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Avenger Assembled

Family Planning

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September 2015

It was a fine September morning when Tarva surprised Kimber in her bedroom - or rather, Kimber entered her bedroom and was surprised to find Tarva there. Tarva lay stretched out on her bed, wearing a short black dress that showed off her long, muscular legs.

She'd been cutting back on the black in her wardrobe since their return from Thunder Bay and replacing it with acres of creamy-pale skin, sometimes just hidden beneath sheer black hose, other times hidden beneath nothing at all. "Why hello, Kimber," she said, sitting up on the bed and smiling brightly at her. "You're looking lovely this morning." Tarva had certainly been much more affectionate since that visit to the north as well, and her manner with Kimber these days seemed to lack the artifice of times past. Though as ever, it was hard to tell with the shadow-witch from the Terminus. 

"I've been down in the towers below today, doing necessary things. How was your night?

She folded her hands on her lap, shadow wrapped around them like yarn, looking Kimber up and down with frank interest. 

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Stopping in the doorway, Kimber stared at Tarva, surprised, focusing on those long legs for a long beat longer than could have reasonably been played off as casual before clearing her throat and leaning against the door frame. Glancing down to her feet she addressed the manticore winding about her ankles and sniffing the air suspiciously, scorpion tail raised. "How about a little privacy?"

"Rrrrowwr..."

"Opinion noted," the poltergeist replied, folding her arms. "Go keep Indira company, okay?"

"Mmrrrf." With a backward look at the woman in the black dress Avro padded off down the hall, making little brassy sounds of annoyance to himself as he went.

Reaching up with one hand Kimber fiddled absently with the pendent framed by the low folds of her thigh-length cowl neck sweater. The top was a rich royal blue just as the rest of her was coloured with shades of the same from sea green eyes to beryl freckles dusting across her nose but she wasn't translucent and the door frame creaked slightly from her weight. "You're looking... lovely, yourself. Special occasion?" The Canadian woman had been coming across as considerably more confident and less easily flustered since the ritual in Jotonhiem but she obviously a little distracted just then. "I don't think I mixed up our rooms..."

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"Hmm..." Tarva rose to her feet and glided over to Kimber. She was still much taller than the spectral avenger, and more solidly-built to boot, and leaned over her with a smile. Almost nose to nose, she said, "Well, who's to say how long that will be, hmm?" She still had the shadowy cats-cradle in her hands as she leaned close to Kimber's face. Without comment, she took one of Kimber's hands in hers and began wrapping shadowy cords around Kimber's fingers, entwining the two of them together. The shadow magic vibrated ever-so-slightly, much like a recently plucked string, seeming to match Kimber's vibrations after a moment. "You and I have been living very close to each other for a long time, boon companion. Even closer now after all these very attractive changes in your power. Why not go even further still?" With every word in the last sentence, she'd wrapped a loop around Kimber's fingers, until now the two of them looked to be inseparable. 

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"Good question," Kimber agreed, letting Tarva take her hand without resistance and watching the weaving with interest. She certainly didn't mind being all but pinned against the door frame by the Terminus expatriate's presence if her thoughtful humming was any indication. Once the shadow witch was finished looping her threads about the poltergeist stretched up on her tiptoes then lifted soundlessly into the air until she was the one looking down slightly at Tarva, sweater bunching up as her spine slid along the wooden trim. Her slightly bent knees hovered to either side of the taller woman's waist as she kept their faces close enough that Tarva could have felt her breath had there been any to feel. "Also a good question: since when do you come out and actually say what you want, hmm, pretty girl?" The top of her hair brushed against the top of the doorway she let out of a little laugh. "It's not like you ever needed to wait for me to come up with a solution for being incorporeal. Why do direct all of the sudden?"

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Tarva gave Kimber a level look for a moment, ever-calculating even now. "...my lovely ghost, you are all that you once were - and now you are a magnificent woman of great and terrible power. The girl who wanted to be touched was your childhood. This is, my dear, is the real you. And if you're concerned I only want your power, let me reassure you..." She pulled Kimber close enough to whisper in her ear. "It's not just that." This new position had brought their joined hands together over Tarva's chest, and Kimber could feel the witch's heart going a mile a minute. This was obviously not easy for her - making it a far cry from the nearly steady beat she'd felt back in Canada when Tarva had come to her in the nude. "Besides, if I cast a spell on you to touch you, it seems only fair you cast a spell on me to touch me..." Her breath was extremely warm in Kimber's ear, and tickly! "And besides, if we don't hurry, my dear Kimber, your present will spoil.

