She was really going to miss that butt, Willow regretfully thought, eyeing this extremely trim part of someone's body. The red-haired witch enjoyed a few more seconds of observing across the room how a certain pair of hussar trousers were tightly stretched over the back portion of another young woman, until this female straightened up, lifting her bon-voyage present from the ground and holding this in arms covered by a colorful, Napoleon-era military jacket with horizontal rows of golden braid running down the entire front of this martial accessory. Smiling faintly over how normal her bedtime partner of the past few weeks now appeared, Willow's amusement deepened at remembering her astonishment back then about just why the New Council's latest visitor was wearing this ornate costume in the first place.

There'd been a hasty discussion held with Giles a few hours afterwards the whole incident of an unexpected dimensional portal dumping a very surprised woman into the middle of the usual May apocalypse. At the time, the Englishman matter-of-factly pointed out to his younger friend that while it'd been genuinely uncommon for women to actually disguise themselves as males in order to join the pre-Waterloo armed forces of Europe, it wasn't all that rare. It'd even happened several times later on in Willow's own country during their Civil War, as could be read about in the historical records, with accompanying photographs.

The combined Slayer/Watcher team dealing with the situation of somebody suddenly joining in on their side to stop the sacrifice of a dozen terrified children hadn't known about this, given how their helper wiping off his bloody sword was something much more noticeable: an actual vampire. Unsure of exactly what else to do, a frantic call had been made to the New Council's main headquarters at their Scottish castle, and an intrigued Willow used her magic to travel to where a sardonic soldier in eighteenth-century dress had given his parole in the most suave manner possible to a very uneasy group of people holding their weapons ready.

The use of the masculine pronoun had quickly ended, once Willow had dazedly finished her scanning spells. Aside from finding out right away that he was indeed a she, a dumbfounded witch also learned her companion possessed a soul and always had, unlike the other two blood-drinking demons Willow had previously known in long-ago Sunnydale, who'd eventually acquired that spiritual essence. Once the Red Witch had informed a dryly amused Maladicta (which had turned out to be her name) about this, the female vampire sneered at the very thought of ever being like Angel or Spike.

For the next few minutes, an open-mouthed Willow had learned about the Discworld (A flat planet? Resting on four elephants? Carried through outer space by a giant turtle? Oh, boy…), until it became more personal. According to Maladicta, her race was an offshoot of humanity, though neither species could breed with each other anymore. Vampires now came from the union of vampire parents, or by humans being deliberately turned into this, though the last was rare. Frankly, who needed the extra competition?

Steadily regarding her wary listener, Maladicta admitted her kin were, by and large, not very nice people. Although, in the past a good many humans had far outstripped any single vampire in their evil deeds. It still remained necessary for vampires to subsist upon blood, and while they could reluctantly live on animal blood (raw or even in cooked form), the red liquid running in the veins of homo sapiens was always craved for at every moment. Not just in the sense of a physical hunger; there was also a mental thirst equivalent to addiction.

Fortunately, given how vampires could be wiped out by a sufficiently large group of humans should these people ever put their minds to it, the blood obsession of a vampire could be transferred into something else, either some other, more-forgivable foodstuffs, or even into a skill or profession. It was at this point in their conversation when Willow noted how strained the face of Maladicta abruptly became, followed by the vampire worriedly asking if this place had any "…coffee?"

Fifteen minutes later, a deeply blushing Wiccan nevertheless still trying to contain her laughter paid for two extra-strength mocha lattes from a gaping barista at the nearest all-night Starbucks deserted except for themselves. Then, the witch walked over to where Maladicta was lying on the floor while ecstatically experiencing the strongest orgasm of her life among the overpowering smells of an entire building filled with coffee in all forms. The noises far surpassing any 'When Harry Met Sally' imitation were abruptly cut off when Willow poured the caffeine drink straight into the vampire's gleefully-shrieking mouth.

