Return to Stratagem Chapter Nine


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)

Tara laid in her hospital bed, staring at the ceiling. <She's gone. Oh god! I can't believe Willow's gone. This is my fault. I should never have let her get involved in this.> Tears poured from her eyes.

The door to her room opened. Tara recognized immediately who he was. "You! You're that g-guy from the b-bank. Get away from me!" She shouted.

She pushed the nurse call button.

"Is there something you need?" A voice said through the box on the wall above Tara's head.

"Help! Call the police, now!" Tara screamed out.

The man walked over to Tara and put his finger on her lips. "Miss Maclay, I assure you that I mean you no harm."

A nurse rushed in the room. She saw the man standing there. "I called the police. You better leave now!"

He pulled out a wallet from a pocket inside his blazer. He revealed a badge with picture identification.

The nurse nodded her head in understanding and backed out of the room.

He walked over and pulled a chair beside of Tara's bed and sat down.

Tara looked at him with apparent confusion. "Who are y-you?"

"I apologize for any misunderstandings. I am special agent Rupert Giles with the FBI." He smiled at the mortified blonde.

"FBI? What d-do you w-want with me?" Tara asked. <What the fuck!>

"You were part of a case we were investigating against James Maclay. You were the only one we could go through to get to him." Giles smiled with satisfaction.

"He...he g-got away." Tara said frightened.

"Miss Maclay, I assure you that he is in our custody and your money is safe with us. As soon as you wish, it will be returned to you."

Tara sighed in relief. She closed her eyes and tears streamed down her face. She covered her eyes and began to sob.

"Yes, Miss Maclay, I know that it has been a traumatic experience for you throughout all of these years, but your nightmare is finally over." Giles said as he held on to her hand.

She shook her head, screamed out as she held on to Giles' hand.

"Tara, dear what is the matter?" Giles assumed that his news would be relieving to the blonde.

"Willow! Oh god Willow! He...he k-killed her." She had known that her love was gone but saying it just made it final. Her body shook as she frantically cried.

"Miss Maclay, I most certainly assure you that Agent..."

The door to the room flew open. "I'm here!" Willow ran in out of breath.

She walked past Giles over to Tara. "Oh baby." She frowned when she saw Tara's arm in a cast and her leg in traction.

Tara couldn't say a word. She reached her hand out. When she touched Willow's hand, a fresh wave of tears ran down her face.

"W-Willow? Willow!"

The redhead reached down, placed a kiss on Tara's lips and hugged her. "I'm here sweetie."

Tara held onto Willow as tight as she could. "I thought...he t-told me...oh god!"

"Shh. Tara, see I'm O.K., just another bump on the head." She kissed Tara on the cheek, tasting the tears that showered down.

Tara's cries slowed and she smiled, knowing that everything will be alright now.

Giles cleared his throat. Willow stood upright and looked at him. She looked back at Tara and held her good hand tight.

"Willow, I do believe you need to talk to Miss Maclay about the recent events." Giles stood up. "I will excuse myself."

Willow gave him a one armed hug. "Thanks for everything Giles."

"You are most welcome, my dear. I will see you soon?" He asked

"You got it." She said as she watched him walk out the door.

Tara didn't notice Willow's outfit before. She wore a dark blue blazer with a skirt to match. <Cute but strange for Willow.> She thought as Willow sat down in the chair.

"Tara, I know you are very confused, but I'm gonna explain everything."

"Willow, how d-do you know that m-man?" Tara asked.

"Who, Giles? Oh well, he's kinda my boss. Well, boss might not be the right term. He's, well, my partner slash friend. And that is the many, many, many things I have to explain. More like need to explain."

"Willow!" Tara shouted and brought Willow out of her babbling. "T-tell me what's g-going on."

Willow sighed. "Tara, I'm an agent with the FBI."

"Agent?" Tara snickered, "With the FBI?" She let out a full blown laugh.

Willow took a deep breath. She reached into her purse and brought out a wallet. She opened it up to reveal a shield with an identification card that shown:

"Uh huh, where c-can I g-get one of these?" Tara said with a sarcastic tone and handed the wallet back to Willow. "Honey, y-you are eighteen. There's n-no way."

