Mirror Mirror

Part Three


(One week later)

Buffy glared at Tay as the other woman entered the room. Tay ignored her and addressed Spike instead.

"How's it been?" she asked.

Spike gave her a look that almost matched Buffy's "Well if you'd been here all this week, you'd bloody well know."

"Well excuse me for having someone else's life to lead" Tay retorted.

"Yeah, well, while you've been doin' that, I've had to put up with her" Spike pointed to Buffy "All bloody week."

"I hate to point this out to you Spike, but that's actually *your* part of the deal. And if you can't handle it" Tay added "Then you'd better seriously consider your inclusion in this project."

Spike glared at her and mumbled something under his breath before he stormed out of the room, slamming the door as he went.

Tay rolled her eyes and sat down in the chair previously occupied by the blond vampire.

"You two make a great couple," Buffy said sarcastically.

"He has his uses" Tay kicked her feet up on to the edge of the bed "So how do you like my spells that take care of bodily functions and dietary needs?" Tay didn't wait for Buffy to answer "They were Spike's idea actually. Thought I'd oblige him" Tay tutted "And for that you have to go annoying him all week."

"Well Spike's feelings aren't really foremost on my mind at the moment" Buffy said bitterly "Y'know he filled me in on your little plan" she smiled thinly "You really think you're going to get Xander don't you?"

"Not *think* Slayer. *Know*"

Buffy looked at her coldly "He'll know it's not me" she said "He'll *know*"

"Maybe he will" Tay conceded "But by then it'll be too late" Tay took her feet off the bed and leant forward "He's pretty when he's sleeping isn't he?"

"Leave him alone" Buffy said through gritted teeth.

"I thought I'd already made the point that I wasn't going to" Tay replied "You just don't get it do you? There's *nothing* that you *can* do" Tay got up and sat on the edge of the bed by Buffy "You won't win this war. Your friends are already giving trying to find someone to counteract the spell. A spell that hasn't even been incanted in fact" Tay smiled "I can sense their resignation. Your Watcher has gone to Spain to search for my sister. Last time I checked though she was in Italy. I don't know whether he'll find her or not, but I'll know soon enough if he does. It just means in that case that I'll have to forgo the pleasantries with Xander and just kill him in cold blood. You I've promised to Spike. He hasn't got his bite as you've probably guessed, but I've figured a way around that" Tay smiled again "Mind over matter as it were."

"You do realise by telling me all this you've almost guaranteed that this plan will fail."

"You mean the James Bond theory?" Tay shook her head "I hate to tell you this Slayer but this *is* real life. There's gonna be no rescue attempts, no *escape* attempts, no sudden regret by the captors for their poor, poor victims. There's going to be nothing. You have *nothing*"

"Wrong" Buffy replied "I have my hate for you" Buffy looked directly into Tay's eyes "And when you kill me I'll come back to haunt you."

Tay smirked "I do exorcisms."

"I'm getting sick of you."

Tay's hand shot out and Buffy found herself pinned by the throat "Just because Spike can't physically hurt you, doesn't mean that I can't."

"Well why don't you then?" Buffy managed to rasp out.

Tay's eye's narrowed and she drew back her other arm and smashed her fist into Buffy's face. She let go of Buffy's throat and hit her again.

"This is me being restrained" Tay said before grabbing a handful of Buffy's hair and pulling Buffy as far towards her as the chains would allow "You'd better be grateful". Still holding on to Buffy's hair, Tay hit her again and her rings sliced into Buffy's skin. Tay gave Buffy a look of disdain and threw her backwards.

Buffy tried to catch her breath to spit back a retort at Tay but the other woman had disappeared from the room.

As Tay strode back in to the sitting room, Spike looked up at her from his position in one of the easy chairs. "Have a nice little chat with her did you?"

"In a manner of speaking" Tay said. She stood in front of him "Spike, there's going to be a delivery later this afternoon. You'll need to sign for it as a Mr Evans."

"What is it?" Spike asked. He stood up and blew the smoke from his current cigarette into Tay's face "Flowers for the new roomie?"

Tay's eyes narrowed "Just sign for the damn thing" she said coldly "I'll be back later to set it up" Tay grabbed her jacket and headed for the door.

"Sure you can tear yourself away from your new friends?" Spike said getting up and following her "Little Xander not going to miss you is he?"

Tay opened the door then turned around to face the vampire "Jealous?"

"Just don't forget we've got an ulterior motive here."

"This is my part of the deal Spike. I do it my way" Tay pointed to the bedroom where Buffy was "That's your end" She smiled tersely before leaving the apartment.

Spike dropped his cigarette butt to the floor and stomped it out with his boot. He spun on his heel and stormed into Buffy's room. He stopped when he saw the state of her.

Buffy had a big, nasty bruise coming upon her left cheek and a deep, bleeding cut that ran through the middle of it. Her right eye was beginning to swell up and she had a cut along her eyebrow. She also had large red marks along her lower jaw and throat.

"Guess you made her mad" Spike said.

Buffy spat some more blood out "Gee Spike. What gave it away?"

Spike smirked "It looks good on you."

"I'm going to kill you both when I get out of here."

"Promises, promises."


Xander sat on Giles' doorstep. He'd forgotten the key Giles had given him and Willow and Tara weren't going to be arriving for another twenty minutes for their daily get together at Giles'. They had all decided to keep meeting at Giles' at it was easier than moving things about from place to place.

Willow had told him earlier over the phone that Giles had called her from some place in the south of France where Ren had been six months ago. There had been no luck in Spain except a very weak lead that Giles was now following up.

Xander leaned back against the door and closed his eyes. It had been a very strange week. The first couple of days had been hard on him. Very hard on him. Xander wasn't quite sure what was going on in Buffy's mind. Buffy seemed to be handling the whole situation better than he was. Sometimes, he wasn't sure… but sometimes he would swear he saw something else in her. Like she was happy… or something.


Willow saw Xander sitting on Giles' doorstep, his knees where drawn up to his chest and his head was resting against the door and he had his eyes closed. Willow smiled sadly.

When she reached him she crouched down and put a hand on his knee "Hey."

Xander opened his eyes "Hey Will" he smiled then looked past her "Where's Tara?"

"Oh, she had some errands to run. Are you going to move so I can open the door?" she asked with a smile.

Xander stood up and moved so Willow could unlock the door "Buffy's helping her mom out" Xander said "She said she call by later"

Willow opened the door and walked in and Xander followed, closing the door behind them.

"How is she?" Willow asked as she checked the answering machine for any messages. There weren't any.

"She's OK" Xander replied, looking over Willow's shoulder as the redhead opened up her laptop that had been left at Giles' to check for email. There weren't any.

"You?" Willow asked, turning around to face him.

"Not so good."

Willow's brow furrowed in concern "Come on" she said taking his arm and guiding him to the couch. They both sat down "We haven't talked in a while have we?"

"We've talked Willow."

"I mean with no-one else about" she replied "Not just you and me."

