Oh god, this chapter is so long! XD Sorry, but this is an extremely important one, so excuse the length
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
"What?" Disbelief filling out his voice, Xander took a few steps of his own towards where the Slayer was standing. "But we already beat the First. Remember, there was the whole thing with Ethan Rayne choosing us as champions because he wanted the First's power, and we had to find all these body parts…"
"That has to be where Amy is getting her power from." Her mind still putting together a larger picture, Buffy's gaze fell to the ground. "It has to be controlling her somehow."
"But why would the First want to make Willow go dark? Besides the whole fact that it wants to cause destruction and pain everywhere it goes."
"Could have something to do with the whole prophecy thing Giles and Angel warned us about."
"Buffy, I think maybe we should get Giles on the horn. He might be able to dig up some kind of kryptonite we could use against Amy, if she's really under the First's evily control."
"I think he's right." Nodding, Anya continued to watch the scene unfolding in front of her. "We've gone up against some big ones in our time, but I don't think we can take the First on head on."
"Done it before, remember…in the way that it was possessing Ethan Rayne...but that's beside the point." Perking up her eyebrows, Buffy nevertheless moved towards one of the nearby payphones. "I'll call him though."
"Excuse me, but is there a Ms. Tara Maclay here?" Stepping into the room, a different Doctor than the one that had been by before looking at the crowded waiting room.
"I'm her." Turning away from the window, Tara crossed her arms across her chest nervously. "Is Willow alright?"
"She's out of surgery, but she's still asleep. She's going to be fine. She's lucky that there wasn't as much blood loss as there could have been. Having glass embedded in your back isn't something that is recommended as a fun time."
"Can I see her?"
"As I said, she's still asleep, but considering that you're the only next-of-kin that she has listed, I suppose it's alright. If you'll follow me..."
"Go ahead, we'll wait out here." Nodding, Buffy cradled the phone between her shoulder and her ear. "If she wakes up, she'll want to see you first."
Returning the nod, Tara followed the Doctor as he led the way down the hallway that seemingly lacked any distinctness. After what seemed like an hour of walking, they arrived at a plain white door. Gesturing towards the inside of the room, the Doctor allowed Tara to enter first. As she took a few anticipation filled steps into the room, the blonde Wiccan knew that the sight that would greet her wouldn't be the happiest one. Still, when she saw the other girl laying in the bed, her red-hair flowing down until it met the white medical garb, she felt something inside her break.
Shutting the door behind her, Tara took a few caution filled steps to the side of the bed. There was a chair waiting there, and as she set herself down into it, the Wiccan looked at the other girl. Aside from the various medical instruments hooked up to her, she appeared to be fine. Smiling slightly, the blonde took the other girl's hand into her own. Wrapping her fingers around the former Witch's digits, Tara felt a single tear fall from her eyes, the drop making it halfway down her cheek before she wiped it away.
"Aww, is little Tara crying over me?" Lifting her eyes from the red-head's hand, Tara's heart dropped to the very pits of her stomach. Standing only a few feet away from her was a mirror image of Willow, although her entire body was covered in the same black attire that she had been wearing after she had absorbed the Black Magicks from the books. "I'm touched."
"You're not Willow."
"Am I?" Rolling her black eyes, the mirror image chuckled slightly. "How can you know? After all, I'm a part of her, aren't I? I'm just simply buried in her mind, behind barriers that she wasn't even strong enough to set up by herself."
"Get out." The way she snarled the words surprising even herself, the blonde Wiccan squeezed the real Willow's hand even tighter as she stood up.
"I don't think I will. Don't worry, I'm not going to have my precious Amy come after you. I think she's already done her job for the moment." Stopping on the other side of the bed, the doppelganger looked Willow up and down. "I'm kinda skinny.
"You know, Tara, you can't stop what's to come. Even she knows that. But she stills thinks that maybe the Slayer can change that, simply because that's what she's done before." Her gaze falling back onto Tara, the doppelganger smiled. "She loves you."
"Leave." Still glaring at the First's illusion, Tara felt Willow squeeze her hand back, although no other sign of being aware of what was going on around her came from the former Witch. "Now."
"Being bossy there, that doesn't seem like something that Tara would do." Stepping back from the bed, the First gave a smile at the Wiccan before changing into a form that caused the girl's eyes to grow wide with shock.
