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The Distance Between Us

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Tamsin didn't know how much time passed as she stood there, staring after Bo, contemplating the woman who was walking away. You could never ruin me. That's what she said and fuck if that wasn't exactly like Bo. Saying something in that direct and painfully honest way that ripped Tamsin to shreds when she said it because she knew it was the truth. That Bo wasn't playing games with her when she said it and the implications were almost overwhelming. Bo shouldn't feel that way about her, it wasn't good for her, and it was potentially devastating for Tamsin.

Eventually she moved into her room, shoving everything off the ugly blue recliner and sitting down in it, placing one of the cases of beer next to the chair. She stared at the journal in her hands, wanting desperately to read it but almost afraid of what it could possibly contain. "This is stupid," Tamsin muttered to herself, grabbing a beer and drinking half of it in one gulp. Her courage fortified, she opened the journal onto its first page and began reading.

At first it was exactly what Tamsin had seen before. A series of travel guide descriptions of the scenery and Bo complaining about the weather. This went on for a torturously long time and it didn't end until Tamsin is nearly halfway through the journal. Tamsin suspected that Bo thought part of her job was to fill the entire book. Which might explain why she went off on a tirade about the trees in the forest and if they were the same kind of trees she saw back home or some weird magical hybrid. But a hundred pages into the journal, Bo stopped her travel guide summary and admitted she didn't know what else to write. That's when her words took a decidedly different turn. It was from this point, Tamsin suspected, that Bo wanted her to pay attention.

I asked Sigrun about being an observer. If it meant I had to stand around and watch you get hurt and maybe die. That I really couldn't help. Sigrun told me it was. She didn't look sorry about it. She said that it was tradition. That it's how you do it. That's so typical fae. Having stupid old traditions that are cruel but you keep them because they're old. You know, not everything old is good. There's this thing called progress. Maybe the fae should look into that.

You guys still have slaves! It's disgusting, how fae treat humans. You guys. Hah. See, I guess I'm still not used to being fae because I don't even include myself in the group. I wonder if that will ever change. I suppose if another Garuda or my crazy fae family doesn't kill me I could live for a really long time. Long enough where I'm start to act like everyone else. Like fae are so much better than humans because they're old. But I hope I won't ever act that way.

You're pretty old though, right? I remember you talking about Trojan War. Then you said you were born in the Bronze Age. There's no wikipedia here so I don't know when that is but I'm guessing old. A thousand years? Two? I don't know.

Am I supposed to be writing like this? I tried to ask Sigrun what I was supposed to do. This observing is a pretty stupid job if you ask me. I wanted to at least get the writing part right. She was typically vague. What is it with Valkyries and never saying something? Don't get me wrong, you're all honest, but you all hold back. Never tell the complete story. I don't know if it's me or it's you. That you do that with everyone. Anyway. Sigrun said to "transcribe my innermost thoughts of the journey" and I guess I must have looked stupid and she gave me that grin, you know? The one where you feel like a teenager and she's the hot understanding teacher. Then she was like "the journey does not mean the literal trip but of life itself" so yeah.

Maybe that's her way of saying I could write other stuff. Like about you? How I feel about you maybe and that's enough to fill the rest of this book up because you honestly confuse me, Tamsin. More than anyone else has in a really long time.

I didn't want to like you. You made it hard to. I think you tried to do that. I don't know why but I know you did. You're doing the same thing now and you could be dying in there. But I do. Like you.

You try to act so mean with me. Like you don't care but everything you do says the opposite. I don't know why you feel the need to be that way. Except sometimes I feel like you've been hurt very badly. Sort of like what happened to me when I killed Kyle and my human mom called me evil. The look I saw in my eyes when I looked in the mirror back then I can sometimes see in yours now. Like you think you're a monster. A bad person who isn't worthy of love. Because all you do is hurt people.

What did you do that makes you feel that way? Is it because of all the bad things you did because of my father? If it's that, I don't think you should blame yourself so much. I have a good feeling what it is he does to the Valkyries. That once you sign that contract with him, if you refuse his orders bad things happen. I asked them all what he does but they refused to tell me. Brynhild though. She's like you usually. Confident and unafraid but I saw that same fear in her eyes. The one I saw when you told me you had cursed us. What has my father done to you to make you so afraid?

It figures that he would be an awful person. I'm sure he was the one who kept Aife captive. That he tortured her, raped her, and he brings me here to play family reunion. Like I'll forgive him for that. He wouldn't talk about it, you know. What did to her. No one wants to talk about anything I need to know. It's a pattern.

If you're old enough to have been through the Trojan War then I guess you've seen a lot of bad things. Way more than I've ever seen. But I still feel like I could understand you if you'd just let me. If you would just TELL me what is wrong. No one will though. Everyone wants to hide things from me. Sometimes to protect me. Sometimes to trick me. I just want honesty. You usually are honest with me though. It just has to be about anything but yourself and you tell the truth. Why is that?

What don't you want me to know? The real you? Because I've seen that. I've seen it in the times you've helped me, when you were drunk in the tub, and when you couldn't kill me. That's the real you. Not the bitchy front you put on. The real you is hurt and scared and I want to help her. I want to help you if you would just let me. But you have to let me know what's going on. I can't do anything unless you do that, Tamsin.

There is something between us. I'm not stupid enough not to feel it. I know it isn't fair to you. That there's Dyson and Lauren. I shouldn't act a certain way with you. I shouldn't feel anything. Not when I have them. I would blame it on being a succubus but it isn't right. I think even if I wasn't fae I would be like this. I'm sorry. I was selfish, writing this down. I just want you to know I do care for you. I think about you more and more lately and I just feel like you should know that. I don't know what any of this means. Me, you, my father, any of it but I want you to know anyway.

You need to come out of this alive. You need to so I can figure out what it means. So we both can. Because I know you feel something for me too. If you didn't then you wouldn't have defied my father. You would have captured me for him.

Don't die. Not when I finally am seeing the real you. The one you reveal in your actions. You're sarcastic and you're a bitch but you still keep helping me. Maybe I'm dumb but that matters more to me than you being polite. It's more honest somehow. I just wish you would stop pretending not to care. I need you to come back though. You're the only one who knows how my father operates. I didn't lie when I said I don't trust him but when I'm with him...

I can't explain it. He has this weird calming aura. I feel like everything is perfect when I'm with him. That he knows everything and everything he says is right. Is it because he's so old? He made it sound like he's always been around. Is that possible? I don't even think Trick is that old and he looks older than my father.

I've lost control before. Sucked chi from a group of people. Lauren told me about it. I became somebody else. Scary and talking about control and I don't want to be that. I think that's what he wants from me. For me to become some sort of fae overlord that controls things for him while he stays where he is. I don't think he wants to go back home. He seems content here. He just wants to correct things. That's how he said it. "You will correct my mistakes of old, Ysabeau."

Which. Yay. Fantastic. No pressure. No worries. Not like he's a big old evil guy or anything. Sometimes I hate being fae. But if I wasn't fae I wouldn't know all you guys. Trick, Kenzi, Dyson, Lauren, Hale, and you. I know you don't believe me but maybe if you read it you will. You matter to me just as much as everyone else. I'm starting to think maybe more.

You understand. I just feel like that's the truth. Please don't die.

I don't know what's going on with Lauren. I'm sure I've lost her. Kenzi could be in real danger. The same for Trick. And Dyson, I know he has his love back but it isn't the same. We didn't have much time between us when the love was mutual and then it was stolen. He couldn't love me and I had to stop loving him. It feels like I've loved Lauren forever and all I wanted for the longest time was her. Then I finally got her and all these problems kept coming up because of what I am. Part of me believed in those fairy tales. Love conquers all but love can't conquer succubus feeding habits and jealousy. I know how clinical and sciencey Lauren tries to make stuff but it has to hurt her. Me being with other people.