"No I guess we haven't" Xander paused "You wanna start now?"

Willow nodded "I can't try to understand how you're feeling" she said, "I mean, I know how I feel seeing Buffy the way she is… but with you…" Willow trailed off.

"I just want her back here Willow" Xander said quietly "I want to see *her*"

"But she is *here*, Xander" Willow pointed out.

Xander shook his head "*All* of her. I want blonde hair, not black. I want her shorter and not the same height as me. I want her lips, her-her everything. I-I want *my* Buffy"

"But you *have* *your* Buffy" Willow said, "It shouldn't matter what she looks like" she studied her friend carefully "Should it?"

"It's not because she looks like Ren" Xander said "She could look like anyone and I'd still feel like… like I'm cheating on her or something"

"You can't feel that way Xander" Willow put a hand on his shoulder "You're *not* cheating on her"

"But that's sorta how it feels" Xander said, "At night she wants me to hold her. A-and I can do that. Holding. But... that's it. Kissing is as far as we've gone."

"You think Buffy might want to… do more?"

"She was pretty… touchy yesterday" Xander cleared his throat "*Very* touchy in fact"

"Well she is your fiancée Xander and I-I guess it's not a *lot* different to her"

Xander stood up and walked a few paces "Yeah but it is for me Willow. I *can't* touch her like that. It's wrong. It's not *her* body. It's someone else's. Someone else who has no say in the matter."

"Yeah well I'm pretty sure Ren wouldn't mind" Willow said, then realised she'd spoken without thinking "I-I mean-"

Xander turned around to face her, his arms crossed on front of his chest "Willow" Xander interrupted her attempt at covering "Whatever feelings Ren had for me have no place here"

Willow raised an eyebrow "You know how she felt about you?"

Xander looked down and scuffed his shoe on the floor "When she came to say goodbye" he said "Some things were said and I-I realised" he looked back up at Willow "Seems you already knew"

"In the end she was looking at you in the same way as Buffy" Willow told him "They both loved you. And, in my opinion you made the right choice."

"There was no *choice* Willow" Xander said "I'd already finished with Ren before I even knew how Buffy felt about me"

"Don't take that tone with me Xander" Willow said, "You know what I mean" she sighed, stood up and went to stand infront of him "You and Buffy are good together. You *fit* with each other" she smiled "To see you two look at each other the way you do makes me all warm and fuzzy inside" Willow's smile then faded a little "But you both have this thing of bottling things up and that's not good. However much you two tell one another to speak up when something's wrong, you hardly ever do. Not straight away, anyway" Willow put her hand on his arm and Xander uncrossed his arms "Xander, if you're uncomfortable at the moment with Buffy wanting to be close to you the way she wants to, you have to tell her"

"I don't want to hurt her feelings" Xander said.

"She'll understand Xander" Willow said "Buffy won't hold it against you"


(Later that evening)

Tay groaned inwardly //Oh for the love of Satan and all his little wizards. No wonder Spike never got anywhere with his little schemes. He's right, these little bastards just keep throwing in one bloody thing after the other//

"… So that’s why I just thought I should talk to you… tell you that I feel… well… uncomfortable with the degree of intimacy we've reached" Xander ran a hand through his hair "I love you Buffy, but I-I can't-" Xander broke off and started again "I want to be with you and you want to be with me, but I can't. It's wrong."

Tay hoped she was wearing the appropriate expression "I know. You said" she decided on a shaky sigh "Non violation of other people's property" Tay turned and walked over to Xander's window. She placed both her hands on the windowsill and looked out. //OK. Think quick here. Obviously he's not going to just hop into bed with me now. Plan A scuppered. And they say the age of chivalry is dead. All right. If at first you don't succeed…// Tay smiled inwardly //Cheat//.

"Buffy? Are you OK?"

Tay turned back to face him "I'm fine honey."

"I just… I just don't want to sound cold" he took hold of her hand "Please understand."

"I understand Xander" Tay took hold of his free hand "Come here and look at me" she said softly. She locked onto his gaze "Look at me."

Xander blinked a couple of times quickly and stood a little closer to Tay. Tay dropped both his hands and took hold of his upper arms "Look at me" she said softy again and then smiled when she saw Xander's eyes glaze over slightly "OK, Xander you have to listen to me carefully. Say yes if you understand."


Tay smiled "Good boy. All right. When I take you out of this trance you'll remember having the conversation we had about you feeling uncomfortable about being close to me. Understand?"


"You'll also remember that I understood completely and there is no problem with how we are around each other. Understand?"


"Very good. Now, what I'm about to tell you, you won't remember when you come out of the trance until I say a certain phrase. The phrase is-" Tay broke off and tried to think of something. Soon she did "Mirror Mirror on the Wall" Tay smiled "And when I say that Xander, you won't remember the conversation we've just had about you feeling uncomfortable. Instead you'll think of me as Buffy. Your fiancée. You love me and you want to *show* me how much you love me. You'll do whatever I tell you. Do you understand?"


"What's the phrase I use?"

"Mirror Mirror on the wall."

"Well remembered. OK, Now when I kiss you on the forehead you'll come out of the trance. Understand?"


Tay smiled again and leant forward and kissed him. Xander's eyes unglazed and he blinked a few times rapidly, allowing Tay to pull back slightly.

"I… I'm glad you understand" Xander said with a smile.

"I do" Tay said, "Look… I've got to go back and help mom. I'll drop back in before I go on patrol."

"You want me to come with you?"

Tay hesitated, pondering this request "Yeah. I'd like that" she said, then added with a smile "I'll show you a new technique I've been working on."


(Later that day)

As soon as she got into her apartment, Tay took off her jacket and threw it on the floor, before sighing heavily and sinking down on to the couch next to Spike.

"Hard day at the office?" Spike said without looking up from the knife he was sharpening.

"On the contrary."

"Then why the sigh" he looked up from his task and at her.

"That was more of a sigh of satisfaction my dear Spike" she smiled "We're going to be out of here in less than a week" //Of course we could be out of here tonight, but… a girl's got to get some practice in…//

"You're *serious*?"

"Deadly. Got the boy just where I want him" she sighed again "Did the delivery come?

"I put it in the monitor room. I unpacked it" Spike said "I hope you're going to do with it what I think you are, luv"

Tay smiled "Well we can't have the little princess being bored, can we? I thought if she had a nice telly to watch it would make her last days more pleasant."

Spike smirked "Always thinking of others."

"I'm nice like that" Tay replied with a grin "She give you anymore trouble after I went?"

"Hardly a squeak. She's just been staring off into space" Spike replied "Noticed she don't look too pretty anymore either"

"She was rude," Tay said in a mock sad tone "I was hurt by her comments about me… so I hurt her"

"Tut tut Tay. You *know* violence never solves *anything*"

"But it's so much *fun*" Tay grinned wickedly and she stood up "Now come on, we need to hook this TV up to the monitors then we put it in the other room so ickle Buffy can get an eyeful of me living her life"

"It's *we* now is it?" Spike said and Tay turned to face him "This morning" he continued "You seemed very sure that it was going to be just *you*"

Tay sighed "Yes, well I was in a bad mood" she paused "But you do bring up an interesting point. If we’re going to argue, we don’t do it in front of her. If she thinks we're divided, she'll try and play us off against one another."

