A New Beginning
Pairing: Willow/HarmonyFeedback: Yes please, it will help me keep going! M3832@mchsi.com
Disclaimer: I do not own nor make any money off of the stories I write. The characters and otherwise fandom material belong to their rightful owners. I own any character I make up in a story and said character may not be used without asking.
Summary: Six months after the season seven finale, can Willow help with the new fight and find true love?
Willow sat in her office at the headquarters of the new Watchers Council. It had been six short months since Sunnydale collapsed and their lives changed forever. Faith and a few of the more experienced slayers had split up into two groups for the fighting of demons around the world. Group one, led by Faith and the less experienced slayers, traveled mostly in the states. Xander and Robin lead the second group, which had the more experienced new slayers. They fought more extensively around the world due to their larger numbers. Thus, it was Buffy’s job to find these new slayers once Willow had tracked them down. It was Kennedy’s job to help the ones who remained at the hellmouth. In addition, it was her job to assist in the training of said slayers and defend the hellmouth.
Giles and Dawn helped with the daily operations of the headquarters when they were not raising funds and continuing their studies. The headquarters consisted of a dormitory, library, school, large dining area, training area, and other relaxation spots. It had nearly broke Giles and the funds left over from the council, but the buildings were needed to facilitate such a large group. In total, the group consisted of the remaining Scoobies, three surviving watchers, twenty-two slayers who were out in the field and sixty-seven younger slayers who were still in the training stage. Since the closing of the hellmouth in Sunnydale, the team had sadly lost twenty-three slayers. This was the downside to having so many slayers at once. They became easier targets since they had a larger number of slayers.
Willow had just finished paying some bills and signing some legal documents when Dawn sauntered into her office. “Hey Will,” Dawn said with a smile. She was attending college along with her duties at the headquarters in hopes of going into the medical field. “Have you spoke with Buffy or Faith lately?”
“Buffy will be back in town the day after tomorrow,” Willow said, as she gave her notes a quick scan to verify her information. “Faith is bringing a couple girls from her group back. She says they fight decently but don’t get on well with others. Go figure, Faith complaining about people interaction skills. “Both women had to chuckle at that thought. Faith was never a people person and was now reprimanding others who weren’t.
“Well, I think we need to do a bit of shuffling around anyhow,” Dawn added, as she took a sip of her hot drink. “Anyway, why I’m here isn’t about that. Giles called last night, um, I forget his location, but he said he would need to speak with you if a trend continued. He heard from Buffy that two of the four people she was going to bring back, don’t seem to have full power. Kennedy mentioned this about a few of the slayers in training too I think.”
“Yeah,” Willow said in a thoughtful tone. “He’s gone to look for some information and did speak with me. If he’s forgetting, we may have another issue.” Willow put her head in her hands, as Kennedy came in the room.
“We’re discussing this slayer thing,” Dawn offered in way of adding Kennedy to the conversation. She never liked Kennedy much but was willing to give her a chance for Willow’s sake. Kennedy was nothing like Tara and the kid part of Dawn, missed Tara tremendously.
“I came to see if Willow was free for lunch.” Kennedy stated and kissed her girlfriend. “You don’t get out of here enough Willow. Everyone else tries to have some sort of social life but you.” Kennedy gave Willow her best pouty face, as Dawn sneered. “C’mon, what do you say we go to that new posh restaurant up the street? I hear the food there is great.”
“Kennedy,” Willow began slowly. “We may end up with a crisis on our hands with these slayers. I’d rather do some research to see if we can get a jump on the situation.” Willow gave her girlfriend a smile but received a frown in return.
“I think this is a private conversation,” Dawn said with a yawn, as she rose from her seat. “I’ll talk to you later Willow. I want to check in with Dani anyhow and see if I can get the scoop on which one Faith is messing with, her or Robin.”
“Probably both of them,” Kennedy said with a snarky tone in her voice. “Faith is sleazy. Her family comes from the trashier side of Boston, while my family is from the more well to do side.” Kennedy grinned at the two women who had disgusted looks on their faces.
“Let me tell you something, you stupid rich snob!” Dawn shouted as she stood in Kennedy’s face. “If I were bisexual or lesbian, I would do Faith any day over your prissy ass!” She slammed the door on her way out, which garnered a snarl from Kennedy.
Kennedy crossed the room once more and kissed Willow aggressively. “C’mon Willow, we don’t get much time together anymore. I might start to get a complex soon over the lack of personal time you give me lately.” Kennedy smiled her best seduction smile in an effort to tempt her girlfriend into a little afternoon treat.
“First of all,” Willow stood in a defiant manner as she spoke. “We have all been very busy with getting this facility underway. Secondly, I have told you repeatedly to stop messing with Dawn and Faith as you do. That is child’s play and, in case you haven’t noticed, I am an adult. I'm an adult who does not date children!”
“I’m sorry Willow,” Kennedy flashed her best sad look. “Dawn and I just can’t seem to click so I do what pisses her off the most. I think she has a crush on Faith and I want to push her into admitting it. Sure I don’t like Faith but that honestly is why I do it when Dawn’s around.”
“Well knock it off because I’m tired of the childish crap that comes up when you and Dawn start jabbing at each other.” Willow stated in an exasperated tone. “I feel like I’m your babysitter sometimes Kennedy and that’s not cool for a lover to feel like that. That’s one of the reasons I have avoided more us time. It’s not the only reason, but one of them. Another reason is that I’m very busy and you know this.”
Kennedy lowered her gaze from Willow. She knew the redhead was right and she had a few issues to work out. She was glad that the two got over the Tara issue and believed that it was settled during the first night they made love. She believed that Willow would have never given herself fully to her if she weren’t ready to close the Maclay chapter in her life.
In turn, Willow still loved and missed Tara a great deal. She had resolved to go on because it was the right thing to do, not because she was head over heels in love with Kennedy. She was very fond of Kennedy and, at times, wondered how deep her feelings ran. But she knew that what they could have wasn't close to what she had with Tara. This was the main reason that Willow found excuses to not spend as much time with the third ranking slayer in charge.
Willow felt it was wrong to do this but had not done anything about it thus far. She and Kennedy got on well most of the time and Willow felt that there was a possibility of a long lasting relationship there. Her problem was that she could not fully let go of Tara. She didn’t know why, as it had been nearly two years since her death. She knew that she had to find the strength within to move forward at a more rapid pace, but wasn’t sure she had that strength. “Kennedy,” Willow lowered her gaze to the woman who had shown her devotion for the last year. “Let me get this work done and we’ll go out tonight, I promise.” She decided that tonight would truly be what the night they made love for the first time should have been, the moving on.
“Deal,” Kennedy said with a big smile on her face. She truly loved Willow and wanted things to work out. She hoped that they would have a good time tonight as well as get some of the tension out of the way.
- - - - -
Danielle Prescott was a tall 19-year-old woman with deep brown eyes and long wavy hair. She had a dark complexion and her accent was rich with the speaking style of the state that she was from, Louisiana. She had arrived at the school just four short months ago and was quickly rising through the slayer ranks. The talk was that she would replace Kennedy very soon as training leader. She was in training for the police force when Buffy located her, just days before her powers found her. She had accepted her calling eagerly and worked hard to do her job, which most newly called slayers did not do at first. What the gang came to realize was that, after the first batch of slayers were called to fight at the Sunnydale hellmouth, powers would be released more slowly and to a few at a time. Nobody knew how it worked or why it was that way, but the new group of watchers and head slayers were happy it worked out in that fashion. It made things much easier for training and locating girls. They were happy to receive Dani because of her work ethics and kind-natured personality.
“Hi Miss Willow,” Danielle said, as Willow walked towards the dining room.
“Hi Dani,” Willow smiled at the young woman. They’d had many talks and clicked instantly. Dani loved computers as did Willow, but Dani was most interested in the gaming aspect of them. Both women had a great love of reading demonology materials, as well as romance novels. Both women were easy to get along with, though Dani exuded confidence and Willow did not. Willow was able to share her intimate thoughts of Tara and Kennedy with Dani, a feet that she shied away from with most people of late. She found the young woman easy to talk with, as Dani did her. “I’m going out with Kennedy tonight. Will you be able to look after the girls with Dawnie?”
“Sure Miss Willow,” Dani said in a casual tone. “Are you deciding to try and close that painful chapter of your life then?” Dani felt that she could speak pointedly because she and Willow had many conversations about the heartache losing someone that you loved caused. Dani had lost her lover just over a year ago in a tragic car accident.
“I don’t know that I can close it Dani. Maybe I can heal enough to love Kennedy though. I mean, I care a great deal and maybe I do love her but I have to allow myself to see it.” Willow said trying to convince herself as much as convince Dani.
“My Nancy will always be in my heart,” Dani said, as she clutched a heart-shaped locket, which contained Nancy’s picture in it, close to her. “We can’t live in the past Miss Willow; we’ve got to live in the here and now. They would want that for us. If Kennedy is the one you want, I wish you luck and if not, I hope the best for you both as you move forward separately.”
Later that night, Dani had stepped out to get she, Dawn and Sarah a pizza. The other girls had chosen various other indoor activities for the evening, including cooking their own meal. As she walked aimlessly into the pizza palace, she clumsily ran into a young woman. “S-s-s-sorry,” the woman said shyly, as she turned to see if Dani was all right.
Dani gazed down into the most beautiful sapphire eyes she had ever seen in her life. She stood motionless, as if she were staring at a painting of some ancient beauty. “I’m sorry; I should have been paying attention. I’m Danielle but my friends call me Dani.” She replied with a friendly smile to the shy woman.
“M-m-my name’s Tracy Willis,” replied the Blonde nervously.
“As in detective Brad Willis?” Dani asked out of curiosity. She had met the detective on a couple of occasions around the city during patrol.
“Y-y-yes, he’s my uncle,” the girl stammered. “I work here to get through college. I’m in my last year.”
“I thought of taking a few classes but I never got around to it,” Dani added, she was never into the school scene but still wished she could get into law enforcement. A hint of sadness flashed across her face for a brief time. She supposed that working a full-time law enforcement job was out of the question, at least for the time being. There was far too much work to do at the headquarters.
“Are you all right?” The girl stammered more so than before. She feared that she had said something wrong and had hit a sad nerve with the gorgeous woman.
“Oh no, I’m fine,” Dani said, as she quickly regained her composure. “This is just a new place and new career choices for me.”
“Oh, I understand,” the girl continued speaking in her stammer. “I better get back to work though, it was nice meeting you.”
“I better get the pizza back home,” Dani added. “It was nice meeting you also. If you don’t mind, I’d like to come back and have a chat sometime,” Dani scribbled her cell-number on a piece of paper, thankful that she had a part time job at the local book store to pay for the accessory. “If you’d like for me to stop by, just give me a ring and let me know when would be a good time.” The girl’s parted with smiles.
- - - - -
Dawn and Sarah sat impatiently on the sofa as Dani came in with their food. The headquarters was comprised of two buildings and a large yard area. The building that housed everyone was a nice 5-story place, with privacy for the elder members of the team. The Scoobies, watchers, and top three ranking slayers got the bottom floor. This housed several bedrooms, two sitting rooms, the main kitchen and a storage area. The other floors were comprised of bedrooms, smaller sitting rooms, bathrooms, and some recreational rooms. The other building was comprised of the offices, large library, school and training facility. There was also a larger storage area and small medical room in this building.
“We thought you forgot us,” Sarah, a 17-year-old slayer stated dramatically.
“No, I ran into a potential date.” Dani said with a smile. “You should see this girl. She is shy, real nice and has great eyes.”
“That means Faith is free if she ditched Robin,” Sarah said with a hint of laughter in her voice.
Sarah’s face quickly turned a bright red, as she noticed that Faith had just walked in the room. “What’s this about me being free?” Faith asked, as she gave the young girl a sultry smile.
Dawn shrugged her shoulders in defeat. “We were all kinda placing bets on your love life. We kinda thought that you were doing Dani or Robin.”
“They don’t give you all enough to do around here,” Faith said, as she took a slice of pizza and sat down with the girls. “Where’s Red?”
“She’s gone out with Kennedy.” Dawn said in a disgusted tone of voice.
“Ole Ken still hangin’ in there huh?” Faith quirked an eyebrow to show that she agreed with Dawn on the subject of Kennedy.
- - - - -
Willow and Kennedy sat quietly through a movie then walked to dinner. The restaurant was an out of the way place for the more wealthy citizens of Cleveland. “Willow, I want to talk about some things over dinner.” Kennedy said as their meal and wine were placed on the table.
“I think that’s a good idea.” Willow said bracing herself for whatever Kennedy threw at her.
“Look, I know I act a little bratty sometimes, especially when Dawn is around. I need to work on that but Willow, I’ve put my all into us and feel as though you haven’t.” Kennedy said in a hurried but honest tone of voice.
Willow knew Kennedy was being honest and decided it was time for her to do the same. “Kennedy, I have decided that tonight is my real start. I want to try to move forward from Tara. I will never be able to replace her in my heart but I would like to see if you too could have a place in my heart. Truthfully, I know that I care for you but I don’t know to what extent because I haven’t allowed myself to let go of Tara.”
Kennedy was taken aback by Willow's revelation. She realized that she was wrong with her theory that their first lovemaking encounter was Willow’s letting go of Tara signal. She had hoped that she gave her something that night, enough of herself to free her of the ghost of Tara Maclay. The realization that the night was just some sort of sexual encounter for Willow didn’t sit well with the slayer. “Willow, are you telling me that the first night we made love was meaningless? The few times you’ve allowed me to make love to you since that night were nothing to you but sex?” Kennedy’s voice was rising slightly, but she tried to control it.
“No Kennedy,” Willow pored herself another glass of wine. “I allowed you to have that night with me because I liked you and I,” Willow hung her head in shame. “Well, I thought we were all going to die and I wanted to have a special night with someone that I liked.”
Kennedy jumped up from her chair in a rage. “You had sex with me because you thought it would be your last time?” Her voice pierced the restaurant like a clap of thunder as she stalked towards Willow.
“No Kennedy, you’re missing the point here.” Willow put her hand on the young slayer’s arm in an effort to calm her. “Look, Tara was my world and I am having a difficult time moving on from that part of my world. I made this dinner date because I wanted to try to move forward with you. The first night we shared was important to me. It was a stepping-stone in my healing. You weren’t just some girl from the street; you were someone I wanted to get to know better if we got the chance to live. That is why I was with you and yes, because part of me was scared that I wouldn’t get the chance to be with you again.”
Kennedy seemed to relax slightly after hearing Willow’s words. This night wasn’t starting out exactly how she had hoped but maybe it could end up that way. “I’m sorry Willow,” she said quietly. “I jumped to conclusions and should have given you more of a chance to explain.”“
That’s all right,” Willow said with a slight smile on her face. “We need to air it all out so we can move forward and I really think I’m ready to make progress with that. I’m sorry that I dragged my feet for such a long time but Tara was so important to me. I never was willing to let myself love again but I want to try now.”
Kennedy got to her feet and stepped around the small table next to Willow. “I’m so glad you really want to try with me.” She kissed her girlfriend sensuously, as a slow song began to play. “Let’s go have a dance and then finish our meal.” She reached out for Willow’s hand and was glad to see that Willow accepted the offer quickly.
Willow relaxed in Kennedy’s embrace as the song played. They snuggled close and shared a few kisses through two more songs, both enjoying the company of the other. “Are we okay?” Kennedy asked, breaking the relaxing mood.
“We’re fine,” Willow said, as she kissed her lover and then lead her back to their table. “You’re also right that I need to relax more often too.” Willow added, as they continued to eat their meal.
- - - - -
Faith sat alone in one of the sitting rooms at nearly 2:30 AM. She couldn’t sleep; a normal occurrence for the dark slayer, but one she wished that she could remedy. It was during those sleepless nights that she would reflect on her life. Robin Wood was one change that she had refused. The two had a great deal of fun but once he tried to get serious, Faith got going. She just couldn’t see him in that way and didn’t really care if he understood that fact or not. It wasn’t that Faith didn’t want to change and give a real relationship a shot, but the fact that she wanted her first real relationship adventure to be with a woman. Robin was upset by this and vowed to tell everyone; obviously he had decided against it or else the all-knowing Dawnie would have mentioned it earlier in the evening. “Hey Red,” Faith said, as she pulled herself back together. “Whacha doin’ up this late?”
“I had a nice night with Kennedy and then, after things happened, well I had a disturbing dream.” Willow said. She wished Dani were the one up but Faith would have to do because she was rattled and needed an ear. “This one time, we all had linking dreams and Tara appeared as the first slayer in Buffy’s dream. I had this dream that she came back as the first slayer to help us with the current problems because she was the key to the resolution of the problems.” Willow’s hands began to tremble as she continued speaking. “So she wouldn’t take me back because I was with Kennedy and it wouldn’t be fair to just rip Kennedy’s heart out.”
“I’m not good with this sort of thing Red.” Faith stated lazily. “I guess maybe just that Ken isn’t the gal for you maybe. I don’t know much about love but, if she were the one, it wouldn’t have taken you this long to move on y’know?”
“You know,” Willow stood from her seat and looked directly at the smiling slayer. “Everyone deserves a chance and I never gave her a full chance. I want to try this but thanks for the advice.”
“You asked my opinion is all.” Faith chuckled and headed to her room for some much needed rest.
Willow sat in the cozy room wondering why she had that dream. It could have been because she was letting go and her subconscious was trying to stop her from doing so. That would be the easy explanation but what if that was incorrect? What if Tara came back as the first slayer? Willow pondered this until she drifted off to sleep with dreams of better times for the Scoobies.
A couple of days had drifted by without any large incident happening. Buffy had stopped in for a rest and quick discussion over this slayer power reduction. Nobody had come up with a valid solution and so it was back to the drawing board for the watchers and researchers. Faith had departed to the Midwest with her two new team members, one of whom was Sarah. Dawn was sure Dani would be picked but not this time around. Both Willow and Faith knew the reason that Dani was not picked was that she was doing so much better than all the other younger slayers in training and patrol. They needed her there, for the time being, to protect the hellmouth. They had a sense that as each slayer had their destiny, this was Dani’s. Willow and the dark slayer chose to keep this news quiet, as they did not want to ruffle Kennedy's feathers.
Though Willow and Kennedy seemed to be doing better, it was Dani who held Willow’s interest the most. She found herself looking for the bright young woman for some intellectual conversation, a quick lunch or just whatever else she could think of. Of course Willow was not admitting to herself that she was enjoying her time with Dani to much or that she felt a pang of sadness when Dani announced that she had a date for the evening.
A group of girls prepared dinner for the team members who chose to stay home that night. Willow was enjoying herself and their company. It was a casual conversational night with Kennedy and a few new slayers out on patrol and Dani on her date. As the clock struck 11:00 however, Willow grew worried and tried to get hold of Kennedy. “There is no answer, all of us would have checked in by this time.” Willow gestured at the clock and her worries about the slayers were confirmed with a nod from Dawn.
“I’ll go look for them,” Natasha, one of the slayers that Faith sent home offered.
“No I hate to do this but I should call Dani.” Willow said dejectedly. She recalled how it was no fun having their nights of fun interrupted but it was part of the job.
- - - -
Dani arrived at 08:00 sharp to pick Tracy up. She had managed to sweet talk Willow into letting her use Giles’ nice new car for the occasion. “Hi,” Tracy stammered, as Dani opened the door and stepped back for the girl to get in.
The girls had spoke on the phone the night before and both seemed delighted to learn of the sexual dating preference of the other. “HI,” Dani said with a smile, as she handed Tracy a single rose.
The two young women shared a nice dinner that consisted of a small portion of steak, salad and pie. They then shared a few dances and talked about the general conversations of a first date. “Would you like to catch a late show?” Dani asked, as she did not want the date to end at 10:30 in the evening.
“That sounds great,” the blonde woman said. She enjoyed the company of this lovely young lady very much.
“Let’s walk then, it’s not that far.” Dani offered and held out her hand to see if the woman was ready for the small amount of contact.
Tracy accepted Dani’s hand and found it refreshing to have such a seemingly kind lady to get to know better. By this time of the evening, most women were ready to hit the sheets in Tracy’s experience. Hitting the sheets just was not something that Tracy was willing to do in such a hurry and she hoped this didn’t turn into one of those nights where she’d have to leave or explain why. “It’s a nice night,” Tracy offered with a half- smile on her face.
As the two rounded the corner, Dani caught site of a fierce battle between the slayers and some sort of demon. Then her phone rang. “Hello?” She said in a quick tone of voice, as she turned Tracy in the opposite direction. She would have to come up with a good solution as to why they weren’t going to the theater and hoped Tracy didn’t see the goings on.
“Yes I see that,” Dani said in reply to Willow’s frantic tone that Kennedy and three others were missing. She hoped that her brief statement would be enough to indicate to Willow that she saw them.
Tracy did see the events that were unfolding unfortunately. These were of events that her uncle had strictly warned her to stay away from and she had a great respect for the man. She felt both compelled to help and saddened that her new potential dating partner was involved in such activities. Added to these thoughts, was something unfamiliar deep in her belly, something like a whirlwind waiting to get out. It was both strong and loving, both frightening and settling. Whatever this was, she couldn’t push it to the forefront, as she obediently got in the car for Dani.
As Tracy watched the horror unfold, she felt a sudden urge to get out and do something. She wanted to stay in the car as Dani had asked her to but something was pulling her to move. One of the young girls was lying motionless on the ground and that was enough to get the shy blonde out of the car. She knelt down beside the girl, as she watched Dani expertly beat down the creatures that were trying to kill the other girls. There was another woman that was fairing well but Dani seemed to be the most experienced.
As the fight ended, Kennedy turned and looked directly into the eyes of the young blonde who knelt by Sandra. She knew that face, or thought she did. “I’m sorry that you had to see this.” Kennedy stated coyly. “I’m Kennedy.”
“Tracy,” the girl said as Dani walked up to them. Kennedy decided that Tracy it would be and began to hatch a plan in case this was who she thought it was.
“Tracy,” Dani said in stumbling words. “I need to help Kennedy and Jo get these two taken care of.”
“No, we can handle it,” Kennedy offered. “You take her on home and thanks for coming to help.”
Tracy flashed a sad smile at the two women. “I can get home by myself,” Tracy stammered, as she needed time to process all of this.
“Absolutely not,” Dani and Jo chimed simultaneously.
- - - -
Dani walked into the headquarters nearly an hour later. She had a long talk with Tracy about her calling and what was really out there. Tracy remained aloof throughout their conversation but Dani had hoped that, in time, Tracy would come around and at least call her. Granted she had only two meetings and a phone conversation with the woman, but rather enjoyed her company. “Hey Miss Willow,” Dani said in a sad tone. “I’m sorry that I didn’t get there in time to save all of them.”
“That’s not your fault Dani,” Willow said, as she quickly checked the woman’s cuts over. “Are you all right? Did you see anything out of the ordinary?”
“No, I didn’t have time to look around.” Dani said somberly.
Willow gathered some ointment and items to tend to Dani’s fast healing cuts. “Kennedy said the same thing, they were blind sided. There is something strange happening with the slayers lately. I’ve contacted Giles and he’s coming home tomorrow to help us get a handle on this.”
“Did Kennedy tell you about my date?” Dani asked in a frustrated tone.
“No,” Willow said and sat down next to the woman. “She was to busy whining because I didn’t go to bed with her.”
“You should have, I’m doing all right.” Dani added with a smirk. Kennedy’s whining and tantrums were becoming a normal ritual around the place.
“No, I wanted to make sure you were ok.” Willow said emphatically. “So what happened with the date?”
“I tried to keep her from seeing and it didn’t work. She didn’t seem too receptive of my explanation and so I would guess there won’t be a second date,” Dani said flatly.
“You’ll find the right one Dani,” Willow said in a shy voice.
“I shouldn’t even be worrying about that sort of thing; I mean we’ve got two dead slayers to mourn.” Dani added with a sad look on her face.
“It’s all right Dani,” Willow said and placed her hand atop Dani’s in an effort to show comfort. “We all have feelings, no matter the situation we’re going through. It’s fine to share those feelings with me. I mean we’ve got used to doing that and…”the two women looked at each other for a moment before looking away. “I guess we better get some sleep,” Willow added, as they both got up and headed to bed.
- - - -
Dawn trudged down the stairs the next morning very unhappily. Not only did one of her good friends get killed last night, but she had to be awakened to Kennedy complaining because Willow never returned to their bed. On top of all that, she answered the call from Xander who indicated that he, Robin and the two slayers that they had left, were coming home. The group had thirteen slayers with them when they left. Apparently, four were killed and seven mysteriously lost all powers. One of the watchers, Philip Marlow, was taking those to a different location until the problem could be worked out.
“All right, it’s time to shut up and tend to real business!” Dawn shouted at Willow and Kennedy, who were in a discussion over their sleeping arrangements. “We have huge problems on our hands. Slayers that had powers are either dying or losing their powers! Xander and his group are coming home minus a bunch of slayers because of this. Now my suggestion is to keep as many slayers as we can in the field. I’ve called Faith who is willing to split her group up with Robin and then Xander will take a small group on his own. If we all bunker down in here, whoever is doing this wins the fight. Therefore those of us who remain behind have a lot of work to do!” Dawn continued shouting in an authoritative manner.
“I think we all need to regroup here and then send out groups,” Willow added. She thought Dawn had a good idea, but felt it would help if they could find out who had what strengths before they sent everyone out again.
“I agree with that,” Dani offered, as she came into the room. “It sounds like we’re dwindling in numbers. Could it be the first again?”
“Anything’s possible but I think the first would just kill all of them,” Willow added. “Whoever it is, they have the strength to kill some and take away from some. What a way to divide and conquer.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Andrew offered, as he stepped out of the kitchen.
“Yeah,” Kennedy spoke smugly. “Keep the food coming.”
“Grow up Kennedy,” Dawn snapped rudely. “He did a lot to help us out in the last battle! In fact, he did more than some of you did!”
“He gave us entertainment,” Kennedy snapped back.
“Stop it right now!” Willow shouted, as she hung up the phone. She was making quick arrangements to get everyone home, including the seven who had lost powers. She decided it would not be a good idea to have people scattered in such a way, at least until they knew what was on the go.
- - - -
Later that night, Willow stood out in the front of the main building deep in thought. She knew that Buffy, Faith, Xander with Robin, and Philip with Kennedy would all need to take small groups of slayers to demon hot spots around the world. She knew that Kennedy wouldn’t like this but it had to be done this way. Dani was far better equipped to protect the hellmouth and Giles would be needed at the headquarters. The other watcher, Beverly Smythe, would need to help with the girls that remained at headquarters.
As Willow shook her head in an unsuccessful attempt to come up with more than just the basic framework of a plan that was full of holes, someone stepped from the shadows. “Always the thinker,” snapped a familiar voice.
“What do you want to try and bite me again?” Willow asked and turned to face Harmony Kendall. There was something different about the eyes of the vampire who had been more of a thorn than real threat but Willow couldn’t place her finger on it. She had a tired look on her face and fresh wounds that were healing fast.
“Actually, I have some news and didn’t know where to go deliver it.” Harmony gazed at Willow in what, shockingly to Willow, appeared to be a mournful look. “The remaining survivors of Angel Investigations are dead.” Harmony spat out bluntly.
Willow’s face showed shock then turned to disbelief. “You betrayed Angel before his big battle a few weeks ago, why should I believe you now?”
“Why would I bother coming here and telling you bunch of losers this news?” Harmony snapped back at the redhead.
“Maybe you’re aligned with the current drama we have going on here.” Willow said then realized that, as shallow as Harmony was, that might not be correct.
“The betrayal was a plan of Angel’s; he gave me a real chance and said that if I could get a soul, I’d really be on my way to redemption. He also got this before everyone started getting slaughtered,” Harmony said flatly and withdrew a disk from her jacket pocket.
A jacket that Willow realized belonged to Spike. “Is he gone too?” Willow asked tentatively, as she took the disk from Harmony’s outstretched hand.
“They all are gone Willow.” Harmony said and withdrew a stake. She spun it behind her and connected easily with a vampire that was coming up on them. “They got some information on some sort of deal Wolfram made with a sorceress and then everything went poof. I got all banged up but managed to get out with the disk.”
“I have somewhere you can stay until I check this disk out. I’m not letting you in the main building with all those humans.” Willow added and proceeded to walk through the yard.
Willow, Buffy, Faith, Dawn, Robin, Xander and Giles sat in the main office that next evening. They had spent the day getting back to headquarters, relaxing and trying to come up with a plan as to who was behind the current situation. Willow had got some information from the disk that Harmony had given her. It indicated that members of Wolfram and Hart were indirectly involved but not the leader. The disk also detailed a flexible timeframe in which to dismantle the status of the slayers. A crucial piece of information was missing however, that of how they were doing the dismantling and a more exact timeframe.
“How did you get the disk?” Buffy asked, as she tried to comprehend just what this all meant. “I mean, you told us earlier that Angel’s gang was all dead. One of them had to get to you somehow.”
“That’s a good theory,” Faith said sarcastically, as Buffy glared at her.
“You two are as bad as Kennedy and Dawn.” Giles said in a distressed tone. He too wanted the information but felt now was not the time for the constant jabbing that some of the members of this group had gotten used to.
“There is supposedly a sorceress involved also,” Willow continued unfazed by the question from Buffy. “Dawn I want you to get on the computer and see what you can come up with that pertains to sorceresses involved with Wolfram and hart. Buffy and Faith, would you mind poking around the city to see if you can find out anything? Xander could you help Kennedy keep an eye on the other slayers?”
Faith nudged Buffy back to the conversation. She had drifted off in her own little moment of grief over the loss of the two vampires that she had grown to love. “Sure we can handle that,” Faith said and pulled Buffy up by the arm.
“Am I right to assume there is a reason that you left the other two Watchers out of this little discussion?” Robin asked as he kept his gaze away from Faith.
“Yes, at this point, nobody is to be fully trusted. You and I will be working closely with those two, myself with Bev and you with Philip. Before anyone asks, I am taking Beverly because Robin tends to let his pants get in the way.” Giles added and got up from the table. He smiled at Faith who smirked and then he ushered Robin out of the room.
As everyone left for their various duties, Willow went to the basement of the school. She was surprised that Harmony was still there waiting and had not made an escape when the sun had set. “Here,” Willow handed her a glass of mammal blood and Harmony accepted it with a shrug. After drinking the liquidy badness, Harmony proceeded to wash out her mouth with mouthwash and then brushed her teeth in the small basin that Willow had brought to the basement earlier.
Willow tried hard not to laugh but couldn’t help herself. “You’ve got to be the cleanest vampire I ever saw.”
Harmony looked at the redhead in her classic snob look. “I retained some of my values after being bit. Angel told me that was a bit off the wall and probably what kept me from becoming pure evil.”
“How did he get you to change?” Willow asked and settled herself on a chair. She felt it was most likely Harmony’s lack of brains that had stopped her quest for evil but decided to see what Angel had saw in the former snark queen.
“He didn’t do this,” Harmony laughed. “I decided several months before I hooked up with his crew that I wanted to get a normal life. It’s mind over matter really and someone with the stature that I held while alive should easily be able to do it. So I am working on it.”
Willow found it odd that a soulless creature could make such a change. It took Angel receiving a soul to want to change and Spike had to be neutered with a chip to form a change. That was unimportant, Willow knew, as she was no longer dealing with the two vampires. They were senselessly killed because of whatever they were dealing with currently.
She tried to stop a tear from falling but the former cheerleader saw it. As Willow composed herself, she wondered if Harmony did have a soul, how much of an asset she could be to the gang. She then wondered why she bothered to wonder such things of her former tormentor who had made a jab or two since coming to the headquarters. “Harmony, I do believe you and I just hope I don’t regret it.” Willow said, as her face began to pale.
“Willow?” The blonde vampire asked with not much sympathy in her voice. Willow’s face had gone white as a ghost, her hands were trembling and the veins in her forehead began to bulge.
- - - -
Faith and Buffy walked the streets of Cleveland in search of a clue as to what was going on. They had found an out of the way demon bar ran by none other than Willie but no leads came from him. He had just set up shop, hadn’t the time to gain the trust of his new clientele, and offered to help them out in the future. Both slayers were frustrated beyond normal for many reasons. The main ones being the size of this place compared to Sunnydale made it more difficult to scope out leads. In addition, they were both in their own private grief over the losses of the vampires. Faith’s grief was for Angel only but was as palpable as Buffy’s nevertheless. “B, this really sucks y’know? I thought more slayers would mean easier times for us.”
“It seems to have only gotten harder,” Buffy commented and looked at Faith. Her features were worn and tired with utter devastation in her eyes. “Sometimes I wonder when it will all end.”
“I just hope we didn’t tip the balance to far in one direction with releasing all the powers like that.” Faith said as she lit a cigarette. “I mean, it was what was needed at the time but was it supposed to be a permanent thing? Good and evil have to keep a certain balance, like remember Whistler? If there is too much good, someone has to do something bad to balance it out whether or not they’re really a bad being.”
“I see what you’re saying and it must have some validity to it but the distribution of powers to the potentials was slowed way down after Sunnydale caved in. I figure that was part of the balancing out.” Buffy offered to the conversation in wonderment as to how she came up with that response.
As they turned towards a small eatery, Buffy stopped dead in her tracks and did a double take. Walking out of the diner with a few other people was someone who looked identical to Tara. “Oh my god,” Buffy mouthed in a voice so low that Faith barely heard it.
Faith looked in the direction that Buffy’s eyes were fixed in and too had a look of shock on her face. “Let me go check it out,” she said and quickly headed over to the girl. “Hey excuse me, do I know you?”
The blonde looked Faith over, she was a very attractive woman but she couldn’t recall having seen her before. “Um, no I don’t think so. My name is Tracy Willis.” She extended her hand to the slayer then looked passed her to the blonde who stood on the sidewalk trying to not look at them. Something stirred inside her, a familiar feeling though she could not place it.
Faith pulled out her wallet and pointed to a picture of she, Buffy, Willow and Xander from their high school days. “Do you recognize the redhead?”
Tracy studied the picture and couldn’t place any of the people in the photo but the blonde, again, gave off a familiar vibe from deep within her. “I’m s-s-sorry.” She said and lowered her gaze.
Faith walked back over to Buffy who was clutching her stomach and struggling to breathe. She was losing it and Faith moved quickly. She pulled the blonde slayer up and lifted her face up towards the sky to help the cool night air hit her. In a short time, Buffy seemed to settle down a bit. “Faith, she has the stutter and everything! I can’t believe this!”
“We have to check this out before we talk to Red B. We don’t want her going off the deep end again and have it not be Tara.” Faith said and received an uncertain agreement glance from Buffy.
- - - -
Harmony got to her feet and approached the shaking redhead. “It’s magic withdrawals,” Willow managed to get out in between ragged breaths. “Something’s wrong, I haven’t done this in nearly a year.”
Part of Harmony wondered what evil deeds she and the big bad Willow could accomplish. While the smarter part of her decided that this was not a good thing. Harmony figured that if the big bad Willow didn’t like her, and she most likely would not, she would be vaporized in a flash. “How do you get yourself out of these predicaments?” The blonde vampire enquired, as blood began to flow from Willow’s nose.
Willow had enough sense about her to notice the struggle of the vampire. The smell of human blood was intoxicating to the demon that controlled Harmony but she fought the urge to try anything. In game face, she wet a cloth and gave it to the redhead. She then stepped back quickly and handed Willow’s purse to her in hopes that there was something in there that could help her. “Could you help me please?” Willow questioned, as she fought her own battle to stay in control. Her eyes darted from green to black in a flash and it happened repeatedly.
Harmony found this a little weird but surmised that weird things always happened with these losers. “Sure but don’t get blood on me.” The socialite-acting vampire barked, as she held Willow’s forehead back. “You’re mighty brave Willow.” Harmony continued in a low voice, still in game face.
“What happened to Cordy?” Willow asked in a shaky voice. She wanted to find something else to focus on with hopes it would help her direct her mind elsewhere and stop the urges to use magic for the time being.
“She was tricked into going to this higher being place,” Harmony began. “She ended up combined with this brilliant evil being that tried to destroy everything. The only way to get rid of it was to kill her or put her in a permanent coma. So they chose the coma, then an image of her helped Angel get on track, and she died in her sleep.”
Willow watched Harmony’s expression as she spoke but there was nothing there. She almost felt sad for the vampire who used to torment her so much in their younger days. Even Harmony would have cried for the loss of her friend. This reminded Willow that she had to watch her close. A vampire without a soul was void of any real emotion and could not be trusted fully.
In turn, the vampire scrutinized the redhead with her gaze as she told the sad story of Cordy. “You know those visions she had were killing her. They were destroying her brain, yet she kept on. She truly was a hero and I was glad that she allowed me to keep contact by phone. After I almost bit her, she wouldn’t let me come back around but she didn’t stake me. I guess she truly did care about her friends.”
There it was, Willow found evidence that maybe these creatures did harbor feelings but doubted they ran very deep. Harmony Kendall was the rudest and most stuck up member of their little band of snobs next to Cordy before she grew up. “It worked,” Willow said in hopes that the vampire didn’t know she had other motives besides calming her desire for magic. “Thanks Harmony,” she said and shakily stood up.
“Don’t get used to it,” the vampire said briskly. “Just because Cordelia chose to fraternize with you all, doesn’t mean I ever would.” Harmony stood back up also and looked at the redhead. “I’ve done my job here and suppose I should be on my way.”
“Wait,” Willow said in a hurried voice. She didn’t quite know why she was doing this but it came out nevertheless. “Look, I may be the stupidest person on the face of the earth for doing this but, I don’t want the gang to know I’m having trouble again with magic. They get all wigged out and afraid I’m going to go evil. Would you stay a little longer and maybe help me? I mean, it’s not that I want you to help me but I need help and maybe you could do this for Cordy.”
“For Cordy,” Harmony echoed softly. “She did let me live, I suppose I could do her a favor seeing as she was all into helping the helpless. You were pretty helpless there for a minute.”
That next afternoon was quiet on the home front. Classes resumed as scheduled and those who worked outside the headquarters were going to or returning from work. Those in charge of things were heavy at work researching the events that needed tending to.
“Will,” Buffy said and entered her office. “I wanted to talk to you for a minute.” Buffy waited for a signal from her friend to continue and got it via a nod of Willow’s head. “First, I wanted to tell you how proud I am of Dawnie. She’s really taken on a big role here and done a great job. I want to thank you for helping her along with this. The main thing I want is to ask you about arranging some sort of memorial service for Angel and Spike.”
Willow lifted her gaze to her friend. She had been so busy over the last few days that she had not even bothered to see how Buffy was handling all of this. “Buffy I’m so sorry that I neglected to talk to you about all this.” Willow rose from her desk and hugged her friend. “Of course we can have some sort of memorial for them but, seeing as we didn’t know about it when she passed, Cordy needs to be included.”
Buffy’s eyes widened, she had no idea that Cordelia was gone also. She stood motionless as her brain tried to process the information. “What happened and why weren’t we called?”
“She appeared to Angel in the form of a hologram, helped him get himself moving in the right direction, and then died in her sleep Apparently, the only way to stop that being that overtook her body was to kill her or put her in a coma and they chose the latter. The visions she was getting were causing her brain damage but she kept on going and then was tricked into going to this higher plane. She ended up being a hero after all.” Willow said, as a tear trickled down her face. The death of Cordelia Chase had clearly affected her more then the deaths of the two vampires.
“She certainly outgrew her high school self,” Buffy said, as she too began to cry. “None of this is fair Willow and sometimes, I feel as if we’re fighting a losing battle.” A pang of guilt overtook Buffy for keeping the secret she was harboring about the blonde she and Faith had spotted the night before. She knew now more then ever, that she could not tell Willow the secret at this time. They were being faced with so much heartache, that she would not allow Willow to gain false hopes and then have her heart ripped out once again.
Faith and Dani entered the room and quickly stepped back when they realized that they walked in on a moment of grief between the two friends. Faith’s heart ached over the death of Angel but she kept her mask on. “We can come back,” Dani offered and turned for the door.
“Faith,” Buffy stopped both girls with her shaky voice. “Core is gone too.”
Faith flinched visibly at Buffy’s words. Cordy had secretly kept in contact with Faith throughout her prison stay. Everyone thought Angel was her main source to the outside world but that wasn’t the case. He’d helped her more than anyone would ever know but Cordelia surprisingly reached out too. “I don’t know what to say,” the dark slayer muttered, as she turned for the door. “I need to be doing something about now.” She quickly left the room, as the others looked after her.
“I’ll go,” Buffy said and rushed out of the room leaving Willow and Dani alone.
Dani pulled the sobbing redhead into a big hug, “I’m so sorry Willow. All the stories you told me about those people, I can’t imagine what you are going through.”
“I wonder how many of us will be alive this time next year.” Willow said in a faint voice, as the tears fell harder. “Of what I call our main group, eight are gone and ten left. Three of them have the odds stacked against them but at this rate, they may outlive us all.”
Dani racked her brain, she knew that Buffy’s mom, the vengeance demon that she heard of, and Tara were included in the deceased group but there were two names missing from her memory. She also couldn’t figure out how the still living group was so high as she only could come up with seven names. “Jenny Calendar was a gypsy and Giles’ girlfriend, Angelus killed her.” Willow offered in way of an explanation. “Then there was Jonathan, he helped kill Tara and died at some point during the battle with the first. The others living are, Oz my ex werewolf boyfriend, Amy the witch who caused me a lot of trouble and Harmony Kendall. She was Core’s best pal throughout most of their high school days.”
“Oh that little Klan that always made fun of you?” Dani asked and poured she and Willow a drink.
“Yeah that’s the one,” Willow said, as she tried to compose herself. “I’ve got to tell Xander. This is gonna crush him.”
“Let me get Dawn to do that Willow.” Dani offered and wiped the remaining tears from the redhead’s eyes. “I think you need a break from grading the class work too. I’ll go get one of the other Watchers to do it.” Dani rushed out of the room without giving Willow the chance to protest.
Willow sat alone for several minutes in her office trying to pull herself together. She felt as though she were losing her grip on reality. Her breathing became labored, palms started sweating and then the veins started to pop. “Oh Goddess, not now!” She shouted and ran for the building that housed the school and training facilities.
She moved so quickly that Dawn, who was comforting a sobbing Xander, barely saw her. “Willow!” Dawn shouted after her to no avail.
“I’ll go after her,” Kennedy said and got up from the table that she sat at with Dawn and Xander.
- - - -
By the time Willow entered the basement, she was shaking so badly that she could hardly walk. The blonde vampire opened her eyes and saw that Willow was in a state worse than yesterday. “Willow?” Harmony questioned wishing she had another job besides helping the queen of the Sunnydale nerds.
“I want to make it all go away, all the dying and hurt, you have to help me.” Willow spoke in a voice that was harsh and brisk. As Harmony struggled to figure out just what Willow meant by help, the redhead’s eyes went black and showed no signs of turning green.
“Damn it all to hell!” The blonde vampire shouted having registered what Willow meant. Though the prospect of helping dark magic Willow was tantalizing, the blonde ditz couldn’t seize on this opportunity. She didn’t know if it was out of respect to Cordelia, out of fear of the dark magic woman or just flat out that she didn’t feel like it but she couldn’t do it.
Willow,” Harmony started and placed her cold hand on Willow’s overheated cheek. “Are you that coward that I knew you were in high school?”
Willow’s anger showed clearly on her face. “Are you calling me a coward? Do you know what I’m capable of?”
“Yes, apparently running like a little high school geek.” Harmony snapped back in her best Cordette tone. “It’s fitting though,” she pointed at Willow’s jacket. “I’m a vampire and still have more fashionable clothes then those. You still shop at Wal-Mart I see.”
While the evil-Willow wanted to end the miserable life of this undead shell that once housed the soul of the person that she loathed more than she once did Cordelia, another part of Willow was viewing things differently. She recalled the ribbing she took from the Cordettes and could hear Cordy saying the words that Harmony now spoke in the back of her mind.
As the ribbing from the girls grew stronger until it swelled through her head like a balloon, Willow broke. She sank to her knees with emerald eyes and began to sob uncontrollably. The blonde vampire stood over Willow not knowing quite what to do from here. The anguish was written all over the face and in the body language of the once geeky redhead. Something was moving inside Harmony though she didn’t understand it.
She too was recalling the Cordettes sauntering down the halls of Sunnydale high with their heads held high and stopping briefly to engage in a tongue lashing towards Willow and Xander. Times were much simpler then, much better to be frank. As occasionally happens with vampires, the blood tears began to fall down Harmony’s face in remembrance of the life that was taken from her. This pained remembrance more often times then not, was what helped harden a vampire and made them more ruthless and evil.
In the case of Harmony Kendall however, that didn’t seem to be true. That or Willow was mistaken. “If she would have let me turn her, she would still be here and I believe she would not go all evil-y.” Harmony stated, as she knelt down beside Willow.
“If I would have let you bite me, I wouldn’t be hurting this bad.” Willow mumbled then looked at the face of the blonde vampire. “Or maybe not, who would have ever thought we would be doing this.”
“You didn’t have a choice in the biting,” Harmony’s features cleared slightly and she smiled. “If wolfie didn’t come to your aid, you would have been a goner.” Willow shrugged as Harmony continued. “I’ll bet Cordy is out there somewhere having the last laugh.” Harmony added and smiled softly.
“Thank you, you sounded so much like Core that it took me back to the school days and it brought me out of the magic trip.” Willow said, as the two women hugged.
“Nobody could do it like Delia and I.” Harmony said proudly, as Kennedy came down the stairs.
“What the hell is going on here?” Kennedy roared and charged at the blonde vampire.
Harmony pushed Willow aside and met Kennedy with a kick that sent her to the ground. Kennedy then kicked out, tripped the vampire up, and was readying to pull a stakeout as Buffy came running into the basement. “Kennedy stop!” Buffy shouted and jerked the stake out of Kennedy’s hand. “Leave us now! We’ve got some things to discuss!”
“That’s my girlfriend in a compromising position with a vampire! You do not tell me to leave until I get some answers!” Kennedy barked in no way showing fear of getting in Buffy’s face.
“A compromising position with Willow Rosengeek, hardly!” Harmony shouted in the most disgusted tone that she could muster.
“You little bitch!” Kennedy shouted with venom in her voice and went after the vampire again.
“Stop!” Dawn shouted from the top of the stairs, having heard the shouts from the library. “What the…” she trailed off quickly after seeing the vampire standing between Buffy and Kennedy.
“Willow was nearly keeping watch on me, I am an evil vampire you know and she had this stupid human breakdown and that is all!” Harmony snapped in an effort to cover up her moment of humanity but Buffy saw the blood tear stain on the vampire's jacket.
“All of you get out now!” Buffy shouted and Kennedy begrudgingly listened. “Dawnie go please so that I can talk with Willow."
“Buffy in case you haven’t noticed, you do not give me orders anymore!” Dawn shouted, feeling a helpless concern for her friend and sister.
“Stop it and go!” Buffy barked again and Dawn huffed up the basement steps. “Now what’s going on here and what is a vampire doing in this building?”
“She is how I found out about Angel and his crew dying. Of course, it was then checked out and found to be true. She also gave me the little bit of information I gave you all yesterday.” Willow offered in a weak tone of voice, as she simply hadn’t the strength to fight with anyone else today. “She told me about Core and I came down here to talk to her. Then I ended up having a breakdown.”
“She is a vampire and is not welcome here! What is wrong with you Will?” Buffy snapped, clearly about to have a breakdown of her own with everything having piled up at once.
“Holier than thou slayer strikes again.” Harmony muttered, as Buffy glared at her. “Just because you didn’t decide that I could be here, or that I am not one of the vampires who you boinked, you get to say I can’t be here? I heard all about your I am the law speeches during the battle with the first clear out in LA and frankly, they were laughable.”
“You are not sticking around here so Willow can use bad judgment and get half of us killed! You are probably working for the other side!” Buffy yelled and lunged at the vampire who reminded her too much of the high school version of Cordelia.
A shocked look quickly replaced the angered look on Buffy’s face when Faith came out of nowhere and grabbed her arm thus halting her attempted assault. “B, let it go for now. Red and D have been in charge of this place from day one so let them make the decisions. I agree that she needs watched but fang kept her on in his last days for a reason.”
“She doesn’t have a soul Faith! Without a Soul, Spike tried to rape me. They don’t care what they do Willow! Don’t you understand?” Buffy’s facial expression clouded and the tears began to fall as she spoke.
“Wait a minute slayer!” Harmony barked, as she stood back up. “You and Spike did the deed for months, you led him on and you damn well know it! He reacted more violently because he did not have a soul yes but he was not totally at fault! Spike and I had our problems and we fought over you more than once because he couldn’t understand that you weren’t important enough to kill at the time. I will not stand here and allow you to blame everything on him when the two of you worked things out in the end! He sacrificed himself for you ingrates and when it doesn’t suit your needs, you tare him back down!” Shocked faces were around the room as Willow, Buffy, Faith and a newly entered Xander listened to the vampire who made more sense at that moment then she probably ever had in her life.
“I’ve got to go and don’t come running to me when she screws you all over!” Buffy hissed and left the room.
- - - -
Buffy sat at the park late at night. She figured Willow had probably sent people out looking for her but didn’t care. Her world was falling apart at the seams and she couldn’t stop it. Tears fell like a river down her cheeks, as the blonde she and Faith had ran into walked up to her. “Miss, are you all right?” Tracy asked in a timid voice. She had not meant to spy but could clearly see that the woman was in a shambles.
Buffy jerked herself out of pity mode for a few seconds and decided to capitalize on this opportunity. “I’ve lost a few good friends recently. I don’t know if you heard on the news about the tragedy in LA and then the caving in of an entire town?”
Tracy had seen clips on the news about the ruckus in California over the last several months. “Yes,” she confirmed. “I heard it was pretty bad but luckily most of the residents had got out of the town before it caved in. I heard about the LA tragedy also. Nearly an entire law firm or something was killed.”
“Well a few people very close to me were involved in the LA tragedy and my home town was Sunnydale California, the town that caved in on itself.” Buffy looked in the woman’s eyes for some sort of sign but got none.
“It’s a little cold out here. If you would like to walk with me to my apartment I could make you some hot chocolate and would be happy to listen if you need to vent.” Tracy offered in a concerned tone.
“Deal,” Buffy accepted the offer gladly. Even if this wasn’t Tara, which she believed that it could be, it was nice to talk with someone she might not know and wouldn’t judge her for her shortcomings.
- - - -
Dawn sat in the dining room early that next afternoon. Buffy didn’t come home last night and she was growing a little worried. All was quiet minus Andrew and one of the powerless slayers in the kitchen. “Hey D,” Faith said and pulled out a chair. “What’s up?”
“Buffy never showed up last night and I am just worried about her. Plus there is this memorial thingie we’re doing tonight and I’m just so tired of being sad and hurt.” Dawn hadn’t meant to dump all that on the dark-haired beauty but it came spilling out. “I am trying hard to fit in here and help keep things running good. I also want to keep up with my college classes, of which I have one in an hour. But it seems like I can’t get any respect. I mean, I’m allowed to handle things and then, when it’s not a good time for them, I’m tossed back aside like a kid again!”
Faith looked Dawn over and shook her head. “No D you’re not a kid anymore for sure. I think you’ve seen too much to be classified as one plus you’re a freshman in college now. I told B to let you guys make the decisions around here cause you have been doing it from day one. That is one of the reasons she huffed outta here like that.”
“You know Faith, I was just 16 when Buffy and mom died. I think I stopped being a kid then.” The sorrow was evident on the youngest Summers’ face, as Faith shuffled her feet. She was not very good at comforting distraught people and Dawn clearly was distraught.
“If I didn’t grow up then, I know I sure as heck did when I saw Tara’s body lying there. You know, I sat with her until they came for her. I loved Tara so much; she always understood me and tried to help me.” Dawn shivered at the memory of Tara lying dead in her mother’s former room.
Faith felt an overwhelming sense of guilt at the mention of Tara’s name. She knew that, not so far from their home, Tara was possibly living clueless as to her surroundings. “Tara could make you feel all better huh.” Faith asked tentatively.
“She’d go in and make these funny shaped pancakes and we’d laugh and have a great time. It was Just the two of us many times.” Dawn replied sadly.
“Yeah, well come with me then.” Faith stood and headed into the kitchen where she proceeded to kick Andrew and the used to be slayer out. “Now, I don’t know how to make funny shaped pancakes but I bet we can have fun with you trying to teach me.”
Dawn smiled a real smile for the first time in a long time. “Thanks Faith,” she said and gave the slayer a friendly kiss on the cheek.
- - - -
Later that evening, Buffy decided to make an appearance. “Hey B, where have you been? Half the people here have been worried sick. Do you remember when you used to yell at me for this sort of thing?” Faith smirked at the blond slayer as she spoke.
“We need to talk before this memorial thing and then I need to get a quick shower.” Buffy said with urgency in her voice. “Listen, that girl, Tracy or Tara.” Faith nodded to indicate that she remembered and for Buffy to continue. “Well I was upset last night and she sorta bumped into me. She invited me back to her place so I could relax and talk. Well I had a good look around and she has family pictures from when she was a little girl up to now. She knows nothing about witchcraft and didn’t really believe in this demon stuff until she happened upon it with Dani the other night. I talked a lot about my best friend Willow and got nothing in her eyes but the stammer that Tara had is there and the tender-hearted behavior.”
“So you don’t think this is the girl that Red got all bent out of shape over?” Faith enquired as she lit a cigarette.
“I’m afraid to believe it is because there are so many differences. She invited me to dinner tomorrow night so I’m going to go and see what I come up with.” Buffy said and stood up. “I’ve got to get a shower now.”
“See if there is a scar on her chest.” Faith offered with a hint of laughter in her voice.
“How on earth would you suggest that I do that?” Buffy asked incredulously.
“Well she’s not so bad lookin’ B and you need a good time.” Faith chuckled and received a not so amused look from Buffy.
“Faith,” Dani called to the dark slayer and gave Buffy a much-desired chance to get away.
“Yo,” Faith said and stood up.
“You want to help me in the kitchen? After the memorial service, they’re going to have snacks and drinks and they want someone to set up a couple of tables. Everyone else seems busy and I don’t want to bother Willow.” Dani finished speaking and motioned to the kitchen. “I never thought to ask how you are doing with all of this.”
“Sure, fang was a friend of mine and queen C, well that’s between me and C.” Faith’s eyes got a far off look in them momentarily. “Let’s go get things ready.”
- - - - -
As Faith and Dani got the tables of food and drinks ready, Xander and two of the other slayers got chairs and photos situated. It was decided to add Anya into the service because they never took the time to properly say good-bye to the ex demon. Out of respect for the many slayers who had lost their lives in the last several months, they decided to add pictures of them to the collage. “Where are Buffy, Willow and Dawn?” Rona asked.
“I haven’t seen them,” Kennedy said wondering if her girlfriend was back in the basement with the vampire. She didn’t tell anyone about the Tara look-alike because she feared what Willow would do and now Willow was hanging out with a vampire that she hated when the girl was human. Kennedy decided that something would be done about that very soon, as she headed down the stairs to look for Willow.
She didn’t get very far because Willow, Dawn and the vampire were going up the stairs as she headed down them. “They’re looking for you guys Willow. Are you all right?” Kennedy rushed to her girlfriend’s side, placed a gentle kiss on her lips and put a protective arm around her.
“I’m fine thanks,” Willow said, as Harmony smiled at Kennedy. She knew what the slayer was worried about and nobody played games as good as Harmony Kendall, minus her best friend, Cordelia Chase.
“If everyone would take your seats,” Giles began in his formal British accent. “We can begin then celebrate their lives with this nice meal that Andrew and a few of the girls put together.”
Kennedy stayed protectively by Willow’s side during the eulogies of her deceased friends, her body language was not unnoticed by Dani. Buffy, Dawn, and Xander stayed in a huddle while Faith and Harmony kept to themselves. “The food is ready,” Andrew called, as he wiped his eyes. He and Anya had grown close in a comical way before her death and he missed the ex demon tremendously. She had died to save his life and that was the most selfless act anyone had ever done for him. He kept recalling in the back of his mind how, even after she was stripped of her powers, she separated herself from humans by stating words like, “you humans.” He shook his head not willing to entertain such thoughts.
As most of the attendees chattered on about their fallen friends and ate dinner, Willow slipped out of site. She was in no mood to celebrate the loss of her friends with food, conversation and drink. At least she didn’t want to drink with the others. She chose a large bottle of wine and went into her office. She also wasn’t in the mood for Kennedy’s smothering behavior. It would have been nice if Kennedy was there for comfort but Willow knew that she was making a statement to everyone that Willow belonged to her.
In Willow’s relationship with Tara, no forced statements of belonging had to be made. Their love shined through like a brightly lit up star on a clear night. She was realizing that this was not the case with Kennedy who, for some reason, felt threatened by anyone who paid Willow any extra attention. The wine was nearly gone more quickly than Willow had realized and she got up to leave the office. “There you are,” Kennedy said with a smile. “I was looking for you to see if you were ready for bed. Dani is with Dawn, she’s pretty upset and I don’t know where Faith and Buffy are off to.”
“I want to go for a walk first Kennedy.” Willow didn’t mean to sound so short but it is how her words came out. “I need to be alone for a bit. This memory lane stuff bummed me out more than I thought it would.”
“Did it make you think of Tara?” Kennedy asked in as sincere a voice as she could muster. She was, indeed, growing very tired of all the reasons why Willow wouldn’t go to their bed. All this talk about wanting to move on was proving to be false in Kennedy’s mind.
“Not really, sorta but not to bad. It’s just sad how we’ve lost so many and I just want some alone time to think and reflect on it all.” Willow tried to form a smile but the angered look on Kennedy’s face showed her that she didn’t have a reason to smile.
“You really need to get your facts straight!” Kennedy yelled and shoved Willow with rage showing clearly in her eyes. Willow raised a hand to magically deflect the shove but nothing happened. “Now you’re just like the other slayers, powerless!” Kennedy barked in her rage-filled rampage.
She loved Willow but dealing with all her wishy-washiness was getting on the slayer’s nerves. She flew into a rage, not thinking of the consequences and pushed Willow back against the wall. “She may not have powers but mine are fine!” The blonde vampire surprised Kennedy with her speed, as she took her down with a sharp kick to the back of the knees.
“Kennedy please stop,” Willow said in a pleading voice, as her body began to tremble. “I can’t take anymore tonight.”
“Baby I’m sorry, I just lost it. I,” Kennedy started to kneel down beside Willow but Willow put a hand up to indicate for her not to do so.
“Let’s discuss it later Kennedy please. I won’t say anything, I promise. We’ve all had a rough couple of days.” Willow’s frail voice was enough for Kennedy. She knew that if she pushed Willow any further, there would be no chance of fixing their latest problem.
“If that vampire runs her mouth about our personal business, she’s dusted!” Kennedy snapped and received a scoff from Harmony for her troubles. She stomped out of the office and slammed the door.
“Whatever this thing is, it’s picking us off one by one. First the slayers and now me with no powers.” Willow said both out of concern for her loss of powers and in an effort to not discuss what had just transpired with Kennedy.
“It looks like it’s doing a bang up job,” Harmony said in admiration towards the persons and/or demons that were able to do so much with such ease. “I came to see if I could use a computer in here to check on my finances. I did not mean to get in the middle of whatever you love birds were going on about.”
“You have investments?” Willow said, as she tried to get up. She was still a bit shaky and her back felt very tender. “I would hardly call us love birds but then again, you don’t know much about love.”
“I know enough about love that I allowed my parents to live and Of course I have investments.” Harmony said with one of those snobbish smiles that she and Cordelia wore so well on their faces. “I told you, since my fledgling days, I have become a new sort of vampire. I want money, some form of life and maybe, every now and again, adventure on the opposite side of the tracks that the slayers sit on.”
“Harmony, are you telling the truth about not being on the other side with this human power outage thing?” Willow asked with a hint of trepidation in her voice.
“The only reason that I stuck around here Willow is because you asked me to help you in honor of Delia.” Harmony reminded the redhead with a smirk on her face. “Actually, now that you have no powers and don’t need the help, I should be able to go on my way and finish the financial project that I started.” Harmony finished speaking in a dramatic tone.
Harmony’s attitude was reminding Willow of how arrogant and uppity the vampire once was. “Rumor has it that you drained your parents.” Willow said as she finished her bottle of wine.
“My parents couldn’t handle my loss and packed up and moved. Once they found out I was alive, sort of, they gave me money often.” Harmony finished speaking with a triumphant smile, as Willow tried to stand. The wine and her back were getting to Willow and she almost fell back down. “Do you still need my help Willow?” The vampire flashed a smile at the redhead and reached out a hand to steady her.
“So you’re telling me that you are what Cordy wanted to be? Rich and successful in whatever you’re into?” Willow asked and allowed the vampire to help her down the hall.
“Not yet but I’m getting there.” Harmony said and stopped to figure out where Willow wanted to go. “Willow, we were the most likely to succeed and we’ve both succeeded fairly well. Delia helped the helpless until it took her life and I, well I help myself.”
“I can get it from here I think.” Willow said, as the cool night air from an open window hit her. She staggered again and the vampire steadied her once more. “The rooms for the sick are down this way. I don’t want to sleep with Kennedy.” Willow muttered in slurred words. “What is it that you help yourself with?” Willow asked as they entered one of the rooms.
“Whatever I want Willow.” Harmony said and helped Willow ease herself down on the bed. “That slayer, Faith, she has the right attitude for getting what she wants but it doesn’t always work. I have nothing against Faith but she is a prime example.”
“You tried to kill Buffy and I but failed. So you don’t always get what you want.” Willow said in retort to the conceited vampire.
“I did bite you and only went after Buffy out of boredom. I was not a smart vampire back then but I am now. I guarantee you that if I really want something, I’ll have it.” Harmony smiled that old familiar smile of hers at Willow.
“I wonder why we got so unlucky for you to be one of the few creatures that got to keep some of your living personality.” Willow stated more than asked, as the blonde vampire sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Have you ever wanted to live on the edge Willow? I mean, not with all the evil jazz but doing something that would make everyone flip?” The vampire asked in an effort to entice the redhead to take the bate. “In school you were the geek, the one who did everyone’s homework so we would not poke fun at you. Then you got in with this slaying stuff and followed Buffy around on a leash. Do you get the picture Willow? Have you ever really done something for just Willow, not counting the thing with Tara? Do you get what I’m asking?” Harmony’s eyes danced with anticipation as to how the redhead would respond to her questions. She knew that the Willow of old would totally miss the boat but wondered if the new and improved Willow would jump aboard.
“Yeah I get it,” Willow said somberly. It was true that she had always done what others expected her to do. Granted, she got many Willow moments with Tara but she knew what Harmony was getting at. “Like in school, when I had a crush on someone, I couldn’t act because I was the geek and I’d get teased. All the things that you all said and did to me, I think they crushed my spirit and any hope for self confidence that I might have gained.”
“I’m not making fun of you now Willow.” Harmony said with a gleam in her eye. She moved closer to the redhead and took her hands in hers. Willow instinctively tried to back away. “I don’t want to suck your blood Willow, don’t run.” Harmony said and lifted Willow’s chin so that their eyes met.
“What’s the game Harmony?” Willow questioned as her head swam with assorted thoughts. She was thinking of how one of them would pull a stunt like this in high school and then laugh at her. She thought that maybe Harmony took her powers somehow and planned to turn her. “I’ve had enough crap tonight, enough for my entire lifetime to be honest. I don’t need anymore!”
Willow didn’t mean to raise her voice nor start to cry but that is just what happened. It was as if a lifetime of hurt, sadness and torment wanted out at that very moment. “You know, all I wanted was a friend and for someone to like me for who I was. Buffy didn’t even do that for me really. I mean she did but didn’t. I got the most attention when I was using my brains to help the gang out and I sometimes feel that is still the case. Kennedy wants me to be a certain way and Buffy expects certain things of me. Then there was all of you. You kicked me relentlessly and didn’t care that it tore me up inside to be alone. Tara was the one true person that I could fully be me around and now she’s gone! Dani, I can talk to her and think that I could even like her more than just a friend. But she’s always calling me Miss Willow, like I’m some older person that she must show respect to!”
Harmony looked at the clock on the wall as Willow ranted. She saw that it was nearing4AM and so she got up and closed the thick blinds. She then returned to the bed and pulled Willow close to her. The redhead was fragile in her arms, perfect for the taking but she didn’t plan to take her in that way. “Willow, I don’t want your power or your brain. I have both of those, though nobody knew just how smart I really was. You see if you act stupid and air headed, people expect little of you. This is what I want Willow.” the vampire said in a soft voice then placed her lips to Willow's, as she stroked the tears from her face with her thumb.
Not noticing any objections from Willow, Harmony pushed her back on the bed and began kissing her with more fervor. When a soft moan escaped Willow’s mouth through the kiss, Harmony moved her hand inside Willow’s shirt. In a short time, Willow was returning the kisses. After suckling her neck, breasts and exploring her body with her hands, Harmony stopped.
Willow looked up at her with glazed-over eyes. The desire was strong in both women. “Do you want me to stop Willow? I swear I won’t bite you, unless you want me to.” Harmony said in a low seductive voice.
Willow knew with everything that was moral inside her, that she should stop before things continued down a road that she would not be able to curve. The side of her that was always attracted to the Cordettes and her mounting desire for release won over her better judgment and the two women shared pleasure well past dawn.
- - - -
Willow walked into her office around noon that next day. There waiting for her was Kennedy. “Where the hell have you been? I told the others about your powers being stripped and we’ve been waiting for you!” Kennedy’s anger was at a boiling point and she lashed out again. She slapped Willow hard across the face. “Were you with that vampire all night?”
“Yes I was and it was a nicer place then being with the likes of you!” Willow snapped back as Kennedy backhanded her to the floor.
The words Harmony said during their passionate sexual encounter rang true in Willow’s head. She told her, while giving instructions on how she wanted Willow positioned, that the abuse never stops with one hit or shove. “It’s sad when you can get more comfort and compassion from a soulless vampire then a human being!” Willow shouted, as Kennedy hit her again.
“I bet that bitch is out shagging another slayer!” Kennedy shouted and kicked Willow in the stomach.
“The bitch is right here!” Harmony shouted and went after Kennedy in full game face, as Dani came crashing into the room.
She saw Willow lying on the floor and mistook the situation. She too went after the blonde vampire who was fairing well against Kennedy. “Dani no!” Willow shouted, as Faith and Dawn entered the office. “Kennedy hit me, shoved me and kicked me. It all started last night after the service ended! Harmony was helping me get away from her!”
“She helped her by fucking her!” Kennedy shouted and tried to lunge at Harmony again but Faith hoisted her up in the air in a flash.
“She was out of practice from being with such a bore as yourself!” Harmony snapped back at the enraged slayer. “So she wanted someone who knows what they’re doing to fine tune her former expert maneuvers.”
At that moment, Buffy walked in. “We’ve got real work to do here! Willow did you sleep with that vampire?” She shouted and prepared to launch her own verbal assault.
“Yes I slept with Harmony and maybe it wasn’t the best choice but I was an emotional mess and she was there for me!” Willow shouted and stood up. “I’m tired of you all telling me what to do and who to be with as if I were a child! It’s over do you understand me? Kennedy, I never want you to come near me again and I would advise you to tell the other occupants of this building Buffy! She knocked me around and twice Harmony came to my aid!” Hurt and anger were etched on Willow’s face as she tried to make her point to the others in the room.
“Let’s stop this now.” Dani said in a soft yet angered voice. She was feeling guilty that she wasn’t there for Willow the night before. She felt that if she had been there, none of this would be happening because the two women had grown very close and were able to talk.
“Willow looks and sounds as if she’s about to have some sort of breakdown and though I don’t agree with Harmony taking advantage of the situation, we’ve got to give Willow some space. Come on Buffy, you know Miss Willow wouldn’t be sleeping with the likes of that if she were in her right mental state. Let’s just all back off and see if we can give her some help.” Dani tried to convey her concern for Willow in her words and eyes and Willow felt the understanding behind her words and actions.
“Harmony, I want you out of here at sunset! If you’re still here, I’ll kill you myself!” Buffy ordered and then ushered everyone out of the room.
“I’m sorry Willow.” Harmony moved closer and placed a gentle kiss on the woman’s cheek.
“You weren’t there when I woke up, is Dani right? Did you sleep with me to prove that you could get whatever you wanted?” Willow asked in a trembling voice. She didn’t truly expect much from a creature without a soul but hoped for something a little less self-degrading than what Dani was suggesting.
“If that were the case, I would have stayed in that bed to let someone catch us Willow.” Harmony put her arms around the redhead and kissed her passionately; thankful that Willow’s office was darkened with thick black blinds. “Willow, if you want to know if I love you, the answer is no. Do I hate you; want to kill you, that’s a no also. I could have had you last night many times, you saw me struggling with the demon Willow. You don’t know how bad I wanted to taste just a little of your blood. God does that turn a vampire on. Anyway, I didn’t do it because I told you I wouldn’t Willow, I kept my word and that should count for something but if it doesn’t, I can go when the sun sets and we can forget all about this.”
“I can’t play games Harmony, I’m about to crack as it is.” Willow said in a defeated tone of voice. “I don’t want anything from you, I know you can’t love or stay loyal or anything like that because you don’t have a soul. I just wanted to know that you weren’t like using me, you know?”
“There is nothing wrong with a little fun between whatever it is that we are.” Harmony stopped short of admitting that she could call Willow a friend. “Look, don’t sweat it; I’m out of here tonight.” Before Willow could speak, the vampire turned and disappeared down the hall.
- - - - -
Faith and Dawn got back to the headquarters around 10pm. They had gone out on a fact-finding mission and came up short. “Where’s everyone?” Faith asked Andrew, as they entered the kitchen where a big pot of hot chocolate was waiting.
“They’re all gone out on patrol,” he commented with a quiver in his voice. “Buffy is on her dinner date, Willow and Dani are trying to locate that sorceress and a bunch of the others got antsy so went with Kennedy.”
“This can’t be good,” Dawn grimaced, as Faith gulped down her hot chocolate and dialed Kennedy’s cell number. “No answer, that stupid little wench! I’ve got to get Dani to come with,” Faith trudged towards Willow’s office.
“You and Faith are getting pretty tight I see.” Andrew said with a smirk on his face.
“There is no time for that, where are Giles, Xander and those other Watchers?” Dawn sneered at the young man as she questioned him.
“I think we should call Buffy.” Andrew frowned, “I forgot to mention that they had gone out in search of the gang.”
“Willy says there is big trouble!” Faith shouted as she and Dani ran through the kitchen and out the door.
“Well maybe we should go too.” Andrew said with real concern in his voice.
“We should stay here with Willow. It’s not good for everyone to be scattered as we are and I’ll call Buffy.” Dawn replied and reached for the phone.
- - - -
Buffy and Tracy had a nice dinner and were talking about their childhoods. Buffy believed increasingly that this was some sort of fluke and not Tara. She had too much proof as to who she was. No matter what she looked like and no matter how hard Buffy probed, she could not shake a memory of Willow to the surface of the pretty woman’s mind. Buffy was feeling way to at ease around this woman. She and Faith had always had a flirtation of sorts going on but Buffy never thought of herself as bisexual. She, oddly to her, found that she was slightly attracted to this mild-mannered, soft-spoken woman. She was ready to have another drink when her cell phone rang. After a few moments, she frowned and hung up. “Um, work called and I hate to do this but I’ve got to go.” Buffy said in a bummed out tone of voice.
“That’s all right,” Tracy smiled at the slayer. “It’s nearing 11PM and I’ve got an early morning. If you’d like, we can do this again?”
“Oh I’d love to,” Buffy said with a beaming smile on her face as she handed Tracy her cell number. “You give me a shout anytime you like.”
As Buffy left the apartment, she had a smile on her face that hadn’t been there for quite some time. She was amazed at how fast the woman helped her be at ease enough to spill most of her troubles in such a quick time. She hoped that whatever was going on, wasn’t a real crisis but feared it was. Her fears were confirmed as she stepped into the alleyway behind Willy’s bar.
- - - -
Willow heard Dawn’s shrill scream and went barreling into the kitchen. She knew something major was on the go to prompt such a fearful scream from Dawn. As she entered, she saw Dawn and Andrew fiercely trying to fight off some vampires. “This building is public but they can get in because some idiot forgot to put a spell on it!” Andrew shouted at Willow angrily.
Willow grabbed a stake as the words Andrew spoke stung her like a bullet. The dorms were not a public place but this building was. Why, she didn’t know but supposed that it being more of a school type of place was the reason. “Run!” She shouted as a vampire grabbed her from behind and took her down.
Dawn struggled valiantly with the two vampires that were assaulting her and Andrew was failing with his one. One of the two that were on Dawn ran over and helped the one that was fighting with Willow. The two vampires managed to get her held still, as the two that were fighting with Dawn and Andrew simply stood still and held their prey. This was beginning to look like a Willow finding mission and the job was accomplished.
As one of the vampires leaned down and pressed his fangs to Willows neck, Andrew screamed as loud as he could and closed his eyes. Dawn shrieked and kicked at her vampire hard but to no avail. “Hey knock it off you stupid fledgling!” A voice from the back of the room called and the vampire was swiftly kicked off the terrified redhead. “You go tell your boss that biting Ms. Rosengeek is my job!”
The other vampire came up against the blonde vampire in a hurry and the fight was on. Dawn kicked out once more and connected with her vampire’s sensitive parts. She grabbed a stake and hurled it through the air. It connected with one of the two vampires who were fighting with Harmony, as her vampire grabbed Willow and started to run for the door. “You’re gonna hafta help him!” Harmony shouted at Dawn, as she staked the remaining vampire who fought with her and ran out the door.
Dawn turned towards the vampire who was beating Andrew down. She kicked him hard three times before he flipped her on her back and took off out the door. “Are you all right?” Dawn asked as she picked herself up off the floor.
“I’m fine, they didn’t want us I don’t think. We were just pawns in their greater mission to get Willow! Why is it that we can never be part of the greater mission of some big bad evil thing?” Andrew complained in a whiney voice as he flailed his arms around the room.
“We might be the hunted soon.” Dawn said dryly. “We let that vamp get away and it’s not good for a vampire to have the fact that they were staking other vampires get around the vampire community. You lose your status, as if Harmony ever had any status.”
Buffy stood motionless in shock and with a pained look on her face. Surrounding the few fighters left, were a sea of dead and injured bodies. She knew these were once the people that she had worked with and trained. Many of them had survived the battle with the first while many others were new slayers. Her stomach flinched as she looked over the group of people and allowed a tear to escape down her cheek. “Damn you Kennedy!” Buffy howled in a rage, as she threw herself into the midst of the battle between demons, Watchers and slayers.
When it was all said and done, Buffy, Faith, Dani, Kennedy, Sarah, Rona, Xander, Giles, Robin and a few slayers were all that was left. “How could you all come out here like this? What in god’s name possessed this hair brained stunt?” Buffy hissed, as Dawn and Andrew came running up to the group.
“Willow has been captured! Harmony went chasing after them and we tried to help but there were to many!” Andrew stopped speaking abruptly having noticed the carnage that lie before the group. His mouth twitched and quivered until the tears fell. “Oh my god,” he said in a whispered tone. “We tried to tell them to wait,” he lowered his head in his own personal grief. He somehow felt as though he had let Buffy down. Granted, he wasn’t the most important part of her group but she respected him enough to bring him along and he was unable to come through when it really counted.
“You all deal with this,” Dani said and turned towards Dawn. “Do you have any idea in the direction they took Miss Willow?”
“No,” Dawn said as she surveyed the blood flow and bruises that was evident on the few survivors. She wanted to breakdown, scream, cry and throw things like she did when she was a child. She didn’t do any of that however because she wanted to show her strength in this time of need and weakness. “We have to make arrangements for our friends and find out who is doing this pronto! We don’t have time to grieve because every second we waste is a chance that someone else will die!” Dawn shouted and got out her cell phone, as Dani raced off in hopes of finding Willow.
“This was not Kennedy’s fault,” Robin added, as the despondent group got back to the headquarters. “Phil said that he got word of a situation that could break this case and they all ran out. My guess is that Phil was on their side, whoever they is.” Robin was never one to show his grief outwardly but this was too much for even him to hold back. He lowered his head in his hands and wept. He wept for all those who had died tonight, in the battle of the first and his mother.
Faith couldn’t help but notice how visibly shaken the strong-willed man was. She had never witnessed him in this bad of shape. She wanted to go over and comfort him but her pride would not let her.
“You could have made sure most of those people didn’t go with her. I understand Kennedy leading a group in, but everyone? That is the stupidest thing I ever witnessed!” Buffy barked in anger and to have something else other than cry to do.
“We need to close down one of the buildings for the time being so that we can all be in a closer proximity to each other.” Dawn added, as she finished talking with the funeral home. “I’m going to go into Willow’s office, pull the files and start notifying families.” She, like everyone else, needed something to do. Sleep was not going to come tonight for the tattered band of Scoobies most assuredly.
“If Will doesn’t get her powers back soon,” Xander began speaking slowly. “We’ve got to find a witch. The only one I know of with half the abilities that we may need is Amy.”
“Have you gone stark raving mad?” Giles turned to Xander with a look of disbelief on his face. “She is probably working for them as we speak.”
“Amy’s big problem was not being needed.” Xander replied curtly. “I think if she sees that she really is needed for such a big thing as saving the world, she will come around.”
“All right,” Andrew stood up from his task of bandaging one of the surviving powerless slayers. “I am no longer king moron around here! Does anyone know where Kennedy went?”
- - -
Harmony raced after the vampire that was carrying Willow. The back streets were cold and muddy thus the blonde was not happy at the current state of her new $200 pair of shoes. As he went through a gate and closed it, the blonde vampire picked up speed and jumped the fence. She watched him take Willow into a small tunnel that sloped downward. Harmony stood for a moment, deep in thought, she couldn’t figure out why the door was placed on a small hill and why it slanted downward. “Damn it,” she wiped off her jeans and went through the doorway after the vampire.
She quickly realized that the path inside the door must have recently been dug out. Upon coming to a fork in the path, she listened carefully to try to get the right direction and got it with Willow’s scream. She loaded up a crossbow and began firing as she went down the path.
Willow tried unsuccessfully to break free, she knew someone was on their trail and had to work hard to hold off whatever her fate was until the help arrived. She kicked out at the vampire who slapped her hard in the face. “Is that all you got? I’ve been slapped enough in the face for the last two days and so that does nothing to me!” Willow shouted and kicked him again.
As his fangs protruded and he leaned down promising that he needed to just cut open the skin, he disappeared. “Oh thank the Goddess!” Willow shouted and tried to stand. Her body was bruised and slightly aching from the assault of the dusted creature.
“I staked four vampires and ruined my clothes for your ass! You’d better be doing something more than thanking some being that doesn’t even live here!” The irritated vampire shouted as she helped Willow to stand.
“We’ve got to keep going.” Willow said, as she tried to put weight on her leg. “I don’t think I can stand up on my own but we have to find out what is down here.”
“Are you nuts?” Harmony made a face that indicated Willow had lost her brains along with her powers. “What did he do to your leg?”
“He twisted it really hard after I kicked him,” Willow said, as the vampire hoisted her up in her arms. “We’re not leaving Harmony. This is probably the best lead we have.” Willow said in a low voice.
“My manicure is ruined, my shoes, and I’m muddy. This is not my style Willow.” Harmony replied in just as low a voice as Willow had used. “I am an upscale vampire, one who doesn’t crawl around in dirt.”
“Do you think you could lead someone back here?” Willow asked as Harmony started back up the path.
“Sure,” Harmony muttered in a frustrated tone. She wondered what she had done so wrong that she got stuck with this undead life. In the vampire monthly magazine, there were stories of creatures with great wealth and power but Harmony was stuck with this life.
“Harmony, why did you come after me?” Willow asked, curious as to what made the soulless creature tick. By nature, Willow was a curious person and that obviously wasn’t going to change any time soon.
“Another time Willow,” the vampire answered with irritation in her voice. As she came back to the fork, a stake whizzed through the air and caught her in the shoulder. “Fuck!” The vampire roared and sat Willow down. She fired her crossbow in the direction that the stake came from, as someone grabbed Willow.
“Dani what are you doing?” Willow asked, as Dani began a hasty exit from the tunnels.
“Willow don’t you see? This is a set up. She’s trying to get you on her side and we figured it out.” Dani offered, as another stake hit the vampire in the stomach. “If it would have been these people who killed most of the slayers tonight, they would have got Dawn too. They only wanted you.”
Willow looked back at the vampire who had helped her out several times in the last few days. What Dani said made perfect sense but Willow just couldn’t go like this. She nodded her head in agreement with Dani who released her hold on the redhead. She could barely stand and knew Dani was quicker. “Look out!” She shouted and Dani turned around.
This gave Willow enough time to reach the vampire who was struggling to stand. “Dani, leave us now!” Willow said in a determined tone of voice.
“Miss Willow,” Dani started. “With all do respect, it’s our job to protect you.”
Kennedy stepped out from the shadows with a concerned look etched on her face. “I spoke to Buffy and she knows what we figured out. She is in agreement with us Miss Willow.” Dani continued with as much warmth in her voice as she could muster.
“Leave or I’ll let her drink,” Willow stated and garnered shocked looks from the slayers. “Dani I understand that you’re trying to help me but I want you out of my sight Kennedy and I mean it!”
Harmony could no longer attempt to control the demon that lived within her soulless shell. She was losing blood fast and the demon was in a fight for survival. Her eyes went yellow and her fangs came out, as she stood. “Harmony get down!” Willow yelled, as Kennedy fired another stake. This time, the vampire caught it and tossed it back at the slayer. Before Kennedy could react, the stake imbedded itself in her arm.
The smell of blood fueled the demon’s hunger and she went after Kennedy who seemed to be out of stakes. “Oh my god!” Dani shouted with a confused look on her face. “You see Willow, this is what Buffy was trying to warn you of. No matter what, the bottom line is she has no soul! When it comes right down to it, she doesn’t care. That’s not your high school tormentor there, that’s a very dangerous demon!” Dani didn’t mean to sound harsh but her fear for Kennedy’s life, the stress of the night’s prior events, added to her emotional state over Willow, caused it to come out in such a manner.
Dani launched a stake in the direction of the vampire and it barely hit her arm. It was enough of a distraction however, to give Kennedy time to get up. Also, it gave Willow added time to reach the vampire in her slowed state. “Harmony, it’s ok. I’ll get you some help. Just try to relax for a minute, please.” Willow begged, as the demon grabbed her up and ran down the other path.
“She’s lost a lot of blood,” the more experienced slayer said. “We’ve got to follow them or she will kill Willow.”
“She can’t have much time left,” Dani said and helped Kennedy to stand. “Buffy said that was the dumbest vamp around. I think she miscalculated a few things.”
As the two slayers gave chase, Harmony ran through the tunnels with Willow. The demon side of her, which was seemingly smarter than her non-vamped self, figured that these tunnels had to lead to a building of sorts. Her speed was considerably slowed due to massive blood loss and she knew that her time was running out. As she removed a metallic cover and pushed Willow through, she almost fell back to the ground below.
“This is a furniture warehouse Harmony.” Willow called out in a fearful voice. She was beginning to wonder what possessed her to help Harmony and feared for her life.
Finally, the vampire made it out of the tunnel and placed the cover back over the hole. Harmony sank to the floor quickly with black blood flowing from her stomach. In her weakened state, she removed something from her jacket and began putting it on her wound though it wouldn’t help much. She then looked at Willow and pulled the redhead towards her.
Willow looked down at the demon with a certainty that her life would be ended about now. Without a soul, Harmony would not be able to use restraint as Angel did when he drank from Buffy years ago. Everything that was moral within Willow screamed for her to try to break free from the vampire. She knew that once the vampire began to feed, she would not stop and Willow’s life would be ended. “Please don’t kill me Harmony.” Willow said in the most frightened voice that she had probably ever used.
As regret-filled tears fell down Willow’s face, the vampire shoved her on her back and moved close to Willow’s neck. As Willow closed her eyes and gripped the vampire's arm, Harmony sank her fangs in and began to drink. She knew now that she should have listened to Buffy and not helped the vampire. She couldn’t figure out what possessed her to continue helping her when she saw that she was dying. She should have let the slayers kill her but something compelled her not to do it.
- - - -
Kennedy and Dani burst into the warehouse having followed the blood trail and found that it was empty. “Where the hell are they!” Kennedy screamed in a frantic rage and kicked over an expensive table. “Willow!” She shouted in a high-pitched tone that matched the worry on Dani's face.
“We should have just killed her!” Dani shouted and kicked over a piece of furniture as well. “Damn it, why didn’t we act faster! We’re the best two slayers besides Faith and Buffy and look what we allowed to happen!” Dani chastised herself as tears began to fall down her cheeks.
“If I would have acted like a slayer more than some inexperienced slayer, she would be with us now and that bitch would be gone!” Kennedy turned and saw a few spots of blood on the floor. She sank to her knees and wept uncontrollably. “I wasn’t perfect Dani but I loved her. I tried to protect her.”
“I know you did Kennedy, this is my fault.” Dani said and urged the slayer to get up. “We’ve got to go tell the others what we’ve done and hope Buffy or Faith don’t decide to kill us where we stand.”
“It wasn’t your fault Dani,” Kennedy said as they walked out the door. “We were taken aback by Willow’s adamant behavior towards helping that bitch. If she’s the last vampire I slay, I will get her!”
- - - -
At half past 5 in the morning, Faith went into the sitting room of the housing building. She saw Kennedy and Dani there fast asleep in full dress. They had a patch of luck after the two slayers had gone off after Willow. Five of the girls who were involved in the big battle were found. The girls had got smart during the battle and headed home to get help and were very glad that they did. Though a large number of girls were lost, having a few more then expected was great news. Being assured that the two slayers would catch up with Willow, the crew had drifted off to a much-needed sleep. “Hey,” Faith said softly and Dani opened her eyes. “Where’s Red?”
Dani’s features foretold the answer and Faith tightened her grip on her emotions. “We couldn’t save her.” Dani said as the tears began to flow again. “Faith, she was hell bent on helping that damn vampire and then it got crazy and the vampire ran off with her. When we caught up to them, or the place that they should have been rather, we found Willow’s blood on the floor and they were missing.”
Faith kept her anger hid deep inside her and knelt down to Dani. “Red is tough,” she said and pulled the sobbing slayer into her arms. “You can’t count her out till we find a body.”
“Harmony is a soulless vampire and quite a bit smarter than Buffy gave her credit for. You don’t have to tell me what’s happened Faith. Kennedy put a few stakes into Harmony and she was dying and therefore was hell bent on living.” Dani’s sobs subsided slightly, as Faith tried to comfort her. The fact was that Faith was pretty certain that they had lost Willow but wanted to be hopeful.
Harmony lifted her head from where it rested on her arm at around 5:30am. She stretched her sore body and stood to her feet. She was glad that vampires had rapid healing speeds but the reminders of the battle of last night were still present with the aching muscles. She walked over to a bed and looked down at a still form lying motionless. “Willow you need to wake up.” Harmony spoke softly as the redhead stirred.
Willow was dreaming of the vampire leaning down towards her neck and then felt the fangs sink in. She felt her body tremble and jerk as the vampire drank from her to replenish its life source. She heard the vampire saying something just before she blacked out but couldn’t make it out. She then heard herself screaming no and jerked awake in a startled fashion. She ached all over and wasn’t sure if she could move but felt a calming hand on her shoulder. “Harmony?” Willow questioned in a hoarse voice as she tried to stretch her body into life.
“Is everything all right Harm?” A middle-aged man, who looked a lot like Harmony, asked as he poked his head into the room.
“Sure, could you get her something to drink?” Harmony asked, as the man left the room. “Willow, it’s all right.” The vampire touched the shaking redhead’s cheek with her thumb. “Relax, you’re just fine Willow.”
Willow relaxed and looked at Harmony with slightly blurred vision. “That man, is that doctor Kendall?” Willow asked in a small voice as she recalled the stories of Harmony murdering her parents. If that was Doctor Dennis Kendall, Harmony’s father at least was alive and well.
“I told you they were alive Willow.” Harmony said and took the drink from the man who stood at the door. “Dad, do you think mom could get her some breakfast in a couple hours? She’s still a little shaken and I can’t help her get home now.” She motioned to the covered window in indication that the sun was coming up.
“Of course, will you be eating with us, I mean people food?” He smiled at his daughter and left the room again.
“Why didn't you kill me?” Willow asked and took a big gulp of the cold juice.
“You tried to stop them from killing me Willow. Even a vampire has respect for people who try to help them. One favor deserves another.” Harmony said and fluffed Willow’s pillows back up. “I got you here and dad took care of you. You’ve been sleeping since 2ish this morning and could use some more I’m sure.”
“You’re not really helping them are you? I mean the people that are after the slayers.” Willow looked at the vampire and wished that she could figure this one out easily. She was going against the grain by helping a human and then not turning her when she had the perfect chance.
“No Willow,” Harmony said and turned towards the door. “You should get some sleep.”
Willow knew the vampire was trying to make a quick retreat for a reason. Either she didn’t want her secrets of helping the bad guys to be found out or there was something else on the go. She also was afraid to go to sleep because she had replayed what almost happened to her throughout the night and didn’t want to do it again. “Harmony, how did you control the demon? I mean once you bit me, I thought you would lose total control and…” Willow trailed off and visibly shivered at the thought of what would have happened to her if the vampire had not stopped.
“I had a goal Willow and killing you was not on the agenda at the time.” Harmony said and walked back to the bed. “You helped me and so I helped you is all there was to it.”
“Do you ever miss Cordy?” Willow asked another question to the perplexed vampire. She wasn’t trying to change the topic of discussion for small talk but rather to get a better feel as to the mental picture of the soulless vampire.
“Most of the time, no.” Harmony answered honestly as she looked the redhead over with other thoughts entering her mind. “Most of the time I don’t feel a thing mentally Willow. It’s like, when I was a teenager. I was going to go to Paris and become a model. My name was going to be in lights for a long time to come and Cordy was going to join me. So when I allow myself to think of times like that, I feel. Every now and then I feel something sad or a fond memory but it doesn’t stay long.”
“Do you want to feel Harmony or are you happy being a shell of what you once were?” Willow asked, as Harmony quickly stood back up from the bed.
“What do you want from me Willow?” The demon asked as irritation built up inside her. She hated to feel because it showed weakness on a demon’s part. She hated to feel because it made her desire a normal life and she could never have that because Buffy, who had won a class protector award, did not protect her. Most of all, she hated to feel because each time a fleeting emotion passed through, it hardened her to the world.
Harmony enjoyed the thrill of a bite or two and even enjoyed a little shady dealing but to be callous, cold and evil, she didn’t want that. As Harmony evolved into who she was, a double-crossing mammal blood eating, working vampire, she had decided she did not want a reputation like some of her bosses. She wanted a reputation of a socialite vampire who was dangerous if need be but more for a business sense then just to be evil. “I’m not one of Buffy’s special case vampires who can be whipped by the smell of her perfume Willow! I tried to turn you and even Cordelia at one time! I don’t have a soul and I never will be able to do the things I once wanted to do!” The demon was fully visible now, as Harmony had let the frustration get the better of her.
“If you were as evil as your acting and claim you want to be, you would have killed me Harmony so stop it! I’m trying to return the favor and help you just as you helped me!” Willow said bravely, as the demon grew dangerously close. “Spike turned his mother, Angel killed a lot of people close to him but you can’t! If you could, your parents would be dead by now! You can coexist with them, dine with them and bring people that you do not want to die for them to help make better! Now why is that Harmony?”
“Because when I turn you I want it to be in a night of passion, not caused by that bitch Kennedy!” The demon spat back then glared at Willow. She was clearly about to do something she had not planned on and Willow realized this. “I was going to turn Delia Willow so yes I can kill someone close to me. My parents merely serve a better purpose alive; I don’t feel for them what I once did.” Harmony kept up her angered front but felt the opposite inwardly. She knew that she didn’t want to be evil, that she felt something for her parents and Willow but this scared her. It scared her because she knew that, without a soul, she could not give her parents the daughter they once had nor Willow the lover that she deserved.
- - - -
Everyone was up at the headquarters and emotions were running high. Kennedy was at the brunt of Faith and Dawn’s anger as they claimed that if she had not abused Willow in such a way, Willow would not have turned to the vampire to begin with. Buffy displayed the most fearful emotions because she knew all to well what it was like to fall under the spell of a vampire. Granted, Angel had a soul but Spike only had a chip. Occasionally he would display emotions that made her believe that he was different until the night that he tried to rape her. She knew then that, without a soul, a vampire was a pure monster deep down. One who could not be trusted for any length of time, because their evil tendencies could strike at any moment. “Harmony hung with Spike for awhile and he liked to play with his victims.” Buffy was trying to hold out hope that Willow was somehow alive. “I can’t give up on Will until I see some proof that she is dead and if she is…” she glared at Kennedy and walked out the door followed hastily by Dani.
“I agree with B.” Faith said and glared at Kennedy who looked as though she were going to combust. “It’s getting daylight, the vamp will have to sleep and that’s the perfect time to rescue Willow.”
“I’ll stay here with the wounded,” Robin said and walked over to Kennedy. He felt sorry for the girl because no matter how much of a bitch she had turned out to be, she did not deserve to have Willow’s stupidity blamed on her.
“Watch it Kenny, he likes to have a snack on those who are in a rough emotional state.” Faith quipped and headed out the door behind Dawn and Andrew.
“I can’t stand her,” Kennedy said with a hurt yet angry look on her face.
“The feeling is mutual,” Robin smiled at the slayer. “Maybe we can talk, I’ve got a few ideas.”
- - - -
The late December rain was falling relentlessly as Dani and Buffy walked the streets. Rain was not what Cleveland was accustomed to this time of year but it was falling hard and cold as ice. “Do you really think she’s alive Buffy?” Dani asked with fear in her voice.
“She has to be alive or that vampire will wish she stayed dead in the high school parking Lott.” Buffy snapped back then stopped and looked at Dani. “You really care for her don’t you Dani?”
“Yeah I do Buffy.” The taller slayer responded bleakly. “I thought she and Kennedy had a real shot or I would have tried to act sooner. I even went out on that date to try to get Willow off the brain, y’know? I just don’t know how to broche the subject of dating and now that she’s taken up with this vampire, I doubt my time will be right yet again.”
“Willow is a very special girl,” Buffy mused more to herself then Dani. “She’s been my best friend for eight years now and I won’t allow her heart to be shattered by that vampire. That is, if she’s still alive and I believe she is. Will and I kinda have this vibe with each other and I’m not getting some sort of pending doom vibe here. I think she’s acting out, being rebellious because of her inability to get over Tara. Maybe like being with something that you don’t have to worry about feeling with and then it doesn’t hurt. That’s what I did with Spike and I regret it but it happened. Tara was a big help to me during that time. She was a one of a kind person and there is no way in hell we have to worry about the likes of Harmony Kendall.
Even with a soul, she doesn't have the desire or mentality to fill those shoes.”
“Kendall you say, as in Doctor Dennis Kendall?” Dani said with a sudden flash of hope on her face. “I let him patch me up one night and was going to recommend him to Dawn for our medical person to go to because he didn’t seem rattled by the nature of my wound. It was the night that vamp nipped me, remember?”
“Which way?” Buffy enquired frantically as she ran in the direction Dani was headed. “I will kill that vampire and anyone who gets in my way of getting Willow out of there if he knows where they are.” Buffy continued her rant as the two slayers ran for the doctor’s house in the blinding rain.
“Dawn, we’re heading to doctor Kendall’s office, punch it in on your pocket pc.” Dani said and pocketed her cell phone. “I hope we find her Buffy, I’m so scared she’s not going to make it.”
“Willow’s a fighter,” Buffy said as the two women turned up the street to the house. “Who knows, maybe we’re lucky and Harmony is dead by now.”
- - - -
The demon was successful at shifting the activities in the small dark room. She had begun massaging Willow’s aching shoulders then started kissing her. She moved the redhead closer, began a trail of kisses down to her breasts, and suckled them. “Harmony stop,” Willow said in an effort to test the vampire.
The fact that vampires are not only carnivorous predators but also sexual predators by nature fueled the demon onward. She moved her mouth to Willow’s lips and began rubbing her breasts with her hands. Though Willow said stop in order to test the vampire, her body betrayed her. The vampire quickly grew more aggressive in her kissing and touching, which garnered soft moans of desire from Willow. When the vampire almost had Willow where she wanted her, she pulled back quickly. Having heard noise upstairs, she turned the radio up loud and produced a long thin box from the bedside table. Willow knew what this item was used for and began kissing and groping the sexually charged vampire back with fervor.
While Harmony and Willow engaged in sexual pleasure, probably more so aggressively then a vampire should with a human, the five Scoobies stood at the door to the doctor’s house. “May I help you?” Janice Kendall said politely wishing that Harmony would turn the music down.
“I sure hope so.” Andrew asserted himself to the front of the group quickly. He believed that he was the most diplomatic of the gang and thought it best that he try a little calm discussion first. “We’re looking for a couple of people and took a shot that you might be the Kendall’s from Sunnydale.”
“You took a correct shot,” Janice said and moved back from the door to allow the gang to come in the house. “Come on into the kitchen here and I’ll get you all a nice hot cup of tea.”
Faith was the first of the three slayers to notice what was going on down stairs. Though the radio covered most of the noise, her keen slayer hearing distinctly picked up the words, “that feels so good,” in between moans. She gave Buffy a sideways glance and Buffy’s face reddened as she too picked up the moaning sounds. “I’m Dawn Summers and this is my sister Buffy.” Dawn said and took the seat at the table offered to her by Mrs. Kendall.
“Buffy Summers? You went to school with my daughter, Harmony.” The woman smiled and finished getting their tea. “I was about to put some breakfast on the stove, you all are welcome to join my husband and I. It’s not every day that we get visitors from Sunnydale.”
The kind nature of the woman didn’t go unnoticed by Buffy. She figured that it must have been heartbreaking when she found out that she lost her child and then to find out her child was a vampire had to be more shocking. “Yeah, Sunnydale kinda caved in and so we had to find a new home. Mom had some contacts here so I thought it’d be a good place to start over.” Buffy lied but had to think of something.
“Oh yes,” Dennis said as he joined the group at the table. “Joyce Summers,” he pointed at a painting that hung over the mantle near the door. “I bought that from her among a few others before we left Sunnydale. Now who is it that you are looking for?” He asked with a genuine smile, as Janice flipped the sausage.
“Willow Rosenberg,” Dani said in an agitated tone. She did not fancy having to sit and listen to Willow be pleasured by that vampire. She was thankful that only a noise every now and again made it to her extra-sensitive ears.
“Oh yes,” Dennis said and smiled. “I remember that nice young girl. I used to get after Harm and Delia for poking at her a bit much.”
“Look, we don’t mean to be rude but we’re going to guess that you know about your daughter and if so, we hope and pray that you can at least tell us if Willow is alive!” Dani said a little more rudely then she had anticipated upon barely hearing an instruction from the vampire for Willow to get on her knees.
“Willow is not a vampire,” Janice answered sternly. She didn’t mind the company of the others but this one was rude and that was not the way people behaved in her home.
“You’ll have to forgive Dani,” Dawn piped up, “she’s Willow’s girlfriend and so was worried when she didn’t make it home last night.”
Buffy and Faith, who had managed to filter out the intermittent noises from downstairs, choked back laughter. They knew that Dawn, Andrew nor Harmony’s parents knew what was going on down stairs. “We’re not here to start trouble,” Buffy added with a smile, as Janice set the table. “We are just worried about our friend.”
“That’s understandable,” Dennis smiled at the eldest slayer. “We understand from Harmony that she had to do something she’s not done in a long time in order to survive. It seems that a couple of girls put a few stakes into her and Miss Rosenberg helped her willingly.”
“Harmony carried her in here late last night and Dennis took care of her. She’s going to be just fine I can assure you.” Janice added with a comforting smile.
Meanwhile, downstairs the infrequent noises ceased. Harmony lifted Willow from the floor back to the bed. “You gonna pull a Buffy on me now Willow because I didn’t stop?” The vampire gave the redhead a cocky look as she kissed her gently.
“No but I don’t think I’m going to be able to walk.” Willow said honestly, as the vampire picked her up again. “Where are we going?”
“You said you can’t walk and I thought maybe you would like a nice bath.” The vampire smirked with the knowledge of what she had done to Willow. “Being sweaty isn’t very attractive.”
“Harmony!” Dennis called from the top of the stairs. “Breakfast is ready and could you turn that music down?”
“Just let me help her get cleaned up and we’ll be right there. Tell Buffy that I will make sure that she gets home safely if she doesn’t want to wait.” Harmony said and laughed at Willow’s shocked look. “Your savior is upstairs Willow.”
“Harmony,” Willow began as the vampire helped her out of the tub. “How much would you charge to do some work for me?”
The vampire smiled at Willow and laughed. “What, do you want your own personal bedfellow?”
“No I think if I sleep with you many more times, you’re going to kill me without having to turn me.” Willow said with a reddening face. “This is serious, I want to know what happened to my powers. If you acted in a certain way towards me in the demon community, maybe you could find out. In addition, honestly, some of the slayers we have just aren’t good enough and I’m afraid that something bad is going to happen or maybe has. I think Kennedy or Dani said something about losing a large number of them last night but there was so much going on that I don’t remember.”
“You keep those damn slayers from staking me and get me a list of Angel’s real-estate holdings then you have a deal.” Harmony answered flatly. She had a lot of fun in the sack with Willow but business was business. Angel had something in his possession that the vampire wanted and this just could be the way to get it.
Late in the evening, Buffy trudged in the sitting room. She had gone out on patrol with a couple others in the raging snowstorm. “Sunnydale was heaven compared to this place.” She said and sat down next to Willow. “Will, can we talk?” Buffy had a concerned look on her face that went along fabulously with her overtired eyes.
“If it’s about Harmony, forget it.” The Wicca said bluntly. “If it’s about a lead of sorts to all this madness, sure.” Willow, who also sported an overtired look, put down the book she was reading and turned her gaze to Buffy. She noticed that Buffy looked a little older, a little more worn and a lot more worried then she’d seen in a long time.
“We’ve all been through a lot lately Will and I’m just worried about you. Sure I slept with a vampire but at least the one I allowed myself to love had a soul and wasn’t evil. That being said, you’re my best friend and I’m here for you no matter what happens.” Buffy reached out and patted Willow’s arm as she finished speaking.
“I know that Buffy but, I just can’t explain it. She’s really good to me and…” Willow’s features turned to a blush as she stopped her speech before explaining how the vampire was in bed.
Buffy gave her a knowing look, “I know Willow. They have great stamina and can fill your head with all sorts of things. Spike made me believe that he was different from the other vampires but he wasn’t. Look what happened to him when he didn’t get his way. He turned on me.” Buffy’s face displayed sadness as she looked into her friend’s eyes. She hoped that she could somehow get Willow to listen and stop this madness but knew that she didn’t listen to Tara either.
“When does your best friend get to meet your dinner date?” Willow enquired as a cue that it was time for a subject change. She gained a little help in the subject changing area when Faith, Dawn and Dani joined them in the room with food.
“It was dinner as a friend Will. I don’t swing that way.” Buffy said with a smile directed at her friend.
“Everyone swings a little in their life.” Faith said with a smirk on her face. “Red, you need to talk to Xan cause he’s threatening to bring Amy on board.”
“That’s no worse then Willow being blinded by Harmony.” Dawn said sarcastically.
“Yes it is because harm is easier to kill.” Buffy said flatly but in a tone that Willow took as a warning.
“She’s not so easy to kill,” Dani added and stood up. “I’m gonna go find something to do while you all hash this stuff out.”
“Me too,” Willow said and followed Dani. “Hey, I got a new game on my lap top, come on in my new room that Dawn assigned me and check it out.”
“Sure,” Dani said and smiled. “Look, if I was rude or out of line last night Miss Willow, I’m really sorry. I know I should not have worked with Kennedy but I was scared for you.”
“No Dani, I know you were trying to help and who knows, you all may be right.” Willow said and opened the door to her room. “Dawnie wanted us to close off the dorm but I guess using one hall is a fair compromise.”
“Yeah I know.” Dani said and looked around Willow’s room. She caught site of a picture of a woman that she had never seen before and stared at it due to the familiarity of it. “Miss Willow, who is this?”
Willow looked at the photo that sat on her nightstand next to the bed. “This is the love of my life Dani.” Willow said proudly as she recalled when the picture was taken. She and Tara had gone to a movie and then Tara surprised her with the picture of herself in which she was dressed up especially for the redhead. Afterwards, the two danced in Tara’s dorm room, had a few glasses of wine and made love.
“She looks like someone I’ve seen before but I just can’t place where.” Dani said and sat next to Willow in front of the laptop. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”
“Tara’s memory never makes me uncomfortable. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to Kennedy about her though so thanks for not making me feel bad.” Willow said and began to show Dani the game.
As the two played the computer game, a loud thud was heard in the hall and then Faith’s voice. “I’ll go check real quick.” Dani stood to her feet and opened the door. “Faith?”
Faith was out in the hall helping Dawn to stand. Dawn’s eyes were as clear a white as a pure gemstone. “The sorceress is near.” Dawn said in a faint voice and then a being like person shimmered out of her chest and Faith dropped her to the ground.
“Cordy!” The vampire shouted from around the corner.
“Did you all see that?” Harmony looked at the stunned slayer and knew that Faith had seen Cordelia Chase in all her white clad glory.
“What are you doing here?” Dani asked having not seen the being leave Dawn’s body.
“I’m here to see Willow.” Harmony retorted and turned to the door of Willow’s room as Faith composed herself enough to pick the fallen Summers sister up in her arms. “Buffy let me in so chill out slayer.”
Willow stepped out into the hall and looked at Faith. “What’s going on?”
“It was C Red,” Faith said and motioned for Willow to follow her into Dawn’s room. “D and I had finished shutting everything off in the sitting room. We were coming up to her room to play a game of cards. Well she almost went down the stairs backwards and her face went pale. Then I got her here and she said something about the sorceress being near. Then fully fainted out and C fricking came out of her chest. I saw it!”
“That’s exactly what happened but I didn’t hear the sorceress remark.” Harmony added as Dani stood eying her.
“Dani could you go tell Buffy and make sure Kennedy doesn’t come up here?” Willow asked in a friendly tone.
Dani felt resentment building up within her. She and Willow were having a perfectly good conversation until the vampire showed up. She knew that Willow wanted her to play watchdog so she and Harmony could have a chat or a little romp. “Sure,” she agreed and shuffled off.
“Faith can you let me know when she wakes up?” Willow asked the slayer, who was taking Dawn’s shoes off and situating her on the bed.
“Sure thing Red,” Faith covered Dawn up with her thin blanket. “I’m gonna go get something to drink first but will sit and watch her.”
“Thanks,” Willow said and turned back towards her room with the blonde vampire following her.
“Buffy really let you in here?” Willow asked and shut the door behind her.
“Yeah,” Harmony said in a far off tone of voice. Having seen Cordelia had taken her back again to better days and the memories she wished that she could forget before they forced her into that cold being that she did not want to become.
“Look I called your parents house early because I hoped that you would still be there. I have no powers but I can still do spells like I used to before I came into my powers and I was thinking that we could maybe try to track down that sorceress. Now that this has happened, it may be urgent that we try it.” Willow said as she looked out the window at the snow. She felt a peace when she watched the fluffy snow blowing through the air. A peace that she only used to feel with Tara and it made her wish that she could be on a big white fluffy cloud soaring through the air with Tara.
“You want me to help you?” Harmony asked incredulously but with a sheepish grin on her face. “I remember your spells gone awry before you got all powerful. I also heard about you setting Anyanka’s carpet on fire after you got all powerful.”
“Not tonight, I have to see if I can find the right spell and then get the items that I’ll need.” Willow added not paying attention to the snark in Harmony’s voice.
“Are you going to fulfill your end of the deal?” Harmony asked and smiled as Willow withdrew a sheet of paper.
“Don’t make me regret this Harmony.” Willow said in a worried tone of voice.
“What I want has nothing to do with some end of the world plan Willow. It is something of a more personal nature.” Harmony smiled and put the paper in her pocket.
“Andrew will be helping us also,” Willow said as Harmony sat down next to her on the bed. “I have to try something before the rest of my friends are murdered.”
“Well I asked a few acquaintances of mine about your power situation earlier. There is this one chick named Secaura who claims that she can see if your power stripping is real or psychological. She’s heard of your powers clear out here in Ohio and thinks someone might have done something to your mind. She says that you would more than likely have felt something huge go through your body with that amount of power being yanked from it.”
“Isn’t that some communications company name in Europe?” Willow asked with a hint of hope in her eyes. She felt naked without her powers because they had been a part of her since before Buffy’s death. She had always dealt with magic from a book standpoint but during the fight with Glory, she had come to know the tremendous power that was within her being. Though feeling and understanding the energy that lie within the depth of her being caused her constant battles between magic usage styles, she missed not having it at her disposal. Like it or not, it was part of who she was at this point in her life.
“There are upscale demons everywhere Willow.” Harmony replied flatly.
“When can we go see her?” Willow asked with a shrug of her shoulders.
“Tomorrow night if you like.” Harmony answered and took the drink Willow offered her. “You’ve got a nice little ice chest in here. Did you have a night in planned with that slayer?”
“No, we were playing computer games is all.” Willow answered not wondering in the least as to why she felt that she should explain things such as that to the vampire. “We’ll try to plan the spell for after we see this acquaintance of yours. Maybe if I can work out what they did to me, I won’t need the book spell.”
“I’d also like to know why Dawn has been chosen as a portal to Delia.” Harmony added, as Willow wrote it down in her notebook. She had so many things she wanted to try to get done to get on some sort of even footing with these evildoers that she could no longer keep it all straight in her head.
Harmony looked over at Tara’s picture as she moved over to Willow. “She was really beautiful Willow. Well worth going all evil over.”
“She was the most beautiful person that I ever met. There was nothing evil about her soul. It was pure and good. I don’t know that I can ever get over her and move on. I thought that I could try with Kennedy but she made that impossible.” Willow’s hands trembled slightly as she looked at Tara’s picture.
“What about this other slayer? It’s so obvious that she’s attracted to you.” Harmony enquired as she began to massage Willow’s tense shoulders.
“We get along well and I told you before that I think I could like her and maybe even do if I would admit it to myself.” Willow said and relaxed into the vampire's cold hands as they worked out the kinks in her muscles. “You’re really good at that, I’ve slept better the two times you’ve done that then in a long time.”
“That’s what Delia used to say.” The vampire said and added nothing more thus leaving Willow’s mind to wonder if something more had happened with the two Cordettes. She wondered the same thing about Faith but knew better then to press the private slayer about such things.
Harmony pulled the redhead in her arms and gave her a kiss. “I’m going to have to go tend to a few things soon Willow. I’ll be back here just after sunset to pick you up tomorrow.” The vampire increased the passion in her kisses and Willow was returning them more quickly then she did in their previous encounters.
Willow knew she was in trouble as the vampire began kissing her thighs. She liked Dani but there was an addiction to the touch of Harmony that Willow feared she couldn’t break. She tried many times to warn Buffy on the dangers of falling for a vampire and now here she was allowing one to do things to her that nobody ever had. The problem was, she loved it and prayed that it would not be her ultimate downfall.
- - - -
Dawn awoke in a cold sweat and noticed that Faith was there. Her mind was fogged between going up the stairs to play cards and where she was now. “Hey D,” Faith picked up a glass of juice and handed it to the girl. “You had some sorta weird thing happen on our way up here. I told you that we shouldn’t all sleep up stairs to be in the same dorm area. Anyhow, queen C did some kind of appearance through you and said that the sorceress was near.”
“What?” Dawn exclaimed with a sudden creepy feeling of being violated stirring within her. “Why did she do that?”
“I dunno, Willow will find out when she’s done screwing Harmony.” Faith made a face at the thought of Willow and the vampire keeping her awake.
“I thought Willow was with Dani tonight?” Dawn asked and rubbed her eyes in an exasperated fashion.
“Yeah well, the vamp sauntered in here and Red forgot all about Dani I guess.” Faith added and leaned back against the headboard. “B has gone out somewhere so I thought I’d keep watch on you.”
“Where did Buffy go?” Dawn asked with alarm in her voice.
“She went to check something out,” Faith said as a male moan of pleasure resounded in her ears. “Jesus everybody’s getting laid.”
“Oh my God!” Dawn exclaimed which indicated to Faith that she did have a little of her childlike self left. Faith found this refreshing and smiled at the young woman. “Is that Robin? I’m sure it can’t be Andrew; he would probably have a scream like a girl. I’ve heard Xander so I know it’s not him and there was no British lilt so it can’t be Giles.”
Faith burst into laughter at Dawn’s analysis as to who was doing what. “D, that’s good and shows that you pay attention,”
A serious look creased over Dawn’s face, “I’m worried about Willow though Faith. She could really be getting herself into a lot of trouble with Harmony.”
“Yeah we all agree D but what can ya do?” Faith asked and threw an arm around Dawn. “People hafta live and learn y’know? Some of us more than others but it’s a fact of life.”
“What was that?” Dawn asked, as a resounding shrill scream of oh my God came from somewhere in the building.
“It sounds girlie,” Faith stood up quickly. You stay put and I’ll go check on whiteboard boy.” She raced quickly down the stairs and found Andrew standing with his mouth open wide in shock just inside the doorway. She looked passed him and saw what prompted the scream, there holding a pizza box was the girl who looked like Tara. “Oh fuck,” Faith muttered under her breath and stepped passed Andrew quickly.
“I-I-I didn’t do anything to him.” The visibly shaken woman stammered, as Faith took the pizza box and handed it to Andrew.
“No I am aware of that.” Faith said in a rush to get rid of the girl, as Buffy came up the walkway.
“Oh is this where you work?” The friendly woman turned to Buffy with a smile.
Buffy stood motionless and at a loss for words. “Yep we all work here,” Faith added as Dani sauntered into the sitting room to see what the commotion was.
“Tracy,” the slayer said fondly. Maybe her luck was about to change for the better. Her eyes went wide upon remembering that face. “Oh my god!” Dani yelled out. “You look like…”
“Stop!” Buffy shouted and put up a hand. “Andrew not a word of this to anyone or I will…” her words trailed off but he got the meaning.
“I better go back up with D or she will be down here and then it’s blown wide open.” Faith said and rushed off. She thought it best to let those directly involved handle the situation.
“Can somebody tell me why I am freaking everyone out?” The woman asked with a hurt expression and bewildered look on her face.
“Come on into the kitchen,” Buffy said and motioned for the others to follow her.
- - - - -
Harmony held Willow in her arms as she came crashing down from the orgasmic ride. “I am going to have to go soon Willow.” She said and kissed the redhead.
“I think I’m getting to used to you being here when I go to sleep anyway and that’s probably not a good thing.” Willow babbled before she thought better than to admit to the vampire that she was fond of her.
“So does that mean that you are going to miss me?” Harmony asked in a playful tone.
“I think so,” Willow said softly and wished that this weren’t happening. “I bet it doesn’t bother you, I mean, to not be around people. Like even your parents, you don’t get like fond enough to miss people?”
“Honestly Willow,” the vampire spoke as she got up from the bed and dressed. “Sometimes when I hold you and kiss you, you make me want to feel something and that is kinda scary because I know that I can’t. I don’t have a soul and therefore can’t have lasting attachments because I can’t feel enough to remain a decent person, faithful and that sort of thing. I can try to do good but if the price is right or the mood is right, I know good and well that I will stray to the other side. Just like Spike did with those eggs before he got a soul. I do believe that Spike cared for Buffy as much as he could without a soul. He may have even loved her but when things weren’t going how he wanted, the monster within him won out and he tried to make her have sex with him again. That’s when he realized that he was a monster and always would be. He taught me that lesson, it’s one that I often deny but I know it’s true. The reason I know it’s true is because, though sometimes I want to feel something with you, other times it’s just a fling.”
Willow looked into Harmony’s eyes as she spoke. The raw emotion that she saw there was sad to watch and she doubted that she would ever see it again because, as she was told many times, pain hardened the creatures eventually. “So what should we do from here then? I mean, is it better to stay away to prevent a mess from happening?” Willow looked away from the vampire whose eyes had grown void of emotion once again. She knew at that moment that she was in trouble. Part of her had wanted to believe that the vampire could feel something and make their relationship different from other soulless creatures. She realized however, that this could not be because Harmony was no different then any other soulless creature. Though she realized this, she could feel that part of her mind that wanted to believe that she was different winning and was afraid that that part would cloud her better judgment.
Harmony felt a cold shiver run down her spine and knew something was off somewhere in the building. “That’s not going to be easy if you decide that is what you want Willow. Vampires are very possessive creatures. I’ve slept with you and tasted your blood and the demon likes it. We can talk about this after we go see Secaura and don’t feel bad for me Willow. Most of the time I don’t have these thoughts honestly, it’s just sometimes.” She leaned down and kissed the redhead passionately. “I will be back at 10pm tomorrow night but you have my cell number if something happens before then.”