Title: "Missing You."
Author: A.M. Glass
REVISED 03-20-02: Not much, but enough that I like it better.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Joss Whedon, 20th Century Fox and the UPN-bless their hearts. The story remains mine.
Spoilers: For the following episodes, "The Body," and "Tabula Rasa".
Author's Note: This is just something I wrote, I hope you like it.
Feedback: Up to you.
Distribution: If you'd like it, please feel free.
Thanks: To Stacey, for beta'ing this for me.
Tara walked along the campus grounds and tried not to think back.
Tried not to see that this was where she and Willow would sit and play with Miss Kitty.
Or there, right there underneath the tree is where they had had a picnic one afternoon, just the two of them.
She tried not to think about that.
There were so many places on the campus that reminded her of their time together, of what they shared.
Tara could feel the sting in her eyes and shook her head, desperately trying to ward off the tears that threatened to fall down her cheeks.
She didn't fall apart all of the time, but more than she wanted to admit to herself.
She had spilled so many tears that there were times when she wondered if she'd ever stop.
Knowing with each drop another slice of her soul left her as well.
Saying a silent prayer to the Goddess for strength, Tara centered herself and walked towards her dorm.
She brushed pass other students either on their way to or coming from their own classes.
She kept her head down barely looking at anyone, only hurrying to her dorm room. The one place she felt safe.
She had slid the key into the lock.
She spun around and looked down the hall.
"Dawnie. what are you doing here?" she asked, taking a quick inventory and sighed softly. She couldn't see any apparent injuries on the youngest Summers'. She did notice that Dawn was by herself. "Is Buffy okay? Is. did something happen."
"No. Buffy's fine."
"Wil-Willow." Tara felt her heart clench, readying itself in case something had happened to her.
"Can we go to your room?" Dawn asked instead.
'Oh Goddess. no. please,' Tara thought and for a brief moment her world flipped on its axis. She didn't remember walking into her room or closing the door behind her.
"Tara. are you okay?" Dawn asked as she sat on the bed, seeing the suddenly pale expression covering Tara's face.
"Wh-what happened t-to Will-Willow," she stammered.
"Is... sh-she okay?"
"Willow? Yeah, she's fine," Dawn answered confusion coloring her tone and features. Her eyes suddenly widen, "Oh my God. oh. no. Tara. no. Willow's fine. I'm. oh gosh. I'm sorry," Dawn said realizing how her non responsiveness to Tara's question earlier would have panicked the blonde Wiccan.
"She-she's okay?" Tara asked again, not quite believing what she'd heard.
Dawn stood up from the bed and walked over to Tara, placing her hand on Tara's arm. "I swear to you, there's nothing wrong with her," Dawn said softly.
"Oh Goddess. thank you," Tara whispered.
Dawn led Tara to the bed, gently sitting her down, once she was settled, Dawn sat down next to her. Impulsively, she grabbed Tara's hand and squeezed it. "I'm sorry Tara," she said, dipping her face so she could she hers.
She hadn't meant to cause Tara any pain.
They had both been through enough of that recently that she didn't want to add any more.
Feeling Tara return the squeeze Dawn breathed easier.
Dawn knew that Tara cared for her- would never cause her any harm. And Dawn knew that she regretted the way she had acted that night.
The night that took Tara's presence from the house.
Dawn felt she had to apologize every chance she had for running away from Tara those heart-wrenching moments after she had appeared on the front porch with her belongings.
Dawn could tell that what Willow had done, by casting that spell effectively taking their memories, had finally pushed Tara away.
Dawn was just getting to the point where she and Willow were talking again, rather than the redhead talking and her leaving the room.
She remembered the look Tara had given her one evening after she'd said, "I'm sorry," for what seemed the fifth time in less than twenty minutes.
She could look back at it now and smile.
But not then.
Back then it had hurt.
More than she'd ever thought it could.
And now, she would do basically anything to keep Tara in her life for the foreseeable future.
'Well, not anything,' she mused silently.
That went without saying.
Dawn looked down towards their joined hands and smiled.
Sitting next to Tara like this.
Made her happy.
Tara's innate goodness seemed to fill the hole her mother's sudden death had left behind.
After having a long talk with her, at Buffy's insistence, she knew nothing would ever take her mother's place in her heart.
But, that didn't mean that Tara couldn't occupy a space reserved for her, even if Tara had no idea how special the spot was.
She leaned against Tara and sighed.
"Dawn, are you okay?" Tara asked after noticing that she hadn't responded to her question-as to why she was here in the first place. 'Why is she smiling?' Tara wondered.
"I'm good," Dawn answered.
"Okay. so, what's going on?" Tara asked, the fear that had surrounded her heart finally releasing its self imposed grip.
Frowning, Tara asked, "Dawn, I don't want you to take this the wrong way. but what are you doing here?"
"I... I. ah. missed you," Dawn replied looking down, her cheeks turning red.
"Oh Dawnie." Tara said as she extracted her hand from Dawn's and slid her arm around the teenager's shoulders. "I've missed you too."
Basking in the warmth, Dawn melted into the embrace, tentatively wrapping her arms around Tara's waist.
"It's okay Dawn," Tara whispered, gently bestowing a kiss on Dawn's head. Tara knew how her break-up with Willow had affected everyone.
Yet, with Dawn, the anger at the beginning seemed to engulf the teenager. She was glad that they had gotten over the hump and now they spent quality time with each other.
"Do you wanna get a milkshake?"
Tara could practically hear the smile. "Yes, really."
"Coolness," Dawn replied.
Tara waited a moment or two. "Dawnie. you have to let go. so we can go," Tara instructed gently.
"Oh. yeah. Right," Dawn replied releasing her grip. "Sorry."
"Dawn, you never have to say you're sorry. not. not for a hug. In fact." Tara began as she reached behind her grabbing her notebook and a pen. She opened it, wrote something down and tore the page out. "For you," she said presenting the paper to Dawn.
She took the offered piece and wondered why Tara was smiling. She looked down, reading what was written and began to smile herself.
Presented to Dawn Summers, From Tara Maclay.
One gift certificate.
Good for a genuine Tara Maclay Hug, whenever you need it.
Within reason of course.
Expiration Date: Up to you.
Please present this page when you'd Like to receive said hug.
Dawn felt the gesture deep in her heart.
This is exactly what Tara would do.
Dawn stood up suddenly and moved back a few steps.
Tara wondered what could have made Dawn get off the bed. Perhaps she shouldn't have made the.
'Oh. she didn't like it,' Tara thought sadly as Dawn handed the paper back to her. "Dawn."
"One genuine Tara Maclay Hug please."
Tara put the paper down on the bed and stood up. Taking a step she opened her arms and felt Dawn's around her waist once more. She held on for a minute or two before saying, "How about that milkshake?"
"Sounds good to me," Dawn replied.
"You will eat something healthy when we get you home. right?"
"Let's go then," Tara said as she started to walk to her door.
"Wait," Dawn exclaimed as she went to Tara's bed and picked up her gift certificate. "I don't want to forget this," she said.
Tara opened the door.
"Tara. what did you mean by, 'within reason of course'?" Dawn asked as she stepped into the hallway.
"Oh, you know. wh-when there's a dangerous situation going on," she explained as she closed the door.
"But, I could get one afterwards right?"
Tara laughed, grabbing Dawns' hand, "Let's talk about it over the milkshake."
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