Return to Stratagem Chapter Five



Stratagem
CHAPTER SIX

Author: Willow Watcher
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of BtVS, they all belong to Joss Whedon and those others out there who have a claim in the series and all other things dealing with Buffy, but I wrote this story. The other characters are mine (copyright 2005 Robbie Kelly)


"Willow. C-come back to me." Tara whispered in Willow's ear.

Willow opened her eyes to look. "What time is it?" She said, her voice barely audible.

Tara looked at her watch. "Eight thirty."

Willow grumbled and pulled the pillow over her head, "Why are you waking me up this early?" Her words were muffled.

Tara giggled, "I thought I w-would bring you breakfast in b-bed."

Willow peeked out from under the pillow, "What do you have?"

"Pancakes." Tara held up a brown take out bag.

Willow sat up and threw the pillow behind her head. "Great! I'm starved."

Tara laughed, "I s-suppose I got the r-right thing then, huh?"

"Oh I love pancakes." Willow looked in the bag and brought out her cardboard tray.

"I m-make the best funny shaped p-pancakes you've ever t-tasted." Tara said pulling out her own tray.

"I'll hold ya to it then. So, why are we up so early?" Willow shoved a big bite of food in her mouth.

"I thought w-we could get an early st-start. I w-want to get to Ann's as s-soon as possible. Oh, I f-forgot. Some m-man called on your cell phone l-last night. I think h-his name was Giles."

Willow started choking. She spit food all over the bed. "What?!"

Tara patted Willow on the back, "Umm yeah, G-Giles called when you w-were in the shower."

"Oh...O.K. I'll...I'll call him back later. No big deal." Willow smiled. <Oh shit! I need to call him now but I can't. Not with Tara being with me. Damn it!>

"Well, let's get going then." Willow flipped the covers off the bed. The food she spit out flew all over the floor and the wall. "Oops! Guess I'll leave extra money for the maid."

"Hey Willow. C-can I use your cell phone? I n-need to call Ann and t-tell her were on our way." Tara asked.

"Umm sure. Go ahead. I'm just going into the bathroom and change." Willow stood up and gave Tara a kiss on the lips.

"So everything is a-alright with us, I m-mean since last n-night?" Tara blushed and lowered her head.

Willow put her arms around Tara's waist and pulled her close, "I'd say everything is perfect. You are perfect."

"But Willow, I j-just want you t-to know...Tara was cut off with Willow's lips on hers.

"Just give it all time." Willow kissed Tara again and they hugged each other tight. "I need to get changed." Willow picked up her bag and walked into the bathroom.

Tara looked in her jeans that she discarded in the floor. She reached in the back pocket and retrieved the address book she placed in there. She flipped through until she found Ann's number. She walked over to Willow's cell phone, dialed the number. The only button she was familiar with was the speaker. After a couple of rings, a woman's voice came over the other end.

"Hello?"

"Ann F-Fields?" Tara asked hoping she dialed the right number.

"Yes, this is Ann. Who is this?"

"This is T-Tara Maclay. Do y-you happen to know who I am?"

"I know Tara Maclay, but she is dead. Is this some kind of joke?!" The woman shouted.

"N-no Ann. It's m-me Tara. I d-don't know who t-told you I w-was dead but a-apparently I'm not."

"Tara! Is it really you? Oh my god! Sweetheart, I was told you died." The woman was crying.

"Ann, I n-need to c-come see you. It's about m-mom's will."

"Oh yes darling. Do you know where I live?" Ann sounded hopeful.

"I h-have dad's b-book with your phone number and a-address in it." Tara held up the book and examined it.

"Tara. That deceitful man is not with you is he?"

"N-no. I l-left him. It's only m-me and my friend Willow."

"Thank god. You and your friend come right on. I'll be here waiting."

"Thank y-you, Ann. You d-don't know how m-much this means to me."

"You don't know how much this means to me either, Tara. Where are you now?" Ann asked.

"We're in M-Medford at the Reston H-Hotel. We sh-should be leaving shortly." Tara said looking at her watch again.

