Return to Captain Red and the Denizens of Mars Chapter Ten

Captain Red and the Denizens of Mars

Author: Alcy
Rating: R for war-related violence, occasional bad language and naughty stuff.
Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to BtVS... nuff said. No spoilers for any season.

Tara felt Willow's tears wet on her thumb. She didn't have to wonder why the girl in her arms was crying because of the lump in her own throat. Her own eyes burned as she struggled to hold tears back. She knew exactly how it felt to want someone so very badly and yet know with absolutely certainty that you were never ever going to be able to have that person... if pigs could fly... if hell froze over...

And then she said it, I love you... Tara fought the urge to goggle at Willow like a moron, to gape and try in vain to stutter a meaningful reply. Instead she smiled and made a mental note to look up next time she went outside to check for flying porkers.

"What are you smiling at?" Willow asked quietly, almost shyly.

"Y-you," Tara replied.

Willow felt goosebumps prick her exposed skin but whether it was from the cold or Tara's words she couldn't be entirely sure. All she did care about was that in her arms she held the most precious person in the entire world.

"Tara..." it was as though Willow finally realised she had just made love with Tara... she had just said 'I love you,' and even though the world was still falling down around them, she now had something to live for, "I feel as though..." Willow gulped and found she had lost her voice.

"You've come home?" Tara finished it for her.

"Yes," Willow said sincerely, "In the middle of all of this, I find the place where I enjoy being most of all..."

"And where is that?" Tara arched an eyebrow with a shy but almost saucy look on her face.

Willow slid a shaking hand down Tara's body to her thigh which was draped over her own. She continued until her hand had once again found the warmth between Tara's legs, delving into it eagerly. She heard Tara moan low in her throat as two of her fingers found their way upwards. The blonde moved her hips and thrust down onto them, all the while keeping her eyes locked on Willow's green ones. Willow brought her other hand up to cup Tara's cheek, running her thumb over Tara's moist lips.

There was a sudden and very sharp rap on the door. Both girls were surprised beyond measure and Tara fell backwards before Willow could catch her. The naked blonde hit the floor and her head thumped against the filing cabinet in the corner, her face contorted in silent pain.

"Captain Rosenberg?" it was Tad, "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," Willow had dived to the floor. While her first instinct should have been finding some scrap of clothing to cover herself with, instead she scrambled across to Tara to check on her head.

"Are you sure?" Tad asked with a worried tone, "You didn't look so great when you landed... have you seen the doc yet?"

The door handle turned...

"Fuck! Tad Dempster, don't you dare open that door!" Willow spluttered hastily in the direction of the door.

There was the sound of a hand being withdrawn from the door handle very quickly indeed, "Okay, backing away from the door... it's just that Boone wants to see you in his briefing room asap."

"I'll be there," Willow replied, her heart no longer trying to escape her chest. Her hand sought out Tara's, their fingers entwining.

There was the sound of a few footsteps retreating from the door, then they stopped... a slight shuffling and... unless Willow was mistaken, a quiet clearing of the throat.

"He'd like to see Flight Officer Maclay as well," Tad said in a small voice... and then there were very quick footsteps moving away from the door, breaking into a run after a few seconds.

Willow looked back to Tara who was rubbing the back of her head. Willow reached both her hands around her back and drew Tara up to a kneeling position so she could kiss the top of her head.

Tara looked down to see bloody smears on her thigh, she knew she wasnt wounded save the small scratch on her forehead so where... She started running her hands over Willow's naked body...

"Willow!" Tara found a deep gash in Willow's upper right arm, blood ran in small rivulets down her arm. Tara quickly gathered up her sweater and pressed it to stop the steady flow, "How on earth did you not notice this?"

"Well, it didn't hurt before and I had my mind on... other things..." Willow winced as she reached up to fumble in her drawer for her much-used medical kit.

Tara took it from her hand in a business-like manner and drew out a bandage.

