When the smoke dissipates they are standing in the midst of a beautiful mountain range, an impressive glowing white wall standing high in front of them. The doors were painted red, mammoth and impressive, decorated with gold and silver inlay. Everything about this place spoke of age and importance. Bo marched up to the door and started banging on it and Tamsin was absurdly reminded of the scene from the Wizard of Oz and she halfway expected a little man to open a window in the door and yell at her. Nothing happened though and Tamsin sighed, following after the brunette, and she grabbed her hand to stop Bo from attempting to bang the door down.
"Cool your jets," said Tamsin dryly. "Either they don't hear you or they're ignoring you." She tipped her head back and considered the gates, directing her gaze to the mountain the city was precariously placed upon. They were clearly hidden by some sort of barrier or spell and she didn't know how far it extended. She felt Kenzi come up behind them and she turned to face the other woman. "Anansi," said Tamsin as she considered Kenzi's abilities. "Trick gave you a reading list about the hidden lands, right?" Kenzi nodded her head. "What'd they say about entrance rituals? There's got to be some way in."
"Suddenly I'm not so lame," Kenzi crowed, rocking back on her heels and smirking. "Come," she drawled, waving her hands extravagantly, "tell me again about the usefulness of my living library powers?"
"Shut up," Tamsin snorted, amused despite herself, "and just get us in already."
"Stand back," commanded Kenzi as she stepped around Tamsin and Bo who moved away from the large doors. She paused to stretch from side to side, twisting her body like the beginnings of an aerobics routine, and Tamsin grumbled her irritation while Bo smiled. Kenzi then cleared her throat, pulled back her leg, and kicked the doors hard as she shouted, "Yo! We beg an audience with the guardian to deliver news of an impending conflict. War is upon us, suckers!" Silence and then the door started to slowly creak open. Kenzi smirked triumphantly and turned to face Tamsin and Bo. Jerking her thumb at the doors, she drawled, "History tells the tale, ladies. They might be weirdo freak isolationists but they still want to know to know about the big shit. Like the world maybe getting axed. They're living in it, you know?"
Just a moment later, the smirk disappeared from Kenzi's face as opening doors revealed a small army, all pointing weapons in their direction. "Shit," Tamsin cursed, automatically stepping in front of Bo and Kenzi. "We offer no threat, we seek counsel from Lauren Lewis!" she called, hoping to stave off a potential attack.
The army remained on guard, weapons directed at them, grim expressions on their faces. Then a woman in a silken blue ceremonial dress emerged through their numbers, an inscrutable expression on her features. "Why is that?" she questioned.
"I need her help," said Bo, her expression plaintive and she held up her hands as she approached. "My name's Bo... could you tell her I'm here at least?"
"Bo," the woman echoed and a light of recognition appeared in her eyes. "I am Rada, I stand guard for Shambhala. You will wait here and I will consult with Lauren." With that, the doors slowly closed again, and Tamsin grimaced.
"Great," Tamsin said this sourly, turning to eye Kenzi. "You know what she is, right? A Ghandharva. Fuck," she muttered, staring up at the city, shoving her hands into her pockets. "No wonder nobody's gotten into this place and we won't either, not unless she wants us to." Bo stared at her questioningly and Tamsin looked to Kenzi who rolled her eyes.
"Just because I'm a walking dictionary I have to be Miss Explains A Lot? Unfair," Kenzi complained, huffing slightly. Tamsin shrugged as if to say that's her fault for being an Anansi and Kenzi rolled her eyes. "Ghandharvas are supposed be extinct. They're like a mix of a pied piper and the po po. They claim a place for their own, play wicked awesome music, and then poof! The place and everyone in it is protected. Whatever's hiding this city, she's doing it."
"So she's in charge," Bo surmised with a frown.
"Maybe, maybe not," said Kenzi, flipping her hand from side to side, a thoughtful look on her features. "Everything I read talked about some mystic council of elders or whatever and they were the ones who popped on abandoning the outside world. They considered it too violent and judgmental so they pulled a magical Titanic. Faked this massive flood that supposedly wiped the city out which, you know," Kenzi waved at the city walls, "good job on faking. It's still here."
Kenzi was about to elaborate further when the gates opened again and they had just a moment to take in Lauren's figure before she ran at Bo, embracing her in a hug. Tamsin looked away from them, shifting her weight from foot to foot, then took a step forward when she saw Rada approach. She left Bo to talk with Lauren, not at all interested in watching them interact, and gave the elder fae a questioning look. When Rada dipped her eyes in a concession, Tamsin neared her.
"Tamsin," she said in greeting, holding her hand out to Rada. The other woman took it and gave her a short but firm shake, and Tamsin studied her carefully, trying to read her mood. Rada was indecipherable, she was the picture of calm, but Tamsin knew outsiders were the least welcome thing for those living in a hidden city so that definitely couldn't be her actual mood. "We're not here to expose you, we just need Lauren's help." Rada tilted her head, a silent sign of encouragement and Tamsin frowned, working out how much to reveal to a stranger. "Bo's father is Odin, once the great king of the dark fae. He's trying to influence her for the sake of creating another war."
"Black sorcery," Rada practically spat the word out, her expression hostile. "Shambhala wants nothing of it."
"Neither does Bo," said Tamsin dryly, "but her dad's a problem. He's using his abilities to try and control her. Lauren's pretty much the biggest brainiac when it comes to Bo and her biology. We just want to know if she can find some way to help Bo fight him. One we haven't thought of since our brains aren't nearly as large and in charge." Tamsin was drawn towards Bo, looking at the succubus who was smiling, her hands clasping Lauren's arms as they just emerged from their hug. She was glowing with happiness and Tamsin was pleased to see it. Though a small part of her wished it was because of her. Turning back to Rada, she murmured, "A spell brought us here and another will take us away at sunrise. All we ask is that Bo spends that time in Lauren's company." She would prefer they accompany the brunette inside but Tamsin knew not to ask too much and she didn't think the people here presented any real danger. Besides, if Bo was alone with Lauren in the city, there was more of a chance to keep her in there. Where she would be safe from her father. "We would remain outside if you wished."
"Does Bo ask for sanctuary?" asked Rada, reading Tamsin's mood.
"No," said Tamsin, scowling as she pictured Bo's reaction to that. "She needs it though."
"You would ask sanctuary for her," said Rada wisely, a small smile tugging at her lips. Tamsin's eyes narrowed in response and she dipped her head then Rada turned on her heel and said, "You may accompany her into the sacred city. Those who wish it can depart at sunrise. Else you remain forever within our walls, safe from outside dangers that would give pursuit."
"Thank you," said Tamsin and she walked over to Bo who was still smiling, her contact with Lauren a constant. "They're letting us into the city," she said, nodding her head at Rada and the retreating army. "I say we get moving." Lauren took the lead and Bo is close behind her while Tamsin stayed where she was. When Kenzi is about to pass her, she grabbed onto her wrist and held her in place. Kenzi frowned at her and Tamsin released her arm as she said, "We should leave them alone. I want you with me, scoping this place out. You know more than any of us since you read those books."
"Oh, I read them," Kenzi said in long suffering tones, not sounding at all pleased to admit this. Tamsin imagined since she gained the abilities of an Anansi she was made to read quite a lot by Trick and the others. After all, it was quite a handy thing to have someone who could immediately understand and retain all the information they absorbed. "But why does that mean you and me are automatically field trip partners?" Tamsin didn't reply, she simply started walking through the gates. Kenzi quickly caught up to her and released what the blonde referred to as the holy shit I figured something out gasp then pointed at her. "You're setting them up!" accused Kenzi, her pointing becoming more furious. "You're playing Valkyrie matchmaker!"
