Return to Don't fear the Reaper Chapter Sixteen

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.
This story contains direct quotes from The Eye of Argon. If you're feeling courageous, you can check out the entire story in the link below. BE WARNED: your life will never be the same after having read The Eye of Argon.
This link contains the full rules to an Eye of Argon reading session. I have an Eye of Argon reading at least once a year with a group of close friends and it's great fun.

Tara pulled the brush down the length of her hair with gentle strokes while sitting at the dresser, already having changed in her usual nightwear of boxers and T-shirt. She smiled when she watched her Willow sitting at the desk, still pouring over her schedule.

College would start again in week and the students had already received their class schedules. Willow had spent the evening studying every angle, aspect and possibility of the offered classes of the year.

"Sweetie, it's time for bed," Tara pressed softly, but already knew it wouldn't help, because Willow was really psyched up about her classes. She was actually sitting at her desk with a calendar and a calculator, trying to fit all the classes she wanted to follow into a single week.

"I know," Willow sighed. "It's just sad that there's only 24 hours in the day, baby. Oh, I'd sell my soul to the devil for 25-hour days right about now. Hey, you think the devil will give me 26 hours if I ask really nicely?"

"I don't think the devil cares much about niceties," Tara continued brushing her hair.

"Hm, I have to work 20 hours at the computer shop, that'll be 8 hours saturday and wednesday and 4 hours thursday afternoon. Of course, I need friends time, homework time and, most importantly of all, Tara-time," Willow said.

"Oh, yes," Tara said while sliding underneath the duvet. "Tara-time is very important."

"There's so many good classes in the second year, and it pains me to have to drop one or two of them, especially since I already cut back on time in the computer lab," Willow pouted heavily. "I was thinking of broadening my horizons a bit. Researching the history of your people was kinda fun, so I've been thinking of adding a few ancient history classes to my curriculum... and maybe doing drama with Buffy. I've almost got my lesson-plan ready now."

"That's great, sweetie," Tara replied genuinely. "At least you won't completely be a slave of the machine," she winked.

"Hey!" Willow replied with mock-indignity. "And here I was planning to recite Sapphic love-poetry to you. This is, if I can ever decided which class to drop. Oh, this is so hard, they're all so good... I mean, I can't drop Computer Architecture or Advanced CGI and Web Design... And I'm just getting carried away, am I?"

Tara smiled. "Well, maybe just a little."

"It's just that I can't wait to get back into college-mode, you know," Willow sighed. "All that learning, all that knowledge. I miss the 'yay'-feeling I get whenever grades are posted on the board. I even miss the soda-machine in the student lounge."

"The one that gives you a free cola if you tap it in the right spot?" Tara asked. "If you ever need a different career-path, you could always plan the Great Soda-Heist."

"Or take a soda into the ancient history class I've just picked, yay me," Willow smiled. "I can totally fit this into my schedule and I don't even have to give up computerlab time. Yay me again!"

"There's a good side to ancient history, you know?" Tara smirked. "No computers."

"Hah... hah... hah..." Willow shook her head. "You can forget about the Sapphic love-poetry now."

"Aw," Tara sighed, but there was a twinkle in her eyes. "A little quirky mythology would be nice too. Think how much more mythology you could learn in ancient history class. Because, you know, I love it when you get quirky."

Willow put down the schedule, turned to Tara and literally jumped out of her her chair. Tara grinned: her gambit had worked. Seeing Zany!-Willow was often drowned out by Scholary!-Willow, Tara had made it her mission in life to bring out Zany!-Willow just a bit more.

"This is the story of a long time ago," Willow spoke semi-seriously as she calmly strolled towards the bed. "A time of myth and legend. When the ancient gods were petty and cruel and they plagued mankind with suffering. Only one woman dared to challenge their power. Willowcles!" Willow postured and flexed to show off her musculature, fielding a rather unimpressive result.

"You're Willowcles?" Tara mock-swooned.

