Return to Stratagem Chapter Seven


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)

"Happy Birthday Tara!" Ann walked into the room holding a cupcake with a lit candle stuck in it.

Tara stretched and smiled, "Are you g-going to say that tomorrow on m-my real birthday?"

"Oh you poor thing, you don't remember." Ann put the plate on the nightstand.

"Remember what?" Tara asked puzzled. She sat up in the bed.

"Tara you have been so sick. You practically slept all day yesterday and last night. The only time you were up was when you had to go to the bathroom and I had to feed you. I called the doctor the other night and told him you were sick. He came by yesterday and said you had the flu and it was the worst case he had ever seen. I took care of you the whole time."

Tara was surprised but relieved to hear that someone was there for her. She reached out her arms, "Thank you."

Ann bent down and hugged the blonde, "You're welcome my dear. Now blow out your candle." Ann picked up the plate.

Tara took in a deep breath and blew the candle out.

"There. Did you make a wish?" Ann said with not much expression on her face.

"No." Tara sighed. <Willow's gone. There's not much to wish for.> "I think I'm g-going to take a bath." Tara stood up and grabbed the wall to keep from falling.

"Are you sure?" Ann helped Tara steady her balance.

Tara nodded and stood upright.

"Well, let me help you to the bathroom and then I'm going to have to leave or I'll be late." Ann walked Tara to the bathroom door.

"Late f-for what?"

"Sweetie, it's Sunday and I go to church. Now don't you do too much around here. There is some tea in the refrigerator. I want you to drink as much today as you can. I'll be back home around three o'clock. We're having a dinner. I'll bring you some food." Ann smiled and let go of her hold on Tara.

"Thank you. You're an a-angel." Tara waved goodbye and went into the bathroom.

Tara filled the bathtub. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were terribly bloodshot and her color was pale. <Boy, I look real good.>

She carefully slipped into the tub. She laid her head back on the wall and relaxed.

Tara wrapped a towel around her wet hair and her body. She walked out of the bathroom and opened her bedroom door.


Tara screamed and backed out of the room.

Willow stood up from the bed and walked over to the blonde.

"Willow? What are you d-doing here?" Tara walked back in.

Willow walked closer. "Oh my god! What the hell did she do to you?" Willow noticed the appearance of her love.

"Who are y-you talking about?" Tara put her hands on her hips.

"Ann! What the hell did she do? You look awful." Willow held out her hand trying to caress Tara's cheek.

"Oh gee Will. Y-you look f-fucking great yourself." Tara said sarcastically and walked around the concerned redhead.

"Tara. I didn't mean it like that. To me you will always be beautiful. But your eyes are shot and you look tired."

"For your information I've been s-sick. The only thing Ann h-has done was take care of me and stayed w-with me the entire time, which is m-more than I c-can say for you."

"I'm sorry I left. I regretted it since I walked out the door." Willow tried again to approach Tara. Willow reached her hand out, but Tara leaned back. Willow dropped her hand and sighed.

"What d-do you want Willow?"

"I came to tell you that you're in danger. We have to get you out of here now." Willow's voice was serious.

Tara stared into those green eyes. She almost ran into Willow's arms, but she refrained. She turned around and looked out the window, "Willow, I'm in n-no danger. So j-just go." Tears welled up in her eyes.

"Tara you have to listen to me." Willow pleaded.

"I said go!" Tara demanded but refused to look around.

Willow picked up the lamp on the nightstand and smashed it against the wall on the other side of the bed.

Tara jerked her body around.

"Listen to me! You may be pissed and well I don't blame you because I'm pissed off at myself too! But goddamn it, I am not going to let you get hurt!"

"Ha! Why the hell should you care?! You're just after my money!" Tara screamed at the top of her lungs.

"What?! I don't give a fuck about your money!"

"Then t-tell me why y-you are here." Tara crossed her arms.

Willow calmed herself. "I told you, you need to get out. You have no idea what you're up against here." She took in a deep breath. "I want you to look at these." Willow reached in her back pocket and handed Tara a folded piece of paper.

Tara took the paper, "What's this?"

"Just open it, please."

Tara sighed. She opened the paper and read. "I d-don't get it. What is this?"

"It's a copy of all of the calls coming and going out of this house." Willow walked closer. She pointed out numerous items. "I believe this number is the one that goes to you're house in Sunnydale?" Tara dropped the paper on the floor. Willow bent down and picked it up.

"Tara. I'm sorry. I wish I could..."

"Where d-did you get this?" Tara couldn't believe what was given to her.

"I...uh...I found it on the internet." Willow shifted nervously.

"You found it on the c-computer?" Tara asked unconvinced.

"Well yeah. I hate to say this but I'm a major computer nerd. Can't believe such a hot mamma yamma is such a spaz?" Willow smiled.

Tara shook her head, closed her eyes and smiled. <God she is so cute.> "Willow, you could have m-made this up."

Willow folded the paper and slipped it back in her pocket. "Tara I swear to you that I didn't make this up."

