'Well this is creepy,' Willow thought. 'It's bad enough during the day but at night?'
She sat in her car about half a mile from the first guard post, as instructed by Buffy. She had been thinking of ways that she could get Tara to come clean with her. She wasn't sure she would be able to get her to trust her but she had to try. She had done a lot of thinking about her dream from the day before as well. It was ridiculous to think that she could be falling in love with Tara. She had only meet her once,and outside of the spicy talk, it wasn't pleasent.
'Wait, wait. Wait, did I just think that the spicy talk was pleasant, cause, most of it eww. But some of it, defiantely doable. God,' she shook her head. 'I'm such a prude. Anya's right. Oh I'm in trouble now. First spicy talk good, now Anya right? No, no, no, Anya's never right, so only one bad there.'
Willow heard a tap on the window and she about had a heart attack. "God you scared me Buffy."
"Sorry, hey, come on. All after-hours visitors have to go up in my car," Buffy said
Willow got out of her car and followed Buffy. Buffy turned and handed her something, "Here put this on."
Willow took the badge from Buffy's hand and looked at it. "Computer maintenance?"
"Yeah. That's the only way I could get you in this late, can you pull it off?"
"I don't know, I don't know much about computers." Willow added, "And how did you get my picture?"
"From when you came to see Tara the first time."
"Well isn't there somebody in the surveillance room all the time?"
Buffy smiled and said, "Not on Sunday from 2am to 8am, it's a shift that we don't have covered by a tech. We just pull a guard from one of the other sections and they cover it. That's why it won't be hard to pull it off. They won't know that there isn't anything wrong in there or that we have no idea what were talking about."
"Well, how do you know how to shut the cameras down in a particular area?" Willow asked
"I don't. I just know which cable to pull," Buffy said. "I think."
"Oh Buffy, I don't know. This sounds risky," Willow said. "I mean, even if we do get the cameras down, how am I goanna get to Tara's cell unnoticed?"
"You won't be going to Tara's cell. Tara will be coming to you. See we're going to say, or you rather, that there's a malfunction in SOL 126 and that you need to check the camera there. That stands for solitary row 126. There is no-one in the row right now. At least not for another," Buffy stopped and looked at her watch, "eighteen minutes."
"What happens in eighteen minutes?" Willow asked.
"Tara's about to attack Faith again on cell check," Buffy said. "She'll need to be moved to solitary and the only open cells are on 126."
"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute - Tara's going to attack Faith?" Willow asked. "Does Faith know?"
"Yeah... but Tara doesn't," Buffy smiled
"Buffy, you have a criminal mind you know that?"
"You have to here. Keeps you on top of things."
"Did you say again, about the attacking Faith? Did Tara attack Faith?"
"Yep," Buffy smiled a little. "Kicked her ass too. Since then Faith spends every lunch hour in the gym."
"Well what if Tara decides to kick my ass? I've seen Faith and if she could kick her ass, well I'm dead," Willow said
"Faith will be right outside. She'll check on you every few minutes." Buffy added, "But I don't think Tara will hurt you Willow. I saw your interview tape. She likes you. You can tell."
"Alright," Willow said. "Let's do this."
"Willow?" Buffy asked smiling. "What did Tara say to you anyway?"
"Oh wouldn't you like to know?" Willow laughed.
"Get the fuck offa me God damn it!" Faith yelled at the top of her lungs.
Tara looked up, startled, jumped out of her cot, and backed up to the far end of the cell. Faith came up to her and said quietly, "Maclay, I'm not here to hurt you, just play along and everything will be cool alright?"
"Fuckin' son of a bitch," Tara screamed, "now what does he want from me? You're working for him right? Why won't you just leave me the fuck alone?"
"Put your hands up, turn around and face the wall NOW!" Faith screamed. Tara did as she was told and Faith came over and cuffed her.
"Guard!" Faith yelled
The young female guard ran over to the cell and asked, "Shit Faith, what the hell happened?"
"The bitch attacked me. Find me a opening in solitary will ya? I think 126 has open holes," Faith snapped.
"Alright Faith, got it," the guard answered. "You want me to take her down Faith?" she asked
"Hell no, I got this one. It's personal now," Faith said
"Yeah, you're right Faith, 126 is vacant," she answered.
Faith reached into her belt and took out her radio. "Yeah, can you open 621 for me? Got a transport to the hole."
"Got it," the voice on the other end answered. There was a beep and the door slid open..
Faith walked down the hall with Tara standing in front of her.
"Look, Tara, I'm really sorry about this, but trust me, it's for your own good," Faith said.
"Fuck you," Tara spat out. "You better watch your ass cause if you ever come near me and I'm not cuffed I'll fuckin' kill you."
"Yeah well whatever, I don't give a fuck about your threats. Maybe you should just try to give one of the fuckin' people around this place that want to help you a chance," Faith answered back.
Tara chuckled, turned her head a little and said, "This is help? You come into my cell in the middle of the night, accuse me of attacking you, cuff my ass and throw me in solitary and I should see this as help? Well Jesus Christ, forgive me for not trusting you."
"Well I see your point here, but just give me a break and take my word on it that I ain't trying to hurt you. Okay?" Faith said.
"Your word? You work for him and I'm supposed to take your word? Again I say FUCK YOU!!" Tara spat out.
"I don't work for any 'him', Maclay, so calm down." Faith took up her radio and said, "Inmate 44624 MACLAY. Booking in SOL 126 cell 16. Open gate 3 please."
"Got it," the voice on the other end said.
"You need to go down and check the doohickey on the camera thing? That's the best you could do? Doohickey? Camera thing?" Buffy said to Willow.
"What? She didn't notice Buffy. She was reading Mulder and Scully fanfiction on her laptop. I saw it," Willow answered.
