Return to Don't fear the Reaper Chapter Fifteen

Don't fear the Reaper

Author: Useful_Oxymoron
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Well, I don't own Willow or Tara. If I did, I wouldn't have made certain... questionable decisions in the later seasons. In any case, Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own these characters and I don't intend to make any money off them.
Notes: Italics are thoughts.

It was amazing how everything seemed so much brighter now. Tara looked outside the window of her small kitchen and saw the lovely flowers outside, in the grassy fields amidst the retreating snow. How could she not have seen them before? The log cabin seemed to much more cozy and, dare she say it, romantic now. Willow's presence permeated her surroundings and her own being.

The hot chocolate she'd put on was nice and warm now, and she poured some into a cup. Tara made her way back to the tiny... no, cozy and romantic living room, where Willow was seated near the fireplace. The love of Tara's life was still shivering from cold, even though Tara had turned up the heat and threw some logs on the fire. Willow rubbed her hands while her feet were dipped in a bucket filled with hot water. Three blankets from Tara's bed were snugly wrapped around her body.

Tara put a chair next to Willow's, while the red-head's teeth were clattering. Willow gratefully took the hot chocolate and took a few sips.

"Oh, that hits the spot," Willow shivered. "I'm not built for this climate, Tara. I don't have enough body-fat... Uncle Hershel was right, I do need more meat on my bones." Tara let Willow lean into her and hoped to share some of her warmth. "You know," Willow said, "if I'd been born a walrus, I'd be just fine."

"I don't think the tusked look is really for you, sweetie," Tara replied.

"Yeah," Willow mused. "Tusks'd get into the way. I mean, I could only drink through a straw and it would make casual conversation with strangers very awkward. And you'd have to wear a face-guard when we kiss. But I sure could use me some of that blubber right about now. Uh, as long as it goes away again when I get warmer, cause there's not so much need for blubber in Sunnydale."

Oh, how I've missed that babble, Tara thought when she wrapped an arm around Willow's waist. "How did you find me, sweetie?"

It was a simple enough question, but Tara didn't expect the torrents of words spilling from Willow's mouth.

Well, actually she did expect it, it was just a bigger-than-average-babble. The Mother of All Babbles. The Babble to End All Babbles. Explanations, research, Death, trains and taxicabs were things she only heard shreds of. Instead, Tara concentrated on such things as 'missed you', 'love you so very much' and 'never want to be without you again, baby'. And then there was the odd story about Willow locking herself out of her hotel room, and having to wake the owners while she was only dressed in a flimsy nighty.

Tara found herself twirling a lock of Willow's unbelievably soft red hair around her finger while Willow continued. "...all I'm trying to say is, you don't run away from your problems. You sit down together and talk things over... Uh, which I sorta didn't do when I ran out, but I was really sorry and came back and..."

"I'm sorry," Tara couldn't meet Willow eyes. "I just... thought I messed up. I thought you hated me. So, I... went away."

"See, that's where you're a dummy," Tara first thought it to be a snippy remark, but that faded when she saw Willow's warm smile. "I could never hate you, Tara. You're my everything. And I don't give up easily. When there's a bug in my program, I bite right down into the code until I find it."


"It's for real," Willow said, picking up on Tara's train of thought. "I want to work things out and I want you to come home. But you'll have to tell me everything, Tara. No more secrets."

"No more secrets," Tara promised.

Tara was amazed at the amount of 'top secret' Reaper lore Willow had been able to piece together through second-hand knowledge, historical legends, paintings and conspiracy nuts. It would be more than enough to make certain bigwigs at the Head Office very, very nervous. Then again, Willow was a very smart girl, so she felt she shouldn't be so surprised. Tara only had to correct one single, yet important aspect: "Deathbringer? Uh, that's not very accurate. We're called Reapers," Tara said.

Willow, who was finally starting to warm up a little, took another sip from her hot chocolate. "So I was right on everything else? Two groups of these Reapers? Hm... So, that answers the 'what' question, but that still leaves the 'how' and the 'why'."

Tara thought for a moment. "Alright, I think we'd have to start with the beginning to answer these questions. I'll tell you the history of the Reapers as it was taught to me in school."

