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

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Birthday'
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:40 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2689
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
Thanks :grin

Funny thing, I was mulling over Amber and Tara existing at the same time, and it occurred to me that not only is that not the first time I've done that, but it's not even in the running for 'most convoluted' - Smut Bunnies has Agent Shy Bunny Tara and Amber, and Chance, and Team Lovebirds Tara, since The Amazing Kitten Race is a real-world TV show there (even though somehow they visit the set of the Smut Bunnies movie), and briefly Space Quest Tara, when she accidentally landed her ersatz-TARDIS in chapter fifteen. Good luck unravelling that tangle :laugh

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Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Birthday'
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:03 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:08 am
Posts: 2689
Topics: 4
Location: Sydney, Australia
Love and Lasers


Author: Chris Cook
Email: alia@netspace.net.au
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy.


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“Okay!” Number 1 said loudly, halting the chattering from the various attendees seated around the gleaming stainless steel meeting table. “First meeting this year of the Southern Volcania Villain Society, welcome our new members yeah yeah and so on, so, let’s get caught up! Game of Thrones, spoilers if you haven’t seen it and what’s wrong with you, Cersei for the win am I right?”

“Totally!” Number 3 agreed. “Can I just - I mean this is long overdue but I’m going through major withdrawal and oh my god how are we not even getting episodes this year - put forward a motion that Cersei joins the honorary member list?”

“Seconded,” Number 8 raised his hand. “Although that brings us over twenty on the honorary list, are we dropping Lex Luthor?”

“I mean, I think we have to,” Number 5 shrugged. “Really poor showing these last few years, not up to scratch at all.”

“All in favour?” Number 1 asked, then nodded as all the long-term members raised their hands automatically. “Okay, done. That actually clears out a spot in the schedule later in the year since there’s no need to do a Lextember Party, so hey, anyone got any ideas about what we could do for that? Something new, anyone?”

“Um, uh I, I h-have an idea?” a soft, tentative voice sounded from among the new members, seated on cheap wooden seats away from the table. Heads turned to fix their gazes on a nervous young woman, whose hands couldn’t quite seem to stop fiddling with the buttons on her black woollen cardigan.

“M-maybe,” she said haltingly, flinching slightly at the sound of her voice in the sudden silence, “we could... try to... t-take over the w-world?”

There was a moment’s hush as the assembly took in this idea, then Number 1 gave a derisive chuckle, and the senior members took their cue and joined in laughing.

“Yeah we’ll get right on that,” Number 1 crowed. “Someone make a note, we’ll be bringing back Cliché Wednesdays this year, right?”

The long-timers of the villain society began to jump in with their own interpretations of the same joke, as the blonde shrunk in on herself, avoiding the pitying gazes of the other newcomers, who quickly ignored her in favour of nodding at whatever the seniors were saying. All except for one, another new member across the room, who used the fringe of her black hair as cover to gaze at her, as surprise slowly turned to intrigue in her emerald eyes.


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“Hi? Sorry, hi, I just wanted- hello,” the black-haired woman babbled, still slightly breathless from hurrying to catch up with the dejected blonde after the meeting had petered out, as usual, into discussions of Draco Malfoy fanfics.

“H-hello,” the blonde ventured, holding her satchel slightly protectively in front of herself.

“Hi. Um I’m from the, I was in the meeting, back there,” she gestured vaguely over her shoulder, “and I just, I wanted... to say sorry, about them, I guess? I mean I’m not really ‘one of’ the, you know, the in-group myself even, I’ve only been to a couple of meetings, but I just-” She cut herself off, and took a steadying breath.

“I-it’s okay,” the blonde said quietly. “It was m-my first time, I didn’t... I-I thought, I guess I just, um, got it wrong.”

“No! No it’s not- I mean, you’re okay,” the woman said in a rush, “it’s them, it is supposed to be an actual, you know, a group of villains, a villainy group as advertised, but it’s just... not, really. I felt the same way. You’re, what you said, that’s actually the first time anyone there has, you know... that I’ve felt like... I’m Willow,” she finished, extending her hand.

“T-Tara,” the blonde replied, hesitantly, but with a dawning smile, taking her hand.


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“I-I guess I just thought... Volcania, everything will be great. You know? An a-actual island of villainy. My, my family... my father doesn’t approve. I thought coming h-here, I could... I wouldn’t have to hide. Who I am.” Tara shifted uncomfortably in her seat, and took another sip from her skull-shaped coffee mug. She and Willow had found a corner booth in the Deathspresso Pump coffee café, overlooking Shark Bay.

“How did you get interested in villainy?” Willow asked.

“My mother,” Tara smiled. “She, before she g-got married, she was a supervillain. She used to tell me bedtime stories about all the adventures she had, sneaking around, hijacking submarines, stealing crown jewels... that sort of thing.” Her eyes grew misty as she remembered. “Every Christmas, we’d decorate a tree that was actually the Eiffel Tower flagpole, from right at the top, with branches attached.”

“No kidding?” Willow said, leaning in excitedly.

“Uh-huh - the one in Paris is a fake, nobody knows. Ever since the 70s.”

“Wow.”

“For my eighth birthday, she got me my first superlaser,” Tara went on. “Just a little one, we hid it in a drawer. After...” She hesitated, and looked down. “Wh-when it was just my father, I’d sneak out - on Saturdays back home, there was nobody around the local observatory after midnight.” She glanced at Willow, and ventured a smile. “I used to pick the lock, and use the telescope to boost the laser’s range, so I could zap craters into the moon. Just little ones.”

“That’s amazing!” Willow said, bouncing in her seat.

“Um, it was j-just, something I did, not really...” Tara said, blushing. She glanced around, at the other patrons milling around the tables, and the view of the bay beyond the windows, where the gentle waves were periodically disturbed by eruptions of steam, as sharks fired their lasers at nothing in particular.

“Y-you must have some, some stories, too?” she asked after a thoughtful pause. “I m-mean, you’re here, on Volcania, so...”

“Oh, I was born here,” Willow said, sounding somewhat reluctant to leave the topic of Tara’s lunar landscaping. “My parents are in the administration - my mom is actually head of finance for the island.”

“R-really?” Tara replied, surprised. “That, wow. Y-you’re, like, villain royalty, kind of?”

“Oh no,” Willow shook her head. “No I- Seriously it’s like, that whole debacle with the society meeting, that’s the island all over. Just between us,” she leaned closer to Tara and lowered her voice, “when I was thirteen I installed backdoors in my parents’ computers, so I could see what they did at work, and they don’t do anything evil at all. Mom’s finances could be, honestly, you could audit them - I mean, a real audit, above board, and it’d be fine.”

“B-but,” Tara wondered, “how... there’s no, no illicit multi-billion-dollar transactions she’s running on the side to fund a private army...?”

“Nothing,” Willow said, with a disappointed sigh. “And my dad’s a professor with the island university - ancient history - I don’t think he’s even trying to track down ancient artefacts with doomy powers. I told them I wanted to be a supervillain, and...” She gave a sad smile, which had Tara’s eyes moistening in sympathy in a heartbeat. “...next birthday, I got this outfit, and the hair - it’s a wig - and...” She looked down at her tailored black jacket. “It’s not that I’m not grateful, I mean compared to your, your dad, nobody’s ever tried to discourage me really, they’re trying to be supportive even, but...”

“No, I know,” Tara nodded. “B-but they, they don’t understand?”

“This is kind of, them all over,” Willow admitted. “The outfit, it’s great, the best you can get, but... I don’t want to just, just wear all black, and go work in an office. When I was little I imagined... heh, it’s silly,” she laughed at herself.

“No - what?” Tara persisted.

“I, um,” Willow blushed, “thought, you know... one day, I’ll change the world. Like melt part of it, maybe. Or maybe make giant ants, and they’d rampage around. It’s just silly stuff you imagine when you’re a kid but I still, I want to do something.” She met Tara’s gaze. “I think just wearing black doesn’t really do that.”

Tara swallowed nervously and held up the edge of her black cardigan.

“I actually got this from the g-gift shop, here, when I got here and saw what everyone else was, was wearing. T-to fit in. It’s not really what I would choose...”

“I think fitting in might be overrated,” Willow said, with a firm nod. “In fact, you know what? Look out world.” With one quick motion she pulled off her wig and shook out her copper-coloured hair.

“Doesn’t exactly say ‘fear me’, I know,” Willow quipped as she ran her hands through her hair to untangle it.

“Y-you... look great,” Tara said softly. Willow shot her an uncertain glance, as if the praise had caught her off-guard, then gradually her expression shifted into a smile.


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“These are really nice, the lights,” Willow said, raising her voice slightly so it would carry across the one-bedroom lair to where Tara was changing behind a screen. A soft multicoloured glow emanated from strings of lights across the wall, which on closer inspection were in the shape of flesh-eating piranhas.

“Thanks,” she said. “I brought them with me.”

“Yeah, the Lair Depot here doesn’t have anything like this, just plain spotlights,” Willow nodded. “I wanted to get one of those big wall lights for my place when I moved out - you know, with the big fans in them, so the shadow of the fans gets cast over the whole room? - but the clerk said they stopped making those years ago. Kind of planned to make one myself, but- oh wow!”

“Me sans black,” Tara said, taking a couple of awkward steps away from the screen, now dressed in an open blue sweater over a teal top and stitched brown skirt.

“Not very, you know, ‘villain’,” she admitted, sitting on the edge of her bed, and gesturing for Willow to join her.

“No, you- it looks great,” the redhead said, hurrying over to sit beside her. “It’s - I mean granted, I say this as Miss Fashion-Challenged, but it feels like, this is you.”

“Well I am me,” Tara chuckled shyly, “so your story checks out.” Her smile widened as Willow laughed. “So what happened, with the giant fan wall?”

“Uh, it kind of fell by the wayside,” Willow admitted. “I was going to, that is, it would’ve been a thing I did with my, um, my boyfriend - the guy who was my boyfriend, only isn’t now, because... well, breakup, that’s how that happens.”

“I’m sorry,” Tara said softly, looking forlorn.

“Thanks,” Willow nodded. “Honestly though, at a distance, it wasn’t the worst thing - not being together anymore, I mean. He was, he was nice, but he didn’t... it was kind of like, he was supportive of my villainy as a concept, but I don’t think he really meant it. Not to say he was being insincere, I don’t mean it that way - it just wasn’t... we didn’t see eye to eye on that, in terms of what being a villain meant. Like I’d be designing a deathtrap with, you know, a motorised winch to lower heroes into it really slowly, and then spinning lasers and stuff, and he’d be like, ‘Why don’t you just shoot them?’”

“O-oh,” Tara said, nonplussed.

“Yeah,” Willow agreed.

“I-I’m sorry, though,” Tara ventured. “That it didn’t work out, still.”

“It’s okay,” Willow said, offering a smile, and not looking away afterwards. “I think, now... I’m in a place now where I feel, you know, slow-working and potentially-escapable deathtraps are me, that’s the villain journey I wanna take, and, okay, I’m not exactly living in a volcano with my own clandestine space program yet, but that’s my path to happiness, and... and if it’s going to be a, you know, a shared path, that’s something the other person needs to see the appeal of. Otherwise I mean, what’s the point, I’m not gonna be happy, and I can’t make someone else happy if I’m not what they want, so... yeah. My philosophy at present.” She wrung her hands in her lap, then winced. “And hey, look at me making the conversation all about myself, sorry. Didn’t mean to be, ‘hey you have great clothes, now let’s talk about me’.”

“Clothes a-are just clothes,” Tara said, ducking her head slightly. “Even great ones which, that’s not something I hear a lot, so, thanks.”

“They are great,” Willow said firmly. “See this face? That’s resolve face, and that face says you look great. And that’s my face for one day appearing on a giant tv screen at the United Nations demanding a ransom of a billion dollars, so if that face says you look great, well, then you look great, missy. Was that too much?”

“C-consider me convinced,” Tara grinned. “And for the record, if I w-was the UN I’d g-give you a billion dollars. Or, or anything...” Willow, smiling and looking down at her hands, missed the yearning gaze Tara turned on her for a second, before she blushed and looked down too.

“So hey,” Willow said after a moment’s silence. “Stop me if, if you have plans already or, anything really, but, do you maybe... I was thinking during the society meeting, since there wasn’t much point listening to anything that was being said - apart from you - maybe later on this evening I could maybe work out the general gist of a scheme to, you know, topple a government.”

“That’s a good idea,” Tara nodded.

“So maybe, would you like to do that with me?” Willow asked nervously. “I mean I don’t want to oversell myself, I’m not actually toppling a specific government, or even really in a position to do so at all, it’s just a hypothetical exercise kind of thing, but I thought it’d be good fun and, would you like to...?”

“W-would it bother you if I kept basing critical phases on social engineering?” Tara asked tentatively.

“No not at all, I’d love that!”

“Then uh, I’d love that, too. It’s a date?” Tara said, biting her lip slightly, then relaxing when Willow’s smile remained firmly in place.


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“Okay!” Number 1 called out. “Southern Volcania Villain Society week two, hi everyone and stuff, so... is everyone here? We’ve got empty chairs in the back.”

“Uh, couple of the newbies didn’t show, looks like,” Number 8 shrugged.

“Meh, no big loss. So let’s talk Walking Dead!”


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“Okay hold steady your end,” Willow grunted, “just gotta... lift my end... a bit more...”

