Author: Willow Watcher
"Mmmmm. Good morning." Willow said as she snuggled her face into Tara's blonde hair.
Tara stretched out. "Morning sweetie." She laid her head on Willow's shoulder and placed her hand on her stomach. "How's the tummy?" She asked smiling.
"Oh, I think Dr. Maclay took care of it. She's a great doctor. I might have to recommend her." Willow said as she giggled.
"Well, I'm sorry but I'm booked for the rest of my life. There's this certain redheaded patient that needs my full attention." Tara looked up at her love.
"Humm, I think I like the sound of that." Willow reached down and planted a soft kiss on Tara's lips. "I hate to say this, being the best time to snuggle, but we need to get up and get down to business."
A knock came on the door. Willow and Tara both groaned.
"Yes." Willow called out.
"I need to talk to you both." Buffy's voice came through the door.
Willow gave Tara another quick kiss and got off the bed. She unlocked the door and invited Buffy inside. "What's up?" She asked sitting back down on the bed.
Buffy smiled seeing that the two were together again. But her smile faded. "Just got a call. There's something that happened to James. Daniel Osbourne said that he was stabbed last night and he's not doing well at all." She looked at Tara. The look on the blonde face had no expression of concern whatsoever.
"O.K. Buff, thanks for the update." Willow said confused to why Buffy was telling both of them this.
"Will, the detective said that James wanted to talk to you." Buffy crossed her arms.
"Alright, give me an hour to get ready and I'll head out. Let's hope he can tell me something we can use." Willow said walking over to the dresser picking out some clothes.
"There's one more thing." Buffy said.
"I really don't like the sound of that." Tara said getting up from the bed.
"Actually, you shouldn't. He said that he wouldn't talk unless he saw you as well."
"What! Oh hell no! There's no way that she is going to even get near that son of a bitch!" Willow jutted out her chin.
"Baby," Tara looked at the more than pissed off redhead. "I don't have a problem going. If he can give us any info about Lacey, then it will be worth it." Tara said with a voice of reason.
Willow sighed. She turned and huffed and mumbled to herself as she went into the bathroom.
"That went over better than I thought." Buffy frowned.
"Be glad you don't have to ride in the car with her when she's like this. Not a good thing." Tara said as she went to pick out some clothes.
"Tara, I'm sorry, but you don't have to go if you don't want to." Buffy said as she started biting her nails.
Tara walked over to her and placed her hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Buffy, the last thing I ever thought I would have to do is see that evil man again, but this isn't about me. This is about getting your little girl back and I would do anything to get her back. I want you to know that if he can't give us any information about where Lacey is, then I'm giving you the money for the ransom."
"Tara, you don't know how much that means to me, but I cannot ask you to do that." Buffy started tearing up.
"You're not asking me for it. Either way we are going to get her back. Money means nothing when it comes to the safety of family."
Buffy wrapped her arms around her friend. "You know I love you."
"I love you too." Tara pulled back. "I better go talk to Willow and calm her down. She'll be alright."
Buffy nodded. "Good luck." She said as she headed out the door.
<We'll definitely need it.> She thought as she walked towards the bathroom door.
Tara knocked lightly. "Willow."
The door knob turned quickly and the door opened just a little enough for Tara to see in. Willow was sitting on the edge of the bathtub crying.
Tara walked in and sat down beside the distressed redhead. "What is it?" She asked, knowing the problem but wanting Willow to get it out of her system.
Willow wiped her tears away. "I just...I don't want you to have to see him again, Tara. He made your life a living hell. I remember. I wish that things had been different for you. I don't want you to be subjected to even have to look at him ever, ever again." Tears still streamed down her face.
Tara took her love in her arms. "Baby, yes he did make my life hell. He did awful things to me." Tara's heart sunk flashing back to her memories. "But, things happen for a reason."
Willow shot up. "Things like that have no reason to be! No one and I mean no one should have to be put through that." Willow clung back into the blonde's arms.
"You're right. No child should have to go through that hell, but if things were different, if I had the perfect childhood without all that happened," She reached down and put her hand under Willow's chin looking into her sad green eyes. "I wouldn't have you in my life."
More tears fell from her freckled face. "We would have eventually met. We were meant to be."
