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Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the other characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.

Chapter 2

As she continued to walk along the path to the Mansion, Willow clutched the satchel of books closer to her chest as her thoughts continued to wander. To say that she felt confused would be a vast understatement. Over the course of the past two weeks, she had started to become increasingly attached to the visits she paid Tara at night. The vampire seemingly never left the Mansion, relying on the red-head to bring her blood. Although it still grossed her out to buy pigs' blood at the slaughterhouse, it comforted her somewhat to know that Tara wasn't resorting to going out at night and hunting someone down in order to feed. Once she found a way to restore the girl's soul, Willow wanted the vampire to be as guilt-free as possible.

Scratching at the skin underneath her jacket, she hissed in pain as her fingertips met one of the more sore 'love bites', as Tara had taken to calling them, and set the wound on fire. Cursing herself for not ignoring the wound, the red-head silently reminded herself that she needed to talk to Tara about being more gentle or stopping completely with the bites…and yet, she was beginning to feel somewhat attached to the to the marks, seeing them as a part of the other girl that she could take beyond the Mansion and the night.

Wait, am I actually enjoying having her bite me? Shaking her head, Willow could already see the Mansion looming up ahead, the top portion of the structure glowing in the moonlight. Making her way up the steps, she could see the rays of light shining through the windows from the inside, the tell-tale signal that the fireplace was already burning a steady flame.

As she pushed open the door, the red-head could see Tara stretched out in front of the fireplace, her hair a tangled mess around her shoulders. Slowing her pace to an extremely slow walk, Willow quietly shut the door behind her, taking her time to make sure that she wouldn't wake the sleeping vampire. The door safely shut behind her, she set the books she had been carrying down onto a dusty table that still held the shattered remnants of what had once been a vase.

Probably something from one of Buffy and Angel's fights... Making her way across the floor, the red-head held her breath, not wanting to make any excess noise. As she knelt on her knees beside the vampire, she smiled at the slightly peaceful look that the vampire's expression held. Unable to stop herself, she reached out and traced the other girl's chin and cheek, the vampire's skin cool to the touch despite the raging fire only a few feet away. Her body completely still, Tara made no movement as the other girl traced her fingertips along her cheek.

She smiled as the vampire finally began to move in her sleep, Tara's body feeling the warmth trailing along the side of her face. As she retracted her fingers away from the girl's cheek, Willow watched as the vampire squirmed slightly, noticing that the warmth on her cheek had disappeared. Starting to trace her finger along the same path, the Witch watched as Tara stopped squirming, and settled back into the pillow, a smile coming to her lips in the process. Noticing the small red stain on those lips, the red-head perked up her eyebrow, leaning in closer to properly look at it in the dim light.

Is that blood? The thought running through her mind, Willow moved her head away, trying not to let the thought of Tara killing someone sink into her mind and give her unwanted images. Her finger still running along the vampire's cheekbones, the red-head heard nothing else in the room except for the crackling of the burning logs.

"Miss me?" Turning her head, she locked eyes with Tara, the vampire having finally awoken from its slumber.

"I'm here, aren't I?" Her hand drifting up to the Witch's neck, the vampire frowned.

"You covered up my bites."

"I didn't want anyone else to see them. Buffy would have started to suspect something." As she spoke, Willow hissed in pain as Tara's fingers touched the still sore wound from the previous night. "Ow, that hurts. I think I might have picked it open on the way over here."

"What did I tell you about touching them?" Propping herself up onto her side, the vampire pulled the neck of Willow's sweater aside and looked at the slightly bleeding wound. Continuing to frown, she looked back into the other girl's eyes. "They won't heal properly if you keep scratching them."

"I know, I couldn't help myself, it itched." Again, she hissed as the heat from the scar met the vampire's cool fingertips.

"Just ignore it. They won't hurt as much." Removing her touch from the scar, Tara smiled as her fingers grazed the Witch's red hair. "I could seal them again for you."

