DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the slayerettes belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: David Knapton wrote 2 very good stories based on the world that Kellem was pulled into. You can find them here.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To thedatajunkie[at]gmail.com
SERIES: Second of the Demon Series
There Once Was A Demon Who Fell
By The Datajunkie
The first rays of dawn were edging over the foot of the bed when Kellem rolled over and studied the face of the young woman beside her. Pale blonde hair curled in pleasant disarray around a face that reposed peacefully in slumber. Kellem resisted the urge to brush a stray strand away from the Slayer's cheek, knowing that the touch would not be welcome.
The Slayer had yielded to the need to maintain the bond but she did so in an almost clinical fashion. In public Buffy was distant and reserved with her. It was only in the heat of passion did she let herself show any kind of emotion towards the demon she was bound to. Kellem tried to rationalize her behavior but was honest enough with herself to admit that it hurt.
A slim arm slipped around Kellem's waist and she felt the press of soft lips against the side of her neck. At least there was one person who seemed comfortable with the situation. She glanced at Willow and smiled sheepishly.
Willow's answering smile was sympathetic. She knew how much Kellem loved Buffy and how much Buffy's rejection of that love hurt the demon. She nodded towards the door and mouthed the word 'breakfast?'
Kellem nodded and they got dressed quietly, not wishing to wake Buffy. As the door shut behind them, Buffy opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling, wondering how her already complicated life had gotten even more so.
Because you wanted to save a demon
"I don't know how much more of this I can take, Willow. She hates me." Kellem's tone was morose as she idly stirred her coffee.
Willow was quick to reassure her. "She doesn't hate you, Kell. She's just having problems with this whole sharing thing. Not many people could be expected to you know."
"You seem to be handling it."
"But I'm special."
Willow's grin was infectious and Kellem laughed despite her somber mood. "Yes you are. I don't know of anyone else that would risk what you did to save someone you didn't even know."
The reply was soft. "I know somebody who would who did. She just needs time. The Slayer gig has pretty much guaranteed that Buffy's life falls into the bizarre category, but add a demon binding on top? She's trying to deal with a lot right now."
Kellem set her coffee cup down with a snap. "And I'm not? You're not?" She reached out and took Willow's hand. "Willow I love you. I love Buffy. I have a strong desire to please you both, but what Buffy wants just isn't possible and it's tearing me up."
Willow frowned slightly. "What does Buffy want?"
"For me to disappear."
Quick to disagree, Willow gripped her hand tighter. "No she doesn't. She's just-." Willow broke off as Tara appeared beside them. The other girl looked at their clasped hands and seemed to pale. "Tara! What are you doing here? Or were we supposed to meet?" Willow frantically tried to remember as Tara began to back away from the table.
"S-s-sorry to interrupt." She turned and fled, leaving a very confused Willow staring after her.
Kellem pulled her hand away and groaned. "Looks like I'm not the only one who with unrequited love issues."
The blank look that she received in response made Kellem roll her eyes. "Willow, she was upset that we were holding hands."
"But Tara doesn't-." She stopped suddenly as realization dawned. "Oh no!" Willow slid out of the booth and raced after her.
"Bye Willow. Have a nice day." Kellem grimaced and pushed her coffee away as she stood up. Time to get to class.
Willow knocked on Tara's door, knowing that she was there. "Tara please! Can we talk?"
Tara pulled her knees closer to her chest and stared at the door, refusing to answer. After a few minutes the knocking stopped and Tara sighed in a mix of relief and disappointment. She jumped as the door swung open with the unmistakable tingle of magik.
Willow saw Tara sitting on the floor beside the bed and frowned slightly as she stepped into the room. The door closed of its own accord and Tara blinked. "How d-did you do that?"
Her smile wry, Willow lowered herself the floor beside her friend. "That's part of what I wanted to talk to you about."
Tara shook her head and shrugged, but the gesture did not have the nonchalant air that she hoped. Instead she appeared exactly as she was; hurt.
"Tara there's a lot of stuff that's happened lately that I, I just didn't know how to tell you, or how to handle it." She wondered where to start and decided that the beginning was the only place that might hope to make any sense. "I fell in love with Buffy a long time ago." Tara looked up at her in confusion. That had not been Buffy in the café. Willow understood her questioning look and held up a hand. "I'm getting there. It's just a really tangled up tale, okay?"
Tara nodded and let Willow continue.
In the end it had taken only an hour to explain everything and Willow was amazed. While it was happening it had felt like time had slowed to a crawl, but know for the first time she realized that it had only been two months since they had first seen Kellem.
Halfway through the telling Tara's expression had changed from hurt to disbelieving and in the end to sympathetic. She uncurled herself from the floor and began to light candles, needing something to do as she took time to digest this.
Willow watched her closely, wanting her to understand and afraid that she wouldn't. She spoke softly. "So how mad are you?"
Tara sighed and rested her head against the wall near the candles she had just lit. How was she supposed to answer that? She turned around and met Willow's eyes. "I don't know if I am mad. We we didn't exactly have that kind of relationship, b-but I had hoped " She trailed off.
Willow rose and crossed to her. "I know. So did I." She saw the barely concealed hurt in Tara's eyes and acted instinctively, hugging the other girl to her. "I wish "
Tara pulled back. "D-don't w.. worry about it. I guess you should go."
Willow shook her head and caught Tara's face in her hands. "No. I don't want to leave you." The first tentative brush of Willow's lips against Tara's made the other girl gasp, but she continued the caress, intensifying it.
Tara felt her head swim and part of her cried out that this was wrong, that Willow didn't love her. She pushed Willow away and stared at her in hurt confusion. "You don't love me!"
Touching her lips with a shaking hand, Willow shook her head. "I I don't know what this is." She did feel something for Tara and that realization sent the fragile house of cards that was Willow's world tumbling down. A sob exploded from her and she found herself on her knees in front of Tara.
The storm of tears continued unabated and Tara couldn't stop herself from kneeling beside Willow and taking her into her arms. She rocked the redhead gently, murmuring soothing words of comfort and wondering how the tables had turned.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Willow quieted. She made no move to leave the circle of Tara's arms. Her voice was tremulous when she spoke. "I'm sorry."
Tara pressed her lips to Willow's forehead without thinking. "Don't apologize. You You're hurting."
Willow laughed morosely. "Not as much as you." She raised her head from Tara's shoulder and swiped at the moisture in her eyes. "I do wish that " She trailed off as her gaze was drawn to Tara's lips once more. "I Oh God I think I do love you." Willow buried her face in her hands and laughed, the sound touched with hysteria.
Tara felt something inside her blossom at Willow's words and she had to forcibly remind herself that Buffy was definitely in her life and not going away. "B-but Buffy?"
Willow sighed deeply. "I love her too." She ran her hands through her hair and barely managed to refrain from pulling. "I don't know what's going on anymore."
"Maybe it's the demon?"
"I I don't know. You can't love this many people . can you?"
Tara had no answer and as Willow's lips claimed hers again, she let herself be swayed by the steadily burning desire that flared between them.
Kellem opened the door without looking through the peephole. She knew very well who was there. She could feel Buffy's presence, could smell her scent. "Hi."
Buffy stepped inside and closed the door behind her. Kellem bit her tongue to keep herself from speaking and waited for the Slayer to make the first move. She knew she was hoping for the impossible but maybe this time Buffy had come here to talk. As she watched Buffy cross the room and enter the bedroom she chided herself for being foolish. Kellem began to unbutton her shirt as she went to join Buffy, trying not to think about how much this was going to hurt afterwards.
Kellem heard the front door close and stared at the ceiling, willing the tears away. She wondered if she would ever adjust to being used. The strange pattern her life had fallen into was beginning to wear on her. Buffy stopped by several times a week to have sex with her before patrolling and it hadn't taken long for Kellem to realize that she was being used as a pre-patrol power up. And it was always sex. Not since the first time had the Slayer made love to her and Kellem pressed her clenched fists into her eyes as she forced the images away. Why was she letting this get to her?
Of all the beings she could have been bound to, Buffy was definitely at the top of the list. She shouldn't expect anymore than what was required for the bond, but Kellem rolled over and buried her face in the pillow, inhaling the Slayer's scent. But she was in love with Buffy. Perhaps the worst curse that could befall one of her kind was to be in love with a master that did not love her in return.
She tried to rationalize the situation. Willow loves me. And the witch did, but it wasn't enough. Kellem had given her heart to both the Witch and the Slayer, but only one was willing to accept that gift. She could feel the distance that Buffy put between them in every word and action. Like a moth to the flame, she kept trying to get closer only to be burned again and again. "I shouldn't care, damn it!"
The front door opened again and Kellem stiffened for an instant, and then relaxed. Willow's presence filled the room and swept over her like a soothing balm. She didn't roll over, but instead waited for her witch to speak.
Willow knew instantly what had happened and she cursed Buffy for doing this again. "Hey."
Kellem raised a hand and waved slightly.
"You still want to study for that calc exam?"
The laugh that escaped Kellem was a bit hoarse, but was filled with genuine humor. "Sure, why not?" She rolled over and sat up, ignoring the fact that she was naked. "You want pizza or Thai?"
Kellem gasped and waved her chopsticks at Willow. "Damn it, Will! I said mild!" She grabbed her soda and drained it in a few gulps.
Willow ate her own Khao Phat Naem, enjoying the heat that seared her mouth. "I did. That is mild. Next time I'll tell them to fix it for a baby, Miss Demon." She wanted to tell Kellem about Tara, but she didn't. She couldn't this soon after what had happened with Buffy. Once again pushing her own worries aside, Willow focused on Kellem.
"Funny." Kellem shifted into her demon form and selected another bite of Sa-Te. "Well you'll have to put up with this form while I eat this."
Willow shrugged, not willing to admit that she found the Jauda's true form extremely arousing. Maybe she had forgotten to order Kellem's dish mild. She couldn't remember.
Kellem continued to eat, wondering if she should mention the scent that lay thickly along Willow's skin. The blonde witch's feelings had been obvious to the Jauda and she could truly sympathize with her plight but Willow was hers. Hers and Buffy's. Her fingers clenched around the thin sticks and the bamboo splintered.
Willow jumped at the sound and looked at Kellem in concern. "Are you okay?"
