Disclaimer: Joss owns 'em. We're just borrowing them.
Distribution: The Mystic Muse: http://mysticmuse.net
CN's Caldron http://cnscaldron.tripod.com
Anyone else, just ask.
Feedback: You know we want it...
Author's Notes: Takes place during season six after Tara and Willow's break up and Willow's recovery. We took the liberty of letting Vamp Willow live when she returned to her world just because we can. Anyway, seems Vamp Willow has returned to 'Buffy's Sunnydale' again, this time with her new lover Tara Maclay to wreck a little havoc.
Special thanks goes to Chris Cook of Through the Looking Glass and Artemis for the title graphic at the top of the page. Thanks, Chris!
Summary: Vamp Willow's back and this time she has a new companion.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Willow Rosenberg walked between her best friend and his fiancé feeling as if she were Joan of Arc on her way to the stake. Oh wait, she thought to herself, been there, done that…this is worse.
"Don't wanna hear it, Will," Xander said, tightening his grip on her upper arm, pulling her forward as she tried to slow them down. "I've got a mission to perform and by all the hairy gods in this and any other dimension I'm gonna do it."
Anya nodded and tightened her grip on Willow's other arm. "You should know after all this time that he's not going to give up on this, Willow. You might as well get used to the idea. Besides, you look very nice for a change. You haven't for some time and it's starting to get boring."
Willow groaned and hung her head, unconsciously looking over the outfit she was wearing. Earlier at the house, Dawn and Anya had put together the ensemble when they all…except her…had come up with this crazy idea.
"How about this?" the teenager said, holding up a blue cotton blouse before the former demon.
"Not this time of year…besides, blue is too much like her mood," Anya peeked into the closet and pulled out a light brown silk top. "This is better. Find her something slinky to wear underneath it while I look for a pair of nice jeans. Grab her boots, too."
"Hey guys, what's going on?" The Slayer poked her head into the bedroom, her brow wrinkling in confusion at Anya and her sister puttering around the room with Willow lying on the bed and hiding her head under a pillow.
"Xander and Anya are taking Willow out," Dawn said happily. "We're helping her dress."
"That's great, Will!" Buffy said. "Have fun. I'll be home early after patrol so don't feel like you have to hurry back."
"Buffy!" Willow cried. "I can't do this!"
Buffy smiled at her friend. "Sure you can. After this last week, I think you can do anything. See ya!"
As the three of them turned the corner into the familiar alleyway, Willow once again tried to hold back.
"Look guys," she protested. "Can't we just go somewhere else? It doesn't have to be here. How about that place on the other side of town?"
"You mean…?" Xander began and then his face turned a pale shade of red. "Oh no, I've heard about that place. You're not getting me any where near those Village People audition rejects. Nope, I like it here just fine, Will."
Willow groaned feebly once more as the warm glow of the Bronze's neon sign reflected off the wet ground. They had arrived.
Xander exchanged jokes with the bouncer as the three bypassed the short line of teenagers and college students waiting to get in. Xander led the two women through the crowd to their usual spot.
"Thanks for saving us the seats, boys," Xander told the pimply group who looked at him first with confusion and then mild annoyance as they moved off toward the pool tables.
"That's not nice, Xander," Willow chided softly. "That used to be us."
"We paid our dues, Will," he reminded her. "Let them save the world a few dozen times and then they can stick around. Drinks, anyone?"
"Yes," Anya said, not needing to state her preference.
"Water, please," Willow said, flopping down onto the couch. She looked nervously around at the crowd, hoping not to recognize anyone who had been here 'that' night.
"Ack!" Willow jumped as Xander tapped her shoulder with the bottle of water.
"Geeez, Willow," Xander said moving around and sitting next to Anya. "Will you please relax?"
"I can't, Xander," she whispered looking down at the bottle in her hands. She rubbed some of the drops of the condensation between her fingers and her thumb – she silently wished the Hellmouth itself would open up and swallow her whole.
Anya looked at the witch intuitively and finally asked, "What did you do, Willow?"
Willow looked up at the ex-vengeance demon. I can't do this, she thought to herself, feeling her hands start to shake again. It's too soon!
"Last…" she began. "Last time I was here was with Amy, a-and we…"
Xander frowned at his friend. "What happened, Will?"
"Stuff," she whispered, finally opening the water and taking a long draught. "Lots of stuff. Mostly mischief, but we used people as if they were our toys."
"Oh," Xander said softly, trying to picture his sweet Willow abusing people that way. Sure, most of the people at the Bronze were jerks, but they didn't deserve to be played with that way.
"Ohh, wicked!" Anya wiggled in her seat excitedly. "What did you do? I hope you didn't turn folks into bunnies…'cause that would be just evil, you know."
"No, no bunnies," Willow admitted. "There were a few sheep though."
"Sheep?" Xander said, looking around as if expecting to see a herd.
"No more sheep, Xand," Willow said with a small wry smile. "No more magic. Not if I want Tara back."
"She'll come around, Will," he said, ever the loyal friend. "You'll win her back. Just give her time."
"Tara's not a prize to be won, Xander," Anya pointed out. "Willow's got to earn her back and it's not going to be easy. In my day, I've turned quite a few men into sheep for a lot less than what Willow did to Tara."
"What's the big?" Xander asked. "Just a couple of spells that went wacky."
"And yet!" Willow agreed.
"No! Not 'and yet'!" Anya said. "You don't realize just how much you've hurt her, Willow."
"Well, what about me?" Willow said, getting angrier. "I've been hurt here, too, you know! Hello! I'm the one she walked out on. She said we needed to work out our problems together, but she just up and left. She won't even take my phone calls. How's that gonna solve anything?"
"Going to that magic dealer wasn't the way to solve your problems either, Willow," Anya pointed out.
Willow could feel her anger quickly being replaced by shame. "I'm not going near him again," she finally whispered.
"Good," Anya said sincerely. "Wacky spells aside, you've got a lot to make up to Tara just for what you did with that creep."
"What?" Xander said, confused. "Huh?"
Willow could see that Xander did not understand and had no intention of enlightening her old friend, but unfortunately Anya did not have the same compunction as she gleefully began to recount the magic exchange process to her fiancé.
"I need another water," she said, not wanting to face Xander. She jumped up and headed for the bar, absently tossing the empty plastic bottle into a waste can as she passed it.
"Hi Jose," Willow said pressing up close to the bar trying not to jostle the people around her. "Can I have another water, please?"
"Sure, Red," the bartender replied, turning around to the refrigerator.
Willow was bumped from one side and accidentally bumped into the person on her right.
"Excuse me," she said, absently reaching for her water.
"Willow," a soft sultry voice purred. Willow's could feel her flesh crinkle in recognition. "About time you got here. What took you so long?"
Willow turned to the woman standing next to her. Her mouth opened in shock as she got a good look. The woman was wearing low cut leather pants over equally black boots. A silk top that was buttoned just underneath the swell of her bosom left most of her midriff bare in an upside-down V, the sides of the shirt playfully tickling the pale flesh underneath. Willow stared for just a moment at the exposed belly button, feeling all of the moisture in her mouth instantly dry up. She tore her eyes away and looked up at the flowing blonde hair and into that wonderful half-smirk which had always meant she was about to be ravished.
"Tara?" she finally squeaked.
"Expecting someone else, perhaps?" Warm blue eyes glinted playfully at Willow as a cool hand reached up to caress the redhead's cheek.
"No!" Willow hastened to reassure her, but then a new thought popped into her head and she felt a flare of anger. "What are you doing here? I mean, I love the outfit a-and all, but…" This was not Tara's normal attire. She was out to impress. That was for sure. Willow realized that maybe there was a someone in Tara's life that she wanted to impress. Even though she didn't want an answer Willow still asked, "Are you meeting someone?"
Oh that came out smooth and not the least bit controlling, Willow chastised herself.
Quickly she tried to make up for it. "I mean…you know, I'm only here with Xander and Anya…"
Suddenly Willow's mind flashed to the look on Tara's face when she and Amy came home from their night of partying – a look of shock and betrayal followed quickly by anger. Willow tried to explain that it was Amy the rat but perhaps Tara hadn't heard in her rush to leave. Or maybe she thought there was something more going on. She felt the need to continue when Tara wasn't responding.
"A-and for the record, that thing you walked in on the other morning…with Amy? That was nothing…I mean, she's just a friend…a-and…"
"So warm," Tara's purr cut through Willow's babbling, as she continued to caress Willow's cheek. It felt so good that Willow couldn't help but lean into the touch "And you're blushing, too. You are adorable."
"What?" Willow stepped back unable to think clearly while Tara was touching her. She sensed she was missing something important here. Last week she wouldn't speak to me and now I'm adorable?
Willow's thoughts faded away as Tara moved in and embraced her completely, pressing her long body sensuously into hers and Willow found herself pushed almost roughly up against the bar. "Oh gods," Willow moaned, feeling the hard points of Tara's nipples tickling her own through the sheer fabric of their clothing. All thoughts fled completely as Tara's lips came down on her own and the sounds of the busy activity surrounding them faded away into nothing.
Finally, in need of breath, Willow pulled away. "Oh Tara! I'm so sorry! I quit the magics – for good this time! A-and I want to make it up to you, all of it. Will you let me? Please? I mean I know it takes time...but I just want the chance Tara…"
"Don't worry about it, Will," Tara said, a smile gracing her lips. "I found you…we're together. That's all that matters."
Willow looked into Tara's eyes, happiness filling her, but a part of her brain screaming out warnings, trying to cut through the lust. Shut up, you! She told her uncertainty. This is Tara!
"Hey Will! Who's your friend?" Xander's voice finally broke through to her. She kept a protective arm around Tara's waist as they both turned to face him and Anya.
"Xander," Willow gave her best friend a happy smile, still too dazed by Tara's presence to answer his question.
"Holy god! You're Tara!" Xander's eyes nearly popped out of his head as they raked Tara's sultry form from head to toe. Willow glanced at Tara, half expecting her to be blushing from the obvious look, but Tara was just smiling as she too looked over Xander.
"Xander?" Tara laughed and Willow thought she could almost hear contempt in Tara's voice. "Imagine that!"
Anya did a double take as she watched Xander's reaction.
"Ow!" Xander grabbed his arm where Anya had pinched him, breaking his gaze on the blonde. Turning back to Willow and Tara he said, "I was gonna see if you wanted to place an order for something to eat but it looks like Anya and I might be dining alone."
Willow smiled. I know what's on my menu, she thought.
"We're leaving now," Anya said, pulling at Xander. "Nice look, Tara. It's extreme, but good…stay away from Xander, he's mine. You two have fun." As they began to give the pair some privacy Anya called back over her shoulder. "I told you that outfit worked, Willow."
"Uh…bye?" Willow waved slightly not knowing how to respond. Things were happening so fast, her head was in such a blur that she was afraid that any moment now she'd wake up and realize this was just another dream.
"Bye, guys!" Xander waved, pulling his fiancé after him.
"Come on, lover," Tara said, taking Willow's hand. "Let's dance."
Tara had the overwhelming feeling she was being watched as she ate her dinner in the student union and studied for her statistics test. Realizing that she wasn't going to get any work done while constantly looking over her shoulder, she closed her books and took her tray to the counter. Her room was quieter and away from the unseen eyes that she felt following her. Deciding that maybe it was just her imagination, she shrugged it off and headed back to her Hall.
"Come here often?"
She was almost to her door when she heard a familiar voice in the nearly empty corridor. She stopped and turned around, clutching her books to her chest.
"W-what are you doing here?" Tara asked. She'd made it clear to Willow that she didn't want to see her. The few times that Willow tried to call to chat, Tara hung up on her. It had been a while since Willow had tried to reach her so she was surprised to find her at her dorm.
"This is where my heart led me. Maybe I was always destined for higher education?"
Tara watched as Willow approached her but something was askew about the redhead. Tara heard about the car accident and how Willow had finally sworn off the magics. Tara was glad that her ex-lover was trying to get her life back in order. Of course that didn't stop her from shooting a look of disapproval in Willow's direction when she picked up Dawn for their latest 'fun day' together. Maybe Willow thought by kicking the black arts it gave her leverage to move back into Tara's life. If that was the case Willow was sadly mistaken.
As her ex-lover approached Tara took in the sight before her. Black leather pants, leather boots…lots of…leather. But aside from her appearance her aura seemed different and Tara wondered that instead of kicking the magics that perhaps Willow had jumped in headfirst. She looked beautiful, Tara had to admit, but she was pale – as if she hadn't been eating or resting properly.
"Aren't you gonna invite me in?" Willow said as she approached closer – her voice soft and her steps gentle.
"What do you want?" Tara asked again, avoiding the question.
Willow was within arm's reach now and her hand moved to touch Tara's face. Instead of the contact she was hoping for Willow watched Tara back away.
"What did I do that was so wrong that you won't let me in?" Willow asked, cocking her head, hoping for an answer.
Tara literally felt her jaw sitting on her clutched books. "If you have to ask Willow then you don't deserve an answer."
"Such a plain Jane," Willow sighed.
Tara's eyebrows pinched and she stopped from entering her room. "What did you just…?" This is totally pointless. She shook it off. "Why are you here?"
"You," she sighed as she strolled around Tara.
The blonde made sure to keep Willow in her sight the entire time, turning 360 degrees as Willow circled her and spoke.
"You've got a gorgeous body under all that frump. Would it hurt you to show it off once in awhile? You know I love it when men…even a few women…look at you. It's a wonderful feeling you know? Having their eyes feel you up. But you know the rules, don't you?"
"R-rules?" Tara asked. Willow was scaring her beyond belief at this point. She felt trapped between trying to figure out what was happening with Willow and darting inside to the safety of her room.
"The rules," her ex-lover continued, "They can look but they better not touch. That body belongs to me."
Tara stopped being nervous at that point. She was mad – her anger bubbling up to the surface.
"Okay, first of all my body has always been my own. Second, I quit sharing my body with you when you raped my mind – not once but TWICE! And third…"
Tara didn't get to her third point. Willow grabbed Tara by the arm and pulled her closer with amazing strength. The force that Willow possessed was much more than Tara had ever seen. It was almost as if she had Slayer strength and she was unable to pull away. She felt Willow's tongue start at the base of her neck and move up to her earlobe.
"You're mine," Willow whispered.
Tara couldn't pull away. Willow was too strong. Her body trembled in fear but she knew she had to protect herself so she instinctively did the first thing that came to mind.
"Separate!" Tara shouted. The force of the spell shook both of them and Willow flew back into the wall behind her. Tara paused in shock. She couldn't believe what had come over Willow. She watched as Willow shook off the jolt while her face contorted and shifted into vamp form.
"Disappointed now!" She raged with a snarl and a flash of her fangs.
Shock gave way to reality. This was why Willow felt different. She'd been turned. Without missing a beat Tara raced inside her room and slammed the door, locking it.