Willow put her hands on her hips, held her chin up and adopted a serious, yet heroic expression. "Mighty Willowcles has arrived to slay the wicked monsters! All hail the mighty Willowcles!"

Tara shot Willow her 'innocent milk-maid'-face and pretended to at the point of fainting. "Oh, mighty Willowcles, my heart is a-flutter. Slay this scary hydra that threatens me by being a nasty phallic symbol!"

"Hahah!" Willow smiled in an exaggerated fashion and put her hands on her hips. "Willowcles fears not the phallus! For it is impotent and has no meaning to me."

The 'hydra' was actually a long, round pillow that the girls used to prop themselves up on when they'd watch TV in bed. Willow shadow-boxed with the long round pillow for a few moments, while humming the theme song from 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'. After a brief wrestle on the floor, she triumphantly threw it off the loft into the living room below.

"Hahah!" Willow smirked at Tara. "Another victory for the mighty Willowcles."

"Oh, mighty Willowcles..." Tara swooned

"But wait! Do you think you can fool Willowcles?! For I have seen through your disguise. You are Xara, the warrior princess, seeking to lure me into a trap," Willowcles narrowed her eyes. Tara tried very hard not to laugh, but Willow never broke through the forth wall. Tara was certain she'd do well in drama-class.

"Curses, foiled again!" Tara replied, changing into 'evil warrior'-mode. "But Xara shall not give up easily, Willowcles!"

"Hah!" Willow gently pushed Tara to the bed, pressing again her. Her face was mere inches away from Tara. "Submit, Xara."

"Not without a fight, Willowcles," Tara mock-threatened and wrapped her lips around Willow's.

This began a legendary night, though it must be mentioned that Xara : Warrior Princess gained upper hand more than a few times.

Tara opened her eyes, found Willow nestled snuggly against her and still sleeping peacefully. As the sun was shining down upon them from the skylight, it was hard to ignore the big fat and satisfied grin plastered all over her cute face. Tara saw Bobby, Tara's beloved stuffed bear, looking on from the desk... seemingly approving of the scene.

There was bliss here. Pure unadulterated bliss.

In her own home, the sun shining down upon her, her Willow sleeping in her arms... Tara just felt so very happy.

Until the moment of bliss was rather rudely disturbed by the Leisure Suit Larry ringtone of Willow's cellphone. Willow groaned as she stirred herself awake. She shifted on top of Tara, trying to reach the phone that was lying on the nightstand. Unfortunately, Willow leaned over the bed a little too far. With a brief yelp, she tumbled forward and, because she was trying to hold on to Tara, she dragged her lover along for the ride. Both girls and the phone, all covered by the duvet ended up on the floor, with Willow trying to find her phone in the dark.

"Sweetie, I wonder why it is that, ever since I met you, I've ended up naked on the floor so many times," Tara giggled.

"Hello?" Willow asked as she answered the phone. "Huh? Buffy? Buffy, calm down, what's going on? Hm... Hm-hmmm. You and Faith... Venice Beach? What was that about Dawn? WHAT?! We'll be there immediately!"

Willow's head popped up from under the duvet as she switched off her phone. "Buffy needs our help, baby!"

There was trouble brewing at Casa de Summers.

"MOM!" Buffy whined in an undignified matter in the kitchen of her home, while her mother stood facing her and her angry little sister stood on the sidelines with her arms crossed. "College doesn't start for another week, it's our last chance."

"No means no, Buffy," Joyce replied sternly. "Dawn has to go to school tomorrow."

"But..." Buffy tried. "You have to take the invitation to your boring Gallery-Holders convention. And the invitation to stay a luxury hotel at Venice Beach... with the two separate rooms for family and/or guest."

Dawn bit her lip slightly. "Why don't you just say that you're trying to ditch your little sister? I don't see you lobbying for me to join you at that luxury hotel."

Joyce stepped in between the two glaring sisters. "Dawn, you have school and you, Buffy, you are being very selfish, young lady!"

Buffy sighed heavily. "That is so unfair, mom. I'm thinking of my honey, here. Come on, this is the last chance Faith and I have to go on holidays."

