Whistle Stop Cafe
Whistle Stop Cafe
Disclaimer: I don't own any characters in this story, well except for Annie, she's all mine. All Anita characters belong to Laurell K. Hamilton and all Buffy characters belong to Joss.
A/N: This story is going to be very AU, so if you don't like that then don't read it. Don't read it and then complain to me that it is AU, because I'm warning you right now. Any way on the the chapter, enjoy!
Willow trembled slightly in the confines of her expensive car, a gift from the new Watchers Council. Not that Willow hadn’t been making enough money lately to buy her own car this nice. But, why say no to a car this nice? Who gives up a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid? No one, that’s who. She knew that it was a bribe, a ‘come help us.’ A ‘please protect this little, helpless girl from the demons that are chasing her’. In this case she knew it was both.
They wanted her to work for them, and to help protect the little girl. The council was not what it used to be, that was for sure. And she knew that people she knew were running it now, but she just didn’t want to be tied down to it anymore. Was that too selfish of her? She hoped not, but somewhere along the line of blood, guts, friends lost and horror, she had lost her will to help the good guys. Not that she would be helping the bad guys, she was just a little more neutral. The biggest thing that had happened to change this fact was the spells she had cast that had gone terribly wrong. No one knew, not one person. Human or other wise. She had changed the world, made things better.
Though for right or wrong she didn’t know.
So this brought her to now, driving down he road in her new car, with a little black haired girl in the back seat.
The sudden reminder of the girl, Annie, in the back seat made her look in the rearview mirror. She was sleeping peacefully laying across the seats. Her little hand tucked under her face. There were two little pigtails in her hair, and her eyes were still a little puffy from crying. She had not wanted to leave her mother. Though in the future she will most likely thank Willow for saving her from her abusive mother.
Willow smiled slightly as the little girl wiggled around a little bit, and then moaned in her sleep. Willow had told Giles that she would protect the child with her life, and that’s exactly what she would do. She would.
She was young barely even four. And yet she had power, and lots of it. Willow knew that the best way to protect her as to go where Willow was most powerful, and that was anywhere that her half sister was. No one but Anita, and their family knew who she was. So it would be very easy to hide out there. She only hoped that Anita would feel the same.
It had been nearly seven years since she had seen her sister, and even then it had only been a glance. They shared the same mother, but different Fathers. Anita had always held that against Willow, it was something that showed that her mother had not always been right about everything. Willow thought that hurt Anita, who loved their mother very much, it showed that everyone made mistakes.
That upset Anita even more.
Willow sighed, as she realized that she was closer to Anita’s house than she wished she was. She was not ready, but being only a few blocks away meant that she should get ready fast.
Sighing, Willow realized that there was not good way to get ready to see her sister after so long. After a few seconds she pulled up to the house, and knew it was time. She saw someone peek and look out, but other than that there where no signs of life.
She opened her door, and walked the few steps to Annie’s door. She pulled her out slowly, trying not to wake her. The last thing she needed when talking to her sister was a crying four year old. Not that she cried all the time, she just didn’t want this to be the time. It wasn’t a long walk to the door, which made her happy, because she really didn’t want to have to carry Annie too far.
Once she rang to the door bell, she only had to wait a moment, before the door was opened. A tall brunette man opened the door, and smiled down at her.
“Hello,” he said.
Willow smiled at him, noticing the itchy feeling under her skin that told her he was a werewolf. They felt a little bit different ever since that spell had gone wrong, but she had been in tight with a lot of the different were groups in L.A. She had helped them get out of a few tight spots. She had considered bringing Annie with her and hiding out with the wolf pack, but in the end she had decided that going to be near Anita was the best idea.
“Hi, I’m Willow,” Willow said, readjusting Annie on her hip. “You most likely know nothing about me, so is Anita home?”
She had no idea who this man was, but she noticed that there was another man, hanging back a little bit. He had a very submissive pose, and even his power felt submissive. Which meant that ether the man in front of her was ether an alpha-wolf, or possibly the Ulfric.
“I’m Richard Zeeman, and this is Stephen,” he said, gesturing behind him to where the man was slightly cowering. “Anita isn’t here right now, but she should be home in about-” His voice cut off when a car pulled up in the drive way. “Right now.”
Willow turned around, and waited for her half sister to exit the car, and walk toward them.
While she waited, she bounced the little girl in her arms, slightly. It help if she moved a little bit. It helped the slight pain in her arms, and it help the nerves that threatened to overwhelm her. The last thing she needed was the were behind her to feel how uncertain she was. It would sent off every warning signal in his protective nature. Wolves, especially werewolves were very protective by nature, and judging by the fact that he was in Anita’s house, she would guess that he had more than one connection to her. She knew that she guarded well, her shields were up full force, and there was no way that he could feel her power, and men, as a general rule, found women holding children quite disarming, she could never be too careful.
By this time, Anita had made her way to them. At first Anita did not seem to realize who was standing on her porch step, so Willow let her shield drop just a little.
