Return to Don't fear the Reaper Chapter Twenty

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: Grindelwald is an actual place, but if you ever go there, don't expect to find the Regency Hotel there.
Italics are thoughts.

Tara just couldn't believe how much leg room she had. Of course, being a Reaper, she didn't really have the need for air-travel by air, but Willow had had some flights in her life, and she was enjoying the luxury of her First Class Intercontinental flight. She had to fill in a lot of paperwork, but she had finally received one of the Head Office's limitless golden credit cards, which would pay for their entire trip. Tara had to admit to herself that she was taking perverse pleasure in the face that the very people who had tried to drive her and Willow apart were now paying for their holiday... and she was planning to make them pay through the nose.

Of course, she and Willow could just teleport to their destination, but then they wouldn't have had this luxury, nor would it cost the Lindsey MacDonald and his cronies a bundle. Besides, it was Tara's first real holiday: for the first time in years, she was not on call for two whole weeks.

"I can't believe how soft these seats are," Willow settled herself snuggly against the comfortable, over-sized seat. "And how big. Hm, nice and fluffy... I'm forever spoiled now, Tara. I can never go back to economy class again after this."

Tara smiled. She remembered how hard it was to pick their destination. They had planned to go to San Francisco together this year, before they had moved into their new house, but to use their 'all-expenses-paid-the-sky-is-the-limit'-trip to travel to San Francisco seemed a little mundane. They had also considered going to Hawaii or a likewise sunny beach resort, but being in the sun for a long time had the tendancy to turn Willow into a human lobster, so that was out as well. Willow had suggested an African safari of sorts, but Tara never liked the dry climate. Deep sea diving off the coast of Australia was out of the question too, as was a fishing trip to central Europe, seeing Willow'd probably be bored out of her skull within two days. Finally, however, they had decided to go skiing in the Swiss Alps. Because neither of them had ever skied before, they could learn together and help each other, all the while being in the romantic setting of a mountain top resort.

Tara started slightly when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Next to her, stood a pleasantly smiling stewardess in a red suit and matching skirt. "Would you like some champagne, miss Maclay?" she asked.

"Um, o-okay," Tara replied softly, while the stewardess gave her a half-smile, before nodding at Willow.

"Oh, hey, and me too," Willow broke in, but the stewardess was already walking away. "Oh, yeah," Willow added in a much harsher tone. "Bring some champagne for miss Maclay's GIRLFRIEND as well!"

"Sweetie?" Tara frowned.

"Baby, she was checking you out," Willow pouted and crossed her arms, creating the insanely cute image of a broody Willow.

"Me?" Tara blinked. "W-why?"

Willow stopped brooding for a moment and turned to her lover with a smile. "Because you're hotness incarnate, doofus. Don't talk yourself down."

"W-was she f-flirting with me?" Tara replied, looking back from Willow to the stewardess in the small kitchen to Willow again. "Seriously?"

Tara felt a little flushed. She wasn't used to being flirted with, especially not in front of her girlfriend. "A-are you sure that's not part of the f-first class travel package?"

At that moment, the stewardess returned with their drinks. "Our finest champagne for the lovely miss Maclay," the stewardess said with a look and a smile that could melt the polar icecaps. "And," she turned to Willow and spoke to her with a harsher, almost malicious tone of voice, "apple juice for the loud-mouthed red-head."

"Apple juice?!" Willow pouted. "But... I wanted champagne too! Ah, it's not fair."

"It's because you're nineteen, Willow," Tara smiled, but looked around. "Here, take mine, nobody's looking."

"Hm," Willow took Tara's head. "It's nice to date an older woman."

"I'm only twenty-one, that's not exactly over the hill, sweetie."

"Sure," Willow winked. "Just keep telling yourself that."