If she was fae it wouldn't matter. I could probably survive off her alone. Except maybe in emergencies. I don't know. I don't know anything about anything. I'm a baby fae. That's what you said, right? It fits.

I asked about you. That's how I found out you were alive. They assumed my questions were because I knew you were in that horrible dungeon. I didn't though. I just wanted to know what hurt you so much. I heard about a friend of yours dying. Acacia. I know her name now that you said it. I remember asking Gudrun about you. How you got into a contract. She actually got pale. All the color came out of her face and she refused to say anything. No one would say anything. The most that I got was Sigrun telling me it wasn't their story to tell. That it was too personal and you gave up too much for them to speak of it.

You come back alive and you tell me your story. I want to hear it. I need to hear it. I know I can't make up for everything that's been done to you. All the horrible things my father made you do but at least I can listen. Because I don't think you've ever talked to anyone about this stuff, have you? If you did you wouldn't look the way you do. All that pain hidden in your eyes. It wouldn't be there. Not nearly so much. Live, Tamsin, and tell me everything, okay? I want to listen.

She was on the final page of the journal and there was just a small bit of space at the end. Tamsin finished her fifth beer while reading and threw it in the ever increasing pile of cans in the corner, trying to keep the tears from her eyes. A small smile curved on her lips as she read the last line of the journal. Amused that Bo had remembered her flippant words before entering the chamber.

Oh! And your ass looks really good in leather. Splendiferous even. I think I spelled that right. If not, sorry.

With that, the journal was done. Tamsin snorted, a light laugh escaping her at Bo's last words, and she set the journal carefully on top of the ugly dresser with rose flowers painted on it. Then she sank back onto the blue recliner and opened another beer. She would get drunk faster if she retrieved some hard liquor but she didn't want to get drunk, she would much rather sit and brood. Beer was excellent for brooding because all it did was get her mildly tipsy at best.

Why did Bo have to be this way? Concerned and caring and willful, refusing to give up once she has her mind made up about something. If she would just let things go... let this go, things would be so much easier for them both. Tamsin could continue her game of pretend, acting as if Bo didn't mean quite so much to her. Ignoring the fact she risked her life and defied the man who controlled every aspect of her existence for over a hundred years. It was foolish to wish that because Bo was who she was and she was a goddamn hero. Straight out of those legendary tales Tamsin had grown up on and all Valkyries loved deep down in their hearts because of what they fucking were. Champions of the heroes and great warriors. They were the ones to deliver them to the glorious afterlife once their battles were won and their lives completed.

People like Bo were exalted by Valkyries and it was as Tamsin had said before. Bo was so much more than a succubus and that was why she was drawn to her. Her bravery and strength of will was unmatched. Even by Tomoe and she still considered a legend. Tamsin just heard about a tv show that had her as a character, that was how influential and celebrated her deeds in battle were. That hundreds of years later, they continued to be seen as relevant, and Tomoe along with them.

No one could ever replace Tomoe in her heart. Tamsin knew that with utmost certainty but Bo was coming agonizingly close. The feelings she had worked so hard to suppress, the admiration and the protectiveness, the compulsion to do all that she could to help her, she had felt all of that with Tomoe. That wasn't all though. There was an undeniable physical attraction that Tamsin couldn't simply attribute to Bo being a succubus. It was too hauntingly familiar for it to be about that. After all, Tomoe wasn't a succubus, she was the furthest thing from it, and her touch made Tamsin feel the same as Bo's did now.

It was all too much. Tamsin never thought she could ever have this again. These sort of feelings, they only come once in a lifetime, don't they? And it could never be like what it was before. She had given herself wholeheartedly over to her feelings for Tomoe, put everything that she was into their relationship, and for a time it was perfection itself. Tomoe was her whole world and she was Tomoe's and while it was wonderful, it was that dependance and attachment, that allowed her to deny what she saw happening in front of her. She loved Tomoe too much. Enough that she couldn't accept the realities of life and death that she had always held close to her heart as a Valkyrie.

The miko had tried to warn her. Tamsin had gone to her before the eve of battle and asked what she saw. How they could best win their campaign and instead of giving her tactics to win the war, the miko spoke of Tomoe's death. Tragic and storied on the field of battle and it would be something out of their legends, that was what the miko told her. That she should be proud of her warrior because her death would win them the war. Tamsin did not hear any of that though. All she heard was that Tomoe would die and this was not something she could accept. She loved her too much, needed her too much, to ever allow her to die and she refused to accept the miko's words as truth.

If she had been in her right mind, if she hadn't loved Tomoe so intensely, she could have thought about it logically. That Tomoe was a far older fae than herself, out living her by a thousand years, and if she had heard the prophecy she would've accepted it calmly. Death comes for us all, she had once said. We must make it beautiful when it does. Beauty in the courage and the conviction with which you face it, that was what she meant, and Tomoe wouldn't have wanted her to try and change her fate. She would've accepted it but Tamsin could never do that and that's why she went to him.

There were whispers of him always and Tamsin knew of the powerful king from the Great War but she had swiftly exited his territory once the fighting was done. Wanting to escape the memories of death and disaster, she spent nearly a millennia in a wandering journey through Asia, and it was in this time that she met Tomoe. Lately though, she heard rumors told that he was seeking the services of Valkyries and in exchange, he would grant them a request. It was more than she could hope that he would possess enough power to keep death from Tomoe but she had to try.

In the dead of night, she slipped from their camp, pausing only taking one last look at Tomoe, as if to sear her image into her mind should this all go wrong. She heard talk that Gudrun was in the area and that she had accepted his employ and so she went to her sister, begging her to bring her to him, so she might request his aid. Gudrun had tried to warn her off, had tried to tell her the price would be too great, but all Tamsin could think of was Tomoe's impending death and her desperation to stop it. That was all that mattered to Tamsin and so Gudrun gave in and brought Tamsin before Odin where she pled her case.

Centuries worth of perspective told Tamsin how eager he was. It was an unheard of deal on his part, a two for one steal, all he had to do was save Tomoe's life and he would possess them both. Because he knew by witnessing the torment that clung to Tamsin like a fine suit of clothing that she would never leave the other woman. That wherever Tomoe went, Tamsin would follow, and Odin knew by striking this deal Tomoe would soon be following him. She made the contract and Tomoe lived and they won the Genko War. All while Tamsin kept her secret from Tomoe, never once letting her know of her predicted death and what Tamsin had done to prevent it. Tomoe would have tried to reverse it if she knew, broken the deal with Odin and accepted her death. Tamsin was certain of this and so she kept her terrible secret and when she brought Tomoe before Odin it was another lie. Saying he was one of her dark fae elders from the homeland and at first, it seemed like nothing.

The way that Tomoe spoke of him with awe was harmless to Tamsin because it was part of her culture. All of the fae in Tomoe's region were raised to hold their elders in such high regard it was to the point that their eldest fae, such as Akazome, were near to being worshipped like gods. And Odin was old, as old as time itself, and Tomoe respected this and she always wanted to learn, to become stronger, and he offered the knowledge on how to do this freely. Yes, it was all very harmless, until one day it wasn't. Until Tomoe started acting in ways that were decidedly alien and cruel.

And still, Tamsin kept her secret. She tried to tell herself everything would be fine. That as long as Tomoe was alive she could fix this, that she could discover the reason behind this change in her and eradicate it. She wasn't the only one to notice the differences in Tomoe. The Clan Minamoto was becoming increasingly concerned with Tomoe's erratic behavior, saying she no longer resembled their most honored warrior, and Tamsin convinced them it was nothing. Lies upon lies, that was all she spoke for five hundred years, until finally she could lie no more. Not when the truth was evident on her face and Akazome was in front of her, eyes full of wisdom and concern, her touch gentle on Tamsin's bruised and bloody cheek.

