The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 30 Se
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:05 am 
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8. Vixen
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Big yay for :wtkiss ... I know they still have a way to go before fully accepting who and what they are, but they have made huge progress... Can't wait for their quest for finding out about Tara's latent magical abilities...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 30 Se
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:02 pm 
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I've gone back and read the first one and it's just as passionate and complex and wonderful as I remember. And now I'm caught up on this one. It's so well done and you can feel that layered sadness. These two just can't catch a break. I feel like they sort of just keep restarting and relearning each other. Like how many "first times" will they have? They're still the same basic folks but new people too.

I also feel like I remember some bits that aren't posted here yet like.

Spoiler:
They hire a housekeeper or cook or something that seems to be a reincarnation of the girl Willow almost fell in love with. Ayako? Something like that.


and

Spoiler:
I think there is an attack at the museum and the attackers vanish or something and a guard is killed
.

I'm eager for more.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 30 Se
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:46 pm 
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vampyregurl: Congrats on the dibs.

It’s an interesting point to raise, whether Tara’s magical abilities weren’t removed when the demon was or if she did had them all along. I’ll save the answer for that for chapters to come.

Quote:
It seems like both Willow and Tara are a melding of the old and new versions of themselves.


You know what, you kind of hit the nail on the head with this comment :-) Both of them have been quite a few versions of themselves at different points, I think it was important to get them to a point where they could be just one and take this version into the future. I’m not saying they are at their final version yet, but that’s the aim and I think from that place they can be content together.

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I also get a kick out of Willow climbing out the window instead of using the door, that amuses me to no end.


Haha, yes. Doors are just so pedestrian for our Willow!

Grimm: The path to reconciliation has definitely arrived. And you’re right in saying the road will be long (presumably you have read too many of my stories!)And you’ll have to wait to find out about Tara’s magical abilities too. So glad you are enjoying it. Thanks very much for your feedback.

wimpy: Hey wimpy. Most definitely glad that Willow stop to wash out her mouth. You know in the original she didn’t! Definitely a part that needed a rewrite!

You know, when you bring up the days of kisses beneath the stairs it almost makes me want to go back and flesh out that story fully, so it’s not just Tara’s diary entries. Maybe one day I will write a prequel! Oh for the time to do that!
Great question to ask about Tara’s magic abilities – were they latent all along? Yes, you will have to be patient but I promise much excitement to come.

zampsa: There’s definitely a long way to go, but you’re right, there is definitely progress being made and a little bit of sexy goodness ;-)

Deb: Congrats on getting the whole way through VR1. It’s an incredibly complex story, which I guess is why I had trouble writing the sequel when I originally tried. I wasn’t able to do it justice...I hope that has changed now and I am able to tell the second part of their story. Thanks for joining the ride, I really appreciate it.

I can’t say yay or nay as to the bits you remember coming up, but let’s just say you have a good memory.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 30 Se
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:54 pm 
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~Chapter Five – Darkness Rising~


Once again, the large kitchen at Gordon Square was a bustling hive of activity despite the fact that there was just one person in the space. Willow, with her hair securely tucked out of her face and her body wrapped in the over-large apron, moved back and forth between the different pots on the stove. At all times there was a look of fierce concentration on her face as she struggled with the morning’s breakfast.

Okay, porridge looking good…Willow experimentally prodded the gooey mess clinging to the bottom of the pot in front of her and frowned, Perhaps still a little lumpy. She added more water to the mix and gave it an energetic stir before turning her attention to the pot of boiling water on the back of the stove. With her hands securely encased in oven mitts, Willow picked up the pot and carried it to the tea pot. She poured the water atop the waiting tea leaves and stifled a yelp as the rising steam scalded an exposed area of flesh on the underside of her arm. She managed to bear the pain long enough to set the pot down. Willow sighed as she inspected the angry red mark and retrieved the little jar of salve Faith had seen fit to buy as a result of the inordinate number of times that she had managed to burn herself. It had been a thoughtful purchase as the little jar was already half empty.

After smearing the salve liberally on her arm Willow suddenly remembered her porridge. She dashed back to the stove to find the water had evaporated to leave a rapidly browning mess hardening in the bottom of the pot. Willow groaned and snatched the pot away from the oven before further damage could be done. She dipped a spoon to taste her creation and decided that it would be adequate enough…with milk and a liberal covering of brown sugar.

“You should have woken me to help,” a voice announced from the doorway.

Willow looked up from spooning the porridge into three bowls to see Tara standing with a hand on her hip and a bemused smile on her face. Her mouth worked soundlessly as she tried to manage a greeting. In truth she had not expected to see Tara in the kitchen as she had still been taking her meals in her room.

She realised with a slight grimace that the blonde’s smile was no doubt as a result of her own flustered appearance. Although she had not bothered to look in a mirror all morning, she could just imagine herself as a skinny figure wrapped in a dirty apron with scraggly, unkempt hair and bright red cheeks. Tara on the other hand looked as though she were about to pose for a portrait. Willow felt no jealousy whatsoever but she did wonder how on earth the blonde managed to look perfectly attired, coifed and composed first thing in the morning…or at anytime of the day for that matter. She suspected it was inherent as she had distant but distinct memories of waking up next to Tara to find her just as perfect. Willow snatched another glance up at the blonde and was rewarded with an arch of her perfect eyebrow.

“I have everything under control,” Willow assured her, trying her best not to sound too emphatic with her refusal. While it was a well-known fact that her cooking was not exactly gourmet, she was certain that Tara had never even boiled water in her life (or in any of her lives). In her current incarnation she was certainly ravishing, but that did not mean she could cook.

Tossing the pot indiscriminately into the sink, Willow took a seat at the table and motioned for Tara to do the same. As the blonde pulled her chair back Willow felt a pang of guilt, realising that she should have swept the chair back for Tara in a gentlemanly fashion. She also noticed the bare wooden table without a cloth or napkins and her shoulders sagged at her complete lack of refinement. It was the first time that Tara had not taken a meal in her room and she treated it as though she was dining on her own.

“I’m sorry for…for this,” Willow nodded towards the table. “I guess I should make an effort with company at the table.”

“Well, it does feel slightly odd to take one’s meals in the kitchen,” Tara noted with no hint of snobbery in her voice. She looked around at the rather bare, purpose-like room before turning her attention to her breakfast.

Willow nodded in agreement. It had been so long since she had lived in the proper household that she had almost forgotten that only servants ate in the kitchen.

“Willow?” Tara asked quietly, she looked up towards and continued when she saw Willow attentively awaiting her question. “I do not mean to be rude but what is this?” She tried to scoop up a delicate portion but could only manage an ungainly, brick-shaped lump.

“It is porridge.” Willow paused to shovel a spoonful into her mouth and shrugged, even she herself had to admit that it was a particularly bad batch with the consistency of wallpaper glue. “Have I not given you porridge every morning for the past month?”

“Yes, but I’ve never actually touched it,” Tara admitted. She discreetly set her spoon down on the table and choose an apple from the bowl in the centre of the table.

“Oh,” Willow mumbled, she felt oddly compelled to continue eating. She supposed her stomach had developed the ability to handle the rather solid food. When she swallowed it grated against her throat. “I suppose I should hire a cook.”

“Are you going to stop at just a cook?” Tara ventured carefully. “A house of this size is in dire need of servants. A cook of course and a kitchen boy to assist. I should think a butler, a parlour maid and upstairs maid…driver…footman and a gardener.”

Willow spluttered and several gobs of porridge came flying out of her mouth. She stared at Tara who responded with a serious stare of her own. “But we don’t even have a carriage…or a garden for that matter!”

“Will…”

Tara’s serious expression slipped into a grin and Willow realised that she was being teased. She blushed and concentrated intently on her porridge. However, this lasted only mere seconds as her breakfast was neither as interesting nor as palatable as Tara. When she glanced back up, Tara was resting back in her chair, happily gnawing on her apple. She spied a thin trickle of apple juice snaking down her chin and in her mind she imagined throwing herself across the table to clean it off with her tongue.

Such a pleasant thought occupied her mind completely until her gaze was rudely interrupted by the whirlwind appearance of Faith. The brunette swept into the room and immediately began searching the room as though she had misplaced something. She dug through the assorted pile of dishes in the kitchen sink and then through the racks of cutlery hanging above the bench. Her every moment seemed to be accompanied by an immense clatter. Faith scowled as she gathered up a handful of butter knives and inspected the edge of each. None seemed to be what she was looking for and she threw them down with a slight snort.

When she could ignore her no longer, Willow set down her spoon, “Can I help you with anything?”

“I need a sharp knife,” Faith turned to Willow with her hands on her hips.

“I hid them all,” Willow replied promptly, before Faith could continue, she explained in an annoyed voice, “I’m thoroughly sick of you using them to sharpen your stakes! Each time I go to use one when preparing a meal I find the blade dull with wood shavings clinging to its length. There is an entire room full of sharp objects downstairs.”

Faith narrowed her eyes with annoyance. “Downstairs being the relevant word here, Will. I can’t be bothered going all the way downstairs! This is a kitchen, kitchens are supposed to have knives.”

Willow sighed a tortured sigh and reached into the pocket of her apron, she withdrew a wicked looking knife in a leather sheath that appeared better suited for sawing limbs than carrots. “Sharpen it after you’re done! And your breakfast is getting cold.”

Faith eyed the plate Willow indicated contemptuously. “Will, I’m sorry but there’s no bloody way I’m eating your porridge.” She followed Tara’s earlier actions and gathered up a handful of fruit that she stuffed into the pockets of her coat.

“I shall employ a cook as soon as possible,” Tara announced in a decisive voice.

Faith grinned and nodded towards Tara. “See, decisive thinking, that’s what we need around here. Cheerio ladies!”

Faith breezed out of the kitchen as quickly as she had entered, twirling the knife on her palm as she went. Willow sighed and gathered up her plate and Faith’s, moving to deposit the uneaten porridge in the scrap bucket. Her mood improved when she glanced out of the kitchen window to find that the day had dawned particularly bright and clear as only a winter’s day could. With a small smile on her face, she turned her back on the dirty crockery lying in the basin and imagined taking a relaxed stroll with Tara. Just the two of them in the sunshine, she’d wear her pinstripe with a snug coat and Tara would wrap an Indian shawl around her shoulders. The imagined scene was so domestic that Willow thought it might as well have been out of her dreams.

“It’s a fine day out,” Willow announced as Tara joined her to deposit her empty plate into the basin. “I was thinking-”

“Will-” Tara spoke just as Willow continued with ‘I was thinking’ and both women cut themselves off, unwilling to interrupt the other. Although they had spent the better part of a week since Tara’s late night stroll simply being in each other’s company and getting to know one another again, there was still an undercurrent of awkwardness to everything they did. Whether it be talking or touching, everything was done with careful thought instead of on an impulse. “I’m sorry, please go on,” Tara ducked her head.

“No, no,” Willow waved her hand, trying to smile to put Tara at ease. “You were going to say something.” Although Willow felt cheated of the opportunity to outline her plan for the day’s outing, she did have to admit that it was her scheduled that dictated what they did. Although the museum was hardly busy, her work still kept her away from Tara most days of the week.

“I think I’m ready,” Tara admitted in a whisper.

“Ready for what?” Willow asked the question even though she already knew the answer. She guessed that there would be no morning stroll after all.

Tara kept her eyes on Willow as she spoke, wanting to reassure herself that she had made the right decision. “To start uncovering who I am…or was…” Tara wrinkled her nose slightly as she thought through this strange paradox. “Who I used to be…”

Willow immediately reached out and took one of Tara’s hands in her own; she lifted the pale hand to her lips and pressed a light kiss against her skin. She continued to hold her hand and offer Tara the reassurance of the contact between them. “I’ve long since given up trying to understand my life in such terms. I just want to be me…just Willow. You should do the same. If finding out these things will help you to be Tara, then I will love you and protect you with all of my heart.”

Love, the word lingered in the air even after Willow had spoken. It took the moment’s silence for her to realise that it was the first time she had told Tara she loved her since the demon had been exorcised. Even before that, in their night of passion at Covasna, Tara had cut her short before she could say the simple words that meant so much. She honestly could not remember the last time she had told Tara just how much she loved her. It was a powerful emotional realisation and she felt tears burn at her eyes.

“Will?” Tara asked, her lips parting with concern. “I-If you think that it is not the right time then I can wait. I did not intend to cause you grief.”

“Oh…no, no, no,” Willow whispered, shaking her head as she spoke. “Your request is not the reason for my tears. I meant what I said…and I meant that I love you…and I believe it has been too long since I said those words to you.”

“Oh,” Tara let a pleased smile take a hold of her lips until she found herself grinning almost stupidly. While she had never thought that Willow did not love her, it was something else entirely to hear it confirmed. “Those are words I could never tire of hearing…please say them again?”

Willow grinned in reply. “I love you.”

Tara drew in a deep breath as though fortifying herself with the words. “And you will help me…just to be Tara Maclay?”

Willow nodded in confirmation. “I will help you to be Tara Maclay…and I think I know where we should start.”

As soon as Willow arrived at her intended destination, with Tara in tow, she immediately questioned her decision. She was standing in the training room, staring at the bookshelves that concealed the entrance to the cell in which the vampire Tara had spent over a decade in filth and abject misery. The hidden door no longer opened and even if it did, there was nothing but a brick wall behind it. Months ago Faith and Myles had bricked over the doorway at a distraught Willow’s command.

In the midst of her reflection, Willow felt a gentle touch at her elbow. She turned and looked at Tara who was standing directly behind her, so close their hips were almost joined.

“Why are we here?” Tara asked quietly.

Willow turned fully, she still felt uneasy with her back to the door. “Do you feel anything standing here? Chills? Are any strange memories coming to you?”

Tara shrugged and replied simply. “I feel nothing.”

Willow frowned. It was all too obvious that Tara spoke the truth. Her face was almost expressionless, perhaps with just a hint of curiosity as to what Willow intended by bringing her down to the basement of Gordon Square. Given that she felt nothing, Willow was reluctant to let her know what had happened behind the wall and she decided that it was not the time to tell Tara…nor would it ever be. She would have to show her.

Willow remembered back to the circle of candles that Giles had arranged in the library at the British Museum and the small figure that sat, squat and peaceful at its centre. Once again she wished fervently that Giles were available to help them. While she knew the rudiments of the spell, having experienced it herself, it was another thing to be able to repeat it.

She was hesitant to suggest the procedure to Tara, especially when she stared back at her so expectantly. “There is a way that I might be able show you what happened…well, most of it anyway. It’s called a memoria alveus and within it are contained the memories of several individuals, yourself among others. It was used on me and I think the same information would work for you.”

“How does it work?” Tara asked hesitantly.

“I do not know the magicks behind it, but I know that it felt as though I was actually there. It was difficult,” Willow admitted honestly.

“What little I do know about what happened to me…dying and becoming a vampire, is awful enough without actually experiencing it,” Tara let out a breath before she continued, “Even if I experience the memories held within that…” Tara struggled to remember the name of the tool Willow had mentioned. “That memory object, even though they are my memories I still won’t be that…person.” That vampire.

“I know,” Willow replied, making a conscious effort to keep her voice as neutral as possible. She also glanced away so that Tara could not see the accompanying expression on her face.

However, the blonde had already noticed and both women remained silent for several minutes. When Willow finally turned to look at her, she found with an expression on her face that could only be called sad.

“Do you miss her?” Tara asked quietly.

“What?” Willow managed, slightly taken aback by the unexpected question. After a moment’s consideration, she started to shake her head firmly. However, it was only after she had completed this adamant refusal that she realised there was no way she was being honest with herself or Tara. “Yes, how could I not. I loved her with all my heart…but I do not want to discuss this now. I don’t think talking about her is going to help either of us.”

“My apologies, I just wanted to say that I know you do not intend to mould me into any particular image, Willow and for that I am grateful,” Tara inclined her head.

Willow let out the deep breath that she had been holding; relieved that Tara did not wish to pry further into what was a complex relationship that she herself did not fully understand. As she turned her back on the hidden doorway to the vampire’s cell, she could not help but wonder if things were ever going to be ‘normal’ between the two of them. Although the more she dwelt on it, the more she realised that theirs had never been a normal relationship according to the prescribed standards of the day. Now, as they stood, over one hundred years later, reality had become even further skewed towards the impossible. A resurrected vampire hunter with complete memories of her former life and a former vampire with memories only of her human life. It was enough to make any sane person’s head hurt.

“This is quite difficult,” Tara whispered breathily, as though she could sense what Willow was thinking.

Willow managed a smile, she reached up and brushed the back of her hand to the skin of Tara’s cheek in a brief but tender movement. “You understate things so nicely.”

“I want to experience the memories held within that object…and yet perhaps I ought not to be so hasty to do so. I fear what I will learn,” Tara admitted.

You are right to fear, Willow thought as she nodded in response to Tara’s statement but she could not bring herself to give voice to such a thought. “That is entirely your decision.”

As though sensing Willow’s mood, Tara then extended her hand and Willow did not need to be asked to take it. She slipped her fingers between Tara’s slender, pale hands and squeezed it slightly. She then led her away from the bookshelf that concealed the sight of so much pain and suffering for both of them. She paused in the centre of the room, still holding Willow, and stared in amazement at the impressive collection of weapons and other implements that ran the entire length of one wall.

“This is going to take a little while to get used to,” Tara inclined her head towards the racks. “The fact that you can wield all of these, especially considering you were once terrified of horses.”

Willow grinned, happy to have her mind drawn back to more a more pleasant line of conversation, “I must admit that my terror of the ugly brutes has not abated.”

“A weakness, Willow Van Helsing?” Tara inquired as she lifted one eyebrow.

“Just one among many,” Willow replied honestly. “For as you well know I cannot cook.”

Tara laughed lightly as no answer was required to that admission other than a resounding agreement, she let go of Willow’s hand and crossed to the weapon racks. The same hand that had held Willow’s now touched everything from the hilt of a seventeenth century rapier to the burnished silver of a breastplate that had probably never been worn. She eventually settled on an odd looking weapon that appeared to be a bundle of sticks tied together.

“What is this?” she asked in a curious voice.

“Ah, now that is something I can do,” Willow joined Tara’s side and gracefully withdrew the bamboo weapon from the rack to hold it out in front of her. “This is a stave used to practice the Japanese sword form of kenjutsu.”

“Japanese?” Tara exclaimed in surprise. “Where would you have learnt such a thing?”

Willow shrugged. “Japan of course.” At Tara’s further exclamation of surprise she continued, “I travelled there a long time ago to seek something. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people.” Ayako’s face floated into view and Willow realised she had not thought of the Japanese woman for some time.