"They have Reaper-courses in public schools?" Willow blinked. "Cause I never noticed that."

"They have in Reaper public schools," Tara smiled. "Anyway, all Reapers serve the Powers-That-Be... and before you ask, no I have no idea who they are or what they want. They just are. And they have plans for humanity which we just can't fathom. At the dawn of mankind, they gave the power of life and death to several mortals they found the most worthy to serve their cause. These were the Eight: Ankou, Anubis, Kali, Thanatos, Azri-Dahaka, Yama, Damballah and Mot."

"Those names I recognize," Willow said. "I guess they're not so Mythological as I thought."

"Mythology surrounding them sorta got carried away," Tara smiled. "They actually all lived in the same time-period and much beyond. The Powers blessed them with unnaturally long lives."

"But obviously something changed," Willow said. "Uh, unless you're planning to tell me that your real name is Kali and that you're six-thousand years old. Cause in that case you'd really be a nasty cradle-robber."

Tara chuckled. "No. No Kali here. I'm only twenty years old, sweetie. But you're right. Something did change. For almost a thousand years, the Eight ended lives of those whose time had come, and guided their souls to the appropriate afterlife."

"Wait!" Willow broke in. "There's an afterlife? For real?"

"Yeah, there are," Tara said. "There's actually 17 different planes, but most people either go to Elysia or the Abyss. I don't know what Elysia like, but I know it's eternal bliss."

"It's a nice idea that lovers really can be together forever," Willow whispered, squeezing Tara's hand slightly while laying her head on Tara's shoulder.

"It is," Tara whispered back. The lovers enjoyed each other's closeness for while.

"So what happened to the Eight?" Willow finally asked.

"The world's population was growing too fast and too big for them to keep up," Tara sighed. "Which is a problem of all ages for us Reapers. The Eight petitioned the Powers to be able to share their powers with other mortals that they found worthy. A large number of families were chosen and trained by the Eight. The powers that the Eight had were instilled in especially made cloaks and scythes. The Eight trained the families, and then passed beyond the veil themselves."

"So anyone can be a Reaper?" Willow asked.

Tara noticed that Willow was hanging from her lips and was impatiently waiting for her to continue. Her lover's thirst for knowledge was impressive... and impressively cute.

"Sadly, no," Tara said. "Or our problems would be over if everyone could, but not everybody can safely use the powers within our scythes and cloaks, uh, as you found out. But, to continue our tale, the families grew larger and eventually more families were chosen. The families did the bidding of the Powers in secret and ended the lives of the people whose time had come."

"I sense a 'but' coming up," Willow pursed her lips.

"But," Tara mouthed in an exaggerated matter, drawing a giggle from Willow, "again, the world's population continued to grow. Again, us Reapers couldn't keep up. So the Powers decided to restructure us. We were divided into two groups, the Collectors and the Harvesters. It was decided that, to save time, it was better to let most people die naturally. A Reaper would only come at the time of death to comfort the dying and collect the soul for processing. The Harvesters would take the role of the traditional Reaper, and end the lives of people whom the Powers wanted to remove to further their plans for the human race. Most of us, about three fifths, are Collectors. One fifth are Harvesters. The rest work at the Head Office, coordinating our actions."

"Wow," Willow sighed. "This is a lot to take in, Tara."

"I know," Tara smiled. "Now you know why I had to run out on you so many times. I'm so sorry about that, by the way."

"What happens if you're not there when a person dies?" Willow asked.

"Sometimes I do arrive too late. The soul simply floats above the body, waiting to be picked up. But if a Reaper takes too long, the soul could nestle in the place of death, especially if the soul was emotionally distressed at the time of death," Tara spoke grimly. This was not a subject that she particularly enjoyed to discuss. "If that happens, the site becomes a haunting. And then it gets really difficult, because the soul has to be convinced to let go. There's a special unit who deals with freeing these trapped souls, but they're chronically underfunded by the Head Office."

"You're one of these Collectors, right?" Willow asked. "It fits you," she continued.