"That may be true, but I'm glad you came along when you did. I love you and I want nothing more in the world than to have you in my life, forever." Tara said as her eyes welled up.
Willow looked into those beautiful blue eyes she could loose herself in forever. "I love you too. More that you'll ever know.
Both gave each other a gentle kiss.
"We better get ready and go." Tara said rising up.
"Tara, are you sure about this?" Willow asked as she stood.
"If it gets Lacey back, yes I'm sure." Tara said with confidence in her decision.
Willow closed her eyes and nodded her head. She wished more than anything that Tara would change her mind, but she knew that the blonde was determined.
"Alright, I'm gonna take a shower." Willow said and then a smile came to her face. "You wanna join me?" She wiggled her brows up and down.
Tara giggled. "If we do that, we'll never go. I'm going to go downstairs and check in with everyone. I'll see you in a few." Tara kissed Willow on the cheek and walked out of the room.
"Twenty minutes tops!" Tara heard through the door. She smiled as she threw on a robe and headed downstairs.
Angel, Buffy and the rest of the gang were downstairs in the kitchen, picking out different items to eat for breakfast.
"Good morning." Tara said announcing her presence.
Good mornings were coming at her from each person.
"Hey Tara." Anya approached the blonde.
"Hey Ahn." Tara replied sweetly.
Anya pulled Tara gently to the corner of the kitchen away from the rest of the crowd. "I want to say that I'm sorry that you have to go see that awful man who pretended to be your father, who killed your mother and was going to kill you for your money. You be strong."
Tara smiled at Anya's abrupt manner. She knew that the woman had little tact, but she had her own technique for support. "Thank you."
Anya patted Tara on the shoulder. "You're welcome."
Both joined the rest of the crowd.
Dawn came skipping over to Tara and wrapped her in a hug. "Morning."
"Well good morning sunshine." Tara said as she pulled back. "What's got you all bouncy this early?"
"Well, it happens to be Saturday, I don't have to go to school and I'm just happy to see you." Dawn grinned.
"Dawn, I'm here all the time, so what's with the extra attention." Tara asked, crossing her arms.
Dawn pulled Tara over to the side. <Is this going to be happening all morning?> Tara thought as she turned to face the enthusiastic teenager.
Dawn leaned in closer to Tara's ear. "I didn't want to say anything in front of the others, but I kinda heard, and I didn't mean too. It wasn't like I was outside listening or anything like that, because that's just in the category of the major eww factor."
"Dawn, honey, the point?" Tara smiled. <Willow's affected everyone.>
"Oh, yeah, well I kinda heard you and Willow last night." Dawn's face turned red.
Tara's eyes widened and her mouth dropped. "Oh Dawnie, I'm sorry."
"No. That's totally fine. I just wanted to say that I am so happy you two are together again. I remember when you were so sad because you didn't have Willow. And she was absolutely miserable. I didn't see her that much, but believe me, I could tell. But now, it's like wow. Both of you have this glow going on, it's so cool." Dawn explained herself and took Tara in her arms again.
Tara hugged on tight to her and stroked her long brown hair. "You know, you're growing so fast and I'm happy you understand that Willow and I love one another, and you don't have a problem with it."
Dawn pulled back and looked confused. "Why would I have a problem with it?"
"Because we're both women." Tara said.
Dawn rolled her eyes. "Oh please! You think that matters to me. It is totally cool. It's like having more women power in the house." Dawn leaned in closer. "We out rule the men." She giggled.
"Dawn!" Buffy yelled from across the room.
"What?" She asked turning to her sister.
Buffy held her finger up to her lips. Buffy had said that little joke to her sister before, but she made Dawn promise not to say anything about it around Angel. She told her that it was a male ego thing.
Dawn turned back to Tara. "I hate her keen hearing."
Tara chuckled and led Dawn back to the others.
Buffy handed Tara a cup of coffee.
"Thank you." Tara sighed taking in the warm rich smell.
"Well, I'm going over to Giottis today and see what they know. If Faith is right, they might lead us right to Lacey." Angel said as he refilled his cup.
Buffy turned to Tara. "Are you still going with Willow today?"
"With some convincing, I finally got her to agree to not give me hell for going, so yes."