After a long, relaxing trainride, Willow and Tara finally arrived at their destination: the Swiss resort of Grindelwald. Grindelwald was a lovely village nestled in between two high mountain ranges, turned into a classy ski-resort over the past twenty years. Buildings were mostly low-rise and the air was beyond clean. It was early october, just a few weeks before season, so there weren't all that many tourists about yet, which was perfect. Already, a thick layer of snow covered the lands, with the snowflakes coming down now only adding to it.

The two lovely ladies disembarked from the train, carrying their suitcases with them. Both girls had changed in their compartment. Tara was wearing a simple winter coat, gloves, and some snowboots, while Willow wore a thick winter coat over a layer of three sweaters and a wooly green hat.

Together, the girls breathed the fresh mountain air for a moment, before stepping into the streets of Grindelwald.

"Isn't this wonderful, baby?" Willow said. "Okay, I've looked on the internet before we left and found the nicest hotel in town."

"Oh, is it that one?" Tara asked and pointed to a small but cozy looking baroque style two-story building with several balconies and plants growing up tallies to their sides.

"I was thinking more along the lines of that one," Willow smiled and pointed to the highest and broadest building in town. The Regency Hotel was a four-story building which looked more modern than the other buildings in town.

"Oh, expensive," Tara grinned. "Come on, then, sweetie. Let's see how much of a bill we can work up."

Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, regional manager of the Regency Hotel, straightened his name-tag on his black suit and made sure his tie was positioned in a correct angle to his lapels. Normally, he wouldn't lower himself to do front office work, but oddly enough all of his front office workers had quit on him. Well, if they can't take the heat, stay of the kitchen, she thought, certain that the temp agency would send him some new workers soon.

He positioned the bell and waited for the first new guests to arrive. And he didn't have to wait long. The double doors were opened by two perspective guests, already dressed in winter clothing... yet he grimaced when they didn't wipe their feet and dragged wet snow across the expensive persian carpetry.

Then he saw just what kind of people he was dealing with. Two young girls, one blonde, one scarlet, obviously working class people, excitedly hurried to the front desk and put down their suitcases. He winced when he noticed that the scarlet girl had two cartoon characters on her coat. Seriously, what would the upper class say when they'd be confronted with a girl wearing a jacket that had Ren Hoek hitting Stimpson J. Cat over the head with a frying pan?

"Ahum," Wesley started before the girls could say anything. "I'm sorry, but you seem to have made a slight mistake here. This is a high-quality hotel. You can find the nearest youth-hostel just down the road. If you'll just be on your merry way. Ta-ta and all that."

"Uh, no," Willow announced proudly. "We want your finest room."

"Y-yeah," Tara added. "The most expensive one you've got."

"And we want room-service."

"Lobster and truffles."

"And we want to make use of the pool and the hotel's ski rentals."

"And silk sheets!"

"We want the Royal Suite! The room with the golden faucets that I saw on the internet."

Wesley sighed. "Look, this is all very entertaining, but I have no more time to waste on you. Besides all our rooms are booked until the end of the month, so..."

He fell silent when Tara calmly put a golden credit card on top of the counter. These kinds of cards were usually given to large cooperations for their employees who often go on business trips, which meant that it had an unlimited credit balance. The only thing odd about the card was the custom picture of a skull and scythe etched into the plastic.

"Ah, it so happens that our best room has just become available. Manuel?" he called, and moments later an friendly looking Spanish bellhop emerged from the office. "Manuel, carry the luggage of these two lovely ladies to the Royal Suite."

"Que?" Manuel replied.

The moment Willow and Tara stepped inside their luxury suite, they were flabbergasted. The room could have easily fitted their entire house twice. The ceiling was high, and light came in through oversized french windows. The room was decorated with reproductions of classical art, grimson drapes and fine sculptures. The furniture looked to be consisting mainly of antiques and included a separate dining table, a conversation pit and, most importantly, a four-poster queen-sized bed in the back of the room, near a plasma TV mounted on a swivel.