Valkyries are strong but Watatsumi are stronger. Particularly one that has a Hachiman for a mother and several thousand years of age advantage. It didn't help that Tamsin offered up no real opposition. All she ever wanted, since the first moment she laid eyes on her, was to fight at Tomoe's side, not to find herself the enemy in battle. This left her with little defense against Tomoe's moods when they grew violent as Tamsin would not fight her. She would deal with the mood swings and she would fix this on her own, that was what she told Akazome, begging her to not exile Tomoe. That she would find some solution and return Tomoe to her former self.

Akazome relented and then there was the earthquake.

Thousands of people killed, two thousand of which were fae, and all of them dead because of Tomoe and her Watatsumi abilities. Some of the fae were dark but many more were light and Tomoe had done it at the behest of Odin, who sought to create another Great War, but this time in the Asian territories. The only way to prevent war was to have Tomoe's death delivered at the hands of her clan. They were responsible for her, she was one of them, once their most revered warrior. Except this was not Akazome's responsibility, Tamsin knew all too well that it was hers. Tamsin was the one who had created this awful tragedy and she was the one who would finish it. And so, she went begging to Akazome again, pleading with her to let her be the one who ended it. That she would find the strength to be the one who released Tomoe from this world.

The elder agreed and Tamsin killed the woman she loved. It was no glorious battle. Instead it was an ugly and messy thing. Unworthy of any songs of glory and Tamsin nearly died several times in the attempt and even now, part of Tamsin wished she had died with her. Ultimately though, she won. If there was anything to win in this horrific circumstance. Tomoe was dead, war was averted, and Tamsin found herself in Odin's furious clutches, his rage at losing his best warrior and mightiest pawn was unrivaled and she was made to replace Tomoe.

She rebelled but it proved futile. Her punishment was gruesome death after gruesome death and being reborn into the same torture until she understood she held no power with him. He controlled everything now and she was only meant to obey. This was her punishment for what she had done to Tomoe and their love. She knew that with utmost certainty.

To this day, she doesn't know why Akazome and the Clan Minamoto do not hate her. She took their greatest warrior and transformed her into a monster and she had done it because of her own weakness. Because she couldn't bear to see Tomoe die when she was meant to. Love had made her foolish and reckless and she ruined Tomoe completely. When she died there wasn't a speck of herself left and Tamsin had put that into motion. And now there was Bo and she tried to deny it for so long but she couldn't anymore. Not with Bo's words screaming at her from their home inside that journal. She felt for Bo as she felt for Tomoe and like before, this would lead to nothing but tragedy.

Bo was meant for someone other than her, someone who wasn't weary at heart, who could give her what she needed. Tamsin had her chance for love and she had destroyed it by her own hand. She would not risk a repeat of events.

---

Sleep escaped Tamsin and it's late in the morning when she heard Bo walk into the kitchen. Pushing herself up and out of the ugly blue recliner, she walked over to the doorway, leaning against the frame as she observed the other woman. Bo is rifling through the convenience store refrigerator when Tamsin murmured, "Hey." On hearing her, Bo released a startled yelp, bumping her head on the top of the refrigerator. When she turned to face Tamsin, she wore a scowl on her face and was rubbing her head. Tamsin couldn't help but laugh and arch an eyebrow as she walked into the kitchen. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I think so," Bo grumbled. Then she paused, lowering her hand, and her eyes got that damnable familiar light in them. The one of concern and care, then Bo frowned as she stepped towards Tamsin. "What about you?" she asked. "It looks like you didn't get a lot of sleep."

"I read the journal," said Tamsin in reply, ignoring Bo's question.

"You don't look too happy about that," said Bo, offering a nervous smile that tugged at Tamsin's heart.

"I'm not," Tamsin murmured honestly and she swallowed the lump in her throat at the hurt that flashed in Bo's eyes. This was for the best, she told herself. Bo wasn't hers to want, much less to have. She needed to realize that. "I don't know what you want from me, Bo. Whatever it is, I know I'm not the one who can give it to you." Bo opened her mouth to protest and Tamsin moved closer, taking the brunette's hand in her own, and somehow that simple gesture silenced her companion. "You said you wanted to know me. For me to tell you everything and I will," Tamsin said as she looked off to one side. "You just have to promise me to accept what I tell you. Don't argue with me and try to say it's not how I explain it. Because it is."

"All right," said Bo softly, nodding her head, and she led them over to the couch. "Go ahead, tell me."

Shifting on the couch, Tamsin swallowed again, and she really wished she had brought the case of beer out here with her. That or the bottle of akevitt. Either would be welcome right now. Only she didn't have them. She just had Bo, with her gentle hands and her caring eyes, and Tamsin didn't know where to start. How to begin to explain herself and the past thousand years of her life. Finally, Tamsin decided it was simplest to start with meeting Tomoe.

"I was in love," Tamsin managed to drag the words out, hoarse and anguished from her throat. "Her name was Tomoe Gozen and she was a Watatsumi." When Bo blinked on hearing the second description, Tamsin formed the tiniest of smiles. It was strangely endearing how young Bo was by fae standards. She was practically an ingenue, she knew so little about their world. "A Japanese Water Dragon," Tamsin explained. "It's a very powerful and ancient species of fae. They can call upon the strength of the oceans and create natural disasters if they want. Tomoe never used her abilities like that. She found more honor on the field of war, fighting with her naginata or with bow and arrows."

"Sounds like your kind of gal," said Bo jokingly, offering a hesitant smile.

"Yes," agreed Tamsin, looking away from Bo as she spoke, lost in memories. "I loved her from the moment I saw her."

"Let me guess, in a battle?" asked Bo and though she said this lightly, there was a pain in her eyes and Tamsin wondered at it. Wondered how hearing about Tomoe could possibly damage Bo and there was an explanation that resounded in Tamsin's heart but it was too much to contemplate. It went against what she knew she had to do.

"No," Tamsin shook her head, "she was fishing in a stream just outside the Echigo province. It was a few hundred years before the Genpei War that made her famous. I wasn't doing much of anything those days. Just wandering around Asia but I was always looking for fae older and stronger than me to learn from. Tomoe was the example of that. Even sitting there on a rock, holding that stupid handrod, whistling to herself and fishing for ayu I could sense her strength." Realizing she was getting lost in the minute details, Tamsin shrugged. "I asked her to teach me."

"And then?" prompted Bo curiously.

"We were together," said Tamsin simply and Bo rolled her eyes. It was obvious the brunette wanted more from her. Why she would seek such details was beyond Tamsin's understanding. She said she would tell Bo everything but that didn't include all the priceless moments that formed her existence with Tomoe. Those were for her alone and Tamsin couldn't bear to share them because they only served to remind her of what she had lost. "She was the most esteemed warrior of the Clan Minamoto, a true samurai, and she fought in many campaigns for her people. I was by her side for each one and it was wonderful. I entertained thoughts of joining her clan, to cement our ties, and her elders supported the idea."

Then the Genko War arrived. Tamsin clenched her fists in memory of it. Such a small and simple conflict. Nothing for the legendary Tomoe Gozen. She should've easily conquered their enemies. Only it didn't go as they wished, they stumbled in their opening siege, then the miko arrived and Tamsin went to her, seeking advice on their upcoming battle.

"We were at war and it was going badly," said Tamsin, her voice was gruff and it hitched on the word badly. "I sought predictions from a miko, asking her what to expect. She told me that Tomoe would die and her death would win us the war. I refused to accept it. I demanded she tell me how to prevent it and the miko said I couldn't. That it was Tomoe's time to die, that she had lived for thousands of years bathed in the glory of victory and this was her moment to exit this life and move onto the next." Tamsin shook her head and gave a bitter laugh. "I cursed her and vowed to save Tomoe. I never spoke to her about what I was told, I kept it to myself, and searched for some way to save her. Eventually, I found it in your father."

"He saved her?" asked Bo, clearly confused and Tamsin could understand why, it didn't sound anything like Odin.

