Author: TazRaven (Sara)
Panic is an interesting emotion. It invades your mind and can drive you insane with all the what-ifs that flow through your thoughts as a result of it. I know that I should have believed in Tara to come to my rescue, or to at least tell the police so that they could come to my rescue at her request. But panic doesn't give a damn about rational thinking. Once it sets in, you may as well kiss your rational mind goodbye. Luckily for me, the panic didn't set in immediately.
I was fine during the trip. Sure, I was in a non-descript car heading toward some unknown destination. Yes, there was a man next to me who could probably have crushed my head with his hands. And yes, there was a gun in his hand, ready to blow my brains all over the car door and window without a moment's hesitation. But oddly enough, none of it seemed to bother me too much. Looking back on it now, I realize I was in shock.
We pulled up to a large hotel, a place the newspapers had coined Malone's Mansion. He owned the top three floors of the building. The car pulled to a stop, its brakes screeching softly as we parked next to the curb. The driver opened his door and then mine. I was roughly pulled from the backseat and a gun was once again pointed at me, this time at the small of my back. I felt him lean toward me until I could feel his hot breath on my neck and smell whatever it was he'd eaten for dinner.
"Now listen," he whispered menacingly. "I'm under strict orders not to kill ya, but we need to go through the front door of this place. So what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna take away this gun-"
He wiggled the gun slightly, the metal rubbing against my shirt.
"-while we're walkin' through there. You make one fuckin' move I don't like, and I'll take this gun back out and use it to blow a hole in your mother fuckin' head, orders or no orders." He paused a moment, letting the words sink in. "You get me?"
I nodded my head slowly, careful not to make a single move besides that, and still, I didn't panic.
"Good," he whispered. I felt him remove the gun. He pushed me toward the hotel and I started walking, taking care to not walk too fast or slow.
The second we walked through the doors of the hotel, I became distinctly aware of two things. The first was that everyone in the lobby knew exactly why I was there. I could tell from their eyes that they'd seen this before. They knew there was a gun hiding in the jacket pocket of the man behind me, and they knew I'd been threatened with my life. The second thing I became aware of was that even though every single person watching me knew the predicament I was in, no one actually cared. They gazed at me with knowing eyes, grim smiles on their faces, and not one of them would do a damn thing about it. I was being held at gun point in a crowded room, and yet not one of them said anything. It was then, staring into the eyes of those apathetic strangers that I began to feel actual terror. Despite my belief in Tara's abilities to save me, I knew there was a very real possibility that I wouldn't make it out of this situation alive. I knew that the night might end with me being tortured, and then killed. Just like Warren.
We entered the elevator, and I watched as the lift operator, a boy of about fifteen years old with puberty-induced acne tipped his hat slightly and then pulled the lever for the top floor. We rode in silence, punctuated only by the sounds of the creaking pulley cables. The lift arrived, and we stepped off together, the elevator doors closing behind us. The gun was immediately replaced against my back as they pushed me down the hall. I was pulled to a halt outside of room fifteen twenty-three. The smaller man pulled a key from his pocket and unlocked the door.
Without a word, I was roughly shoved inside, the force of the push causing me to stumble to the floor. I landed hard on hands and knees as I heard the door close behind me. The room was still pitch black, neither of my captors having been polite enough to turn on the light. I lifted myself up and walked backwards to the door, feeling around for a light switch. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found it, only to have the sigh turn into one of resignation as light illuminated the room. It was decorated as I supposed every other room in this hotel was, save one key difference. There was no connection to the outside world. The space lacked a phone and the windows were barred.
Panic fully pushed its way into my mind. I wasn't going to get out of here. I was trapped like an animal in cage, and it was only a matter of time before they put me down. My breathing quickened along with my heartbeat. I could feel sweat break out on my forehead as I finally understood my situation. Knowing if I didn't sit down I might pass out, I lurched my way over to a chair and sat down heavily, dropping my head into my hands. Minutes passed as I tried to calm myself, but every time I looked up the bars were still there.
In blind terror I jumped up from the chair and grabbed it by the back. Running over to the bars, I began to bang the chair helplessly against them. Over and over the iron bars clanged, until the chair smashed into pieces. I collapsed to the ground in a sobbing heap.
I realized I was going to die.
It was then that I heard the door open. I jumped up and made a run for the door, only to be knocked down by Tara as she was shoved into the room as well. I fell to the floor, Tara's body full against me, pinning me to the ground. I looked up and into her eyes and said the first thing that came to mind.
"Fancy meeting you here."
Of course, if I had thought I'd been ready to give up before, it was nothing compared to the emotion I was feeling after Tara was thrown into the room to keep me company. Not only had I failed to keep Tara safe, but we were both going to die. She was still lying on top of me, her eyes wide and full of shock. I felt ashamed, too ashamed to even look at her. With a gentle push, I rolled her off of me and stood up. I walked toward the barred window and stopped at the foot of the broken chair, its seat busted in half, and large splinters of wood now decorating the carpet. The chair seemed to be the remaining pieces of my life, and with a feeling of anger so sudden it scared me, I kicked the seat. Hard. The pieces flew into the air as I yelled at the top of my lungs.
"God damn it!"
