Back to the Beginning: Control
by Amanda
Rating: R

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended to Joss, ME, FOX, WB, UPN, etc. I bow before the brilliance that belongs to the creators, please don’t be angry that I wanted to play with your characters. Just borrowing, no malice intended.
Disclaimer #2: Excerpt below is from the AtS episode, “Sanctuary”. Angel, and the below line are the property of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Angel is produced by Mutant Enemy, Inc., Greenwolf Corp, Kazui Enterprises, and Sandollar Television for Twentieth Century Fox Television.
Date: 070702- 070902 (thought I should start dating these things)
Spoilers: All of Season Six.
Note #1: This is the forth of a series, read the others first.
Note #2: If it is written in italics it is the character’s thoughts. (or dreams, but you can figure those out). Flash backs are in < > (again I don’t normally do them, but they are warranted).
Note #3: I am not a witch, don’t know any spells, and don’t want to take the time to find one. This is all about the suspension of disbelief, and my attempt to do that.
Note #4: You knew this was coming, its simply formulaic, and I am ashamed that I am resorting to it, but come on, it’ll be worth it. Promise. And yes it is still depressing as hell, but things are looking up.
Feedback: If you like it, please tell me. If you hate it, please tell me. If you don’t stop me I will keep on going, and I’d hate to anger you.

"You're all about control. You have no idea what it's like on the other side, where nothing's in control, nothing makes sense, there is just pain and hate and nothing you do means anything." ~faith angel episode *sanctuary*

*****

Buffy and Faith both reached the Magic Box at the same time, from opposite directions of town. It was clear that they had both sprinted there.

“Dawn?” Buffy panted.

“Put her in a cab.” Faith replied, opening the door. The bell sounded, and Buffy rushed past her, falling to her knees beside Amy. Buffy turned the witch’s neck to the side, seeing the puncture marks, and then feeling for a pulse. There was none.

“Who’s that?” Faith asked, still standing by the door.

“It’s Amy. Or was Amy.” Buffy sighed. “She was a witch too. Operative word was.” Buffy looked around. “No sign of Willow.”

“Shit. B, I am all tingly.” Faith mumbled.

“I know.” Buffy stood and walked back deeper into the room. Buffy could feel the residual badness too. Willow should be here, and if not, Buffy should have passed her on her mad dash over from the house. Buffy took another look. A book on the floor by the counter, laying face down, some pages creased. Willow Rosenberg would never leave a book like that. The lights were had been on, when they came in. And the door had been unlocked. She turned around, looking at Faith, who was kneeling on the landing. Buffy felt her bottom lip tremble. “Faith, they have her.”

“Not just her.” Faith walked over to Buffy, and held out her hand. Buffy looked down and saw the charm bracelet that Xander had given her years ago. The same one that she knew Dawn loved taking from her jewelry box.

“NO!” Buffy howled, slapping Faith’s hand away, causing the bracelet to clatter on the floor. “You told me she was safe.”

“I put her in a cab Buffy.” Faith said softly. Buffy began striking out at Faith, beating against her chest with fists, but not using any slayer strength. Buffy felt her insides quaking; she was full of fear, and a rolling rage. She wanted to lash out, but she didn’t want to hurt Faith, not really. She was getting closer to loosing all sense of her self, just falling into the emotions. Faith gathered her into strong arms, holding her for a moment, before running her hands up Buffy’s sides and cupping her face in her hands.

“You were supposed to make sure she was safe. I trusted you! How could you let this happen Faith?”

“You know it isn’t my fault, B. Stop it right now.” She gently shook the blonde. “You need to get a grip, so we can get out there and save them. This guy is no match for two Slayers.”

“I’ll loose her again. I just know it. They will kill Dawnie, and they will make Willow do magic. Oh God this can’t be happening, this isn’t, it can’t. We can’t stop them.” Buffy rambled quickly, forgetting to breath. Her whole body was shaking. Faith set her lips against Buffy’s forehead.

“Calm down. You’re right we can’t help them with you freaking out on me.” Faith said. “I need you to chill.”

“Fuck you Faith!” Buffy snapped. “They are gone. They could be dead right now! Do you hear me? My baby sister could be dead. I don’t care about the Hellmouth, or anyone else. I just have to get Dawn back.” Pain, Buffy was actually feeling pain.

“We need to get both of them back, and you wigging on me isn’t going to help! Do you hear me Buffy?” Faith shook the older slayer in her arms. Faith’s dark eyes bore down into Buffy’s, and both of them just stopped. The tension fell out of Buffy’s shoulders; she could feel it moving down her back. “Call the house, that bracelet doesn’t mean she was here, that they have her.” Faith said, but there was no conviction in her voice.

“You saw her wearing it, didn’t you?” Buffy whispered, and watched Faith nod slowly. A sob ripped through her chest. She wasn’t sure she could do this, not now. Buffy felt raw. Her eyes closed, trying to hold back in the tears, but snapped open when she felt Faith’s breath on her face, felt warm, soft lips on her cheek.

“We will get them back, just stay with me.” Huskily Faith said, her lips brushing Buffy’s skin as she spoke. Buffy turned her head slowly. Their lips brushed together, just tenderly touching. There was no need, no passion, just the touch. And it was the only thing in her conscious mind. How soft Faith’s lips were, and how comforting. Suddenly Faith was gone, having stepped back from her, dropping her hands. “We need to figure out where they are.” Faith said her voice hitching. Buffy had to forcibly control her body from grabbing a hold of Faith and kissing her again.

That wasn’t a kiss of promise, that was a kiss of compassion. Her mind corrected, and she dropped her shoulders again.

“Okay, I will head out, look around.” Buffy said, moving towards the door, Faith falling into step beside her.

“I will check with Willy, see what he knows.” Faith added, then grabbed Buffy’s arm. “B, that, erm, when I kissed you, I didn’t mean anything by it. You just. I mean.”

“It’s fine Faith. I understand.” I understand that you will never trust me again, that you would never want me after I pushed you away. Buffy walked out the door, not turning back.

*****

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

God what was I thinking? Kissing her like that? I know what I was thinking, she was freaking out and I needed her to calm down. But kissing her? A slap would have worked just as well. That was what they did in the movies all the time, a well-placed slap to stop women from freaking out. But no, I had to kiss her.

What was wrong with me? Red and the Kiddo were in the hands of some vampire and I was kissing B. Not the best plan to get them back, that was for damn sure.

I kicked a bottle out of my way in the alley, before hopping on top of a dumpster and vaulting over the low wall blocking the alley from the street on the other side. I stomped towards Willy’s bar, absently running a finger over my bottom lip.

She was just as soft as I remembered. Damnit Faith! Get control of yourself! She doesn’t want you, she never wanted you. Don’t you remember how she pushed you away?

“Yeah.” I said to the deserted street. I remembered, and I would never let her hurt me like that again. Better to lock any emotion away. It would never happen.

