A New Beginning

by Gina

copyright: 2007

Fandom: BtVS

Rating: R

Pairing: Willow/Harmony

Feedback: 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?

Chapter 10

The group assembled themselves in the kitchen and Buffy got coffee for everyone. It was very late and she figured this might be a long night. “This is all complicated Tracy.” Buffy said and began the tale of Willow and Tara being careful to add in as much detail as she could. She wanted everyone in the room to understand Willow’s situation and what a wonderful person Tara was. She then told them how Willow reacted to Tara’s death, how it almost destroyed her and the world literally. She told everyone of their strong love and how Willow still grieved for the woman who was, undoubtedly, the love of Willow’s life. Lastly, she showed Tracy a picture but received no miraculous hint of recognition from the blonde-haired woman.

Dani was moved by this nearly hour long explanation from Buffy and torn as to what to do. She knew that Willow did not need to be tipped over the edge again but respected their friendship far too much to harbor such a secret. “Buffy, are you sure this is not Tara?” Dani asked bluntly, as Andrew wiped a tear from his face. He was filled with regret and guilt for the wonderful relationship that he had helped destroy. He wished that he could make it all right but was resolved to follow Buffy’s lead in the situation because she knew Willow far better then he did.

“That’s so sad,” Tracy stammered and wiped a tear from her own cheek. “I’m not Tara though but I do understand why you took the actions that you took Buffy. I am going to venture here that the best thing for me to do is leave and not look back. Dani, I’m so sorry that I reacted the way I did to you the other night and I do believe you fully now.” Tracy finished speaking and stood to leave the building.

“Wait,” Buffy too stood. “Tracy, those of us who have got the chance to know you would like to remain friends with you. I don’t want this to be a permanent good-bye and think that we just need some time to tell Willow. This could break her if we don’t handle it right but I’m confident that, in time, we can manage it.” Buffy was telling the truth in that she did want Tracy to remain a friend as well as believed that they could find a way to tell Willow. What she wasn’t telling them was the fact that she was growing very fond of this woman in another way. The notion that her judgment was clouded due to her feelings did not even cross her mind though she had preached to Willow about allowing the very same thing to happen.

“That’s right,” Dani said and stood up from the table. “Being the chivalrous slayer that I am, I can’t let you go on your own at this hour either.” She, in part, wanted to see that the woman was safe and in part, wanted to see if there was a chance that the two could get to know each other. Her heart was with Willow but she feared that pursuing her was a lost cause. In addition, she did enjoy Tracy’s company during the brief time they had known each other. She also feared that Buffy too was interested in this beautiful woman and she would be left out in the cold once again.

“I’ll get my coat and go with you Dani,” Andrew said and got up from the table. He wanted something to do to take his mind off the sad story that Buffy had just told him. Many times in his short life, guilt overtook him for the things that he helped Warren do and this was one of those times.

“Hold up gang,” Buffy put a hand up. “I need the two of you to promise me that you will not say a word to Willow. At least until the three of us have had a better chance to sit down and talk. Also, I would really be owing you two if you didn’t tell Dawn either.” Buffy emphasized the importance of what she was saying with her facial expression and hand movements.

“I can do that much,” Dani said and followed Andrew off to get their coats.

“I’m really sorry Buffy. I had no idea.” Tracy said with a look so sad in her eyes that Buffy felt a sudden urge to hug her and cry.

“Of course you didn’t.” The blonde slayer said and turned to pick up the glasses from the table. “It’s all right, we’ll deal with this. Goodness knows we are dealing with far worse things right now.”

While Buffy spoke, Tracy lifted her cell phone and quickly snapped a picture of Willow and Tara. There was a large photo of Willow and Tara hanging in the kitchen right next to one of Buffy, Dawn and Joyce. “If there is anything I can do to help you Buffy, don’t hesitate to call me.”

“You’ve helped me a great deal,” Buffy turned back to the woman who sported a shy smile that looked just like Tara’s. “It’s nice to have someone to talk with that is not involved in this crazy world of mine.”

- - - - -

Dawn, Willow and Giles had just finished lunch that next afternoon. “So Robin stuck up for Kennedy saying that Phil rushed out with them. The surviving slayers said that they can’t really recall who all went and didn’t go because the decision was made so fast. Andrew, on the other hand, says that the two Watchers and you with Xander went in search of the gang.” Willow summed it all up quickly and shrugged her shoulders.

“This is correct,” Giles assessed, as he pondered the picture as to where Willow was going with this. “However, they did not go directly with us. We all ended up there at some point and we’re not going to have full details until all the autopsy reports come back. Doctor Kendall said he will do them ASAP for us though.”

“Well the question is, do we believe Andrew or Robin and if Robin is lying,” Willow lowered her voice as she spoke. “Robin could be one of the reasons we don’t have a heads up on these people or beings. I mean, why would he lie to cover up for Kennedy?”

“Well I don’t think that Kennedy is on the other side.” Giles added. “I do think she acted irresponsibly due to the situation with you.”

“Right but the lying would come in if he in turn did something to help Kennedy.” Dawn added and finished off her drink. “Faith and I heard some moaning last night while we were talking in my room. I’m wondering if the two of them got it on and are now working together for some end purpose or other.”

“I don’t think this has anything to do with our bigger problem.” Giles concluded and finished his drink. “Phil is the one that I am truly worried about.”

“Well I’m going to see a lady about my powers tonight. If I am able to get them back the two of you will be the only two informed. We’ve got to find a way to get a step ahead of whomever is doing this and then we need to find the sorceress.” Willow said and stood from the table.

Giles furrowed his brow and wiped off his glasses. He was glad to have the two women helping him with everything but worried that they were getting to many pans cooking at once. “Willow, I do wish to speak with you about this vampire as well.” He added and shrugged when she walked off.

“She’s looking for a spell to locate sorceresses,” Dawn said quickly and joined Giles at the door. “Andrew told me but swore me to secrecy. Also, I called Bev and told her to not bring the newer slayers back just yet. Jo has gone to help her out with them.”

“Thanks,” Giles said and stepped out into the raging snowstorm, as his cell phone rang. “Yes doctor Kendall?”

“Hello Mr. Giles. The three persons that were burned beyond recognition, um, none of them were males. The one’s dental records do match up with the young girl and I will have the other two identified within the week.”

Giles thanked the doctor and hung up the phone. As he walked around the grounds, he cursed Phil and Robin. Something deep in his gut tightened when he thought of what the two men were up to though he was not certain that Robin was in on it. If by chance he was not in on this, Giles was certain he had some agenda that was not of the good kind. He lifted his gaze to the sky as if he were going to find some sort of revelation there but came up empty. As he wiped his cold hands on his jacket to warm them, he got the strangest sense that he was being watched.

The sense was none to pleasant either because it made his stomach quench up and left a bitter taste in his gut. “Damn you, you have killed enough people! What the hell do you want from us?” He shouted and stamped his boot into the snow.

- - - - - -

The snowstorm was finally letting up as Willow waited for Harmony. “She’s late,” Buffy said sarcastically, as she looked out into the snowy night.

“She’ll be here,” Willow said and buttoned up her jacket. She had a few things to learn when she moved out of California and one of them was how to dress for the weather in the Midwest. “It’s so pretty out there.” Willow commented absent-mindedly with recollection of her fluffy cloud wish.

Buffy watched her best friend look out into the night as if she were looking somewhere beyond this plane and grew sad. In fact, she may not need to look further then this plane for what she was seeking. She hoped that if Dani found out anything on her dinner date she would let them know. She knew Dani had felt slighted of late by Willow but Willow had no idea that Dani had any type of feelings for her beyond those of friendship. She feared that Dani would let her fear of being alone cloud her perception on a clue or two that might tell them if this was for sure Tara. Finally, she feared that Dani would keep her word and tell Willow without hesitation if she thought there was a chance that this was Tara. Buffy would be happy to let Willow know if it was Tara but wanted to be more certain for fear of what would happen to the redhead. She didn’t know which was worse, what would happen if this woman was not Tara or what would happen if Willow continued holding up with Harmony.

“Willow are you ready?” The chirpy voice of the vampire jerked Buffy out of her thoughts.

“Mind if I tag along?” Buffy asked so that she could gauge the vampire’s reaction.

“Buffy I can do this.” Willow said and turned towards the door.

“Harmony,” Buffy started to speak but the vampire cut her off.

“Yeah I know the drill. If this is a trap I’m dust.” The blonde vampire replied and smugly walked out the door. “It’s pretty nasty out here Willow.” She said and opened the door to a nice Toyota truck.

“Where did you get this?” Willow asked and climbed in the warm vehicle that had an 80’s rock band playing softly from its speakers.

“Long story,” the vampire replied and sped up the street. “Actually I got this when I worked at Wolfram and Hart. The windows are great and I can drive all day long in this thing.”

“How far is it to this Secaura’s place?” Willow asked, as the vampire quickly slowed to avoid a skidding car.

“Another ten minutes or so. She’s meeting us at another location.” Harmony replied in a bored tone. This line of work really was not her style and she wanted out badly. The fringe benefits of boinking the boss weren’t so bad though so she supposed that she was learning to take the good with the style-cramping side of things.

The rest of the drive was fairly quiet minus Willow asking the vampire to watch the road and stop flipping through the radio stations. As they pulled up to an old house, a car swerved directly at them. The vampire’s quick reflexes were all that saved them from a head on collision. “I don’t think that was an accident.” Willow said with a hint of fear in her voice.

“Obviously not Sherlock.” The vampire replied and got out of the truck. “Let’s go see what’s on the go in here.”

“Is anyone in there?” Willow asked with impatience in her voice, as the vampire knocked a little louder.

Just as the vampire was contemplating scuffing up her new shoes by kicking in the door, a tall thin lady with thick glasses and graying hair opened the door. “Have a little patience Harmony.” She smiled and let the two women in. “I made you some hot tea to warm your bones Miss Rosenberg I presume.” She extended her hand for Willow to shake. “I’m Secaura Dowling.”

“Thank you very much.” Willow said and gladly took the tea that the woman was offering. She got a glance around the room and found that magic books lined the walls as well as several old looking pendants. She couldn’t help but wonder if this was the sorceress and feared that she had been lead astray by the vampire.

Secaura smiled and laughed, “I’m not your mark my friend. I’m no sorceress by any means but know how to test magical powers.”

“Then let’s get testing.” Harmony said impatiently and received a glare from Secaura.

“You will need to leave the room Harmony. Your aura is to dark and I don’t need the interference.” Secaura said flatly and sat down next to Willow with a thin glass vase in her hands.

“You could use the work,” Harmony said and Secaura knew that the vampire was not going to budge.

“You must have paid Miss Kendall well.” Secaura chuckled with a half-grin on her face. “I need for you to close your eyes and place your right hand on mine. Then you must fully relax yourself,” Secaura said and poured a foamy substance into the glass.

Despite her bravery in times of trouble, Willow felt uneasy and looked at Harmony. She didn’t have a vibe that this lady was going to do her harm but one never knew who to trust at this stage of the game. “It’s all right Willow.” The vampire moved to Willow’s left side and placed a cold hand on her knee. “I won’t let her cause you any trouble.”

Willow seemed to relax quickly when the vampire moved to a closer proximity to her and the lady was able to begin her work. “No talking or moving so that I can concentrate on blocking out Harmony’s aura.” Secaura instructed, as the blue foamy substance began to change colors.

There were colors of red, yellow and blue and in the center of the jar was pure white. The white substance took shape into a weak image of a woman and then grew brighter as an image of a blonde woman was faintly coming in behind the brighter image. Another small pure white image was off to the side of the image of the blonde woman and began to turn into the image of a brunette woman but it was more faint. “The white substance that is the largest is Miss Rosenberg. I see her facing a large costly battle with the aid of the other two women who are key to her survival. Miss Rosenberg has locked within her the power to do many great things and also the power to do much harm. This depends on how she takes a turn as to whether she is of the good or evil. The colors on the outer rim display many peoples who will aid her in a smaller way if she so chooses the side of the good. The blonde is her strength and may have to literally save Miss Rosenberg’s existence on this plane while the role of the brunette I cannot see. The magic is there Miss Rosenberg and you must find it before this gray substance reaches you. The substance is watching you as we…” before Secaura could finish she began to rapidly age before their eyes.

Harmony jumped to her feet and removed Secaura’s hands from Willows hand as the woman continued to age. She looked centuries old and frail. “Willow she’s an ancient being and it looks like her time is done.”

“Bless you dear Miss Rosenberg,” the woman said and began to convulse.

Harmony scooped the shaking redhead up and left the building quickly. “She’s dying and it’s all my fault.” Willow said as sobs racked through her body.

“Everybody has to go sometime Willow.” Harmony said coldly and started the truck. “Your magic is there and now you just have to concentrate on releasing your powers again before someone else does. That’s all that you can afford to worry about right now.”

“I’m going to call Giles and give him the information that she gave us.” Willow said and got out her phone. She recalled the details of the conversation to Giles in full and then hung up the phone. She was unaware of the worried look she had left him with and the amount of booze he was putting away due to so much worry over the last few days.

Harmony pulled the truck to a stop at the headquarters but didn’t shut it off. She pulled the redhead into a searing kiss that seemingly lasted forever. Willow welcomed the kiss straight away and put her arms around the vampire. “Willow I need to go for a couple of days. I have to oversee a project that must be done.”

“Are you sure that it can’t wait? I don’t want you to leave because I may need someone to talk with and will miss all these things that you do to me on a nightly basis.” Willow said as the vampire pushed her back against the seat and grew more aggressive with her fondling and kissing. The demon was fully out, game face and all but Willow didn’t care.

As their passion ebbed and flowed throughout the remainder of the night, Willow’s resolve sank even deeper. She knew that there was virtually no way that she could give up this vampire who gave her wave after wave of mind-blowing orgasms. She knew that she should have got out while the getting was good but it was to late now. “God Harmony I’m so into you.” Willow let out without meaning too as the last wave of orgasms for the night ended. “You make me feel so good.”

The vampire kissed Willow several more times before finally moving away. “I’m hoping that this won’t take long Willow. You have my number and can call me if you get in trouble or just want to have a little chat before you go to bed.” The vampire smiled at the redhead who got the meaning and got out of the truck.

As Harmony pulled away, she dialed a number on her cell phone. “David, have you located where I need to go pick the Gem of Amara up at?”

- - - -

Willow heard noises coming from the sitting room as she entered the housing building. “I understand that she needed a place to stay because of the storm. There is no problem with that really Dani. You just should have warned me before Willow or Dawnie got up and ran into her. Did you notice anything?” Buffy asked with an even-toned voice. She hoped deep down that Dani and the girl had not had some sort of intimate date because she was finding herself very attracted to her.

“I didn't see anything out of the ordinary at all. She just took a couple minute break from me twice but I think it was her nerves.” Dani added with a smile.

“A sexual break?” Buffy asked in not such a flattering tone of voice, as her brow furrowed.

“No, she said that she had a couple things to do with an assignment for this morning. She said it would only take ten minutes tops so I watched TV while she got it done. It was no big deal.” Dani smiled and turned to go get Tracy up and out of the house before the clueless members of the gang saw her.

Willow was already headed up the stairs though. Her curiosity was winning out, as she opened Dani’s room door. There was nobody in there so whomever this was, didn’t sleep with Dani is what she was thinking as the bathroom door opened. Willow stood mouth agape and hands in the air. “Willow,” a soft tender voice said.

Chapter 11

Willow’s legs felt light as air as she looked at the woman who stood before her. Her mouth opened and closed repeatedly but nothing came out. Her head swam with thoughts of Tara singing to her on a bridge, them making up after their big fight and then the gunshot resounded in her ears like a bomb explosion. As she swayed, she felt firm yet comforting hands grab hold of her. Then she slumped in the woman’s arms and everything was black.

“Oh my God!” Kennedy shouted and ran to the woman who held Willow. ‘What the hell is going on around here?” She shouted angrily as Dani appeared in the doorway. “Who the hell let this look-alike in here? Don’t you fools know what this will do to Willow?” Kennedy’s tirade prompted Dawn to open her door and she hit the floor in much the same fashion as Willow had.

“Buffy come quick!” Dani shouted as Kennedy ripped Willow from Tracy’s arms and ran into her room. “We blew it, she saw her!”

“What in God’s name,” Giles stopped dead in his tracks and then he glared at Dani. “What do you mean by that statement? We blew it,” he echoed as Buffy came bounding up the stairs.