This was her place, her home. Willow couldn't get in without an invite. Or could she? It was a public housing development and…and…hadn't she invited Willow into her room, when she came by to pick up Dawn after a weekend sleepover? What if she'd already been a vamp that night? With two swipes of her hand Tara moved the dresser and the bed against the door. That should hold her. At least for the moment.
Tara told herself to concentrate. She had to think about this. Did she really see Willow vamp out? Was it just her imagination? Okay now whose taking a break from reality? This is Sunnydale. Of course she saw it. Willow was turned. She was soulless. She was gone. Forever. Yeah you decided to leave but you always hoped…
It was too much and Tara began to cry. Magic didn't take her lover away in the end. A vampire had. But who? Who could be powerful enough to take her, to turn her? And why wasn't Buffy there to stop… Buffy!
Tara picked up the phone, dialing as quick as she could. She gave a small prayer to any God that would listen, asking that Buffy be home tonight. On the third ring she heard the Slayer's voice.
"It's Tara. You've gotta get to my dorm, r-right now!"
"Dawn!" Buffy shouted, "Come down here!"
Dawn knew when her sister was mad. This was not one of the 'you stained my favorite shirt and now your butt is mine' yells. This was fear. She could tell by the urgency of Buffy's voice and she flew downstairs. "What's wrong?"
"No time to explain. We've gotta get to Tara's and I can't leave you in the house – just in case Willow shows up. It's her house too and…."
"What's wrong? Did Willow hurt Tara?"
"Tara's okay. She's scared but…Look, we'll talk on the way. Get your coat."
Buffy opened the door to find Xander and Anya walking up the steps. "Thank God you're here. You're okay, right?"
Xander and Anya looked at each other before turning back to Buffy. "Umm…last we checked yeah. We've had a few disagreements about whether I should go black tux or white but..."
"Not the wedding," Buffy answered.
"What's wrong Buff?"
"Tara just called," Buffy told them.
"She did huh?" Xander grinned.
"Surprised she could keep her hands off Willow long enough to dial a phone," Anya harrumphed.
"They're at the Bronze," Xander told Buffy. "That's why we stopped by. Figured we'd give you the inside scoop. Willow and Tara are patching things up."
"Feeling things up is more like it," Anya remarked. "You should have seen them. I mean…"
"That's impossible," Buffy said.
"Why?" Dawn asked. "This is great news!"
"No. No. I mean Tara just called me from her dorm scared almost witless. Willow cornered her about ten minutes ago and…she morphed."
"Who morphed huh?" Xander asked.
Buffy sighed. "Willow morphed into a vampire. Tara's got herself locked in her room and she's waiting for me to get there."
"That can't be Buffy. Willow was with us."
"Yeah," Dawn added. "I saw Willow leave with them tonight. How can she be two places at once?"
"She can't," Buffy replied as a look of concern washed over her face. "But if there's two Willows here again…"
"That also means there's two Taras because we just left a Tara-like person at the bar," Anya replied.
"Get back to the Bronze," Buffy told the pair. "Make sure that Willow leaves without Tara. We'll meet back here after I get…Tara." It sounded confusing but she knew they'd understand. "Agreed?" she added just for clarification.
Buffy could see the concern rising on Xander's face. "What if we're too late Buff…?"
"We might be if we keep standing around – now go!"
Xander nodded and raced back toward the car with Anya in tow.
"Come on," Buffy told Dawn as she started to jog down the sidewalk. "We've gotta get to Tara's dorm."
"You know my arm is still mending," Dawn retorted as she tried to keep up.
"If you don't hurry I'll put your butt in a sling too. No complaints. Just move."
Tara heard the knock on her window and physically jumped off the bed, dropping the cross she'd been holding. She'd never put much faith in the Christian belief but if it worked on vamps she'd decided long ago she'd have one in every placed she lived in Sunnydale. She released a sigh of relief when she saw it was Buffy.
"What took so long?" Tara asked.
"Dead weight," she nodded toward Dawn with a teasing grin, which earned her a slap from her younger sister. "Besides I saw Xander and there might be trouble ahead."
"You mean Willow getting turned isn't trouble?"
"Come on," Buffy said stepping back so Tara could leap out, "I'll explain on the way home."
"She's still out there Buffy. I can feel her," Tara said with a slight quiver in her voice.
"I know. But I got a sneaky suspicion that the Willow at your door isn't our Willow."
Tara paused. She knew what she saw. It was Willow. She was certain. But then she remembered the story.
"You mean Anya's 'Mistress of Pain' vamp?"
Buffy gave a half chuckle. "Cute nickname but yeah."
"How did she get back here?"
"I'm not sure," Buffy confessed. "But we'll explain what we do know on the way home."
"Oh Gods Will," Tara sighed in Willow's ear. "You smell good enough to eat."
For a brief moment, on the Bronze dance floor, Tara morphed. Her fangs ached to pierce Willow's flesh. The thought of being able to drink from Willow excited her beyond belief but this wasn't the time or the place. She had a mission to see to. Her desires would have to wait until later. She took a deep, calming breath letting her face recoil into the one that Willow knew so well. Her hands worked their way down to Willow's backside. She couldn't help it. She wanted to know if this Willow felt like hers, tasted like hers. Her curiosity could get her staked if Willow walked in and found her fondling…Willow.
This certainly couldn't be the fuzzy Willow that her Mistress spoke of during their planning. This Willow wasn't fuzzy at all – tight denim jeans with a firm ass tucked inside. The silk shirt was a nice contrast Tara had to admit. The leather her Willow wore was often restrictive but this…this brown, smooth garment could be easily ripped off.
And didn't her Mistress say she wanted Willow brought in anyway possible? She could always explain that she had to take this Willow to bed or to the alley or to the restroom stall or...Hell any place would do at this moment as their bodies swayed against each other on the dance floor.
"I wanna be alone with you," Tara whispered. "Would you take me?"
Willow couldn't speak. Would I take her? Of course I'd take her. Anywhere she wants. Anything she wants.
"We could go back home. I'm sure Buffy's on patrol a-and Dawn's usually in her room with her headphones."
"No." Tara told her. "Some place private – alone. Someplace where I can make you scream."
Willow thought her legs might turn to jelly. "There's always your dorm. I know there're thin walls but…isn't like they haven't heard screaming before," Willow added with a sexy smirk.
Tara pulled back and gave Willow a long, lecherous look as she licked her lips. "Lead the way," she said nodding toward the exit.
Willow walked past their table with Tara's hand in hers but then stopped. "Wait! Almost forgot my coat," Willow answered.
Tara followed and watched as Willow put it on, adjusting the collar. Tara reached up and fingered the lapel. "Umm…Leather," she sighed.
"You like?" Willow grinned.
"I love," Tara answered as she pulled Willow into a searching kiss.
Xander and Anya bolted through the entrance and looked around. Both of them only exhaled after they found the pair still there, kissing near the table.
"Got the plan?" Xander asked.
"I'm on it," Anya told him.
They walked up quickly but slowed down just before their approach to the table. "Hey look!" Xander said, "It's the new not so new love birds."
"Yes, who are leaving now," Willow answered, making her way past them with Tara's hand in hers.
"Hey wait up Will," Xander said, as he snagged by the arm, "Where's the fire?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?" Willow retorted.
Xander felt a smirk come to his lips. Hell, yeah. No. NO! Bad thoughts. Focus Xander. Focus.
"Actually before you leave," Anya announced. "I'd like to have a word with Tara. It'll only be a few minutes."
Anya didn't wait for a rejection. She tugged Tara away from the circle, moving toward the bar. Once they were at a safe distance Xander turned his back to Tara and moved closer to Willow.
"We don't think that's Tara." Xander told her.
"Why because she still might have the slightest bit of interest in me?"
"Noooo, because Buffy got a call from Tara about a half hour ago while we were all here. Seems there's a vamp Willow who set up camp in front of Tara's dorm room."
"Listen to me Will. We need to figure out what's going on. Just tell 'Tara' goodnight and make a date for tomorrow night. When we get home I'll prove that's not really Tara."
"Do you honestly think I couldn't tell if it was Tara?"
"Willow, look at her," Xander said pitching a thumb toward the bar. "Have you ever seen that much leather on Tara – well at least in public anyway? Not sure what you gals do on the weekends at the dorm."
"Xander," Willow chastised.
"And what's with the pale complexion?" he asked. "Yeah, Tara's a fair skinned blonde but this one's lacking a certain fleshy tone pigment don't you think?"
Willow began to look with a keen eye for the first time all evening. "W-well," Willow stuttered. "Maybe this is just a new look for her and the pale thing…. lack of iron?"
It sounded ridiculous even to her.
"Willow, sweetheart, I know you want her back. And I know that if Tara walked in looking like that you wouldn't be able to see straight – no pun intended. Hell even we thought it was her but now…Just come home with us tonight. If we're right we saved your life and if we're wrong then…the real Tara would love you as much tomorrow and respect your need to take things slow…We both know I'm right."
"Xander being right huh? It doesn't happen often," Willow quipped.
"No it doesn't but trust me on this one okay? I'm telling you…"
Willow gave him a slight tap and nodded behind him. He turned to see Anya and Tara approach.
Willow cleared her throat. "Tara, something's come up and…I'm gonna have to call it a night."
"Did you get the too much too soon speech that I just got from Blondie?" Tara grinned as she pointed to Anya.
"Hey," Anya exclaimed, "…I happen to care very deeply about what happens to Willow." Every one in the small circle gave a suspicious eye. "Okay that sounds like I like Willow more than…well…ever actually. But I really do like you Tara! Your lips were never on Xander's. And…"
"Anya. Please stop talking," Xander said with a polite grin.
"Anyway Tara," Anya replied. "Trust me when I say it's just too soon. For all we know Willow could get back on the magics and go on some wild, free-for-all, black arts bender."
"Thanks Anya." Willow nodded. "I can feel your love and concern from all the way over here."
"She's being sarcastic again, isn't she?" Anya asked Xander.
"Yes dear but can we just go?"
Xander didn't want to drag this out any longer. Willow closed the short distance and gave Tara a hug. That's when she felt it. Or more to the point, didn't feel it. Once Willow's libido cooled down she could just feel something deep within Tara, telling her this wasn't her Tara. Sure Xander pointed out the obvious – not so obvious – but still…This really wasn't her Baby. Willow took Tara's hands and for the first time all night she realized how cold they felt. Her Tara was always warm. In fact, her Tara would tease HER about the contrast of their temperatures. 'Cold hands, Cold Feet, Warm Heart' the blonde had told her one night as they snuggled in bed. Needless to say, Tara had some wonderful ways of raising Willow's temperature that evening and many evenings.
In an instant, all of Willow's hopes of reconciliation fell, shattering around her. Her Tara hadn't returned to her. Her Tara wasn't coming back. And why should she? You're a strung out magic addict who doesn't seem to do anything right – like recognize the love of your life.
"Call me tomorrow?" Willow asked Tara, willing herself not to cry, trying to keep up the façade.
"Sure," Tara nodded. "I'll just head back to my place tonight."
Willow gave her a soft kiss on the lips and slowly turned to leave, letting Anya and Xander lead her away from the Bronze and the dreams she began to rebuild in her mind.
"Dammit," Tara sighed as watched the trio slip out the door. "On to Plan B."
Xander, Anya and Willow walked into the Summers house to find Dawn, Buffy and Tara in the living room. The three of them stood up. Buffy leaned down and picked up a crucifix she had on the table, tossing it to Willow.
The reforming witch caught it and looked at the Slayer with a questioning expression.
"Just testing," Buffy told her. "Seems your old friend's back in town and paid Tara a visit."
Willow nodded and turned to Tara. "Did she hurt you?"
Tara shook her head but didn't speak. They hadn't spoken since the car accident happened and Tara didn't feel comfortable saying anything. Besides she felt unnerved and tongue-tied where Willow was concerned.
"She's okay and it's really Tara," Buffy told them. "I saw her holding a cross when I got there."
"What's going on Buff?" Xander asked.
"Isn't it obvious?" Anya remarked. "When Vamp Willow got sent back she found the Tara of her world. Probably turned her."
"That's our guess, too," Tara told Anya. "Evil Willow sired…me. Not me but you get the point…what we can't figure out is how they got here."
"Or why?" Buffy answered. "But there's gotta be a reason for it all."
Everyone looked at Anya at that point.
"It wasn't me! Sure maybe I did it once before but that was a long time ago. I have no reason to bring her back. And for the record I didn't bring her here the first time. That was Willow's fault. She goofed up the spell like usual."
"You know what Anya," Willow began, her hands automatically going to her hips. She was on the edge of a rant but Xander piped in.
"Okay, no pointing fingers here ladies. Let's try to stay focused."
"Xander's right," Buffy replied.
"You're two for two tonight," Willow grinned.
"Yeah. Right two times in a row – a new personal best," he answered.
Willow gave a half chuckle and began to take off her coat. "Well this isn't something we can just 'look up.' I'm almost positive there's nothing on record about Evil Willow since she's not from this dimension."
"True. We need to talk to them," Buffy said. "And we need a way to know who's who. We don't need any Will/Tara switcharoos."
"We could paint their pinkies," Dawn offered.
"What do you mean?" Tara asked Dawn.
"Your fingernails…In health class our teacher said that's how new parents tell twins apart. We could paint your pinkies so if we're in question as to who you really are all we have to do is look at your hands. I've got some blue polish upstairs. I'll go get it."
"And what do we do?" Xander asked.
"Get comfortable," Buffy told them. "No one's leaving this house until we get it worked out. Agreed?"
Tara and Willow looked at each other. It was the first time since their break up that they'd been in a room that long together let alone staying the night. Maybe more than a night. Maybe lots of nights.
"Where are we gonna put everyone?" Willow asked cautiously.
It was then that Buffy caught the uneasy look between the ex-lovers.
"Let's see…Well Xander and Anya can take your room Will. Tara can stay in Dawn's room and you can sleep with me…in my room I mean," Buffy added quickly. Somehow Willow and Tara's nervousness was getting contagious. "Sound okay?"
Tara and Willow both knew they were in for a long night.
"Are you asleep?" Dawn said softly as she lay on her side.
Tara was lying next to her, looking up at the ceiling. "No," she replied just above a whisper.
Dawn wasn't sure where to begin. "She won't hurt you if that's what you're worried about," she finally whispered back.
"She hurt you," Tara retorted.
"Yeah but that was before. She's been doing really good lately. No spells for almost two weeks."
Tara paused a moment. "Did you really slap her?"
"Yeah. Pretty hard too."
"Glad somebody did."
Dawn could hear the grin in Tara's voice.
"What do you mean?" Tara asked.
"I know that the accident was a kind of bottoming out for her but..."
"She quit for you too. She's worried she'll never get you back...Maybe you should give her a chance? I mean I'm willing to forgive her and she broke my arm."
"It's not that simple...I love her. A-and I miss her but...we need time apart, Dawnie."
