"Can…Can you?" Willow stammered.
"You want me to knock?" Xander said knowingly as he and his best friend stood in the hallway outside of the apartment Tara had been staying in.
"I just, I don't think I can. I mean, what will she think when she sees me? After what I did to her, with the whole memory thing; and then…then how I hurt Dawn…and she loved Dawn just as much as the rest of us. I…I hurt her so bad Xander, how can I even look her in the eyes?"
Xander turned to look straight at Willow. "She loves you Will. You may not be together right now, but she still loves you and that's what you'll see when you look in her eyes, so it'll be a lot easier than you think…I'll do it."
Xander knocked softly on the door.
"Ya know Spike, much as I appreciate this brilliant display of trust on your part and as much as the idea of being chained to some hot-blooded, err, cold-blooded Englishman's bed thrills me, these shackles are kinda on the uncomfortable side." Faith spoke to the sound of foot steps descending the stairs of Spike's crypt. "Oh, uh, hi B. I, uh, I didn't realize…."
"Hi Faith." Buffy looked at the other slayer chained to Spike's bed. Her gut felt like it was swimming around inside of her. She should have been there. That bed was meant for her, those chains should have been around her wrists. Oh god, what was she thinking, she was jealous of Faith for being shackled to the bed of an evil, soulless vampire? What was wrong with her. Bad Buffy, bad thoughts. "Unchain her Spike."
"Yes ma'am!" Spike said obligingly. He grabbed the keys and approached the brunette in his bed.
"Thanks!" Faith said flexing the kink out of her wrist and standing up.
"How you feelin' pet." Spike asked.
Buffy's stomach lurched again. He called her 'pet'. He doesn't even know her and he called her 'pet.' Why did it bother her so much, she had no right to be bothered by this. Bad Buffy, bad thoughts.
"Feelin' alright. Ya know, if your definition of alright is a throbbing broken arm, big bruised ass, and muscles that have been torn from bones."
"Well here's a hint, next time kill the demon before it has a chance to turn you into a catnip toy." Ice dripped from Buffy's voice. I'm not jealous, I'm not she told herself. It was just average everyday hatred rearing its big, fat head; not envy. If it was envy that would mean that Buffy felt something for Spike and Buffy certainly didn't feel anything for that soulless creature; Buffy didn't feel anything…Period.
"I'll remember that next time I'm fighting for my life." Faith paused then changed the topic. "Do they know? Did you reveal the ugly secret?"
"Yes. They know. We're working on a…thing. We have to get your watcher and meet the other's back at Gil…Anya's Magick shop." Buffy said flatly.
"Well then, what are we waiting for? After all, this reunion should be just super." Faith's voice was thick with sarcasm although she jumped out of bed with enthusiasm. Faith wasn't looking forward to this little gathering but on the other hand if she had to do it, she might as well get it over with, right?
"You guys, I don't know how much help I'll be. I'll do what I can but I don't think it'll be enough. Our magicks are on completely different levels." Tara grudgingly informed her visitors.
"That's not true Tara, you're the best witch I know." Willow assured her ex. "You are so much stronger than I ever was. You have power, control, passio…" Willow trailed off. Tara and passion in the same thought was too much for her to bear.
"This Countess, she's using black magicks that we can't even begin to comprehend. Even if I were willing to risk everything to try and fight at her level…Magick takes so much concentration and you have to really mean it…I-I would never mean it enough to-to make it happen." Tara added.
"I don't get it." Xander said sheepishly. "What wouldn't you mean?"
"The only way to really fight black magick is with black magick. I don't have that in me. As much as I want to help, I would never be able to justify using magick that way."
"Oh, OK… I guess we'll just…I mean…thanks for…" Willow stammered for something to say. She was disappointed that Tara couldn't help them; partly because they really needed someone who could fight the Countess' magick, but mostly because she was hoping to have Tara around.
"I can still come back with you, do some little stuff to-to give us some time. Protection spells, maybe a glamour or something to throw her o-off the scent. Maybe it'll give us time to come up with another plan." Tara stumbled. She wanted to help in anyway she could, but secretly she was just looking for an excuse to see Willow.
"Well it's worth a shot. We…We really appreciate this Tara." For a moment the two women locked eyes and Willow felt almost whole again for the first time since Tara had left. Xander was right, there was still love in her eyes. Maybe there was hope for them after all.