"For a price," said Tamsin, a tortured smile curving on her lips. "It was my fault. I was so desperate to save her that I didn't bother to read between the lines nor listen to the subtle warnings my sisters gave me. I contracted myself to him. No longer would I deliver brave warriors to Valhalla, instead I brought them to Odin. Where he changed them, molded them to his will, then released them back into the world to do his bidding. He did the same to Tomoe."

"You couldn't help her?" Bo said this just barely above a whisper, filled with sympathy.

"No," Tamsin shook her head, the weight of her failure heavy on her heart. "I tried but I wasn't strong enough. It was a slow process, his corruption of her, and it wasn't until after the Mito Rebellion that I realized how bad she had become." Her hands clenched again, fingernails digging into the palms of her hands. "She created an earthquake in Taiwan on his orders. Thousands of our kind died and another war seemed eminent. I killed her to prevent it from happening."

Overwhelming silence and Tamsin kept her gaze from Bo, staring at the decrepit walls of this makeshift home, her fingernails starting to draw blood they were cutting so deep. Then she felt soft hands upon her own, prying her fingers back, and Bo was in front of her, with hardly a space in between them, holding Tamsin's hands to her heart. "Stop hurting yourself over this," her voice was a hush but what made Tamsin look up at her was the underlining anger in Bo's words. "It was my father's fault. He did that to her. Not you," Bo lifted her hands, kissing her palms, her gaze entreating.

"I killed her twice, Bo," said Tamsin harshly, yanking her hands from Bo's and standing up. She stared Bo down, her gaze unflinching and devastating. "First by giving her over to him and second by ending her life. I did that to the woman I loved."

"You wanted to save her because you loved her," said Bo, following after Tamsin, her expression almost imploring. "There's nothing wrong with that, Tamsin. You're not a bad person for wanting to keep her alive."

"I ruined her," said Tamsin viciously. "I couldn't bear to let her go when it was her time her to leave and so I destroyed everything she was. She was meant to be remembered as a great and glorious warrior. Instead, she's a monster in the world of the fae. Somebody spoke about only in whispers and used to frighten children."

"You loved her," Bo reiterated, cautiously moving ever closer, reaching for Tamsin once again. Her touch soothing and tender on the valkyrie's features, calming Tamsin with her touch. "And you didn't want her to die. That's a normal feeling."

"Not for a Valkyrie," muttered Tamsin, her head lowered, though she was too weak emotionally and physically to resist when Bo drew her closer. She rested her forehead on Bo's shoulder, squeezing her eyes shut. "We live with death. Embrace it as part of our existence. Only I couldn't do that when it came to her and I threw away all of my principles just to keep her alive." Lifting her head slowly, Tamsin steeled herself, looking at Bo with an unwavering gaze. "I won't do it again."

"I'm not asking you to," said Bo and her eyes went wide in realization.

"You want things," Tamsin accused, pulling away from Bo and starting to pace. "Things I can't give, not anymore. I gave everything I was to Tomoe and it all went wrong. You should have more."

"I can have more," Bo soothed and she reached for the blonde again. In an assured movement, she pulled Tamsin towards her, hands on the Valkyrie's waist, keeping her in place. "So can you."

"No," Tamsin shook her head wildly, trying to escape Bo's hold, "no! You have Dyson and Lauren."

"Tamsin, calm down," said Bo, sending her charms to the other woman, hoping to ease her anxiety. "Just listen--"

Using a burst of strength to break out of Bo's embrace, Tamsin ignored the other woman. "No," she enforced severely, "you listen to me. You wanted answers, I gave them to you. You want help, I'll offer it freely. But that's it. Nothing else."

Silence was heavy in the air and unrelenting. Bo remained still, studying her vigilantly. Tamsin could feel the heat of her gaze burning onto her skin. Tamsin avoided meeting her eyes at all cost and perhaps that's why she didn't perceive movement until it was too late and Bo was already upon her. Her brown eyes filled with fire and determination and her grip firm on Tamsin's hips and her confidence steadfast. In this moment, Bo truly was the image of perfection.

Then she kissed her.

It wasn't like any of the other kisses. This had nothing to do with feeding or hunger other than the desire of one person for another. Tamsin tried to struggle against it, tried to break free, but Bo held on tighter yet, pulling Tamsin flush against her body and suddenly she couldn't fight anymore. Not that she really wanted to, not with Bo kissing her with such practiced concentration, as if she was the only thing that mattered in this world. Their lips moving in a slow symphony with each other and Tamsin gasped when Bo bit her bottom lip, her tongue pressing for entrance, and she allowed it before she could think better of it. This was too much, Tamsin felt very close to being out of control. She was losing all logic and reason because how could anything that felt this good ever be wrong? It was though and she had to make Bo see that.

Which is how Tamsin managed to pull away, breathing hard but she didn't try to flee from Bo's embrace, she allowed the succubus to hold her. Finding uncommon comfort in the warmth of her arms. "This isn't right," Tamsin said in a low utterance, her voice rough in Bo's ear. "I mean it, Bo."

Bo didn't reply, she simply cupped Tamsin's face in her hands, thumbs moving over her cheeks in a gentle caress and then she kissed her again. Kissed her with that accursed tenderness and care that made Tamsin tremble in her arms and moan into her mouth and she hadn't been treated like this in so very long. Like she was something precious and she couldn't find the resilience to stop this. Not when it was what she wanted so fervently in her most hidden of hearts, not when it was all she longed for since she had lost Tomoe. She was weak, dangerously so, and Tamsin knew this assuredly as she felt Bo leading her towards her bedroom, stumbling along the way, their kisses going from one into another as the succubus smoothly removed their clothing.

Lucid thought was quickly becoming something that Tamsin could no longer process. Not with the heat of Bo's hands on her skin, her mouth sweetly devouring her, and her eyes tracing the lines of Tamsin's body as if she was something to be adored. The only thing she could do was surrender and deal with the consequences later. She cared for Bo too much to ever refuse her and the simple truth of the matter was that Tamsin wanted this desperately. It had been so very long since she had anything other than a quick and meaningless fuck. Tamsin had almost forgotten what it was like to long for someone's touch enough that just the thought of them made her wet. Bo did that to her though. Tamsin swallowed back a gasp when the succubus slipped a hand down her panties, teasing her clit, and all Tamsin could do was clutch to Bo harder, pulling her face up as she surrendered to her need and initiated the first kiss since they began this.

There was a smile on Bo's face, Tamsin could feel it as surely as she could feel her laughter reverberating. Tamsin smiled in turn, her hands moving down to squeeze the brunette's ass as they went tumbling onto the bed. Bo was on top of her now, her smile brilliant and beaming when they separated, pushing a lock of hair from Tamsin's eyes, and she was quiet, her gaze soft and sentimental and it seemed to Tamsin as if she wanted to say something. Instead, she just smiled again, murmuring nonsensical words and she kissed Tamsin softly. She moved from her lips to her jaw and her chest, allowing Tamsin to lean back on her elbows so that Bo could remove her bra. Then Bo was moving again, sliding down her body, pulling down her jeans and reaching up to slide her panties off her hips, her touch light and lingering, a mere whisper of a caress. They were both naked, clothing tossed carelessly about the room, their focus solely on one another.

Somehow, Tamsin could sense this wasn't about feeding for Bo, although her eyes had long since changed to blue. The succubus showed no desire for Tamsin's chi, absorbed instead in the power of touch, her hands painting over the canvass that was Tamsin's body and capturing her lips in a demanding kiss. It was so unlike anything Tamsin would have expected from a succubus but it was as she said before. Bo was more than a succubus and she was surely proving that now, her kisses were long and loving, exploring everything that Tamsin had to offer. Her hands slow and searching as they travelled the length of the blonde's body, gently parting her thighs.

