Tara knew something was wrong, her mom and her other-mom both looked sad, all her big sisters were being quiet and did not seem to want to play tonight. Normally when her big sisters came home they would sit and play with her, and other-mommy would always play and lift her up and throw her up into the air and catch her, making her squeal with delight, but not tonight.
Mommy was playing with her special toys, the ones Tara was not supposed to touch. She had toys like her mommy’s but not as big and old. Tara sat on the floor surrounded by her dolls and picture books and tried to work out why everyone was so sad. She looked up as her other-mommy bent down and picked her up. She did not understand what her other-mommy was saying, but she knew from her tone that everything would be alright.
Tara smiled again.
“How’s my special girl?” Asked Kennedy as she picked Tara up. In answer Tara planted a big wet kiss on her cheek.
“I’ll have to go visit,” Announced Willow looking up from one of her spell books, “I’ll project myself down the telephone system, and see what I can find out.”
“When do you want to…project?” Asked Kennedy dramatically and smiling slightly.
“Better go tonight,” Replied Willow, “Candy’ll want to see a friendly face I expect.”
“Okay what do we need?” Asked Ken.
Half an hour later the girls and Kennedy had moved the furniture in the living room against the walls making a large open space in the middle of the room. They had rolled up the rugs and Willow had drawn a large magical sign on the polished floorboards. She sat in the middle surrounded by herbs and candles.
“Right,” She announced, “I’ll need some one to make the phone call when I give you the signal.”
“What’ll be the signal?” Asked one of the young Slayers.
“Oh don’t worry you’ll know.” Replied Willow.
Mel and Jim had just started to drop off to sleep after their lovemaking when the phone began to ring.
“Huh?” Moaned Melinda, “Whose calling at this time of night?”
She reached sleepily for the phone. A woman’s voice that she did not recognise spoke down the phone to her.
“Hold the line please.” Said the voice.
“Wha?” Mumbled Melinda.
Both she and Jim screamed in shock as a red haired woman appeared at the end of their bed.
“Sorry,” Said Willow, “I hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time.”
“Who are you?” Demanded Jim now fully awake.
“I’m…” Began Willow only to be cut off by Melinda saying;
“You can see her?”
“Yeah,” Replied Jim, “Why shouldn’t I?”
“Look close Jim,” Said Mel, “You can just see through her she must be a ghost.”
“I am not!” Exclaimed Willow, “I’m an ‘Astral Projection’ of myself,” Willow explained to the stunned couple, “My material body’s still in Seattle. I came down the telephone line, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t hang up the phone.”
“What would happen if we do?” Asked Jim sitting up in bed.
“I’d be separated from my physical body,” Explained Willow thoughtfully, “You’d find out what it was like to be haunted by a really powerful Witch; and you could expect a visit from half a dozen very pissed Slayers.”
“You really believe all this stuff about Vampires and Slayers and Witches?” Asked Mel.
“Of course I do,” Replied Willow, “It’s all true…now I really need to speak to Candy.” Willow looked at Melinda, “Can you call her or whatever it is you mediums do.”
“I don’t call,” Pointed out Melinda, “The spirits just come to me.”
“Whatever,” Said Willow, “Times a-wasting, an’ I want to be home in time to put my daughter to bed.”
“Do I detect some professional rivalry here?” Asked Jim.
“Certainly not.” Said Mel and Willow together.
“Oh I think I do.” Smirked Jim.
“Hey buster,” Said Willow menacingly, “You want elephant feet?”
“Don’t you threaten my husband like that!” Cried Melinda jumping out of bed to confront Willow.
“Um, Miss Willow?” Came a third female voice.
Everyone turned to look at the dead Slayer, except Jim who still could not see the girl.
“Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry.” Willow cried as she crossed the room to hug Candy.
“Three women in my bedroom,” Muttered Jim, “The guys at work would never believe it!”
Mel punched her husband on the arm.
“Hey!” Complained Jim, “I’m just saying!”
“Are we alone now?” Asked Jim a quarter of an hour later.
“I think so.” Replied Mel looking around the darkened bedroom.
“Some night huh?” Asked her husband.
“Yeah,” Agreed Mel yawning, “Lets get some sleep hmm?”
“Vampires?” Said Jim as he lay down and pulled the covers up.
