A/N: Thanks for the feedback as always. I know some of you are mad at me for killing Tara. In a quick defense of the decision, the show beautifully tackled how Willow went dark because of vengeance and anger. For sake of the storyline that becomes more prominent in the sequel and this story as well, I wanted Willow to have more of an addiction to magic where she does some really irreparable things to her friends around her and she's going to be driven more by guilt then the original Willow.

Chapter Ten: I'm What You Let In

Later that night every step Buffy took to her bedroom felt like she was walking in cement. The whole house felt dead and every breath Buffy took was temptation to let the tears spill over. She had barely wanted to leave the house to see Faith and Angel and ever since then, things were clearly spiraling out of her control. It was only in the quiet moments when she was really alone did she allow her brain to just accept the numbing quiet she needed right now more then anything. But the realities of what had happened in the last forty eight hours kept replaying like an old movie she could not get to end.

She had told her friends.

Giles was here.

Willow had killed Tara.

Having everyone in the house was more of gift then she thought. She always had someone looking at her, forcing Buffy to place some kind of emotion on her face. Unless Spike looked at her and her heart would break. Because he knew she was pretending and he would cock his head a bit as if he was curious as to what she was thinking. Then his eyes would soften and she felt something in those moments that gave her more strength then she could imagine. It was the only thing that held her together.

Willow had cried herself to sleep and Oz had went to comfort her. Even though there was no comfort anyone could provide her that would fill the void she felt. Buffy knew that. God, she missed her mother.

She told her friends.

Giles was here.

Willow had killed Tara.

The worst part was that the responsibility she so resented was causing her to feel sharp pangs of guilt. How had she let Willow slip so far away? Was Tara's death partly her fault too?

Her vision blurred as the tears started to surface. Buffy placed a hand on her mouth to muffle an anguished cry, racing into her room. The pain quickly turned to anger and Buffy wanted to hit something. Before she could think rationally, she saw red and pulled back her arm to swing at the lamp. Her fist never made impact and she whirled on her heels to find Spike gripping her elbow.

"Love," he sighed. "You'll hurt yourself."

She roughly pushed herself away from him. "Don't tell me that! I can't-"

Her breath was coming out in short erratic spurts as she struggled to articulate all that was inside of her. Spike went to grab her again but stopped when he saw the defiance in her eyes. "Buffy-"

"I'll hurt myself?" she screamed at him. "I'm not weak. I'm not-I need to feel something real, Spike. Even if it's pain. I need to grab something and snap it's neck. I need-"

And she froze as she had realized what she had said and realized what she had said was the ultimate truth. "I need a reason to be here. I feel like I'm just taking up space and watching everything I care about fall to pieces. Nothing is the same and I can't reverse that Willow is slipping away or you have a soul or that Giles left or that Faith is being the normal one in this whole thing," she ranted. "I'm not the same and I feel that, Spike. I have no mission or anything. I don't have a damn thing!"

Spike watched her intently, knowing this wasn't his turn to speak.

"Giles is right. What did I think was going to happen? I'd get an office job and bake cookies? Raise fat little vampire babies and pretend that everything is OK?"

Spike smirked at her. "Vampire babies?"

Buffy froze, then blushed furiously. "I didn't literally mean-"

"Do our vampire babies have names?" he teased.

HIs blue eyes were dancing with amusement and Buffy couldn't help but smile a little. The boiling frustration was ebbing inside of her and his smug expression was almost cute. "No," she mumbled. "They don't."

"Giles knows about us," Spike said hesitantly. "Which is more then I can say for myself."

His eyes searched hers and Buffy looked down. "Oh. The talk."

"Your mates don't want to stake me as much as they used to. I'm still sneaking in windows like your dirty little secret," he whispered. Buffy immediately felt guilty when she heard the twinge of hurt in his voice.

"Spike," she sighed. "I don't know what I can give you. You've done so much for me already and I'm just so...incomplete."

Spike lifted his chin with his fingers and said almost angrily, "Do you have any inkling what you've given me these last couple days? I hold you and it's a revelation. I feel close to you and I've never felt that with anyone since I've been walking this earth besides my mum. I'm in pieces too, love."

Buffy blinked away tears. "I don't want to hurt you."

"I don't need a definition. I just need to know you're with me," he whispered. His forehead pressed against hers and while in this moment he wanted nothing more to kiss her, he didn't want to scare her off.

"I'm with you. It's probably the only thing I'm sure of," she confessed. Her hand snaked to intertwine with his. "No more windows."