"Oh?" Ann hesitated and cleared her throat. "Well, alright sweetie, you all be careful. You are at least five and a half hours away. I just have to tell you Tara, it's so wonderful to hear your voice. I can't wait to see you. I have so much to tell you." The woman's voice was full of excitement.

"We h-have a lot t-to talk about. I'll s-see you soon. Bye."

"Good bye dear."

Tara heard a click. She flipped the phone shut and placed it on the bed.

Willow came out of the bathroom clothed in blue jeans, a red 'Finding Nemo' tee shirt and red tennis shoes.

"Your turn baby." Willow said packing up items around the room.

Tara giggled, "N-nice outfit Will."

"Hey, are you making fun of Nemo? I'll have you know that he is one brave little fish." Willow put her hands on her hips and jutted out her chin.

Tara walked over and pulled Willow to her, "Uh oh. R-resolve face showing. Am I in tr-trouble?"

"You betcha missy." Willow smiled and kissed Tara slowly.

Tara pulled back and bit her bottom lip. "I l-like this kind of tr-trouble."

Willow lightly swatted Tara on the butt. "You better get ready."

Tara walked over and pulled out a summer dress and sandals out of her bag. "You d-do look c-cute."

"Well, just don't let anyone back home find out. I have a reputation to protect."

Willow put her gun in the brim of her blue jeans.

Tara started laughing.

"What?" Willow asked puzzled.

Tara's laughter roared through the room.

"Whaaat?" Willow looked herself up and down.

"Oh god! You..." Tara was taking in quick breaths of air, snorting, followed by laughter. "Big b-bad, g-gun slinging, 'F-Finding Nemo' lovin' Willow." Tara fell back on the bed holding her sides.

Willow flung her gun on the other bed. She walked over to Tara. "You think you are just sooo funny, huh?"

Tara laughed that much harder.

"I also happen to be a big bad..." Willow jumped on Tara, "tickle monster." Willow made her hands like claws and started her attack.

Willow was taken by surprise when Tara rolled them over and she straddled the small redhead.

"Hey! That's not fair." Willow pouted.

"All is f-fair in love and w-war, sweetie." Tara said plainly. She bent down and captured Willow's lips in a passionate kiss. She sat back up and pulled her shirt off exposing her naked chest.

Willow stared and was captivated at the view in front of her. "Oh Tara." She whispered, but she didn't make a move.

Tara leaned forward again, crushing their mouths together. She heard a moan escape Willow's throat followed by her own. Willow ran her hands down the sides of Tara's legs and up to the side of her breast.

"Touch me, Willow." Tara said desperately needing the touch.

"You are so beautiful." All logical thought was gone. Willow slowly moved her hand and circled her finger around Tara's erect nipple.

"Mmmm." Tara moaned out. She felt the heat in her center and started moving her hips slowly back and forth on top of Willow's.

Willow reached her head up and without any delay sucked on the hardened nipple.

"Oh Willow! Oh god! Yes!" Tara rocked back and forth even faster.

Willow moved her mouth to the other nipple, replacing her mouth with her fingers, gently twisting the reddened flesh.

Tara's moans became louder. She closed her eyes taking in the pleasure. Willow moaned taking in more of Tara's breast into her mouth. Feeling Tara grind faster, Willow sucked even harder eliciting louder moans from the blonde. She bucked her hips against Tara's.

Willow let the nipple go. Tara looked down at her. She slid her body down. Their legs intertwined. Willow kissed Tara hungrily. Their tongues clashing and swirling around each other. Willow lifted her leg into Tara, propping her foot on the edge of the bed.

"Oh God!" Tara let out pushing her thigh into Willow's.

"Yes Tara!" Willow moaned kissing Tara her cheek working her way down. She sucked on the spot between Tara's neck and shoulder marking her. Tara's grinding became fierce, pushing her thigh even harder into Willow.

Willow knew Tara was close. "Come for me baby." She whispered in the passionate blonde's ear.

Tara looked into Willow's eyes. "Come with me, Willow."

"I am." Willow barely got out. Her orgasm was building faster and faster. "Oh god Tara. Yes baby, I'm...I'm...Oh TARA! TARA! TAAAARAAAA!"