Spike nodded in agreement and followed after Tay.


Buffy narrowed her eyes at the TV when Tay and Spike brought it in "I know I said I wanted to catch up on my soaps" she said sarcastically "But you didn't have to do this"

"Do you want me to break your legs?" Tay said lightly "'Cos I can do that. Just say the word and I'll get a sledgehammer."

"Now, now you two" Spike said "You're spoiling the lovely, friendly atmosphere we've been buildin' up here all week."

"You're right Spike" Tay said, "What was I thinking?"

"Just cut the crap you two" Buffy spat out "Let me guess, the TV set is for me to watch you and Xander right?"

"Well that saves us having to explain it to her" Spike said "Hope the screen's big enough."

"Wouldn't want you to miss anything," Tay added with a smile "Speaking of which, I'd better get off. Things to… *do* and all that"

"You back later?" Spike asked Tay.

"No. Tomorrow. Early afternoon probably" she replied.

"Have fun" Spike said, sitting down in a chair as Tay left. He looked at Buffy "What's the matter Slayer? You just gonna keep schtum the entire time?"

Buffy didn't answer. She rotated her shoulders as much as she could, trying to get some feeling back into them. Her legs weren't all that better. Her hips were aching and she couldn't flex her ankles because of the way they were shackled. Buffy could barely feel her toes and fingers. The clasps were tight over her wrists and ankles, so even her slim wrists couldn't slip through

She had struggled on the chains every time Spike had left the room, hoping that each time she tried she might loosen something. But she never felt any thing give, alerting her to a glimmer of hope of actually getting out. Getting out and getting to Xander.

Buffy swallowed hard. Spike had just switched on the TV and she was presented with a black and white picture. It was a view of Xander's sitting room and Buffy figured the camera was set up in the corner above the door judging by the angle. Xander wasn't in the picture that Buffy could see at the moment, but she could see shadows flickering on the floor by the kitchen door.

Buffy looked around the rest of the apartment she could see. Everything was normal. She could make out Xander's jacket hanging over the back of the couch and there were some dirty dishes on the low table that was in front of it. It was normal. And Buffy wanted to be there.

She wanted to be there with Xander. She wanted to be sitting with him on the couch, leaning against him and they watched some god-awful Kung Fu movie and Xander would let her bitch about how unrealistic the moves were. She wanted to be able to curl up in his lap and feel the touch of his fingers against the back of her neck. She wanted to be there, be where she felt safe, warm and loved.

Instead she was chained to a bed with no chance of escape and watched over by a bleach blond vampire that was just waiting to kill her.

Then Buffy saw Xander walk out of the kitchen and into the picture. Xander sat down on the couch and kicked his feet up on to the low table. Buffy kept her eyes on him. Committing the image to memory. Committing it along with the other happy memories she had been using to keep her from losing her grip.

"Only a few more days, Slayer" Spikes words broke into her thoughts "A few more days and Tay'll get him" Spike slipped in to his game face and leaned closer to her so they were nose to nose "And I'll get you"

Buffy looked coldly into his golden eyes "I hope you choke on me"

Spike just grinned and pressed his face to her neck. He ran his fangs along her neckline "I can smell your blood" he whispered in her ear "I can feel the heat of it. All of it just pulsing away under your skin" Spike ran his tongue over the vein in her neck "Tay taught me some tricks" he whispered "With her help I can feed from you. Drain you. No pain for me" his fingers ghosted over one of her breasts "Just pleasure."

"Then why don't you just do it now?" Buffy hissed.

Spike clasped his fingers over hers and pulled back so he was nose to nose with her again "I want to see you hurting first. I want to see you the pain on your face when you have to watch Tay make love to Xander. Watch him do things to her that you only want him to do to you. Hear him call her by your name. See the realisation on his face when he realises he's about to die and then the *pain* on *his* face when he realises he is" Spike leaned to whisper in her ear again "Watch your face when you see the life go from him. A life that you could have been in" Spike growled deep in his throat when Buffy tried to pull away from him. Then he began to laugh and morphed back into his human visage. He pulled back from her and went and stood by the blacked out window.

"I'm going to have the time of my life" he said "How about you?"

Buffy used all her willpower to hold back a retort. She was determined not to let Spike get to her. He was *not* going to get to her. Buffy took a deep breath, hoping to compose herself. She stared coldly at Spike for a few long moments.

He returned the gesture by just having a smirk on his face.

Buffy looked back to the screen. Xander had gotten up from the couch and was now standing by the window. Buffy kept her composure as well as she could. If she kept telling herself nothing bad was going to happen then it wouldn't. She'd been in bad situations before. Situations that had almost killed her. This was nothing different. Xander was going to figure things out, she was going to get out of this room and everything was going to be fine.

It was going to be fine.

She just had to keep telling herself that.


(Later that night)

Tay and Xander had spent about half an hour walking around one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries. Tay hadn't actually minded doing these 'patrols'. Of course she needed to do them just in case one of the little munchkins decided to tag along and surprise her, but as well as that she liked the mindless violence that went with it.

Xander cast a sidelong glance at her and smiled. He reached for her hand and gave it a comforting squeeze when he caught it. Tay turned her head to look at him.

"What?" she said.

"Nothing" Xander replied "Just felt like it."

Tay smiled //Let’s see what else you feel like//. She stopped walking but Xander continued. Tay pulled him back.

"You just felt like it?" she repeated. Tay took his other hand and stepped a little nearer to him.

"Yup" Xander grinned then his eyes widened just a little "Uh, Buffy honey. What’s that you’re doing with your hand there?"

Tay had let got of one of his hands and hers was now roaming slowly up his chest to his shoulder.

"Um, Buffy?" Xander continued "I-I thought we-" Xander was silenced by Tay’s lips on his. He didn’t have time to react as Tay pulled back and then put her lips to his ears and Xander heard the words "Mirror Mirror on the wall" being whispered in his ear.

Tay took the hand she was still holding of Xander’s and placed it on her waist. She looked Xander in the eyes before kissing him again, harder this time. She smiled inwardly when he responded

Xander pulled her closer to him with the hand on her waist and his other hand came up to the back of her head and he threaded his fingers through her hair "Want you" he murmured against her lips before crushing his own against them again.

//My this boy is fast// "Not here" Tay murmured back. She caught hold his hand and pulled him back towards a close gathering of trees behind a large crypt about a hundred feet away.

Tay pushed Xander against the cold stone wall of the crypt. She rested her hands against the wall either side of his head and Xander grabbed her butt with both hands, pulling her closer to him.

Xander looked into brilliant blue eyes "You couldn’t have picked somewhere less public?" Xander said.

