The room was dark, save for a few scattered rays of moonlight that graced walls and furniture alike with a ghostly silhouette. Nothing moved, except a lone figure perched on the edge of the bed stirring ever so faintly. Soon, it would be time to go. Time to face the unimaginable. But for now it was enough to just sit here and think. A day had gone by and still the pain had not dulled, not even a little bit. It wasn't fair.
She allowed herself to gaze at the books piled on her love's desk. The sweater, carelessly hung over the back of a chair. The candles, remnants of the passion that flowed between them. It had all been so simple. Deep in her heart, she believed that nothing would ever be simple again.
Without willing it to, her mind again roamed to the events of the previous night - the one that had been undoubtedly the worst of her life. She remembered her love, lying crumpled on the floor. She remembered the way the blood had looked, shiny and over bright. She remembered the shock. The fear. The loss.
The whole slaying thing had been really slow for the past few weeks. Buffy was even beginning to believe that the vamps and demony stuff had all packed up and gone on vacation. Either that or something was brewing. From experience, she knew that the latter was more likely. But that would be then and, for now, the gang was gathered at the magic shop just keeping each other company. And annoying Giles.
She looked across to the small redhead who was staring at the clock as if turning away would cause time itself to stop. Buffy couldn't help but smile. She knew why Willow was so distracted and was considering initiating a good old tease-fest when she heard her name.
"Buffy, are you listening to me?"
"What? Oh, sorry Anya but cheering-up duty calls."
"Huh? Anyway what do you think? I think that making money is way more fun than sex."
"Hey!" interjected a mortified Xander.
"Well it is." Replied his girlfriend.
"Anya, I think you may have hurt Xander's feelings"
" Why? I like Xander's sex, but I like money. Maybe we could combine the two. Xander, I think you should start paying me for sex."
"Good Lord! Anya, do you have to discuss your .um.." Giles just could not bring himself to say it.
"Sex lives?" inquired Buffy, helpfully.
" Um.quite right. yourumintimate details in front of everyone?"
"But Giles, you were looking at the shelves so we were actually discussing it behind your back."
Giles rewarded his Slayer with a glare of such ferocity that she hastened to leave and check on Willow.
"Hey Will, I know you're all witchy woman and all but you can't speed up the clock by staring at it, or can you?"
"Well actually, there's this spell that might do it and if Tara's not here in the next ten minutes, I may just try it." Willow smiled back at her.
"Don't worry Will, I'm sure she'll be here soon. Besides, vamp activity is pretty much nada at the moment."
"Well you don't have to sound so disappointed"
"Sorry, you know me. Always up for dusting some vamps. But seriously, she'll be here."
"I know. It's just that I'm lost without her."
And she was. Tara was her everything. When she had first realized that she was falling for the other girl, a whole lot of confused emotions had fought a brutal tug-of-war inside her. In the end, Tara's power over her had been undeniable. How could you turn your back on such blinding and unconditional love? Love that showed in every glance, every touch, every kiss. Tara was more than just her girl. She was her life.
And then that life came crashing down with the simple opening of a door. It was her Tara and yet not hers. For this Tara was pale, with blood oozing out of her torn neck which had already begun to heal, but worst of all was the dried blood caking those lips that she had kissed a thousand times before. She knew the truth then. Her love had been turned. Yet still she went to her. Even as Giles exclaimed behind her. Even as Xander moved protectively in front of Anya. Even as Buffy grabbed Mr. Pointy. Still, she went to her and held her as she fell to the floor.
Willow looked at her watch. It was 8:00 p.m. Time to go. But what would she say? What could she say? She didn't know how to look her friends in the eyes, much less Tara. Sweet Tara. Yes, Tara was still there. She had no idea how that could be. Her soul should have been gone , yet when Willow had looked into her eyes, Tara, her Tara looked back at her.
She fingered the small scar on her neck. Buffy had been all for major slayage and willow knew that the only reason her love was still alive was because of her. She had promised, threatened and pleaded and, in the end, support had come from a most unlikely place.
Anya, who had seen many such 'turnings' in her thousand years and who realized that this was different.
So, the decision had been made and when Giles had said that Tara would not survive until morning without feeding, she had opened her own veins in the midst of many protests. They had gone with the now sleeping Tara to Buffy's house and Willow had sealed the guest room so that nothing undead could enteror leave. She herself had left only after warning the Slayer that her love had better be alive.or undead.when she returned.
Now she was returning..but to what?
All had gathered at the Summers' house except Willow. They sat in silence, none wanting to be the first to speak again. Finally, Buffy lifted her head.
"We can't let her live."
"Why not?" asked Xander.
"What do you mean, why not? Hello! Has anyone but me noticed that she is now a vampire?"
"Yeah, we've noticed. But what do you want to do? Just stake her and when Willow finally shows up, we can all say oops, didn't mean to do that?! We're talking about Tara here."
"No, we're not. I'm talking about a vampire. You know, all fangy and demony with the whole I'm-gonna-drink-your-blood thing."
"And you're expert-girl, right?"
"Yeah, I'm the Slayer, remember? And I had Angel."