Tara spilled some of her coffee on her hands when she heard the smash of glass coming from the front room.
Dawn was the first to head out, but Buffy pulled her by her arm and held her back. She shook her head at the teenager.
Angel and Xander ran out of the kitchen, followed cautiously by the others.
The first thing they noticed was the hole in the front glass beside the door. The next, a brick with paper around it. Angel went to the door and opened it. He looked up and down the street, but no one was in sight. He walked back in and saw Buffy holding the brick and staring at it like it was the worst thing in the world. A thin purple hair ribbon was wrapped around, holding the note. Buffy remembered putting that same ribbon in her daughter's hair before they dropped her off at Tara's institute.
Angel gently removed the brick from her hand and ran his finger over the thin silk fabric. He untied it and handed the ribbon over to his wife. He took in a deep breath and unfolded the paper. A lock of golden blonde hair fell on the floor. Buffy dropped to her knees and picked it up and held it in both hands. Tears streamed down her face. Angel read the note:
YOUR DAUGHTER IS CUTE. JUST
LIKE YOUR WIFE. GIVE UP THE MONEY AND WE'LL GIVE HER
BACK WITHOUT A SCRATCH. WE
WANT IT BY TOMORROW EVENING.
NO MONEY, AND WE'LL SEE HOW
PRECIOUS SHE REALLY IS. WE WILL
GIVE YOU A CALL AT 4:OO THIS
AFTERNOON AND GIVE YOU THE
INSTUCTIONS YOU'LL NEED.
Buffy held the lock of hair to her chest and screamed. Angel got on the floor and held his hysterical wife, promising they would get her back safely. Everyone started crying at the display before them. It hit home with Tara.
Faith came in the door. "Who do I have to kill to get a decent cup of coff... What's going on?" She asked finally noticing the scene.
Willow came running down the stairs with her clothes clinging to her barely dried off body, gun in hand. "What happened?" She asked.
Tara walked over to the redhead and made Willow lower her gun.
Willow handed her gun over to Tara and walked over to Buffy and Angel. She removed the note from Angel's hands and red it.
"Goddamn it!" She yelled out. She looked at the lock of blonde hair stuck out from Buffy's hand. "Alright, that's it!" She looked at Tara. "How long is it gonna take for you to get ready?"
"Give me twenty minutes." Tara dashed up the stair case.
Faith walked over to the redhead. "Let me see." She held out her hand and Willow complied with the request. "Fuck!" Faith swore stomping as she paced back and forth. She turned to Willow. "What are we going to do?"
"Tara and I have to go to Lompoc today to talk to James. That fucker better tell us something!" Willow said as she ran up the stairs. The sound of a door slamming echoed through the entire house.
"Damn. Red's temper is getting worse." Faith said as she shrugged her shoulders.
She looked down at Angel and Buffy still embracing each other in the floor. She bent down and wrapped her arms around them both. "We are not giving up. We're going to find her."
Buffy pulled back from Angel and clung to Faith and cried. Faith stroked her hair and rocked Buffy back and forth telling her repeatedly that everything was going to be O.K.
Angel ran out of the room as fast as he could.
Fifteen minutes passed as Tara emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her body. She went to the bed and picked up her panties and slipped them on when she heard a knock on the door.
"Tara, can I come in?" Willow asked.
Tara walked over and unlocked the door and opened it. She hid behind the door as the redhead walked in. Willow's eyes widened and she quickly turned around. "Uh, sorry. I thought you were ready."
Tara walked past Willow and began getting dressed. Willow turned her head away.
"Willow, you can look at me. It's nothing you haven't seen before." Tara said as she began to dress.
"Well, I didn't want to...ya know...we're going slow. Right? Because, I mean, yeah last night...wow...and yeah I...uh...saw...well ya, know...you like that, but with a little more clothing on and now I see you like this and it's like...oh god what I wouldn't do to just take you in my arms and...well...heh...I just want you so bad and well....we're taking this slow, right?" Willow was biting her bottom lip.
Tara, barely dressed, walked over to her love and turned her head towards her. "Yes, we are taking it slow baby. But what you see before you is yours."
Willow looked into those baby blue eyes. She let her eyes divert up and down the blonde's body. She traced her hand down the fully developed abs and around the muscular arms. "Someone's been working out."