Beyond the french windows was a lovely balcony, with a magnificent view of the mountains outside.

"This place is a palace," Willow gasped while Manuel put down the suitcases and accepted the tip Tara gave him. "Check out that bathroom, golden faucets, just like in the picture on the net. Wow, look, Kofi Annan slept here," she read from a plaque.

"Oh, classy," Tara said while opening her suitcase to put their clothes in the wardrobe.

"Oh, and so did Paris Hilton."

"Hm, that sorta devalues the entire room, sweetie," Tara chuckled.

"Hey," Willow grinned when she looked at the bed. "We're just here, in this cool room after a seven hour flight and a two hour trainride and I'm starin' at a queen-sized bed. You thinkin' what I'm thinkin?"

Tara looked at Willow... and gave Willow a slow, knowing half-smile.

Unbelievable, Wesley thought to himself as he strolled onto the top-floor. Those girls have only been here for two hours and already I've received a complaint. In this case, the neighbors had complained that they could hear the bed next door creaking like crazy.

When he finally arrived at the Royal Suite, he scraped his throat and knocked on the door. There was no reply. So he knocked again, louder this time.

"Coming!" he heard the muffled voice of one of the girls. A moment later, the door opened to a crack, and the blonde girl peeked out, her face flushed and her hair disheveled. "Yes?" she panted.

"Uh, miss Maclay, there have been a number of complaint about your loudness, particularly from your next door neighbors. Might if I ask you to quiet down whatever it is you are doing?" Wesley bristled. Honestly, the sun hasn't even gone down yet.

The blonde opened the door entirely now, and too Wesley's surprise she was still fully clothed. And to Wesley's bewilderment, she was what the red-head was doing on the bed. "Young lady, stop that this instance! Our beds are not meant for jumping!"

"Awwww," A flustered Willow pouted. "I was just starting to go really high."

"Please stop this infantile behaviour," Wesley said and stomped off.

"Well," said Tara. "I suppose that's over with, then."

"Hey," replied Willow. "I'm still starin' at a queen-sized bed. You thinkin' what I'm thinkin?"

Again, Tara offered Willow a knowing half-smile.

Lord Pennington Smythe-Tebbit and his wife were relaxing in their bed, reading a verse from the good book, when again he heard that infernal creaking next to his ear. Blasted girls, I already complained once. Blasted thin walls, honestly. Strangely enough, the creaking was a lot more... rhymical. But he cringed when he heard soft moans and groans joining the chorus and literally threw the book against the wall when he heard one of the girls whisper 'Oh, god, I love you so much, Tara...'

The audacity, he sneered, causing his monocle to fall into the bed. On a sunday of all days.

The next morning, the girls slept late and, after a nice relaxing shower, went to the dining hall to get themselves a nice continental breakfast. However, they finished their meal very quickly and then went upstairs to change into their snowsuits to get their very first skiing lesson.

Just as Tara and Willow left their room for a second time, they ran into an elderly couple that was staying the room next to them. Though Tara smiled politely, the man hardly acknowledged their presence. "Vile girls," he spat at them.

"You girls need Jesus," spoke his wife at a frowning Tara.

"Yeah?" sneered Willow. "Poopy to you too, lady."

"Well, I've never!" replied the lady.

"That's probably why you're so cranky," Willow spat back. "Come on Tara, we don't have to listen to this."

Just as Willow and Tara came down from to the lobby, Tara found a message waiting for her. She recognized the envelope as one of the types a Reaper courier used. At first she winced, wondering why the Head Office would contact her during her holiday. But after opening the message, she found a crudely drawn picture of two stick-figure girls, one with blonde hair, one with black, embracing at the center of a heart. Tara smiled to herself, took a pen from the desk and wrote something on the back of the drawing, put it back in the envelope, and told the man that someone would be around to pick it up again later.

A few moments later, a skier was soaring downhill, slaloming around a few flags on the piste. With breakneck-speed, the skier turned a curve and came to a stop at the bottom of the hill.