With sweat beading on both their brows, Willow managed to wedge her shoulder underneath her end of the flat-screen they were raising into position, and pushed it up the last couple of inches to be level with its ceiling-mounted supports.

“Looks right,” Tara said, her knuckles white as she held her end of the screen in position.

“Yeah I think so,” Willow agreed. “Okay hit it!”

Careful not to let the screen drop, Tara stretched out one leg to hit a foot pedal, which caused the support arms to close their mechanical claws on the screen and hoist it into its intended place high on the wall, where it lit up with a world map global domination display. The two women collapsed into the sofa facing it and both let out heartfelt sighs as they relaxed.

“You know,” Willow said wearily, “the whole thing of having minions to construct lairs, I see the appeal.”

“Uh-huh,” Tara nodded. “That said, the sense of achievement...”

“True,” Willow smiled, as the map screen rendered in further detail, showing satellite tracks and estimated positions of submarine fleets. “We did this. Worth what I’m sure will be achy arms tomorrow.”

“Mm,” Tara agreed. She stretched, Willow did likewise, and their hands accidentally wound up brushing against one another. Tara looked down at them, then took a quick glance at Willow, held her breath, and tilted her hand over to let Willow’s fingers slip into hers, which after a moment they did. Tara swallowed, slowly exhaled, and smiled.

“I’m glad we did this,” Willow said after a moment, seemingly quite content to keep her hand in Tara’s. “I’ve been meaning to for ages you know - the big global screen, it’s really a classic - but I guess, for a while, it all just... you know, seemed blah.”

“Blah?” Tara asked, matching Willow’s grin when she tilted her head to look at her.

“Erudite like a fox,” Willow chuckled. “Assuming the fox in question is erudite, do foxes have language? Not like do foxes speak Portuguese, I mean do they, you know, different barks and, whatever noises foxes make?”

“Uh I, I think they vocalise quite a bit,” Tara ventured. “So there could be erudite foxes. They probably don’t all have exactly the same vocabulary of s-sounds, so, yeah, erudite fox, probably a real thing.”

“Yay,” Willow laughed softly, still gazing at Tara. “And returning to the original point - definitely no more blah for me. That’s... that’s you, you know? Chasing away the blahs?”

“M-me?”

“Ever since we met, I’m,” Willow paused, searching for the words. “I feel really inspired to, to scheme, and design traps, and plan superweapons, and all that. I mean you know like I was saying that first day, and you’ve seen plenty now, how Volcania is - kind of lip-service villainy, nobody really does anything. I never wanted to be that, and you’re not that, so... so, us, working together, it’s really... Do you know what I mean? Please say yes so I don’t have to keep trying to explain and rambling around in circles?”

“I... yes,” Tara nodded, beaming. “I do. Know w-what you mean.” For a moment she seemed on the verge of saying something else, but then she blushed, shook her head gently, and just smiled.


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“Welcome to Volcania Island, the world’s home of villainy! Be sure to visit the Evil Memories Gift Shop!”

“Yeah thanks,” a petite blonde in a grey suit said flatly, dodging around the promoter perspiring rather heavily in a foam volcano costume, avoiding the offered leaflet, and heading for the main door leading from the Arrivals terminal to the island’s transport hub. Glancing behind herself as she left the airport, she reached into a pocket and produced a makeup compact, which turned out to be a satellite radio when she flipped it open.

“Agent Buffy to United Nations Coalition Opposing Organised Lawbreakers.”

UNCOOL headquarters here.

“I’m on the island. Proceeding with Operation Cleanup.”


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“What do you think?” Willow asked, as she and Tara meandered hand-in-hand along the aisles of Pets-N-Monsters. “I’m okay if you say anything except a horse. Were you going to say a horse? If you’re a big horse fan, I can... I can probably adapt, I mean I’d give it a shot.”

“I-I can ride,” Tara said. “But that’s not really a, a priority, so a horse-free lair isn’t a negative, for me.” She smiled fondly as Willow sighed in relief. “I’m thinking, aquatic? I feel like, an ocean theme feels good to me, overall.” She gave Willow a wink. “And someone keeps saying I look good in blue, so it’ll all work together.”

“Well someone does keep looking good in blue,” Willow pointed out. “Oceanic it is then.”

“Not shrimp, though,” Tara added. “I’m allergic.”

“Duly noted,” Willow nodded. “Plus what would shrimp even do to attack a hero? The head-mounted lasers would have to be tiny.”

“Also a point,” Tara laughed.

“Octopus, now...” Willow mused.

“Versatile, intelligent,” Tara agreed. “And a classic.”

“Yet sadly neglected of late, I think it’s high time they got back in the limelight.”

“Willow?”

Both women turned, to see a casually-dressed man crossing the aisle towards them.

“Oz?” Willow replied, surprised, but not objecting when he stepped closer and gave her a brief hug.

“I almost didn’t recognise you,” he said. “The hair...?”

“Uh, uh yeah,” Willow nodded, shrugging. “I decided, y’know, black hair, not me.”

“Looks good.”

“Um. Oh uh, Oz, Tara, Tara,” she babbled, turning, “this is Oz, Daniel Osbourne, my, we dated, I told you...? Oz this is Tara, we, we’ve been, we’ve been scheming, lately.”

“Tara. Hi,” Oz said politely.

“H-hi,” Tara murmured, ducking her head.

“I didn’t realise you were back,” Willow said. “You were touring, or...?”

“For a bit,” he nodded. “But the youtube side of it’s kind of taken off, can do that from anywhere. And I missed the island.” He gave Willow a steady look. “One of those ‘you take it for granted until you don’t have it’ scenarios.”

“I-I’ll, I should,” Tara said hesitantly. “We c-can, catch up later, when y-you’re, I’ll be back at, at my lair. Okay?” she added, sounding quietly desperate, as Willow turned and tried to keep hold of her hand.

“O-okay, if you...” she said, swallowing nervously and glancing between Tara and Oz.

“Was nice to m-meet you, bye,” Tara mumbled quickly to Oz, before turning and hurrying away.

“...wait...” Willow said, but too quietly for anyone to hear, as Oz watched Tara leaving with a concerned frown, then gave a little shrug and turned back to her.

“Don’t know if you remember, that old Lycanthrope Legion plan I had on the backburner for ages? I’ve been giving it a lot more thought lately, and...”


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“...Tare?”

Tara looked up from where she was sitting on the edge of her bed, and gave a little smile at seeing Willow standing in the doorway.

“H-hi,” she said softly. “C-come in.”

“Hi,” Willow said gratefully, closing the door behind herself and hurrying over to sit next to Tara.

“Daniel seems nice,” Tara said after a moment’s pause. Willow hesitated, the nodded.

“He is,” she admitted. “I’m, I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner, we talked - he’s got this thing involving werewolves, which I never thought he’d really ever get around to pursuing, but he’s taking it seriously - and, and there was a, a lot to catch up - but-”

“It’s okay,” Tara shook her head. Willow swallowed, and reached out to put her hand on top of Tara’s, resting on her knee.

“Um,” she ventured. “It... doesn’t feel okay, is the thing. When you left I, I don’t... I didn’t know what to, you know...”

“I understand,” Tara said quietly, holding Willow’s hand softly, stroking the back with her thumb. “He’s... You-” She took a deep breath, and managed to meet Willow’s gaze. “You sh-should... it’s g-good that, that he came back, you should, like y-you said your villain path, you deserve someone who does want to be there with you a-and I’m, I’m glad he does, finally, it’s good, f-for both of you.” The words came out in a tumble, and she looked away and let her hand go still.

“You should rule the world with the person you love,” she whispered. She heard Willow’s breath catch in her throat, then after a long silence, the redhead spoke.

“That’s you.”

For a moment neither of them moved, then Willow’s grip on her hand tightened, tenderly, and Tara turned to look at her through eyes that were full of unshed tears.

“If you’ll have me...?” Willow asked. Tara’s mouth hung open for a moment.

“If... of c-course... h-how, how...?”

“Because, I realised... all the time we’ve spent together, everything we’ve worked on, and all the, the great times - I haven’t told you what that means to me, really means. You’re... amazing, and, and I know one day you’ll be in a gigantic lair, looking perfect in something blue, all lit up by the glow from a superlaser the size of a skyscraper, and with waves of commando sharks, or whatever you want, and there’ll be headlines in every newspaper in the world going ‘Can No-One Stop Her?’, and... and I realised today, none of that matters. Because even if we... if we were just, just us and nobody else, and all we ruled was, say, an ant farm - you know, we could put down little bits of sugar, or whatever you feed ants, and watch them follow it and go ‘mwa-ha-ha, see the ants do my bidding’, even if that was it, I’d be with you, and that would be the most wonderful... Tara I love you.” She took a deep breath, and let out a gasp that was almost a sob. “I love you. And, and if I hadn’t been a colossal doofus and never told myself that until today, I could have been telling you, and then you wouldn’t have been here looking like you were about to cry and that was my fault, but - wait,” she said, as Tara shook her head and opened her mouth to protest. “Wait - it’s okay. Because if you want me, if you forgive me for that, then... I’m yours.”

“W-willow,” Tara breathed, clutching her hand. “I-I... love you... I never said, either...”

“You never hid it,” Willow said. Tara blushed, then smiled.

“Neither did you,” she whispered. “I just... didn’t know if I could let myself believe, what I wanted... I wanted this so much and... god. Now. N-no wanting, now I, I have...?”

“Me,” Willow nodded. “Here. In love, a-and... Can, can I, kiss you?”

Tara shuddered as Willow’s voice dropped to a barely-audible whisper, then slowly reached her free hand up, behind Willow’s neck, holding her firmly and pulling her, unresisting, closer - and finally murmured “yes” just as their lips touched.


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“So then Number 4’s like, ‘Yeah totally!’ even though, you know, there is No. Way. that’s not just saying what I wanted to hear, so dishonest, so anyway- hang on a sec Number 3, call on my other line, I have to take this, important villain business, hold on? BRB.”

Number 1 peered at her phone for a moment, located the ‘answer other call’ button, and leant back in her chair.

“Hey hey Number 4, what’s up? Oh my god I know right, Number 3, where do I even start, I mean... whuh?” she broke off, as someone knocked on the meeting room door.

“Go away! Gawd!” Number 1 barked. From outside there was the crackling noise of an electronic lock being broken, and the door swung open to admit Agent Buffy.

“Nice boots, who the hell are you?” Number 1 snapped.

“I’m Buffy, I’ll be your arresting officer today.”

“Oh yeah? Deathtrap!” Number 1 yelled triumphantly, pushing another button on her phone. A panel slid open in the ceiling, dropping a bowling ball which Buffy easily dodged.

“Nice try, what’s next?” she grinned. Her grin faltered as Number 1 merely stared at her in shock.

“Uh, was that it?” Buffy asked.

“You dodged my deathtrap!” Number 1 wailed.

“Holy cow, we have hit a new low,” Buffy complained, slapping Number 1’s phone out of her hands and pulling her arms behind her back to be cuffed. “Seriously if you losers are going to make it this easy, UNCOOL’s not even going to give me a performance bonus for cleaning up the whole island. And by the way, the ‘nice try’, that was just me being polite. That trap sucked.”


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“Okay?” Willow asked, giving Tara’s hand a comforting squeeze.

“Fine,” she said, managing a smile. “M-maybe somewhat nervous, but, in a fine way, if that makes sense? Nervous fine.”

“They’ll adore you, how could anyone not?” Willow said reassuringly, as she pressed the doorbell - in the shape of a large red ‘fire’ button, for form’s sake - on the front of Rosenberg Manor. Tara’s smile widened slightly.

“You’re biased, sweetie,” she whispered, sounding less than bothered by the idea.

“Well sure but only because you’re you,” Willow whispered back, as footsteps sounded distantly from within the house. “Anyone who’s not biased in your favour within five seconds of meeting you, that’s scientifically verifiably their problem. And five seconds is being generous, really.”

“You’re where the ‘fine’ in ‘nervous fine’ comes from,” Tara assured her, leaning close to keep her voice down - and adding, as that gave her an ample view of the low cut of Willow’s top: “Th-that, and, you’re fine.”

“I, I, ha-hm, wow, hi!” Willow blurted as the door opened, blushing. “Dad, hi! Hi. Hi mom, dad.”

“Hello dear,” Willow’s mother said.

“Dad mom hi. Um!” Willow took a quick breath to steady herself. “Tara, introductions, mom and dad, this is Tara. Tara, my parents, Sheila, Ira, obviously that’s who they are, what with living in the family home, as family do. And also y’know, I explained why we were going here, so...”

“Hello,” Tara said, tentatively shaking hands with Willow’s parents.

“Tara came here a few weeks ago, and, and we’ve been scheming together,” Willow said, sticking out her jaw in anxious confidence. “We’re, she and I, we’re... taking over the world together, is a thing that’s been raised, and agreed upon, so, yeah.”

“The world...?” Ira echoed. “Well... Um, welcome to Volcania, of course.”

“Yes, welcome,” Sheila said, glancing between the two women, and giving a slight nod. “We’re, we’re just about to sit down to dinner, would you... if you have time?”

“Yes! Yes?” Willow said, glancing at Tara, who squeezed her hand again. “Thanks, yes.”

“Thank you,” Tara agreed.

“That was the plan,” Willow added. “Or scheme, even, you might say. Not really a fancy one, but...”

“The simple schemes are the best ones,” Ira said, as they went inside.