Spike tried to contain a smile but was unable to. He kissed her forehead gently and pulled away from her slightly. "I been keeping something from you. It's a potion that Angel was able to get. You could have your powers back but I don't know what exactly it does. How it works and all."

"You had it this whole time?" she hissed.

"You didn't seem like you'd be interested," he replied honestly. "Was waiting for a right time but then there never was one."

She seemed to accept his explanation. "I want it," she whispered. He wouldn't have heard her if it wasn't for his enhanced senses. "Where is it?"


In the other room Willow had woken up in a cold sweat. She gently removed herself from Oz's loose sleeping embrace and robotically began to head to the bathroom. None of this mattered, she thought coldly. Tara was gone. She closed the door behind her and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She felt sick-

And almost jumped out of her skin when she saw Tara behind her in the reflection. She whipped around expected her to be a guilt induced vision. Instead she was still there. All the air left Willow's lungs and tears sprung to her eyes.

"Tara," she squeaked out. On instinct she reached out for the touch she hadn't felt even before Tara had passed. The words 'I miss you' seemed beyond an understatement and a travesty of the feelings Willow actually felt. Tara pulled away as if repulsed by her.

"You can't touch me because of what you did," Tara whispered.

Willow recoiled. "I'm sorry. Where are you? How are you here?"

"I need to warn you."

"But I haven't used since that night!" Willow protested. "I'm done with magic. I know that I got that too late. I know that...it's my fault that you're gone," and Willow almost choked on the words. "But I'll beat this and I'll make you proud."

Tara frowned deeply and shook her head. "I saw what you did."

"I don't understand," Willow almost screamed in frustration.

Tara stepped closer and Willow almost fainted when her familiar scent filled her senses. The pull was too strong. The pull to hold Tara or just sink into the pit of darkness that was beneath Willow's feet. "I watched you kill them. You're dangerous, Willow."

Willow's blood ran cold. "Kill who?"

"Everyone," she replied sadly. "The magic is stronger than you. I don't want you to slip away. I want you to be with me so we can be at peace. So we can be together the way we were supposed to be."

"How can I do that?" Willow whispered, utterly confused. "That's not-"

"You know how," Tara said, her eyes downcast. They rose slowly to meet Willow's then guided both their gazes to a discarded razor on the kitchen sink. "It will only hurt for a second."

Willow stumbled back, her body slamming into the sink as she tried to back away from the vision in front of her. "Who are you?"

Tara snickered and a dangerous gleam sparked in her eyes. "Did I go too far? The image of your dead girlfriend asking you to kiss this horrible world goodbye? Maybe I underestimated how pathetic you are."

"Who. Are. You?"

'Tara' turned into a version of Buffy, crossing her arms and rolling her eyes sarcastically. "Well you caught me. I'm what you let in when you bought her back. The world was literally a better place without her in it. But if I have my way there won't be very much of your little merry band of misfits when I'm through. Actually, technically I was always here but you-"

And Buffy laughed for a bit. "Let's just say I get to play now instead of being locked inside the house."

Willow wanted to dispute the words but something inside her knew them to be true. She could feel what little energy she had trying to use magic in case she needed to defend herself. But the withdrawal was taking it's toll and her veins almost burned with the effort. "Shut up," she spat.

"Not the best response," Buffy mocked. "Aren't you guys known for your witty puns and clever one liners? I'm disappointed. I was hoping to get the whole experience when I stopped in."

"Well you can leave now."

"Why? I'm just starting to have fun. You know last time I tried to get one of you to kill yourself Buffy tried to intervene. I guess she won't miss you very much. Not that I can blame her."

Willow gasped. "You're the First."

Buffy clapped. "Smart girl. Except when it comes to the one thing that you can't quite wrap that little redhead around. I've already been inside of you. That taste you want for more power. The way you fantastically killed your little girlfriend."

"I'm not evil," Willow argued through clenched teeth.

"Not literally. I'm evil. You're just-well let's put it this way. You've been asked to be a vengeance demon, which is no small feat. Even alternate dimension vampire Willow was kinda fucked up. Oh yeah! That's that murderer thing you're trying on now. Tell me, don't you like the way it feels?"

"No," she sobbed. Willow wanted to fight back but everything Buffy's doppelganger was saying was piercing her heart.

"Don't kid yourself. Isn't that why all your friends are trying to fix you? Why they don't trust you? They're the good guys, remember? Either way, killing yourself should still be an option for you. Although I think I'll enjoy watching you destroy yourself."

Suddenly the bathroom door flew open and a frantic Dawn rushed in. When Willow went to look back at where the First had it, she found nothing. "Something happened to Buffy!" she shouted.