I don't know why, but I feel the need to apologize for the quality of this chapter. I don't feel that it's particularily good, so if you find that to be somewhat true, I apologize.

Chapter 17

As she stared down at the young Wiccan in front of her, Dark Willow actually felt a small chord akin to shock running through her blackened veins. Still looking into the pitch black eyes that once had held her fear in their grasp, Tara struggled once more to push herself up onto her knees admist the pain still inflicting its touch upon her.

"Such an interesting proposition." Finally speaking in her darkness laced voice, the Dark Witch allowed the girl to rise to her knees, the pain that she had inflicted on her still sending a smile to her face. "With so many emotions behind it. Love, hate, fear, all rolled up into one simple sentence."

"Will you do it?" Looking back at the doppelganger in front of her, Tara's heart felt as if it were going to explode out of her chest at any moment. Inside, she knew the risks of even considering the offer, but seeing Willow in her 'insane' state was beginning to wear down on her. If she could simply think straight, she might know how to reverse the process between herself and her doppelganger. In that regard, the young Wiccan knew that taking the gamble she had taken was well worth the risk. "Please?"

"Even using the 'nice' words. You want this badly, don't you? And I'm just wondering one thing. What do you get out of all this? Surely you know that trading yourself for her isn't something that's like tossing a coin away. I can do whatever I want to you."

"I get her back. That's all I want."

"All you want. All you need. Such pretty little words for two lovers." Rolling her eyes, the dark doppelganger returned to her feet from her kneeled position. "Blah, blah, blah."

"Please… just change her back. She can't harm you, she doesn't have any Magick."

"I know. And in addition to the fun idea of having you around for company, that's the reason I'm going to change her back." Gesturing to the girl cowering in the corner of the room, Dark Willow smiled. "Let's go visit her, shall we?"

Crawling over to where Willow was cowering, Tara felt much of the pain from having the memories forced upon her still coursing through her body, making each and every movement she made a challenge. As she finally reached her girl, the Wiccan gently pulled the red-head's hands away from her face.

"Willow, sweetie, please, just look at me." Finally managing to cup the red-head's cheeks despite the small struggle the girl was beginning to put up, Tara stared into the seemingly empty green irises that lay in front of her. Her urge to smile almost briefly came to fruition before the Wiccan remembered what she had just offered the doppelganger standing directly behind her. She didn't need to even think about how much the girl she was holding onto was afraid of the Dark Witch, she only needed to look into those green irises and see the effect that had been forced upon her girl. Managing to swallow down the rage that came flying to her heart as she remembered being forced to watch the doppelganger force 'insanity' back onto her counterpart, Tara took a deep breath and moved her hand down into to grab the red-head's palm. "Just look at me."

"Tara…" Saying the girl's name with a slight amount of confusion to it, Willow's eyes never once showed the faintest sign of emotion to them. And yet, the way those pupils looked at the other girl in front of her held something, a spark, a faint glint of recognition, a longing to know what was going on, any of it could be applied. It was something.

"Honey, look at me. We're gonna make you better. I promised you, didn't I?" Staring deeply into the bright green irises that she fondly remembered being lined with unrestrained happiness and joy with each individual smile she had cast in her direction, Tara felt a tear actually welling up in her eye. "You have to stay still, nothing is going to hurt you, I promise."

"I'll be gentle." Adding to the Wiccan's comment with a foray of dripping sarcasm, Dark Willow rolled her pitch black eyes. "Or at least I'll try to."

"You won't hurt her anymore, or you won't get me. Understood?" Letting the anger that she felt towards the doppelganger sink into her tone, the blonde Wiccan thought for a moment that the Witch would attack her. When she heard the thick, velvety laugh flow into the air, she actually shuddered with a small amount of fear.

"Whatever you say. Ask and ye shall receive." Turning back to the shaking red-head whose cheek and hand she was still holding, Tara gently rubbed her thumb over the girl's palm as she stared at the face that many times she had thought synonymous with the word 'beautiful'.