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Pulled closer, Kimber let her knees cinch around Tarva's waist, even if she was still supporting her own levitating weight. "Oh, so the needy teenager look wasn't getting you going? Heh, yeah, me neither," she laughed knowingly, glancing away briefly and saying outright what the witch was dancing around. With dark tresses hanging in front of her eyes she inhaled slowly, throat feeling thick. "Tarva, I would really," she began, lifting her free hand to tangle it in the other woman's hair, "really," her voice huskily dropped half an octave, "really like to take that dress off of you with my teeth. But." She had to clear her throat softly before she was able to reluctantly continue. "I'm not going to be some distasteful chore you feel like you have to do to earn your keep. I won't be your excuse to stop trying to do better." The fingers in Tarva's hair clenched and her shoulder blades clenched together like she was bracing for a blow. "If you can't promise me that..."

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"I like teeth," replied Tarva, showing her own, which gleamed brightly in her black-lined mouth. When it was clear that Kimber wanted to talk rather than play, though, she gave a little sigh. "I promise, whatever we do, I will be exactly the woman I am now. And if you remember, my lovely ghost, you already told me you didn't want me as your concubine." She leaned close to Kimber's ear and whispered, "Instead, why don't you have me as..." As she spoke, shadowy, canine-faced forms appeared behind Kimber and swung the door shut behind her, giving them complete, well, almost complete privacy in the bedroom. 

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It had taken knocking over the shelf that held Kimber's meager collection of physical possessions, sending souvenirs rolling across the floor, and several conspicuous thumping sounds against the walls that surely would have been noticed by anyone passing by but eventually the hitherto unused bed was given the opportunity to justify its presence in the room. Sheets that were normally left undisturbed save for the castle staff switching them out every other week to guard against mustiness were left bunch and tangled, heavier blankets tossed unceremoniously to the foot of the bed where they couldn't get in the way. Curled against Tarva's torso with her head tucked under the sorceress' chin Kimber was exhaustively confirming that her still novel corporeality extended to every square centimeter of her surface area. "You... are truly truly my very favourite bad decision," she purred, idly tracing the musculature of her lover - !!! - with an index finger.

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"Mmmm..." With a feeling of satisfaction both personal and physical, Tarva reached over and brushed Kimber's hair out of her eyes, stroking her hand along her lover's cheek. "A mistake well-made. That made up for lost time, didn't it?" Tarva hadn't commented on it, but her flesh was clearly marred by scarring - Kimber had seen it before, back in Canada, and up close there was no denying that those raised black , irregular lines on much of her torso had not come with the original woman - nor had she shown much interest in them being touched. 

For her part, Tarva was content. Whatever Kimber had lacked in experience she had made up for in enthusiasm - and that was a pleasant enough tradeoff in her eyes. In the corner, shadowy phantoms watched them, the familiar toothy shadow-fiends she had come to know and love so well. She looked up at the ceiling for a moment, then over at Kimber. "If we were gone from this place, if we were in a...a house, like normal people, what would you want to do now?" Kimber knew Tarva well enough to know when she was leading up to something. 

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"I guarantee that nobody has ever been this pleased to cuddle with their pretty girl," Kimber confirmed, draping herself over top of Tarva as the sorceress rolled to look up at the ceiling, careful to avoid her scars without drawing attention to them. She ran the tip of her nose along the edge of Tarva's jawline slowly, interspersed with little kisses from smiling lips. "Just please don't make me wait that long again! I want to learn how to... all of that, for you. All of that would be good."

She lifted her chin to meet Tarva's eyes when she grew more philosophical, curious. "Besides staying right here where it's warm and soft and naked?" she teased. "I'm not really sure. I've never really lived in a house like normal people." It was a noticeable change in the way the ghost framed such thoughts, with no mention of lost memories or what she assumed she'd done when she was alive. She was her own person now, distinct from the girl who'd gotten lost in the woods as surely as siblings were distinct. "What do you want to do now?"