Kellem shook her head and dropped the pieces onto the carpet in front of her. "Not really." She reached up and grabbed the collar of her shirt, ripping it off with a quick motion that made Willow gasp. The blue skin beneath glowed faintly in the lamplight and Willow saw the flash of power in the demon's eyes.
"Kellem? What, what's wrong?" The redhead scrambled backwards until the dresser stopped her.
Kellem rolled onto her knees and dropped her hands to the floor, never breaking eye contact with Willow. She began to crawl across the floor towards the witch and Willow swallowed hard at the strange expression on her face. "K-Kell?"
Kellem saw the motion in the redhead's eyes an instant before she actually moved and she couldn't stop the growl that tore free as Willow pushed herself away from her. Her muscles bunched and she sprang, her arms encircling Willow and tumbling her to the carpet.
Willow cried out as she found herself flat on her back, an enraged Jauda demon over her. She pushed against Kellem's chest but it was like trying to move a wall. Angry now, Willow glared up at her lover, "What are you doing?"
Kellem bent her face impossibly close to Willow's and inhaled. The low rumble that was emanating from her chest vibrated across Willow's flesh and she could feel the sound deep inside her. The demon took her time, carefully sniffing Willow's face and neck before she met the witch's eyes again. "You kissed her."
It was not a question but Willow's flinch gave her answer. A pained growl ripped from the demon's throat. "You slept with her!"
Kellem vaguely heard the sound of something tearing and she looked down to see her hands tangled in the shredded remains of the carpet. She freed her fingers and then eased them into Willow's hair, ignoring the small whimper that escaped her captive, which only made her blood heat more. Kellem ran her tongue down the side of Willow's neck and tasted Tara. "Why? Why did you touch her?"
Willow was shaking so hard that she could almost hear her bones rattling. "I-I don't know."
Kellem's eyes were green fire and she stared at Willow in equal parts confusion, desire and anger. "You love Buffy. You said that you loved me. Why would you do this?"
How could she answer that when she didn't know herself? Willow thought back to how she had felt with Tara and tried to form a response. "I she needs me."
Kellem froze. Needs her? Don't I need her too?
"I do love you, Kellem and I love Buffy. I don't know how to explain this thing with Tara. She fills something inside me that I didn't know was missing."
Kellem rolled away from Willow and to her feet in a quick motion that startled the witch. She didn't look at Willow as she stood, instead choosing to stare at the wall. It offered a safer target at the moment. "You're in love with her."
Willow shook her head. "I don't know."
"I do." The Jauda demon's reply was harsh. "I can taste it in you. It mixes inside you with the power of the triad."
"M-mixes? What do you mean?"
Kellem drew a deep breath and forced herself to resume her human form before she turned to Willow. "I'm not sure myself. I can feel your power. I can feel Buffy's. But now I can feel Tara's connection to you."
Kellem shook her head. "I don't know. We're in uncharted waters anyway. This I have no idea."
"Here there be dragons," Willow whispered.
Nodding in agreement, Kellem stepped closer. "I'm sorry I frightened you."
"I, um, I'm sorry about Tara."
Kellem grimaced and reached out to thread her fingers through the scarlet strands that framed her lover's face. "I just wonder how for this connection goes." She bent her head and brushed her lips across Willow's.
A low moan filled the small space between them and Kellem shivered at the sound. "Willow? Do you still love me?"
Knowing what she was asking, Willow answered by reaching out and cupping Kellem's breast.
Buffy felt the desire spreading through Willow and Kellem and smiled grimly as she prowled through the graveyard looking for her next target.
Music, soft and sexy flowed over the bed as Willow found herself pressed back against the tangled sheets. She threw her head back restlessly as Kellem raked her teeth over her breasts and a small cry escaped her as the demon caught a nipple between her sharp teeth. Kellem laughed huskily and moved down Willow's body. "I've finally figured it out."
"You like this." She ran her claws across Willow's abdomen and was rewarded by her delighted shiver. "Don't you?"
Willow was having trouble focusing on what she was saying. "What?"
Kellem touched the point of one claw to the hyper-sensitive flesh between Willow's legs. "My demon form."
Willow arched up off the bed as Kellem withdrew, trying to follow her touch. She opened her eyes and stared into the jade depths of the demon's gaze. Willow licked her lips and whispered, "Yes."
Kellem dropped her hand to cover her heat, making Willow sigh in relief. "Tell me."
"I'd rather show you." Willow lurched up and caught Kellem by surprise. She found herself laying flat on the bed with a naked redheaded witch straddling her. Willow bent over her and fused their mouths together in a scorching kiss. Kellem was gasping for breath when the kiss ended and she stared at her lover mutely.
Pleased with the stunned expression on her face, Willow pressed her advantage. She reached out and cupped her face, tracing the shape and dipping her fingers playfully into Kellem's mouth. "I love you like this. I love you the other way too, but this," She bent low and nipped at the blue skin that covered Kellem's throat. "This is sexy in a naughty kinda way." She stroked the length of Kellem's horns, knowing what it did to the demon.
Kellem couldn't stop the low growl that rumbled from her chest but then, Willow didn't want her to.
Buffy jerked the stake back an instant before it would have pierced Kellem's skin and scowled at her. "What are you doing?"
Kellem swallowed audibly and took a step back. "Uh, trying to help?" She pointed behind Buffy, who swung her arm backwards without looking. As the dust settled behind her, Buffy began to berate the demon for interfering. "I don't need your help. I don't want your help. Understand?"
Ignoring the pain that swept through her at her mistress' words, Kellem nodded. "I'm sorry. My mistake." She turned to leave and then looked back. "Tell me something Buffy. Did you ever care? Even for an instant?"
Caught up in a confusing tangle of emotions, Buffy shook her head and walked away, leaving Kellem staring hopelessly after her.
Kellem unlocked the trunk and shifted the stack of folded clothes to the side, revealing the large book underneath. She lifted it out, feeling the tingle of age race up her fingers. The book had belonged to her mother's mother and before that it had been one of the last created by the now dead council of Succubae. Kellem settled the book on her lap and shifted into her true form before opening the latch. The book was spellbound to keep non-Succubae out and would kill any that tried to open it.
She flipped through the pages slowly, remembering the few times her mother had read to her from the book before she had been bound to a Torment demon. Kellem had learned the rest on her own and knew where the ritual was, but she took her time getting there. What she was contemplating was not something to be done on impulse or in the heat of anger and she wanted to make sure that she was calm before she began.
Kellem drew a bracing breath and turned the page. The script was ornate and written in the blood of Succubae to give it power. She traced the ancient words with a clawed finger; the slight scratching the only sound in the room.
Did she dare? Was it really so bad?
She thought of the sleepless nights she spent, afraid to sleep because she dreamed of Buffy. Of the cold indifference that Buffy displayed in public and her periodic visits for sex. Kellem thought of Willow and the friendship that had blossomed between them. That alone was almost enough to stop her, but now there was Tara and she was unsure of her place. Knowing that Buffy was only tolerating her presence in Willow's life finally decided her.
Kellem noted the supplies she would need and tried not to look at the spell name as she wrote.
Per Dividere il Legame e Concludersi la Vita
The demon's cry was cut off as his body exploded and several headstones were suddenly coated in green blood. Buffy looked down at her boots and moaned. "Darn it! I just bought these!" She started back across the cemetery, deciding to call it a night. Buffy stepped around a marble statue and froze as a trickle of unease skittered along her nerve endings. Years of fighting had taught Buffy that different demons came with different feelings, but this wasn't the sense of a nearby badie. This was Kellem. "What's she-?" Buffy staggered as her mind filled with images and she saw Kellem lifting a long knife to her wrist.
Kellem finished drawing the runes within the circle and rose, tossing the bloody brush of sage leaves to the side. She picked up the potion and held it up, staring at the dark fluid a moment before stepping into the spell. Her skin prickled as she crossed the magikal threshold. The spell was very simple really and as she began the litany that would sever the bond, she wondered if it would hurt to die.
The room seemed to darken as the power built and Kellem uncorked the bottle of poison. Her life force, her energy and powers would be divided between Willow and Buffy at the instant of her death. She drew a deep breath, closed her eyes and raised the bottle to her lips.
The bottle exploded as it smashed into the wall beside her. Kellem opened her eyes and stared at Buffy blankly. "Wha-?" Buffy grabbed the front of her shirt and yanked her from the magik field. Kellem jerked away and glared at her. "Why did you do that?"
Buffy moved close, backing Kellem into the wall. "Why! What were you trying to do?"
Kellem lost her temper, shoving Buffy back. "I was trying to give you what you want!"
"What I want? When have I ever said that I wanted you dead?"
Kellem laughed harshly. "Every time you look at me, Buffy." She ran her hands through her hair in agitation and groaned. "Damn it! Why are you here? Forget something? Need a little stress relieved? Want another power rush?"
The underlying pain in her words was obvious. Buffy's eyes narrowed. "What?"
Kellem began unbuttoning her shirt. "You only come here for one thing Buffy. Come on Slayer, let's get this over with." She pulled her shirt off and was reaching for the snap on her jeans when Buffy gripped her wrist. Kellem growled and grabbed Buffy's arm, knowing what would happen and almost relieved when it did. Buffy's fist struck the side of her face and sent Kellem spinning across the room, through the open door of the bedroom. She crashed into the side of the bed and slumped to the floor.
Buffy looked down at her clenched fist in disgust. Kellem eased herself into a sitting position, ignoring the blood that seeped from the corner of her mouth. She spoke quietly. "Thank you Mistress."
Buffy froze. When she spoke, Kellem had to strain to hear. "Why are you doing this?"
Kellem drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. "I love Willow. I love you. But you're the one who makes me feel that it's wrong." She closed her eyes. "That makes me feel like a whore."
The raw pain her words held made Buffy flinch. She opened her mouth to deny it when a strange roaring sound filled the room. Buffy had a split second to wonder and then the area around Kellem seemed to dissolve, taking the demon with it.
Kellem staggered out of the remains of her apartment building and clutched her head as the world tried to right itself. Nausea made her stomach roil and she swallowed hard, determined not to give into the sensation as she struggled to fasten her shirt.
The bright sunlight streamed around her and Kellem squinted at the chaos she saw. Charred corpses of things that could not have been human littered the ground and she gingerly stepped around one, looking for her lover.