Every fibre of Tara's being told her to quit while she was ahead, but she'd promised both Willow and herself to tell the whole truth and nothing but. "Yes," she started optimistically. "Collector Senior, Order of Anubis."

"Order of Anubis? Does that mean anything?" Willow frowned.

"Used to, couple of centuries ago. Now all it means is that all the local Anubians have an annual barbecue once a year. I can even bring a date," she winked. "Faith is a Harvester. Order of Dahaka."

Willow chuckled briefly and held out her hands to the fire. "Yeah, I can sorta see that. Buffy's very adventurous."

"Don't laugh," Tara gulped. "I... I w-wanted to be a H-harvester too. I got q-quite f-far into t-training too."

Willow looked deep into Tara's eyes and laid her hand on her lover's cheek. "Tara, baby," Willow started, having sensed Tara's nervousness. "You're not going to drive me away. I'm here to stay."

Just wait until you hear... Tara thought sadly, but found encouragement in Willow's words, but still had no idea how Willow'd react. "I was... a-assigned a case and... I was s-supposed to e-end her life. I, um, observed her for a w-w-week, but... I just couldn't do it. I... even ended up s-saving her life a few times. I just couldn't do it, because... I fell in love with her."

The last thing Tara saw before averting her eyes was the sight of Willow blanching. "W-who..." Willow whispered, but in her voice, Tara could hear she already knew the answer.

Silence fell into the cabin, save for the crackle of the fire and the wind howling past the windowpanes.

"Y-y-y-y-you," Tara whispered, her heart constricting with fear. Had she regained Willow just to lose her again?

A splash of water sounded as Willow rose from her chair, out of Tara's embrace and hugged the blanket around her. Tara looked up to see Willow pacing between the chair and the fireplace. Back and forth. Back and forth.

"A-are you f-freaked?" Tara asked.

"Uh, no, Tara, I'm not freaked, Tara. Do I look freaked, Tara? Cause, Tara, if I look freaked, Tara, it's not, Tara, because I'm non-freaked Willow, Tara. Yeah, Tara, that's me, Tara. 100% non-freaked Willow, Tara," Willow breathed. "I'm not hyperventilating, Tara, I swear, Tara."

Tara lowered her gaze. "Then... why do you keep s-saying my name, s-sweetie?"

"Well, uh, am I still on the d-deathlist, Tara?" Willow asked meekly.

"No," Tara smiled gently while locking eyes with Willow. "No, you're not. It's been taken care of."

When Willow visibly calmed down, Tara sat her back in the chair and gently told her everything that had happened that fateful week when... well, not when they had met, but when she had met Willow. How she had started enthusiastically, but felt the doubt in her heart. How she had come to care for the person whose life she was to end. How she had saved her life and how she had stood up for her against her mentor.

"And that's the story," Tara concluded and, to her joy, Willow was leaning into her again. Her eyes were closed.

"Wow," Willow whispered. "I remember. You're my guardian angel, Tara. That week... I never felt safer in my life."

"You felt safe when I was trying to harvest your soul?" Tara smiled. "Gee, that's a blow to a girl's ego," she said, being comfortable enough to let humor slip through.

"Hm," Willow replied and suppressed a yawn. "I'm sleepy."

Tara looked at the window and noticed the sun was setting. "Yeah," Tara said. "I think it's time for bed."

"I don't wanna be sleepy, but I've had a long day," Willow yawned. "I still have so many questions, baby."

Tara smiled. "Sleep now. We'll talk more tomorrow. You, um, can take the bed, I'll put some things on the ground and..."

"Tara?" Willow interrupted. "Don't you want to be with me tonight?"

Tara frowned. "W-well, because of... how things are between us, I assumed we'd not be sleeping in the same bed."

"Tara, baby," Willow smiled. "I've had my world turned upside down today, and before that, I wasn't sure if I'd ever see you again. I just... really need to be snuggled right now."

And so, the two lovers put out the fire, turned up the heater and went into the bedroom. It was small, as was everything in this cabin, and had a low ceiling. Even though there wasn't a living soul nearby, Tara closed the curtains and changed into her preferred night attire, a shirt and a pair of boxers, while Willow changed into her night-gown. Willow shivered slightly when her bare feet pattered over the cold floor, so she quickly dove underneath the blankets and into Tara's waiting arms.