I needed to focus. Beat the shit out of Willy until he told me what I needed to know. That was the plan, and it was a good one. I kicked open the door to the bar, loving the sound of the splintering wood as the door slammed against the inside wall. Skimming the room I noticed it was a slow night. Two vamps sharing a booth, a Rothmal demon at the bar, another weird looking thing that I had no clue what it was sitting at a table. And looking anywhere but me, nervous little Willy. I sauntered over.

“Hey, Willy. Miss me?”

“Like the plague.” He grumbled under his breath. I tapped my ear glaring at him. He stepped back, “Oh, sorry Slayer. Didn’t mean nothing by it.” He tried to smile, but failed miserably under my stare. “Um, where is the other one?”

“Not here. Just you and me. Kinda scary isn’t it? Them letting me get out, coming into your bar, where I could give a shit about the demons and vamps in here. No all of my attention is on little mortal you. Willy, do you remember why I was in jail?” I gave him my best psycho look.

He gulped. “Yeah, yeah I heard about that.”

“So you know what I can and will do.” I pulled my knife from the sheath in my boot and twirled the tip into the top of the bar. “We understand each other right? Cause you see, I am a little pressed for time. I can’t play word games tonight. I need straight fucking answers.”

“Right.” He was wiping down a tumbler so hard I was expecting it to crack. “You want a drink?”

“Oh, Willy, Willy, Willy. I thought you understood.” I stabbed the bar. “I need you to tell me everything you know about this new vamp in town. Name’s Langoustino.”

"You mean like the-"

“I know. Stupid name. Tell me.” I noticed one of the vampires in the booth fidgeting. I file that away, now keeping focused on them and Willy.

“I ain’t heard nothing.”

“Hmm.” I tapped the knife to my lips. I rolled my eyes to the ceiling. “Would torturing Willy ruin my chances at being good? He does harbor demons, and it is important…” I let the comment hang in the air.

“I heard a new guy came into town. Okay?” He stammered, leaning closer, and glancing over my shoulder.

“And?”

“And he was thinking about opening the Hellmouth.”

“Already know this…” I tapped his cheek with the knife.

“He needs a witch, and some mythical Key. But I think that was destroyed when Glory was in town. Buffy took care of that.” He rushed out.

“Right. Know that too. But where is he?”

“Where would you be?” He snapped.

“I’m not some pansy assed vamp.” I shrugged. The vamps behind me got up. I locked eyes with Willy. “If you are holding out on me, I will make you suffer.” Just the idea of punching him on the face made my heart jump. I’d love to get some of the aggression inside of me out. The self-loathing that was building because Kiddo was taken away, the anger that I was feeling at myself, for even thinking about B in any way that didn’t involve an ass kicking. I took a breath to control my self, and then spun around on the stool. “Going somewhere boys?” I called out, and one of them made a dash for the door. I threw the knife in my hand at him, and heard it thunk into the door after slicing through his hand, effectively pinning him.

“Not in here, Slayer.” Willy groaned. Ignoring him I jumped off the stool and walked over. The other vamp was frozen in place. He wanted to fight, but everyone knew about the rule, Willy’s was a safe zone. Always had been. A low growl was coming from the vamp pinned to the door.

“You boys want to take this outside?” I quirked my eyebrow, as I pulled the knife from him, and put it away. Knives meant nothing to a vamp. At least not yet.

*****

Dawn slowly opened her eyes with a moan. The last thing she remembered was being pulled from the back of the cab, about two minutes into the ride. The hands that had pulled on her arms had been cold, a sure sign that it had been a vampire. She had touched Spike enough to know what they feel like. Then everything had gone black. Her eyes refused to focus for a moment, before slowly starting to clear.

She was sitting on a concrete floor, and her hands were handcuffed behind her. Off in the corner she could see a couple of vampires talking, but couldn’t hear them. She again cursed the Powers that Be for creating her from Buffy but forgetting about all of the cool super powers. Nope the just made her a boring, weak human. She turned her head and noticed Willow was a few feet away, but she was in much worse shape. She was chained to a long table, a gag in her mouth. Her eyes were closed, and she was shaking. Willow having the shakes meant magic, and Magic and Willow were a bad mix. That was not a good sign. Neither was the fact that Dawn had been kidnapped twice this week. Being the Key sure sucked sometimes. She blinked her eyes, and waited. Hoping Buffy or Faith would get there soon.

*****

The last vamp poofed, and I ran the back of my hand over my mouth, wiping away the line of blood from my split lip. Lucky bastard got in a good shot. I ran my tongue over my lip, tasting it, thinking about the fight. It had been rough, and quick. I felt a little better, not so angry. The punch to the face was just enough to jar my brain into action. I was completely focused on one goal. Getting Red and Kiddo safe.

The vamps had been disappointing, not giving me anything. No mumblings, no “You will die Slayer, we have an evil plan that goes like…” Nothing. Shit! So either they knew nothing, or they took it with them to the big dustbin in the sky. Ugh! I hoped B was having better luck than me.

*****

Buffy was having no luck. She had come across one weak vamp in Restfield, but he was clueless, and from his clothes, Buffy figured he had only risen a few days ago. With him dusted she decided to head back to the house. Hoping the Watchers could help her.

But how could they, she wondered. What she needed was something special. Something magical. Something-

“ANYA!” She screamed into the night sky. Beside her the air shivered, and Anya appeared, and immediately clamped her hands over her naked breasts. Buffy raised her eyebrow when she took in Anya dressed only in a red lace thong.

“Why did I ever grant you the power to summon me?" Anya rolled her eyes, and Buffy took off her jacket and handed it to her. “I was very much enjoying myself.” She huffed.

“Safe to say then that you and Xander made up?”

“How do you know I was with Xander Harris?” Anya snapped.

“Little secret?” Buffy whispered. “Slayer smelling.” She grinned and Anya’s face flushed scarlet.

“Why am I here?” Anya whined.

“Problem. Langoustino has Willow and Dawn.”

“The Witch and the Key.” Anya sighed.

“Bingo.” Buffy crossed her arms.

“You know they could be dead any minute.”

“ANYA!”

“What? I am only saying. You aren’t dealing with a prophecy or anything. This is simply a matter of getting Willow to use the Key’s power.” The demon shrugged, and tried to calm down her wild hair by running a hand through it.

“But Will is no magic girl.” Buffy said strongly, attempting to convince herself.

“You hope.” Anya snorted. Reading her mind.

“This isn’t helping. I trust Willow. She will control the addiction,” Buffy sounded less sure. It had only been a few weeks since Willow had gone all wacky. Only a few weeks without using magic.

“What if she can’t? Oh, the world will end. Can I please get back to Xander now?”

“No I need you both here.”

“We are too far away.” Anya said, understanding the implications of what was happening. “Where is Faith?”

“Looking for them.” Buffy paced. “You can’t do something, you know, demony? To track where he is?”

“Buffy, I am not an all-purpose-help-the-Slayer-demon. I am a vengeance demon. Period.” She sighed out.

“You have to be able to do something.” Buffy was whining, and noticed Anya’s face twitch. She knew everyone hated when she whined, and none more so than her.