"I get that, it's just...I miss you. And I miss the two of you together. You guys were the only thing constant in my life after Mom and Buffy died and…"
Tara rolled over to look at the Slayer's sister. She stroked Dawn's cheek and smiled. "I told you – regardless of what happens with Willow I'll always be there for you. Always."
"I wish I could believe that."
"You don't? Why not?" Tara felt her heart wrench at the teenager's doubt.
"Because you were Willow's 'always' and now you're gone."
"That's different Dawn. Willow…," she sighed, searching in her mind for a way to explain. "She took my memories. She changed…me… to suit her purposes. My relationship with Willow became...about power – not love. She wanted control of me. She messed with my mind, just like Glory did."
"No," Dawn answered. "Not 'just like Glory did.' Glory was malicious and self-serving."
"And so was Willow," Tara disputed. "I know you might not see it that way Dawnie, and neither does Willow, but that's what it was. She changed me to fit her needs. She wanted to end our fighting, to find some peace. But she went about it all wrong."
"Dawn," Tara said, the authority rising in her voice, cutting her off. "What if Buffy did the same thing to you? What if you guys were fighting and she did a spell to make you forget?"
"But things are different now," Dawn answered avoiding the question.
"How would you feel?" Tara pressed.
"Angry...hurt...betrayed," she finally admitted.
"So you see where I'm coming from?"
"Yes but after I got past all that...I'd still love Buffy. And I'd still want her in my life."
"I understand. Believe me I do," Tara agreed. "I just haven't gotten past 'all that' Dawnie."
"So tell me? Will you ever love her again? Do you think it's possible?"
"I never stopped loving her," Tara freely admitted. "I just couldn't live with her anymore. It was hurting us both. And I know it's not all Willow's fault. I kept give her more inches, you know? I kept scooting that line she shouldn't cross farther and farther until...Maybe if I'd taken a stand earlier things would have been different somehow. But all the coulda, woulda, shoulda's don't mean anything in the end. I have to focus on right now."
"Well, right now she's doing better," Dawn countered. "I hope you take the time to see that. Maybe put that anger on hold now and then?"
Tara smiled and leaned over kissing her on the forehead. "I'll try...It's getting late Dawn. Let's get some sleep, okay?"
Dawn nodded before rolling over on her side again. "Goodnight Tara."
Buffy leaned over the edge of her bed. "You don't need to sleep on the floor Will. I'll keep my hands to myself," she teased.
Willow returned the playful smile with one of her own. "Maybe it's not your hands I'm worried about."
Buffy gave a light chuckle. "Come on up here. There's lots of room."
"I don't want to wake you up Buffy."
"The withdrawals. Some nights I twitch so bad it feels like I'm gonna twitch right out of bed. You won't get any sleep if I'm in there."
"It's still that bad?"
Willow shrugged. "For the most part, the days are easier now. I no longer just tremble out of the blue but...At night when I try to relax or in the morning when I first wake up? Yeah it's pretty rough, especially when I'm tense. And tonight…pretty high on the tense-o-meter, ya know?"
"I'm sorry but she has to stay here Will."
"Oh I totally agree…I just wish my nerves would see it that way," the redhead grinned. She watched a Buffy's smile faded. "What's the matter?"
"I'm sorry," Buffy said and Willow could hear true regret in her friend's voice.
"Hey don't worry. It's not like you jolted me up with evil spirits. I did that all on my own."
"No, I mean...I'm sorry I didn't see it. Xander and Anya did. They thought you were getting in too deep with the magics too. By the time I recognized it, it was too late…If I'd been a better friend I would have stepped in sooner. Maybe said something. Done something…I don't know."
"I'm a junkie but that's not your fault," Willow said honestly. "I gave up everything I loved for the rush magic gave me. Even after Tara left...I still didn't want to see it. She was being a hypocrite as far as I was concerned – telling me not to do magic when she was a witch too...It wasn't until you were going to leave me there in that garage that I realized...I had nothing left."
"I didn't think I could help you. And a helpless Slayer isn't a role I play real well. But…at the same time…I couldn't just leave you there, not after everything."
"Yeah I did some damage that night."
"I wasn't talking about that night. I was talking about everything you've done for me ...Slayers are supposed to live solitary lives…I let you and Xander in on my secret which is a major Slayer faux pas," Buffy grinned. "But you know what? I'm the oldest living Slayer in history. I think you're one of the reasons why…I couldn't leave you in that garage."
Willow didn't say anything but Buffy could see she was thinking.
"Okay, spill it," Buffy finally asked.
Willow smiled up at Buffy briefly before a somber look returned. "I miss her Buffy. And after tonight, when I thought it was her at the Bronze, I miss her even more."
"Give her time Willow."
"Time. Okay. Yeah I can do that...But…"
"How can I make things right when she won't even talk to me anymore? You saw her tonight. She spoke to everyone but me. I asked if she was okay and all I got was a nod."
"She'll come around. I know it," Buffy remarked confidently.
"Well, I'm not the most patient person in the world."
"You're stubborn too," Buffy added with a perky grin.
"Yeah really great qualities. No wonder Tara isn't rushing back to me."
"She's angry Will. Rightfully so. But I also know that she sees someone who's dedicated and loyal and…at the risk of sounding not so straight…sexy."
That make Willow chuckle. "Point taken," she added.
A small silence passed between them again before Buffy spoke again. "I think you'll get her back because a part of her never left. She's still hanging on. I can see it when she comes to visit Dawn. I saw it again tonight."
"What makes you so sure?"
"If Tara still didn't care she wouldn't have looked as nervous as she did when I ordered everyone to stay here. It might not seem like it, and she might say otherwise, but she still loves you Willow."
"I love her too. I love her so much and it's not like anything I've ever felt...She just...fits. She helped me fill up those empty places I had and since she's left I just feel…"
"Empty?" Buffy offered with a comforting grin.
Willow nodded. "Empty," the redhead echoed.
"Well don't worry about it tonight. Tara's here. She's safe. And in time you'll see I'm right."
"I hope so," Willow told her.
Buffy reached over and turned the light off. "Goodnight Willow."
Willow strode down the main drag of Sunnydale, once again fuming at just how sickening this world was. Her annoyance with her new toy barricading herself away from her and then having the audacity to call in the Slayer was nothing compared to her anger at the groups of humans happily strolling along oblivious to her presence.
This world is no fun, she thought to herself. And where in all the hell dimensions is Tara?
As if on cue Willow became aware of a familiar presence. Not bothering to glance behind herself she quickly moved off of the main street into an alley. When she had moved far enough in, she turned and glared at the small light bopping playfully about. She waited a moment and when it seemed obvious the light was content to continue jaunting about, she took in a small breath of frustration and waved her hand.
"Reveal!" she said and the sound of power filled the alley.
The small light was pushed back by Willow's force and burst into a thousand stars against the wall of the building. The shimmering coalesced to reveal Tara's giggling form. The blonde lifted herself off the ground and wiped away a small trickle of blood from her mouth as she approached Willow.
"I told you I didn't like that spell, Tara!" Willow growled, grabbing Tara's arm.
"What's the big, Will?" Tara asked, moving closer to Willow, nuzzling into her neck, a move that never failed to melt the redheaded vampire. "It worked, didn't it? I found you. Second time tonight, in fact."
Willow pulled away from Tara's nuzzling and looked into her lover's laughing face. "You found the other me? Where is she?"
"Xander and some bottle blonde came to rescue her. I didn't want to protest too much until we were together again. You did say to keep a low profile." Tara paused as she tried to nuzzle into Willow, only to be brushed off yet again. "Gods, Will…were you really with Xander? What a dork!"
"Yeah, well, Xander was a lot different in our world," Willow said absently, her mind going a mile a minute as she reviewed and revised her plans only to be distracted by her lover's attentions. "Tara, baby, please. I'm trying to think. We've got things to do, remember?"
"Don't be cranky, sweetie," Tara purred. "This world isn't half as bad as you said. I kinda like it here."
Willow glared at Tara. "Are you kidding me? This is a stupid world." She pulled Tara to the end of the alley and pointed. "Look at them! Just walking about without a care in the world."
Tara laughed. "Exactly! They're not afraid of us. We can just reach out and pluck them like fruit off the vine."
"I don't like it," Willow pouted. "I like them better when they're afraid."
"Aw Sweetie," Tara soothed. "You just want them to be afraid of you, don't you? I know and I'm sure that they will be, too…once they get to know you. Now, let's play!"
Willow sighed. "No play. Play later, baby. Food now. And information."
Tara echoed Willow's sigh, knowing that her sire was right. Dawn was coming soon and they'd need some place to stay. "Okay," she agreed. "Before I bumped into your other you at the Bronze, I found out there's a demon bar called Willy's. That should be a good place to start."
For the first time, Willow smiled at her. "You did good, Kitten. So good that maybe later I won't have to be so hard on you for doing that stupid Tinkerbell spell."
"Vixen!" Tara smirked and followed Willow out of the alley.
Willy's bar was packed as the two vampires entered. Tara glanced at Willow who gestured for them to separate and the pair moved off into different parts of the room; Willow moving to the back with Tara heading for the bar. Opening up her senses, Tara scanned the patrons before settling on a jovial demon with an excess skin problem. He was talking to another female vampire, but as Tara moved closer to the bar she purposefully brushed her body against his.
"Oh! Hi there!" he said, turning to Tara. His vampire companion took one look at Tara, shrugged and moved away. Tara moved in to take her place, turning her full attention on the demon.
"Hi," she drawled. "What's your name?"
"Clement! Well, Clem," he said, grinning at her.
"I'm thirsty," Tara purred, running a finger sinuously up his bumpy arm.
Clem blinked in confusion for a moment, thinking she was giving her name. "Oh! Uh, sure, what'll you have?"
"I'm in the mood for something rare, I think," she said. "Maybe a nice AB negative?"
Clem thought about the contents of his wallet, but when the hand on his arm distracted him he found himself placing her order.
Tara continued to exchange pleasantries with the demon as she scanned the room while sipping her drink, one part of her mind constantly aware of Willow's presence. She glanced at her sire who was playing pool with a Mithrash demon. Suddenly she felt Willow tense and move out of the light from the table and back into the shadows. Tara followed her gaze and saw the thin blonde vampire in a black leather duster making his way purposefully through the room.
"Clem," she interrupted the demon's story about drawing a five on an inside straight the night before. "Who's that guy?" she asked, pointing her chin at the new comer before he disappeared through a door leading to the back.
Clem turned in his seat. "Oh, that's Spike," he said, turning back to her. "Nice enough fella. I don't believe all those rumors going on about him; he's always been sweet to me. Cheats at poker, though, but then again don't we all?"
"Rumors?" Tara asked. "What kind of rumors?"
"Well," Clem said leaning in to whisper conspiratorially. "I know that he's always been close with the Slayer, but I've heard that lately they've become real close…if you know what I mean?"
"A vampire and a slayer?" Tara mused. "What's she like?"
"Oh, she's very sweet, too," Clem recounted. "Although the other guys weren't too happy about her freeing the pot the other night I can tell you that! But she was just doing her job…and from what I've heard, Buffy takes her job very seriously."
"Buffy, eh?" Tara was surprised the Slayer Willow had encountered last time had lasted this long…most don't, at least not in their world.
Clem nodded and sipped at his drink. Tara watched and crinkled her nose at the foul yellow liquid. "Clem, tell me more about Spike," she said, knowing Willow would be more interested in him.
"Oh?" Clem seemed a little disappointed at her interest in the vampire, but as she moved closer and placed a cool hand on his leg, he found himself trying to be the ever-helpful friend. Maybe he'd help old Spike find a little distraction from his obsession with the Slayer. And besides this one was very pretty.
"A chip, eh?" Willow mused later after they left the bar. It was now only a couple of hours until dawn and Tara was beginning to feel uneasy.
"Yes," Tara confirmed, smelling the air nervously. "Floppy Ears said that after Spike was neutered he took up with the Slayer's gang and has been helping them kill vamps and demons ever since. He said Spike was especially fond of the Slayer's little sis…very protective-like, who apparently is a real cutie herself." Tara smirked at the thought.
"Don't even think about it," Willow growled. "We're here to get something and I don't want you distracted."
"Okay, fine, whatever," Tara said. "But Will…we've got more immediate problems, in case you haven't noticed."
Willow looked at Tara with narrowed eyes. "Are you doubting me, Kitten?"
"No Willow…it's just that…"
"What?" Willow whispered, leaning closer. "Tell me."
"I don't know," Tara bit the corner of her lip. "Maybe it's the sunrise…maybe it's just this world. This place is different, Willow. We can't go back to our world without what we came for, but if we stay here we'll still be in danger. Slayers screwing vampires; vampires killing demons and protecting little girls; witches afraid to use the incredible power they have. This world is all wrong. How will we fit in?"
Willow smiled kindly and placed a comforting, loving hand on the blonde's cheek. "Don't worry, my love. We'll be fine, no matter where we are. As long as we're together, nothing can defeat us. Haven't we already proven that?"
Tara nodded and leaned into Willow's caress.
"We'll get what we came for," Willow continued. "As for the sunrise, I think we should go pay a little visit to Spike…I'm sure with the proper gift, he'll be glad to put us up for the day."
"Gift?" Tara asked.
Willow smiled. "Ummm, if Spike's been unable to hunt for a while, he'll appreciate a little present. Come, my love. Let's go find something suitable for him.
A short time later the pair was strolling through the cemetery on their way to Spike's crypt. Tara's floppy friend had been a font of information and Willow was well pleased with her companion. Not that I'd ever tell her that, she chuckled to herself as she glanced at the blonde who was easily carrying her burden. Tara felt her glance and flashed a sweet smile of adoration at her. Nope, never tell her, Willow thought, but I'll sure be happy to show her. She's been my lucky charm ever since I found her. I was so depressed after Xander…after that blonde bitch took him from me, not to mention causing the death of my puppy.
Willow seethed at the thought of the Slayer still alive in this world, but the picture of the blonde's broken body lying on the floor of the factory and the Master crowing his victory over it soothed her distress.
"You recognized Spike, Willow," Tara remarked. "From our world?"
"Dru's whelp," Willow replied, glad for the interruption. She didn't like to dwell on thoughts of the Master.
"Really?" Tara asked, surprised. "I didn't think Mistress Drusilla had any childer."
"She doesn't," Willow said. "At least, not now and not any more that I know of. Her and Spike came to Sunnydale not long after the Master rose. Fool that Spike was, he thought he could defeat the Master. Spike might have too, were it not for Xander." Willow shrugged, not worrying about what might have been, only what was.
Tara chuckled. "I still find it hard to believe all you've told me about Xander came from that pathetic thing I saw earlier tonight."
Willow laughed. "As a child, Xander had a big heart. As a childe of the Master, he was a monster. He rose quickly through his sire's ranks and soon gained notice. When Xander defeated Spike, he became the Master's right hand."
"As did you," Tara smiled proudly at her sire. "Didn't Mistress Drusilla object to losing her childe?"