She closed her eyes and sent out a call. Buffy? Willow?
Kellem rubbed her head and tried again, focusing on the strands of power that connected her to her lovers. Willow?
There. It was very faint but she could just feel the witch's lifeforce. Kellem started walking.
Willow stood in the cemetery wondering how long it would take for the reality of this to set in. She read the words that had been carved into the tombstone, and bit her lip as a sob tried to escape. Tara's arms wrapped around her from behind and she turned to bury her face in the taller woman's neck.
Tara rubbed her lover's back and rocked her as the tears came again and she silently prayed to the goddess for Willow's pain to ease.
Kellem entered the graveyard at a slow run, feeling Willow's presence getting stronger. She pulled up short when she saw the embracing couple. What the hell? Taking a firm grasp on her temper, Kellem approached them. Can't kill her. Will loves her. At least Willow has nice taste.
Willow heard the unfamiliar voice and raised her head, meeting a pair deep green eyes. "What I'm Willow."
Kellem smirked as she moved closer, her relief evident. "That's for sure. Where's Buffy?"
Willow blinked and her expression hardened into a glare. "Who are you?"
That made Kellem freeze and she forced a laugh. "Not funny Scarlet. What's going on?"
The nickname made Willow bristle and she pulled out of Tara's arms and fully faced the intruder. "I don't know you, but my name is not Scarlet. It's Willow. Now unless you want to feel what its like to be thrown across a cemetery, I suggest you leave."
Okay this is getting weird. Kellem held up a hand and shook her head. "I'm sorry. Look something strange is happening here. I think we need to find Buffy and head to Giles' for Scooby meet, okay?"
Willow shook her head at the woman's words and pointed to the grave. "Buffy's dead."
Kellem looked at the headstone and paled, her knees giving way. She hit the ground beside the grave, shaking her head wildly as she muttered, "No way. Not possible. She can't be dead. She.." Kellem rose quickly and gripped Willow's arms. "This isn't possible! She can't be dead, cause we're still alive! What happened?!"
Willow jerked away and her eyes went black. "Away!" Kellem soared backwards several yards and crashed into the side of a tomb. Willow felt the power surging at her fingertips and resisted the urge call a fireball.
Tara had stepped back and was watching her lover warily. "W-Willow?"
Kellem got to her feet and began speaking. "I don't know what's going on here, but let me tell you what I remember, alright?"
Willow nodded shortly and Kellem began to tell her everything she knew.
Willow listened quietly until she got to the part about Willow and Buffy being lovers. "What? Buffy and I aren't "
Kellem grimaced. "In my memories you are." She shook her head. "You and Buffy met me and found out what I am. Giles decided that I had to be killed but you and Buffy didn't want to do that."
Willow interrupted again. "What are you?"
A sigh. "I'm a demon."
Willow tensed automatically. "And we didn't want to kill you? Why not?"
Kellem ran a shaking hand through her hair. "A lot of reasons, but mainly because I'm not evil. I'm a type of demon that can boost another demon's power. I was just doing the whole college thing. Trying very hard not to be noticed by any demons."
"So you and Buffy decided that it would be better if I were bound to someone safe. That way I wouldn't become a threat later and you wouldn't have to slay me."
Kellem grimaced. "You and Buffy magically bound me to you both. We're connected. Or at least we were. I can't feel the bond the way it used to be. It's weak, distorted. But I do know that you and I should not be alive if Buffy is truly dead."
Willow glanced at the grave and then back at Kellem. "What do you mean, truly dead?"
Kellem knelt beside the grave and placed both hands on the ground. "Help me. If we can feel her essence then there might be a chance."
Willow mimicked the demon's position and followed her instructions, reaching out on an intangible plane, searching for that which was Buffy Summers.
She didn't recognize the tiny spark until Kellem murmured a startled exclamation. "There! Catch it! Hold on to it and try to gather it."
Willow could feel herself embracing the spectral form that swirled around her and Kellem.
Kellem began to curse as the energy began to dissipate. "Too weak! We need more power!" She opened her eyes and looked at Willow. "We need to re-seal the bond. We need blood to call her forth."
Willow nodded. "How?"
Kellem grinned and dug a folded knife out of her jeans pocket. "Blood to blood summons. Not as pretty as the formal ceremony but it'll do in a pinch." She paused and stared at Willow. "Do you realize what this will mean?"
"We get Buffy back?"
Kellem nodded. "Yes, but we will be bound again. The last time it happened you guys didn't know what that entailed. I can't let you go into this blind again." She detailed the exact nature of what the magikal bond would be.
Willow paled at Kellem's words. "Oh."
Tara spoke for the first time. "But Buffy will be back, right?"
Willow looked up at her lover and shook her head. "I can't do this, Tara." She stood up and embraced her. "I love you. I just got you back and I'm not going to toss that aside."
Tara swallowed back the knot of tears in her throat and summoned a weak smile. "But the world needs Buffy."
Kellem cleared her throat and the witches looked at her. "Um Don't take this the wrong way but why doesn't Tara join the bond?"
Willow blinked. "Is that possible?"
Nodding carefully, Kellem continued. "It won't be easy but in truth we'll need the extra power to pull this off."
Facing the taller girl, Willow asked a silent question.
Tara bit her lip and considered the ramifications of this. She could lose Willow and Buffy would be back or she could share Willow and Buffy would be back. Or she could knock Willow out and let the dead stay buried, keeping her lover for herself .nope, not going to happen. Damn Scooby stuff wears off on you after awhile. "Alright."
Kellem was surprised by the woman's answer. She wondered if the Tara of her memories was so understanding. Perhaps she had judged too hastily.
They knelt around the grave and Kellem dug a shallow space in the dirt. She held her hand over the cool ground and raised the knife to her palm, speaking the ancient words of the ceremony and drawing the blade over her flesh in a quick motion. She passed the knife to Willow and coached her through the spell as the black drops of blood seeped into the hollow.
Willow winced at the pain, but gamely held her own hand out to clasp the demon's. The crackle of magik filled the air and she passed the blade to Tara. The crimson flow mixed with the darkness and dripped into the earth.
Tara forced her hands to steady as she spoke, not noticing that she didn't stutter once through the process. She gripped the other's hands and the level of energy increased exponentially.
Kellem waited until the magik was at its peak and then gave the command to cast the spell. Surging into the ground, the power sought out that which had stilled and filled it anew. Coaxing the spirit back into its abandoned shell, the power then healed.
Buffy opened her eyes, gasping as her hands struck out blindly in the darkness. Her scream of frustration was heard above and Kellem shifted into her demon state and began to claw through the dirt that separated them.
The lid of the coffin shattered under the force of Buffy's blows and she cringed as dirt began to rapidly fill the coffin. She drew a final breath and began to dig. Upwards.
Kellem had managed to get about three feet down when she encountered a hand on its way up. She grasped the flailing limb and pulled the slayer from her grave.
Buffy coughed wildly, shaking the dirt from her hair and trying to focus on the people around her.
Willow peered back at her through her tears and Buffy realized that Tara was brushing the dirt from her clothes. "Wil..Willow?"
Willow laughed joyously and wrapped her arms around her best friend. "Buffy! Thank the goddess!"
It was several minutes before Willow calmed down enough to even begin to try and explain. Buffy listened quietly, not realizing that she was being held by strong arms. Strong blue arms.
Kellem buried her face in the slayer's dusty hair and grinned as she felt the connection between them all. So close. She had almost lost everything. Kellem still didn't know what had happened to make them forget her, but for now it didn't matter.
Buffy rubbed her face and grimaced at the layer of dirt that covered her. "Um..where's Dawn?"
Willow explained that she was staying with Giles and Buffy sighed in relief.
Kellem spoke softly. "Who's Dawn?"
Willow looked at Buffy and then at Kellem. "She's Buffy's sister."
Kellem felt her world tilt and she shook her head slowly. "Buffy doesn't have a sister."
Buffy pulled away from the demon's arms and looked up at the woman in surprise. She stiffened as she took in the skin color and the small horns that sprang from Kellem's forehead. "Who are you?"
Standing shakily, Kellem staggered back, trying to make some kind of sense of this. "I don't think I'm supposed to be here." She willed herself back into her human form and looked at the others. "I don't understand this."
Willow's expression was thoughtful. "When Glory opened the portal between worlds a lot of weird stuff got pulled into this one. Maybe you were too."
Kellem laughed harshly. "I seriously hope not. That would mean that my Buffy and Willow were still bonded to me."
Buffy frowned at the possessive wording. "Yours?"
"We are bonded, mated lovers." She ignored the slayer's flinch. "Without me then the bond will weaken and the three of us will die."
"What about the bond you just made with us?" Tara asked shyly.
Kellem focused on the magik binding them and for the first time realized that the passion was missing. "It doesn't feel the same. I don't think I'm really a part of this."
Willow closed her eyes and tried to feel Kellem with her mind. She was there but it was as if she was on the other side of a curtain. Buffy and Tara were sharp and clear in her mind and she grinned a little at the feeling of closeness. She opened her eyes. "You're not within the bond. It feels like you just mixed the ingredients so to speak."
Buffy got to her feet, swaying as her body took a moment to adjust to the new position. "We should find Giles. Maybe he can tell us what's going on."
Giles watched Dawn stared at the wall in front of her and once again tried to think of something, anything to draw the girl out. Since the funeral two days ago, Dawn had not spoken more than a few words and Giles was at a loss. The doorbell rang and Giles almost smiled in relief. Thank God! A distraction.
He opened the door and stared at the group in front of him, not recognizing their leader at first. Giles blinked at the familiar eyes that were laughing at him and then he knew no more.
Buffy watched Giles hit the floor in amazement as Dawn screamed her name and hurled herself into her big sister's arms. "Buffy!"
Buffy sank onto Giles' couch with a relieved sigh and hugged Dawn close to her. The younger girl had been unwilling to let the slayer out of her sight and had stayed right outside the bathroom door as Buffy had showered and changed into a thick robe that Giles had lent her. She still hadn't let herself think about that fact that she had died. There would be time for that later. Buffy watched Xander trying to pull off the man thing and not give into the tears that simmered just beneath the surface. Anya had stared at Kellem until the demon had sighed and then shifted into her demon form, causing the ex-demon to snap her fingers. "You! I know you! England 1885. You were running from a chaos demon."
