The sky was getting dark when Buffy and Angel's horses came into sight. They trotted towards the lake to tie their horses and then walked to Giles, Tara and Willow, completely oblivious of what had happened. Angel was covered in full-armor, helmet and all, effectively protecting him from the sun, but it felt like being shut inside a tin can. With Buffy's help, he pulled off the helmet and threw it on the grass. Then, they did the same with the heavy breastplate -which sunk on the ground- and then the rest of the armor.
"Wow, there's smoke coming out of it," Buffy said, dropping pieces of armor and blowing on her fingers "And it burns."
"Imagine if I didn't have the armor," the vampire panted "It would've been hell, instead of only an oven."
He grinned at his own joke, and wiped his sweaty forehead and black hair. He was completely dressed in black so that, if she hadn't known better, Willow would've thought him a priest. When all the armor had been stripped off and there was no more smoke coming out of his clothes, Angel went to them.
"Tara, it's been a long time," he said, with a soft voice.
"Hi, Angel. This is Willow, I'm guessing Buffy has explained..."
"Yes, she has. Willow, I'm pleased to meet you, and to help you stop this battle."
The redhead just gulped and nodded shyly, and waited a second before shaking his extended hand. It was the first time she touched a vampire, and certainly the first time she met one politely, like a normal person. This vampire Angel even managed to look more civilized than most of the human men Willow knew. His hand felt a little cold, but that was about it. No ugliness, no nastiness, no fang-y teeth or bulgy forehead.
After shaking Willow's hand, Angel faced Giles and gave something similar to a little bow of the head. The Watcher's face was very serious now, as he examined Angel like an Inquisition official.
"Sir..." the vampire whispered, bowing his head further.
Everyone seemed to know what was going on except Willow, who made a mental note to ask Tara later. Giles' frown deepened for a second, but then seemed to let it go. He told the newcomers to sit down, that there were things to discuss.
"I've explained everything to Angel," Buffy said, looking at Giles uneasily.
"Good" the man didn't look at the vampire "I presume you've told him more than you've told me."
"Huh? What are you talking about?" the Slayer frowned.
"You certainly did not inform me that these two ladies here were involved."
"Why should I? Isn't that their personal stuff?"
"Giles..." Tara said, warningly.
"I know, I know Tara. I agreed not to stick my nose in your uh... relationship, but that was before you two kissed and started... floating!"
"What?" Buffy and Angel asked at the same time.
Giles sighed and explained, rather matter-of-factly, what had happened. In the interval of time between the incident and Buffy's arrival he had had time to investigate, research both his books and the ones from Tara's mother. There was no definite conclusion or explanation in the books, of course, but it was safe to assume that when Willow and Tara touched, "things happen," as Giles put it.
The two girls were blushing profusely and looking down at the grass but, apart from the embarrassment, Tara was getting irritated with the inspection that their relationship was going through. It was clear that, when they got excited, they floated. That was a fact. The hard part was figuring out the specific reasons.
"We know that magic seeks magic. We're clear that they're bound by two things; not just affection, but magic too. Now we know they're related. More than related, they're connected. So, when one is triggered, the other reacts."
"Is that dangerous?" Buffy asked, musing how cool it would be to float in midair in a non-dangerous way.
"I don't know. I figure they were just floating, nothing else happened. But... uh..." Giles blushed "But I don't think that... When I saw them... they weren't uh... too involved."
"Giles..." Tara muttered through her clenched teeth.
"I'm sorry," he sighed.
"But if they... you know... Do you really think something big would happen? The world would explode or something?" Buffy barked a laugh.
"I don't know."
"You're serious! Then what do you suggest?" the Slayer asked "That they should... try it or something, to see what happens?"
"I think this is getting a little out of hand..." Tara said.
"We just... floated a little. It wasn't a bad thing," the redhead blushed a little more, if possible.
"Yeah, Giles, I mean..." Buffy laughed harder "Tell them that next time they make out, to make sure it's under a ceiling so that they don't get lost floating around or something."
"I am serious" Giles sighed.
"I'm the one that's serious."
Everyone turned and looked at Tara, who promptly stood up.
"It's enough. We've got a war to stop, that's the important thing. I'm not going to put up with this conversation any longer."
"Look..." Giles began.
"No, Giles, you look. We're going to get on with the plan," Willow stood up too, "Or Tara and I will deal with this on our own."
"It's getting late, and I need to be home before my father gets suspicious. Plus, I have to show him some sign of, you know, my advances with magic. What were you planning with Angel?"
Giles sighed again and explained the plan. Tara was going to take Angel to the castle... When he finished explaining, they all got up to leave and agreed on meeting there the next morning.
"Will, we could go back to your father's castle together," Buffy mounted her horse, "And you could tell the servants to prepare a room for Giles."
The redhead sulked and looked at Tara, which was giving unknown instructions to Angel. She didn't want to go home and get into bed like a little girl. How could she, after having spent so little time alone with Tara? It felt weird, going to sleep early, after having seen Tara the last couple of nights. Unacceptable. She nodded absentmindedly to Buffy and then walked slowly towards Tara.
"Hey," she whispered.
"I sure wasn't used to sharing you with so many people."
Tara just smiled and surrounded Willow's shoulders with her arms.
"Be very careful, okay? With Angel, your father... Understand?"
"I will." Tara smiled and gave her a small peck on the lips.
The girls turned their heads and saw Giles on his horse, shaking his head disapprovingly. They frowned at him immediately.
"Giles, I'm going back to the castle, okay? Don't worry about us," Willow stuck out her lower lip. "Do I have to ask you permission for giving a goodnight-kiss to my girlfriend?"
"No..." Giles looked away.
"That's what I thought..." Willow whispered, consequently pressing her palms on Tara's back and her lips over Tara's. "I'll leave Buffy and Giles at the castle and then sneak out. When you finish with Angel I'll be waiting in your room."
With that, Willow and Tara gleefully mounted their own horses and parted ways. The redhead, Giles and Buffy galloped away, and the blonde and Angel took off in the other direction.