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 29 Oc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:15 am 
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4. Extra Flamey

Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:59 am
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Argh, how long do we have to wait until these two are finally reunited?! Hopefully before Willow has to leave her house to go search for the big bad in the antarctic or wherever the Lord of Ice and Shadow may reside...
I get that Tara feels confused by the exchange she saw with Yuko but that she acts here as if she has no more hope for an intimate relationship with Willow, as if she doesn't believe Willow loves her still, bothers me. She should try to talk things out with Willow instead of confronting her naked in the bathtub with a pretty accusing undertone and then storming out although Willow asks her not to.

Now Willow goes hunting...I have to admit it is too long ago I read this the first time for me to remember if something happens on her hunt. Maybe if she comes back Tara is more in the mood to really talk with and listen to her...there always hope for a miracle, isn't it?


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 5 Nov
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:41 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

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im wicked excited this is being updated and on my b-day no less lol cant wait for the next chapter!


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 5 Nov
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:23 pm 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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I'm up to date but I'm terrible about feedback these days. Poor Tara and poor Willow. They are so out of place and time. Willow can't be happy and comfortable and Tara has got to be just freaked out every second. I guess at least they now have someone to cook for them so they're not starving in addition to life sort of sucking. And then for ... hell I can't think of her name and I can't page back without losing this Ayako? to come back from the dead sort of will just make things harder.

Erggghh.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 5 Nov
PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:39 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Storming off in the middle of the night never works out well for these two.

I hope Willow makes it back in one piece and that they finally start to communicate.

The cook being an ancestor of ANOTHER one of Willow's long lost loves was a land mine that blew the shit out of all the progress the girls were starting to make.

Once again, two steps forward....ten steps back :happy .


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 5 Nov
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:53 am 
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14. Lesbo Street Cred
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wimpy: Hey there, buddy. Yes, you definitely win the dibs for this update without a doubt. So the lost katana is a mystery and will remain so for some time unfortunately. The fact that Yuko has brought her the wakazashi really serves to remind her of its absence. Willow loved that sword...then the last time she saw it, it was protruding from her own chest. So I think any reunion will be tinged with an air of pain as well.

Willow is terribly conflicted. I think because she knows that Tara is 100% what she wants, but her relationship with Ayako was eternally unrequited. Had Ayako not died in the forest (and this wasn’t the Kittenboard) then their relationship would have become something more.

The interaction between Tara and Willow was hearthreaking to write, especially as they had come quite far in their development up until the point that another woman entered Willow’s life. I am terribly sorry that I couldn’t continue in the vein of hot desk-top make out sessions...not quite yet anyway. They’re not quite ready to go there – or more to the point, I’m enjoying dragging this out a little bit longer!

Quote:
I'm assuming that begging for lots of hot, sweaty W/T make up sex soon is out of the question?

Don’t get ahead of yourself :kiss

PS: I shall be including a disclaimer next time that says I am not liable for any ulcers caused by reading this fic!

zampsa: As I was telling wimpy, we may have a while to go before Willow gets her swords reunited (if at all, I make no promises!). While it is very clear in Willow’s thinking that there is only one woman in her life, Tara can’t accept this. She feels the distance between them even more keenly than Willow because this isn’t her timeline. She will receive a helping hand from someone...just not the person that you expect. :wink

wills redemption: I’m not going to give the game away with how much long you have to wait, except to say that I hope it will be worth it when it finally does eventuate. I think it’s not really a case of whether Tara knows that Willow loves her, I think she does, but whether she believes that she has a place in this new life. I think in her mind, Willow has moved on from her lost love. She doesn’t understand that Willow never moved on.

Something is about to happen, I’ll get the next two chapters up as quickly as possible so you can find out...

Aly: Happy belated Birthday. Glad that you enjoyed the update and it came at a perfect time for you!

Deb: I know what you mean about being terrible about feedback so thanks so much for popping in. I love you pointing out that at least they have someone to cook for them. On top of everything they’re going through, eating porridge and cabbage really can’t have been helping things.

Ayako isn’t back from the dead, not in the sense that Willow is, but rather the two women are supposed to be incredibly similar to the point where it is difficult for Willow to separate them. Either way, you’re right in that it makes things harder. Thanks!

Grimm:
Quote:
Storming off in the middle of the night never works out well for these two.


Nope, definitely not...but it fits well with the broody vampire hunter image that Willow is currently rocking.
Quote:
The cook being an ancestor of ANOTHER one of Willow's long lost loves was a land mine that blew the shit out of all the progress the girls were starting to make.

I love your analogy there, perfect. Neither of them knew it was coming, everything was looking kind of rosy and then BAM! We’re knocked right back. Still, Ayako’s presence just might be a good thing...
Thanks so much for reading, Grimm!

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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 5 Nov
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:19 pm 
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~Chapter 10~
An Unlikely Confidant


As she absently tapped one boot against the other, Faith realised that waiting patiently was a skill she had yet to master. For the fourth time in as many minutes, she glanced up at the massive grandfather clock that sat in the corner of the sitting room at Gordon Square. Time had barely passed and it did not change the fact that her lover was late. Faith let out a mildly irritated sigh and lifted herself from the rather unforgiving sofa. No wonder no one ever uses this bloody room! My arse feels like its been sitting on a rock, she thought irritably.

Yet another long glance out the window into the dark street beyond confirmed that Lara’s carriage had yet to arrive. She let the curtains fall and took to pacing the length of the sitting room like a caged tiger. Each time she spun on her heels towards the fireplace, she was made acutely aware that she was being watched by the portraits of Abraham and Willow Van Helsing. She couldn’t help but meet their twin green gazes. Her response was a slight scowl. Redheads were nothing but trouble.

Faith crossed back to the window – still no carriage. The thought of passing her time in the training room was momentarily appealing. However she knew that when Lara eventually did decide to arrive, she would have a limited amount of time. The scowl returned at the thought. She knew full well it was a selfish reaction. Lara’s brother was arriving on the evening train for a brief visit. Faith had to admit to herself that her reaction was partially based on apprehension. A family introduction carried serious potential for embarrassment and awkwardness. Faith was unaccustomed to either. However, she was also unaccustomed to being in a long-term relationship. Prior to her meeting Lara Croft, she had neither the desire nor the temperament for one. Nothing could be done to change her temperament, but her desire to spend the rest of her life with Lara went a long way towards cancelling it out.

Just as a sappy smile was about to fix itself on her face, she heard the welcome clatter of hooves on cobbles. Before rushing to the front door, she confirmed it was indeed Lara’s carriage with a quick glance out the window. She watched the gorgeous figure of Lara Croft alight and the sappy smile returned. The absurdity of having become a giddy, lovesick fool barely crossed her mind.

Gordon Square’s heavy, black door was thrown open before Lara could even lift her hand to knock. A split second later, Faith dragged her inside with a firm hand on the front of her dress and, at the same time, kicked the door shut with the toe of her boot. Even as the sound of the door slamming reverberated throughout the foyer, Faith found Lara’s lips and proceeded to kiss her lover as though her life depended on it.

“I am sorry for being late,” Lara said as she paused for breath. “And I do believe I was assaulted before I had the opportunity to say hello.”

“There is no time for hello,” Faith replied breathlessly. She was already impatient to resume their kiss.

This time she drew Lara close to her body for just a moment, long enough to caress the back of her throat with her tongue. Faith then spun Lara around with a firm grip on her waist and gently but fiercely lowered her back against the stairs. With Lara’s weight gone from her arms, she was able to put her hands to a better use – undoing the buttons that trailed down from her throat to just below her waist. Her fingers worked deftly until she exposed the soft silk of Lara’s chemise beneath. Through the thin fabric, she could see the heaving mounds of Lara’s breasts. The erect nipples strained upwards, making two irresistible little targets for Faith’s fingers. She tweaked both in turn, satisfied by the resulting gasp from Lara.

“You’re not wearing a corset,” Faith pointed out with a wink. She easily tugged the silken chemise upward and exposed the equally silken skin beneath to her touch.

“I am well aware of the pressures on our time,” Lara replied wickedly.

Faith grinned. “God I love you, woman,” she whispered tenderly.

She was still grinning as she lowered her lips to Lara’s as she pressed her back against the stairs with the weight of her body. While the fingers of one hand undid the clasp which held back Lara’s hair, those of the other worked gently on her breasts. Moulding the flesh firmly, further pinching and arousing Lara’s nipples until both were flaming red with desire. The clasp came undone and Faith pulled Lara’s hair free, trailing her fingers through its silky bulk. That hand then moved to cup Lara’s cheek for a moment, caressing the skin just as he lips caressed Lara’s. She them moved both hands down Lara’s body, pausing to grab and squeeze the flesh of buttocks and thighs. She shifted slightly, moving her lower body so she could tug Lara’s skirts upwards and bunch them around her thighs. Faith let out a slight grunt of annoyance as she discovered that Lara was wearing underwear was just one more garment to fiddle with and remove.

“I hate to interrupt,” Lara said as she gasped for air for the second time. Faith didn’t seem to mind the interruption to their kiss. Instead she bent downwards and took one of her breasts in her mouth. “But I do feel the need to remind you that you don’t live alone. Where are the others?” Her question ended in a high-pitched tone as Faith gently nipped her already inflamed nipple.

“Haven’t…the…faintest clue,” Faith replied awkwardly. She discovered it was quite difficult to talk with a mouthful of breast.

“Yes…well, I think we ought to retire to your…room?” Lara suggested before she too found it difficult to talk through the low groans that began emerging from her throat as a result of Faith’s ministrations.

Faith glanced up. “You’re not excited about the possibility of someone walking in on us?”

Lara laughed lightly and gently cupped Faith’s chin to draw her forward for a short kiss. “You make it sound like we’re in a room. We’re in the foyer!”

“It was convenient,” was Faith’s response as she set to work on the ties of Lara’s underwear.

“I also don’t think that Willow would take kindly to us soiling her staircase,” Lara helpfully pointed out. This drew Faith’s attention and she stopped, looking up at her as though her plans for immediate lovemaking had been somewhat thwarted. “I do become so very wet beneath your touch, my love.”

“I can be careful?” Faith suggested hopefully, resuming her work on Lara’s underwear.

“I don’t want you to be careful.”

Faith stopped and looked up. She paused for just a second before, with an exasperated sigh, she rose to her feet and dragged Lara up after her. The harassed and half undressed Museum Director was then prodded forward up the stairs as gently as possible in Faith’s haste.

It took them scant time at all to reach Faith’s room. It would have been even quicker save for a brief pause at the top of the stairs to engage in another bout of kissing. A loud crash from the kitchen interrupted Faith with her hand half way down Lara’s underwear. Both finally realised that having anyone stumble across their passion would result in embarrassment for all. They then made a beeline directly for the room and the door was closed behind them to further secure their privacy.

“Much better,” Lara said looking at the bed. She preferred having a mattress beneath her instead of a hard, decidedly bumpy staircase.

“Shut up and take your bloody clothes off,” Faith growled. She was already working impatiently on her own.

Lara smiled as she stood and watched Faith for a moment. Just seeing her lover struggle to tug her boots off as quickly as possible made her feel so incredibly young. She had obviously done the laces up too tightly and was growing frustrated with just how time consuming the process was. Her heart swelled with emotion as she observed just how much Faith wanted to be with her.

“You know how much I love you?” Lara asked, just as Faith finally managed to take her first boot off.

“No,” Faith looked up but continued to work on her second boot. “But if it’s half as much as I love you, then you’d be scaring me. I’ve never been loved like that…not even that time in Paris when I fucked four whores at once.”

Lara was momentarily taken aback, but she then she the playful sparkle in Faith’s eyes. “Four?”

“I jest…it was only three.”

“I’m surprised you could handle three of them…especially considering the fact that you can’t even seem to undress yourself,” Lara teased.

As Faith still struggled with footwear, she peeled her dress down over her shoulders and let it fall to pool around her feet. The silk chemise came away from her body all too easily. Her underwear was already half falling off her hips and with some slight encouragement - it too joined her dress on the floor. At the sight of Lara’s naked body, Faith ripped her boot from her foot with such force that she fell over. She barely winced and instead immediately started working on her pants. Lying on her back with her arse lifted in the air, she tugged them downwards and off altogether. Her shirt was off before she was back on her feet and seconds later her equally naked body was pressed against Lara’s. In a tumble of bare limbs, they fell back onto the bed.

Their hunger for one another was evident in the immediate urgency of their moments. Both wished for more hands so that they could feel more of the other at the same time. They traded positions, back and forth across the bed as they vied to be on top and in control. Lara finally gave up, her breath coming in gasps, as she let Faith have her way. She closed her eyes and nestled back against the soft mattress as she felt her lover’s body slide down her own. A few moments later, she felt hot breath fall upon her thighs and she gasped with delight. With just slight pressure from her fingertips, Faith encouraged her legs open. She let them fall apart, moving them wider so she could bare everything in front of her lover. She was already subconsciously pumping her hips in anticipation of what was to come. However the hot breath lingered on her thighs. Eventually, she felt the pads of Faith’s fingertips trailing over the soft skin. Next came her lips, as she laid delicate kisses from just above her knees to her inner thighs. Lara let out an exasperated breath. For all their earlier urgency, Faith was now teasing her mercilessly.