Tara's hissed in a breath. She loved the way the redhead touched her. "Mmmm." She moaned out.
Willow stared into Tara's eyes and moved in slowly. She teased Tara's lips with hers, brushing them together.
Tara placed her hand behind Willow's head and pulled her in for a full contact kiss. She pushed her tongue in Willow's mouth. Willow felt light headed. She placed her hands around the blonde, running her hands up and down Tara's full muscled back. She broke the contact with Tara's lips and kissed down the blonde's cheek to her neck. She licked and nipped and felt Tara tilt her head to the side wanting more. The redhead didn't hesitate. She sucked on the soft skin, moving her hand around to Tara's bra clad breast. She massaged and gently pinched the nipple through the fabric. Tara moved her hands around grabbing Willow's body, pulling her closer.
"Oh god Willow." She whispered out. She felt the wetness between her legs grow.
Willow let go of Tara's neck and placed her forehead on the blonde's shoulder. "As much as I would love to stay here and do this and much more, we need to get going."
Tara sighed. "I know. Take a rain check then?"
"Taken." Willow said as she pulled away from her love after kissing her neck one more time.
Tara gave Willow a quick kiss on the lips. She turned around and quickly dressed.
Willow and Tara stood outside large white double doors.
"I know I've asked this like a hundred times, but are you sure about this." Willow asked rubbing her hand up and down Tara's arm.
Tara didn't say a word. She just nodded.
Daniel came out of an office beside the hospital wing of the prison and walked up to Willow. "Hey."
"Hey. So can you tell us what happened?" Willow asked. She looked over at Tara who stood there looking at the double doors.
"Well, the incident happened around six last evening. We are suspicious of a prisoner by the last name of Giotti." Daniel said. "He is in bad shape. There was too much damage to his internal organs. There was only so much the doctors could do, but nevertheless, he doesn't have much time.
Willow's eyes narrowed. "I want to question the suspect. We have something big going on in LA and I need some answers."
"Willow, you know I can't let you do that. This isn't your concern."
"Make it happen Danny." Willow said letting the young man know that she meant business.
Daniel looked at the floor and sighed. "I'll see what I can do." He walked away and left the two women alone.
Willow looked at Tara and took her hand. "You ready?"
Tara, once again, just responded with a nod.
It had taken four long years for Tara to get to where she is. Strong, independent, more self confident, but standing just a few feet away was her nightmare all over again. Her mind flashed back to the beatings that reduced her to nothing. The numerous times she had been raped. The lies and deception she endured almost all her life. She stood there trembling, which didn't go unnoticed by the redhead.
"You don't have to do this Tara." Willow said. She knew that this would probably happen.
"N-no. I h-h-have too." Tara stuttered out.
Willow sighed. This is the first time she had heard even the slightest bit of stuttering from the blonde.
Tara jumped when she heard a loud buzzing sound echo off the walls. The double doors swung open and a guard stood on the other side.
"Ready ladies?" He asked searching in his pocket for a card key.
Willow and Tara both nodded.
The man walked down the long corridor. "Here we are, room four." He announced.
Tara felt like it took forever. Her legs were heavy and stiffened with every step. She didn't know what to expect beyond that door.
The guard swiped his card in a slot beside the door and placed his hand on a scanner.
Tara jumped once again at the buzzing sound heard down the hall.
The guard opened the door. Before Tara walked in, she stood still. She expected a huge man waiting in there for her, with some sort of device in hand to beat her with or that look in his eyes when he wanted her in the most disgusting manner.
Willow gave Tara's hand a squeeze "I believe in you baby. You can do this." She said knowing that there was no turning back from this point on. She gently led Tara into the room, letting the blonde set the pace.
Tara cocked her head to the side. She didn't see a strong man standing. All she saw was a weak fragment of her mind, laying there with machines hooked to him by tiny wires. She couldn't believe her eyes. What was once her nightmare was reduced to nothing.
When the two were inside the room far enough the guard closed the door with a slight click. Tara stood in the corner as she saw her love walk toward the bed.
Willow stood looking down at the fragile man. "James, it's me, Willow. You have something to say?" There was no time for pleasantries. Willow hated the man that lay there. She just wanted to get to the point and get her beloved Tara out of there.