“Maybe I can trace Willow, but only if she does something magicy. And if she is doing that, then well, Hello end of the world.” Anya rolled her eyes.

“Wait. To open the Hellmouth, they kind of have to be at the Hellmouth, right?” the light went on behind the blonde Slayer’s eyes.

“Right.” Anya caught on.

“Okay. Plan forming. If we can’t find them, we can stop them.” Buffy nodded her head, and pulled her coat from Anya.

“Hey! Naked here!” Anya quipped.

“Noticed. Go back to Xander.” Buffy smiled. “I hope you two can be happy.” She walked away, but only got two steps when she smirked over her shoulder. “Like the tattoo.”

“You looked!” Anya blushed again and while she disappeared.

*****

I looked at my watch. An hour since I left the Magic Box. I started moving towards B’s house, hoping she was there, and that she had something. There had to be something that I was missing. This vamp was no Mayor, and certainly no Master. This should be a walk in the park for the Chosen Two.

A sharp pain ripped though my belly, and I growled. Vampires. And more than one. I pulled the stake from my back pocket, and turned. They seemed to just emerge from the shadows; it was wicked, like movie sequence or something. Really, sometimes, being a Slayer so kicked ass. That no other human could see them right now, but I could. I could feel them, smell them, see them. Crap. There were a lot of them. Ten.

“Fucking Great.” I mumbled rolling my head on my shoulders, loosening the muscles that were tightening, feeling the adrenaline that was rapidly moving through my body. Okay, I could do this, I was the Slayer. Just breathe, be calm, be one with the stake, be in control.

*****

She was jogging, and turned down one of the more decrepit streets in town.

I can’t believe I live just a block over from a biker bar. She groaned inwardly as she ran past. Just a few more minutes and she would be home.

“Buffy!”

She stopped, and turned around, seeing the one person she really didn’t have time for stepping out of the bar’s entrance. The red neon sign coated her in its light, making her shimmer. Buffy felt her chest tighten, and her feet propel her forward. She didn’t have time for this. But her body didn’t seem to care.

I am fucked up. The world is ending and I am walking closer to her, when I should be running away. This wasn’t healthy, this wasn’t helping.

She felt Jane take her hand and lead her behind the bar. In a flash Jane’s hands were lost in Buffy’s hair, the girl’s lips on her neck. She felt her own hands moving up the back of Jane’s faux silk shirt.

“I’ve missed you, Slayer.” Jane moaned, pressing the length of her body against Buffy, who slipped her leg between Jane’s. She moaned as she felt the dark haired girl grind her sex against Buffy’s leg.

Stop! Stop right now Buffy!

She moved against Jane, building a quick rhythm born of need and desire. This girl always managed to bring out the animal in Buffy. The need to forget everything in the world that wasn’t her dark hair, wasn’t her soft body, wasn’t the smell of sex. Buffy’s hands were gripping her ass tightly, pushing and pulling her against her straining thigh. Buffy felt teeth nipping at her neck, roughly.

“God.” Buffy moaned. Jane’s hands were moving over her chest, cupping her breasts.

“I’ll make you forget her, Buffy.” Jane whispered then tugged on Buffy’s ear lobe. The Slayer spun them around, and now Jane was pressed against the wall. She growled deep in her throat. Fighting inside. She wanted this; she wanted so much to feel flesh beneath her fingers, to lick the sweat off of skin.

Buffy pushed herself off of Jane, and the girl slumped against the wall. Buffy sucked in a deep breath, ceasing her pants. “We can’t.”

“Sure we can, Slayer.” Jane grinned. “You can do anything to me.”

“No. I am sorry. I can’t use you like this.”

“What gives you the right to make that decision?” Jane snapped.

“I,”

“It’s her isn’t it? You are still thinking about her when you touch me.” Jane yelled.

“Yes, I am.” Buffy smiled sadly.

*****

Son of a bitch that hurt. I thought as I was brought down over the knee of one of the vamps. My back had popped, but luckily no snapping vertebrae. So I was still in the fight.

I had jumped right in, and had taken out three before the others got a clue and figured taking me wasn’t going to be as easy as they thought. Now they were working together. And I hated trains. But that was what they were doing, tossing me from one to another. Getting their licks in. Fine, have your fun. I was absorbing the blows, pretending they hurt more than they did. I needed them to think they had me; that I was down for the count. Then round two would kick in.

A flash of a knife caught my eye. Okay, plans changed. Time to just let it all go and fight.

*****

“Well maybe I was thinking about her when you were fucking me. You ever think about that? What makes you think I was only your toy? Want me to tell you what she tastes like?” Jane yelled.

“You are lying.” Buffy said softly. She didn’t believe it. Well, on one level she knew that Faith would have found Jane attractive. But she knew it wasn’t true. She had never sensed Faith on Jane, or vice versa. And when Faith had admitted to Buffy that she had seen them together, Buffy knew that the Dark Slayer would have loved to throw that information in her face. That she had fucked Jane.

“She wanted this.” Jane cupped her crotch.

“I am sure she did.” Buffy nodded.

“So do you.” Jane moved closer to Buffy.

“I did.” Buffy stepped away. “But never again.”

“Fuck you Buffy Summers!” Jane yelled and took off running.

“Jane, wait!” Buffy took a step forward, but then stopped. She had more important things to worry about than making sure Jane was safe. The world took precedence over a whore. She shuddered at her own callousness.

*****

Come on Willow, wake up!

Dawn nervously kept looking over at the vampires in the corner. They hadn’t come over yet, and she was hoping for more time. She needed Willow awake, she needed to know that was going on.

She remembered Faith’s parting words, that a vampire was going to use her to open the Hellmouth. This was so not good, on so may levels.

Would they have to bleed her again? Would they kill her? Would Buffy have to save the world by dying?

The first tear landed on the ground with a faint tapping sound before she realized that she was crying. She was scared. She didn’t want to die, and she didn’t want anything to happen to Buffy either.

Goddamnit! It is summer. Nothing ever happens during the summer!

*****

Giles was sitting at the table, pouring over Willow’s notes in which she described the scroll. He was hoping to find a loophole, something that would give them an advantage to stopping it.

“So Willow is a powerful witch?” Holburn asked. Giles looked up at the young man, wondering how best to phrase his answer.

“About a month ago, there was an incident.” Giles said softly. “Willow’s partner, Tara was shot and killed.”

Holburn sucked in a breath and his eyes rounded. He had not known that, clearly by his reaction.

“Willow called upon Osiris to bring Tara back to life.”

“Much like the spell used on Buffy?”

“No, more like a demand.” Giles sighed. “But Osiris refused, from that I have been told, and Willow took matters into her own hand, for vengeance.” Giles leaned back, taking off his glasses. “That is why I was sent here. Willow was able to tap into some of the darkest magics, and she wielded them mercilessly. I came with the help of a Northern Coven to fill her with white magic, to ease the numbness of the black. You see, she was full of pain, and rage and simple uncontrollable power. I attempted to restore some of her humanity by forcing in the white magic.”