Finally, she felt the warmth fall where she wanted it most. She giggled slightly as Faith’s fingers tickled the very innermost spots of her thighs. The touch was all too close. So close in fact that she thought she could move her hips slightly and force the fingers to touch her mound. When the anticipation was almost more than she could bear, she finally felt a feather-light touch against her sex. Her hips jerked upwards involuntarily and she let out a gasp. There was a brief pause, then another light touch and another, slightly firmer. Finally she felt the firm pressure of Faith’s fingers parting her outer lips completely and her hot breath fell somewhere more intimate, somewhere that was already throbbing with desire and need. Seconds later, her flesh was caressed by the tender touch of Faith’s lips, rubbing, caressing, kissing.

Faith explored widely from the tip of Lara’s outer lips, to the already moist opening of her cunt until finally she settled her attentions on the throbbing nub of Lara’s clit. At first, she teased it with her lips, barely nibbling on it and flicking it with her tongue. Then, encouraged by the sounds coming from above her, she intensified the contact. She dug her heels into the mattresses in order to grind herself forward as firmly as possible. She took as much of Lara’s flesh in her mouth as she could and, with the clit at the centre of her mouthful, she sucked gently but firmly. The flesh rolled deliciously with the pressure of her tongue, back and forth up and down. With each passing second, Lara’s hips began to buck even more urgently beneath her. While the fingers of her left hand were busy keeping Lara’s flesh parted wide, she reached up with the other to find Lara’s searching hand. She grasped it firmly and their fingers entwined in a white knuckled grip.

As her lover’s moans began to merge into one, drawn out sound, Faith concentrated everything on that tiny little mound of flesh. Even engorged with lust, it was still such a small thing to be the cause of so much pleasure. Faith knew Lara felt it throughout her entire body. From her erect nipples, down to the fire in her belly. Everything was radiating outwards from that one point of contact. Her tongue worked feverishly. Even as her jaw began to ache slightly, she did not let up her pace. Lara was close, she could tell by the fact that the fingers of her right hand felt as though they were about to snap within the fierce grip. Suddenly, Lara’s hips bucked upwards, more violently than before. Several more spasms followed as Lara let out a groan that sounded as though it came from her gut. True to her earlier warning, a surge of wetness accompanied her cry. The salty, warm juices flowed over Faith’s tongue and dribbled down her chin as she maintained her contact for just a short while longer. When she felt Lara’s body sag with exhaustion beneath her, she knew she could take no more.

She gently eased herself up the length on Lara’s body and came to lie atop her. She disengaged her crushed hand so she could cup Lara’s face in both palms and draw her forward for a moist kiss. Lara surprised her with the urgency with which she hungrily tasted her own juices.

Faith was further surprised when she felt Lara’s hand force itself between their sweaty bodies. She shifted slightly, rolling over onto her left hip so Lara could better reach down between them and find the apex of her own thighs. With her long, elegant, strong fingers, Lara found her sex. Faith could feel her own wetness. She had been wet from the moment she had forced Lara back against the stairs in the foyer. The beautiful feeling of Lara coming in her mouth had very nearly driven her to her own orgasm.

When Lara’s fingers disappeared within her folds and found her clit, it took all of a half dozen firm strokes before she gasped throatily and felt her sex spasm in the palm of Lara’s hand.

“I am sorry,” Faith whispered, burrowing her face in the nape of Lara’s neck.

“Don’t be,” Lara replied. She reached up and pressed one hand against Faith’s chest. With a gentle shove, she sent her rolling over onto her back. She then swung one leg up over her hip and pinned Faith to the mattress. “You are not getting off that lightly.”

With the lingering spasms of her climax barely faded, Faith felt two of Lara’s fingers force their way upward. She cried out slightly with surprise and pleasure as they were buried deep in her cunt. Lara paused above her for a moment. They shared another kiss and as their lips were locked together, Lara began to move gently. She drew her fingers back until they were almost completely out, before sliding them forward again. With each thrust, her pace increased. Her fingers strained inside her lover, curling forward towards Faith’s stomach to offer as much pressure as she could.

Faith wrapped both her thighs around Lara’s back, locking them together so they could better move as one. She had to break free from their kiss in order to draw in more air in loud gasps. With Lara’s face buried in her neck, she locked her own chin over Lara’s shoulder. When she opened her eyes she could see Lara’s back and buttocks thrusting into the air. She grabbed an arse check each with her hands and gained some satisfaction from digging her nails into the flesh.

“Oh, Lara…please?” she whispered into Lara’s hair, closing her eyes once more.

The sweat was soon pooling between her breasts as Lara intensified her movements to the point where Faith knew she could not maintain it for long. Hopefully it would be just long enough for her to reach her second climax. She too strained, doing her utmost to feel as much of the sensations as she could by thrusting her hips upwards to meet Lara. The palm of her hand was jammed against her already tender clit. By sliding her hips back and forth, she maximised that contact to its utmost. Then, as she felt Lara’s strength beginning to fade, she felt her release. This time it was all the sweeter with Lara’s fingers buried deep within her. She felt her passage spasm around that point of contact, gripping her fingers with each contraction of her muscles. Still breathing heavily, they found each other lips. The resulting kiss was lazy with their exhaustion. They took their time, barely moving their tongues or lips as they revelled in the contact instead.

A few moments later, Lara shifted her weight from atop Faith and lay down beside her. She kept their bodies pressed tightly together as she wrapped one arm around Faith’s sweaty torso. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, smelling the aftermath of their fucking – sweat and the musty aroma of their combined juices.

She tried to forget about the fact that she had to leave eventually and burrowed deeper. The gentle play of Faith’s fingers on her back and arm tickled but also lulled her towards the edge of sleep. She felt so safe and content that it was all too easy for her to let everything go. However, as she drifted off, it was not the sweet memories of lovemaking that played behind her eyelids. It was instead the sightless black eyes of Tommy Meates staring back at her. With his pale, transparent hands stretching out towards her as she cringed away in disgust. Just as he was about to reach her, she jerked awake. She found herself still safe in Faith’s arms.

Some of the warmth had left her body and she felt a slight chill. The blankets had been mostly thrown from the bed and she had only Faith’s body heat. She drew in closer.

Feeling the movement, Faith lifted herself up onto one elbow and looked down at Lara. Her eyes trailed the length of her body and already she felt another stirring in her loins. God, I could fuck this woman all night, she thought as she felt her exhaustion fade. She was eager to return to that state of exhaustion once again and nuzzled Lara’s throat. She trailed kisses up and down its length before moving to find her lips. Lara’s lips parted only half-heartedly beneath the touch and she drew back. Lara’s eyes opened and she too propped herself up on one elbow.

Misunderstanding the movement, Faith moved forward to resume the kiss. However, Lara again did not respond in the manner she had hoped for and she drew back. Faith growled low in her throat and nipped playfully at Lara’s ear, mildly annoyed at her advances being rejected. However the resulting bite was enough to cause her lover to yelp in discomfort.

With her ear still smarting, Lara sighed quietly and let herself slump backwards until her head hit the pillow. She lay with a halo of lustrous brown hair framing her face as she stared up at Faith. Her lover stared down at her with a slight smile on her face.

“I fail to see anything amusing at present. Especially considering that my busy thoughts have probably spoiled your nefarious intentions.”

Faith’s smirk broadened. “When it comes to you, my love, nothing could possibly spoil my desire. Even when I see you hunched over a stack of papers at your desk, I am still gripped by the urgent desire to rip open your bodice to get at those luscious breasts of yours.”

Lara found a smile of her own. “I shall remember that next time I am up to my eyeballs in paperwork.”

“There is nothing amusing about the concerns that plague your thoughts, Lara. I was just reminded how much I love you, and why I love you so damn much,” Faith whispered. She leaned in close once again to claim Lara’s lips in a quick caress. “Your compassion never fails to amaze me. Does it not exhaust you? Caring for so many concerns, for so many people, all the time?”

“To tell the truth, I try not to dwell on the scale of my job. However, I cannot help but care about the people in my life, whether it is a member of my family such as you or Willow or a member of my staff. I am worried for poor Mr Meates. Despite the lack of knowledge about his ailment, I have the dread feeling in my heart that he does not have long before…well, whatever the final outcome is, death…or something even worse.”

Faith pursed her lips together. She fervently wished there was some promise that she could make that would at least go some way towards reassuring Lara. However, for all her strength and skill, there was nothing she could do. She could make love to her of course, banish her fears for the duration, but she could not actually help with anything important.

The shadow warriors were a very real threat, but one that was all very well, but she did not even know where to begin. Even worse, a part of her feet decided odd about the prospect of meeting them again. It was such an unusual feeling for her that it took her several moments to realise what the emotion was. Faith had to look away from Lara lest she see it in her eyes. She was scared, and the very thought of that realisation scared her even further.

“Are you alright?”

Lara’s quiet question intruded on her thoughts and she pushed them to the back of her mind. She started to nod slowly and then stopped herself. For some strange reason, the very much naked form of Willow Rosenberg intruded on her thoughts. Faith then shook her head slightly, remembering the angry expression on Willow’s face. What she had not told the redhead during their brief conversation was that she had bumped into Tara on her way through the kitchen. The blonde’s face had been pale, her expression stricken. She had politely brushed aside Faith’s offer of assistance and continued on her way. Although Faith had no clue as to what had actually passed between the two, she had seen the redhead’s palpable anger. While Willow was not overly quick to anger, once provoked it was volatile and difficult to assuage. The usual result was some sort of disaster.

“I know something is on your mind,” Lara prompted gently when she received no reply.

When Faith finally glanced back to meet Lara’s gaze, she saw a slight frown marring her beautiful brow.

“I am fine,” Faith assured her. “It is Willow. I think she is struggling with something.”

“More so than usual?” Lara asked the valid question.

“More so than usual,” Faith agreed.

She moved her elbow out from beneath her and flopped down to join Lara on the pillow. Lara shifted her own arm, slipping it beneath Faith’s shoulders and enfolding her tenderly.

“As much as we need Willow here, I feel we should pack hers and Tara’s bags and send them away on holiday,” Faith announced. “Perhaps Greece or the south of France. Somewhere warm.”

“I am trying to recall the last time Willow actually went on holiday. “Lara frowned again as she came up blank. “Does she even like the beach?”

Faith shrugged. “I haven’t the foggiest clue. I was thinking along the lines of somewhere warm so they could wear as little clothing as possible.”

“Have they even managed to resume their physical relationship yet?”

“No, and that’s the bloody problem!” Faith growled. “If those two don’t get themselves sorted and start fucking soon, they’re going to drive me insane. Whenever they get remotely close to one another, something happens to force them apart. This time I can’t even figure out what the hell is up with them!”

“I would hazard a guess and say it has something to do with the Japanese woman,” Lara commented quietly.

Faith sat up abruptly. “What do you mean?” she asked incredulously. “Willow has only just met the woman. You can’t possibly tell me that there’s something going on between them. Besides, Willow and Tara are meant to be together. If such a thing is ever meant to be true, it is surely true of them!”

Lara reached out and tenderly stroked Faith’s naked arm. She felt just how tense the muscles were. “I seriously doubt that Willow would think twice about another woman while Tara is in her life, but there was a time when that was not the case. Giles told me that Willow fell in love with a young woman when they travelled to Japan.”

“Why would Giles even tell you something like that?” Faith asked dubiously.

Lara shrugged. “It was hardly a conversation of great importance. My curiosity was piqued by a comment he made and I enquired as to what sort of woman Willow Van Helsing had been. I am not even sure why he made mention of the Japanese woman. Perhaps because it was so at odds with the Willow I knew.”

“Essentially, you were gossiping about her,” Faith added bluntly.

“Yes,” Lara admitted without shame. “Suffice to say, I think Willow has some difficulty with the presence of Yuko Nakamura.”

“That’s ridiculous, because she looks a little like someone she once loved?”

Lara shrugged. “It is merely a guess. I think you should talk to Willow, my dearest. You are her best friend and confidant.”

Faith remembered the rather angry looking Willow she had left standing in the laundry. She nodded in response to Lara’s suggestion but decided that she would give Willow a few hours, possibly even a day, to calm down. Meanwhile she glanced back to the naked woman lying beside her and, for the moment, was easily able to banish further thoughts of Willow.

