Red Moon Rising
Buffy woke up and sighed, keeping her eyes closed, wanting the moment to last a little longer. She liked waking up in someone’s arms, especially warm arms. <Long hair tickling her neck was also a nice touch,> she decided.
The Slayer felt Tara stirring behind her and turned over in the witch’s arms with a smile. Sleepy blue eyes met her own with a smile.
"Hi," Tara mumbled.
"Hi back, you know I’m not usually a morning person, but I gotta say, this is nice," Buffy said softly, brushing a strand of Tara’s hair behind the witch’s ear, out of her eyes. The Slayer moved closer and pulled the other woman into her arms for a long and passionate kiss.
After a moment they snuggled in each other’s arms.
"How did you sleep?" Buffy asked. "I know that a sleeping bag on an air mattress isn’t the best."
"With you here, I slept great," Tara grinned.
"You know Willow is setting us up, right?" Buffy said softly while playing with Tara’s hair.
"You were with her," Buffy pressed.
"You still want to be with me?" Buffy asked, her eyes dropping away.
"Why do you think no one wants you?" Tara demanded. "You are so beautiful and sexy."
"I could toss that one back at you," Buffy countered, smiling as she looked at Tara again and the witch began to blush.
"No one pays attention to me," Tara muttered.
"It’s that shy mouse routine you have that does it," Buffy said gently. "You say I’m beautiful and sexy and we both agree that Willow is, right?"
"Yes, very much so, but she doesn’t believe it either."
"There you go," Buffy declared firmly, "We all have to adjust to the fact that we are beautiful because two of the most beautiful women on campus want to be with us."
Tara giggled. "I can’t argue with that logic."
"Good, let’s get dressed before Giles shows up with breakfast," Buffy suggested, stealing a quick kiss from the witch.
The crypt actually didn’t look too bad after the girls had gotten through with settling in for the anticipated two days and nights, possibly more if Buffy really was infected.
They had set up the air mattress, sleeping bags and bedding in the main area of the crypt. A cot had been set up in the cell but they didn’t want to go in there any more than necessary, yet. A card table and their backpacks were in one corner and they had swept and dusted as best they could.
"Buffy, talk to me," Tara suddenly demanded.
"What about?" Buffy said slowly.
"You know what about," Tara said irritably. "There's a real possibility that you're going to c-change into a werewolf tomorrow night. That's got to be a-affecting you."
Buffy sighed and sat down on one of the milk crates the previous werewolves had brought in to serve as multi-purpose furniture.
"Yeah, I might change into something I usually chase," she admitted. "I'm supposed to protect people from the bad things and now I might be one of the bad things."
Tara walked up behind Buffy and wrapped her arms around her, leaning in to nuzzle the Slayer's neck. "How can I help?"
"Just be here and don't let me wig too much," Buffy smiled and leaned into Tara's arms.
"I can feel your tension," Tara said softly. "Your fear and rage."
"It feels like a guitar string wound too tightly," Buffy admitted.
"How about showing me some more combat moves, work some of that energy off?" Tara suggested.
"I could think of something else to spend energy on," Buffy whispered and leaned back far enough to invite Tara in for a kiss, which the witch eagerly accepted. Tara moaned at the feeling of kissing and holding Buffy and let her arms hold Buffy close to her before beginning to explore the Slayer's ribs.
Buffy's tongue sought permission and was granted entrance to the witch's mouth and they both moaned at the contact and heat building between them. The Slayer started to turn around but Tara tightened her arms and held Buffy in front of her as they continued to kiss. Buffy's body jumped as Tara's hands moved to her breasts from behind and began massaging them and teasing the nipples into erect hardness that caused the Slayer to squirm on the awkward seat.
Tara's lips left Buffy's to roam down to the Slayer's neck as one hand trailed down to her jeans. Buffy leaned further back into the witch with a whimper when Tara's hand moved past her belt line and past her underwear to discover how very wet Buffy had gotten at Tara’s touch.
Buffy nearly fell off the milk crate when Tara's fingers delved into the wetness and her teeth nibbled at her neck.
"Oh God," she whispered, one hand behind Tara's head, holding the witch close to her neck, encouraging her as Buffy's other hand held desperately to a flimsy card table for balance as Tara's fingers danced at her entrance and over her button.
The Slayer squeaked as she tried to regain her balance and had to sit up.
"Either we move this to the bed or we stop now!" she said breathlessly, turning to face a smiling but blushing Tara.
"You said Giles was coming over," Tara reminded the Slayer and Buffy uttered a very graphic curse under her breath. She grabbed Tara into a crushing embrace and a kiss that left the witch's lips bruised, her knees weak and wanting more.
