Title: Amanda
Category: Dramatic fluff, short and sweet.
Rated: PG-13
Spoilers: Takes place right after S5 The Body. Very minor spoilers.
Summary: Willow and Tara solve a mystery on their own.
Disclaimer: This is Joss Whedon's stuff; I'll put it back when I'm done (not that he'd want it).
Feedback: A drug recently discovered to be more addictive than nicotine.


Tara squeezed through the crowd with two drinks in her hand, finally making her way to the table where Willow was sitting.

"Hey, you got a table!"

"I had to kill a man," shrugged Willow.

"Well, it's a really good table," smiled Tara, sitting down and handing a cup to Willow.

"I copied your notes for Buffy. It's really pretty simple stuff. I know she needs some time off, but she can't afford to take too many more incompletes. If she just reads this...hey, what's the matter? You don't feel good?," asked Willow, concerned.

"I dunno. I feel...it's nothing," sighed Tara, shaking her head.

They both looked up as a girl about their age sat down on a stool onstage. She had short brown hair, wore little if no makeup and was simply dressed in blue jeans and a light blue T shirt. After strumming a couple of chords to see if her guitar was in tune, she adjusted the microphone, smiled at the crowd and began to sing.

"When the spell is broken...
when the spell is broken.
How you ever gonna keep her now?
You can't cry if you don't know how.
When the spell is broken...
when the spell is broken.
All the joy is gone from her face,
welcome back to the human race.
How long can the flame of love remain?
When you curse and fight and never see like or hear like spoken.
When the spell is broken."

Willow noticed that the singer seemed to be looking in their direction. In fact, she seemed to be staring at Tara. She reached over and touched Tara's arm.

"We could go back to your place. I could make you some soup," suggested Willow.

"No, that's okay. I'm fine. Thanks," smiled Tara, glancing at Willow. But she quickly returned to staring at the singer.

"All your magic and your ways and schemes,
all your lies gonna turn to dreams,
when the spell is broken...
can't cry if you don't know how...
when the spell is broken...
now you handed her that same old lie,
it's just straws in the wind this time.
When love has died, it's not for starry eyed.
No kiss, no tear, no farewell souvenir, not even a token,
when the spell is broken..."

"Do you know her?," asked Willow, trying not to show how uncomfortable she was.

"Amanda? No. Remember the band that was here on Thursday? The drummer...he was cool...he said to make sure to check her out tonight. I never heard her play before."

"Don't swear your heart from the very start,
love letters you wrote are pushed back down your throat
and leave you choking,
when the spell is broken..."

Willow took a sip of her soda and looked back at Amanda. Then, without looking at Tara, she put her cup down on the table and stood up.

"Hey. Where ya goin'?," asked Tara.

"I'm going to call Buffy. Just...to check in, see how she's doing," replied Willow flatly.

Tara nodded.

"Buffy should've come with us tonight. Xander could've stayed with Dawn, even if it was only for a while. She needs...well, you know," said Tara.

"Yeah. Be right back."

Willow looked over her shoulder as she walked towards the pay phone.

"Deja vu," she muttered to herself.

Amanda finished her song and received polite but sparse applause from the Bronze crowd. Even so she smiled for them.

"Excuse me for just a few minutes. I need to replace a broken string," said Amanda into the microphone. She stepped offstage and began to remove the string from her guitar.

Tara glanced back at Willow. She was still waiting for someone ahead of her to finish their phone call. Tara stood, took her jacket off and draped it over the back of her chair, hoping no one would take their table. Then she walked over to talk to Amanda.

"Hi. I liked your first song. It was really...you were into it, like it really meant something to you and you weren't just singing the words. If you know what I mean," said Tara, wrinkling her nose.

"Thanks. It's an old Richard Thompson tune, one of my favorites. But it didn't seem to go over big with this crowd," answered Amanda, looking around the room.

"They're just used to loud rock most nights at the Bronze. A little variety will do 'em good. And it's nice to hear someone who can actually sing. Oh, I'm Tara," said Tara, offering her hand.

"Thanks. Amanda, but you probably already knew that, what with the sign at the door," smiled Amanda, shaking Tara's hand.

"Wow, your hand's cold. You feel okay?," asked Tara.

"Actually, no. Haven't felt...like myself all day. Must be coming down with something. Just hope I can make it through the set," sighed Amanda, tightening the new string on the guitar.

"Say Tara, do you come here often?"

"Well, sure. Maybe a couple of nights a week."

"The reason I ask is that I'm looking for someone. She...she's a close friend," said Amanda, reaching down and fishing out a photo from her pocketbook. She handed it to Tara. The girl was about their age with long black hair and green eyes.