“Why? I mean, to ease her suffering yes, but why the dire need to stop her?” Holburn asked, looking confused.

“Oh, Willow was going to destroy the world. She wanted to end all of the world’s pain and suffering, by destroying it.”

“Good Lord.”

“Quite.” Giles agreed.

“So you stopped her, I see.”

“Xander did, actually.” Giles smiled. “He reached to her humanity, and stopped her. But Holburn, this was just a few weeks ago. Just a few weeks ago, that shy young woman you have met was strong enough to end the world on her own. So to answer your question, yes, Willow is a powerful witch. And yes, we should be very concerned.”

The back door opened and Buffy stepped through. Giles noticed her clothes were disheveled, and there was a mark on her neck. He stood quickly walking over to her.

“Buffy, are you alright?”

“What?” She asked, looking at the two men.

“A mark, on your neck.” He pointed. Her hand fluttered to the mark, and her face scowled.

“It is nothing.” She snapped. “Is Faith back?”

“No. Where is Willow?” He asked, still searching her face. Something was clearly wrong.

“They have her.” She said dejectedly, looking down at her hands.

“No!” Holburn hissed standing.

“Afraid so. They have Dawn too.” She crossed her arms leaning against the wall. “Faith went to Willy’s to look for information. I couldn’t find anything on my way back.”

“Buffy this is not good at all.”

“No shit Giles. But there is nothing we can do right now. We can’t track them, unless either of you has some witchy mojo up your sleeves.” Buffy moaned.

“I see. No, I am afraid I have no such powers any longer. Willow had absorbed them all.” Giles looked to Holburn, who hung his head.

“Sorry, ordinary mortal here.” He filled in.

“I figured. There is no prophecy with this thing, so all we can do is get to the Hellmouth and wait.”

“Sounds good to me, B.” The door opened and Faith stepped inside. Giles raised his hand to his mouth seeing her. Her upper right arm was gashed open, and bleeding. Her face was bruised and swollen. Her left hand was holding her neck.

“Faith!” Buffy shouted, rushing to her side. “What happened?”

“Ambush. Or their dumb luck.” She attempted to shrug.

“Faith, please sit down.” Holburn directed, and approached her to check her wounds.

“How many?” Buffy asked, touching the cut on her arm, and wincing when Faith hissed.

“Ten at the start.” Faith sat down. “Just patch me up so we can get back out there.” Faith said to Holburn, who nodded, moving towards the bathroom for the first aid kit.

*****

Reality and conscious thought seemed to snap back to her like a switch being tripped. Her green eyes opened, and focused on the metal girders and rafters above her.

Okay, where am I?

Her body still tingled from the magic charge Amy had sent her. She could feel her own power tingling in her fingers, dancing around her heart. It wasn’t a bad feeling, just a feeling she was unaccustomed to. Having the power again. Willow listened, and could hear voices behind her head. She moved her arms, feeling and testing what held her down. It was strong, and felt like steel.

Well, where I am? Warehouse. What do I know? Amy zapped me, and then became a snack for Langoustino. Then what? They brought in Dawn.

“Dawnie.” Willow moaned. There was a rustling at her feet.

“Willow are you awake?” It was Dawn!

“Yeah, I am. Did they hurt you?” Willow asked.

“Not too bad. How are you?”

“Okay. Little buzzed on the magic.”

“No.” Dawn groaned.

“Don’t worry Dawnie.” Willow soothed, she had a feeling things were going to get a lot worse.

Off to her right there was a loud banging, and the sound of many feet. She tried to strain her self, to hear what they were talking about, but couldn’t quite make it out.

She thought about using an amplification spell, but suddenly froze. What was she thinking? Just using a spell, thinking that she could control herself? She knew that she had a problem, and addiction to the power of the magic, the imagined freedom that it gave her. Willow knew if she started with one spell, then there would be another and another. What in her right mind made her think she could do anything to stop herself? She had no control. Not without Tara, not without her calm and strength. Willow groaned. She did not want to slip back over to the other side. She couldn’t. Willow didn’t want to loose it all, not again. If they believed she could not use magic anymore, would they let her go?

*****

“What in the hell is the meaning of this?!” Langoustino demanded, slamming his fist onto the table, causing a crack to run from end to end. One of the four vampires that had just come bursting into the warehouse stopped short, wiping his bloodied nose on his sleeve.

“Sorry, Sir.” He said.

“This is a delicate spell I am working on here. Can you not see that you fool?" Langoustino looked down, ensuring that everything that was needed for the Witch was still intact. He sighed inwardly seeing that it was. He spun around, looking at the four. Noticing for the first time their condition. They were all tattered and beaten. “A run in with the Slayer?” He asked, crossing his arms.

“We believe it was a slayer, Sir.”

“Believe? How hard is it to know for sure? Yea tall,” he held up his hand, “Blonde hair, carries a stake?”

“This one was taller.” One offered.

“And dark hair.” The second.

“Leather pants.” The third added.

“It is not possible for there to be two Slayers.” He snapped, not believing their incompetence.

“Actually Sir.” He turned at the sound of his assistant’s voice. She had come up behind him stealthfully, and was standing, holding the clipboard to her chest.

“Please, continue.” He motioned with his hand.

“In this town, a few years ago there was mention of a second Slayer.” She offered. Then stepped closer. “She had worked for the Mayor on his Ascension.” She confided softly.

“Oh, yes.” He nodded, pretending he had known that. But again he had been in the dark, and she had come to his aid. No matter, soon the Hellmouth would be open and he would be all knowing. “This other Slayer won’t matter. Not now, not when we have the Key and the Witch.” He grinned.

“So when shall the ritual commence?” She asked.

“Soon. I am almost ready.” He smiled, and went back to finish preparations for the spell.

*****

B sent the Watchers down to the basement for the heavy weaponry, and then stepped closer to me. She cupped her right hand under my chin, and used the left hand to run her fingers over my cheek.

“You sure you’re okay?” She asked. I could feel her heart beat through her fingertips, and could smell her. She was intoxicating. It hit me like a steal beam to the head.

“Five by Five.” I said, not sure I convinced myself.

Physically I was a little achy, but my body knew that it wasn’t done for the night, and I was still ready to get out there and hurt something. The worst had been the cut I got on my neck. It was pretty deep, but HS had butterflied it up with tape, and it was burning, which meant it was healing already.

No, what I wasn’t convinced of was her standing, no straddling my waist, her fingers moving over my skin, now down around my neck wasn’t freaking me out. My jaw locked up. I was scared to death. She was touching me, and I was letting myself enjoy it. And it so did not help that I could smell Buffy’s arousal. I looked up into her hazel eyes. I remembered the time in the past when my world began in her eyes, when she was my every thing. All I ever wanted was to love her, and to know what it was like to have her love me back.

My hand was on her face, cupping her cheek before I realized what I was doing. My thumb moved slowly over her skin, and she moved closer, actually setting her weight on my lap. My breathing kicked up a notch.