"Please? They hurt." The smile still stretched across her lips, the vampire brought the girl's neck closer to her mouth, her face changing into that of its true form in the process. Closing her eyes, Willow felt Tara's tongue running over the opened bites, the sensation almost making her want to groan. Pulling her face away from the red-head's neck, Tara's face returned to its human guise, the smile having finally disappeared for the moment.

"That should do it. Don't pick at them anymore." She said, addressing the girl in front of her as if she were a small child. To add to the treatment, she kissed the sealed wounds on the red-head's neck, much like a mother would do.

"I'll try." Sitting down into a comfortable position beside the brunette vampire, Willow could feel the heat from the fire spreading across her back.

"So, what books did you bring me?" Tara asked, nodding with her head towards the stack of books that still lay on the dusty table.

"Just some books from the Dorm. I thought you might want something to read."

"I suppose I could work those into my schedule, after kissing you and thinking about what I want to do to you." Smiling, the vampire laid her cold palm against the other girl's thigh, the difference in temperature able to be felt by the red-head even through her jeans. "And all the little things in between those two things."

"Am I really all you think about?" Willow chuckled, brushing her fingers over the vampire's hand.

"Twenty-four hours a day." Her hand moving up to the Witch's stomach, Tara's smile never once faded from her face. "Even when you're just outside the door." Her fingers slipping underneath the other girl's shirt, the vampire felt the other girl start to laugh as she made her fingertips dance over the Witch's bare skin.

"Stop, that tickles!" As Tara's fingers continued to move in a somewhat circular fashion, the red-head continued to laugh, the other girl's fingers finding all the sensitive spots of her skin. Slapping the vampire's hand away, Willow pressed her lips against Tara's, her tongue begging the other girl's mouth for entry. Touching the red-head's cheeks with her palms, Tara pulled away, making the other girl pout with frustration.

"Uh-uh-uh, you were bad. You opened the bites." Wagging her finger at the other girl, the vampire frowned playfully. "Bad girl."

"I'm sorry." Continuing to pout, Willow felt the vampire's finger beginning to trace the little bite marks that covered the barely visible part of her neck.

"Show me how sorry you are then." A sly expression dancing across her face, Tara smiled as the other girl took her fingers into her mouth, her tongue rolling over the digits. Chuckling slightly, she withdrew her fingers after a few minutes, her eyes locking with Willow's.

"Ok, I believe you." Leaning forward, the vampire pressed her lips against the red-head's, feeling the other girl's mouth open impatiently. Rolling her eyes inside her head in a playful manner, she continued to feel the red-head's hands clutching at the back of her shirt.

"Tara, I need you. " She breathed, the words leaving her lips just mere inches from the vampire's ear. "Please."

"I said I believed that you were sorry. I didn't say yes." Pulling away from the girl's kiss, the vampire laid her head on Willow's shoulder. "So, no. Bad girls don't get treated nice."

"Tara…" The tone of her voice emerging as a cross between a whimper, and a whine, Willow nevertheless rested her head against Tara's.

"Have Buffy or Dawn gotten curious?" The vampire asked, trying to redirect the girl's attention away from the desire that continued to pour through her.


"Did you do what I told you?" Her head still lying against the red-head's shoulder, Tara could feel the other girl's hands toying with the bottom of her shirt.


"Good girl." Moving her head slightly, the vampire pressed her mouth against the girl's ear, making the red-head smile in the process. "Lean back and close your eyes." Obeying the vampire's order, the Witch leaned back until she could feel the cold concrete of the floor through the back of her shirt.

"Stay right there." Pulling herself into a sitting position, Tara closed her eyes, and started to channel the magick she had used earlier. Remaining utterly still, Willow could feel her body beginning to levitate, the sensation of weightlessness spreading through all of her senses. Opening her eyes for a split second, the red-head caught sight of the vampire sitting with her eyes closed, her faced utterly enveloped in concentration as she continued to use magick to levitate the other girl.

"Tara?" Opening her eyes, the vampire smiled as she saw the result of her work. As she returned to her feet, she pressed her lips against the red-head's, the other girl's mouth opening almost automatically.

"Something I read about in one of the books you brought me. Guess it works, doesn't it?" She said, finally managing to break the kiss after a few blissful moments.