That's all it took. Hearing her name screamed out by the woman she loved took Tara over the edge. "WIIILLLOOWWWWW! OH MY GOD!!!!!"

The both rode out their orgasm grinding into each other. Tara collapsed on top of Willow.

Willow wrapped her arms around Tara and kissed her on the cheek.

Tara rose up and looked at Willow. "I have to tell you, I love..."

Willow captured Tara in a tender kiss. She pulled back and stared into those blue eyes, "I know baby. I know."

Tara laid her forehead Willow's. Willow sighed and then started to giggle.

Tara giggled at Willow, "What?"

"I guess you really like the gun slingin' 'Finding Nemo' lovin' Willow, huh?"

Tara laughed, "You f-forgot the big bad tickle monster."

"Grr arrgh!" Willow said making her hand into a claw.

Tara tensed up. Willow relaxed her hand and ran it up and down Tara's back.

"Tickle monster will have to wait. Kinda' bushed right now and I'm enjoying holding you."

Tara closed her eyes tight. <Oh shit!> she rolled off of Willow on the bed.

"Hey! I was doing the snuggle thing and you just left." Willow pouted.

Tara laid there looking up at the ceiling. "I'm s-s-sorry." She whispered out.

Willow propped herself up on her arm. "What baby?"

Tara cleared her throat, "I said I am s-sorry."

Willow crinkled her brows together, "Umm...O.K. sorry for what?"

Tara rolled over with her back to Willow. "I shouldn't h-have done that." Tears welled up in her eyes.

"I'm still not grasping the concept here sweetie." Willow thought for a second then realized what Tara meant. Willow moved in closer spooning her, "Tara. You have absolutely nothing to be sorry for. I wanted it just as much as you did."

"But I...I know you w-wanted to wait. You m-must think I'm a s-sl..."

"Don't you dare say that! Don't you ever say that or even think that! I don't think that you are anything but a wonderful beautiful woman. Tara, I have very strong feelings for you and what you did was perfectly normal. I don't regret anything that just happened. And if things become more, I would never ever regret it as long as I live." Willow kissed Tara on the shoulder.

Tara rolled over. A single tear ran down her cheek. Willow kissed the tear before it fell.

"Willow?"

"Yes baby." Willow kissed Tara's cheek again.

Tara took in a deep breath. <Don't stutter, damn it!> "I love you."

Willow smiled and kissed Tara on the lips.

"I know y-you can't say it b-back. I just had t-to tell you how I f-feel."

"Tara, I love..."

Tara put her finger on Willow's mouth, "Don't s-say it just because I did. Say it when y-you mean it."

Willow nodded. "Do you know how special you are to me?"

"I know h-how special you are to me." Tara said staring into those green eyes.

Willow stared into the captivating blue ones. She slowly bent her head kissing Tara. A kiss of understanding and promise.

Willow pulled back with a groan. "I hate to say this but we need to get going."

"Yeah I know." Tara got off the bed. She picked up her dress and her bag and walked into the bathroom.

Willow sighed. She pulled out a cigarette from her pack and lit it. She picked up her cell phone and dialled the number.

"It's me. You called?" Willow puffed on her cigarette.

"She kinda didn't get to tell me until this morning." She got up and walked around the hotel room picking up clothes and tossing them in her bag.

"Well she contacted Ann Fields a little while ago. We'll just have see what's going to happen." Willow cupped her hand up to her mouth around the phone. "Did you happen to find James?"

"Well no worries. If I happen to run into him I'll know exactly what to do." Willow picked up her gun. She opened up the chamber, spun it around and flipped it shut. She put it in the brim of her jeans.

"I am not being irrational Giles. I know you still think I'm a kid but I'm not. Just trust me on this. I gotta go. I'll call soon." Willow flipped her phone shut and put it in her pocket.

Tara came out of the bathroom. She walked over and slipped her sandals on.

Willow just watched every move of the blonde.

"You look beautiful baby."

"Thanks. I didn't g-get to pack to many things on short n-notice." Tara smoothed out her dress.