Kellem wrinkled her nose and nodded. "Yeah that was me. Got to hand it to you, though. You sure set one hell of a curse on that guy. I didn't even know it was possible to turn a chaos demon into a pig."
Anya grinned at the memory. "Well vengeance was the name of the game and the woman he scorned could have given me lessons." She shook her head. "You know she ate him later?"
Kellem grimaced. "Oh yuck! Thank you for an image I did not need!"
Giles cleared his throat and tapped the page he was reading. "I think I may have found a way for you to return to your reality Kellem."
He outlined the process and Kellem gave him a thumb's up. "Sounds solid. So when can we cast?"
They made preparations at the Magic Box and Kellem stared at her surroundings in surprise. "A shopkeeper huh? I'll have to suggest that to my Giles."
Giles paused. "Oh? What does he, um I do in your world?"
Kellem shrugged. "Not a damn thing apparently. Buffy says you're not her watcher officially but she still treats you like one. After all this crap with ADAM is over I think you're planning on heading back to jolly old England."
Buffy froze and stared at Kellem in surprise. "ADAM? But we nailed him last year."
"Not in my world. We're ducking the Initiative flunkies and trying to stay one step ahead of Soldier Boy."
"Riley? I don't understand. He's on our side."
Kellem shrugged. "Um, not since he banged the bad girl in your body. You sent him on his way and got it on with Willow."
Buffy wasn't sure how to respond to that. "But that wasn't his fault." Why she was defending Riley now she had no idea, but she didn't like what this demon was telling her about her other self.
"Look, I wasn't there. I don't know why things went down that way. All I know is that in my world ADAM is still on the loose and you, me and Scarlet are a very happy thriple." Okay that wasn't completely true, but
The blush that bloomed on Willow's cheeks matched Buffy's and Kellem grinned, unrepentant. "You do realize that now Willow, Tara and you share a similar bond?"
A small choking sound escaped Tara and she stared at Willow in shock.
Giles cleared his throat. "Um, yes. Well let's continue, shall we?" They loaded up the supplies and headed back to what was left of Kellem's apartment. She wondered where her other self was in this world as Giles and Willow began to construct a magikal circle in a small area they had cleared of debris.
Buffy met Kellem's eyes and pointed outside. 'Can I talk to you a minute?"
The demon followed the slayer until they reached the burnt remains of a large tree that used to shade the building.. "What's on your mind?"
"There are some things I want you to warn the other Buffy about."
Kellem nodded, but her face showed her doubts. "You realize that there's no guarantee that what happened in your world will happen in mine?"
"I know, but just in case ." She pulled a small black book out of her back pocket and handed it to Kellem. "Consider this the Slayer's guide at a glance. I really hope you'll be able to prevent some of the needless pain that was caused in my world."
A short while later they reentered the building and found the others waiting for them. Kellem stepped into the circle and waved at cheerfully at Willow. "If something goes wrong then I want you guys to know that I'm glad I got yanked into your world. I'm happy that I could help you get your Buffy back Scarlet."
Willow smiled shyly and lit the first candle. Giles began to recite the spell as the tapers were ignited and Kellem could feel a tug. The feeling increased and she didn't need to look behind her to see the swirling void open. Her last thoughts were scattered as she felt herself being separated from this plane and swept into the next.
Kellem groaned as her body protested in a chorus of aches and pains. She slowly opened her eyes and found herself staring into angry blue eyes. " Buffy?"
Buffy glared at her as the demon got to her feet and then jabbed an accusing finger into her chest. "You scared the hell out of me!"
Kellem ignored her tirade and gripped her head, pulling her into a deep kiss. She ravished the smaller woman's mouth, knowing that the Slayer wouldn't understand, but not caring at that moment. Kellem reluctantly ended the kiss and sank back down to her knees, waiting for the explosion. It didn't come.
Buffy made herself calm down and focus on what had just happened. Kellem had tried to kill herself. Then the demon had disappeared, scaring the Slayer badly only to return an instant later. Obviously there were some questions that needed answers, but one look at the pained expression on Kellem's face made Buffy rethink her priorities.
Sensing Buffy kneeling in front of her, Kellem opened her eyes and saw the chaotic emotions that raced through the Slayer's.
Buffy reached out and brushed the hair from Kellem's forehead, not meeting her eyes. "I'm afraid. I want you so much, but at the same time I want Willow. I'm afraid that I can't tell the difference " She trailed off and Kellem, remembering where they had left off, finished her thought.
"That you can't tell the difference between what you feel for her and what you feel for me."
Buffy nodded and Kellem sighed. "Does there have to be a difference? I love you both, but I love you in different ways. Willow's compassion and warmth fill me with a hope that I didn't know I needed. Loving her is soft and sweet, an extension of the friends we've become. Your strength and passion make me want to storm Hell beside you. Loving you is fire and storm and it hurts, but it's the kind of pain that makes me return to you for more."
Buffy felt heat rise in her cheeks and was shocked to realize that she was blushing. "It's not that easy for me either."
"Easy? What the hell is easy about being in love with two people? I feel torn in different directions all the time now. I want to be with you, to watch you train, to help you slay. At the same time I want to be with Willow and watch her practice her spells and help her study, not that she needs help. What's easy Buffy? When has anything in your life or mine been easy?" Kellem reached out and slid her hand into Buffy's hair, cupping the side of her face. "Do you realize how much I love you?
Buffy sighed deeply and nodded. "Yes." She caught her hand and pressed a kiss to Kellem's palm. "I do. I think that's what frightens me most."
Kellem blinked as she realized what Buffy was saying. "You feel guilty."
Buffy didn't answer but she then didn't need to. Kellem rolled her eyes in exasperation. "I should have guessed. There's nothing to feel guilty about, Buffy. I'm exactly where I want to be."
Buffy stood up and took a few steps away. "Because of the bond Kellem. It's taken your free will." She met Kellem's dark gaze unflinchingly. "I took your free will."
Kellem buried her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking. Buffy frowned and started to move to her when the demon's head whipped up and she realized that Kellem was laughing. "It's not funny!"
"Of course it is! Buffy I may be bound to you, but my will is my own. If it wasn't then I wouldn't have been able to attempt the dissolution ceremony." She got up and absently dusted off her jeans. "You think because I'm bound to you and Willow that it means I have no choice? You couldn't be more wrong. The loving isn't necessary for the bond Buffy. It's an unexpected bonus." Kellem reached out and caught Buffy's hand, pulling her to the side of the bed. She pushed the confused Slayer down and then straddled her before Buffy could react.
Buffy was still frowning and Kellem brushed her fingers over the lines in her forehead. "Don't you see? I was already falling for Willow before the ceremony." She ducked her head and nipped at the soft underside of Buffy's throat. Her voice dropped and her words rolled over Buffy's skin like warm honey. "But when I woke up and found you standing over me well then I really had a problem, because all I could think about was how much I wanted you to take off that robe. And then you did." Kellem's smile was salacious. "You could have skinned me alive at that point and I would have enjoyed it."
Her teeth bit a little harder this time and Buffy caught her face in her hands. She saw the truth of Kellem's words and could feel the desire building between them. She warred with herself for an instant before gripping Kellem's hair and using it to pull her closer. The kiss was deep and biting, a silent battle of tongues and teeth. Moments later they broke apart, breathing heavily, only to attack again. Buffy felt the cloth of her shirt rip under Kellem's claws and realized that she had shifted into her demon state. She instantly gave up the tenuous hold she had been keeping on her control and gave her desire free rein.
Kellem found herself on her back, but had no time to wonder how that had happened before her shirt was torn away and a passionate assault was launched upon her breasts. Kellem's strangled scream did not slow the Slayer in her task, but instead spurred her on and soon Kellem's cries filled the room.
Willow silently slid into the chair across the room and watched their stormy lovemaking. Called by their desire and an incredible flare of magik, she had known that something extraordinary was about to take place. She resisted the urge to join them, knowing that they needed this time to themselves, but feeling no need to leave.
Buffy was overcome with the need to make love to Kellem. Not sex, but making love and as she rolled the hardened tip of the demon's breast between her teeth, she realized that she understood the difference now. She slipped her hand along Kellem's body and unsnapped her jeans before pushing them down to reveal her goal. Buffy smiled slightly as her fingers encountered no underwear and she released Kellem's breast long enough to mutter, "My my. What have we here?"
Kellem was given no chance to answer as Buffy ducked her head and ran her tongue around the hollow of her naval. The demon arched up off of the bed with a delighted gasp, but Buffy wasn't finished. Her teeth scrapped along the flesh of Kellem's abdomen and she shoved the denim further down, then off completely.
Willow gripped the arms of the chair tightly and found herself leaning forward slightly as Buffy pushed Kellem's legs apart and knelt between them. Now she's getting the idea.
The wood of the headboard creaked under the pressure of Kellem's hands as she tried to twist away from the intensity of Buffy's touch. Strong hands gripped the insides of her thighs, anchoring her in place as Buffy used her mouth to devour her lover. Kellem cried out when she felt the slayer's teeth close over her clit and her claws dug into the wood.
Quivering in response, Willow shifted restlessly. The room grew darker as the few lighted candles began to die and she absently lit more with a wave of her hand as she watched couple on the bed intently.
Buffy felt Kellem trying to twist away and chose that moment to push her tongue inside her.
Kellem screamed as her body surged, sweeping her into the maelstrom of sensation that her mistress had created. Violent tremors swept over her, but Buffy continued her caress, driving the demon higher until she felt her pleasure crest again.
As the shudders began to fade, Buffy rose onto her knees and looked at Willow. The smile that slowly spread across her face made Willow swallow hard. "B-Buffy?"
Buffy stood up and peeled off the rest of her clothes as she moved across the room. She dropped her panties to the floor beside Willow's chair and then gripped the arms as she bent closer. Her breath stirred Willow's hair and raised goosebumps across the young witch's skin. "Now it's your turn."
Willow opened her eyes with a low moan and heard an answering sound from Kellem. She lay perfectly still in the large bed, unable and unwilling to move at that moment. In truth she was a little afraid to. The night's and the morning's activities had been . strenuous. Willow licked her chaffed lips in a futile attempt to moisten them and then spoke softly. "Is she gone?"
