by Hayley

And if your glass heart should crack
and for a second you turn back
Oh no be strong
Walk on
Walk on

You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
who will only fly
only fly for freedom
Walk on
Walk on
U2, 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'

Willow and Tara's:

"Willow- p-p-please. I don't want you to think-"

"What? What shouldn't I be thinking Tara?" Willow responded coolly. "That you broke my heart? That I trusted you completely and you're leaving?"

"I never meant for this to happen Willow. You have to know that. I would never hurt you on purpose. I- I care about you."

"So?" Willow's fingers dug into the bedspread beneath her. "I know I'm being mean Tara, but I still can't believe any of this and I don't know what we're supposed to do."

I could feel the tears welling in my eyes. I didn't really have a right to be crying them, not when I was the one breaking Willow's heart. "I think we're supposed to want each other to be happy. And I do, I want you to be happy Willow because you deserve it more than anyone I know."

"Except for her." Willow brushed away her own tears with clenched fists and the silence stretched between them until Willow couldn't take it anymore. "You're leaving now?"

"Yeah, I start my new classes next week there and I need to get settled." My clumsy fingers closed the latch on my suitcase. "What about- what about Miss Kitty Fantastico?" It was such a stupid question, but I had to say something.

"Take her." Just like our kitten was a thing. Something horrible and tainted because she was mine first. And I guess, in a way she was.

"But she-"

"I. Don't. Want. Her." An unwanted momento. Something we shared. Something we loved. Breaking all ties with me. Breaking my heart back.

Willow's frigid voice made me swallow any other words I might have offered and cross the room to the closet to search for the well hidden cat carrier before I remembered that we'd left it at the vets after the last trip. "Here Miss Kitty." Jangling the charms on my bracelet enticingly and the small black cat with milk-white paws emerged from beneath the bed. I bent and scooped her up. Straightened slowly and looked around the room one more time before tucking Miss Kitty in my over the shoulder bag. Blowing out an unsteady breath. "I'm sorry for hurting you Willow, but I'm not sorry I loved you."

Quickly before Willow could jerk away- dropping a tender kiss on the top of Willow's head and a whispered, "Please be careful." before lifting the suitcase, and quickly closing the door behind me.

Outside a car was waiting, and she could overhear part of Xander's conversation with the driver.

"Are you happy now? Because let me tell you- I know you and there is no way that Tara's ever going to be anything but miserable with you."


Xander shoved his hands in his pockets and scowled at me. "How's Wills?"

"She needs you."

"No. No Tara, what she needs is YOU. But even after everything Willow's done for you- you're leaving her. Don't you know what this is going to do to her?"

I flinched guiltily and felt a gentle hand on my shoulder.

"Can't you see what you're doing to Tara? Willow's not the only person in the universe. Back off."

They watched Xander stalk into the dorm, and the hand on my shoulder morphed into a full blown hug. "It's okay if you want to cry."

"Not yet- I still have to say goodbye to Mr. Giles."

"I see we've got company for our trip." Slender fingers wriggled at my bookbag, prompting Miss Kitty to swipe at them with her paws.

"You-you don't m-mind do you? She doesn't really have a place here anymore." Neither do I.

"Of course she can come with us!" More quietly, "I don't want you to leave anything here if you really want it."

Soft stroking of my dirty blonde hair. Unusually patient, as usual loving.

"I want to go with you. Really." The biggest understatement of my life. I didn't want to go. I needed to go. I needed to be with her more than I needed anything. It was like being caught in an undertow only to feel someone reaching through the waves to pull you up. This was that last kick before finally surfacing, and once we got out of Sunnydale I'd be able to take my first breath.

In the car, Miss Kitty curled on the floor between my feet and tanned fingers twined with mine. Eyes closed, head back against the headrest until the car rolled to a stop in front of the Magic Box.

"Do you want me to go in with you?"

She means it. I know she wants to protect me from anything that could be hurtful.

"No, it'll be okay."

I was just out of the convertible when the door to the shop opened, and Mr. Giles came out carrying a store bag in each hand.

"Here are a few necessities that I thought you might need to help you get settled. As well as a listing of some of the most reputable covens and magic shops in the area."

Goddess. He was being so nice, I could feel more tears threaten. I know how much he loves Willow- I should have known though, he is nothing if not kind. Emotion overwhelms and I can feel my tongue having a hard time working through the words, but they have to be said.

"Th-thank y-y-you Mr. G-giles. I'm so so-rry. I did-didn't mean to hurt her." Can't meet his eyes. "Please, take care of her?" A firm hand beneath my chin, lifts my gaze from my suddenly fascinating fingers meet Giles' kindly smokey jade green eyes.

"You will be careful Tara?" He questioned softly. "And call if you should need anything. Your family is still here."

Nothing more to say smiled waterily up at him. "Thank you Giles. . .so very much." Standing on tip-toe and brushing my lips fleetingly against his cheek, I could feel his arms envelope me in an affectionate hug.

"Good luck. And should you need anything, I hope you won't hesitate to call." He peered over my shoulder. "Either of you." Gently released, a kiss on the forehead, opened car door and closed it firmly after me.

Once he disappeared back into the store, fingers are pressing against my cheek, thumbs collecting the stray tears, followed by soft lips. Comfort gives way to love, and lips meet mine claiming sole possession of my heart.

"I love you Tara Mclay, and I promise, there's life after Sunnydale." Ticklish hands tucking stray hair back behind my ears and a suddenly mega-watt grin that almost blinds me with its beauty.

"I love you too Cordelia Chase." And I feel my own lips curving into a smile. It's not as perfect as Cordelia's, but that doesn't matter. And it's not as sunny as hers. . .but it's getting there.