Los Angeles, Summer 2003
Willow tried not to dwell too much on the sudden, grim
expression on Tara’s face as she rose from the table. It drove home
the changes that happened in the last year, and she wasn’t sure how
to deal with them. This was not the Tara she’d fallen in love with,
the lover who’d died in her arms in a pool of blood on their
bedroom floor. This Tara was older, harder.
And Goddess help
her, she still loved her.
She had been trying to hold it
together over the last few days, trying to stay strong. She, better
than anyone, knew how strong emotions could cloud your head in a
crisis. But there was so much a she could take, and she was
reaching the end of her tether.
For the first time, she
understood what Buffy must have gone through when Angel had been
returned from the hell dimension. At the time, she’d not got
understood why Buffy had kept Angel’s reappearance to herself, and
had eventually come to believe that Buffy hid him because she was
afraid of their disapproval. Now she suspected she had barely
scratched the surface of Buffy’s turmoil.
And then there was
Spike. She had always thought there was more to their relationship
than Buffy admitted to but all her doubts were erased, yesterday,
when she glimpsed the brief moment of devastation and hope on her
face before it shut down into her usual calm, Slayer
Willow sighed and Tara threw her a concerned glance.
“Sorry, just thinking about Buffy and Spike,” she murmured,
ignoring Faith’s snort.
“He still loves her,” Tara offered
softly, as they stepped out into the hallway.
“I think it’s
mutual; but you know Buffy, not big on the emotional
Tara smiled lopsidedly and Willow’s heart gave a
little leap. “They’ll work it out…or rather, he’ll work it
out and drag her around to his point of view,” she said, laughing.
“I think that’s why most of her relationships didn’t work out. They
were so used to following her lead, they never realised that
sometimes she need someone else to show her the
Riley’s face popped into Willow’s mind, and she found
herself nodding in agreement. “She’s going to give him hell, you
know, you didn’t see the expression on her face when she realised
how long he’d been back.”
“Spike can handle
“Listen Guys, as much as I enjoy hearing about Bee’s
love life, we have another problem to deal with right now,” Faith
drawled, as the entered the elevator. “Besides, I think we all know
it isn’t Spike and Buffy you two are really talking
Willow’s felt her cheeks heat up as Faith smirked at
her knowingly. The dark haired Slayer was way too perceptive when
she wanted to be, and very direct about making her opinion known.
It was one of the traits she’d grown to like about Faith over the
last year, but she also dreaded it. “Um, right,” she muttered. “So,
how do we approach this…bad cop, good cop?”
“I’ve always liked playing the bad cop,” she said. “I seem to have
a real knack for it.”
To Willow’s surprise, Tara shook her
head. “Better if I did it,” she said. He’d see another immortal as
more of a threat.”
Faith threw her a speculative look. “You
sure you can handle that?” she asked. “No offence, but you don’t
strike me as the scary type.”
“I’m armed, and he isn’t” Tara
said simply. “I know that, technically, you’re a better fighter
than me but I’ll be the only one in the room who could take his
quickening…so yes, to him, I’m the bigger threat.” She sighed. “I
wish Adam was here,” she muttered, “He’s better at this kind of
Willow snorted. “I’ll bet he is,” she
“Please, let’s not do this again,” Tara said. “I know
you don’t like him, but he’s a friend and I owe him my life…
several times over.”
you,” Tara cut in. “But that never stopped me loving you,
did it?” An awkward silence fell in the elevator, as both of them
realised what Tara just said. “Sorry,” Tara muttered
self-consciously. “I didn’t mean it to come out like
“No, you’re right,” Willow said flatly. “I suppose I
“No, you didn’t,” Tara murmured, reaching
for her hand. “I know how much you’ve struggled with it, I
shouldn’t have thrown it in your face.”
Willow looked down
as Tara’s fingers slipped through hers and tried to blink back the
tears that suddenly blurred her eyes. “How did we get to this
place?” she asked softly.
“I-I don’t know,” Tara admitted
The elevator doors opened, and Faith cleared her
throat. “Time to kick some bad guy ass,” she joked uncomfortably.
“Come on, you can use some of the pent up sexual tension on him, it
works wonders, trust me!”
Kennedy, thought Willow,
and immediately felt guilty for enjoying the feel of Tara’s hand in
hers. Was it always going to be like this? Was she always going to
feel guilty for feeling so gloriously happy every time Tara stepped
into the room? Kennedy had never made feel this way, so giddy and
anxious, and so achingly in love. What was she going to
As if sensing her thoughts, Tara extricated her hand.