"Yes, um, can I get down now?" Rolling her eyes playfully, Tara closed her eyes and once again channeled the magicks before Willow was safely lying on her back on the floor. "Thanks."

"I've been doing a lot of spells since you brought me those books, but I was wondering if you could get me some more."

"Yeah, sure, I can bring you the rest from the Dorm." Noticing the vampire shaking her head, the red-head stopped talking, her mind begging for an explanation.

"I want the ones Giles keeps locked up at the Magick Box."

"You…you mean the Black Arts ones?" As the vampire nodded, Willow felt shock pour through her heart. "But…why?"

"I wanted to look at them."

"But you heard what Giles told us. They're dangerous!"

"And I'm dead, Willow. What danger can they possible cause me, apart from being made into dust?"

"Tara, I…I don't know."

"Please, just bring them to me." Looking into the other girl's eyes, Tara considered simply exerting her order into the red-head's mind, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Willow was too devoted to her to say no. "Please?"

"I…ok." Shrugging her shoulders in defeat, Willow felt the vampire's lips again meet hers, the sensation of the cold and warmth mixing together sending shivers down her spine.

"Hey, Willow, can I ask you a question?" Looking up from the book she had been barely reading, Willow saw Dawn slip into the seat across from her. All around the two of them, the various customers inside the Magick Box continued to look at the various pieces that were available for purchase, most unaware of the power they held in their unsuspecting hands.

"Sure, Dawnie, what's up?" As the words left her lips, there was a noticeable exhaustion in the Witch's voice. She hadn't been able to sleep outside of…the Mansion, and it was beginning to worry her. But she continued to deal with the tiredness, trying her best to act like nothing was wrong.

"I haven't seen Tara in a few weeks, is she sick?" As the younger Summers child mentioned the vampire's name, the Witch again saw images of what she and Tara had done the night before explode into her mind. Over and over again, the vampire's near order of 'Don't tell them the truth' from weeks earlier continued to ring out on an infinite loop.

"Yeah, she's, uh, been…sick recently. The doctor said she had the flu. So she's been sleeping a lot recently, because you know, that's what sick people do when they don't feel good."

"Oh, ok. I heard there was a flu bug going around. Some of the people at school caught it." Dawn replied, a touch of concern filling out the tone of her voice.

"Yeah, she just needs rest. Then she'll be as good as new." Inside her head, Willow could hear her brain shouting the word 'Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie' back to her on a loop, much like the way Tara's order was doing the same.

"Can I see her? I mean, did the Doctor say she could have visitors?"

"I don't think that's such a good idea. We don't want you getting sick. It's a pretty nasty little bug." Her heart racing inside her chest, the red-head prayed to the Goddess that the girl would believe her reasoning. Each second that passed by without an answer from the girl seemed like an eternity, and she wanted to scream.

"Ok, guess I'll make her a 'get-well' card. Is that ok?"

"Yeah, she'd love that, Dawnie." Breathing a sigh of relief inside, Willow had to force herself not to shrug or collapse onto the table. She had always hated lying, but the situation now called for it.

"Ok, should I just give it to you?"

"Yes, I'll bring it to her. I'd rather have me getting sick than you." Her gaze drifting down to the notebook the Witch held in front of her, Dawn squinted her eyes in an attempt to make out what was written on the page. Soul…Restoration…?

"So whatcha writing?" The question had barely left her mouth before the red-head's eyes lit up with shock and she slammed the notebook shut.

"Nothing, nothing. Just some stuff Tara and me were going to try before she got sick." Shoving the notebook into her bag, the Witch shot the other girl a nervous smile. "I've gotta go. Bye Dawnie." As she made a bee-line for the door, Willow could feel Dawn's eyes staring into her back, a look of curiosity no doubt upon them. Shutting the door behind her, the red-head sighed as she felt her heart-beat starting to return to normal. She wasn't the best liar, and it was by luck alone that Dawn had believed her. Convincing Buffy or Xander would be a completely different act in itself. There had been numerous times that she had tried to convince Xander of something only to have him see through the charade. They would be able to tell when she was lying.