They separated for only a moment, Bo's blue eyes glowing, her breath warm on her skin. "Tamsin," Bo breathed her name as if it were a prayer and the valkyrie shivered as she felt Bo's fingers tease her clit. "You have to tell me." Tamsin stared up at her, trying to process these words, attempting to understand precisely what they meant. Then it struck her. Her denial and her warning that this wasn't right only to be immediately followed by her utter surrender. She had been guilty of sending mixed signals more than once in her life and this was certainly no exception. It was now, at her most vulnerable, that Bo wanted an assurance this was truly welcome. That she wanted Bo as Bo wanted her and surely the succubus could see that for herself. She could read auras but perhaps it was something other than that. Perhaps Bo wanted Tamsin to say the words, to say that she wanted her and if she denied Bo, if she kept silent, then Tamsin knew this would go no further. Tamsin swallowed hard, her hand reaching up to lie flat against Bo's cheek and the brunette leaned into her touch. "Please," Bo implored and Tamsin's body clenched with need on hearing her tone, "I won't do anything else unless you say so."

And there was her chance. All she had to do was say the word and this would stop. It would be awkward and awful but it would be over and Tamsin could rebuild the walls she worked so hard on building. She could pretend like none of this really mattered to her and hide everything she felt for the other woman. Whatever happened next was up to her.

Sliding her hand forward, tangling it in Bo's brown hair, Tamsin pulled the succubus down to her. "Fuck me," Tamsin said this in a uneven command, her voice thick with desire. She didn't know what this would mean for the future. If this meant anything at all but Tamsin had wanted Bo from perhaps the very moment she saw her and she would have her. Even if this was all she could get from her then it was more than enough. Bo wasn't moving, she was still, studying her with a frown and Tamsin scowled. She rose up and kissed her hard as she muttered, "Go on."

Bo continued to remain motionless and Tamsin wondered if perhaps it was the brunette who had changed her mind. Then she was moving again, her lips pressed a gentle kiss against Tamsin's cheek as her hands learned the curves and valleys of Tamsin's body, leaving the valkyrie trembling in their wake. "No," Bo whispered, kissing Tamsin tenderly, as if she was something to be cherished. Bo had still not fed and Tamsin wondered at it. Just as she wondered at Bo's leisurely caresses, the way Bo's hands moved over Tamsin's body as if she was trying to memorize it with lips, fingers, and tongue. "Not now," she said, peering up at Tamsin as she slid down the length of her body, nudging her thighs apart. "Not our first time."

Before Tamsin could react to this, Bo's mouth was on her, warm and wet, and so perfectly knowing. Her fingers soon joined her tongue, rubbing her clit as Bo's tongue went ever deeper, and Tamsin's hips jerked off the bed and she dug her fingers into the succubus' hair, encouraging her on. Bo's laughter resounded through the valkyrie's pussy and she shuddered as she felt Bo's fingers pressing for entrance. Her hand flew down, grabbing Bo's wrist, holding it still and Bo peered up at her, eyes glowing blue but there was a calm to them, the hunger was there but it was somehow contained. Yes, Tamsin thought, she was strong. Stronger than anyone that Tamsin had ever met. Tamsin arched her back off the bed, lifting her hips, opening herself wider to Bo and the succubus was immobile, watching her ever so attentively as Tamsin guided her fingers inside.

Sex was many things but it was not often soft and sweet. Not for Tamsin. That was from days long past and with a woman she had loved but she found it happening here again with Bo and it was almost unimaginable. This wasn't something that was meant to happen. It wasn't a gift she was destined to find and yet, she would never refuse it. She would hold onto this fleeting pleasure while it was hers to possess. Her hand cupped Bo's chin and she smiled at her bright and blinding and Bo returned it as Tamsin urged her backwards until Bo was sitting upright. Rising up with her, Tamsin kissed her then she shifted her hips and murmured for Bo to enter her. The brunette was quick to oblige, her thumb teased Tamsin's clit as two fingers thrust inside her, finding an easy rhythm.

"Closer," Tamsin said in a hoarse demand, adjusting her hips, straddling Bo's lap, her hand guiding the succubus again. Her fingers moving with tandem with Bo's, stretching her deliciously, and she smiled, laughing at the sheer joy of it. Such a very long time had gone by without having this. It was almost too much to comprehend, having such a loving touch, one that spoke with silent intent how much she was valued. Bo's voice was husky in her ears, asking her if that was better, if it was good, and Tamsin gasped her concession, tasting the sweat from Bo's neck as she rocked her hips harder. Then a soft but urgent plea for a kiss and Tamsin lifted her head, offering herself up to Bo. She was drowning in this kiss, giving everything she could to the other woman, and making certain Bo would not find her wanting. They separated with a gasp and Tamsin could virtually feel the hunger vibrating off of Bo's skin as she had still not fed. As Bo applied delicious pressure on her clit then sent a wave of her charms through her, Tamsin breathed, "Feed off me."

"No," Bo was resolute as she brought Tamsin to the brink of climax, "not yet."

Why wouldn't she feed? Tamsin didn't understand her logic and it was impossible to figure out with Bo pressed against her, their bodies moving in tandem, and climax on the edge of her awareness. When she came it was an instantaneous release and she sank into Bo's arms, clinging to the other woman, her face buried in the crook of Bo's neck, breathing her in.

They remained like that for who knows how long. Then Bo shifted, adjusting her legs, no longer kneeling and she held Tamsin to her as she sank onto the bed, embracing Tamsin from behind. Their breathing was in sync, Tamsin could feel Bo exhaling as she did, and she didn't know what was next. She did know that Bo was hungry. There was no way she couldn't be. If there was one thing Tamsin was sure of, it was that she could satisfy the hunger reflected in those bright blue eyes.

She turned in Bo's arms, facing her and forming an easy smirk, one that Bo blinked at, and then she kissed her. Long and hard and it was everything she had been holding back. All the passion she felt for the other woman coming loose and she felt Bo's skin heat under her touch. Tamsin had been with succubi and she recognized this reaction all too easily. Bo wanted to feed from her, the hunger was practically burning through her veins, but she had denied herself out of some absurd desire to provide Tamsin with romance. And it had been romantic but it was also useless when it came to satisfying a hungry succubus. Flowers and love songs just didn't do it when it came to silencing that particular beast.

Laughter rang out and she bit on Bo's bottom lip, palming her breast in her hand, and when Bo grinned at her, it was freedom and joy itself. Triumphant power singing in the air and then she fed, drawing deep from Tamsin's chi and the valkyrie moaned, forcing herself to keep her wits as she thumbed Bo's nipples. There was something strangely satisfying about being fed on in this manner and Tamsin always thought it came from the eroticism of knowing your life was sustaining another. That some tiny part of her would help Bo to carry on and for this all to occur during sex, it only added to the pleasure. Tamsin fought to not lose herself to Bo's kiss, shoving Bo's legs apart, and her hand dipped down in between them. She was gratified to find the brunette was soaking wet and when she explored her sex, Bo moaned into her, and her feeding became hungrier yet. That was all it took for Tamsin to make her decision and she entered Bo swiftly, moving with intensity and purpose. This was the opposite of what had gone on before. No tenderness and care was exhibited, instead it was an animalistic display of desire and it was what Tamsin knew that Bo needed. She had to feed and gentleness would only suppress her instinct as feeding was hardly a delicate matter. It was primal and as such, it needed similar circumstances to surround it.

You didn't make love when you fed. You fucked and you fucked fast and furious. Exactly like that stupid movie minus the cars and when Tamsin laughed Bo growled at her, biting her bottom lip, demanding Tamsin's lips return to her. It was too much, Tamsin thought, and she could feel herself drifting, as if she was no longer in control of her own body. This wasn't Bo's power, it was exhaustion from her chi being drained, but she couldn't stop now. Not until Bo came. So she returned Bo's kiss and applied more pressure on Bo's clit as she added a third finger, thrusting ever deeper inside her, fingertips curling upwards. At last, the feeding stopped and she felt the evidence of Bo's climax covering her fingers.