"Hanging out on the beach, the clubs, the boulevards," Dawn stressed. "without your little brat of a sister, right?"

"Yes! Uh, I mean, no!" Buffy immediately corrected herself. "Please, mom? You know you want to go."

Joyce paused a moment to get the toast from the toaster and pour some milk into a cereal-bowl for Dawn. "Buffy, I do want to go, it's an important conference. But sometimes, we need to make choices in life, and I just can't leave Dawn here all alone on school nights without a sitter."

"MOM!" this time it was Dawn's turn to be indignant. "I so totally don't need a sitter. I'm fifteen years old! I can take care of myself, mom. Please, give me some credit. I'm more mature than Buffy was at that age."

At that moment, the backdoor flew open and in stormed Willow and Tara. Tara looked around frantically, while Willow held ready a heavy fire extinguisher half her size. "Buffy, are you okay? Dawn, Mrs. Summers?" Willow asked.

"I don't see a fire here," Tara said.

"Willow, Tara!" Buffy said sheepishly. "Uh, thanks for coming so quickly."

"Buffy, you told your friends there was a fire?!" Joyce exclaimed.

"Uh, it was easier than having to explain everything over the phone," Buffy bit her lip.

"No fire?" Willow pouted. "But I dragged this fire extinguisher all the way from home. I thought I'd get to be all hero-gal today. Uh, but I'm glad you're all okay, of course, yeah, cause if you were hurt that'd be so not great."

"Got the perfect solution to all our problems," Buffy jumped in before anyone could react. "You go to your boring convention, Faith and I will take the other hotel-room and Dawn could stay with Willow and Tara for five days. Come on, it'll work out fine!"

The silence in the room was oppressive.

"Okay," Buffy shrugged. "Just call me Machiavelli McBuffy."

"Buffy, I'm sure Willow and Tara have..." Joyce started to say.

"It's fine!" Dawn broke in. "I'll start packing for a five-day stay."

"Sure, we'll take in Dawnie," Tara smiled.

"We have plenty of room," Willow said.

Buffy rubbed her hands together in celebration, strikingly similar to Mr. Burns when one of his evil schemes came together.


Dawn followed Tara in their house, carrying a suitcase filled with clothes and other supplies needed for a five-day stay. In her other hand, she held a rolled up sleeping back with a pillow stash in the middle.

"Your house is only two streets away, Dawnie," Tara said while returning to her kitchen quickly to check up on her Raspberry Chicken she was preparing for dinner.

"I know," Dawn replied when she put down her stuff on the couch. "But I want to treat this like a real vacation, a cool multi-day sleepover session. Oh, hey, Buffy!"

Dawn started to pet a happily tail-wagging second houseguest. Faith had needed a place to stash her oversized pooch while she and the other Buffy were enjoying their holidays at Venice Beach. Tara had no doubt that both were enjoying their time. Buffy the dog because there was no shortage of doggy-treats in the house, and Buffy the human because Faith had purchased the single most skimpiest bikini she could find.

"Everybody's taken off already," Dawn said. "So, I get the fold-out couch?"

"It's actually very comfortable, but I think you'll end up sharing it with Buffy in the middle of the night."

The tell-tale sound of a key slipping in a lock downstairs signified the homecoming of Willow. "Hey, Dawn," Willow greeted when she came in. "Hey, baby," she took a moment to kiss Tara on the lips.

"How was your day at the computer shop, sweetie?" Tara asked while making sure her chicken was getting that nice golden brown color.

Willow plopped down on the couch next to Dawn and let out a labored sigh. "Oh, horrible. Three cases of a virus neatly nestled into critical dll's, a fried capacitor on a mainboard, six computers that needed to be assembled and tested and Cordelia once again had an icon that clashed with her background picture. Did you know that Jenny bought color-cards especially for miss Shallow? Jenny and I spent an hour checking those cards to pick out a color she wouldn't object to."