"This is hardly public" Tay replied and she ground her hips against his, smiling widely when she felt his arousal "But you wanna go home" she continued "You just say the word"

Xander answered her by forcing his lips onto hers. Tay smiled inwardly again as she sank into the kiss, letting Xander dominate. She had to know whether she could get him to be the one to make moves. If Buffy could see that Tay was the one initiating everything then it wouldn’t have the same effect. Xander pulled her even closer to him and Tay heard herself moan into the kiss //Oh great Tay. Way to get carried away//

A few moments later they both pulled back to catch their breath. Xander brought one hand up and brushed some of her hair behind before bringing it to rest on her cheek, cupping it "Buffy…."

"Sshh. Talk later" Tay shrugged off her jacket.

Xander smiled and kissed her again and began to gently manoeuvre them both to the ground. Xander broke off the kiss as he laid her gently on her back. He pulled off the sweater and T-shirt he wore and tossed them both off to the side. Tay ran a hand up his chest and Xander caught it, kissing her palm and placing it back down on the ground by her side. Xander leant over her and put his hands either side of her head.

They looked at each other in silence for a few moments before Xander lowered his head and kissed her deeply again. Tay brought a hand up to his head and threaded her fingers through his hair.

//There’s a lot to be said about practice// Tay thought as she and Xander began to lose themselves to the moment.


It was the early hours of the morning before Xander and Tay left the cemetery. They’d walked pretty much in silence as soon as they’d left. But it was a comfortable silence. From Xander’s point of view anyway.

As soon as they’d reached a point where it was decision time to go to either Joyce’s or to Xander’s, Xander turned to Tay "Are you going back to your mom’s?" he asked.

Tay nodded "I told her I’d be there for breakfast. I might as well stay" she smiled "I’d rather go back to yours," she said coyly.

"Nothing stopping you honey" Xander replied with a grin.

//Yes there is// Tay thought //I don’t want Spike to know just how far I’ve got. Gonna be a problem with cameras in the house//.

Tay pouted "I promised mom" she looped her arms around his neck "I’ll come see you at work for lunch though, if you want"

"Oh, I want" Xander grinned.

Tay grinned back "OK. I’ll be at Giles’ with Willow and Tara first but I’ll see you later" Tay pulled herself closer to him and looked deep into his eyes "Hey Xander. Look at me" Tay held his gaze and coaxed him until she saw his eyes glaze over slightly "You remember I told you that when I said a certain phrase, that you’d remember nothing about the conversation we had?"

Xander nodded and Tay continued "Do you remember that I said you’d do whatever I asked you?"


"Good. Xander, I want you to forget what we did tonight. You’ll only remember that we went on patrol and we killed a few vampires and now we’re just walking home, I’m going to go back to my mom’s and then I’m going to see you at lunch tomorrow. Do you think you can do that?"


"OK. When I kiss you on the forehead, you’ll come out of the trance" Tay dropped her arms from Xander’s neck before leaning forward and placed a quick kiss on Xander’s head.

Xander blinked a couple of times before focusing back on Tay. Xander smiled and then he reached up and plucked something from Tay’s hair "Twig" he said holding it for her to see "How’d it get there?"

Tay shrugged and Xander just dropped it to the floor. He looped his arm through hers "So, you gonna walk me home or not?" he asked.

"Sure sweetie."


Willow and Tara were already at Giles’ the next morning when Tay arrived.

"Hey guys" Tay greeted the two witches "How are you?"

"Cursing under our breaths about the lack of communication from Giles’ supposed friends," Willow said.

"So nothing new then?" Tay said, "OK. Not good."

"Willow and I have been pouring over spell books" Tara informed her "We’ve been hoping we can find some way of magnifying a less powerful witch or warlock so they could do the spell."

//Yeah, good luck with *that*// "Have you found anything?" Tay asked.

"Nothing yet" Willow replied "But we’re keeping on it" Willow batted Tay’s arm lightly "How are *you*?"

"I’m doing OK" Tay replied "Xander and I had a talk last night. Got some things sorted out" she changed the subject "Anything from Giles?"

"Oh, he called about half an hour ago" Willow said "He’s in London now."

"Wasn’t he just in France?" Tay was interested "He didn’t stay long there."

"Well, he had a bit of a lead" Willow said, her tone getting happier "He doesn’t know if it’s good or not, but he’s checking it out anyways"

"Well see, there’s good news" Tay said, remembering to keep in character and feign enthusiasm.

"Well he did sound pretty positive" Willow allowed a small smile to play on her lips "You wanna help us look through spell books?"

"Sure. But how do I know if I’ve found anything useful?" Tay said //Not that I’ll tell you I if do//

"Uh… Buffy has a point there Willow" Tara said.

"Oh… uh" something caught Willow’s eye on one of Giles’ bookshelves. She walked over and picked it up, handing it to Tay "I saw Giles with this before he left" Willow told Tay "I think he was making notes in it or something "I haven’t really had a chance to check through it. May be you wanna?"

Tay looked at the thick book Willow had given her. It looked like one of many of Giles’ numerous volumes of demonology but there were also quite a few pages marked with pieces of paper "Notes on what?" she asked with *un*feigned interest.

Tara spoke up "Uh... I mentioned to him about us contacting the nether realm" and Tara briefly explained what it was "I saw something strange there and I told him."

Willow looked to her girlfriend "You didn’t tell me you saw anything" she said, slightly hurt.

"I-I didn’t want to worry you" Tara said quickly "I thought with everything else…" Tara trailed off and looked at the floor, a guilty expression on her face.

Willow’s look softened and she put her hand on her girlfriends shoulder and Tara looked back up at her "It’s OK. It’s nice you didn’t want me to worry" she smiled at Tara.

Tay turned away from the two witches and rolled her eyes //Sap I can do without// Tay examined the book again //All right, lets see what we’ve got here//.

Tay sat down at the table while the two witches sat back down on the couch and continued their perusal of spell books. Tay put the book on the table and turned to the first page that Giles had marked and began to read.


As soon as Xander returned to work after seeing Tay at lunch, he was immediately confronted by his boss, Jack.

"Xander, Xander, Xander" Jack clapped his hand on Xander's shoulder "You're just asking for trouble aren't you?"

Xander turned to him "Huh?"

"Just saw you on your break" Jack said "And if I'm not mistaken the lovely lady I saw you with was the one you were seeing before Buffy. Am I right?"

"Oh… uh, um yeah" Xander faltered "Ren. Yeah she just came back to Sunnydale. Flying visit."

"Really?" Jack gave him a dubious look "Buffy knows she's here, does she?"

"Ye-eah" Xander gave his boss an odd look "What's it got to do with anything?"

"You're doing a bad, bad thing cheating on that girlfriend of yours" Jack replied "A bad, bad thing."

"Cheating? Huh? What?"

"Don't play the innocent with me Xander. I saw you gettin' all hot and heavy with the Ren girl."