"I'm not going to dignify that with a response," said Tamsin in droll tones. She needed to get Kenzi off this topic and she had just the thing to simultaneously distract and annoy her. Lifting an eyebrow, she said, "You meet another Anansi yet? Because you should probably get on that. I'm pretty sure you should be able to absorb information through touch."
"WHAT?" shrieked Kenzi, looking horrified and amazed. Tamsin imagined she was going through all the hours she wasted reading when she could've just felt up the books and been done with it. Kenzi leapt in front of Tamsin as the gates to the city shut with a reverberating boom that shook the ground. She grabbed the Valkyrie by her leather jacket and glared at her. "Who told you that? Trick didn't tell me that! I demand to know who was told!"
"Trick told you he doesn't know a lot about Anansi," Tamsin reminded, removing Kenzi's hands from her jacket. "I asked around, that's all," said Tamsin with a shrug. She didn't see what was the big deal. Helping Kenzi was helping Bo and it was better for everyone if the woman understood her abilities as a fae better. "You should really have Hale find one for you though. I would help you out but my connections are all dark fae and you're playing for the other team."
"Yeah, we're the Red Sox and you're the Yankees," muttered Kenzi, eyeing Tamsin.
They were still walking after Bo and Lauren and Kenzi looked at them for a moment before jogging ahead. Tamsin watched Kenzi talk to Bo and make a few emphatic gestures. Then Bo nodded her head and Lauren took her hand, directing their walk forward but Bo turned to look back at Tamsin, a worried light in her eyes and Tamsin smiled in reassurance. The worry seemed to lift and Bo returned the smile, allowing Lauren lead her away. They walked up the entrance of a nearby building that reminded Tamsin of Thai stilt houses, as it was partially located over a lake, and was supported by tall beams.
"I sent them off, Chuck Woolery for the Dating Game," said Kenzi with a quip and a knowing smile. Tamsin snorted at this and folded her arms across her chest. Kenzi rocked back on her heels and gave an exaggerated shiver. "This place is creepy."
"It reminds me of Bhutan," observed Tamsin, deciding to head towards what looked like a religious temple. She took in the idyllic surroundings, the mass of trees, beautiful blue lake, and the clear sky. People were going about their day, only pausing momentarily to stare at the strangers before returning to their lives. "Everyone seems content."
"It's way too peaceful," said Kenzi with a grimace, shuddering and stepping closer to Tamsin. They were walking shoulder to shoulder now. "It's like they drank the poisoned Kool Aid."
"Have they?" questioned Tamsin and Kenzi blinked in response. "You're Miss Know It All. You tell me. Is this genuine or is something influencing their behavior?"
Kenzi frowned deeply and studied the people with a furtive gaze. Eventually she heaved a sigh and her shoulders slumped as she directed her attention back to Tamsin. "No," she acknowledged rather grumpily. "They're just zen and weird."
"Good," Tamsin said with some relief.
"You want her to stay here, don't you?" asked Kenzi, her eyes narrowed and suspicious. "I won't let you trap Bo here," Kenzi declared, folding her arms across her chest, and walking backwards in front of Tamsin. She poked Tamsin emphatically in the chest and continued, "That's shitty and controlling and uncool and you can't make those decisions for her."
"She's better off here, Kenzi," said Tamsin quietly, trying to repress her anger, knowing she needed Kenzi's help if she had any chance of keeping Bo here with Lauren. "Her father wouldn't be able to get to her. She'd be safe and she'd have Lauren." Kenzi frowned and Tamsin considered her for a moment, thinking of that rather large period of time in between when she left Bo naked in bed and when she saw her at the Dal. She looked at Kenzi with a contemplative stare, well aware she was the person that Bo spoke to everything about. "How much did Bo tell you about me?"
"Enough to let me know you're being a moron," said Kenzi smartly. Tamsin glared at her and Kenzi scoffed, shaking her head and turning her back to Tamsin as she walked. "You're totally projecting past girlfriend issues onto Bo and it's so not cool. I get that you went through some fucked up shit but that shouldn't affect everything you do. Tragic shit is tragic, move past it, Tammers. You need to recognize that Bo is Bo and not your long lost draw my like one of your French girls love."
There was nothing but silence as Kenzi's rant sank in. Once she fully processed what Kenzi said, Tamsin laughed, making Kenzi turn to look at her with wide eyes. Tamsin thought about her right of rebirth and the words she had spoken to Bo in the woods as she tried to explain the nature of Valkyrie reincarnation. You can't rewrite the past, you just have to accept it, move on and maybe try to learn from your fuck ups. Then she told Bo that she would do just that if her fuck ups didn't prevent her from getting the chance. And now here she was, reincarnated, healthy and strong, but it was as Kenzi said. Tragic shit is tragic but she wasn't moving past it. Her sorrow at losing Tomoe and her guilt from contributing to her death continued to torment her and it was only made worse because she wallowed in those feelings. Refusing to let go of them.
If there was one thing that age had taught Tamsin it was that holding onto the bad things in life didn't make you stronger. It only restrained you and kept you from learning and developing into a better person. One that didn't repeat their past mistakes or make new ones that were similar. Maybe she was right to think she wasn't the best choice for Bo but Bo wasn't Tomoe and she needed to stop treating her as such. To stop the incessant worrying that Bo would come under his control because it was affecting how she treated Bo and it influenced the decisions she made concerning the succubus. Bo didn't need to be sheltered and she didn't need protection. She needed someone to believe in her and to back her up and that wasn't what Tamsin was doing. In fact, this was the furthest thing from it and in a way, it made her as bad as Odin.
Removing choice was what he did. Stealing free thought from those he enslaved and free will from those he put under contract and it was a nightmarish existence, serving under him. Nothing in Tamsin's life was worse, save for Tomoe's death, and she would not emulate his behavior in any instance. That meant she had to stop making decisions for Bo about her own life. It was Bo's life to live and her choices to make and all Tamsin should do was be there for her. Nothing more and nothing less would be acceptable. Not if she wanted to try and move past her mistakes and be the Valkyrie her mother had raised.
"You're a bitch but you're right," admitted Tamsin, smirking at Kenzi, already feeling less encumbered.
"I'm a bitch? You're a bitch," Kenzi retorted, shoving Tamsin and laughing. Then her expression became serious and she said, "I'm glad you see it my way because I haven't learned kung fu yet and if you didn't agree with me, I'd have to try and kick your ass. Which would be a problem with the lack of kung fu."
"How about I help you with that when we go home?" offered Tamsin.
She was altogether amused when Kenzi did a victory dance on hearing this. Kenzi then looked to Tamsin with an mischievous light in her eyes as she remarked, "Then we'll have an ultimate bitch fighting contest."
"That's unfair to you. I'd win no contest," said Tamsin simply and Kenzi looked offended at this assertion. "I'm dark, you're light. Of course, you're a miracle-gro fae but no light ever out bitches a dark," said Tamsin, shaking her head in mock sadness and eyeing Kenzi. "You picked the wrong team, kid. You should've gone with us, we would've cultivated your smart mouth."
"I would've gone dark but all the cool kids are light," retorted Kenzi, skipping ahead and entering the temple.
"Sick burn, I'm sure," Tamsin called, rolling her eyes and walking after Kenzi. The moment she stepped inside the temple, she felt an immediate sense of peace fall over her. She reasoned Kenzi felt much the same as she had stopped in her run, standing stock still as she gazed at the colored beams of lights emerging from the windows. The walls were brightly painted, displaying different scenes from legendary stories of fae from the various lands. Tamsin smiled softly when she recognized Akazome in a painting, standing in front of an massive army, and preparing to sing. She wished she had been alive to see that, the mighty army of the greatest khan defeated by the song of a Benzaiten. The sound of footsteps drew her attention away from the painting and she looked to Rada who had just joined them. "Your temple is beautiful."