"Poor baby," Tara stepped behind the couch and started to massage Willow shoulders. Willow, in response, closed her eyes, leaned back and enjoyed. "Well, I'll have dinner on the table in a few minutes."

"How was school, Dawn?" Willow asked. "Is crazy miss Drimple still teaching chemistry? Oh, I miss highschool. Well, except Snyder, of course. Who'd miss Snyder?"

While Dawn and Willow swapped experiences of Sunnydale High, Tara put the finishing touch on her Raspberry Chicken. Willow and Tara did not own a kitchen table, but usually settled to eat their meals at the kitchen counter, on a pale on the couch or in bed, so they didn't really one. Tara left the pan on the counter and prepared three plates.

"Oohh, breasts!" Willow raved when she took hold of her plate. "Raspberry covered breasts!"

"I know what you like, sweetie," Tara chuckled.

Dawn, Tara and Willow enjoyed a few stories of Dawn's first day at school over dinner. They discussed meeting of new friends, the start of new classes, the lunch in the cafeteria and how her friend Marci had 'accidentally' switched on the PA-system in Snyder's office, leading to a rather public display of Snyder talking to himself in his office.

"I'm pretty excited about having over our very first house-guest," Willow smiled. "We're real homeowners now, Tara."

"Wuf," sounded from the corner, over at the fireplace.

After dinner and after washing up, Dawn sat on the couch checking the TV-guide she'd brought from home. After a exciting first day at school, Dawn didn't really want to go out and instead opted for a night of movie-watching. "Oh!" Dawn grinned. "American Pie is on today. Mom never let me watch that."

"I don't like that movie, Dawn," Willow bit her lip. "That skanky band-camp chick looks just like me! It's just too darn freaky. And... and I'd never treat a flute in such a disrespectful matter."

Dawn frowned. "What'd she do with the flute that was so disrespectful?"

"Uh, sweetie," Tara shook her head.

"Yeah, yeah, that band-camp chick, um, she kinda... um... well she dragged her flute through the mud and then it didn't work anymore," Willow stammered. "So that's what so disrespectful about."

"Why didn't she just clean it?" Dawn asked.

"Because, um, because... oh, crud, that's a tough one... Uh, well, it, uh, it was mud containing heavy metals so it sorta corroded the flute till it became all rusty and stuff. Totally unplayable, in fact, it sounded totally horrible. And, see, I'd never do that, because that'd just be a cryin' shame if such a beautiful instrument was to be completely ruined."

Dawn scrutinized Willow for a moment. "She stuck it somewhere, didn't she?"

"No, no, no... NO! There was no sticking of any kind!"

"No American Pie for Dawn tonight, I guess," Dawn frowned. "Oh, hey, Hercules is on in five minutes!"

And so two very blushing and rather quiet girls watched Hercules with an oblivious Dawn.

After a pleasant evening, Willow had helped Dawn set up the fold-out couch, she went to the loft, got changed and dove into bed, next to Tara. She waited... and waited... and waited until Dawn switched out the lights downstairs before making her move.

"Hm?" Tara replied while Willow trailed kisses along Tara's collarbone.

"Hmmm," Willow groaned slightly when she embraced Tara, her hands starting to slide along the rim of her lover's boxers while kissing the nape of her neck and feeling Tara's nimble fingers sliding through her hair.

"Hm, wait," Tara whispered before Willow hungrily claimed her mouth again.

"Don't wanna stop," Willow replied while her hand slid fully underneath the hemline of Tara's boxers. "And you don't want me to stop either."

A sharp intake of breath later, Tara managed to gasp out a single whispered word: "Dawn."

Immediately, Willow stopped. "Oh," she said, realizing they had an open loft and Dawn was only sleeping a few feet away, on the fold out couch.

"So we shouldn't..."

"I guess..."

"We really shouldn't..."

"We're not going to... for five whole days?!"

"They say abstinence is good for the soul."

"I bet the body says it sucks."

"That's okay!" Dawn called up to the loft. "You can have sex if you want. I won't hear anything."