Sarah came in and knelt beside Dawn who was slowly coming back to the land of the awake. “Tara?” She questioned and looked at the woman with hope in her eyes. “Tara is that you?” Dawn asked in a quivering voice that matched the anguished look on her face.

Tracy stood and watched the varying emotions that gushed from the members of this little group as they entered the hall. Her heart ached for them but she knew that there was nothing she could do about it now. “N-N-No I’m not Tara,” she said, as Buffy put her arm around her in an effort to comfort the shaking woman.

“Buffy you knew about this and didn’t tell Willow? You knew too Dani?” Dawn howled in a rage, as she jumped up to confront her sister.

“Dawnie, this is complicated. We were afraid to tell Willow just now, because of what it might do to her. We had no plans on keeping this secret forever and besides, we have good reason to believe that this is not Tara!” Buffy snapped back defensively.

“Oh my God!” Xander shouted having entered the hall during Buffy’s confession. “Where’s Willow? Is she all right?” He raced towards her room without giving anyone a chance to further explain the situation.

“I-I-I think I should just go.” Tracy said in a low tone of voice but Dawn grabbed her arm a little roughly.

“You are not going anywhere until we sort this mess out! Now lift up your shirt!” Dawn hissed between gritted teeth as she glared daggers at her sister.

“Dawn you don’t have to be so rough!” Dani shouted and stepped beside Tracy. “Tracy, Tara was shot in the chest and this will prove to them once and for all that you are not Tara.”

Tracy had a horrified look on her face as she lifted her shirt and revealed the scar on her chest. “I had some surgeries years ago; I swear I’m not Tara.” Her voice rose a little as she watched everyone look at her in a shocked manner.

Buffy dropped to her knees and began to sob. Her breath was catching and her body was shaking violently as she cried. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” The slayer repeatedly shouted as she struggled to keep her breath at an even flow.

“This is to easy,” Andrew offered in a non-caring tone. “Something is wrong here! Tara would not do this to Willow!”

- - - - - -

When Xander got to Willow’s room, he found Kennedy trying to get her to breathe correctly by having her blow in a paper bag. He saw that her shirt was soaked with tears and her body was trembling as she loudly wept. The sounds that came out of his friend’s mouth were so forlorn and heart-felt that the man could barely keep from crying himself. “What’s going on out there?” Kennedy asked angrily. “How could they just bring her here without preparing Willow?”

“Why, why, why did they do this to me? Why didn’t they tell me that Tara was here?” Were the words that Willow kept repeating as her body jerked violently. “I wanted to die without her and now she’s here?” Willow’s small frame collapsed onto the bed and she gripped the sheets tight, as if they were the only things keeping her from going insane.

“Do you know anything about this?” Xander asked Kennedy and stepped to the other side of the bed. He pulled his best friend into his arms and held her tight but nothing was calming her.

“I had no idea but apparently several of them were keeping this secret.” Kennedy added dryly, as Willow’s eyes closed and sleep overtook her. Kennedy knew that this was the woman she had seen but felt there was no reason to confess now. If she could find a way to get back in Willow’s good graces, she was going to jump at it.

“I’m going to get to the bottom of this.” Xander said as Willow’s door opened and Dawn dragged the woman into the room with shouts of disagreement from Buffy and the others behind her. “You have some explaining to do.” Xander barked at the woman angrily.

“I can’t explain anything that I don’t know anything about.” Tracy insisted sadly as she looked at the redhead who seemed to be waking back up.

“Tara,” Willow said softly in a high-pitched tone that signified she would break apart at any moment. “Could you come to me please?” Willow outstretched her hand in a frail voice as the tears fell.

Tracy looked at Buffy who had just entered the room and then walked over to Willow. She took hold of her hands gently. “Willow, I’m so sorry. If I knew I was going to cause you so much anguish, I would not have came here.” the blonde woman allowed the tears she had tried to hide to fall from her eyes. “I just don’t know how to fix this. I am so very sorry.”

Willow removed one of her hands from Tracy’s grip and wiped the tears from her eyes. “I love you so much Tara. That’s all right if you don’t remember me because I know you will. When Glory sucked your mind and we got you back, I promised that I would always find you and I will.” Before Tracy could move, Willow leaned up and placed a gentle kiss on her lips.

Faith, who had stepped into the room behind a still shaky Buffy, felt a strange energy ripple in the air at the time of the kiss. She didn't know much about energy and figured that it was the energy that came from the two women. “D,” Faith went over and put her arms around the woman who was crying uncontrollably into Sarah’s shoulder. “It’s all right, we’re here for you sweetie.”

Buffy watched Tracy’s features as Willow kissed her. She saw no recollection there. She saw no overwhelming realization of love or remembrance. She only saw compassion for the broken redhead. She tried to come up with all sorts of reasons as to how this may not be Tara but realized that she had allowed her emotions to cloud her better judgment. “Will,” she said softly and stepped towards the two women. “I’m so sorry that I chose to keep this from you. I wanted to make sure and not cause you any unnecessary pain.”

“Tara do you know me, did that kiss help you in any way?” Willow asked with pleading eyes.

“I-I-I’m sorry Willow,” Tracy stood quickly and ran out of the room which caused Willow’s heaving sobs to start over.

“Dani,” Buffy shouted in a rushed tone. “You go stay with Tracy. We can’t allow her to be alone just now.” Buffy wasn’t sure why she said that but did. She knew that she felt for both her friend and Tracy and figured that she was just trying to protect them. Only Kennedy saw the slight change in Buffy’s eyes but didn’t know that they matched those of Cordelia Chase’s confident looking eyes. “Faith and Dawn, see what you can dig up and do it now!” The eyes went back to a classic Buffy look as she finished speaking.

- - - - - -

Harmony had driven for several hours and was in an empty parking garage. A man approached her truck. “Miss Kendall,” he said with a smile. “I’m Terry Andrews and I have something for you.”

She motioned him to get in the truck from the back and he did so without question. He also didn’t ask why a thick curtain separated the back seat from the front, as he climbed in to the snazzy looking extended cab vehicle. “This will cost you,” he said and got an evil glint in his eyes. He hadn’t been told how beautiful his buyer was and decided to cash in for a little afternoon romp.

“I thought you might be a good employee but I see this is a one time hook up. David told me that you were good at your job and I guess you are. What did you have in mind as payment?” Harmony asked the obviously not so smart man.

“A little fun of the sweaty kind.” The man replied and leaned forward to capture the vampire’s lips with his own.

Harmony’s fangs came out and she shoved the man back on to the seat. “You know I don’t want to get my truck dirty.” She hit the man hard and then searched him for the gem of Amara. Once she found it, she put it on a chain that hung from her neck. She then lifted the man out of the truck and proceeded to drink.

As Harmony stepped out of the garage to bask in the cool daylight air, she smiled to herself. The first part of her plan had been a success and now on to the second part. She looked at the man’s credit card and walked across the street to an ATM machine. After a couple of rejections due to insufficient funds, she hit the jackpot and withdrew $1,650 from his account then destroyed the card. “Dave,” she said into her phone. “Have you got the meeting set up to hand Angel’s holdings over to me?”

“Yes Miss Kendall,” the smiling man replied. “He’s worth a pretty penny. I guess you were right and Miss Chase invested his money wisely. You will need to come and sign the papers at 4:30 pm at the attorney’s office. That is assuming you have the gem.”

“Of course I do and being outside is wonderful!” She exclaimed with a smile. “You won’t need to cut the man a check though so give yourself his payment.” The vampire finished her conversation and walked a little further down the street as her phone rang.

“Harmony this is Andrew. Willow is in trouble and needs someone’s help.” He spoke in a brisk voice. He didn’t believe the vampire cared but thought he’d give it a shot for Willow’s sake.

The vampire scrunched up her face, she had pressing business to attend to and Willow was not on the agenda now. “What’s wrong now?” She asked coyly having no intentions on running back to Cleveland today.

“Everything’s screwed up and Giles is losing control of the situation. Someone looking like Tara showed up and now Willow is in bad shape. The woman rejected her, which made it worse. She says that if that’s not Tara, she’d rather just die but then I heard her asking for you in her sleep so dialed you up.” Andrew stated in a panic-stricken voice that matched the look on his face. “The fact is, nobody has got any sleep and we’re running out of ideas to keep her settled down. I’m afraid of what she may do to herself because her love for Tara is practically thee most undying love that I have ever seen.” The geeky man finished his speech with realization that he had probably said far too much.

The vampire didn’t look to pleased at hearing the news that Tara may possibly be back. “Let me take care of a few things and I will be there as soon as I can. Andrew, don’t let them talk her into anything before I get there and you will be well rewarded.”

- - - - - - -

It was after 9pm when Harmony made it to the headquarters. “I never thought I’d say this but I hope that you might be of some assistance,” Giles said and stepped aside so she could enter. “I want to talk to someone about the happenings of last night and everyone is in such a sad state that nothing is going to get done. I fear we’re going to lose this battle if we don’t get a handle on the situation.”

“You all aren’t my problem,” the vampire said and rushed to Willow’s room. She sat down next to the still trembling woman sprawled out on the bed. “Willow,” she said softly and stroked her fingers over the redhead’s cheek. “Willow come here,” she pulled the woman up into her arms. “Talk to me Willow. Willow,” Harmony lifted the redhead’s chin up to meet her gaze. She saw eyes void of any emotion and a face that had appeared to have aged many years.

“They all knew that Tara might be alive and kept it from me.” Willow said as the tears began to fall again. “She kept telling me that she wasn’t Tara and then when I went to sleep I had a dream. I saw Cordy and she was smiling at me and then you were there and you helped me be strong but I don’t know what I had to be strong for. Tara should be the one helping me be strong but she’s not. You’re the one here trying to make me be all right. Why isn’t she here Harmony?” Willow’s voice was in the tone of a lost little girl who couldn’t find her way home and it touched something within the vampire.

“I can’t answer that Willow but I’m here.” She wiped the tears from Willow’s cheeks and placed a gentle kiss on the tip of her nose. “Maybe the woman is right and she’s not Tara Willow. I believe that Tara loved you and would find her way back to you if she were alive.”

“That’s what Buffy said and now she’s gone off to sit with the woman while the others do whatever they’re doing. They all left me because they couldn’t help me. They all lied to me!” Willow’s voice was bitter and full of anguish as she spoke.

“They still try to protect you as if you are that geeky schoolgirl.” Harmony said more to herself than Willow. “What do you want me to do Willow? Would you like me to go check this woman out?”

“No,” Willow said as she laid her head tiredly on the vampire’s shoulder. “I just want someone to love me unconditionally like Tara did. If that is Tara, I want her to know me and remember what we had. The only one who wants to help me can never love me. I’m so afraid that if I don’t make her see who she is that I will never be loved. Could you just bite me and end my sorry excuse for a life? Just make sure that I don’t come back as a vampire.”

Harmony smiled evilly at the thought of turning Willow. It had been something that she occasionally pondered since her failed attempt a few years back and now Willow was asking her to do it. “I have a plan Willow,” the vampire said in a whispered voice as she wiped the tears from Willow’s face. “You have to follow my lead and protect your mind at all cost.”

Chapter 12

The sun had risen early that morning and Giles was glad to see it. He had a long night with the gang and trying to figure out what was going on. “Hey G-man,” Faith said and sat down next to him. “You look as bad as the rest of the crew. What’s up?” She poured herself a hot cup of coffee and leaned back in the chair.

“I need someone to help me figure this mess out and everyone is so hell bent in their own grief that I can’t get anywhere.” Giles said in a defeated tone and he wiped his glasses.

“What you got in way of anything to figure out?” Faith asked as Dawn joined them. “D, we’re gonna be talkin’ business here. Are you up for that?”

“I’ve got to be,” she said with a haggard look on her face. “We’ve got no other choice but to stop this mess. There is nothing we can do about Willow and Tara and it’s obvious that Willow will be of no help to any of us right now.”

“What if that’s the plan?” Faith asked as she lit a cigarette.

“Precisely my thoughts,” Giles added and straightened up with a more hopeful look on his face then when Faith had first entered the room. “Willow told me that this Secaura woman had tried to tell her that something was watching her before she died. She had also told her that a blonde woman and a brunette would be of great help to her. We could have many choices there. My point here is we haven’t located this sorceress, and what if she is the one watching Willow?”

“That’s obvious but how do we know who she is?” Dawn asked in a somber tone, as her face twitched uncontrollably and then her eyes changed to the familiar gaze of Cordelia Chase. “I know who the sorceress is but am not permitted to tell you. Let me just say this that Tara Maclay is an important key to the outcome of this entire ordeal. If you have not heard of something called a divided soul, I would suggest you get researching it. What the three of you come up with must stay between the three of you, Willow and Harmony Kendall. It’s imperative that you move with caution and slowly. Once those in charge have rid the world of the slayers and other demon fighters, they will slowly overtake daily life as we know it. This is not some half-baked end the world plot but rather a plot to run the world by demons. Either way, it’s not good so be careful of every step you take and there are a couple among you involved.” Having finished her speech, Cordelia flashed out of Dawn and disappeared in a spray of sparkling white lights.

Everyone sat quietly for a few moments and then Dawn stood up. “Someone has to convince Harmony to help us and I suppose that’s me. By the way, I’m guessing the brunette who will help Willow is Cordelia and the blonde, Tara?” Dawn was not fully sure on her latter choice but it made sense since Cordelia had mentioned Tara’s importance to the situation.

“Great news guys!” Dani said as she raced into the room. “Tracy has agreed to spend some time with Willow just in case, by some freak of nature, this is all true and she is Tara.” It hurt Dani deep inside to think that Tracy was Tara because her feelings ran strong for the redhead but she would be willing to sacrifice her own feelings for Willow’s happiness. “Why aren’t you all doing the happy dance about now?”

“That’s great news!” Dawn piped up in a mock tone. “I disagree with it because if it’s not Tara, the letdown for Willow will just be prolonged.”

“It isn’t gonna happen,” everyone looked to see that Harmony had entered the room dressed up in something that looked like it just came off the latest wealthy fashion review.

“Harmony, can we talk?” Dawn asked cautiously. “It’s really important and sorta private.”

“I don’t care what you all have to say. That woman is not playing with Willow’s head.” The vampire’s eyes gleamed yellow as she spoke.

“You don’t have the authority to make decisions around here!” Dani barked angrily.

Harmony laughed and batted her eyes at the slayer. “When a vampire mates, it’s for life. I just so happen to have done it with a human! Granted, it was a little messy for my taste but she wanted it so I granted her wishes.”

“Dear god no!” Giles shrieked and got to his feet. “If you have taken advantage of Willow in such an emotional time for her, one of the slayers will not have to stake you Miss Kendall!”

“What’s this mating gibberish about?” Dani asked and turned to Giles for an answer.

“During love making, the vampire gets some of the juices in their mouth. Then they ask permission to take the other vampire and if it’s given, they bite the other. They suck just a small bit of blood. It mixes it with the person’s juices and they hafta kiss. It’s sorta like blending. It’s kinda gross but that’s how it was told to me by Angel.” Faith said and shook her head. “Of course we don’t hafta recognize it if we kill the vampire!”

“There has to be some sort of emotion there such as what Spike and Dru had.” Giles added in disgust. “Of course look how that turned out, Dru broke his undead heart.”

“So you forced this on Willow last night?” Dani asked with a look of rage on her face but she managed to keep her composure. Helping Willow through this mess with Tara or whoever she was, was the single most important thing on Dani’s mind right now. She would deal with the vampire later.

“She wanted me to turn her. So I charmed her by showing her what I did just for her.” Harmony said and lifted the gem of Amara, which garnered a look of disbelief from Giles. “Even if that is Tara, she scarred Willow bad yesterday and since I’m the only one who wants to help her, her words not mine, she gave herself to me.”

“Cordelia spoke through me again.” Dawn offered up in way of stopping Harmony’s bragging.

“You’re an opportunistic bitch Harmony,” Faith said with a chuckle. “I like that,” she turned to Dani. “You look like you could use a work out, come with me.”

As the two slayers left, Harmony turned her attention to Dawn. “What did Core say?”

“She says that she knows who the sorceress is and that Tara plays an important role in this entire mess. She also said that me, Giles, Faith, Willow and you were the only ones who could know about whatever plans we came up with. She wants us to research divided souls, whatever that is. She says that these characters want to kill off the slayers and other demon fighters then slowly let the demons run things. They don’t want to end the world but make it more demon friendly.” Dawn rattled off everything that Cordy had told her with a look of utter disgust on her face. “I don’t know if I will allow myself to work with the likes of you now!”

“Well demon’s running the world is not a bad plan,” Harmony grinned sheepishly as she spoke. She gave Dawn a look as if her long explanation were too much for her to comprehend.