“Look at us. There was a time when we could barely talk to one another because of the unrequited sexual tension between us…”

“It’s certainly no longer unrequited,” Lara interrupted playfully. Their conversation had gone some way towards helping her feel more secure. Her friends needed her, that was a given. However, the concerns that plagued her also served to help her realise just how much she needed Faith and their time alone together.

“Now we lie in bed and talk about our feelings and the concerns of our friends and family.” Faith continued. “We’re like an old married couple.”

“Married couples don’t lie in bed and talk about their feelings, Faith.” Lara helpfully pointed out.

“They don’t?”

“No…and I suppose you think a bed is just for sleeping in?”

“It is…” Faith paused and finally her eyes lit up. “Oh, of course it’s not.”

Moving with her customary cat-like grace, Faith sat up and straddled Lara’s body. They then proceeded to prove once and for all that the bed was not for sleeping in. At least not when they were on such a tight schedule.

~~~~~~

If Faith and Lara had known exactly where Tara was in the midst of their public display of affection, they would not have been overly worried about her disturbing them. At that moment the blonde was in a room that she did not have much cause to use for the very fact that she could not wield a weapon, or use her body as a weapon in the same manner as Faith and Willow.

The training room.

Tara had of course been in the room on several occasions. Willow had given her a thorough tour of the house and often when she had been looking for the redhead, she found her covered in sweat dancing across the mats on the floor with some weapon in her hands. Willow seemed to enjoy spending time in the dark room. For some reason, from the first visit, Tara felt a distinct aversion to the training room. One obvious reason was that she didn’t like weapons. As befitting a lady of her rank and upbringing, she had no experience with them. The room gave off an unpleasant odour. It was a concoction of damp, metal and sweat. Yet as unpleasant as it was, Tara knew that was not the reason for the room’s effect on her. She felt short of breath and confined, despite its size. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and her skin crawled. Tentatively, she took a few more steps towards the centre of the room and the sensations intensified.

Despite the awful feelings it aroused within her, Tara continued deeper into the room. She didn’t know why she was putting herself through an ordeal that was actually making her feel sick. A part of her wanted to turn on her heels, lift her skirts and run from the room as fast as she possibly could. However, something was drawing her further in. For someone who craved answers as much as she did, it would have been foolish to back out.

Fighting through her rising terror, Tara continued. For some reason, she was being drawn to the far left wall. It was completely covered with a wall of books, all neatly stacked in their shelves. Although there was no much to distinguish one leather bound spine from another, Tara was drawn to one in particular. With trembling fingers she reached out and plucked it from the shelf. It was an old volume indeed. She had to use two hands to hold it - such was its weight. Most Horride Magicks, Tara read the title and shivered slightly. She was about to replace it on the shelf when she saw something about the stone behind that caught her eye. The walls of the training room were of the same dark stone that made up much of the house at Gordon Square. However, from what she could see of the stone behind the book, it was different, a much lighter colour. Tara set the heavy book in her arms down on the floor and began pulling out others.

She worked feverishly, taking books from one shelf, then the one above it and below. Only when she had dozens of books piled on the floor about her feet and a light sheen of sweat coating her face, did she finally stop. Although she had exposed only a small portion of the wall behind, she could clearly see that a different colour stone had been used on one part of the wall. It was precisely as though a doorway had been bricked off. Still unsure of exactly what she was looking for, Tara reached out and placed the palm of her hand flat against the stone.

She does not know for sure how long her fists have pounded on the stone walls of her prison, nor how long her screams of pain have echoed within their confines, only her instincts tell her that it has been longer than mere days or weeks. She knows this because she has already screamed for so long her voice has wasted away to nothing and she can feel the painful red raw state of her knuckles. Although vampires are creatures of the night, she can no longer stand the state of absolute darkness in which she is kept and she longs for a light of any kind...even the sunlight which would bring about her destruction.

Her world of solitude is harshly interrupted with the sound of a door opening and a weak light suddenly filling her cell. Her eyes have difficulty adjusting and all she can see is a dark shadow coming to stand before the iron bars of her cell. There is a rasping noise that hurts her ears and the grate on the iron door is opened, another bowl of blood is slopped into middle of her cell, most of its contents spilling onto the already stained and sticky floor. She starts to crawl towards the shafts of light spilling across the floor, like a moth to a flame, but all too quickly the grate is slammed shut and the shadow leaves. Moments later the external door closes to throw her back into complete darkness. A weak, strangled sob erupts from her mouth as she feels the loss of light as yet another cruel stab to her beating heart.

She collapses to the floor. The sobs gradually intensify until her entire body is twisted and heaving. Her cries emerge as near-silent, breathy gasps from her hoarse throat. This continues until she is too weak to even cry and her limp body is nothing more than a lump on the floor of her cell. Time passes, although she cannot be sure if it is minutes or hours. Instead everything merges together into one impenetrable void where nothing is coherent. Nothing until she sees a flash of red in her mind. It is just as abrupt and painful as the light hurting her eyes, possibly even more so. Gradually the colours solidify, forming a face so perfectly beautiful she has difficulty remembering if such a person ever existed.

"W-W..."

The word is on her lips but it will go no further, she will not allow herself to put a name to the face. However she remembers something of why she is enduring her tortured existence. The desire to live once again enters her mind.


Tara’s eyes snapped open and she immediately found herself at eye level with the floor. Trembling from head to foot, she sat up with a slight wince. Several spots on her body smarted painfully. Glancing around she realised she had fainted and landed on the books she had stripped from the shelves moments earlier.

Had it even been moments earlier? Tara had no idea just how long she had been unconscious on the floor. Nor did she know why. She did however remember the strange and frightening dream she had in all too vivid detail. She had been in a cell - alone in a filthy, disgusting, and dark cell. Although Tara did not know what it meant, she clearly remembered feeling so wretched that she wanted to die. There had been only one thought that sustained her in the dark place – Willow.

Although it had clearly been a dream, or a vision of a past she could not remember, Tara knew with a dreadful certainty that she had felt those almost those exact same emotions in her short life. During the time she had been married to Edward Walsh she had been in the same wretched state, perhaps not physically, but mentally. The only thought that kept her from trying to find a way to end her life had been the possibility of seeing Willow again.

Tara eased herself to her feet. She winced slightly as she realised just how foolish it was for one to fall on a stack of books. As she began replacing the books on the shelves, she tried to conjure up images from the dream. There had been a cell, that was easy enough to remember. Filth as well, although there had been some element to the filth that had particularly disgusted her. A bowl filled with something. Tara closed her eyes for a moment but could not remember what had been in the bowl.

“Tara-san.”

At the unexpected interruption, Tara jumped and fumbled with the last book. It fell and the corner drove into her big toe. She uttered a small yelp of pain and dropped to her knees to rub the wounded appendage. Before she could pick up the book, Yuko Nakamura was at her side. The Japanese women retrieved the book and placed it in the last slot on the shelf. She then extended her hand towards Tara.

Tentatively, Tara took the proffered hand and let Yuko pull her to her feet. She was drawn in close to the other woman and found herself staring directly into her eyes. It was easy enough to see what Willow saw in her. Despite her jealousy, Tara could acknowledge that Yuko was a beautiful woman. Although Yuko was wearing a simple outfit consisting of a shirt and wide-legged pants, she stood with a poised grace. Tara drew back quickly and fought the urge to storm from the room. Instead she stayed, hands clenched into fists at her side.

“You have been upset?” Yuko suddenly reached out and with a gentle swipe of her thumb, brushed away a tear.

“I-I…” Tara had not realised that she had been crying.

“The past can be a treacherous snake just as much as it can be a source of comfort and strength,” Yuko said as she let Tara brush away the remainder of her tears. “I must seek your forgiveness. I fear I have not been entirely honest with you-”

“Willow told me,” Tara interrupted quietly.

Yuko bowed her head slightly in understanding. “If you want us to leave this house, Haruki and I will go without a fuss.”

“I do not,” Tara replied honestly. She met Yuko’s startled gaze. “You have obviously come to England for a reason-”

It was Yuko’s turn to interrupt Tara. She did so with a gentle touch to her upper arm. “I have, and please believe me when I say that it is not to cause friction between you and your love. My obligation to my ancestors is very important to me. They gave their oath that they would help Willow, and I must fulfil that oath.”

Tara closed her eyes for just a moment. She savoured the way in which Willow had sustained her. Both during the life she could remember, and the one she could not. When she opened her eyes again, there was a small smile on her face.

“And I love Willow,” she said softly. “With all my heart, I love Willow. How could I make such a claim if I were to deny her your help? I can do very little myself to keep her safe, but you can fight.”

“Fighting is not the only way to keep someone safe,” Yuko replied, letting her hand fall back to her side.

She took several graceful steps backward. Suddenly, with very little outward preparation, she sprang backwards. Her feet went up over her head in an arc and swept back down to the floor. Her feet barely touched when she sprang upwards again, launching her entire body around and snapping her foot out in a sweeping kick. The Japanese woman repeated the moves over and over, with slightly varying combinations. Each part of her body worked in perfect harmony, whether she was flying through the air or spinning on her heels. Tara could only watch in amazement at the display of human capability. What the young woman could do with her body was nothing short of gravity defying.

Finally she came to a halt, a seemingly effortless transition from intense physical movement to a complete state of stillness. She turned to look towards Tara, her shoulders heaving only slightly with exertion.

“That was…” Tara began. She shook her head, unable to come up with the right word.

“Very pretty to look at?” Yuko finished helpfully. She crossed the short distance between them. “However, completely useless if someone were to have a firearm. You yourself could have shot me before I came within striking distance.”

Tara almost snorted. The incident in Willow’s office sprang to mind immediately. If she couldn’t shoot a stationary target that was a few feet away, she doubted she could hit someone moving as quickly as Yuko. “I beg to differ, but I see your point. So I should learn how to shoot instead of…fly through the air?”

Yuko shook her head softly. “No. You do not need the power of a weapon, Tara-san. You have enough power of you own.”

Tara’s eyes widened in surprise, surely Yuko did not know what lurked inside her. She herself did not know what lurked inside her. It had only emerged just once that she could remember. That night in the park when she had run away from Gordon Square. Without knowing how, she had brought forth flames from her hand and incinerated a vampire before her eyes. Yuko gave her a small smile and turned her face away from Tara to contemplate something unseen on the wall before her. It was Tara’s turn to shake her head. The Japanese woman was uncanny in her observations. It was distinctly unnerving.

“I can only speak for myself, Tara-san,” Yuko said as she turned to look at the blonde with her customary serene expression. “But I find myself quite hungry, even at this late hour.”

As though in direct response to Yuko’s statement, Tara heard her stomach emit an angry little protest. She realised that she had not eaten since breakfast, and even then she had merely nibbled on a piece of bread. Her appetite had been diminished for so long, that to actually feel hungry was somewhat of a strange sensation. When her stomach rumbled again, Tara realised two things – she was hungry, and happy. She felt as though a weight had lifted from her shoulders.

At her nod, Yuko gently took her by the elbow and led her away from the wall. Even as they walked in the opposite direction, Tara could not help but cast a last glance back over her shoulder in the direction of the mysterious room. The burning desire to know about her past surfaced and she realised that she was finally ready. Not right at that moment however, at that moment she was hungry.

As they walked up the spiralling staircase, she turned to Yuko. “Thank you.”

“You are welcome, Tara-san,” Yuko replied, seemingly not needing any explanation behind Tara’s reason for thanking her.

The two women had barely reached the top of the staircase when Yuko suddenly froze in her tracks. Not expecting her to stop so suddenly, Tara stumbled into her and almost fell. She was steadied by a strong arm and drawn backwards against the wall by a gentle push. She frowned as she saw Yuko peering intently into the darkness of the library and the hall beyond.

“What is it?” Tara asked quietly.

Yuko turned back to her and whispered ominously, “Something is in the house.”

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 12 No
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Dibs! I know, totally not fair, but I'm gonna read it now.

Damn, that was a nice, long update, and man my emotions were bouncing all over the place. I went from horny to tortured to hungry and then scared. I'm not sure what I am at the moment, but maybe a little bit of each.

The whole Faith/Lara part was awesome. We get to see a Faith that is longing, quite impatiently, for her lover's arrival. Then she pretty much pounces on her the second she walks in the door, which is never a bad thing in my book. And aahhh, I remember the "almost sex" on the staircase, and Lara saying she didn't want to soil them. OMG, now I'm thinking about Lara's juices. But I loved their postcoital conversation. Very sweet, and really shows how much they care for each other.

Then Tara going to the training room and admitting to herself there is something about it -- something so bad that it causes her to pass out. I believe Willow asked her before if she felt anything in that room and she denied it, but maybe more and more things are just starting to come back to her. Oh, I really hope she's ready for all the revelations she has coming to her. I liked her talk with Yuko too, and how it set her at ease about some things. I'm curious how Yuko knows about her magic though, so I'll just have to try to be patient. And I'll have to be patient to find out about the katana too. And about what's in the house. Phooey! I am just not that patient a woman, but I'll do my best. Maybe Yuko was just hearing Lara and Faith getting all hot and heavy? Perhaps not. Again with the patience thing.

If I remember correctly, wasn't this right around where the first posting stopped, so now we get more new goodies? Yay!

Great job. More soon please!

Wimpy

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"There was plenty of magic." ~~ Tara


Last edited by wimpy0729 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 12 No
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:21 pm 
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Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

What's in the house? What's in the Hoooooooooooooooooooooouuuussse :gnome ?

It wasn't Willow and Tara. But, at least we got some naked yummies :party .


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 12 No
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:34 pm 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I really loved the Faith - Lara interaction, naughty sexyness combined with loving tenderness... Nice too see that Tara sensed the place where Abraham tortured vampTara... I have a feeling that Yuko has date with her ancestors soon...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 12 No
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:09 pm 
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wimpy: You should know I specialise in writing nice, long updates. I think I am actually incapable of writing a chapter that is less than 3000 words.

Glad to hear you love Faith/Lara as much as I do. Those two women rock – both are great characters in their own right, but together they are full of win! (and naughty almost-sex on staircases).

You will have to be patient I’m afraid, but hopefully the answers to at least some of your questions will be found in the very next chapter.

I actually think that the next chapter was posted on Pens before the fic was taken down but I think it was the last one. As always, thanks for your valued wisdom, Wimpy!

Grimm: the perplexing question of what’s in the house will be answered in the very next chapter.

Happy to provide naked yummies of one kind at least. I predict that there will be happenings between Willow and Tara of a similar vein in the not too distant future.

Zampsa: Glad you enjoyed the Faith/Lara interaction. I always enjoy writing scenes for those two as they have such good chemistry.

Stay tuned to find out what happens with Yuko – it might not quite match up to your predictions.

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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 12 No
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:00 pm 
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:impatient

This is me waiting for my answers.

:impatient

Still not here? Well, I'm just going to make up some of my own answers while I'm sitting here bored waiting for the real ones.

1. What's in the house? Answer: It's a mouse...a mouse in the house, wearing Lara's blouse.

2. Where's the katana? Answer: Old Abe sold it in a yard sale.

3. How does Yuko know about Tara's magical abilities? Answer: She read it on the internet.


See how dangerous it is to test my patience? Now I've gone and given all the secrets away. LOL

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 12 No
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:55 pm 
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Chapter 11
Fire and Shadow


Despite the need for silence, Tara could not control her ragged breathing. Although she knew it wasn’t actually as loud as it sounded in her own head, she still fought to slow it. However her terror was such that it only intensified, especially when contrasted with Yuko’s calm exterior.

With a gentle but urgent touch, the Japanese woman pressed Tara back towards the stairwell behind them. The violent smashing of glass suddenly shattered the silence. Tara’s eyes went wide and she froze as she watched Yuko snatch down two swords that served as decoration above the fireplace. She hefted both in her hands to satisfy herself that they weren’t just mere ornaments. In one fluid movement, she tossed one of the pair – hilt first - to Tara. Tara stepped aside instinctively and the sword clattered at her feet. The harsh sound brought her back to her senses as she realised Yuko had intended for her to catch the weapon. She stooped to retrieve it and looked to Yuko with an apologetic wince.

Drawn by the sound of the falling sword, two otherworldly, black-clad figures dashed through the doorway into the library. Unable to contain the piercing scream that welled up in her throat, Tara dropped the sword once again as she pressed herself back against the cold stone of the stairwell.

Seemingly unperturbed by the fact that the odds were against her, Yuko sprang into action. With graceful agility she darted beneath and away from the blows aimed in her direction. She moved with such speed that she was standing behind her foes before they had the opportunity to attack her a second time. Yuko drove her borrowed sword through the back of the nearest creature – all the way up to the hilt. However, instead of collapsing, it spun suddenly. The sword was wrenched from Yuko’s grasp as it remained buried in the creature’s chest. The loss of her weapon did not hamper the Japanese woman. She drove her fist into what she assumed to be the face of the creature, followed up by a rapid knee to its gut. There was no grunt of pain, merely a slight stumble. She gritted her teeth and forced herself to continue moving, dancing away from its weapon.

As Yuko fought one of the intruders, the second turned its attention to Tara. Although she desperately wanted to run, her feet felt like twin blocks of lead. The sword lay at her feet. Even if she dared to pick it up, it would merely be a useless weight in her hand. She let out an involuntary yelp of fright as it advanced slowly towards her.