Xander gave Jack and extremely puzzled look "Jack, *what* are you talking about? We weren't doing *anything*"

"Not what it looked like from my point of view Xander" Jack tutted "Deny it all you want then. But you're doing a bad, bad thing" he said again before walking away.

Xander stared after him //What the hell is he talking about? I was just talking to Buffy. I think I'd remember if there was any groping// Xander shook his head //Jack must have been seeing things. I'd remember something like that. I would. Wouldn't I?//.


(Later that evening) (Los Angeles: Angel Investigations)

Cordelia let the filing cabinet drawer shut with a slam after she had placed the last of her huge stack of files in it. She went back behind the desk and sank down in to her chair, closing her eyes and kicking her feet up on to the desk.

The office was fairly quiet so Cordelia was taking advantage of the situation to grab a few well deserved minutes of rest. She sighed contentedly.

Then the phone rang.

Cordelia groaned loudly in frustration. She took her feet off the desk and reached for the phone.

"Angel Investigations. We help the helpless… oh hey Giles… yeah, he's here… I'll put you through" Cordelia hit a button on her phone "Angel… Giles is on the phone… well he didn't say…OK" Cordelia hit a button on her phone again, transferring Giles' call to Angel.

Cordelia sighed again and put her feet back on the desk. She pulled open the top drawer of her desk and took out a magazine. She began to flick through the pages and she'd skimmed over a handful of pages before the sound of the outer office door being opened drew her attention.

Cordelia discarded her magazine and plastered a bright smile on her face "Hello. Angel Investigations. We help the helpless" she addressed the woman who had entered the office cheerfully. The woman was fairly tall and pretty with pale blue hair, similar in style and length to Cordelia's.

The woman raised her eyebrows "Catchy little slogan ya got there"

"Well that's our motto" Cordelia replied "We 'help the helpless'" she looked at the other woman "So… are you helpless?"

"'Fraid not" was the reply "I want to talk to Angel"

"Oh… well he's taking a call at the moment" Cordelia said, "Do you want to wait?"

"Sure, I've got-" she broke off and both women turned to the outer door to see Wesley staggering in, covered head to toe in green goop.

"Wesley" Cordelia looked between him and the woman "You couldn't have used the *other* door?" she hissed.

The woman smirked "Tichor demon was it?"

Wesley looked at her and blinked "Um… yes. H-how did you-"

"The smell" she replied "Nasty little bastards those things are. It'll take you a week to get rid of the pong by the way."

"Oh great" Cordelia rolled her eyes "And we finally got the office aired out after the last smelly demon" Cordelia looked back at the stranger "Why do you want to see Angel?"

"I was hoping I could borrow something of his" she replied.

"Like what?" came Angel's voice from behind her. The woman turned around and Angel sighed "Oh… it's *you*"

"Oh well that's a lovely way to greet someone" she replied "You gotta love that vampire charm"

"Forgive me Ren, but the last time we spoke you *hit* me" Angel replied.

"You deserved it" Ren replied.

"So I guess you two know each other then?" Cordelia remarked.

"Barely" Angel replied "What brings you here?" he asked Ren

"I believe she wanted to borrow something" Wesley interceded, taking off his jacket and throwing it straight in the wastebasket.

"Yeah" Ren said "Rumour has it around these parts you have a rather lovely weapons collection and I was hoping you might have a Ceneca knife. If you do, I need to borrow it."

"Why?" Angel asked.

"'Cos I need to kill a Ceneca demon and that's the only thing that'll do it" Ren replied "So have you got one?" she smiled brightly at him.

"I have" Angel folded his arms across his chest.

Ren put her hands on her hips "Well can I borrow it?"

"Will I get it back?"

"You don't *trust* me?"

Angel sat on the corner of Cordelia's desk and sighed "*Why* do you need to kill a Ceneca demon?"

"New PTB job" Ren replied "Look, Angel. I won't need it for long. A day at most. I'll bring it back. I'll even *sterilise* it if you want me to"

"Oh, you work for the PTB too?" Cordelia asked.

Ren turned to her "Yeah. Only occasionally though. You're the one who gets the visions right?"

"Uh huh" Cordelia nodded "That's me. Vision girl."

"Interesting job" Ren said "Are they like little movies or-"

Angel cleared his throat "Um... knife?

Ren turned back to him "Oh right. Knife. So…?"

"You can have it" Angel replied "And I *would* like it back" Angel headed downstairs and returned a few minutes later with a wrapped object and handed it to Ren.

"Excellent" Ren said, "I'll bring it back tomorrow"

"That is if the demon doesn't kill you" Cordelia said bluntly.

"Oh, there's not a *lot* of things that'll kill me" Ren said, turning to her "Tall, dark and broody here tried once. Kicked his butt real good."

Cordelia and Wesley both looked at Angel in surprise but he ignored them. Wesley and Cordelia looked at each other and exchanged glances "Come on Wes" Cordelia said, "I'm sure Angel doesn't want you stinking up his office" she grabbed hold of his arm and proceed to drag him downstairs.

Angel spoke to Ren again "Look, seeing as how I've done a favour for you, I don't suppose you know anyone who's capable of performing a Cathanian spell, do you?"

Ren raised both her eyebrows "That's a tall order" she said "Not many of those guys about" she tucked the knife in the back of her jeans "Why do you need someone."

"I don't" he replied "Giles does… well, more like a friend of his needs someone. He asked me if I knew anyone or could find someone. I haven't had much luck so far."

"Well I know someone" Ren said "But she won't help."

"How do you know?" Angel asked, "You haven't asked"

"I *know*" Ren said "Because she's *evil*. She only does *evil* things" Ren ran a hand through her hair "Rupert's really in a bind?" she asked.

"I spoke to him just now" Angel told her "He'd rather have someone sooner rather than later, if that's what you mean."

"Well other than Tay, I don't know anyone." Ren sighed "I should probably drop by and see him."

Angel's brow furrowed "I thought you weren't going back to Sunnydale."

Ren gave him a puzzled look "What?"

"Giles told me" Angel explained "He said you sent a letter"

"A letter?"

"Y'know a little bit of paper with writing on it" Angel said sarcastically "He said Xander was upset that you hadn't told *him* you weren't coming back"

"Xander? What *are* you talking about?" Ren said, "I never sent any letter"

"You never sent a letter?" Angel repeated.

Ren shook her head "No" she said slowly "I didn't" she paused "Rupert thinks I'm not coming back?"

"And Xander" Angel said. He stood up "Looks like someone's been writing for you."

"Xander thinks I'm not coming back? How could he think that? Even if I wasn't coming back I would have written and told *him*"

"You still have feelings for him" Angel pointed out.

"They don't just go away" she said holding his look "*You* should know that"

Angel didn't reply.

Ren sighed "Gotta kill this demon first, then I'll go back" Ren headed towards the door "Sort this whole thing out"


(Next morning) (Time: 10.00am)

Spike was quite happily dozing in one of the chairs in the monitor room when he felt someone tap him lightly on the shoulder. He opened one bleary eye to see Tay standing over him. "Mornin'" he said.