"Ooh, I like Mulder and Scully," Buffy answered
"Yeah! Me too," Willow answered.
"Alright Willow.You got four hours. See what you can do. Good luck and don't worry. Faith will be right outside. Oh and here. You'll need this. There's no lighting in there. It's pitch black till lights up at 7:15." She handed Willow a candle and a lighter. "I'd give you a flashlight, but she's kinnda' pissed so..."
Faith opened the cell door and let Willow in. 'Well Buffy was right, it is dark'
"Tara, it's me, Willow. I want to talk to you. I know something's up, and I'm hoping you don't just kick my ass right now but, um, I really need to talk to you. Tara, are ya gonna answer or what?"
"So talk then," Tara answered Willow could tell by Tara's voice that she was crying. And her heart was breaking. In her life she had never been moved by anything like she was now. Even if she had wanted to she couldn't have stopped herself from going to the other woman and holding her.
She approached her slowly, asking, "Tara, please," her own voice breaking now as the tears fell from her eyes, "please just let me help you."
She took a step closer, and then another.
She was standing in front of her now and she slowly lowered herself to sit next to Tara on the cot. "Tara," she said, the word coming out shaky from her voice, it was so full of emotion. "Please, please let me."
Then Tara was sobbing, her head falling to Willow's shoulder, and Willow pulled her head to her chest and began to rock her, trying to sooth her with her words.
"Shh Tara, I'm here now, shh." She petted the hair on Tara's head. "Just let it go. Let it all out"
Then Tara raised her head and Willow ran her thumbs under her eyes, wiping away the tears. Tara let out a whisper that Willow couldn't quite make out and pressed her forehead to Willow's.
"Willow," Tara whispered out and then it happened. Tara slowly moved her head forward and their lips met. It was slow and chaste yet filled with passion. Willow knew now why she existed. Every minute of every day had been leading up to this and only this. She was the answer to every question she had ever asked. She was Tara's and Tara was hers and her life would never be the same again.
Their kiss continued.
She knew it now. She felt it. It had now become a part of her. The simple physical connection of two people that had given way to a spiritual connection so enormous that it could not be contained. In this moment Willow had taken on every pain, humiliation, fear and anger that Tara had ever known. It was no longer Tara's, it was theirs. The suffering of this woman tore into her so powerfully that she thought she might die of it. She knew that if she could take her suffering on to herself she would do it without hesitation. If this woman who had had everything good in her life taken away from her could find just a moment of peace then it would be worth the cost.
The pain was now giving way to anger. Anger at person who would use the strongest of loves in nature, that of a mother and child, for purposes so vile that it seemed impossible. As the kiss continued, so did the emotional cycle and she was now privy to the kindness and love that was remarkably still intact in one treated so cruelly, the good in this woman so strong that it was capable of quelling the anger. The reward for this love would be her death, and Willow would not stand for it. She loved this woman. She loved her and it needed to be said. As she broke their kiss she paused to allow all that had happened to sink in.
"I'm sorry," Tara said. "I shouldn't have done that." Her head immediately slumped forward and she could not look up.
Willow shook her head and laughed in disbelief, "You're sorry? My God Tara what do you have to be sorry for?" Willow's voice was shaking with emotion.
Tara's head remained down.Willow placed her fingers under her chin and lifted her face so she could look into her eyes.
"Tara, look at me," Willow said
"No, Willow, I don't want you to see me," Tara said
"Tara, it's a little late for that. Since I met you yesterday I haven't seen anything else. Now I'm not claiming to understand this, but I know one thing that's as sure as anything Ive ever known. I'm falling in love with you. I'm falling more in love with you every second I'm in your presence. I'm going to tell you something Tara. I'm going to tell you something and I don't want you to forget it. Not for a minute. I will not sit here and watch you die. I..." Willow's words caught in her throat as she tried to hold back a sob that escaped her mouth. "I will stop this whether you help me or not."
"You can't stop this Willow, you can't."
"Yes Tara, I can. What would be even better is if we stopped this. Why won't you help me? Why Tara?"
Tara didn't answer her.
"Tell me something Tara. Who's the little girl in the picture?"
"What, what did you say?" Tara spat.
"Who is she? Tara tell me"
"What have you done? What the ...Oh my God... He'll kill her," Tara said almost to herself.
"No Tara he wont ki-"
"Yes he will," Tara said
"Why Tara, who is she? Who is the little girl?" Willow said again.
"He's got... he's, oh God. He'll know now. He'll think I told you." Tara was talking almost to herself now. "Oh God...He"ll... He'll kill you too now," Tara said, looking around the room still talking more to herself than Willow.
"STOP THIS TARA," Willow yelled, grabbing her arm.
Tara pulled away violently, "Don't touch me!"
"Tara, listen to me. There's a way out of this. You only have to trust somebody."
Tara laughed. "Trust somebody," she snickered and shook her head. "Trust? No I don't trust anybody. Do you realize he's probably watching us right now? Do you?"
"No he is not watching us. We made sure of that."
"We? Did you... We? Oh God how many people..." Tara slowly shook her head back and forth.
"It was all for nothing," Tara said shaking her head. "My father, the trial, this place. For nothing."
"You're wrong Tara. You are so very wrong. Let me ask you this? What makes you think that he's not going to kill her after you die huh? What guarantee do you have that she'll be safe?"
"Don't you think I know that Willow? Don't you think I've thought about that? I have a choice here in my opinion and it's fight him she dies, don't and maybe she won't."
"Tara, there's room here for another choice. Believe it or not there is. What I'm finding very hard to understand here is why you cant see that the only way she'll stay safe is if you live. That's the choice here."
Willow reached out and took Tara's hand in her own. She brought it to her lips and kissed her palm and held it there.
"All I'm asking you to do is trust me as much as you trust him. Please."