"Just be calm." Her heart jumping slightly as she saw the girl nod, Tara heard the doppelganger kneeling down beside her, her black veined hands remaining at her side as she 'waited' for Tara's signal to begin. Taking a deep breath, the Wiccan could still feel how the girl was shaking underneath her touch. As the words came to her mind, she softly began to sing, the words lining the red-head's ears like a warm blanket, ensuring her that she was safe so long as the other girl's touch was upon her.

"I'm under your spell, nothing I can do, you just took my soul with you

You worked your charm so well, Finally I knew, everything I dreamed was true…"

Giving a simple nod to the doppelganger beside her, Tara braced herself for the tightening of Willow's grip on her hand. Surprisingly silent, Dark Willow reached over and rested her hands against her counter-part's temples, closing her pitch black eyes in the process. Feeling the doppelganger's hands upon her, the real Willow started to squirm slightly, a whimper escaping from her lips as she stared at Tara. Her eyes silently begging to make the other Witch stop, she whimpered again as the Dark Witch's Magicks finally began to ease into her brain, setting every inch of her skin on fire.

"Ssshhh, it's alright, honey. I've got you." Increasing her grip on the red-head's palm, Tara frowned despite her best efforts to summon a smile to her face. "You're gonna be better."

Muttering some Latin incantation under her breath, the Dark Witch pressed her fingers against the other Witch's temples with slightly more pressure, causing yet another whimper to make its way into the air. Glaring at the doppelganger, Tara tore her gaze away in order to make sure that her girl knew that she was still there. Her whimpers only growing more and more painful with each passing second, Willow's green eyes began to show some of their once normal emotions as they stared back at the Wiccan in front of her. Finishing the last Latin word, Dark Willow lifted her fingers' touch from her counterpart and returned to her feet in order to step away. Still shaking, the red-head closed eyes and tore her hand away from Tara in order to press it against her head along with her free hand. Watching the entire scene with pain lining her vision,

"I thought I told you not to hurt her!" Getting onto her feet, Tara stared into the Dark Witch's eyes even as she felt fear taking its grip over her mind. Looking back at the angered Wiccan in front of her, the doppelganger simply smiled.

"I gave you what you wanted. Now you'll give me something I want." Saying the sentence with such calm in her voice that it seemed as if she were simply saying hello, the doppelganger saw the complete and unrestrained fear that suddenly filled out the blue irises staring back at her. Holding out her arms, the Witch smiled. "Momma wants to show you something."

Knowing that she had no other choice in the matter, even with Willow still suffering at her side, Tara closed her eyes and took a fearful step forward. Silently praying to the Goddess to protect her, the Wiccan felt a pair of ice cold hands touch her temples. Looking at the way the girl wasn't looking at her, Dark Willow shrugged her shoulders.

"We can do this with your eyes closed. It's more fun for me if they're open though." Giving another shrug of her shoulders, the doppelganger closed her pitch black pupils and concentrated on finding the point of interest for her. Her Magicks working their way into her fingertips, she couldn't help but smile as she felt the Wiccan squirm, but remain entirely silent. Minutes passed, and as the doppelganger finally removed her touch from the blonde girl, her senses nearly drunk on the Light Magick that she had absorbed, she stepped away as Tara fell onto her back next to where the real Willow was still cowering with her hands pressed to her head.

"Just a little gift, Tara. Something that you'll grow to love. It was already in you, you know. The darkness. It's always been. Your family may have lied to you so many times about turning into a Demon, but guess what lays inside all of us?" Continuing to speak as she turned and walked towards the cell door, Dark Willow's tone had a slightly chuckling and sing-songy sound to it. "The power to be Dark. Look at your precious little Willow. Everything that was her darkness, is in me. Is me. I am everything she thought of being, but couldn't allow herself to be."

Shoving a key that appeared out of nowhere into the lock on the door, the Dark Witch cast one last smile in the two Wiccans' direction before shutting the door behind her and disappearing., leaving behind a scene of pain and suffering.