“A demon-friendly world in the way they’re going about it will lead to destroying the human race in the end.” Giles said flatly with the knowledge that the vampire could care less about the human race.

“Secaura said that Willow’s powers were within her. That means it’s psychological unlike Buffy’s little minion slayers. That is where I want to start while you guys research this soul thing. She also said something that doesn’t match up though. She asked me to leave because my aura was to dark and the last I knew, soulless beings did not have an aura.” The vampire said and strutted off as if she owned the world and in fact, she did because Willow was the center of so many in that little group’s world.

“We’ll let Buffy deal with her when the time is right. In the meantime, we must get moving on this soul research.” Giles said and wiped off his glasses. “I just hope it’s not to late to save Willow from whatever evil is out there and that vampire.”

“I won’t let them hurt her.” Dawn said sadly, as a tear trickled down her face. She had seen so much over the years, been on the weaker emotional end of so much, but this time she planned to remain strong and do everything she could to stop the evildoers.

- - - - - - -

Willow lie on the bed and rubbed her eyes. She was sore yet again and knew it was from another night of sex with Harmony. She couldn’t believe that she allowed the vampire to do this with her with Tara possibly being alive. Then it all came crashing back to her. She had laid her head on Harmony’s shoulder and wept until she didn’t think she could cry another tear. The vampire had wiped the tears from her face and kissed the tip of her nose, her cheeks and then her mouth. She had told Willow that she felt strongly for her, as strongly as a soulless creature could feel and then showed her the gem of Amara. She told her that this would enable her to go on picnics, take walks through the park in the sunlight and that she would never deny her affections.

The vampire then displayed honesty in that she did not know if she could be totally good or faithful but Willow would always be her main priority. Then the vampire began kissing her again and due to Willow’s weak resolve at the time, or maybe something more, she allowed Harmony to give her pleasure as she had done so many nights before. During the pleasure-filled event, Harmony had lifted her mouth from between Willow’s legs with yellow eyes boring into her soul and said, “I want you for my life-mate Willow.” Willow wasn’t sure what this meant but due to her over-heightened passion, or something more, Willow agreed and the vampire finished the ritual. “Harmony?” Willow questioned softly with a hint of fear in her voice for what she had done.

“I’m right here Willow.” The vampire answered, as she came in the door with a plate of hot breakfast. “How are you feeling this afternoon?” Harmony asked and set the plate down on the nightstand.

“Sore, a little weird and sorta confused.” Willow admitted honestly, as the vampire handed her a glass of cold juice. “After what we did last night, what am I supposed to do about Tara? I mean will you kill her if…”

Harmony handed Willow the plate of eggs, bacon and buttered toast with a smile on her face. “We have some things to discuss Willow but not right now. I want you to enjoy this breakfast and take a nice long walk with me. The snow has melted and it’s a beautiful day out there. I want to breathe life again and you to join me.” The vampire allowed her emotions to shine through her eyes momentarily, whether they were real or a calculated plan was unknown to Willow. “You know Willow, all I ever wanted in life was to be happy and I am that most of the time now. I only wanted someone to love me for who I am and not because I’m with Delia or they’re afraid of my fangs. I tried to have something with Spike but he was to into Buffy. If I truly believed that woman was Tara, I never would have mated with you because frankly, getting kicked around hurts.”

“I don’t know, I feel pretty weak from all the energy I spent crying yesterday.” Willow said but knew the vampire would not take no for an answer. “Did you cook this? It’s a little more spicy then Andrew fixes.” Willow hoped that she could get the fact that she was trying to ignore Harmony’s revelation passed the often times dense vampire. She then felt guilty because Harmony had done nothing but help her. Sure, she complained about her various makeup and manicure mishaps but tried to see that Willow was pleased.

“Harmony, I tried not to like you and probably shouldn’t but I do. My head is just so confused and if that is Tara…” Willow trailed off and didn’t look at the vampire’s face, which displayed that she knew what would happen.

“I like spicy,” the vampire said and licked her lips. Spike got me up on the taste of spicy foods. They’re not so bland to us vampires and if we make them just a little rare, it hits the spot on a…” Harmony stopped her description with a smile having decided to stop the current serious line of conversation.

“Did you love Spike? I mean, though she ended up running out on him, I think he and Dru loved each other as much as they knew how.” Willow rambled as she attempted to sort out her current situation.

“Absolutely not,” Harmony laughed and moved closer to Willow. “One night while we were bored in his crypt, he shared what made him go all evil. When he selfishly turned his mother to keep her with him and then regretted it deep down. It hurt him once he’d saw the monster that she was. Knowing that he created her dried him up on the inside. He went evil to stop the pain and anguish he had brought upon himself by turning his mother and then staking her to keep her from having to be that monster. I think Buffy uncovered that softer side of Spike that he only allowed his mother to find. She made him not want to be evil. That’s what you do for me Willow. I don’t think I can fully stop it but I want to stop being evil because of you.”

“But you made the decision to not be evil before we even hooked up.” Willow said in weak protest though inwardly something moved within her to have such honest words spoken to her, if they were honest.

“Yes but there is a difference. I wanted to be who I was before I died and if a little evil came my way so be it. But it wasn’t my priority. Now I don’t want it at all because I know it will hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you the way I saw you hurting yesterday. I know this deep down but I can’t promise you that I won’t screw up because, when the demon gets an idea, it acts because there is no soul. Do you see what I mean?” Harmony pulled the redhead close to her and looked into her eyes, as she placed a gentle kiss on her lips.

“Yeah, Spike didn’t want to try to force Buffy into having sex and grieved over it right away but he couldn’t stop himself because of the demon.” Willow smiled as the vampire kissed her.

Part of her wanted to believe Harmony’s words for what they seemed to be. While another part of her felt it was a warning as to what her demon would do if Willow tried to cross her. ‘Harmony, I love Tara with all my heart and always will. I don’t know if I could ever fully let go of her. I mean, whoever this woman is aside, Tara will always be a major part of my existence.” Willow spoke honestly as she looked at the blonde vampire. Never in her wildest dreams did she think that she would be doing the things she was doing with Harmony Kendall. She had high school fantasies about the once popular girl but never thought they would come true.

“Tara is part of who you are Willow. I understand that and I would want you to feel comfortable speaking of her. You don’t have to be afraid that I will go off and have a fit or hit you. I know who you are sleeping with at night and you’ve not once called out Tara’s name. You have nothing to worry about Willow,” something moved from deep within Willow as Harmony spoke.

It was as if a door had been unlocked, a door that locked when Kennedy had hit her and she discovered that her powers were gone. “It’s different then with Spike Willow because I don’t believe that Tara is here to take you away from me. You’re all mine.” The vampire saw the change in Willow’s eyes and deduced that Willow had locked herself away when Kennedy hit her for some reason.

“Can you feel it Willow?” Harmony asked and pulled her into an aggressive kiss. “You’re awaking the demon within because it craves power and baby you got power.” She kissed the redhead again and pushed her back on the bed.

Willow seemed turned on more quickly than before to the demon’s aggression and figured that it was because of the mating occurrence. “Harmony wait,” Willow gasped, as her body disagreed again and pressed hard against the vampire. “I can feel my powers but I don’t understand.” She was cut off by Harmony’s hands as they found her desire-filled places and knew that this conversation was going to have to wait a few hours. “What if that is Tara?” Willow managed to moan out between sharp breaths of pleasure.

“Tara was pure, she would feel you somehow. It’s not her.” The demon said and continued her quest for a little romp with her new mate. “Protect your mind Willow, they’re watching you.”

- - - - - - -

Dawn slammed down her book a couple of hours later. “Giles, look at this.” She said and reopened the book.

Giles read the page three times, each time being careful to find that little something that made everything fit together. “Dawnie, I think you’ve got something here.”

“Better stop the vampire before she gets to involved with her mate up there.” Faith said as she sauntered into the room.

“We’ve got a handle on a divided soul.” Giles said as Buffy and Tracy came in.

“She’s here to talk to Willow,” Buffy said with a smile. She had feelings for this woman but was now certain that she was Tara. There was no way that she would stand between them and would not allow anyone else to do so.

Chapter 13

“Tracy is here to see you,” Buffy said from outside the door with a smile on her face. She knew that she was intruding on Harmony’s fun but didn’t care at this point. Willow and Tara were the ultimate couple and nothing was going to stand in their way.

Harmony quickly rose from the bed and got dressed as Willow watched her carefully. “You need this time so that you can get over this Willow.” She said and gave the redhead a kiss. “You might want to wash up first.” Harmony smirked and walked out of the room.

“You’re not going to put up a fight?” Buffy asked as Tracy came up the stairs.

“Of course not,” Harmony smiled at the slayer. “I don’t have to because that’s not Tara and Willow is mine!” Harmony shouted as she turned her back to Buffy and walked away before Buffy could reply. She knew that Buffy and Dani were going to stand guard at Willow’s door in the event that the sorceress tried to pull something on Willow or Tracy. She was glad that they were going to do this because their being there could prove to be valuable.

“Glad you could make it Blondie,” Faith chided with a sheepish grin on her face as Harmony sauntered confidently into the room. “We’ve got some things figured out and the others are busy. Xander and the other witch are gone to do whatever you told them to do and refused to tell us what that is.” Faith gave Harmony a knowing glance as she finished speaking.

“What do you have?” Harmony asked as she looked at the three occupants of the room.

“Well you mentioned that Secaura said something that was off about your aura,” Giles removed his glasses in a studious manner. “First we’d like to know what’s really going on here Harmony.”

“I can’t tell you that yet,” the blonde said adamantly. “It’s far to risky.” She looked at Faith for confirmation and got it with a nod of Faith’s head.

“Very well, this Secaura was an ancient being and we believe that she was trying to help you when you first spoke with her. However, what happened was someone took over her body before you arrived at the meeting place with Willow. This has to be a being of inexperience because it made the slip of the tongue with the aura. It gave you some truths but hoped that it could also give some information to lead you astray, hence the big finish. We all had a hard time believing this next part but, again, have some actions to back up our theory.” Giles looked to Dawn who had a sad, yet angered look on her face.

- - - - - - - -

Tracy sat down next to Willow who was freshly showered. “Willow, if this is going to hurt you in some way, I can go. I can see the pain in your eyes and I am so sorry that I have caused it.” Tracy wanted to give Willow a hug for comfort but didn’t want to move so fast at this point.

“I know that you don’t remember me Tara and that hurts me terribly.” Willow began as she searched Tracy’s eyes for any sign that this was or was not Tara. “A long time ago, a hell Goddess messed up your mind really bad yet you knew my name. Granted, you didn’t know much else but you knew me. I promised you then that I would always find you and I will. No matter how long it takes, if you are Tara, I will find you and bring you home.” Willow’s body physically shook at the recollection of what Glory had done to Tara. She had come so close to not finding Tara and vowed that that would not happen again, no matter the consequences.

“Willow,” Tracy started to speak and placed her hand gently on Willow’s arm. “If I am Tara, I pray that you can find me. I can tell by the look in your eyes that the two of you had a once in a lifetime love. You do seem troubled about something else other than this though Willow. Is there something that you need to talk about?”

Willow wanted to talk about the ramifications of what she had allowed Harmony to do to her but didn’t feel it was the right time. She feared that she would place Tara in danger if she divulged the information to her so quickly but also, Harmony had told her to protect her mind. If she talked about this with Tara, it could give ammunition to the sorceress who may be watching the two of them. She didn’t know fully why Harmony had said to protect her mind but assumed that it was because the power was back within her and Harmony didn’t want anyone knowing this fact just yet.

“No, it’s just the stress of everything that has gone on over the last little while. We’ve got some big things that we’re dealing with on top of discovering you and it’s getting the better of me.” Willow felt bad for not being very honest but knew it was the right thing for now.

Tracy stood and pointed for Willow to relax better on the bed. “Maybe a massage would help.” She smiled tentatively at the redhead, who returned the smile with a big one of her own.

“That would be great,” Willow said in an excited voice. “Tara used to give me a massage after a really bad day.”

“Well I could sing you a song,” Tracy smiled. “Maybe that’s an added bonus that Tara didn’t give you. Maybe that will help you relax more and you won’t have to think of what we’re trying to do so hard.”

As Tracy placed her hands gently on Willow’s back, Willow smiled into the pillow. Tara had often sung to her and it did help her to relax. It helped her so much that she felt as if she were in another world and Willow hoped this would give her full confirmation that this was Tara. “Thanks, a soft song would be nice.” Willow murmured with the decision to not tell Tracy of Tara’s singing to her having been made.

As Tracy began to sing a song that she dubbed as being a little disneyesque, Willow’s mind drifted to a time when Tara sang to her on a bridge. It was the very same song that told of Tara’s life and being under Willow’s spell of love. “Tara, I was so confused last night that I wanted to die. I wanted Harmony to kill me and not turn me. Instead I let her make me her life mate and, if you are Tara, I’m afraid that she might hurt you.” Willow said the words in a methodic tone before she realized what she was saying.

Tracy smiled sweetly and patted Willow’s back gingerly. “If I am Tara, we will get through what she did to you Willow. That seems like a selfish thing to do to be honest with you. Buffy told me that those in charge of this ordeal believe that someone among you is involved in this. She didn’t have any details but perhaps it’s this vampire. It would make total sense Willow.” Tracy leaned closer to the redhead and ran her fingers over Willow’s cheek as she spoke with determination in her voice.

“I don’t know much about this sort of thing but it’s possible that the vampire needed to gain your trust in order to infiltrate the system you all were building to stop whatever it is that’s going on.” Tracy finished speaking as Willow rolled over and looked into her eyes that were so blue and full of compassion.

Willow pondered what Tracy was saying and it made sense. Harmony was a demon and got hold of that gem in no time. What if she was playing them all and Willow was simply the main string? Something inside Willow ached at this notion and the tears began to flow. “I trusted her fully, more then most of the gang in the latter days. How could I have been so stupid!” Willow’s face changed from angered to confused. “Wait, Harmony’s not smart enough to pull this off by herself. I mean, she looked me right in the eyes and told me personal things and…”

“Maybe you’re right,” Tracy conceded. “The sorceress could be leading her also Willow.” She pulled the trembling redhead into a hug. “Whether or not I’m Tara, I can see that you are a very special person Willow and I feel this strong desire to help you.” Tracy spoke softly in an effort to calm the redhead. “Relax your mind and maybe you can find something in there that will give you a clue to indicate whether or not she is involved.”

Willow felt herself relaxing in the embrace of the woman that she was certain was Tara. Her mind was pulling in a hundred directions so much that she was barely able to keep that part of herself away from Tracy. She knew that she wouldn’t come to any harm with Tracy, unless the sorceress was near and watching. Her confusion was mounting because, nobody made her feel so safe and relaxed, nobody that is, but Harmony Kendall.

- - - - - - -

“We found out what a divided soul is. One half of a soul is good and dies out, such as Cordy did, the other half can then emerge from a hell dimension. This can only happen if the good half of the soul is at peace with how their life ended. Core helped the helpless one last time before she died and that would make her at piece.” Dawn spoke with sadness thick in her voice as Xander walked into the room.

“So Delia is not Delia,” Harmony said in a non-caring tone of voice. “She screwed with everyone’s heads for awhile and now she’s been outed.”

“Well I think that we get further confirmation of this with her telling us to keep Willow filled in on the plans.” Dawn added as her hands began to tremble. “Willow is in such a state that if she knew the plans, the sorceress could easily pick her brain and stay a step ahead of us. Giles and I figure that Willow being off guard to all of this is how the sorceress was able to keep ahead of us before. Willow was involved in the daily planning and that is how they were able to get to all the girls. It has to be Cordelia Chase, there is no other option.” Dawn said flatly with a repulsed feeling coming up in the pit of her stomach. She was angered at how easily Cordy’s evil half was able to take over her body and the notion that she would probably do the same thing to Willow if the sorceress got the upper hand, was terrifying to Dawn.

Xander’s face was a mask, void of emotion as he withdrew an object from his pocket. “Is it really the only option?” He asked in a dry tone that gave no inkling as to where he was heading with his comments. “There is someone else among us that has had their soul removed from their body. All it would take to pull off the Core stunt is a great shape shifter with little brains. One who is a follower of orders and not a leader.”

Giles and Dawn looked around the room, “Miss Kendall?” Giles said in a hallowed tone and stood from his seat with a rage-filled look in his eyes.

Chapter 14

“This is stupid! Dawn just told you all that the person had to have died at piece with their life! Do you all really think that being turned by a vampire while not doing anything in the line of great fashion or helping someone constitutes dying at piece?” Harmony looked at everyone and found that only Faith and Xander were not giving her the death stare.

“I want answers and I want them now!” Buffy said as she came bounding into the room with Dani, Robin, Kennedy and Amy. The four had looks of irritation plastered on their faces. They, firstly, had little to no knowledge of the current situation. Lastly, they were left totally out of the plans, minus Amy.

“We’re in the midst of figuring out who among us is involved with the sorceress and have concluded that it’s Miss Kendall!” Giles shouted and Dani went for the vampire straight away. She had not trusted Harmony from the get go and now had the reason that she needed to end her sorry excuse for a life.

“You don’t have to be the divided soul to be involved!” Dawn shouted and got to her feet. “Xander said it is not a leader and it was concluded that a shape shifter could have done the job!”

That statement even sounded crazy to Buffy because she knew that vampires were not shape shifters and so did everyone else in the room. “Hold on guys. That can’t be right.” The voice of reason, Buffy Summers, said in an exasperated tone.

“Wow,” Amy said and stepped into the middle of the room. “There are some things going on here that most of you are not aware of. Seeing how you all are so quick to sell someone up the river, I see we made the right choice in keeping you all in the dark.”

“I think Xander was nuts for bringing you aboard to begin with and so we don’t need your input!” Kennedy said in a sharp tone of voice.

“All right, this is enough!” Andrew shouted over the quarrelling gang. “If you all will be quiet, Xan here can enlighten you as to the goings on behind the scenes from all of us that were in the know!” He spoke with pride in his voice and a big smile on his face.

“Andrew, Faith and I have been working our own angle with the help of…” a shrill scream interrupted the one-eyed man before he could finish his little speech.

- - - - - - - -

“If I am Tara, I wish that I could realize it so that I could know how to help you better Willow.” Tracy said in a soft voice, as Willow allowed her mind to fully relax. “It appears that this vampire has really done a number on you and I am so sorry about that. I’m glad that you trust me though Willow.” Tracy continued in a low soothing voice.

“Tara sang that very song to me Tracy.” Willow said in such a soft voice that Tracy barely heard her. “I know for sure that you are Tara.” The look on Willow’s face was one of total piece as she finished speaking. Somewhere, in the back of her mind however, other thoughts tried to surface.

Tracy’s face formed a small smile, as Willow turned her head to give the woman a small kiss. Though with hesitation, Tracy leaned down and allowed the redhead to kiss her. “It’s all going to work out for the best Willow.” Tracy said as Willow’s head jerked backwards and her eyes went the color of Cordelia’s. As her eyes were changing, Willow managed to break away from the kiss long enough to let out a scream.

Before Cordelia or Tracy could speak, Harmony came bursting into the room. “What the hell is going on!” The vampire shouted and got a good look at Willow’s eyes as Buffy made her way into the room.

“We’re saving her from you!” Cordelia spat indignantly. “Buffy, they’re on the right track! You’ve got to get rid of the vampire so that the others can freely seek out the sorceress.” Willow’s voice was full of worry and urgency as she spoke to Buffy.

Oddly, Buffy could hear the difference in it from Willow’s usual tone. There was an arrogant tone in her voice that only Cordy had. “Are you indicating that maybe Amy is the sorceress?” Buffy questioned in a confused tone. She wanted to stake the vampire and follow Cordy’s lead for the most part. There was a small part of her that made her hesitate and scope out the situation a bit more before she jumped the gun and ended the vampire’s undead life.

“I am not on their side and am not out to hurt Willow!” Harmony shouted at Buffy who backhanded her against the wall. Though Harmony had the gem, she knew that an all out fight with the legendary slayer was not in her best interest at this juncture. “Buffy, whoever this fake Cordy is wanted me in on the plans and not you! She knew that you would be smart enough to figure it out before their plans could come to the surface! Giles said that she told some truths to hook us all in and one of them was, a blonde and brunette were to help Willow. They thought Core was the brunette and that is obviously wrong! They thought that Tara was the blonde and that’s wrong because she’s not Tara! You are the blonde Buffy! It makes total sense and that is why she wanted you out of the loop!” Though Harmony was not certain that Buffy was the blonde in question, she hoped that this would work.

Buffy’s face showed utter confusion as Cordy prepared her retort. “Buffy, she has the Gem of Amara and tricked Willow into helping her get it. She needed that to move about freely during the day to get everything in place.”

“Buffy, whatever their plan is, something tells me that we’re running out of time. You always make the right decision at the last second so go with your gut and help me free Willow!” Harmony shouted in a last ditch effort to get the slayer to listen to her.

“Buffy, they played with her mind.” Cordy spat back in a calm voice, as Tracy wiped tears from her eyes. “The sorceress messed with Willow’s mind to make her think that Harmony did this vampire ownership ritual with her. When in fact, she did no such ritual!”

- - - - - -

“There is a barrier around the edges of this room!” Giles shouted in a rage-filled manner. “I can’t get out!”

“Let me just explain this and then we will worry about getting out!” Xander shouted with a hint of panic in his voice. He was glad that Faith made her way outside before the barrier was put in place and could only hope that she could get into Willow’s room.

“We’re running out of time!” Amy shouted with a look of borderline terror on her face. “I’ll start working on the barrier and you hurry up and get this mess through their thick heads!”

Xander pulled out a cell phone and flipped it open. He quickly searched the pictures until he came to the portrait of Willow and Tara that hung in the kitchen. “What does that have to do with anything?” Robin questioned in a worried tone of voice.

“This is Tracy’s cell phone and in her house,” Xander made a sweeping motion over the room with his arm to indicate their searching efforts. “We found this very same picture. It had been copied from the cell I’m presuming. So this divided soul thing…”

Andrew cleared his throat and stood up from his chair. “Dawn is correct on the divided soul being at piece with their death. The item that you all failed to research was this. A divided soul is two halves, one good and one evil. The only way that the evil half can properly come forth is if the good half is pleased with the life that they lived. In addition, their life has to be cut short. It allows for a mourning period before the good half can fully cross over to a place of peace. Tara had her mourning period and has now crossed over. Tracy just so happened not only to be Tara’s divided soul; she looks like her and is the sorceress. Therefore, it was probably Tracy who caused the shooting to enable Tara’s life to be cut short. So now Tracy has the Tara connection, which was to fool us all and the sorceress powers which helped her make this all happen!”

Dawn and Giles had looks of disbelief on their faces while the three who did not know Tara showed no emotion minus sadness for Willow. “We’ve got to get in there!” Kennedy shouted and jumped to her feet.

“I don’t believe it, any of it!” Dawn shouted and made a dash for the barrier but was thrown backwards instantly. She landed in a heap on the floor with tears gushing down her cheeks.

“Demons and vampires are in the building!” Sarah, the young slayer who had grown close with Dawn, announced with a horrified look on her face. “The others are out there alone fighting them!”

“How did you get in here and we can’t get out?” Xander questioned with a look of anger on his face.

“That’s easy enough,” Amy said. “It’s a targeted barrier. Sarah, you have to go in Willow’s room and help Harmony. Faith is out there somewhere and can help the other slayers until we can get free.”

“Maybe she can distract the sorceress enough so that we can break this barrier.” Giles stated with renewed hope in his voice.

“How is it a targeted barrier?” Xander asked hurriedly as Sarah ran off towards the room.

“She’s a young sorceress and is concentrating a lot of energy on Willow. She targeted those most likely to go help Willow and stopped only us from going in. This means, Sarah is the Brunette that is to help and Harmony is probably the blonde.” Amy frowned and took a sip of water. “She probably wants to weaken Willow’s essence so that thing that’s pretending to be Cordy can use the body to help her magically. I think the demon ran world is a sad miscalculation on your part.” Amy looked at Giles and continued to speak. “This sorceress is using demons to get what she wants, probably world domination.” Amy said with a yawn as they’d all been there before.

- - - - - - -

“Harmony what the hell is going on here?” Buffy questioned in a frustrated manner, as Harmony noticed that Willow’s eyes started to look weak and tired. She knew that she had only one option now and hoped that Willow cared enough for her to come back before it was too late.

She also knew that Buffy would have to take the Gem of Amara from her before she could kill her, which was a plus sign for the vampire. “Who cares what I did and didn’t do! Your witch isn’t looking so well!” Harmony shouted and the slayer lunged at her straight away. Harmony hated fighting with slayers but hoped that this would distract Tracy long enough for someone downstairs to do something.

The two began a battle for the ages with Buffy in search of the gem as she finally began to beat the vampire down. “Buffy no!” Sarah shouted as she ran into the room.

“Damn it!” Cordy shouted from Willow’s lips.

“It’s a ruse Buffy! Tracy is…” an energy bolt that was meant for Sarah hit Buffy square in the chest.

Tracy felt a ripple in the barrier and grew angry. “We are losing time!” She shouted and shot fire from her fingertips at the vampire.

“Harmony look out!” Sarah shouted as she bravely rushed the sorceress with a right hook to the jaw. She prepared to hit the woman again but was knocked through the window with a strong wind.

“Willow damn it snap out of this!” Harmony shouted and barely ducked out of the way of the fire as a demon came sailing through the window and knocked her to the ground.

“Get the Gem so that we can kill her!” The Cordy-like being shouted at the demon.

Tracy returned her concentration to the barrier with a smug smile on her face. She could tell by the noise downstairs that the battle was in full swing. She could also feel a strong power and knew that they had been duked. Willow indeed had her full powers at her disposal and was fighting against the weak being that was dwelling within her body. She knew that time was of the utmost importance now and that she had to move quickly with no mistakes.

Before Harmony could recover, the big demon was on her. It began to rake its clawed hands over her arms and stomach. The black blood was flowing fast from the vampire. The demon had found a way around the Gem's immunity assistance. “Willow please you’ve got to help us.” Harmony said as she tried to kick the large demon away from her.

“Do you think that you are of such high regard in her life that she can fight my control because of you?” The Cordy-like being said in a mock tone. “Tara is the only one that she could ever care for in that way you stupid vampire!”

“Willow,” Harmony continued on speaking with no attention being given to the words that Willow’s mouth was producing. “Willow, you trusted me enough to let me have control of your mind until you regained your powers to control it on your own. Please Willow, help me.” Harmony begged as the demon continued its assault by fisting her in the face several times.

As the demon placed its ugly hand on the gem, with Harmony now to weak to stop it, an arrow flew through the window and pierced it in the back of the neck. “Hang on Harmony, I’m coming back for more!” Sarah shouted and climbed back in the window with blood all over her.

“Damn you little slayer!” Tracy hissed and launched another assault on Sarah, who fell to the floor in no time. “Now it’s your turn,” Tracy said and the chain that held the Gem of Amara began to lift out of Harmony’s pocket. “Kill her now!” Tracy shouted to the Cordy-being that was desperately clinging to her new home in Willow’s body.

Chapter 15

The slayers who were outside the building were having a hard time fighting off the newly super-charged demons. The same could be said for those who occupied the downstairs of the building minus Amy, who was using magic on the demons. “We’ve got a problem!” Amy shouted as one of the demons deflected her light show. “She’s feeding these demons with either her or Willow’s magical powers!”

“Dear Lord,” Giles said quietly, as he contemplated his next move. “We’ve got to get out of here and pray that those upstairs can help Willow.” His usual masked facial expression was replaced with a look of terror, as he had no idea of what to do about this situation. He never, in his wildest dreams, would have thought that he would be leaving the reigns to Amy Madison.

As Giles finished speaking, a loud tumbling noise coming down the stairs distracted them all. “It’s Buffy!” Andrew shrieked, as the slayer landed in a heap at his feet.

“It looks like she’s drained her powers also.” Amy said quietly. “I’m thinking she’s been drawing off the slayer powers and that’s where they’re all going.” She concluded and checked Buffy for a pulse as the battle raged on around her.

“So she’s giving these slayer powers to these demons?” Xander asked, as one tossed him across the room like a sack of potatoes.

“We’ve got three living slayers left out here!” Faith shouted in hopes that someone inside the building would hear her and take note of the urgency of the situation.

“We’ve got to find a way to get out there and help them.” Robin decided and instructed Amy to work on the barrier once more. He looked sadly at Buffy who obviously had no pulse.

As Andrew prepared to launch his crossbow, the building shook violently. The windows in the downstairs area shattered and a rippling wind began to blow through the rooms. Everyone was swept up in the gigantic wind, which tossed them this way and that. It bashed them into walls and demon’s horns. They were clearly losing the battle and fast.

As Dawn’s eyes flickered open and closed in her efforts to stay alert, she saw someone standing in the middle of the room unscathed by the battle. She looked all too familiar, yet not familiar. The striking blue eyes were the same, as was the blonde hair. The smile was the same but there was something different. She had an animalistic look about her, one that was ready for the ensuing battle upstairs. With not a word spoken, the first slayer moved hastily up the stairs to her destination with a look of determination on her face.

- - - - - - - - -

The Cordy-like being that dwelled within Willow lifted a stake towards Harmony. As she did this, Tracy used her energy to up the battles downstairs and outside. With ease, Tracy began to make life a living hell for everyone else around her. “Kill her now! We’re losing time!” Tracy shrieked, as she felt that certain something coming, the other half of her soul.

Willow struggled within herself to stop what she knew was going on around her. Her body was growing far to weak to stop all of the fighting and she knew that her power supply was being used to the hilt. She could feel something drawing near and focused on it. She bid it to come forward with every ounce of mental strength she had left. “Sarah,” Willow managed to spit out as she stopped the stake from flying out of her hand.

“No!” The Cordy being shouted and tightened her grip on the stake.

“A slayer is coming,” Harmony whispered to Sara. She was barely able to move and hoped that whomever this slayer was, got there fast. “She will need your strength Sarah.” Harmony spat out again, as Willow’s hand jerked back and forth fighting to not throw the stake.

“Willow,” Tracy said in a soft voice. “This is where you put me. Please don’t turn your back on me now.” The sorceress allowed a tear to trickle down her face, as Willow’s resolve weakened once more.

“Willow,” Harmony said in a low voice. “Tara is gone, either you realize that and help us or we are all going to die!” Her voice grew louder but weak, as Sarah tried to fight off the two vampires that were advancing through the window. “Willow please don’t let her do this to you.” Harmony pleaded, as Willow’s eyes went green and looked at her briefly.

Willow looked into the eyes of the vampire that she had allowed to pleasure her for many nights. The vampire that Willow had allowed to take control of her mind so that others would believe, and be fooled by the ritual. Willow had allowed Harmony and Amy to fool her own mind into believing it so that it would be a diversion to the sorceress and her powers could be returned unseen. It had worked for a time and Willow realized that if she allowed this to continue, all of Harmony’s hard work would be for nothing. The vampire had kept up her end of the bargain and helped Willow. Willow knew that she had to return the help in some way but wasn’t sure how due to her vastly weakened physical state.

As Willow struggled with the being inside her, the building shook more violently and the first slayer stepped purposefully into the room. She directed a blow to Sarah’s small frame that shook the slayer to her core. “This is your gift,” she said simply and Sarah felt a lump well up in her throat.

“No it isn’t,” Tracy said calmly. “She wants you to sacrifice your young life to help get rid of me Sarah.”

“Every slayer who is not willing to embrace their dark side has a divided soul.” The first slayer hissed at the small group of people. “A slayer is mixed with light and dark. Those of us who can defeat the bad for the good will take the bad half to the other place with us. My other half somehow split away from me when I died at peace. I was sent over to the place of peace until Tara Maclay was born and my good soul returned with her. Upon her death, I was able to split from Tara’s life and search for my other half to try to stop her plans. It also enabled me to learn how to talk. Now young one, this must be your gift!” The first slayer said insistently, as Willow tried to gather enough power to stop the madness downstairs.

Harmony made her way to Willow slowly and took her hands in hers. “Willow, you have so much life to live. Please don’t let this Tara look alike destroy you.” She leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on Willow’s lips, as Willow’s eyes flashed green. “I feel the power Willow.” Harmony said and kissed her again, as she sank to her knees in pain.

“I’ll do it,” Sarah said and braced herself for what was to come. She knew that she was doing what was needed but her soul ached tremendously. She wouldn’t be able to explain this to Dawn or even say good-bye. Nobody would ever know the feelings that the two young women had shared because Dawn would keep it all bottled up inside.

“This will be the last time that any of you see me.” The first slayer said and looked at Willow. “You must merge me with the young one’s body now!”

“I-I-I don’t know if I have enough strength to do something like that.” Willow babbled nervously, as Harmony held to her hands. “I mean, you will kill her and she looks so much…”

“Willow that’s not Tara damn it!” The vampire barked in a rage. “I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to die! Suck it up and do what you have to do damn it! We can deal with the hurt later!” It’s true that Harmony could have been a little more sensitive to Willow’s predicament, but she was never one for sensibility and Willow knew it. Oddly enough, this was her way of showing Willow support and it had pulled Willow up out of the control of the Cordy being thus far. “You’re not my Tara!” Willow shouted with anguish in her voice as she merged the first slayer’s being with Sarah’s body.

A strong energy filled the room instantly as the slayer began battling Tracy feverishly. Tracy’s magic was proving to be a viable opponent to the slayer’s brute strength, as Willow wept uncontrollably. “God I love you Tara.” She sobbed into the weak vampire’s shoulder, as Harmony finally began to show her more sensitive side.

The sorceress decided that it needed one more bang before it went out. It left the body that it had procured at the time of Tara Maclay’s death, which caused a shrill scream to leap from Willow’s mouth. It all made sense now, the reason it had a scar on the chest was because that was Tara’s body. “If you destroy the two souls Willow, you are destroying Tara because she is Tara!” Tracy howled in a last ditch effort to have Willow cross over and help her.

“When I return to that good place Willow, I will be Tara once again. I will always watch over you and you will finally feel my presence.” The first slayer said as the sorceress and the Cordy being magically lifted Sarah into the air.

They prepared to launch her out the window, as Dawn entered the room. She saw the body of Tara Maclay lying on the floor in a cold heap and began to cry. “Willow, merge me with the other half of my soul now!” The first slayer hissed from Sarah’s mouth.

“She’s to distraught to even try it!” Tracy hissed at her counter-part.

“I’m not,” Amy shouted and quickly recited the spell. The two halves of the soul merged as one in a dazzling light show. The two colored lights popped and crackled in the air until they fused into one. Then a huge bang was heard as the light exploded to finalize the deal.

Meanwhile, the dying body of Sarah Edwards began a quick plummet to the ground. She had done her duty as a slayer and would die a hero indeed. “No!” Dawn shouted and raced for the window. “Sarah, no!”

As Sarah’s lifeless body hit the ground, strong arms embraced Dawn from behind and pulled her away from the window. “I’m sorry D,” a bleeding and battered Faith said softly. “Let’s get you out of here.” She stood up with the trembling teen in her arms and moved slowly out of the room.

Willow looked at Harmony through tearstained eyes and saw her weakening state. “Harmony,” she questioned the vampire with her eyes. “You saved me.”

“I guess you owe me one,” Harmony said weakly.

Amy handed the vampire a large mug of blood and headed back down the stairs to check on the wounded. “Tara is never coming back is she.” Willow stated more than asked, as Harmony quickly drank the blood.

“No Willow she isn’t.” The vampire replied weakly. All she wanted right now was for Willow to move over so she could relax her aching muscles and begin the healing process.

“Miss Willow?” Dani stepped into the room hesitantly and looked Willow and the vampire over. “We’re moving to the other building till we can get this one fixed up. There’s very few of us left and we have a lot of work to do tomorrow.” Dani moved quickly and lifted Willow from the bed.

Willow looked at Harmony who shook her head. “Dani, is, Buffy, is…” Willow couldn’t get the words out of her mouth for fear of the answer.

“We’ll talk it all out later Miss Willow.” Dani said and weakly lifted the woman into her arms then left the room.

Harmony lay motionless on the bed for quite some time. Her mind was moving back and forth with thoughts of the day’s events. She slowly lifted herself from the bed and looked in the corners of the room. There it was, lying on the floor unseen by the others who had left the room. “What luck,” she said and picked up the Gem of Amara. “Who needs this stupid place with its stupid emotions!” The vampire said and kicked a nightstand that was already broken.

Chapter 16

Dani walked into a darkened room where Willow sat slumped over fast asleep. She stood quietly and looked at Buffy who lie motionless on the bed, as she had been for the last two days. After all the excitement had died down, Dani had helped get Buffy to a room so that she could rest and wake up. The resting part seemed to be going well but there was no movement from the legendary slayer as of yet. Giles couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the slayer, as there were no indications of a concussion or other major injuries to keep her out cold in this fashion.

As Dani looked over at Willow, who had finally drifted to sleep, Dr. Dennis Kendall stepped quietly into the room. “Hello Miss,” he said as quietly as he could and stepped over to Buffy. “How’s the arm?” He asked and glanced over at Willow with a hint of sadness in his eyes.

Dani regarded Harmony’s father with a forced smile and stepped away from Buffy so that he could get a look at her. “I’m glad to hear that this nightmare is over for you all.” The man said in a friendly tone, as he began checking Buffy’s vitals.

“Did you finish checking the others?” Dani asked having decided that some form of conversation would be appropriate. “The slayer healing is helping my arm but it’s still sore,” she said and looked down at her right arm, which was in a sling. Her injury would have normally taken a couple of months to heal properly but she figured a week thanks to the healing powers.

“Yes,” the man said and looked over at Willow sadly. “The other young girl, Buffy’s sister, is a mental mess. I gave her a sedative to help her rest. The others are banged up but doing well. I’m sorry for the losses that you all sustained and wish that I could have been here to help sooner.” Dennis sported a look of understanding and compassion on his face as he spoke to Dani.

Dani could tell that the man was sincere by the tone in his voice and his body language. She knew that she didn’t have any reason to come across as standoffish to him but couldn’t help it. She could not stand the sight of Harmony Kendall and hoped that the vampire was long gone. “Do you think that Miss Willow will be all right?” Dani asked in a concerned tone. She truly liked Willow and hoped that the woman would be mentally well enough so that they could resume their talks and maybe something more. Dani was well aware of the blow that Willow had sustained two night’s ago and wanted to be there for her in whatever way that she could.

“The call that I got suggested that most of her problems would be mental,” the man said as he put his medical supplies away. “I can’t say until she wakes up so that I can speak with her and her problems aren’t in my field of expertise.” Dennis finished speaking with a frown on his face. He truly liked Willow and hoped that she would come out of this mess unscathed.

As Dennis finished checking Buffy over, a haggard looking Giles stepped into the room. “Dani, breakfast is ready in the kitchen.” He looked at the slayer with sadness in his eyes. “Everyone is down eating and we need to pick ourselves up so if you would join them,” Dani gave the man a smile and walked out of the room.

“There is nothing physically wrong with Miss Summers Rupert.” Doctor Kendall said with a shrug of his shoulders. “When Harmony phoned me to come check on Willow, she mentioned some things about a shape shifting being and divided souls?”

“Yes, it’s a long story and, if you would like to be of further help, we can clue you in later in the day.” Giles said in a tired manner.

“What if Miss Summers too had a divided soul? If so, it is possible that there is no soul in that body. Speaking of bodies,” he glanced at Willow and then back at Giles. “I have got everything set for Miss Maclay’s body to be taken care of along with the bodies of the other girls.”

- - - - - - -

The sun was beaming brightly through Dawn’s window when Faith went in to wake her up. She thought it best that Dawn be allowed to skip breakfast and rest but it was well passed noon. “Hey D,” she said softly and shook the girl’s shoulder. “C’mon, you hafta get up and get something to eat or you will be sick.”

Dawn opened her sleepy eyes and looked at Faith. The look on her face was hallow and void of any emotion, as Faith leaned down and gave her a gentle hug. “I’m sorry for your loss D.”

“Sarah and I were getting close and now she’s gone. She died a hero Faith.” Dawn’s body trembled as she spoke and the tears trickled down her cheeks.

“Yeah she surely was a hero D. We had no idea that the two of you were starting up a relationship.” Faith said and sat down on the edge of the bed. “That has to hurt and I wish there was some way that I could help you get through it.”

“Is Buffy awake?” Dawn asked and took the juice that Faith was offering her.

“No,” Faith said in an almost inaudible tone. “They can’t find anything physically wrong with her either. It may just be that she is tanked with all that’s gone on in the last while.”

“What about Robin and Kennedy; are they going to get out of this free of punishment?” Dawn asked in an effort to find something to take her mind off the loss of her girlfriend.

Faith pulled the girl into her arms and hugged her tightly. She knew that Dawn was trying to be strong and avoid the hurt that she was feeling. “D, we don’t think that they were involved in this so we hafta catch them in something else. Anyhow, it’s all right to grieve and let it out. I’m not going’ anywhere.”

“You know, I so wanted that to be Tara Faith. She was like a second mom to me after mom died. I’m so tired of being strong.” The tears flooded down Dawn’s cheeks, as the slayer held her firmly.

“You don’t hafta be strong D,” Faith said and wiped the tears from her face. “I’ll do it for ya till you can be strong again.”

- - - - -

Willow awoke to hammering sounds around her. She was in a bed and the sun was going down. She rubbed her eyes and looked over at Dani, who sat flipping through a book. “How long have I been out and what is all that noise?”

“You’ve been out all day and they’re repairing the damaged rooms.” Dani stood up and got Willow a glass of water and two pills for her head. “Would you like me to get you something to eat Miss Willow?”

The horrific events came flooding back into Willow’s mind and she began to shake violently. “Tara’s body, she…”

Dani pulled her close and rubbed her shoulders gently. “God Miss Willow, I am so so sorry that you had to go through that. They’re taking care of everything and we will have her put on the grounds here. She will be next to Sarah and the other fallen slayers.”

“Buffy, the other slayers, Harmony?” Willow asked in a frantic tone.

“We’re down to a few slayers and Amy is going to get trained by Giles and start helping with that. Buffy,” Dani looked perplexed as to how to handle the wording on that end. “Well, there is nothing physically wrong with her but she’s still out of it. Harmony, nobody has seen her. I’m so glad that she didn’t really perform that ritual Miss Willow.” Dani tried not to display her dislike for the vampire as she spoke but it was obvious.

“She told me that she had a plan and for me to protect my mind at all cost. I figure that’s where Amy came in and they duked the sorceress so it worked out well.” Willow said with a pained look on her face upon mentioning the sorceress.

“I wish there was something more that I could do to help you get through this Willow. I know that you had your heart set on Tara’s return.” Dani wiped more tears from the shaken redhead’s eyes as she spoke.

“We have to figure out how to help Buffy and get back to recruiting the slayers.” Willow said with a determined look on her face. “We can’t just sit around here or they will win, whoever the next they is.” Willow’s features looked tired and defeated yet determined, as she finished speaking to Dani. “Did anyone figure out what the sorceress wanted?”

“No, that will come later Miss Willow.” Dani said with sadness in her voice. She knew that Willow was trying to find a way to forget her pain and knew that was not the way to go about it. “You’re right on the things that we have to do Miss Willow, but not right now. We have to get you through your heartache and then you can help the others.”

As Dani finished speaking, Kennedy came into the room with a small tray of food. It had been her plan to wake Willow up, feed her and comfort her. She looked at Dani questioningly and then smiled at Willow. “I thought you might need something to eat Willow. Why didn’t you tell us that she was awake? Everyone has been so worried about her Dani.” Kennedy admonished the slayer as she fluffed Willow’s pillows and handed her the tray.

Dani knew what Kennedy’s game was and decided that there was no way that the bitch was going to use this tragic time to worm her way back into Willow’s bed. “I was about to do just that Kennedy,” Dani replied coldly.

Kennedy had a game plan but knew Dani did also. It was wrong to comfort someone just to worm your way into their life on a more intimate level. Kennedy did not see that she was doing that because she and Willow shared a life at one time. Dani, on the other hand, was doing that in Kennedy’s eyes. “Well then, go do it and I can help get Willow motivated here.”

As Dani gave Kennedy a death glare, the door to the room opened and Harmony Kendall stepped inside. Willow’s eyes lit up slightly at the site of the blonde vampire, as she thought Harmony had left for good. “Hey there Willow,” the vampire said and pulled the redhead into a hug. “My father phoned and asked me to stop back in here to see if you were all right.” She smirked openly at both of the slayers who looked rather upset.

“I wish I was all right Harmony.” Willow said, as the vampire sat down next to her.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with Buffy and seeing Tara’s body like that really gave me a blow.”

Dani decided not to press the issue with Harmony just now and stood up. “I’m going to go let everyone know that you are awake Miss Willow.” She stepped on the other side of Willow and kissed her on the cheek before leaving the room.

“What’s your game Harmony?” Kennedy questioned angrily. “Willow has been through enough and doesn’t need your line of bull.”

“Kennedy,” Willow looked sternly at the slayer. “You’ve done worse to me then anyone here. I know that you are trying to help but I don’t want your help so leave.”

Kennedy’s anger threatened to surface but she knew that she had to play her cards correctly. “I’ll be back to see if you need anything Willow.” She said as calmly as she could and stepped out of the room.

“I guess I have a strange way of clearing a room.” The blonde vampire said as she rubbed Willow’s overly tense shoulders. “Dad told me that you had slept the entire day? He was very worried about you Willow, they all are I presume.” Harmony finished speaking and looked at Willow’s eyes, which seemed very tired still.

“I guess I’d call it a long sleep,” Willow mumbled in a more relaxed tone. “I dreamt of what happened most of the day. I guess my body was to tired to give off a good enough sign that my sleep was troubled.”

“That had to have been hard for you Willow.” The vampire said as she moved her hands down to Willow’s back. “I know that you loved her very much.”

“Were you leaving for good Harmony?” Willow asked in a casual tone, though didn’t know if she wanted to hear the answer. There was a part of Willow that was grieving heavily. Another part of her knew that she should allow Dani to comfort her and another part wanted nothing but the vampire to make it all go away.

“This lifestyle isn’t my bag Willow.” Harmony said bluntly and kissed Willow. “I’m not a fighter, otherwise I would have been good with the evil-y deal.”

“I wish I didn’t allow myself to fall for you Harmony Kendall.” Willow said honestly. She knew that the vampire had no feelings for her otherwise she would stay. The things that Harmony had said to her about wanting to be good for her didn’t matter anymore. Her vague answer spoke volumes to Willow. She knew that she had to protect her heart at all cost before it got shattered by an undead creature who apparently wanted her as a play toy.

“Willow,” Harmony held her more firmly to stop her from getting up. “This building is all dusty from the work they’re doing. I got it all over my new jacket and that’s not very thrilling. You’re not going to make me get all dirty for no good reason are you?”

Willow looked at Harmony with sad eyes. “Harmony, I can’t play anymore. I don’t have the strength nor desire to have meaningless sex. It’s time for me to move on and get a real life.”

Harmony’s eyes went yellow and she stood up from the bed. She had decided at that moment that she would not take any more help Willow calls when she left this place. She knew better than to let herself try to feel something for a human because she was a soulless creature and humans needed more then they could give. Yet, she had to make her final point before she left that hellhole for good. “What the hell is your problem Willow? What have I done to you that makes you think this is all a game? I almost got myself killed more then once for you! Being with Dani is the safe way but is that what you want?”

“I want someone to not see me as some object or pries. I don’t want to be won in some competition and I want to be loved.” Willow’s hands began to tremble as she spoke. “Maybe I’m asking to much from anyone. Maybe Tara was my only…” before Willow could finish the sentence Harmony had her lips planted firmly on Willow’s.

Harmony pulled away from the kiss just as quickly as she started it. “You asked me to help you with this situation Willow and I kept my word. I have done everything you needed me to do and then some. First, you tell me that you want me and then I’m not good for you. You have my number if you should decide to make up your mind. I for one am not playing the game.” Having said that, the vampire walked out of the room and drove away from the headquarters.

Chapter 17

Giles sat his teacup down with a thud in the kitchen. One week had past since the tragic events had unfolded and Buffy was still lying motionless in the living quarters of the gang. The funerals of the slayers and Tara’s body had taken place with much heartache and Buffy never moved. His fear was that Dennis Kendall was right and Buffy’s divided soul was sucked out with Tracy and the first slayer. “Penny for your thoughts.” Xander Harris stated as he sat his empty plate down on the counter.

“I’m afraid that Buffy isn’t coming back to us.” Giles said bitterly as he looked the young man over. Xander looked well rested, unlike most other members of the gang. “If her soul is gone, we can’t allow that body to just lie there as it is forever.” Giles’ lips quivered at his statement but he tried to display composure to the young man who stood before him.

Xander shuttered at the implications behind Giles’ words. “Nobody wants to think about that right now Giles. Nobody wants to think about anything but sleeping with other people to get over their heartaches it seems.” Xander hung his head in sadness as he spoke. He knew that he was lashing out at everyone to quill his hurt over Buffy but couldn’t help it. He didn’t know any other way of dealing with his anger over her possible fate.

“I’m not sleeping with anyone!” An angry Dawn shouted as she came into the room with her empty plate. “For your information Xander, you and Dani are going to two separate places to pick up three slayers. We have to get this place going again.”

“Why isn’t Faith going?” Xander quipped in an angered tone. “You want her here for yourself and are taking Willow’s helper away! You’re being selfish Dawn Summers!”

“You really don’t know much do you Xander!” Dawn shrieked more than asked, as Faith stepped into the room with a couple of plates.

“What the hell is going on in here?” Faith asked in a shouting tone of voice.

“Xander is accusing us of sleeping together for comfort and me of taking Willow’s bedfellow away so that you can stay here!” Dawn shouted more to the room then at Faith.

“I’m staying here to look after B you stupid idiot!” Faith barked at Xander as she turned towards him with fury in her eyes. “We can’t have one of these younger slayers looking over B in case something other than that fucking sorceress is causing her predicament!”

“Do stop this madness right now!” Giles shouted and stood up. “Where is Willow, she is the one who is supposed to be handing us jobs! That is her job damn it!” Giles was losing his cool fast due to his hurt over Buffy’s state. He hated not knowing how to fix a problem and hated that his slayer was facing that problem all alone.

“You assigned Amy to give us the jobs because Willow is a mess.” Faith said with a smirk on her face. “You have some financial stuff to do and Robin is keeping up the training with the other slayers. See, we’re all trying to get back to work. It’s this sex-crazed idiot that is in the way. Isn’t Amy giving’ ya any Xan-man?”

Xander glared at Faith and left the room followed by an exasperated Giles. “So, do you think Willow is sending Dani off to stop herself from getting feelings for her?” Dawn asked Faith in a curious manner.

“Amy is the one who did it and she was aligned with that blonde bimbo. Willow may have had her do it for that reason, who knows.” Faith replied and began to fill up the dishwasher. “Red is keeping to herself a lot lately; Dani and Ken are the only two who seem to be able to talk to her.”

Dawn’s face suddenly turned serious as she looked at Faith. “What if Buffy doesn’t wake up Faith?” The girl’s voice sounded so small and pained that Faith could hardly look at her.

“D,” Faith turned from the dishwasher and pulled Dawn into a hug. “B will come back to you. She always manages to get out of the bad end of the deal, it’s B.” Faith wiped the tears from Dawn’s eyes as she had done on a nightly basis for the last week. “She’ll make it, we all will.”

“I don’t know what I would have done without you these last few days Faith.” Dawn said and relaxed in the slayer’s embrace.

“It’s been rough on all of us but I’m here for ya D,” Faith said and kissed the tip of her nose. “I’m real sorry about Sarah and all but you will be all right D. You’re stronger then your sister in many ways.”

Dawn looked at the floor and blushed slightly. “I wish I could believe that Faith.” Her features changed from crimson to sad looking as she continued speaking. “Look, we never found out for sure but I’m guessing that you had a thing with Cordelia.” Dawn looked for a sign that she was right but found none in Faith’s eyes. “I don’t know this for sure but you and Buffy have a strong bond and, well, I hope that I don’t lose her again and that you don’t lose two people that you care deeply for.”

Faith showed no emotion to the younger Summers sister as she was never one for allowing herself to do that. “D, B and I are not romantically involved.” As the two looked into each other’s eyes, a shattering sound interrupted their moment. “It’s Red.” Faith said softly and headed for the stairs.

- - - - - -

Willow’s week had not gone well to say the least. She had to sit and watch Buffy have no response to life, minus her shallow breathing, on a daily basis. She had to bury the body of her beloved Tara all over again, which was as painful as it was the first time she did it. She had to try to deal with the fact that everything was turned on its ear and nobody truly had the oomph to fix it. Finally, she was dealing with feelings that she did not want to deal with.

Dani truly was a rock during this time in Willow’s life. She stood by her side at the funeral, hugged her and wiped her tears. She sat with Willow until she fell asleep during the nights and wiped more tears. She listened to Willow’s fears of being alone and losing Buffy again constantly. She did all of this without trying to push Willow into a relationship of any kind. Willow knew that Dani liked her and she did have an attraction for the woman but something was in the way.

Late at night, when all the comforting was done, Willow would lie awake in her bed. She would miss Harmony’s arms around her, her kisses and aggressive touches. She had even called her cell-phone a couple of times but never left a message. She knew that she needed desperately to talk to Buffy to get some help with getting the vampire out of her system. She knew that she could not talk to her best friend and that killed her inside.

She and Buffy had always discussed their love life problems, among other things, and the inability to have some form of contact with her was ripping Willow apart. She feared that her days of confiding in her best friend were over. Her biggest fear was that Doctor Kendall’s thought on Buffy’s condition was the correct assessment. Willow had suffered so many blows over the last several days that she wished she could die and be free of her pain. The one thing that kept her twice from offing herself was the thought of Harmony’s kisses and soothing words.

Willow had awakened in a bad state that morning. Her night was filled with bad dreams of Tara, Sarah and Buffy. She tossed and turned the whole night through and barely slept a wink. When she awoke, it was Kennedy rather than Dani in her room. Willow was in no shape to fight with Kennedy and her emotions were to torn up to wait on a better talking companion. The slayer had got her coffee, toast and juice, ran her a hot tub of water to soak in and listened to her heartaches. She even went on a brief walk with Willow and displayed a very understanding side that Willow had not seen in the slayer in such a long time. Willow had found it odd that she could relax with Kennedy again but that was what happened as the day progressed.

After an afternoon nap, Kennedy and Willow talked some more. They briefly touched on their broken relationship and Willow’s fear that Kennedy would lash out at her again. After Kennedy assured her that that would not happen and that she would not press Willow into making a decision, she went out to get some training time in. All was looking up in Kennedy’s world. She would be in charge of the hellmouth while Dani was away and Willow was coming around to her side again.

- - - - - - -

Harmony stepped off an airplane around 02:00pm that day. She had gone to California right after she had watched Dani comforting Willow at Tara’s second funeral. She had set plans in place to fix up the Hyperian hotel, which was now in her name. She had also moved the rest of Angel’s finances into her own bank account and things were looking good for her future plans. One of the staples of her plans was to never return to the slayer Academy but that is exactly what she was doing.

In truth, the things that she had said to Willow in the throws of passion were true. Harmony wanted to be good more then ever now because of Willow. She wanted Willow to be her companion as they strolled along the California beaches, had late night dinners in their suite and made love throughout the remainder of the night. She knew that her plans weren’t fully on the up and up, but nobody would be killed because of them.

It was her inability to fully grasp things such as being good, fidelity, and love that made her hesitate on trying to fight harder for Willow. She had vowed to not come back to this place when she left Willow’s room that night and decided that her decision was the right one when she saw how well Dani was taking care of Willow. What changed her mind was the frequent hang up calls during the wee hours of the morning from Willow’s cell-phone to hers. “Damn it!” Harmony cursed aloud as she walked the several blocks to the slayer school.

As she crept her way onto the grounds, she remembered that she had another matter to attend to before she went to see Willow. She looked around the graves until she came upon Sarah’s. “This better be how I asked it to be dad.” Harmony mumbled and lifted a flat plaque, which read about Sarah.

“Stupid Scoobies and their blinding grief,” she mumbled as she moved down into the crypt. “Sarah?” She called as she unchained a small door.

The fledgling vampire had been given a good supply of blood but it was all gone and she was hungry. Also she could feel that her sire was near and that roused the predatory nature in the young vampire. “Sire,” she said in a hoarse voice as Harmony handed her a mug of blood.

Harmony knew that she was bonded to Sarah because she had sired her. She also knew that there was one thing that made the bond stronger, a romp or two of the sexual nature. As she put her hands on Sarah’s shoulders and began to rub them, her arousal grew fast. She knew, by the scent and energy in the air, that she had completed the task that she had hoped for, creating a vampire with slayer powers.

- - - - - -

Willow was sitting alone in her room trying to get a handle on her mixed up emotions when the door opened. She looked up to see Harmony coming towards her. Part of her wanted to leap into the vampire's arms and make up for all the lost time. While another part of her wanted to find a way to be strong and cut ties from the creature that she knew was not good for her.

Harmony had almost done the deed with Sarah and her sexual desires were strong. During one of her conversations with Spike, he had told her that keeping a sired vampire hungry for sex with the sire was often times the best way to keep them in line. This is exactly what Harmony did, launched into a heavy make out fest with the fledgling vampire and then stopped. As she approached Willow, the notion that almost getting it on with one being and then going to another was wrong, never crossed her soulless mind. “Willow,” the vampire said softly and pulled the visibly fragile redhead into her arms.

Chapter 18

Willow felt relaxed in Harmony’s embrace immediately. As the vampire placed her lips on Willow’s, Willow knew that this was not how things should be going. The two had parted ways on a not so good note a few days ago and things should be discussed. As her mouth welcomed the kiss from the vampire, she tried to pull away. “Wait,” she managed to get out in between kisses. “We can’t do things like this Harmony.”

The vampire knew that Willow was serious even if she was enjoying the contact. She withdrew her lips from Willow’s and looked into her eyes. “Why didn’t you leave a message Willow?” The vampire asked with a desire-filled look in her eyes. “You give off such confusing signals that I have no idea what you want but I’m here yet again to find out.”

“I don’t know what I want anymore Harmony. I know what I should do but I can’t get you out of my head.” Tears began to trickle down Willow’s cheeks before she could stop them. “Dani has been there for me and I know that she would be good for me. The problem is that I can’t go with her until I get what I feel for you figured out. I don’t even know if I could go with her once I figure it out because I know that there is a part of me that wants to be with you. There is an attraction for Dani but I have to figure out what is real and is infatuation before I decide.”

“I watched Dani comforting you at the funeral before I left Willow.” Harmony said as she wiped the tears from Willow’s face. “You said that you wanted to move on and I was trying to let you do that.” The vampire’s desire for contact hadn’t faltered in the least and she instinctively began kissing Willow again after she finished speaking.

Willow knew that this was wrong in every sense of the word and that the two needed to settle things once and for all but she never had much will power where the vampire was concerned. As her brain was telling her to stop, her body was reacting to Harmony’s touch and the two were in a heavy make out session before she realized it. She knew that she should stop as Harmony eased her back on the bed and began a trail of kisses down her stomach. She knew that she should stop and force the vampire to talk or end things, as the demon won control over the blonde. She knew that it was futile however, as her body responded heartily to Harmony’s advances.

“What the hell is going on here?” Kennedy questioned in a shouting voice and jerked the vampire to the floor before the two realized that they had been interrupted. “I thought you were out of her life you bitch!”

Harmony stood up quickly and looked Kennedy in the eyes. “Obviously I’m not, what’s your excuse for coming in here?”

“We had been discussing our relationship if you must know!” Kennedy shouted angrily and punched Harmony in the nose.

The vampire took a quick glance at her nose, which gave Kennedy time to further her attack. She shoved her against the wall but Harmony recovered quickly. She tripped the slayer up and she knocked Willow’s nightstand over on her way to the floor.

“What the devil is going on in here?” Dani asked as she entered the room. She quickly went to Willow’s side and looked at her. She wanted to act in the same manner that Kennedy was behaving but knew that it wouldn’t help her case with the redhead.

“Hey,” Faith shouted as she came into the room. “Red, what’s up with these two?” She asked and separated the two women.

“Willow and I spent the day talking about us and this creature comes in here and is trying to screw it all up!” Kennedy snapped angrily.

“If she wanted you she wouldn’t be making out with me.” Harmony said calmly as she eyed Dani who was trying to keep Willow relaxed.

“If you cared anything for Willow, you would come here to talk to her about how she is doing. It looks more like you came here for a quick tumble in the sheets!” Kennedy bellowed out as Faith held her back.

“I need to talk to Buffy.” Willow said and quickly stood up.

“Wait Willow,” Dani put a hand on the redhead’s arm. “Maybe a walk would do you some good right now. We can come back and talk to Buffy. I think that you need to clear your head.”

“Willow, if you want to talk I can do that.” Harmony said softly and moved beside the redhead. “Are you truly considering getting back with that bitch? There are several people who have treated you with more respect then she ever thought of.”

Willow looked at Harmony sadly. There were so many things that she needed answers to and most of them involved the vampire. “Leave us so that we can talk,” she said and motioned her arm towards the door. “I don’t want any more of this fighting because I’ve seen enough childish behavior to last me a lifetime.”

“Let’s motor,” Faith said to the two slayers and shoved them out the door. She feared that this battle wasn’t over by a long shot and that it could get very ugly. She smirked at the notion of if she had got involved with Willow back in their school days, none of this would be happening.

Harmony looked at Willow questioningly. She was both sexually and mentally frustrated by this point and wondered if maybe she should collect Sarah and get out of dodge. “Willow, I don’t know what more I can say to you. I have been fully honest as to my feelings for you. I have told you what I can and cannot do but you still give me these mixed signals. I can’t pretend to be something that I’m not but at least I have been totally honest with you.”

“I’m scared to let myself be with you Harmony,” Willow said and sank back on her bed. “I’m afraid that you really don’t care for me for more then just a fling. I’m afraid that you will ditch me and go off on some evil plot and I’m afraid that you will take my feelings lightly because you have no soul. Most of all, I’m afraid that you will be staked in an instant and be gone. I couldn’t handle the loss of someone else that I cared about.”

Harmony put her arms around the sobbing redhead and held her close. “Any one of us could die in an instant Willow. There is nothing that I can do about that aspect of life. I didn’t ask to be this way but I am and I have to make the best of it. If you want the easy road go with Dani because I know that she would take good care of you. If you want to follow your heart, come with me because I believe that is where I am. There is a reason that you called me late at night and not Dani or Kennedy Willow.”

Willow looked into the eyes of the blonde vampire and knew that she was right. Dani had stood by her faithfully through all of this drama of late and done everything that a lover should. The one thing that Dani did wrong that Harmony did not do was keep a huge secret from her. That fact often crept up in Willow’s mind. There was also the fact that when Dani had finished comforting for the night and it came time to do the things that lovers did, Harmony was the one on Willow’s brain. “I think that I need to talk to Buffy Harmony. Is that all right?”

“Of course it’s all right Willow.” The vampire answered and kissed the redhead. “I know that your friends don’t want you with me and especially Buffy but, remember something Willow. The talk we had about doing something for you rather than other people, I hope that you do it Willow.” The vampire kissed Willow several more times and Willow responded eagerly. “Before I got turned, I only wanted to be happy Willow. I wanted a good life and for someone to love me for who I was. I hope that I can still have that even though I have many faults because of the fact that I have no soul.” Having said that, Harmony stood up and left the room.

- - -

If one went into Buffy’s room and watched the slayer lying motionless on the bed, they would have no clue as to what was happening with her mind. She was in a struggle to wake up and stay asleep due to the events that had recently transpired. It was as if her mind was at a crossroads and she could not make a move one way or the other. There was a huge roadblock there and she couldn’t get around it no matter how she struggled within herself.

She saw herself in a clearing of trees and could hear the birds chirping happily. She then saw a figure coming towards her and knew that it was Tara. She couldn’t make a move to approach the figure just as she couldn’t move away from it.

“Buffy,” Tara said softly and touched the slayer’s hand. “You’ve got to let go of this guilt because it’s not your fault. You had no way of knowing what was going on with Tracy or the first slayer until it was revealed. This was a tough one to solve and you need to be thankful that it was solved in time rather than not at all.”

“I can’t believe that I allowed my physical attraction for another being to get in the way of me figuring things out again. I could have caused the murders of all my friends Tara.” Buffy said in a tired voice that seemed frail and faint. “I should have told Willow and maybe we could have sorted it out and dealt with it in a better way.”

“It was dealt with in the right way by those who did have a hunch as to something being amiss Buffy.” Tara said in the most soothing voice that she could muster. “Listen, you weren’t totally wrong Buffy. Before my death was activated by someone, Tracy had no clue that she was evil. The evil part of the soul had to go through this plotted out event in order to come to be what it had came here for. You were attracted to the good qualities of Tracy, the qualities that she displayed before her accident.”

Buffy’s hands jerked as Willow walked into the room. “Her accident you say? Does that mean that she is not dead?”

“That is correct Buffy but the two halves of the soul were merged as one. Her purpose was to destroy the slayer line, control the demon world and take Willow out as revenge on the good half of the soul.” Tara explained but knew that Buffy was not fully listening to her, as the slayer’s eyes opened and her image disappeared.