Her feet falling into step, she could feel the added weight to her bag as the books inside continued to hold their ground at the bottom. It hadn't been easy to access the volumes with so many people in the store, and Anya's ever watchful eyes looking out over the entire store. But she had managed to stuff a few of the books into her bag without a single question. She only hoped that she had grabbed the ones that Tara had wanted. Again and again, Giles repeated warnings that Black Magick was something not to be tampered with came flying back, the sound of each word ringing out like a bell.

And yet, part of her didn't care anymore. All that she cared about was getting Tara what she wanted.

As she sat inside the circle with her eyes closed, Tara continued to concentrate as the ancient magicks tugged and began to circle inside her body, the power growing larger and larger with each passing second. Inside her stomach, the hunger pangs were beginning to match the power's growth, the sensation beginning to overtake the vampire's senses as she remained still and concentrated only on the power she was wielding.

Opening her eyes, and looking at the small clock opposite the door, she saw the clock's hand turn before the loud sound of the hour shook through the room with its sound. The magicks inside her body beginning to separate without the vampire's concentration to sustain them, the hunger began its assault against Tara's senses, each one slowly falling prey to the simple base instinct. Her thoughts almost rushing to defeat the hunger, the vampire seemingly began to pray that Willow would walk through the door at any second, bringing with her the substance that would make the pangs disappear again.

Continuing to tap her feet to the music playing softly in the background, Dawn watched as her pen continued to make wild arcs across the otherwise blank piece of paper. She had been mindlessly doodling for the past four and a half hours, the music in her headphones continuing to drown out the outside world. It was her way of getting peace for once inside the crazy world that she had almost grown used to.

Looking out the window, she could see the yard illuminated by the moonlight, the features of the landscape just barely visible. And yet, the more she stared, the more she had grown adept at picking apart the shadows that had accompanied the night in its crusade against things being visible. As she watched a lone figure make its way across the yard, the pen in her hand ceased its movement as she stared down at the scene.

"Willow?" She said aloud, unable to hear the sound of her voice over the blaring music in her ears. Pushing herself away from the desk, she continued to watch the girl run across the yard, her destination being the front door of the house. Pulling her headphones out of her ears, the younger Summers child made her way to the door of her room, the hinges squeaking slightly as she opened it. As she made her way down the stairs, she saw Willow closing the door behind her, the red-head rushing into the living room in a frantic search for something.

"Willow?" As she said her name, Dawn watched as the Witch looked up at her, obviously startled.

"Oh, hey, Dawnie. It's kinda late for you to be up, isn't it?"

"Waiting for Buffy. Plus I had some homework I was trying to finish up." Stopping at the bottom of the stairs, she watched as the Witch continued to scan the stack of books on the table. "You looking for something?"

"I left a book here, I think. You haven't seen it, have you?" Making the shape of a volume with her hands, Willow described it down to the aging on the leather-worn cover.

"Nope, can't say I have. It might be in Buffy's room, do you want to check?"

"Yeah, sure. It's kinda important, I borrowed the book from Anya, and she wants it back." Saying her thanks, the Witch made her way up the stairs, leaving her bag sitting against the couch in the other room. Watching the girl disappear into her sisters room, Dawn seized the opportunity and opened the bag, finding the same notebook that the Witch had been scribbling in earlier. As she pushed the pages past her eyes, she took in the sometimes underlined passages, all of which dealt with one single thing. Restoring a soul.

Why is she so obsessed with restoring a… As the door to Buffy's room shut, the younger Summers child pushed the notebook back into the bag, shutting it just as Willow emerged into view from the upper portion of the house.

"Did you find it?" She asked, trying not to make her words seem too rushed.

"Yeah, Buffy must have found it after I left it here last time." Grabbing her bag, Willow pushed the volume underneath her arm. "Tell her and your mom I stopped by, Dawnie. Night."

"Night." Giving an unacknowledged wave as the Witch almost ran to the door, Dawn watched as she made her way back out into the night, her pace only having increased.

Soul restoration?