Los Angeles, Summer 2003
Methos’s hand slowly crept beneath his coat, reaching for the comfort of his sword as Willow got to her feet.” What is it?”
“I’m not sure. But it isn’t good, I sense…evil.”
“S-s-so do I.”
Surprised, Methos turned to study his student’s face “Since when you do sense evil?”
“Not since before I became an Immortal,” Tara admitted, reluctantly. “I didn’t think I could anymore. After my first death, nothing else worked like it used to…”
“Why do I have a funny feeling you left something out in our little discussion, yesterday.”
Tara blushed. “ I didn’t think it was pertinent.”
“You mean, you didn’t think I could handle it,” he said, astutely. Tara shrugged, but didn’t deny it. “So…what’s the plan?”
“Um, plan?” Willow echoed, as she backed away from the desk. “Run away?”
“At least the witch had a sound grasp of self preservation”, he thought as he nodded his assent. He could get to like his student’s lover…ex-lover…would be lover… Damn, this is getting complicated. “Time to leave,” he muttered.
Tara cleared her throat. “That might be a bit difficult.”
Methos’s blood froze as he followed her gaze. “Where has the door gone?” he asked quietly, not trusting himself to say more.
“I don’t think it’s the door that's gone,” Willow said quietly.
“What makes you think…oh.” Speechless, Methos watched as the room faded to white. “Let me guess,” he said, softly, “Magic.”
“At the top end of the scale,” Willow confirmed.
“Any idea of where we are?” Willow threw him an incredulous look. “What? What did I say?”
“We’re in the white room, Adam,” Tara said softly. “You know, the white room?”
His mind flitted back to the earlier conversation. “I thought they said it was cut off, no access.”
“It was, which means…” Willow shivered. “We need to get out of here – fast. ”
“I’d love to oblige, but there might be a hitch to that plan; no door, remember?”
“They are other kinds of doors.”
Methos blinked as the timbre of Willow’s voice changed. “What’s going on here?” Tara’s hand fell on his arm and he frowned at it irritably.
“She’s trying to get us out of here,” she supplied gently. “Hold on, this might get a little bumpy…”
“What—“ Methos’s head reeled as the room began to spin, his stomach rebelling as his sense of balance spun off kilter. Absently, his mind registered Tara’s grip growing tighter as a high squeal invaded his ears, the nausea redoubling as Latin suddenly filled the air.
“…nos hinc quo nos postulo praecessi…”
“Her accent is terrible, ” the thought was fleeting as pain ripped through his brain, almost bringing him to his knees as he closed his eyes against the spinning room. “What the bloody hell is she doing…”
“Sic exsisto is”
As suddenly as it started, the whirlwind stopped, only to be replaced by the sound of breaking glass and the aroma of coffee and donuts. Methos cautiously opened his eyes. “Well, that was…interesting,” he said, shakily, as he eyed the open mouthed audience in front of them. “I hate to sound clichéd, but…where are we?”
His eyes slid to the red haired witch beside him, who had gone a deep shade of pink. “Molly’s diner,” she breathed, waving her fingers nervously as the pale-faced waitress behind the counter. “I had breakfast here this morning.”
“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but couldn’t you have whisked us off to someplace more…private.”
“It was the first place that popped into my head when I was doing the spell, and by the time I realised it wasn’t the best target, it was already too late,” she muttered under her breath. “Anyway, I got us out, didn’t I? Stop complaining,” she added, irritation creeping into her voice.
“It’s not my complaints you have to worry about,” Methos shot back as he hurriedly hid his sword in his coat and smiled nonchalantly at the diner’s clientele, who seemed frozen to the spot.
It’s L.A., they’re used to weird stuff,” Willow said, her embarrassment fading in the wake of her anger. “And it isn’t as if I had a choice. We needed to get out of that place before it had us totally in its grasp. I’m not sure what it was, but it was bad, and I’m not sure if this would have worked if I’d waited a moment longer - and who the hell are you, anyway, to question me”
Methos’s eyes narrowed. “I’m the man you just ripped through time and space, and I’ve the headache to prove it,” he shot back. “And I’m getting tired of your attitude.