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"Children," replied Tarva, without hesitation, her face just inches from Kimber's, grief flashing briefly in her dark eyes. "I would want children." That produced a sad whimper from the corner, and with a laugh, Tarva sat up, her wistful mood broken. "Here babies!" Two or three of the shadow-hounds leaped up from the corner and bounded up heedlessly onto the bed, squirming around as they settled onto Tarva's bare legs. They had long canine teeth and shadowy bodies the size of German shepards - and smelt distinctly of brimstone. "You are my beautiful dark ones!" she told them, petting their heads and skritching behind their ears. "But you are not what I had in mind.

She shot Kimber a look, secure in her fortress of shadow-hounds, and went on, a quiet little laugh in her voice, "I know how that sounds - here we are together once, and already I would have us with children riding behind us in the wagon. It...I should not have said anything.

Edited by Avenger Assembled

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Kimber's eyes winded in surprise at Tarva's admission, which had obviously not been what she had been expecting to hear. The hounds bouncing up onto the bed sufficiently distracted her for a moment as well, however, yelping as the recoiling mattress tossed her slightly into the air where she hung levitating for a few moments until the shadowy beasts had settled themselves. She settled back down with her legs tucked under her with an exasperated sigh but the hounds looked so happy and they made Tarva happy and she'd never really been very good at staying annoyed anyway. "Oh alright, you precious stinky puppies, fine," the poltergeist laughed brightly, reaching out one hand tentatively so that the closest hound could smell it, not entirely sure how they were likely to react to anyone other than their mistress.

As for the shadow witch in question, Kimber put the index finger of her free hand to Tarva's lips briefly before replacing it with her own for a slow, deep kiss. She did her best to communicate every ounce of warmth and reassurance that she could but even with her recently expanded experience she still felt the need to eventually break away and growl, "You can say anything to me." It came out fiercer than she'd really intended, pressing up against Tarva's shoulder and touching their foreheads together. "I may not be ready for that and I'm not sure-- I don't know how we'd-- I'm not saying no. Okay? This is the sort of thing I want you to talk to me about." She embraced the taller woman tightly, listening closely to her heartbeat.

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"I'm glad you said that," said Tarva warmly. "because I have a little, ahh, secret." She smiled down at Kimber, smiling more broadly as the shadow-hounds eagerly embraced their mistress's lover, practically climbing all over Kimber as they bestowed tarry dog kisses that left behind a faint, distinctly black residue that quickly faded across Kimber's face. "But you need to get dressed first." She slid out of bed and slid her hand down her body, neatly summoning a black dress like the one she'd been wearing before - which come to think of it had disappeared entirely earlier in the morning. "It's not a naked secret," she admitted, "but you know, you _could_ fly around completely nude now and I'd be the only one who knew." She winked. "Maybe next time." At her command, the dogs bounded off the bed and vanished, seeming to dive their way into her shadowy outline and vanish entirely. "It's in my rooms.

Edited by Avenger Assembled

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"Phwahaha, okay, yes, good puppies, ha!" Kimber giggled as the hounds displayed their approval, scratching their heads until the retreated into the shadows then wiping her face with the back of one arm. "Oh, just the one little secret?" she asked dryly as she floated after Tarva high enough off of the ground to bring her to eye level for the powerfully built priestess. Her outline unfocused as though she'd just slipped into the very edges of Tarva's peripheral vision before snapping back into clarity with her disheveled hair back in place and her sweater dress and leggings reappearing. Tossing her arms around the other woman's neck from behind she her legs float nearly parallel to the floor behind her. "You know... technically I'm never really wearing clothes, per se."

As she grinned broadly the toppled objects scattered about the room collected themselves into one out of the way corner to be properly rearranged later. Still hanging around Tarva's neck like a very affectionate scarf she gave her partner a more serious look. "It's not actually a baby, is it? I promise I won't be mad but if it is you really need to tell me."

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"No guessing!" said Tarva brightly, laying a finger aside Kimber's lips and winking. "You'll ruin the surprise if you guess, and then I'll have to find you something else!" With a naughty smile on her face, she turned and sashayed out the door, swaying her hips with the pleased languor of a satisfied cat, obviously enjoying Kimber's very intimate presence around her neck. "It's not easy keeping secrets in this place, you know, but a girl has her ways." She laughed prettily as they reached her door and she pushed it open. 