"Mom?" Even though her mind screamed that it wasn't the woman that she knew, Tara's heart fluttered as her eyes trailed over every inch of her mother's face.
"Hello, honey." Smiling at the younger Wiccan, the entity's eyes seemingly were filled with nothing but what could be described as pure evil. "I see you're still being useless."
"You're not her, stop it." The strength in her voice rapidly faltering, Tara squeezed Willow's hand as hard as one could without the bones breaking. "Leave."
"Such strength, and yet, it's not exactly that. It's fake." Obeying the Wiccan's command, if only for its own amusement, the First transformed into Warren's form. "Remember me? You know, the whole bullet in the shoulder thing? Sorry about that by the way, guess Willow didn't like it."
"Leave." The word beginning to lose some of its strength, Tara knew that she wouldn't be able to keep herself under control for much longer. "Just leave."
"Alright, alright. Jeez, I come here in peace, and you just throw me out. Typical woman." Taking a step back, the First smiled once more before it closed in on itself and disappeared. Her eyes staring solely on the space that had only moments before been occupied by the source of evil, the blonde girl closed her eyes for a moment as she felt tears beginning to work their way up through her system. She had been prepared to see the darkened version of her girl, but seeing her mother had been a curveball that she hadn't expected.
The room was completely silent now, with only the sounds of the heart-beat monitor interrupting the silence. Easing herself back into the chair behind her, Tara rested her free hand against her forehead as her body started to shake from the sobs that she was barely keeping restrained inside of her. The blood that had stuck to her palms earlier had been washed off as soon as the doctors had looked at her, but it still felt like it was there, staining her skin. Willow had actually bled for her. As the memory of what it had felt like to see the other girl lying on the floor bleeding finally broke the barriers that the Wiccan had placed around the tears, and they finally escaped from her eyes and charged down her cheek.
"Tara?" Turning her head, the blonde Wiccan could see Willow's green eyes weakly looking back at her. The tears still streaming down her face, Tara buried her face into the red-head's chest, and let everything she felt inside of her out into the open. Her confused and tired mind barely able to recognize what was going on, Willow laid her hand on top of Tara's head. Her hand still holding onto the red-head's, Tara was glad that she had shut the door on her way in, sparing anyone outside the image of her state.
"Tara…it's alright…" Her tone sounding as tired as she appeared, Willow looked down at the girl crying in her arms. "It's…alright."
"So, the First…this thing can change into other people?" As she asked the question aloud, Dawn couldn't help but remember the images of Willow visiting her the previous night. Was it even her?...
"Yeah, it likes to play mind games with people." Still pacing around the waiting room, Xander's mind raced with images from his encounter with doppelgangers in the First's home dimension. "Gets a kick out of doing it, I guess."
"And you've seen it do this?"
"Once, but then again, it was in its own dimension, so maybe it was real, for them."
"Dawn, what are you trying to say?" Looking up from where she was holding the phone, Buffy eyed the younger girl curiously.
"I…I might have seen it…in my room last night."
"You what?" Raising her head completely, the Slayer's attention was fully drawn towards her sister. "Dawn, what did it do?"
"It was Willow, and it just…talked to me. I told it to leave, and it left."
"Buff, I'm no expert, but I think having the First inside your house is not a good thing." As the dry joke passed his lips, Xander shoved his hands back into his pockets. "Do you think there's some kind of spell that…"
"No." Shaking her head, Buffy seemingly knew what the other Scooby was going to suggest. "We are not having Tara or Willow do Magick inside the house. It might make her go Dark."
"I kinda agree." Nodding her head slightly, Dawn closed her eyes. "There's gotta be something we can do though."
"If Giles would ever pick up the phone, I would ask." Pressing the receiver back against her ear, Buffy groaned. "Come on, pick up already!"
Days passed before the doctors finally agreed to release Willow into Tara's custody, even though the former Witch was of legal age to sign herself out. As she rolled her eyes from where she was sitting in the wheel-chair, the red-head felt her girl rest her hand on her shoulder.
"It's only until the doctors are sure that you didn't hurt your back."
"I can't believe this is a real policy!" Crossing her arms across her chest, Willow morphed her lips into a pout. "This is so stupid!"