Absently, she heard Bo say her name in that blasted tone of concern and caring. She felt delicate fingers on her face and a light kiss upon her lips before she slipped into unconsciousness. Unaware of the protective arms that held her close.

---

When Tamsin woke, Bo is sleeping, and Tamsin cannot stop herself from staring at her. How Bo had managed this wasn't something she could understand. Over hundreds of years she had built walls around her heart, to protect herself from feelings she knew led to certain ruin, and yet Bo tore them down as if they were made of paper. It was no simple thing to make her feel again and she couldn't understand why Bo would want to do this. There were far better options, people who would not hesitate to proclaim their feelings for her, but here Tamsin was, sharing Bo's bed.

The only comfort Tamsin took was in the fact that Bo was a succubus. True, she was more than her species, but her nature was unequivocal and sex was her nourishment. That meant there was a chance, however small, to deny what this was. To place them back where they were meant to be and save Bo from her own foolishness. Really. It shouldn't be that hard, not when there were better contenders in the forms of Dyson and Lauren. Yes, Tamsin convinced herself, slowly untangling her limbs from Bo's and sliding out of the bed, it would be relatively simple to achieve. She just had to convince Bo that she couldn't care for her the way that she wanted and since that was the truth of the matter, one half of her job was already done. The real work was in making Bo see the truth. The other woman focused too much on what should be and what could be instead of what was and that made her idealistic but it also left her painfully vulnerable and Tamsin had to protect her.

Silently, Tamsin gathered her clothing and disappeared around the corner. She has to leave this place, get ahold of herself and prepare for whatever protests Bo might launch. That couldn't be done here. Tamsin wiped her body down quickly, ridding it of the smell of sex, and pulled together a new outfit. When she's dressed, she stood in her room, ears alert for any signs of movement but there is nothing but the sound of cars from the nearby highway.

This was cowardly, Tamsin was well aware of that, but she knew her limitations. If she stayed here and waited for Bo to wake, they would wind up in the exact same place. Distance was needed for her to collect her wits and ready herself. It was fucking ridiculous, really it was, coming up with strategies to deal with Bo and her insistent need to make Tamsin feel. She was the elder by thousands of years and yet she was the one running from Bo as if she were a threat. As if she were her father.

No, she wasn't him, but Bo was nearly as dangerous. Although in an entirely different manner and Tamsin knew that. So she grabbed her things and shrugged on her leather jacket then headed out the door. All too aware that wherever she went, sooner or later Bo would find her. Tamsin just needed enough time to rebuild her defenses, time to try and deny what happened between them. If she remained here, she would give in because she was weak. Bo had already proven that.

---

There were many places that Tamsin could go. In theory she could've left the territory altogether and perhaps that would've been for the best. Except she wouldn't leave, not as long as she knew that Bo needed her. Her assignment at the 39th Division still hadn't been set up and this meant she was left to her own devices. She drove around several of the dark fae neighborhoods and stopped to visit with a few of her favorite arms dealers. Weaponry was needed and so she purchased a few swords, some guns and ammunition, and even a very nice seax. No halberds though. They didn't appreciate them.

Obviously, they were all fools.

Most of the weapons went in her trunk but she quickly put on the shoulder holster and slid her new Colt into place. It was a military grade tactical pistol and while the fae rarely faced a threat that a gun alone could handle it was strangely reassuring to have the weight of it against her side. Weapons bought and the afternoon growing late, Tamsin drove over to the Dal Riata. There were things she needed to discuss with Trick, suspicions she had when it came to Vex. Certain omissions had been made when she inquired about Evony's displacement that left her wondering if the light fae elder could supply her with answers.

Tamsin hoped that Bo would be absent. Most of her day had been spent in quiet preparation, readying herself for when she would see the succubus again, but part of her thought the effort to be pointless. That there was no possible defense against the warmth in Bo's eyes and the care in her voice, and Tamsin would fall victim to it again and again, by her own choosing. Still, that didn't mean she wouldn't wish to delay her failure, to cling to the hope that she would do what was necessary.

The Dal Riata had a handful of patrons when she entered its doors. Tamsin sat at the bar, waiting for Trick to come to her, and upon his arrival, he wore a wry expression. "Don't you work?" he questioned humorously.

"I'm waiting on my cover," said Tamsin simply. "They're working on something to tell the humans to get my job back and explain my tiny eleven month disappearance." Trick gave a knowing nod then he sat a bottle of vodka in front of her and she formed a small grin and offered a jaunty salute. Customers at the other end of the bar called out to him and he left her briefly. In his absence, she thought about her concerns involving the dark fae. There are things she would never speak to Trick about because of his allegiance to the light but these worries involved Bo and her well being. Something they decidedly agreed upon. He stood in front of her again and there was a question in his gaze. "Trick," she said his name quietly, "what have you heard about Evony? What happened to her when Vex became The Morrigan?"

"I assumed she was killed," said Trick with a frown. "Why?" he questioned, leaning forward. "You think otherwise?"

How much to tell him, that was the question. She had promised to tell him everything about Odin and this did pertain to him. She sighed deeply and murmured, "I don't know. What I do know is that Evony made me Dyson's partner on Odin's order. What I don't know is if he saved her from Vex." Tamsin's expression was grim as she watched Trick's eyes become narrow. The elder fae was clearly upset with her. She understood the reaction all too well.

"Why didn't you tell me this before?" asked Trick harshly.

"Me dark, you light," said Tamsin sardonically, pointing from herself to Trick. "Sorry," she shrugged, "old habits die hard. Also, there's the glaring fact that I don't have any proof they were working together. Just suspicions." Tamsin played her fingers on the bar top like a piano and arched an eyebrow at him. "What can you tell me about Evony? Did anyone see her die?"

Frowning deeply, Trick considered this then replied, "If she was executed no one bore witness to it. Which isn't like the dark fae at all. You tend to want to make examples out of your overthrown leaders, don't you?"

"It teaches a lesson, keeps the underlings in line," said Tamsin in droll tones. "Well," she huffed, "if no one saw the bitch die then she's probably not dead. Which makes me suspect she somehow escaped and Vex is keeping it quiet."

"If he let her live, it would be seen as a sign of weakness," said Trick wisely, his brow furrowed in thought.

"I fucking hate fae politics," Tamsin announced and she reached for the vodka to pour herself a drink. "It's nothing but back stabbing, schemes, and secrets and it goes on for centuries! The humans have nothing on us." Trick snorted in agreement and Tamsin finished her drink as she considered him pensively. Trick, above everyone else, had Bo's best interests at heart. He cared more than anyone because he was her family. In fact, he was the only member of Bo's family who wasn't warped in some way or another. Trick had a warm heart and a sharp mind and Tamsin trusted him to always do what was best for his granddaughter. That was why she cleared her throat, met his questioning gaze, and said, "I slept with Bo."

"Congratulations?" Trick responded slowly and he looked completely nonplussed on hearing this.

"It shouldn't have happened," enforced Tamsin, her eyes dark and serious, trying to get him to see the truth of this. "Bo is emotional, she's a succubus." Trick nodded slightly, understanding the nature of a succubus all too well because of his wife and daughter. "What she needs is something I can't give."

"Tamsin," murmured Trick, his concern obvious on his features and in his voice. "Why are you telling me this?"

"You need to make her understand," said Tamsin in a kind of quiet desperation. "I know she won't listen to me and I can't..." Tamsin trailed off and released a helpless laugh then looked back to the elder fae. "I can't help myself with her."

"What should I make her understand?" questioned Trick, altogether gentle in his inquiry.

"That she has better options," said Tamsin irritably, rolling her eyes. She clenched her jaw and looked away from him, focusing on all the artifacts decorating the bar. Maybe she could find something from the Viking Era this time. "That she has Dyson and Lauren for what she needs and I should be left out of the equation."