Tara walked over to the bed and plopped down dishearten. Willow walked over and knelt down in front of her and held Tara's hand.

"Baby, I have something else to show you." Willow pulled out another folded piece of paper and handed it over.

Tara closed her eyes and sighed. She unfolded the paper to read a print out of a newspaper article.

Local police investigated the death of Jacquelyn Yeary. Her apparent cause of death was, as suspected, suicide. She was found by her fiancé James Maclay.
Mr. Maclay stated that he came home from work and found her hanging from the top of the staircase.
"I am just relieved that my daughter wasn't home to find her mother like that."
According to James, his daughter was at their neighbor Ann Fields' house at the time of the incident. Ms. Fields was questioned by the police and she stated that she personally knew the victim.
"Jackie has been very depressed lately. She left her daughter with me saying she was going to the store. I never suspected this would happen."
Police say there was no indication of foul play.
"This was a clear case of suicide." Stated Chief of Police Herbert Canage.

Tara placed the paper on the bed.

"There's one more thing." Willow handed Tara the last paper.

"Do I r-really want to know?" Tara looked at the paper.

"No. No! NO! NO! I...this...NO!" Tara screamed.

Willow knew this would happen. She sat on the bed beside of Tara and held her tight while she sobbed.

"Tara baby, we have to leave." Willow said.

Tara's cries abruptly stopped. She sat up and stared at Willow. "I'm not leaving." She said plainly.

"What? No, Tara. We have to go." Willow said confused.

"They h-have to pay. I...I don't know how but they will pay." Tara said through clenched teeth.

"Baby, please." Willow begged.

Tara stood up, "You d-don't have to stay."

"Do you honestly think that I am going to leave, knowing that you are here, with them? I don't think so."

"You d-did before." Tara said in a low tone.

Willow sighed, "I'm sorry I left. It's just...damn it."

Tara faced the redhead, "What?"

Willow stood and reached for Tara's hand happy that she didn't pull away. "I want you to know that I'm sorry for leaving and for saying everything I did."

Tara dropped her head down. "I thought s-so."

"Huh?" Willow thought back to the last conversation between the two. <I'm sorry that I wasn't initiated into your kiddy club house. You're the only woman I've ever fallen in love with, but I suppose you're too immature to ever take me seriously.>

"Tara. I said things that I didn't mean. People do that a lot when they are mad and I want you to know that I don't think you are immature. You are the bravest woman I know. And note that I said woman. And I want you to know that I...I love you. God, I have loved you ever since I first saw you." Tara looked into those soulful green eyes, "What?" She couldn't believe what she heard. She had wanted to hear those words for so long.

"I said I love you. I love you Tara Maclay." Willow was relieved that she said the words she had held back for so long.

"I love you too, Willow. Are y-you sure?" Tara's doubt set in.

"I told you before baby, I don't say things I don't mean.!" Willow caressed the blonde's cheek. "I feel horrible about everything I put you through and I'm going to make it up to you, starting right now."

"Right now?" Tara's eyes welled up with tears and her heart filled with love.

Willow beamed a smile at the woman. She nodded her head letting Tara know that she meant it.

Both leaned in for a long needed kiss.

Willow pulled back, "Oh god Tara. I want you. I need you."

"You have me." Tara moved in. She put her hand behind Willow's head, pushing her tongue in the moaning redhead's mouth.

Willow wrapped her hands around Tara's waist, pulling her closer. Willow's hand roamed up Tara's back and the other massaged her ass.

Tara moaned, "Mmmm. Oh Willow." She sucked on Willow's lips, moving to her cheek then to her ear, sucking on the tender lobe.

Willow gulped. ""

"Hmmm." Tara moved her mouth down and sucked on Willow's pulse point.

Willow pulled back. Tara looked in those emerald green eyes. Willow stared in the sea blue ones. She reached up and pulled the towel off Tara's head letting her wet dark blonde hair flow down to her shoulders. Willow gently combed her hand through, twisting the ends slightly. She kissed the soft shoulders and sucked slightly. Tara moved her head back wanting Willow to kiss her sensitive neck. Willow complied kissing from one side to the other.

"Willow?" Tara breathed out. She felt her legs getting weak. "Lay...ahh...down."

Willow moved them over to the bed. "This must go." She took her finger and traced down the crevice between the blonde's breasts. Willow looked into Tara's eyes and without warning, Tara felt the towel drop from her body. She shuttered feeling the coolness hit her back.

"Willow, I love you." Tara said and moved her hands under Willow's shirt removing it. She stood there in awe looking at her beauty in a black lace bra. Tara gently ran her finger over the freckles down between Willow's breasts back up to her neck. She stopped at one in particular and placed her hot mouth there and sucked lightly. She smiled when she felt goose bumps rise under her lips. Tara reached behind Willow and unfastened her bra. She raised her head and Willow let out a whimper from the lost contact. Tara kissed Willow's lips which brought out a deep moan. Tara's hands roamed up Willow's shoulders, moving the straps down along her arms. She adverted her eyes from the beautiful red lips down and watched her hands remove the garment.