I could so easily love her again, want her again. But would she ever love me? Could she love me? She would break my heart again. I knew that, I felt it. But could I stop from loving her anyway? My eyes moved down from hers, over her lips that parted ever so wantonly, down to her neck.

*****

Buffy forgot everything. Just like she had in the alley with Jane, the world slipped away. But here it was even stronger. All she knew was that her heart was beating, that Faith’s hand was on her neck, another on her waist. She wanted to tip her head down and kiss those bruised lips. Taste the red mat lipstick that rested there. Nothing was making any sense to her, nothing but one thing, the one thing she believed and felt coursing through her, filling all of the empty spaces that were here since before she could remember.

She wanted Faith.

*****

I used my hand on her cheek, and added pressure, tilting Buffy’s head to the side, and roughly running my finger down her neck.

“So who gave you the hickey, B?” I asked, my voice hitching. Damn I did not want it to do that. I wanted to sound like I didn’t give a shit, that it didn’t hurt to see that mark there. No one should mark that skin. No one but me.

“Jane.” She whispered. I knew it. Of course it was her. So B had found her whore. While I was getting my ass kicked around the playground, B had been sucking face with her little girlfriend. She always picked some body else. I sighed. Looking away from her, not saying anything. “Faith, it isn’t. I mean she caught me in the alley, and I tried to get away.”

“None of my business Buffy.” I said softly. I locked my eyes on her as I said that, and she flinched. Yeah, that hurt? Good. It hurt me too.

*****

He stood before them both, hands on his hips. He looked over the Key. He had heard stories of its power in the past, but never imagined that someone would have thought to place all of that raw power inside such a delicate shell. She was frail and awkward, a teenager in human years by appearance only. Her large blue eyes were filled with tears, some rolled off her cheeks. It was lovely watching her shiver, her nose red. Such craftsmanship. She smelled human, he could sense the blood moving through her heart, pumping as the valve worked, sending the richness of it out from her chest down her amazingly long arms, to her fingers, and then back up again. He was completely fooled. If his assistant had not discovered one of Glorificus’ minions in the sewers who told of the Key, then he knew he would have spend a human lifetime searching for her, perhaps more. He ran his finger down her cheek. The demon in him laughed as she twitched in the arms of those holding her upright.

“Such a wonderful job they did on you.” He mused. “Everything is perfect.” He sniffed the air, smelling her fear, the endorphins the skin released. “Everything.” He smiled, and turned to the Witch who was watching him with cold green eyes. “And you, you are a tricky one.” She raised an eyebrow at that. She was playing coy? That was fine by him. “No magic for awhile, so it was difficult for us to trace you. Luckily for me, your friend Amy was willing to trade your life for hers.”

“She always was a rat.” The Witch snapped, and the Key gasped, turning her head to look at her in shock.

“She told me of that.” He laughed, finding it amusing that one had turned them self into a rat, unable to undo the spell. Really, witches, especially young and inexperienced ones were prone to mistakes. Take the one in front of him, she had tried to end the world, but clearly failed, as he was standing before her. Langoustino knew of witchcraft, his Sire had been skilled. There had been promises of teachings and great things. A Slayer had stopped all of that though, years ago. He still felt guilt knowing he had never been given the chance to repay that Slayer. Another demon had killed her first. But that was of no consequence. There were now two Slayers, and once the night was over, and he unleashed Hell, he would suck the marrow from their bones as they still lived.

*****

The axe was awkward, and he was still unconvinced that Mr. Giles could actually wield it in battle. Holburn himself was having difficulty carrying it up the stares with one hand. He stopped abruptly, nearly colliding with the ex-Watcher who had his hand on the doorknob of the basement door. Mr. Giles raised his hand for silence as he peered into the kitchen. Holburn squeezed closer to him, and looked around the doorframe.

Faith was still in the chair as they had left her, though now, Buffy was sitting on her lap, and they were whispering to each other. He noticed the tension and level of intimacy between the two.

Slowly, Mr. Giles closed the door, blocking his view.

“Let’s give them a minute.” He said.

“But the world, ending and all that?” Holburn asked, shifting the weight of the axe to his other arm.

“What if they die tonight? We should grant them this one moment.” Mr. Giles folded his arms.

*****

“Ah, Willow. I am so glad you are here to help me with this.” Langoustino said, moving to stand in front of her. “You see, only the strongest of Dark Magic Mages can contain within them the power of the Key. All of the swirling green energy. The Key, which has the power to open doors between the worlds.” He ran his fingers over her cheek, but she didn’t flinch, just looked at him. He could feel the magic inside of her. It was like a call to all demon’s and vampires. Letting them know that this was a human, but a human that wielded the strengths and blessings of the Gods. He sighed, continuing. “You Dark Witch must call upon a transference spell, to take the energy from the Key.”

“Not going to happen.” Willow said. “I refuse to perform the spell.”

“Oh, the little transference spell?” He grinned, feeling his teeth click against themselves, his eyebrows rise. “I wouldn’t dream of asking you to do that spell. It is beneath you. Oh, no. I will take care of that. When the power is coursing through you, when you accept it, and accept the black magic, all you need to do is channel that power into breaking the seal. That is all.”

“Buffy will stop you!” The Key screamed at him.

“Oh, I think not. She is falling apart.”

*****

Buffy would not look away. The depth of Faith’s eyes transfixed her. The power they held over her. And the pain. So much pain, and Buffy had caused most of it.

"About Jane, I don’t know if you can understand, if I can tell you-" Buffy started, needing to explain. But the brunette cut her off.

“Oh I get it B.” Faith snapped. “She doesn’t scare you. Not like you were scared of me. Not like you were scared of everything. You changed.”

“You are right, she doesn’t scare me. She doesn’t do anything for me, but make me forget. Just for a few moments, she makes me forget the pain and the anger. It’s like I am accepting that nothing I do matters. My life is so bizarre; being with her is the one thing that I can control. And you are right, when I was with you, when you let everything go and opened up to me that night I was scared, I was terrified.” Buffy felt her heart beating faster as she felt the truth of the words coming out of her mouth. "Completely and utterly terrified. There was nothing in my control then. But-"

“Well you know what? That is not my problem.” Faith snapped. Her brown eyes were darkening.

"But I wanted to loose control with-"

“Shut it. I don’t want to hear it; I don’t need to hear it. You had your chance.” Faith hissed, her voice low. Buffy could feel the pain that laced her tone.

“I can’t help myself,” Buffy sobbed. "It can’t be too late, please tell me it isn’t too late. I need-"

“Get your shit together B.” Faith yelled, shocking Buffy into silence. “If either one of us freaks out, then he wins. Do you hear me? He wins. And if he wins Kiddo and Red are gone, like really gone. I don’t know about you, but I hate to loose, and those two are growing on me. So get control of your emotions, we need to get out there and bring them home.” It sounded to Buffy like Faith was trying to convince both of them.

"Faith, I," Buffy had to know, it was tearing her heart in two. She clutched the back of Faith’s neck, “Do you love her?”