“Will you show me?” Tara asked, interrupting Willow’s thoughts.

“Of course,” Willow nodded, she moved back to the centre of the room. With the stave in her hand and the anticipation of moving through the graceful forms of kenjutsu, she forgot about her troubled thoughts.

With one last long look at Tara, Willow closed her eyes and commenced with the forms. She slipped into the movements as though she had last performed them yesterday even though it had been months since she had used them in her training. Although she could not see Tara with her eyes closed, she sensed her presence and she was in her every thought as she moved.

~~~~~~

The night was cold enough for Faith to find herself shivering despite the thick woollen coat and sailor’s hat she wore. She glanced up at the sky, it was as clear as it could possibly be and the stars and a thick wedge of the moon shone down on her. Faith scowled as she perched on the gable of a house. The moonlight illuminated almost everything, from the roof tiles upon which she sat, to the cobbles on the street down below. It was obviously not a good night for hunting and this had more than made itself evident in the fact that she had absolutely no contact with vampires. She withdrew her pocket watch and saw that she had been patrolling the close packed streets of London’s poorer neighbourhoods for almost four hours. Normally she enjoyed being out, searching for her prey, but on this cold night she would have preferred to be warm beneath the covers of a bed, her naked body pressed up against the equally naked body of her lover.

With a sigh, Faith tucked the watch back into her coat and decided that she would head home despite the lack of a single kill for the night. Still, she did feel some satisfaction in the fact that Willow had managed just two vampires herself for the whole week. Faith ignored the fact that they had been slain in just one night within the space of a minute and she had not been out patrolling since. After a quick mental count, Faith worked her total out as six for the week - although she was tempted to make it six and a half as one had been inordinately large.

Faith stood and hopped lightly from the gable on which she stood onto the ridgepole of the row of houses. She easily balanced her way along until she reached the end of the row. Using the eaves and guttering of the house, Faith silently climbed down from her vantage point and back onto the cobbles. It was just as cold down below and she broke into a brisk walk, keeping to the shadows to avoid any attention from humans who were out this late at night. It was rather obvious that anyone who did walk these streets after dark was either a whore or a thief. Although Faith had no qualms about meeting either, she had no need for whores and thieves were not her concern. The department had strict rules about killing humans whether they were scum or not.

She was again imagining her naked partner when she caught sight of several fast moving shapes out of the corner of her eye. Faith turned just in time to see a distinctly human shape disappearing into an alley. The swiftness with which they moved proved them to be no ordinary mortals. With a grin spreading across her face, Faith gave chase at full speed. She gave little consideration to the fact that there could very well be more than one vampire waiting for her around the corner.

Still, what she did find startled her somewhat. There was not one, but four fleeing shapes ahead of her in the darkness. All were running as fast as they possibly could - as though running for their undead lives.

“Errr, hello!” Faith brazenly yelled after them. Her call seemed to go unheard and she scowled with frustration as she continued after them. “There are four of you for god’s sake! I’ll play nice!”

Her taunts merely earned her a glance from the vampire trailing slightly behind. He looked back over his shoulder and Faith saw the absolute terror in his eyes. She continued to give chase but could not help but feel uneasy. She was a hunter to be feared of course but she had never elicited such a response from her quarry before.

When it became obvious that she was going to have trouble catching up to the four fleeing vampires, Faith decided to take an alternate route that she knew would put her in front of the potential kills. Veering off down a tight alleyway that was little more than a gap between buildings, Faith ignored the pounding in her chest and pushed herself as hard as she could. She was already tasting the sweet satisfaction of informing Willow she had bagged four in one night.

Suddenly Faith heard a blood curdling scream fill the night air, followed shortly by another. Without pausing a beat, Faith turned and took a route that would take her in the direction of the screams. Something or someone besides herself had obviously caught up to her prey. She immediately jumped to conclusions as to who it was. Rosenberg, bloody hell, those are my vamps! she thought angrily, wondering what had drawn Willow out even though it was not her night. For a brief moment Faith heard the clash of steel upon steel but the combat was short lived, followed by another scream.

Despite her haste, when Faith finally reached the scene of the skirmish she found nothing but scorch marks on the cobbles, fallen weapons and fast cooling ash floating in the breeze. She expected to find her redheaded friend gloating with a smug smile on her face but she was alone in the alley.

“Will?” Faith called tentatively, a chill wind stirred and she shivered violently as the cold seeped through her coat.

Instinctively she drew both her sword and pistol but there was no trace of whoever...or whatever it was that had slain the vampires. Faith scanned the area briefly but she soon realised that she was in no hurry to meet whatever it was that had done this to four vampires in so short a space of time - not alone anyway. She turned and left the scene at a run, looking back over her shoulder several times. She idly wondered if there was a way she could let the rest of the department know that there was a powerful new demon on the scene and still claim the four vampires as her own kills.

TBC in Chapter Six – Thieves in the Night

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 8 Oct
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:03 pm 
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I'm so glad that you are reposting this. I'm working my way through the first one again, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into this when I'm done. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 8 Oct
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:27 am 
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Oh, dear Alcy, one sentence here summed it all up so nicely.

Quote:
It was enough to make any sane person’s head hurt.


And that's putting it mildly.

It was nice to see Tara out of her room and venturing in the kitchen, and I can just see the look on her face when she catches Willow in her apron and making her usual mess of a meal.

Willow's realization that she hadn't spoken the words 'I love you' to Tara in God knows how long was heartbreaking. The optimist in me wants to think we'll be hearing a lot more of that from both girls soon, but alas, I know better.

I have to wonder if doing the same memory thing to Tara would be a good idea or not. She already knows she was an evil being, but to have to actually feel like she was living through it all again would be so horrible. They have so many hurdles to go through as it is. Maybe someday they'll get to the point where they can just talk about it, but I'll just have to wait and see.

It must break Tara's heart when Willow admits she loved Vamp Tara. It's just all so confusing already and that has to make it 100 times worse. I really can't wait to see how they are going to get past all of this. You're going to have to pretty much pull off a miracle, but you have my complete faith that this will happen, and that's why I'm so excited you decided to finish this for us. So in case I haven't said it enough, thank you so much for coming back to this.

On top of everything else, now we have the icy new developments showing up. Can't wait to see what else these girls have to go through now. More soon please.


Wimpy

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 8 Oct
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:50 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... Big yay for Tara finally comming out of her room... I'm really glad that she put her foot down and insisted that Willow hires a cook and other people to help around the house... Extra big yay for Willow saying those 3 magical words to Tara... I wonder how much damage Tara finding out about vampTara's actions is going to cause to their fragile relationship and especially to Tara's very fragile mental health... I guess the new Big Bad is starting to make an appearance...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 8 Oct
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:23 pm 
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Foo: Thanks very much, it’s good to be back. Good luck winding your way through the first epic!

wimpy: Haha, it’s definitely the right sentence to sum everything up. You have no idea how much my head hurts while writing this. Especially with the sequel as I have to keep track of everything that happened in the first one.

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Willow's realization that she hadn't spoken the words 'I love you' to Tara in God knows how long was heartbreaking. The optimist in me wants to think we'll be hearing a lot more of that from both girls soon, but alas, I know better.


You know, I don’t think that it will be too big a spoiler to say yes. Given that this is Pens and an Alcy fic – there will be plenty of ‘I love yous.’ Still, you are right to point out the difficulty inherent in Willow admitting she loved Vamp Tara – which we all know she did. Basically, she’s admitting to current Tara that she loved someone else

You know, it’s a real struggle for them to decide whether Tara ought to remember everything that happened as Vamp Tara. When Giles did it to Willow in VR, I feel as though it was an essential part of her character and who she was. She would not have been able to defeat Dracula had she not fully explored all facets of her knowledge. I think perhaps the same will apply to Tara, she won’t be complete without it.

As always, thanks for your feedback!!

zampsa: There were quite a few yays in this latest chapter. I think there are real potential problems in Tara learning more about vamp Tara but I also think it is a very necessary step in their relationship. There are a few tough times ahead!

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Willow Van Helsing...saving the world since 1777Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 8 Oct
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:16 pm 
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~Chapter Six~
Carnage in the African Hall


If Tara had previously thought Willow to be somewhat excitable at certain occasions, she was introduced to an entirely different level of Willow-excitement when she saw the redhead in her natural environment. It was clear from the moment that the pair passed beneath the great columns of the British Museum that Willow was home, even more so than she was at Gordon Square. The excitement was such that it appeared as though she was showing off something that she personally had created. While Tara was thoroughly looking forward to finally seeing the place where Willow worked, she couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of her in her pinstripe suit practically dancing around the foyer.

“Welcome to the British Museum!” Willow extended her arms above her head, up towards the ornate ceiling high above. “Private tours are this way, please follow me.”

She held out her arm to Tara who took it, if only to keep the redhead to a relatively sedate pace. Willow steered her not towards the main entrance to the galleries, but rather a small, almost discreet door set into the wall off to one side. Tara couldn’t help but lift her eyebrows with curiosity as Willow ushered her into the dark passageway that led downwards.

“Once you’ve seen one thousand year old vase you’ve seen them all,” Willow reassured her as she caught the expression on Tara’s face. “Although not to say that thousand year old vases aren’t extremely beautiful and precious, just that the real work - my real work - is all carried out down here.”

Willow led Tara down into the bowels of the museum. As they walked, Tara couldn’t help but feel the atmosphere around them changing. It wasn’t just getting darker as they moved down, the air felt more mysterious in a way. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up as though she were treading ground she had already passed. A part of her suspected that she had walked these halls before.

“Morning Miss Rosenberg.”

Tara’s heart leapt slightly as the voice seemed to come out of nowhere. It was only when she calmed down a little that she saw a black clad figure standing guard in a small recess along the hallway.

“Morning Farnsworth,” Willow returned the greeting with a stiff nod of her head, however there was a twinkle in her eye that completely ruined any formality.

Tara also nodded toward the stern faced man, although she scurried past him quickly with a nervous glance back over her shoulder. Dark hallways and strange men standing guard were not exactly familiar aspects of the past she could remember, although they seemed to be very much a part of Willow’s present. She stared at the redhead’s back as she now walked slightly ahead and saw a confidence evident in her shoulders and her stride. Her gaze on Willow was interrupted as she came upon a row of portraits hanging in the hallway. She recognised the first immediately, despite the fact that the man depicted was far older than she had ever known him to be. Abraham Van Helsing’s eyes stared out at her although they were not the same merry eyes that danced out of the portrait hanging in Gordon Square’s parlour. They were sad and defeated, as though the years weighed heavily on him. There was also something else, something Tara recognised as a streak of cruelty - although it could have merely been the way his mouth was painted into a tight line. Tara found herself all too willing to tear her gaze away from Abraham’s image despite the fact that she had known him to be a kind, good man.

The remaining portraits did little to catch her eye save for the last two. One was of a steely haired old man with a piercingly direct gaze. Although Tara did not recognise him, she did recognise the name affixed below the painting. Rupert Giles, Willow had spoken of him often, and in glowing terms. The last portrait arrested her because of the extreme youth of the young man depicted, barely out of childhood. Tara also remembered seeing his body draped in a cloak lying on the battlefield at Covasna and even more vividly, the shattered expression on Willow’s face when she learned of young Myles’s death.

She realised she had fallen slightly behind Willow and scurried to catch up, however, before she reached the redhead’s side there was a piercing whistle of appreciation from a nearby doorway. Tara stopped in her tracks and turned to see a grinning young man with his muscular arms rippling from beneath the leather work apron he wore. His hands were stained with grease and any number of substances Tara didn’t want to identify.

“Howdy there little lady. Mr Alexander Harris,” he introduced himself in a heavily accented voice. “And who might you be?”

“This is Miss Tara Maclay,” Willow announced, stepping past Tara to put herself between her and Mr Harris before the blonde could reply. “And I’m quite sure she did not take kindly to being whistled at like some kind of horse!”

Alex Harris wiped the smile from his face as soon as Willow opened her mouth and he had the decency to look slightly apologetic. He could not however help but risk another glance over Willow’s shoulder towards the lovely blonde. Despite the young man’s rather impertinent outburst, Tara blushed slightly at the attention.

“You will forgive Mr Harris’s manners, he’s American,” Willow added in a snappish voice, trying to move Tara along quickly.

The blonde however had none of Willow’s turbulent relationship with the young man and she was determined to remain polite. She smiled and glanced down at the hand he extended towards her. It was almost black with some sort of grease. “I’m pleased to meet you Mr Harris, you’ll understand if I do not take your hand.”

Alex held up his large and very dirty hand and waved it slightly. “No offence taken, ma’am. If you’ll permit me at some other time?”

Tara inclined her head politely, completely avoiding Willow’s narrow gaze as she ushered her away from Alex Harris standing in his doorway.

“What a polite young man,” Tara commented as they continued on. “I’ve never met anyone from the colonies.”

Willow tried to suppress a snort of disgust at the mention of Alex as a ‘polite young man’ and only managed for Tara’s sake. She covered up by explaining an important point, “America is no longer a colony, but you weren’t to know that.”

Tara lifted her eyebrows with interest, “No doubt only one of the important events I am not aware of?”

Willow bypassed her office and took Tara straight through to the library at the end of the hall, one of the more important rooms in the entire Museum by her reckoning. Since Giles’s death, Lara had appointed a succession of young librarians to continue on with his work. However each had left within a week due to a number of strange circumstances

Given this rate of attrition, Lara had eventually given up. The library had been devoid of employees for almost a month and Willow was disappointed to see that it showed. Her beloved books were all coated in a thin layer of dust and the shelving trolley was full of books that needed to be returned to their shelves, no doubt left by lazy employees. Willow thoroughly suspected that Faith was responsible for a good portion.

“Do you require assistance?” Tara offered, moving to stand beside Willow as she used the sleeve of her shirt to wipe the dust from the spines of the books on the trolley.

“I know exactly where everything goes,” Willow assured her, “I won’t be long…although I would sorely love to put a duster over everything.”

“That would take you all week!” Tara exclaimed, emphasising the size of the library by twirling to take it all in. When she turned back to face Willow her hands were on her hips in a stern fashion.

“Okay,” Willow nodded with a smile. “I’ll just re-shelve these few and then our tour will resume.”

“You needn’t hurry,” Tara offered as Willow dashed off to move quickly about her task.

She then roamed the library at will, taking in row after row of books. Although they were all slightly dusty, each line of spines was immaculately perfect. All in all however, Tara did think the room somewhat large and cavernous. It was also exceedingly dark with the light being filtered out by curtains to avoid damage to the precious volumes. Instead of venturing down the rows, Tara kept to the centre aisle. She wasn’t even entirely sure why the library should render her so nervous. She had nothing against books and had been known to read a few in her time, but something about the room as a whole caused the little hairs on the back of her neck to stand up.

Tara…

Tara frowned; it was a barely audible sound, so quiet that she dismissed it as wind moving through window panes or down a corridor.

Tara…

The second time around, she clearly heard the sound of her own name being called. Tara froze for a moment, hearing nothing immediately afterwards save the sound of her own breathing. Eventually she heard the slight squeak of the shelving trolley across the other side of the library.

“Will?” she called as she lifted her skirts and ran back towards the centre of the room. She was greeted by an eerie silence as she reached the centre, empty rows stretched in either direction. Tara was close to panic when she finally saw Willow’s face peering around the end of a row. “Did you call me?”

Willow shook her head. “No, are you quite alright?”

“Y-yes, I’m fine,” Tara admitted, she waved Willow back to her duties but not before the redhead blew her a quick kiss.

The simple action lessened her fears somewhat and she dismissed the voice as merely a figment of her imagination in the strange room. Instead of venturing out, she remaining standing in one spot, content to browse a magnificently drafted atlas which stood near the main entrance. She was surprised to find that not only was America no longer a colony, it was divided up into a bizarre and random number of sections, each with a strange name.

Several minutes later, she was still gazing in rapt fascination at the changes that had taken place in the world when she heard it again. Tara, this time the voice was so loud she turned around in expectation of someone standing just behind her shoulder. There was absolutely nothing there. As she pressed her hand against her pounding heart, she knew that it had unmistakably been a man’s voice. Although it had sounded soft and hardly threatening, she knew she would find it difficult to warm up to any disembodied voice, regardless of how friendly it sounded.

Thankfully Willow and her trolley came squeaking back into view just a moment later. Tara was relieved to find that it was empty of books.

“Um Will…I-I’m a little tired, do you mind terribly if I sit down somewhere?” Tara asked, doing her best to keep her voice level.

Willow glanced towards the tables and chairs that lay nestled around the library and moved to pull one back for Tara. However the blonde gently laid her hand atop Willow’s to stop her.

“Is there somewhere else?” Tara asked, trying to keep the anxiety from creeping into her voice. She also didn’t want to tell Willow her reason for not wanting to linger in the library. “I-It’s a little cold in here.”

“Of course!” Willow replied quickly, fearing that she had neglected her duties as tour guide. “I was bustling around so that I didn’t notice, my office is far warmer,” she explained as she ushered Tara towards the library door. “Although that it probably because it is the size of a shoebox.”

Tara gratefully exited the library and was relieved to find that, once in the hallway, she could not hear any trace of the haunting voice that spoke to her. The sensible side of her nature (which was by far the larger portion) thought that perhaps she was being entirely silly and she ought to tell Willow about what had just transpired. Perhaps it was entirely normal for staff at the British Museum to hear voices? Then again she thought of the unfortunate succession of librarians and suspected that they too had heard the voice and it had driven them to their unfortunate accidents.

She very sensibly decided that she would not trouble Willow with such a trifling matter. She regarded it as trifling because there was a very simple solution, she would simply not venture into the library in the future.

Willow remained entirely oblivious to Tara’s haste to get out of the library and made her way to her office. She rather vainly hoped that Tara would notice her impressive new nameplate but remained disappointed as the blonde said nothing upon reaching the door. She was just about to swing it open when she turned at the sound of heavy boots thudding down the corridor. She didn’t need visual confirmation to know who it was; no one’s footsteps were as heavy as Faith’s when she was hurrying and not trying to be stealthy.

“Last night’s patrol didn’t go entirely as planned,” Faith announced in a breathless voice as she slapped a few rumpled sheets of paper into Willow’s hand.

Willow glanced down at the paper and immediately recognised that the sheets were covered in Faith’s straggly handwriting. “What’s this?”

“My report from last night, I would fill you in myself but I’ve an urgent meeting with Lara,” Faith saw the immediate suspicion in Willow’s eyes and shook her head quickly in dismissal. “And not that kind of meeting either. This could be serious Will, read the report and I’ll catch up with you later.”

Willow stared back and forth between Faith and the papers in her hand. “I just can’t believe you actually wrote a report,” she commented in disbelief.

Faith threw her a sarcastic smile before continuing down the hallway, no doubt headed for the library and the elevator which ran directly up to Lara’s office. Willow watched her depart and then absently pushed the door open to her office. Tara followed her in and amused herself with looking around while Willow scanned the first few sentences of Faith’s report.

When Willow managed to draw her eyes away from the report, she looked back and forth between the piles of work on her desk and Tara standing patiently just inside the doorway. While a part of her wanted to sweep out of the room and close the door on the research, the scholarly, fastidious side to her nature kept her feet firmly in the room. A day spent in the sun with Tara would be glorious…and yet there was the constant pressure to stay ahead of the forces who worked against them. What if she took the day off to romp in the sun and Faith’s encounter the previous night turned out of have dire consequences for them all? Willow did not want another potential apocalypse on her conscience.

She watched Tara silently until the blonde reached out to touch one of the African spears lying in the corner of her office. “I wouldn’t touch that,” Willow said quickly and Tara drew her hand away as though it had been burned, looking over her shoulder at Willow with a startled expression. “Um, I’m pretty sure there’s a nasty curse on it. I touched it once and I broke out in spots for a week, and you don’t want to know where the spots were.”

Tara smirked at the tone of Willow’s voice. “If it has a curse then why on earth do you keep it in here?”

Willow shrugged absently. “It’s pretty.”

It wasn’t hard for Tara to pick up on the fact that Willow was exceedingly tense even with the light banter. “You seem worried, is everything all right?”

“I am terribly sorry,” Willow admitted, wringing her hands slightly. “I have all of this work to get through, especially after Faith’s report - which I haven’t read fully yet. When Faith actually sets pen to paper it’s usually essential reading. Yet you’re here with nothing to do, can you get home by yourself?”

“Willow,” Tara tried to interrupt quietly.

However she spoke too softly and her voice went unheard as Willow continued, “Good gracious, I can’t ask you to do that, what if something happened on the way…I know it’s not far but with all things considered…”

“Willow!” Tara had to raise her voice slightly to interrupt the babbling redhead. She waited patiently until Willow finally ceased talking and stared back at her with her mouth twisted in an apologetic expression. It was adorable and Tara couldn’t help but smile as she saw a padded chair in the corner of Willow’s office and sat down, crossing her ankles delicately. “You will work and I will be quite content sitting here.”

Willow was slightly taken aback, she stared at Tara perched on her seat for a few moments before spluttering. “This could take me several hours. What will you do?”

The small smile on Tara’s face broadened for a second. “Watch you,” she replied as if it were the obvious answer in the world.

It took a moment for Willow to see the playful glint in Tara’s eyes for what it was and a few moments after that a red flush crept into her cheeks. She settled at her desk, safe in the knowledge that Tara was happily occupied - even if she couldn’t quite understand how on earth watching her work could be an interesting pastime.