The pillow she had her face buried in muffled Kellem's reply, but Willow heard. "Yeah. I think she left a little while ago." She lifted her head and stared at Willow through weary eyes. "What the hell was that?"
Willow laughed quietly. "A Slayer. That was definitely a Slayer."
Kellem groaned as she rolled over and joined Willow in contemplating that. "I thought so. It sure feels like I've been slain." They lay in silence for a moment.
"I wonder if she's coming back soon?" Willow's tone was mild.
Kellem grinned broadly. "I sure hope so."
When the Slayer returned a short while later, she came bearing food. The rich scent of Chinese made Willow's stomach do the happy dance and she started to get up, only to be gently pushed back by Buffy. "Stay put. I have a plan."
Producing a folding tray, she laid it over Willow's lap and unpacked the food cartons onto the small surface. Once everything was laid out, she stripped off her clothes, much to her audience's delight, and climbed back into bed.
They munched contentedly for a time and then Kellem brought up what had happened before. "I have to tell you where I went when I disappeared."
"Went where?" Willow knew nothing of Kellem's brief vanishing act.
"I got pulled into a different world. It was like this one but Buffy was dead."
Not sure how to respond, Buffy motioned for her to continue. The story took some time and in the end no one was sure what to say. Willow had blushed wildly at the mention of her and Tara's relationship, something that was not lost on the Slayer. She filed it away for further study.
"The other Buffy warned me of some stuff that was going to go down. She gave me a notebook full of stuff." Kellem stretched mightily and the bed moved alarmingly.
Buffy felt herself at the edge of the bed and sighed. "You know we have another problem here."
Willow turned to look at her as Kellem rose up on her elbow to see. She peered over Willow's prone form and laughed. "You mean Willow's unfair hogging of the egg rolls?"
The accused's reply was to playfully shove Kellem and almost upset the food covered tray that was perched precariously over her lap.
Buffy steadied the tray and nodded. "That too, but I mean this bed." They looked at the full sized mattress and knew what she meant.
Kellem shrugged. "Sorry, but the room won't take anything bigger."
Buffy nodded again as if expecting that response. "Uh huh. This is a seriously tiny room. So's the apartment for that matter."
Feeling defensive and not sure why since she had to agree that the place was small, Kellem was a little hurt. "Is there a point to this or are you just trying to make me feel bad?"
Startled by the accusation, Buffy quickly explained. "Oh no! That's not what I-. Let me start over. I think we should get a bigger place. All of us . Together."
Willow clapped excitedly. "Oh yes! That would great!" She was genuinely happy about this but knew that it would never work with secrets between them. She wondered how to explain, where to begin.
Kellem was astounded. "You're sure?"
"Yes Kell. I'm very sure."
Willow cleared her throat and looked at Buffy. "We Buffy I have to tell you something . About Tara."
Something in her voice alerted Buffy to the seriousness of the coming revelation and she tensed. "What is it Will?"
Helplessly Willow stared at her best friend and lover, trying to make herself form the words that would reveal her betrayal. Silent tears began to slide down the witch's cheeks and Buffy's tension increased.
She set the tray off of the bed and pulled Willow into her arms, despite the girl's protests. "Come on Willow, tell me what's wrong. You're scaring me. Kellem?"
Buffy's eyes asked her what was wrong but the demon only shook her head. "It's Willow's place to explain."
Willow sniffled and climbed out of the bed, leaving Buffy staring after her in confusion. She tugged her shirt on and grabbed her jeans, dressing hurriedly. She couldn't do this naked. "Buffy . I I I slept with Tara." She immediately winced at the way the words sounded. That makes it sound cheap, but it wasn't like that .
Buffy shook her head a little, positive that her ears were playing tricks on her. It almost sounded like Willow said she slept with Tara. But that wasn't possible. "Um, what did you say?"
"I didn't want no.. I did want, but I never planned for this to happen, Buffy. I didn't expect " Willow trailed off and waited for Buffy to speak.
Buffy's face was stony. "You slept . with Tara WHY?" Buffy came off the bed in a burst of movement that made Willow jump and fall back against the closed bedroom door.
Kellem stiffened, prepared to step in if she had to.
Grabbing the redhead's shoulders, the naked form of the Slayer pushed her against the door and growled, "Why did you do this?"
Willow's anger sparked and she shoved Buffy away. "I didn't do it to hurt you! I did it because.. because.. damn it Buffy I love her."
Buffy froze, at a loss for how to respond to the quite declaration.
"I never meant for this to happen. I don't know how to explain what I feel for her."
"Are you leaving me?"
Buffy's quiet question made Willow flinch. "No. I I don't know what to do, Buffy! I love you! I love Kellem! But now there's this thing with Tara and it feels as strong as what we have together. Its not supposed to be this complicated! I don't know what to do." She buried her face in her hands and began to cry softly.
Kellem watched the Slayer gather her clothes and slip out of the bedroom.
The current inhabitants of the cemetery found themselves summarily evicted in a rather permanent manner that evening as Buffy cut a path of rage through their ranks. She left no headstone unturned and when there were no more enemies to be found, Buffy went to the next graveyard and then the next.
It was an hour before sunrise when Kellem found her standing in a circle of ashes that had once been vampires. She made sure that she was seen before approaching the Slayer, very much afraid that the woman might strike blindly.
Buffy dropped the broken tree branch she had been using and nodded curtly at the demon. "Kellem."
"Buffy." Kellem leaned against a gravestone and sighed heavily. "Want to talk?"
"I guess we should." She studied the dark haired woman closely. "You knew."
Kellem nodded. "Yeah, I, um, smelled Tara's scent on her the other day."
"And you didn't tell me this why?"
"Hell Buffy! I thought you knew! I felt it the minute I saw her, didn't you?"
From her bewildered expression, Kellem realized that Buffy hadn't. "She's in the mix somehow, Buffy. She's part of our little gang now."
"But how is that possible?"
Kellem shrugged as she motioned Buffy closer. "Not sure. We could run a little experiment and find out though."
Buffy stood next to the demon and nodded. "What do we do?"
Kellem took her hand and directed her to close her eyes. She did the same. "Now focus on me and I'll focus on you. Try not so much to see me as to feel my energy."
A few moments later Buffy spoke. "I have you."
Kellem grinned. "I know. I can feel your energy surrounding me. It's very comforting. Now let's find Willow."
Buffy tensed but did as instructed. Soon they were both entangled with the witch's essence. Buffy watched the swirl of energy for a moment and then realized what she was seeing. "What's that?"
The faint connection that was now winding it's way through the trio's knot of power seemed not so much out of place, but rather it appeared to be lost, aimless alone. On the outside.
"She's its not what I expected." Instead of trying to pull Willow away, the energy seemed to be trying to join them.
"No, its not."
Buffy frowned at the drifting force and as it began to slip away, she impulsively reached for it. Tara was pulled back into the knot, surprising Willow and Kellem. The unexpected warmth that Buffy felt from the other girl made her smile.
Tara's voice echoed through Buffy's mind. I'm so sorry. I never wanted to hurt anyone.
The loneliness that filled Tara was evident to Buffy as was the depth of emotion that she felt for Willow.
Do you understand what joining us will mean? Buffy's question shocked Willow and Kellem.
I know I I can't walk away from this.
Willow? Bring Tara to Kellem's. Buffy reluctantly released the connection and opened her eyes. She found Kellem watching her. "Looks like we'll need to find a really big bed now."
When Willow arrived that night, she had to all but drag Tara inside with her. The shy blonde was terrified that the Slayer and the Jauda demon were going to be angry with her. Willow had assured her that this was not the case, but Tara wasn't listening. "M-maybe I s-s-shouldn't "
Buffy pushed the door closed behind the girl and smiled reassuringly. "Calm down Tara. I don't bite."
Kellem snickered. "The hell you say."
Glaring at the demon, Buffy motioned the pair towards the couch. "I think we all need to sit down and talk about our options."
They did and Kellem found herself staring at the nervous young woman before her. The tousled honey blonde hair that fell to her shoulders always seemed to shout, 'just been laid' and Kellem smiled a little at the thought. She dropped her gaze, taking in the bee-stung lips that begged to be kissed and then lower to the marvelous display of cleavage that the witch so obviously tried hard to hide. Her hips were soft, gently sloping into gorgeous thighs and it struck Kellem that Tara was a beautifully ripe young woman. And that she was getting aroused.
Willow cleared her throat and glared at the demon, who shrugged innocently. "I can't help it Scarlet. You brought her into the triad, connecting her to us. I'd have to be blind or stupid not to notice her."
Tara blinked in confusion and then blushed furiously when she finally got it. Willow patted her hand and glanced at Buffy who had remained quiet during this exchange. "What happens now?"
"I have no idea. This isn't exactly in the Slayer's manuals." Not that I ever read them. "What do you suggest Kellem?"
The absolutely devious grin that crossed the demon's face made Tara gulp and Buffy laugh. "Oh I think we should let the power lead us. Whatever the bond needs, it'll let us know."
Buffy stood up and leaned close to Willow, whispering in her ear. Willow nodded and took Tara's hand, leading her into the bedroom. Joining Kellem on the couch, Buffy pulled the demon into her arms. "I thought they should start without us."
Kellem was astonished at the Slayer's casual acceptance of what was about to happen. "I didn't expect you to be so open to this."
Buffy kissed the flesh of Kellem's throat above the collar of her shirt and began to work the buttons loose. "I read some of that book you brought back with you." She pushed the cloth off of her shoulders and tossed it aside.
"Then you know about Glory."
"Yes. But that's not why I'm doing this." She caught the tip of Kellem's right breast in her teeth and the demon groaned.
"Then, ah! Why?"
Buffy released her prize and met Kellem's searching gaze. "Dawn."
Tara couldn't seem to stop shaking as Willow kissed her way down her body. Arousal swelled through her and her mind had lost the ability to verbalize a while ago. She never heard the bedroom door open or the other's entrance. It wasn't until another mouth caught hers that she realized they were there.
Kellem plundered the sweet mouth under hers and knowing that Buffy was watching them only inflamed her more. She raised her head and held out her hand. "Join us, Mistress."