"I think you should put off seeing Boone until you've had this looked at," Tara said as she began winding the bandage firmly around Willow's wound, "I think you need stitches."

"We sleep together once and you're already telling me what to do?" Willow picked up her pants and stood shakily, "I'll be fine... hopefully it won't take long... whatever it is..."

"Willow, what if he knows already...?" Tara asked in a very worried voice.

Willow shrugged, trying to appear unconcerned, "I very much doubt it's got anything to do with us... us in terms of us together. I think it will be more like us in terms of the mission," she reassured Tara with another kiss, this time on her forehead, "We'd better get going, Boone doesn't like to stand on ceremony."

Boone looked up as Willow and Tara entered his briefing room. Willow could have sworn he smirked slightly but it was gone in a flash, replaced by his usual scowl. The two officers were surprised, and relieved, to see that they weren't the only ones that had been summoned. Buffy, Tad and a few other senior officers were all seated around. Every pair of eyes were trained on the two of them. If looks could kill, Buffy's gaze would have had drawn and quartered Willow in a heartbeat. Even so, Willow met it evenly.

For a few moments Willow was angry at herself for not having thought to stagger their arrivals. It just made things all the more obvious and before long the entire ship... no, the entire fleet, would know that they were an item. This feeling however, lasted only until Willow had the guts to turn and look at Tara. The blonde was already staring at her, nothing but sincere emotion in her gaze.

So I just had sex with another officer... an officer who happens to be the best looking doll on board, they're just jealous... and I, well I am the luckiest son of a bitch in the whole fucked up world, Willow barely resisted the urge to smile smugly at them all.

Tara took a seat and Willow sat in the chair right next to her. She let her leg slip sideways slightly so that her thigh pressed ever so slightly against Tara's knee.

"Glad to see you two could grace us with your presences," Boone said loftily before returning his gaze to the papers that lay in front of him, "We need to make for port..." Boone began.

"With all due respect Commander," one of the other officers interrupted, "The net has functioned beyond all our expectations, we have ample provisions still... do you really think that it is wise to endanger the fleet by returning to England?"

"The net has functioned beyond all expectations," Boone agreed, but he dismissed their most valuable asset as though it were of no consequence, "However, if you've noticed this war is not going to be fought on the sea but in the air... and, unless you're blind and deaf, you would know that so far our squadrons have been cut to ribbons!"

"With all due respect sir!" Buffy and Willow said it at precisely the same moment, Boone cut them both off with a slashing motion with his hand.

The two squadron captains looked at one another briefly before turning their attention back to Boone who was taking it in turn to glare at them both.

"Five planes destroyed and three pilots dead from our two best squadrons in just two engagements? I'd say those were heavy losses Captains," both Buffy and Willow nodded grudgingly, "Maclay and Rosenberg here are the only pilots who have had the pleasure of shooting down the bastards... now, any ideas on what they're so damn hard to hit?"

"They're too fast," Willow replied quickly.

"And they turn on a dime... I was exceptionally lucky..." Tara said a little quieter and more subdued.

"You weren't lucky Maclay!" Boone snapped back, "You were bloody brilliant..."

Willow nudged Tara's knee with her own.

" it's clear we have the pilots and the guts but not the hardware or the knowledge about our new enemy. If we loose the skies... well, then it's over isn't it? And I for one am not a quitter. Therefore, we continue on our northbound course and make for port."

"Sir?" Buffy asked with a frown on her face.

It was clear everyone in the room save Boone was thinking exactly the same thing... there was no land formation of any significance on their present course until they reached the north pole.

"Questions will be answered when we arrive, I estimate by 1030 hours tomorrow... so you can all save your questions until tomorrow. I have my orders from the top gentlemen... and ladies so that will be all."

Everyone stood and saluted smartly, save Willow who remained fast in her chair. Tara looked down to see the red head's skin had turned a very pale shade indeed.