Buffy broke off the kiss and moved to the other side of the crypt, breathing heavily.
Tara wanted to follow Buffy, follow through with what they started, but her logical mind told her that it would not be amusing to deal with Giles if he walked in on them having sex. She could "feel" Buffy's energy level going right off the scale, like something primitive.
Buffy's fists were clenched and she was avoiding eye contact with Tara.
"Talk to me, Buffy," Tara pleaded, sitting down at the table.
"It feels like Slayer Lust, like when I was with Willow the other night," Buffy growled. "I shouldn't be hit with this right now!"
"Willow warned me it might happen," Tara said softly and waited as Buffy turned to her with a surprised expression. "Willow said Oz always got really frisky the night before the full moon and for the following three days."
"Frisky?" Buffy asked, her eyes widening.
"Apparently, from what she can g-gather from the Lycanthrope people, most of which we c-can't trust because they're just whacked out role playing geeks, it’s really, really c-common before the moon," Tara explained.
"That means if I'm...frisky, then the odds are I am infected," Buffy sat down heavily on a milk crate on the other side of the table. Her voice had gone flat and her energy level disappeared rapidly as the realization hit her.
"I know," Tara whispered, tears starting to fill her eyes. "We d-don't know for certain but it’s very likely."
Buffy's head dropped forward and she wrapped her arms around herself. Tara was on her feet in a moment and holding the Slayer as Buffy finally began to let loose the emotional turmoil that had been building.
"Haven't I been through enough?" Buffy muttered between sobs. "I'm the Chosen One, the Slayer. I give up my life for the good fight, to protect the world which doesn't even know I exist. I risk my life every night and the only thing I can expect is to die young."
Tara felt her own tears flowing as she held Buffy.
"Now this? I am going to kill Oz!" Buffy snapped.
"You'll have to stand in line, young lady," a distinctly British voice joined in and they both looked up with small smiles at Giles as he shut the inner door of the crypt and walked down the stairs.
"You know you should have that locked or something, I could have been from the Initiative or Oz," he scolded.
"I knew it was you coming in," Buffy said bitterly. "I could hear the other door opening and I could...your scent...I knew it was you."
Giles looked like he had been hit with a pillow. "I see, that might be a sign...that, uh, you..."
"I'm a werewolf," Buffy said calmly. "One of the traits, extreme sensory overload. I already had higher senses being the Slayer; this really puts them in the red zone. Then you got the friskies stuff."
Giles put two bags of groceries on the card table and looked at Buffy with a puzzled expression.
"Friskies? As in cat food?"
"No, as in sexual stuff that your books don't seem to cover," Buffy tried to smile.
"Oh, well, yes," Giles stammered and reached into one of the bags and pulled out a local fast-food bag and Buffy grabbed it eagerly.
"Cool, grub," she grinned and Tara cleared the card table for the three of them to eat. Giles pulled out a thermos from the other bag and poured himself a cup of tea while Buffy and Tara popped open Cokes.
"Well, did Tara fill you in on the plans for tomorrow night?" the Englishman asked while they ate.
"Yeah, you guys will be outside protecting me, I'll be in the cage howling at the moon and Willow will be out here performing some kind of spell," Buffy muttered. "Any more clue as to the spell? Tara hasn't seen it either."
"Yes, what I could get out of Willow was that the spell is designed to put the inner beast to sleep, to go dormant and prevent the change in the future," Giles explained.
"And the down side?" Buffy asked.
"She admitted there is a risk of it backfiring on her and sending her into a coma for a week, plus it may not work," he continued.
Both Buffy and Tara frowned over their food.
"She's determined," Tara commented, looking Buffy in the eyes.
"Yes, she is, very," Giles added. "She said she'd risk catching up on her sleep if it meant saving you, I believe is the way she put it."
Buffy smiled slightly. "We're going to kill ourselves trying to save each other, aren't we?"
"Well, all three of you seem willing to give your lives for the other two," Giles said with a smile for both blondes. "That's rare and special."
Both Buffy and Tara began to blush.
"I don't think I totally trust Willow's plans though," Giles continued thoughtfully. "I get the feeling she's not telling us something and the fact that Tara hasn't seen the spell worries me."
"You think it's more dangerous than just falling asleep?" Tara asked, a worried expression on her face.
"Yes, actually," Giles admitted.
"More likely it’s dangerous to her and not me," Buffy added. "Then we stop whatever she's planning. I took the bite to protect her; I'm not going to let her throw that away."
