summers, where's Willow?” Dawn asked concernedly. “Tara works here, she said she'll meet us in the waiting room.” The slayer said. Reception lady nodded, picked up her phone, pressed a button and said something into it. She hung up the phone and pointed to two security guards standing by a metal door and grey shelving stand thingy. “Just go over to those guards there and hand in anything that could be used to harm a patient or staff member or another visiter, and then go through that door by them.” “Thanks.” Buffy said over her shoulder as her and the other Scoobies quickly walked to the guards. After being checked by security, they went through the metal door and down a short corridor. At the end of the corridor was a large, carpeted, open room. There were chairs and tables, couches and vending machines, people dressed normally and people dressed in white shirts, white pants and white slippers scattered about the area. Every white clad person had one or more regularly dressed people by them. Except for one that had hair cut unevenly above her chin that might have been red once, but was now black with a vague tint of blood red. The woman's skin was scarily pale. She was sitting at an empty table that had 6 chairs, squeezed tightly together because it was meant to only have 4 chairs. Her hands were in her lap and her head was pointed downwards at her interlocked fingers. And she was shaking a bit. Buffy pulled her eyes from the slightly familiar girl and joined her friends in anxiously watching the double doors at the other side of the room. Buffy felt someone tap on her shoulder and whirled around to see a grinning blonde witch behind her. “Tara!” The slayer exclaimed as a smile cut into her face. Xander, Dawn and Anya spun round and matched Buffy's smile. Buffy wrapped Tara in a tight hug. “Tara I missed so much! How are you and Will?” Buffy asked when she released the witch. “H-hi Buffy, I'm g-good, h-how are you?” Dawn embraced Tara before Buffy replied. “We're fine,” The brunette answered for her sister. “Are you sure you're good? Whats it been like here? How's Willow?” She asked with concern. Please be okay Willow. The youngest Summers begged in her head. “I-I'm good,” Tara assured her. Dawn moved to allow Xander to hug the blonde. “I-it's b-been different.” The witch added. “Hey Tara.” Xander said while squeezing her. Anya hit his arm. “Move Xander, I need to hug her.” Anya said forcefully. The carpenter obeyed. “H-hi Anya.” The ex-demon wrapped her arms around the witches neck. “Why couldn't you two have been sent to a mind health place closer to home?” She asked accusatorially. “I d-didn't really have m-much of a say in w-where she'd b-be sent, Anya” Tara told her. “Okay, fine. Where's your girlfriend? I need to squeeze her tightly to.” Anya asked cheerfully. Tara's smile vanished and pain flashed across her face. Buffy immediately went into 'scared and ready to fight of an army of vampires' mode. “Tara where's Willow? What happened?” Tara bit her lip and looked at the ground. “S-s-s-she-she,” The blonde couldn't get out any more words. Buffy stepped closer to the witch. “Tara take us to her now.” The slayer asked as gently as she could. She was pushing down her fear of what might have happened to her best friend. Tara looked back up at her friends and swallowed. Then moved around them and slowly went over to the frail, worn down girl who was sitting by herself. Tara smiled sadly at the girl and, to Buffy, Xander, Anya and Dawn's horror, said “W-Willow, baby? They're h-here.” The girl looked up and the Scoobies finally saw her face. Huge dark circles were around her eyes. Her eyes. For all the time Xander had known her her eyes were a bright green filled with life, now they were pale, nearly lifeless, and hollow. She turned in her friends direction and smiled. Her once beautiful smile looked haunted and restrained. The girl smiling before seemed like nothing more than a hollow shell of what used to be Willow Daniel Rosenberg. And it terrified her friends.

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