~~~~~~

“You’re breaking my heart,” Faith protested with a pout as she watched her lover conceal her stunning body with clothes.

She lay, still naked, propped up on her elbow as she watched Lara get dressed in the aftermath of their lovemaking. There was more than a hint of teasing in the Director’s movements. It was as though she gained an immense amount of satisfaction from causing the disappointed expression in Faith’s eyes. Faith let out an increasingly disgruntled grunt with each added item of clothing.

“I distinctly remember reminding you that I could not spend the whole night,” Lara said in a matter-of-fact tone. She stepped into her dress and began drawing it up over her hips.

“I do,” Faith admitted reluctantly. However I did not think you would be able to hold yourself to that vow after I had my way with you. If it wasn’t good enough, I will double my efforts for round two.”

Lara laughed. With her dress only half buttoned up, she stepped forward gracefully and cupped Faith’s face in her hands. “Your efforts in round one were quite satisfactory.”

Faith arched an eyebrow. “Merely satisfactory?”

Still gently holding Faith’s face, Lara leaned forward and kissed her brow. Not content with such meagre contact. Faith seized Lara by the front of her chemise and dragged her down for a passionate kiss. Lara responded enthusiastically. Her feet left the floor as she slipped back onto the bed next to Faith. She did not break the kiss until Faith reached down and started tugging her skirts upwards.

“Faith!” Lara protested. Faith was moving fast. Her hand was already at the waist of her underwear. With one swift tug, she pulled the ties undone. “Faith, Archie will be waiting for-“

Her sentence was cut off abruptly as Faith’s fingers darted beneath her underwear and sought out the already moist spot between her legs. With a smooth motion, one finger was thrust upwards. Instead of words, Lara let out a sharp gasp and reclaimed Faith’s lips as she began to move her hips in earnest.

“I’m sure Archie can wait a few minutes,” Lara purred as she drew back from the kiss. She gave herself over to more of the delicious sensations that were radiating out from her centre.

Their resumed passion was rudely interrupted by the sudden violent sound of breaking glass. Both women froze in the midst of their lovemaking. Faith’s finger was still buried deep inside Lara. For a few moments, the only sound in the room was their combined heavy breathing.

“What the bloody hell was that?” Faith broke the silence with an urgent whisper.

“An accident?” Lara suggested, however her tone betrayed her anxiety. She gently but swiftly easy herself away from Faith and swung herself off the bed.

Faith pouted as she watched Lara re-lace the ties of her underwear and draw her dress up over her shoulders. “I’m sure it’s nothing, come back to bed.”

Lara turned back to Faith and regarded her with raised eyebrows. “That statement was so uncharacteristic that I will have to assume that a different part of your anatomy has currently taken over your thought processes.”

“Obviously,” Faith muttered grumpily and stretched out on the bed.

“Something doesn’t feel quite right.” Lara sighed as she stared longingly at her lover’s naked body fully exposed on the bed. “The protections Giles placed around this house are extensive.”

“Good point, therefore it’s highly unlikely that the noise was anything we should concern ourselves with. Come back to bed.”

Lara growled with exasperation. “Stop thinking with your cunt – albeit the lovely one that it is. We should at least discern the source of the disturbance.”

Faith let out an annoyed groan. She sat up with an exaggerated effort. “I suppose I should accompany you, just in case. It’s probably a bloody pigeon.”

If the breaking glass had been somewhat ambiguous, the scream that suddenly filled the air was far more threatening.

“That sounded like Tara!” Faith’s sluggish movements were cast aside in a heartbeat as she sprang into action. She hastily seized some of her discarded items of clothing, her shirt and a pair of woollen long johns.

Lara crossed to the large wooden cabinet standing in one corner of Faith’s room. She flung open the door. Inside was a veritable miniature arsenal of weaponry. Various swords, knives, a crossbow and different tipped bolts, were all meticulously laid out within. Lara selected a sword and long knife before turning over her shoulder to Faith. “What do you need?”

Faith had hopped into her long johns and was in the midst of buttoning up her shirt. “Sword, second from the right.”

Lara withdrew Faith’s preferred weapon and tossed it to her. Faith wasted no time to do up the remainder of her buttons. In another second, both she and Lara had exited the room and were sprinting down the hallway as the sound of a struggle downstairs urged them on. Ascending the stairs, at the opposite end of the hallway, were two familiar and very much unwelcome figures.

“These chaps have a habit of showing up where they are least welcome!” Faith announced in an exasperated voice as the black clad figures she had met in the British Museum moved swiftly towards them.

There was no time for further comment as she brought her blade up to meet that of the nearest shadow warrior. The clash rang out loudly in the narrow confines of the hallway. Lara rushed to meet the second with such momentum that she threw it sideways against the wall. Its elbow drove straight through a portrait of one of Willow’s ancestors.

“Do not let their blades touch you!” Lara called to Faith as she ducked beneath a swinging sword.

“Easier said than done!” Faith gasped as she struggled to keep one of the aforementioned blades from severing her arm.

She pushed back fiercely and sent the warrior stumbling backwards. In the midst of its stumble, she followed up by planting the ball of her foot squarely in its chest. It flew a metre through the air, landing just above the staircase. A second rapid kick sent it flying down the stairs in a manner that gave Faith immense satisfaction. She followed in a more controlled fashion, with a powerful leap. As she flew through the air, she lifted her sword high and at the point of landing, brought it swiftly downwards. The creature barely had time to lift its weapon in defence before she severed its head. Instantly, the once dangerous foe was no more than a pile of rags at her feet.

No sooner had she dispatched her opponent, Faith started back up the stairs to Lara. Her lover was duelling with the second creature in the hallway. Blades smashed wantonly into framed pictures and tore tapestries from their mounts on the walls. She watched with pride as Lara efficiently ducked beneath a swing and spun around to sever its head smoothly.

Faith grinned. “Have I told you how beautiful you are?”

“I’m all sweaty and covered in bits of Willow’s broken furniture…beautiful isn’t exactly the right word for it,” Lara commented as she joined Faith and urged her towards the stairs. “Haste my love, we’d best be finding Tara.”

~~~~~~

“This is not happening,” Tara whispered as she continued to back away from the thing that was advancing towards her. First vampires and now…these things! They were most assuredly not what a decent young lady had been brought up to believe existed.

In the midst of her terror, Tara remembered that dark night in which she had wandered away from Gordon Square. The manner in which the vampire had been consumed by flame was etched into her memory. However, the method by which she had conjured the fire was not. She remembered willing the vampire to burn within her mind and the flames had materialised. There was no time. The creature advanced swiftly and Tara panicked. Still facing it, she backed down the stairs behind her. Eventually she stumbled and missed a step. There was a sharp pain as her tailbone hit the edge and she continued falling down the circular stairs. Seconds later, Tara landed in a tangle of skirts and aching limbs at the bottom of the stairs.

With no time to even check if her body was working properly, Tara forced herself to her hands and knees. When she looked up, her tormentor's feet were already in view. Remaining on all fours, she scrambled backwards desperately. It was a futile gesture. There was nowhere for her to go.

Again, Tara concentrated on the flame burning in her mind. She held out her palm and focused. Burn…for god’s sake burn! she thought desperately, concentrating so hard she furrowed her brow.

Over the sound of her own terrified breathing, she heard an abnormal wheezing sound. It was coming from the creature itself. With an awful sickening feeling, she realised that it was laughing at her – as though it knew what she was trying to do. Instead of lifting its sword towards her, it slipped a black clad hand into a pouch concealed within its belt and withdrew was appeared to be a small stick of ice. With one small but powerful movement, it snapped the ice with an audible crack. Against the laws of nature, tiny sparks erupted from the two pieces. The creature then cast it downwards to the floor. Upon contact the pieces instantly exploded into flame. Before Tara’s eyes, those flames took hold of the woven mats that covered the floor. Hungrily, they began to stretch outwards in all directions, leaving a blackened trail in their wake. Already they were stretching up as high as her waist.

Tara was forced backwards. Through the flames she saw the creature continue to laugh at her helplessness. It was right to do so. There was nothing she could do. Even if she mustered the courage to leap through the flames or dash around them, the creature would cut her down with its blade. It was either death by the sword, or consumed by fire. Neither was a particularly desirable alternative to Tara. Even as she moved further away from the stairs that could lead her back up to safety, she knew the importance of survival. Having already died once, she did not fancy doing it again. Plus there was Willow. She desperately needed to live and tell the redhead just how much she needed her.

As she watched the black figure turn and leave her to her fate, she promised herself that she would let Willow show her the past and what she had been. Tara wanted to overcome the awkwardness that had stilted their conversations and attempts at intimacy. Her love for Willow had not diminished in any way. It was only her fear that kept her from being the lover that Willow so desperately needed. Second chances in life were rare, and it was foolish on both their parts to be too afraid to seize that chance.

The flames grew exponentially. Tara could feel the fierce heat on her face but she realised that she was no longer afraid of dying for the simple reason that she was going to live. She closed her eyes and drew in a shallow but intense breath. When she opened them a few seconds later, she could feel something strange flowing within her veins. The flames continued to grow but all of a sudden they were no longer stretching towards her. Instead they shied away as though being repelled by some invisible force. As Tara took a step forward, they shrank back more still. Growing in confidence, she tried to extend her sphere of protection in the hope of extinguishing the fire altogether. However, she soon began to feel faint and sick to her stomach. Whatever control she had began to falter. Tara quickly drew the protection back in close, just encompassing her own body. Already her heart was thumping wildly with exertion and she felt beads of sweat damp on her brow.

Tara gathered herself and prepared to walk through the flames.