James opened his eyes and saw a blurry redheaded woman standing there. "I need some water." He whispered out.
Willow rolled her eyes and reached for the cup lying next to the bed. She filled it with water from a pitcher and placed a straw in it and held it for the man as he slowly sipped the refreshing fluid.
James cleared his throat. "Where's Tara?" He said barely above a whisper.
"She's here. Now tell me what I want to know." Willow said with little patience.
He looked around the room. Willow stood there in his view.
"I don't see her." He said, still looking around. Then he saw blonde hair that approached him.
Tara took little steps towards the bed. The only thing that kept her going was to think about saving Lacey and Willow standing there. Even though it took years for Tara to find her inner strength, she knew that Willow would never let anything happen to her.
"There you are." James said. The heart monitor that was hooked up to him beeped faster.
Tara put her hand on the bed rail. She was grasping it so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Her heart was racing fast.
Willow looked at the blonde. She saw the fear in her eyes. She put her arm around the blonde, letting her know that she wasn't alone.
Willow looked back at James. "Alright, now tell me what I want to know." She said.
He looked at Tara up and down. "You look well. How are things with you?"
Tara didn't respond. She closed her eyes and took in a shuttering breath. She felt a clammy hand touch hers. Her eyes shot open and saw that he was touching her. She jerked her hand back and crossed her arms.
James let out a little laugh.
"What do you want to tell me?" Willow asked in a demanding tone.
James diverted his eyes to Willow for a second then back to Tara. "You are so beautiful. You look so much like your mother."
Willow bent down to where she was face to face with the man.
"What...did...you...want...to...tell...me?" She asked saying every word clearly like he was a child that couldn't understand.
He sighed. "The Giotti family have people in here. They did this to me."
Willow looked at him like he was and idiot. "That's it. You couldn't have told this to one of the guards."
"I wanted to tell you personally and see my Tara." He said looking back towards the blonde.
Willow stuck her finger inches from his face. "She is not yours! She never was and never will be!" She shouted.
James' monitor beeped even faster.
Willow calmed herself. It took every bit of self control for her not to pick up the man and beat the remaining life out of him.
"I want to tell you that I'm sorry for the things I did to you. You didn't deserve to be treated like that and I'm sorry about your mother. She was a good woman." He said and lowered his head onto his chest.
"Do you want me to forgive you?" Tara said. She had to train her mind not to stutter. She didn't want him to see the slightest bit of weakness in her even though her heart was racing faster than his was.
He smiled as he looked back to her. "Yes."
"What about Lacey?" Willow asked diverting his attention away.
"I don't know a thing about any Lacey. I owe the Giotti family a lot of money and for their payment, this happened to me." James said as he closed his eyes. He coughed a few times and the pain was more than evident on his face.
"We're done." Willow said and turned to Tara, who had her eyes fixed on the man that lay there, helpless.
Willow put her hand on Tara's arm and tried to gently guide her away. Tara stood firm. She stared James down, showing that she wasn't the scared little girl from years past.
Tara turned and looked into Willow's green eyes. She tilted her head to the side and gave her a long adoring look. <Willow. My Willow. My life and love.> "Give me a second."
Willow looked puzzled. She nodded her head, knowing that this wasn't the time to question the blonde. She quietly walked to the other side of the room.
Tara walked closer to James. She bent down to whisper in his ear. "If given the chance, I would have stabbed you myself, you son of a bitch. I hate you and everything you ever stood for. I will never forgive you. I hope you burn in hell." She said low enough that he was the only one to hear. She raised herself back up and looked at him with nothing but fury and loathing. She noticed tears well up in his eyes. Tara turned and walked over to Willow. She took the redhead's hand.
Willow pressed a button on a speaker beside the door. "We're done in here."
A buzzing sound was heard and the door unlatched. The guard from before opened the door and the two women walked out.
Exiting the double doors an announcement was made over the intercom. "We have a code blue in room four. Code blue, room four."
Willow pulled Tara aside as doctors ran down the hall rolling equipment behind them.
Willow looked at the blonde. "Are you O.K.?" She asked thinking that Tara was going to break down
Tara nodded and smiled. She wore a smile of gratification, not of regret.