Tara had entered the room whilst Willow was undergoing the lecture of her life from Giles. Standing shamefully in front of the boarded up window with her rucksack throw over her shoulder, Willow kept her eyes towards her shoe laces, only occasionally meeting Giles' gaze. No one had even noticed Tara had entered the room, Xander and Anya were focused on the pairs confrontation.
"Willow you put the responsibility upon yourself. We waited for you to return with some answers about the spell. Who knows what could have come through in all this time, we were worried sick! And to top it all off you've not returned with answers and have instead made matters worse with your...Your dabbling!" His reaction came far harsher than he intended.
"But Giles, I was careful, it wasn't dabbling. And besides, I do hav-"
"People's lives are at stake! Can you not remember the carnage she brought last time. Willow your vampire alternate has the ability to persuade vampires to do her bidding unquestionably. What on Earth convinced you that this would be-"
"Guys?" Tara, finally noticed by the gang, turned all heads as she spoke, "What's going on here?"
"Willow did a spell," Anya said blatantly," Her vampire self is now roaming around Sunnydale, most likely looking for blood or some people she can chain up." Xander and Tara gave her odd looks, "She likes chains. Humans were in a lot of them in her reality."
"But Willow, what I don't get is why you would bring vamp you here," Xander asked and Willow went silent. It was all Giles' fault, he put the idea into her head. It's a shame we couldn't introduce her to your vampire doppelgänger Willow, she recalled Giles' saying to the pair when they had at first told the Watcher about their encounter with Tara's vampire. But no, Giles' couldn't be to blame, it was all her doing she knew it. She just didn't like to see her Tare-bear unhappy, no matter what reality or demon she might be. Unsure of how the group would handle her reason, she switched the subject.
"We don't have time for discussion Xander, we need to do the spell."
"Well your enthusiasm in all and good Willow but we can't do the spell without-"
"Bohenican gems I know," the witch interrupted what she assumed would be another lengthy lecture from Giles, " you mixed them in with daronian, I noticed before I left but look..." she had swung her rucksack around from her back, undid the zip and pulled out a hand-full of the red-gems, each around the size of a marble and with a small glistening centre, "I had picked them up from our door room whilst I was out."
"Right. Yes. Well we best get started. Hopefully when we open the gates between realities everyone that should will return to where they came from, included the Willow vampire,"
"errr..." the witch started awkwardly," she won't get pulled back. I kinda didn't take her from her reality."
"Willow," the watcher's voice grew sterner, "What did you do to bring her here."
"It was a kinda...temporal replication spell."
"Willow, that d-dangerous!" Tara said as her eyes grew wider at her lover's confession.
"Well I tried pulling her from her reality first but all I got was dust and..." Seeing Tara's eyes anger the red-haired witch thought it best to stop.
"What is temporal replication?" asked Xander and Anya replied, "Pulling something from time, but it can only be from your own memory."
"What that have the 'stepping on a butterfly effect?"
"No its replicating. This vampire Willow is a copy of that vampire Willow. In my years as a vengeance demon I came across some monks in Italy. They were rounding up the oldest demons they could find. By using the spell on their memory they planned to replicate Jesus, but it failed and there were many exploding heads." Anya smiled blissfully at the memory of her demon years.
"And the memory I used was when she was in the cage in the library...And...as the libraries rubble now... I had tried a locator spell," she tried to make the situation lighter after seeing Giles' disapproving shake of his head, "She was heading to the bronze like last time."
"Right well you four get started with the spell, I'll run ahead and warn Buffy." Giles told the gang and he quickly ran out of the shop.
At Tara's orders Xander and Anya headed into the training room, where Giles had recently been using to store new goods before moving them to the basement. Specifically she had sent them in search of a herb they had used earlier but were now running short on. As they had made their way out the room Tara circled her way around the table, only stopping once she'd come across the spell book. Willow followed tentatively behind her, gliding her finger across the table top before coming to a stop a few feet away from her. Tara was silent, Willow now knew that she had done something wrong.
"How's she been. Y'know, since this morning?" she asked cautiously.
"Why'd you do it Will. That magic is dangerous. Bringing a vampire here of all things is hardly worth risking you life," she looked up from the book and her eyes became teary as she imagined what it would be like to lose Willow. The conversation with her vampire self still rang clear in her mind and despite obvious differences they both shared common ground; they needed Willow in their lives. She had already guessed Willow's intentions with the spell but knowing she would risk her life, knowingly or unknowingly, for the demon downstairs hurt like a hundred needles in her heart. She asked again, "Why Willow?"