"It's used to educate our youth," said Rada with a winsome smile, "so they might better understand the outside world. The many good things and the countless ills that would face them." She gestured to the far ceiling, where it remained blank, open for more paintings. "We even include that which happened after our great decision that placed us in hiding."
It took Tamsin a second to recognize the figure portrayed in the newest painting and her eyes got wide as she did. "Bo?" she whispered. Tamsin was amazed to see her depicted but heartened as well because it suited the succubus perfectly. She was deserving to be on this wall, rendered as the hero she was, and Tamsin was glad to see others understood this.
"Lauren spoke of the Garuda's return," explained Rada. "It seemed fitting to include her."
"Holy shit, Bo's on an ancient temple wall, heroing it up graffiti style," said Kenzi, beaming and putting her hands on her hips. She tipped her head to one side and considered Rada for a moment. "Can I ask you something?"
"Certainly," Rada replied, continuing to smile and appearing intrigued with Kenzi.
"What if your kids want to leave someday?" asked Kenzi, frowning and leaning closer to Rada. "You guys are like the fae Amish in here and I was just wondering if there's a Rumspringa or whatever for them? Something that lets them go out and see the big bad world and decide for themselves if they rather be in here or out there."
"We do not have an official ceremony as it were," said Rada, her brown eyes dark and fathomless as she looked at Kenzi. "If one of our youth wishes to leave we would always allow it. Just as we would always allow the return of those we trust."
"Oh," Kenzi blinked, "cool."
"There are methods we employ which protect the sacred city from danger. We are aware of those who merely contemplate our existence so if there was one who would jeopardize it, we would deal with them appropriately." Though Rada's words were gentle and her expression kind, they both recognized an underlining threat in them. One that made Kenzi blanch and Tamsin's gaze go hard as she looked at the elder fae. Noticing this from Tamsin, the other woman smiled at her, and touched her arm. "I mean no harm," soothed Rada, "but one must make their meaning clear if they are to be taken seriously."
"I understand but it doesn't mean I have to like it," said Tamsin quietly.
"Naturally, no one has to like anything," replied Rada, a knowing smile crossing her features. Before Tamsin could reply, someone called Rada's name, and she nodded at them. "I must take my leave," she said as she started to walk away. "The hour grows late and time here passes differently than on the outside. You should return to your companion."
"Okay," muttered Kenzi, sidling up to Tamsin. "Was it just me or was that menacing and freaky?"
"Menacing and freaky," said Tamsin in agreement, a frown remaining on her features. "She's right though, we should get going. We don't want to get stuck in here." When Kenzi flashed a triumphant and pleased smile, Tamsin huffed and said, "I told you before, you're right. It was shitty of me to try and decide things for Bo. I won't do it anymore, I promise."
Kenzi released a thoughtful murmur, looking at Tamsin with a studious gaze, then she hooked her arm in Tamsin's, striding out of the temple and pulling the valkyrie along with her. "You keep agreeing with me and we'll be best fae friends in no time," she proclaimed.
"Joy," Tamsin snorted and Kenzi pouted at her response, making Tamsin chuckle. As they walked, she considered Kenzi. Even as a human she hadn't been afraid to speak her mind. That was a wonderful quality, particularly in the world of the fae where keeping things hidden was par for the course. Tamsin appreciated honesty more than anything and it would be nice to have someone who spoke nothing but in her life again. "What I need is someone to give it to me straight," said Tamsin and when Kenzi chortled, she rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean, asshole. Just tell me the truth, okay?"
"About what?" asked Kenzi soft and curious, her gaze searching and painfully similar to Bo's in this instance.
"Everything," said Tamsin simply, shrugging her shoulders. She smirked at Kenzi and flicked her on the forehead with her index finger, laughing when Kenzi squinted and batted her hand away. "If I'm wrong, tell me so. If I'm being more of a bitch than normal, then tell me that too. Whatever. Just tell me." Tamsin's gaze drifted away from Kenzi, her face introspective as she thought about her time with Tomoe and how she should have listened to the counsel of Akazome and the others in the Clan Minamoto but she refused. Perhaps if she had listened things would have turned out differently. She had paid a dear price for thinking she needed no one's help, that she could fix things on her own, and Kenzi was observant. The woman had a gift for seeing things that others didn't and her perspective was unique but at the same time, she always had what was best at heart. There was no cruel selfishness in her and that was a rarity. "And I'll teach you kung fu," she finished dryly.
"Kung fu is a good payment," said Kenzi with exaggerated wisdom, nodding her head gravely. They were at the stilt house by the lake now and she stopped at the bridge leading to the large wrap around porch. "You've been alone for a long time," her voice was quiet and contemplative as she said this and Tamsin's eyes widened slightly. She didn't respond immediately, looking away from Kenzi to gaze at the beautiful blue lake. Eventually she nodded in concession. Then she found herself wrapped up in a hug, the arms around her warm and comforting with Kenzi's voice in her ear. "It's okay," she murmured, "you have us now." Kenzi quickly pulled away, flashed a bright smile, and punched Tamsin on the shoulder. "Enough with the girly crap! Let's get Bo and blow this freaky hidden Amish fae town. It's giving me the heebie jeebies."
"Sounds good," said Tamsin, smiling at Kenzi and following her into the building, her gaze on the skyline. The sky was growing light and it was as Rada said. Whatever she did to keep the city hidden also changed how time passed in here. It made Tamsin wonder if Shambhala existed in a separate realm from the rest of the world, much like Valhalla.
They entered the building and it was a strange mix of technology and history. The building itself was a traditional Thai stilt house but it was littered with computers and machines from the modern centuries. It left Tamsin curious about Lauren's role in this place. What exactly it is she did for the citizens of Shambhala. She was well respected and cared for, that much was evident, and from what Tamsin could tell she was her own person here. Under no fae's ownership.
"Sunrise is coming," Tamsin said by way of greeting as they approached Bo and Lauren. She kept her gaze steady on Lauren, leaving her expression neutral and professional. The doctor didn't like her and she had every reason feel that way. Tamsin wasn't going to try and convince her otherwise. They would never be friends but they both cared for Bo and they wanted to do right by her, so in that instance Tamsin felt they were on the same side. From the way Lauren's gaze was cautious but holding no hostility, she knew the doctor agreed with her. "Did you find anything?"
"Unfortunately, no," said Lauren, shaking her head and releasing a frustrated sigh. Lauren turned to her collection of computers, her brow furrowed, and a look of annoyance on her features. "Bo's biochemical make up is the same but there are fluctuations in her frontal and temporal lobe activity which, frankly, make me nervous." Lauren stepped up to Tamsin, a frown deeply etched on her features. "Bo told me you've had personal experience with her father's abilities."
"You could say that," Tamsin muttered, releasing a pained burst of laughter.
"Does his influence extend to those areas?" questioned Lauren, a worried light in her eyes. In response, Tamsin looked at her blankly, having no obvious knowledge of what the frontal and temporal lobe controlled. Seeing her confusion, Lauren explained, "It would be things like having no short term memory, shoddy equilibrium, the inability to express emotions properly, having uncontrolled emotional outbursts, judgment loss, poor concentration and planning, and an absence of inhibitions. Have you seen that?"
"Yeah," said Tamsin soft and serious, "I have. It's what he does."
Lauren frowned again and bit her lip lightly, turning to her lab equipment, and Tamsin watched her. She was pouring liquid into vials and arranging them in a small black case. Then she moved over to Bo, handing her the case, her hand lingering on the succubus' and Tamsin could see the love in their eyes. The honest care they had for one another and she smiled at it. This was good, she thought to herself, Bo had Lauren again. Now Tamsin just had to find a way to let Bo keep her.