"Wow," said Willow from her perch. "Do you think we could do that at the end of the two weeks?"

"Well," Tara said, considering her surroundings. Willow and Tara were the tallest people on the Blue piste 3rd class next to the extreme Black piste. But that wasn't surprising since all their classmates were children between six and ten. "No."

"Oh, come on, think positive, baby," Willow said. "Just look at where we are now. We're looking down a mountain right now."

"Well, it's not so much a mountain, sweetie. It's more like a bump," Tara replied.

"Goodmorning, class," said Gunther, their kindly Swiss ski instructor. The kids, as well as the girls, greeted the teacher. "We have two new students today. Everybody, say hello to Willow and Tara."

Willow and Tara were greeted with both enthusiastic waves, with snickers mixed in.

"Uh, Willow, why do you have an extra set of ski-poles tied to your backpack?"

"Back up ski-poles," Willow replied. "I'm not going to be caught unprepared. Imagine if I soared off a mountainside and the sheer speed rips the ski-poles from my hands, I'll still have a second set to keep my balance with."

"And why are you carrying a backpack at all?" Gunther asked. "Especially one as large like the one you're carrying?"

"Oh, just my emergency pack," Willow said. "Compass, provisions for a week, two thermos flasks of hot chocolate, a cellphone, a thermal blanket, map, flaregun, first-aid kit, batteries and gameboy. Just in case something goes wrong during our skiing session. I like to be prepared."

"Yes, well, you'd better take that off and put it over there in the stand. You look like you're about to collapse under your own weight there, Willow," Gunther smirked.


"Told you so, sweetie," Tara replied, to which Willow stuck out her tongue while she removed her backpack.

"Just so you know, Gunther, if I get lost in the woods and starve, it'll be your fault," Willow pouted.

"I'll live," Gunther replied with a smirk. "Now, Willow, remember what I told you. Simply push off and slide down the hill."

Alright... Alright, Will, you can do this. Just take a few deep breaths. Okay, okay, let's do this thing, Willow thought and pushed off. She felt the rush of wind whipping across her face as she took up speed, soaring down the hill. Willow yelped and closed her eyes, fearing to open them, as she sped down...

"Open your eyes, sweetie," she heard Tara say. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Tara, Gunther and the kids standing five meters behind her. "You've come to a stop already."

"Hey, I've skied!" Willow grinned. "Yay for Wills!"

"Okay, Tara, you're up," Gunther said, and Tara waited for Willow to clear the path. Tara used her poles to thrust herself forward and she calmly slid down the hill. Oddly enough, Tara found herself going in a curve rather than a straight line... and was headed right towards some prickly bush at the side of the piste.

"Uh, Gunther?" Tara asked meekly. "How do I brake?"

"Cross your skis!"

Tara tried to do so, but only ended up making a sharper turn, tumbling right into the prickly bush with a yelp.

"Hah, hah!" giggled one of the kids. "Tara fell on her butt. She'll never poop again!"

While Tara tried to disentangle herself from the prickly bush with the help from Willow, which wasn't easy because both girls were still wearing their skis, Gunther saw a long, long week ahead of himself.

That evening, back in their room, Tara's eyebrows were almost up to her hairline while she regarded the television. Or rather, what was on it. Two people in the throes of artificial passion, exaggeratingly panting, sweating and chanting 'oh yeah' over and over and over again. Next to her, lay Willow, having the covers pulled up to just below her eyes to hide the deep grimson blush on her face while she also watched the screen with wide eyes, transfixed to the screen.

"So," Tara blinked. "This is what heterosexual sex is like... It's, um, overrated."

"Muchly hyped," Willow croaked meekly. "Baby, why are we watching this?"

Tara shrugged. "One Euro fifty a minute. Just adding to our bill," she said before reaching for the remote and switching the channel. Two girls appeared on screen... Two naked girls panting and moaning and generally doing erotic things to each other.