~~~~~~

When Willow had to re-read her current sentence for the fifth time she realised that her productivity had significantly dropped to the point where trying to work was futile. As much as she wanted to finish reading and making notes on her current text, it would have to wait until the following day. She stifled a yawn as she glanced at her pocket watch to see it was almost six-thirty. The day had been less than productive indeed, although as Willow glanced across her office at Tara, she did not regret having spent part of the morning showing the blonde around the museum. The day had obviously taken its toll on Tara as well as she was nestled in the chair in the corner, fast asleep.

Willow did not wake her immediately; instead she sat staring for a few minutes. In no time at all she had a silly smile on her face and this was how Faith found her when she burst in. The brunette swept the door open and before Willow could say anything at the rude interruption, she slapped her hand against the doorframe with a look of disappointment on her face.

“Damn, I was hoping to catch you two in the act, or at least see something!” Faith turned just as Tara’s eyes snapped open and she hastily wiped her chin in case there had been drool during her nap. “Seriously Will, you’ve got the second most beautiful woman in London asleep in your office and you’re still working?”

Willow was slightly taken aback. “What else would I be doing?”

Faith stifled a groan and swept across the room to reach out and slam shut the heavy book that was lying in front of Willow. The redhead immediately sneezed as a small cloud of dust was stirred.

“I don’t mind waiting, Willow’s work is important,” Tara spoke up; she had stood and was in the process of stretching and yawning widely.

From the expression on Faith’s face as she turned, it appeared that she did not share Tara’s assessment of Willow’s work. “You’re just too polite to admit that you have been bored out of your mind all day.”

“Nonsense!” Tara spluttered indignantly. “The museum is a fascinating place and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing where Willow works…” she paused and her cheeks coloured slightly as she made an admission, “Although the afternoon was a little…boring.”

A smug smile crossed Faith’s face as she turned back to Willow. “Tara has spoken, it’s time to pack up your little books and papers and leave for the day, Will. You’re not to go home and cook either, if I might be so bold as to suggest taking Tara out to a restaurant?”

“But last night’s events would seem to create an air of urgency around my research,” Willow protested, although she did look longingly at Tara as though more time alone with her would be appreciated.

“An air of urgency around what?” Faith interrupted. “Around vampires being killed by unknown forces? I would think that the only urgency that this would create is finding whoever was responsible and congratulating them on a job well done and asking them to spare a couple for me. All are things I can handle on my own for the time being.”

Willow had to admit that Faith made a good point. She had been surprised to say the least to hear Faith’s report that morning. Four vampires destroyed without any hint as to who might be the new player on the scene. As far as the staff at the British Museum were aware, there was no one else operating a vampire slaying operation in London. However the fact that they were killing vampires had to point towards the fact that they were probably on the same side.

“The two of you can enjoy a pleasant evening knowing that I will still be working,” Faith continued, she moved towards the door, obviously satisfied that Willow did intend to close her books for the evening.

“And you berate me for working too hard!” Willow muttered.

Faith merely grinned over her shoulder at her friend as she made her exit from the office. Just before she passed out of view altogether she gave Tara a quick wink although the blonde seemed to miss the point of the gesture altogether with her confused expression in reply. Faith supposed that winking simply wasn’t done in her day.

She made her way up out of the bowels of the museum, pausing in her office only just long enough to retrieve her red leather jacket. From there it would be a short stop at Gordon Square to arm herself with her choice of weapons before heading out into the night. She briefly considered dropping by to pay Lara a visit but remembered that her lover was entertaining several of the museum’s most influential patrons at one of London’s finest restaurants. No matter how much she loved Lara, Faith would not consider putting herself through the torture of being in the same room as those portly, self-important bastards. Still, they were very rich bastards and generously donated large amounts to the museum - although of course never being told that much of their donation was actually going to fund a secret organisation that fought demons and uncovered the dark mysteries of the world.

Instead of taking a direct route out of the museum, Faith decided to wander through the galleries. She usually did not find the time – or the inclination - to look at the exhibits. Mostly, as far as she was concerned, they were misunderstood relics of the past. Unless they possessed magical properties or were very sharp and pointy, they were also largely rather useless. Still, she found it almost enjoyable, especially with the complete lack of snot-nosed children tearing along the corridors. She paused on the mezzanine floor of the African Hall and gazed down onto the carefully set out rows of cases below with the dominating diorama of a recreated African scene in the centre. Faith had to smirk, the diorama with its wax tribal figures and straw hut was so unlike the Africa that she had visited on several occasions it might as well have been depicting another country altogether.

As she was about to move out of the Hall, she spied something moving on the floor below. Her first instincts said that it was a night watchman. However she soon realised that the shadowy figure was moving much too quickly to be one of the portly, moustachioed men who strutted about the Museum after dark. Faith paused for a moment before ducking neatly behind a nearby column. She peered around the edge to see the first figure joined by several more until she counted six altogether. So far their movements were silent and stealthy, however seconds later she heard the slightly muffled smashing of glass on one of the display cases. She saw one reach inside and withdraw a small object, too small for her to ascertain what it was from a distance.

While Faith had never been as pedantically concerned about the ancient artefacts on display as some of her other colleagues, especially Willow, it nevertheless irked her to see that someone had decided to take something that wasn’t theirs. Seething with indignation, Faith leapt up onto the railing that surrounded the balcony.

“I say!” Faith shouted down to the museum floor. “I don’t think that belongs to you!”

Her shout of course earned the undivided attention of the shadowy figures down below; all six looked up to see the strange woman standing high above them. Even stranger still was the moment where she leapt out from her perch on the railing and, as she fell, seized a hold of a flag which trailed down from the ceiling.

Faith let the silken fabric slip through her fingers at a controlled pace - although her speed was such that she practically flew down to the museum floor. The flag ran out some feet above the floor but she dropped lightly and rolled, leaping back onto her feet just metres short of the thieves. It was only as she stood to face them that she realised she didn’t have a single weapon on her person save the short knife tucked into her boot. She drew it now and felt somewhat inadequate as she held the relatively tiny blade out in front of her, especially when the nearest thief drew his own weapon, a wicked looking black sword.

However, Faith was not one to worry at the comparatively small size of her blade, what grabbed her attention was the outwards appearance of the figures in front of her. If they had appeared shadowy from the balcony it was because each was entirely clad in black, from head to toe. Even their heads were shrouded in black fabric with no discernable slits for eyes or a mouth. Like the first, the other five all carried curved black blades which they drew in rapid succession. Faced with six opponents, Faith finally had to admit that the odds were not in her favour. She glanced towards a figure at the rear and saw that he carried in his hand the artefact that had been removed from one of the display cases. Faith narrowed her eyes and pointed towards him.

“I’d be putting that back if I were you or things are going to get messy around here!” she growled in a low voice.

The shadow figure responded by tucking the thin, white object into his belt. He obviously did not intend to simply hand it over to the irate, possibly insane woman standing in front of him.

“Have it your way then!” Faith cried, just moments before flinging herself directly at the leading two figures.

She succeeded in knocking one to the floor with a well timed kick and slashing the other across the chest. Although she knew her blade had gone deep enough to tear skin, it appeared to have no discernable effect as he lashed out with his blade. Faith was forced to dive to the floor and roll to avoid the downswing. The black blade crashed into the stone floor where she had been standing a second earlier. By now, the figure she had kicked was also back on his feet, moving quickly towards her on almost silent feet.

“What’s the meaning of all this then?”

Faith risked a quick glance over her shoulder at the sound of the voice; she saw three of the museum’s liveried guards enter the African Hall. Although she had never been so pleased to see them, she doubted whether it was prudent for them to become involved in what threatened to be a one-sided affair.
The three men were all swagger and bravado until they saw who Faith was up against. Faith could hardly blame them; the faceless, black clad figures weren’t exactly the type of thieves they could usually expect to find prowling the museum after dark. In fact, thieves generally weren’t brave enough to venture into the museum.

“What the bloody ‘ell?” one gasped, immediately fumbling for the Webley revolver in his holster.

The other two followed suit, although it was clear from their sluggish actions that they had not had to actually draw their weapons in anger for some time, if ever. Still on the floor, Faith looked from the terrified guards back to the thieves and was surprised to find that they were not moving, even though a trio of revolvers was pointed directly at them.

“I suggest you hand over whatever it was that you took,” Faith rose to her feet and straightened herself up, doing her best to appear as though she was confident in the skills of the men behind her. In actual fact she didn’t trust them to hit an elephant let alone the swift moving thieves.

Unfortunately for Faith, the thieves shared her opinion of the night watchmen and en masse they surged forward. Almost immediately the three guards opened fire, the pop-pop of their Webley revolvers was amplified to a deafening crack within the confines of the hall. Faith was forced to dive out of their way. She then leapt to her feet to find that although some bullets were actually striking the figures, they had absolutely no effect. She watched in shock as she could see the projectiles tear into the fabric they wore chest, limbs and even their heads. When it became apparent that they were not slowing down, the three guards predictably turned tail and ran. However, they were quickly chased down.

After watching in horror as one was torn open at the waist from a ruthless blow, Faith leapt to her feet and onto the back of the one nearest her. As she grabbed his body it felt strangely insubstantial and yet still firm to the touch. She wrestled it to the ground and as she stared down at the faceless mask, she felt somewhat sick to her stomach - as though there truly was nothing behind it. The pause lasted for a few seconds before she instinctively felt the rush of a blade swinging through the air behind her. She rolled and it passed within scant inches of her head.

There was barely time for a pause, although the first stroke missed several more came in a flurry and she was forced to use one of the display cases as a barrier. Somewhere off behind her, one of the guards unleashed a blood curdling scream which was rather abruptly cut off.

“I think you need another hand, ma’am!”

Faith managed to cast a glance over her shoulder to see Alex Harris seize one of the thieves by the scruff of his jacket and through him backwards. With the powerful toss, the shadow thief slid across the ground and collided with a display stand.

“You can start by finding Willow!” Faith yelled. “I think she’s in her office!”

“Will you be okay?” he asked nervously, watching as Faith forced her sword-wielding opponent to the ground with a swinging kick to the head.

“I will if you bloody hurry up!” Faith snapped, following her kick by plunging the dagger up to the hilt in the chest of her opponent. “Go!”