The few nights Tara had spent in an empty bed and the loneliness she had felt were banished from her mind and quickly forgotten as she held the girl she loved

Tara's eyes fluttered open in the middle of the night, and the first thing that hit her was just how cold she was. She concluded the heater must have shut down again and hugged herself briefly. It was then she found out that Willow had stolen the blankets in her sleep.

Next to her lay Willow, having the blankets rapped around her as if she was a caterpillar in a chrysalis. All Tara could see of Willow was a patch of red hair and a single foot sticking out on the other end. Tara came to the conclusion that Willow had instinctively reacted by wrapping the blankets around her to keep warm. Despite the fact that Tara found this to be incredibly cute, she was also faced with the risk of catching a pneumonia in this northern Canadian cold.

"Sweetie?" Tara said gently and rocked the blanket-chrysalis slightly. "Sweetie, it's getting rather cold here."

"Swimming... in a kiddie-pool... filled with syrup," sounded muffled from the blankets.

Tara saw no other option that to slowly peeling the duvet from Willow. She carefully rolled the blanket-chrysalis to the middle of the bed to minimize the risk of Willow rolling onto the floor and started to work... which was not an easy thing since Willow actively tried to roll the blankets around her body again.

Just as Tara could see the back of Willow's nighty, the other girl felt the cold creeping up her back and sprang to action. Tara yelped when a still-sleeping Willow rolled on top of her, taking the blankets with her. Willow took hold of Tara and continued rolling until the blankets was neatly wrapped around both of them.

Whoa, Tara thought. Now I know what a fly in a web feels like.

Then, she felt Willow's warmth, her body lying on top of her and her head resting on her chest.

Not that I'm complaining, Tara grinned.

The second time Tara woke up, it was morning. Next to her, Willow was still sleeping. That was not unusual, though. Nine out of ten times, Tara woke before Willow did, giving her the perfect opportunity to prepare breakfast. Of course, that was only if Tara'd be able to tear herself away from her lover, whose body was pressed against her, and whose hand was resting on one of Tara's breasts.

It took Tara some self-discipline to pull away, even though it was hard to ignore the sleeping Willow's mews of protest and the deep groan of disappointment when Tara finally managed to break away.

She entered the kitchen, got to work and returned to the bedroom with a tray filled with a stack of pancakes, a bottle of syrup and a pull pot of coffee.

"Hmm," said a still sleepy Willow, awakened by the smells wafting in from the kitchen. "Yummy."

"The heater is working again," Tara smiled while Willow sat up and put the tray on her lap. "I, uh, kinda kicked it a couple of times. But goddess, now my foot hurts."

"Who's that?" Willow asked.

"Who's who, sweetie?"

"The goddess you keep referring to," Willow asked while cutting a piece of pancake and popping it in her mouth. She poured coffee in a cup and handed it to Tara.

"Life," Tara smiled and took a sip from her coffee.

Willow frowned. "Reapers worship life?"

"Ironic, isn't it?" Tara smiled. "I wouldn't call it worship, though. It's more of a reverence-thing. Of course, some show more respect to life than others."

Bzzzt. Bzzzzt.

"Tara, you're buzzing?" Willow frowned.

Tara muttered something under her breath and checked her pager. "Oh, I'm sorry, sweetie, I have to go," she said while putting the pager on her nightstand.

"Someone's dying?" Willow asked with a pouty expression while Tara started to change. A few minutes later Tara appeared wearing a thick winter coat, a thick winter set of pants, a furry hat, snowshoes and her cloak draped over it all. Tara took her scythe and clicked it open. "Wait," Willow asked. "How are you gonna get there?"

Tara smiled and said that she would explain later. She pulled the hood over her head and phased away. Willow watched the spot where Tara had stood and realized she was no longer in the room. Even more questions raced through her mind, but she suppressed those urges for now. Tara'd be back soon enough to tell her everything.

Willow finished her breakfast and got dressed. She couldn't resist and hooked up her laptop to Tara's phoneline while brushing her long hair. She logged on and checked her mail. Both Xander and Dawn had sent her mails asking where she was and there was one mail from Buffy.