"Hard at work I see" Tay said. She looked at the screens "Anything unusual?"

"Nope" he turned to look at her "How are we on the shagging front?"

Tay grinned "Tonight Spike, everything's going to come together."

Spike raised an eyebrow "Pun intended?"

Tay rolled her eyes and headed out of the room. Spike followed her. "I feel really good about myself," he said as they entered Buffy's room "I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the fact that I get to kill someone tonight."

"It's a good feeling isn't it" Tay agreed. She turned to Buffy "What are your thoughts?"

"I hope you both die" Buffy replied.

"Not before you" Spike grinned "Oh this is going to be a fantastic day" he turned to Tay "I'll leave you two birds alone" and with that he left the room.

Tay closed the door behind him then sat down on the edge of the bed "So how does it feel knowing what's going to happen?" she asked.

Buffy didn't answer; she just glared coldly at Tay.

Tay smiled cruelly "Your boyfriends sure got some stamina hasn't he?" Tay said "For a human anyway" she laughed when she saw Buffy's eyes widen slightly "I've seen that scar he's got just below his-"

"You bitch" Buffy struggled in her chains "You leave him *alone*!"

Tay just laughed "You keep saying that Buffy, but I don't see it happening" Tay stood up "The way he kisses me" she said mock dreamily for Buffy's benefit "Just makes me all tingly and goosebumpy". Tay walked around to the other side of the room and leaned against the wall "And he just tastes so good" she sighed "Just… all that lickable… skin"

"Just shut up!" Buffy cried, trying not to let her emotions get the better of her "Just shut up!"

Tay ignored her "Last night was… just wow" she smiled "Knows all the right spots to hit" Tay sighed "And the things he can do with his-"

"Just stop it!" Buffy failed to hold back a sob "Stop it!" she struggled uselessly in her bonds "I hate you!" Buffy felt the tears begin to roll down her cheeks and she cursed herself for letting it happen. She had wanted to stay strong, to show them that she couldn't be broken. And now she had given them what they wanted. Buffy glared through her tears at Tay as the other woman began to laugh. Buffy's chest was heaving because of her sobbing and she couldn't hurl back a retort. Buffy tried to compose herself, try to clear her mind, but it was no good. Tay had succeeded in planting a seed and no matter how hard she tried, Buffy couldn't stop the images of Tay and Xander slipping into her mind.

Then Tay walked over to her and Buffy tried to pull away when the other woman grabbed hold of her throat with one hand. But she wasn't strong enough and Buffy felt herself being pulled forward, her arms were stretched painfully and her breathing became hard to do.

"How does it feel Slayer? Knowing that I've taken what's yours?" Tay looked directly into her eyes "Are you angry? Does it hurt? Right. Here?" Tay prodded Buffy's chest hard "Does it?"

Suddenly Buffy felt white hot rage flow throw her veins "The only way" she managed to rasp out "Xander would sleep with you is if you tricked him" Buffy drew in a deep breath as Tay let go of her throat and threw her back. "He wouldn't even give you the time of day if he knew who you really were " Buffy continued, letting her anger take control "Tell me. Do you have to trick all the guys-" Buffy was cut off abruptly by a stinging backhand from Tay. Buffy looked at her; a triumphant look in her eyes "Hit a nerve did I?" Buffy let out a choked cry of laughter, glad that she had managed to get under Tay's skin a little, but the laughter soon merged in to more of a sob as she remembered Xander and his fate.

Tay just gave Buffy a look of contempt and turned around to leave but she came face to face with an extremely pissed off looking Spike. Tay rolled her eyes and went to push past him but Spike placed a hand on her chest, stopping her.

"I think we need to have a little chat luv," he said in a dangerously quiet voice "I think someone's been telling porkies"

Buffy looked on with interest as Tay was not so gently shoved further back in to the room by the vampire. She studied Spike and he did not look happy. Buffy gathered by this little revelation that Spike hadn't known anything about Tay and Xander… Buffy broke off that thought right there and concentrated on the scene enfolding before her.

Spike looked Tay coldly "So" he said, "You've been shagging the little bastard already have you?" Spike crossed his arms in front of his chest "Tell me. How soon *could* we have been out of here?"

"Spike" Tay put on a too sweet voice "You know even the best performers have to warm up before the main event"

"I don't give a flying *fuck* Tay" Spike spat out "I believed everything you told me. I *trusted* you!"

"Well I think that was bloody stupid on your part wasn't it!"

Spike lashed out and his fist landed on Tay's jaw and she fell to the floor "Don't ever call me stupid!" he yelled. Spike morphed in to his game face and took hold of a standing lamp and hit Tay with it as she tried to stand up. "I could have killed her by now!"

Tay managed to block the second blow of the lamp "You wanted to see her in pain, remember" Tay said, wiping blood from her mouth "That was what *you* wanted!"

"Yeah, well I'm thinking that maybe I'll just dispense with all that and just rip her throat out now!" Spike threw the lamp to the floor and made a move towards Buffy but Tay grabbed hold of his arm.

"You can't even scratch her skin " Tay pointed out "You can't lay a finger on her without my help!"

Spike's eyes glowed even more yellow and he hit Tay hard again "Well you're just going to have to help me then aren't you!"

Tay looked up at him from the floor "I'll do no such thing" she growled, her own face rippling into it's demon visage of three ridges running across her forehead "You're pathetic Spike"

Spike growled back "You'll help me you bloody *bitch* or I'll break every bone in your body!"

Tay just looked at him "I would *really* love to see you try" she said with a twisted smile.

"*Fine*!" Spike lunged towards her but Tay shot out her free hand and Spike immediately reeled back and slammed against the nearest wall. He got up quickly and raced towards her but Tay sent him flying again with another blast.

Spike stood up holding his head "You can't even fight fair!"

Another twisted smile formed on Tay's lips "Damn straight."

A stake appeared from nowhere in front of Spike. It hovered at a point just in front of his heart. Spike backed away but the stake followed him. He tried to grab hold of it and get it away but it wouldn't budge. Spike looked at Tay and cleared his throat, humbled by this latest development "Maybe we can come to some arrangement?"

"I don't think so Spike. I'm still going to go ahead with the plan" she told Spike as he continued to try and move away from the stake "I can still kill the Slayer *and* her boyfriend at the same time" she laughed "Don't know why I didn't do it before"

"Tay…" Spike started.

"Bye Spike" Tay said and before Spike could do anything about it the stake plunged through his chest and into his unbeating heart. Tay turned to Buffy who in turn blinked in disbelief at the pile of ashes that used to be one of her biggest enemies. "In future I think I'll work alone," Tay said. Then she looked at Buffy quizzically for a few moments "Do you want your death to be quick and painful or *slow* and painful?" Tay asked.

"Can I phone a friend?" Buffy's tone lacked humour.