"Baby?" Willow whispered. "Does it look like that when we have sex?"

"I don't think anybody has sex like that. At least, I hope not. Look at those boobs," Tara grimaced. "Genuine molded plastic. Those girls should have had 'made in Taiwan' stamped on their asses. How can anything those these girls are doing be called sexy in any way?"

Willow reached over to the remote and switched off the sound, giving herself some reprieve. "I wonder what it's like to be in a studio, surrounded by crew, cameramen, soundmen and even the caterers. I mean, making love is such an intense and personal experience... imagine having to make love in front of all those people..."

"What they do isn't love, sweetie, that's the difference," Tara smiled and slid an arm around her girlfriend's waist, pulling her a little closer to her. "Hm, snuggly."

"Just imagine what it would be like if someone looked in on our lives all the time?" Willow asked.

Tara thought for a moment. "You mean like in that movie, the Truman Show?"

"Sorta... We could be broadcast over the internet and not even know it, just like on the Truman Show. Or worse, there could be stories about us. Yeah, how horrible would it be if there was some kind of webforum with all kind of smutty stories about us where hundreds... thousands of people could read them!" Willow frantically looked around the room for a moment. "I'd be mortified."

"Silly," Tara smiled and caressed her lover's cheek. "Who'd want to read stories about us?"

"Just thinkin'... Just thinkin'," Willow yawned and hesitated for a moment while her girlfriend snuggled against her. "There could be crazy slash people out there. You know, the kind of ficwriters that match me up with people from other shows... or kill off the love of my life for no reason and hook me up with a skanky ho with a tongue-stud."

"Hm," Tara yawned. "Like that'd ever happen. You worry too much, sweetie... makes your forehead all crinkly. Besides, they could be nice people that love us."

"Okay, strange people," Willow whispered into the room, at no person in particular "Show's over. No more watching Willow. Just go away."

That said, Willow pulled the covers tightly over Tara and herself. "We're going to sleep now," Willow whispered again. "So... just... go away. These aren't the lesbians you're looking for. Nothing to see here, move along."

"Who are you talking to, sweetie?" Tara asked with a sleepy voice.

Willow just clutched onto Tara with a vengeance. "Just hold me," she whimpered. "I'm scared..."

Buffy <>
Re: Re: I'm okay, Will
> So, what are you doing answering my e-mails? God, Will, are you
> physically attached to your computer? I bet if they'd offer to put USB-ports
> in the back of your skull, you'd jump right on it.

No, no skullports in my noodle. I'm strictly a keyboard/mouse gal, Buff. Besides, Tara would never let me get one.

And I wanted to know what happened between you, Riley and Faith! You can't blame me for taking an interest in my best friend's life. And I'm glad that Riley's gone, Buffy. He's not worth the trouble.

> You're supposed to be skiing, sitting by the fireplace, going on
> naturewalks... having tremendous sex with Tara.

No comment. Well, maybe just a little comment: bliss...

> You wanted to know how Faith reacted to me being a closet Michael
> Jackson fan? Ouch, Will, that hurts. It's only Thriller I love. Wow, that video!
> And this was before Michael Jackson got all icky and scary and stuff. Oh, I
> spent sooooo many times dancing to that video when I was a kid. I think
> Faith was kinda weirded out, though... but when she saw the zombies in
> the video, I think she actually got scared. I thought it was really, really
> weird. I've never seen her wigging out before.

Yeah, I know! Tara's just like that. Remember that time Xander brought Dawn of the Dead for videonight and both she and Faith got really nervous during the movie and had to get out of the room at some points? Must be some kind of Reaper thing. I suppose we can't judge them. I've got my little problem with frogs and you got your little problem with dentists. Xander has clowns, Anya bunnies, Dawn has horses. Can't all be perfect.