"Oh baby." Tara kissed Willow's lips, neck and moved to one breast. She took her tongue and circled the nipple and then took the erect peak in her mouth. Willow smiled and sighed. She arched her back and Tara sucked in more. Tara moved her hands down Willow's sides and around the waist band of her jeans. With one finger she slipped the button out of the hole. Willow's eyes widened at her lovers skilled movements.

"Tara." Willow breathed out. "Tara sweetie."

Tara rose up and smiled. "Yes?" Her hands gently pulled the zipper down. She felt the brim of Willow's panties and stroked the front of the tight muscular stomach.

"I...uh...think we should..."

"Lie down?" Tara finished with a desirable growl.

"Uh huh." Willow squeaked out.

Tara sat down on the bed and pulled Willow close. She took her head and massaged her face on the beautiful breasts that were in front of her. Willow ran her hand through Tara's hair enjoying the feel and relishing in the fact that she was going to make love to her goddess, without her nagging voice telling her otherwise. All she heard was <Go Wil-low! Go Wil-low! It's ya birthday...well its Tara's birthday but Go Wil-low!!>

Tara kissed each of Willow's breasts and moved down her stomach.

"Oh god Tara."

Tara licked around the navel and traveled her tongue down and barely touched the fabric of Willow's panties and slowly made her way up leaving a glossy wet trail. She felt her love's stomach rise up and down rapidly. She looked up and Willow stood there with her head thrown back, her mouth open and a smile of ecstasy on her face.

Tara moved her hand up to Willow's arm. Willow looked down and knew what Tara wanted.

Willow maneuvered around and laid down on the bed. Tara laid on her side, caressing Willow's breast with her hands.

Willow sat up slightly. She traced Tara's body with her eyes. The heat inside her core flared more when she saw the soft honey colored curls. Willow closed her eyes and looked into the now deep blue eyes, "Baby you are gorgeous. Your skin is so soft." Willow stroked her hand down and up Tara's body. She stopped when she came across a wide scar on Tara's shoulder. Her smile instantly left. "Should I even ask how you got this?"

Tara head dropped and her hair covered her face. Willow gently tucked Tara's hair behind her ear and stroked her cheek making Tara stare into her eyes.

"Let me show you what real love is. I want you to know how much I do love you." Willow cupped Tara's face and kissed her gently.

Tears streamed down Tara's face. She quietly sobbed.

Willow pulled back and smiled. "I love you Tara." She wiped the tears from the blonde's face.

"I love you Willow." Tara said in a strained voice.

Willow licked her lips as she saw Tara lean in. The kiss started slow, tasting and enjoying the feel of each other's lips. As the kiss became more passionate, Willow caressed under Tara's breast hearing a slight moan. Tara stood up abruptly.

"What's wrong?" Willow asked slightly surprised by the interruption.

Tara reached down and slowly removed Willow's shoes one by one then the socks. She tugged at the waist band of Willow's jeans. "These have to go." She said passionately.

Willow raised her hips off the bed as Tara pulled the denim off the white creamy legs. She looked up and down the wanting redhead's body and stopped when she looked at the black lace panties that matched the bra. "And these have to go too." Tara rubbed her hands up Willow's thighs. She stopped at the crotch and rubbed slightly. Willow hissed at the touch. The pool of wetness inside of Tara trickled down her leg. She slipped the panties off Willow's legs and flung them over her shoulder getting a chuckle from her love.

Tara's mouth watered as she gazed at the wiry copper curls.

"C'mere." Willow held out her arms.

Tara moved seductively over Willow, straddling her hips.

Willow watched and smiled. When Tara positioned herself, Willow placed her hands on the blonde's hips. Tara lowered herself down. Their breast came together eliciting moans from them both. Their lips touched with all the passion and love that could be given in one kiss. Willow rubbed up and down Tara's back and enveloped her in a hug.

Tara broke the kiss and looked into Willow's eyes. "I love you."

With her strength, Willow rolled them both over, "I love you baby." She took Tara's neck in her mouth and sucked gently.

Tara rocked her hips up and down slightly. She could feel her wetness dripping on the bed.

Willow moved her hand down and caressed Tara's breast, twisting the nipple hearing Tara's beautiful sounds of pleasure.

Tara bucked her hips higher. ""

Willow knew instantly. She moved slightly to the side and slid her hand down to Tara's soft curls. She cupped her hand and let her palm rest on the hair. Willow raised her head and smiled at the blonde. She lowered her head over one of Tara's breast and at the same time she took the nipple in her mouth, she gently pushed one of her fingers inside her lover's core.

"Mmmaaaaahhhhhh!" Tara sounded out. She threw her hips up even higher making Willow's finger enter deeper.

Willow let go of Tara's nipple, kissing and sucking her way down. Tara's moans became louder as Willow descended. Willow licked the inside of Tara's thigh as she slowly pushed and pulled her finger in and out of the desirable blonde. She inhaled the wanting scent that was inches from her face.