~~~~~~

As she leapt over the stair rail and dropped swiftly into the foyer below, Faith came across Yuko struggling with two more of the Shadow Creatures. Before they had even realised she was there, Faith drove the point of her sword straight through the back of the nearest black-clad head. With a sickening, wheezing rush of cold air, the head deflated. The rest of the body followed and a pile of black rags slumped to the ground.

“Need a hand?” Faith offered as Yuko was now able to duel with just one opponent.

She neatly and efficiently sliced through its neck and looked to Faith with a grateful nod. “My thanks Faith-san…even though everything was under control.”

Faith lifted her eyebrows. It appeared that Yuko had made a small joke. She responded with a wink and turned back to the stairs to see Lara taking the stairs in the normal fashion, one at a time.

“Not all of us can just leap over railings,” she said pointedly as Faith offered her hand to help her down the last few. “It appears I missed out on the last of the fun.”

“If you can call it that,” Faith muttered angrily. “I call it bloody rude.”

Yuko’s eyes suddenly went wide. “There was one more – it went after Tara-san. I could not fight my way back to her. The library!”

Their path to the library was blocked by another of the creatures as it came out of the door. Even though it had no face and therefore no facial expression, it seemed taken aback to find three women with swords in its path. Faith lifted her weapon in her fist and darted towards the creature with every intention of finishing it off in the same manner as the others.

“Faith!” Lara interrupted her. “Take it alive!”

Faith growled in annoyance. There was nothing she wanted to see more than another pile of lifeless rags lying on the ground. However, she complied and Yuko moved to assist. As the creature tried to fight both women at once, it soon found itself outmatched.

It was a dangerous task. Faith and Yuko had to try and restrain it while at the same time avoiding the black blade in its hand. However Faith managed to wrestle the deadly weapon from its grasp and it fell harmlessly to the floor. Lara joined them and pinned one of its wrists against the wall. Yuko held the other and Faith wrapped her fingers around what she supposed to be its throat.

“Can it even talk?” Faith asked sceptically as she searched the cloth coverings of its face.

There was a semblance of human shape. A nose, slight hollows where eyes may have been, but nothing to indicate that it spoke in any way. Staring directly at the thing, Faith felt a chill run down her spine. She felt nothing but an icy cold beneath her fingers as she held it.

Lara shrugged. “No harm in trying I suppose.” She addressed the creature. “What do you want?”

“Original,” Faith commented snidely. She didn’t turn to look at Lara but kept her gaze on its face.

At first there was no response. It remained motionless in their combined grasp. However, just as a frustrated Faith was about to lift her sword she thought she heard a slight whisper. It sounded like wind being forced through a crack but was no word that she could make out.

“The lady asked you a question,” Faith growled. “Answer!”

The wind-like sound came whistling out of the creature once more, although this time it was relatively brief. Faith thought she detected a word, or words.

“Key…we…seek…the…key,” the creature intoned in its whispery thin voice.

It was barely discernable and Faith was not sure she had heard anything at all. She turned to Lara. “Did you make it out?”

“Something about a key,” Lara replied. “But I have no idea what that means.”

“Where is the blonde woman?” Faith demanded of the creature.

The whispering sound then intensified until it was a continuous, albeit staccato sound. Its shoulders began to shake slightly. Faith frowned in confusion until she realised that it was laughing. Even though there were three of them restraining it, she suddenly felt afraid and vulnerable. It was captured, but they had absolutely no power over it. Instinctively she realised that even if they tried to torture the creature or imprison it, it would tell them nothing other than that which it wanted to reveal.

It laughed again and wrenched one of its hands free from Lara’s grasp. Instead of lashing out to attack, it reached up and, in one violent motion, tore the coverings from its face. Within the women’s combined grasp, the body deflated into nothingness.

“That was entirely unhelpful,” Lara observed as she poked a foot amongst the rags lying on the floor.

As all three stood gazing at what remained of their last attacker for a moment. Yuko was the first to notice the smell of something burning. She cocked her head to one side and listened, before she turned to face the library door.

“Our problems are not over,” she pointed out to the other women.

“Bloody hell. What next?” Faith swore as she saw the first tendrils of smoke curling out of the library.

“Tara-san!” Yuko whispered in a horrified tone.

Faith felt a stone sink in her gut. If the origin of the fire was the training room, there was no way anyone trapped down there could hope to get out. Even so, for Willow’s sake, she had to try. She turned to look at Lara and her lover immediately knew what she intended when she saw the determination in her eyes.

“I’m staying with you!” Lara said stubbornly, moving forward to take Faith’s hand.

“No, you’re not.” Faith disengaged the handhold but surged forward and pressed her lips against Lara’s for several seconds. When she pulled back she turned to Yuko. “Please help her out of the house.”

The commands were issued in a no-nonsense voice that Lara knew she could not argue with. She nodded tightly but still did not move, even when Yuko took her hand and pulled her towards the entrance.

“Get out of here. I’ll be right behind you!” Faith urged, making an urgent shooing motion in Lara’s direction.

Finally her lover acquiesced with a small nod. She allowed Yuko to help her in the direction of the door, glancing back over her should one last time. Faith blew her a kiss with a cheeky, grin in an attempt to reassure her.

When she turned back towards the library, she was forced into a low crouch as the thick, black smoke hung overhead. Already she could hear the crackling of the flames down below. The heat rose up and she felt it on her exposed skin. Dragging the collar of her shirt up to cover her face, she forced herself into the library and in the direction of the stairs. The smoke was so thick that she could barely see her way. When she found them, she managed only a few steps down before the first tongues of fire came shooting up the stairwell towards her. Faith was forced backwards with a sudden rush of hot air and she stumbled to the ground. There was no way down.