> I'm trying to get Faith to open up. I want to give her my all, Will, I want her
> to be part of all aspects of my life. It's going to take time, I know.
> Sometimes I think Faith is so clammed shut I'll need a pneumatic drill to
> get through her shell, at other times she's so open it's like she's a
> completely different person. But she's starting to open up to me, Will, I can
> feel it.

Tara says that Faith is desperate for love, but has had so many disappointments in her life, she's always scared of getting hurt. Even Tara doesn't know everything that goes on in her head, but she says she knows that you can get through to her. Don't give up! Heh, like you'd ever give up on anyone, Buff. It's just not possible for you to give up.

> Don't get me wrong. Faith and I have an intense physical relationship, but
> I... want what you and Tara have, you know? And I think Faith does too.

It's so much fun learning new things about Tara. We've been together for almost a year now and in many ways she's still a mystery to me... but I trust her completely.

Oh, Tara wanted me to tell you to tell Dawn she's sorry she wasn't able to pick up Dawn's latest story before we left. You can tell Dawn she can send the story to I made the account for her . Actually, I wanted to use TaraIsASteamySexGoddess but she made me change it when she found out. Spoilsport. :( If she has an hour to spare, she'll print it out and proof it and return it to Dawn when we get back. Seriously, though, Dawn has gotten really good. Tara said she's been acing her creative writing classes.

I'd better go. Tara made me promise to limit my computer time. See ya when we get back! Say hi to everybody!

Spazzy love,

Copy Message to Sent Folder

Willow clicked 'send' and switched off her laptop. Tara was still in the shower and would seriously reprimand her if she was caught behind her computer this early in the morning.

But somehow, it didn't feel right that she'd talk about these kinds of subjects over mail. Buffy needed to hear her voice, and she still felt guilty about leaving for a luxury holiday just as Buffy was going through all that Riley vs Faith stuff.

Willow glanced at the phone, then at the golden credit card, then at the phone again. The red-head shrugged and grabbed the phone. It took her a few tries to get numbers right but finally the phone rang. "Hey, mrs Summers," Willow greeted. "Is Buffy home? Okay... Hey, Buff! Did you get my e-mail?"

After a week of skiing lessons, Willow and Tara were getting better and moved up to the 1st class blue piste, despite Gunther having to fight Willow over her emergency supplies. But the girls had chosen to move out of the Regency. Though it was luxurious, it wasn't very romantic. So, they rented one of the chalets for the rest of the week, and dined at the many restaurants in town.

The first time, Willow saw the chalet, she fell completely in love with it. First of all, it was private, so there was no complaining of any kind from nasty neighbors. Even though it was about the half the size of their hotel room, it was cozy and well furnished. The smell of the wood added to the surreal and romantic ambiance. Not only was the view of the mountains nicer, the chalet was also closer to the piste and lay at a very nice mountain lake. To finish it all, they had a fireplace with a soft fake bear-rug in front of it.

Today, Tara had gotten up early to go fishing. Yesterday, Tara had rented fishing gear and prepared an early breakfast while Willow was still sleeping. Willow had just cleaned off the plates off the break-fast table and moved onto the porch where she watched Tara sitting at the lake. Tara had chopped a hole into the ice and hung her hook in the middle, peering down the hole unmoving and utterly concentrated.

Willow hadn't often seen this side of Tara. Oh, she knew Tara loved to fish, but she'd never seen her actually do it. Willow wondered where Tara'd gotten the patience to fish... to just sit there and do nothing but staring at a line for hours on end. The red-head decided that Tara might be hungry and went over to bring her a sandwich.

Slowly, as to not scare away the fish, Willow crept to Tara, sandwich in hand. Slowly, she approached Tara and tapped her on the shoulder.

"AH!" Tara shouted, causing a startled Willow to slip over the ice and fall on her butt.

"Owie," Willow grimaced and rubbed her sore behind.