“My attitude? You’re the one that’s been mouthing off since you got here, Dr. Pierson; and I, for one, am getting sick of it. First, you abduct Tara—”
“Abduct? What the hell are you talking about, girl?”
“You know what I’m talking about! All that…that…crap about how she was Immortal now and that she had to go with you to Paris. “
“Crap?” Methos echoed, softly. “I’ll tell you what’s crap—“
“Stop it,” Tara said, sharply. “We don’t have time for this.”
“Oh, on the contrary, I think it’s the ideal time for this,” Methos bit out. “I knew it was a mistake to come here. This isn’t your life anymore, Tara, and I’m sick and tired of making allowances for it.”
“Don’t, Adam,” Tara said, quietly. “Don’t make me choose.”
Methos slowly turned to face his student. “I see, it’s like that, is it?” he said, softly. “Well, don’t let me keep you. I’ll be at the hotel; call me if you come to your senses.”
Methos cut his hand through the air, silencing her. “I don’t want to hear it, Tara. I’ve had enough,” he murmured, trying to keep his anger in check. “I’ll just leave you to the good graces of your friends, shall I? I’m out of here”
Not looking back, Methos slammed the Diner door open and stalked out. Try as he might, he couldn’t convince Tara that there wasn’t a choice to be made. She was an Immortal, end of story. Methos drew in a long breath, then let it out. “You lost your temper, old man,” he thought, ruefully. “Bad move.”
Paris, Winter of 2002
Desperately, Tara cradled the unconscious girl’s head, as she tried to staunch the flow of blood. “Don’t die on me,” she murmured, stroking the dyed strands of the girl’s hair from her forehead. “Help is coming soon.” Closing her eyes, she blinked away the tears, as she tried to move the poor girl into a more comfortable position.
“If only I’d got here a few moments earlier, ” she thought. “Maybe then…” her mind flitted back to the cloaked attackers who’d fled the alley. Adam would have been proud of her, she hadn’t even thought twice about attacking them…it’s a pity she hadn’t managed to do anything other than wound them…whatever they were.
“Not human,” she told herself, firmly. “But they didn’t have the usual demonic super strength, either.” She pictured their scarred faces in her mind. “They had no eyes, but they moved like they could see…and those curved daggers…” She shuddered.
The fall of footsteps filled the alleyway, and Tara looked up to see Adam’s frowning face. “What, the hell, has happened here?
“She was attacked. Quick, help me get her into the car, we need to take her home.”
“Home? Tara, the girl needs a hospital,”
Tara hesitated. “It was…a vampire attack,” she lied. “They’d ask too many questions.”
“A vampire, eh?” Adam drawled, raising an eyebrow as he bent over the girl and delicately removed the sweater Tara had used to staunch the wound.
“Yes,” she said, shortly.
Adam sighed. “She was attacked with a knife, Tara.” He said, as he lightly probed the wound.
“Some of the younger ones use weapons,” Tara said, through gritted teeth. “We can’t let her go to the hospital. Vampires don’t like unfinished business. They’ll check the emergency rooms for her.”
“How organised of them, “ Adam said, dryly.
“Are you going to tell me what this is really about?”
Tara opened her mouth, then closed it abruptly. How would he react if she told him the truth? That the reason she so desperately needed to help this girl was because of the last words she’d uttered before she’d lost consciousness. “Sunnydale, I need… to get…to Sunnydale.”
“It’s important to me,” she said, eventually.
Adam’s eyes narrowed as he studied her face, and Tara swallowed uncomfortably. “Move aside,” he said, abruptly, as he pulled out his car keys and tossed them to her. “I’ll carry her, you’ll drive.”
Catching the keys, Tara smiled. “Thanks, Adam; you won’t regret this.”
Don’t thank me until you’ve seen my stitching,” he said, gruffly, as he manoeuvred the unconscious girl into his arms. “I’m a bit rusty.”