She let out a hoarse cough, followed by several more as the smoke began to fill her lungs. Faith knew she had little time before it came to the point where she would not be able to make it out of the house.

~~~~~~

Willow was only moderately satisfied as she made her way back to Gordon Square following her hunting expedition. The whole point of the excursion had been to create an outlet for the irrational anger she felt. However, the lone vampire she had encountered was a hardly a credit to his kind. Obviously recently turned, he had yet to acquire any familiarity with his inhuman strength. He had certainly been no match for a hunter of Willow’s skill as she beheaded him without breaking a sweat. During the subsequent hours, she had seen only furtive shadows.

At one stage, screams for help had led her to the aid of a prostitute being taunted by two violent - but decidedly human - thugs. Willow had beaten them both senseless. Despite the fact that the city would have been better off without them, she stopped short of killing them outright.

So with merely a lone vampire slain and a few mortal bones broken, Willow found herself returning to Gordon Square laden with the same emotions that she had departed with. As she continued at a brisk walk, she replayed her conversation with Tara in her mind. Tara’s jealously fuelled accusation had been nothing short of ridiculous. Or had it?

Willow sighed. She had behaved atrociously in response to Tara’s concerns. While they were of course founded purely in speculation, she found herself able to recognise that Tara had every right to be jealous of the beautiful Japanese woman. Even after the many months that had passed since Covasna, Willow still found herself treating Tara as the vampire – strong, calm and self-aware. The Tara Maclay she now knew was none of those things. She was fragile, scared and completely unaware of who she had been – save of course for the seventeen years of her mortal life she remembered in vivid detail.

Listening to the sound of her boots on the street cobbles, Willow asked herself whether she had loved the vampire more than she loved the girl. It was an impossible question. They were both Tara Maclay. Yet both were as different as night and day. As a vampire, Tara had fit Willow’s new life like a glove. The girl, however, belonged to a world that was long gone.

As Willow neared Gordon Square, she caught a distinct whiff of smoke in the air. She glanced up from staring at her feet to see an orange glow staining the night sky. Fire. For good reason, she immediately assumed that Gordon Square was the source of the blaze. There were no other homes in the area that served as a major hub for an organisation dedicated to fighting evil. She shed her melancholy like an unneeded blanket and broke into a run. Her legs pumped faster until she was sprinting as fast as her body would allow.

The four blocks between her and Gordon Square passed by in a blur. All the while she dreaded the sight she would find upon her arrival. Had she ever imagined how awful it would be to see her home ablaze, it was many times worse. She rounded the last corner and saw a sight that made her heart stop. While the black stone stood as solid as ever, immune to the destruction tearing through its innards, fire was erupting from each window.

She saw no sign of life until two figures emerged from the smoke pouring out of Gordon Square’s main door. Arm in arm, Lara and Yuko struggled out, coughing and spluttering as they stumbled down the steps. Both still carried a sword. Willow helped both until they were a safe distance from the house.

“What the bloody hell is happening?” she demanded. The fact that both were still coughing and spluttering was unimportant next to the fact that her house was burning and Tara was not standing safely on the sidewalk next to her.

“Shadow…c-creatures,” Lara said in the midst of a coughing fit. She doubled over before collapsing to the cobbles.

With her eyes already starting to water from the smoke, Willow looked back to the house. Her heart was still thumping wildly from her run. However, she also felt an increasing sense of panic.

“Tara? Faith?” she asked as she turned back to Lara and Yuko.

“Tara-san was in the stairwell when the creatures set off their fire weapons,” Yuko said, ducking her head as though she was somehow responsible. “I could not reach her. Haruki is also still inside.”

“Faith is still trying,” Lara whispered. She too turned back to look at the house with heart-wrenching concern.

Moments later, a dark shape emerged from the doorway. Willow’s heart surged with hope until she saw it was just one person, and that person was Faith. While she was thankful that her best friend was safe, the thought of Tara trapped inside the burning house was almost overwhelming.

The brunette stumbled awkwardly down the steps and fell heavily to the pavement on the last. Shielding her face from the heat pouring from Gordon Square, Willow dashed forward to help Faith back to her feet. The two of them made their way a safe distance from the fire, at which point Lara moved forward to throw her arms around Faith. Willow was already looking back towards the house. Even she could see that it had become almost impossible for someone to safely make their way out the front door. Huge flames were bursting violently from within, shooting out in all directions. Willow didn’t care, her only concern was for Tara. Trying to ignore the fierce heat on her face, she charged back towards the house.

She managed only a few steps before she was unexpectedly tackled and thrown to the ground. Willow hit with a dull thud. It hurt, but she rolled over immediately and discovered her assailant was Faith.

“What the hell are you doing?” her friend demanded angrily.

“Tara’s still in there. I have to go in!” Willow explained, already climbing to her feet.

Faith was on her feet just as quickly. She wrapped both her arms around Willow’s torso and restrained her. Her strength was such that Willow could not move forward despite her struggles.

“Unhand me!” Willow yelled, lashing out desperately at Faith. Every second she wasted was only making the situation even worse.

“Willow, for god’s sake, you won’t even get in the front door!” Faith tried to explain, struggling to maintain her hold on Willow. “Can’t you see that?”

“I don’t care!” Willow twisted her entire body and with one sudden jerk, wrenched free of Faith’s vice-like grip. To avoid being held again, she lashed out and caught Faith squarely across the jaw with a right-hook that sent her spinning to the ground.

Willow was fully prepared to sprint up the steps and launch herself through the burning front door when she saw an astonishing sight. The flames that filled the space suddenly parted as though they were curtains being drawn. Through the now open space at the centre, Tara walked as though the house was not burning all around her. Though the fire continued to burn on all sides, its licking tongues could not come within striking distance of the blonde. Willow watched with her mouth slightly open. She could see the concentration etched on Tara’s face. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she faltered slightly. The protective shield that she had been maintaining disappeared and the flames were unleashed. She managed a few more steps before she collapsed. Willow had already darted forward so that Tara fell directly into her arms. She dragged her away from Gordon Square.

Once a safe distance, Willow sagged to the ground and let Tara fall into her lap. Her eyes were barely open.

“I tried to get to him, but I think he was already dead,” Tara whispered.

“Haruki?” Yuko asked from just over Willow’s shoulder.

Tara managed a weak nod and the Japanese woman let out a sharp sob in response to learning of the death of the cook. Yuko pressed her hands to her cheeks as she tried to keep the tears from flowing.

Faith was still sitting on her backside on the pavement where Willow had sent her sprawling moments earlier. She watched Willow tenderly checking Tara for bruises and other injuries. Though the blonde had walked directly through the flames, she was astoundingly unscathed. A shadow fell over her and she glanced up to see Lara standing above her with her hand extended. She took it and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet.

“It seems as if my suspicions have been confirmed,” Lara commented upon seeing the frown to Faith’s brow.

“Suspicions?”

“That our young blonde companion possesses magical abilities,” Lara explained. “Becoming a vampire does not grant one such power; it had to have been there all along. It seems that she has rediscovered it at a rather fortuitous moment.”

“Bloody lucky,” Faith replied gruffly.

“Are you okay?” Lara turned her attention away from Willow and Tara, back to her own partner. She reached out to touch her shoulder gently. Her hand rested there for a moment before exploring the rest of her torso, checking tenderly for wounds. “Were you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” Faith almost snapped as she batted away Lara’s hand. At the surprised expression on Lara’s face, she immediately regretted lashing out. With an apologetic smile, she reached out and cupped Lara’s cheek. “I’m fine, honestly.”

This seemed to appease Lara, she nodded in return. With Faith safe, she turned her attention to Yuko who was staring blankly into the flames. While Lara couldn’t resist one more long look at Faith, just to make sure she was indeed fine, she went to the side of the Japanese woman. Without any words, she simply enfolded her into an understanding embrace.

Before her eyes even opened, Tara knew exactly where she was. She was safe in Willow’s arms. The air was tinged with smoke, she could still feel the heat of the fire on her face, and yet she was safe in Willow’s arms. She remembered the horror of being trapped within the burning confines of the house. The flames had strained towards her, intent on consuming her as they consumed wallpaper, furnishings, everything within their path. Rafters and wooden panels that had remained solid for over a hundred years had crashed down around her as though they were paper. The thought of dying in such a manner, after all that she had survived, had seemed wrong somehow.

When she finally managed to open her eyes, the first thing she saw was Willow’s face. She was staring up at her as she lay on her lap. The flames were reflected in Willow’s eyes, flickers of red obscuring the green. Tara couldn’t help but frown in concern as she saw the defeated sag to Willow’s shoulders. It took all her strength to lift her hand to Willow’s cheek. As soon as her skin came into contact with Willow’s, the redhead looked down at her. She let her hand fall back to her side.

“I’m sorry, Willow,” she whispered, her voice almost drowned out by the noise of the fire as it consumed Gordon Square.

“It’s just a house,” Willow replied simply.

Nothing about Willow’s statement convinced Tara that she meant it. As soon as she said it, she resumed staring at her burning home.

Tara knew it was much more than a house for Willow. It was a tangible link with her past, with her brother. Even after a hundred years, she had instinctively found her way back to Gordon Square.

For Tara, the house represented nothing but pain. However, for all that it represented of her own shadowy past, she would not have wished it to burn. Whatever those foul creatures wanted, Tara could not help but feel that in destroying the house they had won a victory. She wanted to say something that would give Willow strength and a sense of hope, but instead she felt her exhaustion overwhelm her. As her eyelids grew heavier, she could no longer keep them from falling. Cradled in Willow’s arms, she slipped into unconsciousness.

Meanwhile, Faith quietly walked away from the rest of the group huddled on the pavement as the horse-drawn fire wagons finally arrived at Gordon Square. As the toll of their metal bells filled the air, no one noticed her go. She went a short distance until she was shrouded in darkness and could turn and observe the scene from a distance. Lara stood consoling Yuko. The Japanese woman had accepted Tara’s horrible news that her companion had perished in the blaze. Her slender shoulders were shaking with her tears. Willow cradled an exhausted Tara in her arms and stared with an emotionless expression at her burning home. Faith knew that the loss of Gordon Square would devastate the redhead, but it would have been nothing compared to her grief if Tara had died.

With everyone else’s attentions occupied, Faith let out a shallow sigh. She glanced down and examined the three-inch slash in the sleeve of her shirt. Although she already knew what she would find, Faith pushed back the sleeve to find a corresponding cut in her forearm. It was shallow and already encrusted with dried blood. However, nothing changed the fact that it was there. At some point in the battle, the blade of a Shadow Warrior had torn into her skin.

Faith pushed the sleeve down over the wound. In the distance, she could see Lara looking for her. She let out the breath she had been holding and walked back to her lover’s side.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:21 pm 
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Holy Smokes! Literally.

It's horrible...so horrible. No! Not Faith! I absolutely refuse to believe she will end up like the guard in the hospital. They must come up with a miracle cure ASAP. How long will she be able to hide it? I'm guessing not very long, although I can see her trying to do just that.

That fucking shadow creature having the nerve to laugh at Tara. Ooh, now I'm really hating these creatures. But WOW on her magical abilities. Makes me curious just what else she's capable of. I loved her thoughts when she was trapped in the fire though, that she wanted to fix everything between her and Willow and was going to take advantage of her second chance at life with her. But where are they going to end up now?

Willow holding her while she was watching her home, her connection to her past, just burn right before her eyes was heartbreaking. I know Tara means more to her than anything, but still all that history just gone. Maybe this will mean a new, clean start for them all. I can't wait to see what happens with that.

Sad to see Yuko lose Haruki, and now Faith is injured, possibly fatally (better not be), and they're homeless, at least for the moment. Good thing Willow put the money in the bank. She did, right?

Oh man, so much happening. Now I really can't wait for the new stuff to start!

Great job again, Alcy!


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:47 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... I'm glad that Tara found her inner magical ability to stay safe in the fire... I hope that Lara very quickly discovers Faith's wound so they can really start to look for a cure, which I guess is hacking the Big Bad into small chunks... I guess that the house burning to the ground leads to rediscovery of vampTara's torture chamber...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:55 am 
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Man that was crazy can't wait for the next update :gnome I am sad for faith I hope Lara will notice before it come to seriouse. Oh and I hope things between Willow and Tara will be good soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:42 pm 
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Please don't kill Faith, Puhleeeeeaaaze don't kill Faith :cry :pray :sob !!!

Wow, losing Gordon Square almost feels as bad as losing a beloved character. Lots of very important moments happened there.

But, If if helps to bridge the gap between Willow and Tara , I'll just have to see it as the silver lining.

I feel really bad for Yuko. With everyone so caught in their own grief, her loss is kind of an afterthought.


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:44 pm 
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Oh my god Alcy! You're back!

I'm so excited, I'm pretty sure this is where the story left off last time right? New chapters ahoy!

I think I've read Van Rosenberg about 4 times now and its so great to see you back writing this story, I absolutely love your characterisations and think its probably the best W/T fic I've read here or anywhere.

Can't believe you're moving to the UK, you've heard about the weather right? Ha. Seriously though its alright over here, I think you'll find a number of ex-pats, I think I know about 3 Kiwis in my town alone!

Anyway, should go to bed now but its brilliant to see you back, place hasn't bee nthe same without your fics.


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:01 am 
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Poor Yuko.

That out of the way, you write really awesome action and not just the Faith/Lara NC-17 bits. All the sword fighting/bannister leaping parts were just great. And then I love the way you played with Tara's exploration and discovery of her magics. The emotions from every person in this chapter are just very very well done.

I'm wondering if insurance existed back then. Willow get paid for the loss of her building? All those possessions? I think that Willow and Faith had found a safe with piles of money and I'm assuming that will have survived but now they all need a new place to live.

Of course I guess there are bigger concerns like Faith going into a coma...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:51 pm 
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wimpy: Hey buddy. Yes, Faith is currently in a bit of a pickle. But you know how much I love Faith’s character, I will try very hard to find a cure for her before I do something as silly as killing her off.

It definitely felt as though I was killing off a character when Gordon Square burned. It has been a pivotal location throughout the story so far with so many defining moments happenings within its walls. I think it does represent a chance for Willow and Tara to have a clean start, but its at a terrible cost.

So things aren’t exactly looking good for Team Van Rosenberg. But at least Willow definitely put all her money in the bank! Stay tuned, a new chapter awaits!

zampsa: I think Faith is going to be hell bent on keeping her wound hidden from Lara at present, but there does remain the small problem of finding a cure. Might have to wait a while for that. Whether the fire did reveal VampTara’s prison cell is another question – my thought was that it would remain buried under the rubble. There are other ways for Tara to experience what happened down there after all.

Niko: It was indeed a little bit crazy. Like I said to Wimpy above, I wouldn’t worry about Faith...well, maybe a little since things are going to be rough for her.
As for Willow and Tara, well, you’ll probably like the next few chapters.

Grimm: I love how everyone enjoys Faith’s character as much as I do. Seriously, the Faith/Lara duo is one of my favourite pairings to write in all of the fic I have written. That might give you a small clue as to their fate. If this was Buffy involved, then you could probably expect me to kill her off, but this is Faith...
I agree with you about Gordon Square being a character. That house was so interesting. I always felt as if I didn’t use it as well as I could have, but it was pretty cool all the same – basement training room and hidden prison cell, enchanted mirror – it had some cool quirks.
I did feel exceptionally bad for Yuko in the aftermath, which is why I made a point of there actually being someone to comfort her. Although of course the focus has to remain on Willow, and, to a lesser extent, Faith.

What we do is secret: Although I’m not 100% sure, I think that I didn’t post this chapter last time around.
I’m currently doing some rewrites on the original Van Rosenberg. In terms of the Willow/Tara version , I am redoing a few things and just generally giving it a thorough edit. I’ll let Kittens know when it is finished as, for various reasons, I won’t be able to post it here.
Haha, I’ve definitely heard about the weather in the UK and honestly I don’t really mind. I’m descended from UK stock so have exceptionally pale skin that doesn’t do well in the sun! I’ll be in London so there will be Kiwis everywhere!

Thanks so much for your kind words, it’s good to be back.

Deb: Hiya, thanks so much. You know how much I love writing action scenes. I always find them a struggle to write believably. Somehow it doesn’t come across on the page quite like it does in my head but I do try.

Tara’s character development is moving forward slowly but I think this incident will really start to move things quickly.

Regards your insurance question, yes they did have in the late 19th century! But you’re right, even though having somewhere to live is important, there are bigger concerns at stake like Faith and solving the mystery at hand.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 20 No
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:43 pm 
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~ Chapter Twelve ~
Good Lord, is that a Dog?


The moonlight streaming through the slight crack in the curtains was enough to wake Faith when it fell across her face. She blinked several times before her eyes adjusted sufficiently. Although she knew her pocket watch lay on the bedside table, the angle of the moon and the heavy chill in the air told her that it was still early morning. Sitting up, she looked down at her sleeping lover. Lara’s luscious brown hair was illuminated by the moonlight. A thin sliver darted across her perfect cheek – making it appear as pristine as marble. Faith smiled – Lara was so peaceful in sleep. The very opposite to the woman of action she was when awake.

She knew she ought not to disturb Lara’s slumber but she couldn’t help herself from reaching out to lay a hand on her cheek.

Faith froze in the midst of stroking the smooth skin.

Despite the gorgeous features beneath her touch, she couldn’t take her eyes off the back of her hand. Just beneath the surface of her skin, standing out starkly in the moonlight, were pulsing black veins. Even after blinking several times, the hideous sight did not disappear.

Faith had hoped she would have more time before the physical changes caused by the wound began to manifest themselves. While a cut on her arm was easy enough to hide, how could she hope to disguise her veins? Faith suddenly clutched at her face with both hands. Although she could not see herself, she felt a dread creep through her body. Instinctively, she knew it had spread everywhere. There would be no disguising her condition.

Beneath her, Lara stirred. Faith willed her lover not to wake – at least not until she had managed to ease herself out of bed and flee the room altogether. A million panicked thoughts raced through her mind. Did she flee not only the room but the house? Perhaps seek out the same hospital where Mr Meates, the museum guard, was being treated? Faith already knew such a decision would be hopeless. They had found no cure for that poor fellow. She would merely end up rotting in a bed alongside him. Her veins would continue to pump the black filth around her body as her skin slowly turned translucent. As her body transformed, so would her mind. Undoubtedly she would be left incoherent or mercifully unconscious and unaware.

Faith had absolutely no desire for a lingering, slow death. There was only one option left. Thinking about it brought hot tears to her eyes but her mind was already set. She gently climbed off the bed and set about dragging on her pants and boots in a hasty fashion.

It felt odd, getting dressed only to kill oneself. However, Faith was not about to slink off to do it quietly and efficiently. That would be a prodigious waste of her skills. What she was going to do, was head down to the catacombs beneath the largest, oldest cemetery on the outskirts of the city. Somewhere she would normally not venture, somewhere even the vampires feared to go at night. It was the largest lair of daemon hounds for miles around. Packed with almost a dozen of the huge beasts, it would be suicide to enter alone. That was exactly what Faith had in mind.

“Come back to bed.”

Faith was startled by the sleepy voice of her partner. She tugged on a thick cloak and drew up the cowl over her head. “I can’t sleep. I’m heading out for a while.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Come back to bed and I’ll help you get to sleep,” Lara offered in a sensual voice.

“I can’t,” Faith choked slightly on her words.

“I guarantee I can change your mind,” Lara continued.

There was no way Faith could stop the tears. The thought of not even being able to kiss her lover before she left was unbearable. “I’m sorry,” was all she managed.

With determined strides, Faith crossed the room and reached the door. Behind her, she heard Lara start to clamber out of bed in a hurry. There was no way Faith was letting Lara see her in her present state. She threw open the door and slammed it shut behind her. From there she broke into a run and never looked back – not even when Lara started calling out her name.