"I'm not sure we should stop her," Tara continued to frown. "You know Willow and how s-stubborn she can be. If we don't let her t-try whatever it is now she'll wait and do it alone. With us there we m-might be able to protect her and I can lend my energies to the spell and act as a grounding."
"You're right, of course," Giles agreed, still thoughtful and looked at Buffy.
"Alright," she agreed reluctantly.
"How are you doing?" Giles questioned his Slayer.
"I'm a Slayer who can't go outside and slay because the Black Ops guys might grab me and lock me in a cage forever," she complained. "I'm almost certainly a werewolf, which really messes with your mind if you let it, and I have two girlfriends. The last part is really terrific but kinda confusing. How's that for a run down?"
Giles looked exasperated.
"Oh yeah, my girlfriend's ex-boyfriend is the reason we're in this mess and wants me to join his secret play club and turn Willow into a wolf with us," Buffy threw in.
"Well, yes, there is that," Giles muttered.
"How about sparring with me, Giles," Buffy suggested and the ex-Watcher looked pleased to be able to help and end the conversation. Tara smiled and began clearing away the card table of leftover breakfast food.
Willow, Joyce, Xander and Anya piled into the Summers' car before daylight, packing enough food to satisfy even Xander for a picnic. They all had backpacks filled with spare clothes for an overnight stay if they felt like it.
The orders from Giles and Brad Santiago had been simple; disappear for the day and the night if they wanted, but to stay away from Sunnydale for the day.
Joyce had been up to that task, leaving her assistant in charge of the gallery and rounding up her "kids". She had kept their destination a secret and not even Anya's curiosity could get it out of her. After awhile the three friends were able to relax and start joking among themselves and became playful again.
Joyce kept a close eye on her rearview mirror for any signs that they were being followed. She had taken several round about roads and doubled back several times and hadn't seen any sign of Initiative cars.
After a couple of hours driving, Willow sat upright in the front seat and lowered her window slightly.
"Hey, cold back here!" Anya yelled but the witch ignored her, sniffing the air.
Willow turned to Joyce with a grin and Joyce grinned back.
"Hey, ocean!" Xander shouted gleefully as he caught the scent of ocean air. "Cool!"
"Ocean, as in Pacific Ocean off the coast of California?" Anya questioned and Xander grinned and nodded. "Pleasant place to visit, very nice!"
All the inhabitants in the car agreed and Joyce had to laugh at their childish enthusiasm as the dunes came into sight and seagulls made their presence known over their car as they slowed to find beach access.
Joyce chose a place she knew from when she and Buffy would travel to the beach, a combination of a wonderful small beach and rocks that jutted into the ocean with lots of tide pools, crashing surf and sea shells to find.
"Won't it be cold?" Anya frowned slightly as the car pulled into a nearly deserted parking lot.
Unlike inner California, the coast was experiencing a sunny day with mild temperatures and Xander hooted like a movie Indian at the sight of the water.
"Water will be cold but it's cool!" he yelled as he opened the car door and pulled his shoes off. He started to dash for the beach and stopped suddenly when Willow yelled at him.
"Hey, some help here for the cripple in the car!"
The young man grinned and trotted back to his friend and quickly bent down and removed her shoes and socks. "Sorry about that."
"Don't get that cast wet!" Joyce yelled as the three dashed for the ocean waves. She laughed as she went to the back of the car and got an arm full of blankets and the picnic basket out. Then she lost her smile when she thought of her daughter, stuck in a dark, damp crypt in the middle of the graveyard because she was going to turn into a werewolf the next night.
Nothing would have pleased Joyce more than to have Buffy, Tara and Giles with them right then, she thought as she watched the other three friends romping in the surf and exploring the rocks for tide pools.
Giles called a halt to the sparring session an hour later; puffing and sweating. He let Buffy turn her attention to Tara and teaching the young witch some self-defense moves.
The Englishman made a trip to his car to retrieve several books he was doing research in and to take a look around the graveyard. To the experienced Watcher's eyes, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He quickly used his cell phone to check in with Brad Santiago and was informed by the police detective that Riley Finn was being held in custody on suspicion of several major crimes in his home state that had been committed during summer break. It would probably turn out to be a case of mistake identity, Brad said, the smirk in his voice obvious. It would also hold Riley Finn in custody for at least two more days.
Giles shook his head when he re-entered the crypt and found that one of the defense holds had led to another round of passionate kissing between the girls until he coughed politely.
The Watcher continued his research while Buffy and Tara practiced sparring and defense moves.
After an hour of practicing, the two women gave up and Tara began weeding through the books, helping Giles with his research while Buffy tried to read some of her homework. After twenty minutes she gave up and began pacing the crypt.