"Well, we can easily solve that. We're going shopping!" Willow said enthusiastically, beaming a smile.

Tara giggled at the excited redhead. "Sounds like fun."

"Oh yeah. It'll be great. Well buy some jeans and shirts oh and I have a wicked shoe craving. These red shoes seemed to get made fun of." Willow looked smugly at Tara.

"At least they m-match your shirt." Tara smiled and blew Willow a kiss.

"Uh huh. And poor little Nemo gets taken away from his dad and now he gets criticized. You ought to be ashamed." Willow mockingly shook her finger.

Tara looked at Willow with loving eyes. "I love you."

Willow, still taken back by the earlier confession, blushed and smiled. She took in a deep breath and blew it out. "Ready to go."

"All ready." Tara looked around the room making sure she had all her things. She flung her bag over her shoulder.

Willow put extra money in the tip envelope for the maid along with the room key and the both walked out of the room.


Willow and Tara both looked around the different stores in the massive shopping center. Willow was mainly looking for black jeans and dark colored novelty shirts plus some cool shoes at stores that were to her liking. She stood idly by as Tara looked over the racks at clothes with soft earth tones that were more around to her taste. She picked up various shirts holding them up to herself and looking in the mirror. This was the first time she had ever gone clothes shopping and picking out clothes she actually liked.

"Tara, that looks great. Go try it on." Willow said appreciating the time and care that Tara was putting into picking the 'right' thing.

Tara smiled at her love. She looked at the price tag. Her smile faded as she hung it back on the clothes rack.

"What's wrong? You didn't like it?" Willow asked in confusion.

Tara shook her head. "It's too m-much."

Willow briskly walked over, pulled the shirt off the rack and handed it to Tara. "You go try it on. Don't worry how much it cost. I'll take care of it."

"No Willow. You've d-done way too m-much already.

"I haven't done anything special. I'm just here for you and I want to buy you whatever. Now get as many clothes as you want. You can get one outfit for everyday of the week or two outfits for everyday or three, ya know if you change clothes a lot. Oh I know, we can get a marker and put on the tags for Monday, Tuesday and so on. Or if you want, there are tee shirts with the days of the week on them, that way we can avoid the marker cause you might get it all over your fingers and it's a mess to get off." Willow took in a deep breath. "Ya get it at all?"

"Umm...well I think I'll st-stick with a few clothes. I w-would like to g-get some clothes like you g-got for yourself, if that's n-not too much." Tara said.

"Too much! Too much? Never too much. If that's what my girlfriend wants then my girlfriend shall have it." Willow said defiantly.

Women and a few men around the store stared at Willow and Tara. Willow stepped forward and crossed her arms, "What? Do you all have a problem with me and my girlfriend? Yes! This...is...my...girlfriend." She pointed to Tara who seemed to be glowing but nervous at the same time of all the public attention. <Did she just say GIRLFRIEND!?!>

"This is the woman that I care about a hell of a lot and if you people have a problem with it, then you can kiss my pearly white ass!" <Girlfriend. Girlfriend? O.K. Tara's my girlfriend. Yea for me!>

Tara put the shirt back on the rack. She walked over to Willow and put her hand in hers. "Let's g-g-go. We c-can look in other st-stores." She whispered in the redhead's ear.

She looked at the customers who were standing there in bewilderment and gave them an apologetic smile.

"See, now you upset her! She doesn't even want to shop here and I don't fucking blame her! Bunch of homophobic ass holes!" Willow screamed as Tara pulled her outside and quickly walked further down the isle.

"Tara? Wait." Willow halted.

Tara let Willow's hand go and turned to face her, "Willow you are g-going to get us in trouble. But thank you f-for saying what you did, but you d-didn't have to?"

Willow recaptured Tara's hand in hers. "Baby, I know I didn't have to say it, I wanted to. You are special and beautiful and I would be more than proud for you to be my girlfriend if you want to be."

"Oh yes. I w-would love to be your girlfriend and I love you." Tara said feeling warmth overwhelm her. <?I have a girlfriend. I have a beautiful redheaded girlfriend. I have Willow Rosenberg as a girlfriend.?> Tara happily sung in her head. "Let's g-go down here and look around."