“You didn’t believe all that nonsense, did you?” Asked Melinda sleepily.
“That Willow woman certainly did, an’ something musta killed that Candy girl.” Jim pointed out.
Astral Willow appeared out of the telephone and walked over to her body and got back in. A few seconds later Willow stood up and stretched.
“Oh that’s better.” She said just as Tara collided with her knees and wrapped her arms around her mom’s legs. Willow bent to pick the child up as she walked over to Kennedy.
“I’ll have to go there in person tomorrow.” Announced Willow.
“WHAT!” Exclaimed Kennedy, “No way, you’re not leaving my sight. There’s no way I’m having you chase after Vampires by yourself.”
“Says who?” Willow demanded.
Tara was initially worried that her mom and her other-mom were shouting at each other, but she took her cue from the expressions on the faces of her big sisters. All the young Slayers are watching the ‘discussion’ with rapped amusement. The two women noticed the expressions on the faces of their charges.
“We’ll discuss this later.” Announced Willow.
“Yes later.” Agreed Kennedy.
The Slayers tried not to giggle too loudly. It was well know that on the rare occasions that Kennedy and Willow had a ‘disagreement’ (they did not argue). They ‘discussed’ things…loudly and on very rare occasions they would test the aerodynamics of various household objects. What the girls found more disturbing was the ‘making-up’ afterwards. That tended to go on for hours. Sometimes it seemed like the two older women would argue just so they could make-up.
After a sleepless night Eve found herself sitting in the passenger seat of the YSWA’s SUV, while Willow drove them south towards Grandview. Eve was definitely the quietest of the young Slayers at the Seattle House. Willow searched her mind for details on Eve; she glanced over at the teenager.
“You’re from Montana right?” Asked Willow after a little thought.
“Yes Miss.” Replied the girl.
“How do you like Seattle?” Willow tried.
“It’s okay, I suppose.”
“I expect it seems a bit crowded for you.” Willow forced a small laugh, ‘Goddess this was up hill work,’ she thought.
“Yes Miss.” Eve replied after a moments thought.
Willow gave up trying to draw the girl into conversation as details about her emerged from the recesses of her memory. Eve Hill, from Montana, only child of Jack and Edith Hill who ran a small cattle ranch miles from the nearest town. They had been very cooperative when they found that their daughter was a Slayer, and seemed to accept that she would need to leave home to be trained.
Eve had not done well at the Cleveland school; she was unused to living with so many people, and tended not to join in with the other girls. This made her something of an outcast and, unfortunately, a target for some of the more Cordelia like girls. Just because a girl had been ‘Chosen’ it did not make her ‘nice’, and some of the girls at The School were real bitches!
So Buffy had sent Eve to Willow. She had settled in quickly and appeared to do better amongst the smaller number of girls at Seattle, but she was still a loner. Her grades at school were good and she wrote home regularly and her parents wrote to her every fortnight. As part of her work as unofficial ‘den-mother’ to the Seattle girls Willow also wrote reports on Eve’s progress to her parents.
Willow would always receive a polite reply from the girl’s parents, they seemed to be showing an interest and Eve always appeared eager to go home for the holidays. Willow sighed; at least Eve’s folks showed some interest in what their daughter was doing even if they did not seem to be overly excited about it. Families were weird, she mused, take her own…please!
“You’ll be eighteen in a couple of months, won’t you?” Willow asked trying once more to start up a conversation.
“In exactly six weeks Miss.” Replied Eve.
‘Hmmm’ thought Willow why ‘exactly six weeks’?
“Any idea what you want to do?” Willow asked, “University, take a year off school maybe…?”
“I don’t really want to go to collage,” Announced Eve, “I’ve had enough of school.”
“Oh!” Exclaimed Willow in surprise, being very pro-school she did not understand why some people looked on it unfavourably. “So what do you want to do?”
“I’d like to travel.” Said Eve.
“Abroad?” Asked Willow.
“No just around the States.”
“Oh.” Said Willow and the two women lapsed into silence, this was going to be a very long journey.
Tara was a very happy child, she had a lot to be happy about; she lived in a nice house with her two moms and her big sisters. She had a nice room with lots of toys and she was surrounded by lots of love plus a lot of protection spells!
