Return to Stratagem Chapter Eight


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)

The sun shone through the window filling the room with light. Tara woke from her huddled position in the floor. She looked at the tiny hole in the glass. She stared at the magnificent colors that surrounded it. Her eyes concentrated on the green that overpowered the rainbow. <Willow's eyes are that color.> She smiled thinking of her beautiful redhead.

The shock of last night's events ran through her. She looked over at Ann's body slumped in the chair. The woman's color was pale gray and one side of her dress was completely drenched with blood.

Tara stood up. She found an afghan that was placed across the couch and draped it over the body. "Sorry."

Tara looked at the clock on the wall; 7:35.

The previous night had drained her. The only thing that kept her going was Willow. She had to save Willow. <This was not the way it was supposed to go.> She thought as she walked upstairs, in the bedroom and changed her clothes.

Tara walked into Ann's room. She looked in the top drawer of the night stand and luckily enough, she found the papers from the lawyer. She had asked Ann to put them in a safe place until, well, today. She looked in Ann's purse and found the keys to the woman's car.

Her pace grew faster as she left out of Ann's bedroom, down the steps and out to the car.

She put her hands on the steering wheel. <O.K. Never driven before in my life. Seen people drive, how hard can it be?> Tara started the card and put the gear in reverse. She stepped on the gas pedal. The car jerked back. Tara turned the steering wheel. A grinding sound came from the back of the car and drug all the way to the front. She looked over the hood. <Oops.> The mailbox laid in a crumpled heap on the ground. Tara continued to back up until the car was in the road. She put the gear in drive. Tara sighed as she gently pressed the gas. The car inched forward as she slowly drove down the road.

Willow woke and cringed when the pain shot through her. She pulled her hand intending to grab her head, but her hands didn't move. She stretched her fingers to her wrist and felt the rough edges of a rope. She struggled to open her eyes but a bound held them closed. Struggling with her legs, she figured they were tied as well. <Damn it!> Her nose picked up on a pungent odor. <Am I in a bathroom.> Willow giggled a bit.

She heard tiny squeaks coming at her from different directions. <Oh no! NO! Please not rats!> "I hate rats!" She yelled hearing her own voice echo.

Willow felt a tiny cold spot hit her finger. She screamed as she squirmed and twisted against the ropes. She suddenly stopped when she heard the sound of a door opening.

"Hello!" She called out.

Her head turned in the direction of the footsteps that approached her from the side. She sat up straight as the all too familiar sound of a slide being pulled back on a gun.

<Shit!> She thought as her body tensed.

Tara found her way out of Baker City onto the interstate.

She spotted a green road sign:


<Follow the signs Tara. That's all you have to do is just follow the signs.>

She constantly checked her speed making sure she didn't go over 55 mph. <O.K. Handling this pretty good. Keep between the lines and no one gets hurt.>

She looked in the rear view mirror and her eyes widened as a tractor trailer came closer and closer. Cars whizzed by her on the road. <Keep it cool.>

The truck turned into the other lane and blew the horn. Tara slammed on the brakes causing cars to swerve and dart around her followed by a series of honks and cursing from their drivers. She carefully pulled off to the side. Her breathing was heavy and she began to uncontrollably shake. She put her hands on the steering wheel and began to cry. <I'm trying Willow. Hold on, baby.>

She was startled by a knock on the window.

She rolled it down. "Y-yes?" She asked the police officer that stood there.

"Are you alright miss?" He removed his sun glasses.

"Umm...yeah. I j-just have to get to La Grande. I'm afraid I j-just don't know my way around too w-well."

"What part are you headed to?" The officer asked.

"I have to g-go to the First Financial B-bank there." <Please help me.> Her eyes pleaded with him, but she couldn't say a word.

The officer smiled. "I tell you what, I get off duty in about," He looked at his watch, "well actually now. I could give you an escort, if you want."

"That w-would be nice. Thank you." Tara said. She breathed a sigh of relief.

"You got it. Just follow me." He said as he made his way back to his car.

Tara saw the police car pass her and she pulled back on the road. The cell phone that she had laid in the seat started ringing.