" Oh, give me a break! Newsflash, Buffy, Angel's gone and just about everybody is sick and tired of hearing you bitch and moan about it. We're not talking about some old gypsy curse here. Tara is still alive in there somewhere and you know it. You saw the look in her eyes. You saw Willow having to force her to feed. But you couldn't be happy with a vampire and that means that no one can. Why don't you just admit that you don't want anyone to have what you couldn't, not even your best friend?!"
"Xander, I'm warning you!" Colour had risen to Buffy's cheeks.
"What are you going to do? Stake me?" mocked Xander.
"Will you two stop it!" interjected a weary-looking Giles.
"Can I say something?"
"What!" snapped Buffy.
"Back off, Blondie." Growled Xander.
Buffy was so taken aback at the usually complacent Xander that she actually did. But not without going into pouty mode.
"Go on, Anya. What do you know about this?" asked Giles, with an odd look in his eyes.
"Well, it was about six hundred years ago. In Paris. I was dating a vampire called Raymond something. Well, not actually dating. We had sex a few times." Seeing a frown from Giles, she hastily continued." Anyway, there were these rumours about a vampire and a mortal and the Slayer let the vampire live, so I asked Raymond about it. He said that, from what he'd heard, every generation a special soul was sent to earth only this soul had been torn in two. Each half was destined to find each other the vampire wasn't evil because half of it's soul was still on earth.
"And I'm supposed to believe that?" asked Buffy with obvious sarcasm. She evidently didn't believe any of it.
"Actually, it does make sense. The Prophecies do speak of a vampire with a soul, but there was also mention of that soul not being intact. I have to admit I was a bit confused by it..until now." Said Giles.
"Okay, maybe I'm a Little slow here, but what about Angel? I mean, didn't he have a soul?" Asked Xander.
"Well yes. You see a vampire's soul resides in a certain realm. Most of these creatures are too involved in wellfeeding to care but, from what I've read it is possible to re-unite with one's soul with the help of very powerful magic. I wonder."
"Giles, what are you.What the hell was that?!"
A piercing scream rang through the house. Tara. They all raced to the guest room, Buffy as usual in the lead. She didn't know what was going on, she just knew it had to be bad. Her fears were confirmed when, on pushing the door open, she was greeted by Tara. Tara with brow furrowed and fangs bared. So Giles was wrong. Buffy primed herself for the unpleasant task ahead. The others had come up behind her and she could hear gasps of surprise. But the worst was yet to come, for Tara spoke and when Buffy heard the words, she felt a cold hand around her heart.
"It's Willow. She's d-dying."
" I can't love a vampire but I do. So what do I do about it? Can I just turn my back on everything that we've shared? I don't know if I can, but what choice do I have? Oh Tara, my love. If there is any way to be with you, I have to find it. I can't lose you. Not now. Not ever. Are you evil? I don't think so. I can still see the love in your eyes. If I didn't, I would never have let you feed from me. What do I do, my love? What do I do?"
In the midst of these musings, something terrible happened. Willow felt herself pulled back with tremendous force and the impact with the low wall was enough to, mercifully, knock her unconscious. She was not aware when her vein was pierced for the second time in 24 hrs. and her blood began to flow. She awoke only once, fleetingly, when her love brushed strands of red hair away from her face and lightly kissed her as tears fell.
The hospital walls were stark, sterile, and lifeless. Every now and again, an almost inanimate voice would page some doctor or a plastic-smiled nurse would greet a grieving relative. Everything reeked not of comfort but of cold death, waiting in the wings until the time had come for it to show itself. Or so it seemed to Buffy Summers.
She remembered, with painful clarity, all that had gone before. The horror at seeing her friend lying senseless on the cold cement. The struggle that resulted in Tara killing one of her own kind. Her sire. The pleading look in the other girl's eyes as she waited to see if she would be allowed to stay at her lover's side. In the end, Buffy had relented. If Tara had meant to get away, she could have done so by now.
Willow was dying. The doctor had said as much, although he had gone through roughly ten minutes of talking before getting to that point. She has lost too much blood. There's nothing we can do. It's only a matter of time. By the way, can any of you come with me and fill out some papers? Buffy hated doctors.
But not this time, damn it. She was not going through this again. Not after her mother. There had to be another way.
"How are you holding up?"
"As well as I can, I suppose. I hate this place."
"I know..Buffy, We need to talk."
"Uh-oh. That's the something's-up face. Come on Giles. Spill"
"Very well. You recall what we were talking about at the house?. Well, if that's true, and I rather suspect now that it is, then we have a problem."
"I'm not following."
"Willow is Tara's soul. As long as Willow is alive, Tara remains good. If Willow dies.."
"We lose both of them?"
"I'm afraid so."
"So what do we do? Losing them both is not an option."
Buffy had talked to Anya for a long time. Eventually, the other girl had left, with Xander, saying that she would be back in no time. Giles kept taking off his glasses and wiping them absently, as if he wanted to erase the memories of all that he had seen. Tara had no idea what was going on, only that she wanted to be at Willow's side but Buffy had insisted on speaking with her. At long last, the Slayer approached.