"Sorry no *life* lines" Tay's tone of reply matched Buffy's "In fact" she continued "I've decided for you" Tay left the room and closed the door behind her and Buffy was left alone for about five minutes before the other woman returned.

"So" Buffy said, "What have you decided?"

Tay produced a syringe, filled with a pale green liquid "I think slow and painful"

Buffy closed her eyes as she felt the needle prick against the skin of her upper arm and she stifled a moan of pain as she felt it press into her flesh. She guessed Tay had pressed the plunger when she felt a cool sensation begin to spread over the area where Tay had inserted the needle.

"There" Tay said as she stood back "If you're lucky you'll stay alive for at least four hours" Tay threw the syringe to the floor "Enough time for you to watch me kill Xander" Tay then muttered a few words of Latin and clapped her hands together. Buffy immediately felt her head being drawn towards the TV set by the foot of the bed. She tried to draw her eyes away but she couldn't. Although she could blink, everytime her eyes fluttered open again she saw the screen and the picture it held of Xander's apartment.

"Happy viewing" Tay said as she now stood in the door way "Just so you know" she continued with a big smile "There will be gratuitous violence and lots of blood shed" and with that last remark Tay left the room and closed the door behind her.

Leaving Buffy with nothing to do but wait to watch Xander die.


A few moments later after leaving Buffy, Tay grabbed her head in pain with both hands. The pain soon disappeared but Tay's annoyance didn't. "I can't catch a break!" she cried, "Bloody sentry spell! Bloody sister!" Tay grabbed her jacket off the back of one of the chairs "Fine. The Hellmouth wants to deal me these bloody cards, then I'll fucking well play with 'em."


(Same day) (Time: 11.00am)

"Willow! Willow!" Tara came barrelling into Giles', taking her girlfriend by surprise "Look! I've found something!"

Willow stood up quickly and went to Tara, placing her hands on the blonde's shoulders to calm her down "What? What have you found?"

"This book" Tara held up a small, thin, leather bound book "Y'know one of the other girls who used to be in the Wicca group, Wendy? Well she was going to throw some stuff away, but she gave me a box to root through before she did and I found this" Tara gave Willow the book and Willow opened it where Tara had obviously marked a page.

Willow read down the page then she read it a couple of more times before looking back to Tara "This *is* something" she said "We need to talk to Xander"

"I hear my name?"

"Xander" Willow grabbed him by the arm and pulled him further into the room "We need your mind."

"That's not something I here too often" Xander grinned "OK. What can I do for you?"

"We need you to remember the night that Buffy switched" Willow explained "Tara's found something"

"The explosions and the lights" Tara said "They don't match."

"They don't match?" Xander gave her a puzzled look "What do you mean?"

"They shouldn't have happened" Tara told him "I found a spell book. It gives some detailed accounts of the process of a Cathanian transfer spell."

"And?" Xander was still confused.

"The accounts say nothing about any explosions or lights or anything that resembled what we saw" Willow said, "The transfer should have just happened. Y'know *poof*. One minute she looks like Buffy and the next like Ren. No big bangs or flashing lights."

"I'm still confused," Xander admitted.

"Well so am I" Tara said "That's why we need your mind. We want you to remember what *exactly* happened that night"

"We want details" Willow added "Anything little thing that you can remember"

"Well I told you all I could" Xander replied "Plus I got that bump on the head."

Tara turned to Willow "We could regress him back" she said; "It might work"

"Hypnotise him?" Willow looked at her girlfriend dubiously "Are you sure."

"Can't hurt" Tara said.

"Hey girls?" Xander waved his hand "Still here."

Willow turned back to him "We wanna hypnotise you Xander."

"Yeah, I got that," Xander said "But how?"

"I can do it" Tara said, "I've done it a couple of times before."

"You have?" Willow said.

"W-well, o-on dogs" Tara admitted.

"Full of confidence here" Xander remarked.

Willow frowned at him and Xander gave Tara an apologetic look "Sorry" he said, "Just taking in the news."

"It's OK" Tara said with a small smile "It's the same process"

"All right" Xander said, "How do we do this? Do you need to dangle a watch in front of me or something?"

"Not unless you want me to" Tara grinned "OK" she gestured to the couch "Take a seat" Xander sat and Tara knelt in front of him "OK Xander. Because I haven't done this before I'm going to have to do a double check and just make sure no one's put a whammy on you or anything. Sort of like clearing out any work people might have already put in."

"Is that necessary?" Willow asked.

"Easier for me this way" Tara said, looking at her "First time and everything" she turned back to Xander "OK. You need to look into my eyes and focus on a point behind them" she leaned a little closer to Xander and they held each others looks "Now I want you to try and clear your mind of everything and concentrate on my voice"

Willow stood back and watched as Tara began to gradually lull Xander in to a sort of trance. Once she saw Tara was sure, her girlfriend got Xander to clear his mind of any suggestions that might have been put in it. Once that had been done Tara began to regress Xander back.

"Buffy and I were talking about telling you guys about us getting engaged" he started. Xander was sitting back further in the seat and his eyes were closed "Then we were going to go join up with you then suddenly there was a flash of blue light. Buffy went to check it out and told me to stay where I was and I did. I didn't hear anything like a fight or anything but Buffy hadn't given it the all clear so I began to go towards the light. I called out her name but she didn't answer then there was an explosion. I got knocked back, but I heard Buffy cry out"

"What happened then?" Tara asked in a soft voice. "I got up and called her name again. I went towards the light again but then there was another bang and I… I remember hitting my head."

Tara's brow furrowed a little "Do you remember anything after that?" she asked "Anything at all? Someone you might have seen that you didn't recognise? A noise?"

Xander shook his head slightly "No" he answered "I remember waking up and seeing Ren" Xander paused "But it wasn't" he frowned a little "There was something I saw…" he trailed off, searching for the right words "There… there was something… in her eyes…" Xander trailed off again.

Willow tapped Tara on the shoulder and she turned to face her. "Buffy?" Willow mouthed the question silently.

Tara turned back to Xander "Are you sure you can't remember anything else Xander?"

Xander shook his head "No" he said slowly.

Tara sighed with resignation and brought Xander out of it. He blinked a couple of times and then looked at her hopefully. Tara gave him a sad smile and Xander sighed.

He stood up and headed towards the door. "Where are you going?" Willow asked, "You only just got here"

Xander turned back to her "I'm kinda a-a little… fuzzy" he said "I'm going to go clear my head" and before either of the witches could protest he left.


(Time: 11.10)

Ren raised her hand to knock on Giles' door but before she made contact with the wood she had second thoughts and lowered her hand.

She sighed and stepped to the side to peer through the small window by the door. Ren smiled to herself when she saw the familiar form of Xander. He was talking to Willow and the blonde girl that Ren vaguely remembered from before. Xander didn't look that much different to Ren. He'd let his hair grow a little longer and she noticed that his dress sense hadn't improved. Ren sighed when Xander turned slightly so she had a better view of his profile //But he still has that adorable smile//.