"Rosenberg!" Boone barked so violently that spit landed very close to her boots.

Willow's head jerked up, she had barely realised that she had almost drifted out of consciousness and started to slide from the chair onto the floor. She felt incredibly light-headed.

"Maclay, since you two seem to have formed such a close attachment, you wont mind escorting Captain Rosenberg to sick bay... before she starts to bleed all over my floor."

Willow was about to snap a very imprudent reply when she fell right out of the chair. She lost consciousness before her face hit the floor.

"Well, this is a strange room!" Willow said as she threw her jacket on the floor and plopped onto the bed.

She flexed her arm and winced as the seven stitches pulled slightly. She had been light headed from the loss of blood earlier but now she felt well enough to be right back in the air... or perhaps it was the cocktail of drugs the doc had fed her.

Tara entered just behind her, closing the small door quietly and hanging her own jacket up on a wall peg.

"You did seem to have a distinct aversion to it for a few days there," Tara said with a trace of humour in her voice, she sniffed the air, "It does smell a little like old socks and wet clothing but so does everywhere else on this tub..."

"I was an idiot... I'm sorry," Willow mumbled.

"You were an idiot," Tara replied bluntly, a too-serious look on her face for a few moments until she broke into a dazzling smile that would have knocked Willow's socks off had she actually been wearing any, "but I was a bigger one... I loved you before I..." don't say you loved her before you even knew her Maclay... what kind of psycho is she going to think you are? "I loved you the moment I first saw you, sitting right where you are now... except for the expression everything is the same... oh, and the fact that you're all grubby and you have stitches in your arm."

Willow grinned and stood up, crossing the floor to wrap her arms around Tara's waist, "I'm going to have a shower... and Miss Maclay I highly suggest you take one too, you're starting to smell more than a little ripe."

"If I do it's your fault," Tara leaned into Willow, kissing her neck and smelling nothing but Willow, an aroma that reminded her of strawberries, albeit mixed in with rather rank sweat.

Willow raised Tara's chin between her thumb and forefinger and began laying kisses along her jawline.

"Ah Will," Tara murmured between slow kisses.

Willow pulled back slightly, "Yeah?"

"I think we ought to shower separately, else we'll never get clean."

Half an hour later Willow and Tara lay curled together in Willow's bunk, for one thing smelling a lot fresher. Willow ran her hand over Tara's damp hair. Tara closed her eyes and sighed before opening them to find Willow still there.

"What happened?" Tara asked out of the blue.

Willow frowned, "When?"

"About two hours ago... and please don't tell me I was such an appallingly bad shag that you've forgotten it already!" Tara exclaimed indignantly.

Willow's eyebrows shot up into her hair and she moved quickly to make amends, "Oh God no... don't be silly... I mean, not in a million years would I ever... I mean... oh, just forget me, I'm a moron!"

Willow clamped her jaw shut for a few moments, forcing herself to reassess Tara's seemingly simple question, 'What happened?' A small frown creased her brow as she tried to figure out what Tara had meant before she opened her mouth once more. She eventually gave up and replied practically.

"We made love," Willow said softly, "Not sex... or shagging... it was definitely making love. I don't think I've ever made love before. I mean, don't get me wrong I've had sex before, shagged a lot sure..." Tara knew by instinct that Willow was working herself up into full babble mode and that she really ought to stop her with a gentle word. Tara didn't say anything however, she loved listening to Willow-babble more than any other sound in the entire world. Willow was still talking, "Yeah, you could definitely say that Lucy Hawkes and I shagged in the cockpit of that DC-3 and Abby Quinn that one time..."

Willow brought her hand up to her mouth and clamped it down as hard as she could. Tara wasn't quite sure whether to giggle or just keep her own mouth shut. She settled for prising Willow's hand away from her mouth gently to reveal a very apologetic expression.

"I'm sorry that you had to wait this long to find out that I'm crazy and that I'm a slut..." Willow mumbled.