She opened it and held it to her ear, "Hello?"

"Are you stupid or retarded? I told you no tricks and that includes cops!" James yelled over the phone.

"I d-d-didn't tell him a th-thing. He is j-just t-taking m-me to the bank. I d-d-didn't know m-my way there." Tara was so nervous, trying to talk on the phone and drive, behind a police officer to top it off.

"That better be all it is." James sounded cold. "I'm watching you. Every move you make, girl. Don't fuck with me. Got it!"

"Y-yes. <you son of a bitch> What about W-Willow?" Tara asked, looking around in her mirrors for some sign of James.

"I checked on her earlier. Sleeping like a baby. It's up to you if she ever wakes up again. I don't necessarily have to be there to take care of her. Friends are a wonderful thing to have. I'll call back and tell you where to meet me." Tara heard a click. She flipped the phone closed and laid it in the seat. <I won't let you down my darling.>

Willow heard multiple footsteps approach her from different directions. "Hate to tell you this, but you're messing with the wrong chick. If I wasn't tied up, I'd kick every one of your asses and walk out of here without a scratch." She said plainly.

Willow felt the ropes on her wrist being cut off and her legs untied. <I'll take mustard and ketchup with my FOOT and don't forget to add the salt! You can be a dumb ass sometimes Rosenberg.>

Tara pulled into the bank parking lot. She parked the car beside the police cruiser.

He exited his car and walked over to Tara, who had her papers clung tightly to her chest.

"O.K., here ya go." He noticed the nervous appearance of the blonde. "Are you sure you're alright?"

Tara nodded her head. "Yeah. Thanks f-f-for helping me."

"No problem. Anything for a pretty lady. Take care of yourself." The officer waved and got back in his car.

Tara sprinted inside the bank. She approached a teller who was counting money.

She shoved the money in the drawer as soon as she spotted Tara. "Can I help you?"

"I...uh...n-need to speak w-with the bank president." Tara looked around.

"Oh, sure thing. Just take a seat over there and I'll go get her." The clerk spun around in her chair and walked out of the booth.

Tara took a seat. She fidgeted and tried to find a comfortable position.

A gentleman approached her. "Miss Tara Maclay?"

Tara jumped and looked at him. "Y-yes."

He held out a thick black briefcase. "You will need this."

Tara took the case and inspected the outside. "Who are..." Tara started to ask but the man was gone. She spotted him walk out of the bank talking on a cell phone. Tara thought she recognized the voice but couldn't place it. Her mind was concentrated on saving her love.

"Miss Maclay?" A woman came up to her.

Tara stood up quickly. "Yes!" She exclaimed a little too forcefully.

The woman looked at her with uncertainty. "Hi. I am the bank president Wendy Liedel. If you would follow me, I'll be happy to assist you.

Tara complied as the woman took her into an office.

"Please take a seat." The woman said as she went around the desk and sat down herself. "I do know why you are here. Your lawyer Mr. DeVit contacted me on Friday. We have everything prepared. I just need the papers that he had given you."

Tara handed over what she had.

The woman read over every word page by page.

<Can't you read faster.> Tara thought as she tried her best not to look too nervous.

"Alright. Everything seems in order. Now comes the question. Do you want to withdrawal all of this or would you like to keep some of it in savings. We have a great financial..."

"Withdrawal it all." Tara interrupted.

The woman smiled. "Of course. If you would follow me, I'll be happy to get your acquired amount."

Tara followed her out of the office into a secured room.

"If you would take a seat, I will be right back." The woman left out of the room.

Tara sat down. She placed the black case on the long table in front of her. <Almost over and this nightmare will end.>

The cell phone that Tara had placed in her pocket rang. "Yes." Tara said in a short tone.

"Where are you at?" James asked.

"In the b-bank. I think it's a v-vault r-room." Tara said as she looked around at the various small locked drawers and a large door with tumblers.

"You're almost there. Meet me outside when you are finished." James said.

"And then y-you will t-t-tell me where Willow is?" Tara said hopeful.

"Just meet me outside." James hung up the phone.