“What?”

“Willow. Do you love her?” Buffy whispered.

“Ah, come on B, not this, not now.” Faith groaned.

“Do you?!” Buffy shouted.

“No!” Faith yelled back, leaning just those few inches forward and capturing Buffy’s lips between her own. Her hands rushed up Buffy’s back, pressing their bodies tightly together, as Faith bit her bottom lip. Buffy reacted by running her tongue over Faith’s lips, who moaned in response, and she slipped her tongue inside, forcefully feeling and tasting the inside of Faith’s mouth. The kiss was so frenzied that their teeth tapped together, but Buffy didn’t care. She had her answer. She could feel it. Her entire body was singing, pulsing. As they devoured each other’s mouths, Buffy pressed even closer, feeling the woman beneath her matching her heart beat for heart beat, caress for caress. She was completely filled by Faith. She could hear her low moan, mixed with the wetness of the kiss, feel her hair beneath her hands, smell the sweat, dust, grass and blood on her skin, taste the life in her mouth. She would fight for this, to loose complete control in these arms, where she felt safe and whole.

*****

“And,” Langoustino said stepping back from them, “it has begun.” He snapped his fingers, and his minions rushed forward to take the two items of his salvation, his rise to power into their hands. He would not wait any longer. It was time.

*****

After a two-minute wait, Giles opened the door. He was surprised to see Buffy sitting on the kitchen counter, looking over at Faith, who was still in the chair, taping a small cut on her forearm. The scene looked completely different that what he had expected. Part of him was dreading opening that door again, for fear of interrupting an embarrassingly intimate moment. But here, with them so far apart. He wondered what had gone wrong?

“We thought you fell in,” Faith snapped sarcastically, but her normally smoky voice was thick with something else. He looked at her closely as he set the stakes on the tabletop. Her lips were swollen, her eyes twinkling. He turned his head to gaze at Buffy, who had similarly full lips, and a slight cut that was not there before. Also, Buffy was mildly flushed. Giles straightened back up, smiling. He hoped that they had worked through some of the past. He knew that the girls would be good for one another, if they could see past the hurt that had been done.

“As you can see, Faith, I am quite dry.”

“Was that a joke?” She asked quirking her eyebrow.

“I am trying.” He smiled.

Holburn dropped more stakes, and the axe on the table with a huff. He looked between the girls and stood up looking confused. He clearly could not see what had transpired here.

“I am thinking you were down with the big plan-age in the basement?” Buffy asked, swinging her legs.

“Well, no, actually.” Giles pushed at his glasses. “You and Faith had ample time to come up with a plan.”

“I, erm, well, we,” Buffy stumbled.

“He was teasing, B. They saw us, before, and they know we didn’t do any planning.” She grinned mischievously, but it was a pure smile. One that Rupert Giles had only glimpsed once or twice, but felt honored each time.

“Oh.” Came from Buffy softly, but she was smiling.

Slowly Faith stood and stretched her arms over her head. “I say we hop in Tweed’s car, and zip over to the Hellmouth and wait for them. Then we kill them, bring home ours girls and eat ice cream.”

“Sounds like a great plan to me!” Buffy jumped down, lifting up the heavy axe and spinning it on her palm like it weighted nothing.

“How can she?” Holburn stammered. Giles set his hand on his shoulder and shook his head, asking him to forget it. In time the young man would learn. In time.

*****

This was wrong. It wasn’t like she had dreamed it would have been. And naïve as she had been to fantasize about Buffy Summers, she had. After the first encounter, after feeling the power and pain that mythical woman held in her small body Jane was hooked. She needed more. The Slayer made her feel worthy, like she was more than a common whore.

When Buffy took her, she felt needed, like she was filling a purpose. But now, if Buffy was turning her away, what good was she? What could she do?

As she walked, she fought back the tears, knowing she needed to look the part, needed to shine and stand out from all the other girls on the street. Besides, Jane thought, it was better to be patient. Faith couldn’t give Buffy what she needed; she couldn’t surrender completely to her.

She could hear multiple people coming up the street, the shuffling of leather-soled shoes, which rang like a cash register ding in her head. Leather shoes equaled money. Money equaled some class.

She used her upper arms to push up her breasts just that little bit more, as the group came into view. And Jane was disappointed. Mostly men, and granted they were well dressed, but they were moving with a purpose, not out for a stroll, and therefore not out looking for a good time. She spotted two women in their midst. The red head she knew immediately from the photo she had seen in Tara’s apartment.

“Willow?” She called out. The red head did not even turn to look at her, but one of the men did, and as he did so his game face appeared. He growled and stepped forward.

Oh shit!

He took her by the throat and pressed her against the wall.

“Excuse me, but we are on a bit of a mission here.” A dark haired man said over the vampire’s shoulder. Jane was shaking like a leaf, cursing Buffy Summers for not being here to save her, cursing Faith for making her leave the protected street corner.

“Sorry, Sir. But she called out to the Witch.” The vampire slurred around his fangs. Recoiling Jane was stunned at how bad his breath stunk.

“Oh, really?” The dark one asked. A beautiful young woman put her hand on the dark ones arm, and he turned.

“She is the one.” The woman said, locking eyes with Jane.

“Which?” He asked softly.

“That I saw, with the Slayer.” She repeated, then slowly drug her tongue over her elongating teeth.

“Very good work.” He said, pulling the vampire off of Jane, and then turning back to the woman. “Turn her, she may be of use to us.” He smiled, and then walked to meet up with the group as they continued down the street.

The female vampire stepped closer, her eyes shifting to yellow, but she retained her human face. The cold hand played on Jane’s cheek, turning her head to the side.

“I just know you are going to taste so sweet.” She whispered, and then brought her lips down to Jane’s throat. As she felt the piercing bite Jane cursed the Slayers.

*****

“I can’t believe I am going to blow up another school, especially when I had a nice interview here just today. Damn the Hellmouth!” Buffy said as the four of them entered the basement of the new High School. She just could not believe her luck, or lack there of when it came to jobs. Faith chuckled from behind her, and she looked back, to catch the wink that Faith sent to her. It made her stomach tighten.

That kiss had been amazing. She had kissed Faith before, but it had never felt like that, so raw so pure so-

“B?” Faith called, and Buffy stopped, and turned again to face her. Faith grinned wickedly, and bounced her eyebrows up and down.

“Faith, was there something?” Giles asked. Faith didn’t look at him just winked again at Buffy.

Does she know what I was thinking?

Buffy shook her head, that was ridiculous. There was no way that Faith could tell she was - DAMN SLAYER SENSES. She glared at Faith, and jokingly damned her and her sense of smell.

“Let’s split up. We know they have to head down to the basement, so I think we should go there.” Faith added.

“Right, Faith and I will go to the north, Giles you and Buffy to the south.” Holburn offered, clutching the stake to his chest like he was going to die without it.

Actually…

“Don’t think so tweed.” Faith shook her head. “The Slayers go north, you two head south.”

"But, Faith, ahem, I have never been in-" Holburn stumbled, clearly nervous.

“You have never fought, we all know that. And that is why you are going with Giles.” Buffy said, pushing him away. “You two are back up. We take the vamps, you two get Dawn and Willow to safety.”

“Right.” Giles nodded. “Good luck girls.”

*****

“Luck? We don’t need luck G-man, we’re the Slayers.” I grinned proudly at the two of them, and they walked away. B and I turned and headed for the stairs. I looked at my watch. It had been three hours since B and I left the Magic Box. Three hours since our first kiss in three years, and now, hmm, about twenty minutes since the kiss that set my entire body on fire. Wow.

“I like the watch, but erm, didn’t you used to be in the ‘watches steal time and therefore are evil’ club?” B asked from behind me as I trotted down the stairs to the basement. Why this school was not locked up tighter was beyond me. It was too easy to get in here.

“What?” I asked, because she was making zero sense.

“Nothing.” She mumbled. I pushed open the doors to the room where the boilers were. This was the place, I could feel it. And from the way B’s back straightened and her hands clenched, she could feel it too. Must be wicked freaky coming back to the place where you once died, and having it look totally different. I looked over at her, and all that was on her face was determination. That was my girl.

What? My girl? Did I want her to be my girl?

“Faith?”

“Hmm?”

“You worried?”

“Naw.”

“But we could loose.”

“I never lose B.”

"Just in case," B leaned closer and pressed her lips gently against mine. It was like she was testing, making sure it was okay for her to be there, and it was SO okay. Her lips were soft, and just gently pressing. A totally different kiss than earlier. I cupped her cheek in my hand and opened my lips, loving the feel of her lip under the coarseness of my tongue. B opened to me, and we kissed deeply. Slowly I pulled away, licking her off of my lips, savoring it.

“Just in case?” I asked.

“These apocalyptic end of the world things seem to end with me dead, and I had to do that again.” She sighed.

“I won’t let you die, B.” I squeezed her hand.

“Faith? What is happening? I mean I know what is happening, we are waiting for Willow to get mind fucked, get all witchy, kill my baby sister and end the world. What I meant was, what is happening between us?” She babbled, and I couldn’t stop the words coming from my mouth.

“You are adorable when you babble, B.”

“Me, Slayer. Not adorable.”

“Oh, yeah, fucking adorable.” I smiled so wide I felt it in muscles I didn’t even know my cheeks had!

"Faith I am serious. What-"

“Buffy, right now I want to say fuck everything and take you down right here and show you how much I want you.” She gulped. “But I can control myself. We have a job to do. Honestly, I don’t know what is happening, and I can’t think about it right now. Okay? We need to focus.”

“Right, just like you said before. Focus. Save the world.” She nodded. “Are you sure that we can do this? I mean, what if we have to do something to Willow?”

“B. Take a deep breath.” I smiled again, leaning forward and giving her lips a peck. “We are the Chosen, B. How can we fail? We can’t! This is what we do. And I don’t know about you, but I am in the mood to burn off some serious energy.” I winked.

“Oh, yeah.” She grinned right back.

The doors above us slammed open, and we both got lower on the ground.

*****

She stumbled as they pushed her into the middle of the room. But she didn’t fall. Willow glanced over at Dawn, who was nervously looking around, her eyes wide.

What a way to see your new school.

Willow mentally shook her head, clearing her mind. Poor Dawn must be terrified. She was obviously looking everywhere for Buffy to come and save them. But Willow wasn’t sure that they had figured it out by now. And if the Slayers weren’t here, then it was up to Willow to find a way to make sure Dawn was kept safe.

Not for the first time since they had taken her from the Magic Box, Willow wished Tara was there. She closed her eyes.

<“Dawn will always be special, no matter what.” Tara said, sipping her mocha and grinning.

“Don’t I know it. There will never be another Dawn.”

“And we will protect her. I-I-I mean with B-Buffy back it is different,”

“She will always be our little girl,” Willow grinned conspiratorially at her girlfriend. “She wants to learn magic, you know.”

“Oh I don’t know Willow. We don’t know what kind of energy the Key really is.”

“It is Dawn energy, wild and unpredictable.”

“Exactly. It will take a lot of focus, and I am not sure she is ready.” Tara frowned.”>

Langoustino was standing before her when she opened her eyes, coming back to now. He smiled softly at her.

“You will thank me when this is over. I hope to have you at my side when this all comes to pass. A Witch of your skill and power will be a great asset to me.” He was trying to be so reassuring, but Willow was fairly certain that he had no idea what he was doing in opening the Hellmouth. He had no real power, and when the evil seeped out, he would be killed first. The power struggle would begin.

“Nope, don’t think so. I already told you, me and the black magic, we don’t get along any more.” Willow offered.

“Doesn’t matter what you think. Your body will know it, and will want the power. Just wait until you feel it inside of you.” He licked her cheek.

Eeww!

“Bring it!” He snapped, and was handed a small vile. He grinned at Willow and then walked over to Dawn. “Drink half of this.”

“No way! That looks gross, and besides, my sister told me to never drink something from a stranger, and you Mister, you are a stranger.” She babbled.

“DRINK!” He yelled.

“Um, no.” She said meekly.

“Cut the Witch’s face.” He said to someone. I froze, and Dawn jumped.

“No, no. Not her face. I will drink it. It is cool. Every one with knives, just calm down.” Dawn said. Willow was so proud of her. Tara was so proud of her. Willow had vowed to protect her, and do that she would. She wasn’t sure if the Slayers were around or not, but she tried something that she hadn’t for a very long time.

*****

Buffy, Faith?

If you can hear me, or see us, do not stop them from doing the transference spell. I have an idea, and well I think it might work. But don’t do anything until you see the sign. I promise, Dawn will be okay.

Buffy winced hearing Willow shouting in her mind. She and Faith were watching the scene and had been ready to pounce when Langoustino started to get Dawn to drink whatever that was.

“Did you?” Buffy asked, her lips pressed to Faith’s ear.

“Yeah. So?” Faith asked back in the same manner.

“We trust her and wait.” Buffy whispered back.

They were both coiled tightly ready for the sign. Hoping they knew it when they saw it.

*****

Dawn drank, and then Langoustino walked it over to Willow.

“I am sure you have done one of these before. To gain power?” He held the vial to her lips.

“Actually, I never had to do this spell. I wanted power, I took power.” Her eyes flickered black and his smile wavered slightly.

“I see. You are a strong one.” He tipped the vial back, and she drank it down. The herbs and blood burned, but she got it down.

“Strongest you’ll ever know.”

“I doubt that.” He turned and looked between the girls, and began chanting. He was speaking so quickly that Willow was unable to understand. It sounded like a mashing of vowels and some consonants. But no discernible words in any language she knew.

She took a deep breath, feeling her own dormant power rising up inside of her. She chanted to herself over and over again.

It’s about the control, what you do with the energy. It’s about the control, what you do with the energy. It’s about the control, what you do with the energy.

A shimmering green light flew from Dawn’s chest, slamming against Willow so hard she screamed. The power of it knocked her and the two vampires holding her to the ground. The power was immense, so much so that the two vampires touching her burst into ash. Her body rose up from the ground, the power rush making her mind spin. This was completely different than the power from the books, from the power she pulled from Rack; even from the power she pulled from Giles. It was all things, and nothing. It was pleasure and pain, madness and brilliance. Willow felt it all inside of her, all of this power, slamming against her body, pushing at her soul. The magic that she possessed on her own was fighting back.

Willow dropped to the ground and her eyes opened, she tilted her head to the side, taking in the sight of Dawn, passed out, and Langoustino grinning at her from ear to ear.

*****

Langoustino was so pleased. It worked. He looked at the Witch, and she opened her eyes to him, they were swirling, like oil and vinegar, the black and the magical green.

“You made a boo-boo.” She said to him, and his smile faltered.

“What?” He asked disbelieving.

“Giving me all of this power?” She shook her head. “Bye now.” She flicked her wrist towards him, and he felt the cold, then the slight pain. He looked down at his chest and watched as it fell away to ash, and the rest of him followed.

*****

Can’t control it. Too strong. Hurts so much.

Willow was fighting inside, trying to hold the power of the Key in, but it desperately wanted out, and if it got out it would shatter the seal over the Hellmouth. And that could not happen. She needed to be calm. She needed to focus.

<Sweat coated her skin, making the white sheet stick to her back, and she didn’t care. She was in a completely wonderful place, half between complete consciousness, and that lovely high from the orgasm that the blonde raising her head up from between her legs had given her. No one had ever made Willow feel as good as Tara did. The blonde Wicca set her chin on Willow’s stomach, running her fingers over the skin below her belly button.

“How are you?”

“So good, too good.” Willow sighed, smiling down. She wanted to move, but couldn’t. “I love you Tara Maclay.”

“I love you Willow.” She said softly, kissing the skin beside her. “I missed you.”

“No, baby, no. Don’t say it like that. Everything was my fault. If only I had control over myself, none of this would have happened.” Willow sat up, and used her tired arms to guide Tara up to her. She cupped her face in her hands, running her thumbs over the full lips. “You are my everything, I was a fool to not see that, to not come to you for help.”

“Really? You still want me?”

“Always Tara. Do you want to be with me? I mean, of course more than BE with me, because I think we just covered that.” She babbled blushing.

“Yes we did, d-d-didn’t we? At least four times.” Tara grinned her lopsided grin.

“I need you, Tara. I need your love, and your strength, your guidance and your knowledge.”

“Long list.” Tara blushed.

“I can make it shorter. I need you Tara.”

“I give it all to you, Willow.”>

And that was all Willow needed to get enough control over the power inside of her. She willed the spell.

*****

Buffy watched in awe as Langoustino was turned to dust before her eyes.

“Could she always do that?” Faith asked softly.

“Um, no. Cause if she could, she would be Willow the Vampire Slayer.” Buffy responded. She wanted to rush over and save Dawn, but the girl was lying on the floor unconscious. Buffy could not get emotional, not now. Now was the time to focus, just like Faith had told her.

She looked back at Willow, and watched her eyes go white, and then she was gone.

*****

“Okay, and that was new.” I said when Red suddenly disappeared.

“That’s our sign.” B said, and sprung over the water tank we were hiding behind, into the thick of fifteen vampires.

“Hey, save me some!” I called as I followed her into the fray.

*****

The meadow. The early morning sounds were just beginning to awaken around her, but as she teleported herself there, everything fell silent. It was as if nature could sense what was happening inside of her. Willow felt to her knees, feeling the blood rushing from her nose.

She was far enough away from the Hellmouth, but she was not sure she could do this, or what she could do.

“Tara, I need you!” She cried to the heavens. “I don’t know what to do. I, Ugh, it hurts.” Willow closed her eyes and this time she did not remember a moment with Tara, she was forced there, she was there. Completely reliving the moment.

<“Willow, magic isn’t a tool to make your life easier. You don’t use it to do things you can do yourself. Magic is what you use when you can’t do something.” Tara said angrily, but was gently running her thumb over the back of Willow’s hand.

“I know, baby. It’s just sometimes it is easier.”

“It’s not about easy, Will. It is about control, and focus, and acceptance. You need to be in perfect balance with the world around you, and then the magic will come freely.” Tara sighed, running her hands through Willow’s hair. “I know you tasted the Black Magic, when you took revenge on Glory for me. But Willow, Black Magic is bad.”

"Not if you-"

“Wait. It is bad for you Willow. It will hurt you inside. I worry about that. I know you are strong, that you can do more than anyone I have ever known. And that makes you special Willow. My Willow. And I am not saying stay away from the dark magic. I am saying it is all about balance. Magic is like life. There are two sides. Dark and Light, good and evil. Frick and frack. They balance. Too much of either is not a good thing.”>

Her eyes opened and Willow knew what she had to do. The two magics were fighting within her. She willed her self to calm, and pushed them apart. The black magic that was still within her, and this new neutral magic that was in essence the Key. Concentrating she pulled them apart, and then just let go.

*****

Buffy shoved the stake home, and the fifth vampire turned to dust. She swung around, catching sight of Holburn swinging the battle-axe and beheading another vampire. He was getting the hang of it. Giles was guarding Dawn, who thankfully was breathing. Buffy attacked the nearest vamp, punching him in the face as she looked for Faith.

She was in all of her glory, hair moving like a dark mane as she jumped in the air to scissor kick one vamp in the face. Faith landed on the fallen demon, and staked him. She wiped her head around and caught Buffy’s eye and smiled. Then they went back to finishing the kill.

The ground lurched up, and then a deafening roar and rumble was felt through the entire basement. Both Slayers stopped. Buffy could feel the wave of power hit and move through her, and was sure from the look on Faith’s face she felt it too.

“Earthquake?” Holburn asked, waving his hand through the dust cloud that the shock wave had kicked up.

Faith staked the last vampire, and turned at the same time Buffy did.

“Willow.” They said in unison.

“Oh my.” He rubbed his forehead.

“Does this mean I’m still alive?” Dawn asked sneezing. Buffy rushed over and pulled her sister into a tight hug.

“It sure does you!” She kissed her cheeks and her nose.

“Eew, Stop with the kissing already. That is like so wrong.” Dawn leaned away.

“She is just happy you aren’t a dead little key.” Faith said from behind Buffy.

“Where is Willow?” Dawn asked, looking around.

“She had to take care of something.” Giles offered but looked up at Buffy.

“I’ll go.” Faith offered and kneeled beside Dawn. “You get your sister straight home, okay?” She asked, and Dawn looked at her strangely and then nodded in acceptance. Buffy turned to look at Faith. She wanted to kiss her, but knew this probably wasn’t the best time. Faith grinned, and stood up. “Don’t worry, I am in total control.” She said walking away.

“Yeah us. We won.”

“We most certainly did.” Giles added.

...continued in Can't or Won't...

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