~~~~~~

Faith sat up with a start. Three pairs of eyes, all with equally concerned expressions, were staring intently at her. Lara, sitting directly beside her, was pressing a hand to her forehead as though checking for a temperature. On the opposite side of the carriage, Tara and Yuko were leaning forward towards her. Such intense scrutiny, albeit well-meaning, made Faith feel claustrophobic. She swatted Lara’s hand away firmly and slid across the seat to be closer to the window.

“I’m fine, just a bad dream,” she explained, trying to keep her voice as neutral as possible. She gave them all a tight-lipped smile. “I was trapped with a whole pack of daemon hounds and no weapons.”

“Isn’t that a holiday as opposed to a nightmare?” Lara asked. She kept her voice playful as she knew that they were probably all due for a break from one another after two hours crammed in the carriage - especially considering the sometimes volatile temper of her lover. She had originally thought Willow’s decision to sit up on top beside the driver was a noble sacrifice. In actual fact it was the best spot – keeping her out in the mild, fresh air.

“I was wearing a silk nightgown,” Faith replied in a deadpan voice.

“Okay, a nightmare then,” Lara grinned. Her lover seemed perfectly normal. She slid her hand down Faith’s cheek in a loving caress before she returned to staring at the view.

Faith turned her attention to the countryside, grateful but a little guilt-ridden that everyone had accepted her lie. Her initial thought had been that somehow she had begun to outwardly manifest signs of her infliction. However, as she stared at her own reflection in the window, she merely looked a little tired. Internally she knew that something was not right. Her skin felt clammy as though her body was struggling to fight off an infection. There was a tingling, sickening intruder in her body that was struggling to take control. Most painful of all was the knowledge that she could do nothing to stop it.

After some time spent trying to shut out the fact that her lover was sitting mere inches from her, Faith turned away from the window. Beside her, Lara’s head was nodding as she drifted in and out of wakefulness. Across from her, Yuko and Tara had slumped against one another – both fast asleep. Not wanting to spend the rest of their journey in quiet, solitary reflection, she reached out and pinched Lara’s thigh. The brunette yelped as she sat up with a start. Yuko and Tara also stirred at the noise. Both women stretched their cramped limbs as best they could.

Lara peered out the window and a smile touched her lips as she recognised the familiar countryside.

“We’re nearly there,” Lara reassured the carriage’s dishevelled occupants. “You can just see the house now. Through the poplars to the right.”

“It’s about bloody time,” Faith muttered sullenly.

All four of them moved to one side of the carriage and followed Lara’s directions. Yuko even gasped slightly at her first sight of the house. To call Croft Manor a house, was akin to calling London a large town. Its huge bulk rose up from the earth, but not as thought it had merely been built, as though it had grown. The dull grey stonework appeared as ancient as the rock from which it had been hewn. Much of it was smothered with bright green ivy. The thick growth had spread its tendrils outwards and upwards. It trailed over stone buttresses and around beautifully arched windows. The ivy continued to creep upwards, only stopping just short of the third floor, where the stonework met the deep grey slate tiles of the gabled roof.

“Bloody hell, Lara,” was Faith’s appropriate response. She counted each window in a row and came up with fourteen. “Your brother lives here and you exist in your cramped little townhouse?”

Faith knew from firsthand knowledge that Lara’s handsomely appointed townhouse could hardly be called cramped, especially just for one person. However, even it could have fitted inside Croft Manor a dozen times over.

“Actually, you would be surprised how much space children can take up,” Lara added in a nonchalant fashion. “There are times when the house can seem very small indeed.”

“Children?” Tara asked with her eyebrows lifted in interest. A century ago she had expected to be a mother following her marriage to Edward Walsh. While the thought of bearing his children seemed abhorrent to her at the time, she knew in her heart that she would have loved them immensely despite their father. She and Willow would not be able to follow that same path, but she had dwelt on such matters but a little whilst they concentrated on each other.

“Lara’s brother has three children,” Faith uttered the statement with very little enthusiasm. Even though she had never met Lara’s nephews and niece, she had already made up her mind to dislike them for the simple fact hat they were children.

Lara smiled indulgently at her lover and then turned to Tara. “They are delightful, honestly.” However there was a sparkle to her voice that hinted at sarcasm.

The short remainder of the journey passed largely in silence with just the dull plod of the horse’s hooves on the hard road and the occasional creak of the carriage. All too soon the carriage made a turn down an oak lined drive. Croft Manor loomed above them as they drew closer. Finally the carriage rounded an impressive stone fountain and drew to a halt in front of a wide, inviting flight of stairs.

Standing on no ceremony whatsoever, an impatient Faith pushed past the other occupants and leapt out the door just as the driver swung it open. With a relieved sigh, she stretched her arms skyward as though she had been confined for days. Her preoccupation with her own stiff limbs lasted only until Lara emerged from the carriage. She quickly moved to offer her hand. No sooner had both Lara’s feet touched the ground, she was assaulted by three fast moving blurs. They shoved straight past Faith and latched themselves onto Lara’s body like limpets on a rock.

Faith could only look on in mild horror as she saw that the shapes were actually three rather small people. She aptly guessed them to be Lara’s niece and nephews. Moment later, the children’s delighted exclamations were drowned out by a high-pitched yelp. She spun to see a barrel-like shape cannon down the stairs on four stubby little legs. Faith let out a high pitched yelp of her own as the thing launched up on its hind legs and pressed its paws against her leg. Whatever it was, it was completely black save for two over-sized brown eyes and the lolling tip of a pink tongue.

“What in god’s name is this creature?” Faith demanded, kicking out her leg in an attempt to remove the unwanted attachment to her leg. It was making all manner of strange sounds including various wheezes and snorts as it refused to be budged. She stared in disdain at its compact body, complete with a little curl of a tail at one end. “Is that supposed to be a dog?”

A tall figure emerged from the front door and immediately spied Faith’s struggle. “By Jove! Dickens, come here at once you little devil!”

The dog did not respond to the request and continued to peer up at Faith with an expectant expression. A few moments later it was swooped away from her leg and up into a large pair of arms. Holding the dog with one hand, the man extended his other towards Faith.

“I must apologise for this little blighter.”

Faith met the gaze of a tall, slender man with Lara’s eyes. He opened the conversation in a jovial tone. “Sorry about Dickens, he is indeed supposed to be a pug dog…although I often mistake him for a wise old man – handsome isn’t he?”

Faith narrowed her eyes at the little pug. She didn’t think of him as a wise old man and certainly not a handsome one. Rather, he looked like a wizened, ugly little goblin. “Indeed,” she managed to reply tactfully.

She turned her attention away from the little dog, which was still staring up at her with a curious expression on his face, to Lara’s brother. Archibald Croft was a tall man. She found herself staring directly into the cleft in his chin. Looking up to meet his eyes, she found them remarkably like Lara’s. Bright and expressive, they relaxed her somewhat – especially given that they were shining with obvious pleasure at their meeting.

Archibald Croft grinned. “I cannot imagine why it has taken Lara so long to introduce us.” He appeared to need none of Dickens’s intense deliberation to decide whether he liked her or not.

Feeling at ease, Faith held out her hand for him to shake. “Just wait until you get to know me a little better, then you’ll know why your sister was reluctant for us to meet.”

He laughed with a deep, throaty sound. While he took her hand at first he held it only for a few moments before drawing her in for a warm hug instead. Startled, Faith had to fight back a yelp as she found herself squeezed tightly. Faith grimaced as she felt the dog in his arms press its flat little nose up against her neck and sniff repeatedly. She couldn’t quite allow herself to relax in such close proximity to the wet dog nose and also the knowledge that she had known Lara’s brother for all of a minute. However, when he let her go, she didn’t feel the need to deliver a swift punch to his jaw. She did however want to scowl at the dog who was staring at her with its big saucer eyes as though trying to decide whether it should like her or not.

She felt a soft hand slip inside her own and turned to find Lara standing beside her. Her partner had not quite managed to extricate herself from the children. The two smallest still clung to her waist. The third – an older boy – trailed just behind Lara.

Willow had since helped both Tara and Yuko out of the carriage. It was a rather busy scene in front of Croft Manor. Especially when Archibald set Dickens back down on the ground so he could greet everyone better. The black pug did not commence yelping again, but continued to dart between everyone’s legs in search of his next victim. While Archie was shaking hands, Dickens latched onto Tara’s leg. Without a pause, the blonde scooped him up into her arms and scratched him between his ears. Dickens responded with series of loud grunts and snorts that she thought might indicate pleasure.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had so many beautiful women under my roof at one time,” Archie announced happily. “Allow me to introduce you to this trio of miscreants. My eldest, Jeremiah.”

Jeremiah, the splitting image of his father, was already nearly as tall as Willow. When his name was mentioned he endeavoured to look dignified but failed miserably beneath the stares of so many women. He responded with a nod and then flashed an awkward grin.

“The lady of the house, Serafina,” Archie continued.

“Papa please!” the mousy haired girl protested.

“I’m sorry, our eleven year old has yet to grow into such a ponderous name – her mother’s choice, not mine. She prefers Sparrow. I’m sure she spends just as much time in trees as her namesake.” Archie winked at his daughter. “And lastly, young master Percy.”

The youngest boy had yet to lose his puppy fat and stared up at them all from a round little face. Lara ruffled his hair and he managed a smile.

“Lovely. Why don’t you all come inside?” Archie said as he motioned them all with an excited wave of his hand. “I wager you’d all love a nice, sweet cup of tea?”

“How about a nice, stiff whiskey?” Faith muttered under her breath as she waited for the children to drag Lara inside.

She followed last, although Willow paused at the top of the stairs to wait for her. Faith bounded up the rest of the stairs and they walked in the door together.

“Are you quite alright?” Willow asked discreetly.