Tamsin blocked out what Lauren was telling Bo, speaking to her about her father's influence, and if she felt it taking hold to use these dosages to return her brain activity to normal. Instead, she looked to Rada, observing in the far corner with what Tamsin assumed to be the fae elders for the city. She approached them quietly and said, "I would ask a favor."
"Bold as we have not known you long," observed Rada, a quiet humor in her expression.
"It's not for me," said Tamsin and her gaze moved over to Bo and Lauren. When she returned her attention to Rada and the elders, she murmured, "Bo would be safe with you here but she's not somebody who hides from her problems. You said earlier that you allow some people to leave and return. Those that you trust. Is there something Bo could do that would grant her this privilege? That way she could visit Lauren and seek her aid without abandoning the outside world to her father."
The elders exchanged long looks with Rada and then the Ghandharva tilted her head, observing Tamsin quietly. She pushed past the valkyrie and walked over to Lauren. The doctor was pulled away from Bo and the brunette looked confused as Rada questioned Lauren who Tamsin could see was getting more and more excited by Rada's words. It's working, Tamsin thought, and she sighed with relief, giving her thanks to the elders and walking over to Kenzi.
"What did you do?" asked Kenzi in something of a hiss.
"Nothing," Tamsin shrugged and Kenzi looked at her skeptically. "Fine," muttered Tamsin, rolling her eyes. "I asked if there was something Bo could do that would let her come back here and visit Lauren again."
"Dude, you are such a martyr," Kenzi remarked and Tamsin scoffed at this. "Whatever, man. You Jean Valjean up in here all you want. It's just going to make Bo swoon over your ass when she finds out what you did. You know that right?"
"She'll have Lauren," murmured Tamsin, glaring at Kenzi in an attempt to keep her quiet. While she did ask the other woman to speak the truth to her there were times when silence would be appreciated. This was one of them.
"Uh huh," drawled Kenzi, forming a knowing smile.
"Shut up," Tamsin groused, shoving Kenzi, unable to help laughing when Kenzi immediately shoved her back. They only stopped in their makeshift shoving war when Bo approached them, an entirely amused look on her features. "Hey," Tamsin cleared her throat, all too aware of the heat on her cheeks. Why was she embarrassed? This was ridiculous. "What's up?"
"Rada just told me I could swear an oath of fealty and secrecy to Shambhala," said Bo quietly. She tipped her head to one side, a smile curving on her lips, and her brown eyes were dark and oh so knowing. Shit. It hadn't even taken Bo seconds to figure out that she was behind it. "She says it's not like swearing to the light or the dark. All it means is that I can't reveal the secrets of Shambhala, including its location, on punishment of death. If I keep my end of the bargain, I can see Lauren."
"You should do it," said Tamsin evenly, trying to keep any emotions from her expression.
"I should, huh?" asked Bo and her smile grew larger, causing Tamsin to sigh and look away from the brunette. Bo wouldn't allow that though. She stepped closer, her hand soft on Tamsin's cheek, directing her gaze back to the succubus. "I know you did this," her voice was soft and caring and dangerously tender, just like her touch. Tamsin reluctantly met Bo's eyes, her gaze steady, refusing to give anything away. "Thank you," Bo murmured, kissing Tamsin's cheek.
"You're welcome," Tamsin's response was throaty and full of emotion, despite her wishing it otherwise. Bo smiled again at her, it was grateful and loving, and having received it, Tamsin knew she did the right thing.
When she walked away, Kenzi whistled and Tamsin stared at her with a deadpan expression. Then Kenzi leaned into her, resting against the blonde, shoulder to shoulder as she sang out, "Where will she end, this child without a friend?" In response, Tamsin shoved her again and Kenzi laughed, regaining her balance and smiling at the valkyrie. "Seriously though," Kenzi said quietly, turning to Tamsin with a soft look in her eyes. "That was a super cool thing you just did."
"Yeah, well, I have my moments," said Tamsin in a mutter, folding her arms across her chest. She arched an eyebrow at Kenzi then pointed a finger at her. "Don't tell anybody. I have a reputation to maintain."
"I totally will not reveal you're secretly a mushball," Kenzi said solemnly, putting a hand over her heart.
"Bitch," accused Tamsin, though a fond smile formed on her lips.
"Me and you baby," Kenzi drawled, offering up her fist for a bump, which Tamsin laughed at then returned. "Me and you."
"Yeah," Tamsin agreed quietly, glad for the support as she watched Bo with Lauren. The ceremony to swear fealty to Shambhala was a short one but it was filled with meaning and despite whatever problems they might have had Tamsin could see the love between them. Love that would always be there and she had just done something significant to bring it back to them. To bring it back to Bo and though there was a selfish part of her that wished Bo's smiles and laughter right now were for her they were Lauren's. It was for the best, she convinced herself, because whatever Bo wanted she didn't think she had it in her to give anymore. She had been made wary because of all her mistakes and there was a hesitation in her now, a disbelief, that attached itself to all of her relationships. Tamsin couldn't trust herself to love without fear because of how it all went wrong with Tomoe and while she knew it wasn't right to treat Bo as she would Tomoe it didn't stop Tamsin from remaining fearful. From restraining herself out of an innate need for self-protection. She would give what she could to Bo and take whatever she managed to receive but nothing else. Having expectations in love can be a treacherous thing and Tamsin wouldn't have them with Bo anymore. That would keep her sane in this, she was certain of that. Especially as she watched Bo hug Lauren goodbye, their bodies clinging to one another, and looking like the very picture of a perfect couple. "Come on," she muttered, pulling out her lighter in preparation for their exit. "Let's go."
And then, as the sun rose, with a bit of fire and a thick plume of smoke they were gone.
They returned to the Dal and Bo was swept away by Trick and his grandfatherly concern and questions. Tamsin, in the meantime, suppressed a yawn and looked to Kenzi who wasn't bothering to hide her exhaustion. "You need a ride?" asked Tamsin and the other woman nodded sleepily. They said their goodbyes to Bo and Trick who were immersed in a planning session. Tamsin did her level best to avoid Bo's gaze, guiding Kenzi out of the bar, and towards her El Camino.
The reaction she received upon Kenzi seeing the car was as Bo predicted. She squealed with exaggerated joy, hugging the vehicle, then demanding that Tamsin give it a proper restoration, complaining about the rust and cracked paint. Tamsin rolled her eyes and said if Kenzi wanted it painted she could do it herself. This quieted Kenzi down until she got in the car and she vigorously shifted her butt to and fro, sinking into the leather seats and sighing with contentment.
By the time Tamsin arrived at the apartment Kenzi shared with Hale, the smaller woman had fallen asleep. Sighing quietly and arching an eyebrow with amusement, Tamsin gently shook her, waking Kenzi who went into a series of ridiculous hand attacks which Tamsin easily repelled. When she pointed out they were at her house, Kenzi had little reaction and Tamsin felt she had no choice but to take her inside. The apartment unlocked and Kenzi safely inside, she turned to take her leave but Kenzi called out to her, remarking that she looked tired too. Tamsin didn't respond, she was tired, that was more than obvious although not so obvious was her reluctance to return to the shack. She didn't have the energy to deal with Bo right now, to try and figure out her new stance on the succubus and whatever it was they had between them.
Which is why Tamsin was surprised by Kenzi's offer of the guest room. Tamsin didn't reply, she stood in place, wondering if Kenzi had really said what she did. Then Kenzi took her hand and dragged her to the aforementioned room, telling her that the bed was comfortable and the sheets were clean. Tamsin looked to her, a question clear in her eyes and Kenzi waved her off, saying she was besties with Bo but she now she was cool with Tamsin too and Tamsin so needed her space. And awesomely retro or not an El Camino was not the ideal place to crash for nap time.
