"TARA!" Willow arched into the skilful hands of her beloved for the third time that night, knitting her hands in the long blonde tresses. "Gods, baby enough!"
Tara grinned as she lifted her head from between Willow's thighs. Something about a brush with death made re-affirming life important. What better way to re-affirm the vibrancy of the life between them, but to give Willow multiple, screaming orgasms?
Or at least that's what she thought, from the satisfied expression on her lover's face, it seemed as though she agreed, one slow kiss later Tara crawled out of the bedroom, intent on fetching a glass of water from the cistern in the kitchen.
Something caught the corner of her eye, if she hadn't been worrying about Assassins all day she would have never given it a second thought. She tried to look, but all she saw was the patio of their home, backing up onto a garden of water lilies and their small pond. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to use her tracker senses to pick out the traces from the dross.
It was frustrating, she'd not been practicing that particular skill in a while, there was no need while they were safe and at home. Tara shook her head with frustration, either there was nothing there to sense and she was paranoid, or this Assassin was too good for Amazon in her own backyard.
"Mmmmm, sweetie?" Willow's hands slid appreciatively down Tara's back, from her shoulders and raced around her hips, apparently she'd been taking too long with the water. "What's wrong?"
"Just being paranoid," She re-assured Willow, setting the glass on the table, "I keep feeling Assassins everywhere"
"Poor Amazon, maybe we should get you feeling something else them, hmmm?" Tara smiled, frisky-Willow was always fun, and it's not like they had neighbours to wake.
While the two women were making with the smoochies, Duchess woke, uncurling from her 'bed' by the windowsill. She twined her body around the ankles of her owners and padded softly around the table to the netting that separated the indoors from the patio. It was high summer, every window and door in the house was opened for a breeze, the fine net curtains let down to keep the bugs out.
She deftly wound through the netting, then up and over the sleeping lump of human camped out just outside the doors. Duchess had no problem seeing it, so she never understood the fuss her mistresses had when she appeared to them as if standing in midair. She turned around three times, gently kneading her cushion, which provoked an irritated grunt and a movement.
"She's dead," Tara, heedless of her nudity, went for a decorative coat of arms that had two well sharpened daggers attached, "Dead. I'm going to kill her. Magic her way into my house..."
"Baby," Willow paused Tara hand as she worked the ornamental daggers free, her voice at once awed and intimidated, "That's not magic."
"Do what?" Tara stopped her hands and looked disbelievingly at her lover, "What do you mean 'that's not magic'?"
"If it were magic you could sensed it and I would know about it, there should be alarms screaming. I've warded this house a dozen different ways," Willow took the weapon from her beloved's hand, "What ever is happening, that's not magic, not how the Zann Esu define it, and it's damn well not holy magic, or you'd know, my priestess"
"I don't know," Willow interrupted the angry Amazon, "But it might be a good idea to find out"
As Tara marched purposefully towards the cat sleeping in mid-air, Willow giggled, despite the seriousness of the situation. When her lover turned she grinned helplessly and whispered, 'clothes' to the beautiful, but stark naked Amazon.
The cat arched her back and hissed good-naturedly when they removed her from the comfortable pillow. When they touched the leather on Buffy's clothing the spell... or whatever was broken and there, on the warm stone patio, was a sleeping Assassin.
She had taken off her boots and the heaviest of her armour, then used the bunched up cloak for a pillow. It wasn't cold out, but the slate of the patio must have been uncomfortable to curl up on. Nevertheless there she was.
"Hey," Tara poked the sleeping blonde, none-to-gently, and was rewarded by a grunt. "Get up," she ordered brusquely, and was rewarded by a huge yawn.
"Hmmm," in a remarkably cat like gesture, Buffy stretched and arched her back, rotating her shoulders until they and her back popped into relaxation. Her voice was light, with a sleepy lilt, as she sat up and asked, "Morning?"
"Technically," At Tara's surly tone and the still dark of the wee hours, the lithe blonde stood from the slate of the patio and frowned.
"Did I wake you?"
"No," Willow commented, drawing the belt on her robe firmly shut, "And that's why we've woken you up. I have enough permanent magical wards around this house that the entire city should know that there's an intruder."
"And I'm a priestess of the Temple of Athulua," Tara folded her arms, "If you were using holy magic I would sense it before you could cast it."
"Well, it's not magic," Buffy smiled, "So I'm surprised you noticed at all"
"We didn't," Willow bent to pick up the despondent feline, upset that her new pillow had been removed, "She did"
"Figures," Buffy offered a scratch to the animal purring in Willow's arms, "People it works fine on, but I didn't think to cloak your familiar"
"She's not my familiar," Willow protested, "Just my pet"
"I've stalked a lot of mages in my time as a Slayer," Buffy said seriously, "If she's not a familiar I'll eat my Quhab"
"What about this 'cloak'?" Tara was more interested in how the Assassin had slipped through both hers and Willows protective measures.
"Giles called it the 'Cloak of Shadows'," Buffy shrugged, "He's a little melodramatic, it's not magic, its just a mind trick. If you don't expect to see me, then... you don't."
"Like a glamour?" Ever the scholar, Willow's mind went ahead of her, thinking about how such a deception could be pulled off.
"Sort of, but it's not as complex," Buffy shrugged helplessly, "It's not magic, we don't use magic, it can be detected and traced too easily. As long as I don't touch anything or make any noise, no one can see me. Think of it as a forget-me-not sort of deal."
"So why are you camping on my patio?"