"Willow," Tara cupped the red head's cheek with her palm, "You're neither of those things... a-and that wasn't quite what I meant when I asked you what happened. Yesterday and for the entire time we've known each other, I thought you hated me. I don't know why exactly, perhaps because I'm a Slayer... or maybe that I was weird or that you were still angry at having to share your cabin with a junior officer."

"I never hated you, not once, not even when you announced you were sharing my cabin, I hated Boone and Buffy and just about everyone else that was conspiring to make my life miserable... but not you. You were always in a class of your own, a mystery to be solved," Willow peered into those blue eyes and still couldn't fathom out what they held, despite the intimacy they had shared, "At first, I'm ashamed to admit, I just wanted to get you into the sack but then I gradually came to realise that this was different. Then we kissed and it was the most wonderful kiss I've ever had... but you ran out of there as though I repulsed you. I responded the only way I knew how... avoidance and then everything turned to an even bigger pile of shit when you saw me coming out of Tad's cabin," Willow drew in a silent breath, "Then, it was like none of that mattered anymore... .after our first engagement... after what happened with Alex and Dennis, I realised how incredibly stupid all of this is. Being invaded by something we can barely fight! Not knowing half the time where we're going... if we're even going anywhere. We could be facing the end of the world and I was having trouble telling this amazing woman that I loved her," Willow paused, sniffing back those annoying tears once more. Tara obligingly wiped them away for her with a light flick of her thumb, "Everything became clear... I was alive, you were right there holding me... and I loved you... and we made love... it was so right."

"It was," Tara agreed in a whisper, planting a light kiss on Willow's forehead.

"Tara, can I ask you something personal?" Willow asked quietly.

Tara looked at her with a serious expression on her face and an even more serious tone in her voice, "Willow, two hours ago we were making hot, naked love in your office... an hour ago we were outed very embarrassingly in front of the vessel's commander and you didn't bat an eyelid... I think you should be able to ask me anything you like if I'm your girlfriend... if I am... a-am I?"

"Yes you are," Willow nuzzled Tara's nose, and kissed her luxuriously for a few seconds, running her tongue over Tara's lips before drawing back, "Why was I the first? I mean, I don't quiet understand how someone like you could were still a-a..."

Tara spluttered for a few moments before she asked calmly, "A-a v-virgin? How could you t-tell?"

Willow made a slight shrugging movement before saying, "I'm right though, aren't I?"

Tara nodded imperceptibly, "It's kind of a long story... and I want to tell you..."

You have no idea how long I've been waiting for you to make love to me Willow Rosenberg, Tara thought as she remembered night after night of dreaming about the young red head. Holding her naked body close in her arms, feeling the smooth expanse of Willow's skin beneath her fingers, smelling the comforting aroma of their love making in the air... and yet always knowing that it was all about to be torn apart... Every night she would look forward to the sensations of being in Willow's embrace despite knowing how it would always end.

"...but not right now?" Willow finished for her.

Tara sighed sadly and Willow drew her closer, running her hands around Tara's back.

"You must think I'm pretty weird. I mean, I'm twenty-three and I've never felt attracted to anyone... man or woman, until I meet this beautiful red head," How can I tell you how long I've known you... without really knowing you... "I can't get her out of my thoughts even though I really know next to nothing about her except that she flies a plane as though it's a part of her."

"What else do you want to know about me?" Willow asked, fully prepared to divulge every last childhood secret.

"Well, you know my first kiss..." Tara trailed off leaving an unspoken questioning hanging in the air.

"I was fourteen, and it was with Geraldine Gibbs in the back row of a movie theatre," Willow started to giggle, "For almost a whole year we went to the movies every Saturday for the matinee and spent the whole show making out. I went to see so many movies without ever actually seeing a single one."

Tara raised her eyebrows playfully, "You spent a whole year just making out," her voice sounded a little dubious.