From: Buffy <>
To: Willow <>
Subject: Oh. My. God!!!!!1!11!!
wills, where are you, why isn't your phone switched one? i really need to talk to you and tara. this is just. wow. crazy. i'm wigged out, here, wills, but cool, i think. faith told me everyting and tara's a reaper too? why didn't you tell me? best freind clause in effect here, wills. faith's all love and support-gal, but i really need... i mean, just plaese come home soon so we can talk!

love, buffy.

Oh, Buff's world must be upside down too, Willow thought while she watched the screen and felt guilty for not being there to support her friend. Sorry, Buff, but I had to save my own relationship first... She decided to write some mails to her friends to clear things up.

Buffy <>
Buffy <>, Xander
<>, Dad <>, Anya <$$$Anya$$$>, Dawnie <>, Mrs. Summers <>, Malcolm <>, Jenny <>, Larry <>
Hey, everyone. I'm here in Canada with Tara. We'll be back in a couple of days. Don't worry, we're here, together and happy.

Love, Willow.|

Copy Message to Sent Folder

She pressed send and immediately started to write another mail.

Buffy <>
Faith and Tara
Yeah, Buff, I know it's huge. I only found out just now and my head's still sorta spinny. I'm sorry you can't call me, but my cellphone doesn't have reach. Then again, I don't think this is something to discuss over the phone.

I know I love Tara very much and, well, I think this whole Reaper thing is a little scary, but also a little exciting. It's like a whole secret society living amongst us and influencing us, kinda like the free-masons but only with real power. Which is probably not what you want to hear right now.

I'm sorry I can't be there for you right now, Buffy, but we'll be back in Sunnydale soon and then we'll talk all night while we're sugared up on mocha's.

Love, Willow.|

Copy Message to Sent Folder

Willow clicked send and shut down her computer. She knew that someone as enthusiastically affectionate as Buffy wouldn't give up on Faith easily, but was probably a bit freaked.

Willow narrowed her eyes and walked through the room. She tried to sense and reach out with her mind, if such a thing was possible. Tara was here in the cabin, she knew that because she could feel her. But where?! There was a feeling in the back of her head, a sort of fuzzy tickle in her brain. Willow closed her eyes, bit her lip, then pointed at the chair near the fireplace. "Okay, Tara, you're over there."

Tara phased into reality... in the kitchen. "I was there, a moment ago, but now I'm here," she chuckled.

"You moved! No fair!" Willow pouted and crossed her arms.

"You found me all four time. So, I figured I'd make it a little more difficult," Tara whispered a brief apology, took off her cloak and invited Willow to sit down beside her. Tara had come back from collecting the soul of a person who had gotten lost in the forest and was dying of exposure. She had made his passing bearable, by being there for him so that he did not have to die alone in these cold, dark woods.

When she'd come back, Willow practically pounced on her with her questions and when Tara told her that she could use her scythe to teleport, she went completely question-crazy. Tara spent some time teleporting around the cabin, inside and outside. After hours of questions, stories, anecdotes, discussions and philosophical debates, Tara suggested a game of hide and seek. Willow turned out to be rather good at seeking.

"So," Willow laid her head in Tara's lap, while the other girl stroked her hair. "What happens when somebody dies at sea? Like in a shipwreck. Do you need diving equipment?"

Tara smiled. "Well, water has no buoyancy when we're ethereal, so it's almost as if it's not there. The soul sinks to the bottom of the ocean. We'll collect it there and teleport away again."

"What if someone falls into a volcano?" Willow asked.

"Magma's considered a solid substance, and the soul will hang above a solid substance. So we'd only have to snatch it up from the surface. Though, in those cases, we'd use our scythes to make the soul float towards us," Tara explained.

"What if someone dies in space?" Willow asked. "Do you have spacesuits? Can you breathe in space? Does the soul orbit the planet or does it fall to the surface? Does the soul suffocate?"

Tara rubbed her chin for a moment. "I... I don't know," she said. "It's never happened before. I'm sure the high-ups up at the Head Office have a scenario planned, but I've never seen it."