Tara and Willow stared at each other for a moment. "Sweet dreams," they said at the same time and put their heads on their respective pillows.


The next day, Dawn left early for school. Willow had intended to make up for a night of pleasure lost, had it not been for Tara being on call. Seeing how many people had returned from holidays now that school had started again, there was an influx of deaths through domestic and traffic accidents. When asked why this was, Tara just shrugged and said just it happened every two weeks after summer holidays.

And because Tara had such a long and busy day, Willow ended up cooking today. After dinner, they ended doing an Eye of Argon reading. It was a story and a game that Dawn had discovered while cruising the net. The Eye of Argon was written in the seventies as an early example of fan fiction and published in a fanzine. The story, aptly known as the worst story every written, starred the mighty barbarian Grignr, looking to sate his mighty barbarian lusts but being thrown into an evil dungeon instead.

The object of the game was to read the story aloud, as is. When the reader bursts out in laughter, he or she should hand it to another to continue the reading. Reading was to be done 'as is', including mispronouncing the story's many type-o's and inappropriately chosen words. The story was so bad, it was good.

"The vile stench of the Shaman's hot fetid breath over came the nauseated female with a deep soul searing sickness, causing her to wrench her head backwards and regurgitate a slimy, orange-white stream of swelling gore over the richly woven purple robe of the enthused acolyte," Dawn read, pausing to bite her lip for a moment. Almost she gave in to the laughter. "The priest's lips trembled with a malicious rage as he removed his callous paws from the girl's arms and replaced them with tightly around her undulating neck, shaking her violently to and fro..."

It was too much for Dawn. She collapsed backwards against the couch, red in the face from laughter. "Undulating," she chuckled while handing the paper to Tara.

Tara scraped her throat and started reading. "The girl gasped a tortured groan from her clamped lungs, her sea blue eyes bulging forth from damp sockets. Cocking her right foot backwards, she leashed it desperately outwards with the strength of a demon possessed, lodging her sandled foot squarely between the shaman's testicles..."

Tara didn't last much longer afterwards. "Between?" Tara snickered. "She, um, she's got good aim."

Willow sat up straight as she took the paper, determined to read more than just a couple of sentences this time. She sat back, stoney-faced, and started to read. "The startled priest released his crushing grip, crimping his body over at the waist overlooking his recessed belly; wide open in a deep chasim. His face flushed to a rose red shade of crimson, eyelids fluttering wide with eyeballs protruding blindly outwards from their sockets to their outmost perimeters, while his lips quivered wildly about allowing an agonized wallow to gust forth as his breath billowed from burning lungs. His hands reached out clutching his urinary gland..."

Buffy looked up on surprise when she heard something rolling off the couch onto the floor. Willow had exploded with a gale of laughter that had been building up from the first word she'd read.

"Okay, okay, time-out," Dawn called.

"I need... drink..." Willow laughed.

Tara jumped to the occasion and gathered some sodas from the fridge.

"This guy who wrote this," Dawn said. "Is a genius. No denying it. Nobody can write this bad deliberately."

"Are you kidding?" Willow chuckled. "Check out the dark corners of the internet sometimes."

"Whoever he is," Tara said. "He's brought joy and laughter to millions of people. That should be the dream of any writer."

"Okay, let's continue," Willow said, putting on her resolve-face. "I'm ready now. Completely ready. I'm not gonna laugh at all now and I know I also said this three pages, but now I really mean it."

"Urinary gland..." Dawn started and immediately doubled over.

And from Dawn to Tara to Willow to Dawn to Tara to Willow...


Willow felt the sun on her cheeks as she groggily tried to wake up. It was doomed to failure, so instead she nestled into her pillow. In the background, she heard someone walking up the stairs, followed by the tell-tale thump of somebody jumping onto bed.

"Hm, Tara," Willow murmured. "Has Dawn gone off to school yet?"

She felt a soft tongue starting to lick her face.

"Hmmm, that answers my question," Willow scooted over to the form lying next to her.

"Willow!" she heard Dawn calling from downstairs. "Tara wants to know how you'd like your omelet!"