Her thanks were sincere and Kenzi accepted it with a joke and a smile, telling Tamsin to set her alarm for one o'clock. They were having kung fu lessons when they woke up, she reminded, and Tamsin agreed with a laugh. Staring after Kenzi as she shut the door then removing her clothes before allowing sleep to take her. Feeling at peace for the first time in a long while.
One o'clock arrived and her alarm went off. After fifteen minutes, Tamsin checked the apartment for any signs of an awake Kenzi but all she hears is soft snoring behind a heavy oak door. In no particular rush, she plopped down on the couch and watched television for a half an hour before Kenzi emerged wearing a sports bra and what she assumed are a pair of Hale's sweatpants. Her shoes are flip flops and Tamsin drawled that it's good they won't need shoes. Kenzi scowled in response and demanded they leave for the kung fu lessons and Tamsin shrugged, turning off the tv, then driving them to the gym she and Dyson used on neutral fae territory. Tamsin quickly claimed the boxing ring after going into the locker room and changing into her black workout pants and one of the assortment of tank tops she kept there.
Her shoes removed, Tamsin led Kenzi in a series of stretches, somewhat aware of the more sedentary aspects of Kenzi's life. While she did keep up with Bo in her private investigator business it wasn't like the other woman regularly exercised or even particularly liked physical exertion. The last thing Tamsin wanted was for her to strain herself or pull a muscle during their first lesson. She had learned a few different styles of martial arts during her thousand years in Asia but her favorite was Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. There was a simplicity and a beautiful fluidity to the movements that Tamsin adored and she felt out of all the styles she knew, this would be easiest one to teach Kenzi. Just because it was the one she knew best.
It had been countless years since she bothered to teach anyone and she was rusty. At first, she didn't know where to start, and she focused on her stance. Making sure Kenzi had proper balance and when she complained about boredom, Tamsin went into joint manipulations and throwing techniques. Tamsin wasn't entirely positive that her theory about Anansi absorbing wisdom would work in a sparring session but she thought it had a good chance of succeeding. All the same, she wasn't about to spar with Kenzi on the very first day. She needed to know something about to defending herself or it wouldn't work. So they trained for almost five hours, until Tamsin decided to call it a day, giving the boxing ring over to the people hovering around the sides of it, watching their every move. Kenzi breathed her relief, flopping down on the ring, and Tamsin threatened to carry her over her shoulder if she didn't move, causing her to groan and make a crawling exit.
After a shower and Kenzi expressing her belief she was half dead, Tamsin drove them to her favorite hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. It was nothing more than a kitchen with a counter and one lone table but they had the best cheap eats in the city. Plus it was right next to a bodego that sold the best Mexican beers at super low prices. She went to buy the food and put Kenzi in charge of the all important beer purchase. Tamsin ordered a little of everything so there would be more than enough food for them both and Bo as well. Enough time had passed that Tamsin felt at ease with returning to the shack. Besides it wasn't like they would be alone, Kenzi would be there and she provided a nice buffer that kept Tamsin from feeling completely nervous at the prospect of being in Bo's presence again. There was a lot she had to work out when it came to the succubus, least of which was her own feelings, and she also needed to sort out the role she wanted to play in Bo's life. It required time and more than a bit of bravery on her part but Tamsin would deal with it all.
She had to if she wanted to have any sort of real life again. One where she escaped the trappings of her memories and the regrets of the past. A life that focused on the here and the now, instead of dwelling in what could never be changed. That was her personal goal for the future other than keeping Bo from Odin's clutches. The first step of which surely had to be dealing with Bo instead of forever running from her and the feelings she caused. No matter how strong her desire to flee truly was.
Which is why she schooled her face into a nonchalant expression as they walked into the shack, using this to build up her courage. Kenzi skipped ahead of her, holding the six packs of Bohemia and Negra Modelo, and called out for Bo. The succubus soon appeared, a surprised look emerging on her features as she took in the two large bags of food Tamsin set on the kitchen island. Arching an eyebrow humorously, Tamsin drawled, "We bring gifts of Mexican food and beer."
"I can see that," said Bo, laughing happily and sitting on one of the stools. "What's the occasion?"
Tamsin shrugged and opened the first bag, removing the mole negro and chiles rellenos. "This one got hungry after I kicked her ass for five hours," she remarked, jerking her thumb in Kenzi's direction.
"My bruises have bruises," Kenzi whined, popping the top on a bottle of Bohemia and taking a long swig. "She owed me sustenance, big time." Whatever else she was going to say was cut off when she noticed what Tamsin was removing from the last bag of food. "Fried plantains!" she proclaimed, grabbing it for herself. "You didn't say you got this."
"I also bought flan," said Tamsin in droll tones. Kenzi looked at her with a wide and pleading gaze and Tamsin snorted, handing over the other dessert item. She looked to Bo and said, "There's two of them. You can have the other one."
"Or we could share," Bo suggested, smiling at Tamsin in such a way that it made her chest feel tight on seeing it. Tamsin coughed and nodded her head, concentrating on the food and accepting the beer Kenzi shoved in her direction. "What exactly were you two doing for five hours that gave your bruises bruises?" she asked, hesitant but amused all the same.
"Tammers is teaching me kung fu," said Kenzi simply, eating half of a fried plantain in one bite. "Helping my Anansi self get down with kicking ass and all that. Except it's not nearly as instant awesome as I hoped."
"Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu," Tamsin corrected. "It's a Japanese discipline and kung fu is Chinese." Kenzi rolled her eyes in response and Tamsin continued rather seriously, "And I told you before that it's not safe for me to spar with you if you don't know how to at least defend yourself. You'd get hurt, Kenzi. A lot worse than what happened today." Kenzi grumbled and waved her hand in acknowledgement, digging through the food to retrieve some pork tacos for herself. "Eventually you should find a real sifu or sensei though. I'm not as well versed as other fae in martial arts." The smaller woman looked at her incredulously and Tamsin chuckled. "I'm serious, remember I'm a Valkyrie, and I wasn't born into this sort of thing. I grew up with axes and broadswords, not feints and vital point attacks. I just picked stuff up when I went wandering in Asia. There are fae out there who belong to clans that specialize in martial arts training."
"Kung fu fae," said Kenzi wisely, nodding her head. "That's cool. You'll still teach me though?"
"I will but I only know ten disciplines," said Tamsin, cutting into an enchilada and taking a bite. "There are fae who know hundreds. I'm sure that some of the originators of the different styles are still living." She reached for her beer and took a drink, considering it thoughtfully. "You should talk to Bruce."
"Bruce?" asked Kenzi, frowning slightly as she thought of her large and outwardly intimidating friend. "Why him? He doesn't know this shit, does he? He mostly looks like the punch people into submission type."
"He is," Tamsin laughed, entertained at the thought of Bruce doing flying kicks, "but he's also getting a PhD in Mystical Artifacts of Asia. I gave him leads on the different Asian fae clans and maybe he knows one or two for the light fae in this territory." She shrugged her shoulders and reached for the mole. "Bruce has always been good at finding things out. Once he gets interested in something it's not long before he knows everything about it. He's a research geek. Anyway," she drawled. "You should look into finding some light fae dojos. I'd do it but--"
"You're playing on Team Vader, yeah," Kenzi interrupted and Tamsin gave her a supremely sardonic look at this.
"I'm saying, you would've been better off with us, what with that smart mouth of yours," said Tamsin, smirking.
"No way I'm starring in Romeo & Juliet, light and dark fae version," said Kenzi irritably, digging into the flan, and wiggling in her seat with delight at the taste of it. "I love my man and we are not having ourselves no forbidden love story. It's lame," she paused to study Bo who was looking at them with a mild case of shock. "What's up, bestie? You eat a bad nacho?"