Tara flipped the phone shut and placed it back in her pocket.

She was startled when the door to the room opened. Ms. Liedel walked in carrying a huge metal box. She looked outside where a guard stood there. After he looked in the room, he closed the door.

"Here you go." She laid the box on the table beside Tara's case. "I hate to loose your business, Miss Maclay. Maybe in the future you will consider us for any other transactions."

"Perhaps." Tara stared at the box.

"First, I need you to sign some papers." The woman laid three documents down on the table and handed Tara a pen.

Ms. Liedel explained everything that Tara was signing.

The woman opened the box as Tara opened the brief case. The woman took out the wrapped bills and laid them carefully in the case. Tara watched in awe. She had never seen that much money and it will soon be gone. <This is nothing. I would give anything for Willow. I would give my life for her.>

"Oh, I should have asked you if you wanted to count it." The woman asked embarrassed.

Tara shook her head. "No. That w-will be alright. I'm sure its all th-there." Tara smiled as she closed the case.

Ms. Liedel closed the metal box and Tara closed the case. The woman extended her hand and Tara took it. "Thank you Miss Maclay. I hope that everything in life works out for you."

"Thank you." <If Willow is in my life, everything will be perfect.> Tara picked up the case. She gripped the handle with all her strength that her knuckles turned white.

The woman escorted Tara out of the room. She turned to the guard. "Ron, will you make sure that Miss Maclay makes it to her car alright."

The man nodded his head and escorted Tara outside the bank. Tara noticed a brown station wagon parked beside of Ann's car.

Tara turned to the security guard. "Thanks b-but I...I'll t-take it from h-here."

"You have a nice day, miss." The man smiled as he walked back into the bank.

Tara walked up between the cars. The passenger side window rolled down on James' car. Tara started to hand the case through the window.

"No, not here. Follow me." He said as the window rolled back up.

Tara sighed. She got into Ann's car and followed him out of the parking lot.

Tara followed James down a secluded road. The ride was only fifteen minutes, but for Tara it seemed like hours.

James span ahead of Tara, turned his car around and both stopped side by side. James rolled his window down as well as Tara.

"Well, I do have to say that this has been interesting. Just hand the case over and I'll tell you where your precious redhead is." James said with a smug smile on his face.

Tara didn't hesitate. She shoved the case out of the window and James took it and placed it in the seat beside of him.

"Now where's W-Willow?" Tara sneered at the devilish man.

"Oh! Yeah, can I say this without you breaking down? She's dead." He threw his head back and laughed.

"I d-don't believe you!" Tara screamed.

James threw a tied lock of red hair at Tara.

Tara picked up the ringlet of hair from her lap. She stroked it with her fingers. Tears welled up in her eyes. "You son of a bitch!" She screamed.

"Well, you know you can see her again. It's just like going to sleep." He pulled a gun out and pointed it at Tara. "I'll make it quick."

Tara pressed on the gas pedal and sped off as fast as she could. In her mirror, she saw James turn in the road, following right behind.

Tara saw a sign 'DEAD END'. <I hate irony.> She turned the car completely around and stopped.

Both cars sped at each other.

James held his gun out the window and shot off three rounds. The last shot hit the front tire of Tara's car. She tried to gain control of the vehicle, but found herself over the edge of a hill. The car balanced itself from front to end. Tara arched her body as far back as she could in the seat. She looked out the windshield and saw the trees bob up and down. She jumped when she heard his voice.

"Huh. Got yourself in a bit of trouble didn't ya?" James asked as he walked up to the side of the car, keeping himself on the solid ground.

"Help me g-get out." Tara pleaded.

"Nah. That wouldn't be too fun now would it?" James walked around the backend of the car.

Tara spotted him in the mirror.

He lifted the rear of the car and watched as it plummeted down the hill.

Tara screamed applying the brake and pulling the steering wheel trying to dodge the trees. The car turned sideways and turned on its side. Tara screamed as the car flipped over and over. She held on to the roof of the car, trying her best to maintain a steady position.

James satisfied with the results got back in his car and sped away.

Continue to Stratagem Chapter Ten

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