At this point, Willow figured out that something was very, very wrong here. If Dawn and Tara were downstairs, then who was...? The licking continued, but when Willow felt Tara's body, she wondered where all the fur had come from. And she noticed before that Tara had twelve nipples.

Opening her eyes, it was revealed that Buffy had taken up residence on Tara's side of the bed.

"Eep!" Willow exclaimed. Buffy, suddenly very startled, jumped out of bed and ran downstairs, knocking over two chairs and a table in the process.

Buffy stirred from her sleep in her pampered, luxury hotel room while lying in her pampered, luxury bed and waited for her pampered, luxury room-service to bring them their breakfast. Everything was so wonderful here. Warm, nice, soft... and did she mention pampered and luxury. Everything was so pampered and luxury here that Faith had brought an extra bag to stuff in the soaps, bathrobes, towels, slippers, contents of the mini-bar and probably the Flatscreen TV too, given the chance.

Buffy felt Faith's arms around her. And every shred of guilt about dumping Dawn with her best friends disappeared.

"Love you, B," Faith whispered softly in her sleep. Buffy couldn't help but think what a complex person Faith was. So tough while awake, so vulnerable when asleep. So strong and yet so insecure.

Faith was the girl who considered King Kong a 'chick flick' and yet cried softly when Kong died, explaining it away by saying she had dust in her eyes.

Buffy really wanted to make this work. So far, she'd managed to drive away all the men in his life and she wasn't really clear what exactly went wrong in her relationships. She didn't want that to happen again, Buffy desperately wanted to make things work with Faith.

Luckily for her, Faith was as smitten with her as she was with Faith. Maybe even moreso.

"Hey, guys?" Dawn called when she opened the door and stormed in. "Guys, where are you?" she added

A crash sounded from the broom-closet. The door swung open and out came a flushed Willow and Tara, who quickly adjusted their clothing.

"Hi, Dawn!" Willow said, a little too loudly.

"We were just, um, we were... um..."

"You see, Tara was going to vacuum and, uh, she fell so I went in to help her."

"You were going to vacuum the broom-closet?" Dawn frowned.

"It's, um, a very dusty."

"Yes, very, very, very, very dusty. Dust everywhere!"

"Okay," Dawn rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Guys, Buffy wants to be walked."

And so three girls ended up walking through the park being dragged along by an enthused dog. Tara, Willow and Dawn, each holding one of the three leashes attached to Buffy's collar. The huge mastiff, eager to do her business, but still trying to find the right spot, dragged the three girls along as if they were made of paper.

"Geez, is this a dog or a horse?" Willow grimaced as she tugged on the leash, with very little effect.

"How does Faith keep this dog under control?" Dawn asked.

"Faith is deceptively strong," Tara confirmed.

"Faith doesn't do anything small, does she?" Willow grimaced. To the girl's intense relief, Buffy finally found a good spot which gave them a reprieve.

Bzzzzt. Bzzzzt.

"I'm buzzing," Tara fished her pager from her pocket and checked the message. "Damn, I'm sorry, but I have to go."

"You're leaving us with super-dog here?" Dawn asked.

"A train derailed just now. I have to be there for... insurance purposes," Tara said, apologized and again slowly took off.

While Dawn and Willow watched Tara leave, Buffy started to get active again. Dawn quickly suggested to wrap the leash around their wrists to have a better grip. It went well for a while, although without Tara's added strength, they could barely hold on to the dog. And then, everything went straight to hell:

Buffy saw a cat.

Buffy's gentle face twisted into a snarly, foamy, toothy mask of rage. Deep growls emanated from the depths of her lungs while her body tensed considerably.

Feeling the tension in the air, the two girls frantically tried to remove the leash from their wrists. Sadly, Buffy was quicker than them. A screaming Willow and Dawn ended up being dragged across the park for what seemed like an eternity.

And so, when they came back home, a very guilty Tara washed Willow and Dawn's dirty clothes and prepared them home-made icecream to recover after a nice warm bath.