“Come on,” she said gently. “It’s time we found out exactly what
Paris, Early Summer of
The television hummed lowly in the background, but Tara ignored
it as she pecked at her laptop. It had been a week since she’d
encountered Drusilla in Montmatre and, try as she might, she
couldn’t get it out of her head. It was all very well for the
vampire to tell her that she had to wait for a sign, but something
told her that Willow was in
“Bringers…Bringers…damn it, I knew I should have
paid more attention to Willow’s database passwords,” Tara
thought grimly, as she skimmed through the search engine’s
“Bringers!” Tara jumped guiltily in her chair as
Adam stormed into the room, and quickly slapped down the screen of
“What about them,” she asked. “Oh goddess, not
His eyes narrowed as he glared at her, as
if picking her apart for lies. “No, but something tells me it won’t
be long before they’ll make another appearance,” he drawled slowly.
“Tell me, what do you think?”
“Is that a trick question?”
“You’ve definitely been spending to much
time with Amanda,” he snorted in disgusted. “That’s probably the
most circular answer you’ve ever given me.”
the only Immortal Tara knew who was good at avoiding questions, but
now probably wasn’t the time for telling him a few home truths. “I
don’t know anything more about the Bringers than you do,” she said,
and technically that was true…technically.
“That’s not what
I heard,” he told her grimly, throwing himself onto the couch. “In
fact, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that you were the girl
with all the answers.”
Tara’s guilt turned to concern as she
saw the expression in his eyes. “You look like you’ve just seen a
ghost,” she observed.
“That would be one way of putting it,”
he muttered, before glaring at her once more. “Stop trying to evade
“I’m not!” she protested. “I really don’t
know who they are.”
“But?” he prompted.
giving in. “I saw Drusilla the other week,” she
“The Vampire?” Adam said incredulously. “And you
didn’t tell me? What the hell were you thinking, Tara?”
didn’t want to worry you,” she murmured.
“You didn’t want
to—” he paused, and took a deep breath. “Let’s try this again,” he
said, in an even voice. “What did Drusilla want with
“She wanted to give me a warning,” Tara said
reluctantly. “But,” she said, as Adam opened his mouth, “It
wasn’t anything we could use. Drusilla isn’t really big with direct
answers, she’s more into stars and portents, and waiting for the
‘sign’.” Tara said, making quotations marks in the
“Funny you should say that,” Adam said
“What?” Tara asked. “What happened?”
just say I got a blast from my past, today,” he sighed. “A seer,
and an Immortal to boot; she seemed very concerned about your
welfare.” The sarcasm dripped off his words, and Tara shivered as
she realised who he must be talking about.
said, before she could stop herself, and Adam threw her a sharp
“Where did you hear that name?” he demanded, getting
to his feet. “She hasn’t approached you, has she? Has
Tara shook her head. “Her name came up in passing
once,” she said. “When I asked Joe about Immortal
“And what did Joe say?” Adam asked, his eyes
Tara swallowed nervously. “N-n-nothing much,” she
lied. “Just that she seemed to be able to spin illusions and had
the ability to influence other people’s actions with her
Adam gave her a long look, then sighed. “Yeah, that
pretty much sums her up,” he said mockingly. “She also doesn’t like
me much, as Joe probably already told you, so avoid any strange
brunette immortals you stumble across, in the near future. I don’t
think she’ll try anything, but it never hurts to be
Tara nodded numbly, as she studied her hands.
“I’ll avoid her,” she promised softly as she wondered, nonetheless,
what the Immortal witch was truly like.
said warningly. “I mean it, Tara, our lives are complicated enough
as it is without throwing Cassandra into the mix.”
glanced up and froze as an image on the television screen caught
her eye. “Where’s the remote?” she said, jumping to her feet.
“Quick, where is it?”
“Tara, what the he—“
said, waving him into silence as she grabbed the remote from the
coffee table and turned the television up.
quite sure what happened yet, but rumours of an earthquake causing
the disaster are already circulating,” the newscaster voice
intoned solemnly over the aerial footage.
Tara felt her feet
give under her, as the camera zoomed in on the yawning pit, her
eyes flickering to the town’s name on the bottom of the screen once
more. Oh, dear Goddess, no….
“Tara.” She felt a firm
hand grab her shoulder and steer her to the couch. “You’d better
“Nobody knows yet what the death toll is but
the pit is over eight miles in width and the chances of surviving
such a devastating upheaval is minimal at best…”
urge to giggle uncontrollably was almost overwhelming. Drusilla
had said she’d recognise the sign when she saw it. “Willow,”
she murmured, as she felt her eyes grow hot. “Oh, please goddess,
Los Angeles, Summer of 2003
The Slayer eyed Methos as if he was something that crawled out
of the dark ages, which in a manner of speaking was correct, but it
irritated him nonetheless.
“Who are you?” she asked grimly,
the stake still clutched in her hand. “And how the hell did we get
here? Was it you?”
“Why is it that everyone always assumes
it’s my fault?” he asked rhetorically.