"When she first came to Sunnydale, Dru wasn't really herself. A pity for Spike because if she had been, he'd never have been beat. The Master in his mercy spared her and was able to help Dru later on. She's grown into the creature you know today."
"Almost as awesome as you, my love," Tara smiled.
"Flattery will get you everywhere, Kitten," Willow teased. "Be good now…we're here."
Willow pushed open the door to the crypt and entered the dim space, leaving Tara to follow behind. She paused once inside, taking a deep breath and immediately sensing the presence of the other vampire. He may be neutered, she thought but he's old and powerful…a master in his own right. And, he's Dru's. Willow knew enough of the Drusilla of her world to respect the childe of this one.
"Can't a body get a bit of rest, then?" the blonde vampire's voice growled through the dimness. "It's nearly dawn, I've had a bugger of a night, what the hell do you want from…" Spike's grousing stopped as his company moved into sight.
"Bloody hell!" he whispered, his body freezing in shock at the scene before him. Tara allowed the woman she was carrying to fall to the stony ground of the crypt and Spike glanced dumbly at the unconscious form, a small part of his mind registering the faint heartbeat as the only one present in the crypt.
"Oh Red," he said softly, looking back at Willow who appeared to ignore him as she looked around the crypt. Tara stood back and let the scene unfold. Willow reminded her of an alpha wolf approaching another in a play for dominance.
"Lux," Willow murmured and the dimness of the crypt was replaced with a soft glowing light.
"Spike," Willow said, finally turning and facing the vampire.
Spike continued to look at Willow. From what she'd learned about Spike from Clem, Tara knew that Spike was not a regular vampire. Clem said that he truly loved the Slayer, despite how awful she'd treated him over the years. Tara could understand a vampire in love and looking at Spike as he looked at her Mistress she knew he also had feelings – even if just friendship – for the Willow of this world.
"Oh Red," he repeated, and then seemed to snap out of his daze as his face flashed anger. "Who the hell was it? Who the bloody hell dared? Tell me and I'll snap the git in two. I was supposed to be your sire, and I damn well would have been had it not been for this cursed chip!"
Willow laughed, the sweet sound filling the chamber. "Relax Spike," she said. "You may still get your chance if you play your cards right and help us out."
"What?" Spike shook his head in confusion. "Wait a minute! I saw the Slayer earlier tonight and she didn't say anything to me about this. Sure, I know you two have been on the outs since you broke the bit's arm, but she'd have mentioned something if you'd gone missing. You didn't just rise. I can smell you all over Blondie here so you've had time to sire her and she doesn't have the stench of a fledge. What the hell's going on, Will?"
Willow chuckled at Spike's rambling, feeling better for the first time since walking into the crypt. He may be a master, but he'll be putty in her hands.
"Tara and I have come a long way and we're quite weary, Spike," Willow said. "We've come to ask for your hospitality."
"Come from where?"
"Elsewhere," Willow said and smiled at Spike's frown. "Another place…like this but different. You wouldn't like it. You're not there any more. In fact, I watched as you were locked into a cage and lifted up into the sunlight."
Spike chuckled at the thought. "I did that to the bleedin' Anointed Ponce." He swung around and with a quick jump landed on top of a tomb, where he sat and relaxed as he quizzed Willow. "So, the two of you are from a parallel dimension. Why are you here? And what the hell do you want from me? Other than hospitality, that is."
"We came for something and we'll get it, too." Willow said slowly moving around and sitting across from him on the other tomb. Spike took a moment to appreciate her shapely form, knowing he could and that the vampire wouldn't mind. He always did admire Willow and he'd meant it when he said he wanted her to be his.
"Get what?" he asked, finally lifting his eyes to meet Willow's.
"Power," she whispered and Spike could feel his skin crawl. "We need it. We want it. And we'll have it."
"For what? And from what?" he asked. He reached for his smokes in an attempt to shake off the chill.
"The Master has decided that Tara and I represent a threat to him," Willow explained. "He's right, too. Alone we wouldn't be much of a problem, but together… we're almost powerful enough to take him down. He's decided to act preemptively and we barely escaped."
"Why here, though?" he asked, understanding in his tone. He was quite familiar with the power games vampires loved to play. Played quite a few of my own, he chuckled to himself.
"I've been here before," Willow shrugged. "As stupid as this world is, I knew it had what we needed to finally get enough power to beat the Master."
"And that is?"
"Us," Tara said, speaking for the first time. Spike looked at the blonde curiously.
"From your doubles," he guessed. "Suck 'em dry of their witchiness and you'll increase your own power exponentially."
"Good boy, Spike," Willow purred. "Dru taught you well."
"You know Dru, then?" Spike said, pleased. "How is Her Madness?"
Tara giggled at the nickname and Willow laughed. "She's very well, Spike. I'll send her your regards when I see her again." Spike knew from Willow's tone that she was well acquainted with Drusilla and shivered at the image.
"And what can I do for you ladies, then?" Spike said, moving on to business. "And more importantly, what can you do for me?"
"We need time," Willow said, also glad they had reached a level of understanding. "We need you to distract the Slayer and her allies while we perform the ritual with the witches. In return, we'll take care of that little problem in your head."
"The chip?" he said, absently putting a hand to the back of his bleached head. "How?"
"Magic," Willow cooed. She glanced at Tara. "What do you say, baby? Teleportation spell?"
Tara nodded. "It'll be painful though, for us I mean. Something that small buried in all that tissue? It'll take intense concentration not to take out a good chunk of his brain."
"I think we can manage," Willow said, turning again to Spike. "What do you say, Spike? Want to take a chance?"
"Let me think about it for a bit, eh?" After the debacle with Adam, Spike didn't just want to rush into things again and knew the witches wouldn't go for an immediate removal. He'd have to help them first and wanted to see just how trustworthy they were. At least as far as anyone can trust a couple of lesbian vamps.
"Fair enough," Willow said. "In the meantime, we brought you a little gift as a token of our sincerity. Tara?"
Spike watched as the blonde lifted the body from the ground. The girl was finally coming around and Tara lifted her into position and propped her next to Spike. The girl held a hand to her head in obvious pain. Spike's mouth watered from the blood smell of the small head wound she must have received when the witches caught her.
"Uh ladies," he started. "Not that I'm not grateful and all, but if you know about the chip you know it keeps me from harming any living thing."
"Oh right," Willow said. "How careless of us. Kitten, if you please?"
Spike watched in wonder as the blonde witch smiled sweetly at him, the look reminding him so much of the gentle Tara of this world he almost gasped as she grabbed the head of the girl and twisted it viscously. Spike winced at the sickening crunch as the neck snapped. The sound itself really didn't bother him; it was the face of the demon who performed the deed which did. Of all the Scoobies, he'd never expect Tara to show such brutality…even in vampire form.
"There you go, Spike," Tara said to him, laying the dead girl in his lap. "Sorry it can't be more, but at least she's fresh."
Spike looked dumbly at the corpse, the smell filling his senses…intoxicating him…tempting him. Despite the changes in the Slayer, despite her uncharacteristic actions of late, he still loved her and he knew Buffy would never approve of this. If she ever found out…this is not some playful mischief…how can I prove to her that I've changed if I…?
"Go ahead, Spike," Willow urged, feeling his reluctance. "It'll be our little secret. Enjoy."
Spike resisted only for a moment more. Bugger this! he thought and then, with a feral growl, his face morphed into its true demon form and he lifted the still warm body to his fangs.
Tara gave her lover a carnal grin, which she felt returned.
Willow paused as she walked into the kitchen and found Tara seated at the island counter. Immediately they both tensed but Willow continued her journey to the cupboard, and pulled down a box of cereal. Say something Tara. Anything! As the seconds dragged on Willow knew she would have to be the one to speak.
"So how'd you sleep?" the redhead asked, still not turning around to face Tara. Willow cursed the shakiness in her voice. The silent treatment from Tara was killing her.
"Like Hell," Tara finally replied.
Well that's two words – it's an improvement I guess. "Me too," Willow admitted quietly.
Tara watched as Willow walked to the refrigerator and pulled out the gallon of milk. She poured it into a cup, missing it on occasion as her arm jerked. Setting the jug down, Willow took a deep breath.
Tara knew her presence was unnerving Willow to the point she couldn't pour milk without spilling it. As Willow reached for the dishtowel to clean up, Tara quickly looked back down at her bowl, not wanting to make accidental eye contact.
Tara saw Willow move out of the corner of her eye. With both hands on the bowl Willow moved it to the island. Then she turned back grabbing the cup with two hands as well. Tara's eyes shifted slightly to watch Willow pour some milk into the bowl and pick up the spoon that she had set inside it. As she raised her arm to take the first bite Willow felt a spasm again and watched as the contents of the spoon returned to swim in the milk below.
At the sudden movement Tara turned to her ex-lover but Willow still couldn't quite meet her eyes. The redhead grinned for show, trying unsuccessfully to hide her embarrassment.
"Looks like today should be an oatmeal morning," she joked with a nervous grin. "Stays on the spoon a lot easier than cereal."
Willow tried again but this time she held her wrist tight and led the food to her mouth. Hey, great! One bite down. 30 more to go.
"Are you okay Will?" Tara asked.
"Yeah," Willow answered after she swallowed. "It's just withdrawals. Sometimes I still get the shakes when I wake up."
Willow tried to take yet another bite but again she didn't make it to her lips. Feeling defeated she put the spoon back in the bowl. She felt ashamed; embarrassed. She'd sunk so low she could barely feed herself anymore. And worse, Tara was probably watching her with an 'I told you so' face.
Dawn had been right the night before. Willow was trying – really hard. Tara had seen enough. She took the bowl and the spoon before holding the cereal out to Willow's lips.
"I don't want your pity. You don't have to do that," Willow told her unable to look in her direction. She couldn't. She didn't want Tara to see how helpless she was.
"It's not pity. Just eat," Tara said moving the spoon closer.
Willow finally looked up and met Tara's eyes. Instead of the harshness she'd come to expect she found genuine concern. Reluctantly Willow opened her mouth to accept the food and chewed. Tara returned with another spoonful but Willow just couldn't stand it anymore. Not that she minded Tara's attention and concern at the moment – she was grateful on a certain level. But she knew that once this vamp mess was straightened out Tara would be gone again. And eating alone would be all the more difficult than it already had become.
"Really," Willow said, rising from the table. "I can make some oatmeal."
"Hey, I'm just returning the favor okay? There was a time I couldn't eat without help."
"I didn't do that as a favor," Willow told her. "I did it because you were my life. A-and I would never walk away from you – ever."
Tara put the spoon back down in the bowl. "But I walked out on you. Is that what you're trying to say?"
"I'm not saying anything," Willow sighed in frustration.
She picked up her cereal and walked to the sink, tossing it in carelessly. After running the water and the garbage disposal, she turned the kettle on and opened up a package of instant oatmeal. She poured it in the bowl and returned to the stove to wait for the water to boil.
Tara watched silently as Willow's body twitched two more times.
"You're gonna scald yourself," Tara remarked, not unkindly.
Willow heard Tara rise and step behind her. "Wouldn't be the first time," she said. "You might as well sit down."
The blonde threw her hands up. "You're not guilt tripping me here Will. I won't let you."
"Only you can make yourself feel guilty. I do remember a few things from Wacko Walsh's class."
"You just don't get it Will. You don't get any of it!"
"What don't I get, huh? That you walked out on me like everyone else I ever gave a damn about?!"
"That is so not true!"
"The Hell it's not! I love you Tara. I was gonna spend the rest of my life with you but things got a little rough and you took off!" Willow knew she should do something to cool them both off, but was unable to stop the hateful words from spilling out of her mouth.
"Things didn't get a little rough Willow. You raped me! You took something from me to make yourself feel better without a thought or care of how it would effect me! Not just once but TWICE. Even after I gave you a chance to pull things together. You didn't love me enough to stop corrupting me. Instead you…you think you're a Goddess!"
Willow and Tara were so wrapped up in their argument they didn't notice that the whole house had come down to see the commotion. Buffy and Dawn gave each other an uneasy glance. They both wished desperately there was something they could do to help their friends, but they were at a loss.
Willow gave an exasperated sigh, "I do NOT think I'm a Goddess."
"Yes you do! You go around bending things to your will as you see fit despite what it means to anyone else."
"Look, I quit! I gave it up! Some mornings I have to wear a fucking sweater because my fingers don't stop shaking long enough to button a blouse! Do you know what that's like? Oh wait, no you don't. When you needed someone to clothe and feed and bath and dress you, I was the one there for you. And I did it because I love you and even though you hate me – won't even talk to me…" Willow paused, trying to repress the sob that was on the verge of coming out. "Now here comes the really sick part…even though you can't love me I would do it all over again tomorrow for you! If something hurt you again like Glory did, I'd still do it. I'd always be there for you Tara."
Willow could not hold back anymore. She collapsed against the cupboard sobbing hysterically as she slid to the floor.
Tara couldn't move. She could only watch Willow shaking and twitching. Once in a while she could swear she saw a flicker of electricity pass over the back of Willow's hands which covered her face.
Buffy nodded everyone toward the living room and they followed her lead, giving the women their privacy.
Tara knelt down beside Willow. She began to reach out, to hold the shaking woman before her, but she stopped herself. She didn't want to give Willow any false hopes because she still wasn't sure if Willow could get over her addiction. And she knew that, although Willow believed she hated her, the truth was quite different – she left because she loved Willow.
Tara was angry. She felt betrayed by what Willow had done but she also knew that she would continue to let Willow do as she pleased if she had stayed with her. She had to leave for both their sakes. And although it was true she didn't talk to Willow it wasn't just her rage of what had happened that kept her away. It was the fact that she knew Willow would work her way back into her heart and she would never get better. Tara left for herself. But she also left for Willow too.
"Will?" Tara began, putting her hand on her knee. "You hurt me. You destroyed my trust. But…" Tara paused wondering if she should give voice to her next thoughts. She took a deep breath. "I really hope you get over this – for your sake more than anyone else's. Despite what you think I never stopped caring for you. We just…we're not real good for each other anymore."
Willow wiped her eyes and took Tara's hand in hers. "I'm sorry Tara. I know you probably don't believe me but…I'm sorry I hurt you. And I'm sorry I lost your trust. You gave up your family to stay with me and I…I…"
"Will, I gave up my family to be me. You were just the frosting on the cake," Tara grinned.
"Something light and fluffy that rots your teeth? That's good," Willow sighed dejectedly.
Tara put her fingers under Willow's chin. "Ever eat a cake without frosting? I can tell you from personal experience it's not very fulfilling."
"I made you feel fulfilled?"
Tara wanted to choose her words carefully. "Yeah," she said after pausing in thought. "At one point you did but…things changed Will. And I felt more scared than fulfilled. When that happened I knew I had to leave."
"I'll never scare you again Tara. I promise. And I know that doesn't mean much right now. But I won't hurt you ever again. I mean it."
"Willow just concentrate on getting off the magics, okay? Not for me. Not for us. But for you. Okay?"