"We, uh, got into a stupid argument the other night and she didn't...I haven't seen her since. And I'm worried, you know? Just thought you might've seen her here. I already asked the bartender but he didn't remember her," added Amanda.

"Amanda, is she your girlfriend?," asked Tara.

"Um...yeah, she is. I didn't know if you'd be cool with that," shrugged Amanda.

"I'm more than cool with it. I'm here tonight with my girlfriend," smiled Tara.

"Oh," grinned Amanda.

"But sorry, I haven't seen her. What's her name?," asked Tara, handing the photo back to her.

"Veronica, but she hates that so we call her Ron," replied Amanda. "She didn't come home two nights ago. That's not like her."

"You think you should go to the police?," asked Tara. Amanda only shrugged.

"I don't know. Could be nothing. Sometimes she likes to go for long walks in the park near here and loses track of time. I just thought she would've called or something, you know? Hey, I gotta get back up there. But thanks for listening."

"Uh, how would I get in touch with you if I saw Veronica?," asked Tara.

"Well, I'll be here tomorrow night, too. Some band cancelled at the last minute and they asked me if I could fill in. Of course, after watching me put this crowd to sleep they might be having second thoughts," smiled Amanda.

"You're doing great. Nice talking with you," said Tara. Amanda nodded and went back up onstage.

Tara made her way back to their table. Willow was already there.

"Hey. So how's Buffy and Dawn doing?," asked Tara.

"I don't know," shrugged Willow. "She says they're okay but I could hear in her voice that she just didn't have a good day. Maybe we should go rent a movie, stop by and cheer 'em up. What do you think?"

"Uh, sure, I guess. Could we stay for one more song?"

"Okay," agreed Willow.

Tara looked towards the stage but Willow kept her eyes on Tara. It wasn't long before Tara noticed.

"What?," smiled Tara.

"Aren't you going to tell me what you two talked about?," asked Willow.

"Oh, Amanda? I just said hello and that I liked her song."

"Oh," nodded Willow.

"It's kinda sad, actually. She had a quarrel with her girlfriend and she didn't come home, so Amanda's all worried about her. Even showed me a photo and asked if I had seen her."

"Wait. In a five minute conversation she opens up to you that she's gay and starts talking to you about her girlfriend?," asked Willow, not hiding how shocked she was.


Willow sighed and looked back at the stage.


"Yeah?," answered Willow, not looking back at Tara.

"You're jealous," said Tara, a big grin on her face.

"What? I am not!," protested Willow. "And besides, is there something to be jealous of?," she inquired.

Tara smiled and shook her head.

"Honey, you're cute when you're mad," whispered Tara.

"I'm not mad and I'm not jealous," replied Willow, trying to hold back a smile.

"Busted," announced Tara. Willow stuck out her lower lip and crossed her arms.

"And you were too staring," whined Willow, only causing Tara to smile even more. Amanda strummed a few chords, hoping to get everyone's attention. Only a few people stopped talking.

"This one is for Ronnie," she announced.

"Every night that goes between,
I feel a little less,
As you slowly go away from me,
This is only another test.
Every night you do not come,
Your softness fades away.
Did I ever really care that much?
Is there anything left to say?
Every hour of fear that I spend,
My body tries to cry.
Living through each empty night,
A deadly cold inside."

Willow couldn't help herself. She watched her lover instead of Amanda. And when she looked around the room she realized that to most everyone else it was as if Amanda wasn't there. They simply weren't paying attention to the singer. A few people here and there, yes, but only a few. Willow slid her hand across the table and touched Tara's hand. Tara smiled but didn't look away from Amanda.

"So I try to say goodbye my friend,
I'd like to leave you with something more,
But never ever been a blue, calm sea,
I've always been a storm.
Always been a storm...
Oh, always been a storm...
I have always been a storm."

"Hey," said Willow softly. Tara looked over at her.

"You ready to go?," asked Willow. It was more of a command than a question. Tara nodded.

"I should have known from the first,
I would be the broken hearted...
I loved you from the start...
And not all the prayers in the world could save us..."

A polite applause broke out from the crowd as Willow led Tara towards the door. Willow glanced back at the stage and was surprised to see Amanda staring at her. She wasn't looking at Tara, she was looking directly at Willow. And she smiled.

Willow felt more uncomfortable now than she did before.