"What if someone is shot into the sun? How'd you get the soul, then?" Willow smiled blissfully as she nestled in Tara's lap.

Tara chuckled. "Well, he'll be on his own, because I'm not going to the sun, sweetie. And now you're just being silly."

"Okay, okay, real question this time. How long can you be ethereal?" Willow asked.

"I can manage 6 hours before it becomes uncomfortable, though some veteran Harvesters can keep it up for days," Tara said. "I'm sorry about your experience, Willow. It must have so confusing."

"It was scary," Willow said, "but also very interesting. How come you can move through walls or floors when you're ethereal?"

"It's all about belief," Tara said. "If you believe the ground beneath your feet is solid, it is. If you believe you can pass through the floor and float down to a ground below, you can. Same with breathing. Because you believe you can breathe, you can and..."

"Because if you're sure you can't breathe, you really can't," Willow finished. "I was panicking and just going 'Oh, god, can'tbreathecan'tbreathecan'tbreathe'. So I couldn't."

"You couldn't have known, sweetie," Tara continued while she sat Willow up and started massaging her shoulders. Willow had asked her thousands of questions. Well, maybe not exactly thousands but it sure felt that way. Tara didn't mind answering, since she was only to happy to sate Willow's seemingly endless curiosity. She'd asked questions about the scythe, the cloak, teleporting, Reaper history, the Head Office, Faith. She remembered Willow turning bright red when asking if it was possible to make love when ethereal.

Willow's head suddenly snapped to the fireplace. Immediately, Tara felt the prickling sensation of another Reaper standing near them and couldn't believe Willow had noticed before she did. The Reaper removed her hood.


"You know what's the best thing to do when you're ethereal? Sex! Ethereal sex is so great because of belief, you know?" Faith grinned. "If you believe you'll have multiple orgasms, you have multiple orgasms. Cloaks tend to get in the way, though."

Tara shook her head. "You always knew how to make an entrance, Faith."

"Hi, Faith," Willow greeted. "I found Tara."

"Yeah, I can sorta see that, Red," Faith smirked. "And, before you ask, yeah, Buffy's a bit wigged, but she's willing to give us a try."

"Is that why you're so giddy and happy?" Tara crossed her arms.

"You're one to talk," Faith pointed at Willow lounging on top of Tara. "What with you having Red's head in your lap right now. Hey, don't mind me, it's just worth seeing you two turning red as lobsters in the pot."

Tara reached behind the couch and tossed a suitcase to Faith. "We were about to go home... so you can make yourself useful by 'porting our luggage for us."

Faith grumbled for a bit while Willow sat up and reached for her laptop case and Tara reached for her cloak and scythe. Tara held Willow tightly with one arm and clicked open her scythe, getting ready to teleport them back home. "Okay, Willow. You hold on to me and don't let go."

"What happens if I let go during the teleport?" Willow asked nervously.

"Nothing," Tara smiled. "I just like it when you hold me."

"Get a room!" Faith called over from the bedroom.

Willow held on to her Tara and her laptop, not wanting to lose either. She closed her eyes and felt a rush of air swirling around her, although briefly. When she opened her eyes, she was standing in the living room of her own house, back in the warm californian climes. But... they were not alone.

"Uh, hi, Buffy," Tara said sheepishly.

A surprise Buffy stood there like a statue, her cup of doublemeat fibre-free cola slipping from her hand.

Willow and Buffy sat next to each other on the couch in silence, neither girl looking at each other.

"I think we got a little more than we bargained for, Wills," Buffy finally said.

"Yeppers," Willow nodded. "But... worth it."

Buffy smiled briefly. "Next time Cordelia comes over to boast, I can make her wiggy. 'Oh, my new boyfriend is soooo rich and handsome, a senior office manager at Microdyne'," Buffy imitated Cordy's nasal whine. "I can say 'Oh, yeah? Well, my girlfriend's the Grim Reaper. And she can kill your sucky boyfriend just by looking at him'."

"I don't think you should do that, Buff," Willow smiled. "For one thing, Faith might actually do it."

"Hm, you're right," Buffy said. "Dead boyfriends don't go ever well at parties. It's a fact of life."