Sure enough, there was a new piece of furniture in Tarva's room just adjoining the door, a baby bassinet shaped like the fingers of a large, jagged hand. Inside, wrapped snugly in what looked like a black blanket form Tarva's own bed, was a small, pink-faced baby, sound asleep. "Don't worry," Tarva reassured Kimber, her voice now a whisper as she reached down to stroke the baby's cheek. "Her parents don't even know she's gone. They'll still be asleep for hours yet. We have plenty of time to be mothers.

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"Nnnh..." Kimber removed her arms from around Tarva's neck to place her hands on either side of her nose, her eyes squeezed tightly shut for a moment. "Ooooh marmalade. Alright, this is... alright. Tarva. Honey." Keeping her voice low as well, the poltergeist reached down to take both of Tarva's hands in her own. "Listen, this is very, very important. I know you'd never, ever do anything to hurt the baby but kidnapping is still bad even if nobody ever finds out." With a stricken look that she couldn't entirely hide even as she did her very best not to panic or upset the sorceress unduly she glanced down at the sleeping child. "Just... really bad. I understand how much this means to you, honest sweetie, but we need to take her home right away, okay? Please? Then we can talk about better ways to do something like this, eh? Like babysitting, maybe, without all the abduction."

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"...well, all right," said Tarva, her brow wrinkling at Kimber's reaction. She'd expected Kimber might need some persuasion - but not this level of resistance! "If that's what you want to do, that's what we'll do. But I don't see what you're so worried about," she told her lover reassuringly. "No one's ever noticed before. I'm not a fool, Kimber, and I'm not careless. I know you'd get in trouble with the mundane authorities if I was caught in a crime." She sounded a little skeptical of that idea; Kimber knew that Tarva tended to assume that powerful people were a much better solution to any problem than the laws of normal people. "I would never try and take another person's baby to keep." She squeezed Kimber's hands and smiled comfortingly at her. "The parents are sound asleep, will remember nothing, and they'll be awake as soon as I lift the spell. Come down with me and I'll show you." As she spoke, the baby rose up in the air, lifted by shadowy hands, and settled itself in Tarva's grasp. 

Edited by Avenger Assembled

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The plurality was not lost on Kimber, who covered her eyes with one palm. "Sweet fruit preserves, I'm really going to have to do a better job of keeping you entertained, eh?" she commented in a tight voice, trying to make the situation somehow less terrifying with a bit of humour but with a shaky smile that looked more like her spectral stomach was trying to figure out how closely it could approximate making a mess all over the floor of Tarva's room. It was almost too much to believe except that of course she could see exactly how the sorceress would have come into her philosophy of 'no harm, no foul'. "First thing's first, we need to get her back home, then I'll explain. Try to, anyway. Ooh..."

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Tarva carried out the next few minutes with the practiced ease that told Kimber she must have had plenty of experience with this. She transported them both in a fissure of shadow, the two of them briefly emerging in a well-appointed nursery decked out in the pink that was a girl's traditional colors. With a sigh, she set the still-sleeping baby in its pink, flowery bassinet, and then glided out into the living room where a man and woman were laying together on the couch, opaque black globes hovering over their heads. "It's Eternal Night's Rest," she told Kimber with a whisper, waving her fingers and sucking the globes back onto her hands. "They'd have slept as long as I wanted, felt no pain or fear, and awakened as after a restful night's sleep. I crafted it myself, you know," she said with cooly professional professional pride." As the couple began stirring slightly, Tarva muttered another few quick words - and they were back upstairs. 

This time, though, they were in Kimber's room - the scene of their recent encounter. With a practiced smile, Tarva sat down on the bed, her hands folded in her lap, and looked primly at Kimber, obviously expecting a lecture. 