Tara led the way with a little skip to the store and went in. Willow smiled and stayed close behind.

"Hold it right there." A security guard came up behind Willow.

Willow turned around, "What?!" Willow looked to make sure that Tara had gone into the store enough to where she couldn't hear the conversation.

"I think you need to leave ma'am. And if I have to I will restrain you and escort you out." The man unsnapped his pepper spray holder.

"You are making a huge mistake mister. So why don't you take your Mickey Mouse ass back to the donut shop and stay outta my way." Willow turned to walk back in the store.

The man grabbed Willow by the arm and twirled her around. "I said you need to leave. Now!"

Willow smacked his hand away. "Don't ever touch me again." She poked his chest. "I really don't wanna have them rip that little tin badge off your shirt." She flipped the badge with a tink.

Willow reached in her back pocket and the man reached for his pepper spray.


"Hey Tara, you find what you're looking for." Willow walked up to the blonde who had her hands full.

"Umm...just g-gonna try these on. Is that alright?"

"Sure. You go ahead and I'll just wait right here for you. I won't move from this spot." Willow pointed at her feet. "I won't even breathe a lot to make sure you know that I mean it. Nope won't move. Watch me not moving."

Tara giggled and took Willow's hand. "Humm...I might n-not trust you. I think I will have to t-take you with me." Tara grinned and pulled Willow back to the dressing rooms.

"Oooo. This could be fun." Willow darted into the dressing room with Tara.


Willow pulled up to a two story brick house. "Well, I suppose this is the place. According to the map I got off my computer, it should be. Maybe you should go up to the door and ask, I mean if you want to. So ya know..." Willow was cut short once again by Tara's lips.

"I saw the n-name Fields on the mailbox. I think w-we got the right pl-place." Tara took Willow's hand in hers and kissed it.

Willow smiled, "Well, let's go meet the woman who's gonna change your life."

Tara leaned into Willow, "I already have."

Willow blushed and pulled the car further up the driveway.

Tara walked up to the front door. She took in a calming breath and rang the doorbell. <Alright. Here we are waiting to talk to a woman that I barely remember and I am arriving with my girlfriend.> A smile appeared on her lips. <I just hope Ann doesn't freak out.>

Willow walked up behind Tara and ran her finger up and down her arm. She noticed the worry look on the blonde's face, "Hey. It'll be alright. You'll see." Willow kissed Tara on the cheek and pulled back when the door opened.

Quickly Tara was swooped in a breath taking hug. The woman pulled back looked up and down the girl and before Tara knew it she was back in the bone crushing embrace again.

"Oh Tara. Oh god, it is really you." Ann clung to her and cried.

"It's alright Ann. I-I'm here." Tara rubbed her hand up and down the woman's back and looked over at Willow with her brows crinkled.

Ann pulled back and wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry dear. I just..." She grasped Tara's hand and led her into the house.

<Nice to meet you too Ann.> Willow thought as she followed the two inside.

Ann led Tara into the living room and sat them both on the couch. Willow walked in. She looked around and found a chair to sit in.

"How are you doing my dear?" Ann said.

"Fine. J-just kinda t-tired from the trip." Tara said then looked over at Willow. "Ann this is my g-girlfriend Willow." <Please don't freak.>

Ann turned her head to Willow. "I'm sorry Willow. Thank you for bringing Tara all this way. I have two guest rooms. If you would like, you can stay the night. I wouldn't want you driving during the dark."

Willow's eyes widened, "Excuse me?"

Tara shook her head, "No Ann. Willow's my g-girlfriend." She emphasized the last words, "As in m-my lover." <Or hopefully soon to be.>

Willow crossed her arms and smirked. <Told your ass didn't she! Ha! Ha! Ha!>

Ann looked at Tara with a not too shocked look on her face. She smiled and squeezed Tara's hand tighter. "Oh Tara, I have so much to explain to you hun. You are so much like your mother. Beautiful, smart, and in love...with a woman no less. And I was in love with her too."