But the anger within me did not recede. I picked up a large piece of the chair and began to bang it against the bars again, yelling any profanity I could think of, forgetting that Tara was even in the room.
"Damn it! God damn it! Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!"
I yelled and smashed the wreckage against the bars until my throat felt hoarse and my arms shook with exhaustion. And still, I kept going. I probably would have gone on all night, if I hadn't felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around, my eyes wild with rage, and saw Tara standing there, a beseeching look on her face. The piece of chair fell from my hand and together we fell to the floor.
"Oh God, Tara, I'm so sorry. I should have done something, been better, something-"
She cut me off with a finger to my lips. I tried to speak again, only to have the finger pressed more fully against my mouth.
"Will, listen to me." She paused a moment to make sure I wouldn't interrupt. I didn't. "This isn't your fault, not at all. You were so brave." Her finger left my mouth and I felt her palm press against my left cheek. She gazed into my eyes, and I saw true gratitude. "If it's anyone's fault, it's mine-"
"No," I said immediately, cutting her off. She dropped her head as our roles were reversed. "Tara, this is in no way your fault. It's that bastard Malone's fault." She nodded her head, but I had a feeling she didn't believe me. I placed a finger under her chin and slowly lifted her head. "I've never seen you drop your eyes to anyone before Tara, and I don't expect you to start now." Her eyes shone with unshed tears as she smiled. I returned it without thinking.
For a second, I thought I was imagining it. But it continued, and I realized that it was actually happening. Tara was leaning forward. She was going to kiss me. Immediately, my mind was racing with all of the reasons why I shouldn't. The blaringly obvious one being that I was female and that Tara thought I wasn't. Her face drew nearer and I saw her eyes close in anticipation. There were so many reasons though. I would be lying with a kiss. She wouldn't be stealing a kiss from Willow, but from William. All the lies I'd told her bounced around in my head as her lips stopped an inch from mine. I could feel her breath on my lips and smell the perfume that I smelled even in my sleep.
I leaned forward just enough to let our lips touch. For a moment, we both stayed that way, our lips touching but neither one of us moving. I began to move my mouth against hers, barely thinking enough to realize how amazing it felt to finally kiss her. My dreams, my fantasies, my thoughts had all imagined how her lips would feel, but all my imaginings did not compare. Her lips were real, her tongue was real, her breath was real. She was real.
She pushed me back onto the floor, her body automatically falling on top of mine, the kiss never breaking. One of her hands lay against my face, the other grasping the back of my head. I tangled one of my hands in her hair as the other found her hip. I briefly thought that if I was going to die, I would be dying happy. Stopping the kiss for a moment as we both breathed deeply, our noses almost touching, I looked into her eyes, shining and full of happiness despite our current situation.
The words flowed from my mouth, any restraint I had about keeping my feelings a secret gone with just one kiss from her. "Tara," I whispered. "I've wanted that for so long. I think I-"
"I know, Will," she whispered against my mouth. "I've wanted it too." She smiled and pressed her mouth against mine once more. The kiss continued as though it had never ended. I became more aware of her body pressing against me as I lied on the floor, her legs resting atop mine and her breasts pushing against my chest. And suddenly, I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted to be able to feel her against me as it should be. I wanted her to know the truth.
I pushed her away slightly to stop the kiss and start my explanation, and as I did, I heard the door open. We both scrambled up from our position, even though my body protested ever moving from that spot. The larger of the two henchmen entered the room. He closed the door shut behind him and laughed.
"Well, look at that," he bellowed. "You two getting' a little hot-n-heavy while I'm gone?" He laughed again. "Shoulda waited 'til I was back. I coulda watched!" He roared with amusement at his own joke, his chest shaking and his eyes watering.
We stood watching him until he finally took a deep shuddering breath and wiped his eyes. "Alright then, time to go." I opened my mouth to protest, only to have the breath stolen from me in a whoosh as I was kneed in the stomach. I hadn't even realized he'd crossed the room.
"Now listen, I'm not gonna say it twice." I fell to my knees in pain as he spoke, tears blurring my vision as my world became gray for a moment. When I resurfaced, he was looking at me with an amused grin on his face. "What'd I say about tryin' to argue with me, Mac?"
He didn't wait for my answer. I was pulled from my knees and a sudden attack of vertigo hit. The ground wobbled beneath me as the gray swam into my vision again.
"Don't do that to him!" I realized all too late that Tara was standing up for me. She ran toward the man and with a quick backhand to the face, he swatted her aside. She fell to the ground, clutching her cheek in pain. All I wanted to do was beat on him until he was unconscious, but the punch to my stomach had taken away any courage I had. I fought the urge to pass out and tried to listen to what he was saying.
"-Check you. You hear what I'm saying? Gonna check you first." I nodded my head as he pushed me face first against the wall. He started at the bottom of my legs, patting me down hastily. I felt him continue up to my back, then he turned me around, obviously satisfied that the back of my body was weaponless. He started to pat me down again, but this time he stopped at my chest. In a moment of complete terror, I realized that he could feel my binding.
He ripped my shirt open, the buttons popping off and falling to the floor. In an almost comical double take, he looked down at my binding, back up to me, and then down once more.
"What the fuck?!"