Willow pulled her finger out and looked up at Tara.

Tara looked down. "Oh baby, please don't stop." She breathed out.

Willow smiled and lowered her head. She took her finger and traced up and down from the bottom of the swollen flesh to the entrance of Tara's core. She blew on the clit making the blonde shiver. Willow turned her hand around. She quickly took the nub in her mouth and pushed two fingers inside.

Tara screamed out in pleasure at the redhead's movements. She grabbed the back of Willow's head urging her on as her other clinched the sheets, pulling them off the corner.

Willow was in total ecstasy, feeling her lover writhing underneath her touch and tasting the juices that constantly flowed out. Willow turned her fingers upwards massaging the g-spot. Tara's movements were uncontrollable. Willow felt the strong constriction around her fingers. Tara gasped in air.

Willow knew the time was right. "I love you Tara." She removed her fingers and replaced them with her tongue. She curled her tongue and pushed it in as hard as she could, tasting the change inside.

"WILLLOOOOWWW!" Tara screamed out while clenching her legs around Willow's head.

Willow moaned as she felt the warm liquid rush in her mouth. She removed her tongue and flicked it across Tara's clit. "Oh yes, yes YESSSS!!!" Tara yelled as another orgasm ripped through her.

Willow licked all the juices that flowed out. She looked up at her love. "You taste so good Tara."

Tara cupped Willow's face. "Come up here with me."

Willow crawled her way up Tara's body and bent down to kiss her. Tara's tongue sought dominance over Willow's. She moaned when she tasted herself.

Tara gently pushed Willow on her back. She rose up and stared into dark green eyes. "I want you so bad." She growled.

"Then take what's yours." Willow said.

Tara stroked Willow's cheek then up through her hair. She moved her hand down Willow's neck, shoulders and stopped to massage her breast.

Willow laid there letting Tara take the lead. She watched her beauty's face. <I love you Tara.> She thought.

"I love you too Willow." Tara said.

"How did you do that?" Willow asked surprised.

"Do what?" Tara asked never stopping her hands.

"You read my mind. I was just thinking 'I love you Tara' and then you said 'I love you too Willow' so obviously you can read minds and that is so cool. I thought that..."

Tara placed her finger on Willow's lips, "Doofuss, I c-can't read minds. I read it in your eyes." Tara blushed and smiled.

"Well duh!" Willow rolled her eyes and giggled then moaned when Tara gently twisted her nipple.

Tara kissed down Willow's neck and to her breast. She gently took the hardened peak in her mouth. She lightly sucked while her hand moved down.

"Yessss Tara." Willow hissed out. She closed her eyes.

Tara licked the place under the pert breast. She looked up at Willow and the look on the redhead's face sent a new heat through her. Her hand reached the curls of red hair. She took her fingers and ran them through causing a new sound to emerge from her love.

Tara kissed and nipped her way down to where her hand laid. She ran her face through the soft hair and took in the smell of Willow's sex. Her finger came across a hard piece of flesh. She took her finger and circled around it and ran her tongue across it at the same time.

"Oh my god!" Willow's eyes popped open as she called out, bucking her hips up off the mattress. Tara continued to circle the clit with her tongue. She slipped two fingers inside Willow's core causing the untamed redhead to sit straight up and flop back on the bed. She grabbed Tara's hair. With her other hand she reached up to the headboard. She grabbed one of the bars that were placed in there. Tara flicked her tongue and then long licks across the nub. When she felt Willow grab her hair, she sucked in the flesh while pumping her fingers in and out.

"Tara, TARA! TAARRAAAA!" Willow screamed out as the explosion rushed through her. She pulled one of the bars out of the headboard and threw it across the room causing it to stick in the wall. Tara crawled up Willow's body without removing her fingers. She kissed her lover passionately. She circled Willow's clit with her thumb and pushed her fingers on the g-spot.

Willow bucked her hips almost throwing Tara off her. "TAARRAAAA!" Willow screamed out again around Tara's mouth. Tara gently moved her fingers in and out riding out her lover's climax. Tara pulled her fingers out and laid her hand across Willow's heart, feeling the racing heartbeat and listening to the panting slow.

Willow smiled and kissed Tara on the forehead. "I love you baby."

Tara's own breathing was returning to normal. "I love you too."

Willow started laughing. Tara looked up. "What?" She smiled, loving the sound of the fit of giggles.

"I made a mess." Willow looked up at the headboard and then at the wall.

"Yeah you did." Tara started laughing herself.

"Let's see how much more damage I can do." Willow looked at Tara and wiggled her eyebrows.

"Oooo, I like that idea." Tara whispered in Willow's hear causing her to shiver.

Willow and Tara spent hours making love and confessing their feelings for one another.

Tara held Willow, who was resting her head on the blonde's shoulder.

"Mmmm, this is nice." Willow said as she snuggled closer.

"Umm Humm." Tara replied running her fingers up and down Willow's arm.