But today Tara was not feeling very happy, her mommy had gone somewhere. Although she still had her other-mom with her it was not quite the same.
The house was quiet as all her big sisters had gone off to school, Tara could hear other-mommy moving around down stairs and she could feel the comforting presence she projected, but she still felt sad.
She watched out of her bedroom window, which overlooked the front of the house; she clutched hold of Florence, her rag doll Slayer, as she waited for mommy to come home. Eventually she turned away from the window and let her gaze travel around her room. Her eyes fell on Woo-pert.
Woo-pert was so called because Tara could not say Rupert. He was a big traditional style ‘Teddy Bear’. He was a good foot or more taller than Tara and he was covered in soft dark brown fur. He had a black shiny nose and two amber eyes, but best of all; unlike all her other toys, Woo-pert could move by himself.
Woo-pert’s big furry head turned to look at Tara as she stood by the window. The toy bear climbed to his feet and walked over to where the little girl stood. She wrapped her arms around Woo-pert’s neck as the toy bear clasped her in a real ‘bear-hug’. Tara knew that Woo-pert bear would always look after her and she need not be afraid while he was there.
Jim and his partner Bobby were answering a call from the Sheriffs Department. There had been a call concerning an abandoned camper van on the outskirts of town. A patrol car had been dispatched, and then a little while later an ambulance had been called for.
Jim saw that there were three patrol cars at the scene when they arrived; one of them belonged to the Sheriff himself. Bobby parked their vehicle next to the police car and Jim and his partner jumped from the cab and ran around the vehicle to open the rear doors. They grabbed emergency kits and looked around for someone to direct them to any casualties.
“No need to hurry boys.” Called a Deputy as he made his way over to where Jim and Bobby stood.
“What have we got?” Asked Bobby as he put down his emergency kit.
“Jane Doe,” Replied the Deputy as he stood in front of them, “I’m afraid she’s well passed your help. We just need you to taxi her to the ME’s office. Pity,” Sighed the Deputy, “she was a pretty little thing.”
He led the way passed the parked police cruisers and into some brush that lined the road. Jim and Bobby struggled with the stretcher as they carried it down a steep incline to where the girl lay surrounded by bushes and small trees. Jim looked down at the girl.
Short brown hair, late teens or early twenties, black track-suit large wound in her neck. Jim sighed and shook his head as he bent down to examine her. It was a formality but he had to pronounce her officially dead. It was then he remembered his wife’s description of the ghost, ‘attractive apart from the hole in her neck’.
“I think the course of death is pretty obvious.” Jim looked up to see the Sheriff.
“Yeah Sheriff,” Replied Jim, “Hole that size in her neck she’d have bled out pretty quick.”
The Sheriff nodded his head in agreement as he looked around the crime scene.
“You’d think there’d be more blood.” He said
Jim looked around, “Healthy woman would have about eight pints. Wound where it is you’d expect to find blood all over the place, and her clothes would have been soaked in it.”
“If it wasn’t for the lack of drag marks,” pondered the Sheriff, “I’d say she’d been killed elsewhere and dumped here, but…”
“Yeah.” Agreed Jim as he looked around the scene. He took a closer look at the wound. “Too small to be a Mountain Lion. Doesn’t look right for a large dog either.”
“We’ll let the ME work this one out.” Announced the Sheriff, “You better take her in boys she’s been lying out her long enough. Give her a little dignity back, ay guys?”
Willow and Eve arrived in Grandview at about six o’clock that evening they drove around the town square looking for somewhere to stay, not seeing a hotel Willow pulled the SUV to the curb. She looked around wondering where she could get information when she noticed the towns ‘fire house’. As with many small towns the ambulance service was run by the Fire Department.
Willow caught sight of a Paramedic who was standing next to an ambulance talking to one of his colleagues; he looked familiar. Telling Eve to stay where she was, Willow got out of the SUV and walked over to the Fire House.
“Hi!” She called as she approached, “I was wondering if you could help me?”
The two Paramedics looked up at Willow, a look of recognition flashed across the face of the older looking of the two men.
“Willow Rosenberg?” He asked.
“Yes,” Replied Willow giving the man a warm smile, “You must be Melinda’s husband Jim, nice to meet you in the flesh, as it were!”