Alex Harris dashed out of the hall, leaving Faith and the rapidly dwindling number of security guards to face the seemingly unstoppable and faceless intruders. Even with her dagger protruding from its chest, the figure beneath her brought its leg up and shoved her backwards. Faith was tossed through the air, her flight halted by a stuffed lion on a plinth. The long-dead beast was knocked to the ground by her weight and she toppled over and landed on her head. She barely had time to groan before her eyes widened at the sight of a dark shape leaping down upon her. As she darted sideways to avoid the swing of a sword which could have cleaved her arm off at the shoulder, she could only hope that Willow was not long in coming to her aid - and that wasn’t something Faith would usually admit to lightly, even to herself.

~~~~~~

With Faith’s departure, Willow’s office had once more slipped into a comfortable quiet. She scraped her chair back from the desk and rose to her feet, pausing to retrieve her jacket which she had flung over the back of her chair.

“I am sorry that the afternoon was so dreadful for you,” Willow tugged on her jacket and wandered around her desk to stand in front of Tara.

“Will, I said I was happy and I was. You have no idea how amusing it is to watch you concentrate,” Tara said as she allowed Willow to help her wrap her shawl around her shoulders.

“Amusing enough to put you to sleep,” Willow mentioned with a slight grin. She could barely resist gently flicking out a single finger to touch Tara’s cheek as she passed the shawl over her shoulders.

The single brief touch naturally became something firmer. Willow pressed her entire hand against Tara’s soft cheek and the blonde leaned into the touch, nudging her cheek against Willow’s hand.

“My dreams were exceedingly pleasant,” Tara responded.

“Was I in them?” Willow asked in a suggestive tone of voice.

“You might have been…”

“What was I doing?” Willow felt a smile tug at the corners of her lips; she liked the direction of the conversation. Seeing Tara able to relax and smile was more than enough reward, although the promise of more to come was causing her heart to pound.

“Guess,” was Tara’s teasing reply.

Grinning like an idiot, Willow grasped Tara’s chin and tilted her face upwards. There was nothing but anticipation in Tara’s eyes as she pressed forward gently but firmly and felt Tara’s lips part beneath her own, followed by a soft gasp. The warm flow of air immediately rendered her knees weak and she flopped backwards against the desk behind her. Even with the movement, the contact between them did not break as Tara fell forward.

Willow’s body was now sandwiched between the desk and Tara. It was a situation that she was entirely content with as she clasped the blonde’s back and neck with each of her hands. One of Tara’s thighs was nestled between her own. As the contact intensified Willow, spread her legs slightly and was rewarded by the increased pressure at the apex of her thighs. With wanton abandon she jerked her hips forward, grinding against Tara’s thigh. The blonde responded by moving in tandem with Willow, creating a build up of friction which threatened to drive Willow over the edge even though Tara had barely touched her.

While Willow wasn’t entirely sure that she wanted the significant act to happen up against her desk in her unlocked office, she didn’t think she could bring herself to pull away. Instead she desperately wanted more. She needed to feel Tara’s bare skin beneath her hands but there was a maddening amount of fabric covering her body. She had to settle for cupping Tara’s firm arse with both hands, helping her grind forward with a firm pressure. It was Tara who surprised her by fumbling at the buttons on her shirt, managing to undo just enough in her haste to have the room to reach in and tug Willow’s woollen vest aside, exposing one of her breasts. She then broke off the kiss to dip her head and take the small parcel of flesh into her mouth.

“Oh good lord,” Willow whispered fiercely as she felt Tara’s hot breath on her exposed flesh, And I was the one who berated Faith for having sex on her desk! she though with a slight alarm. Any further reservations were swept aside as Tara teased and nibbled at her swiftly budding nipple. An involuntary gasp escaped her lips and her head tilted back. She stared unseeing at the ceiling for a few moments before closing her eyes and letting the intense sensations course through her body.

At the very back of her hazy mind, she thought she heard the door handle turning…

Both women were forced to fling themselves apart as the door to Willow’s office opened without so much as a knock. They turned to see a rather pink cheeked Alex Harris standing in the doorway. He seemed unsure whether he should stand and grin stupidly or flee from the wrathful expression on Willow’s face as she pulled her shirt closed.

“Okay, as much as I want to tell you two to go right back to what you were doing…” Harris paused for a moment as though fixing the earlier scene in his mind, then he continued in a rushed voice, “Faith needs your help in the African Hall - pretty fast!”

Willow frowned - despite Alex’s obvious need for urgency; she made no move. “What’s the problem?”

“Um…big, shadowy guys - well, I think they must be guys…although they could be anything,” Alex explained in a breathless voice. “Faith’s taking them on with a couple of guards, although those idiots probably couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag.”

Willow finally recognised the urgency in the situation; it had to be serious if Faith was calling for her help. She turned to Tara who was looking slightly stunned by the unexpected turn of events. Willow glanced quickly around her office before deciding that the safest place was beneath her desk. Seizing Tara’s elbow, she propelled her beneath.

“Stay here, if anyone comes in the door…” Willow threw up her hands for a moment. If anyone did come in, Tara would be defenceless. She turned to Alex and saw that he wore a brace of pistols at his belt. Without asking him, she snatched one from its holster.

“Woah, careful with a man’s weaponry!” he yelped.

Willow ignored his protest and checked the gun; it was fully loaded with silver tipped bullets - good against almost anything. She cocked it and handed it to Tara who was completely huddled beneath the desk.

“If anything comes in that door, just point and shoot!” Willow ordered. “I will return as soon as I can!”

It was all she had time to say, she snatched a sword propped up in one corner and hoped that it would do the job. With one last glance over her shoulder at Tara, she ran out of the office and slammed the door shut behind her.

“Oh god,” Willow whispered to herself as she sprinted down the hallway, following Alex closely. “Should I have left her there?”

“She’s better off in there than where we’re going!” Alex couldn’t help but overhear her. “I didn’t get much of a look at ‘em but they were darned nasty looking from what I could see. “

“Capital, I feel much better for that. Thank you Mr Harris,” Willow snapped.

Each of them took the steps leading up to the main level two at a time. When they emerged in the lobby they found only a few terrified museum hosts cowering behind the columns.

“The African Hall!” one yelped in a terrified voice.

“We know,” Willow replied. “Make sure nothing comes out of this door!”

With that, both she and Alex dashed into the dinosaur gallery - passing beneath the grinning skulls of the mighty behemoths and towards the Greek Room. Each gallery was shrouded in shadow with the lights turned low for the evening. Already they could hear the distant sounds of battle, shouts and screams - metal upon metal, gun shots and glass smashing. They passed beneath the arch that separated the Greek Room from the African Hall and found a frenzied battle in full swing. Several of the night guards had formed a line and were shooting wildly in the direction of fast moving shapes at the other end of the hall. Willow immediately saw that Alex had been correct, from what she could see - they were big and shadowy for lack of a better description.

There was a massive crash to her right as a shape hurtled through the air and collided with one of the coffin-like display cases. Faith came to rest on her back in the middle of the case. There was a nasty gash at her temple.

“You appear to be doing splendidly without my help,” Willow commented as she helped her friend out of the case and back to her feet.

“Funny,” Faith replied archly. “This isn’t a walk in the park Will. They’ve been pumped full of lead and slashed and stabbed but they’re still all standing, I don’t know what kind of demon can take such punishment.”

Willow was introduced to one of the seemingly unstoppable foes before she had a chance to respond to Faith. A blade came swinging out of nowhere and she was forced to bring her own up just in time to block it. She almost gasped in surprise at the sight of its faceless head opposite her. Her surprise however did not last for long as she unleashed a flurry of spinning, slashing blows in the direction of the figure. Each blow was blocked efficiently but Willow could immediately see that its movements were too precise and calculated. It completely lacked any sort of innovation or creativity in the way it fought, whereas Willow made everything up as she went. She prided herself on her ability to adapt to different styles of fighting and the creature in front of her was easy to predict. She ducked inside its blows by using her smaller size to her advantage. Off balance, it parried awkwardly and with one swift stroke Willow was able to slice through its neck. The sword severed its head entirely but instead of the usual messy spurt of blood or explosion of ash that accompanied decapitation, there was nothing. The figure deflated as though it was no longer solid. What dropped to the ground appeared to be nothing more than a pile of dark rags. She stabbed at the pile with the point of her sword and found nothing substantial.

“Huh,” Willow remarked t herself with interest; she then turned to seek out her companions and yelled in an urgent voice. “Go for the heads!”

On the other side of the hall, Faith glanced up at the sound of Willow’s voice. She was more than tired of ducking and diving for her life and the announcement of a way to destroy the creatures was a welcome one. Turning back to the one who was currently pursuing her, Faith grinned and knew the tables were about to turn. She seized up a lengthy bone of non-descript origin and used it to batter the figure into submission to the point where she could wrestle the sword from its hand. It fought fiercely and she was knocked aside several times before managing to grab a hold of its wrist and fight the sword free from the vice-like grip of its fingers. As soon as it clattered to the floor, she seized it. With no small amount of pleasure, she brought it crashing down to decapitate the figure with one stroke. The clothes immediately deflated and lay in the shape of a body on the ground. She smirked and turned to find her next target.

Nearby, Alex Harris was on his back, struggling to keep one of the creatures from plunging its sword into his chest. He just managed to bring his knee up and use his strength to force it backwards. As it fell, he surged forward and laid into it with his fist, pummelling its head from side to side.

Faith grunted in annoyance. “You’re supposed to sever the head, Harris!”

He glanced up with a pink face. “Well I don’t have a sword now do I!”

With a sigh of despair, Faith darted across and retrieved the blade that Alex’s opponent had dropped as he fell. She then tossed it to the American and left him to finish it off, hoping that he was capable of doing that much.

Just beyond the spear cabinet, Willow appeared to be coping even though she had two opponents. Her blade flicked and darted in her customary style. Suddenly Faith was forced to duck as a blade whizzed over her head. She turned to face another of the shadowy warriors and her eyebrows lifted slightly as she saw it was the one who carried the stolen artefact at his belt. Faith narrowly avoided a swing of its black blade; however, as it passed to one side she danced around her opponent and brought her borrowed sword swinging around in a fierce backswing. It sliced into the figure’s neck and he suddenly collapsed to the ground in the same manner as the others. The clothes that had once been filled out in the solid shape of a man fell flat and empty on the floor. Its sword clattered to the ground, followed by the lighter sound of the artefact. Faith stabbed at the buddle of clothes with her boot until she found what had been taken. She seized it up to tuck it into her boot and was rewarded with an angry howl from another of the figures who had been watching the fight as it transpired. Although there were no eyes, Faith could somehow sense that he was staring directly at the boot which held the prize.

Just as she prepared herself to face the challenge for the object, Faith saw the air just behind the figure appear to shimmer. A split second later there was a blast of ice cold air that erupted outwards from the source, it lifted her into the air and sent her flying backwards at speed. Moments later she landed in the centre of the African diorama in the centre of the display hall. She went crashing through the roof of the mud hut replica and crushed the wax models of the African children inside. While it was merely straw, wood and wax that she hit, the force of being thrown back left her breathless.

Willow on the other hand was further away from the strange event; she felt the intense blast of air but was merely slammed against one of the few remaining intact display cases. The glass cracked slightly with the impact of her body but remained intact. As the air continued to pelt her, she watched the figure in front of the shimmering space linger for a moment before it turned and ran directly into the source of the rushing air. At the point that his entire body disappeared, Willow realised it was a portal of some kind. Lowering her head, she rushed forward, struggling against the wind to reach it. As she did, every inch of skin which was exposed to the icy air felt as though it were being pierced by thousands of needles. The wind howled in her ears with such ferocity that she could barely hear Alex, who was yelling at her from off to the side. Still she pressed on, determined to follow the figure through the portal. However, just as she stretched out her fingers to see them disappear in front of her eyes, her entire body was roughly knocked to one side.

“Get the hell off me!” Willow protested as she struggled to roll over.

The weight was gone almost immediately and she turned to glare at Alex. The portal was still shimmering just metres in front of her and she dragged herself to her feet, hanging onto anything she could.

“Miss Rosenberg, stop!” Alex yelled. “You don’t know where that thing goes!”

“I’m going to find out!” Willow replied stubbornly.

However, the portal suddenly closed and as abruptly as it had formed, the rushing, icy air was gone. A sense of still and quiet slowly descended over the African Hall as moving objects halted. A disappointed Willow realised that she was not going to find out where the portal went after all. Alex obviously did not believe it was gone for good as he reached out to seize Willow by the shoulders to prevent her from moving to the spot where it had been.

“Get your hands off me you cretin!” Willow growled as she tugged free from Alex’s grasp.

With Willow’s rather irritated attempts to get free, Alex immediately released his grip on her shoulders and held up his hands in defeat. With a scowl, Willow turned her back on him, not wanting to admit that he had probably been right in not allowing her to go through the portal. There was no way she knew where it went…or even if it was safe for her to travel via such a means. She immediately decided that further research was needed.

“Well that wasn’t exactly how I thought my evening would turn out,” Willow muttered, already wondering if there was material to be found regarding such phenomena.

The sound of a low groan interrupted Willow’s thoughts and she turned in the direction it originated. She saw that the diorama at the centre of the African hall was almost completely flattened, with just a lone Masai warrior standing guard at the forefront. The groan sounded again and she recognised it as Faith.

Willow picked her way through the African diorama and eventually had to bend down to pick up pieces of wood and the arms of wax figures in order to dig Faith out from where she had landed. Eventually the brunette was uncovered and Willow helped her to her feet. From the expression on her face she could tell her friend was less than impressed at the events that had just transpired. She limped out of the diorama as though her entire body was a ball of pain.

“Okay, what the bloody hell was that?” she demanded, still dredging bits of straw out of her hair.

“You were first on the scene, you tell me,” was Willow’s response.

Faith hunkered down and withdrew a slender object from her boot. She gave it a quick glance before handing it over to Willow. The redhead examined the small object; it was about the length of her hand and pure white, although it felt more like metal than bone or stone. Its entire length was covered in intricate, engraved markings that did not resemble any writing or symbols she was familiar with.

She glanced back up at Faith. “This is what they came for?”

Faith shrugged. “I guess so, unless anything else is missing.”

Willow examined the object again, running her fingers over its length. “I think we’re in trouble,” she finally announced. “Could it have been possible that those men, those creatures, were responsible for the slayings yesterday evening?”

“I suppose,” Faith replied slowly, with a slight shrug, “Although why the hell would they attack vampires and us. That makes no sense.”

“Agreed,” Willow replied in a worried tone as she went back to looking at the object in her hands. “It makes no sense at all – and yet I have a strange suspicion that the two are linked”

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Willow Van Helsing...saving the world since 1777Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 18 Oc
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:39 pm 
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I have to say, I'm thrilled to see you working on this story again. You have written some of the best stories on this board.


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 18 Oc
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:16 am 
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Okay, I'll admit it -- I re-read the part with Willow and Tara on the desk about 100 times, and will probably go back and read it some more. Can't blame a girl for that. Gotta love a frisky Tara, no matter what lifetime. On a couch tasting Willow for the first time, fucking up against a wall in an alley, or taking this Willow's small parcel of flesh in her mouth. Oh God, stop me now. I really hated their interruption from the shadowy figures, but hopefully they'll get back to it soon, perhaps in a more suitable location for their first time this lifetime, or whatever the hell it is. Of course, I'll take it whenever and wherever they choose to do it.

Very curious about what they were trying to steal and what it does, why they want it, etc.

Interesting how Tara noticed the changes in the portrait of Abraham compared to the man she knew. And I'm going to guess and say the voice she heard in the library is Giles trying to contact her for some reason.

Going back to the memory thing for Tara, I can understand how it may be beneficial for her in ways, I just hate to think of her feeling like she's living through the things she did as a vamp, especially the part where she killed Willow Van Helsing. Talk about being traumatized. Things like this just make me even more anxious to see what's going to happen.

Okay, I think I'll go back and read the desk scene again now. :drool Thanks for the update!


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 18 Oc
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:58 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... I kinda worried about what happens when Tara finds out what changed Abraham from the funny guy she knew to the monster he became due to actions of soulless vampTara... I guess Giles is trying to communicate with Tara... So the Big Bad's minions make an appearance... Can't wait for more Willow-Tara action...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 18 Oc
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:31 pm 
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mochavamp: I'm thrilled to be back too. Thanks very much for your exceptionally kind praise. There are so many brilliant authors on DCP that I count myself amongst very fine company.

Wimpy: I'm terribly sorry about the interruption of Willow/Tara desktop sexy times. I promise that in a future chapter (very soon) there will be no such interruptions.

I won't give anything away about the voice in the office, what kind of spoilery-type do you think I am?

I honestly think that at this point in time, our Tara would not be able to cope with experiencing everything that she did. She is in a far more fragile state mentally that Willow was in VR.

Once again, thanks very much for your kind words.

zampsa: Yep, we have big bad's minions but no big bad.

It will be interesting to see how Tara reacts to learning what Abraham Van Helsing did, especially considering she only knew him as a kind, gentle man. Stay tuned!

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 18 Oc
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:49 pm 
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Chapter 7 – Prone to Violence and Wanton Destruction


Lara Croft breathed a deep and intense sigh of relief as she settled herself into the secure confines of her waiting carriage. She relaxed even further as her driver closed the door emphatically and firmly behind her. She pressed her fingers to her temples and massaged them gently. It was a simple act but one she had desperately longed to perform all evening. While she believed herself to possess an ample supply of patience at appropriate times, the one thing she could not suffer indefinitely was a bore. It was her misfortune that she had been surrounded by an entire gaggle of them all evening.

While Lara was the first to acknowledge the importance of wealthy patronage in the running of an institution as large and distinguished as the British Museum, she wondered just how necessary they really were. She imagined the reactions of her staff if she announced they were no longer to be paid for their work. Did they really need electricity? And just how many of their acquisitions did they actually have to purchase? Lara smiled wryly at her reflection as the driver spurred the horses to movement and they began to draw away from the large house in which she had just spent a miserable few hours trying to persuade wealthy men that the museum could do great things with their money. Unfortunately for Lara, her staff did need to be paid and supplied with the latest gadgetry to carry out their work. Lara had to admit to herself that buttering up old fools with honeyed words was just as important as slaying vampires. While she was no longer as adept at the latter as she had once been, she had to congratulate herself on the former. She was also willing to acknowledge that her success had not been the result of the generosity of rich men, but rather the slight glimpse of cleavage her carefully chosen dress offered. Fools, they made it all too easy.

Her smile broadened and her headache began to subside as she allowed her head to nestle back against the padded seat and her thoughts to wander to far more pleasant territory. The mere imagining of her lover’s lips caressing her naked body was more than enough to empty her mind of everything that had been wrong with her evening. The rich bores stuffed with too much wine and food, cloying atmosphere, and stilted conversation all faded to be replaced by Faith in all her pouty-lipped glory. Almost girlishly, Lara let an enthusiastic giggle escape her lips as she imagined ways in which she could improve her evening immensely.

Some time later, Lara’s driver yawned widely as he drew up to the front entrance of the British Museum. He was already anticipating a cigarette and a nice hot cup of tea. He reined in the spirited beasts in front of him and gradually they slowed to a halt. Before the carriage had even come to a complete stop, he heard the sound of the door being unlatched and swung open. The driver turned in surprise to see the Director alighting from the carriage, almost as swiftly as if she had two perfectly good legs.

“Thanks awfully, Stirling,” the Director addressed him as she rummaged in her purse, she withdrew a sovereign and tossed it up in his direction. “Spend it wisely.”

Before Stirling could utter more than a few syllables of thanks, she was off up the steps and into the building just as easily as she had exited the carriage. He could only wonder at the nature of the important business that put such urgency in her step. Clearly she had weighty matters on her mind.

Once Lara pushed her way through the still unlocked door into the museum foyer, she immediately sensed something out of the ordinary was afoot. She took a moment to glance at her pocket watch and realised that the doors ought to have been locked fifteen minutes ago. As if this wasn’t unusual enough, the foyer was missing its quota of night guards and the front desk was completely unstaffed. Lara had to suppress a snort of disgust at this lax state of affairs in her museum. In fact, it was more than merely lax, it was horrifying enough to nearly send her into a flurry of expletives directed at her staff, her own self for not keeping a firmer grip on affairs and the world in general for conspiring to ruin the remainder of an evening she had planned with such relish.

As she stood fuming in the foyer, she gradually became aware of other sounds beyond that of her own disgusted snorts. She cocked her head slightly to confirm that the disturbance was emanating from the African Hall. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, Lara marched as quickly as she could manage. In hindsight she would feel that she ought not to have rushed so quickly into a scene which could have easily caused her to suffer a heart attack.

She gasped at the sight before her eyes. The glass on almost every single cabinet in the African Hall had been smashed. Shards liberally littered the floor. Priceless artefacts, many she herself had acquired during her past excursions to Africa, were strewn across the marble floor as though they were mere rubbish. As her eyes scanned the Hall, she was hardly surprised to see which two members of her staff were at the centre of this maelstrom.

Willow stood examining an object in her hand, while Faith was standing in front of her with a perplexed expression on her face. There was movement off to the side and Lara saw Alex Harris picking himself out of a display cabinet, worriedly staring at a piece of glass that dangled above his head. He breathed a sigh of relief as he extricated himself before it fell. Willow, Faith and Harris immediately glanced up as soon as they heard footsteps. Their faces wore matching expressions of guilt at the sight of their employer. Lara marched the distance across the floor to stand directly in front of the three of them, oblivious to the pain in her leg caused by her swift moments over the past few minutes.

“What…the…bloody…hell…has…happened…to…my…museum?” Lara had to force each word through gritted teeth to maintain a modicum of control over her turbulent emotions. As she spoke Willow hastily tucked whatever it was she was holding into the pocket of her vest and looked around as though only just realising that almost the entire exhibit had been destroyed. “What the hell have you two done now?”

Willow cast a quick glance across at Faith who was now staring at her boots. It was obvious that the brunette was not about to explain so she swallowed quickly, “I know that our past history would justifiably cause you to suspect us first and foremost. Faith in particular is often prone to bouts of violence and wanton destruction, but please believe me when I promise that this was not our doing.” Willow paused as though musing over something in her head. She ignored the glacial look in Faith's eyes. “Perhaps if I am being completely honest, I must admit we inadvertently caused some of it through our actions…and I suppose we could have made more of an effort to minimise damage…”

Faith interrupted Willow’s rambling explanation with a snort, “Bloody hell, Will!” She turned to Lara, “There were…things, for lack of a better word. Those things were trying to steal something from the museum, Willow and I stopped them with force - hence the mess. They escaped through a…whirly…thing.”

Lara threw up her hands in exasperation. “Both of your explanations are as bad as the other!” She looked at Alex for a few moments but didn’t even bother to ask the American for a better explanation.

A rather agonised groan drew their attention to the unfortunate night guards before either Willow or Faith could continue their awkward attempts at explaining just what had happened in the African Hall. While three of the guards were still on their feet, two of their companions were lying in crumpled heaps. The groan had come from one with a nasty gash across his upper torso. Had the blade that struck him gone any deeper, he would have died instantly. As it was, blood soaked the front of his uniform and his eyes had the glazed look of someone in great pain.

Without hesitation, Willow scrambled to his side, stripping off her vest and shirt as she moved. She tossed the vest aside and hastily tore her shirt into strips to bind around the wound and staunch the flow of blood. He cried out in pain as she pressed the fabric against his torn flesh.

As Willow continued to tend to the guard while he mercifully slipped into unconsciousness, Faith knelt at the side of the one other body in the room. In this case, the blade had cut deep, almost deep enough to cleave the guard’s body in two. She sighed with a slight shudder and tenderly closed his open, sightless eyes.

“I think it’s too late for this poor chap,” she said, although she an announcement was entirely redundant. She rose to her feet and roughly yanked at a lion skin that had been affixed to one of the displays. It tore easily in her strong grip and she swept it across the guard’s body, covering his head and the gruesome wound.

With the assistance of the three men who were still standing, Willow had created a litter for the badly wounded man out of a large, hide-covered shield. The white shirt bound around his torso was already soaked through with blood. Alex had risen and looked eager to help anyway he could.

“My carriage should still be outside,” Lara directed them towards the door. “Mr Harris, fetch Stirling back if he has already left for the stables. Quickly now men, he may yet live if a doctor can treat him soon enough.”

“Right ma’am,” Alex nodded seriously, leading the way out of the Hall.

The others nodded in agreement and quickly but gently carried their colleague out of the Hall. Lara watched them go with an expression of pained resignation. Such deaths were too be expected in their line of work, however it was at times like this that she wished the British Museum was simply a museum. The thought was fleeting enough. She reminded herself of the vital work they carried out. If not for the bravery and intelligence of her staff, the powers of the underworld would have free reign over the mortal world - to use and abuse the common people as they saw fit. It would be a dark miserable existence and Lara know that she and her like-minded companions would be in their graves before that came to pass.

“Do we know the purpose of this attack on my museum?” Lara turned her attention away from her thoughts to the two women standing in front of her. A small portion of her regretted her hasty words earlier. This was not simply wanton destruction. It was clearly obvious that she ought to have thanked them for doing their jobs, and more.

Both Faith and Willow appeared decidedly worse for wear. As Faith lowered her obviously aching body with a groan to sit on the back of a stuffed lion, Lara did not even think to berate her for desecrating a museum display. She cast another quick glance around the African Hall and decided that the museum displays could hardly be desecrated further.

“Well, yes and no,” Willow replied cryptically, she stooped to retrieve her discarded vest and reached into the pocket. She withdrew the slender, white object with its intricate markings and passed it to Lara. “We know they were after this.”

Lara turned the object over in her hands as though examining it in careful detail. She ran the pads of her fingers over the engraved markings. When she glanced back up to Willow, there was an expectant look on her face.

“Unfortunately we haven’t the faintest clue what it is,” Willow added.

The expression disappeared quickly from Lara’s face to be replaced by one of confusion and concern. She had naturally expected Willow to know immediately what it was. The fact that she didn’t added to her growing sense of foreboding.

Despite having just admitted to something rather out of the ordinary for her, Willow suddenly perked up. Lara and Faith could only follow as she strode purposefully across the hall as though searching for something. She then stopped with an exasperated sigh and turned to address Faith.

“Where was this object?” she demanded. Her tone indicated that she felt she ought to know where exactly it had been on display.

“Huh?” was Faith’s eloquent reply, “One of them was holding it obviously!”

Willow grunted. “Before that! Where was it displayed?”

Faith ignored Willow’s impatience by gritting her teeth as she replied, “Just behind you, the cabinet on the right I think. At least that’s where they were standing when I arrived.”

The cabinet Faith had pointed out was large and relatively undamaged save for the fact that the foremost pane of glass had been smashed entirely in order to access the object. Shards littered the floor around it and had also fallen inwards atop the remaining objects in the cabinet. Willow frowned as she examined the objects and realised that almost every single other object was unprovenanced. She could say each object was probably African, and that was as specific as she could be. It was a cabinet of curiosities, items that were on display purely as something interesting to look at and wonder about. Despite the fact that a few items had been dislodged from their mounts, Willow quickly spotted the vacant spot she was looking for. Carefully picking her way through the glass, Willow leaned into the cabinet and retrieved both the mount and the tiny plaque that bore only the number ‘’1443.’ It wasn’t much, but it was all she had.

“Will?” Faith prodded impatiently, waiting for the usual enlightened answer from the redhead.

“It must be one of our oldest acquisitions,” Lara replied before Willow could say anything, her eyebrows lifted in surprise.

“You can tell that from a number?” Faith was sceptical.

“One thousand four hundred and forty three is the accession number of the object. This time Willow spoke up, obviously not wanting to be outdone at her own game. “Whenever a museum acquires an object it is tagged with an accession number. It didn’t take long before the British Museum outgrew a simple numbering system and the curators had to add codes - additional letters to label objects, to make them easier to classify. The fact that this object has just a simple number points to the fact that it was probably acquired when the museum was newly formed. The number should also lead us to an entry in a catalogue. Hopefully, that entry will tell us more.”

Immediately following her conclusion, Willow’s studious expression faded to be replaced by a mask of concern and she let out a brisk expulsion of breath, a sound of fear. She pressed the tiny plaque into Faith’s hand as though it no longer mattered.

“I left Tara in my office, you’ll have to excuse me,” Willow continued backing up for a few more steps before she turned and began to run out of the hall.

“Willow!” Lara growled, obviously wanting to find the answers as soon as possible.

“I’ll finish this later,” Willow called over her shoulder, her concern for Tara obviously outweighing her fear of Lara’s wrath. “Just have to check…” the rest of her sentence was unintelligible as she sprinted out of the African Hall and out of sight.

Faith watched Willow leave before crossing to one of the stone benches placed about the exhibition for visitors to rest. She sank onto it with a grateful sigh as though it were the softest bed. Her eyes were closed before her head touched its surface.

“Does no one else see the urgency in this situation?” Lara lifted her hands in exasperation at the sight of her lover already half asleep in front of her.

Faith mumbled something unintelligible just as Alex made his way back into the Hall. He picked his way through the debris to stand in front of her. He was unfortunate to possess the only pair of willing ears in the room as Lara launched into a tirade about the likelihood of the villains returning, especially when it was obvious they had gauged the nature and capability of their opposition.

Alex listened patiently until she had finished almost five minutes later and replied calmly, “Well now ma’am, if they come back I expect we will deal with them in exactly the same manner. Is there anything else I can help with?

Lara was momentarily mortified to realise she was being humoured by none other than Alex Harris, humoured as though she were in her twilight years and surrounded by dozens of cats instead of being the Director of the most powerful museum in the world. She pursed her lips into a thin, shrewd line and then smiled as though she was indeed that crazy woman surrounded by cats.

“Yes, Harris, be a darling little boy and fetch some brooms…” Lara paused; she re-surveyed the disaster in the Hall. Bullet holes from the wild shooting of the night guards pockmarked the walls and cabinetry. Splintered wood and shattered glass littered the floor. The Maasai diorama in the centre of the hall looked more like a pile of rubbish than a scene representing an authentic African scrubland. She turned back to Alex who was standing with an earnest expression on his face, “On second thought, some shovels and wheelbarrows would be more suitable.”

“You’re intending that we clean this mess up? We have janitors!” Faith snapped, Lara’s announcement having been more than enough to give her a burst of energy.

Lara turned to regard her lover with a slightly disappointed expression. “Well you did help create it.”

Faith spluttered, “There were bloody thieves stealing from the bloody British Museum. What was I supposed to do? Let them break in here and steal whatever the hell they desired?”

Lara crossed the short distance that separated them and cupped Faith’s cheek with a gentle hand, running her thumb over a reddening graze that marred the skin of her cheek.

“Oh my darling,” her voice was now a mere whisper. She leant down to press her lips to Faith’s head, drawing in a deep breath as though confirming she was still sitting in front of her. “Please promise me that next time mystical thugs break into the museum you’ll think twice before leaping headfirst into combat. Perhaps hide yourself in a closet, somewhere safe?”

Faith rose from her seat and eased her arms about Lara’s slender waist, drawing her near as she realised that her lover’s sharp tone had originated from her fear, fear for the life of the one she loved. It was a fear that Faith could recognise all too easily, the very same one she felt as she had tried to stop Lara from journeying to Covasna with them all those months ago.

With the un-grazed side of her face, Faith nuzzled Lara’s cheek affectionately. “You know full well I can’t promise such a thing. The only promise I can make is that I will use everything within my power to keep you…and myself, as safe as possible.”

“And if that involves running away on occasion?” Lara suggested, her lips curling into a relieved smile as Faith nibbled at her neck.

“Not a chance in hell,” Faith replied between nibbles.

Lara drew back, her smile gone and held Faith at arm’s length. “Even for me?”

“Especially for you,” was Faith’s adamant reply. “I would rather die facing my opponent, than be struck in the back running from them.”

“You are both exceptionally brave…and foolish,” Lara sighed, knowing that this was one argument she was not about to win.

Faith smirked moments before she reclaimed her hold on her lover, pressing their bodies together firmly. Apparently both women had forgotten the young man standing behind them. As they held each other, he leaned casually against a pillar and allowed a satisfied smirk to creep across his face. Alex’s private viewing was cut all too short for his liking as a low growl from Lara’s throat snapped him out of his wicked thoughts.

“Harris,” Lara’s voice was low and menacing, the kind of tone one used just moments before erupting into a violent rage. “Are you quite content?”

“Content? Well ma’am I certainly am, I don’t mind standing here waiting on the two of you…” Another growl issued from Lara’s throat and Alex’s eyes suddenly bulged as he realised the error of his ways. “Shovels! Shovels and wheelbarrows! I’ll see to that right away!”

Both women listened to the rather rapid sound of Alex Harris’s boots on the marble floor as he left them alone. It was another several minutes before they finally disengaged their embrace. Faith deposited a quick but loving kiss on Lara’s lips before turning to carry out her wishes and begin the arduous process of cleaning the hall.

Lara watched her work for a moment before turning her back on her with the pretence of removing a loose shard of glass from a case beside her. In actual fact, she did not want Faith to see the hot tears burning her eyes and especially not the thick, wet tracks they made as they slipped down her cheeks. It was both her gift and her curse to love Faith with every fibre of her being. While being in love was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her, it had also turned her into a teary-eyed, pathetic fool…and that did not impress her one little bit.

“I say!” Faith’s call interrupted her. “It’s all very well to talk about cleaning up. Did you intend to watch while I did all the work?”

Lara kept her back to Faith for a few moments longer as she dashed the tears from her cheeks and wiped her nose. When she turned around Faith was struggling to lift a fallen clay urn that was nearly as tall as she. The tears momentarily forgotten, Lara crossed the floor to help her lover.

“As immensely enjoyable as that would be…” Lara managed a smile as she moved to help. “I would hate for you to strain something.”

Faith paused before she resumed lifting, she studied Lara’s face. “Your eyes are rather red.”

“Dust,” Lara replied quickly. “It’s terribly dusty in here. Now hurry up and lift. I’ve got far better things to do tonight.”