"Someone's grouchy today." Smiling slightly, Tara continued to push the other girl towards the exit. "It can't be that bad."
"The food sucks." Still pouting, the former Witch squirmed slightly as the bandages still attached to her back started to itch. "I want chocolate chip pancakes."
"If I make some for you when we get home, will you stop being a brat?" Saying the term with a certain playfulness to her voice, the blonde Wiccan pulled the wheel-chair to a stop only a few feet from the entrance to the building. Stepping around the chair in order to prop open the door, Tara continued to smile.
"Oh, trust me, you haven't seen Willowy bratness yet!" With the doors safely propped open, the Wiccan returned to pushing the other girl down the connecting handicap ramp. Managing a smile as the sun shown down upon where she was sitting, Willow heard the other Wiccan chuckling.
"I'm afraid, I truly am." Returning the smile, the two Wiccans found Xander waiting for them in front of the stairs.
"Good evening, ladies. A drive around the park?" Bowing while speaking in a faux British accent, Xander couldn't keep himself from grinning as he looked at Willow. "I could tie a rope to the back of the car and you could hold on."
"Funny. I almost forgot to laugh, Xander." The pout resuming its control over her lips, the red-head leaned back into her wheel-chair. "Can we just go home?"
"Sure thing." Moving towards his oldest friend, Xander moved his hands behind her as he helped her to her feet. "Just gotta get you in the car."
"I'll get the wheel-chair." Opening the door to the car, Tara gave her girl one last smile before she turned away. If she can stop being a brat, maybe this day can get better…
"It's time, Amy." As it appeared in the Witch's room, the First saw the girl struggle to her feet. Using so much of the loaned Black Magicks had effectively drained the girl of her power, although it would return with the proper care.
"Time for what?" Rubbing her hands up and down her arms, Amy's mind was just beginning to come back to its full speed. A few hours of sleep hadn't done much for the girl after the attack on the Slayer's house, and she hadn't dreamed.
"To do what you've been waiting for." As she realized what the First was trying to imply, the teenage Witch's eyes lit up. "We're going to fix your connection."
"Alright, I'm ready."
"You look like you've seen better days." Looking the girl over with the disdainful eyes of the Slayer, the First nevertheless took a few steps towards where Amy was standing. "But you'll do."
"This is still ridiculous." Groaning as the other girl helped her out of the wheel-chair, Willow felt her body scream out in relief as the mattress met her sore back. "I can walk perfectly fine."
"It's just to be sure." Pulling the sheets overtop of the other girl, the blonde Wiccan smiled. "Explosions don't sit well with you."
"I still think I should be allowed to get around without it." Frowning, Willow leaned her head back into the soft pillow behind her. "Not that I don't like getting Tara-care."
Leaning down, Tara kissed the other girl on her forehead.
"Just try to get some rest. I don't want you going to the hospital again."
"Trust me, no desire for that either." Smiling at her as Tara left the room, the red-head closed her eyes as the lights were turned off, plunging the room into darkness. The storm outside continued to pick up strength as the wind and rain poured against the house and the nearby window. Sighing as her sore body began to relax, she felt someone else enter the room.
"Hello, Willow." Turning her head, the red-head already knew the body that the voice belonged to.
"Amy?" Her green eyes looking around the room, Willow couldn't see anything in the darkness apart from the small instances where the lightning from the outside illuminated the room. Struggling to pull her aching body up into a sitting position, the former Witch was just about to call out Tara's name before she felt something cold press against her lips.
"Don't try it. We both know what would happen if dear, sweet Tara got hurt." Looking up at the head only inches from her own, Willow found herself peering into Amy's blackened eyes as a bolt of lightning flashed outside. "And we can't have that, can we?"
"Amy, what do you want?"
"Isn't it obvious? I want to hurt you." Moving away from the former Witch, Amy smiled. "And you've got something I want."
"Wha-" The words dying in her mouth as she realized what it was that Amy was talking about, the red-head's eyes grew even wider with shock. "No, Amy, you don't want them."
"I think I do." As the lightning outside flashed again, Willow looked up at the figure standing behind the other girl.