Willow frowned. She knew this was going to be hard. She reached in her purse again and pulled out a different wallet. She removed her driver's license and handed it to Tara.

Tara looked at the date of birth and calculated the numbers in her head. "You're twenty two? You're twenty two!" She yelled and Willow cringed. Tara threw the card back at Willow.

Willow nodded her head in confirmation.

"But y-you look so y-young." Tara stated.

"I'll take that as a compliment." Willow smiled at the blonde who had stolen her heart.

"Well, don't." Tara flared her nostrils.

Willow's smiled faded. "Tara, let me start. When I was fifteen, my father, who was an agent too, was investigating a case. A case having to deal with James Maclay for murder, extortion, credit card fraud, and so on and so forth. My mom and dad went out of town for vacation. The police showed up at my door the day after they left and told me that my dad had been killed and my mom was in critical condition in the hospital. To this day she remains in a coma."

"Dear god." Tara whispered as she held Willow's hand

Willow smiled and looked at their adjoining hands. "Giles was a friend of my dad's and basically adopted me. I learned a lot from him. I graduated high school, in Sunnydale at the age of sixteen. Giles pulled a few strings and I was able to get into the police academy about six months after graduation. I was taken out of training early into solving cases and with the progress that I did in a short period of time, the FBI took a big interest in me and my abilities. By the age of twenty, I graduated the bureau with honors and became an agent.

Willow took in a deep breath. "I don't know if you want to hear the rest of it."

Tara raised one eyebrow.

Willow took the hint. "I suppose you do. Anyway, the reason that I took an interest in the field was because...because James Maclay killed my dad and almost killed my mom. Apparently dad was getting too close to catching James and you can guess the rest of it." Willow wiped a tear away. She sniffled and continued. "As you know, I took it personal. I went all around, following him but when I came close, poof, he was gone until I caught up with him in Baker City."

"Why d-didn't you arrest him then?" Tara asked.

"There really wasn't any substantial evidence. Speculations and trails leading him to all the crimes, but basically you have to catch 'em in the act. And you, my love, brought it all together. Thank you." Willow brought Tara's hand up to her lips and kissed it. "Baby, you ought to have seen the look on his face when I slapped the handcuffs on him. I swear he about shit his pants."

"He t-told me he k-killed you."

"Well, I was tied up and blind folded in some god awful place. And eww there were rats. I hate rats. Nasty disgusting little things!" Willow shuttered. "Anyway, I heard people come in and I thought 'Oh my god! This is it. I'm gonna die.' But it was the good guys. They found me by the homing beacon in my necklace." Willow reached in her shirt and pulled out a necklace identical to the one she gave Tara, except with a blue stone."

"So n-now what h-happens?" Tara asked.

"So now, I fill out a bunch of paper work until I flop and return back home to San Francisco and I want you to come..."

Tara interrupted and pulled her arm away. "Willow, I...I'm h-happy that you g-got away. I'm h-happy that you f-found your dad's killer. I'm h-happy that you c-caught that son of a bitch that m-made my life a living hell."

Willow crinkled her brow. "Thanks, but something's wrong. What is it Tara?"

"A lot of th-things don't make s-sense."

"What do you want to know?"

"How m-many people were involved in all of this?" Tara asked.

"Well let's see, Anya, Buffy, Spike, Mr. Woods, Faith oh and her boyfriend Slink." Willow said as she counted on her fingers. "Anya is an informant. Buffy is married to this guy named Angel, who have an investigation firm in Los Angeles and they help us out all the time. Mr. Wood is the principal of Sunnydale High but Giles set the whole thing up for me to be there. Um, Spike is in the investigation firm with Buffy and Angel. Faith on the other hand, was an agent and got herself in trouble with cocaine and so did Slink, but they help out here and there in cases to try and get back in good with the firm."

Tears welled up in Tara's eyes.

"Baby, don't cry. Everything's alright now." Willow said reassuring the distressed blonde.

"No. No it's n-not." Tara said between sobs.

"Why?" Willow asked.

"I have been raped, l-lied to all my life, shot at, h-had a c-car wreck in which I w-was lucky to c-come out with a broken arm and leg. And above all that, I f-find out that the w-woman I love knew all along what w-was happening and used me."

