No, they aren’t mine. I wish they were, but they aren’t. They belong to their creators. I make no money off them. No harm, no foul. Feed the writer. Review. This plot bunny crawled out from under my desk, narrowly avoiding being stepped on, and proceeded to jump up and down on my head until I fed it carrots and wrote this story.
Spike paced nervously in front of the temporary grave marker, kicking it every third or fourth pass. The scent of turned earth was still faintly detectable and it tickled at his nose. For the ninetieth time that night, he checked the antique pocket watch he carried in his duster.
It was almost time—he hoped. If Xander had been telling him the truth, that is. If, in fact, it was five days tonight that Tara had died, she would be clawing her way out of the ground any minute.
Snarling in frustration, Spike lit a cigarette and perched on a nearby headstone. This was not the kind of surprise he had been hoping to get from Tara when he got back into town. Indeed, when he found out what had happened, he nearly cursed the very gods that had just blessed him for taking her away.
Xander had been solemn when he broke the news to the stunned vampire. Tara had been a bystander in an actual shoot out between Buffy and one of the human evil-types she’d been fighting lately.
Spike had to be impressed with Willow. Apparently she’d taken the death very hard, drawing on deep wells of anger, hatred and vengeance to seek punishment for those responsible. Xander had been shocked at Willow’s dark potential.
Spike wasn’t. It wasn’t that she was a witch. After all, his Tara was a witch as well, but would never be able to tap into such dark powers. The Scoobies conveniently forgot that Willow had been offered a position as a vengeance demon—or maybe she’d never told them. Spike had found out through the demonic version of the grape vine. Once D’Hoffryn had made that offer, most of Sunnydale’s demons had wisely chosen to avoid the redhead.
But all of Willow’s anger, Buffy’s guilt, and Xander’s sorrows didn’t mitigate the fact that they had let Tara die. If it wasn’t for Tara’s love for these children and Spike’s respect for her, he would have killed all of them then and there.
But she’d be back tonight, as good as new, if not better. While the Slayer and her friends were mourning the loss of a bright soul, Spike would be welcoming its rebirth. See, there was something Spike knew about Tara that no one else knew.
The entire scene in the Magic Box where he’d slapped Tara to prove she wasn’t a demon had been a sham. He’d known all about Tara from the first time they’d met. Spike smelled the demon in her. At first, he held it over her head. It was a juicy piece of blackmail, and left Spike with a very powerful, if unwilling, ally. As long as Tara wanted to be seen as human, she was in debt to Spike.
At first this situation deeply distressed the timid witch. Spike took great joy in swinging the proverbial sword over her head, and made sure she never got completely comfortable. But then things changed.
At first it was Tara being nice to Spike in order to keep him quiet. Eventually, Spike had decreased his teasing and threatening. Somehow in the midst of the soap opera that was Sunnydale, they became friends. Spike never mentioned what he’d done for Tara, and she never asked what he wanted.
She’d seen his attraction for Buffy almost before he had, and had simply warned him that it would be a difficult path. After Buffy used him as a punching bag, she patched him up and brought him blood, never saying a word.
He had been furious when they’d brought Buffy back. Tara, of all of them, should have known the dangers—that kind of magic was forbidden for a reason. But at the same time, he could place little blame on her. She was very much in love with Willow, who could be very persuasive.
So when Willow had started treating Tara like a favorite toy instead of a person, he’d been there to comfort her. Of course, that was when things were getting hot and heavy with Buffy. And soon after that, Buffy kicked him out of her bed, so he and Tara took turns consoling each other.
Them falling into bed wasn’t much of a surprise. There weren’t the fireworks between them that they’d had with their former partners. Instead there was a warm, quiet connection that brought them both peace.
A little more than a week ago, Tara found a way to pay him back for keeping her secret. She found a shaman in Africa that could remove his chip and give him a soul. Tara was the only person, alive or dead, who knew he wanted a soul. He’d always wanted his soul back—for some reason, he never forgot what it was like to be human, and wanted those emotions back, even if it meant a world of guilt.
But when he got back to Sunnydale, the only person he really wanted to see lay buried in his own cemetery. It nearly killed him; the only thing that kept him alive was knowing that she would return.
What Tara had going for her was her demonic half. Her mother had been a Kiahsi demon—so her family hadn’t been lying. Well, not completely lying. Kiahsi were not ugly, horrendous beings—they were delicate creatures with a deep connection to the earth. Half-human hybrids of that particular demon had the ability to recover from death as a full demon. He’d promised Tara that he’d be there for her if she died in Sunnydale—it was difficult for Kiahsi to get back out of the ground. That was why Spike was wearing out the grass next to her grave.
He heard her frantic digging well before she reached the surface. Dropping to the damp soil over her grave, he plunged an arm deep into the ground, searching for her. A hand latched onto his, and he began to tug gently. If he pulled too hard, he’d tear her arm out of its socket. Kiahsi demons were not known for their physical strength, but rather their magickal abilities.
After nearly an hour of digging and swearing, he had a filthy, crying and coughing Tara in his arms. Wiping her face with a handkerchief he’d deny ever owning, he tried to determine if she was alright.
“I’m fine, Spike,” she said.
Spike scowled. “How’d you—“
~ Kiahsi demons are telepathic, remember?~ She sent him, smirking through the dirt on her face.
~Yeah, and immortal, and weak, and vegetarians too. I bloody well remember all about them,~ he thought back. He had some experience communicating with telepaths, so this form of communication wasn’t totally foreign.
~So, did the shaman…~ Tara began, looking hopeful.
~One chipless and soulful vamp at your service, madam,~ Spike said, grinning madly.
Tara’s expression turned serious. ~What’s been going on here?~
~I just got back myself. I can fill you in on our way out of town.~
Tara looked surprised. ~We’re leaving?~
Spike snarled. ~Yeah, we’re leaving. The Hellmouth’s no place for a Kiahsi. And if Red finds you now, in the state she’s in…~
Tara paled. So Willow was the source of the dark magic she could sense all around her. It was subtly different from the Hellmouth-power that permeated Sunnydale. ~Yeah, we should go.~
As they passed the ‘Welcome to Sunnydale’ sign, Spike looked over at Tara. ~You ok?~
Tara smiled sleepily. ~Need a shower.~
~You know what I mean, bint.~
Tara laughed aloud. ~I’m fine. I’m alive, and I’m with you.~
~There is that.~ Spike said, smiling. ~There is that.~