'Oh man, someone get this elephant outta my head' Tara's thoughts swam behind her closed eyes. She tried to stretch against the pain that throbbed in her wrists and, to her surprise found that she couldn't move them. Squinting against the pain in her head, she gingerly opened her eyes. "What the....?" she asked.
Sat in the kitchen and somehow attached to a chair, her eyes skittered around the room in search of the man that had caused her incarceration. Wriggling against her confines, Tara realised that she couldn't move her legs, looking down, she noted a large and rather excessive amount of duct tape binding her legs to the chair. "This isn't good!" she whispered.
With her arms taped behind the back of the chair and her legs securely fastened to the chair legs, she realised that even if she stood up and managed to get her arms around to her front, she still wouldn't be any better off.
'Oh shit', she thought as her mind gradually pieced together the events that had led up to the moment she found herself in. 'Good going, you had a fight and now look, you're all tied up and helpless and Willow's handcuffed to the bed and totally unable to protect herself.'
Her mind raced with ways to escape, ways to get off the chair and back up to her girlfriend.
Wriggling against the tape, Tara learnt quickly that she wasn't going anywhere fast.
Footsteps behind her stopped her in her tracks. "Hi Tara." The deep menace that ran through his voice filled her with fear and dread. She knew that voice, she was sure of it but he was in prison, it couldn't be! "Did you miss me?" he continued before she had a chance to verbalise any of the craziness that ran through her mind. "Well, did you?" his tone dropped to a whisper and Tara knew she had to act fast.
"I-I-I..." she began.
"I think you were maybe too busy with that interfering redhead!" he snarled, pulling her hair back from her neck to reveal the fading love bites. "You shoulda just gone on a date with me." he told her simply as he moved into her view. "But you thought that the redhead can give you something more?!" He paced slowly around her chair, his eyes never leaving her. "So, where is this little whore?!" he demanded, making her jump.
"She's not here!" Tara said suddenly, hoping that the shake in her voice wouldn't give her lie away.
"Isn't that convenient!" he replied suspiciously. "Then what were you doing with these?" He threw the chocolate sauce and strawberries into her lap fiercely. "I'm thinking you're being stupid!" he told her as he returned to pacing around her slowly. "Now where is she?" he spat, each word coated with dangerous intent.
"She's not here, really!" Tara insisted, hoping against hope that he hadn't already searched the house while she'd been unconscious.
"I'll go and have a look then!" he told her and headed towards the swinging door.
"WILLOW!!!!!!!!!" Tara screamed.
Upstairs, Willow's impatience had gotten the better of her and after waiting for a half hour had decided to try and get out of her compromising situation and see what was keeping Tara. After much wiggling, she had gotten to her feet and managed to get out of her utility belt. Retrieving the keys for her cuffs had been a lot trickier than she'd ever imagined. Slipping carefully from the bed, she'd managed to get the keys from the small pouch and, after dropping them countless times, managed to get them into the lock. For the first time in her life, she was thankful that Tara hadn't secured them as tightly as she'd normally like.
She was about to step out into the hallway and make her way down the stairs when she heard Tara screaming her name.
The sound filled her with terror, shivers running the length of her spine. Freezing in place, she peered cautiously through the banisters and saw a shadow moving across the ground floor. Short blonde hair appeared and Willow shrank back against the wall, moving quickly back into her bedroom she grabbed her service revolver and slunk into the shadows.
Holding her breath, she listened carefully for the sounds of footsteps on the stairs and then realised she'd be incredibly lucky to hear anything until whoever was in her house reached the landing. The thick, luxurious carpet she'd insisted on having on the staircase cushioned many a footfall and the occasional drunken fall.
Heavy shoes brought their owner to a firm halt at the top of the stairs and Willow's heart picked up its pace and she clung to the wall, primed and ready for whatever may be coming her way.
"Oh Willow?!" a thick, dangerous voice called her and she instantly knew who it belonged to.
'Fuck it.' she whispered before an idea hit her. Sliding along the wall, she stepped into her closet as she heard Colin open the bathroom door and step inside.
Climbing quickly up the drawers in the closet, she pushed the hatch to the attic and pulled herself inside. Before popping the hatch back in place, she heard Colin open the door to the room that Tara had taken as her own on moving in to help her out. After a brief search, he re-emerged into the hallway and made his way to the master bedroom. The one creaky floorboard gave away his position and Willow slid the attic door back into place. "Oh little Willow?" he said as he stepped into the room. "You know that hiding from me isn't going to help your girl!" she heard him pull the door to the en suite bathroom open and growl in frustration when she wasn't there. Her closet doors banged open loudly and Willow jumped as the vibrations from the action shook the floor.