Willow felt herself tear up. "I gotta ask…"
"What?" Tara asked totally unsure of what had Willow on the verge of tears again.
"If I call are you still gonna hang up on me? Not that I'd make it a habit or anything but it would be nice to know…" Just shut up now. It's too much too soon, she told herself. She shook her head and got up off the floor with Tara following right up with her.
"Just forget it," Willow said with a wave her hands. "Forget I mentioned it. You don't want me in your life and I'm not gonna push but…Remember I'm always here. Even if you never feel the same way again Tara, I'll always be here. That's all I wanted to say."
Willow didn't stick around. She left the kitchen, heading upstairs. As the kettle finally began to whistle Tara turned it off. Only when she knew she was alone did she begin to cry silently.
"I was happy with Dru for over a century until she ripped my heart out – metaphorically you know. But that's my story…short version anyway," Spike told them as he lit a cigarette. "What about you two birds? What brought you together?"
Tara gave her sire a lecherous grin as Willow launched into the story. Willow's voice faded into the background as Tara's thoughts wandered to the memories of another universe.
She was a college student, attending Sunnydale University when she met Willow. She gladly accepted the scholarship they offered her with the warning that the town did have a bit of an 'animal control' problem but any attacks were usually after dark. She figured it couldn't be any worse than where she was living at the moment…playing nursemaid to her father and her brother, being told she was worthless and evil and the only way to make amends for being part demon was to serve them well.
'Demons should be seen and not heard,' her father once told her after she'd dared to express her opinion on something on television. He later gave her 20 lashes with a riding crop to stress his lesson. For 17 years that's how Tara lived – beaten down like a dog but with less respect – at least she did until she moved to Sunnydale against her family's wishes.
And the college in Sunnydale had a Wicca group with which she hoped she could expand on her interest in magic. She'd studied with her mother – a secret both of them kept from her father for fear of incurring even more beatings. But when her mother died her senior year, Tara decided she wanted out – she wanted to expand on the knowledge her mother gave her and she couldn't do that chained to the servitude that was home. And the constant taunts from her father and brother that she'd turn into a demon soon didn't help. The birthday when she would officially become a full demon was fast approaching and only the Maclay men knew how to control her. Or so they said. At that point, she did the only thing she thought she could do – she ran off to Sunnydale immediately after her admission papers arrived. She refused to live like a caged animal and she had nightmares about what kind of 'control' they would place on her after her birthday.
She'd quietly settled into her new life in Sunnydale. She'd made a few friends in the Wicca group she'd met on campus even if their magical experience was disappointing…and one girl in particular. But to many folks on campus she was that quiet, freaky Goth chick. Of course her friends knew otherwise but her shy nature didn't lead her to many discussions with people outside her Wicca group. She knew that sometimes people stared at her so she wasn't really surprised when she noticed a woman watching her one evening around dusk as she walked from the library to her dorm. For some reason she kept expecting the woman to approach but she didn't. She just kept staring as she walked along. Tara tried not to make eye contact as she continued to her dorm.
On the second night back home she saw the woman again. And once more the woman's eyes seemed glued to her every move. Tara found herself picking up the pace although the woman never followed.
By the third night Tara asked her friend Tracy to walk her home. She told Tracy that she thought maybe she was being followed. As the pair walked along, once more Tara spotted the mystery woman. As casually as possible Tara pointed her out. Tracy had to admit the woman was giving off some freaky vibes and her aura seemed disjointed.
Tracy suggested they go see campus security but Tara said there was nothing she could tell them, which was true. The woman had every right to stare. There was no law against that no matter how unnerving it was.
That weekend the Wicca group decided to meet at the student union to do a little spell casting. The spell was a bust, like usual, and Tara was left picking up the supplies alone. That's when she heard a voice behind her.
"I've been watching you." It was a woman's voice – soft and breezy. Tara turned to see the mystery woman. She felt her mouth go dry as the woman approached. Tara had never seen someone wear so much…leather…and the enhancing effect it had on the woman's petite bosom was enough to send her thoughts into a spiral.
"You do spells? You're a witch?" the woman continued.
Tara had to remind herself to breathe. "Oh…ah…Yeah, I…ah…cast a few spells now and then."
"Did you put a spell on me?" the woman asked.
There was a sleepy, almost child-like tone to her voice that sucked Tara in, making it difficult for her to concentrate.
"What?" Tara asked as the woman closed the distance between them.
"I said did you put a spell on me."
Tara shook her head. "No I-I've never seen you before."
"Come now," the woman grinned playfully, "Never?"
Tara knew that wasn't true. She'd noticed her every night on the way home. "I've seen you around," Tara admitted while adding, "but I don't know who you are."
"Hmm…" the woman said as she looked Tara up and down. "I'm drawn to you. Like it's magic…what's your name, witch?"
"T-Tara," she stuttered, feeling nervous. She looked into the stranger's entrancing green eyes and instead of the anxiety she expected, a sense of calm passed over her. She felt safe and secure although she knew by the look of this woman she could be quite dangerous. She wondered for a moment if the woman before her was casting a spell of her own.
"Are you a witch?" Tara asked.
The woman shook her head. "No…I liked magic when I…" she almost said 'when I was alive' but stopped herself. She knew she couldn't make any deep confessions. Not yet anyway. "…when I was younger," she finished instead. "Maybe we could do a spell sometime?"
"Well, anyone's welcome to join the coven."
The stranger chuckled. "Those silly girls – if they saw a real witch they'd run the other way. No. I mean you…me…a spell of our own. I'm sure you've got a lot of power they're just draining out of you. You need someone strong to…perform with. Don't you think?"
It was almost as if this stranger was reading her thoughts. She enjoyed her time with her friends and she did like them on a personal level. But in her Wiccan studies she seemed stuck at a plateau that she couldn't seem to get over. Tara had to admit she liked what the stranger was offering.
"Sure. What works for you?"
"Pick a night."
"Here? Tomorrow? Around this time?" Tara felt her heart thumping in her chest. Oh Goddess, I'm making a date with her.
"I think I can swing that," the stranger answered. She turned to leave and Tara called out.
"I don't even know your name."
The woman turned back and grinned. "I know," she said softly before slowly walking out the double doors.
Tara felt herself tremble. There was something about this woman – she was quiet and demure but there was a smoldering passion underneath it. She wasn't like anyone she'd ever met. Sure she'd always had an attraction to women but…this magnetism she couldn't define. It scared her yet excited her at the same time.
The following evening Tara waited at the same spot as the night before. Fifteen minutes went by. Then thirty. Then sixty. She decided that the woman was a no show and with disappointment, she packed up her supplies in her magic box and headed outside. That's when she saw the woman leaning against the light post outside the student union.
Tara walked over to her. "Did you just get here? I didn't think you w-were gonna show up."
"I've been here," the woman answered.
Tara looked confused. "Well why didn't you come in?"
"Wanted to see how long you'd wait for me," she grinned.
Tara wasn't sure why she was being 'tested' by this woman but she liked the way it felt…she could tell her patience had pleased the woman and she found herself very much wanting wanted to please the stranger.
"We can go back inside if you like?" she offered.
"Wha-Willow?" Tara was confused.
"My name is Willow."
"Oh…that's a pretty name," Tara complimented as she felt herself blush at being so bold.
"Thought you should know since you're gonna take me home tonight."
Tara watched Willow's hand snake up and stroke her cheek, moving to her temple and through her hair to the very tips that brushed her bust. The supply box felt like two tons in Tara's hands as Willow made a trail across her bra line. Willow seemed totally submerged, using all of her senses as she touched her.
With such a blatant act Tara knew she should be concerned that someone might be watching but for some reason her mind screamed for more. Her nipples ached against the silk material of her bra, the points so erect they were visible through the shirt.
"Someone's excited," Willow said in a singsong voice. "Tell me Tara. And no cheating…"
"Have you ever made love with a woman?"
Tara's breath caught in her throat. Truth was she hadn't. She'd 'experimented' a little with Tracy but Tracy always put the brakes on before things got too 'outta hand' as she called it. It always left Tara feeling horny and frustrated. She remembered all the afternoons she spent after Tracy would leave having to push herself over the edge all alone.
"I'm not a tease like her," Willow told Tara bring her back from her thoughts.
"How did you…?"
"Know? I heard your mind. Can you hear mine right now?" Willow took Tara's face in her hands. "Relax…Feel…What am I thinking?"
Tara closed her eyes and concentrated. She saw an image of them naked in bed with Willow on top pinning her arms above her head as they writhed against each other passionately.
"Oh God," Tara breathed, her eyes shooting open as a wave of arousal swept though her body.
"I like being on top," Willow told her. "Hope that's not a problem."
Tara's mouth dropped. She was right. She knew exactly what Willow was thinking but how? How could that possibly be?
"I thought it was magic," Willow said answering her unspoken question as she eased Tara into the space between the student union and a supply shed of some kind. "How else could you explain it?"
"Soulmates…?" Tara speculated, not paying attention to her surroundings, too deep in thought. "Maybe we're…"
Willow gently captured Tara's chin and turned her head so Tara was looking deep into her green eyes. "Kitten…I lost my soul a long time ago."
Willow morphed into her vamp face and Tara dropped the box in shock. Willow kicked it out of the way and pressed her body against Tara's. The blonde tried to cry out for help but the sound got stuck in her throat. She felt Willow's fangs sink into her skin and a trickle of blood work it's way down her neck as Willow licked and sucked greedily, lapping at her life-force that began to flow harder as her heart pumped faster.
Willow pressed her thigh between Tara's legs and proceeded to dry hump the blonde against the brick structure. Fear gave way to arousal and soon Tara was moaning in ecstasy not pain. The fight left her body and she found her fingers tangling themselves in Willow's hair. She didn't care at that moment if she died just as long as she came first.
"Oh please," Tara cried out.
Willow had heard lots of women plead with her but this 'please' was different. This witch didn't want her life spared. She wanted release. Willow had never met such a sexual creature before with the exception of Xander. And she had to admit she was feeling a bit lonely since that bitch killed him at the factory. Did she have the strength to sire someone, not merely turn them into a minion? She figured she'd find out soon enough.
As delicious as Tara tasted, Willow released her fangs and shifted her face from her demon form to her human features. She began grinding her body even harder against Tara's, pinning the woman's arms to the brick wall, kissing her passionately. Tara could taste her blood on Willow's lips. Instead of turning her off, the coppery taste was like an aphrodisiac. She pulled away from the lip lock and got a whimper from Willow. That changed though when Tara began to lick the corners of Willow's mouth, taking in the blood that had remained there.
Willow felt her own knees get weak as she felt the woman's tongue, snaking around her mouth, taking what she had left over. Not only was this woman quite a firecracker sexually she enjoyed the taste of blood. Willow knew at that moment she wanted her. But more than that, she wanted this woman to want her.
"More," Tara told her, leading Willow back to her neck. "Bite me again," she sighed.
Willow wasn't sure how much Tara could take but her need to feed won out and she morphed again, sinking her teeth deeper. Please don't let me kill her, Willow's mind called out as she began to lap at the blonde again. She'd search all over for someone like this. It was too soon to end the game.
"You won't kill me," Tara said out loud, answering the vampire's thought. "Drink Willow."
Willow only stayed but a few seconds before she pulled away. Tara's movements were slowing down and Willow knew she would end up taking her life if she continued. Now was not the time. Instead of drinking, Willow reached down and pulled Tara's skirt up to her hips and ripped the panties away with her vamp strength.
Tara grabbed Willow's hand forcing the vampire to look up. Blue met green and Tara grinned devilishly. "Still want to drink?" she asked.
Vampires lived to feed. That was a stupid question. But Willow knew she couldn't take anymore from Tara. The woman would die if she did. And for some reason the hunt wasn't as important as the capture had become with this woman. She wanted Tara. All of Tara.
"I can't," Willow told her. "And I wanna play more with you."
Tara didn't lose her grin. Slowly she led Willow's hand to her center and that's when the vampire felt the cotton string. Willow looked back up to see the half smirk still on Tara's lips and she found herself smirking back as a result.
Tara gave the string a swift pull and pushed Willow's shoulders down.
"Drink," Tara said again.
Willow didn't need to be told twice. She fell to her knees and did just as Tara commanded.
It was odd for Willow. A funny feeling really. She always called the shots, especially with humans. But this human was 'ordering' her around…it excited her as much as it unnerved her. But drink she did. The mixture of Tara's life-force and her arousal was the sweetest thing Willow ever tasted.
For Tara her inhibitions were totally gone. She spread her legs wider, giving Willow more access. The licking and sucking noises that were coming from below were as arousing as the feel of Willow's tongue. She felt weak and began to wobble but Willow steadied her and brought her to the ground.
And back in the shadows, away from any watchful eyes that might be lurking, Tara opened herself up and let Willow have her way with her. When she realized that Willow truly wanted to bring her satisfaction and not kill her she felt herself spread wider. She gripped the vampire's red hair and began to grind against her face. Willow found the perfect spot and motion when she heard Tara's sighs come quicker.
"Uhhhh, uhhh." Tara grunted over and over as Willow continued to lick every drop of her satisfaction. She was so close. She had to have it. "Don't stop," Tara pleaded, sounding as if her existence depended on it. "Please, please…I'm so close."
Willow picked Tara up by her ass and lifted her so the woman was resting on her shoulders, clawing at the grass as she ached for release. At that point Willow picked up the pace even quicker and it sent Tara over the edge.
"Oh yesss," the blonde hissed as her back arched even more.
Suddenly her body dropped and her eyes shot open. Willow quickly darted to her feet and looked down at Tara splayed across the grass, her breathing hard, her eyes a deeper blue and her clothing disheveled.
"Willow?" Tara said reaching her hand up to her. Helplessly, Tara watched as Willow took three slow steps backward before turning and running away. "Willow!" Tara shouted again. She tried to rise quickly to give pursuit but the draining from both the bloodletting and the orgasm was too much.
When she reached the corner of the building she found the campus empty and dark. No Willow anywhere. Feeling defeated she made her way to the dorm. She wondered if she imagined it all. Perhaps it was some figment in her head. When she got home and looked in the mirror that's when she saw the two bite marks on her neck. She hadn't been hallucinating.
A few moments later she heard a knock at her door. "Who is it?" she called out.
"Open up Kitten," she heard a soft voice on the other side say.
Tara knew the voice and she would never forget the endearment.
Willow stood on the other side and Tara opened the door wider.
"You have to invite me in," Willow told her.
"Do I? Well, it depends – did you come back to kill me?" Tara asked.
She reached with her mind and touched Willow's again like she did earlier.
"No," Willow said.
Tara knew she was being honest and walked toward her bed. "Come inside then," she called over her shoulder. "How did you find me?"
Willow entered and closed the door behind her. "Followed you home."
"You took off in a hurry," Tara remarked.
"I know," Willow sighed as she walked around Tara's rooms, taking it all in. A large crystal caught Willow's eye and she began to play it. "Pretty," she said holding it up, inspecting its depths.
"That belonged to my grandmother," Tara told her. The demon, Tara added silently.
"Your grandmother was a demon?" Willow asked.
"So my father says. He tells me I'll be one too someday but…I don't know."
The fact that Willow could hear her thoughts didn't startle Tara anymore. In fact, she was growing accustomed to it in a way. She couldn't explain it. It just felt right…familiar.
"So instead of knowing, you live in doubt?"
"Yeah I guess," Tara shrugged.
"Kitten, if you were a demon you'd know it."
"You'd live for you and only you. You'd take what you want, leave what you didn't and never use words like guilt, remorse…fear."
"You looked pretty fearful tonight Willow. I'm assuming you're a demon – a vampire – right?" Willow gave a nod and set the crystal back down as she continued a leisurely pace around the room looking at the various trinkets and books Tara had. "I've heard stories around here but I didn't think they were true."
"And now?" Willow asked with a reserved grin.
"Now I know different," Tara felt herself smiling and wondered why she wasn't frightened. All the tales she heard about thing going bump in the night really…well…went bump in the night. But Willow, although a creature of the night, didn't strike her as such at all. A silence passed between them again until Tara spoke.
"Why did you come back?"
Willow set down the witchcraft book she was thumbing through. "Are you happy with your life?"
"Honest? Remember now," Willow tapped her own forehead with a slender finger. "I can hear your thoughts."
Tara paused a moment. "No, I'm not."
"Something's missing, isn't it?" Willow remarked with a hint of empathy.
"Yes," Tara admitted.
"I'm not happy either," Willow confessed. "Not since I lost Xander."
"My sire. The one who gave me my re-birth in the world. We were drinking buddies." She grinned playfully.
Tara snorted. "I bet."
Willow couldn't believe how brazen this woman was with her. She was used to humans being afraid of her…after all, she was a blood-sucking fiend. She could bleed her dry…if she wanted to…but Willow didn't want to. And it was obvious – they both knew it. Willow also knew that this woman wasn't happy. She'd willingly let a vampire into her room to chat her up. No, things were far from perfect in Tara's corner of the world.
"I miss Xander. But at least the blonde bitch that staked him ended up with a broken neck. Still…I wish he were here. He'd like you. I know he would."
Tara watched as Willow took a seat next to her on the bed. "What brought you back Willow…after you bolted like that?"
"I felt kinda funny…after…you know?"
"No I don't think I do."
"I was watching you that first night because…well I was just hungry but…the more I watched, the more I felt…tickle-y inside…It made me smile. And I haven't smiled in a long time. Even after a good feeding, existence is just…boring."
"Where do I fit into all that?"
"Tonight I felt it again – the tickling – and when I did…it made me scared. I don't have a soul Tara but there's something here – between us. I can't explain it but…I look at you and I see eternity. I would search oceans of time to find you. It wasn't something I was looking for…it's just powerful. And it's totally different from what Xander and I had." Willow paused for a moment. "The odd thing…you feel it too…don't you?"
Tara did. All logic should have had her fearing for her life when in the company of this creature but just the opposite occurred. She was drawn to her and Willow's appraisal was right – they seemed linked somehow. If not by souls or by magic then by some other Karmic connection neither one of them could explain.
"I don't usually use that many words," Willow confessed. "I like things…simple…but that's what I feel."
"I feel it too," Tara admitted. "And yeah. I don't understand it either."
Willow rose from the bed and moved so she was kneeling between Tara's legs. She took the blonde's hands in hers and asked a simple question. "What has this life given you?"
"What has this life given you? What do you have worth staying alive for?"
"Well I have my schooling," Tara answered. "I'm studying to be..."
Tara just nodded.
"School makes you want to get up every day? School makes your heart pump, your blood race?"
"Well no." Tara grinned sheepishly.
"Then what does?" Willow asked. "What makes you feel alive?"
Tara looked deep into Willow's eyes. She said she was soulless but something was still there. Tara could feel it pulling her.
"You," Tara answered automatically. Quickly, she shook it off and tried to rise but Willow held her in place. "This is crazy. You're doing some kind of mind control or something. I've seen the movies, you know? I realize how this works."
Willow had to admit – Tara was delightful although misguided.
"Kitten," she began affectionately with a grin. "No mind games I swear. And as for the movies…I don't know of a single vamp that can turn themselves into a bat. Certain stereotypes are not very empowering, but I can teach you fact from fiction if you like."
"I don't know about this."
"I do," Willow nodded. "This is real. And you could have that feeling every night, for all eternity. Instead of waiting for the demon to show up in you…you have the chance to go to it. You can make the choice of either spending your mortal life worrying about it or…you can make the decision."
Willow grinned, letting her fingertips glide over Tara's hands and arms, making the hairs stand on edge.
"You'd never get sick. You'd never get any older. You'd never die. As your sire I would protect you, teach you, give you life forever. You can take the step right now."
"Right now?" Tara asked. "Can't I think it over?"
Willow paused and cocked her head, watching Tara. She knew that Tara would come to her and she knew it wouldn't be long. She rose and she walked over to Tara's dresser picking up the crystal. She tossed it to the blonde and walked to the door.
"Oakland Cemetery by the mausoleum. There's a headstone – Willow Rosenberg…When you decide to start your new life leave the crystal there. And I'll return...I'll give you the chance to live forever at my side and leave this boredom behind." Willow opened the door and turned to Tara before leaving. "See you around Kitten."
Tara watched Willow leave. She sat for hours thinking about what had happened that evening as she played with the crystal in her hand. The next morning, Tara left it at the cemetery. And that night Willow returned.
When she did Willow didn't knock on the door. She simply placed her hand upon it, concentrating on the woman on the other side. Within a few moments Tara opened it.
"Have you reached a decision Kitten?" Willow smirked.
"I have questions," Tara said nervously as Willow confidently strolled inside, handing her back the crystal.
"Relax Pet," Willow told her as she brushed the blonde's hair behind her ear. "I want the choice to be yours. For once in my undead existence I'm not going to just take what I want."
"Really?" Tara closed the door and turned to face her future sire.
"Um hmm," the vamp nodded. "You're special. I can feel it all over my body."
"It's my choice then what happens?"
Willow nodded with an understanding expression on her face. "Xander gave me the choice. It's only right I give you the choice too, don't cha think?"
Tara's mouth felt dry and her mind went blank. She had questions. Lots of questions but nothing she could think of as she watched the sway of Willow's leather-clad hips as she moved to take a seat on her bed.
"You're so beautiful," Tara muttered. She didn't know where the comment came from – her heart or perhaps some place lower she suspected but she felt compelled to say it anyway.
Willow was dressed similar to the night before but this time the leather pants and boots were red – blood red. But the top she wore was white lace under a straight cut red jacket. Willow pulled the jacket from her shoulders and in doing so it exposed the halter underneath. There was no padding or protection to it whatsoever and Tara could see Willow's pink areolas through the thin lace material.
"Thank you," Willow replied with a smirk, knowing her body had Tara's full attention. "You mentioned something about questions," she added.
Unable to take her eyes of Willow's body she asked, "Are you naked under that?" Tara immediately shook her head, to clear her mind. This was not the line of questioning she expected to engage in with Willow.
The vampire threw her head back and laughed. When she righted herself again she saw the blush of Tara's cheeks. She'd miss seeing that blush once she had turned her. But in the end, when she saw those bashful eyes and cautious smile, it would tell her that her lover was slightly embarrassed.
"You're delightful," Willow complimented with a grin as she reached out. "Come to me."
Willow was like a magnet and Tara found herself drawn to the bed. Willow took her hand first and pulled her to sit beside her before running up the length of her arm and to Tara's shoulder. Gently she pushed the hair back as her fingertips played with the bite marks she'd left the night before.
"Tell me your concerns Kitten," Willow said softly.
Willow rose off the bed and she straddled Tara's hips, her cleavage level with Tara's eyes. Comfortably, she took a seat on Tara's thighs careful not to press too close. She wanted to see how much she could tempt the blonde. Willow watched Tara subconsciously licking her lips. The desire to grab Tara by the back of the head and force her to her breast was overwhelming. Tara wasn't the only one mesmerized since their meeting.
Willow had spent the entire day, lying in bed, thinking of Tara while her hands worked her body into a frenzy. Willow recalled her taste, her scent, and her touch. She remembered the way Tara pushed at her shoulders, leading her to her sex; the way her fingertips tangled in her red tresses. Plus that voice! Willow could still hear echoes of that voice with the words of offering herself completely. No, Willow had decided. This woman wasn't a toy like so many others. She was different.
Willow sensed the carnal current that flowed through Tara even if the woman herself didn't recognize it yet. It was there. Willow was certain. And once she was turned the world was wide open. Willow would be her teacher, as Xander had been hers. She'd show Tara pleasures and pain and more pleasures than she could possibly imagine in this human form.
She'd never need another puppy again if she had Tara. This woman was connected to her. She knew it within every inch of her skin. She could ride this woman hard and have her beg for more even if Tara didn't realize it at this moment. She also knew the blonde would love every second of it.
"Tell me what's going on in that pretty head," Willow prodded again when Tara still said nothing.
"You mentioned the myths."
Willow just nodded and Tara continued.
"What about the cross thing?"
"Pointy wooden objects?"
"Reflections in mirrors?"
"Not a single one," Willow said nodding toward Tara's closet door.
Tara looked over and saw herself sitting on the bed in her full length mirror but Willow was no where. She looked at Willow and then at the mirror again. Then she felt Willow's fingertips on her chin pulling her back. "Look all night," Willow grinned. "I still won't be there."
Tara grinned bashfully and Willow waited for her to continue.
"Will it hurt?" Tara asked. "When you…you know…do it?"
Willow smirked. "It's a good kind of pain."
"There's good pain?"
Willow licked her lips and ran her fingers down both sides of Tara's cheeks affectionately.
"You have no idea. But I'd love to show you."
Tara swallowed visibly and gave a slight nod. Willow could tell she wanted more information but didn't quite know how to ask.
"Kitten, I'll make sure that the pleasure of the moment outweighs any pain…Do you trust me?"
Tara gave a small snort. "Yes, I do," she said not quite believing her words but knowing deep inside they were true. "I don't know why. I shouldn't. You've only been here 24 hours…and yet…"
"You're thinking of walking away from it all to be with me?"
Tara nodded. "Yes, I am," she answered softly.
"I know why," Willow retorted with a playful grin. Tara waited on her response. "You see the truth."
"You could be my everything." Willow licked her lips and let her fingers play with the strains of Tara's hair. "And I could be yours."
Tara felt herself shaking – both in arousal and in fear. "I'm…"
Tara nodded. And she watched a perplex look cross Willow's face. The smile on the vamp had vanished and a look of fear and confusion seemed to take its place.
"What?" Tara asked softly.
"I don't like you being scared," Willow said with a sense of wonder.
"And that's a problem because…?"
"I like scaring people but you…it feels funny again."
Willow shook her head. "No. Hurt funny," Willow said, not meeting Tara's eyes. She looked around the room as if she was considering the feeling for the first time like a young child. Slowly Willow stood up and Tara reached for her.
"Don't turn away," Tara told her. She could hear the begging in her own voice.
"I don't understand," Willow told her, finally making eye contact.
Tara grinned and moved to her feet, taking Willow's hands in hers. The vamp still seemed a bit dazed by the revelation.
"Maybe your connection to me goes deeper than you ever thought. Oceans of time remember?" Tara prodded.
Willow thought on it a moment. "Yeah," she finally muttered. The urge to take Tara against her free will began to brew inside the vampire. She could feel her face trying to contort; her fangs aching to release. She pulled away and walked to the door, hoping to make her escape – to get away from Tara's presence and clear her head.
"Don't leave," Tara called out, making Willow stop for a moment.
"I have to. It's for your own good," Willow told her.
"But you said…"
"Shut up Witch!"
Tara's breath caught in her throat at the force of Willow's anger. Willow for her part, lost control of her human form and her face fully contorted. She didn't turn around. She couldn't look at Tara. It would be her undoing.
"I won't take you without your consent," the vampire said more calmly. "And right now the urge to do so is too strong," she said, struggling with the words.
Willow opened the door.
"Please don't leave!" Tara asked her again. "I need you Willow. I do."
"Not like this," the vampire said, still unable to face her. Willow could feel the blood coursing around in both of their bodies. So connected, Willow thought.
"I just…" Willow tried to find a way to explain to Tara what she was thinking. "I think we both need…I don't know, space…Oh, I can't believe I'm saying this."
"Are you saying you're gonna leave?"
Willow heard the urgency in Tara's voice and yet another 'funny feeling' washed over her – guilt.
"If it's meant to be you'll find me…when you're really ready."
Willow left Tara's room without looking back.
A week passed and Tara missed her classes. Tracy came by to see how she was doing but Tara told her she hadn't been feeling well. Being the friend she was Tracy offered to make a trip to the supermarket for some soup or maybe some cold medicines and hinting at perhaps a bit more. Politely, Tara refused and sent her on her way saying she was tired.
For seven days she thought about her existence – her daily life, her possible 'after-life,' her way of life. Everything pointed back to one thing – Willow. She couldn't eat. She couldn't sleep. The vampire haunted her thoughts unlike anything else she ever experienced. On the seventh night, she made her choice – the only choice.
Instead of taking the crystal to Willow's grave she took herself. She sat against the tombstone for three hours after the sun had set, instinctively knowing she was safe…Willow had marked her as hers…no mere denizen of the night would dare lay a finger on Tara. Shortly before midnight she watched as Willow approached and she rose to her feet.
Neither of them spoke until they were an arm's length away from each other.
"It's forever," Willow told her. "There's no turning back. You'd be mine...always."
Tara closed the distance between them and pushed her hair over her shoulder, offering up her neck. "I am, you know," she whispered in Willow's ear.
"What?" the vampire asked, needing the confirmation more than she had ever needed anything before…feeling as if her entire existence hinged on Tara's answer.
Willow knew it would be for eternity. Tara felt it too. She licked the soft skin of Tara's neck making the woman sigh. "I know," the vampire whispered back before sinking into her lover's eager flesh.
Within seconds, Tara felt the sharp penetration of Willow's fangs and she howled in surprise, pain and, soon after, pleasure. A moment later she felt the buttons on her blouse ripped away from the material with one swift pull of her future sire. Willow didn't drink too deeply. She wanted to keep her promise – pain with pleasure. As she pulled Tara to the ground she didn't hide her demon-self like she had their first night. She wanted Tara to see her vamp features. When Tara grinned and wiped Willow's bloody lips with her fingers before sucking on them the vampire knew there truly was no turning back now.
She pulled Tara's sandals from her feet. Next came the hip huggers. Willow was pleasantly surprised that the woman wore no undergarments. In record time, Willow removed her boots, pants and corset. Once totally nude she returned to her lover making sure to place her thigh between Tara's center. She began to grind rhythmically against the witch. My witch, Willow's mind corrected as she felt the woman grow wetter with every stroke.
She returned to Tara's neck and licked the blood that had flowed from the wound before sinking her teeth into the flesh again. She drank with abandon until she felt Tara's movements begin to slow. She knew she still needed Tara conscious. With that thought, she pulled back and used her fingernail and vamp strength to open a gash above her own breast. She positioned the cut over Tara's lips.
"Drink," she ordered, grabbing Tara forcefully behind her head and leading her up.
The blonde licked at the wound, lapping up the trickles that welled darkly from the cut but instead of immediately drinking as she was ordered she took the vampire's areola in her mouth. She began to suck as her fingernails dug into Willow's backside, slapping their bodies together even harder.
This type of disobedience from any other mortal or demon would've probably thrown Willow into a rage but this was different – much different. Willow's eyes shot open at the sudden mix of pleasure and pain. Any concerns she had, any doubts regarding whether she picked the right childe melted away. Tara could take pain but she could also give it. And Willow was delighted.
She moaned deep and long, which forced the blonde below her to suck harder, her nails digging deeper. For Willow, although incredibly arousing, it still wasn't enough.
"Harder!" she ordered.
Tara increased the pressure a little more but not enough to Willow's satisfaction. The vampire grabbed the back of Tara's head again, this time pulling those blonde tresses at the roots, making them both whimper.
"I said harder!"
Tara did as her Mistress ordered and was rewarded with even more bucking, each movement of Willow's thigh pounding against her clit. Willow felt her orgasm approaching quickly and she pulled Tara's lips away from her erect nipple, leading her to the incision she made.
"Oh Tara," she sighed, trying her best to talk through her approaching climax. "Drink now Baby. Drink. Feel it!"
Tara did as Willow demanded. For Tara, the taste was acidic at first but as Willow began to howl in her orgasm her blood seemed to turn sweet. Tara couldn't contain the sounds of her own moans at the flavor and the feeling it gave her. She continued to devour Willow when she felt the vampire reach down to her center, massaging her throbbing clitoris.
"That's it Baby," Willow coached as she continued to rub her witch. "Drink. Lap it all up like a good Kitten."
Tara moaned at Willow's words and touch. She was so close to the edge herself when she felt Willow pull away and nuzzle her neck again. This time the pain of the bite was next to nothing. Willow had kept her promise. All she could feel was the pleasure Willow's fingers were bringing her between her legs. As Willow plugged three fingers forcefully and swiftly inside of her, Tara cried out. It was unlike anything she'd ever felt. Not more than 10 seconds later Tara felt the last orgasm of her life wash over her. The afterglow was intense but she was growing tired. More tired than she'd ever felt. Still Willow continued to suck, pulling the blood from her body. It took all the strength she had but Tara reached up to hold Willow's head as the vampire continued to feast on her – taking her to a new plain, a new level of existence. And there, on the grave of Willow Rosenberg, Tara's life ended and began anew.
Tara's mind came back to the present as she listened to Willow wrapping up the story to Spike.
"She arose at my place after I'd just returned with some proper clothes for her. No Kitten of mine would be buried under that much cheap material. And she was happy with what I chose," Willow grinned, taking a look at Tara. "Weren't cha Baby?"
"Absolutely," Tara replied giving Willow a sexy half-smirk. "As always."
Spike knew he had a sappy grin on his face but he didn't care.
"Now that's love!" he told Willow. "You ignored your instinct to kill. Tara gave up her waking life to be reborn – that's just…beautiful. They don't make love stories like that anymore I tell ya. I mean soul or no soul you still need to feel something right? And you're both lucky you each found a woman that can feel. Lemme tell ya, the birds I seem to hook up wouldn't know an emotion if it came up and bit 'em on the bum."
"Someone sounds cranky in the love department," Willow said to Tara who simply giggled.
"Hey!" Spike retorted. "Just remember gals, there's nothing wrong with being love's bitch. Makes eternity go by quicker if you ask me. Sure it might hurt like hell someday but you gotta take a chance on love right? You can't keep your heart locked up tight, not letting anyone in or letting yourself feel anything like Bu…like buddies of mine do."
"Anyway," Tara sighed, getting bored with Spike's spiel on love. "Are you in or are you out? You help us and we'll help you."
Spike considered helping out the vamps. Sure, he said it was worth being love's bitch but he was starting to think that when you love A bitch it's just as bad as giving up. But then again if he had the chip removed and could prove to Buffy he could be a good man without it, maybe she'd respect him; love him. And if that didn't work, if he did give up on love, the big bad would be back in town, ready for action. Either way, he figured, it would put him in a win/win situation. Buffy would get over any power suckage on her friends with time – besides, not like it would kill them.
"You need the frumpy, fuzzy witches 'eh?" Spike rubbed his jaw as he considered it a few extra moments. "Alrighty then, consider me in."
Tara and Willow simply smiled at each other.
"Good," Willow nodded, turning to address Spike. "All we need from you is to divert the Slayer long enough so we can get our hands on the daring duo. Once we complete the akor tures spell we'll have plenty of power to see to that chip of yours and make our way home. Agreed?"
"Yeah but what about the other two?" Spike asked.
"Xander and Blondie?" Tara chuckled. "I don't think they'll be a concern."
"They could be more than you imagine," Spike told them. "Even Lil Bit's got a soft spot for the witches. They raised her after her mum and Buffy died. She'd put up a good fight too."
"Then we kill them," Tara answered very matter of fact.
"Na ah," Spike said firmly shaking his head. "Then I won't do it and I'll stake you both myself."
"Oh really Spike," Willow taunted moving to her feet. "Think you're 'man' enough to kill us?"
"This chip stops me from killing humans," he threatened, rising to his feet. "Not demons."
"Down you two," Tara ordered. "Gaia above! You both look like a couple of peacocks strutting around. Willow, Sweetie? Sit down please. Spike, just relax. Okay?"
Willow stepped back first, taking her space next to Tara. "We don't need him," Willow muttered.
Tara ignored the comment and turned to Spike. "Spike, if killing your friends is too much for you to take," she began but Spike cut her off.
"Look, I could care less about the boy but…I don't want anyone killing the Slayer's sis."
"Where's the fun in that?" Willow smirked.
Spike was not amused and once more Tara found herself trying to keep the peace.
"No one has to die here. Okay? We can do a binding spell on the others until we finish what we came for but the Slayer is another matter. We want her gone when we do it. Now with that said…Do you think you can get it done?"
Spike silently considered his options once more until finally speaking, "As long as Bit and the bloody Scoobies are off limits…Yeah. You still got a deal."
Tara stepped out of the upstairs bathroom on her way back to Dawn's bedroom. After the disaster that was breakfast, she attempted to take a nap, not having had much sleep the night before. The few times she managed to doze off, her rest was plagued with nightmare visions of being chased by a demonic-faced Willow carrying a Lethe's branch in one hand.
"You're mine, Tara," the all too-familiar voice would hiss just before she'd jerk awake.
Tara had lain on Dawn's bed for nearly an hour, trying to relax her tired mind and body, but unable to block the tumult of emotions emitting from her ex-lover in the next room. Grief and regret were at the forefront, but underlying them all was a dark rage that Tara hadn't sensed since last summer when Willow had reached the depths of her grief for Buffy's death – before Willow found the spell which her hopes had latched on like a drowning man to a lifeline.
Tara remembered many other sleepless nights during that dark summer, both of them lying next to each other, not touching, not speaking, both awash in their own thoughts and emotions. For Willow – grief for Buffy – and, more vivid to Tara's senses, rage...rage against the she-god who had brought about such chaos to Willow's already chaotic life. What scared Tara most was Willow's other rage – that against the unseen instrument that robbed Willow of her revenge. That Willow felt cheated she was not the cause of the death of Glory's vessel frightened Tara the most.
When Willow focused on the process to right the wrong – to bring Buffy back – hope replaced Willow's rage. And that gave Tara hope for Willow...and for them. She'd known the course Willow set them on was wrong, knew it went against all the ethical beliefs of her religion, but nevertheless Tara made a conscious decision to support her lover. It gave her back her own hope for their future. It was her own lifeline in what she knew was a doomed plan.
Tara knew that decision had cost her everything...her home, her peace, and, most of all, her Willow. Magic always has a price, she thought as looked at the closed door to the Slayer's bedroom. How much will you have to pay, Willow? What will it cost you?
Rather than making another futile attempt at rest, Tara moved quickly down the stairs and grabbed her coat from the rack. She had just opened the door when a voice from the living room stopped her.
"Whoa there!" Buffy said, bouncing into the foyer. "What's up?"
"Buffy..." Tara began, her thoughts still disjointed from the emotional roller coaster she was on. "I-I…I need to get some books from the dorm. And clothes. I don't have enough left here for an extended s-stay. I won't be gone long."
"Then I'll come with," the Slayer said, grabbing her own coat. "Dawn! Tara and I will be back in a bit. Stay here with Willow and tell Xander and Anya to stick around once they get back from Willy's."
"'Kay!" the teenager absently called, not looking up from the Saturday morning cartoon she was glued to.
"Buffy, this is not necessary," Tara protested as she followed the Slayer out the door. "It's daytime, the v-vamps are probably holed up somewhere."
"True, but last time she was here, Vamp Willow wasted no time in recruiting minions. I'm not taking any chances on your safety," Buffy tossed Tara her key ring. "And I'll even let you drive!"
Tara chuckled as she caught the keys. "A good thing too, if you value my safety so much."
"Hey!" Buffy protested.
At the dorm, Tara gave a sigh of relief when they found the room undisturbed. Buffy effortlessly pushed the bed and dresser back into place while Tara gathered her things together. Slumping into the armchair, Buffy waited patiently while she watched the witch slowly place her toiletry items into a duffel bag.
"Tara?" Buffy finally asked when it seemed as if Tara had run out of steam and sat heavily on the bed, just staring into space. "You okay?"
Tara gazed blankly at the Slayer for a moment, and then her eyes filled with resolve. "Yeah, just, you know, trying to d-deal with all this. Seeing Willow like that last night…those feral eyes…the way they looked at me."
Buffy nodded. "I know what you mean. It gave me major wiggins myself the first time I saw it. Not to mention quite a few nightmares afterwards. I can't imagine what you're going through."
"What was she like, Buffy?" Tara asked, her eyes filling with resolve. "Vampire Willow, I mean. Back then?"
"What has Willow told you about her?" Buffy asked in return.
"Not much, really," Tara thought. "Highlights, mostly. Anya's attempt to retrieve her necklace. How Vampire Willow attacked Willow and then escaped to nearly kill her later on. And how instead of dusting her, the gang sent her home. Willow told the story more as an amusing anecdote rather than the terror-filled night it must have been for you all. She admitted it was that incident which made her realize her attraction to women was more than just a passing fancy."
Buffy chuckled at the memory. "Yeah, I remember trying to be supporto gal and reassure her, but I guess things were already set in stone."
Tara gave Buffy a faint smile, remembering how freaked Buffy had been when Willow came out yet how supportive she was later on. "Vamp Willow?" Tara reminded, trying to turn the conversation back to what she needed to learn.
Buffy sighed, her eyes becoming distant as she remembered. "She was Willow. Exactly like our Willow, except what Willow would have become if I'd never come here. Did she tell you about Cordelia's wish and how that world came to be?" At Tara's nod, Buffy continued. "The first time I saved Willow's life was the day we met. Vampire Willow never had that chance. It was that plus her amazing similarity to our Willow which stopped me from dusting her…no matter how much Will wanted me not to."
"Was it just the way she looked, Buffy?" Tara asked.
"No," Buffy said after thinking a moment. "Sure, physically they were exactly alike…except for the way Vamp Willow's outfit enhanced her…well…curves. But it was more than that. It was the way she carried herself that was so similar to our Willow. An easy confidence that said to the world 'Watch out, I'm somebody.' Despite everything, I could always see that in our Willow, even when I first met her…it's just taken her a while for it to bloom. You know what I mean, Tara?"
Tara nodded. "So while you've been a big influence in how far Willow has come, Vampire Willow had to get it from somewhere else."
"By becoming a soulless vampire," Buffy agreed. "She was dangerous, Tara. And strong…stronger than usual, I think."
"How so?" Tara asked.
"Vampires that young are rarely that strong. It can take them years, if not decades to reach that level. Like I said before, Vamp Willow had barely appeared in Sunnydale before she had a whole crew of minions ready to jump at her every command. Newbies are just not that powerful. From the looks at the vamps in the Bronze that night, if anyone weaker had tried to dominate them, they would have just torn 'em apart and used the bones as party favors."
"So Vamp Willow was exceptionally strong even then. Why? From the looks of her she couldn't have been that much younger than Willow when she was turned." Tara stood up and began pacing the room.
"Could be because of whoever her sire was…the stronger the sire, the stronger the childe," Buffy continued. "But I think it's mostly just Willow. She's an incredibly strong person…it makes sense that her vampire self would also be."
Tara paused as she glanced out the window, the bright cheery day contrasting starkly with her own dark thoughts. Her mind flashed back to hearing Willow weeping back at the Summers' home.
"What?" Buffy asked, breaking into Tara's reverie.
"Willow," Tara said, moving back to the bed and sitting down across from the Slayer. "I think in order to fight Vampire Willow we're going to need to focus on our Will. Like she said last night, there're no books to help us deal with this situation…only your experiences from before and Willow herself."
"What do you mean? Focus on Willow how?"
"We have to try to figure out what they want and what they're doing here by trying to figure out what Willow would want and what she would do."
"Are you sure that'll work?" Buffy asked, skeptically. "After all, Willow's not evil."
"Oh?" Tara asked and Buffy's eyes widened at the tone in the blonde's witch's voice.
"Tara!" Buffy protested, standing up. "Look, I know you're angry with her and you have good reason to be, but this is Willow we're talking about. She's not evil and she never will be."
"I know she's your friend, but you and Xander and even Dawn whom she's hurt most of all can't seem to see past what Willow was to what she's become," Tara said bitterly, also standing up to face the Slayer. "Willow and the creature I saw last night have more in common than you think."
"Gods Tara, how can you think that?" Buffy said looking at Tara as if she'd just grown horns. "You left her! You didn't see what purging the magic from her system did to her…you didn't hear the pitiful cries from the torment of it."
"She did that to herself, Buffy!" Tara yelled. A small part of her mind marveled at the fact that she was standing nose to nose yelling at the Slayer. "Why can't you realize what she did to me? It was rape, Buffy! It was mental abuse of the worst kind!"
"Tara? No!" Buffy tried to deny Tara's words, but the passion behind them was unmistakable. "Rape? That's a harsh word."
"Rape," Tara confirmed, tears in her eyes. "She violated my mind, used me as an object for her own pleasure and never once thought about the consequences. It was never about trying to make our relationship better…it was about power and control. She had the power so she took control of me…she turned me into what she wanted. Ask any rape counselor and they'll tell you it's never just about sex."
Buffy was silent as she watched Tara turn away, quietly crying, her shoulders shaking from the emotion. Buffy didn't know what to do. Should she console Tara? Should she let her wallow in her anger and despair? Everything's so screwed up, Buffy thought. Willow's a junkie. Dawn's a borderline delinquent. Tara hates the one person she loved most. And I'm sleeping with the enemy…literally. The only sane thing left is Xander and Anya and even that's a bit odd given Anya's past. But still they have each other.
It was reactionary but Buffy moved to Tara, turning her around and pulling her into her arms. Buffy realized as her arms encompassed the taller woman that Tara really didn't have anyone to turn to in all of this, no sounding board. Yes Dawn was still a part of her life but Dawn didn't have to live in the adult world where every decision impacted the course of life on a grander scale.
Buffy knew the choices that Tara recently made weren't done lightly or easily. It had to be taking a toll on her as much as it had on Willow, but unlike Willow, Tara lacked the support system of her friends. Instinctively, she tightened her hold on the blonde and her reward was even more crying. Buffy just continued to hold her until her tears began to subside.
"I'm sorry," Buffy whispered sincerely. "I know you did what you thought you had to. I really do Tara."
"I love her so much Buffy," Tara managed to push out between sobs.
"I know. If you didn't, this wouldn't be that hard. I realize that. Honest."
Tara pulled back and wiped her face. "I d-didn't mean to fall apart on you."
"That's okay. You need to let things out now and then…Or so I've been told," Buffy said with a guilty grin. "Just know you can come to me Tara. I'll listen. I might not always agree. I mean, I don't think what Willow did could be called rape…but I know how wrong she was to do it. So come to me and I'll listen. And I think I can stay neutral enough to see both sides."
"Well it goes both ways you know? If you n-need to talk about stuff…I'm here…Like I told Dawnie, regardless of Will, I'll still be there if you need me."
Buffy held her breath. She considered, just for a moment, telling Tara about Spike and everything that had been going on. "Well actually," Buffy nodded, trying to get her nerve up. "That's good to know…." At the last second she changed her mind and instead of opening up added, "You might not be with Will but I want you to look at me as family. And that goes for Dawn and the others."
Tara gave a half chuckle, which made Buffy cock her head. Uh oh! Maybe she saw through the not so subtle subject switch. "What?" Buffy asked cautiously.
"Nothing – it's just the expression…family."
Buffy gave a small sigh of relief that Tara hadn't read further into her earlier hesitation.
"Yeah well, no one said we were a sane family or one that any normal person would want to be a part of but…you're a welcome addition to the circus." Buffy smiled.
"No, I meant the picture of you as family, Buffy. 'Family' is actually a gay expression." Tara could tell Buffy was obviously confused so she continued. "It's something that someone might say if they want to know if someone is gay. They'll ask 'Is she 'family?' meaning 'like us'."
"Don't they say the same thing in the mafia?"
Tara laughed. "Yeah they do. Gonna make me an offer I can't refuse?" Tara replied with a half smirk. "Okay, that came out much more flirtatious than I intended," she added with a nervous chuckle.
"Well flirtatious or not," Buffy said with a warm grin, "I want you to know you're quite welcome in our life. That hasn't changed. Like I told your father, we're family. The rules don't change just because you and Will aren't together. Okay?"
"Thanks Buffy. I know you haven't minded the fact I've been around to see Dawn but…it's still good to hear."
As Tara began to look through her bookcase and collect a few volumes she needed, Buffy cleared her throat.
"Tara, I know you're still mad at Will. I get that. But…sometimes people do things that…well things they never thought they would do." Like screw Spike she thought silently of her own predicament. "I guess my point is that Willow…I think she would have thought twice if she realized how hard you would take everything. No matter how addicted she was, well IS," she corrected herself. "…I don't think she would have done anything if she thought you'd consider it rape…Plus, she's been doing better."
"So Dawn tells me," Tara answered, trying to stay neutral.
"Yeah, well it's true. I just…I hope you can get over being angry with her – try to see Will in a new light is all. She's done some horrible things but…she's a good person under it all."
"I know that she's a good person but she's a lousy Wiccan."
"I don't know. Her skills are pretty…"
"No Buffy," Tara said cutting her off. "Willow's skills at magic are…phenomenal. Her ability to read ancient text is astounding. She's highly intelligent and quick to adapt. Her Latin is a bit weak but…other texts? It's mind-boggling. Did Mr. Giles teach her to read?" Tara asked. "Not read as in English of course, but other languages I mean?"
"I don't think they ever had a formal sit down study group but with all the research over the years, I'm sure she picked up some things here and there."
"Well she reads like she's practiced her whole life. I mean Gaelic, Sumerian, Greek – you name it and Willow's just…a wiz," Tara said with a grin.
For the briefest of moments everything that had happened was put to rest as she remembered the two of them lying in bed, looking over spell books, happy to have found someone so similar. At least they seemed similar at first. But then things just went . . .
"She's got the skills but…she lacks the discipline. It's sad really." The grin Tara wore became a frown when she thought about how far Willow had strayed.
"Whatta ya mean?"
Tara paused a moment considering where to start. "The most basic tenet is the Rede…'These eight words, the Rede fulfill, An ye harm none, do what ye will.' An meaning 'if' or, more accurately, 'just as long as'."
"No matter what you do...in all aspects of life, not only in magic, but everything...then it's okay to do it as long as you don't hurt anyone else. And that anyone else includes yourself as well. Willow's actions lately have been a blatant violation of that."
"Does she know that?" Buffy asked. "The tenets of Wicca?"
"I tried to teach her but…She got wrapped up in the power and her ability to mold life. And I think at first she really did adhere to Wiccan standards. She wanted to help you. She wanted to fight evil but…She started down a path that she couldn't get back from a-and…I'm to blame because I let her do it. She got her first taste of the dark magics when she loaded up and went after Glory. It spiraled from that point. And for so long…I let her have her way because…"
"You loved her too much to say no."
Tara nodded sadly. "I voiced my disapproval on more than one occasion but I never really got firm about it until that night."
"Halloween…the night Dawn went missing. Willow was going to do a spell at the Bronze and . . . I wouldn't let her. She tried to plead her case but I told her I didn't want to fight about it. I just wanted to go to bed. That's when she did the forgetting spell on me. After that point…I couldn't stop her…" Tara said shaking her head and giving a deep sigh. "I asked her to stop, just for a week, even told her I would leave her…but the next day she did it again…to both of us, but everyone got caught in the crossfire."
"Both of us?" Buffy asked, confused. She'd known about the spell, but she hadn't realized she was a target of it.
Tara looked at Buffy, realizing the Slayer hadn't known. "She wanted you to forget where you had been, Buffy." Tara watched a moment as the other woman digested the information. "Still think it's not rape?"
Buffy opened her mouth as if to say something. Tara could see the slight flush in the Slayer's face and decided to move the conversation away from that. They still had vampires to deal with and Tara wanted to understand what their motivation for coming to Sunnydale was.
"Another important part of the Rede is the rule of three… 'Mind the Three-fold Laws you should, three times bad and three times good.' It basically means that any energy you put out into the universe is going to come back to you multiplied by three. That's why Wiccans won't do harmful magic because it's going to harm them at least three times as much. When Willow started doing things to help herself…"
"You didn't want to watch her possibly destroy herself," Buffy finished.
Again Tara nodded. "You have to understand, I'm not just angry here Buffy. I left for lots of reasons. I thought maybe if I went then Willow would see what the abuse of magics cost her. But even then, my leaving wasn't enough and I couldn't stand by and watch her slowly killing herself. I loved her too much to stay. I know that probably sounds crazy but it's true. And besides that, it was only a matter of time before she killed me – if she didn't die first."
"You think Willow would kill you?" Buffy couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Never intentionally. But when you start to use those types of magics you start to disrupt the course of life events. And when you wield your power to your will…" Tara trailed off. She hurt thinking of all the consequences their magic had brought about in recent months. "Magic always has a price Buffy," Tara continued. "People you love can get hurt. Maybe even killed…But Dawn could tell you all about hurt…"
"Then it really is my fault and it goes back farther than I realized. I mean…I thought I should have seen Willow's abuse when you two broke up but it started way before then. It was that night she left you at the hospital and went to confront Glory…I should have stayed with her and talked her down."
"Willow descent into the black arts is Will's fault and Will's fault alone," Tara said firmly. "In truth, Willow's recovery isn't about giving up magic as it is about controlling her emotions. For the moment, walking away from magics is best for Willow, but maybe someday – if she could learn control – she could do it again. But right now, being the way that she is, I think you and I both know her true nature. She might be super smart but her actions are guided more by her heart than her head."
"And yet again I'll mention…it wasn't rape," Buffy added tentatively. "She did it because her heart didn't want to lose you and she didn't listen to her head."
"Perhaps you're right…but that still doesn't change what it is in my mind."
Buffy paused. She didn't want to get into another jargon debate with Tara. "So you really think Willow can do magic again?" she asked instead.
"Someday," Tara nodded. "But chances are it's gonna take something far more drastic than Dawn's broken arm for that to happen. And it's gonna take lots of studying and discipline on her part. She'll need a reason to want control over her emotions and her powers. Like I said, I tried to teach her and I failed…for her, it was all about using the power around her for her…gain…"
Buffy watched a perplexed look cross Tara's face. "What?"
"Maybe that's it?"
"Maybe what's what?"
"Vamp Willow wants power – she needs energy for some reason and maybe…"
"They've come to you two to get it?"
Tara nodded. "Perhaps," she answered as she rose and went to her closet. Buffy watched as Tara moved a box to the floor and began to look through it. "My grandmother had a book she gave to my mother who then passed it down to me. It mentions a power draining spell…something about twins…"
Buffy came over and knelt beside Tara. The Wiccan looked through an assortment of books in a box. She pulled out a book titled Faileás Leabhar and began to thumb through it. "Hmm…" she hummed as she stopped in one section and began to read.
"What is it?" Buffy asked.
"Looks like there might be something here. Let's take this stuff back to the house and do a little more research," Tara answered as she started to rise.
Buffy nodded and followed Tara to her feet. She took the box of books as Tara grabbed her duffle bag of clothes and supplies. Before they left Buffy stopped for a moment, making Tara turn around.
"For what it's worth Tara," Buffy told her. "I don't blame you for leaving."
Tara nodded. "Just do me a favor okay?"
"Look after her…She needs your help more than I do right now. But I'm thankful for the offer. Promise me?"
"I think I can manage that," Buffy grinned.
Tara gave a small grin and led Buffy from the dorm room and locked the door behind them.
Spike returned from the cellar of his crypt, holding three packages of blood.
"It's not as good as the real thing ladies but it – "
He stopped in mid-sentence to find the two of them tangled around each other on his bed. Willow was biting at Tara's neck and the blonde turned. "Spike's back Sweetie," Tara told her lover.
"He's not invited," Willow managed between kisses, using her weight to push Tara's back against the bed.
The blonde chuckled and rolled over, pinning Willow to the mattress. "Later," she told her standing up and trying to straighten out her clothes. Willow just grumbled in response and rose so she sat at the corner of the bed.
"So what took so long?" Tara asked him.
The sight caught him off-guard and he had to shake the image he just saw out of his head. Never in all his dead years did he think he'd ever find the thought of Red and her bird as sexy but this pair…They had potential.
"I ahh…wanted to get the fresher packs. Had to search in the back."
Tara walked over and peered around the corner. "How big is this place?" she asked.
Willow finally pulled herself off the bed and made her way over to her lover's side. She ignored Spike's presence and came behind her lover, pushing her hair to one side. As she planted kisses at the base of Tara's neck Willow's hands worked themselves around her front slowly leading up to her breasts. Tara reach down and locked her fingers with Willow's before the hands could reach their destination and Willow growled in frustration.
"Mind if we take a look around?" Tara asked, pointing to the cellar.
"Be my guest," Spike offered.
"Come on Baby," Tara said pulling Willow along. "Let's check it out."
With a sigh of sexual frustration Willow followed along. When they reached the bottom of the stairs that's when Willow saw it. Tara looked over to see the grin on her lover's face grow wider by the second until she had a full-fledge smile.
Spike came up behind them a moment later. "This part's not finished yet but it's a work in progress."
Tara continued to grin at her lover who was now taking slow footsteps toward the fascination that caught her eye.
"Chains," Willow finally muttered.
"Oh yeah, those…Yeah, well, you never know when – "
"Leave us," Willow ordered, cutting him off.
"Excuse me? This happens to be my crypt." Spike replied indignant.
"Wanna get rid of the chip?" Willow asked not needing an answer. "Give me the keys and go away."
"Oh bugger," he sighed. He reached above Tara's head and tossed a set over to Willow. "Just…clean up when you're done ladies." They watched as Spike took to the stairs before calling out again, "And keep it down. Passions is coming on in a few."
Spike was all but forgotten for Willow who looked at her lover with a feral grin. "Come here Kitten. You were a bad girl last night."
Tara felt a shiver of anticipation run down her spine as she looked at her lover. "B-bad girl?" she asked timidly, her stutter affected.
"Oh yes," Willow answered as she gently took Tara by the hand leading her to the shackles that hung from the wall. "Very bad. You know I hate that Tinkerbell spell," she added as she closed one clamp around Tara's wrist.
Tara smirked internally. She didn't know quite what Willow had in mind but she was sure she'd love it. Instead of giving into her need to express her excitement, she played along. "I'm sorry. It won't happen again."
Willow finished placing the other clamp on Tara's opposite wrist. "What was that?" Willow asked, certain that Tara was well aware of the proper response.
"I mean, it won't happen again…Mistress."
Willow smirked and took a step closer. "See that it doesn't."
Tara swallowed hard and closed her eyes. "Yes Mistress."
Willow unbuttoned Tara's top exposing her naked torso. She methodically let her hands run down the front of Tara's body from her neck to her waist, purposely avoiding the blonde's sensitive breasts. "Tell me something, Kitten," Willow coaxed in an erotic voice. "…Do kittens bark?"
Tara opened her eyes. She gave her an appraising look from the top of the vampire's head to the tips of her boots. Quietly she smirked at her lover. "Why don't we find out Mistress?"
It was Willow's turn to shudder.
Spike sat back in his chair, trying to concentrate on his show but the sounds of passion coming from his cellar were becoming distracting. The long, drawn out screams Tara made were becoming much more than he could take. He could hear the pain, but there was just enough undertones of pleasure to make his bleached hair stand up on end. When he heard the crack of leather against flesh that was enough.
"Bloody hell," he muttered as he rose and turned up the volume on his television. His desire to just take a quick peek was getting the better of him but he decided against it. He was certain Willow would stake him in a heartbeat without thinking twice. So instead of getting an eyeful he bit savagely into his bag of blood, drinking deeply.
By the sounds of Tara's screams and Willow's moans he knew it was going to be a long time 'til sunset.
Feedback to CN Send
Feedback to Susan
Back to CN's Stories... Back to Susan's Stories...