Rating: G
Author: Fleur
Other pairing: Willow/Tara, but predominantly gen (Willow-Giles friendship)
Summary: Post-Grave, Willow and Giles in England; the starting steps to recovery. For velvetandlace. Ha, this is SO not what you expected. *glee*

What You Won't Do

In England and in Willow's head, the weather never changes. Only the days and dates and times, and the breakfast brought into her in the morning, and she remembers, too clearly, a day she and Tara had a picnic in the woods

and it rained.

"Oh!" Tara had cried, but then laughed, as the rain started bucketing down on them and she had to rush to cover up the supplies. Willow had put her arm around her waist, and smiled, brushing her fingertips over Tara's eyelashes to collect the raindrops. Tara had just smiled at her, pushing a lock of hair behind Willow's ear.

"I could make it sunny again," Willow offered, lifting her chin to look up at the sky.

After a moment, putting one finger on Willow's lips, Tara shook her head. "I like the rain."

She cried, now, and put her hands over her ears and she wantedwantedwanted, and that was when Giles would come in and pull her hands away and look at her and some days, most days, she hated him and wanted him to be lying on the floor with a bullet instead of her, but he would just look at her

And today he says, holding her hands down, "You can't make this go away, Willow." She was his naughty student who was being punished, but he wasn't punishing her and all she was left with

phantom pains, a missing limb, dead dead dead

"I can," she tells him, and tries to pull her hands back but he holds them fast. "I can. I can, Giles, I can..."

"This will stay with you," he corrects her. "As well it should."

It shouldn't and he's wrong and can't he see that she doesn't need dear Rupert leading her by the hand now, she knows more she knows things he can't possibly understand because she's better and more and powerful and they're all afraid of her

Tara just looked at her, and for the first time, Willow saw it in her eyes: fear and betrayal and strength and the horrible cold hard fact that she was going to leave, and it was going to be nobody's fault but her own.

Tears should hurt more. She wants them to be blood, to be tangible and silver and cutting through her skin, tearing her hands apart when she wipes her eyes and she pauses in the doorway every day because every day the same conversation on the phone

"No, Xander," he will say, and pause every time at the same place, "there's been no change, I'm afraid. We'll get there."

She begs him, not on her knees, standing, that she be allowed just one chance to say goodbye, one chance where the question isn't about her shirt and the answer isn't a blank stare and blood tears everywhere, one more moment that isn't torn away too quickly

"No," he tells her, and she falls to her knees then

Because in her dreams she's given one more chance a million and one more times.

"You're strong, baby, I know you can do this," Tara says, softly, and brushes her hand down Willow's shirt. The blood falls off the shirt, but Willow shakes her head. As she opens her mouth, Tara presses a finger over her lips and whispers, "Shh, sweetie, this is our one last moment."

"Don't leave me," Willow's voice breaks, and when she reaches for her, Tara turns into dust and there's horrible harsh reality and shouting and tearing

"You don't deserve peace," Giles tells her, though he's walking peacefully beside her. "I'm afraid it's a better idea for you to remember this as it is."

"But it hurts too much," Willow says, quietly, and then more harshly, "You wouldn't know what I'm feeling."

Giles bends down, then, and picks a flower, twirling it absently between his fingers. "Do you think you have a monopoly on feelings?"

She won't answer him. She could, but she won't.

"People I love have died before," he says, quietly. "And I have killed before. More than once. People more innocent than yours." He hands her the flower and she lets it fall to the ground. "I don't pretend I understand the depth of your feelings for--"

"Don't say her name," she says, and raises her hand.

He catches her wrist and lowers it. "Tara. I don't pretend I understand, Willow, but I think I am in a position to try."

"I just want one last chance," she says, and the tears come again

not in blood now.

"Then live," Giles tells her, and walks toward the house while Willow collapses to her knees again and cradles the flower, not noticing as it wilts and disintegrates within her grasp.

The End
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