"Amy, the First is controlling you, it's not right. I've fought the First once before, it lies, it makes everything-"
"Oh, enough with the babbling, Willow. I can make this really quick, but I'm probably not going to. Trust me, I like seeing you squirm." Taking a few steps towards Willow, Amy continued to smile. Her pupils completely becoming overcome with the black color that accompanied those who were in the sway of Dark Magicks, the teenage Witch placed her hands on both sides of the red-head's face. Trying her best to dislodge the girl's grip on her, Willow only found her sore body refusing to answer her.
"Spiritus tenebrarum, oro
Meam omnimodam potestatem et facultatem ad me."
As she said the words to the Dark Magick infused spell, Amy closed her eyes as she began to feel the Magicks inside Willow's brain moving to the forefront of the other girl's mind.
"Damn it, Amy, stop!" Screaming the words, Willow felt nothing but pain circulating through her body as the Magicks broke through the barriers inside her mind. As the Magicks spread out through her mind, gradually beginning to take control, the red-head screamed one more time as enough strength poured into her arms to throw the other girl off of her. Slamming into the opposing wall, Amy laughed as she shrugged off the attack.
"Somebody's angry." She said, chuckling slightly as Willow buried her head into her hands. "What's the matter, Willow? Are they hurting you?"
Ah, finally. We'll have to thank her before we kill her.
"BUFFY!" Screaming out the Slayer's name, the red-head tried with every shred of strength that remained in her body to force the Magicks back. Feeling pain swarming through every inch of her skin, Willow felt something snap inside of her brain as the Magicks full took control of her. Looking up from her hands, the Witch turned her attention towards where Amy was still standing silently, watching the entire affair. "I swear I'm going to kill you."
"That doesn't sound like something good little Willow would do." Chuckling, Amy took a single step towards the other Witch before she felt something slam into her chest, forcing her back into the wall and holding her there.
"Good little Willow isn't here right now." Smiling at the teenager, Willow's eyes flooded with the same black color that the blonde girl's eyes held. "I am though."
"Willow?!" As both the Slayer and Tara called out the red-head's name from behind the locked door, the Witch rolled her eyes.
"Guess I'll have to make this quick since they're here now." Holding out her hand to the other Witch's head, Willow smiled. "I can still have fun with this though."
"I don't think so." Holding out her palm, Amy summoned a fireball that began to burn away a portion of the wall holding her. Rolling her eyes, the red-head waved her hand and extinguished the flame. At that same exact moment, the door to the room flew off of its hinges as Buffy rushed into the room. Following her, Tara looked around the room until her eyes settled on Willow.
"Don't worry, honey, I'm just wrapping up a few things." Smiling at the other girl with her eyes still blackened, Willow's eyes turned towards the Slayer. "Same for you, Buffy, I've got this under control."
"Willow, put her down, you're not thinking straight."
"Actually, I'm thinking straighter than I have in a while." Still holding Amy to the wall with her Magicks, the red-head continued to smile. "I feel better now that I don't have to control anything."
"Buffy, that's not Willow. It's the Magicks." Stepping back, Tara's voice was filled to its brim with shock and fear. "Don't hurt her."
"Tara, baby, what's wrong? Don't like how I'm all powerful again? Whatever happened to 'I'm under your spell'?"
"Willow, let Amy go. I'll deal with this." Taking a step towards where the Witch was standing, Buffy knew from the other girl's appearance that the Magicks hadn't completely taken over her yet. "Let us help you."
"See, I don't need help. I feel better than I have in months."
"Alright, I've had enough of this." Materializing to everyone else in the room, the First took a step into Amy's body. As the entity took control of the girl's body, it's hand shot out and grabbed Willow's head. "Da mihi virtutem inimici implexae, Et interficite eam connexionem."
With the lightning outside striking at the same moment the spell was finished, Willow felt her body being thrown back against the opposite wall. As she landed on the ground, she screamed as her hands flew to her head. Turning over onto her back, she pulled up her shirt in order to place her hands on the portion of her stomach where the skin seemed as if it were burning. Looking down at the exposed skin, the red-head's green eyes grew wide with shock as she saw the same pattern that had been painted onto her during the Coven's rituals. Pulling themselves out of her body, the Black Magicks connected with a virtually identical form coming out of Amy's body from where she was still standing against the wall. Looking on, the First smiled.