Image


“This is a lovely table,” Tara ventured, smiling gratefully at Ira as he passed out the dinner plates.

“It goes back generations,” he said, glancing down the length of the oak table, carved in the shape of a giant eagle clutching the globe in its talons.

“Maximilian Rosenberg had it commissioned for his secret society at the start of the Industrial Revolution,” Sheila added.

“He had a scheme to take over the world by secretly implanting clockwork-powered artificial intelligence in factories,” Willow said.

“It wasn’t really a practical goal,” Ira shrugged, gesturing for Tara to start on dinner. “Go ahead, we don’t stand on ceremony. Still, ancestors like old Max do spice up the family tree.”

“He was ahead of his time really,” Willow said, while her parents and Tara started on their pasta. “His laboratory notes survived, and honestly if things had gone a little bit differently he might’ve made a real go of it.”

“Probably for the best history played out as it did,” Sheila mused between bites. “So, Tara, what have you found to do here on the island? Anything lined up?”

“Uhm, there’s, obviously, getting m-my lair started,” Tara spoke up, aware that Ira was watching her as well. “I didn’t really, I didn’t bring a lot over f-from the mainland, so there’s a l-lot to do...” A smile broke through her shyness. “Willow’s been very helpful in, in getting me started, and...”

“She’s full of brilliant ideas,” Willow put in. “Just the stuff we’ve come up with together lately, it’s been - I mean you know how excited I was in final year at school, when I finally got into the mad science elective? That’s nothing compared to now, it’s like, superweapons, hostile sea life, shadow government, the possibilities are endless. And custom uniforms, we’re thinking. Tara looks great in blue.”

“It’s good that you’re experimenting,” Ira said evenly, as Willow and Tara both blushed. “Just don’t get carried away, you know. You don’t want to leave it too late to get a start in a career.”

“Dad...” Willow sighed, exasperated.

“Your father’s just being pragmatic, dear,” Sheila said gently. “There’s nothing wrong with taking a... a flavourful path through your early years, just so long as-”

She broke off as a siren sounded, and all four turned to see the wall of the dining room rotate around to reveal a chrome command station, displaying flashing red alerts on all its screens.

“What’s going on?” Tara wondered, as Willow reached out to take her hand.

“Oh drat,” Sheila huffed. “Nothing to worry about dear, it’s just global law enforcement making a nuisance of themselves.”

“The United Nations?” Willow asked sharply.

“I’m not sure which agency,” Sheila shrugged. “There was a memo at work yesterday, but I didn’t pay it much attention.”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Ira explained to Tara. “Their agent will round up a few of the overlord and Illuminati-types, pose for some photos, the bureaucrats will end up releasing everyone once it bogs down in the international courts. It’s all very routine.”

“There’s a secret agent?” Willow asked. “Here, on the island?”

“Willow,” Tara said urgently. “W-we have to...”

“I know,” she nodded. “Mom, dad, thanks for dinner, but we have to, you know...”

“Teach them to dread setting foot on Volcania,” Tara finished, standing up from her seat. Willow stared at her for a heartbeat, then beamed with pride and stood up next to her, taking her hand.

“Well, if you’re certain,” Sheila said. “Do be careful?”

“We don’t need caution!” Willow said, grinning triumphantly. “Our plan is foolproof! Uh, just forewarning, we’ll need to do some setup, and I stole the security codes to your bank accounts years ago - sorry - I’ll pay it back once we’re done.”

“That’s alright, eBay’s quiet at the moment,” Ira shrugged. “It was nice to meet you Tara.”

“Th-thanks.”

Ira and Sheila watched them go, then exchanged a glance, and picked up their wine glasses.

“She gets this from your side of the family,” Sheila noted, with a faint chuckle.

“Oh?” Ira said. “I don’t recall my grandmother building a steam-powered interplanetary rocket with a view to colonising Mars.” The two looked at each other, and laughed quietly.

“To be young again,” Ira sighed.

“Hm,” Sheila nodded. “Remember Cairo?”

“As if I could ever forget Cairo.”

“I knew that Cleopatra gown would catch your eye.”

“You could’ve just brought your own submarine,” Ira grinned.

“But since I’d tracked the wake of yours up the Nile anyway, convincing you to give me and the Lotus Chalice a lift seemed like much more fun.”


Image


“Okay I think we’re good for laser tripwires!” Willow called, holding on to the side of a shopping trolley as Tara steered it around the end of one aisle and down another at high speed, to the mild consternation of the other shoppers at Bed Bath and Hideout.

“Grab flavour two-A and two-B fish food,” Tara suggested. “I can mix up something useful from that.”

“Got it!” Willow said, reaching out and snagging a few cans from the shelves. “Now we just need batteries, a welding torch, and how classic do you want to go?”

“All the way,” Tara beamed.

“Aisle five, laser power cells.”

“And aisle eight, hair care?” Tara suggested. “I uh, I got an outfit a few days ago, I think it’d look best with my hair up, so-”

“Can’t wait,” Willow grinned.


Image


A not especially long while later, Agent Buffy finished making a quick head count of the handcuffed would-be villains lined up on Tsunami Beach, and activated her compact.

“Hey HQ? Got ‘em all, send in the wagon.”

With a satisfied smirk she put her hands on her hips and waited as a dot on the horizon slowly neared and became a heavy transport helicopter. Her smile faltered somewhat as, metres from the shore, a hammerhead shark leap out of the water, with a length of seaweed clutched in its jaws that it managed to flip into the tail rotor, sending the vehicle spinning out of control into an impromptu crash landing on the beach.

“Okay wow. Guys?! Is that fixable or what?” she called to the helicopter crew, who had staggered out of their stricken craft and were surveying the damage.

“Doesn’t look too bad,” the pilot called back. “Couple of hours to replace some parts, get everything up and running.”

“Uh, if we’re going to be sitting on the beach for a couple of hours, could I get a vodka, maybe a magazine to read?” Number 1 asked.

“Shut up,” Agent Buffy snapped, then heaved a sigh. “Okay fine, I’ll see what I can-”

She broke off as, to the helicopter crew’s dismay, a scarlet laser beam sliced cleanly through the main rotor, leaving it to slowly topple sideways into the sand. Buffy followed the laser’s path, peering at the looming volcano it had emerged from at the island’s heart.

“Might take a... bit longer than a couple of hours,” the pilot corrected himself.

“You guys stay here, watch the Wannabe Brigade,” Buffy said. “Looks like my job’s not quite done yet...”


Image


Willow looked up from her stainless steel throne, perched imperiously on a pedestal at the heart of the old lair hidden within Volcania’s namesake volcano, and quickly pulled the zip on her scarlet catsuit’s top a little higher as Agent Buffy tumbled awkwardly out of a ventilation duct at the far end of the catwalk.

“Have a nice trip?” she quipped, as Buffy stood up and brushed her slightly singed hair out of her face.

“Har-de-har,” the agent said, slowly crossing the catwalk over the lake inside the dormant volcano. “Credit where it’s due, the swarm of robot crabs with plasma cutter claws, that was a toughie to get past.”

“Thanks! Sorry there aren’t any minions with full-face helmets, this is all improvised so there was no time to put out a recruitment ad.”

“S’okay,” Buffy shrugged. “But I’m afraid I gotta take you in now.”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Willow grinned. “In fact, you’re the one who’s been taken in. See, me? I’m actually the bait.”

“Wha-?” Buffy started, breaking off to a startled yelp as a pair of tentacles whipped out from beneath the catwalk and pulled her off her feet.

“Don’t feel bad about being caught though, she is irresistable bait,” Tara said, emerging from the shadows behind Buffy, dressed in a blue Ocean Legion uniform with an elaborate starfish-inspired cape and collar. She patted the octopus, which hauled itself up onto the top of the catwalk as she passed, still holding Buffy aloft, and strode to the foot of the dais of Willow’s throne.

“H-hi sweetie,” she grinned.

“You look amazing,” Willow beamed, unconsciously fiddling with her catsuit zip and lowering it again.

“It’s not too much?”

“How could there ever be ‘too much’ of you?” Willow countered, skipping down the steps towards Tara, standing up on tip-toes to match the height of Tara’s high-heeled boots, and tenderly kissing her.

“We did it,” Tara whispered, her lips still brushing against Willow’s.

“Yeah yeah, congrats,” Buffy muttered, crossing her arms as she hung upside-down.

“Was it as good as you imagined?” Willow murmured, ignoring her.

“Everything I dreamed of,” Tara nodded. “And more. The ‘more’ is, is you, by the way. You’re stunning.”

“Do you guys wanna maybe have your octopus put me down so you can have some privacy?” Buffy glared. Tara glanced back at her, while Willow rested her chin on her shoulder.

“Oh, w-we’ve got everything all arranged,” Tara smiled. “Your ‘prisoners’ are being released a-as we speak, and for you... Sweetie?”

“Exactly as planned,” Willow grinned, producing a remote control which summoned a pair of manacles hanging by a chain from the ceiling.

“Now,” she went on, as the octopus helpfully held Buffy’s ankles up for the manacles to close around, “I’m sure you’re wondering what’s in the water beneath you?”

“Well now I am,” Buffy grumbled.

“Thank you Miss Tentacle Fantastico,” Willow said, giving the octopus a pat as it released Buffy and slithered away past her. “Baby, why don’t you tell Agent Buffy here what’s waiting for her?”

“A-are you familiar with electric eels?” Tara asked Buffy. “Volcania has its own particularly aggressive variety that I-I’m sure you’ll find... well...”

“Say it,” Willow whispered, trembling.

“...shocking.” Breathing deeply and stealing increasingly frequent glances at Willow, who was practically wrapped around her, she took the remote control and pushed its big red button, which began lowering Buffy, unnecessarily slowly, towards the water below.

“Now what...?” Willow asked, gazing adoringly at Tara.

“Now,” Tara murmured, “we leave Agent Buffy to her fate...” Willow nodded eagerly and looped her arm around Tara’s as they turned and walked off towards the exit, oblivious to Buffy starting to fiddle with the locks on her restraints.

“...and?” Willow prompted, biting her lip.

“And,” Tara replied, “find a bedroom around here, and plan our next dastardly scheme...”


Image

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Love and Lasers'
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:12 am 
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Awesome!

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Love and Lasers'
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:10 am 
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OMG - Chris, thank you so much for this.

I laughed so hard throughout this lovely tale... oh, I really needed that. :love

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Love and Lasers'
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:15 am 
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Thanks guys :grin The story kind of drifted off in its own 'rewrite canon scenes' direction (to a greater or lesser extent - I was thinking of a more direct interpretation of the "I am you know" scene, with only slightly tweaked dialogue as with the post-Oz scene, but it ended up with the similar sentiment but not so exact bit of "If I was the UN I'd give you a billion dollars" as Tara nervously hinting I-love-you. But looking back I feel like I really ought to credit D.E.B.S. for inspiration, with Lucy Diamond trying to sink Australia with a satellite laser after her date didn't turn out well - this is really kind of "What if they were both Lucy Diamond?"

And just for something extra, these two already showed up in the W/T Lego thread, but I took another shot of them properly set up with their evil gadgets/wildlife. Tara's outfit is borrowed from Shark Army General #1 from the Lego Ninjago movie, and the whole 'Tara looks great in blue' thing was to justify her wearing that at the end (of course, she does look great in blue, even in regular clothes). I ended up not finding a place to slip it into the text, but her medals are all made by Willow, and are for 'world's best kisser' and so on and so forth The passing reference to her doing her hair up came entirely because that highly-styled hair is the only one I had handy in blonde that didn't get in the way of the collar, so all around there's a lot of Lego in this story. Willow, if anyone's curious, borrowed her villain outfit from Talia al Ghul. Conveniently I didn't have to build the giant laser, or the laser sharks, I just had them lying around (because of course I did). And for the next fic I've got in mind (for Valentine's Day) I've already got Lego minifigs ready, so this could be an ongoing trend...


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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Love and Lasers'
PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:35 pm 
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Chris, I'm running out of ways to compliment you but you really are just so brilliant! I lost count of how many times I laughed. I'm so glad you went with this and somehow you made a villainous Tara totally believable! 10/10.

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Love and Lasers'
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:57 pm 
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Thanks :grin The villain lovebirds were an odd mix - if you've read The Last Hero (the Discworld illustrated story), there's a bit of inspiration from Evil Harry Dread, where he knowingly makes all the classic Evil Overlord mistakes and the heroes respect him for it, because there wouldn't be any fun in being a hero if he wasn't doing his part too. Tara specifically also, at first, got a lot from Carmen Sandiego - I haven't seen the cartoon so I don't know if they characterised her differently there, but just the impression I got from the first games in the series I played when I was little, where she's basically pulling these insane capers for fun. One of the very early ideas for the 'they're villains' thing was Willow being the classic supervillain, with a plan to build a giant laser or whatever, and hiring master thief Tara because she needed to steal a diamond to make her laser work. That sort of morphed into Tara's mother - who was specifically a super-thief at first, hence the Eiffel Tower bit - and Tara taking after her, before I changed it around so she and Willow were more in the same line of 'work' (just with their individual approaches, Willow with the tech, Tara with sea monsters).

I ended up deciding not to have an epilogue and just leave the story feeling more open-ended, but I did imagine a little bit years later based on that first idea, where Willow and Tara are pulling a scheme together, and Willow's making Tara promise 'no peeking, it's a surprise' in the middle of Tara overrunning London with giant otters or something, so Willow can sneak off and steal the crown jewels because she wants to put the Mountain of Light in an engagement ring.

And now, back to work on the Valentine's Day fic :flower

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Love and Lasers'
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:57 pm 
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WILLOW AND TARA SAVE VALENTINE’S DAY


Author: Chris Cook
Email: alia@netspace.net.au
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy.


Image


As dawn broke over the town of Sunnydale, in one particular house among many in the suburbs, the sunlight, filtered pink by its passage through the bedroom’s curtains, bathed a bed containing what was by all appearances a happy couple: a petite blonde, slumbering with the hint of a mischievous smile, and a dark-haired man with an arm around her as she nestled against his side, her head resting comfortably against his shoulder. Outside the house, the newspaper recently deposited on the garden path gave the date as February 14th; in the bedroom, a profusion of pink and glittery cards on the man’s bedside table, addressed to variations of ‘my Angel’, indicated that his partner was very enamoured of the occasion, while the more reserved single card on hers suggested that he felt less affection for what he, perhaps, saw as an arbitrary event - but the handmade bracelet inscribed ‘Buffy’ accompanying it (not to mention the quite thoroughly dishevelled state of the bed and both its occupants) indicated that his affection for her was undiminished.

There was also, among other odds and ends decorating the room, a lovely old antique lamp, decorated in intricate patterns of jade and gold and polished to a lustrous finish; it seemed a touch out of keeping with the more modern decor in general, and especially the ethernet cable stuck in its top, but the reason will shortly become clear.

Drawn slowly, and somewhat begrudgingly, to wakefulness by the dawn light falling over the end of the bed, the blonde muttered indistinctly, stretched, blinked sleepily, then grinned widely and pushed herself the last few inches towards her companion’s face to bestow a quite shameless kiss on his sleeping lips, during the course of which - the kiss not being brief - he woke up, realised what was going on, and joined in with élan, and it was with considerable reluctance that they eventually parted when their phones bleeped.

“Thought I turned that to silent,” Buffy grumbled, rolling onto her back and reaching for it. “Whoever’s bothering me at this hour had better... what the heck?”

“My phone says I owe it money,” Angel muttered, frowning impressively.

“Mine too! What’s ‘Valentine Pay’? $5.99 for, what’s that supposed to mean, ‘vigorous kiss upon waking?’”

“I didn’t install this thing.”

“Me neither, hang on, lemme... argh!” Buffy exclaimed. “Can’t delete it either!”

“It’s debited straight out of our account,” Angel said.

“Okay I’m calling the stupid bank and somebody is gonna get their ass handed to- wait, how did it know we were kissing?”

“...uh. Hm. Good point.”

The pair looked at each other in confusion, then Buffy checked the curtains to be sure they were closed, peered through the bedroom door to be sure nobody was lurking in the hall outside, and quickly pecked Angel on the cheek. Both their phones bleeped again.

“$1.15, brief kiss,” Buffy read in annoyance.

“I got billed 75 cents for ‘receiving kiss’,” Angel added.

“This is crazy!”

“Going to be expensive too, the day I had planned.”

“I- really?” Buffy interrupted herself, suddenly intrigued. “So... no wait, we have to sort this out, if anyone’s getting paid for me kissing you it should be me!”

“Not really wanting it to be a financial thing, but I agree in spirit.”

Buffy frowned in thought, then sighed and shrugged.

“Can’t think of any sensible explanation,” she admitted. “I guess that makes this genie time.”

Following a brief pause to get dressed, the couple approached the ornate lamp, which Buffy retrieved the cable from and tapped on the side. It rocked slightly on its own, then ejected a cloud of blue smoke, which swirled around the ceiling, swooped back down to the floor, and coalesced into the form of a young woman in an Arabian Night-style jewelled vest and gauzy pants.

“Hi Mistress!” she said brightly. “What’s up? Hi Angel.”

“Hi Willow.”

“Hey Wills, sorry to drag you off the net, but we’ve got an issue.”

“No biggie, happy to help. What needs doing?” Her legs turned back into a cloud, propelling her across the room to the bed. “Make the bedsheets?” she wondered, then picked up an extremely skimpy g-string that had wound up on the floor. “Laundry?” She swooshed back over to Buffy and Angel. “Put the bedsheets in the laundry? Things get all liquid-y last night?”

“Gimme that,” Buffy said, snatching her underwear back and blushing. “Kissing, Wills.”

“I thought you two knew how to do that?” Willow asked, looking confused.

No, I mean yes,” Buffy shook her head, “no, listen-”

“This is happening,” Angel said, taking hold of Buffy’s shoulders to turn her around and give her a brief but heartfelt kiss, while Willow observed curiously. Both took a moment to catch their breaths, then held out their phones, displaying matching notifications.

“Huh,” the genie said, drifting forward slightly, tilting her head to look at the phones from all angles, and leaning closer to sniff them, while Buffy and Angel waited patiently.

“Yep, that’s mystical alright,” she decided. “Lemme check the scrolls.” In an instant she dissolved entirely back into her cloud form, and swirled back into her lamp, leaving Buffy massaging her temples.

“‘Liquid-y’,” she muttered to herself.

“At least we know she doesn’t peek,” Angel pointed out. “Or she wouldn’t have to ask.”

“There is that,” Buffy admitted grudgingly.

“Found something!” Willow’s voice emerged from the lamp, followed quickly by Willow herself, now in a Sherlock Holmes costume.

“Alright,” she said, holding up an armful of ancient scrolls. “First few results were actually how-to guides, since I just told the bookshelf ‘kissing not working properly’ and let it search itself, they’re not relevant, although if you guys want to have a look later they’re available, I’ve made a note in the card file.” She tossed most of the scrolls over her shoulder, where they flew of their own accord back into her lamp, while Buffy and Angel waited patiently.

“This,” Willow went on, unfurling the remaining scroll, “seems more like it. Voila!”

Buffy quickly skimmed over the flowery prose covering the scroll, looking for salient points.

“Kissing fairy?”

“Yup,” Willow nodded. “She’s your gal to figure out the hows and whys. Presumably, I mean. It stands to reason. I’m just guessing, but good a place to start as any, right?”

“You’ve never met this ‘kissing fairy’?” Angel wondered.

“Oh, no,” Willow said with a shake of her head. “No that’d be like... see, if you imagine genies are, metaphorically, the auto mechanics of the mystical world, someone like the kissing fairy, she’s the director of NASA, or something along those lines. If you get what I mean? Not in the same social circles at all. But this most certainly falls within her area of expertise, so do you wanna go see her?”

“I... guess?” Buffy hazarded.

“Okay, grab the handles,” Willow smiled, as her lamp grew a pair of handles behind her. “This won’t take a moment, just got to find out where I put the steering wheel in there - hold on tight!” The couple both got a grip on a handle each, while Willow became a cloud again and vanished back into the lamp, which began to give off waves of ghostly energy amid a building chorus of chimes.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Angel said with a wry grin. Buffy glanced at him and chuckled.

“Not what I had in mind,” she replied, as the lamp lifted off the shelf, causing the pair of them to float along with it, and the room began to spin dizzyingly around them. “But hey, anyone can go see a movie. This’ll be fun, probably.”


Image


Some distance away, in a place only found on maps where parallel lines intersect, the two humans and the genie’s lamp spun into being and lowered themselves gently to the ground.

“Here we are!” Willow exclaimed, appearing with a broad grin, as Buffy and Angel staggered and held onto each other until the dizziness passed. “The kissing fairy’s realm... wow.”

“Ugh, glad we didn’t have breakfast,” Buffy muttered, rubbing her eyes, then - taking a deep breath and standing up straight - giving a quiet gasp as she, too, took in the landscape around them.

“Wow it is,” Angel agreed.

They stood on a sandbar, a little way out from a beach with sand so white it seemed to shimmer as it arched around in a great crescent bay of crystal clear water. Beyond the sands a seemingly endless garden grew in an organic patchwork of verdant lawns, rainbow flowers, wide-branched oaks casting gentle shadows across streams and miniature lakes, and here and there jewelled bridges and paths, and little pagoda-like shrines and gazebos nestling among the greenery, picked out by paper lanterns. The landscape was lit with the soft glow of afternoon-becoming-evening, with the rosy tinge of sunset, but there was no sun nor clouds in the sky above, only an endless sea of stars, so dense it seemed that there was no space between them, only a blanket of galaxies.

“So this is... this is mystical NASA?” Buffy wondered after a moment’s stunned silence.

“Uh... metaphorically,” Willow replied. “Not, rockets and stuff, but, this is where kisses are designed, so... obviously it’s going to be something pretty special, extremely special, and beautiful, right?”

“Kisses are designed?” Angel asked.

“I mean I don’t know the exact details of how, but yeah,” Willow nodded.

“So how do we find this kissing fairy?” Buffy asked.

“Maybe she finds us,” Angel said, pointing to the beach, where a rosy glow had emerged from the woods and was wafting across the bay towards them. As it drew closer they saw it was composed of rose petals, each one translucent and glittering like crystal, veering and swooping through their air like a flight of birds, circling the newcomers in a vaguely curious fashion, then moving back over the water, where they swirled closer together and resolved into a human form, a gentle-looking woman with shimmering blue eyes, pale lilac hair that shone with silver highlights, and iridescent wings, clad in a clinging dress that seemed made of the same rose petals. Giant lily pads rose from beneath the water to meet her feet as she walked slowly towards them, and behind her as well, slowly forming a path to the shore.

“Wow again,” Willow whispered.

“Uh-huh,” Angel agreed, then noticed Buffy - who had herself had a little bit of trouble dragging her gaze away from their apparent host - shoot him a sharp look.

“Um. By which I mean, someone who designs your kisses, obviously she’s something special?” he ventured.

“Good answer,” she chuckled, giving him a gentle elbow to the side.

“Welcome,” the woman said, giving a warm, slightly nervous smile. Buffy and Angel smiled back, then looked at Willow, who seemed to be in a trance.

“Oh? Um, h-hi!” she said at last, noticing everyone looking at her. “Hi I’m, I’m Willow, um, these are Buffy and Angel, they’re with me, they’re my mortals. Uh in the sense, actually kind of the other way around, they’re mortals, I’m their genie. Buffy’s genie, in fact, Angel’s her boyfriend, so I’m kind of his genie by proxy, I guess...”

“Willow, genie,” the woman nodded. “Buffy, person with genie, Angel, boyfriend of Buffy... got it.”

“She babbles,” Buffy said.

“I do,” Willow admitted sheepishly.

“I-I didn’t mind,” the woman said. “I’m Tara.”

“Tara...” Willow repeated.

“Come,” Tara said, gesturing to the lily pad path to the beach. “What brings you here?”

“Uh, I did,” Willow grinned, ending up beside Tara, with Buffy and Angel close behind. “Obviously, them being mortals, the mystic moving-and-shaking is my department - moving, in this instance, no shaking required-”

“Plenty of spinning if you’re holding onto the outside though,” Buffy interjected wryly, holding up Willow’s lamp which she was carrying.

“Sorry,” Willow blushed. “It does that. But, right, the reason we’re here - something screwy’s going on with Valentine’s Day.”

“Screwy?” Tara wondered.

“Yup,” Willow nodded. “I’m no expert, but it looks kind of like something mystic’s kind of latched on the kissing - the concept of kissing - and is making people pay for it. Pay in the monetary sense, not the dire-consequences ‘you will pay for this!’ sense, that is.”

“Pay?” Tara said, stopping in her shock.

“Afraid so,” Willow replied, wincing at the expression of hurt on Tara’s features. “But that’s, that’s why we’re here, to figure out what’s going on and put a stop to it. Because kisses should be free, right?”

“R-right,” Tara agreed, taking a steadying breath. “I-I didn’t know, nothing’s... The library is the same as it’s always been.”

“You’ve got a library here?” Angel asked.

“This is my library,” Tara explained, waving an arm to encompass their surroundings as they reached the end of the lily pads and walked onto the sandy shore.

“No kidding?” Buffy said. “Not the stuffy bookshelves you’d expect.”

“Here,” Tara said, crouching down and picking up a seashell. As she held it up, it glittered and transformed in her hand into an old book, bound in rich leather, with golden clasps at the corners of the covers, gold edging on the pages, and lavish hand-painted lettering on every leaf as she opened it and flipped through it.

“A quiet moment,” she said softly, reading. “Secluded, not alone, but unnoticed by others, for just a time. A private moment in a public place. A soap bubble of personal space, and both have the same idea, in the same instant. Leaning close, trying not to giggle, feeling like mischievous children, and... lost in each other’s lips, forgetting the world for seconds... and breathless after, blushing and grinning as they realise their quick, secret moment went on longer than they imagined.” She slowly closed the book, which became a shell again as she gently placed it back on the sand.

“...huh,” Buffy said at last, swallowing. “So, the... the whole beach...?”

“The whole realm,” Willow breathed. “This is all kisses, isn’t it? All of it.”

“That’s right,” Tara smiled at her. “Every... grain of sand, blade of grass, leaf, stone.” She gazed around her world, glowing with contentment. “Water, sky... the scent of candles carried on the breeze.”

“Every time people kiss...?” Angel asked.

“I don’t create love,” Tara explained. “That comes from the heart, nowhere else. But every kiss, offered and received in the spirit of love, is crafted here. Gifts for lovers to give one another.”

“That must keep you busy,” Buffy said, wide-eyed.

“I like that it does,” Tara said with a smile. “I-I... feel very strongly, about my work.”

“It’s all so beautiful,” Willow whispered, gazing around as they reached the grass, with the gardens stretching out up the hillside before them.

“Thank you,” Tara beamed. “B-but, this affliction, in the mortal realm...?”

“Right, yes,” Willow nodded. “Anything we can do to help, with you all the way. Uh, Buffy, would you and Angel... y’know, demonstrate?”

“Any recommendations?” Buffy asked Tara impishly, getting a chuckle from her despite her worry.

“Allow me,” she offered, raising a hand. With her fingertip she drew a sign in the air, a symbol that seemed to grow on its own, becoming more and more complex even as she added only a few simple strokes, then closed her hands around what was suddenly a book. When she opened the covers again the book became a butterfly, which fluttered away from her palms, between Buffy and Angel, and as they followed its flight they ended up looking at one another, smiled together, and leaned close for a quick, mostly chaste kiss. Willow, quite accustomed to the couple’s displays of affection, glanced sidelong at Tara, and caught her breath at the expression of mingled pride and joy on her face. A face which once again fell, as Buffy and Angel produced their phones, displaying matching bills for their kiss.

“I-I’m sorry,” she stammered. “Thank you for, for showing me...” She swallowed, and took a quick breath. “I never meant for my work t-to put anyone in debt-”

“No, hey, not your fault,” Buffy insisted.

“If it helps sort it out, honestly we don’t mind,” Angel added. Tara took another breath and nodded.

“Thank you,” she said, with a trembling smile. “I’m sorry, I... um, overreacted, b-but seeing my kisses... that’s not how it should be.”

“We won’t let this go on,” Willow promised. “We’ll fix this, okay?” Tara gazed at her for a long moment, then her smile firmed, and she nodded.

“Okay,” she agreed. “A-alright. We should... see which realms this is affecting. I’ll just... this will only take a moment.”

Willow, Buffy and Angel watched as she turned and held out a hand, touching what a moment before had been empty space but was now a full-length mirror in a beautifully carved frame laid with gold. Tara’s fingertips touched those of her reflection in the glass, then the two hands reached forward, closing around one another, and Tara held her reflection’s hand as the other Tara stepped through the mirror frame and onto the grass.

“Oh-kay,” Buffy said in wonder. “How, how many of you are there?”

“Just one,” both Taras said in unison, before the original continued: “This is how I can understand my art.” Before the trio’s amazed eyes she turned back to her reflection, cupped her face, and kissed herself, slowly and deeply.

“I bet that keeps the long Saturday afternoons from getting dull,” Buffy murmured. Angel chuckled in agreement, then glanced at Willow, who was motionless, staring as the reflection Tara stepped back into the mirror and became, once again, simply a reflection. Buffy followed his glance, and sniggered.

“Earth to Wills?” she said, waving a hand in front of the genie’s face. “Or I guess technically, wherever we are to Wills, does this still count as ‘Earth’?”

“Wha? I-I mean, yes, sorry, yes? What did you say?”

“Nothing,” Buffy grinned. Meanwhile Tara had produced a phone from some hidden pocket in her dress, and was frowning at it.

“Nothing,” she said thoughtfully. “So it’s a mortal issue then.”

“The kissing fairy has a phone?” Angel asked.

“A kiss emoji is still a kiss,” she said, with slight embarrassment.

“So what do you think?” Willow asked her.

“We may need some help,” Tara said thoughtfully, as her phone evaporated into a cloud of love-heart-shaped soap bubbles, which in turn became three envelopes closed with wax seals, which fluttered away on the breeze. Tara glanced at Willow, and gave a tentative smile.

“Would you like to come?” she asked.

“Come?”

“On a trip,” Tara explained, ducking her head to conceal her blush. “Um, i-if you want. We all can - your Buffy and Angel, too.”

“Another lamp trip?” Buffy asked with a sigh.

“You’re uh, you can, if you’d like,” Willow said to Tara in a rush, “if it’d be convenient, and you being mystical so it’d work, you can be on the inside if you’d like, of me, my lamp, that is, my vessel, you inside my- hey so, that trip huh, how’s it going to work?”

“I’ve got an idea,” Tara offered, gulping, as behind them Angel bit the inside of his cheek to keep from sniggering. The fairy turned back towards the beach, and pointed to a wooden pier extending from the beach towards a sailing boat, its polished wood hull and golden decorations gleaming in the sunset light as the wind ruffled its patterned sails.

“Where’d that come from?” Buffy wondered as they walked back towards the beach.

“It was always here,” Tara said. “I don’t really travel a lot, when I’m not using it it’s imaginary.”

“Well that beats having to find a place to park. Where are we headed?”

“Rome.”


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“H-hi,” Tara announced herself, reclining on the prow of her boat, beside where Willow had taken up residence. Buffy and Angel were leaning on the rail near the stern, taking in the view of the mystical ocean, talking quietly to one another, and occasionally adding to their bill.

“Hi! On course, and stuff?” the genie asked.

“I’m pretty sure.” Tara gave a slanting grin. “So, my boat has a figurehead now...?” Willow, who had transformed her lower half into a wooden extension of the prow and was stuck to the underside of the bowsprit, giggled, puffed into a cloud, and reformed in her usual shape next to Tara.

“Just fitting in,” she said. “Kind of a genie thing. Buffy’s actually really low-maintenance, as mortals go, but you know, good to keep in practice.” She chuckled, and leant closer. “Confession, actually I was just kind of amusing myself. But let’s call it a professional skill.”

“I c-can’t imagine anywhere you wouldn’t be, um, welcome,” Tara said softly.

“Aw. Uh, thanks,” Willow smiled.

“So i-is this her wish?” Tara asked. “Fix the kissing problem?”

“Oh, no,” Willow shook her head. “No actually... kind of embarrassing... there’s no wish in play, at present. I’m between wishes.”

“But Buffy’s your mortal?”

“Yeah technically. She’s got a wish, in the sense that she’s entitled to ask one, but she hasn’t yet, and... Okay so what happened,” Willow explained, rolling over and settling beside Tara on the cushions that hadn’t been there a moment ago, but now seemed like they had been all along, “she found me - my lamp, that is - washed up on a beach, which is really pretty standard, it’s either that or stuck in a dusty old tomb and I’d rather not. I mean I don’t have the complexion for tanning,” she grinned, as her attire briefly rearrange itself into a bikini, before reverting to its default Arabian-esque look, “but hey, can’t actually get burned anyway, so I’d rather be in the sun that shut away somewhere. Sorry, I got off track.”

“I don’t mind,” Tara ventured. “I, I like your voice.”

“Heh, thanks,” Willow blushed. “So um. Right, beach, and... so she finds me, standard procedure for the modern age - rub the lamp because it happens in movies, get all surprised when it actually works anyway - and we, you know, we got to talking. Mainly me talking, what with, as aforementioned, I babble. Initially it’s me explaining about the rules, how the wish works - and there’s only one, not three, whatever literary sources might think - but we ended up just... talking, you know? And making a wish got put on the backburner for a while, and the while became a longer while, and well, I guess you could say she adopted me. I help out around the house but there’s no wish completion involved.” She looked out to sea, then back at Tara, nervously. “Full disclosure, I kind of like it - not being in the whole wishing business for a while.”

“Oh? H-how come?”

“Honestly? It makes for good fairy tales, but... I mean there’s a lot of catches built into the wishes - by design - so a lot of the time it’s not so much helping out as being a disappointment. People don’t always think before they wish, and there’s not a lot of leeway, I have to go to work anyway. Obviously there’s the ‘wish for a million wishes’ thing, which it seems like nobody ever realises they’re not the first person to think of that so it’s been taken care of, and... I suppose, okay, it’s a grabby move, but a lot of the time I don’t feel like I can really blame them, you’re wandering along minding your own business and nothing special’s happening, then suddenly - boom - the offer of mystical rewards out of nowhere, I get how people can jump at the opportunity, you know? But it’s disappointing to get summoned and then just have to be, nope, wrong wish, you get nothing, bye.” Her shoulders slumped a little. “And then there’s the actual greedy ones.”

“Wh-what happens then?” Tara asked hesitantly.

“The wish... you get what you offer, in a way. I try to explain that to people but sometimes it’s just, I was this this and this, influence and power and...” The genie sighed. “Same kind of deal, the wish knows when someone’s trying to take advantage of it, and it doesn’t work. Only when it’s malevolence, not carelessness, I don’t get to just sorry-bye, I have to... you know, give them what they think they want, but it turns around and bites them. I get it,” she added, lifting her chin. “There’s a reason for, for how it works, it’s not just random. And honestly, looking back over the millennia, I, I guess what I do - the way the system works - it’s for the best, I wouldn’t change it, not just because...”

“It’s a difficult duty?” Tara prompted.

“Yeah,” Willow nodded. “But what with all that, living on Buffy’s shelf, getting to relax and muck around on the internet because technically she’s still ‘thinking about what her wish will be’, it’s kind of like a holiday, you know? I like it. Even if sometimes... eh, hrm.”

“Sometimes what?”

“I wonder if I’m, like... avoiding what I should be doing. My duty as a genie. Like, all the people who’ve tried to take advantage of the power and ended up coming off worse for it, they deserved it, but I get to find a loophole and take a holiday if I want?”

“There’s nothing wrong with being on the receiving end o-of generosity,” Tara offered.

“Yeah,” Willow shrugged, then looked at Tara, and smiled. “Thanks. I guess I know, it’s not a bad thing to take some me-time - everyone needs to - but... it’s nice to be told it. Thank you.”

“Any time.”


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“Funny thing,” Buffy observed, gazing at the metropolis of towering columns, wide paved roads packed with pre-industrial traffic, and gigantic statues as far as the eye could see, as Tara’s boat sailed up the Tiber. “Rome looks kind of, exactly like I imagined it. You know how you get a mental image of a place, and it’s different when you actually see it for yourself? It’s weird that that’s not happening.”

“It is exactly as you imagine it,” Tara said, keeping one hand on the wheel to avoid the various triremes packed with legionaries drifting about the river. “This is the Rome that exists in the world’s imagination.”

“The entire world?” Angel asked.

“Uh-huh. D-don’t worry, I’ve done this kind of sailing before, visiting friends. You just need to keep a steady hand on the wheel to keep from drifting into daydreams.” She delicately licked her finger, held it up in the air, and turned the wheel to steer the boat towards a nearby jetty. “Third Century AD, or near enough.”

“Looks like your postal service was on point,” Willow said, pointing to a man in clerical robes waiting by the shore, who gathered up an armful of scrolls and made his way out onto the jetty as he spotted them.

“Lots o-of people kiss love letters before they send them,” Tara said with a shy grin. “I spent some time with the postal fairy to get an idea of how it all worked to help.”

“There’s a postal fairy?” Buffy asked.

“S-she’s rebranding herself as the delivery drone fairy,” Tara explained. “Fred’s very enthusiastic about new technologies. Hello!”

“Ave!” the waiting man called, as the boat slowed alongside the jetty, and Angel lent him a hand to get on board, along with the shopping basket he was carrying. “Breakfast as requested.”

“Thank you so much, and thank you for making the time to help us,” Tara smiled.

“Think nothing of it, any opportunity to get out and about. Being a skull in a holy reliquary is decidedly monotonous.”

“This is Buffy, and Angel - mortals - and this,” Tara continued, turning her smile on Willow, where it seemed to linger, “is Willow, she’s a genie. Everyone, these are Saint Valentine of Rome.”

“Hi,” Buffy said, accepting the forearm-clasp she was accustomed to from many sword and sandal films set in the period. “Um, these are...?”

“There may have been more than one of me, dear lady,” Saint Valentine said, as he in turn clasped hands with Angel, Willow, and Tara. “Of course, the historical Saint Valentine - any and/or all of them, as the case may be - would be able to clear the matter up, but they’d be in no position to offer advice on a commemorative day whose attachment to love only occurred centuries later.”

“Fair point,” Angel admitted, as Tara returned to the wheel and started turning the boat around.


Image


“So I was just curious,” Willow said, sitting cross-legged next to Tara as the group enjoyed their breakfast in the boat’s single cabin, “that kiss, the one you crafted earlier for them? Which was amazing, by the way, just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Thank you,” Tara said softly.

“But until today I never actually knew how that was done, so, are they all like that? You draw them and then they’re books and the books turn into butterflies? I’m just curious. I’m not bothering you am I? I mean, making you talk about work, and all that.”

“You’re not bothering me,” Tara smiled. “There are actually a lot of ways of designing kisses - as many as you can imagine, I suppose. Some I write, in poetry, or storytelling, or sometimes just in the shape of calligraphy, not the words themselves. Some are sculptures or paintings, patterns in the clouds, the wash of waves breaking on the shore. Sometimes I sing them into being, or mix them like perfumes. Some, I... uh, there are l-lots of ways,” she cut herself off, remembering they weren’t alone.

“So you can do pretty much anything?” Buffy asked. Tara blushed and grinned.

“It’s just, it’s p-part of who I am,” she said shyly.

“Well on behalf of the world, it’s very much appreciated,” Angel said.

“Thanks. It’s very rewarding to... to be a part of love,” Tara said, glancing down at her hands in her lap. “I’m grateful that I can - in that way. Helping others.”