Looking around her, everything was dark. Not a single shred of light, no color, no sound, just black. Shaking her head, Willow felt some safety in knowing that her sense of touch was still working properly, even as her vision seemed to have failed her for the moment.

"Tara?" Feeling more satisfaction in hearing her own voice, the red-head still felt as if her body was on fire, her head threatening to explode at any moment. "Tara, baby, please?"

Nothing but silence confronted her, and that made the Wiccan's heart drop to the very pits of her chest. Reaching out with her hands, she felt sand underneath her touch, the feeling of it cold and uninviting.

"Tara?! Tara?! Please, talk to me!" Still feeling her way along the area in front of her, Willow felt more and more fear sinking into her heart as she realized that even though her eyes were open, she still couldn't see anything. Pulling one of her hands out of the sand and smacking it against her chest in order to ensure that no sand would get into her pupils, the red-head ran a finger against her eye, making sure that her eyes were, without a shred of doubt, open to the world around her.

"Willow?" Hearing a low voice come smashing into her hearing and overwhelm her mind, the Wiccan returned to feeling her way around the sand for the girl. She recognized it, how couldn't she? Tara was here with her, and even though she couldn't see, she was going to find her. Her fingers feeling seemingly endless amounts of sand underneath their touch, the red-head felt her heart stop as she heard the other girl call out her name once more. Following the sound, the Wiccan followed the miles of sand until she finally, at last, felt a piece of fabric underneath her fingertips.

"Tara?" Her hands traversing up in order to make sure that the other girl was indeed there, Willow felt a tear well up in her eyes. "Tara, Tara…"

Hearing the girl endlessly repeating her name, Tara opened her blue eyes, finding her vision to be blurred, although the effect was rapidly clearing. Squinting in an attempt to see better, she felt her heart-beat beginning to increase as she saw who was touching her.

"Willow?" Quickly pushing herself up into a sitting position, the Wiccan simply looked at the red-head, wanting to make sure that the doppelganger had kept her word, and had changed Willow back into her 'normal' self. As far as she could tell, the Dark Witch had. "Sweetie?"

"Tara, oh Goddess…" Reaching out with her hands in an attempt to find the girl again, the red-headed Wiccan felt her way along the sand until Tara took her palm into her hand.

"Honey, I'm right here, see?"

"Tara…I can't…" Her tone losing any of the happiness that she had felt earlier, Willow pressed her free hand against her eyes, ignoring the few grains of sand that made their way into her eyelids in the process. "I can't…"

"Willow, sweetie, it's alright. I'm here." Pulling the crying girl into her lap, Tara rested her chin atop the red tresses that adorned her girl's head. "I found you, remember?"

"Tara, I can't see, I can't see…" Shaking her head despite the somewhat calming presence of the other girl's chin resting on her hair, Willow's hands clung to the shirt in front of her even tighter. "I can't see anything…"

"W-What?" Her stutter returning for a brief moment, the Wiccan looked down at her girl, and felt her heart stop dead in her chest for a single moment.

"I woke up, and I can't see anything. I'm blind, all I can see is this yellow light around you. I can't see anything else!" Her crying growing worse and worse with each passing second, the red-headed Wiccan actually felt herself running out of breath. "I can't see, Tara, I can't see…"

"Sssshhh, it'll be alright, we'll fix it, alright?" Gently running her hand through the red tresses laying in her lap, Tara couldn't even begin to describe what she was feeling. In a single moment, she had gotten Willow back, but at what cost to the girl herself? She couldn't' see at all, and there was no telling if it was only a temporary problem, or a far more permanent one. Until the girl's doppelganger returned, and the question could be asked, all she could do was hold Willow and try to calm her down. "I promise."

"Tara, I can't see you, I wanna see your eyes, your face, your clothes, I want to see you, and I can't do it!" Managing to push the entire sentence out between heavy sobs, Willow shook her head from where it lay in the other Wiccan's lap. "Why can't I see?!"