Tara poured herself a cup of coffee and glanced over at the bed. Willow was still sleeping. Quietly opening the door, Tara reached out and pulled in the morning paper. She sat at the table and spread the paper out. The weather, as usual, was predicted to be warm and sunny. And then she saw the article, tucked away on page three. Death in Sunnydale had become so routine it never seemed to make the front page anymore.

A young girl, unidentified as yet, had been found dead yesterday afternoon in the woods not far from the Bronze. Police are investigating but no details were available by press time. Cause of death is unknown at this time.

What was it that Amanda had said?

"Sometimes she likes to go for long walks in the park near here."

Tara had more than a bad feeling about. It was almost as if she had been drawn to this article. Suddenly Willow rolled over and stretched, smiling when she opened her eyes. She immediately stopped smiling when she saw the look on Tara's face.

"What's wrong?"

Tara took a deep breath and sighed.

"We have to go identify a body," said Tara.

Willow opened her eyes wide in surprise.



"Tara, it's kinda creepy...no, it is creepy being here so soon after...well, you know."

"I know. And I'm sorry. You didn't have to come with me, but I have to know."

Willow nodded and pushed the door open. A man in a white hospital coat looked up from his desk.

"Can I help you?," he asked.

"Yes. We, uh...the girl that the police found yesterday. Has anyone identified her yet?," asked Tara.

"Sadly, no."

"Well, I may be able to help. See, I have a friend...okay, she's not exactly a friend, I mean, we just met and all...but her roommate is missing. So there's a chance that this girl is...might be her," said Tara.

"Oh. Is this friend..."

"Amanda," offered Tara.

"Amanda. Is she coming down to identify the body?," asked the doctor.

"I'm not sure. I don't know how to get in touch with her. But I know what her roommate looks like," explained Tara. "So when I read the paper this morning..."

"I understand. I'm Dr. Morgan," said the man, standing up and offering his hand.

"I'm Tara. And this is Willow," said Tara, shaking his hand.

"Hi," smiled Willow.

"Thanks for coming down. Would you be willing to view the body? I'm assuming that's why you're here, but I have to ask."

"Yes," nodded Tara nervously.

"Okay, if you would just follow me, please?," said Dr. Morgan. They walked through another set of doors into a room with a lot of tables.

"Doctor, what did this girl die from?," asked Willow.

"I'm not exactly sure. It looks like she was attacked by a wild animal, possibly a dog. Most likely the cause of death was blood loss due to lacerations on the neck. Except..."

"Except?," repeated Willow.

"Except that there was very little blood at the scene of the crime. She must've been killed somewhere else and then the body moved to where she was found," explained the doctor.

Tara and Willow exchanged knowing glances.

"Dr. Morgan, are you new here?," asked Tara.

"Why yes, I just moved to Sunnydale last week. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, nothing. Who found the body?," asked Tara.

"A man jogging in the park. Well, here we are," announced the doctor, placing his hand on the steel handle of a door on the wall. It was only one of many cold, metal doors. He pulled the door open and peered inside. And then he looked back at Tara and Willow.

"I don't understand. Someone must have moved the body last night. I...I'm sorry, but I'll have to check with my supervisor. I may be new here, but this is very unprofessional. Let me just check the paperwork before you go. Maybe...maybe someone claimed the body," said Dr. Morgan with a shrug. "I'll be right back."

He walked away and Tara peeked into the vault.

"Welcome to Sunnydale, Dr. Morgan," whispered Willow.

"What do we tell Amanda?," asked Tara.

"What can we tell her? We're not even sure this girl is...was her girlfriend."

"I think I'll leave Dr. Morgan my telephone number. Just in case someone did move the body," said Tara hopefully.

Willow rolled her eyes.

"Hey, it could happen. Maybe," sighed Tara.

Dr. Morgan came back quicker than they expected. He was holding a sheet of paper in one hand.

"Well, no one claimed the body because she hasn't been identified yet. So...so I have no explanation for you. Yet. I'm sorry that you came down here for nothing, but I am grateful."

"Dr. Morgan, what did this girl look like?," asked Willow, trying to glance at the paper.

"Oh, uh...brown hair, about five foot two..."

"Brown hair? Oh. Guess we couldn't have helped you after all," interrupted Tara. "The missing girl I knew had black hair."

"Wait. Brown hair? Short brown hair? With brown eyes?," asked Willow.

"Why, yes. Do you know..."

"Um, no. Sorry. I was just thinking of someone. Someone else," added Willow, avoiding Tara's questioning stare.

"Oh. Well, thank you none-the-less," smiled Dr. Morgan.

"Good luck with your search. These things happen," shrugged Willow.


"Where is she?," asked Tara.