"And so the prophecy comes to pass."
Her eyes looking up to the pure amount of Black Magicks coming out of her, Willow felt as if her entire body had been set ablaze. In many ways, it reminded her of the pain that she had felt during the Rituals in England, the only exception being the intensity of the pain was triple fold from what she had already felt.
"Tara, tell me you have an idea of what's going on…" Looking on from where she was standing, Buffy knew that she didn't want to see what would happen if she tried to disrupt the flow of Magicks between Willow and Amy.
"I don't know…" As the two girls continued to watch the scene, the Magicks flowed down to the floor, their black mass beginning to form what appeared to be a pair of shoes. With each passing second, the mass began to look more and more like a person. "But I don't think it's good…"
"And the darkest of arts will be unleashed upon the Earth, separated from its true host, the Voyager."
As the mass finally reached the head of the body it had been making, both Buffy and Tara's hearts dropped to the bottom of their stomachs as they recognized the face.
"Oh god, Willow…"
"The Voyager shall arise in the form of a savior, one who has done the most unbelievable acts of heroism. But from the inside she shall rot, and in the time of Darkness, the Power hidden inside her shall break away from their prison, and engulf the world into pure darkness." The mass of Magicks finally ending their task of creating a body, the streams disconnected themselves from both Amy and Willow. Retreating into the body they had created, the mirror image of Dark Willow smiled.
"Ah, to be free. Can't tell ya how that feels." The voice that emerged from the body's mouth was virtually identical to Willow's, although it's tone was laced with a massive thread of Darkness that undoubtedly stemmed from the Magicks themselves. "Being trapped inside a brain does crazy things to ya."
"That can't be…" Unsure of what she was seeing, Buffy saw the body turns its gaze towards her.
"Oh, but it is. You know that, Buffy. Tell me, does this feel real to you?" Raising its hand, the body summoned a spell from inside of it. As the green light shot out of her hand, it slammed into the Slayer in the blink of an eye. Her body thrown against the wall behind her, Buffy felt every muscle in her body scream out in pain as she landed on the floor in the connecting room.
"Guess it does." As Dark Willow's blackened eyes turned towards her previous host, the Witch saw the red-head trying to get onto her feet. "How are you feeling, Willow? Better?"
"It's gone, it's gone…" Mumbling underneath her breath, Willow fell back onto the ground as if her body were refusing to respond to her commands. "Bad Magicks took all the badness away…"
"Willow, sweetie?" Rushing to the red-head's side, Tara helped the other girl onto her feet. "Honey, look at me, come on, look at me!"
"I'm afraid that she's not completely there anymore, Tara. Comes with having your Magick connection ripped out of you." Laughing, Dark Willow looked down at her nails. "Right now she should be feeling a little out of it."
"Mommy, all the bad things are gone." Looking into Tara's blue eyes, Willow continued to babble underneath her breath, her eyes refusing to focus on a single point of the other girl's face. "Bad Magicks all gone…"
"What did you do to her?!" The mix of anger and fear swimming inside her body forcing her to speak, Tara looked at the mirror image of her girl.
"Made her what she really is without Magick. Just a frightened little girl. You should enjoy it, considering that she'll act like you're her mommy." Looking out towards the storm raging outside, Dark Willow smiled. "Oh, we're going to have so much fun. But there's a time and place for everything. I'll be seeing all of you around. But first, I'll do something that Willow wanted to, since she did hurt me as well."
Taking a step towards where Amy was trying to get back onto her feet, the mirror image grabbed the girl's face, and began to chant. As a small light began to emerge from Amy's chest, she screamed out until the sound of her voice had tampered off to nothing. The task done, Dark Willow let go of the girl, and let her lifeless body drop to the floor. Giving one last look at both Tara and Willow, the Dark Witch closed her eyes and disappeared from the room.
"Buff, are you alright?" Rushing into the room, Xander nearly jumped through the hole in the wall to reach where the Slayer was still lying. Still holding onto Willow, Tara looked into the girl's green eyes and saw how blank they had become.
"Willow, please, just talk to me."
"Everything…" Her irises focusing for a split second, the red-head's mind forced the concentration to leave. "No Magicks anymore, all gone. Good, bad, all gone..."