"I don't think that will be easy," said Trick with wry humor. "Bo makes her own decisions, Tamsin, and if she wants you--"

"She shouldn't," Tamsin interrupted viciously, staring him down with dark eyes. He looked taken aback at her response and she sighed, dipping her head and staring at the empty glass. Trick smiled softly at her and refilled it as she smiled at him and lifted it in a gesture of respect. "Just try," she pleaded with him and he studied her for a long moment then lowered his head in concession. Tamsin offered him a sad smile and finished off the vodka in one gulp. "Enough with all this relationship shit," she declared as she slammed her glass down on the bar top. Tamsin shook her head and formed a reckless grin. "What about mommy dearest? You get any leads on the Aife front?"

"None," said Trick solemnly. "My daughter is clever and she knows all too well how to hide herself. Wherever she's gone, it's far from the reaches of the light fae." He paused and Tamsin knew he was contemplating how much to tell her. Trick was an elder of the light fae and however much wrong Aife had done she was his daughter and she was of his clan. That meant she was his responsibility. "You might have more luck in making inquiries as to her location," Trick said eventually. "Aife wouldn't be operating in sanctioned fae territories."

"The Bad Lands, Unseen, Purgatory," Tamsin recited one by one and she rolled her eyes, huffing under her breath. "Fantastic," she snarked, "those places are a huge pain in the ass. You know that, right?" Trick didn't respond, he simply stared at her and she snorted at him. He really was an elder. All he had to do was look at you in a certain way and you felt like a toddler being lectured by the school marm. "Fine," she grumbled, "I'll look into it. Any luck with Lauren?"

"Yes," said Trick with a nod. "Of course, I had to call in almost all of my debts. Then trade most of my Rivendell treasure, as Kenzi calls it, but I did manage to gain entrance into Shambhala." He gestured for Tamsin to follow him and they left the bar to his one employee and wandered into his study. Trick closed the door and brought a small wooden box before Tamsin then opened it to reveal two small pouches. "Spells meant to open the gates of the sacred city," he murmured, "the first must burn at moonrise to enter the city and the second at sunrise to exit. If this doesn't occur at these exact times, it won't work."

"In other words, if Bo doesn't burn one of these suckers at sunrise she'll stay in Shambhala forever," said Tamsin thoughtfully, holding a pouch in her hand. Trick frowned at her and she put the pouch back in the box.

"She should leave immediately," said Trick gravely as he put the box down.

"I'll agree with that," said Tamsin, shoving her hands into the pockets of her jeans. She rocked back on her heels and narrowed her eyes at the elder fae. "We got a few hours until then so why don't I do some detecting and try to locate Aife for you? I have some contacts among our less legally inclined dark fae citizens. They could help us out."

"Really," said Trick skeptically, clearly thinking of the unpopularity of the light and of Bo with that sort of dark fae.

"Well," Tamsin drew the word out slowly, forming a wicked grin, "they'd help me anyway. I'm pretty and I punch hard." She walked towards the main bar, stopping at the doorway to look at Trick seriously. "Thanks for listening earlier," she muttered. "It's stupid but I wanted you to know the deal."

"Did you ever stop to think you're not nearly as bad for Bo as you think?" asked Trick earnestly.

She eyed him dubiously then snorted in disbelief, giving a small shake of her head. "Right," she drawled, "what's with this family anyway? I tell you something and all you do is argue. Don't you think I know myself after a few thousand years?"

"Perhaps we see something in you that you can't," Trick replied evenly and Tamsin tried to look away from him but she couldn't. His gaze was too old and filled with too much wisdom that she couldn't help but be thrown by what he said. Rarely did Tamsin think the words of a fae elder to be anything but intelligent and this was no exception.

"Maybe that's true," Tamsin allowed in a respectful but frustrated tone, "but that doesn't change what I want. I think that should matter a little bit, don't you? Just do me a favor and keep that in mind when you talk to her." Tamsin headed out the door of the bar and she moved fast enough that she almost didn't hear his reply. Almost. But she did and it unsettled her, as did most of the things Trick and Bo said because she never failed to recognize the honesty behind their words.

"I will but you deserve better."

---

There were only a handful of people that came to mind when Tamsin thought of the dark fae criminal world. It wasn't to say that the dark fae didn't have a plentiful criminal element. They certainly had that but there were only a few key players. Fae who had been around long enough to build criminal empires that Don Corleone would've been envious of if he actually existed. These were the people that Tamsin knew she had to speak to because they were the ones who knew everything about anything remotely dangerous. Which meant they probably knew something about Aife.

Mayer's place is the same as she remembered it and the old man sat at his usual table when she arrived. He smirked at her as she approached and offered a knowing smile. "You reconsider marrying one of my boys yet?" Mayer demanded.

"Unlikely," Tamsin retorted, pulling back a chair and sitting at his table. "They're not my type."

"I never have figured out what your type is," said Mayer thoughtfully. After a moment, he tilted his head to one side and leaned towards her. "Maybe you'd rather be engaged to my niece? Cassie likes you."

"Cassie has a short attention span, even for an oracle," said Tamsin in droll tones. Mayer shrugged and sank in his chair, considering her with a lidded gaze. "Can we speak?" Tamsin questioned and her eyes flicked over to his omni present family members who hovered around them. "In private, if possible."

"Scram," said Mayer loudly, not bothering to look at his various relatives, many of which grumbled in protest as they left. He offered Tamsin a sly smile and remarked, "Family. They're a pain in the ass."

"I wouldn't know," said Tamsin humorously and Mayer snorted. When their area of the restaurant was empty, Tamsin crossed her legs and murmured, "I need information."

"Oh? Is that so?" asked Mayer, lifting an eyebrow in speculation. "Then I need payment."

"I won't marry one of your sons," said Tamsin dryly, a smirk forming on her features.

"Ehhh, not that!" Mayer waved her off. "I never thought you'd do that anyway. I just like tormenting them with the possibility because they'd jump at the chance. The idiots don't realize they haven't got a shot in hell."

"You're such a good father," said Tamsin humorously, picking up some chopsticks and playing with them. "If you don't want to hitch me up with a shotgun wedding for payment then what do you want?"

"I hear you're returning to the cop shop," said Mayer, looking at her with a knowing glint in his eyes.

"That's right," said Tamsin slowly. "Why?"

"I figure you owe me a favor," said Mayer, smiling at her widely, leaning back in his chair. "Police officer to criminal."

Tamsin narrowed her eyes and considered his words. He was a bookie and he was something of a gangster but he wasn't nearly as bad as he was in the early 1900's when he was practically a crime lord in this area. If Mayer asked her for anything it would most likely be information to beat whatever rap he was being pinned with. That was his usual m.o. anyway and she couldn't really see any harm in helping him with that. Mayer was innocuous in terms of being a dark fae criminal. He made money and he kept people afraid of the dark but he wasn't a monster. There was a logic to his actions and he could always be reasoned with. Especially for the right price. Which is why Tamsin was dealing with him now.

"Fine," said Tamsin shortly. "You've got a favor." Mayer grinned at her and Tamsin rolled her eyes. "You were here for Evony's downfall," she began carefully. "What do you think about the changes made in her absence?"

"The Council of Six," Mayer murmured and Tamsin nodded her head. "It'll be nice to have them back. Easier to get things settled with them around seeing as The Morrigan never makes time to deal with the petty bullshit like blood feuds." He took a fortune cookie in his hand, snapping it open and eating a small piece. "I'll be attending the open council session. As far as Vex," he shrugged and ate another bite of the fortune cookie. "Haven't seen enough of him as The Morrigan to have an opinion yet." Mayer continued to eat with an introspective look on his face then he pointed a finger at her. "Let me ask you a question," he began in sharp and altogether knowing tones. "What's this I hear about your old boss making moves?"