"I know you're here!" he called in a sing-song voice, "I'm gonna play real nice with your girl and then..." he paused, supposedly Willow thought for dramatic effect. "I'm gonna fuck her and gut her!"
Clenching her teeth against the torrent of anger that threatened to spill from her lips, Willow flipped the safety on the gun. 'Not if I shoot your sorry ass first!' she thought as she crept across the semi converted attic space.
Almost two years ago, she and Riot had started converting the loft so that she could have a proper office space, they'd gotten as far as securing and laying a sound proof floor before Riot had accidently discovered a 'secret room' behind the full length mirror in her bedroom. After contacting the estate agent, the previous owner had told them that he had intended the room to be converted into a 'panic room' but had never raised enough money to have it professionally done, instead he'd used the room to hide things from his wife. 'Psych!' Willow thought as she reached the second hatch on the opposite of the loft.
With a plan forming rapidly in her head, Willow flipped the top on her cell phone and sent a simple text to Riot. '911. Colin. Home. Not yet.' it read. Turning the device onto silent, she grinned as she dialled her home number and listened as the phone burst into life.
Tara jumped when the phone rang. Her heart was racing faster than she'd ever imagined possible without having a heart attack and the phone ringing now was either a blessing or the call that would sign her death certificate.
Still in Willow's bedroom, Colin glared at the telephone. The machine kicked into life downstairs and he grinned as he made his way back to the kitchen to hear who was so concerned about his new victim.
As he stepped into the kitchen, he noticed Tara's eyes fill with terror and his grin grew. "Interesting position!" he smirked as the machine finished greeting the as yet, unidentified caller.
"Guess what fucker?" Willow snarled into the answering machine. "You're a lousy searcher. This call is coming from inside the house!"
Colin spun and pulled a large kitchen knife from the rack on the counter.
"And, can I just ask, what's with the make-over of the gay? Blonde suits you, you stupid bastard!!"
Running back out the kitchen, Colin screamed and yelled as he charged back upstairs, hollering obscenities all the way. From her vantage point above the stairs, Willow could not only hear him, but see his shadow as he passed right underneath her. As he ran into Tara's room, he caught the door and it slammed shut behind him. Sliding the loft hatch back, she braced herself and dropped onto the small landing as he screamed and destroyed the room in a desperate search for her.
Slipping silently down the stairs, Willow scanned the living area quickly before making her way to the kitchen, detouring to unlock the huge windows. "Willow!" Tara exclaimed as the redhead appeared. "Shh. I have a plan, but you're gonna have to trust me!" she whispered as she reached for a knife and sliced through the tape that still held the blonde to the chair.
"Follow me, close and step exactly where I do." Willow instructed and led Tara back towards the stairs. Tapping her on the shoulder, Willow turned and questioned Tara with her eyes. "We're not going up there!" Tara mouthed, indicating the stairs with one hand. Willow nodded and the pair shrunk back against the wall as they heard Colin cross into Willow's room and begin smashing things up.
Next to the stairs sat a small closet, its door cleverly disguised as just another part of the wall. "Why can't I just run?" Tara asked quietly. "Slip out and get the cops?" Willow shook her head.
"If he thinks you've left, there's nothing to stop him running. You have to be here to keep him here!" Willow whispered. Stepping across the small corridor, she opened the closet door quickly so its tell tale squeak wouldn't give them away. "I want you to get inside and stay there until you hear the car!" Willow told her.
As Tara stepped inside, Willow caught her arm and turned her back to face her. Kissing her quickly but squarely on the lips, she offered a small smile. "Now, I want to you yell 'Thank God you're ok!'" the redhead told her. Tara shook her head and received a stern look. "Just do it, we don't have much time."
"Oh god Willow, you're ok!" Tara yelled before Willow pushed her roughly backwards and closed the door on her before rushing off down the corridor and pressing her back firmly against the wall around the corner.
Colin thundered into the kitchen and skidded to a halt when he saw the chair that Tara had previously occupied to be empty. "This is not how it's meant to be!" he growled, "This isn't the way it goes!" Willow crept into the den, and out of the patio doors that were covered with heavy drapes. Carefully making her way through the yard, she paused by the huge windows to check that she couldn't be seen before rushing through the side gate and into the drive. Opening the door to the car, Willow jammed the key to the ignition home and started the car, revving it quickly before running back into the yard, closing the gate firmly behind her.