As Willow walked into Buffy’s room with hopes of talking this out on her own, she got a surprise when she saw the slayer’s hands jerk. As Buffy opened her eyes, the tears fell down Willow’s cheeks for the umpteenth time that day. “Buffy, I didn’t think that you would ever wake up!” Willow said excitedly and gingerly hugged the slayer.

“What happened?” Buffy asked and stretched her sore extremities. “I don’t remember anything but me not being able to wake up and then I saw Tara. She talked to me Willow and she is such a wonderful soul.”

Willow couldn’t figure out why Buffy had said that but couldn’t agree more. “I came in here to talk to you about my trivial love life but that will have to wait.” Willow smiled and hugged her friend again. “I’m going to go tell everyone that you are awake and we can have a celebration.”

Buffy wanted to do her own thing and quickly. She remembered that Tara had told her Tracy was alive and wanted to go see that detective who she said was her uncle. She was glad that willow didn’t want to talk just now because she wanted to find out what she could do about Tracy. Her attraction was huge for this woman and the notion that Tracy wouldn’t know her didn’t even cross her mind. “There is something that I need to do first Will.” Buffy said and slowly stood up to head into the bathroom.

Willow had got the vibe that Buffy was in the mode of putting herself first and that bothered her. It had happened back when she was with Riley and Willow hoped to never see that side of her friend again. This was important to her friends and especially Dawn but Buffy was totally neglecting to think about them. “Do you realize how long you have been in this room and non-responsive Buffy?” Willow questioned with a little more irritation in her voice then she had wanted to use.

Buffy stopped dead in her tracks and slapped herself on the forehead. “You’re right,” she made a pouty face and walked back to her friend. “I can do my thing later, I’m sorry Will.”

“What you want to do is important too Buffy but there are a lot of people out there who have almost gone insane with worry over you. I think that we should do this first.” Willow hugged her friend happily and stood up to go tell the gang the good news. “I’m so glad that you’re going to be all right Buffy.” Willow said without noticing the strange look on Buffy’s face.

Chapter 19

Harmony watched as Willow lead Buffy out into the sitting room. A haggard looking Dawn jumped to her feet and embraced her sister lovingly, while Faith stood pensively in the doorway. “Miss Willow, this is wonderful news!” Dani said and embraced Willow and then smiled at Buffy. “We’ve all been so worried about you Buffy.”

Buffy acknowledged them all with a far off look in her eyes that only Faith noticed. “Let’s get the others and have a small celebration.” Dawn offered eagerly. A huge burden had been lifted from her shoulders with Buffy’s re-awakening and she was finally starting to think that things could work out for her in the end. She knew that there would always be a void due to the loss of Sarah. Having her sister not Secom to that same fate was more than she had hoped for in the last few days.

As the gathering began to take shape, Dani caught Willow’s attention. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to talk with you about this vampire.” Dani looked the redhead over with a hesitant look on her face. Kennedy had told her to broach the subject with Willow and see how far she got. She said that this would tell Dani where she stood with the redhead in terms of a romantic relationship. Dani had questioned Kennedy as to why she had helped her and she was told that Kennedy realized that she and Willow could not patch things up. If Willow could not be with her, she wanted her to at least be with a decent being that was human.

Willow looked at Dani and shook her head. “I’ve got to sort out some things Dani and I don’t think anyone here can help me.” She stood up and walked off in a dismissive manner.

“I told you Dani,” Kennedy said sarcastically. “Look, the only way to shake Harmony from Willow’s life is to stake her. Now, I’d do it but she’d accuse me of doing it on purpose and withdraw from all of us. If you do it, she’d realize that it was for some slayer reason and forgive you. This is the only way that you are going to get what you want.”

Dani feared that Kennedy was right but feared that the entire thing could backfire and she’d lose out in the end. If she didn’t make a move of some kind, she’d lose out anyway. Thus she wondered what she had left to lose. “I don’t know if I could do that to Miss Willow Kennedy.” Dani said honestly because she did care deeply for Willow and did not want to cause her any further heartache.

- - - -

Willow stepped outside for some much needed fresh air. She had planned to talk this mess out with Buffy but saw that her best friend was occupied with the party and possibly something else. She walked a ways through the grounds and then stopped to have a look at the stars. She heard a sound in the bushes and turned to see a large vampire coming at her. She cursed herself inwardly for not bringing protection with her. As she was about to make a run for the buildings, the creature was dusted and Sarah stood before her. “Willow,” the vampire said softly.

Willow stood still as a statue and her mouth was frozen agape. She knew what she was seeing but the questions were, how and why? She’d heard stories of what could happen if a slayer ever was turned but who would take such a risk? Either the slayer would retain some of her instinct to kill evil or she would be one of the strongest evil creatures that ever was. She had the advantage of the combined strengths of the slayer and vampire at her disposal. “Sarah,” Willow said with trepidation in her voice as Harmony stepped beside her.

“It’s all right Willow. She’s been tested and has no strong desire to go after humans thus far.” The vampire smiled at Willow who gave her a shocked look in return.

“Why the hell would you do this Harmony?” Willow barked in anger and noticed that the vampire began eying her, as she turned towards Harmony in an angered fashion. “What sort of evil plan are you going to involve her in?”

“I see your trust is still at the bottom of the barrel Willow.” Harmony said with a mock hurt look on her face. “Did I not tell you that I had no big evil plans on the go?”

Willow’s face showed a mixture of anger and sadness. She was contemplating being with this creature but how could she do it now? Would it be possible for her to gain enough feelings for Dani to leave Harmony, as she should have done in the first place? “Harmony, I can’t believe that I allowed my heart to be so torn over you. This is wrong on every level.” Willow managed to push the words out of her mouth but it was obvious that it was a struggle for her to do it.

“Willow,” the vampire moved in front of the redhead and took her hands. “I told you that I wasn’t perfect and that I didn’t have anything evil in the works. You said that you wanted someone to love you for who you were but you cannot give someone the same respect.”

Harmony’s words proved to be a big slap in the face to the redhead. If she wanted someone to love her with her many faults, yet was unwilling to love another with faults, wasn’t that wrong as well? “Why did you do this to Sarah Harmony? It’s a terrible thing and you know it.” Willow spoke in a defeated tone.

“I needed some protection Willow and I knew that a slayer wouldn’t give it to me. Some of the plans that I have been putting in motion were something that Spike and I had discussed. The difference is, I don’t have some cruel endgame in mind with my version of the plans.” Harmony looked at the redhead with an effort to show her that she wasn’t lying. “Angel’s hotel is mine now and it is being renovated as we speak. California is my home Willow and I hope that you will see that it is yours too.”

“What in God’s name are you going to do with that hotel and a slayer-vampire?” Willow questioned in a low voice that was thick with uncertainty and frustration.

“I am going to live in it, run my magazine in it and thought that maybe you could do whatever you wanted in it.” Harmony answered honestly. “Sarah is for my protection from slayers and other forms of jackasses but if you want to use her to fight this good fight as Angel did, be my guest.”

“This is crazy Harmony,” Willow said and tried to pull the vampire’s words around her brain. “I can’t just leave Buffy and the others.”

“Why not Willow? They leave you to do their thing all the time and Amy is being prepped for your work.” The vampire answered back briskly and rubbed her thumbs over Willow’s palms. “Andrew is going with me and so are my parents. I thought that maybe Dawn would come as well.” The vampire smiled at Willow who was obviously trying to get a handle on the situation.

“What possible reason would you have for Dawn to go?” Willow asked and looked at the vampire in a protect Dawn manner.

“I’m not wanting her to go so that Sarah can have a sleeping partner Willow. She’s in the medical field, or plans to be. She likes fashion and I thought that maybe she could combine the two with skin-care or something along those lines. My father too is a doctor and the two of them would be developing something for me in time.”

The vampire looked at Willow and saw that the explanation was not good enough. “Willow, I want a skin-care product that will help demons be able to live a more normal life. Not your run of the mill evil demon but there are some who do not have evil in mind. Do you remember Clem and that green demon at the bar?”

As a man walked up to them, Willow’s facial expression began to relax. “This is David, he’s my assistant and is taking Sarah to California. If you don’t want Dawn knowing of her, that’s fine but please don’t screw this up for me Willow.” The vampire looked at the redhead with questioning eyes as David smiled at Willow and ushered Sarah to the truck. “Just come with me for a couple of days and look things over Willow. If you want to come back and not be with me after that, fine.”

Willow couldn’t get a handle on her emotions. One part of her wanted to take the risk and go be with Harmony. Another part of her wanted to go with Harmony so that she could see what was on the go and find a way to undo this Sarah factor. While another part of her wanted to tell the vampire to leave and not look back. She knew that Dani would pick up the pieces of her broken heart but knew that would be unfair to the kind-hearted slayer. She also knew that she had allowed herself to fall in love without even trying and wished to every good being out there that she hadn’t done it. “Harmony, I don’t know what to do to be honest with you. What you did to Sarah is wrong Harmony and I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“Willow, I told you that I can’t be perfect because I have no soul. Even if I had a soul, I wouldn’t be perfect. I have been honest with you through all of this and that’s all that I can do.” Harmony knew that she had to try one last time to explain herself to Willow. She would do this and then if Willow wasn’t receptive, she had to force herself to not come back to this place. She was not going to allow anyone to make her soul become bitter because she couldn’t have them as so many creatures had done in the past.

Willow knew that the vampire was speaking the truth. Harmony was always quick to remind Willow that she had limitations because of the missing soul. She knew that if she didn’t try, she would always wonder and the book would never be closed. She also knew that if she gave Buffy full disclosure before she left, she would not get the chance to try. “I’ll go with you Harmony because you’re right in that you have been honest with me. It wouldn’t be fair of me to shut you down without even trying. I don’t know if I could shut my feelings for you down without exploring them further, even though I sometimes want to.”

Harmony smiled inwardly for the first time in a very long time. Acquiring the Gem had made her feel good, obtaining Angel’s things had made her feel smug but having a person finally give her some credit made her feel warm and loved. “You won’t regret this Willow,” the vampire said softly and pulled the redhead into a passionate kiss. “I won’t hurt you purposefully, I promise.”

As the two continued exploring each other’s mouth with a renewed vigor, those words tried to push their way back into Willow’s mind. She knew that Harmony wouldn’t set out to hurt her but would the things that Harmony did because she didn’t have a soul hurt her? Would she be able to make allowances for the demon because she didn’t have a soul? If she could, would the demon take advantage of this and do whatever she pleased in the end? There were some obvious trust issues there but Willow knew that she had to take this chance simply because she loved the vampire.

As the two continued to heighten their desire with kisses and caressing, Buffy walked quietly by them. Something inside the slayer told her to stop and talk to her friend as Willow had wanted earlier but she did not listen. She knew that she had to go see Tracy Willis before she could let anything else enter her mind. She knew that this may not be the best choice but something drew her to do it anyway. Whether it was stupidity, curiosity or attraction to the woman that she thought she knew, she did not know but she walked away from her friend putting herself first as she had often times done.

As the two began to take their loving to a place that called for privacy, Dani stood watching. The look on her face was pained, sad and angry. She had been there for Willow through so much, not because she had to but because she wanted to. She knew that Willow liked her and that Willow knew the feeling was mutual. She had done everything right in order to be helpful to and gain something more with Willow. Being the nice girl had got her nowhere and her heart ached because of this. As she pondered her next move, a soft but firm hand gently grasped her arm. “Dani, it’s your call on what to do from here. Let me tell you this though man. Once you cross that line into doing stupid things for vengeance, you cannot ever fully come back.” The dark slayer said as she looked out into the night wondering where Buffy had gone off to in such secrecy.

Chapter 20

Buffy stood outside the Willis home in the wee hours of the morning. She did not care whether or not her urge to go there was wrong or right, nor if she should continue her quest. The only thing that she knew for sure was that she had a strong attraction to Tracy Willis and needed to do this. She looked up into the night sky and studied it with a hardened look. It was if she was searching for an answer as to what direction to take from here. If she knocked on that door, she could be opening a huge can of worms or finding someone who could care for her. If she did not knock on that door, she would never know what would come of this, or would she?

As Buffy turned her gaze towards a rustling noise behind her, Faith stepped out from the bushes. “B, what on earth are ya doing here?” The dark slayer asked as she put out her cigarette.

Buffy looked at Faith in a downcast manner. She didn’t know if she should explain her predicament to the dark-haired beauty or not. She feared that nobody would understand her feelings for Tracy and that someone would try to stop her. She also feared that she subconsciously wanted someone to stop her. “Faith, I had this vision of Tara and she told me that Tracy’s body was not dead but in some sort of coma and some other stuff. She said that Tracy wasn’t always fully evil and I’m thinking that maybe she was giving me the chance to help her and maybe have a good thing with someone.”

Faith looked at Buffy in utter shock and then stepped closer to her. “B have you gone totally insane? You didn’t fall for that woman in that house who is probably being kept alive by machines. You fell for the woman that Tracy was trying to act like and that’s Tara Maclay!” Faith’s voice rose a little more than she had anticipated but she had to be firm in order to stop Buffy from making a huge mistake.

Buffy’s mouth opened and closed several times but not a word came out of it. She had not realized that fact until Faith said it. Her brain spun in a thousand directions it seemed, as she tried to come up with a good rebuttal to Faith’s argument. In the end however, she knew there would be no rebuttal. She knew that Faith was right and she, like Willow, had been swept away by the kindness and charms that Tara possessed. “Maybe she was telling me that she could come back in Tracy’s body Faith! Maybe she developed an attraction to me as well and this could work because technically she wouldn’t be Tara. Willow wouldn’t have to be hurt and I could be happy!” As Buffy spoke in desperation to come up with a solution to her predicament, the tears began to fall from her eyes.

“B, this is the craziest idea that you have ever had!” Faith protested and took hold of the sobbing slayer’s shoulders. “You know this is wrong B and hafta snap out of it before you cause something bad to happen. Look, maybe Tara had another reason for telling you about Tracy’s body. Maybe the woman needs to rest in peace finally B. Plus, do you really think that Tara would knowingly come back here and not want to be with Red? Those two had a love that everyone else dreams of.”

Part of Buff felt that Faith was right and that she should turn around and forget this. While another part of her felt that there was another reason that Tara had made a point to tell her that Tracy was alive. She was confused and tired but knew that a decision had to be made. “Faith, it’s just not fair that we all can’t be happy!” Buffy shouted in an exasperated tone as she composed herself once more.

“We all can be happy B; but you have to think rationally.” Faith never in her wildest dreams figured that she would be trying to keep another human being from doing something off the wall but had done it twice tonight. She wasn’t sure if she had succeeded on either count but it felt good to be trying to do something good for a change. She felt that she was finally in a good place in her life and her ability to think in a rational fashion while others weren’t, confirmed to her that she was healing from a lifetime of turmoil.

- - - - - -

As the car that Willow and Harmony were in pulled to a stop, Willow opened her eyes. She had fallen off to sleep both on the flight and in the car ride. Guilt had overtaken her after the two had left the headquarters at dawn without saying good-bye. She had left Buffy and a few others notes to explain her decision and cowardly left with the vampire. She knew that she wanted to give this a try and feared that someone would have the right words to talk her out of it. Thus, she made the hasty decision to leave a letter and vacate the premises while the others were sleeping.

As the two entered the hotel that Angel used to call home, Willow stopped dead in her tracks with a shocked look on her face. “I gave everyone all sorts of hints that I was not human,” Anya said with a beaming smile on her face. “Harmony told me that you might be joining us Willow and I think it’s great.”

Anya turned to Harmony with a smile and handed her some papers. “These need signing so that we can get to work on the first issue and I have a ton of ideas for…”

“Later Anya,” the vampire said with a dismissive look. “I want to show Willow around and then relax for awhile. Has Lorne agreed to help look after Sarah?”

“Yes but there is a small problem,” Anya frowned. “She made a telephone call earlier this morning. She got the number from my rolodex.”

“She called Dawnie,” Willow spoke in a whispered voice as she looked at Harmony. “What are we going to do now? I don’t want Dawnie hurt Harmony!”

The vampire put a cold hand on her lover’s arm to calm her. “She’s not going to hurt Dawn Willow.” Harmony spoke softly as she looked to Anya for more information. “We will deal with this in a way that nobody is hurt.”

“Well,” Anya smiled a hesitant smile at the two women as Harmony’s assistant came into the room. “Dawn is on a flight here as we speak. That is, unless someone stopped her but she hasn’t called back to say that she wasn’t coming.”