"Well, I had my hand up her shirt once but then the usher came along with a flashlight and almost caught us," Willow smiled fondly in remembrance, "A few weeks later Gerry and her family emigrated to New Zealand of all places... we wrote letters for about a year and then just sort of lost contact you know," Willow shrugged, "So... anything else?"

"Just one last one for tonight... I-I... w-want to k-know..." Tara swallowed slowly, "I want to know if you can handle anything else as well as you can handle your plane?"

The look on Tara's face was one of sultry innocence. Willow wasn't even sure if the blonde actually knew she was doing it... or if she knew just how crazy it was making her feel.

"I didn't prove that to you already?" Willow asked, feeling her blood pumping through her veins faster by the second.

"I think I need some more proof, you know, just to be sure..."

Willow rolled Tara over and moved to straddle her, loving the feeling of Tara's body beneath hers. She lowered herself down so they were pressed together, breasts to breasts, stomach to stomach, pelvis to pelvis and slowly... mouth to mouth.

Their lips met, taking time to re-discover one another's taste. Their tongues stroked together lazily, each savoured every thrusting together of tongues. Willow nudged her thigh between Tara's legs and began rubbing slowly. With a gasp, Tara's thighs fell further apart, she hungrily thrust her hips up to meet Willow.

"Tara..." Willow wasn't sure she could stop kissing Tara long enough to actually get a sentence out, "There's... just... one thing... I'm wondering..."

"Wha... ?" Tara asked breathlessly.

Willow drew back a second, "Why on earth did we bother putting any clothes on?"

Tara lay completely naked beneath an equally naked Willow, a single blanket draped over them both. Somehow now it was different, she felt extremely self-conscious as though this time she realised exactly what she was doing. Oh, she had known full well that she was making love to Willow earlier but that was all she had been thinking about. Now a million thoughts were running through her head, foremost of all was do you even know this girl? You've waited twenty-three years to have sex and you chose to do it with someone you barely know... someone your friends despise!

However, all Tara had to do was look into Willow's eyes to know that she knew everything she needed to know about Willow. For now anyway... for this moment... And she knew she felt safe, as safe as she had felt tucked up in bed at night with her mama reading her favourite story.

Willow smoothed back her hair from her brow, a few damp strands clinging stubbornly that she had to pry away individually.

"Are you alright?" Willow asked in a whisper.

"A little scared I guess... I feel kind of... bare..."

"Well... you are naked," Willow frowned, unsure if Tara was joking or not.

Tara tried to laugh but it came out forced, "I am that... but that's not quite what I meant..."

"I meant, there's nothing between us... no barriers... I just feel like all my defences are down and I'm scared that I won't be able to put them back up in time if I need to..."

"There's somewhere you want to keep me out of?" Willow asked, worry and hesitation creeping into her voice.

"N-no... it's just that, I'm not sure if I'm ready to let you all the way in yet," Tara was scared she had ruined the mood, that was until she found Willow's lips moving on her own, her moist tongue entering her mouth for a few moments before withdrawing,

"Well," Willow said, short of breath herself, "You won't have to worry then... because I won't take anymore of you than what you offer me."

Willow lowered her lips to Tara's once more, caressing with light kisses before deepening and sliding her tongue into Tara's mouth as far as it would go. The kiss lasted for what could've been an eternity, by the time Willow drew back both their lips were red and swollen. They stared into each other's eyes for a few silent moments.

Tara slowly and tentatively brought one hand down over Willow's back to one of her firm breasts. Her touches were light, very unsure of themselves as she gently caressed and rubbed the little bud at the peak of Willow's breast between her fingers. It blossomed and hardened beneath her touch, Willow let out a small sharp breath before moving her hand to meet the one that was intently caressing her breast. Willow enfolded Tara's hand in her own, caressing the slender digits with her own before gently levering it away from her breast and back against the pillow and holding it there. She did the same with the other one and Tara was lying with both hands above her head, a confused look on her face.