Afterwards, the pair could always get into a friendly argument over if that moment had been the real start of their relationship. Maladicta thought so, but Willow was certain it'd been about a couple of days later, when the vampire had smoothly seduced her. This had been for the most pragmatic reason achievable, Maladicta forever maintained in a deadpan tone. When your return to what had been termed her home dimension depended upon a witch's good mood, it only made sense to make sure her little scarlet cabbage was totally relaxed and focused on her spells. So, naturally, it was in the vampire's best interest to provide her partner with the most fantastic sex possible.

Willow just giggled in delight, hugged Maladicta, and went back to earnestly working on her casting to send a pale lady soldier back home. Even if she was contently having the first pleasant short-term relationship with someone since her nasty break-up with Kennedy several months ago, the Jewish woman had learned it was best to just enjoy the moment. True, she'd miss Maladicta very much when the vampire left, and Willow was certain her lover felt the same way, but both had earlier recognized their time together would unfortunately be fleeting.

Despite wallowing in such luxuries as Willow, designer-grade coffee, and modern-day bathroom facilities (Maladicta adored having all the hot water she could ever want, and the bidet was surely the culmination of mankind's technology), the vampire still anxiously yearned to travel back to Polly and the others of her little band of female soldiers. Who knew how much trouble they'd get into, in the reprise of Borogravia's war after the first go-around? No, they needed her, and she had to be there.

Willow respected that. Surviving Sunnydale had caused the witch to well know how the bonds of comradeship forged in battle could match any of those in blood, and sometimes be even greater in strength. If it was in any way her power, she'd get Maladicta home safely, and be thankful for the opportunity to have known the vampire, however briefly this turned out.

Besides, the sex was fantastic.

Maybe this was why Buffy had been so grumpy lately. When the news of Willow's latest girlfriend had spread through the New Council, her Scooby Gang friends one and all casually visited from their normal duties, just to see for themselves how things were going for the witch. Giles and Dawn had been cautious at first, but they'd soon been won over by a charming Maladicta. Buffy, however, had been a tougher sell. Perhaps this was due to any outspoken protests by the Slayer about one of their associates so important to the New Council being in such a close liaison with a totally unknown vampire had immediately caused everybody within earshot to either clear their throat to produce a noise like "…nnnangel…" or go into a loud coughing fit of "Ike! Ike! Ike!"

It sounded like the whole building was experiencing an overwhelming attack of catarrh, eventually making Buffy stomp off in a thorough huff. Since then, the blonde woman had sulkily waited for things to finish, after which she'd really give Wils a piece of her mind.

This specific witch hadn't been too bothered by her high-school friend's crankiness. Buffy would soon get over it. No, what had most worried Willow had been the last of their company to visit.

When Xander showed up, he'd been met by a nervous redhead and Maladicta dressed for the first time in weeks her original attire of a soldier. Standing there in the room, Xander hadn't first greeted his yellow-crayon friend. Instead, without a single word spoken by either, the one-eyed man had intently stared for a full minute at the vampire steadily looking back at him. Just when Willow was about to burst into a first-rate frantic babble, Xander produced a relaxed smile on his scarred face, and then he'd offered his hand for a friendly shake. Accompanying this amiable gesture had been a warm, "Take care of your buddies when you get back, corporal."

"Yessir!" smartly replied Maladicta, taking Xander's hand and giving this a firm squeeze in her gratitude.

After that, Xander had given to a melting Willow a proper hug, and all three of them had been on the best of terms ever since. In fact, before the man had left to return to his work for the New Council, Xander had paid for from his own pocket Maladicta's goodbye gift.

Blinking away the slight hint of moisture in her eyes, Willow about to cast her dimensional transportation spell saw before her Maladicta ready to go. The vampire giving the young human a fond farewell smile was at this moment tenderly cradling in her arms a large cloth sack containing inside this twenty individually wrapped one-pound bags of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans.