Copyright © 2003
Disclaimer: Not mine blah, blah.
Distribution: If you want it you can have it, just tell me first.
Spoilers: Everything from up to the end of season 6 and I mean everything; Tara's dead and Spike has a soul. This has no resemblance to anything that happened in Season 7 or after Benediction in Angel.
Feedback: Yes please.
Summary: The twisted L.A. lawyers are at it again.
Spike stopped his bike on a hill over looking Sunnydale. "Home sweet home."
His passenger looked over his shoulder, Tara felt nervous and shaky. "I shouldn't be here; there are too many memories, too many people who know I'm dead."
The vampire twisted in his seat to look at Tara, to say something, anything. But, he shut his mouth and gunned the engine. Spike decided he wasn't about to give her the chance to walk away from a decision already made.
The gang pulled up outside the Summers' house, they could see Spike's motorcycle already in the drive.
They're already here, in the house," said Willow, reality striking home that Tara was really back.
In the house Xander had been taken by surprise when the bell rang. He looked through the glass panels on the door to see the blonde vampire he hated standing there. He opened the door stake in hand; ready to plunge it straight through Spike's heart, when a soft voice made him drop the piece of wood.
"Tara?" He said over and over as if saying the name would snap his brain into gear. He knew she was on her way home but it was still a sock to him.
Tara went to Xander and hugged him. It had been meant to be a brief moment of comfort but Xander leaned into Tara enjoying her warmth, as opposed to the memory that haunted him of touching the witch's cold, dead, body and seeing her blood on his hands as he had tried to revive her. He had shut out Buffy's screams that Tara was long dead, until the Slayer was forced to pull him away.
"Does Willow know?" Asked Xander, finally bringing himself into the here and now.
"She knows. They should all be back soon," answered Spike starting to enter the house. Xander put his hand on Spike's chest.
"Where do you think you're going, evil dead?"
The vampire shrugged his shoulders and turned to go, he did not want to get into anything.
"N-no, I want Spike to stay," said Tara.
"Do you know what he has done?" Blazed Xander at Tara. "He's filth."
Tara flinched away from his angry words. Spike immediately put his arm around her shoulders. "Shh, love its okay."
Xander had the good grace to look ashamed. "Oh, god Tara I'm sorry," he said helplessly as he watched Spike guide Tara to the couch. Xander watched as she sat back, her eyes closed. He could see she looked tired. Stress was etched deeply on her features. Xander shook his head with sadness realizing that another one of his friends was deeply scarred from her time on the Hellmouth, but he couldn't help but feel a swell of happiness at having his friend back.
The three sat in silence and it came as a great relief to them all when they heard a key turn in the door.
Spike rose to his feet as the gang filed in. "I think this is where I leave." He lifted Tara's chin. "Remember love, you're family."
"Thank you…William," said Tara softly. He gave her a brief nod and then left.
Xander couldn't contain his self any longer. "What the hell…"
Willow touched his arm. "Just don't."
Buffy cleared her throat. "Tara this might not seem like the right time but in the car we were talking about what you said, you know, about not having anything. We don't want you to feel that way and we want you to have freedom, not have to feel reliant at all; so we thought we could maybe set the basement up for you to live in. I don't know, what do you think?"
"Thank you Buffy, I'm grateful," said Tara making an attempt to smile.
"I'm going to contact the council tomorrow and see what they can do about getting your identity back," said Giles
"They can d-do that?" Asked Tara, raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, yes, it's about the only thing they are good at," confirmed Giles with a quick smile.
"Do you want my bed tonight?" Asked Dawn. "I can share with Buffy."
Tara nodded; she was starting to feel overwhelmed; too much had happened in too short a time. She felt that she needed time to herself. "D-does anyone mind if I turn in?"
"We have your old clothes if you want to change into them," said Dawn.
The group watched as Tara and Dawn climbed the stairs.
"What's going on?" Asked Xander. "Will, why aren't you with her? Why did Captain Peroxide bring her home? And what is with the leather?"
Willow looked to Buffy; she really didn't have the strength to explain.
"It's a long story," said the slayer.
Gavin walked into his office, he felt exhausted. He had been waiting at the Hyperion for over 24 hours for Angel and his crew to return. The hit team that had been sent out with him had been called back to base in the middle of the night but Gavin had refused to go. Instead he had taken a stun gun and an automatic rifle off of the team and waited for them to return. He had finally given up and decided to take a shower and spruce up before shaking down some of his leads to find the where about of the blonde witch who had haunted his dreams for months as he studied her waiting for the right time to bring her back to life.
"You look like a wreck."
"Lilah Morgan. Get out my office," shouted Gavin. "Now."
Lilah sat back in his padded leather seat. She was dressed in a beautifully tailored Channel suit; her hair and make-up were perfect. She looked like she could have stepped off a Hollywood set or a Paris catwalk. "Your office, hmm. I don't know I think I could get used to the view from here."
"I'm not in the mood for games," said Gavin, staring at her not blinking, with an itch in his hands to give her another beating. Although he had blamed it on Billy, he had enjoyed losing it and knocking the smug smile off the bitch's face.
"No games, you're mine now…"
"Get out Lilah before I kick you out," said Gavin a muscle ticking in his cheek.
Lilah laughed. "I know what you did. I've spoken to your little witch and she told me about your attempted teenage grope of her before the heroic vampire whisked her away."
Gavin felt his insides run cold and a sweat start to run down his back. "What are you going to do?"
"I could tell the senior partners," Lilah watched in delight as she saw the sweat start to drip from his forehead. "Or as I said from now on I own your ass."
Giles and Xander quickly fixed up the basement, Tara moved in and Willow spent the next week carefully avoiding her.
An uneventful patrol was just about finished; Buffy was making her last sweep of the cemetery nearest her home when three vamps jumped her. The slayer dispatched one easily, but one had her from behind and was trying to quell her while the other went for her jugular.
"If I bag a slayer, I'll be like a god," said the vampire as he closed in.
Buffy pulled her arm free and pushed the stake through his chest. "Jeez, your lines never improve." She found herself falling backwards as the other vampire exploded into dust. As she fell she caught a glimpse of a black leather duster and black boots.
"Spike go away, I don't need you," Buffy looked at the hand thrust down at her. The hand was smaller, the fingers long, slim and elegant. The slayer grasped the hand. "Hey Tara," she said without looking at the blonde.
"Buffy," said Tara helping the slayer to her feet.
"Back to the leather, huh?" Asked Buffy, still feeling a little unsure on how to deal with the witch.
Tara shrugged her feelings to complex for her to explain.
"You know you can talk to me? I've been where you are."
Tara shrugged again.
"You always were more comfortable listening than talking," said Buffy.
Tara flashed a quick smile that never quite reached her eyes. "It's what I do."
As they were walking they passed a bench in the cemetery, Buffy sat and motioned for Tara to join her. "Willow missed…"
"Buffy, don't," said Tara cutting the slayer off.
"You know you have to talk about it eventually or the feelings become destructive," said Buffy.
"Well, I'm not going to screw Spike…I'm sorry," said Tara seeing the flash of pain across Buffy's face.
"Are you sure? You were very friendly with him," said Buffy making a feeble attempt at humor.
"Well, he was kinda there."
"Oh, he is good at that, like a flea," muttered Buffy.
"He's changed you know," said Tara.
A flare of anger hit Buffy. "Yeah, well did he tell you that he tried to rape me?" She shouted shaking.
Tara took Buffy's hand her head dropped as she took a deep breath. "I knew he had done something, but I didn't know exactly what it was." She turned to look at the slayer, taking in the pain on the smaller woman's face. "I'm, so sorry that happened to you and no one should tolerate that kind of treatment. Now I know why he..."