"You two are getting along," said Bo slowly, looking from Tamsin to Kenzi then back again. "When did this happen?"
"Today? I dunno," said Kenzi with a shrug, eyeing Tamsin speculatively. Tamsin knew Kenzi was considering how much to tell Bo and she really didn't want everything laid out here and now. If they were going to talk about her she would prefer it happen while she wasn't in their presence. The smaller woman seemed to understand this and she offered Bo a crooked grin. "All it took was some alone time and a few hours of us punching each other. We're total dude bros like that. Right?"
"Right," Tamsin echoed, her voice raspy and she managed a smile, appreciation clear in her gaze. There was a long moment of silence and Tamsin reflected on everything she learned in the past few days. She hadn't spoken to Trick about Aife yet, telling him what she found out from Mayer. Throughout this entire mess she had gone to Trick first about everything, given him all the necessary information, and left it up to him to decide how much to tell Bo. After talking with Kenzi today, she knew that was a mistake. That was her fear concerning the past rearing its ugly head and it was unfair to Bo. This was her life and Aife was her mother. If anyone should know what she discovered about her it was the succubus. "I know where Aife is."
Bo's eyes grew large and she demanded, "What? Where?"
"No Man's Land," said Tamsin and Bo looked at her in confusion. "It's one of the lawless fae enclaves and it isn't a sanctioned light or dark territory. Bo," she said seriously, looking deep into her brown eyes, "it's worse than Brazenwood. A hundred times worse and from what I hear, she's gathering an army."
"Why are you telling me this?" asked Bo quietly, rising to her feet, clearly agitated. "You know I have to see her. I--"
"I know that," said Tamsin calmly, following after Bo, and after a moment of hesitation she clasped the brunette's shoulders. She ducked her head to look into Bo's eyes and swallowed hard. "I just want you to know what you're getting into with her. It doesn't matter anyway," she elaborated, "no matter how dangerous it is, we need to talk to her. She's the only person I've ever heard of that managed to escape from your father and she can tell us things about him nobody else can."
"Okay," said Bo, speaking more to herself than anyone else, then she took a deep breath and gave Tamsin a shaky smile. "We'll go tomorrow?" she said this more as a statement than a question but Tamsin could see the inquiry in her eyes. The uncertainty that the blonde would truly be with her in this.
"Yeah, tomorrow," replied Tamsin, unable to help herself from cupping Bo's cheek, and returning her smile. It was too much though, too intimate, and too emotional and while she wanted to try and deal with her feelings for Bo honestly from now on it didn't mean they didn't disconcert her. She needed space, however small, and she directed her gaze to Kenzi and raised an eyebrow at the smaller woman. "How about it, short stuff? You up for a field trip to show off your moves?"
"Hells yeah," Kenzi proclaimed, leaping to her feet, and going through some maneuvers Tamsin taught her. All in all it was fairly impressive. At least until she fell on her ass. Tamsin snorted and Bo held back her laughter but that didn't stop Kenzi from glaring at them and holding up her arm, demanding one of them help her up. Tamsin did and when they were eye to eye, she saw that understanding in Kenzi's bright blue gaze. The knowledge she had about Tamsin and her feelings for Bo and there was a reassurance there, a silent statement of I'm here for you if you want it, and it shook her. What she had ever done to deserve being in the company of such good people she didn't know but she would not waste it. She would earn her place among them and do her best to not betray their faith in her. "We'll win it," said Kenzi softly, holding Tamsin's gaze.
"Definitely," Tamsin agreed, keeping her arm clasped with Kenzi's, her attention drawn back to Bo. She was watching them with a smile on her face, delicate and pleased, as if everything was right in this moment and maybe it was. Tamsin wished it would stay that way but there was little chance of that. Not if Bo's father had anything to do with it.
An hour later, the food was gone, along with most of the Mexican beer, and Kenzi had left to purchase half a pharmacy to help with the aches and pains from their training session. Tamsin's back was to Bo as she put the remaining bottles of beer in the convenience store refrigerator. She had just closed the door when she felt the brunette's presence behind her and she turned to look into brown eyes that resounded with kindness. "It was nice of you to help Kenzi," she murmured and Tamsin didn't reply, she kept her features impassive and waited for Bo to reach her conclusion. "Just like it was nice of you to help me in Shambhala. You didn't have to help either of us but you did. Why is that?"
"Evidently I'm the reincarnation of Mother Theresa," said Tamsin in droll tones. Bo disliked this flippant response and immediately frowned causing Tamsin to heave a sigh. "It's not a big deal. I felt like helping so I helped." Tamsin moved around Bo and stood at the other end of the kitchen island. "The light don't have a monopoly on being decent," she muttered peevishly. Tamsin honestly felt like half the surprised reactions she received upon doing something considerate was thanks to her being dark fae. It was honestly starting to irritate her, considering that the light committed just as many injustices as the dark. They just cared about hiding their dirty laundry while the dark didn't give a shit. The brunette was looking at her with that hurt and almost pleading gaze and it pulled at Tamsin's heart. Damn her. Honestly, damn her. "Forget it, okay?"
"No," Bo breathed, approaching Tamsin again, pushing a lock of hair from her eyes. Her hand falling down to lay flat against her cheek. "I don't want to," she continued and Tamsin grimaced. What did Bo want from her, already? She had no idea and it confused and confounded her. Tamsin wanted to try and do what was right by the succubus but she was at a loss. "Lauren wanted me to stay with her there," Bo confessed, watching Tamsin with that oh so knowing gaze. "She said I'd be safe."
"You would be," said Tamsin plainly, staring Bo down, her face impassive. "Odin can't get to you there."
"Was that why you talked to Rada for me?" questioned Bo, tilting her head to one side.
No more lies and deception, she was done with that. It was part of her old life. What she used to survive Odin and to try and protect Tomoe but that was all done. She wanted something new, something unsullied, and she could start by telling the truth, no matter the consequences. "Yeah," said Tamsin quietly, her voice catching on the word. "I wanted you to have a place to go if things got really bad. Somewhere you'd be safe from him. It seemed like a good idea."
"It was," Bo conceded with a sheepish smile, "thank you."
"You're welcome," Tamsin replied and this was becoming all too much. It was overwhelming, the warmth in Bo's voice and the gratitude in her gaze, and she pulled away from the brunette and walked to the fridge. She kept her back to the succubus and removed a beer, drinking half of it in one gulp. "You work things out with the doc?"
"Mostly," said Bo with understated humor and Tamsin turned to her with a questioning gaze. Bo sighed and shrugged her shoulders, leaning on the kitchen island and facing the valkyrie. "It's hard, you know? There's a lot of history."
"History makes things worthwhile," said Tamsin quietly. "Gives you something to fight for."
"And you think I should fight for Lauren?" asked Bo curiously and her brown eyes were watching her closely. Enough that Tamsin felt like she was a petri dish underneath Lauren's microscope. It was unsettling to say the least.
"Fuck if I know," Tamsin blurted out, shrugging her shoulders and finishing off the beer. "If you want her, yeah, fight for her. If you don't then don't fight. I don't know, Bo, it's your love life. You know better than me what you want."
Silence as Bo looked away from her, a look of consternation on her features, then she turned to Tamsin, appearing helplessly lost and a little frustrated. "Sometimes I'm not sure what that is," she confessed.
"You'll figure it out," assured Tamsin, pulling two more beers from the fridge, and sliding one over to Bo as she sat down.
"You sound awfully sure about that," observed Bo, looking skeptical. "How come?"