The bed protested faintly as the weight increased but no one was listening. Buffy smiled at the pale face that was staring up at her with nervous eyes. She reached out and brushed her fingers across the swollen lips that Kellem had just released. Tara couldn't stop the sigh that escaped anymore than she could contain the cry that followed it when Willow reached her center and began to do things to her that she had never dreamed of.
Kellem eased behind Willow and began to touch her, sliding her hands over her skin and making the redhead's temperature rise. Buffy moved her arm under Tara and lifted her upper body into her arms. She stroked planes of Tara's face, memorizing the way her face changed in passion and then began to rain tiny kisses across her face and shoulders until Tara was gasping. Buffy carefully breached the threshold of Tara's lips, almost timidly exploring the tempting depths.
Willow's shout of pleasure announced Kellem's success in making her lose control and Buffy smiled against Tara's lips. She pulled away and beckoned Kellem closer. "Touch her Kellem. Show her what's waiting for her."
Kellem's smile was the personification of sin as she lowered herself next to Tara, who tensed as the demon shifted form. Tara felt the light skritch of claws tracing her thigh and began to shudder.
Tara slowly moved Willow's arm from around her and slipped from the bed, reaching for her shirt. She pulled it on as she watched the figures sleeping in a comfortable tangle. Willow mumbled in her sleep then rolled over slightly, her arm sliding around Kellem, who was spooned in behind Buffy.
She left the bedroom and wandered into the kitchen, still trying to sort her jumbled thoughts. Tara took a coffee cup from the drain and opened the refrigerator. She filled the cup with milk and then set it into the microwave to heat. Round and round the cup turned and Tara could sympathize with it: she was just as turned around.
Stopping the machine before it beeped, she carried the mug to the couch and settled in to contemplate what she had done. Images whirled through her mind and she closed her eyes in reflex.
Somewhere in the night she had forgotten just why it was she was doing this. It wasn't until she found herself being held by Willow while Buffy thrust into her did she remember. Oh yeah. I'm in love with Willow.
Still, she was unsure of where she stood now in all this. She could almost taste the metallic tang of blood on her tongue as she recalled the moment the demon had bared her throat to Tara.
Unaware of the glow in her eyes, Tara had not understood what was being offered until Kellem she had reached up and drew a single claw over her throat, leaving a trail of ebony blood in its wake. There was no time to consider what she was doing then, as the bloodlust swept through her and Tara found herself on top of the demon, sucking greedily at the wound.
Tara shivered at the memory but it was not in revulsion. The bedroom door closed and she glanced up to see Buffy watching her. Not knowing what else to do, Tara remained quiet.
Buffy curled up on the couch and smiled. "You okay?"
Tara shook her head slightly. "I don't know. It doesn't seem real, you know?"
Laughing softly, Buffy nodded. "Oh boy, do I! I thought I had lost my mind the day after we bonded with Kellem."
"I don't know what to do now."
Buffy understood. "That's up to you for the most part. I'm not sure how this is going to work myself, but I do know that I love Willow. She, Kellem and I are going to be moving into a larger apartment soon. You're welcome to join us."
Tara wasn't sure what to make of the offer.
"The only thing I can assure you of is that I am not giving Willow or Kellem up. You can be part of this or you can continue to stand outside."
The slight quaver that shook Tara's cup made Buffy feel bad about her tone and she reached out to steady the woman's grip as she tried to ease her words. "Don't think that Willow is the only reason we're making this offer, Tara. I like you. And despite what you may have heard about me, I am not the diehard bitch that everyone seems to think. Besides, you've tasted the blood now. It's not easy to walk away from. Even if you do, you'll probably have to return to us periodically to renew the bond anyway." Buffy smiled brightly. "Why not stay and help us fight the good fight?"
Willow had to smile at that, but she was on edge as she waited for Tara's answer.
"I want to join you but I'm not I'm not sure what good I'll be."
Willow made a startled sound, revealing her presence. She moved across the room and knelt on the floor beside Tara. "Don't say that. You're a seriously talented witch!"
"No, I'm not. I've read a lot, but I don't have anywhere near the power that you do."
Kellem staggered into the room and glared at the threesome, bleary eyed. "After last night, I'd say that you could hold your own with Scarlet, Baby." She headed into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. No way were they doing the girl chat thing without caffeine. She tried to focus on the wall clock and groaned when she read the time. "Christ! It's 4:30 in the morning!"
Tara wasn't sure what she meant by her previous comment but she'd ask her later. Right now Willow was giving her the 'puppy eyes' look and she could feel her heart melting. "So now what?"
"Food." Kellem grabbed the cordless phone and hit number three on the speed dial. "I'd like to place a delivery order. I want three large pizzas ."
Kellem snarled loudly as she charged forward, making Giles jump as he watched from the corner. Buffy's only reaction was to duck the swinging claws and roll forward, bringing herself into position behind Kellem. A quick snap kick that should have brought her down swept harmlessly through the air as Kellem was no longer there. Buffy felt rather than heard the rustle of cloth that warned her of the demon's strike and she dodged the blow easily.
Kellem kept pressing the attack, moving in and out, working Buffy back towards the corner. Out of the corner of her vision she could see the balance beam behind the slayer but didn't take her eyes off of her opponent.
Buffy blocked a flurry of punches and then suddenly launched herself backwards, coming to rest atop the thin rail. "You weren't trying to corner me were you Kellem?"
Her tone was playfully reproachful and Kellem responded in kind. "Me Mistress? Of course not." She leaped onto the beam and struck a defensive pose. "Why on earth would I do that?"
Buffy crouched low to avoid a high kick but it was only a dodge and she felt herself slip off the wood as Kellem's foot dropped to hook around hers. She hit the floor with a thud and Willow winced in sympathy.
Buffy stared up at the ceiling for a moment before flipping herself up and to her feet. She smiled ruefully at Kellem. "That was my bad." The explosion of blows that followed had Kellem retreating quickly.
When she felt herself flying through the air, Kellem knew that the match was about to come to an abrupt end. The sound of breaking wood filled the air and hid the sound of the door opening. Buffy and Willow were at Kellem's side instantly, helping the demon to sit up. Willow could feel the pull of magic and ran her hands over the deep bruise on Kellem's shoulder. "It's just a bruise. You'll be fine."
Kellem laughed, but she was touched by their concern. Maybe things were going to be all right after all. She grinned impishly and leaned forward to kiss Buffy lightly on the lips. "Nice shot lover, but I'll be prepared for that next time."
Buffy rolled her eyes and returned the caress. "Then I'll have to think of something new. Gotta keep you on your toes." She stood up and helped Kellem to her feet before turning to Giles . and her mother. Oh hell. "Mom."
Joyce Summers shook her head as Buffy started to speak and held up a hand. "No. Me first." She looked at Willow and then at Kellem, then back to Buffy. "Just answer me one thing Buffy; who is it that you're involved with?"
Willow blushed furiously and Kellem shifted uneasily. Buffy took a deep breath and answered her truthfully. "Willow and Kellem and I guess Tara now too."
Joyce blinked. "I see." She took in Kellem's demon appearance with a calm she did not feel and forced a smile. "Um, Kellem? Just what . are you?"
Kellem swallowed hard and shifted her form back to human. "I'm " she glanced at Buffy, silently asking for permission. A slight nod and Kellem faced Buffy's mother again. "I'm a demon."
Joyce swayed slightly but stayed on her feet. A demon! "A demon? How interesting. Buffy? Can I talk to you a minute? Alone?"
Buffy grimaced and nodded. "Why don't we head home and I'll explain on the way?"
"Fine. You're driving."
Joyce drained her wine glass and resisted the urge to refill it. Buffy's explanation had been completely reasonable if you ignored certain facts about what she was saying. "So you and Willow are bound to this demon."
Buffy nodded. "So is Tara but we're not sure how strong that is yet."
"How long will this last?"
Buffy was slow to answer. "Well that's the thing. I'm not really sure " She saw the impatience growing in her mother's face and blurted it out. "Forever. Or until something kills us. Which won't be easy because the bond makes us almost impossible to kill now."
"But Buffy, how do you know you can trust this demon?"
"Her name is Kellem. And I know I can trust her because of the bond. She can't hurt us Mom." Buffy averted her eyes. "She's in love with us."
"Us? Buffy do you hear what you're saying? You can't be in love with three people!"
"That's what I thought. I was wrong. Besides I'm not in love with Tara. At least not yet anyway. I hardly know her."
Joyce closed her eyes and counted to ten. Then to twenty. It was no use. She opened her eyes and focused on Buffy with a determined frown. "Buffy I've just managed to accept that fact that you're a Slayer. I was still working on you and Willow being together, but now this?" Joyce shook her head wearily. "I was ready for teen dating. I was ready for possible experimentation with alcohol and/or drugs. I had the 'Talks' all planned out in my mind." She refilled her glass and drank half of it in one gulp before turning to face her daughter. The vampire slayer. The lesbian . "How am I supposed to react to this?"
Buffy shifted uneasily on her feet. "I don't know. But there's no way to change this. The bond is unbreakable."
Joyce swallowed back the sharp words that sprang to her lips. "I just want you safe."
"I am safe Mom. Kellem would never hurt me."
"She's right. I'd die before hurting her Mrs. Summers."
Kellem stepped into the kitchen and Buffy saw Willow and Tara behind her. "Sorry to interrupt, but we kinda figured you could use a hand explaining things."
Willow nodded quickly. "And since this concerns us too "
Joyce Summers did not appear too happy to see them and Kellem knew that this was going to be more difficult than she had originally thought. "My name is Kellem Duivel, Mrs. Summers. I know that you have absolutely no reason to trust me. Why should you? You don't even know me. I pop up in your daughter's life and suddenly she's doing things you never would have imagined. It makes perfect sense that you're worried and suspicious. I can't stop you from worrying, but I can tell you who I am and just what it is your daughter has done." She paused and then leaned back against the counter. "I was born Florence Italy in the year 1786. My mother's name was Genevieve. I don't know who my father was, she never told me."
"I am a Jauda Demon, which sounds fiercer than it is. Outside of strength and a long lifespan, there's not much power within us. My kind is the rarest form of demon in existence. You see, when we're bound to another demon or being of power we become generators for the master," She glanced at Buffy and grinned. "Or the mistress that bound us. We're servants."