"Baby, just calm down, please, you're going to make yourself sick." As if to prove her point, a fit of particularly violent coughs began to escape from the Wiccan's mouth, causing her entire body to shake along with them. Minutes passed, and as the fit finally subsided, Tara resumed her gentle caress of the girl's red-hair. "It's going to be alright."

"I…I can't remember anything, please, what happened?" Her sobs actually beginning to stop as she listened to her girl's voice, Willow nevertheless kept her head buried in the soft clothing that surrounded the other Wiccan's soft skin.

"You…the other you made you…you were like me when Glory…" Unsure of how to word the answer that her girl was so desperately seeking, Tara closed her eyes. "We couldn't understand you. You weren't you."

"I was insane, wasn't I? I talked babbly and I tried to hurt people, and I screamed, and I couldn't do anything even if I wanted to…" The rest of the babble died on her tongue as more sobs began to pour of her. Able to feel the way the girl's tear were beginning to soak through her clothing to her skin, Tara sighed, and felt something wet inch its way down her cheek.

"It's alright, sweetie. I took care of you." Her fingers undoing any knots in the tresses she was caressing, the Wiccan sighed. "I promised you I'd make you better.

"I promised."

As she looked down at the somewhat peaceful face that rested in her lap, Tara sighed, and allowed her finger to gently trace the outline of the red-head's cheek. After what seemed to be hours upon hours, Willow had finally succumbed to her body's need for sleep, and had taken her girl's lap as a pillow. In many ways, having Tara touching her made her feel at peace, and safe. Even with the unignorable amount of danger that surrounded them, she could find safety in Tara's arms.

"Tara…" Hearing the girl whisper her name, Tara looked down in time to see an exhausted pair of green eyes staring up at her, although the pupils themselves didn't move.

"Go back to sleep, sweetie, you're safe."

"You're all yellow…" Furrowing her brow, the red-headed Wiccan tilted her head slightly as she looked at her girl from a different angle. "It's so pretty looking…"

"You're not so bad yourself." Looking down at the girl laying her lap, Tara smiled as she focused for a sole moment in order to view the red-head's aura. As her eyes became confronted with the sight of a bright orange color, she smiled. "All orange and red."

"Not as pretty as you." Closing her un-moving eyes, Willow readjusted how she was laying in the Wiccan's lap. "I just wish I could see your face…"

"You will. You'll get better, and you'll be able to look at me all you want." Moving both of her hands in order to glide them through the girl's hair, Tara leaned back against the wall behind her. "I promise."

"Tara, you don't have to promise me anything." Reaching up with her hand, Willow gently moved the limb around until it made contact with the other girl's cheek. "You've done more than enough."

"Honey…" Starting to speak, Tara stopped as she felt Willow's finger awkwardly press down on her soft lips.

"Ssshhh, no words, just cuddles." Smiling as she felt her girl's hands moving slowly and gently through her hair, the red-headed Wiccan sighed. "Just cuddles."

"Tara…" Saying the girl's name as she heard her girl moving around in the cell, Willow smiled. "Can we not play hide and seek, I don't think I'm in any condition to find you."

"And what if I am?" Finding herself actually wanting to chuckle despite the darkness of the red-head's joke, Tara continued back to the girl with the cup of water in her hand. "What are you going to do about it?"

"I can always withhold snuggles." Smiling brightly, Willow attempted to return to her feet, but felt a gentle hand pushing her back down into a sitting position.

"Don't try to walk, not yet. You need to rest." Gently setting the cup of water into the red-head's hand, Tara frowned. "Crawl before you walk, sweetie."

"So, I'm getting babied now? Not sure how I can respond to that kind of treatment." Rolling her eyes, Willow pressed the cup to her lips, taking a small sip at first before quickening the pace to large gulps until the liquid was completely gone. Smiling at the girl, Tara took the container from her hand and sat it down in the sand, making sure that it was upright in order to prevent any of the landscape from entering the cup.

"You know, I think I might kinda be getting used to not seeing anything…"

"Honey, please, don't talk about this." Stopping her girl in mid-sentence, Tara sighed. "You're back, and that's all that matters."