And a rather sad Buffy was proclaimed to be a 'bad dog', a 'very bad dog' and even a 'very very very bad dog'.


Thursday came the rather unique situation in which both Dawn and Willow wanted to use the laptop at the same time. Dawn wanted to work on her latest story, while Willow wanted to spend some time playing Republic Commando. And since her desktop was lying in pieces because she was in the process of physically overclocking her videocard, Willow could only play on her laptop at the moment.

A quick game of rock-paper-scissors ended up with Dawn being artistic and with Willow being disappointed and pouty.

"Hm," Dawn wondered. "What fits here? 'Strike them down' or 'Annihilate them'?"

"Who's the character?"

"Big, bad master vampire," Dawn said. "Still, I don't want him to sound too corny."

"Is he the vampire with the soul?" Willow asked.

"Nah," Dawn said. "I like to put in some more bad-boy vamps. Think Draco Malfoy with fangs. Only even more evil and not all whiny like he was in Half-Blood Prince. I need someone really evil to contrast with the vampire-with-a-soul aspect. Say, Tara's been out long, hasn't she?"

"Yes," Willow replied. "She has very irregular hours," she added. To their friends, they kept up the guise of Tara being an insurance inspector until they had decided if and when they would tell them about Tara's unusual career."

"Maybe I could put you in one of my stories."

"Do I get to be a vampire?" Willow asked.

"Actually," Dawn said, "I was thinking more along the lines of making you a witch."

"Aww," Willow pouted. "I really wanted to be a vampire. You know, a vampire who's evil... and skanky! And wears leather!"

Dawn blinked. "Wow. I just got a great idea for a new story. Thanks, Willow."

"Willow aims to please. Uh, no pun intended," she blushed.


"Thanks for having me over," Dawn hugged both Willow and Tara in turn. "I had great fun."

"I'm sure Buffy and Faith had too," Tara smiled. Joyce had already carried Dawn's luggage to the car and invited the both of them to dinner tomorrow as a way of thanks.

"See you tomorrow!" Dawn waved goodbye and walked out the door, leaving Tara, Willow and Buffy in the living room. Buffy, who was waiting for Faith to pick her up, lay in front of the fireplace, being as lazy a big dog could be.

"I think Dawn has a bit of a non-sexual crush on you, sweetie," Tara smiled.

"What?" Willow blinked. "Dawn can't have a crush on me. I... I... Buffy'd kill me! And she's fifteen! The words 'jail' and 'bait' spring to mind here."

"Relax, sweetie," Tara chuckled. "She just thinks you're cool. And you are."

"Me cool?" Willow frowned. "You do realize I'm a big spaz, don't you?"

"I do, but I love you despite of that," Tara smiled, earning herself a playful swat to the shoulder.

Tara walked over to the mailbox to gather their mail. When she got up again, she noticed Willow hovering seductively on the couch. "So, Tara," Willow said. "Two people. House to themselves. Five days of drought... Five long days of desires painfully unfulfilled."

But Tara's eyes were drawn to the letter that was in her hands. Something about it unnerved her. It was a letter sent by the Head Office 'to the urgent attention to ms Tara Maclay'. She ripped over the envelope and unfolded the paper.

"Collector Senior Tara Maclay,

It has recently come to our attention that you have become romantically involved with a non-Reaper. According to rule 57, paragraph 567, subparagraph 789 of Reaper handbook 12, you are required to report this to your supervisor, in this case, Collector Coordinator Darla Cooke within three months. You have failed to meet these requirements. Therefore you must report to miss Cooke who shall arrange for a proper screening of your non-Reaper paramour within a period of two weeks. Failure to comply will result in deduction of salary and further action we may deem appropriate."

"Tara?" Willow asked with some concern. "What's in the letter?"

Tara gritted her teeth when she realized who must have reported her to the Head Office. "Damn you, dad," Tara sighed. With heavy heart, she took the letter to Willow to give her the bad news.

Continue to Don't fear the Reaper Chapter Eighteen

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