"She's a little late. The bartender said she didn't call to say she wasn't coming, so relax. She'll be here," answered Willow.

"It is early," agreed Tara, looking around the mostly empty Bronze. "What time did Xander say he'd meet us?"

"Around eight. What are you going to tell Amanda? It's not like we know anything new," reminded Willow.

"I...I don't know."

Willow ran a finger over the cross she held in her lap.

"Tara, you have to consider the possibility that..."

"No. She's not. Don't ask me how I know, I just do," snapped Tara.

"You said her hand was cold, remember?," continued Willow.

"And your feet were cold in bed last night. Does that make you a vampire?," asked Tara, raising her chin towards Willow.

"I was too sleepy to go get socks," whined Willow. Tara couldn't help herself and smiled. And then her eyes opened wide as a girl walked into the Bronze.

"Willow, look. It's Veronica!"

The black haired girl turned her head as if she was looking for someone. Tara stood up and Willow followed, slipping the cross into her pocketbook.

"Excuse me, are you Veronica?," asked Tara, walking towards the girl.

"Uh...yes. How did...do I know you?," she replied.

"No. But I met someone last night who showed me a photograph of you. She was looking for you," said Tara.

"Who?," asked Veronica, very confused.

"I'm sorry, I'm Tara and this is Willow."

"Hi," said Willow. The girl nodded at Willow.

"Oh, Amanda played here last night. We got to talking and..."

"Am...Amanda? Amanda was here? Last night?," asked Veronica.

"Yes. She played guitar. On stage," answered Tara.

"But...but that's impossible!," cried Veronica.

"Why?," asked Willow. "I mean, we both saw her."

"You did? That...I mean...Amanda left town. The other night. She, she said she wasn't coming back. She couldn't come back!," said Veronica loudly, almost yelling. "Excuse me, but I have to go."

Veronica turned and headed for the door.

"Wait! She'll be here tonight, any minute!," shouted Tara.

Veronica ignored her and left the Bronze.

"Now that was weird," said Willow.

Willow turned to face Tara. And realized that someone was standing behind them.


"Amanda!," said Willow, instinctively stepping away from her.

"Amanda, how did..."

"So you found Ronnie," announced Amanda, interrupting Tara. She was staring at the exit where Veronica had gone.

"Yeah. Guess we did. She thinks you left town," said Willow, taking a step towards Tara so that she could step between them if she needed to. Amanda smiled but continued to look at the door.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Amanda, this is Willow," said Tara.

Amanda glanced at Tara and then nodded at Willow.

"Nice to meet you," said Amanda, although she didn't offer her hand to Willow.

"Say, Amanda...," began Willow, reaching into her pocketbook, "you didn't happen to leave this here last night, did you?"

Willow held up the cross.

"No. It's not mine," replied Amanda, neither flinching from nor reaching for the cross.

"You sure? They do all look alike," said Willow, taking a step closer to her. Willow looked Amanda in the eye; Amanda held her gaze and reached for a gold chain that hung around her neck. She pulled on it and a small gold cross slipped out from beneath her blouse.

"Like I said, it's not mine. I wear mine around my neck," smiled Amanda.

"Oh. Must belong to someone else, I guess," said Willow, slowly lowering her arm. Embarrassed, she avoided looking at Tara.

"I guess. Tara, can you do me a favor?," asked Amanda.

"Sure. What can..."

"I need you to come with me. Both of you," added Amanda, looking at Willow.

"What for?," asked Willow nervously.

"It's okay, Willow. I think I know. I'm beginning to understand," said Tara, sadly smiling at Amanda. Amanda smiled back.


"But...why here, of all places?," sighed Willow.

They were standing in front of the old Sunnydale High School.

"Lead the way, Amanda," encouraged Tara. Amanda nodded and walked towards a door. Willow stood there for a moment, watching her go. Tara extended a hand to Willow. She hesitated, took a deep breath and slipped her fingers against Tara's palm, allowing herself to be led towards the school.

If the door had been locked it wasn't now, creaking its echo down the empty hall as it slowly shut behind them. It was dark but the moon, almost full, cast a light through windows or holes in the roof and they could see where they where going. Willow knew that they weren't too far from the library. Amanda stopped in front of a door and looked back at them.

"In there?," asked Tara. Amanda nodded.

"The girl's restroom? In fact, that's the one..."

"The one what, Willow?," asked Tara.

"Um...it's not important. It's just...one time, Xander told me something. About Faith. I hid in there and cried. Small world," sighed Willow.

Amanda reached into her back pocket and handed Tara a stake.