"Sorry," Tara whispered, "I know I'm doing it all wrong..."

"No Tara... baby... you're not doing anything wrong," Willow nuzzled Tara's cheek with her cold nose, "I just want to do this... for you, I want to show you how beautiful you are," Willow kissed Tara's cheek and then her nose, she moved up and kissed her forehead, all the while keeping both of Tara's hands above her head. She pulled back and looked down at the flushed blonde, "Do you trust me?"

Tara could only nod but that was all the prodding Willow needed.

Willow slowly drew her hands away from Tara's and still the blonde kept hers above her head. With her hands now free to roam Willow sat up while still straddling Tara's hips, the blanket slipped from them both and fell to the floor but neither felt the cold. Willow gazed down at Tara lying beneath her, hands above her head, beautiful breasts standing proud in the light of the weak light bulb.

Her breath caught in her throat as she tentatively caressed Tara's face with feathery strokes before running her hands down. Over her shoulders to her upper arms and back up again. Tracing her collarbone, the pale skin between her breasts before finally taking a handful of breast with each hand. She massaged them, gently at first but all the while increasingly in tempo and pressure until Tara's nipple were swollen and red... like her lips. It wasn't until then that Willow lent forward, bringing her mouth down on top of the right breast first. Tara gasped as Willow began working it over in her mouth, taking as much as she could in and sucking fiercely. She teased Tara's nipple with her tongue, rolling it around gently before biting on it, loving the sounds issuing from Tara's throat.

Willow shifted slightly and performed the same service for the other breast. It was nothing short of heavenly, feeling Tara's firm breast in her mouth as her hand continued to work on the other.

Slowly, but inevitably, she ceased her ministrations of Tara's breasts to lay a trail of kisses down over her belly to her navel. Her tongue left a trail of moisture everywhere she went.

As her mouth worked, she brought both hands down to the inside of Tara's upper thighs and gently levered them apart with a little pressure.

The bed was all too narrow and Tara ended up with one knee jammed against the cold bulkhead on one side of the bed. The other leg fell from the bed altogether, her foot resting on the floor. It was cold... but what Willow was doing to her made her warmer than she had ever felt in her life.

With Tara's legs spread before her face, Willow could smell the now familiar and sweet aroma of her desire. Slowly, Willow kissed the honey coloured curls on the top of Tara's mound, the blonde jumped slightly beneath her touch. She moved downwards, lowered her head until she was between Tara's thighs... so very close and so very impatient. Willow forced herself to move slowly, taking the time to kiss the insides of her thighs, run her tongue over them slowly.

Finally she brought both hands up to Tara's sex and spread her lips back tenderly.

"Oh god," Willow whispered in a throaty voice.

"Willow... please..." Tara's eyes were closed, her mouth parted in longing.

Willow obliged by dipping her head into the wonderful warmth. She just breathed in Tara's scent for a few moments before finally caressing Tara's sex in one long, languid stroke.

Tara's head thrashed back against the pillow and she cried out. Another stroke followed the first but Tara had already lost count. Willow continued to lick, each stroke an exploration... a new and unique experience in itself. She had been avoiding concentrating on Tara's clit at first, content to explore everywhere else around it. Tara's hips moved beneath her insistently. Willow finally gave in and found Tara's hard, erect nub. She began teasing it with her tongue, rolling it between her lips, nipping ever so gently with her teeth. Tara tasted so very good, Willow never wanted it to end and at the same time she wanted to show Tara just how much she meant to her.

As her tongue worked Tara's clit over, she moved one of her hands to tease Tara's moist opening. She thrust two fingers up and Tara cried out as her hips thrust down onto Willow's fingers, forcing them in as far as they would go. Fingers and tongue both working frantically as Tara bucked beneath her, the cries coming from her throat becoming increasingly raw and urgent. Her hands had left their spot above her head and were now tangled in Willow's hair, forcing her head down harder.