~~~~~~

As soon as Willow left the Hall, the only thought on her mind was Tara. While it was highly unlikely that the intruders had ventured out of the Hall given their intent to steal the mysterious object, she could not erase her fears that somehow they had reached her basement office. They were fears that gripped her moment from the moment she left the Hall to the moment she reached the door to her office.

She dashed the door open as quickly as possible but was driven back by a violent eruption that originated from beneath her desk. It was instantly followed by something slamming into the wood of the doorframe by her head.

Willow stumbled backwards until her back hit the wall on the other side of the hallway. She slumped in shock and sat there for a few moments before realising what had happened. Kneeling beneath her desk with an equally shocked expression on her face was Tara, a smoking pistol clutched in her shaking hands.

With an alarming clarity, Willow remembered her very own words, “If anything comes through that door just point and shoot!”

“I wouldn’t normally say this…” Willow began as she used the door frame to pull herself to her feet, “but thank god you are a bloody awful shot.”

She glanced at the splintered wood just a foot to the left of where her head had been. It had indeed been an awful shot and if Willow had not been so relieved to still be in possession of her head, she might have given a thought to teaching Tara how to shoot straight. As it happened, she still had her head and Tara was still clutching the pistol as though the slightest movement would set it off again. Slowly but deliberately, Willow moved towards the terrified girl and gently prised her fingers from their white-knuckled grip around the weapon.

“Oh god, Willow.” Tara finally let out the breath that she had been holding. “I’m terribly sorry. The door opened so quickly and I thought…”

“It’s alright,” Willow managed a shaky smile. “You did exactly what I told you to do.”

With a slightly trembling hand, Willow set the pistol down atop her desk and helped Tara out from beneath it. Both women stood and immediately embraced, each separately sharing a brief moment of silent thanks for the safety of the other.

It was as she rested her head against Tara’s shoulder that Willow was reminded just how utterly spent she was. If the shadow warriors returned, she doubted her ability to lift a sword let alone swing it in combat. She gently disengaged herself from the warmth of Tara’s arms and tried to keep the exhaustion from showing on her face. Her job was dangerous, that was something she had long ago accepted but she did not see how a sane person would allow one such as Tara to be exposed to such danger and violence. If it had been a foe bursting through that door, the blonde would not have stood a chance, even with the pistol in her hand.

Tara was oblivious to the thoughts running through Willow’s mind, rather she was simply relieved to find her in one piece. It was then that she glanced down to see Willow was wearing just her pants and a thin woollen undershirt. “Will, where are the rest of your clothes?”

It was not long before she noticed the splatters of blood across the garment and her eyes went wide.

“None of it is mine,” Willow tried to reassure her before she could open her mouth to protest.

“People were hurt?” Tara asked quietly, concern clearly registering in her voice.

Willow nodded sadly. “One of the museum’s guards was killed.”

“How terrible,” Tara whispered. “Earlier Mr Harris said there were men in the museum. What happened?”

Not only was Willow too exhausted to explain fully, she also didn’t want to divulge everything that had happened simply because the figures they had faced were so foreign. Either they themselves or their creator clearly possessed a dangerous magic that she had never before seen. She was worried almost to the point of being scared, and that wasn’t something she was about to admit to Tara.

Willow simply nodded. “Thieves, that was all. Although even simple thieves can be extremely dangerous. We managed to fight them off.”

Tara nodded as though she understood. A part of her however was suspicious. From the manner in which Alex Harris had earlier burst into Willow’s office to announce the threat, she had thought them something far more fearsome than simple thieves. However, she didn’t want to consider the thought that Willow was lying to her so she did not pry further. She reached up and brushed a few strands of red hair out of Willow’s eyes.

“Will, I nearly blew your head off.” Tara found herself unable to let that terrible thought go.

“I wouldn’t say nearly, you missed by a mile!” Willow was endeavouring to be flippant but it emerged a little flat. She was tired and she could no longer keep it from showing.

Now Tara could see the sag to Willow’s shoulders, the weary circles beneath her eyes, “You need to go home, to rest.”

While the thought of collapsing into her bed was a delicious one, Willow shook her head stubbornly. “I am needed here. The thieves were thwarted, but we simply must know what it was they were after in case they return. There is no time to waste.”

“I thought you said they were simple thieves?” Tara frowned, she could no longer ignore her suspicions. “Wouldn’t they have set out to seize anything of value?”

For a split second, Willow’s expression was one of guilt. It disappeared all too quickly to be replaced by one of confidence and reassurance, “Yes, they were, but very determined thieves. We must ensure our most valuable treasures are secure.”

“Is there anything I can to do help?” Tara offered.

Willow shook her head quickly. “No, thank you but that is not necessary. I think you should go home, yes, that is a splendid idea. Gordon Square is safe. Near as safe as the museum.”

“Are you coming with me?” Tara tried not to let her disappointment show. She knew Willow was hiding something from her. While she had come to the clear realisation that Willow was trying to keep her safe from something unknown, she was still not impressed at the secretive manner in which she was doing it.

“I really must stay and you really must go home. Stay right here, right here!” Willow pointed emphatically at the floor to back up her words. “I will fetch Harris and ask him to take you home.”

With a last glance over her shoulder, Willow left Tara standing alone in the middle of her office. She made a mental note to beg Harris not to explain to Tara the true nature of their engagement in the African Hall. If anyone was going to expose her lie for what it was, she would do it herself.

Tara stood still until she could no longer hear Willow’s footsteps down the hall. When they were gone, she crossed to the chair in the corner and sat heavily, leaning forward to rest her elbows on her knees and in turn her chin in her hands. Although she felt concern for Willow in the wake of her brief explanation of the conflict, she also felt an aching hollow in the pit of her stomach. Willow’s lie had been obvious, almost blatant and this saddened her. The closeness they had shared in Willow’s office earlier that evening seemed nothing but a distant memory. Perhaps she had imagined it altogether. She felt the gulf between them widen anew as she was reminded just how terribly different they were.

She felt as if there was no place for her in Willow’s new life. This terrified her far more than the thought of any so called thieves.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 21 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:20 am 
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Hey, Alcy! Oh, just when I was getting my hopes up, Willow has to go and muck things up. I understand that she thinks she's doing it to keep Tara safe, but she needs to give Tara more credit. Yes, it will probably frighten her, but she should tell her the truth. Lies are never good, and now Tara is feeling all insecure again. Damn. And having Harris take her home, I'm not liking that either.

Lara's concern for Faith is heartwarming. Love sure has changed her, and it is scary knowing the one you love is in danger, but she knows how Faith is, and that's just part of the package. Doesn't mean it's easy.

I hope Tara feeling like this doesn't last long. The poor girl has been through enough. Fix it fast, please, please, please?


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 21 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 2:29 am 
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Yay for great update-y goodness... I really hope that Willow very soon goes back to Tara and explains everything... Tara really needs to know what is going on so that she knows that she is indeed integral part of Willow's life...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 21 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:41 am 
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So the plot thickens...what do those creepy shadowmen want,and for whom did they work? Tara being a helpless damsel in distress really is a big problem, and I can understand Willow's desperate wish to keep her from any danger and Tara's feeling that she has no place in Will's dangerous life. Hopefully they find a way for her to use her magic abilities in a controlled way so she will be somehow able to defend herself. And I really hope Willow tells her the truth as soon as possible so Tara can at least feel trusted by her lover again. Willow's attempts to shield Tara not only physically but mentally from anymore bad stuff might do more harm than good...

I'm looking forward to the next chapter...


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 21 Oc
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:11 pm 
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NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!

I know Willow's is only trying to protect Tara, but lying doesn't help! Just be honest with her!

I just want to roll around on the floor and kick my feet in frustration! UGH!!!!

They just took two steps forward, and now this will knock them six back!

Why is everyone torturing me this week?!?!?

More?... Please?.... Soonish?

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 21 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:46 am 
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wimpy: I think Willow is definitely in the wrong here, she’s completely clueless and the thought that Tara might have difficulty with who she has become hasn’t crossed her mind. She has spent too long getting hung up on who Tara is. I think it’s all just a precursor for Tara discovering who she is and fitting herself into her new life.

I really enjoy writing Lara and Faith, they’re a lot of fun - but things can’t stay rosy all the time ;-)

I promise I will fix Tara and Willow soon. Have a little faith. Thanks, wimpy!

zampsa: I think it is obvious to reader’s that Tara is an integral part of Willow’s life, and also to Willow herself – I think Tara is the only one who is having difficulties. Don’t worry, all will be well soon and hot gay lovin’ will follow :-)

willsredemption: Tara is definitely more of a damsel in distress at the moment – whereas in the first story no one would mess with VampTara. I think it is difficult for Willow, she is used to Tara being able to kick some arse – even more so than Willow herself. Faced with the reality of Tara living her lifestyle, she has realised that things aren’t straight forward.