"Tara, can I ask you a question?" Turning her head towards where she assumed the other girl was sitting, the red-headed Wiccan reached out and laid her hand on top of the warm palm that she found to be outstretched.

"What, sweetie?"

"How did you get my sanity back?" As soon as she heard the question, Tara fell entirely silent, her mind struggling to find a way to even respond to the inquiry. Hearing no response, Willow frowned.

"Tara, tell me."

"I…I don't wanna talk about it…"

"Tara, tell me. " Struggling to her feet even as Tara tried to hold her down, Willow leaned on the wall next to her for balance. "How did you get my sanity back?"


"Tara…" Taking a wobbly step towards the other girl, the red-head's expression showed nothing but an intense mixture of worry and fear. "What did you do?"

"I…I offered myself to her…I told her that if she made you sane again, she could have me." Lowering her head even though she knew the other girl wouldn't be able to see the action, Tara nevertheless heard the explosion that came from her girl in response to her confession.

"YOU DID WHAT?!" Yelling out the answer, Willow's hands flew back to her sides, causing her balance to once again become unbalanced. As she wobbled on her own two feet, the red-head's expression never once changed. "Tara, are you insane?"

"Honey, we needed you to get better. I had to do it."

"You didn't have to do anything!" Turning around too quickly, the red-headed Wiccan fell to the sandy ground below, her hands stumbling to push herself back up. Rushing to her girl's side, Tara reached out in order to take hold of the other girl's hand, but felt shock run through her mind as Willow squirmed out of her grip. "No, I can do it myself!"

"Willow, sweetie, you're just angry. Let me help you."

"I almost lost you once, I'm not gonna let you give yourself to…to…to the dark and veiny me! I'm not worth it!"

"So, your little girl isn't insane? That's an interesting twist. Could have sworn that was the side-effect of having your connection severed." Pleased to see both of the Wiccan's heads turn towards her as she entered the room, Dark Willow smiled widely. "But then again, darling little Willow's always been a special case, hasn't she?"

"Get away from us." Actually snarling the answer back at her counterpart, the real Willow felt Tara gently pulling her onto her feet and supporting her. "Haven't you done enough?"

"Oohh, somebody's being a feisty little Witch." Snorting in response to the snarl she had received, Dark Willow rolled her pitch black eyes as she continued on her path towards the two girls. "And yet, I'm somehow more threatened by a small rat than I am by you."

"Stay away from her." Continuing to hold the other Wiccan back, Tara felt a shiver run up and down her spine as she realized that her girl's double was looking straight at her.

"Oh, don't worry, Tara. I'm not here for her. I'm here for you. That was part of our agreement, wasn't it?" As she spoke, Dark Willow's tone seemingly was it' normal 'shade' of heartless evil, but in addition to it, there was a small bit of actual laughter. "So, just come over here, and we'll finish this quick as a wink."

"You're not touching her!" Struggling to free herself from Tara's touch, Willow's entire expression showed nothing but pure hatred towards the doppelganger standing only a few feet away from her. "You want anyone, take me."

"We've already been down this route, dear little Willow. I had you for months, don't you remember? All the times we talked to one another, lived with each other, sat through the Coven's Rituals together? I'm exactly what you tried to get rid of."

"You're…you're what?" The anger in her voice having been replaced by complete shock, the real Willow stared blankly at the Dark Witch even though she could see only the faint outline of a pure, blood-red color.

"I am the Magicks, don't you understand? I'm the very thing that you tried so hard to block off, to destroy, to rip from your heart and soul, but couldn't do. Every single fear you ever had about Magick, I am. Every time you ever thought about taking over, I am that power and desire. Every single moment you had fear that Tara would never come back to you, I am. Everything you've ever hated, feared, wanted, lusted, I am."

"You're not me. I'm not like that." Shaking her head somewhat furiously, Willow felt Tara's grip on her strengthen in order to prevent her from falling. "Tara, she's not me…tell me she isn't me…"

"And so, once again, you cling to her for support." Transferring her gaze from the real Willow to Tara, the doppelganger smiled. "Can you even imagine what you put her through when you left? I have those memories as well, maybe I should give them to you like I did with the others. It might make you understand."