"Wh-what?! Tara exclaimed looking at Ann then at Willow who had her mouth hung wide open, then back to Ann who smiled. She got off the couch and walked over and sat in a rocking chair.

"Willow, I apologize. Please sit beside of Tara." Willow got up from her chair and sat beside of Tara taking her hand.

"Like I said, there is so much to tell you. Would you both like something to drink?" Ann asked.

Willow and Tara both shook their heads. They wanted Ann to continue with her more than shocking story.

"Let me begin. I was very attracted to your mother when I first met her, but I knew she was married to your father, Tara. So I just let her know, when James wasn't around of course, that I wanted to be her friend. I didn't tell her that I was interested in her until a good while later. I would hear her and your father get into some major arguments and then the next day I noticed the bruises on her face. You were almost seven then."

Tara closed her eyes. She shook her head at the revelation she was all too familiar with.

Ann continued, "One day I looked over the fence and noticed your mother was sitting and crying in the backyard. I walked over to her and saw the cuts and bruises all over her face that were the worst she had ever suffered. I took her back inside my house and cleaned her up. After many times of cleaning her wounds and trying to convince her to leave James, the attraction between us came to a head and...well...you get the idea."

Willow looked at Tara. The girl just sat there as if she were frozen. "Umm...Ann I think we'll take that drink now."

"Of course." Ann got up from her chair and walked into the kitchen.

Willow patted Tara's hand, "Tara baby? You O.K.?"

Tara turned her head. A single tear escaped from her eye. "I c-can't believe...I d-don't know what to...how c-can I..."

Willow gently kissed Tara on the cheek, "We'll figure it out together sweetheart."

Tara leaned her head on Willow's shoulder. Willow wrapped her arms around.

"Is iced tea alright for you girls?" Ann asked holding two glasses.

"It's fine. Thanks." Willow took her glass and gulped down half of it. Tara took hers and just held it, running the cool glass across her forehead.

Ann walked back into the kitchen. She came out carrying a platter of finger sandwiches, napkins and another glass of tea. She placed the platter and napkins on the coffee table in front of Willow and Tara. "I thought you girls might want something to munch on. I generally eat dinner around seven so we have two hours before."

"Thanks Ann." Willow said picking up a sandwich and a napkin. She looked at Tara who sat there shaking her head in refusal. Ann took her seat.

"Ann?" Tara began.

"Yes dear."

"I d-don't understand any of this. My...my mom w-was gay and why d-didn't she leave dad." Tara took a much needed drink of her tea.

"It's a little complicated dear. Yes your mother was gay. I never did understand why she stayed with that awful man. I think it was because she thought you needed a male figure in your life."

"D-do you know what h-he has done to me for years and y-years?" Tara took in a shattering breath.

"I know that your mother found out that he was touching you and after she found out she planned on leaving him. But unfortunately, she died. I believe it was complications with her pregnancy." Ann said plainly.

Tara's glass hit the floor and her limp body fell on Willow.

"Tara. Tara. Come back to me. Baby? Come on." Willow rubbed Tara's cheek.

Tara moaned as she moved her head back and forth. She slowly opened her eyes. "Willow?"

"I'm right here baby." Willow kissed Tara on the lips.

Tara pulled Willow down on top of her with their lips never parting. Willow moaned at the abrupt movement. Tara licked Willow's lips asking for the invitation. Willow complied. Their kiss became passionate. Tara pulled up on Willow's shirt. Willow pulled back taking in gasp of air.

"Baby, we can't. For one thing we are on the couch and Ann is in the kitchen doing the dinner thing. And even though I would love to lay her and let you...well ya know...I think we need to get up."

Tara smiled at the babbling redhead. "I love you."

Willow smiled and stood up. She held out her hand and pulled Tara up too.

"Dinner's ready you two love birds." Ann smiled and turned back around and entered the kitchen.

Willow, still holding Tara's hand, led her in the kitchen.

Dinner was a quiet affair. Tara would occasionally look over in Ann's direction but dropped her head back down.

After clearing the table Ann cleared her throat. "Tara, would you like to talk more."