"Oh, sweetie," Tara said as she clicked her rod into her seat and rushed up to her lover. "Are you hurt?"

"I was trying not to scare the fish," Willow pouted. "Sorry, baby. Want a sandwich?"

"Thanks," Tara said and took the sandwich. "Don't worry about the fish. The ice is a good sound barrier."

"Catch anything yet?"

"Not biting," Tara shrugged. "Or maybe there just aren't any fish in this lake."

"How come you're so large with the fish?" Willow asked, and Tara offered her a second seat.

"Granddad taught me," Tara smiled. "Took me fishing with him all over the world. After my mom died... he sorta took me under his wing. Dad was too distraught to take care of me and my brother, so... Well, Granddad hated Donny, so he often send him back to dad every time and then it'd just be the two of us, you know? Going on fishing adventures. I just wish you could have met him, Willow. People... people say he was one of the meanest, most merciless Harvesters that ever lived, but... I remember him as a kind old man, who was always there for me when I needed him."

"What happened to your mother, Tara?" Willow asked carefully. "It's okay if you don't want to tell me, but..."

Tara closed her eyes. "We Reapers have a longer lifespan than mortals... and we never get sick. But accidents still happen. My mom was just... doing some groceries, crossed the street and got hit by a car. She died on the way to the hospital."

"Oh, Tara," Willow put her head on Tara's shoulder. "I'm so sorry."

"I was only six. Dad came in and... it was the first and the last time I've ever seen him cry," Tara lowered her head. "You know, we Reapers look at Death differently. Death is a new beginning and I know I'll see my mom and my granddad again when my soul will be Collected. But that doesn't mean I don't miss them when I'm still alive."

"Why didn't you tell me, Tara?" Willow said. "You can tell me everything, baby."

"I'm sorry," Tara sighed. "I never meant to keep things from you, sweetie. You know, it hurts me to see you and your mother arguing," Tara said. "There's so much I would have wanted to tell my mother, but I'll never get the chance. I just wish one day you and your mother could make up."

"My mom isn't the easiest person to live with, Tara," Willow sighed. "And if she can't accept me for who I am, there's no much to talk about anyway."

"I know, sweetie," Tara said. "But it still makes me sad."



"When we get home, how about we put up your granddad's portrait again?"

Tara offered Willow a radiant smile. "I'd love that, sweetie."

"HEY!" Willow shouted when she noticed a dark shadow in the water. "YOU CAUGHT A FISH!"

Tara was surprised to find a tug on her line, but at the same time, she felt something terrible at happened in the distance. Her head snapped to one of the highest mountains, for a moment, before she returned to her line and started to reel in her fish.

"You were right," Willow said when she came back from town with her groceries. "They found the bodies of two off-piste skiers up on the Wetterhorn. They went up there for adventure and got more than they bargained for."

"Avalanche," Tara said, still looking at the Wetterhorn.

"They got caught up in it and lost their lives," Willow sighed. "It's really sad."

"They haven't been Collected yet, Willow," Tara said while she leaned on the porch and watched the Watterhorn. "Their souls... I can feel their distress from here. Why hasn't anybody come to get them yet? It's been hours..."

"Tara," Willow laid her hands on her lover's shoulders.

"I have to call the Head Office."

"But... I am only..." Tara snapped through the phone. "Look, do you even speak English? No. NO! DON'T put me hold. Don't you DARE put me on hold..."

Tara gritted her teeth and slammed down the phone, looking as if she was about to exclaim a litany of very bad words.

"I finally know what's worse than Reaper bureaucracy," Tara sighed while Willow rubbed her shoulders. "Reaper bureaucracy in a foreign language."

It was snowing outside, as the evening had fallen. Tara had been on the phone all day with the local Reaper Office trying to get a hold of someone who could Collect these souls and show them the proper care. And all day, she had been without success.

"Tara," Willow said softly. "This isn't you call. Someone else collects here. I'm sure he or she'll get around to it."