"Used you? No baby, I didn't use you." Willow crinkled her brow, not understanding.

"Yes you did! You u-used me to g-get to him. You used me and..." Tara swallowed a lump in her throat, "lied t-to me. This, all of this, w-was nothing but a...another case for you t-to solve."

"Tara, it wasn't that way. I mean, yeah to get to him I had to go through you, but you don't understand."

"What's there t-to understand Will? Do you think I'm stupid!?" Tara yelled. "Do you know wh-what you have d-done?"

"Tara please." Willow rubbed up and down Tara's arm but she pulled away.

"I have b-been lied to all m-my life and the one t-time I find a piece of h-happiness..." Tara's anger was rising even more. "it was a goddamn lie! It w-was all made up!"

"Tara, it wasn't like that. I wanted to tell you. I really did, but I was undercover. There are rules I have to go by. Even though I don't always go by the quote unquote book, I still have limitations to what I can and cannot do." Willow was desperate to make her understand.

"You b-basically violated my mind. Gave m-me false memories. How c-could you do that t-to me knowing what James d-did to me all those y-years. W-was it a l-lie when you t-told me you loved me? Was it a lie when you fucked me Willow and told me it was love!" Tears streamed down Tara's face.

"For one thing, I do love you. I am in love with you! And another thing, I did not and I repeat did not fuck you! I made love to you. Love Tara, love. I was just doing my job and put that bastard behind bars. I wanted your hell to end." Willow said with sad eyes. "I wanted everything to be better for you. Everything better for me; for us."

"You d-don't get to d-decide what is better for us Will." Tara looked into Willow's sad eyes. She wanted to give in but her heart was breaking from the deception.

"O.K. I realize that. I did it wrong." Willow said with defeat.

"You d-did it wrong like you did everything since I first m-met you. You l-lied to me Willow. You didn't even c-consider the options and what it w-would do to me. You h-hurt me more than what you know."

"But I...I just wanted to help you."

"Y-you did, but I..." Tara took in a crying deep breath. "I c-can't take the l-lies and the p-pain that g-go with it."

"Tara I'm sorry. Please, I'm so sorry." Willow started crying.

"I d-don't think this is g-gonna work." Tara's voice was getting weaker with emotion.

"Hey, it's working. I know I fucked up, but I'll make it right. I'll make it up to you. I promise Tara."

<Oh god! What have I done.>

Tara looked everywhere but in Willow's direction.

"Tara please, I need you baby...I need you." The look in Willow's eyes shown the intense desperation. "I won't ever lie to you again. Look at me."

Tara's tearful eyes looked in Willow's. "I n-need time. I think w-we both need time. God Will, I d-don't even know who I am."

"I know who you are. You are the woman I love." Willow placed her hand back on Tara's.

"That's not what I m-mean. I c-can't believe I'm saying this."

"Are you telling me you're gonna leave me?" Tears streamed down the redhead's face. She could basically hear her heart shatter. "I can't live without you baby."

Tara squeezed Willow's hand, "Yes you can. You h-have to be strong."

"Be strong for what? You're saying you want to dump me like yesterday's garbage!" Willow yelled. She stood up with such force that the chair flipped over in the floor. "Are you saying you're leaving me when you know how I feel about you?! Don't you even care?!"

"Yes damn it I care! This is killing me! I love you!" Tara's words were strong.

"Then don't leave me. Stay with me baby." Willow pleaded.

"God knows I w-want to. But I n-need time." Tara looked up.

"Tara please, no." Willow kissed the blonde's hand. Tears ran down her cheek.

Tara gently removed her hand from Willow's and wiped away the tear that threatened to fall.

"Good bye Willow." Tara turned her head and looked out her window in the room.

Willow picked up her purse and walked to the door. She placed her hand on the handle. "Good bye Tara. I love you." And with that, she left.

Cries from Willow could be heard through the door.

Tara wailed. She punched the rail on the bed. She felt something shift on her chest. She looked down and picked up the necklace. The token of friendship that Willow had given. Tara ripped it off her neck and threw it against the wall.


Authors note: I know this isn't the ending that everyone expected, but there is a sequel. Look for the story Labyrinth, coming soon.

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