I Heard a Rumor
After Willow gives Giles a warm welcome after returning from England to Sunnydale, post-magic recovery, the gang believe the two had a love affair. Buffy is the only voice of reason until...(PG-13)
Making Sense
Set 10 years post finale, a brief encounter forces Willow and Buffy to look deeper into their relationship.(PG-13)
Making Plans
Spicier sequel to Making Sense with Buffy's thoughts on the 'morning after'. (NC-17)
Private Conversations
Set during season five, Willow and Tara do a little experimentation and magic in the bedroom, with unexpected results. (R) 
Anya's List
Convinced that D'Hoffryn is going to kill her, Anya makes a bucket list, but she needs Willow's help with number 8. (NC-17)
Tough Love
Tara becomes the victim of a gay hate crime and the scoobies get a glimpse into the not so rosy side of Willow and Tara's life. (R
Ice Cream Dreams
So what if Xander's dream didn't end when he crawled into the back of his ice cream truck in the season four ender. (NC-17; Pairing W/T/X)
Interview With A Vampire
Willow visits Angel after her 'black magic bender'. (PG)
You. Me. Formal Wear.
Xander is stuck for a date to his contractor's association so he turns to 'old reliable' with unexpected results (PG-13)
12 Weeks
Chronicle of Willow's collapse  in 'Grave' until her return back to Sunnydale in 'Same Time Same Place'. Warning contains difficult topics like death, suicide and other unpleasant feelings.  (R)
Virgin Sacrifice
Willow needs a virgin for a spell and Kennedy is more than happy to help. (NC-17
Karamel Sutra
Willow sends Kennedy on a mission for a little Ben and Jerry's. (NC-17)
It's What I Do
Set after season seven, 'Get it Done'. Willow and Buffy have a chat and Ole fashioned scoobie bonding. (PG)
Show Me
Tara's in a horny spurt and tries to convince Willow to blow off a class.  (NC-17)
Coming Out All Wrong
Will and Tara come out, stumbling, to one last person in the Scoobie circle. (PG)
Coming Out of the Bedroom
Tara decides her love life with Willow needs spicing up & smut ensues (NC-17)
To Those Who Wield 
Set during the season 6 breakup of Will and Tara, the two ex's must work together and do battle with their vampire alter egos who are threatening their existence. (NC-17)
Set after Chosen and before our virtual season, Watchers. (PG-13)

Title: To Those Who Wield

Author: CN Winters and Susan Carr

Fandom: Buffy fanfiction, Willow fanfiction, Buffy slash fanfiction, Willow Tara fanfiction

Disclaimers: Joss owns ‘em. I’m just borrowing ‘em.

Rating: NC-17 for grown up stuff like sex, language and violence.

Paring: Will and Tara; Vamp Will and Vamp Tara

Feedback: CN Winters (cnwinters71@yahoo.com) or Susan Carr (skeeter451@mysticmuse.net)

Synopsis: 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: To Chris Cook for the ultra-cool banner



Part Two

"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.

"She’s worried."

"What do you mean?" Tara asked.

"I know that the accident was a kind of bottoming out for her but..."

"But what?"

"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."

"I don’t…."

"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."

"’Night Kiddo."


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."

"’Night Buff."



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.."

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 and 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 learn 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.




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