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"Oh, don't give me that look," Kimber groused, having gotten reasonably good at differentiating between Tarva's affected smiles and the genuine article. She folded her arms, almost wishing the shadow witch would just come out and argue with her if she disagreed that strongly. "I know you weren't ever going to hurt the baby or the parents, that's not the point." That was also a little optimistic, admittedly, but given the more promising start to the morning she still had an inflated sense of Tarva's tenderness. She floated back and forth across the room, her version of pacing, fiddling distractedly with her pendent. "Like, imagine if somebody broke in and took your hounds just because they had better magic and they could! Even if they gave them back safe and sound that would still be horrible, right? It wouldn't matter if they tricked you so that you didn't know, it still wouldn't be okay!"

Throwing her hands up in the air as she got herself more and more worked up, the phantom turned to face Tarva head on. "Or imagine if they came in her and took you away from me and I couldn't stop them because you'd been kidnapping babies!" She hissed the last words, seized by a sudden fear of being overheard. "For jam's sake, Tarva, our landlord reads minds and her personal assistant comes from a culture completely dedicated to fighting the people you learned your sneakiest stuff from! It's a question of when, not if! They'll take you away and I-- haaa-- I'll-- augh, I don't even breathe, how am I hyperventilating?!" Kimber waved her hands on either side of herself in distress, having promised herself she'd handle things like a calm, collected adult and finding that promise difficult to keep.

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"Kimber, Kimber, it's all right," Tarva told her, obviously trying to reassure her lover in the midst of the latter's panic. "It'll be all right. I promise, I won't take any more children. I know it frightens you - and I never, never want you to be afraid of me." She let out of a breath of her own, then smiled comfortingly, standing up to put her hands on Kimber's arms. "Besides, what could come to me here? This is the safest place in Earth-Prime with so many mighty friends within, and my own wards on the walls. You'd have to open the door to let them in. We'd never betray each other like that.

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Kimber deflated a bit at Tarva's touch, leaning forward to rest her forehead against the other woman's shoulder. "Uuugh, I think you're probably learning the wrong lesson here but thank you. I don't want to tell you what to do I just... you can't get in trouble." Since the ritual that had created her scythe and helped her move past her semi-frozen youth the poltergeist had become a little more aware of how precarious their position might be if certain groups got it into their heads that Tarva couldn't be trusted to walk around more or less free or even on Earth-Prime. She had no intention of letting anyone send the Terminus expatriate away but Tarva didn't have to make it difficult for her. Sighing, she mumbled into her lover's shoulder, "You're exhausting, I hope you realize." Any reproach was severely undercut by the way she moved to wrap her arms around Tarva's waist and snuggle closer.

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Tarva replied by nibbling Kimber's earlobe, not for the first time that day. She looked very pleased with herself at this turn of events, especially now that Kimber was growing more relaxed. "You don't know the half of it," she promised, her voice against Kimber's ear like warm shadows on a summer's day. "But I suppose I had better let you get about your day, at least for the next little while. Indira and Eve may think I've dragged you off to my room for unholy acts." She grinned wickedly. "We can meet each other for supper and talk about our day." 

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"In a minute," Kimber insisted uncooperatively, tightening her arms around Tarva's waist and running the tip of her always slightly chilled nose along the line of the taller woman's clavicle. Even if nobody had actually gotten hurt she could fool herself into thinking she wouldn't have had anyone else in the back of a transport on the way to Blackstone for the sort of antics her lover had apparently been getting into. Was her judgement that compromised, was she just being selfish or did she honestly believe she could help the excommunicated priestess learn to live on Earth-Prime without tossing her in a black hole to rot away? With the way that idea caused her throat to tighten and stomach to flip she wasn't sure it mattered.

Tilting her chin up she caught Tarva's grin in a kiss that demonstrated that she was a highly motivated learner herself. "Have it your way. If you can get through the day being good and not breaking any rules, though, maybe we can work out some sort of reward system. Hmm?" The way she pressed forward against the sorceress and mirrored her devilish smile confirmed that she'd definitely been paying close attention so far.

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"I already know I can give you what you want," said Tarva, giving Kimber a warm smile. "You'll see." 

When she was alone again in her room and Kimber gone on her daily business, Tarva took a moment to center herself, then sat down at her writing desk. Pen in hand against lined paper, she decided this was a good day to write a poem. 

Love, kissed me
bled me
With cold hands
Twisting my heart
And soothing my soul.
Hiding underneath
Her garments
lovely lips
Appearing like
Kimber

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