"Sweetie, you don't understand," Tara took her lover's hands and squeezed slightly. "Those souls... they're in such pain. I can feel their agony from here. Something has to be done."

Willow smiled for a moment, at her girlfriend, the most compassionate woman she had ever known. "Then you have to do something about it."

Tara nodded and grabbed the phone again. She dialed the Head Office, her own Head Office and punched in Faith's code. Harvesters had higher priority in the field than Collectors, and their requests were almost immediately handled. Faith had given Tara her code when she became a Harvester, so that she could use it whenever she needed help quickly. And so, after a fruitless day of calling around, an emergency cloak and two containers were delivered within a minute. Tara shook her head in frustration and donned the cloak. After a quick kiss from Willow, Tara hurried on her way.

"Uh, hello?" a young boy in a cloak arrived at the doorstep. "Are you the Americans? I hear you've got two souls."

"Come in," Willow said, but Tara was already upon him, her eyes boring holes into his skull. It made the boy slightly uneasy to say the least.

"Where were you?" Tara asked coldly.

"Uh, at home?" he tried, causing Tara to bristle even more.

"Two souls were in peril."

"I figured I'd take care of it tomorrow, you know?" the boy shrugged. "No biggie, right?"

"No biggie," Tara glowered. "I did your job for you, I soothed the souls, I put them in a container and prepared them for the afterlife. I even did the paperwork. During my romantic holiday with my girlfriend, I might add. Now, if you don't get these souls to the Head Office between now and twenty seconds, I'll be filing a report against you that'll probably cost you your career."

"Uh, thanks?" he tried.

"NOW!" Tara growled. And the boy was gone. Tara sighed and sank into one of the chairs by the fire. "Honestly, some people. 'At home' indeed."

"Glass of Gluhwine?" Willow asked. "We still have the evening to ourselves, baby."

"Thanks, sweetie," Tara said as she took the glass.

"The world should see more of Take-Charge-Tara," Willow mumbled as she leaned against her girlfriend. "It'd be a much better place."

And so their holiday came to an end. For two weeks, they had enjoyed the fresh mountain air, learning how to ski, buying luxury with their limitless creditcard and, most importantly, each other. For the last night, Willow and Tara had decided to stay indoors, and make love in front of the fireplace one last time.

While the fire crackled in the fireplace and lit the room, Tara lay on her stomach while Willow's soft hands kneaded her back. She sighed blissfully, enjoying every nanosecond of Willow's massage, as well as the smell of the warm oil. She shuddered when she felt Willows body upon hers, her lips softly kissing the back of her neck. There was no doubt that Willow had grown from a shy virgin into a gentle and experienced lover. She knew every inch of Tara's body and, like a true scientist, found many pleasurable ways to use that knowledge in practise.

Tara felt Willow's body slide downward, while Willow slowly, agonizingly slowly trailed a series of gentle kisses down her spine. A groan escaped from the back of her throat when she felt one of Willow's hands slide in between the rug and her body to travel across her belly. Finally, Willow allowed Tara to turn around and gaze into her gorgeous eyes.

"I love you, Willow," Tara whispered softly.

Willow gently pushed Tara to her back before positioning herself on top of her, allowing Tara to embrace her. "I love you too, baby," Willow whispered before nibbling on Tara's earlobe, while one of her hands travelled slowly towards one of Tara's breasts.

"Wait," Tara stopped a surprised Willow. "How do we know nobody's looking in on us."

"Oh," Willow grinned, remembering their conversation a few days ago. "Hey, if anyone's looking at this, story's over."

"Yes," Tara chuckled. "Nothing to see here, move along."

"This is private," Willow chuckled before resuming her erotic onslaught upon the defenseless Tara, to properly celebrate their last night in Grindelwald, away from prying eyes.

Continue to Don't fear the Reaper Chapter Twenty-Two

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