“Never better,” Faith replied decisively.

~~~~~~

“You know you are all more than welcome to stay as long as you like - all of you,” Archie Croft said emphatically. He made an accompanying gesture with his hand and the brandy in the glass he held almost sloshed onto the rug. “We’ve more than enough room and I do long for some adult conversation once in a while.”

Lara patted her brother’s shoulder affectionately. The siblings stood at the front of Archie’s study in front of the fireplace. A steady little blaze was chuckling away, creating flickering shadows throughout the mostly dark room. A single lamp on Archie’s desk provided the only other illumination the large room. Aside from the desk and a few other chairs, the only things to see in the room were shelves and shelves of books. Books covered all four walls and even the door in much the same manner as the secret doorway that had been at Gordon Square. The only wall space left free of books was above the fireplace, and this was covered with a handsome Croft family portrait in which Archie was painted standing protectively over his three, much smaller children and a beautiful but frail looking young woman.

“You would undoubtedly tire of such conversation after just a few days, brother,” Lara teased knowingly. “At which time you would retire to your garden refuge to tinker on one of your projects.”

The others in the room were less than interested in the sibling banter. Faith sat in one of the over stuffed armchairs set on either side of the fireplace. She was far more interested in her own glass of brandy and drained it to near empty with one gulp.

Yuko was perched primly on the edge of Archie’s desk. Her katana lay bare across her knees. The sound of a whetstone being dragged the length of the blade provided an ominous backdrop for the scene.

With her drink untouched in her hand, Willow sat even further apart from the rest of the group. She was tucked up in the window seat behind Archie’s desk. Her knees were drawn up against her chest. Her expression was tired and drawn. The complete picture created an air of vulnerability around the usually dangerous woman. Willow had watched her home burn to the ground and her friends knew to give her space to mourn the loss.

“You and I both know that we cannot risk the artefact remaining at Croft Manor for any length of time,” Faith said to Lara, bringing them all back to the key discussion at hand. “As much as I detest small children, I would never wish your brother’s charming offspring to come to harm…or even be witness to it.”

Lara nodded as she crossed the short distance between the fireplace and Faith’s chair. She took up a perch on its arm. Everyone, Lara included, missed Faith’s slight wince of discomfort as Lara slipped an arm around her shoulders.

“Being constantly in danger comes with being a Croft,” Archie replied somewhat pompously.

“Oh Archie dear,” Lara chided softly. “When have you ever been in danger?”

“On many occasions…none come to mind at present but nevertheless, I’m sure there have been many. Just because I wasn’t foolish enough to go chasing crocodiles in a godforsaken country-“ Archie managed to stop himself “-I am sorry – I didn’t mean to bring that up.”

At first, Lara didn’t reply to Archie’s careless slip. Both siblings knew that it was born out of his guilt. He was originally to have accompanied Lara to Australia but had pulled out at the last minute due to cold feet. Even though many years had passed, Archie still couldn’t stop wondering whether his presence would have made any difference.

“Nothing would have changed,” Lara said quietly, responding to the unasked question. She had repeated the assurance many times, all to no avail. She drew in a short, sharp breath and exhaled just as forcefully. “Enough of that, Faith is quite right – I won’t risk anything happening to the children. Yuko, Faith and I will return to London tomorrow with the artefact.”

Lara reached into the neck of her dress and withdrew the slender white object. She held it in the palm of her hand.

Archie looked at the seemingly innocuous object with a look of disbelief. “All this fuss over so small a thing? If these creatures want it so desperately and at such great cost, why not just give it to them? Especially considering you have no idea what it is for.”

Faith snorted. “When evil creatures want something so badly, it is usually for nefarious purposes – often leading to the destruction of the world…ex cetera.”

“Ah, I see your point,” Archie muttered quietly.

“Willow and Tara will remain here for the time being,” Lara continued with her instructions. “Is everyone agreeable to those arrangements?”

For her perch on the desk, Yuko nodded hesitantly. “I am content to remain guarding the artefact – as long as Willow-san agrees?”

At the mention of her name, Willow turned her attention back to the room. She had been staring out the window and appeared to have missed the entire conversation.

“You’re not my servant, Yuko,” she spoke up in a firm voice. “My permission is not necessary. I think it safest that Tara remains at Croft Manor for the time being. I will stay only long enough to ensure her comfort before returning to London myself. I have no time to lie about in the countryside.”

“I think you should stay here,” Lara urged quietly. “For a week at least.”

“Will you fire me if I don’t?” Willow asked bluntly.

Lara was slightly taken aback. “No, of course not - this conversation has naught to do with work. I speak as someone who cares about you.”

“Then I will return to London when I see fit.” Willow unfolded her limbs and stood. She ignored the concerned expressions on the faces of the people staring at her. “If this conversation is over, I am going to check on Tara.”

Lara nodded mutely and the redhead walked out of the room. Once the bookcase door swung shut behind her, those remaining in the room turned to look at one another.

“Is she always that unpleasant?” Archie asked tentatively.

Faith frowned in disbelief. She stared at the door through which Willow had just left as though expecting her friend to re-enter and apologise. “Will is never unpleasant. She is often annoying, vacant on occasion, obsessed when she gets fixated on a topic and sometimes quite insane – but never unpleasant.”

“Her home just burnt to the ground, Archie,” Lara added tactfully. “Give her a few days, a little space and then we’ll see. She has suffered through worse after all.”

Archie had been in the midst of draining his glass dry. “Worse? But she’s so…well, small!”

Faith snorted quietly in disagreement. “Well, her lover spurned her to marry a man, then was murdered and turned by a coven of vampires. Evil vampire ex-lover then murdered Willow-“

“She died?” Archie gasped. “I say…”

“-Vampire ex-lover then became not so evil when her soul was restored. She helped reincarnate Willow. Reincarnated Willow then had all the memories of her past life poured back into her head, as well as trying to deal with the woman she loved being an ensouled vampire. Willow then saved the world, with a little help from us, and in the process her vampire lover was restored to the girl she once was – albeit with no memories from her former existence as a blood sucking fiend,” Faith finally paused for a breath before continuing, “I don’t want to get into a debate over the scale of respective tragedies that could befall a person, but I would say that some of those are worse than watching your house burn down.”

“Quite,” Archie mumbled. He looked earnestly towards the brandy bottle sitting beside Yuko on his desk. “Who’s for another drink then?”

~~~~~~

Even though Faith and the others had been somewhat shocked by her uncharacteristic behaviour, Willow herself thought very little of it. She had paused to consider whether she had been a little rude, but quickly chalked it up to the fact that she was exhausted, stressed and clueless as to the reason for the destruction of Gordon Square. Being clueless was high on Willow’s list of pet peeves.

Willow managed to get lost twice in the warren-like halls of Croft Manor and eventually had to be escorted to Tara’s room by a chambermaid. Once there, she paused outside the door for several minutes. Eventually, she lifted her hand to knock, but her knuckles remained poised inches from the wood. She knew her intrusion would wake Tara for little reason. Although she had a burning desire to see and hold her, it was a desire that could be resisted for several hours more. Willow lowered her hand, spun on her heels and began walking away from the door towards her own room. She had gone mere metres when she made the sudden decision to retrace her steps. With an equally decisive motion, she opened the door and tiptoed inside.

Although it was afternoon, the room beyond was shrouded in darkness. Only a little light seeped through the gap in the heavy curtains. Willow waited until her eyes adjusted to the gloom. Across the room, she saw a small lump in the huge four-poster bed. She crossed the floor - wincing each time a floorboard creaked beneath her weight.

Tara lay on her side, with the covers pulled up to her chest and one fist curled up beneath her chin. Her hair fanned out across the pillow like a crown. Her mouth was parted ever so slightly. For some reason, Willow kept expecting to see the tips of her fangs protruding from her perfect lips. That Tara was gone. The Tara that lay sleeping before her had hints of pink in her cheeks and gold in her hair. With a hesitant movement, Willow reached towards Tara’s smooth cheeks. With just the lightest touch, she traced a finger over her cheekbone and down towards her jaw.

Tara’s eyes opened slowly at the touch and Willow withdrew her hand. She winced apologetically. “I wasn’t intending to wake you.”

With a slight yawn, Tara propped herself up on her elbows and shook her head. “You didn’t. I’m exhausted but I cannot sleep. I feel like I have been awake for days.”

“You were just pretending to be asleep?” Willow asked quietly.

“I did not want to face you,” Tara ducked her head in shame. Her cheeks burned beneath Willow’s gaze, even though it was far from intense. “For a moment, I considering feigning sleep until you left altogether.”

“I can leave if that is what you would like?” Willow offered dejectedly.

“No.” Tara reached out and took Willow’s hand in a fierce grip. “Please stay…that is, if you want to.”

Willow acquiesced with a small nod. Beneath the bedcovers, Tara shuffled over to make room for Willow to sit beside her. She perched on the very edge of the bed, maintaining a slight distance between them.

There was a fearful look in Tara’s eyes; one that Willow knew was born out of what she thought she had done at the house.

“I could have stopped the creature before it set fire to Gordon Square,” Tara admitted, not quite able to look Willow in the eyes. “I was so scared, too scared to concentrate properly and summon the fire – like I burnt the vampire in the park. I-I failed…and a man died…”

“Tara, Gordon Square was only ever a house,” Willow replied. “What happened to Haruki was tragic, but he was a warrior – death is an intimate part of that life.”

“I’m not a warrior – it was never supposed to be a part of mine!” Tara let out several small sobs, her slender shoulders shook slightly with each one.

“Tara, we both died! Whether we like it or not, it has made us who we are!” Willow replied emphatically, reaching out to cup Tara’s cheeks in a tender embrace. She deposited a firm kiss on her forehead. “Dearest, look at me please?”

Somewhat reluctantly, Tara lifted her gaze to meet Willow’s. Her eyes were shining with tears and one had even started to trail down her cheek. It eventually met Willow’s hand and with a gentle flick. She wiped it away.

“I’ve lost you too many times already to let this cause a gulf between us.” Willow pressed another kiss to Tara’s forehead, followed swiftly by one to her lips.

At first their lips remained together unmoving, but it did not take long for both to respond. Tara moved hers tentatively, seeking the softness she craved. Willow hungrily sought a fiercer, more desperate contact before she realised that it was too much. She drew back a few inches, still breathing heavily.

“I know I cannot ask you to cast aside your emotions on command-” Willow began; she paused as she couldn’t resist touching Tara’s lips for another brief moment. “-but I need you to be strong for both our sake’s. The only way we can heal ourselves is together. Do I make any sense at all?”

Tara nodded hesitantly. “You do - I know all those things…but how can I be someone you depend on so greatly when I don’t even know who I am?”

“You are the woman I love,” Willow whispered breathlessly. She let go of Tara’s cheeks to trail her hands through her hair. “No matter what has happened or happens in the future, you are the woman I love.”

“Always,” Tara replied simply.

She took the initiative in taking hold of Willow’s neck and drawing her as close as possible. As she found Willow’s lips, she let out an involuntary sigh of relief. This time, she matched Willow’s hunger with her own. For several minutes they luxuriated in the kiss – alternating between slow, languorous tastes and intensely fierce duels. When both women finally drew part, their hearts were beating rapidly.

Willow knew they both needed something more, but the exhaustion was evident on Tara’s face. “One step at a time,” she whispered – she meant it to sound like a promise.

“Fast steps.” Even as she responded with a contented, satisfied smile, Tara had to stifle a yawn. With Willow next to her she felt safe, and incredibly sleepy. After not having been able to fall asleep, she had found the missing element for a peaceful slumber.

She allowed herself to be folded into Willow’s arms and together they lay down on the bed.

Willow tucked Tara’s head beneath her chin and felt her warm breath falling steadily on her chest.

It was only a minute or so later that she felt Tara’s breathing slow to the point where she knew her to be fast asleep. Willow allowed her own eyes to close. In the brief moments before she fell asleep, she mulled over the fact that she ought to apologise to Lara for her attitude. She made up her mind to do it first thing in the morning.

Sleep came quickly and, for once, her dreams were peaceful.

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


Last edited by Alcy on Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:06 pm 
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13. Big Knowledge Woman
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Oh man, what a heartwrenching beginning. Faith's dream had me more than a little scared. It seems the thought of doing that has crossed Faith's mind, which really bothers me. Although I can totally see her doing that as opposed to the alternative of wasting away horribly in a hospital bed. Ugh, miracle cure soon please?

I loved Faith's reaction to the dog and the children, and also Archie hugging her. So perfectly Faith.

I'm curious as to what Lara, Faith and Yuko are going to do once they get back home. As long as they have that thing, they're not safe anywhere, cause those shadow guys can just pop up out of nowhere and Faith is sick, so it all could all end up badly. Have I said how much I hate those shadow guys, cause I really, really do.

Lara asking/telling Willow for her and Tara to stay at Croft Manor for a while just shows her concern for them. A few days of relaxation together would be good, so I hope Willow ends up doing that.

But this...oh this...finally I'm seeing some light at the end of their very dark tunnel --

Quote:
“You are the woman I love,” Willow whispered breathlessly. She let go of Tara’s cheeks to trail her hands through her hair. “No matter what has happened or happens in the future, you are the woman I love.”

“Always,” Tara replied simply.


Thanks, Alcy. That totally made my week.

I loved Tara wanting their steps to be fast ones. Oh yes, indeed, let's hurry those steps right along please. But it ended so perfectly for now -- cuddling and going to sleep in each other's arms. *sigh* Finally.


Wimpy

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:11 am 
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Yay for excellent update-y goodness... Faith's nightmare really worries me... I really liked the "Scooby Gang" arrival to Croft Manor... Really big yay for Willow & Tara agreeing to take fast steps to really reconnect and really really big yay for snugglies...

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:05 pm 
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hope theres more luved the original and luv the new version


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:53 am 
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More Please? :sigh

This is just a little passed where the original version sort of VR II stalled out too. :sighagain

Will flowers help? :flower :flower :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:54 am 
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yes i agree more updates pleaseeeeee


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:52 am 
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hope ur well hope u dont forget us kittens


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:51 am 
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hope things are well. holding out hope we get more willow tara luving


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:34 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:33 pm
Posts: 567
Location: Los Scandalous, CA
Waiting patiently for the next update :joss .


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:38 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:59 pm
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Location: ok city oklahoma
hope all is well and hope to see more someday


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 Post subject: Re: Van Rosenberg II - Lord of Ice and Shadow (Updated 28 No
PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:00 pm 
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5. Willowhand
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Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:52 pm
Posts: 297
Location: Alberta
Hiya, Alcy.

I just popped in to the KB after a long hiatus and was delighted to see that you had resumed VRII! I hope you've got more planned for us as I would love to see how this Tara grows in to her new-found powers. And hopefully she puts that cloak on again for old times sake! :)

Hope RL is treating you well!

Jen

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Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ~Helen Keller


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