Giles removed his glasses and began cleaning them. "I was afraid of this; it’s going to be very difficult to keep both of you cooped up in here for another night and day."
"Well, I can’t think of an alternative, can you?" Buffy responded, feeling her irritability rising.
"No, unfortunately," Giles agreed. "It’s just going to get worse, I think, between now and tomorrow night."
"Damnit! Stuck in this crypt for two days and a night before I even become furry," Buffy muttered.
"I seriously don’t know what to suggest," Giles countered. "The Initiative teams will be looking for you everywhere; if you weren’t hiding in this crypt we’d be hiding you in some attic or something."
"I know, I know, it just sucks," Buffy attempted a smile.
Giles jumped when his cell phone rang in his pocket. "Bloody thing!" he muttered and fumbled to get it out.
"Hello, I’m looking for a Willow Rosenberg," a male voice announced.
"Yes, well, her cell phone is forwarded to mine," Giles said. "I’m afraid she’s out of town for the next few days. May I take a message?"
"It is rather urgent that I speak to Ms. Rosenberg," the male insisted.
Giles held his hand over the phone. "A man is asking for Willow, sounds official."
"Probably one of the Initiative officers trying to find out where we are," Buffy growled.
"Better sign off before they triangulate the call," Tara suggested.
"I’m sorry; I truly have no idea where she is except that she was called out of town on family business. Can I have your number?"
"My name is Special Agent Fox Mulder, I’m with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and it is urgent that I speak with Ms. Rosenberg," the male said.
"Your number, Agent Mulder?" Giles asked and wrote down several phone numbers. "Yes, thank you very much. As soon as I see Willow I will pass along your message."
Giles hit the button that ended the conversation and then dialed one of the numbers he had written down.
"Special Agent Mulder, please," he said and then quickly hung up. He looked confused when he glanced up at the two young women. "I just called FBI headquarters in Washington DC and was about to be connected to a Special Agent Fox Mulder."
"What does the FBI want with Willow?" Tara asked, reflecting the general question.
"Could they have traced some of her hacking?" Buffy suggested.
"They wouldn’t be calling, they’d just show up and…and take her away," Tara mumbled.
"I agree with Tara, that would be their normal operating procedure if they were about to arrest Willow for her illegal computer activities," Giles agreed.
"What did he say, Giles?"
"He said that it was urgent that he speak with Willow and kept insisting that he had to talk to her."
"What could an FBI agent from Washington DC want with Willow?"
"I don’t know and I’m not going to call either, if they are tracing calls or whatever I’m not going to lead them to Willow until after this mess with the full moon is over with."
"Good idea," Buffy agreed and Tara nodded her approval as well. "Now let’s kill some time," Buffy suggested, pulling out a deck of cards. "Strip poker?"
"Oh dear," Giles muttered and reached for the cards. "I don’t think so!"
Both girls giggled at his embarrassed blush.
Willow leaned back against the headboard of the hotel bed and scowled at her laptop. She was getting pretty good at typing one-handed but it was still a pain and very frustrating.
She glanced over at Xander and Anya fighting over the television remote and grinned. It had been a good day and now they were waiting for pizza to top it off while Joyce was in the shower.
Willow smiled and let the easy feeling hold for a while. They all knew it was a temporary bit of R&R before things got insane again when they returned to Sunnydale. The witch sometimes wondered why they didn’t just pack up and leave. No one in Sunnydale would notice their absence. <Cordelia and Angel had made it out, why couldn’t they?>
Willow frowned as she answered her own question. <Because people would miss them, they would miss the Slayer saving their lives and Buffy relied on their help.> The hacker remembered how happy Buffy had been when Willow chose to attend Sunnydale University instead of one of the Ivy League schools that had been trying to recruit her. It was actually one time when her parents had paid attention to her, Willow reflected, and they had been furious over her choice to stay in Sunnydale.
Willow knew that was what held them there, Buffy and the Hellmouth. They were needed.
The hacker also knew that Angel and Cordelia really hadn’t escaped either. They had merely moved the same fight to Los Angeles. Angel fighting the demons and other things in the night and Cordelia pointed them out, with psychic visions that left her with migraine headaches. <No,> Willow thought, <they hadn’t escaped Sunnydale; they just found a different battleground.>
Willow booted up her laptop, let it do its warm-up thing and quickly hit the Internet. She wasn’t surprised to find several emails from Grayfox, he had been leaving several each day urging her to destroy the spell she had translated or call him. He had tried to reassure her that he didn’t want to meet her like an Internet romance thing; he just wanted to talk to her about the werewolf topic.