"No n-not now. I think I'll g-go Take a shower." Tara walked out of the kitchen.

Willow walked back in the house from smoking.

"Hey Tara. Where ya goin'?"

"I'm g-going to take a shower. This d-day has been very..."

"Complicated?"

Tara nodded. "And I j-just need to relax."

"Oh O.K. Well, I'll...umm...take one after you're done." Willow shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

Tara closed the distance between them, "You know y-you could come with me." She said seductively.

"Uh...<tempting oh so tempting> I think I'll keep Ann company until you're done."

Tara smiled, "Well sweetie, s-suit yourself." She kissed Willow and walked up the stairs.

Willow watched her. <Damn! What a woman.> Willow smiled and shook her head as she walked further into the house.

"Willow dear, are you finding everything to your liking?" Ann asked as she finished up the dishes.

"Yes. Thanks for everything. And dinner was great. I haven't had a home cooked meal in so long."

Willow sat down at the table.

"Oh poor thing. Doesn't your mother cook for you?" Ann took a seat across from Willow.

"Uh...well...no. She's never home. She works a lot." Willow fiddled with her hands.

"I'm sorry. Well, as long as you're here, you will not go without a home cooked meal." Ann reached and patted Willow's hand.

"Thanks. That sounds great. Umm...so I would like to hear more of what you were talking about, that is before Tara passed out. Big news for her. Kinda took her off guard. But she's practically been through hell and back so I think she will be able to handle more than what we can give her credit for."

Ann looked at Willow with amazement.

"What?" Willow asked.

"You got all that out without taking a single breath." Ann giggled.

"Well, I have a tendency to ramble on and on."

"I think it's cute and I'm sure Tara does too."

Willow smiled and nodded. "So she tells me."

"As far as telling you anything, Willow, I would like to discuss it with Tara as well. She really needs to understand a lot. I would however like to hear how you two met."

"Oh well, we met at school. And she just captivated me the first time I saw her. I just hated when I saw her the other morning and she had this huge bruise on her face. Then the day went on and her father came back home and started raping her and so I knocked him out and locked his ass in the basement."

"You...you locked him in the basement!?" Ann's face was of total shock.

"Yeah sure did. I called the cops and I hope they picked him up. But we found all this information about her mom's will and different other things. And so that's why were here."

"Oh lord; I don't know what to say. It's amazing you girls got out of there with your lives."

"What's a-amazing?" Tara asked as she entered the kitchen.

"Hey baby. Do you feel better now?" Willow asked. She got up from the table and made her way over to the blonde. She gave her a slight kiss on the lips. "I'm gonna go jump in the shower."

Tara gave Willow a hug and watched her leave the kitchen.

"What were you all t-talking about?" Tara asked as she took Willow's seat at the table.

"I was telling Willow it was amazing how you all made it out of your house alive. You were risking a lot dealing with him like that."

"I j-just hope that he d-doesn't get out. I h-hope he stays in there and rots." Hatred shown in Tara's eyes.

"Willow told me that she called the police so they will take care of everything dear." Ann said reassuringly.

"She did what!?" Tara exclaimed. "Without evidence t-to h-hold him, he'll c-come look f-for m-me. Oh god!" Tara left the room and ran upstairs.

"Willow." She knocked on the door. "Willow." She knocked louder. "Willow!" She banged the side of her fist on the door.

The bathroom door swung open. Willow stood there dripping wet with a towel half wrapped around her. "Tara! What's wrong?"

Tara walked into the bathroom and closed the door. "Why d-didn't you t-tell me you called the p-police about d-dad before w-we left the h-house?"

Willow noticed Tara's stutter was more obvious. "I thought I d-did."

"No you d-didn't. You know w-w-without evidence, they c-can't hold h-him." Tara was shaken.

"Baby, I told them what happened to you. They said they would keep him until you get back. I really thought I told you but I'm sorry if didn't." <Oh you fucked up on that one Willow.>

"Willow, I d-don't intend to go back." Tara said plain out.

"We'll find another way baby. We won't let him get away with the things he's done. I promise."

Tara sighed. "I hope you're right."