Willow buried her face down on Tara's chest and growled.

"What's wrong?" Tara asked.

"Call of nature always hits at the most inopportune times and here I was sooo comfortable." Willow pouted.

"Aww, poor baby." Tara chuckled.

Willow propped herself up and gave the blonde a quick kiss on the lips. "Be right back."

Willow stood and walked towards the door. She turned around when she heard whistling and clapping.

"Whoo Hoo!" Tara exclaimed, enjoying the beauty in front of her.

Willow smiled, turned back around and wiggled her butt as she walked out the door.

Tara laughed as she settled herself on the pillows. <Oh yes! Yahoo! Hot damn! And all that other great stuff. Willow is mine and I am hers. Things couldn't get any better than this.> Tara sighed and closed her eyes.

Tara heard a door open then close. "Tara! I'm back home!" Ann called from downstairs.

Tara's eyes widened. <But they can get worse! Shit!!!> She shot straight up. She scurried around throwing clothes on and kicking Willow's under the bed.

Tara rushed to the door and jerked it open. Ann stood there with a shocked expression.

"Tara! You scared me half to death." The woman put her hand on her chest.

"Oh...heh...s-sorry." Tara stood there shifting from one foot to the other, trying to guard any view that Ann might have inside the room.

"Are you alright?" Ann asked curiously. She stood on her toes, looking over Tara's shoulder.

"Uh huh. Fine. B-better than f-fine." A sheen of sweat formed on the blonde's brow.

"Tara, what are you hiding?" Ann asked as she crossed her arms over her chest and raised her brow.

Tara took an audible gulp. "I-I w-was redecorating <broken lamp, post missing off the headboard with one sticking out of the wall> and I...uh...w-wanted to s-surprise you." Tara smiled as sweetly as she could. Her heart was pounding so hard she could feel it in her head.

Ann smiled. "Alright dear. I'll let you continue. I brought you back a plate of food." Ann turned around and headed towards the bathroom.

"Where are you going?!" Tara exclaimed.

Ann jumped. "Tara honey, calm down. I'm just going to the bathroom. A lady at out church made some chili and its not settling too well with me." Ann held her lower stomach. She opened the bathroom and Tara was right there in the door way. "Tara, what has gotten in to you?"

Tara quickly looked around over Ann's shoulder and didn't see Willow anywhere. "I...uh...I thought I l-left something in there earlier wh-when I took my b-bath."

"Well can it wait? I really need to go hun. I'll only be a few minutes." Ann gently pushed Tara out of the doorway and closed the door.

Tara paced back and forth in front of the bathroom. <Where is Willow? I wonder if she heard Ann come home and hid somewhere else?>

Tara walked down the hall to Ann's room. She looked in the closet and under the bed. <Nothing. Damn it!> Tara walked out and headed downstairs. She checked in every room whispering out Willow's name. <Where the hell is she?>

Tara rushed back upstairs. She paced back and forth in front of the bathroom again. <Come on, come on.>

Tara walked back in her room. She sat down on the bed, biting on her nails. <Oh god if Willow's stuck in the bathroom...>

She was brought out of her thoughts when she heard the bathroom door open. Tara heard the sound of footsteps headed down the stairs. She walked towards the bedroom door and peeked out. She didn't see any sign of Ann. She walked towards the bathroom. She crossed her eyes in disgust when the smell rolled out and hit her nose. <Hello! Ever hear of air freshener?> She held her nose as she reached under the sink for a can of Lysol. She sprayed until the room was filled with a mist of fog. She heard a recognizable whimper coming from the bathtub. She walked over and opened the shower curtain to find Willow sitting with her legs drawn up against her chest, holding her nose.

"I think I'm gonna puke." Willow squeaked out.

Tara helped Willow up and held on to her as they walked out of the bathroom to the bedroom. Willow sat down on the bed with her head between her knees. Tara sat down beside of her rubbing her back.

"What the hell did that woman eat?" Willow asked.

Tara tried her best to keep from laughing, "Chili."

"My god. I think something crawled up her ass and died." Willow said making gagging noises.

Tara couldn't hold back. The room filled with sounds of laughter as she fell back on the bed.

"And my butt's cold from sitting in the bathtub."

Tara laughed even harder, snorting when she took in air.

"It's not funny." Willow looked at the hysterical blonde and stuck out her bottom lip.

Tara's laughter decreased to a giggle. "I'm sorry baby."

Willow took in a much needed cleansing breath. "Remind me to never, NEVER hide in a bathroom again."

Tara smiled and kissed Willow on the lips. "Even though you l-look absolutely beautiful like that, you n-need to get dressed."

Willow looked around the room. "Umm Tara? Where are my clothes?"

Tara pointed under the bed. "I h-had to shove them under there when Ann c-came home."

Willow smiled and walked around the other side. She bent down and started pulling her clothes out.

A knock was heard on the door. Willow dived down on the floor and rolled under the bed.

Tara rushed to the door and opened it.