Opening her beer and taking a long drink, Tamsin weighed the question. After a moment, she said, "It's who you are. You don't second guess yourself. You make your choices, then you deal with them. That's part of who you are and it's good." Tamsin pointed the beer bottle at Bo. "That's what makes you a leader. Having confidence."
"I'm glad somebody feels that way," said Bo humorously, drinking her beer, and looking altogether weary. "Most of the time I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. I just react to things," she murmured, picking at the label on the bottle. "There's a lot I still don't understand about the fae but it's pretty obvious to me when something's wrong. There's so much I'd like to change about how we treat humans and the stupid light and dark divide. I don't know," Bo looked up at Tamsin with a wry expression. "I'm not some sort of fae revolutionary. I just want to live my life the way I want and not have other people interfere."
"I get it," Tamsin said, hopping off the stool and going to lie down on the couch, putting her beer on the floor. Bo soon followed after her, perching on the arm of the couch, looking down at Tamsin. "But you're unaligned and that's not something anyone has tried for nigh on a millennia so you can't expect it to go unnoticed. Plus there's your whole humans are equals and not pets or food philosophy. That's an issue that's been building for centuries. And," she flashed Bo a cheeky grin, "all the baby fae love you."
Bo snorted and squeezed Tamsin's nose, laughing when the blonde scowled and whapped her hand away. "Who says the baby fae love me? I haven't heard about this," she remarked curiously.
"You don't pay attention to shit in fae politics, that's why," retorted Tamsin wisely, trying to ignore how Bo was playing with her hair, turning it in her hands and quietly massaging her scalp. "You're their George Washington. Delivering independence from the dark and light divide. Mostly I think the little assholes want to keep their dating options open."
"Some of them are refusing to pledge because of me?" asked Bo and Tamsin thought she seemed overwhelmed and perhaps a tiny bit pleased to hear this. Tamsin wondered at it, just as she wondered if Bo ever would take an active role in fae politics. Certainly all of the games and back biting would exhaust and irritate her but as she was unaligned she had a chance to play an influential role in the world of both the light and the dark. She could possibly bring about significant changes in how things ran in the future, if she had an actual mind to do so. "Seriously?"
"That's what I hear," said Tamsin quietly.
They fell into a comfortable silence, Tamsin gazing at the ceiling, examining the cracks in the plaster as Bo continued to play with her hair. She wasn't sure how much time had passed when she felt Bo shift from where she was sitting, moving towards the side of the couch, her hips pressed against Tamsin's as she looked down at her. Tamsin raised an eyebrow in question and Bo didn't respond verbally. Instead, she smiled and leaned forward, capturing Tamsin's lips in a lazy kiss. It was languid and relaxed, a calming affirmation of emotion, and it made Tamsin tremble upon receiving it. When Bo pulled away, the smile was still on her features, and her hand cupped Tamsin's cheek, thumb moving in a gentle caress.
There were things she could say, questions she could ask, that would put Bo on the spot and demand to know what it was they were doing. What it was Bo wanted from her but Tamsin didn't voice any of them. She just reached for Bo and pulled her down again, giving her a kiss just as sweet as the one she had received, smiling when she felt Bo moan in response. For so long everything in her life had been controlled. Over hundreds of years she never had a choice in what happened. Her life revolved around trying to undo the damage done to Tomoe and then taking orders from Odin. Spontaneity was nonexistent because there was nothing she truly decided on her own. Not until she met Bo and broke away from his command.
She could press the succubus on what they had between them. What Bo felt for her and whether she was equal to Dyson and Lauren in her heart but she didn't. Ultimately because she didn't really care. It was enough to have this here and now and to feel Bo in her arms, warm and responsive, clearly full of desire for her. This provided a wonderful satisfaction in itself and the future could wait. Expectations would only complicate things and Tamsin was so tired of complications, she just wanted to be happy again, to feel a true joy in her heart and she had that with Bo now.
Why ask for anything more?
Their kisses were becoming more frantic, one leading into another, and Bo pushed Tamsin's shirt over her head, her hands splayed over the blonde's abdomen. "Bedroom," Tamsin murmured against Bo's lips, pushing herself up onto her knees and pulling Bo up after her by the belt loops of her jeans. Bo laughed and put her arms around Tamsin's neck, kissing her as the valkyrie guided them towards her bedroom. Once they were inside, Tamsin sat on the bed with a bounce, grinning at Bo as she quickly removed her bra and shirt then straddled Tamsin's lap. With those breasts in eyesight, the temptation was too great for Tamsin to resist, and she cupped the right breast in her hand while sucking on the left's nipple. Bo's fingers tangled in her hair, encouraging her on and Tamsin's free hand slipped down, unbuttoning the brunette's jeans. She wasn't wearing underwear. Tamsin smirked as she recalled Bo telling her this. "You're so wet," she uttered, her voice thick with lust, and Bo brought her in for another kiss, sucking on her tongue, and stealing her breath away.
"For you," said Bo in a low rasp and Tamsin groaned, hiding her face in the crook of Bo's neck, and moving her hand from Bo's breast to her waist, pulling the succubus flush against her. There wasn't a bit of space between their bodies as Tamsin's fingers entered the other woman, moving in a leisurely stroke as her thumb teased Bo's clit. They were moving in tandem now, Tamsin upward and Bo downward, and Bo reached for her face, drawing it up to meet her gaze. The smile she wore was blinding in its happiness and Tamsin returned it, laughing when Bo kissed her passionately, her hands cupping Tamsin's face as if she was the most precious thing in the world. "Harder," Bo breathed in her ear, "please."
Tamsin swallowed hard and nodded her head, abruptly changing their positions, throwing Bo onto the bed, Tamsin hovering above her. Never once stopping her thrusts and Bo's smile was wild and carefree and it was beautiful. So very beautiful that she felt herself getting tears in her eyes. It had been so long since she had this sort of honest joy where pleasure was freely given and freely gained and nothing was behind it other than honest desire. Drawn forward, Tamsin kissed Bo again, kissed her with all the fierce affection she had for the other woman, her thrusts increasing as she did so. Dimly, she could feel Bo feeding, but it wasn't like before. This wasn't a strong pull of her chi, it was strangely gentle, drawing it from her in such a way that Tamsin shuddered at the sensation. Over time, this alone might have been enough to make her orgasm, but then Bo's hand slipped down between her legs, entering her swiftly and stroking her pussy to match Tamsin's pace.
They were moving together now, half clothed and kissing, and when they climaxed, they did it at practically the same time. It was wonderfully exhausting, enough that when she came, it was all Tamsin could do to roll off of Bo. The succubus, naturally, was no worse for wear and chuckled fondly, sliding down Tamsin's body to remove her jeans and panties before kicking her own pants off. Then she moved next to Tamsin, cuddling up to her, hooking their legs together and resting her head on Tamsin's chest. The valkyrie sighed at this, feeling strangely content, and she kissed the top of Bo's head. Several minutes passed like this, until Bo spoke, breaking the silence.
"You know," Bo said thoughtfully, pulling at the red patchwork comforter, "this isn't so bad. At least it's pretty soft."
"Martha Stewart," said Tamsin wisely, turning a lock of Bo's hair around her finger. "Bitch knows her fabrics." Bo hummed in agreement and Tamsin watched as she examined the contents of her room. "I went weapons shopping," she offered by way of explanation as she saw Bo's gaze land on the plethora of weapons resting in the corner. "I couldn't find halberds," she grumped.
"You really like those, don't you?" asked Bo with a laugh, peering up at Tamsin. The valkyrie scowled at her good naturedly and Bo cooed playfully, kissing Tamsin lightly but it soon lead to deeper kisses, ones that left Bo breathless when she pulled away and questioned, "What's the deal with you and halberds anyway? I've never heard of them before you and Sigrun."