"'Well, Cordy, your boyfriend is the life of the party. Oh, uh, oops, not anymore. Sorry'," Willow giggled.

"'Cordy, have you ever seen Weekend at Bernies?'" Buffy added.

"'Cordy, I hope you weren't too attached to your boyfriend. Oh, I forgot, you're a skanky ho, so of course you weren't too attached to your boyfriend'," Willow smiled.

Buffy made a catty noise. "Check you out, Will. Claws are out, today."

Willow shrugged. "Cordelia brings out the worst in me, ever since she said to me I'd became gay to be fashionable and fit in with the popular crowd. Yeah, Cordy, that's really the reason for my broken heart and the struggles with my sexuality."

"Okay, the level of Cordelia in this conversation is way outside my comfort-zone. Let's tone it down a bit," Buffy chuckled.

"So you and Faith?"

"We're okay," Buffy smiled. "Well, I wanted an interesting and attentive lover. And, well, here she is."

"You did what?!" Tara gasped while she and Faith stood on the balcony, looking over the city.

"I figured the way to tell her was to show her," Faith replied with a shrug. "Well, I had to convince her I wasn't messing with her head, first."

"I don't think it was a good idea to bring her with you on an assignment, Faith," Tara said. "The Head Office kinda frowns upon that. Weren't you worried Buffy'd be freaked to see you end someone's life."

Faith shrugged, fished a folded piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to Tara. "Perfect case came along."

"Oh, I see," Tara said when she saw it was a page from a file. The man in question was a serial child-molester, who had killed several of his young victims and dumped the bodies in the ore smeltery where he worked.

"The Powers finally decided it was this A-hole's time to go," Faith said. "I showed Buffy the file and she literally blanched on the spot. I took her along, sorta showed her and told her what I usually did... as much as was possible without going ethereal. Normally I'd think of an ironic and slow death for a kind of guy like this... think along the lines of spilling hot scolding metal ore over his privates... but because Buffy was there, I just used my scythe to make him slip on the railing at the ore smeltery and break his neck."

"How did Buffy handle it?" Tara asked.

"Well, she was kinda shook up, but she actually said she thought he didn't suffer enough," Faith said. "That's a good sign. So, she thinks this is sorta my deal, you know, taking care of the scumbags of the world."

"Faith," Tara broke in. "You also drop piano's on top of old ladies."

Faith shrugged. "I sorta... let Buffy draw her own conclusions."

"Faith..." Tara started.

"I know," Faith sighed. "But... if she really has problems with me, I could always... go back to Collecting, I guess."

Tara turned to Faith. "You'd do that?"

"Yes," Faith smiled briefly. "For her."

"Home sweet home," Tara smiled while she plopped down on her own, comfortable bed while Willow put her laptop back on her desk.

She was home.

No more secrets.

No more lies.

Only her and Willow.

Faith and Buffy had left a few minutes ago to get ready for a date. Tara relaxed on top of her pillow. She opened her eyes to see Willow standing at the foot of their bed.

Tara yelped when Willow suddenly let herself fall on top of her and found herself being embraced, carressed and fondled in all kinds of pleasurable ways. "Willow," Tara gasped. "It'll be dinner-time soon."

"Poopy to dinner-time," Willow spoke between kisses while straddling Tara. "I'm not hungry... for food. God, I missed you so much, Tara. Never leave again... I love you."

"I love you too, sweetie."

She tried to say something more, but Willow shushed her. Tara could see a hunger in her eyes, a rabid desire. Willow had come far since that first night they had spent together only a few months back, that was for sure. She shuddered when she felt WillowTongue flick across the nape of her neck and even moreso when WillowHand slid underneath her shirt.

Willow was no longer the innocent virgin she was the night in the tent. For Tara had helped to create a monster. A sexually ferocious monster that was adept at removing bra's and dealt out hickeys as if there was no tomorrow.

It didn't take long for desire took hold of Tara, and kissed her lover back with an equal amount of ferocious hunger. And so both lovers skipped dinner in favor of breakfast the next morning.

Continue to Don't fear the Reaper Chapter Seventeen

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