Tara heard the car start and took a deep breath. Colin thundered through the kitchen door and slammed the front door open. Tara jumped as the closet door was thrown open and Willow stood in its frame. Indicating upstairs, Willow led the way quickly but silently, taking a large step over the squeaky floorboard and gesturing for Tara to do the same.
Her bedroom looked as though a hurricane had swept through it and she growled deep in her throat as she crossed to the huge mirror in the far left corner, leaning heavily on it to release the catch and pop the door open. Tara stood, open mouthed as the mirror swung outwards to reveal a small wooden door. "In, now!" Willow ordered, pushing the blonde into the small room and handing her the cell phone. "Text Riot, just say 'now', he'll understand!" she said and stole another quick kiss. Before Tara had the chance to complain, Willow pushed the door closed, the only sign of their being there being a couple of fingerprints on the glass.
Colin returned to the house. "That's clever bitch!" he yelled into the house, "Give me Tara and you get to live!" He paced through the kitchen, searching for any place where the blonde could be hiding. "She's meant to be with me!" he continued, smashing something onto the floor as Willow crept back across the room to glance out the doorway.
"Fuck you Colin!" she screamed, before throwing an African statue onto the floor of Tara's room and then rolling under her bed.
Colin heard the loud thud and grinned. "Tricky Red, but I heard you!" he cheered as he rushed up the stairs and into Tara's room. Almost as soon as he'd entered, the door slammed closed behind him and he heard a key turn in the lock. "You can't do this to me!" he screamed as he pounded on the door. "I'll get you, I swear I'll get her, we are meant to be together!!"
Forgoing his fists for the knife he had taken earlier, he began hacking away at the solid door, his fury building with every thrust. Rolling her eyes, Willow returned to her room to get her handcuffs and pepper spray.
Downstairs, the front door burst open, causing Willow to jump visibly.
"RED!?!" Riot called into the house,
"I'm upstairs!" Willow called back, her gun still trained on the door that was rapidly gaining a hole in its panelling.
Checking the downstairs carefully, Riot made his way to the staircase as sirens and lights blared outside.
Colin smashed and cut a hole in the door and Willow couldn't help but think of Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining'. Almost as if he had read her thoughts, a fist came through the weakened panel followed seconds later by the insanely demonic grin of Colin. "Heeeeerreees Johnny!!" he announced, his eyes flashing with menace. "Yeah?" Willow asked, "Here's Willow!!" she told him, spraying a decent amount of pepper spray directly into his face.
Screaming loudly, Colin fell back into the room, coughing and gasping loudly. Willow, who had learnt quickly why you really shouldn't use pepper spray in a confined space, also began coughing as the fumes hit her and made her eyes burn and sting.
As she crashed to the floor, trying desperately to get out of the cloud, Riot was at her side. "I got him Joey!" she announced between coughs.
As she leant against the banisters, her house was suddenly filled with police, her friends and colleagues. Joey and another officer who had briefly hit on her when she'd first joined the force burst into the room and arrested Colin once again, the list of reasons continuing as they made their way down the stairs and probably until they reached one of the many patrol cars that littered the street.
With Colin bundled into the back of the car and three of four officers standing watch over him, Riot returned to Willow's side. "You should get the EMS to check you out!" he said as he crouched next to her.
Coughing still, Willow looked at him with red, tear filled eyes. "Tara!" she wheezed, "Get her out."
Paramedics suddenly filled the small landing and Riot was pushed aside as they gave Willow the once over.
Shaking his head, he grinned as he realised where it was that Tara had to be hiding. "You tricky minx!" he smiled at the redhead, who returned his grin. Stepping into Willow's bedroom, he looked up and down the mirror and pressed it firmly, the fingerprints that Willow had left behind earlier his only clue as to where he was pressing. With a groan and a clunk, the door swung open to reveal Tara, huddled in the corner, clinging to a cell phone. "Riot?" she asked, her eyes automatically squinting against the brightness of the bedroom. Taking to her feet, she wrapped him in a hug. "Where's Will?" she asked suddenly, pushing past him to survey the room. "Oh god, Willow!"
Surrounded by paramedics, Tara's mind flashed back to the night at the club, the scene before her more than a close resemblance. Willow sat up and brushed the paramedics to one side. "I'm all kinds of good!" she grinned, "You just can't kiss me, I kinda gassed myself!" she said between coughs.
Rushing to her side, Tara took her hand, "You know something Will, you're kinda goofy!" she smiled.
Outside, sirens blared and Tara crossed to the window to watch as seven patrol cars made their way down the street, their lights strobing across the facades of houses as they removed her nightmare forever.