Willow had checked out the phone number he had given her and discovered it was an Arlington, Maryland number. The hacker began to wonder exactly who her Grayfox was. He had said he had contacts and might be able to help her in dealing with the paranormal stuff she hinted or asked about. Fox obviously had access to some information that she didn’t and it was beginning to add up that Grayfox was probably a government employee with access to some strange information.
She opened up one of the emails.
<Red: I’m really worried about you, my friend. That spell you translated is not something to play around with and neither are werewolves. Trust me, I’ve run across a couple in my time.
<I’m asking you to believe me when I say that I’ve seen a lot of things that can’t be explained away and I have the feeling you have experienced some unusual things as well. I’m not using this as a line to meet you.
<Talk to me, Red. Tell me what the spell is for, what’s happening with you? Your friend always, Fox>
She closed that one and opened another one.
<Red; Please call me and let me help. I do have resources that you probably don’t have. Fox>
<Red; we need to talk. Here goes honesty. My name is Fox Mulder and I am a Special Agent with the FBI, assigned to a special unit called the X-Files. The X-Files are cases that don’t fit into any normal realms of possibilities. UFOs, ghosts, zombies, things like that.
<I know I promised not to try and contact you outside of the emails but I’ve broken that promise. I know that you’re Willow Rosenberg, university student living in Sunnydale, California. You’re known around campus as a witch and you cruise pagan websites and especially paranormal sites. You are an honor student and don’t be surprised if the FBI and CIA come calling when you get close to graduating.
<Willow; I’m not telling you this to frighten you or make you paranoid. I wanted to find out about you because I’m worried about you. I have a large file on Sunnydale and have a pretty good idea of some of the things that you’ve faced.
<Call me and let me help you. I’ve seen references to you in some files belonging to a secret government group that I’ve been trying to investigate called the Initiative. From what I’ve been able to hack out of their systems, you and your friends are at the center of some major activity the last few days and the orders are to grab you and someone named Elizabeth Anne Summers, also known as Buffy.
<I fight against secret groups like this, Willow. I believe they go against everything that government should be working for. Let me help you and your friends. If one of your friends is infected, I can help you look for a cure and help secure your friend from danger. Call me – Fox>
Willow tried to smile when Joyce came out of the bathroom and Xander and Anya debated about showering together.
"Enough you two!" Joyce laughed. "That shower barely fits one person and won’t fit both of you. Xander, grab a shower, the pizza should be here any minute."
Joyce Summers sat down on the bed next to Willow, noticing the intense look on Willow’s face.
"Are you in pain or deep thought?"
"Both," Willow admitted.
"Then take some of your meds when the pizza gets here," Joyce suggested. "And tell me what’s worrying you."
"Tomorrow night; I’m worried my spell won’t work and Buffy will continue to be a werewolf. I’m scared that the Initiative might get their hands on Buffy and we’ll never see her again. I’m worried that Oz might be able to claim Buffy for his pack and they’ll hunt me down and either force me to join them or kill me," Willow admitted and wiped away her tears angrily.
"Okay, that’s enough worry for one night," Joyce declared and pulled Willow into her arms as the witch cried softly. A knock at the door caused Joyce to glance up. "Anya, grab my purse and pay for the pizzas and sodas, please?"
After a couple of moments, Willow sat up, rubbing her eyes and face.
"We’re all worried about it," Joyce said, her own face worried as she tried to smile. "For now, let’s watch bad television, eat pizza and get some sleep. Tomorrow we’ll head back and face all of this mess."
"Okay," Willow agreed and shut down her computer. She might call Fox Mulder but not until after the full moon and after her spell.
The spell meant to kill the beast inside of Buffy, not just make it dormant.
Buffy’s irritation only increased when the sun went down and Giles finally gave up trying to engage her in any kind of discussion. Playing games became useless with her lack of concentration.
"I’m going to go out and get some dinner for us, I’ll be back shortly," Giles announced but only received a growl from Buffy as she paced the crypt.
Tara looked at the Slayer and then at the Watcher.
"We’ll be fine, Giles," she said softly. "We’ve got enough snacks to get through the night."
Giles frowned as he watched Buffy pacing, her fingers restlessly drumming on her legs as she paced.
"I really should…I mean," he stammered.
"Giles, please, get out," Tara begged a little more firmly.
The ex-Watcher nodded sadly and put on his coat. "I’ll be back in the morning."
Buffy didn’t even acknowledge his leaving as she paced back and forth.
Giles tried to ignore the tears welling up in his eyes as he watched Buffy from the top of the stairs. <Pacing like a wolf caught in a cage,> he thought.