Willow made a sound of protest and Kellem shook her head. "I know you don't think of me like that, but stripped to the basics that's what I am. I serve you both because of the bond." She met Joyce eyes. "But I love them both because I choose too." Kellem laughed shortly and shook her head. "That's egotistical. I love them because I can't not love them. They're each too special in their own right. I was lost long before I was bound."
She was looking at Buffy as she spoke the last and Joyce could easily hear the strong emotion in the demon's voice. "I see. But what about Tara? I don't understand."
Buffy grimaced at the thought of the coming explanation but gamely plunged ahead.
Kellem leaned forward and poured herself a cup tea, earning a smile from Giles. None of the Scooby gang seemed to like tea, but Giles had steadfastly continued to prepare it for their meetings in the vague hopes that one day they would realize what they were missing.
She sat back and Willow patted her thigh, whispering, "Good move."
Giles hadn't been too thrilled at first with Willow and Buffy's insistence that Kellem and Tara be included in the meetings, but even he had to admit that having another demon and another witch's knowledge to call on might prove extremely useful.
Kellem responded to Willow's unconscious desire and let her hand drop to the witch's thigh, where it began to move in small circles. Not realizing what she was doing, Tara began to toy with the strands of hair at the back of Willow's neck. The slight sigh of pleasure that escaped Willow went unheard by everyone but Buffy and Kellem.
Forcing herself back to the matter at hand, Buffy willed herself to stop watching her lovers and ignore the tang of desire she could now smell in the air. Time enough for that later.
Xander blinked rapidly and swallowed several times. He opened his mouth but no words would emerge, only a strange gurgling sound. Anya smacked the back of his head and he seemed to recover, but was still unable to form speech.
Willow sighed and pushed Kellem's hand off of her thigh as she reached up to catch Tara's hand in her own. "Down girls. Xander's brain will melt."
Buffy bit back a smile and continued with her report of last night's patrolling. "So it was a pretty tame evening all things considered."
Giles filled his teacup and began to pace around the room. "Have you run into any members on the Initiative?"
Buffy grimaced and shook her head. "Nope. Not a one."
Kellem held up a hand. "Actually I had a little scuffle with them several days ago."
Stopping in front of the window, Giles sipped his tea and studied the group behind him in the window's reflection.
Buffy was not pleased to hear this. "What happened? And why didn't you tell us?" Her voice had altered slightly as her agitation grew and power crept over the room like a vibrant wave.
Kellem straightened, setting her cup on the table. "I'm sorry Mistress. I hadn't realized that you wanted to know."
The room shrank to the two of them as Buffy focused on the demon with barely restrained emotion. "I want to know anything that happens to you."
Kellem nodded slightly, resisting the urge to fall to her knees. "Yes Mistress." The erotic promise in Buffy's eyes almost undid her and she felt her heart begin to thud almost painfully.
The air was filled with sexual tension and Xander was wheezing as Giles cleared his throat. "What, um, what were they doing? The Initiative I mean."
Kellem shook her head, breaking eye contact with difficulty. "Uh what?"
Giles repeated his question and mentally counted to twenty in Sumerian as he felt his body reacting to the situation. Obviously there was a danger of fallout from their bond.
"I was coming out of the library and they jumped me."
Willow was puzzled. "You were in your demon form?"
"Of course not. I had been studying. Oddly enough the librarians frown on blue skinned demons in the building."
Tara giggled as Willow stuck her tongue out and Kellem smiled seductively. "I warned you about that."
"And I thought me and Xander talked about sex a lot."
Anya's snide remark was ignored and Buffy clapped her hands. "Okay people! Back to the point. What happened?"
Kellem shrugged. "I came out and found myself surrounded. We fought a bit and I left them lying on the sidewalk. Alive, but lightly pummeled."
"I wonder how they knew you were a demon?" They discussed possible reasons for a time and then Buffy announced that she was heading out for her nightly rounds.
Kellem held up a hand and whipped a small black book out, thumbing through it. "Um, I have some stuff here on what the Initiative is doing and where ADAM is holed up."
Willow blinked in surprise. "And you were going to share this when?"
"Well you didn't seem to want to know before. I said that the other Buffy told me about some stuff that was going to happen. Did you think I meant who was going to win the Superbowl?"
"Besides Buffy read some of it. I thought she'd filled you in." Kellem flipped to a particular part that had concerned her and focused on Willow. "Apparently in their world healing spells don't work right for some reason." She met Buffy's eyes. "So when your mom got sick there was nothing that could be done."
Buffy paled at the implications. "Mom?"
"I take it you didn't get that far in your reading?" Kellem was quick to reassure her. "Don't worry Buffy. Willow can easily fix the brain tumor before " She trailed off as Buffy leapt forward and grabbed Willow's hand.
Joyce stared at the group that had just burst into her kitchen in amazement. "What's going on?"
Buffy wrapped her arms around her mother and held on for dear life. Joyce returned the embrace, but her confusion was evident. She looked at Giles. "Giles, what is this?"
"Ah, well that's rather difficult to explain."
"Okay, Buffy. Let her go so I can check okay?" Willow placed a comforting hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Could you sit down Joyce? I need to make sure you're all right."
Once seated at the table, Joyce watched closely as Willow drew on her new abilities and laid her glowing hands on the older woman's head. The warm energy sank into her and Joyce closed her eyes at the wonderful feeling. She felt calm and well, the day's tensions had disappeared, leaving her relaxed and content.
Willow found the tiny imperfection and swiftly dealt with it, knowing that left alone, it would grow until it took the woman's life. She slowly withdrew and released Buffy's mom as her legs turned to jello.
She didn't fall though. Tara and Kellem were there to steady her and the demon swept the exhausted witch up into her arms, holding her easily.
"Willow?" Buffy went to her lover's side and reached for her hand, frowning at the cool touch. "Are you okay?"
Willow nodded sleepily. "Uh huh. So's your mom, Buffy. I fixed it."
The tears that escaped from her daughter's eyes alarmed Joyce. "Buffy? Will someone please tell me what's going on?"
Kellem jerked her head towards Giles, Xander and Anya. "You guys tell her. We'll take Scarlet to the couch in the living room."
Giles tugged off his glasses and began to polish them briskly as Xander started rifling through the cabinets for munchies. "Well you see, it all started when Kellem was pulled into a parallel world ."
Xander set the box down in the large living room and looked around curiously. The kitchen was off to the left where Tara was busily unpacking foodstuffs and he could see the dismantled parts of Willow's computer in the room in front of him. Xander walked down the short hallway, passing the bathroom and a small closet. He pushed the last door open and stared at the mammoth four-poster bed that dominated the room.
Kellem dropped a stack of boxes behind him, making him jump. "Something wrong?"
Xander swallowed and glanced at the bed again. "Nothing's wrong, just looking at the uh, view! A nice view of the uh," he looked out the window. "Of the parking lot. Yeah."
Kellem threw an arm around his shoulders and grinned. "Nice isn't it? The uh, view I mean."
He nodded mutely and Kellem leaned closer, whispering, "That's why we chose this place, you know? Had to have a bigger... view."
Willow cleared her throat and Xander sprang away from Kellem as if they had been doing a lot more than standing there. She set her box on the king sized bed and then turned to them, her hands firmly on her hips. She marshaled her sternest look. "Boxes people, boxes!"
Unrepentant, Kellem winked and followed Xander back downstairs. They past Buffy and Giles on the stairs and she debated giving into the urge to goose Giles as they passed.
Buffy noted the twinkle in her lover's eyes and shook her head slightly. "Play nice." Sometimes she was just a little too playful for her own good.
Her disappointment evident, Kellem let the opportunity pass.
Giles waited until she had gone and then looked at Buffy inquiringly. "Problem?"
"Not really. Just a frisky Jauda demon. We're finding out that they really do take after their cousins . a lot."
Giles ignored the sudden flush stealing over his face and started climbing again. Well he'd asked for it.
Kellem smelled Spike before she saw him. The distinctive mix of cigarette smoke and graveyard dust weren't clues in themselves, but added to his horrible taste in cologne, well She waited until they had moved past a couple strolling along the street and then ducked into an alley to wait for him.
Spike smiled evilly and pitched his cigarette away before stepping closer. "Out for a stroll?"
"What do you want Spike? I'm in a hurry."
The smirk that crossed his features irked Kellem and she shook her head as she turned to go. "Fine."
She was unprepared to feel his arms wrap around her, jerking her off her feet. The world tilted wildly and she found herself looking at the ground as Spike gripped her hair, exposing her throat. "It's not nice to walk out during dinner. Especially when you are dinner."
"What are you talking about?"
Spike chuckled "Got it figured, see? I may not be able to snack on the walking happy meals around here, but you're a different sort altogether."
Kellem twisted frantically but the hold he had her in allowed her no leverage. She felt a flash of pain and cursed as the vampire began to drink. Her vision began to cloud and she let herself go limp.
Spike shifted to get a better grip on the now dead weight and that's when Kellem moved. She rolled forward and up, causing Spike to lose his balance and fall to his knees. He looked up as she delivered a brutal kick to his face and sent him flying backwards. She didn't stop, following him as he tried to scramble away, landing blow after blow to his retreating form.
"Hey! Ease up! Can't you take a joke?" Spike protested as she grabbed his booted foot and swung him towards the steel dumpster. He hit the upraised lid and fell inside. Kellem slammed the lid shut and bent the latch so that he could not escape. "Bloody Hell! This reeks!" He shoved on the lid, but it didn't yield. "Hey! Come on! Let me out!"
Kellem could still hear his faint cries as she crossed the street and headed for home.
Whatever greeting Joyce might have made was halted when she saw the wound at the girl's throat and the dark blood staining her clothes. "Buffy!" She closed the door and guided Kellem to the couch. Buffy appeared and a wordless exclamation escaped her.
Kellem smiled, trying to minimize what she knew had to be a gruesome picture. "I'm sorry about this."
Buffy touched her lips, halting her words and making Kellem sigh. "Don't be. What happened?"
Kellem shrugged as Joyce returned with a large medical kit. "I feel silly saying it, but I got jumped by a vamp."
Buffy cleaned the wound with an antiseptic soaked cloth, making the demon wince. "Sorry."
The front door flew open and Willow and Tara entered in similar states of alarm. "Buffy? Is she all right?"
They looked at them in amazement. "How did you know she'd been hurt?"