"Oh, sorry," Buffy looked a little sheepish, "The Council's not exactly thrilled if a Slayer gets caught. We're not allowed to even be seen within a days ride of our intended target, by anyone, so there's a lot of long nights camping out in hayfields."
"You'd be surprised how many mages look for danger from afar and forget to check their own gardens," Buffy said with a little gallows humour, "Besides, if it wasn't for you cat, would you have ever known I was there?"
"No," Willow said slowly, "You know, if we're going to do this, work together, I think we need everything out in the open."
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked.
"I think she means that you quit hiding in the water lilies and tell us just what you Assassins do and how they do it," Tara looked over her shoulder to confirm her statement with Willow. "So that every time you pop out of the bushes you don't run the risk of getting skewered"
"Might help," Willow added.
"Oh," Buffy sat down and pulled on her boots, stomping her feet as she stood back up, reaching for her belongings. "Do you mind? It's not a weapon, I promise."
"Sure," Tara held back the curtains, "So if you're not supposed to be spotted a day's ride from your target, why is it you were seen?"
"Oh, she's not my target, well... I know now that she's not my target," Buffy unzipped yet another pocket on her backpack and removed a slim, book, "Someone named Drusilla, she's Vizjerei, or she was, there was some kind of accident. She was a seer or prophetess and saw something 'other', um... as far as I remember she went insane, like really insane, and she dropped off the map for a while. Now there's demon stuff going on and her name came up,"
"And you came here to hunt her?" Willow frowned, "Why? There are no Vizjerei in the Amazon Isles."
"No, I came here to deliver the message, that and to make sure that you weren't a crazy ex-seer masquerading as a Zann Esu," Buffy, flipped through a few pages in her book, looking for a particular passage, "Giles said it might help. I know he was researching the prophecy but he didn't know what to do about it, so I guess he figured you might"
"Then why didn't you just say this yesterday?" Tara almost shouted, frustrated with the other blonde's casual secrecy, "I would have made it a lot easier."
"I'm supposed to," Buffy made a sour face, "Slayer's handbook"
"There a handbook?" Willow asked incredulously, with an eager grin on her face. Nothing like the prospect of a new book to get her worked up.
"Assassins maintain the purest, most focused minds. They should live in meditation and draw their power from within, not from external forces that could have demonic influence. Slayers cannot employ magic directly but, use devices and items to battle those possessing magical powers. Slayers concentrate on honing the natural martial abilities of their bodies, both physical and mental." Buffy recited the passage as if by rote, "Slayers cannot ever reveal themselves to anyone. The Order must remain veiled in secrecy. The vigilance of the Order and the mages fear of retribution is all that stands in the way of mages seeking demonic powers. The call of a Slayer is permanent and immutable, we serve unto death."
Willow snorted a very unlady-like laugh, "How much of that institutional horseshit do you actually believe?"
"The call is real enough," Buffy said glumly, "When one Slayer dies another is called. I was called at fifteen; most Potentials are taken from their homes to be trained by their Watchers, some of us, though, are called randomly."
"You were a random call?"
"They call us Rogues," Buffy explained, "Most Rogues don't last too long, we're drawn to evil powers naturally."
"Drawn?" Willow asked, "You're drawn to evil?"
"We can sense it," Buffy explained, "Like a sixth sense, it kind of... tingles. Like an itch you just can't reach"
"Like Tracker sense," Tara understood how a newly-Chosen Slayer would be unwittingly drawn to evil if her mental 'radar' was anything like a decent tracker.
"I'd guess," Buffy located what she was looking for in her little book, "Ah, here we go, '10 December, Kingsport' ummmmm," she changed her voice to a snippy, stuffy accent, "Located evidence of the Prophetess Drusilla: headless dolls, recollections of random, disjointed speech, also evidentiary proof of her allying with one William the Bloody, a low ranking noble-turned-mercenary known for his bad poetry. Drusilla is described as tall, thin and dark haired, constantly carrying a headless or blindfolded doll, preferably china or porcelain. William the Bloody, alias, Spike, is tall, fair, and blonde with a propensity for dark, leather clothing. Were overheard asking about passing to Kurast..."
"No one I know," Willow said thoughtfully, "Tara?"
"Not surprised," Buffy tucked the journal back into her pack, then looked sympathetically at the Amazon, "You understand I had to make sure..."
"Yeah, I guess," Tara did, though reluctantly, hunting demon summoning mages might reasonably considered important enough to necessitate 'checking' just to be on the safe side, "Well, it's late or early, I guess depending. Come in, I'm afraid we can't offer you much more than the lounge, but it's bound to be more comfortable than the patio."
To Tara's careful eye, she noted the sudden surprise on the Assassin's face. For a moment the hands that were so careworn from years of abuse, stopped in their motions of securing the notebook. She hadn't been expecting the invite, that much was certain.
"Thank you," Buffy said softly, "I appreciate the hospitality."
"Well, you know, we demon hunters need to stick together, right?" Willow said too perkily for the hour of the morning, "First thing... well maybe not first thing, but we need to compare notes, get some supplies together, training done, that sort of thing. Oh! I know! We need a list..."
"Later," Tara said, letting amusement lace her voice at the redhead's enthusiasm, "Later, darling, right now, you and I need to get back to bed"
Willow's eyes sparked at that thought, and she quickly acquiesced. As they left to go back to their room, Tara thought she heard a low chuckle, from their new houseguest. Oh well, Buffy better get used to it, if they were going to work together. There was no way she planned to curb her Willow-smoochies, maybe a judiciously placed sound spell...?