“That you can?” Willow asked, her attention caught by a slight tremble in Tara’s voice. Tara nodded, then gave her a reassuring smile, and held out her hand. Willow reached for it automatically, then blinked in surprise as Tara’s hand passed straight through hers.

“Contributing to people’s love for one another is a delicate b-balance,” the fairy explained. “What I create becomes part of their love, but I can’t - I shouldn’t. Love is between lovers, when people connect with each other - that connection is between them, a space that’s, that’s intimate, that’s shared and sacred.” She looked at the concern in Willow’s eyes, and offered a smile. “Being the way I am means I can offer the gifts I do, without intruding in that private space. It’s for the best.”

“But, but you can’t... I mean...” Willow hesitated, covertly glancing around at the less-than-private setting.

“My art is very fulfilling,” Tara said. “Creating what I do, it... m-makes for a happy life. Really.”

“I-I’m... that’s, good,” Willow replied, almost in a whisper. She managed a smile, which grew wider and less forced as Tara shared it. “That is good,” she went on, “that you’re, you’re not left out - I mean, all the happiness you create, I... I get what you mean, I do. Every kiss in the entire world is that much more special, and it’s all you.”

“They’d b-be special anyway,” Tara said, with a slanting grin. “But I do my part. And lots of things in life are special.” She glanced at Willow, and raised her eyebrows slightly, questioning. “‘Loved ones’ doesn’t only mean kissing.”

“I... agreed,” Willow nodded.


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“So where are we now?” Buffy asked, peering ahead of the boat to the island they were approaching.

“Ynys Llanddwyn,” Tara said, blowing a kiss of sparkling bubbles through the air towards the shore, where they helpfully transformed into a pier.

“And up there,” she pointed to a small cottage nestled amid a grove of trees a little way from the shore, “Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Uh, Willow, would you like to come, and the rest wait here? She’s technically a hermit, so... I’m sure she’ll help, w-we just need to be, um, tactful about approaching her...”

“How is someone ‘technically’ a hermit?” Angel wondered, as Tara disembarked, and Willow transformed her lower body back into a cloud to swoop down and hover alongside her as she walked up the pier.

“Saints tend to accumulate patronages,” Valentine shrugged. “I look after beekeepers, you know. It’s just a matter of juggling all the job requirements.”


Image


Up the hill Tara knocked politely on the cottage’s door, and waited as bustling footsteps sounded approached within.

“What kind of animal and what symptoms?” the woman who opened the door asked, slightly breathless from hurrying.

“Sorry what?” Willow blurted.

“We’re here about love,” Tara said.

“Oh?” The woman looked from one to the other of them, then smiled widely. “Of course you are, hard to miss. So you’re looking to adopt? There’s a lovely magic kitten looking for a home.”

“Um, n-no,” Tara explained. “I’m the kissing fairy, this is Willow, a genie. Something’s gone wrong with kissing and w-we’re trying to figure it out.”

“Oh I see! Well then. Alright, one moment.” She turned around and called back into the cottage, which sounded rather noisier and busier on the inside than its small size would have suggested, what with various barks and meows and moos and the flapping of wings. “I’m just popping out for a bit, back in no time! Mind the Galapagos tortoise doesn’t try to escape again! Sorry,” she added, turning back to Willow and Tara, and shutting the door behind her as she stepped out onto the front porch.

“You’ve got a tortoise?” Willow asked.

“Just for a while,” Dwynwen nodded. “Patron saint of sick animals, you see. He’ll be right as rain in no time. So what’s this about kissing?”

“We’ve got Saint Valentine aboard,” Tara said, pointing ahead to her boat as they started down towards the shore. “A-and one more expert to collect. We’ll explain along the way.”


Image


“Hey Willow,” Angel said, joining Willow leaning against the side rail, while Tara busied herself keeping Valentine and Dwynwen from arguing about where true love was supposed to appear on a calendar. Beneath them forests were speeding by, steadily giving way to farmland, courtesy of Tara having transformed the boat’s sail into a hot air balloon.

“Hi...” she said vaguely, still staring at Tara.

“Sorry if this is awkward,” he said sheepishly. “But I’m not sure if you noticed, your outfit’s getting kind of...”

“Huh?” Willow glanced down at herself, and jumped as she realised her attire had been steadily edging towards the more transparent side of gauzy, the normally quite conventional waistline of her pants was dipping further and further on her hips, and her vest seemed to have acquired cleavage-enhancing underwire.

“It does that,” the genie said quickly, blushing and waving a hand over herself to return her clothes to their usual state. “You know, for no reason, and not at all connected to anything I’m thinking. Could happen to anyone whose clothes are basically just a psychic projection.”

“Uh-huh,” Angel nodded. “Once this is done though, you could visit her? Do you need one of us to come with you for it to be allowed in the genie rules, or can you go by yourself? Because we could work something out.”

“I couldn’t ask that of you,” Willow protested, albeit half-heartedly. “Getting dragged all around the ethersphere just so I can travel-”

“The spinning lamp thing isn’t that bad,” Angel admitted. “And it’s a few seconds, then, I don’t know, me and Buff picnic on the beach or something while you and she wander...”

“She probably has to deal with this all the time,” Willow sighed. “I mean, she’s the kissing fairy. And it’s not like anything could, y’know, happen, with the intangibility, it’d just be me hanging around her like a lovesick puppy. Who wants that in their life?”

“You know,” Angel said, putting a steadying hand on her shoulder, “I thought the same for a while, with Buffy. She’s amazing, and me... I guess I’ve got good hair, but I’ve got a few years on her, she’s all sunshine and activity and I like wearing black, and peace and quiet... And so on.”

“You make her so happy,” Willow pointed out.

“Yeah,” Angel smiled. “Had to believe it first, though - that I could. And it wasn’t easy adjusting to each other, we both worked at it. Still do when needed.” He looked over at the bow, where Buffy was looking down at the English countryside. “Not just because she’s beautiful - which she is - but, you know. I feel something, from her, for her, that... it’s not the kind of thing you can turn away from.”

“I’m partial to any explanation that puts me close to her,” Willow admitted, gazing at Tara. “I just wish... heh, me wishing.”

“Genies are allowed to wish,” Angel said.

“Yeah but it doesn’t work,” Willow chuckled wryly. “It’s just, it’s a big leap - thinking that her being all her, she could still find something with me, and... I want this. I’m afraid it’s going to be difficult. Not being able to... hold her hand, and then, then put my hands on her cheeks, softly, lean closer, feel her lips. Can I... I mean even assuming she wants, can I be around her all the time, and never be able to...? Am I superficial thinking like that, doesn’t she deserve someone who isn’t bothered-”

“You’re overthinking,” Angel interrupted her gently.

“I... yeah, that’s a thing I do,” Willow nodded. She finally tore her gaze away from Tara, and gave Angel a grateful smile. “You’d really ferry my lamp over so I could visit...?”

“We’d be granting a genie’s wish,” Angel grinned. “How many people can say that?”


Image


“This time of day, he should be here,” Tara announced, steering the boat/airship down towards a two-storey building in the middle of bustling Middle Ages London.

“You know him?” Willow asked, coming to her side.

“I’m kind of a literature nerd,” Tara said, grinning shyly. “This isn’t my first visit.”

“Oh!” Buffy jumped. “Globe theatre?”

“Isn’t that supposed to be round?” Willow pointed out.

“Uh, n-no,” Tara shook her head. “I mean, yes, the Globe is round, but no, this is a pub.” She parked the boat in the street, amid the pedestrians and horses and wagons who seemed oblivious to its presence but nonetheless somehow made room for it, and flew over the rail just as the pub’s front door burst open and an unkempt-looking man stumbled through backwards, tripped over his feet, staggered back upright, and held out a hand back towards the door.

“Your company shall be sorely missed, dear friends” he proclaimed. “But time and the jousting tourney wait for no man- oh hello!”

“Hi Geoffrey,” Tara said. “C-could you help us? Valentine’s Day is in a bit of a mess.”

“Bollocks! I’m not having that after I put so much work into it. Am I drunk enough to be seeing things, or did you bring a boat? Do you normally travel by boat? In the street?”

“Normally I take the river,” Tara grinned. “We’re in a hurry.”

“Jolly good.” He clambered up the rope ladder Valentine had lowered from the deck, swayed slightly on reaching the top, then took in the other travellers with varying degrees of curiosity.

“Everyone,” Tara said, fluttering back up on deck as the boat lifted off, “m-may I present Geoffrey Chaucer.”


Image


“I don’t think I’ve been here before,” Willow said, staring ahead at the gleaming harbour city the boat was approaching, while Chaucer and Buffy argued about whether the Knight’s Tale was better in print or film.

“Have you ever met the Capitalism Fairy?” Tara asked.

“This is her realm? I can see that.” Willow shrugged. “Genies don’t really have material wants.”

“We’re friends,” Tara explained. “Sh-she’s a bit... focused, sometimes.”

“Likes her buildings big and tall,” Willow observed as Tara guided the boat alongside a dock and tossed a rope to shore, where it tied itself up.

“It’s a demanding job,” Tara went on, recreating her mobile phone. “I hope whatever happened, we can help.”

“It’ll be okay,” Willow promised. Tara gave her a grateful smile, then dialled a number.

“Hello? What’s... yes, we’re here. The waterfront. Uh, me, a friend, a couple of mortals, Geoffrey, Valentine and Dwynwen. Where are you? Okay hold on, we’ll be there in a minute. Everybody?” she called to the others, closing her phone. “Let’s go.”

Their destination was only a few blocks from the dock, a well-kept park situated among the office towers, where amid the lawn sprinklers and precisely-trimmed lawns and polished stone paths a woman in a tailored suit was looking irritated at being stuck to a lamppost by the lead of a colossal dog looped around her.

“Tara, hi!” she called.

“Anya, what’s going on?”

“First of all, I’m really sorry,” Anya sighed. “I was taking Profit here for a walk, and I... see the thing is... I got distracted for maybe a few seconds, possibly minutes.”

“Distracted by what?”

“I was having some roadwork done just across the street - you know, keep everything in top shape - so the Manly Construction Worker Fairy was visiting, and one thing led to another-”

“I’m sorry, the what fairy?” Buffy asked.

“Are they new? Oh right, the mortals,” Anya nodded. “Anyway by the time I got back this little critter,” she glanced at the elephant-sized dog, which was scratching behind its ear and ignoring her, “had gotten off his lead and went running around, you know how dogs are, and while I was wrangling him back and trying to fix all the mess he’d made... well, here we are.”

“Come on,” Tara urged the dog. “Up on your feet. Come on let’s untangle Anya, okay?”

“What’d he do?” Anya asked, as Profit followed Tara’s voice and slowly meandered around the lamppost, slowly unwinding the lead pinning her there.

“People are being charged money for kissing,” Willow said curtly.

“Really? Bad dog! Tara I’m really sorry... thanks.” She stretched as her legs were finally unwound, and grew a pair of gleaming silver wings with miniature jet engines to hover back to the ground.

“I-it’s okay,” Tara said.

“How do we fix it?” Willow asked.

“Well now that Profit’s calmed down - sit! - it’s just a matter of getting rid of the metaphysical paw-prints, I’d guess,” Anya shrugged. “Not really my department, can your dream team figure something out?”

“It should require merely finding something to quash yon canine’s influence,” Chaucer said thoughtfully, beckoning to Dwynwen and Valentine. “My lady, sir, let us confer.”

“You’re a lifesaver,” Anya said to Tara, as they watched the Valentine’s experts busily discussing potential plans in their huddle, while Willow had summoned a tourist guide from her lamp and was pointing out features of interest in the city to Buffy and Angel. “I’m... I’m really sorry Tara. I know how upsetting...”

“It was j-just a mistake,” Tara said soothingly. “Not worth feeling miserable over. O-okay?”

“I’d hug you if I could,” Anya said, managing a grin.

“Same,” Tara smiled. “Anyway, th-this whole thing? I made a new friend today, because of it. So...” Her gaze settled on Willow, and she fell silent, while Anya studied her, then Willow, then her again.

“A genie and a fairy, huh?” she said eventually, when it became clear Tara was too mesmerised to continue the conversation without prompting.

“H-huh?” Tara shook her head and blushed. “Sh-she’s a friend... We only just met today...”

“And yet, have you seen yourself looking at her?” Anya asked. “Because if you need it made extra-clear, get one of those reflections of yours so you can watch yourself watching her. Although,” she shrugged, “you’d probably just wind up gazing longingly at her twice.”

“I-I can’t,” Tara protested, although her voice sounded less than convinced.

“Because of the intangible thing? Please. Some people can’t do some things, you of all people know that doesn’t have to be the end of it. You can duplicate yourself pretty much at will and she can transform herself into basically anything, you’re not seriously saying you can’t think of anything you two can do that’ll tickle that special urge?”

“Anya!”

“‘Anya!’” Anya echoed. “But have I at least shocked you into dropping the oh-there’s-nothing-more-than-friendship-here act?”

“I... yes,” Tara sighed, then gave a faint grin. “Consider me suitably shocked.”

“It’s a gift.”

“Ladies and gentlemen!” Chaucer announced. “We propose a solution, gather ‘round.”

“Is it a group hug?” Buffy wondered.

“No, but close,” Chaucer replied. “Simply put, the drive for profit - as represented by Madame Anya’s adorable if preposterously-proportioned pet - knows naught of love, which by its nature is selfless, giving only for the joy of giving, and finding reward in that same act. That the act of bestowing love, in this instance by kissing, currently has a profit motive attached is so inherently unstable a situation as to be vulnerable to the merest nudge.”