Quote:
Willow's attempts to shield Tara not only physically but mentally from anymore bad stuff might do more harm than good...


Very true, but at the same time Tara’s not ready on either count. I think she’s going to need a little help in that respect :-)

vampyregurl: Torture is definitely my speciality but I promise to fix things soon. It’s just another wee bump on the path to self-discovery. Thanks for the feedback!

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 21 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:57 am 
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~Chapter 8~
Memories of the Rising Sun


If there was one room in the British Museum that Willow enjoyed almost as much as the library, it was the museum’s archives. It was a cavernous room located on the topmost floor of the museum. Following decades of acquiring objects and information it was crammed with shelves, cabinets and drawers full of books, papers and files of all shapes and sizes. Housing every scrap of information the museum possessed about the treasures it stored, it truly was a ‘treasure trove’ of sorts - one of knowledge. For someone like Willow it was invaluable. It also made her a little giddy whenever she entered.

Upon entering she immediately felt refreshed by the smell of so much paper in one place. It was almost enough to make her forget the unpleasantness of the evening’s activities. However the fact that her back ached and the nasty bruise on her forehead throbbed with every step was more than enough to remind her that it had actually happened. The African Hall would be closed to visitors for several months and there really was a small, unidentified object sitting in her pocket. For all her studying, and repeatedly running her fingers across its engraved length, Willow was still no closer to discovering its identity or purpose. This lack of knowledge bothered her immensely.

Given that the archives were overflowing with old paper, the light levels were exceedingly dim. Every single one of the huge windows was completely covered with a thick curtain that admitted barely a scrap of light. Electric light was prevalent at the entrance but the farthest reaches of the archives were almost in total darkness. Willow had come prepared; she withdrew one of Giles’s beamlights from the pocket of her coat. She allowed herself a moment of sadness as she ran her fingers over the small tube, remembering the man who had invented it and treasuring his memory.

She was just about to switch the light on and head into the dim light between the cavernous shelves when there was a slight, reedy cough emanating from behind her. Willow winced slightly. She had hoped that it was late enough for the archives to be empty of staff.

“Can I help you?” a decidedly unfriendly voice following the cough. It was delivered in the type of tone that implied the offer of help was a mere formality and very unlikely to be provided.

Willow turned on her heels to see Jenkins, the museum’s archivist standing with his chicken-like arms perched on his narrow waist. He was peering at her through overly large spectacles that looked as though they should not be able to perch on the little man’s pug-like nose. When he saw that it was Willow who was intruding into ‘his’ archives, his expression changed only slightly from one of annoyance to outright disdain.

“Ah, Miss Rosenberg. I am so sorry, I did not recognise you.”

Willow scowled at this statement. There were very few other redheads at the museum and none were women who wore men’s clothing.

“Is there something I can help you with?” he offered. Jenkins maintained a sour tone, turning the offer into an accusation as though he suspected she was there to cause mischief of some sort.

“I will be perfectly fine, Jenkins. I know my way around in here,” Willow replied. She tried to keep her own voice friendly, probably better than you do, you arrogant little snot. “You know that.”

“Yes, I do know,” he sneered. His eyes narrowed maliciously, “Is there something in particular you are working on? An exhibition perhaps? A paper for a scholarly journal?”

“I know exactly what I need thank you,” Willow said tautly, trying to turn her back on him.

“If you might permit me one more question, for curiosities’ sake, between colleagues…just what are you working on?” Jenkins prodded further. “I do believe I haven’t seen an exhibition curated by you for some time. As a matter of fact, I have never seen an exhibition that you have curated. For a so-called ‘curator’, that is rather odd. Would you not agree?”

Willow bristled noticeably; she straightened her back and used her full three-inch height advantage to stare down at the little man. She knew she ought not to be baited by his line of questioning, but she could not let such a slight against her scholarly reputation go unanswered.

“I do not know what you are trying to imply Jenkins, over the past years I have curated exhibitions on Romanian folklore, funerary implements of Ancient Egypt and holy relics of the forgotten saints.” As well as discovering that I am in fact the reincarnated soul of someone who died over one hundred years ago, having an ensouled vampire for a lover and playing a rather large part in saving Europe from one of the most blood-thirsty monsters ever to walk this earth. “I think I have been rather busy.”

“Ah, perhaps I intended to mean exhibitions that visitors actually saw,” Jenkins replied snidely.

Willow glared at the archivist, itching to wipe the wretched little smile from his face with one swipe of her hand. She reined her impulses in and smiled sweetly once again.

“Well, each to their own I guess, we can’t all enjoy the same things now can we?” Willow patted him on his sparsely covered head, “Do be a dear and run along now.” Before I knock you into next week you pompous, self-important little bastard. “And I would really prefer not to be bothered thank you very much.”

Jenkins’ eyes narrowed behind his spectacles. “Well, if you do happen to need any help, I will be in the natural history catalogues…doing some ‘real’ work.”

“You do that,” Willow commented as he turned smartly on his heels and began to walk away.

Somewhat ashamed of herself for her immature behaviour, Willow retreated into the shelves and had to draw in several deep breaths to calm herself down. As her nostrils filled with the aroma of old paper and leather, she felt renewed almost instantly.

Willow had not been exaggerating when she had told Jenkins that she knew her way around the archives. She switched on her beamlight and moved directly to the shelves near the back of the room. She was grateful for the halo of light that surrounded her as she moved amongst the very oldest papers that the museum possessed. Row upon row of thick, leather bound catalogue and books greeted her like old friends. She even reached out her hand and trailed her fingers along the spines of a few, just to feel their presence and to confirm that Jenkins and his cronies were doing their jobs in keeping them dust free. When the pungent odour of old knowledge was at its strongest, Willow stopped and swung her light upwards.

There, the circle of light illuminated the gilt embellishments on the spine of one exceptionally large tome. It was well above Willow’s head. She retrieved a nearby wooden step ladder and used to climb to the level of the catalogue. Willow had to tuck her light beneath her arm and use both has to grasp the embossed leather spine, the width of which was almost larger than the span of her hand. The ladder creaked ominously as she climbed back down slowly. With both feet planted on the floor, she moved to the solitary reading desk nestled at the very end of the row. She turned off her beamlight and switched on the lamp above the desk, careful to move it so its light would not shine directly onto the pages of the catalogue.

The chair protested with an agonised creak when she sat down. Willow reverently folded open the pages. She scanned the first page, noting the Museum’s very first acquisitions - even a rather terse one in her own hand. It simply said ‘old spear,’ circa 1500, Romania - and gave the date of deposit as the nineteenth of September, 1782. Following her entry was a longer passage in another hand giving detailed information that said the object was actually much more than a simple spear. It was an ornate, silver-headed spear used by a Romanian nobleman who enjoyed engaging in bouts of vampire slaying in his spare time. The entry went on to give more information about the owner, how it found its way into the collection and other items that it was related to. As though it had been yesterday, Willow remembered Giles scolding her for making such a poor entry into the catalogue. Rather than allow her to redeem herself, he had completely the entry properly himself. She remembered not being overly concerned at his lack of faith in her scholarly endeavours as she had simply retreated to the training room and the weapons that she loved far more than words. Willow ‘tsked’ slightly at her own past self’s laziness, although she had to admit that she had more than made up for it in her subsequent life.

“You were a rather hopeless case, Willow,” she told herself as she resumed turning pages, grateful that she had been reborn with more common sense - enough to understand the importance of proper cataloguing procedures.

She turned ach page with great care. There were more entries in Giles’s hand, even some in her brother’s. There were none in her own, indicating that she had not again been entrusted with the sacred duty of cataloguing acquisitions. When she reached object number ‘1440’, she scanned the page carefully. Her eyes roamed past ‘1441’, an Attic kylix or drinking cup done in the red-figure technique, and ‘1442’, a sixteenth century Scandinavian tapestry depicting the ride of the Valkyries. Finally Willow’s eyes saw the number ’1443’ that matched the corresponding tag on the object. Next to the number was recorded the date of deposit, 26th February, 1812 and absolutely nothing else. From the almost blank entry the catalogue moved onto ‘1444’, another Scandinavian object, this time a black dagger of unknown provenance. Willow carefully scanned the text again but no amount of care would reveal any further information for the 1443rd entry in the catalogue. It simply wasn’t there. She frowned; it was most unusual given the precision with which every single other entry was made. Each was in its proper place, with all the correct details noted save the only one she needed to be there.

The date alone gave her very little information save that it had been deposited during Abraham Van Helsing’s tenure as Director of the Museum. In 1812, herself as Willow Van Helsing had been dead for twenty-seven years. It was therefore little wonder that she had no memory of the object.

Willow sighed. With the object not being where she expected to find it in the proper catalogue it would be next to impossible to locate further information about it. She had no starting point, no reference. There were other sources she could seek out, but it would be a lengthy search with no guarantee that the information even existed. While she was not admitting defeat, Willow had to admit that matters were looking decidedly grim. If there was one thing she did not like it was not being able to find the information she sought.

Her disappointment was interrupted when she heard footsteps approaching, footsteps that were punctuated by the slight tapping of a cane. She did not have to turn around to know it was Lara Croft, but she did so anyway. Even in the dim light, Willow could see that the Director was moving a little slower than usual. The fact that she was using her cane at all meant that her leg was causing her considerable difficulty. Not a trace of this showed on her face however as she stepped further into the light of the lamp.

The expression on Willow’s face, however, was obviously transparent from the response it immediately elicited. “Things are not proceeding according to plan?” Lara asked.

“I am afraid I have to admit defeat. The information is not in its proper place, and I do not have a clue as to where to go from here,” Willow sighed. She did not enjoy starting the conversation on such a pessimistic note.

Lara raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Admitting defeat Rosenberg? That is most unlike you.”

“Well, when people do not put things in their proper place, this is what happens!” Willow had a slight edge to her tone, indicating her frustration. She then yawned slightly and had to admit to herself that she was rather tired. “Sorry, it is just that…well, you know how much I like order.”

Lara nodded understandingly, before she could say anything further however she winced noticeably and had to lean against the shelf at her back for support. The moment passed quickly and Lara straightened up once again, although Willow noted she was relying heavily on her cane.

“I do not mean to intrude…but…are you quite alright?” Willow asked hesitantly, unsure of the reaction she would receive. “You seem to be in some amount of pain.”

“Nothing a small dose of laudanum will not be able to fix,” Lara replied in an off-handed fashion.

“Laudanum? Lara…” Willow began in a concerned voice.

Lara waved her concern aside with a brisk motion of her hand. “That and Faith’s more than skilled ministrations.”

The resulting flush of heat in Willow’s cheeks was more than enough to silence her on that matter. She ducked her head to conceal her rising colour. It had been a deliberate move on Lara’s part, deflecting Willow’s attention away from herself. It took the redhead almost a minute to compose herself and she was able to glance back up again.

“So, the catalogue?” Lara returned to safer ground, for both their sakes.

“The catalogue is incomplete,” Willow growled, hitting her palm decisively on the edge of the desk. The sound echoed down the aisles of the archives but she did not care.

“Coincidence?” Lara queried.

Willow shook her head firmly. “A coincidence that one of the few objects in the British Museum that is missing an acquisition record is the very same one that is sought out by demonic thieves? Highly unlikely. There is a reason that there is no information for this little object but it is a reason I cannot begin to fathom.”

There was a cough from the darkness, a cough that Willow immediately recognised. She stifled a groan as she turned to see Jenkins coming into view.

“Please refrain from making so much noise within the archives!”

Any annoyance she felt quickly faded into pleasure when Jenkins saw just whom it was she was talking to. Lara turned around to stare at the little archivist. Almost instantly his expression changed completely as he tried to smile.

“Director Croft, my apologies, I did not see you there. Are you well this evening?” he enquired in a honeyed tone.

“Tolerably so,” Lara replied politely. “Is there something we can help you with?”

“I was actually intending to inform Miss Rosenberg I am finishing for the evening and enquire as to whether there was anything else I could possibly do for her?” Jenkins looked at Willow with an expectant, almost eager expression on her face.

Willow paused for a moment and considered his offer. She had no doubt that within the presence of the Director the archivist would have gladly agreed to assist her in searching the vast multitudes of catalogues held within the archives. However the thought of spending an entire evening alone with Jenkins was too much to stomach.

“No thank you Jenkins, you have been quite helpful enough already,” Willow replied, trying to keep her sarcasm to a minimum.

The archivist was not baited by her tone. He merely nodded his head respectfully in Lara’s direction and left them alone. Willow watched him go before looking up at Lara with a peevish expression on her face.

Before she could say anything the Director silenced her with one raised finger and a brisk statement, “Before you say anything Willow, remember that such prejudicial thoughts are hardly becoming to a learned scholar.”

“Yes well this learned scholar no longer sees her Director as the terrifying dragon that she once did and will feel free to espouse upon her own, quite valid prejudices!” Willow fired back just as briskly. “Arrogant little bastards like him are an impediment to the true work of this museum and I for one, will not stand to be scolded by him!”

“Willow,” Lara said in a low tone of warning. “This museum serves a dual purpose, neither of which is more important than the other.”

Immediately Willow snorted in disagreement. “I would think that saving the world from the devious, ruthless schemes of the supernatural and undead monsters that inhabit our world is far more important than-”

“Than preserving the world’s treasures for future generations, enlightening and educating all that pass through our doors?” Lara raised an eyebrow as though daring Willow to challenge her further.

“Perhaps…just a little,” Willow replied meekly, although she had to admit to herself that she understood the point Lara was making. She conceded defeat by turning her back on Lara to resume scanning the pages of the catalogue.

“Really?”

“Huh?” Willow turned around once more at the sound of Lara’s question. She glanced up to find the Director’s expression pensive.

“You really used to view me as a terrifying dragon?” Lara asked, her curiosity aroused by Willow’s earlier statement.

“Yes,” Willow admitted readily, a little surprised by her own honesty. It was embarrassing but it was the truth. She should have stopped herself at that point, but found herself unable to stop the words. “You were this enigmatic, almost iconic figure within the museum and I was just this curator who could barely tie her own shoelaces, you were…and still are, an imposing individual…unnaturally beautiful…and with a gorgeous bosom-”

Willow finally managed to stop herself by biting her lip. She was relieved to see that Lara was smiling, and she eventually let out a musical sounding laugh that went some way towards easing the embarrassment.

“What changed?” Lara prodded further.

“Well, after all that we have been through I have come to view you as more of a friend rather than an employer…and one does not usually think of one’s friends as terrifying dragons. That and the fact that you are no longer the most beautiful woman in London, well, except in Faith’s eyes of course but not mine.”

“I don’t think we are friends,” Lara interrupted quietly.

“We’re not?” Willow spluttered slightly in confusion. She paused awkwardly, “I’m sorry for presuming-”

“We’re family, Willow,” Lara continued before Willow could continue her apology. She smiled warmly. “You are that annoying younger sister that I never had, or even knew I wanted. I now find myself unable to think of life without you.”

Following her confession, Lara reached out and placed her hand on Willow’s shoulder. She gave it one simple squeeze that said as much as the fiercest hug. The contact was brief, Lara withdrew her hand and turned to leave.

“Willow…promise me you’ll go home soon?”

“I promise,” Willow nodded emphatically.

However as soon as the Director turned and left, she went straight back to the catalogue in front of her and resumed her search. She started from the first page and methodically began scanning every single entry. The thought foremost in her mind was that perhaps the object had merely been given an incorrect acquisition number and somewhere in those pages it was waiting to be discovered.

~~~~~~

When Willow finally rubbed her weary eyes and decided her best hours of research were well and truly behind her, she threw down her pen with a decisive movement that said she was finished for the night. A quick glance at her pocket watch however confirmed that it wasn’t so much night as early morning. She had well and truly broken her promise to Lara.

If Willow had not been so exhausted, she would have been amused by the fact that she was fifteen minutes early for a new day at work. Being that she was a tireless and devoted intellectual, Willow knew she could have dragged herself out of her exhaustion and forced her mind to keep working, at least for a few hours longer. However Willow also knew that Lara would somehow know that she had remained at work throughout the night. With the reasoning that she would be sent home anyway, Willow decided to leave. Her angry, growling stomach also reminded her that she had not eaten a thing since a quick lunch taken yesterday. She was so famished that even the thought of leaden porridge of her own creation made her mouth water.

It was not until Willow was bounding up the front steps of Gordon Square that she remembered Tara. She felt a stab of guilt that she had not thought that her absence might cause the blonde unnecessary anxiety. Her fears were forgotten the moment she swung open the great black door and discovered the most heavenly smell wafting from the direction of the kitchen. Willow was quite certain that Gordon Square had never in its history played host to such a delectable aroma. As she removed her coat and hat, Willow inhaled deeply. She frowned slightly as she though she recognised the smells from another time, half a world away. Odd, Willow thought as she hung her coat on the rack. That smells like soba noodles...but that’s quite impossible.

Before she could investigate further, she was stopped in her tracks by an arresting sight descending the stairs. It was Tara, her hair loose about her shoulders, framing a face that was nothing but perfection. While Willow knew she looked exactly like someone who had been awake all night, Tara was the very epitome of radiance. Unconsciously, Willow felt a small smile tugging at her lips.

Tara was in the midst of planting her hand on her hip at the sight of the wayward redhead. However, the impish grin on her face was enough to stop the motion, but not quite enough for her to respond with a smile of her own.

“I did not hear you return last night,” Tara commented as she continued down the stairs. She saw Willow by the coatstand, hat in hand, and did not realise that she had only just walked in the door. “And here you are, running back to work already.”

“Actually, I am just returning home now,” Willow replied guiltily, her smile fading. She looked down at the hat in her hand. “I lost track of time. I am truly sorry, I should have called.”

Tara finally returned Willow’s smile. She stepped off the flight of stairs and crossed to stand in front of Willow. “We are both aware of the fruitless nature of such a suggestion. I would not answer that contraption…the tel…eee…phone…it is most unnatural.”

“Progress is a beautiful thing,” Willow’s voice had shrunk to a whisper due to the fact that Tara was now standing directly in front of her. And that is not the only thing that is beautiful.

Tara reached out and gently removed the hat from Willow’s hands. She placed it on one of the hooks. When she turned her attention back to the redhead, she could not fail to notice the spots of colour appearing in her cheek. “You will have to give me lessons then.”

“Most definitely – lessons, lessons on how to use the contraption – errr – the telephone,” Willow stumbled over the simple words. With nothing to hold onto, she clasped her hands behind her back.

Faced with the tangible reminder of Tara’s physical presence, Willow was unsure how she managed to remain at work all throughout the night. Her fingers twitched in a slight, uncontrolled motion and she realised she was itching to trail the pads of her fingers down Tara’s check, over the soft, unblemished skin. She was forced to clutch both her hands behind her back to stop such a movement. It became all too apparent why she had remained at work - for working was preferable to the awkwardness of her present relationship with Tara. At times she felt as close to the blonde as they ever had been during their youth, and yet at others she found herself gripped by a powerful uncertainty. Willow had intense memories of her tragically short relationship with the young woman standing in front of her. However at the same time she felt a conflicted knot in the pit of her stomach at the thought of the monster that her lover had become.

Not the vampire…the vampires…

On one hand there was the beast who craved depravity and violence, the vampire who had seduced her and then so coldly slain her with her very own weapon. And the other hand the vampire whose soul had been restored against her will. Willow had blamed that vampire for everything that had happened in the past even though she had been unable to control the demon within her. Slowly but surely, she had forgiven her and had gradually realised that she loved her despite the demon. Three very separate individuals in the same, eternally beautiful body, Willow knew that she would be checking herself into an asylum if she continued to dwell on such a conundrum.

“Tara…” Willow began, desperately wanting to say something. However she was unable to bring the necessary words to her lips.

Any thought of words faltered altogether when Tara brought her hand up and placed it gently on her cheek. Willow’s hands fell to her sides and she closed her eyes for several seconds as she leaned into the touch. She inhaled the light fragrance emanating from the blonde’s delicate wrist and felt her knees go weak. It should have been impossible for such a brief contact to induce such a feeling. Yet when Tara withdrew her hand, Willow felt as though she had lost a part of her own body. She opened her eyes slowly.

“You are exhausted, Will,” Tara said gently. “If you try and talk to me now, I have no doubt that all I will hear is incomprehensible babble. There will be time later.”

And with that she leaned forward and deposited a brief kiss on Willow’s lips. Their skin met for just a second and it was all Willow could do to keep from placing a hand on the back of Tara’s neck to prolong the kiss. She made no such move, and Tara stepped back, ducking her head as though her own boldness surprised her.

“Time later…of course!” Willow said brightly, tapping her fingers on her thighs to keep them busy. She glanced down the hallway towards the kitchen and then back to Tara. “So, someone is cooking?”

“Yes!” Tara clasped her hands together and beamed as though she was particularly pleased with herself. “And thanks heavens that someone is finally neither you nor Faith.”

Willow was so pleased at Tara’s announcement that she completely overlooked the comment about her cooking. She followed as Tara led the way down the hall towards the kitchen. The aroma grew stronger they closer they came and Willow could not help but frown as it drew old memories back to her. The excitement she felt was still tinged with confusion.

“I am afraid that I cannot claim the initiative in this matter,” Tara spoke as they walked. “They actually turned up on the doorstep enquiring after positions in the house.”

Willow lifted in eyebrows in surprise. “And you just let them in? Tara, that is unwise to say the least, I-I-”

Her words faltered abruptly as soon as she entered the kitchen proper. Her eyes did not go to Faith who was sitting at the table, nor to the bulky, unfamiliar figure standing over several boiling pots on the stove. Instead they went to a figure standing directly opposite her. Her mouth dropped open as she gazed, completely gormless, at the young woman with the black, almond shaped eyes and marble skin.

“Ayako,” the name crossed Willow’s lips as a mere whisper.

Willow was already half-asleep when she felt a smooth but callused palm gently brush the side of her cheek. Almost instinctively, she reached out and caught the hand as it retreated.

"Willow..."

At the sound of Ayako's voice, Willow opened her eyes to see the young woman's face above her in the darkness. Her lips were parted slightly and Willow could see the rapid rise and fall of her chest. She was undeniably lovely, the moonlight rendering her skin as smooth as marble, her eyes as black as obsidian and her hair as shining as silk.

Ayako eased her hand from Willow's grasp, "It is late..."

Willow caught the edge of reluctance to her voice but she still rose determinedly from her side, the folds of her kimono falling about her body as she did so. As she moved from the room, Willow turned to face the opposite direction and quickly squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her fists, desperately willing the fierce hunger in her body to go away.


Despite what she was seeing, it was impossible. Ayako Nakamura had died in her arms over one hundred years earlier.

Willow glanced around discreetly and was relieved to find that, although her display of astonishment was obvious, the only other person in the room who noticed was the woman at the centre of her attention. Faith continued to eat heartily at the table, barely glancing up to acknowledge Willow, the rotund man at the stove was only just turning his head and Tara had been standing just behind her, unable to see her face. Willow quickly closed her mouth, but she could not help but stare. Her mind was trying to fathom exactly what it was that she was seeing. For all intents and purposes she was staring at a dead woman.

Tara moved to stand beside Willow, still unaware of the shock that had overwhelmed her. She extended her hand towards the young woman. “Willow, might I have the pleasure of introducing Yoo...ko Naka...moora.” She said the name haltingly.

Yuko Nakamura? “A…pleasure indeed,” Willow whispered, swallowing quickly.

Tara then indicated the portly man standing over the stove. “And this is Ha...Haruki...Okubo.”

The Japanese man inclined his head in greeting and smiled in a jovial manner before returning to the boiling pots on the stove. Willow could only politely return the smile for a second before turning her attention back to the young woman.

“They are from…Japan,” Tara said the country’s name awkwardly. They were foreign names for her in every sense of the word. “Haruki is a cook. His food is a little strange…but delicious. Yuko has offered to run the household, minding all those little details that can get overlooked by busy people…cleaning for example.”

Willow had still barely recovered from the initial shock. It took Faith frowning in her direction for her to realise that her jaw had once again dropped. She smiled and nodded at both Japanese in turn.

“This is splendid, just splendid,” Willow could not stop nodding her head and smiling in an effort to conceal the strange feelings coursing through her body from the others standing in the room. “Errr…now if you will all excuse me, there is something…something…” Willow searched for an excuse to leave the room but came up blank. “Something extremely important. I really must see to it immediately.”

She fled the kitchen and in doing so made a determined effort to avoid meeting Tara’s gaze. It was enough that matters between them were already awkward without adding the Japanese woman into the equation. Willow practically broke into a run as she made her way to the library and down into the sanctuary of Gordon Square’s training room. She didn’t even bother turning on the lights, instead she sat heavily on the bottom step of the staircase and placed her head in her hands.

“Oh good heavens…what is it with me and women returning from the dead?” she asked the room in a breathless voice.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:08 pm 
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Oh man, here we go. Even more confusion upon the already mountains of confusion. What a mess.

I enjoyed Lara and Willow's talk. This Willow is definitely different. The first Willow Rosenberg was definitely too intimidated to barely look Lara in the eye, much less speak her mind like this one. But you know what, I like them all (all of the Willows that is), and this one is such a wonderful combination. Lara admitting they were like family is such a nice moment, and I liked it very much. They have all come so far.

The artifact still baffles me. No info, only the year, and that it was entered by Abraham (I think - God I'm so confused), and entered close to other Scandinavian (?) items. That may not even be significant, but that's about all they have on it for now. I know Willow is determined to figure this out, but forgetting Tara is at the house waiting for her return bothers me a little. I like how she was ready to scold Willow, but when she saw her smiling, she kind of toned it down.

Now Yuko showing up and throwing her even more off kilter. Oh boy, I bet her brain is about ready to explode because I know mine is.

And my dear, sweet Alcy, I do trust you, have the utmost faith in you to fix all of this, and I am literally dying to see how you're going to do it. So more soon please?


Wimpy

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:18 pm 
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Dibs! :whip Anoather great chapter! Meeting the nasty little archivist, Lara telling Willow she is like a sister to her, a little moment of intmacy between Tara and Willow... and then BAM! The japanese girl who looks like the one from the past Willow had feelings for. Another thing to tell Tara...but how on earth is Willow going to tell Tara all she has to know without driving her mad? I can hardly wait for the next chapter!


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:21 pm 
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Okay, no dibs...I'm confused, normally the board informs me when there was a post added before I managed to submit my own...
Anyway, here I humbly hand the dibs-whip over to you, Wimpy...


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:34 pm 
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Hey, Wills! I will gladly share the dibs honor with you. We were oh so close. I was having internet problems :gnome when I noticed she posted and started freaking because I thought I wasn't going to be able to read it. Yes, I have an addiction to Alcy's fics, but I refuse the intervention my gf keeps suggesting. That being said, we will each get to wear the dibs crown for this post.

And Alcy, as usual, you rock! :bow

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:45 pm 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I really liked Lara's talk with Willow... It's no wonder when you combine vampTara becoming Tara again, mystery artifact that has no catalogue entry and now Yuko/Ayako appearing that Willow's head seems to explode... I kinda hope that Tara sees Willow's mounting confusion and fustration and kisses Willow senseless...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:59 pm 
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Damn, this is a mess.

Willow has to resolve her feelings for 2 formerly dead women living under her roof....Oh, and possibly save the world.

I'm loving the chaos!

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:39 pm 
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wimpy: Congratulations on the joint dibs! I feel so very honoured that I get two Kittens rushing to claim dibs on my story. I agree with you, mess is just the word – one giant, fucking mess.

You’re very right in that Willow used to have difficulty in even talking to Lara. Now she can even joke around a little and offer firm opinions. I still love that Willow who used to play horsies with the figurine on Lara’s desk in VR I though!

The artefact is supposed to baffle you my dear friend! Otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a mystery would it? I won’t say whether any of your speculations have merit, except to say keep guessing.

I’m glad you have faith in me to fix all of this – now I just have to have faith in myself! Hmmm, that’s not very reassuring is it?

wills redemption: Congratulations on the joint dibs! I’m glad you liked the chapter and I hope that the next one doesn’t drive you to tear your hair out! Our girls are in for an interesting time.

zampsa: I enjoy the relationship between Lara and Willow. Especially the progression from that very first chapter of VR I when Willow was struck speechless by Lara and her fine bosom. Now we have her unafraid to share her opinions.

There is a lot of confusion going on, and I agree that we definitely need some serious kissing to clear it all up! Unfortunately there is a little rocky patch ahead before we get to that.

Grimm: It is indeed one giant mess – exactly the way I like to operate.

I think it is made very clear in the first story just how much I enjoyed writing the character of Ayako. I’m not viewing this as a repeat of that storyline so much as an opportunity for Willow to realise that there is one woman for her. There are going to be conflicted feelings but as this is the Kittenboard, well, it’s not a spoiler to say that woman is, and always will be Tara.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:46 pm 
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~Chapter Nine~
The Lost Katana


The flowing forms of kenjutsu offered Willow almost complete relief from her tortured mind. In the silence, with a practice stave in her hand, she was able to lose herself in the complex rhythm of the Japanese martial art. She had removed her shoes in order to feel the contact with the mats beneath her feet. Dancing across them, she moved with barely a sound. Forward, thrust, parry…back, sweep, parry, she repeated the forms over and over until there was a thin sheen of sweat covering her body. She stopped only long enough to strip off her waistcoat and shirt before she continued wearing just her woollen vest and pants.

A mind as busy as Willow’s eventually found a way to intrude on the silence. She found herself dredging up further images of her past, and in the state of mind induced by kenjutsu she saw everything as clearly as the day it had happened.

“Ayako, now is perhaps not a good time...but the thing..."

Willow twitched slightly mid-form, disturbing the flow of her rhythm. She paused for several heartbeats before resuming. Perfection remained elusive, however hard she strived to attain it.

"What thing, Willow-san?"

Her mind was working too fast for her mind to be the correct state to achieve perfection. She whirled about on the balls of her feet, hoping to escape her memories by increasing her tempo.

"The thing...the n-nothing that happened...between us…”

The serene mask on her face faltered and she missed a movement altogether.

"Ah…that thing."

Willow grimaced slightly, but continued increasing her speed.

"I should like there to be something...b-between us…”

Her tempo had increased to the point where her forms were barely discernable amidst the wild swinging of her stave. She hacked and slashed at the air around her as though that would drive away her tormentors.

"I should like that too, Willow-san...very much."

It was at that point that something else intruded on her concentration. She detected soft, barely audible footsteps on the stairs. If Willow had not been so attuned to picking up faint sounds, she would have missed them altogether. She did not stop, but instead drew in deep breath and continued. Her body slowed as she attempted to restore order to her chaotic movements.

“Your forms are very beautiful.” The soft voice interrupted her concentration just as she was beginning to once again find the peace she sought.

Expecting Tara, the unfamiliar voice caught Willow off guard. She completely mistimed her steps. Her legs tangled themselves beneath her and she crashed to the ground in an ungraceful heap. Willow let out a small yelp as she poked herself in the hip with her own stave. Lying in a sweaty, awkward mess on the mats, Willow peered up towards the staircase and saw the Japanese woman standing there with her arms folded and a serene smile on her face.

“The technique is quite poor, but they are nevertheless beautiful,” she added.

Her soft, lyrical voice removed any trace of mockery from her words but it did not serve to improve Willow’s mood. She tossed her stake aside and began to haul herself to her feet. Before she had even lifted her bottom from the ground, Yuko was standing in front of her with an outstretched hand. Willow blinked stupidly, wondering just how the woman had managed to move so quickly across the room. A few moments passed before she took the proffered hand.

With a single tug from Yuko, Willow found herself pulled to her feet. Through the movement, she felt the Japanese woman’s strength. It surprised her at first, but she remembered Ayako. The way she had moved, and fought. Her entire body had radiated a quiet strength that went beyond mere muscle power. It was something spiritual, almost magical.

Willow found herself standing almost toe-to-toe with Yuko. Their close proximity was uncomfortable, but it gave her the chance to study her face in a way that had not been possible earlier due to shock. Although Ayako had died over one hundred years earlier, Willow was still able to visualise the young woman’s face in her mind. While Yuko was strikingly similar, she was definitely not Ayako. Yuko’s face was slightly rounder, her lips fuller, and she was a few inches shorter. Willow knew that the woman standing in front of her was not Ayako Nakamura in the same way that she was Willow Van Helsing.

“I thought you were someone I knew,” Willow began quietly. For some reason she was unable to take a step back. Her discomfort was fading. It was gradually being replaced by a sense of familiarity. “Someone I knew a long time ago.”

“Ayako Nakamura,” Yuko replied with a slight nod. “My ancestor.”

“Ancestor?” Willow let out a slow breath and shook her head as if she didn’t think it were possible. It was unsettling to once again be standing in front of a woman with who there had been so much lost potential. Only it was not her. “You look so much like her.”

Tentatively, Willow lifted her hand towards Yuko’s face. With her hand half-raised, she stopped abruptly and withdrew slightly. Willow stood with her arm suspended awkwardly in midair. Her feelings were dreadfully conflicted and this was reflected in her uncertainty of action. She saw a smile cross Yuko’s face, and knew it was meant to be one of reassurance. Willow was far from reassured. Instead she was reminded of that awful day over one hundred years earlier.

Willow finally let her bloody sword fall to the earth as she collapsed to the ground at Ayako's side. Even as her knees hit the soft earth, she was already struggling to tear strips from the clothing she wore in order to create makeshift bandages to staunch the flow of blood from Ayako's terrible wound. Before she could tear the fabric, the Japanese girl laid a bloody hand atop her own.

"Please Willow...stop."

Following those short words, Ayako closed her eyes, as though it had taxed her greatly to say them. Willow panicked, thinking she was dead, until the hand holding the hilt of her katana moved towards her with small, jerky movements.

"Ayako..." Willow whispered in a broken voice.

"Take it," Ayako insisted.

Willow gently received the bloody katana from Ayako's limp hand, feeling all the while as though she should be doing something to help her instead of mutely kneeling by her side.

Ayako's eyes opened once more and she was able to lift her hand to Willow's cheek. Her fingers were already cold but there was a small smile on her face.

"I should have protected you," Willow had to admit brokenly.

"Do not think that!" Ayako whispered fiercely. "I know I fought well...it is a good death,"

Willow struggled to maintain her emotions and hold back the words she truly wished to say. She knew that no death is a good death. "I have never known anyone braver."

"I love you." Ayako's words were even less than a whisper, spoken as her hand fell from Willow's cheek limply to her side and her eyes slid closed.

"Ayako...I..."

Hot tears burned Willow's eyes and a sob lay trapped in her throat as she watched Ayako's chest rise and fall. She did not repeat the motion again, having breathed her last. Willow bowed her head. It was too late for her to say those simple words for Ayako to hear even though she knew that she had loved her as much as her heart would allow her to.


For Willow, it felt as though that sob felt as though had remained trapped in her throat since that day. It emerged now, a strangled gasp that she suppressed as quickly as she could. She was mortified that she was about to break down in front of a complete stranger.

Yuko responded quickly and tenderly. She retrieved Willow’s hand from where it was still frozen in midair and held it without her own.

The first thing Willow noticed, were the calluses on the girl’s palm. She knew then that Yuko followed after Ayako in more than just looks. Yuko then lifted her hand, helping it continue on the trajectory that she had originally tried to follow. Willow did not resist. Yuko brought it up to her cheek and pressed it against her skin. She closed her eyes and leaned into the touch.

Willow felt the soft skin of her cheek beneath her own callused palm. Tentatively, she brushed the skin of Yuko’s cheek with her thumb in a light caress. She was amazed at how natural the contact felt. Her heart was beating rapidly in her chest. However before she made a further move she stopped herself. None of this was what she wanted. Tara was in her life, as she was meant to be. That was what she wanted. Willow let her hand fall from Yuko’s cheek, and she wished she were still wearing her waistcoat so she could jam the offending appendage in the pocket.

“I am sorry,” Willow whispered.

Yuko opened her eyes. Her cheeks bore twin spots of colour and she lowered her gaze for a moment. “I know this must make you feel uncomfortable, and for that I am sorry. However, you must allow me to explain why I am here. I begin by saying that my family still speaks of the great Willow Van Helsing.”

Willow let out a self-deprecating snort and lowered her gaze. It made her uncomfortable to think of herself as any sort of hero. “In Nippon I was a stupid, rash fool.” When she glanced back up to Yuko’s face, she found the Japanese woman smiling. “Why are you here?” Willow asked quietly. She did not want to sound rude, but she was impatient to understand why Ayako’s twin was standing in her house.

“Destiny,” Yuko replied simply at first. However, at Willow’s confused expression, she continued, “Willow-san, do you remember Nakamura Kenji-san? And the last words he spoke to you before you left Japan?”

Just as clearly as she had remembered Ayako, Willow remembered her father. Kenji Nakamura had been a powerfully intimidating man. Willow had come to see the softer side of him. He had loved his daughter more than life itself. In the end, she counted him a friend. She heard his final words to her echo clearly in her mind. Without any further explanation, she knew exactly why Yuko had come to England.

"I wish you well in your travels and your quest...and if ever you shall need it, the Nakamura family will come to your aid."

“Why now?” Willow asked. “I do not mean to be rude, but I could have used your help last year.”

Yuko bowed her head in apology. “Word did not reach us of your struggle against Dracula until it was over. I must admit that we are…slightly…late.”

Willow almost laughed at the dry humour in Yuko’s voice. She had to admit to herself that, even if Yuko had arrived to help when most needed, it would have been one too many thing for her to have dealt with. Especially after rejoining with her past self and rediscovering that the love of her life was a vampire.

Yuko interrupted her thoughts. She spoke as she withdrew something from behind her back. “I have something that belongs to you, Willow-san.”

Willow had not noticed the slender object that Yuko carried in her left hand. With little ceremony, Yuko raised it up so they could both clearly see it. When Willow saw exactly what it was, her eyebrows lifted in amazement. Her fingers were trembling at her sides but she could not bring herself to reach out and touch the object. All she could do was stare at the familiar object Yuko held towards her.

It was the wakazashi that matched her katana.

The short sword was every bit as beautiful as she had remembered it to be. Kenji Nakamura had given her the katana and retained the wakazashi in his possession. Seeing its smaller sister made Willow achingly aware of the absence of the katana. It had gone missing at some point during the past hundred years. Willow knew it was hardly fair to blame herself, she had been dead for most of that time.

“You are wrong regarding the most important thing, Yuko,” Willow said as she shook her head slowly. “This never belonged to me.”

“Nevertheless, it is yours now,” Yuko announced with warmth in her voice. “It has waited many years to be reunited with its sister.”

“I do not deserve this blade.” Willow swallowed awkwardly. “I must confess that the katana is no longer in my possession. It was...lost.”

Surprisingly, Yuko seemed unconcerned by this admission. She continued to hold the wakazashi at arms length, as though she was still insisting it now belonged to Willow.

Reluctantly, Willow lifted her right hand and wrapped her hand around the proffered hilt. Her arm jolted slightly. It was as though she felt a sudden surge of power at the weapon’s touch. Yuko released her grip on the weapon and gave it completely over to her. Willow held it reverently, not even daring to draw the blade from its scabbard.

“They will find their way back to one another, Willow-san,” Yuko said with a strange certainty to her voice.

As Willow remained completely consumed by the weapon she held in her hands, she did not see the solitary figure watching her and Yuko from the stairs.

Tara closed her eyes and pressed her cheek against the cold stone wall. It was as though she needed to feel something else solid besides the floor at her feet. After a few moments, she opened her eyes to find Willow still staring in rapture at the sword the Japanese woman had given to her. When she glanced back up, Tara could see her eyes were shining with unshed tears. Willow then let the sword fall to her side as she embraced Yuko in a fierce hug.

She wrenched her gaze away from the scene and turned to retrace her steps back up the stairs. The moment her foot hit the first step, it creaked loudly. Her heart stopped in her throat and she froze. However, a few seconds later, there were no voices from the training room. Willow was obviously wrapped up in her new sword and the young Japanese woman. With the tears streaming freely down her cheeks, she ran the rest of the way up the stairs. The heavy door closed with a loud bang behind her, and she did not care.

~~~~~~

The worried frown on the elderly gentleman’s face deepened slightly as he held the small vial of liquid up to the light. He did not need to retrieve his glasses to see that there was something very unnatural at work. Thoroughly disturbed, he tucked the vial safely into the pocket of his waistcoat. He glanced across to the mahogany clock in the corner to check the time. His guest would be arriving shortly, and he fervently hoped that she could shed more light on what was happening.

He had barely resumed perusing his notes at his desk, when a knock on his door interrupted him. A moment later the door swung inward to reveal the face of one of his nurses.

“Excuse me, Doctor,” she began. “There is a Miss Lara Croft here to see you.”

“Excellent, show her in please, Miss Gibson.” As he rose from his chair, a tall, regal woman entered his office.

“Doctor Barker,” she said warmly

“It is a pleasure as always, Miss Croft. Thank you for coming to see me so promptly,” Barker said with genuine relief in his voice

“The urgency in your call was hard to ignore, Doctor,” Lara said as she shook his extended hand. “I would guess that it concerns Mr Meates?”

“I’m afraid it does indeed,” Barker said with a nod. “He lifted the not inconsiderable bulk of his body out from behind his desk.

He then moved out of his office, indicating to Lara that she should follow. He continued talking as he made his way down the corridor, “When you brought poor Mr Meates to us, his wounds were severe. I had some doubt as to whether he would recover due to the sheer amount of blood he lost. It turns out that blood loss is the least of his worries.”

As they walked, Lara saw the Doctor withdraw a small vial from the pocket of his vest. He then turned and handed it to her mid-stride.

“What is your first guess as to the nature of this substance, Miss Croft?” he asked cryptically.

Lara lifted the vial up to eye level and scrutinized its content. To the naked eye, the liquid it contained was pure black. Although she was no woman of science, Lara first suspected it to be ink. However after giving it a slight shake, she saw that it was the wrong consistency. The liquid in the vial was thick and sluggish.

“I am no scientist,” Lara handed it back to him. “Please enlighten me?”

Barker accepted the vial in one hand, and with his other, swept open a door they had just reached. “It is blood, my dear Miss Croft. His blood.”

They had entered a room containing a single hospital bed. Upon it lay an apparently unconscious man. Although Lara immediately recognised Tommy Meates, the security guard badly wounded in the attack on the museum, she could see that something was terribly wrong. The usually swarthy young man now had skin that was the colour of pure white chalk. As she drew closer she discovered it wasn’t merely white, it was transparent. It’s transparency clearly proved Barker’s earlier statement. Each vein was visible, throbbing with the same black blood that was contained within the vile. Every inch of skin she could see – his face, neck, upper torso, arms and hands – was all the same.

“My god,” Lara whispered in horror after trying to comprehend the full extent of what she was seeing. “What happened to him?”

She took a step forward, moving towards her employee as though intent on taking up his hand in her own. She stopped herself, unable to make the last movement to actually touch him.

“It is quite alright, Miss Croft.” Barker moved past her and laid his hand on the man’s forehead. “As to what has happened to him, I must say that I had absolutely no idea.”

Taking his lead, Lara reached out and took Tommy’s hand in her own. She was struck by just how icy cold his flesh was. As she watched, Barker lifted the unconscious man’s eyelids to reveal eyes without irises, or pupils. The eyeball was a pure white marble, unnatural and frightening.

“His wound?” Lara queried.

“See for yourself.” Barker reached down an lowered the sheet that had previously been drawn up over Tommy’s abdomen.

Expecting to see his lower torso swathed in thick bandages to cover the gruesome wound she had seen with her own eyes, Lara gasped when she saw nothing but unblemished chalky white skin. There was nothing to suggest that the man had recently been carved open by a blade.

“Miss Croft, I must say that over the years that I have known you, your staff members have been brought to me with some exceptionally strange wounds. Dreadful gashes from the fangs of daemon hounds, cuts from every weapon imaginable and all manner of burns, boils and blisters, but this takes the cake in terms of impossibilities and incurability. There is simply nothing this hospital can do for the poor chap.” Barker sighed and shrugged his hefty shoulders in despair.

“Your job is to keep him as comfortable as possible.” Lara tried to reassure the worried doctor. “Finding a cure is our task.”

“Thank you, Miss Croft.” Barker nodded. “He will be given the best care available.”

“As always.” Lara nodded in appreciation. “Please inform me of any changes to his condition.”

As Barker led her out of the room, she paused outside the door. Her expression was on of genuine sincerity as she cast one more glance back into the room at the poor, unfortunate Tommy Meates with his chalky white skin and throbbing black veins.

She said one last goodbye to the faithful Doctor and continued down the corridor. Even as she stepped out of the hospital and into the sunlight, the man’s sightless eyes continued to haunt her. The feeling in her gut told her, without any substantive proof, that his condition had everything to do with the mysterious shadow warriors. Somehow they had to ascertain who, or what, they were. However Lara also knew that they would be forced to wait for the creatures to come to them…not the other way around.

~~~~~~

Willow watched on in anticipation as her new cook, Haruki Okubo, poured a huge pot of scalding hot water in her bathtub. Even the one would have been enough to satisfy her, but he quickly returned with a second bucket. That too went into the tub, followed by a bucket of cold water to create the optimum temperature for bathing. Each bucket was emptied with a grace of movement that she did not think possible from such a portly man. Just observing him doing such a simple chore was enough for Willow to realise that he was no doubt a formidable warrior, and probably quite capable of knocking her flat with just his bare hands.

She thanked him warmly in Japanese. The words were a little stiff after so long without speaking the language. Haruki responded with a slight smile and a small bow, just as he had every time Willow had spoken to him over the past three days that the Japanese pair had been resident at Gordon Square. She was not quite sure whether he was mute, or if he simply preferred not to speak. Willow supposed she could ask Yuko, but she had responded to the Japanese women’s presence in typical Willow fashion. She was avoiding her.

Haruki maintained his bow as he shuffled backwards out of the small washroom. He pulled the door shut behind him, and Willow was left alone with her steaming bathtub. As she began peeling off layers of her clothes, sweaty from her last training bout, Willow dwelt on the huge amount of effort expended to produce a rather meagre bath. She made a mental note to explore the installation of hot water plumbing at Gordon Square. Although just when she would have the time to turn her mind to something as mundane as plumbing, Willow did not know.

With the last of her clothes dumped in a pile on the cold, stone floor, Willow eased herself into the tub. There was a brief moment of hopping from foot to foot as she adjusted to the water’s temperature. This was followed by further wincing and sighing as she lowered her whole body into the tub. Her small frame fit quite comfortably with her knees tucked up to her chest. She sighed one more drawn out sigh as she rested her back against the side of the tub and closed her eyes. Cradled in the water, Willow was almost able to forget such matters like shadow warriors, improperly catalogued objects and long-dead Japanese women.

Unfortunately, the peaceful bliss lasted barely a minute. A cold blast of air hit her head and shoulders, the only parts of her body not submerged. She let out a slight yelp of discomfort. When Willow turned to see who the intruder was, she found Tara standing with her hands on her hips and a determined expression on her face.

“Good heavens!” Willow muttered awkwardly. She immediately tried reaching for her towel but it was too far from her flailing arms. She had to settle for folding her arms around her legs, drawing them tightly against her chest. It was only after she had done it, that she realised how ridiculous it all was.

The same thought was plainly obvious to Tara. “I’ve seen everything before Will…intimately.”

Despite the truth of her words, Willow could not turn and face Tara. She could feel her cheeks turning red, from something other than the heat of the water. Before she could concoct a decent sounding response in her head, Tara spoke first.

“Who is…or was Ayako?” Tara asked quietly.

The few simple, seemingly straightforward words cut into Willow’s heart. As though she had been stabbed with an icy cold blade, her heart stopped for a moment. When it finally did start beating once again, its thump was so loud so could hardly hear her own busy thoughts.

She swallowed and decided that the only response she could offer was the truth. “Tara, there is so much of my life of which you have no knowledge. This is just one aspect…and one which I did not think would come back to haunt me in such a fashion. After your death I travelled to Japan. There was a woman there with whom I felt an attraction. Her name was Ayako, she was kind…beautiful and so very graceful in everything she did. She was killed before we could act upon that attraction.” Willow studied Tara’s face to gauge her reaction, but all she found was an unreadable mask. However, after just a few moments, Tara dropped her head and stared at her feet. Heaven help me, I shouldn’t be telling her this. “It just so happens that the woman you hired, Yuko, is Ayako’s ancestor. For better or worse, the resemblance is…unnaturally uncanny. I was startled tis all.”

Tara forced herself to lift her head once again. She met Willow’s gaze defiantly and asked suddenly, “Did you love her?”

“What…I-I…” Willow spluttered. She stopped herself before she allowed further unrecognisable noises to escape from her mouth.

“It’s a s-simple question,” Tara whispered.

“Do I detect the green tinge of jealousy in your voice, Tara?” Willow asked quietly. It was an odd emotion for her to see in Tara for it was completely against her character. This unsettled Willow somewhat and she found herself unable to stop talking. “Why did Shakespeare decide jealousy had to be green? I rather like green, and it seems a shame for such a fine colour to be tainted with such an undeserved reputation-”

“Will!” Tara interrupted impatiently. At any other time Willow’s babbling would have brought a smile to her face. However she was intent on the question she had asked. The image of Willow and the young Japanese woman embracing was fixed firmly in her mind. “I asked you a valid question.”

“Of course, a very valid question, to which you deserve an answer,” Willow stalled for time before she finally offered her simple answer. “Yes.”

“And Yuko…do you love her?” Tara continued, her voice breaking slightly.

“What?” Willow gasped in surprise. “No! Of course not! I’ve known the woman for less than a day-”

“So you just need more time to get to know her?”

“No! I don’t need more time to get to know her…I mean, I’m sure she’s a lovely young lady but…”

“But what, Will?” Tara asked coldly. “What are you about to say? That you have me? A girl you knew several lifetimes ago? I know you’ve lived a whole life since then, far be it from me to stand in the way of something, someone that will make you happy.”

“You make me happy!” Willow protested.

“Please don’t do me the discourtesy of lying to me, Willow. I know full well I make you miserable. I see it in your eyes whenever you look at me.”

“You know that’s not true,” Willow whispered, drawing her knees tighter to her chest. However, even as she said it, her subconscious dragged up the image of Tara standing over her dying body with a bloody katana clenched in her pale fist. She shook her head stubbornly. That vampire was not the woman now standing in front of her.

“I promise I’ll stay out of your way.” Tara misinterpreted Willow’s silence as evidence of her guilt.

“Tara, please don’t go!” Willow placed her hands on the side of the tub and drew herself to her feet. She extended her hand towards the blonde’s back. Head lifted high, Tara walked out of the laundry and left Willow standing, stark naked, in her tub of water.

“That couldn’t possibly have gone any worse if I actually tried,” Willow muttered angrily to herself.

She continued to stand in her tub, unable to sit back down and resume the peaceful state she had been in before Tara’s entrance. The water grew colder, and her skin prickled with goosebumps in the cold night air. She began to shiver but still could not move out of the tub. However, she knew she couldn’t leave Tara alone with her thoughts for too long.

Willow glanced down and saw her fists were white knuckled at her side. She decided that it wasn’t the ideal moment to resume their awkward conversation, at least not while she was so angry. First, she needed to let off some steam. Then she would do her best to set Tara straight, minus the messy word soup.

Awkwardly she made to step out of the tub onto the wet floor. However, before she could reach out for her towel, the laundry door opened and Faith stepped in with an armful of dirty clothing.

“Bloody hell!” Willow gasped, trying to cover herself awkwardly with her hands. She stomped her foot angrily and sent more water splashing all over the floor. “Is the whole world going to walk in on me while I’m trying to have a bloody bath?”

“Awfully sorry,” Faith said as she turned to leave. There was hardly an ounce of an apology in her jovial tone. She cast a glance over her shoulder before she exited the laundry, looking Willow up and down.

Willow instantly felt her cheeks redden. “What?” she demanded.

“You’re looking a little on the scrawny side, Will,” Faith commented nonchalantly. “Eating every now and then is something I would highly recommend.”

Willow reached swiftly for her wash cloth and hurled it in Faith’s direction. The sopping wet rag would have caught Faith squarely on the cheek if not for her quick reflexes. Without dropping the laundry she carried under one arm, she caught it and tossed it back into the tub at Willow’s feet.

“Bugger off!” Willow muttered darkly.

Faith grinned and skipped out. She caused Willow’s expression to darken further when she gave her a cheeky wink before closing the door. Willow did not even think about sitting down to resume her enjoyment of her bath. The water was now lukewarm and she was as mad as hell.

There was only one activity that could even begin to alleviate her frustration and anger. She was going hunting, and she almost felt sorry for any creature that would be foolish enough to happen across her path.

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Willow Van Helsing...saving the world since 1777Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:45 am 
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13. Big Knowledge Woman
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Holy moly! The whole Willow/Yuko interaction is heartbreaking. Willow remembering Ayako and getting the gift of her katana all those years ago, then Yuko giving her the wakazashi that went with it is so rough. It is good and bad at the same time. I still can't help but wonder whatever became of the katana. I remember Abraham had it in the training room on a stand of some sort (still with Willow's blood on it I think), but after so many years, there's no telling where it is.

Quote:
Reluctantly, Willow lifted her right hand and wrapped her hand around the proffered hilt. Her arm jolted slightly. It was as though she felt a sudden surge of power at the weapon’s touch.


Ooh, what's going on here I wonder. Very interesting.


Quote:
None of this was what she wanted. Tara was in her life, as she was meant to be. That was what she wanted.


Willow is conflicted, but I'm glad to see she knows, of course, that Tara is what she wants. It's all just so, so terribly complicated.

Then there's the whole Tara confronting her in her bath. It is quite comical for a minute picturing Willow trying to cover herself and Tara reminding her she's seen it all "intimately". Man I miss those days. But Tara witnessed something going on with Willow and Yuko, and that had to crush her. I'm glad she came right out and asked Willow, although the conversation didn't turn out well at all.

And then this:

Quote:
“Please don’t do me the discourtesy of lying to me, Willow. I know full well I make you miserable. I see it in your eyes whenever you look at me.”


Oh man, it's like they take one step forward and ten steps back. It was just a few days earlier they were making out on the desk in Willow's office and now all this.

From Willow's thoughts in response to what Tara said, it seems subconsciously perhaps she hasn't fully been able to forgive what the evil Vamp Tara did to her, but she does know that it is not the same Tara that is with her now. Still utterly confusing. Maybe she does need to tell Tara what happened back then for Tara to understand how she acts sometimes. Tara will no doubt be crushed once again.

Will their torment never end, Alcy?!! Well, of course it will, but it doesn't stop from giving me a migraine during the long, tormenting process to get there.

I'm assuming that begging for lots of hot, sweaty W/T make up sex soon is out of the question? Damn - can't blame a girl for trying. :wink

Great job once again, and if I get an ulcer, I'm blaming you! LOL

P.S. I think I'm one of the few on this early in the morning, thus, I am now doing the dance of DIBS! :dance


Wimpy

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Restlessness ~ Quickies - The Lovers, The Dreamers & Me

"There was plenty of magic." ~~ Tara


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:11 am 
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8. Vixen
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Mr. Meates's injuries freak me out... I'm glad that Willow received the wakizashi... I wonder when the wakizashi is reunited with it's sister katana... I really really hope that Willow or maybe Faith explain to Tara in very direct words that Willow has only one woman in her life and that woman is Tara...

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