“Oh, I don’t know,
maybe it’s because one moment I’m in Los Angelus, and the next I’m
in the middle of a desert, with only you for company,” she
snarled. Hmm, it seemed that the Slayer’s temper hadn’t improved
with the return of her memories.
that isn’t true,” he drawled, nodding at Angel’s unconscious body.
“I believe you’re acquainted with him?”
Her eyes rounded as
she jumped to her feet. “Angel!” she gasped, running to his side.
“What did you do to him?”
“What did I do to
him?” Methos spluttered. “It was you who was trying her damnedest
to drive a stake through his heart only a few moments
Startled, Buffy’s face went thoughtful. “I wouldn’t do
that,” she said, but he could hear the question in her
“Probably not, no,” he agreed reluctantly. “But you
weren’t exactly yourself at the time. I’m not exactly sure how this
place works, but it seems to attach itself to the darker elements
of a person’s personality and bring it to the fore…in your case, I
think it was the Slayer part of you that was in driving seat. You
didn’t seem to recognise him, all you saw was a
“And you?” she asked, suspicious. “Why did I
“I interrupted your kill,” he said reluctantly.
“You didn’t seem to like it.”
“Oh,” she said, her voice
suddenly small. “Thank you, I guess.”
“Any time,” he
drawled. “Or, rather, not. Tackling an angry slayer was definitely
not one of my brightest ideas.”
A twitch of a smile curled
up the corner of her lips. “You still haven’t told me who you are,”
she reminded him.
“Adam Pierson,” Methos said dryly, as he
slowly got to his feet.
“Oh!” Buffy’s eyes brightened.
“You’re the guy who came with Tara; an Immortal, right? Have you
“Yeah, about that…” Methos said, then halted as
he saw Angel’s hand twitch. “Um, I’d step back if I were you,” he
said, grabbing hastily at the amulet. “You’re not the only one who
wasn’t feeling himself!”
“Hey, where did you get that?”
Buffy demanded, stepping back nonetheless.
“Giles,” he said
briefly, figuring a lie was the best way to stop the questions.
“Something about a prophecy.” Well, that part was true.
“Best as I can make out, it negates the influence of this place.
“Which is why you’re Buffy again, and I’m not trying to swing a
sword at you.”
“Used to do a lot of that, did you?” Buffy
“It was the thing to do,” he said, shrugging, as he
slowly approached the Vampire, the amulet extended before
“How does it work?” Buffy asked, curious.
touch seems to do it,” he said grimly, resisting the urge to jump
as Angel’s body twitched again. “Although you’re the only empirical
evidence I’ve had of that.”
“I bet you’d look good in
tweed,” she drawled. “You’ve already got the vocabulary and accent
“Huh?” Methos asked, momentarily
“You sound like a Watcher,” she explained,
grinning. “There’s an opening, if you want one.”
laughed, despite himself. “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt,”
he said wryly. “It didn’t fit.”
“Bet’ya that’s a
story,” she teased. “Care to tell—” Suddenly, Angel was on top of
her, the ridges on his face springing into prominence as he snarled
and pinned her to the ground. With a soundless grunt, she rolled
him over. “Hey, I can’t hold him all day, you know!” she called
over her shoulder. “Make with the glowly amulet,
Warily, Methos approached the snarling demon and
pressed the amulet to his shoulder. Fascinated, he watched the
ridges smoothly sink back into his skin.
The Slayer smirked. “Welcome back,” she
“I didn’t realise I’d left,” the vampire said dryly.
“Um, Buffy, what are you wearing?”
“What?” she asked, then
blushed furiously as she glanced down the tiny rags that covered
her body. “Oh, right,” she muttered, scrambling to her feet before
she recovered herself. “Hey, you’re one to talk, Mr
If it weren’t for the fact a vampire can’t
blush, Methos thought with amusement as the vampire shifted
uncomfortably, I’d be looking at two red
Angel suddenly glared at him as if sensing
his thoughts. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
your ungrateful ass, apparently,” Methos
“What is that you’re wearing?” the vampire asked,
ignoring the reproach in his reply.
“Leather and wool,”
Methos said brusquely as he picked up his sword. “All the rage,
back in the day.”
“And the bronze sword?” Angel
asked, his eyes homing in on the blade.
“Never you mind,”
Methos said flatly. “We’ve better things to worry about, like
tracking down your friends and getting the hell out of
“You know, you never explained to me where we were,”
Buffy said thoughtfully.
“That’s because I don’t know,”
Methos said tersely. “I thought you’d have a better idea. I believe
you’ve tangled with the First before?”
“The First,” Buffy
said, her face paling. “That’s all I need…wait a minute, what did
you mean by tracking down our friends?”
sighed, this was turning out to be a really long day.
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