"You're making excuses for him?" Asked Buffy gaping at the witch as she snatched her hand back.
"No, never, soulless or not he crossed the line, he should never have done that." Said Tara, her brow crinkling, she moved to hold Buffy's hand again but pulled back. "But, I uhm kinda understand him."
"You?" Asked Buffy, disbelief rich in her voice.
"Why he felt he had to…"
"Why he felt he had to rape me," bit back Buffy sarcastically.
"No, of course not," said Tara keeping her calm in the face of the slayer's anger. "Why he went through hell to get his soul back…"
"Spike has a soul?" Asked Buffy stunned.
"He thought it would change him, that it would make a difference, and that you would love him. He didn't know he would still be marked by darkness. He'll never escape that he is branded with it. A soul will make no difference. Spike thought he'd bring the poet back, but he's gone forever."
"Spike has a soul?" Asked Buffy again almost not taking in what Tara had said.
"Yes," confirmed Tara.
"How? I mean why? Actually, I have no idea what I mean it makes no difference. He is what he is a manipulative lying bastard; a soul makes no difference," said the slayer her voice hard. "And I still don't know how you can understand him?"
"Because I'm not who I was and I d-don't understand what I am becoming. You know you asked about the leather, well this is the third time this week I have put it on and went out to kill."
"Vampires?" Asked a shocked Buffy.
The witch nodded.
"Do you know how dangerous that is?" Asked Buffy as Tara gave her another non-committal shrug.
"I know things have happened to you Tara, but you're human. You don't have super strength. Every time you go out by yourself you risk being killed."
"And strangely I don't seem to care," snapped Tara.
"How can you say that? You have a chance to live…"
"L-like that meant a lot to you Buffy? I thought you'd understand," said Tara softly a dangerous edge to her voice.
The slayer tried to take the tension away by rubbing the heel of her hand into her forehead. "Tara, you have so many people who love you. We were all devastated when you died. Please, please don't do this; we need you."
"Dawn maybe, but she'll get over it."
"What about Willow, Xander, Anya and me. Don't we have a say in things? I like you being here. I love you," said Buffy. "And Dawn needs you and Willow was…well she might as well have been dead…"
"Oh 'cause I so feel the love from Willow," Tara spat at her.
Buffy was shocked by the anger and deep sarcasm in the witch's voice. "She does, she loves you so very much."
"Then why is she avoiding me Buffy? She leaves a room when I enter. She hasn't spoken more than two words to me since I got back," snapped Tara.
"She is…I won't hear…she does lo…she is trying... She was broken when you died. I've never seen anyone go into such a meltdown. Willow was gone; everything about her was obliterated. Look, I know she has been avoiding you," Buffy reached out for Tara's hand again. "Willow thinks she is helping you by giving you space, so go to her, talk to her, and tell her how you feel."
"For both your sakes. I have never known two people who were meant to be together more. I know you've been through a lot…"
"Really, you think so?" Asked Tara flippantly before starting to laugh. "It could be the Scooby's logo couldn't it?"
Buffy couldn't help but join in but she could hear the edge of hysteria behind the laughter, she waited until it died down. "If you really want to live, go home and talk to Willow. If I'm wrong, go patrol, self destruct, kill yourself but find out what you've got to live for first."
"She's a killer," objected Tara making excuses for her own fears.
Buffy sighed. "So am I, Giles, Xander, Anya, and Spike in fact, only you and Dawn have never caused a human's death and Willow? She was something else, consumed by grief, revenge, anger, madness and power."
"What if it happens again?" Asked Tara urgently.
"I don't know Tara, but I don't think it will; unless you succeed in trying to get yourself killed. Please, just speak to her."
"Yes, I s-suppose it's time," said Tara
Buffy closed her eyes in relief, then reached forward and hugged her friend. "I missed you, I really did." She whispered into Tara's ear.
To be continued...