Tara tried to smile slightly as he glanced her way and then left the lower crypt. She waited a few minutes and stood up slowly. A glance at her watch told her it was only 8 p.m. She and Buffy still had some long hours to go.
The witch moved towards Buffy and resisted jumping back when the Slayer turned and growled at her. Buffy’s face immediately was horror-stricken and Tara rushed forward and grabbed the Slayer as Buffy’s knees gave out.
Tara wrapped her arms around the other blonde as Buffy began to weep.
"Its okay, Buffy," Tara whispered, holding the Slayer tightly. "You’re not alone; you will never be alone again."
After a few minutes Buffy’s sobs reduced to sniffles as she held firmly onto Tara.
"Sorry, guess I’m losing it," she tried to smile.
"Who could blame you?" Tara asked with her own smile.
"Tara, how can I be falling in love with you and be in love with Willow?"
"I don’t know, maybe you can answer how I can love both of you at the same time?"
"Got me," Buffy managed to smile.
"Settled down for awhile?" Tara asked.
"Yeah, guess a good cry worked some of that wolfie stuff out," Buffy tried to grin.
"Then lets play a game or something," Tara suggested.
"Okay," Buffy agreed.
Willow once again clicked away on her laptop after pizza while Xander and Anya watched television; Joyce was passing the night away reading from two of the books Giles had loaned her about lycanthropy. The Watcher had warned her that she wouldn’t like reading them and thinking of Buffy in that context and the mother of the Slayer discovered he was right. She didn’t like reading about werewolves and other lycanthropes and what they went through. Even the tales of voluntary werewolves sounded horrible and painful.
Joyce also kept glancing at Willow sitting next to her on the bed. She knew the young hacker was worried and preoccupied, more so than usual. <Taking a day and night away from Sunnydale gave the Wiccan some breathing space,> Joyce thought. <The day had been good for the three friends.>
Joyce took a moment to ponder her daughter’s growing relationship with the redhead. Buffy’s mom didn’t quite understand her daughter’s apparent change in gender preferences but Giles had explained that most Slayers were bisexual in nature. He also agreed that since Slayers led short lives, they should accept whatever was going to make Buffy happy and that seemed to be Willow and Tara, both.
<That was the hardest thing to accept,> Joyce reflected. She could actually understand her daughter’s attraction to the hacker, Buffy had been friends with Willow for years and Willow had always been there for the Slayer. Joyce also thought the computer geek was a fantastic young woman who was probably the best thing that could happen to her daughter. Joyce began to understand when she looked at it from just a ‘person’ view, to examine just Willow’s personality and love: <how could Buffy not fall in love with her? >
Tara was the difficult part of the equation, Joyce frowned. The gallery owner found that she liked the young witch a lot and that was the problem. Buffy’s mom wanted to dislike Tara as the outsider, as the one who was most likely to be left on the outside when Buffy and Willow made their final decisions. The bitch of it was that Buffy’s mom liked Tara and she didn’t get the feeling that Tara was going to be left on the outside either.
<How did a parent deal with a three-way relationship,> she wondered. First she had to deal with the knowledge that Buffy was a Slayer, a killer of vampires. Now she discovered that her daughter was bisexual. The next blow was that Buffy was in love with her best friend and her best friend’s girlfriend and they apparently felt the same way.
<With human nature, how could three people make a relationship work without jealousy getting in the way?>
According to Giles, the mark on Willow’s neck confirmed that the girls were willing to give it their best shot.
Joyce frowned remembering Giles’ word for it: mated. Willow had given herself to Buffy as a mate. Her werewolf daughter had mated and it probably meant for life. Buffy’s mom continued to frown, <the girls weren’t even twenty yet,> her mind protested. <Then again, look at what they dealt with all the time>, she countered to herself.
Joyce glanced over at the redhead and smiled to herself. Willow had proven a lot stronger than most of them thought. They already knew she could be stubborn but her inner strength had been a surprise to Buffy’s mom and it made her proud that Buffy had chosen a life mate so well.
<Tara, somehow she seemed a calming influence in both Buffy and Willow’s life,> Joyce thought. <She was the grounding element>, the mother reflected. Buffy was like fire, all energy and action and intense in her emotions; Willow was like water, emotional, deep, a source of things; Tara was like the earth, grounding and solid.
Joyce began to nod to herself; it was beginning to make sense to her. The three women somehow suited each other perfectly. Buffy was action, Willow was power and Tara was a grounding for both of them.
Noticing that Willow’s fingers had stopped clicking on the keyboard, Buffy’s mom looked up from her book and noticed the red-haired witch watching her.
"What?" she asked softly.
"I was wondering the same thing," Willow said. "You’ve been reading the same page for ten minutes."