"Oh god Willow!" she moaned, thrusting her hips forward instinctively, over and over, "Willow, Willow... Willow!"

That's it Tara... come for me... oh god could this woman taste any better?

Suddenly there it was, Tara was crying out her name for the last time in one long, drawn out moan as her back arched from the bed. The walls of her passage spasmed around Willow's fingers as she stroked a few more times before concentrating solely on licking up every last drop of moisture spilling from Tara.

After what seemed like forever, Tara finally came back to earth. Her body relaxed and she became aware of the thin mattress beneath her... the cold was starting to creep back into her limbs and she shivered. She only had moments to feel that way before Willow swept the blankets up from the floor and pulled them over the pair of them as she snuggled into Tara's side.

Willow laid her arm across Tara's chest and propped her chin up on it. For a few moments she was content to just stare before temptation got the better of her and she laid a soft kiss on the blonde's lips.

Tara tasted herself on Willow's lips, she kissed the red head lazily before Willow laid her cheek against Tara's chest, practically purring.

"Thank you," Tara said softly, kissing the top of Willow's head.

"You'll have plenty of opportunities to pay me back," Willow hinted, a drowsy contentment in her voice.

Wrapping her arms around the young woman, Tara held her close as she ran her hands gently over her naked back. She heard Willow gasp slightly in pain and frowned as she felt a rough scratch on the red head's otherwise silky skin. Tara sat up slightly and peered under their blankets to see several angry looking scratches on Willow's back... fingernail shaped scratches. Tara blinked before realising that they were the result of their earlier frantic love making.

"Oh god... I'm so sorry," Tara whispered.

Willow looked up at her with a soft expression, "Battle scars to be worn with pride... and pull the blankets back up would you, it's freezing!"

Tara winced sheepishly and tucked the rough woollen blankets carefully around Willow. Her hand then drifted up to lay on the smooth, red hair, stroking repeatedly.

"Will... Will? Do people call you that?" Tara asked with a frown.

"Yeah... just about everyone..." Willow shrugged, "Except my superiors and people who don't like me very much... and you, unless you also fit into the pre-existing category of people who don't like me very much?"

Tara arched an eyebrow, "Depends who you've been talking to..."

Willow punched Tara playfully, somewhat awkward from the position in which she was lying half-atop Tara. She yawned before continuing talking, "Suffice to say..." another yawn, "... you can call me Will."

"I like Will, short and sweet... like you."

"I am not short!" Willow protested, digging Tara in the ribs.

"Shorter than me at least," Tara replied quite calmly.

Willow scrambled to try and get over Tara and out of the bunk, "Let's test that then shall we? Come on, stand back to back."

Tara just smiled and wrapped her arms tightly around Willow's waist so she couldn't. After a few moments of hopeless struggling Willow gave up and collapsed against Tara with a light giggle. It was much to cold to extract themselves from the tiny bunk and both girls settled for curling their limbs against one another. Willow rolled onto her side, snugging the blanket up under her chin with her small fist. Tara spooned Willow from behind, sliding her arm around her waist. Drawing the slender girl as close as possible to her body. She laid her cheek against Willows, chin tucked into her neck.

"Will... I love you."

Tara felt Willow's facial muscles around her mouth move into a smile, one of her hands sought out Tara's which lay against her stomach. She prised the hand up and knitted their fingers together, squeezing tightly.

"Just don't leave me," Tara added in the barest whisper, so soft Willow was straining to hear it despite their close proximity, "Please."

Willow felt Tara's arm tighten around her waist as though she were holding her as tightly as she possibly could. Willow squeezed until she was sure her knuckles were white.

"I promise."

Willow knew she would do everything she could to keep that promise to Tara... but she knew that in the end, it wasn't up to her.

Continue to Captain Red and the Denizens of Mars Chapter Twelve

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