"We need to talk. You heard what Anya and Giles said back at the house"
Tara nodded before replying, "What do you need?"
"Do you love her?"
"With all my h-heartif I still had one."
"I believe you. It isn't easy, but I believe you You need to change her."
"You heard me."
"B-but if I do t-that, wouldn't our soul be lost. I m-mean, Buffy, she's getting weaker and I can feel it. I can feel m-myself wanting to do bad things. If she becomes l-like me"
"No. Anya explained it to me. The soul of a vampire resides in a different realm thingy. Usually, you guys don't know it but it can be returned with some strong magic."
"Yeah. Anyway, that's what I sent Anya for. She's going to give you back your soulwell you half anyway. Then, you'll be Willow's sire. She won't be evil. Half of her soul will be here. And you guys are way stronger. Magic-wise, that is. We can get hers back afterwards."
"Will this work, Buffy?"
"You said you loved her. So do I. We have to try. Besides, what have we got to lose?"
" I may have already lost her."
"She loved you as a mortal. She'll love you as a vampire. She's your soul."
To that, there was no argument.
It was time. Buffy had done some convincing and the doctor had allowed them to spend the night, on the condition that they did not disturb his patient. They had promised not to, and they wouldn't disturb her exactly. No, they were going to kill her.
Anya had performed the ritual, and Tara could feel the evil being released from her, as her soul once again took up residence in her body. Just as now she could feel the eyes of the other two as she tentatively sat on the edge of the bed. She took in very detail of her love's face. She was so beautiful. So pure. Would that purity last into the world of the undead? They had to try.
Slowly she bent forward to leave a trail of kisses along her beloved's neck. Over the marks that she herself had put there. Over the marks that another had inflicted. There was no turning back now.
"I love you, Willow."
She allowed her fangs to break the skin and then bit deeply. She drank, but not too much. Her beloved had already been drained. And in a final act of consummation, she slit her own wrist and placed it to the lips that she loved so much. A drop. That was all. In a few hours, her love would awaken and no one would understand. No one would know, thanks to a modified animation spell a-la-Anya. For a few hours at least, Willow would have a heartbeat. All that was left now was the waiting.
"How are you, my love?"
"Better, now that I'm with you."
Daylight had come and gone. Willow had been released that evening. The doctors had been amazed at her recovery but they hadn't found anything out of the ordinary. Now, she was home. In their room. In their bed. And they were together again. Soon, there would be other things to take care of. Classes to transfer. People to deal with. But for now, it was good to just lie in each other's arms. Anya and Xander had been good enough to come over and install some new, thicker drapes so the room was as dark as night, even in the day. This was good. It wouldn't do to have someone walk in and meet two piles of dust. Tara had spent the day making everything comfortable and was delighted to see the look on Willow's face as she walked in. That was when she knew that everything was going to be fine.
"Penny for your thoughts, baby?"
"You can't afford my thoughts, honey."
"That's okay. I'm sure we can think of something."
"Willow, honey, weren't you the one who was lying in a hospital bed a few hours ago?"
"Tara, weren't you the one who died last night?..Hey, honey, I didn't mean to upset you." This as Tara's face fell.
"It's n-nothing.I just thought I'd lost you. I mean, first I was like this demon thing and I didn't know if you could s-still love me. And thenthen I thought that I'd really lose you. T-that you'd die and leave me."
"Well, we don't have to worry about that now," said Willow, with a smile.
" N-no. But can you be with me like this?"
"What?.As vampires?..Honey, I love you. Nothing has changed. That's what I was coming over to tell you last night. You are my life and now I have as much time as I could hope for to show you that."
"Y-you mean that." Tara was so cute when she was shy.
" Of course I do..Always."
And to prove it, the redhead leaned closer and pressed her lips against the fuller ones of her lover. The kiss was tentative at first but quickly grew in intensity as the hunger and the longing of both found sweet release. Willow could feel the barely sheathed fangs of her girl, as she was sure that Tara could feel hers. And as the passion grew, tongues were added in a sensual duel.
Tara pushed her love back onto the bed and lay on top of her. Gently, she nuzzled at her neck and was rewarded with a low moan. Slowly, and with the maddening pace that she knew drove her lover wild, she undid the buttons of Willow's shirt and trailed kisses down the length of her torso. Her lover's back arched to the touch and it was enough to take her breath awayif she still needed to breathe.
Hands pulled her back up into a rough embrace and a gasp escaped her. Willow rolled them over until positions were reversed and then subjected her lover to the same torture she had inflicted before. Their pace was faster now as bras joined shirts on the floor and breasts were cupped, teased and kissed. The only sounds were those of mounting pleasure as clothing was abandoned and naked bodies embraced. Curves were traced with hands and tongues. And when they came they did so together. Each with furrowed brow. Each biting deeply into the other. Each savoring the taste as well as the touch. Lover and lover. Undead and undead. Vampire and sire.
And when it was over, they still lay entwined, neither of them speaking. Each content to just lie in the arms of her beloved. For them, there would be another night. And another. And another. For as long as the world lived, the night would be theirs. And they would be together for all time.