Chapter Twelve

Buffy stood poised inside the crypt with a masked look on her face. Her actions seemed primitive and emotionless, those of a true slayer. "Have you come to rescue your darling sister slayer? Many times, you could have staked me but you didn't! Don't you know the reason for that?" Spike bellowed out in a huff until he looked in her stony eyes. HHe knew if he didn't get out of there now that, his time was short. "You want me is why you couldn't stake me!" His ego decided to take one more jab before he attempted to make a run for it.

In a flash Buffy jumped in mid air, swung around and booted him with her heel to the ground. She swiftly landed and with great ease ended the undead life of William the bloody.

She turned towards her sister who was curled up in a ball sobbing uncontrollably. Buffy knelt down beside her and touched her arm cautiously. "It's all right now Dawnie, he's gone."

Dawn suddenly jumped to her feet and smacked Buffy across the face. "I can't have a life, nobody likes me, and it's always all about you, Buffy Summers!"

As dawn raced from the crypt, Buffy rubbed her stinging jaw. She had just saved Dawn from what was surely going to be a raping and a slap was the thanks she got. Anger rose within her as she too sprinted out of the crypt, hell bent on straightening Dawn out.

- - - - - - - -

Tara sat alone in the living room awaiting Buffy and Dawn's return. Anya had decided it best for her to make a quick exit until Buffy had time to calm down. 'And so it goes in Sunnydale, what a first date.' Tara shook her head as the front door flung open and Dawn came in.

She raced for the stairs but Tara caught her with a gentle hand on her wrist. Dawn looked dirty and slightly battered to Tara and she wanted to know what had gone down. "Spike used me, he wanted Buffy all along just like everyone else does! She staked him, now leave me alone!" Dawn broke away from Tara's grip and raced up the stairs.

Tara stood staring out the window wishing Buffy would hurry up so she could get the rest of the details. She knew something bad happened to cause Buffy to stake the vampire and feared the worst as the door quietly opened.

"Is Dawn here?" Buffy huffed angrily. "I need to talk to her!"

Tara turned to look at Buffy whose face played out a plethora of emotion, anger being the most prominent. "Tara, he was going to rape her so I stopped it and," Buffy's lip quivered as she spoke. "I, well, she then slapped me, blamed me and took off. Now it's time she and I have a talk because she can't continue acting like a spoiled brat!"

Tara moved quickly to the slayer and enveloped her in a firm but gentle hug. "Buffy, you've got to calm down and see her point. She's a teenager who got her heart ripped out tonight by someone she cared for a great deal plus the fact she was almost raped." Tara kissed the tip of Buffy's nose as well as both cheeks. "Buffy, she's just lashing out because she's scared and hurt. Let her calm down and hopefully sleep and try to calm down yourself. Dawnie needs to be shown love right now rather than anger."

Buffy's resolve faded quickly as she listened to Tara speak. She knew Tara, once again, was right. "Tara, you don't know how blessed Dawnie and I are to have you in our lives." Buffy put her arms around the blonde and firmly kissed her softly on the lips. "Maybe, if you don't mind, I can get a shower and you can stay with Dawn tonight. I think she needs you, you're the closest thing to a mother she has now."

"All right Buffy," Tara said with a small smile and kissed her slayer as she headed towards Dawn's room.

- - - - - - - - - -

Tara awoke the next morning with Dawn in her arms. The girl had cried on her shoulder for what seemed hours though it was just a short time. She fell asleep quickly and Tara stayed with her for comfort. Her heart wept for this young girl whom she was watching quickly grow up and she wanted to do whatever she could to help her heal, to help rebuild the gap this mess put between her and Buffy.

As Tara moved to get out of bed, Dawn's eyes fluttered open. "Tara thanks so much for listening to me. You're the greatest person in the world and you're right, this isn't Buffy's fault."

Dawn rose from the bed behind Tara ready to make things right with her sister and start the healing process. She had dreams most of the night about what might have happened if Buffy didn't show up to save her and that, coupled with Tara's soothing words, helped her to see just who was at fault here.

As Tara and Dawn headed down the stairs arm and arm, they both shrugged having smelled food being prepared in the kitchen. "You know we will have to eat that," Tara said flatly, as Dawn giggled knowingly.

The two made their way to the kitchen where, thankfully, Xander was cooking breakfast as Buffy and Anya finished a conversation about last night. The sad for Dawn but small smiles on their faces told Tara that all was well between the ex demon and slayer.

Dawn looked down at her sister and a tear trickled down her cheek. Buffy returned the gaze finding love rather then hurt and anger in Dawn's eyes. She got to her feet and wrapped Dawn up in a slayer hug as the two cried. Not a word was spoken, conversation wasn't needed, both sisters knew all was good between them and that was good enough for them.

Tara soon joined the hug, as did Anya and then Xander. They all shed tears for Dawn, Willow and the future. Not all were sad tears because they all felt good about the future, but they were all needed tears nonetheless as the remaining Scooby gang was reconnecting on a higher more adult level then ever before and all knew Tara was a big part of the reason they were able to do this.

As they stood hugging and crying, Tara knew in her heart Willow would never return to Sunnydale but she would be all right for she too had her own slayer to love her, protect her and more importantly, understand her. Tara was finally feeling an inner peace with the choices she and Willow made and somehow knew that Willow felt it too at this very moment.

As Buffy broke away from the hug and placed a gentle kiss on her new and hopefully lifelong lover's lips, she felt normal, that all was well in the world if just for a brief moment. Buffy knew in her heart that she had made a good decision finally in her life and it would be one never to be regretted. These brief moments of normalcy were far and few between for a slayer and Buffy planned to do her best to savor this moment for as long as she could as she smiled over at her long time friend and his bride to be.

"Wouldn't a double wedding be cool?" Dawn asked smiling as she dried her eyes.

Finished

A/N I hope you all like this story and where I ended it. I thought about continuing beyond this point but this seemed the proper place to end this little book. Thanks again for all who reviewed and those who read but chose not to review.