Joyce shrugged and set the books aside. "I was thinking about you, Buffy and Tara, actually."
Willow’s eyes dropped down to the comforter covering the hotel bed.
"Is the judgment about us still out?" she whispered.
"No, I think I understand what is drawing you three together," Joyce smiled gently and placed an arm around Willow’s shoulder comfortingly while the hacker closed her laptop.
"Wanna tell me and let me in on it?" Willow grinned, enjoying the feeling of love and warmth from Joyce. <Her parents weren’t much for hugging>, Willow reflected. <Her parents weren’t much for emotion unless it had a major guilt trip attached to it,> she thought bitterly.
"Well, short version, as Buffy would put it," Joyce continued to smile and noticed Xander and Anya listening quietly to the conversation. "Buffy is like fire, all action; you are like water, deep, emotional and the source of power; Tara is like the Earth, welcoming, stabilizing, and strong."
"Wow!" Xander muttered, looking at his friend for a moment and grinning. "That’s a perfect description!"
"Source of power?" Willow questioned. "I’m not powerful."
"Yes you are, from what I’ve heard," Joyce countered.
"No I’m not," Willow protested. "My spells always go wrong, Giles was blinded, Xander was a demon magnet and I still can’t un-rat Amy!"
"And now that you’re with Tara?" Xander asked and Willow’s eyebrows furrowed.
"It works," she whispered slowly.
"And having you and Tara around gives Buffy stability and strength," Anya said firmly.
"Wow," Willow repeated Xander’s assessment of the description of her relationship with Tara and Buffy.
"I guess this means I have two daughters-in-law," Joyce teased and Willow blushed right on cue.
The games lasted another two hours before Buffy’s concentration was lost again and she began pacing back and forth. Tara knew that getting Buffy to go to sleep wasn’t very likely when she was keyed up like she was.
Tara stood up from the card table and moved behind the Slayer. Buffy again growled, only this time her human side didn’t kick in. The witch continued to approach the Slayer and Buffy growled a lower warning growl and turned to face the bars of the cell that Oz had built a year ago.
The blonde witch stood behind the Slayer as Buffy gripped the bars tightly. Tara knew Buffy was trying to maintain control and Tara wasn’t sure if it was to keep the Slayer from ripping her throat out or attacking her sexually. Buffy’s energy was so erratic that the witch couldn’t decipher it. All she could really tell was that Buffy was almost manic with it.
Tara pressed her body against Buffy’s and wrapped her arms around the smaller woman despite the growl. She bent her head down to nuzzle the Slayer’s neck and felt Buffy shudder and grip the bars even tighter. Tara let her own body meld with the Slayer’s and she could feel the heat radiating from the woman.
"Tara," Buffy said softly, her voice almost a growl.
"Shhhh, let it go, Buffy," Tara whispered back and bit down on the Slayer’s earlobe.
Buffy cried out and jerked against the bars of the cell.
"I’ll hurt you," she pleaded.
"Not unless I ask you to," Tara teased. "Let it go! Listen to me and let the control slip. Let those shields down and let me in."
"I can’t! I know I’ll hurt you!"
Tara’s hands moved up to Buffy’s breasts and the Slayer moaned and her head jerked back in reaction. The witch took advantage of the position to kiss Buffy’s neck and shoulder.
Buffy whimpered and gripped the bars until she thought they would start to bend under her hands.
Tara began to explore the Slayer’s neck and shoulders with her lips, teeth and tongue. Her hands massaged and teased Buffy’s breasts and nipples until Buffy was panting and gripping the bars to maintain her balance from the arousal hitting her.
The witch leaned into Buffy’s ear again. "Think of a door and open it," she instructed.
Buffy concentrated and mentally pictured an iron door, like one that might be found in an old castle dungeon. She made her mind open the door and gasped as Tara’s psychic energy slipped in and connected with her, just as Willow had with both of them.
The Slayer cried out at the intense sensation hitting both of them. She could feel Tara’s desire for her; the witch’s desire that was almost consuming, like a flame. Buffy could feel how Tara felt about her and almost cried at the openness and the unconditional love she found there.
Tara whimpered herself and bit down on Buffy’s shoulder as her hands went lower and unbuttoned Buffy’s jeans. The Slayer moaned from the bite and her hips jerked her body back into Tara. Then she whimpered from the backlash of those same feelings going through Tara and back into her. It was an incredible feeling. Buffy could also feel Tara’s feelings for Willow and was relieved to feel Tara’s depth of love for the witch. <No one was going to be left on the outside between the three>, she thought, unaware she was thinking the same thoughts of her mother who was several hours drive away.