"How much do you know?" responded Tamsin, unwilling to reveal more than she had to about Bo's connection to Odin.

"I know it's all tied up in the unaligned succubus," Mayer said and he popped the last of the cookie into his mouth. When Tamsin frowned at him, he chuckled and raised an eyebrow. "What? You think I don't know this shit? I was around when we tossed Odin out on his ass and I remember his obsession with Aife all too well." He turned to the next table and reached for a bottle of chajiu, pouring himself a drink in a teacup. "He tortured her." Mayer drank from the cup and looked off to one side as Tamsin watched him, studying the planes of his craggy face. It seemed as if he was lost in the memories and she could understand that all too well as it happened to her too often these days. "Odin is a nasty piece of work. Him and Evony. They earned the title dark fae. Aife was our enemy, she killed Gilleas after we'd made peace with those light bastards, but I don't think that merited the treatment she got." Mayer shook his head and poured another drink for himself. "Killing is one thing, it's clean and fast. You do it then it's over. What he did was far worse." He lifted the tea cup and stared Tamsin in the eyes. "I still wonder how Aife survived. Maybe she didn't," he mused. He tapped the side of his head and wore a crooked grin, his dark eyes flashing. "Up here anyway."

"I think Evony is working with Odin," Tamsin offered and Mayer hummed at this observation. "No one has been able to provide me with a single witness to her death. Which strikes me as odd seeing as we like to make a show out of executing our overthrown leaders." Tamsin placed the chopsticks on the table and drawled, "And it isn't like she was popular. A lot of people would've paid to see her head on a block and I can't see Vex denying his constituents that pleasure."

"You think she escaped," said Mayer and when Tamsin nodded, he shook his head and chuckled. "If she did, it'd be something he'd hush up quick. As long as she's alive his claim to The Morrigan is in danger. Evony loves a bloody revolt. The French Revolution was her favorite party as I recall." He ran his fingers over the porcelain bottle of alcohol and studied Tamsin with a veiled expression. "What information do you want?"

"I need to find Aife," said Tamsin bluntly. "Have you heard anything about her whereabouts?"

"You really believe she'd be able to help?" asked Mayer and his expression was cynical. "He drove her insane over the centuries and even Dagan's banishment didn't manage to keep him from snatching her up from our dungeons."

"Aife escaped him, that alone makes her worth speaking to," said Tamsin simply. "So," she intoned dangerously, "what have you heard?"

"Nothing much," said Mayer reluctantly. "Just whispers that she's operating outside our territory."

"The lawless fae enclaves," Tamsin muttered with a good degree of disgust. It was just as Trick had suggested. Tamsin had visited several of these places throughout her long life and none of them had been remotely pleasant. They were where the exiled went to hide and the worst criminal elements of fae society ran their illegal operations. If Aife was there then it would be no easy task getting to her. "Which one?"

"No Man's Land," Mayer offered and when Tamsin grimaced, he chuckled. "Word is she's gathering an army." When Tamsin nodded her head and rose to her feet, Mayer grinned at her and tossed a fortune cookie her way. Tamsin easily caught it as he said, "Nobody knows what she's planning. No one there is willing to fuck with her and risk getting enthralled."

"Thanks," murmured Tamsin, turning on her heel to head out of the restaurant.

"Open the cookie," Mayer called to her as she walked towards the door. "You might like your fortune." Tamsin didn't respond, she just waved her hand in agreement, her eyes staying forward. "Don't forget, my marriage offers always stand!" She gave a humorous snort at this and let the door bang shut behind her, eyes falling to the cookie in her hand. She considered it for a moment then snapped it in half and smoothed out the small paper fortune.

Conquer your fears or they will conquer you.

Tamsin stared at the words and it almost was like they were mocking her. A scowl formed on her face and she crumpled the paper in her hands then tossed it to the ground. She walked to her car, well aware of the sun lowering in the sky. Soon it would be time for Bo to leave for Shambhala and she needed to be there. There were questions she had that needed answers and she knew she could only get them in the storied land.

The drive to the Dal Riata is a relatively short one and it's minutes before moonrise when she arrived. Trick isn't manning the bar and Tamsin can only assume he's in his study with the rest of the group. She is about to go in that direction when a warm hand clutched at her wrist. Tamsin recognized Bo's touch in an instant and she took in a deep breath then turned to face Bo. "Succubus," she greeted, doing her level best to keep her voice steady and without any inflection.

"You left without saying goodbye," said Bo and while her tone was eerily serene there was an accusing look in her eyes. She also had that infuriatingly shrewd gaze. The one she got when she searched for something she knew was hidden. "Why?"

"I had appointments," said Tamsin. She smirked and played up her best cavalier attitude. "Places to go, people to see." Bo frowned at this and that damnable inquisitive look was still there. The surface never satisfied the brunette, there was always more to know, more to see, and Tamsin would've hated that about her if it didn't make Bo so compelling. "I came back," she said and she gentled her voice with the hope this would get Bo to ease off. Bo blinked at this then she smiled softly and her hand lifted to cup Tamsin's cheek. Part of the valkyrie wanted to lean into her touch like this was some fucking romance novel but it wasn't. This was real life and they had shit to do and she had plans to set into motion. Plans that would keep Bo safe. "Come on," she murmured, taking Bo's hand in her own. "It's getting close to moonrise. We need to get going."

"We?" Bo echoed and those brown eyes were on her, examining her features, studying her with a muted affection. It made Tamsin pause to swallow and she didn't reply verbally. She just nodded her head and smiled again. Bo's face lit up at this and the smile she wore was the brightest one yet, making Tamsin's heart skip a beat, and she hated herself for what she was going to do. Despite thinking it necessary. "All right, let's go. The three of us have a smelly mystic pouch to burn."

"What?" asked Tamsin, allowing Bo to pull her into Trick's study. "Who else is coming?"

"Kenzi insisted," responded Bo, tossing a look over her shoulder. "To quote: if I don't what's the point of I'm turning fae, I think I'm turning fae, I really think so?"

"I hate that song," said Tamsin and she scrunched up her nose on hearing the modified lyrics. Bo laughed and hooked her arm in Tamsin's, leaning into her as they entered Trick's study. Upon seeing Dyson, Tamsin's instinct was to shrug Bo off but the brunette had a firm grip on her arm and unless Tamsin wanted to flip her, she wouldn't be budging. So she met her partner's eyes and offered a weak smile, apologetic in nature, and he grinned in response, appearing amused. Of course he wouldn't be mad, she grumbled internally. Watching her feel awkward was too entertaining for that. Resigned to the reality of Bo hanging onto her, Tamsin directed her attention to Trick. "Is it moonrise? Can we do this thing already?"

"Almost," said Trick, studying his wristwatch. "You need to stand together." When no one immediately moved, he sighed heavily and enforced, "Now." Tamsin used this opportunity to free herself from Bo's grasp and stepped behind Kenzi, using the tinier woman as a barrier of sorts. Bo didn't react to this, she just smiled brightly and looked at Tamsin as if she were something incredibly adorable. It was a response that made Tamsin feel absurdly insulted and she scowled deeply. Though it didn't keep her from continuing to use Kenzi as a makeshift living shield. Trick untied the pouch, walked around them, and sprinkled the contents onto the floor. Once a complete circle was created, he checked his watch again, then seeming satisfied, swiftly lit a match and set it on fire. The flames that burst upwards were strangely controlled and as a thick plume of smoke filled the air, Trick started to speak. "Three seek entrance to Shambhala, wise gatekeeper, grant them passage and safe travel. Moonrise to sunrise, the deal has been struck, a vow pledged upon your sacred walls for a price."

The words said and the promise sealed, smoke enveloped them. Tamsin felt the familiar pull that signaled departing one realm and entering another. She had no idea what awaited them in the lost city but whatever occurred, it would be for Bo's protection, and Tamsin would not allow anyone to stop her. Not even Bo herself.