"That's because you're a baby fae," Tamsin retorted and Bo glowered in reply, making the blonde smirk. Bo rested on Tamsin's chest, her chin on top of her arms that were folded over the valkyrie's breasts. It was the posture of someone who felt totally at ease and seeing it made Tamsin's heart clench in her chest. She sighed and tipped her head back to rest against a pillow. "I don't know," she said finally. "Maybe it's because when my mother was training me, that's the type of weapon she used? I just like it better than a sword or a spear. It's more versatile."
"What did your dad use? Axes?" asked Bo curiously.
Tamsin laughed at the idea of this, smiling at Bo and braiding her hair absently. "My dad? No way," she said, amused at the thought. "He was Ellefolket, one of the alder tree people. They're basically the O.G. hippies of the fae. The only time he got in a fight was when it was forced on him and even then tree people don't swing axes." Tamsin squinted as she recalled the Great War and the divide between the fae. Her father had fought then, to defend his land and the fae who resided on it. "Dad used a crossbow in the Great War. I think he burnt it when it was over."
"Your Valkyrie mom married a hippie tree spirit," said Bo, sounding altogether entertained by this idea.
"Yeah," said Tamsin, smiling at Bo and arching an eyebrow as if to say what about it. "I think she liked that he didn't give two shits about fighting. It wasn't like she had to come home and brag about her awesome battles or whatever with him. All he wanted was her. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't a wimp, but protection mattered more than anything else to him. Guarding his family, his land, and all the fae that were camped out on it. That was his thing, same as all the alder tree people."
"He sounds nice," Bo said this almost wistfully and Tamsin frowned, looking at her. It couldn't have been easy, being raised by humans, and then finding birth parents like Aife and Odin. Although her parents had passed eons ago, they were good people who were kind and Tamsin would never wish to replace them. Bo probably couldn't say the same. "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" she asked suddenly, looking at Tamsin with bright and interested eyes.
"Nope," Tamsin's lips popped on the word and she smirked, pushing a lock of hair from Bo's eyes. "Only child, I'm afraid. Valkyries consider each other sisters though. We try to look out for one another, the best that we can." Her expression was dark as she considered how difficult Odin had made that in the past millennia. "Mom died before the Great War and dad lasted up until the Middle Ages. By the time the 11th century rolled around I was the last of Clan Lundr."
In a slow and easy movement, Bo shifted above her, looking down into her eyes. Her gaze was solemn and painfully caring, enough that Tamsin felt her throat close up with emotion on seeing it. Then Bo leaned down, capturing her lips in a detailed kiss that left the valkyrie trembling and clutching to the brunette, leaving not a breath of space between them. Bo settled on top of her, face buried in the crook of Tamsin's neck and she murmured, "You have us now. We'll be your clan."
When was the last time she heard that? From Tomoe, with her dark eyes full of love and understanding, seeing everything Tamsin longed for and vowing to give it to her. She had known how much Tamsin wished to belong, to have people to fight for, to have a true purpose in life and Tomoe granted her this with the Clan Minamoto. And for a time, it had been perfect. Now here was Bo, offering the same thing, although in a different manner but the intent was identical. It was a pure kindness and she would not reject it, not when it was all she wanted, not when she was determined to try and start things over.
"Thanks," Tamsin muttered, holding Bo closer, and kissing the top of her head. They rested in comfortable silence, until Tamsin was drawn by her own curiosity and said, "Tell me about your human parents. What were they like?"
"Normal," said Bo quietly, absently drawing circles on Tamsin's skin. "They were super religious. Pretty much all of our social activities revolved around church. I grew up in a small town, so there wasn't a lot to do." Bo's voice faded and it seemed to Tamsin she didn't want to talk about this and so she didn't ask anything else. Then Bo lifted her head and scrutinized the blonde. "Where did you grow up? Finland?" Bo smiled and bit her bottom lip, wiggling on top of Tamsin and her hands ran up her sides, fingertips trailing lightly over her skin as if to threaten tickling. "Or are you Swedish, like ABBA and IKEA?"
"You're comparing me to a 1970's pop group and cheap furniture," said Tamsin in supremely droll tones. "Awesome."
"You're insulted, you have to be Swedish," said Bo, nodding sagely then grinning.
"I was born before Sweden was a country," Tamsin reminded, pinching Bo's cheek. She chuckled when the succubus scowled and batted her hand away. "Our village was on an island in the Oslofjord, that's an inlent southeast of Norway. When I lived there it didn't have a name. Now it's called Gressholmen and is currently overrun with bunnies."
"Why bunnies?" asked Bo, laughing at this.
"Apparently it's where people dumped their unwanted pets then they started breeding," said Tamsin with a careless shrug. "There's also a nudist beach and an old airport nobody uses," she supplied helpfully and Bo laughed harder at this, making Tamsin smile softly, pleased to incite this reaction. With the smile on her face and happiness lighting her features Bo had never looked so beautiful in Tamsin's opinion. Slightly entranced by this, she kissed Bo softly, lingering on her lips, drawing the sweetness from them and sighing when they parted. She rested her hand gently on Bo's cheek, taking in her beauty as she murmured, "I guess we both grew up in small towns. Only mine was ancient. I fished for fun, what about you?"
"I was all about double dutch in elementary and middle school," said Bo seriously and Tamsin cocked her head to one side, having no idea what that was. "It's a game of jump rope where you have two ropes that turn in opposite directions. We had a team and everything. I won trophies."
"But only in elementary and middle school," Tamsin chuckled and she had a sudden image of a younger Bo sporting pigtails and playing jump rope. It made for an absolutely adorable picture and Tamsin wished she could see photos.
"Competitive jump rope is not a high school thing," said Bo wryly, folding her arms over Tamsin's chest and resting her chin on top of them. "By that age I was all about boys and busy winning Miss Cherry Blossom three times in a row."
"Oh ho, Miss Cherry Blossom," drawled Tamsin, putting on an impressed face, smirking when Bo glared at her. Pulling the succubus closer, she murmured against her lips, "You know we have a fae beauty contest? It's held on Anthemoessa and is judged by Sirens. Maybe you should enter. There's a big cash prize."
"You think I could win?" asked Bo somewhat coyly, kissing Tamsin's neck, and biting her earlobe lightly.
"Succubus," Tamsin drew the word out slowly, kissing Bo, then parting with a satisfied smile. "I have no doubt." Bo smiled and kissed her again, her hands moving down Tamsin's body, learning her curves in a lazy exploration. "You know," Tamsin managed to mutter in between their kisses. "You still owe me a strawberry rhubarb pie."
"Well," said Bo, forming an exaggerated expression of thoughtfulness as she nudged Tamsin's thighs apart. "I could get right on that and we could eat a pie together or," her words trailed off as her hands traced a light path downwards. Bo's touch was both teasing and tantalizing, making Tamsin arch off the bed in hopes of receiving more. Bo smiled and she kissed the side of Tamsin's face, her breath hot in her ear as she continued, "I could eat you."
Tamsin snorted in amusement, capturing Bo's lips in a passionate kiss, and she felt the brunette smile into it and it was wonderful. Having this light and happy feeling in her heart instead of the heavy burden that had been there for centuries. There were troubles ahead, dark days, and inevitable trials to be faced but in this moment, everything was good and Tamsin just wanted to enjoy it. And so, she murmured please, then raised her hips into Bo's mouth when the succubus descended on her, and entwined her fingers in thick brown hair encouraging her on.
If her mother had taught her anything, it was to live for the moment, to treat the present as the most precious thing because there was no certainty of having a tomorrow. She had lost sight of that after Tomoe and she had to get that mentality back. It was what would help secure her happiness, Tamsin was sure of this, just as she was sure that Bo was the cause of it.