The Slayer cried out as one hand went down the front of her jeans and into her wetness and the other hand of the witch went under her shirt and began massaging and playing with her nipples again.
Buffy held tight to the bars as Tara kissed and bit her neck and shoulder and her hands drove the Slayer into a red haze of lust and connection. Buffy knew that Tara was somehow feeling what she was feeling and could tell with her heightened senses that the witch was as wet and aroused as she was.
Tara moaned and entered the Slayer and felt her own knees grow weaker. Touching Buffy was so intense that she wasn’t sure they were going to be able to stand up much longer, despite Buffy clinging to the bars.
Buffy growled deep in her chest and spun around fast enough to knock Tara off balance. With incredible speed, the Slayer grabbed Tara and then swept the witch up into her arms.
Tara’s breathing and heart rate didn’t have time to slow down before Buffy had dropped her onto the air mattress and bedding and was over her in a flash. The witch looked up into Buffy’s blue eyes, saw and felt the Slayer’s control totally break down, and pulled the Slayer to her.
Tara felt her clothes being ripped from her body and knew the wolf and Slayer lust had merged and was now in control. She cried out as Buffy’s teeth found her nipples and at the contact of the Slayer’s skin against her. Somewhere in the last few seconds, Buffy had shed her own clothes as well and was now attacking the witch.
Tara had the feeling she wasn’t going to get to the morning without being marked either and welcomed it, opening her mind and soul to Buffy again.
She cried out loudly as she connected with Buffy’s arousal and animal side. Tara said a quick prayer that the Slayer not draw blood and infect her with that animal side.
Joyce opened the hotel door and looked around carefully. She sighed with relief when she spotted Willow sitting on a stone wall that separated the rooms from the parking area.
The witch smiled slightly when Buffy’s Mom sat down next to her.
"Can’t sleep?" Joyce asked as they looked at the stars and listened to the ocean crashing onto the rocks a block away.
"No, I’m still worried about tomorrow night," Willow admitted.
Willow smirked. "How did Buffy ever keep her life as a Slayer secret?"
"I admit I wasn’t the most attentive parent until we came to Sunnydale," Joyce shrugged. "I guess I started paying attention almost too late."
"I don’t think it’s ever too late," Willow said wistfully.
"So what else is troubling you?" Joyce asked.
"Well, I’m connected to both Buffy and Tara," Willow began slowly. "It’s more than just a regular relationship."
"You mean on a magickal level?"
"Yeah, how did you know and how did you know about earth, fire and water energy?" Willow asked, her green eyes bright with curiosity.
"Well, since my two new daughters are Wiccan and witches, I thought I’d do some research. Giles loaned me some books and I bought a couple on Wicca and magick."
"Wow, thank you," Willow said softly.
"You’re welcome," Joyce smiled. "I need to keep up on things if I’m going to be of any help to Buffy and the rest of the gang. You said something about energy connection?"
Willow suddenly decided that her shoes were very interesting and she knew she was blushing.
"Buffy and Tara connected with me on an intense level, we opened up our mental shields and let each other in during…uh, while we…when…"
"When you were sexual with each of them?" Joyce asked gently and Willow’s blush became a bright red, almost as red as her hair.
"Yes, we could feel what the other one was feeling, it was like a circuit running between both of us," Willow tried to explain. "Because of that, I can sense what each of them is feeling, especially when it’s intense. Buffy and Tara are…they’re…"
"Yes," Willow said softly.
"Woke you up?" Joyce smiled.
"Yeah, Tara opened up her shields and made the same connection with Buffy," Willow explained.
"Are you alright?" Joyce asked, reflecting how strange it was asking one of her daughter’s lovers if she was okay with Buffy sleeping with Willow’s other girlfriend.
"Yes, it’s really weird, I mean weird in a strange way, not a negative way," Willow began to babble. "I’m not jealous; you would think I’d be jealous. I’m not sure of which I’d be jealous of if I was jealous, I’ve always loved Buffy but Tara…"
"Willow!" Joyce laughed softly.
"Sorry," Willow continued to blush.
"Can you sleep yet?" Joyce asked in a low voice.
"I think so," Willow nodded. "You know, I thought of something about what you said earlier, about Buffy being fire, me water and Tara Earth."
"Well, the traditional Wiccan pentagram is Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Spirit. I think I figured something out. That Giles is the Air, intelligence and art and that Xander is the Spirit, the courage and heart of our group."
"I can see that," Joyce agreed. "That would mean that Tara is the completion of all the elements."
"Yes," Willow smiled a shy smile.
"Let’s try and get some sleep," Joyce suggested and the redhead nodded.