"Tara, what is she talking about?" Turning her head towards the sound of her girl's voice, the red-headed Wiccan's expression held nothing but fear. "Tara, please, talk to me…"

"She gave me your memories…of w-when you tried to kill Buffy, Giles, and me…"

"She knows, little Willow. She knows you inside and out now, in more than ways than one."


"Come now, Tara. You'll be back soon, I promise. Can't have you and the little one apart for too long." Holding out her hand, Dark Willow smiled at knowing the fact that even though her counterpart would beg and plead otherwise, Tara would come to her. The agreement, while not set in stone, could easily be reversed otherwise, and once again, the real Willow would be lost in the sea of insanity that she had been drowning in for weeks now. Swallowing hard, Tara loosened her grip from Willow's body, and slowly took a step forward. Feeling the absence of her girl's familiar and warm touch on her arm, the red-headed Wiccan took a step forward, her arms flailing as they searched for the girl.

"Tara, no, please, don't!" Her tone only containing desperation now, Willow felt tears beginning to charge through her body. "Tara…"

"She'll be back soon." Scuffing at the girl's desperate actions, the dark witch extended her hand and watched as a small thread of Dark Magicks swirled around her counterpart's body, holding her in place. "There. Don't wanna have you hurting yourself."

"Tara, please, don't go!" Struggling against the Magicks holding her immobile, the red-headed Wiccan felt a single tear drop flow down her cheek, with more threatening to follow it. "Don't take her, please!"

"All part of our agreement, Willow. She doesn't hurt…much." Her black eyes showing no emotion, the doppelganger watched as Tara made her way over to where the other Wiccan was standing. "Calm her down, and then let's go."

"Willow, sweetie, listen to me." Her hands gently cupping the other girl's cheeks, Tara felt every inch of her chest erupting into pain as she saw the tears flowing down her girl's cheeks. "I'll be alright, I promise."


"I promise. You have to be strong." As she heard the girl's words, Willow lifted her head slightly.

"Like an Amazon?" Nodding even though she knew that the red-head wouldn't be able to see it, Tara leaned forward and planted her lips against the pair seemingly waiting for her. As she felt the warm contact from her girl, Willow calmed slightly, although the tears continued to roll down her face.

"I'll be back, I promise."

"Would it help if I promised as well?" Snickering slightly, Dark Willow smiled as she gestured towards the door. "We have to go, Tara. Come along."

"Tara, don't let her take you…" Shaking her head as she felt the pair of hands leave her cheeks, the real Willow resumed her struggle to free herself from the Dark Magicks holding her immobile.

"I'll be back…" Taking steps backwards as she continued to look at the red-head, Tara felt her breath stop for a moment as the doppelganger rested her hands on her shoulder.

"Say bye-bye to Willow, Tara. We have things to do, things to see, all that jazz." Opening the door behind her, the doppelganger pulled Tara out with her, and effectively slammed the metal object behind the two of them. As she heard the door shut with a loud clang that echoed off of every wall around her, Willow felt something inside her starting to awaken, although the feeling of it was extremely subdued due to the exhaustion plaguing her body. Squirming with renewed vigor, she felt the cold feeling of the sand meet her body as the Magicks themselves disappeared as quickly as they had arrived. Pushing herself up onto her knees, the red-headed Wiccan crawled towards the door, her heart beating faster and faster inside her chest as the thoughts of what her counterpart could, and possibly would, do to Tara. As the cold metal of the door met her hands, she curled her fingers into fists and repeatedly banged on the door, not noticing or feeling the small spark that traveled across her fingertips. More and more, the spark traveled through her body and brain, before finally settling into place amongst the place where her connection had effectively been severed.

Finally stopping as she felt her hands becoming overwhelmed with pain, Willow curled herself into a ball, and let the tears that she had been holding back for the past few minutes travel down her cheek before falling to the ground to meet the sand.