Ann stood there with a glass of tea with ice and lemon floating in it. "I brought this up to you." She almost dropped the drink when she looked around the room. "What in the world happened in here Tara?" She sat the glass on the dresser.

"Uh...w-well...I...uh..." Tara tried her best to come up with something but her mind was a blank.

"This is your idea of redecorating? Where's my lamp and why is the headboard busted up. Oh my god!" Ann yelled when she saw a bar from the bed sticking out of the wall. "You have demolished my guest room." Ann pulled the stick out of the wall and threw it on the floor. It rolled under the bed.

"Ow!" A voice came out.

"Who's here?" Ann found another bar on the floor and armed herself.

Tara jerked the stick out of the woman's grip.

Ann whipped her head around. "Tara! What is going on around here? I demand an answer!" Ann stomped her foot.

Willow emerged, fully clothed, rubbing her head. "Is there a fucking target on my head and it reads 'HIT HERE'?"

Ann pointed at Willow while looking at Tara, "What the heck is she doing here?"

Tara pointed the stick in Ann's face causing her to back up. "She is here because she loves me." Tara said plainly.

Willow smiled and puffed out her chest in pride.

Ann shot Willow a deadly glare. "I thought you left for good." She turned back to Tara. "She doesn't love you. She just wants your money." She whispered.

Willow walked around the bed and stood toe to toe with the woman. "You are a fucking idiot! Tara knows about you and James."

Ann's eyes shot wide open and her mouth dropped. "James? What are you talking about?"

Willow reached in her back pocket. Ann locked her eyes on the papers as the redhead handed them to Tara. Tara handed the stick over to Willow.

"First." Tara opened up one page. "This news p-paper article." She handed it to Ann.

The woman read over the page. She didn't say a word as Willow took it out of her hands.

"Second, these phone c-calls to my n-number in Sunnydale." Again Ann was silent as Willow removed the paper from her hands.

"And last." Tara's nostrils flared and flung the final page in Ann's face. "Your and James marriage certificate!"

Ann looked at it. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. "Tara, I ca...."

"Don't! Just don't!" Tara screamed in the woman's face causing her to flinch.

Willow grabbed the woman by the arm.

"What are you doing?!" Ann yelled out.

"I think we need to go downstairs and you two can talk. Tara?" Willow asked looking at the blonde.

Tara nodded her head.

Willow guided the woman to the door and into the hallway, followed by Tara.

"Willow, your shirt's inside out." Tara whispered.

"You try to get dressed under a bed and see what you look like." Willow giggled and they walked downstairs.

"Let me go! You're insane!" Ann pulled at her ropes holding to the chair.

"That oughta hold ya." Willow grunted one more time making sure the ropes held Ann's hands in place.

Tara threw the stick on the floor and sat down on the couch. "Start talking, bitch."

Ann was taken back by Tara's abnormal behavior. "Tara, please untie me. I took care of you when you were sick for god's sake."

"Oh yeah, right! You drugged her and kept her out of it. Sick my ass! And speaking of sick asses..."

"Willow, please n-not now." Tara said.

Willow sat down on the arm of the couch beside her love and let her continue.

"I want t-to know everything Ann."

"I don't know what you are talking about. She has brainwashed you Tara. Can't you see that?" Ann tried her best to sound as innocent as possible.

Tara sighed and sat back. She looked up at Willow for help.

Willow nodded her head. She got up and ran outside.

"Tara please let me go. I don't know what kind of lies she has told you but that's all it is, lies."

"That's all m-my life has been is one b-big lie. I trusted you and s-so did m-m-mom. How c-could you do that to her?" Tara looked at the woman with disgust.

Ann fell silent and turned her head.

So many things were racking around in Tara's head. She put her finger and thumb on the bridge of her nose and slightly rubbed. She felt hands massage her shoulders and she began to moan.

Tara leaned her head back and looked up. Willow bent down and kissed the blonde on the head.

Ann groaned and rolled her eyes.

Willow stood up straight, walked around and sat down with Tara on the couch. She reached behind her and brought out her gun. She handed it over to Tara.

"I d-don't think it's g-going to come to that, honey." Tara laid the gun on the table.

"Well just in case. Ya know." Willow smiled.

Tara looked at Ann. "I s-suggest you start talking b-before I have to l-let my girlfriend loose on you." She looked back at Willow and gave her a wink.

"I'm sure I'm strong enough to beat the truth out of ya." Willow smacked her fist on the palm of her hand for dramatic effect.

"What do you want to know?" She relented as she looked at both of them.

"Start at the b-beginning." Tara said.

"James befriended your real father when he found out that your mother was a very wealthy woman. She was given the money by her parents when they died. When she was first pregnant with you, James made it seem like your father had an accident, basically to get him out of the way. He just moved right on in. Your mother was too trusting." Ann laughed.

"You bitch!" Tara grabbed the gun, darted towards Ann and pointed the weapon at her head.

"Tara." Willow got off the couch and headed towards the blonde.

"No! Sit down Willow." Tara said never leaving her eyes off Ann.