"O.K. All settled. But...um...I need to get finished with my shower. Some beautiful gorgeous blonde kind of interrupted me." Willow smiled.

Tara kissed Willow. She smiled and walked out of the bathroom. She walked into the guest bedroom and saw Ann standing with blankets in her arms.

"I thought you might want these. It could get a little chilly tonight."

"Thanks you." Tara said taking the blankets and laying them on the bed.

"Is everything alright dear?" Ann asked. "I know you were a little upset when you ran out of the kitchen."

"Everything's f-fine. Just a l-little misunderstanding is all." Tara said.

"She didn't tell you she called the police did she? That's strange though. Oh well, as long as you two made up."

"It's f-fine thank you." Tara pulled the covers back on the bed.

"Alright Tara, if you say so. I'll be going to bed now. Goodnight." Ann walked out and closed the door.

Tara stood there gazing off, <Why is Willow hiding things from me?> She felt warm arms wrap around her waist.

"Hey sweetie." Willow said resting her chin on Tara's shoulder.

"Hey." Tara said dryly.

Willow walked in front of the blonde, "You alright? You seem kinda distracted. Are you upset with me?"

Tara stepped around Willow to arrange the pillows.

"Tara if there's something wrong, please tell me. I can't stand the idea you might be mad especially at me." Willow paranoia was setting in.

"Why are y-you hiding things from m-me?" Tara asked folding her arms around her waist.

"Hiding? I didn't realize I was hiding anything." <Oh fuck!>

"Well, some things w-with you don't add up."

"What do you want to know Tara? I'll be happy to explain anything to you. But I want you to know that I am not hiding anything from you. Yeah I may have forgotten to tell you I called the cops, but what's the big fucking deal. I'm sorry O.K." Willow was trying her best to explain.

"You don't g-get it. It's not that easy."

"Well what the hell do you want me to do Tara. I can't reverse time and change it." Willow wasn't getting the point of why Tara was so upset.

Tara could tell Willow was getting upset and she didn't want to deal with a pissed off redhead tonight. "You know, we're not going to do this now. I'm tired." Tara got under the covers.

"O.K." Willow said lamely. "We'll just forget it ever happened." Willow turned off the lights and crawled in the bed.

<Alright. Maybe I'm making a little too much out of this. This is Willow. This is the woman I love.> Tara snuggled up to Willow and giggled, "Ooh, your feet are cold."

Willow smiled "You better warm me up."

"Mmmm. You know, this is h-how everyday should end and st-start and all the stuff in the m-middle." Tara pecked Willow on the cheek.

"So you're not mad?" Willow asked unsure about the turn of events.

Tara started making circles on Willow's arm with her finger, "I d-don't want any more s-secrets." She exhaled then took in a deep breath. "I've been shielded away from everything in l-life. I couldn't even m-make my own d-decisions. I am starting a n-new life Willow. I'm j-just shaken up."

"Well sure, with all you've been through."

"It's j-just hard. I f-feel like an outsider." Tara said shyly.

"Tara, you're not an outsider." Willow reassured her.

"Well, yeah I k-kinda am."

"No. No you're not."

"Willow, it's O.K."

"Am I making you feel outta place?" Willow said worriedly.

"No. You j-just have a different life than I d-do. You know, you're in the crowd with Faith an-and Buffy and that g-guy from the bar, Spiff? Sparky?"

"Spike." Willow corrected.

"Yeah, him t-too. I j-just feel like I'm n-not in the same class."

"Tara, you are in a class all by yourself. I know you've had it bad, really bad but I'm here to help you any way I can."

Tara blushed, "Thank you. I love you Willow."

Willow kissed Tara gently, "Let's just get some sleep and put all the bad stuff behind."

Tara yawned. "Bad stuff g-gone. Goodnight darling."

"Goodnight baby." Willow kissed Tara on top of the head. She listened as Tara's breathing slowed down to a rhythm. <Oh Tara, I love you so much. I just hope you can forgive me.>

Willow closed her eyes. She snuggled closer to Tara and was soon asleep.


Continue to Stratagem Chapter Seven


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