“So...” Angel prompted.

“So, dear Tara,” Chaucer said, with a courtly bow, “simply focus your thoughts on the generosity and spiritual fulfilment of love, and all will be made well.”

“Um... th-thanks,” Tara said, venturing a smile. She glanced at Willow, then back at Chaucer. “Any thoughts on how...?”

“A mirror and some privacy?” Anya suggested, smirking. Angel, who had been frowning in thought, leaned over to whisper in Buffy’s ear.

“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “Hey, Wills?”

“Hm?” Willow said, not quite able to look away from Tara, whose gaze was turning back to her as if drawn by gravity.

“I wish you could show her how you feel.”

Willow nodded absently, tilted her head to give Buffy a smile, then inhaled sharply.

“Y-you...” she whispered.

“Yep, the big W-word,” Buffy grinned. Willow let out a trembling breath, then turned slowly to Tara.

“T-tara,” she said, taking a halting step forward. “Can I...?”

Tara stared as Willow held out her hand, wreathed for a moment in gold and blue sparkles, then held her breath and reached out to her. The fairy gave a soft whimper as their fingertips touched, then slowly moved her hand further to grip Willow’s.

“Sweetie...?” she mouthed.

“Do you... do you want?” Willow asked, biting her lip. Tara nodded wordlessly, and gave the gentlest tug on Willow’s hand, drawing her irresistibly closer until they stood face to face, almost nothing between them. Tara let out a shuddering gasp as their bodies touched, closed her eyes as she felt Willow’s breath caress her open lips, then her free hand was on the back of Willow’s neck, Willow’s pressed into the small of her back, and their lips touched - first a tentative, hesitant contact, then again, firmer, again deeper, and then they were kissing with all their hearts, utterly consumed by one another.

“Yowzers,” Anya said, staring. Buffy and Angel, also not quite able to look away, were finally distracted by their phones buzzing in their pockets.

“Problem solved,” Buffy sighed happily. “Hey c’mere, I want to double-check.”

“Seems to be catching,” Anya chuckled, glancing sidelong at the couple as they too kissed. She looked back at Tara, and raised an eyebrow.

“Uh, hey, Tara? Tara. Tara?

“Wha?” Tara finally asked, blinking in a daze as her and Willow’s lips parted, and the genie nestled her head on her shoulder.

“You’re shedding petals,” Anya pointed out. Tara looked down at herself, and blushed as she noticed the crystal rose petals comprising her dress were indeed drifting away from her body and fading into nothingness at quite a pace.

“Th-thanks,” she grinned bashfully, as the petals flew back into place. “Um so, did...?”

“Worked like a charm,” Buffy nodded, separating from Angel long enough to hold up her phone. Tara smiled radiantly, then looked back at Willow, cuddled against her.

“How long...” she asked in a whisper.

“For as long as I’ve got love to show you,” the genie smiled. She leaned back slightly to meet Tara’s gaze. “That’s gonna be a pretty long time, I hope.”

“I do too,” Tara whispered. Willow took a shaky breath, then waved a hand at Buffy and Angel.

“Come here you guys,” she said, beckoning them, and dragging them into the hug as soon as they were within arm’s reach.

“Gonna miss you Wills,” Buffy sniffled.

“We’ll visit,” Willow promised. “Like, all the time.”

“So, hey,” Buffy went on, holding up Willow’s lamp. “I know you can’t carry this around yourself, what with stupid mystical rules and stuff, so...” She offered the lamp to Tara. “Take good care of her? Will you?” Tara looked from the lamp, to Willow’s smile, then nodded and took it.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, right?” Anya quipped at the trio of historical figures looking on.

“It does seem our legacy is in good hands,” Chaucer agreed.

“Amen to that,” Valentine nodded.

“I can give you a few tips on pet training, if you’d like?” Dwynwen offered.

“Not a bad idea,” Anya admitted.


Image

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'W&T Save Valentine's D
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:44 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Birthday'
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:23 pm 
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Artemis wrote:
“Thank you Miss Tentacle Fantastico,” Willow said, giving the octopus a pat as it released Buffy and slithered away past her. “Baby, why don’t you tell Agent Buffy here what’s waiting for her?”

“A-are you familiar with electric eels?” Tara asked Buffy. “Volcania has its own particularly aggressive variety that I-I’m sure you’ll find... well...”

“Say it,” Willow whispered, trembling.

“...shocking.”

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'W&T Save Valentine's D
PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:16 am 
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This story made my Valentine's Day, so cute! :wtkiss

I'm glad Buffy's wish worked - a wish thats fulfilment will take "happily ever after" might have been against djinn-rules, after all.

Quote:
“There are actually a lot of ways of designing kisses - as many as you can imagine, I suppose. Some I write, in poetry, or storytelling, or sometimes just in the shape of calligraphy, not the words themselves. Some are sculptures or paintings, patterns in the clouds, the wash of waves breaking on the shore. Sometimes I sing them into being, or mix them like perfumes. Some, I... uh, there are l-lots of ways,” she cut herself off, remembering they weren’t alone.


So hopefully Tara will also be able to design kisses for the world by kissing Willow and making love to her, because I guess she will have much less time for writing, painting etc. than before...

Quote:
So you’re looking to adopt? There’s a lovely magic kitten looking for a home.

:kitty I hope the offer still stands and Miss Kitty Fantastico will find a new home!

Quote:
so the Manly Construction Worker Fairy was visiting, and one thing led to another

:laugh Xander, I presume - now I'm wondering what manly wings he has...


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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'W&T Save Valentine's D
PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:01 am 
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Thanks everyone :grin A little while back I randomly switched on the tv and an episode of I Dream Of Jeannie was playing - didn't really think anything of it at the time, but I guess in hindsight that's what got this idea going.

Will's redemption wrote:
I'm glad Buffy's wish worked - a wish thats fulfilment will take "happily ever after" might have been against djinn-rules, after all.

Probably something like that - having already done the wish-setting-the-genie-free thing in Gold, I thought I'd shake things up by having the djinn laws be more difficult to get around, which also avoids the question of why Buffy (or some previous 'master') didn't just set Willow free (and also avoids the conclusion, in that case, that everyone who'd ever found a genie was just selfish). So in this case, Willow's still bound by her rules, it just so happens that 'as long as she loves Tara' doesn't need to have an expiry date to work :wtkiss (I don't know who sets all these mystic laws up, but clearly there's a whole organisation behind the scenes.)

I can confirm that a) Willow and Tara will indeed be dropping by Dwynwen's hermit-vet cottage to pick up a kitten to add to their family - and also that b) making love is a valid mode of artistic expression for 'crafting' kisses. I did toy with the notion of finishing on Buffy and Angel getting back home after the whole adventure's concluded, going in for a quick kiss, and winding up sprawled on the floor in each other's arms panting breathlessly because Tara's kisses are suddenly really potent, but I decided in the end that the relationship between Tara's personal life and her 'gifts' isn't quite that direct - I felt like, even though it would've made a good joke, it was important to keep kisses as something primarily between the kissers, with Tara's contribution being craftswomanship rather than raw emotion. (That said, I'm sure she and Willow will be coming up with a whole treasure trove of special kisses for their own use.)

Will's redemption wrote:
Quote:
so the Manly Construction Worker Fairy was visiting, and one thing led to another

:laugh Xander, I presume - now I'm wondering what manly wings he has...

They wouldn't be any good for flying, but I'm picturing a little pair of the drums from a cement mixer attached to his back. The wings were kind of accidental - Tara's only came about because, while I was still putting ideas together, I decided to build Lego versions of this particular W/T pair (since there's a genie-style lower body part for Lego minifigs - see the Lego thread for them), and gave Tara wings because there's a wing piece, why not... (As well as the sparkly dress - I hadn't figured out her fairy costume before that - which actually came from the minifig for Christina Ricci in Speed Racer.) And then it was only while I was writing Anya's appearance that I gave her jet engines (from a Learjet or similar, naturally), which kind of implies all fairies have custom wings according to their role - Tara's a classicist in that sense, sticking with the traditional fairy wings. (I imagine Fred would have initially had the Hermes-style little wings on her ankles, and recently replaced them with little drone rotors.)

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'W&T Save Valentine's D
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 6:32 pm 
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Star Wars Day


Author: Chris Cook
Email: alia@netspace.net.au
Rating: M for spiciness
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. Star Wars is owned by Disney.

Image

“Hi champ!”

“Hey dad!”

“You have a good time?” Riley asked, aiming a meaningful glance past his son, who took the hint and turned back to the two women and one boy on the front porch.

“Thanks Anthony, thanks Master Jedi, thanks Missus Maclay!”

“Thanks,” Riley added. “All good? Tara, you’ve got...?”

“Sith facepaint,” Tara nodded, the angular ‘tattoos’ adorning her face shifting as she grinned. “We flipped a coin for who got to be the Jedi Master and who got whacked by lightsabers to defeat the dark side.”

“No kidding?”

“Just foam lightsabers,” she shrugged, then gave Willow a fond nudge. “And the wise Master taught them to show mercy to a defeated foe.”

“Well that’s good,” Riley nodded, glancing at his son with the slightly bemused expression of one who didn’t get the intricacies, and was just content that everything had gone well anyway. “Got to rush, sorry. Thanks again. C’mon, let’s go pick up mom from the gym.”

“Drive safe,” Willow said.

“Seeya,” their son waved, as the Finns returned to their car - the younger dutifully explaining that Willow’s Rey outfit wasn’t actually that of a Jedi Master but allowances had been made - and the impromptu half-hour traffic jam that was parents-collecting-children finally came to an end; fortunately the Rosenberg-Maclay house wasn’t on a busy street.

“Good birthday?” Willow asked as they went back inside.

“Awesome! Thanks moms,” Anthony beamed. “Can we build the Falcon now?”

“Well luckily birthday boys don’t have to tidy up,” Tara said, shrugging off the black cloak and hood she had worn in her festive role as galactic menace. “Will, you wanna help build?”

“You don’t mind?” Willow asked, taking a quick look around the living room, which was in the state of disarray expected from hosting a day of excitable eight-year-olds.

“Go build,” Tara chuckled. As Willow leaned in to give her a kiss on the cheek, she added in a murmur: “You’ll make it up to me later.”

“Oh-kay,” Willow said, taking a deep breath to get her blush under control. “Well then, okay. C’mon Padawan, let’s make a spaceship. Think we can get it done before dinner? Is there even room for dinner after Cloud City Cake?”

“Yeah of course,” Anthony protested.

“There’s always room for dinner,” Tara grinned, starting to pick up plates from the dining table to make room for spaceship construction.

Image

“That was quick,” Tara noted, standing in the doorway to their bedroom as Willow quietly closed Anthony’s door just down the hall. Normally the interval between her kissing their son good night, and Storytime With Willow wrapping up, was half an hour or more.

“One page, out like a light,” Willow smiled. “Big day. Eight years, huh?”

“Yeah,” Tara grinned, taking Willow’s hand and lightly stroking her fingertips. Willow remained silent for a moment, just gazing back and smiling, then tilted her head to one side.

“Tara?”

“Willow?”

“Is there a reason we’re standing in the hallway?” Willow asked, already smiling at the thought that Tara was Up To Something.

“Yep,” Tara replied. “Give me two minutes, then come in?”

“Two minutes. Okay.” She waited, counting in her head and trying to resist the temptation to make out sounds from within the bedroom through the door Tara had left ajar, then took a quick breath and went in.

The room was dark, lit only by the glow of a bedside night-light, and for a moment Willow couldn’t make out where Tara was, until her wife’s voice - a low, mocking drawl - drew her attention to her silhouette, slouched in the double seat by the window with her hood up again, concealing most of her face in shadow.

“So, Jedi... You found me at last.”

Willow giggled, then paused and waved a hand in front of her face, a trick she had seen actors do in blooper reels which, she had found, worked quite well for her too. She nudged the door closed and put her hands on her hips, with a confident little toss of her head.

“The galaxy’s not big enough for a Sith to hide from justice.”

“You’ll have to forgive me,” Tara said, stirring and slowly getting to her feet. “I’m not that well-read on Jedi traditions, but I thought you were supposed to avoid getting involved with people? And yet here you are.” She sauntered forward, and slowly circled Willow, who turned her head to follow her. “Chasing me for, how long? All this way, from planet to planet, year after year. So far away from your Jedi order and all your Jedi comrades. Do you even know the way back? Or was finding me all that mattered?” She came to a halt behind Willow and leant over her shoulder to murmur in her ear: “I must be very important to you.”

“We-ell, it takes two,” Willow said,suppressing a shiver. “All those times you could’ve gone to ground with your Sith allies, or hidden in some evil stronghold - I wouldn’t have been able to get to you.” She turned and fixed the gloom beneath Tara’s hood with a stare. “But you didn’t. Maybe you like being chased?”

“If that’s so, why would I let you catch up with me now?” Tara wondered, starting to circle again.

“Maybe you like being caught too.”

Willow jumped slightly as Tara quickly moved, pressing against her back and putting an arm around her shoulders. She flinched, then again had to force herself not to giggle, as she felt a cool metal object against her throat, which at the flick of a switch began to vibrate with a low buzz.

“Who’s caught who?” Tara purred.

“You planning on using that on me?” Willow countered.

“What’s to stop me? You’re unarmed, Jedi.”