Willow sat back down without saying a word.

Ann didn't have to be told again. She could see that Tara wasn't playing around. "After you were born, James insisted that you carried his last name. He couldn't marry your mother because he was married to me. Your mother put almost all the money in a trust fund for you. James tried to convince her not too but she wanted you to have a good future. What money she left out, James when through it quickly. Gambling, giving some to me, paying off old gambling debts. When that was gone, he got in deeper debt and tried to get your mother to pay them off, but all the money was put back for you and she refused to touch it. James temper was out of control. He would beat her and you too. I came in the picture and became your mother's friend, but it developed into something more."

"Go on!" Tara demanded.

"James became obsessed. He told me what he was planning to do. I did try my best to change his mind, but he was relentless. He decided that if Jackie wouldn't give him the money, he would just wait until you were eighteen and take it. Jackie told me that she was going to leave and take you with her. I told James and he went nuts. He came up with a plan. I was to convince her to draw a will out and leave you the money and then he would take it from there. Next thing I know, the police were at my door telling me that your mother was dead. I knew James did it before he told me. He left with you soon after that and moved from one place to another. He had to keep clear of the police and the people that were after him."

"And what did he expect to do after Tara turned eighteen and you all took the money, kill her?" Willow asked.

Ann sighed, "Yes. When you called me, I called him. I told him that Willow was with you and I had to come up with something to get her out of the way."

"Surprise bitch!" Willow commented.

Ann cleared her throat, "I was to take you to the bank in the morning and bring you back here. Then he would do what he had to do and we were going to leave the country."

Tara lowered the gun and dropped it on the coffee table with a thump. She walked out of the living room into the hallway. She dropped down on her hands and knees and threw up. Willow knelt down beside of her and held her head. Tara wiped her mouth and sat back on her heels. She broke down and started to cry.

"Shh baby." Willow pulled the distressed blonde into her arms and rocked her back and forth.

Tara put her hand on Willow's chest. She felt something running up to Willow's collar. "What's that?" She asked still running her hand up and down.

"Oh! Uh...that's a wire. I was recording what Ann said. The recorder is out in my car."

Tara kissed Willow on the cheek. "I knew y-you were smart." Tara gave Willow a half smile.

"I love your smile. I love you." Willow reached down to kiss the blonde.

Tara pulled back. "I love you too but I have real bad breath. I need to brush my teeth." Tara got up and gave Willow a hug.

"You go brush your teeth and I'll be in the living room."

They both parted.

Willow sat down on the couch. She leaned forward putting her elbows on her knees. "You are a piece of work. I've meet a lot of shits in my day, but lady, you definitely take the cake."

"Why don't you shut your mouth?" Ann spat out.

"What'd ya use to drug her?" Willow asked.


"Just curious. I mean, it must have been pretty effective to keep her out of it, for what, a couple of days?" Willow was determined.

"I don't know. James gave it to me." Ann said as she lowered her head.

"Why? What was the reason?"

"So she wouldn't find out anything. I had to go in and out of here and James came here too. Plus she was getting on my nerves. She was all about you. She kept thinking I was you every time I went in her room. Willow this and that. Saying that she was sorry and she loved you. It made me absolutely sick." Ann rolled her eyes.

"Hey! Let me tell you what. I love her and you want to know why? She is the most kind and beautiful person I have ever met." Willow said honestly. "You, on the other hand, are a trashy bitch."

Tara cleared her throat from the doorway. Willow looked around.

"C'mere." Tara wiggled her finger.

Willow walked out into the hallway. "What's up baby?"

Tara pushed her against the wall and gave her a passionate kiss. Willow melted and pulled Tara to her. Their bodies formed like they were made to fit.

Willow gently pushed her tongue in Tara's mouth enjoying the moan of satisfaction that came from the blonde.

Tara pulled back and smiled.

"Wow! What was that for?" Willow asked putting her forehead on Tara's.

"I heard what you s-said. I love you so much Willow."

"I love you too Tara." Willow gave her a quick kiss and sat on the floor. "We need to figure out what to do next. My suggestion is that we just leave, but I know you're not going to. And if you stay, so am I."

Tara sat down beside of Willow, "I'm thinking. One thing is t-to our advantage, he d-doesn't know you're back."

"True, but we have to be careful. He's a dangerous man Tara." Willow pulled out a cigarette from her pocket. She handed it to Tara and reached in for another one.

"Thanks. I h-haven't had one s-since I've been here." Tara lit her cigarette and handed the lighter back to Willow. She took a long enjoyable drag.

"Baby, let's just get out of here. We'll hand the tape over to the police, you can get your money tomorrow and leave. You don't ever have to worry about any of this ever again." Willow tried once more to reason with the blonde.

"Willow, I w-want to put all of this b-behind me, I do, but I want revenge for my m-mom and myself." Tara laid her head against the wall.

"I know Tara. I hate all that you've been through. I promise you though that everything will be O.K." Willow took Tara's hand and kissed her fingers.

