“Tara!” Willow cried, looking at her lover in horror, then looking back to Kellan. “Let her go!”
“Oh, I have no intention of hurting her. Providing you cooperate with me.”
“Please,” Willow whimpered. She couldn’t make this decision. Cooperate with Kellan and end the world, or watch her lover die before her eyes. Tara looked at her with pleading eyes.
“Please what?” Kellan asked, a vicious smile on his lips.
“Please don’t make me choose,” Willow said, her voice small and defeated. The fate of the world rested on her shoulders, and she would fail. No matter what she decided, she would fail. A tear ran down Tara’s cheek as the vampire pressed the knife closer to her throat.
“It’s not a difficult choice,” Kellan said, disdain in his voice. “Do you think casting the binding spell will instantly destroy all the demons in the world? Of course not. All it means is that the Vessel will bear the Savior. The Savior still has to survive, and to fight. He may not win. You know that. But if you don’t cooperate, your lover will die before your eyes. Indefinitely.”
Willow honestly didn’t know what to do. If she cooperated with Kellan, the Savior still might not manage to save the world in fifteen or twenty years.
“Let me make it easier on you,” Kellan said. “The Savior is not a secret. Demons all around the globe will be after him, will try to kill him before he’s able to come of age. Surely, if a million demons come after a small, defenseless child, he will die. Painfully. Do you want that innocent’s death on your conscience? To know that a young child, who you will probably be connected with from his birth, died because of you? And to watch your lover die? Also painfully, might I add.”
Tara or the world. Tara WAS her world. How could she make this decision in good conscience? How could she make it at all? Without Tara, she wouldn’t want to live in this world anyway. But the others were counting on her. Which was the right choice?
In answer to her silent question, the vampire holding the knife to Tara’s throat suddenly pushed her gag down, allowing Tara to speak.
“Willow, please! Don’t let him hurt me! Just do what he says! Please, Willow! I love you!”
Tara’s words cut her right through to the core. Never had she heard her lover plead like that. Tara was usually so strong, so noble. To hear her plead for her life that way…it was unsettling. Very unsettling.
So unsettling, in fact, that Willow almost agreed right there. But then she realized, that Tara’s words were too unsettling.
“This is another trick,” she said, her voice hard. “You’re tricking me. That’s not Tara. It’s an illusion. Tara would never, ever ask me to save her instead of the world. Tara knows the difference between right and wrong, always has, and she wouldn’t ask me to destroy all of my friends for her. Not ever,” Willow said. Her voice held more conviction than she felt, though. What if she was wrong in calling his bluff?
“You don’t think I have the power to bring Tara here, to this plane, as well as you? You think I’m weak, like you?” Kellan said, a little rage creeping into his voice.
“No. I’m more powerful than you. You’re not a sorcerer, you’re nothing but a magician! All of this, they’re all illusions. This plane, Tara, all of it. You probably weren’t even in the cave. That was an illusion too, wasn’t it?”
“How dare you!” Kellan cried, rage in his voice. “I am the most powerful sorcerer on the planet!” He turned to the vampire holding Tara. “Kill her.”
It took every ounce of willpower Willow had in her heart to not cry out that she’d agree, do whatever Kellan wanted, just please don’t hurt Tara. A small cry escaped her lips when the blade of the knife slid deep into the blonde woman’s throat. Blood poured from the wound as Tara gurgled in obvious pain. Real blood.
“Oh God,” Willow whimpered at the sight of her lover bleeding to death in front of her.
Tara suddenly fell to the ground, grabbing at her throat in pain.
“Tara!” Xander yelped, rushing to her side. She gasped for air, clutching at her throat.
“What’s going on?” Cordelia asked, rushing forward. “What’s happening to her?”
“I don’t know,” Giles said. “Tara?” he said loudly, grasping her hand, trying to get her to look at him.
“It hurts,” she finally panted, looking around wildly. “I…can’t breathe…”
“She’s having trouble breathing. It probably has something to do with Kellan.”
“We’ve got to help her,” Buffy said, looking around. “We need to get her out of his range.”
Angel nodded, and picked up her light form, rushing for the exit. “I’ll take care of her,” he said as he ran out, swiftly.
“We’ve got to get into that bubble,” Buffy said when they were gone. “Now.”