"Willow, you'll need your cross now," said Amanda, not taking her eyes off of Tara.

"My cross? I don't understand. What's going on?," demanded Willow.

"It'll be dark in there," said Tara nervously. Amanda lowered her voice to a whisper.

"No. She lit candles. Vanilla. They were my favorite."

"Hey! What the hell is happening here?," barked Willow.

"We're doing Amanda a favor," said Tara, not taking her eyes off of Amanda. "Why me? I don't understand."

"I can't explain it. I just...I just knew I could trust you," said Amanda.

"You can," nodded Tara.

Amanda stepped away from the door as Tara put her hand against it, ready to push it open.

"Wait. Aren't you coming in there with us?," asked Willow, anxiously glancing from Amanda to Tara.

"She can't. Not yet," explained Tara. Tara reached back for Willow's hand and she reluctantly took it.

The room was indeed lit by two candles, their sweet vanilla scent barely able to mask the stomach knotting odor that permeated the dank air. Veronica was on her knees with her back to them. Her body convulsed as she tried to stifle her sobs. Even in the flickering light of the candles Willow could see that she cast no reflection in the mirror on the wall. In the stall in front of Veronica was a body, although they could only see the legs from where they were.

"Veronica," whispered Tara. Willow gripped the cross in her hand even tighter.

"I don't understand. You said...you said that you saw her. I thought...I thought...," cried Veronica, unable to finish her words.

"You thought she rose," answered Tara. Veronica nodded but still didn't look at them.

"The night you argued with Amanda. You went out. Is...is that when you were attacked?," asked Tara.

"Yes," replied Veronica softly, rising unsteadily to her feet. When she turned to face them she was in full vampire form. The tracks of her tears on her cheeks held the slightest hint of red.

"I came back, of course. She didn't know what I was...she was just so happy to see me, you know? And, and I told her we could be together...always...that we wouldn't have to be apart, ever again. But..."

Veronica looked down at Tara. Somehow she seemed bigger or taller than when they saw her at the Bronze. But there was no anger in her yellow eyes.

"But she wouldn't feed from you, would she? It isn't what Amanda wanted," said Tara.

Veronica shook her head.

"I took her. From the hospital. She never liked hospitals. Always...always made her nervous," explained Veronica, forcing a smile. Willow glanced at Tara, holding the cross out in front of her. Veronica ignored it.

"Why? Why did she come to you and not me? It was me that she loved...I just, I just wanted to hold her again. I...I missed her so."

Tara held the stake out in front of her.

"Why didn't she want to be with me!?," screamed Veronica. Willow was startled but Tara didn't flinch.

"Because she loved you," whispered Tara.

Before Willow could react with the cross, Veronica ran right at Tara. But she made no effort to avoid the stake. In fact, with her arms outstretched, it seemed as if she embraced her death. She disappeared in an explosion of ash.

Neither girl moved at first. Then, her hand trembling, Tara let the stake fall to the floor. Willow placed a hand on her shoulder but Tara didn't notice.

"Tara, how did you know?"

"I...I just felt this incredible sadness."

"From Amanda?," asked Willow.

Tara turned and looked at Willow.

"No. From both of them."

Tara reached over and lifted a candle from the shelf it was on. She walked past Willow without looking back at the body and opened the door. There was no one in the hall.

"We should call Dr. Morgan, tell him where Amanda's body is. But how do we explain how it got here?," asked Tara.

"This is Sunnydale. We don't have to explain anything," replied Willow seriously.

Tara knelt down and picked up a gold cross and chain from the floor.

"Maybe...maybe I should go back and put this on Amanda," said Tara, holding out her hand to Willow. Willow took the cross from her.

"No. I think she wanted you to have this," smiled Willow, undoing the clasp and placing it around Tara's neck. Tara began to cry. Willow placed a hand on her cheek.

"Tara, don't cry. She's at peace now."

"It wasn't Ronnie's fault. She, she only wanted to be with the one she loved. She couldn't...it wasn't her choice, to be what she was. It wasn't her fault," sniffed Tara.

"I know. And Amanda knows too."

Willow kissed the top of Tara's forehead.

"Look at you, all covered in ash. Tell ya what, why don't we go home? I'll draw you a hot, steamy bath...we'll fix up your hair," said Willow as she ran her fingers through Tara's hair, "maybe have a little wine...sound good?"

"Sounds good," agreed Tara, smiling. She put her head on Willow's shoulder, Willow put her arm across her shoulder, and they went home.


The songs that Amanda sang were When The Spell Is Broken by Richard Thompson and Storms by Fleetwood Mac.