“A Jedi is never unarmed,” Willow said firmly. “Nor is she... wait how’s that quote go?”

“You’re thinking of wizards.”

“Oh right, my bad. Take two - my ally is the Force.”

“Will that help you?” Tara scoffed.

“Sure will.” Willow reached back, gripping Tara’s hip behind herself. “It surrounds us, and penetrates us, and...” She slid her hand under her ‘adversary’s’ cloak, inhaled sharply as she felt bare skin, then chuckled. “...and you’re not making that a difficult task, are you? Naughty Sith.”

“Naughty’s our whole thing,” Tara protested. “It’s in the, the Sith charter.” She moved her feet apart to give Willow freer rein to explore, and pressed her ‘saber’ under her jaw.

“It’s why you’ve already lost,” she whispered in Willow’s ear. “Your feelings betray you. Even now, your fingers stray into... mmm... a trap of my design.”

“You’ll fail, your Sithness,” Willow said stubbornly, as Tara’s other hand slid down from its grip around her shoulders and cupped her breast through her costume. “I am a Jedi, Darth Vixen... ohyeah right there love.”

“Aren’t Jedi supposed to not know love?” Tara gasped. Willow giggled.

“Guess I’m not a very good Jedi then,” she admitted, making Tara laugh.

“So I don’t get my Sith merit badge for corrupting you?” she asked.

“Well, let’s not be hasty,” Willow chuckled, pulling her towards their bed. “I’m not seeing any reason you shouldn’t try anyway.”

“Do, or do not?”

Definitely do...”

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Star Wars Day'
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 11:38 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Star Wars Day'
PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 11:02 am 
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Somehow I hadn't read your Valentine's Day fic???

I LOVED IT

Quote:
“A kiss emoji is still a kiss,”


:wtkiss so sweet.

As for the latest, :heart :heart :heart

I love a good 'moms' fic and I love a good nerding out fic and I love fics that are sweet and sexy and funny all at once. You, sir, are a master of all of those things!! Thank you so much for all you contribute!

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Star Wars Day'
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 10:19 pm 
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Thanks :grin

Amusing factoid time - I got most of the way through the opening scene with W&T's son being called Daniel, as in Willow's middle name, before I realised "Oh wait, that was Oz's name... that'd be kind of weird". Anthony floated to mind due to Giles of course, although not in-universe obviously. No particular reason he was a boy (I didn't feel like he had to be for the Star Wars fandom, of course - although he did kind of end up channeling me after I saw Return of the Jedi at 6), I just feel like Willow and Tara have girls quite often - that'd probably be my default setting - so I thought I'd switch it up. Same with having Riley be the only other one of the parents to actually be featured, just to do something different rather than Buffy or Xander or someone.

The notion of them being mothers, and the Star Wars thing coming up due to a birthday party, actually turned up late in planning - my first idea was just the two of them playing Jedi/Sith (which I suspect is a little bit of Ahsoka Tano/Asajj Ventress sneaking through from one fandom to another). As it happens I prefer how it turned out, in that they're not just randomly Star Wars fans, but they've picked up all the jargon via their son (I'm sure they enjoy the movies just fine, of course - and Willow's bedtime reading to Anthony is probably Star Wars stories at present, and I think she does the voices and everything).

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Star Wars Day'
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 2:19 am 
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Adorkable :)

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Star Wars Day'
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:42 pm 
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Thanks :grin

So it's Friday the 13th, and as usual I only realised that yesterday, so here's something I threw together in a hurry in between working, based on an idea I had sitting around in the back of my head waiting for Halloween, so now I'll have to think of something else for Halloween. Second year running.

Author: Chris Cook
Email: alia@netspace.net.au
Rating: M
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy, and I don't know who owns Friday the 13th (the movie, not the day), it's probably been bought and sold so many times nobody knows anymore.

Frightday the Thirteenth


Image

Deep in the woods of a picturesque but remote rural backwater, a figure dozing in the last rays of afternoon sun on the porch of a bait shop was roused by the unexpected sound of an approaching car. He tilted his rocking chair forward with a rustic creak and raised the brim of his hat to peer at the dirt road as a brightly-coloured VW beetle pulled to a halt and its driver leaned out the window.

“Pardon me sir?” she called. “Is this the way to...” She paused to check a map the blonde in the passenger seat held for her. “...Camp Spooky-Murder Lake?”

“Aye, that it be,” the rustic said, squinting and gripping the armrests of his chair tightly. “But be warned ye careless children, that be a cursed place. A foul miasma of evil hangs over that destination, and many’s the young soul dragged to the pits of Hades by the brutal creature what dwells in the shadows of the woods around there!”

“Okay,” the redheaded driver replied after a moment’s pause. “Straight down this road then? Alright, thanks.”

The rustic watched as the car resumed its journey, and gave a theatrical sigh of despair.

“Was that more teenagers headed to the lake?” a woman’s voice asked from inside the shop.

“Yes dear,” the man replied, suddenly sporting a British accent.

“Did you warn them about the undead maniac?”

“Yes dear. They went on anyway.” He sighed again, and there was the muffled sound of a matching sigh from inside.

“Kids these days, no sense at all.” A pause. “Was that you doing the redneck voice at them?”

“Yes dear,” the man admitted, somewhat sheepishly. “It just seems the right thing to do, I feel like I’d be letting the situation down terribly if I didn’t make the effort.”

“You know it’s kind of veering off into pirate territory?”

“I’ll try to work on it dear.”

Image

“And here we be,” Willow said, bringing the car to a halt in an improvised parking lot marked by a faded wooden sign.

“We be?” Tara wondered.

“Don’t you think that guy back there’s accent sounded a bit pirate?”

“Yar...”

“Camp Spooky-Murder Lake,” Willow said, looking out at the deserted log cabins, dilapidated swing set, and leaf-strewn path leading down to the distant lake. “Originally named... huh,” she frowned, studying a tourist brochure from the glove compartment. “That is the original name. That’s just asking for trouble.”

“At least we won’t be turning up nothing,” Tara shrugged, opening her door and getting out to stretch her legs.

“Camp Happy Meadow was a long shot,” Willow admitted, sneaking a covert glance at Tara, then getting out of the car herself. “But it was on our way, and it might have had an ironic monster.” She smiled across the top of the car at Tara. “And, it was a nice break.”

“It was,” the blonde agreed. They shared a moment, before an ominous rustling of leaves from the woods reminded them what they were there for.

“We should get ready,” Tara nodded. “Good odds of a catch this evening.”

“Friday the thirteenth,” Willow said, glancing at her watch. “And in just five minutes it’ll be seven-oh-six, or six sixty-six, if y’know... hours went on longer than sixty minutes. Triple six, see?”

“Uh-huh,” Tara grinned, taking Willow’s hand as they sauntered towards the mess hall cabin. “But wouldn’t that mean all the hours before six would be longer as well, so according to our clock...”

“Oh right,” Willow said, frowning in thought. “Okay so assume, maybe, seventy-minute hours, so that’d be... you know what I may be overthinking this.”

“Can’t hurt,” Tara chuckled. “What did your research turn up about missing teenagers around here?” She poked the door of the cabin with a toe, and shrugged as it slowly swung open with a needlessly drawn-out creak.

“Nothing much out of the ordinary. The camp’s on the site of a Civil War battleground that used to be a native burial ground then was turned into a graveyard then had a prison built on it that was repurposed as an asylum then mysteriously burned down during a hurricane and when the camp was built they did a bunch of seances.”

“All fairly standard.”

“The local legend is that the spirit of William the Bloody haunts the camp,” Willow went on. “He was an eighteenth-century poet whose girlfriend bit his neck and drank all his blood and staked him in the heart and dumped the body in the graveyard - after the war, before the prison.”

“Were they vampires?” Tara asked.

“Not that I’ve read, apparently his poems were just really bad and she wanted to be sure he’d stop writing them. Now he rises as an undead and stalks amorous campers because he’s really peeved that they’re not serenading each other with his poems.”

“Looks like a likely spot,” Tara said, studying the dilapidated interior of the hall, which contained far too many sharp objects, including sets of antlers hanging on the walls, a stack of fire axes, a pair of rifles with rusty bayonets hanging over the cold fireplace, a cast iron chandelier sharpened on every edge, and a number of meat hooks hanging from chains for no obvious reason.

“Overcooking the ambience a bit,” Willow complained, pulling a picnic blanket and lamp out of her backpack.

“You take me to the nicest places,” Tara joked, nudging Willow in the side.

“Don’t I just?”

“Well then, since we’re here...” Tara spread the blanket over a table, then sat on it and leaned back, giving Willow a smouldering look, “...would you say it’s time to deploy the lure?”

“I, heh,” Willow murmured, leaning over Tara. “Given what that entails? I’d be crazy not to.”

“And you’re not crazy,” Tara agreed, delicately plucking at the bow in the laces of her bodice and slowly drawing it open. “Are you?”

“I might get driven a little crazy,” Willow admitted, hiking her skirt up so she could straddle Tara’s lap. “But that’s completely different. Different kind of crazy.” She grinned and helped Tara slip off her bodice, then ran her hands down the sides of the flimsy dress underneath. “Everyone knows that.”

“Maybe not ‘everyone’,” Tara whispered, wriggling her hands underneath the bunched-up folds of Willow’s skirt and holding her bare hips underneath. “Maybe you should explain it to me? Just in case?” She gave Willow a quick squeeze, then bit her lip. “How do I drive you crazy?”

“With consummate ease, is the answer to that,” Willow breathed, slipping Tara’s dress off one shoulder and leaning down to place a trail of kisses from her upper arm all the way up to her neck.

“Hm-mmm,” Tara purred. Her eyes fluttered closed, then opened again, and gave a sidelong glance at the top of Willow’s head, as her hands searched around under her skirt.

“Willow,” she murmured, “are you wearing any panties?”

“I... have panties in my possession,” Willow hazarded, nibbling at Tara’s bra strap as she slowly slid her dress off her other shoulder and down. “That’s basically the same thing.”

“You know what happens to bad girls?” Tara grinned, one hand firmly holding Willow’s hip, while the other explored.

“They attract witches?” Willow guessed. Tara laughed, and whatever her reply was going to be, Willow’s tongue licking her cleavage derailed it completely.

Both jumped as lightning flashed outside the cabin, illuminating a hulking silhouette in the open doorway.

“Roses are red, violets are blue,” it said, lurching forward into the lamp-light to reveal scarred, leathery dead skin, bleached hair, and a wooden stake sticking out of its chest. “Something something, Spike’s gonna kill you two.”

“Wow,” Willow muttered.

“Seeing the girlfriend’s point,” Tara agreed, quickly pulling her hands back from under Willow’s skirt, allowing her to dismount her lap and spin around.

“William the Bloody,” she began.

“Apparently a.k.a. Spike,” Tara said.

“- thanks - as card-carrying members of the Witches’ Guild...”

“...we hereby banish you from this mortal plane, never to return!”

The poetically-challenged undead took another lurching step towards them, then reared back in panic as glowing whips of light erupted from their palms and wrapped around his tattered form.

“Oi!”

“And BTW, if you see any other malevolent spirits on the way,” Willow added quickly, “tell them, there’s nothing wrong with kissing and a little sexual experimentation between sensible and consenting parties, so quit trying to ruin people’s fun!”

She and Tara high-fived with their free hands, then sprinted to either side of Spike and pulled on their magical bonds, dragging them through the unfortunate undead, who dissolved in a shower of burning flakes that settled to the floorboards.

“And, done!” Willow grinned, pumping her fist. Tara grinned back at her, and - skirting the pile of former monster - crossed the room to take her hands, and drag her with very little effort back to their table.

“I know it’s the point,” she said, “but it’s really irritating that they always interrupt just when things are getting good.”

“I know right,” Willow mock-grumbled. “But now horny campers making out won’t summon anything, so a good deed was definitely done.”

“We should double-check,” Tara offered, sitting back down and coaxing Willow back onto her lap. “Just to be thorough.”

“It’s the responsible thing to do...” Willow agreed, hiking her skirt back up and settling herself on Tara’s stomach.

“Y-you know, doing this, I think I’m developing a Pavlovian response,” Tara confessed, stroking Willow’s thighs. “Banishing monstrous undead makes me w-wet.”

“Oh? Nothing else going on recently that could explain that...?” Willow asked impishly.

“C’mere,” Tara chuckled, reaching up to put a hand firmly behind her neck and pull her down into a kiss.

Image

The next morning the VW beetle once again drew to a halt in front of the local bait store, to the surprise of its porch-dweller.

“Didn’t rightly expect to see y’all again,” he drawled.

“Better, but kind of southern,” the voice from inside the shop noted.

“We just wanted to let you know,” Willow called out, “the undead menace has been banished. I mean the place being called Spooky-Murder Lake is probably going to attract some kind of ghoul or something after a few months, but for now everything’s completely back to normal.”

“Oh... much obliged,” the man said, looking confused and sounding British, as the two women waved and drove off.

“Drat,” he said to himself. “I rather enjoyed giving foreboding rustic warnings.”

“Did they say the monster’s gone?”

“Yes dear. Time to go back to work at the library, I suppose.”

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Frightday the Thirteen
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:50 am 
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9. Gay Now
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Lol.... Awesome!

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 Post subject: Re: Anthology of Interest! featuring 'Frightday the Thirteen
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:24 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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:lol :lol :lol

So funny! I love how you create such a burst of imagination and imagery. Love it!

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