Willow knelt beside Kellem and cupped her face with her hands, tilting her head so that she could see the wound clearly. "We just knew."
Kellem glanced at Buffy and shrugged. "Don't ask me. This three-way binding thing had some unusual side effects to begin with. Now that we're at four strong it's anybody's guess." She stopped speaking as Willow touched her throat and magik filled the air.
The flesh seemed to flow together like liquid and a moment later there was no trace of the bite. "All better."
"You have got to show me how to do that." Tara smiled shyly.
Kellem chuckled at Willow's words and leaned forward to kiss her lightly. "Thank you, Mistress."
Buffy smiled fondly at them for a moment and then grew serious. "Now, who did this?"
Shifting nervously, Kellem hesitated. "Is it really important? I feel stupid enough for letting my guard down in the first place." The unshakable look on her mistress' face was answer enough. "Um, it was Spike."
"Spike?" Willow's tone was amazed. "But Spike can't do that anymore!"
Kellem let Buffy field that one. "He can't bite humans, Will."
"Oh. I guess he can do that then. But why would he? I mean, besides the whole bloodthirsty killer thing."
"Did I ever mention that Succubae blood could be consumed by vampires? And is considered to be something of a delicacy for them?"
"No, strangely enough that slipped your mind. Anything else you'd care to share?"
"I don't think so." Kellem shrugged slightly. "A lot of things are just automatic. I don't realize that I'm the only one that knows about them until they come up."
The timer on the oven pinged and Joyce was grateful for the interruption. "Why don't we talk over dinner?"
Buffy shoved the stake into Spike's chest, just missing his heart. "Now let's see if you've gotten my point Spike. Kellem is not a numy treat for you, understand? You touch her again and I won't miss next time, got it?"
She jerked the stake out and Spike fell to his knees gasping in pain. "I got it, Slayer." He slowly got to his feet and donned a sneer. "Nobody snacks on the bint but you, right?" Spike groaned as she punched his wound.
"Please remember that the only reason you're not cavorting with the dust bunnies is because of that chip in your head. All I need is a good reason, Spike. And believe me, Kellem is more than good enough." She tossed the bloody stake at his feet and strode out of the crypt.
"God I love it when you go all butch." Kellem fell in behind her as she moved across the cemetery.
Buffy scowled fiercely. "Oh shut up."
"Make me." Kellem danced out of range and called tauntingly, "Big, bad Slayer can't catch me!"
"Oh yeah? Watch me!" She sprinted after the demon and the chase was on.
From her perch on top of a nearby tomb, Willow watched them play and smiled as she returned to her studying. Tara peered anxiously over her shoulder as she read. She had gotten the spell to get her and Willow up here to work. Now they just needed to figure out how to get themselves down again.
Kellem froze as she scented something familiar on the breeze. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Buffy? I think those Initiative guys are around."
Buffy moved closer. "How do you know?"
"I smell gun oil."
"Neat trick. Any idea where?"
"Um, they're probably after the three vamps that just emerged from that crypt."
Buffy watched the trio coming towards them and nodded. "That's a Duh!"
They walked out to meet their foes with a casual stride. "Good evening gentlemen. Care to save us some effort and fall on a picked fence?" Their ferocious snarls answered Buffy's question and Kellem laughed.
"I really do love your job Mistress."
"It's a living." Buffy pulled a crossbow from her pack as she spoke and took out the closest vampire. The other two looked at their fallen friend and then at Buffy who was reloading.
They ran in different directions and Kellem shifted form. "Bet I can bag mine before you get yours."
"Loser buys ice cream?"
Kellem's laugh turned wicked. "And the winner gets to lick it off."
Riley saw the vampire burst from the bushes and charge towards him as he calmly sighted the creature. It leaped at him and then was gone. He blinked slightly and heard something behind him. Riley whirled to face Buffy. "Buffy!" A pile of dust lay at his feet, Buffy's crossbolt having pierced its heart. "I could have handled it."
Buffy shrugged and reloaded the weapon. "I'm sure, but that's what a Slayer does." Her smile was anything but humorous. "We slay." She saw the bruises on his face and one eyebrow rose. "Been wrasseling with the boys?"
Giles, Willow and Tara, now officially known as the leaders of the research team, had been searching for the spell that the other Buffy had used to stop ADAM but until they were ready, Buffy had decided to keep up her normal patrols and pretend that she didn't know where the mechanical nightmare was at.
Riley started to respond but froze as his eyes caught a flash of movement behind Buffy. "Behind you!" He raised his gun as Buffy whirled to see Kellem.
Buffy had no chance to explain before Riley fire two quick shots, sending the demon reeling. "Kellem!" Buffy's leg swept out in a sharp snap kick, sending the gun spinning into the bushes. Riley stared at her in surprise as she hurried to Kellem's side. "You idiot! She's with me."
The sky overhead was crystal clear tonight and the stars were sparkling. Kellem absently pointed this out to Buffy as she knelt beside her, but her lover ignored her weak attempt at humor. "How bad is it?"
Kellem reached up and stuck her finger in one of the holes in her chest, making Buffy wince. "Well I'm not going to die, but it hurts like hell. When did hunting season for Jauda open anyway?" She pulled the blood stained shirt away from the wounds and swore faintly. "Damn, Willow gave me this shirt."
She tried to sit up but Buffy held her down. "No. Lay still. Willow is on her way." She stood up and glared at Riley. "Well that was a wonderful display of testosterone. Want to go kill a harmless animal now?"
Riley stared at Buffy in dismay. "She's a demon!"
"No kidding! What was you're first clue?"
"She took out an entire squad Buffy. She's dangerous."
Buffy realized then that he must have gotten the bruises when they had attacked Kellem. She shoved him back and he went flying. "You were one of the goons that jumped her the other night."
Riley slowly got to his feet. "She's a demon. We catch demons. It's what we do." His tone was mocking and set the Slayer off.
Buffy stared at him, her fury evident. "You stay away from her Riley. Keep the goon squad away from her, understand?"
"I can't promise that."
The air seemed to crackle as Buffy stepped closer. "I don't think you realize what I'm saying. If anyone attacks Kellem again then they'll regret ever laying eyes on her. She's with me. So tell your men to back off and no one will get hurt. Is that clear enough for you?"
Thunder rumbled and Riley could have sworn that the earth trembled as she spoke.
He didn't answer and Buffy resisted the urge to strangle him. Instantly Riley clutched his throat as invisible hands gripped him. As he fell to his knees Buffy managed to rein in her temper and release him from her mental hold. He began to cough wildly, but Buffy felt no desire to aid him. "Serves you right."
"Buffy!" Willow's tone was admonishing. She smiled down at Kellem and quickly placed her hands over the wounds, only to have the demon catch them.
"The bullets are still inside, Mistress."
Willow cringed but nodded. "Okay, then we need to get you home first." She looked at Buffy, ignoring Riley's sputtered questions. We need to go.
Buffy nodded. Willow hadn't spoken but she had heard her clearly. She helped Kellem to her feet and they propped her up between them, beginning the walk back to the apartment.
Riley watched them go, wondering why he suddenly felt afraid.
Buffy looked around and glanced at Willow. "Where's Tara?"
Willow blushed slightly. "Um, there was a little miscalculation in the last spell we tried."
"Is she okay?"
Mumbling under her breath, Willow answered. "Oh yeah, if you ignore the fact that I sort of teleported her back to the apartment."
Buffy settled Kellem on the couch as Willow went in search of Tara. The calm knocking was a good clue to her whereabouts and Willow unlocked the balcony door to let the other witch inside.
Tara grinned at the embarrassed blush staining Willow's cheeks and teased, "You need to work on your aim, Honey."
"Why didn't you open the door yourself?"
Tara shrugged. "And miss the look on your face when you realized just where you had beamed me to?"
Kneeling beside Kellem, Tara held her hands over the first bullet wound and formed a picture of the projectile in her mind. She felt the magik pulling at the metal and slowly it began to move, retracing the path it had torn through Kellem's flesh.
A cry of pain escaped Kellem as the bullet left her and sweat broke out over her body. Buffy immediately gripped the demon's hand and smiled reassuringly. "Almost done."
Kellem laughed shortly. "What is it about me that makes the men in your life want to kill me?"
Buffy pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Green-eyed envy of course."
"Hmm. You owe me ice cream."
With the last bullet removed, Tara moved aside and let Willow do the actual healing. It had turned out that the healing ability that Willow had was not common, but then neither was Tara's manipulation of inanimate objects.
Kellem ran her fingers over the newly healed flesh and smiled. "Thank you Mistress."
Willow didn't blush at the name, much to Kellem's disappointment.
Buffy was frowning thoughtfully at Willow. 'Will? Why is that healing Mom wiped you out, but two bullets holes don't even make break a sweat?"
"Actually I've been wondering about that myself Buffy."
Kellem sighed and shook her head. "Isn't it obvious? It's not the what but the who."
"Okay, that needs go through some kind of filter, Kell so that it comes out in English." Buffy ducked the pillow thrown in her direction.
"I mean that your mom isn't part of our group. I think it takes more to heal an outsider, no matter how serious the injury really is."
Willow agreed absently with the theory and then excused herself to go in search of Tara, who had not returned.
Tara tossed the bloodstained cloths into the washer and stared at the knob until it depressed and the cycle began.
Willow slipped her arms around her and kissed the back of her neck, making the blonde shiver. "And you said you weren't powerful."
Tara turned around and met her lover's eyes, words lying heavy on her tongue but unable to release them.
Seeing the look, Willow rested her forehead against Tara's. "Tell me."
Tara dropped her eyes and spoke softly. "I I want to be yours."
Knowing that there was more to her statement than the obvious, Willow waited.
"I... I'm jealous of Kellem."
"Honey, there's nothing to be jealous of. I love you."
Tara shook her head. "You don't understand Willow. She says you're her Mistress." She blurted out the words. "IwantyoutobemyMistress."
Willow slowed the sentence down and replayed it at normal speed. She wants me to The grin that spread over her face made Tara blush furiously. Willow held her tighter and caught Tara's earlobe between her teeth. She felt the thrilled shudder course through Tara and laughed huskily. "I already am."
There once was a demon that fell
Fleeing the furies of hell.
She slipped through a crack,
And found her way back
To succumb to the triad's sweet spell
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