"It will b-be now that you're here."

Willow smiled and leaned her head on Tara's shoulder. "I never got you anything for your birthday. With all that is going on, I kinda didn't have time to go shopping."

"You g-got me the best present of all. You g-gave me your h-heart." Tara kissed Willow's hair.

"Good birthday then?" Willow asked as she looked up.

"The best one ever." Tara whispered.

Hours passed as Willow and Tara interrogated Ann.

Willow wiped the bead of sweat from her brow, "I think that's all were going to get out of her. I'm going outside to get some air. You wanna come with me?"

Tara shook her head. "I'm g-going to lay down here for a bit." Tara stretched out on the couch.

Willow walked over and kissed her. "I love you."

"I love you too." Tara closed her eyes and heard Willow walk out the door.

Willow leaned against the house. She pulled her cell phone from her pocket.

"Hey Giles. I know it's late but I have some news."

"Go on Willow." Giles said in a gruff voice.

"Thought I would let you know that I have a confession from Ann about James."

"Excellent work Willow." Giles said with pride but his tone changed. "Does Tara know about your plans?"

Willow sighed, "Not yet. I know what I have to do. I'll tell her tomorrow."

"Don't fret about it too much my dear. You know it is the right thing. You cannot keep this charade up forever."

"It's not a charade. I love her Giles." Willow said.

"I do not doubt that in the least. However, trying to convince her to come with you will not be easy. She will have to make that decision on her own and you do realize you will have to tell her the truth about who you are and she might not be willing to accept that." Giles rambled on.

"I must be rubbing off on you. Ya had a little babble thing going on there ol' man." Willow giggled.

"I will have you know, young lady, that I was doing your job when you were still in your mother's womb. Old man, indeed." Giles said insulted.

"I'll keep you posted on any news. Take care Giles." Willow finished and hung up her phone.

Willow heard someone walk up behind her. "Change your mind baby?"

There was no response. Willow turned around and felt a blinding pain shoot through her head. The ground became closer and closer then all went black.

Tara looked up at the ceiling. She looked over at Ann who had fallen asleep. Tara sighed and then smiled when she heard the door open and close.

"F-feeling better?" Tara asked.

"I feel fine."

Tara jumped up and grabbed the gun sitting on the coffee table.

James laughed when he saw that Tara was fumbling with the unfamiliar piece in her hand. He raised his gun up from his side and pointed it at her. "Put that thing down before you hurt yourself." He demanded.

Tara quickly gained control of the gun and pointed at him.

"Thank god James! Please get these ropes off me." Ann pleaded from her chair.

James cocked his head and looked at Ann. "My dear wife, what all did you tell them?"

"That girl, Willow, she tied me up and she had a gun. She had all of these papers about us. Watch out for her James. She's a tricky one." Ann spoke as quickly as she could.

"Well, we don't have to worry about her. I'm a lot smarter than she is." He tapped his gun against his head.

"Where's Willow?" Tara asked as she pulled the hammer back on the gun. She looked around both exits to the living room expecting her love to come to the rescue.

"It's not going to happen this time Tara. I took care of that bitch earlier."

"What did you do to her?!" Tara screamed pointing the gun towards his head.

"She'll be alright. I'll give her back when I get the money." James smiled a jaunty grin.

"Good thinking James." Ann complimented her husband then turned to Tara. "That's all you have to do. Give us the money and you get your precious Willow back."

James sighed and rolled his eyes. "You know Ann, sometimes you need to just shut up."

"Wh...what?" Ann questioned surprised.

The sudden shock of a loud bang almost made Tara drop the gun, but she held it still in its aim.

Tara looked at James then over at Ann. The woman had a look of horror on her face. Tara noticed a red spot growing on Ann's forehead. A stream of blood trickled down the corner of her eye and down her cheek. The woman's head flopped to the side.

"God! I've wanted to do that for years. Patience is a virtue and now patience is gonna pay off." James said to himself. "Well now, it comes down to you and me baby girl."

Tara's hands were shaking. "Where is Willow?" She asked through clenched teeth.

"Now Tara, calm down. I just needed a little insurance to get what I want. I'll give her back in one piece; maybe."

"Let her go you bastard! Tara fired the gun.

James could hear the bullet whiz by his head. He laughed looking at the hole in the wall. "Now, now. You wouldn't want to kill me. I'm your father Tara." He pulled the trigger on his gun.

Tara heard the tink of the glass beside her. She turned her head to look at the hole in the window. She felt the gun being yanked out of her hands and cold steel pressed to her temple.

"I just want the money and you get your little whore back." James pressed the gun harder against Tara's head. "Don't try any tricks. This will be simple and over with before you know it." He put Willow's cell phone in Tara's hand. "I'll call you at ten in the morning and tell you where to meet me." He kissed Tara on the cheek. James kept his gun pointed at Tara as he walked out of the room. Tara heard the door close and soon the sound of tires squealing on the road. She stood there and stared at the blank wall in front of her.

Continue to Stratagem Chapter Nine

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