"I-I guess... I don't know Tara... I-i just," she realised this was the beginning of a babble and she was stuttering somewhat out of character when she noticed the tear run down her lovers cheek. Before another word was said she stepped forward and brought Tara into a hug. Her lover's tears soaked into the fabric of her shoulder and she rubbed soft circles into her back as her cries became loader.
"I just don't want to lose you Willow," Tara said into her shoulder, "I don't want to lose you and be like her."
"I know baby, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't think. I love you, I'll never leave you," Willow felt her own tears beginning to form and the pair stayed there in each others arms for minutes to come. Eventually their tears had subsided and was replaced with a comforting silence until Xander and Anya walked in, their arms cradling several bags of different but visually similar herbs. Seeing the pair confused at the sight Xander explained, "Giles' new suppliers' not big with the labelling." The pair broke their embrace and Tara frantically rubbed at her face, trying to rid herself of the tear stains. Willow did too but less worryingly as the others came over and dumped the many bags on the table.
"You two can make with the witchyness but I can't tell what's what here." he told the pair.
"It's right here," Willow commented as she instantly plucked a bag from the pile.
"That's good!" Anya gleamed, "Now we can get rid of the whiny shop destroying downstairs!" Xander looked at her disapprovingly then she added, "I'm sorry Tara. Please don't destroy my shop if later Willow gets killed by her alternate self, she's probably pissed at being pulled from her universe again. Or Giles' might have a go at her, he's pretty angry with her now too," More disapproving glances, "...What?"
"L-lets j-just get this over with," said Tara as she batted aside the bags to reach the book that Xander had buried. Willow brought over the bowl and a box of matches.
"Perhaps I should check on our hostage, make sure she's all set for the car ride home," suggested Xander and with a nod from Willow her headed downstairs. Anya watched from behind the counter, her arm slightly enveloping the cash register.
Willow lit the herbs and Tara placed the gems in the bowl with them. "Portas hic non est qui revertatur..." they began but were cut short as Xander had run through the basement door, panting as he spoke, "She's gone!"
"W-what?" Tara stuttered.
"Vampire. Pipes. Broke them. Water." he said between breaths.
"Oh my God!" Anya yelled, "She's flooded the basement, Tara!" she scolded her before heading for the backroom so she could turn off the water mains.
"She's escaped. She's not down there." he told the witches.
"Okay Xander, you get Anya and start looking for her. I'll call Giles and tell him to keep a look out." Xander headed out and as Willow began to head for the phone Tara grabbed her elbow.
"Willow we can still do the spell. If we can send her back we won't need to look for her," she explained.
"Oh yeah of course. We'll start again I should still call Giles though," she told her and went to the phone in the training room.
Tara was left alone but the sound of Willow's voice was silently heard from the training room. She blew out the flames from the bowl, knowing they'd have to start from scratch as soon as Willow returned. Once she could put her hand in the bowl without feeling a slight burn she pulled out the crystals which had not already began blackening and put them to one side. She started to clear up the table of the many bags Xander and Anya had brought over but immediately dropped them as a low growl raised her head.
"W-" her scream was cut off but her vampire self forcing her palm over her mouth. With fangs draw she neared closer to her human self's neck. Piercing the skin she began to drink. Tara's screams amounted to little more than whimpers which were absorbed by the vampire's palm. He legs buckled and she felt as if she should have fallen but the demon in front of her kept her upright.
"Tara!" said Willow as she re-entered the room. At the sight of her lover in the hands of the vampire anger filled completely. Her eyes went black and she drew whatever magic she could into herself. The vampire noticed the magic spark in her hands and she dropped her prey. Willow looked down to her loving, seeing her chest rise and fall slightly and the pool of blood widen by her neck. It was the same blood which dripped from the vampires open mouth. Without a moment's more hesitation, "Emittam Ignem!" she sent a ball of fire hurtling towards the vampire, who smiled.
"Reditio," she said and the fire came flying back at her at twice the speed and size. Before she knew it she was thrown back into the training room from its force. Sure she had hit something but not sure what, once she was able to open her eyes again she noticed the burning hole cut out of the door. Her vision blurred, despite the need to help her lover she was now weak and felt a trickle of red crawl down her face. Her eyes drifted close.
The vampire turned to the table. With a quick sweep of her arm she cleared the table of all the ingredients they would use to send her back. She wasn't ready, not yet, not now. She noticed the book lying next to her human self on the floor. She knelt and her hand hovered against the ancient text. "Ignem" she said and the book burst into flame. Standing, she turn to the door, leaving both humans bloody and unconscious she set out into the night in search of her lover.