Los Angeles, Summer of 2003
Tara’s heart sank as she stepped through Wolframs and Hart’s doors. It was bedlam. They were at least a hundred people milling in the foyer - most of them were Slayers, Tara guessed – and nearly all of them were shouting at the top of their voices. What the hell had happened while they’d been gone?
“Willow, thank god you’re okay - Tara! ” Tara looked up to see a willowy, dark haired girl push her way through the throng. Was that…oh my Goddess, it was Dawn. Had she grown another foot?
“Tara, my God! I can’t believe it! Spike said you were here, but I don’t think I really believed it ‘til now…”
Tara smiled as she found herself enveloped by Dawn’s hug. “You’ve grown,” she murmured, hugging her tightly.
“Tell me about it,” Dawn said, with a laugh. “Buffy thinks it’s all the Wheatos I ate as a kid…or should I say, all the fake Wheatos coz, you know, fake childhood!” Tara noticed that there was no longer any bitterness in Dawns voice as she joked about her origins. Time had healed that particular wound.
“Dawn, what’s happened?” Willow interrupted, gently.
“No one is exactly sure,” Dawn said, worriedly. “All we know is that it was something very magical, and very scary. It was like something out of Star Trek. There was this bright, white beam and, suddenly, people started disappearing.” Dawns voice faltered. “Angel’s gone, and so is Buffy. I think…I think, they may have got Kennedy too…”
Willows eyes widened. “When? When did it happen?”
“About twenty minutes ago.”
Tara nodded, knowing what Willow was thinking. “That was about the time when we were attacked,” she murmured. “If you hadn’t gotten us out of there, we would have disappeared too.”
“Your friend didn’t seem very grateful,” Willow muttered, frowning.
“Adam can get a little cranky, sometimes, but he’ll come around,” Tara said. “He’s just worried about me,” she added, ruefully.”
“Adam? Who’s Adam?”
“A long story,” Willow interjected. “And one we don’t have time for, at the moment. Who else has disappeared?”
“Six of the Slayers, and one of Angel’s people, Gunn. It also took all of the witches and shamans Angel’s people rounded up last night. Giles is really pissed about that. I think it tried to take Spike too; he blinked out for a minute or two, but then popped back. He doesn’t remember where he went, though.”
“Maybe I can help him with that,” Willow said, grimly. “And while I’m at it, I really want to get into that ‘White Room. I have a funny feeling we will find more than few answers there – Dawn, we’re searching for an artefact that may help us. It’s called the Light of R’Nathnor. My notes are in the office I was using earlier. Could you...?”
I’m on it,” Dawn said. “Watcher Summers to the rescue!”
“Good,” Willow said, smiling. “When you’ve tracked it down, let me know. We need to get it as soon as possible.” Nodding, Dawn bounced off purposefully.
“She’s all grown up,” Tara said, softly, as she watched Dawn leave.
“Yes, she is,” said Willow. “Her research skills are amazing, and her fighting skills are coming along nicely…we should find Giles, and let him know we haven’t been ‘disappeared’ too.”
“It sounds like something out of the X Files,” Tara murmured. “What kind of spell do you think it is? It sounds like a hybrid; part location spell, part translocation spell.”
“You’d need a lot of power to do it,” Willow mused. “And whoever did it either had a really amazing power source…or wasn’t human. One of the Hell Gods could probably pull it off.”
Tara shuddered. “Let’s hope not.”
“Oh, Tara, I’m so sorry, ” Willow said, contritely. “I wasn’t thinking…”
Tara brushed it off. “What’s there to be sorry about,” she said. “It needed to be said. You’re right; you would need the power of a hell god to pull off a spell this huge. Translocation is tricky even if you’re only moving one person; with multiple targets…well...”
“Exactly,” Willow murmured, nodding. “ And I don’t want to leave Buffy and Kennedy in their clutches one moment longer than I have to.”
Tara’s heart went out to her. She knew how hard it had been for Willow when Glory had tampered with her mind. If the same happened the Kennedy, Willow might never forgive herself. “It’ll be okay, we’ll get them back,” she said, aloud. “Let’s go find Giles.”
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