“Lorne has gone to pick up Andrew from the airport,” Dave confirmed. “I understand that everyone is in a mess back in Ohio and will be dealing with us soon Miss Kendall. Dawn and Sarah had another conversation and the young miss Summers wanted to stay a few more days to help her sister through something.”

Harmony looked at Willow and felt an uncertainty emanating from the redhead. “Don’t disturb us,” she said and took hold of Willow’s hand. “Please come with me Willow. I want to show you what I’ve done with the place. I want to show you my plans and try to assure you that this will all work out for us.”

Willow allowed Harmony to lead her through the old hotel that Angel had once chose as his home and place in which to help the helpless. She saw that a lot was unchanged but there were many changes in the décor and feel of the place. She began to relax as the vampire talked briefly about her magazine and the plan to continue to help the helpless as Angel did. As Willow watched Harmony’s expression as she spoke, she saw that the vampire had a certain vigor about her. She realized that maybe Harmony’s only goal was to make life easier for herself and those demons that wanted some semblance of a normal life. Though she was uncertain as to how all of this would sit with the gang back in Ohio, she was beginning to feel that this was really going to work out with the vampire. There were still the issues of how she would handle Harmony’s possibly getting into underhanded demonic things but the distrust issue was waning.

As the two ended the tour in the master suite, Willow’s eyes lit up at the beauty of the room. Her features h ad changed from grim when they first started the tour, to elation upon its completion. Harmony had managed to procure a lot of books for Willow’s reading and research purposes as well as a state of the art computer. The vampire had truly gone out of her way to give Willow the things that she liked and needed and that pleased Willow. “Harmony,” Willow said and looked around at the suite that was decorated with gorgeous antique furniture. “I hope that you didn’t blow all of Angel’s money of this stuff but it’s really beautiful.”

“Anya is a very frugal shopper Willow.” The vampire said as she kissed the redhead. “I just told her what I wanted and she got it for a much better price then I could have.” Harmony kissed Willow again and then ushered her to sit down on the bed. “Willow I wish that I hadn’t been so shallow when we were in school. You know that I care for you but I wish that I could feel it with everything inside me as you can. If I had acted like a decent kid rather than some stuck up snob, I would have at least felt that love that I know I have for you with every fiber of my being at one time in my life. I’m doing the best that I can with what I have to work with Willow. Please don’t get scared and run out on me. Let me try to be a better demon for you.”

As Willow returned the kiss, she glanced at the far wall and saw a huge portrait of Cordelia Chase that someone had painted perfectly. That old wondering that she had that maybe Harmony was different came back. She had dismissed that thought to her wishful thinking but knew that Harmony had gone to great lengths to remember her best friend with a beautiful, most likely commissioned, portrait. She also knew that the vampire had put her undead life on the line for her many times without an obligation to do so. In edition, Harmony had gone to great lengths to make her feel secure and comfortable in her home. “I love you Harmony Kendall, with all of my heart.” A tear escaped down Willow’s cheek as she spoke the words that she feared she would never be able to speak again.

As the vampire’s kisses grew more aggressive, both women felt a shift in the air. The energy was changing, but the reason for the change was unbeknownst to either woman. They felt the shift but were concentrating more on their intensifying passion to think about what was going on with the energy around them.

- - - - -

Faith stood outside the headquarters with an over-tired look on her face. She first had the brief talk with Dani, then the confrontation with Buffy and her job wasn’t over once she returned home. She had just got relaxed on the sofa in the early morning hours after convincing Buffy to delay her plans until they had more time to talk. She was readying for a nice long sleep when she heard sobbing coming from the kitchen and knew that it was Dawn. She dragged herself up and listened to Dawn’s story about Sarah. She tried to comfort the girl but knew that her pain was great and wasn’t sure if she knew how to help her. Added to the pile of problems was the note that she found once she had calmed Dawn down slightly. Willow had gone off with the vampire and not even bothered to say good-bye to Buffy.

As she put another cigarette out and wondered what to do next, Dani came up to her. “I got this letter from Miss Willow.” She held it out to the slayer but Faith shook her head and did not take the letter.

“I found one that was supposed to be for B.” Faith said dryly and wished that she didn’t care so much about these people. Wanting to help them all was a great responsibility and there was a huge part of Faith that never would like having many responsibilities. “Dani, I know that you were planning something last night and it’s something that may end up having to be done.”

“I know Faith,” Dani said sadly as she looked at the ground. “I cannot do what Kennedy wanted me to do. I can’t kill that vampire just so that I can have a shot with Willow. If I kill her, it will be because she has done something to warrant the pointy end of my stake and not because I care about Willow so much that I would stoop to Kennedy’s level.”

“It seems that you and I have both picked the wrong person to be attracted to Dani.” Faith said and turned towards the dormitory building. “I kinda like D and tried to show her that after Sarah’s death but only Sarah isn’t fully dead and so I’m thinking D is gonna be the next person to head off to LA.”

“She and Robin have gone somewhere with Buffy. She is in a bad way and I’m not sure exactly why.” Dani said somberly and glanced in the direction of the street.

“B will be in a bad way until she gets her love life sorted out.” Faith said and let a yawn escape her mouth. “Listen, I’m gonna catch a nap and then what do you say we go drink our troubles away over a few games of pool?”

“That sounds good to me,” Dani said and followed the dark slayer back inside.

- - - -

“Buffy, this is not going to be easy but you have to do what’s right.” Robin finished speaking as Buffy, Dawn and himself arrived at the Willis home. They had taken a long walk to give Buffy a chance to explain herself after spending a tedious few hours trying to console the heartbroken slayer. She, in part, explained the things that Tara had told her and of her realization that she had fallen for Tara’s personality rather than Tracy’s. She also told that she could not help but feel there was a better reason then Faith had conjured up as to why Tara had told her bout Tracy being alive. In turn, Dawn and Robin agreed with Faith in that Buffy was not thinking with a clear head and needed to make the best decision for everyone.

Buffy stopped walking and looked at Robin with a confused yet determined look on her face. “All of my life I have been doing what’s right for everyone else Robin. I have put myself last in most every instance that I have had to make a huge decision. I chose to kill Angel that horrifying night so long ago. I chose to jump off that tower and die to save the world! I chose to continue being a slayer and working for the good of the world when I knew good and well that I could have walked away after we began to multiply in such great numbers! When do I get to choose something that would make me happy and feel complete?”

Buffy turned to her sister with pleading eyes and continued speaking. “Though I fear something will have to be done about it, look what Willow did. She finally got up and started picking up her life again. She, as I have done, sacrificed her own happiness and well being for so long that I was beginning to believe that she never would fall in love again. Willow did this all without obligation and damn it we both deserve to be happy!” Buffy’s lips quivered as she spoke but her words came from the heart and Dawn knew it.

She had spent most of the day comforting her sister who was nearing melt down mode. She had listened to how she felt without protest, though she feared that Buffy was not thinking rationally. “Buffy, you know where I stand on this but I will support whatever decision that you make because you are my sister and I love you.” Dawn said in a defeated tone. She knew that Buffy was right in that she and Willow deserved to be happy. She only hoped that they both weren’t making decisions that could cause them and others more harm then good. She too was at a crossroads and wanted so much to be with Sarah but the rational side of her was steering her in another direction and she knew it.

“I’ve got to go in here alone.” Buffy stated and left the two standing outside alone with worried looks on their faces.

After what seemed an eternity, Dawn felt a ripple in the energy at the same time Willow and Harmony had felt it. “There is something major happening.” Dawn said quietly and hoped that whatever it was, was for the good of people rather than the bad. A man’s voice calling the name Tracy made their fears well up in both their stomachs as they looked towards the front door of the house.

Chapter 21

Buffy got into detective Brad Willis’s home quite easily. The fact that he was a cop and she was able to get in so easily rattled her but she continued onward. She stepped into a dimly lit room with thick blinds over the windows. There attached to life support machines lie Tracy Willis. On a small stand next to the bed, sat a picture of the woman who had some resemblance to Tara but the hair was darker and the facial shape was quite a bit different. The main likenesses were the eyes and the smile, which made Buffy wonder what the larger picture would detail.

As she looked around the room, she saw a photo of Tara and her mother with beaming smiles on their faces. She recalled something about Tracy having snapped a picture of Willow and Tara but here was a family picture of Tara, so why the photo? “It’s time to end the madness.” A haggard looking detective Willis said as he stepped slowly into the room.

“What’s going on here mister Willis?” Buffy questioned with urgency in her voice.

“My ex-wife is the sister of Thomas Maclay. The demon stories that were handed down to Tara’s family, well they were partly true only Tracy had that demon and it had to be activated by Tara’s death. It was some sort of clause the powers that be put into this entire load of crap to try and stop the evil from coming out in Tracy.”

“Did Tracy know that she was evil? I mean I think the answer to that is no but…”

“I tried to warn her but she didn’t want to hear it. I tried to help her as best I could but someone from this big law firm got wind of it and set things in motion. From that point, there was nothing that I could do but keep her alive and hope for the best possible outcome.” The man’s burley frame quivered slightly as he spoke. “I decided that this has to end one way or the other because it is not fair to Tracy. She has suffered her entire life with this curse and now her body is still suffering.”

Buffy had nearly made up her mind that Faith was right several times that day but something held her back from that conclusion and she recalled what it was at that split second. When she spoke with Tara before she had awakened, Tara told her that she was attracted to the good qualities of Tracy, the Tracy before she became totally evil. She knew that part of her had an attraction for Tara because Tracy was trying to act like Tara but there was now a possibility that she did not have to act at all. She was part of Tara’s family and there had to be some good qualities in there that were similar to how Tara behaved. “I wish that I knew how to fix this sir.” Buffy said with tears in her eyes. “I know that Tracy doesn’t know me because of the whole body switch thing but…”

“That was Tracy’s soul in that body ma’am.” Detective Willis interjected. “The evil overtook her the instant that Tara died. Sometimes at night when she’d come home from work, she’d look at me with these sad eyes and I just knew that Tracy was trying to break free but the poor dear couldn’t beat the evil that lived within her. Now the curse is broken and she either needs to be laid to eternal rest or given a second chance at living a happy life.”

“You don’t know how long I’ve been wanting a chance to live a happy life sir.” Buffy said solemnly. “I have died twice for the good of the people and lost many people dear to me. I have done it because it is my calling and I want to help people. The problem is, I’ve always got the shaft when it came to things like love and happiness.” Buffy stood up and looked out the window as she spoke. Afar off in the distance, she could see a star that seemed to shine a little brighter then the rest. “If I have done enough to have one request granted from whomever is in charge out there, let me be at peace and happy for as long as I can here on earth.”

As Buffy and detective Willis held hands and she continued to present her case to the powers that be, the real Cordelia Chase appeared before Tara Maclay in a beautiful garden. “Tara I know that you know what is going on. If you decide to return in that body, you will be Tracy Willis being as the souls were merged. There will be no trace of Tara and Willow’s love within your memories but you will know the life of Tracy Willis. You will remember all of the bad things that have transpired as well as the good things in her life. Again, I want to stress that you will be leaving Willow totally behind and will not know of your love for her. You have one choice to make Tara and only one thing will be granted to you.” Cordelia twinkled her eyes slightly as she spoke to the woman.

“I know that Tracy had developed an interest in Buffy but she couldn’t overtake the evil within her. I love Willow with all my heart and don’t know that I could leave her without the knowledge that she would truly have the best chance at happiness that she could have with the one that has managed to gain a spot in her heart.” Tara stopped speaking and withdrew in her thoughts briefly. “The one choice that I wish to make is for both Willow and Buffy to have what they need to get a shot at happiness and love because they both have lost so much in their lives. They both deserve something good and lasting to come into their lives and a little stability.”

“Bravo Tara!” Cordelia clapped her hands together being glad that she had worded her request in the right way, as the energy around them began to crackle.

Meanwhile, Buffy and the detective felt an energy ripple through their hands at the same time that Willow, Harmony and Dawn had felt it. “Tracy!” Brad shouted and jumped to the young woman as her eyes fluttered open.

As the tears flowed down the man’s face, Tracy reached a hand out and cuffed his chin. “Uncle Brad I want to thank you for not giving up on me.” She said in a hoarse voice as the man handed her a glass of water.

She then turned her gaze to Buffy who was crying as well. “You saved me Buffy,” she smiled weakly at the slayer who looked at the floor.

“I don’t know what all you remember but you kicked my ass in that building.” Buffy said with a small smile on her face.

“No,” Tracy said and tried to clear her throat. “I felt a connection to you right away when I met you. I didn’t know what it was but out of all those pictures that I was shown by that other slayer, you were the one that I was drawn to. You made me want to fight the evil and I think that it weakened the sorceress part of me. I’m so sorry that I didn’t believe you uncle Brad.”

“That’s not important now Tracy,” he said and gave his niece a gentle hug. “What is important is that you are awake and can get all the way better now.”

“That’s right,” Buffy said with a huge smile on her face. She was so happy that she had gone against Faith’s advice and pressed this issue. Granted, Faith gave her some sound on Willow’s better interest but Buffy was happy that she didn’t listen. There still was a possibility that Willow would be hurt by all of this and Buffy knew that is who Faith was trying to look out for. “Tracy, do you know Willow?” Buffy asked and studied the woman’s face but found no recognition.

“I heard the name in a letter that Tara sent me once. We communicated infrequently.” Tracy said honestly but her facial expression saddened. “I hope that she can forgive what I did to everyone.”

“We’ll work on that later Tracy.” Buffy said and kissed the woman that she hoped would eventually become her love on the cheek. As she stood up to give Brad some time with Tracy, Dawn and Robin burst into the room and Buffy knew that they would want answers straight away.

- - - - -

As Harmony continued her passionate assault on Willow, she felt something rippling within her being. It felt like something was pushing its way in and then a loud explosion went off in her head. The next thing that she knew was Willow and Anya were standing over her with Andrew in the doorway with happy tears in his eyes. She knew that the tears were not for her but the demon and felt glad about that. As she looked at Willow’s frantic face, she felt worry and concern for her lover and then realized that she was having all sorts of feelings that she didn’t usually have. “She’s got a soul!” Anya burst out excitedly and hugged Willow. “I swear it, she has a soul!”

“I love you Willow Rosenberg,” Harmony said with a big smile on her face. “I can feel it in here.” She pointed to her unbeating heart as Willow embraced her with happy tears. “I don’t know how it happened but I feel like me again. I know all of my pre-vampire goals and want to complete them. I feel sad that Delia is gone and I love you Willow.” The vampire said and pulled her lover into her arms. “We’re going to make it now, I know it for sure. With a soul, I will be more like Angel was minus the curse clause I hope.”

“So I was right and Anya is not human. She has decided to be with me and let Xander and Amy do whatever it is that they do in Ohio. Now you get a souled vampire Willow. This is great.” Andrew hugged his friend and wiped his eyes. “I just hope that the others will be happy too.”

“Andrew, I said that I would be with you if you could learn how to make good orgasms.” Anya said and waved him towards the door so that the two women could have some more alone time.

Harmony felt a sharp pain in her head and clutched it. “There are consequences to everything.” She heard Cordy’s voice say and then saw what was making her head hurt. “Great, I think I’m going to be stuck in your little helping people gig Willow. It appears that they have given me Cordy’s old job. I see that Tracy Willis is alive and Buffy is hugging her with a few kisses. Faith and Dani are snoozing on the sofa and Dawnie is deciding to come here.”

Willow rubbed her lover’s forehead and gave her a kiss. “The souls were merged before they left this plane. That means that Tara did something to help Buffy and myself be happy.”

“Tracy looks a little like Tara but not a dead ringer.” Harmony said and reached for the Tylenol. “Whatever Tara did for you, I hope that someday she can know how much I owe her for this. My parents are going to be thrilled and if Dawn wants to be with Sarah, we will help them make it work.”

“I kinda thought that she would end up with Faith.” Willow said as the vampire’s kisses grew more aggressive.

“Maybe she decided to go with the lesser of two risks.” Harmony chuckled and received a grin from Willow.

“I need to call Buffy tomorrow and apologize for how I left.” Willow said as the vampire began to focus on her breasts.

“Whatever you want to do Willow,” the vampire said and raised her eyes to meet Willow’s. “All’s well that ends well and I think that we all got a happy ending this time around.”

“I think that you are right and I’m so happy that you can honestly tell me that you love me Harmony.” Willow said as the vampire kissed the new tears from her cheeks.

“So am I Willow. I hope that you never have to know what it’s like to be void of most emotions the majority of the time. I am so blessed to have been given this chance to feel things and love again. I will not mess it up Willow, I promise you that.” The vampire said and the two made love for what they both considered the first time.


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