Ren backed away from the window //And he looks like he's just fine// Ren began to walk away //Maybe I'll come back later and talk to Rupert alone before I talk to Xander//.


(Time: 11.30)

Ren walked into Willy's bar, knowing the place would be open. She was the only person there so she took a seat by the bar. When the guy she remembered as Willy turned around he did a double take.

"Uh… hey?"

"Just a beer" Ren said.

"Uh… kay…" Willy went to turn around but his attention was caught by someone else entering the bar. He looked back at Ren who gave him an odd look before she herself felt a familiar feeling travel through her body.

Ren turned her head slowly to the entrance and looked at the newcomer for a few long moments before getting off her stool.

"What are you doing here?" Ren asked.

Tay grinned "At the moment I'm looking for you."

Ren took a step nearer to her sister "Why are you in Sunnydale?"

"Thought I'd check out the so-called Hellmouth they've got here" Tay walked up to the bar and leaned against it "So far I've found it fun"

"You caused a lot of trouble in France, Tay" Ren said "A lot of people got hurt."

Tay walked over to her sister and stood right in front of her "That's such a shame" she said, not meaning a word "But you know me…"

"Yeah, I do" Ren said slowly, not liking the strange smile that her sister had "And that means I know you're not just here for the supernatural tourist attractions."

"Well I have found some other attractions that I wanted to experience… no wait… I *have* experienced them"


"You'll never find out" Tay replied and before her sister had time to react, Tay shot out her arm and Ren reeled back from the invisible blast of power from Tay's outstretched palm.

"Hey!" Willy shouted "No magic. House rules!"

Tay ignored him and stood over Ren who was dazed from the blast and struggling to get to her feet. Tay sneered at her and kicked her in the head, sending Ren to the floor again. "Say bye bye."

Ren barely heard her sister's words before Tay's foot connected with the side of her head again.

"I'd love to stay and chat" Tay spoke to the deathly still form of her sister "But I've got places to be" she turned to Willy "I thought I told you this décor attracted the wrong type of clientele" Tay laughed as she left the bar.

Willy looked over the bar at the woman lying on the floor and then he looked to the door, making sure the other woman had left. When he was sure she had, Willy moved to the other side of the bar and crouched by Ren. He poked her hard in the side with his finger. Getting no reaction he reached up to her neck to feel for a pulse.

He found one and it was surprisingly strong. Willy narrowed his eyes a little and poked her harder this time and Ren opened one eyes.

"Faker" Willy said as he stood up.

"She always underestimates me," Ren said as she sat up slowly. She put a hand to her head and winced a little "OK, just a little bump here. Y'know I really hate my sister"

"She didn't seem to like you too much either" Willy said as he helped Ren to her feet.

Ren smiled gratefully at Willy "We never really did get along" Ren leaned back against the bar. She closed her eyes and began to heal herself and sighed softly when she felt it complete. Opening her eyes she looked at Willy pointedly "I need to know why she's here."

"Don't look at me," Willy said as he went back behind the bar.

"You mean nothing unusual has happened since she's been here?"

"Well I don't know how long she's been here" Willy replied.

"Would a big wad of money help you remember?"

"How big?"

Ren produced a large billfold containing twenty-dollar bills "This big?"

Willy snatched the money from Ren "She was definitely in here last week. She did that magic blast thingy on some vamps that attacked her" Willy told her "She's also been seen going into one of the new buildings up by Westfield Cemetery."

"Which one?" Ren asked.

"Don't know exactly" he replied "Honestly. It was just mentioned in passing by a couple of other demons that were in here the last time she was. I didn't like to pry" he added.

"Thanks" Ren said "Guess I'd better go find this place and see what she's been up to."


(Time: 12.00noon)

Tay went to Giles' on her search for Xander. It had been his day off and when she had telephone his apartment there had been no answer.

Tay tried Giles' door but it was locked. She peered through the window and found the place bereft of life.

"Oh this is bloody fantastic" she muttered to herself as she walked away "By the time I find him to kill him, the little Slayer will already be dead" Tay then paused "But then I suppose if they both die excruciatingly painful deaths I can't really complain."


(Time: 12.00noon)

Out of all the few new buildings by Westfield, only one of them was a block of apartments and the other two were office buildings. Since Ren knew her sister would want somewhere to stay and not stand about by the coffee machine and also knowing her sister's taste for the more luxurious, Ren figured this was where her sister was basing herself from.

Ren wandered into the lobby and headed up to the desk, smiling at the clerk seated behind it. But before she could speak, the young clerk gave her and odd look.

"It *is* Miss *Evans* isn't it?" he asked.

Ren smiled to herself "Oh, no" she smiled outwardly this time "Well not the one you mean. I'm her sister."


"Yup" Ren leaned forward onto on the desk "I'm just here to see my sis. But it's a surprise visit and…" she flashed the clerk another smile "I can't remember what apartment number she said she was. I don't suppose…?"

"Number five" he replied "On the second floor."

"Five. Second floor. Got it" she moved away from the desk "Thanks."

"No problem" the clerk shouted after her as Ren made her way to the stairs.

She quickly ran up the two flights and then found herself a few moments later outside a door with a number large brass '5' on it. Ren placed one of her hands flat against the door. She could usually sense her sister but only when she was very near and right now she knew that Tay wasn't home.

Ren took her hand off the door and felt inside her jacket, producing a small roll of cloth that contained a few small tools. She removed the one she needed and looked both ways up and down the hallway before setting about the task of picking the lock of Tay's apartment.

It only took her a few moments and soon Ren was inside and the door shut behind her. Ren began to wander slowly

around the main sitting room of the apartment. It was all open plan, save for three closed doors which Ren guessed must have other rooms behind them. From what she could see first off, it looked like her sister hadn't actually been living here. Someone had but it wasn't Tay.

Ren spotted a thick book on the dining table and she went over to examine it. She couldn't make out the title on the spine and when she opened it to a page that was quite clearly marked for some purpose she found the text was a demonic language that she barely knew. Ren took the book and sat down on the couch and began to try and translate the text. After about ten minutes she could only make out it was a spell and it was something to do with changing a spirit or something similar. Ren sighed and stood up and replaced the book where she had found it.

A small wooden chest on the floor by the window then caught Ren's eye. Ren went over to it and opened it up and found an assortment of items including clothes and a necklace with a silver cross hanging off it. Ren was puzzled because she got the feeling that none of it was her sisters.

Ren closed the chest and stood up. She looked around the sitting room again. She had yet to venture into the kitchen and there was a hallway, which had three closed doors, behind which Ren guessed there was probably at least one bedroom and a bathroom.

Ren went into the kitchen. She spotted nothing out of the ordinary lying around in plain view but her interest was raised when she found nothing in the cupboards except a half empty box of Weetabix and four bags of human blood in the refrigerator.

"This is all very strange," Ren said to herself as she made her way down the hallway. She came to the first closed door and tried the handle and found the door unlocked. She turned the handle slowly and opened the door.



Part 4

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