She gasped; Anita had gotten more powerful, or at least had started using more of her power. She felt the wolf behind her stiffen, when he suddenly felt her power, but paid him no mind. The girl in her arms shifted slightly, at the feeling of power so close to her. Willow’s power shot out, like it always had when Anita had been around. She could feel Anita’s power mingling with her own; giving it a power boost. Their power danced together, moving, shivering, dancing. She nearly laughed with the giddy rush it gave her. It made her own power jump and move; made her feel happy, giddy, excited. She wanted to run and throw herself as her long lost half sister, but knew that Anita would not like that gesture, not at all.
Willow pulled her power all back in, and closed her shield over the little hole she had made.
“Willow,” Anita breathed. It sounded nearly thankful, perhaps Anita needed her help with something? Perhaps she just needed a familiar face? Perhaps Willow had imagined it. “What are you doing here?”
Willow knew this moment would come she suddenly didn’t want this to be the time, she wanted to have time stop; let her prepare better. Was that too much to ask? Apparently it was.
“I needed help, something’s after her,” Willow said, moving Annie a little bit so that Anita would notice her. “Something that really wants her, I need help protecting her.”
“Willow, you’re the strongest witch on the Northern hemisphere, probably the world. Why would you need my help?” Anita asked sighing. It looked as if they would just be a problem for her. It looked as if she had her own problems.
“You know damn well that we’ve always been more powerful together,” Willow said in a slightly angry voice. She wanted to stay mad, she really did, but for some reason the anger that had entered her only moments before, fled just as fast as it had come. She was left standing with two werewolves behind her, a four year old in her arms, and a irritated half sister in front of her.
“I’m sorry,” Anita said.
Willow blinked. From the corner of her eye she saw Richard start. She must be the same old Anita, never one to say sorry, never on to feel bad on the outside, never took anyone’s bull shit, and always, always did was she
“Let’s just go inside, and we can talk about this,” Anita sounded tired to Willow. She seemed older than her years, which Willow knew could not be true because she was only a year older than Willow herself. Though she seemed to be aging just as slowly as Willow, hmmm….Willow wondered for a moment if Anita had noticed just how slowly she was aging.
“Okay, I’ve already checked into a hotel, for the night. So you don’t have to worry about keeping us around.”
Anita smiled a little tiny smile. It was really just a twitch of her lips, but Willow had always liked the fact that when they were kids, she alone had been able to make Anita laugh. Though it had been a long time since they had been kids. It had been a long time since she had come and visited Anita in the summer. It had been a long time since ether of them had been innocent.
Richard was still standing in the door way, watching both women with a uneasy look on his face.
“Richard, Willow. Willow, Richard,” Anita said looking impatient.
“We’ve completed introductions,” Richard said politely.
Ahhh…a boy scout. Willow and Anita shared a look, that said they were both thinking the same thing. And in that moment Willow realized something. No matter how much time had passed, or how much Anita resented her, they would always have a connection. They would always be two of the only things left on this earth made by their mother. And they would always be two of the most powerful people on earth, together and alone, whether Anita knew it yet or not.
If Richard saw the look he didn’t say anything. Instead he turned and walked into the house. Anita rolled her eyes and gestured that Willow should follow. So she readjusted Annie in her arms, that were slowly going numb from holding her for too long, and followed Richard, who led her into the living room. In was nice, homey. It didn’t look too lived in, as if they had not moved in too long ago. If they
even lived their. She had a feeling that Richard did not live there, if he did he and Anita would be fighting constantly, if the eye rolling had anything to do with her thoughts. Which it did.
Willow started to lay Annie down on the coach, but the man, Stephen stepped forward and opened his arms. “I’ll put her up in the spare room for now if you want,” he said quietly.
If Willow had had any doubt before now as to whether he was submissive or not before, it was confirmed now.
Nodding her head, Willow handed off Annie, knowing that he would do nothing to her. He started to leave the room, but Willow changed her mind suddenly. “No we won’t be her long. Let’s just set her down on the coach.”
She didn’t take the child from his arms, but watched silently as he sat down on the coach with her on his lap. He seemed to like holding her, and maybe it was because he was responsible for someone who was weaker than himself. She liked the way, he seemed to soften his eyes, and look around the room as if something might jump out of any corner of the room.
Anita seemed to have noticed this too, and Willow noticed the way her eyes softened also as she watched him with the child. Willow didn’t want to interrupt the moment, she wanted Anita to have her moment. She wanted her to have her moment of peace, before the storm hit. Though she didn’t know when that storm was going to hit, she could feel it like a physical thing. And she knew that it mattered not whether she was there or not, it was looming over Anita.
“Well,” Anita said, breaking the moment.
“Yah,” was all Willow said.
“Listen, I really want to help you, but I just don’t know how it can work. Okay, I have so much on my plate as it is,” Anita said.
“I know,” Willow said looking down at her sandals. They were a present from Xander.
“It’s just-” Anita’s voice stopped suddenly when Willow’s voice sounded in her head. In about one minute I’m going to leave. I’ll leave you to think about what I’m going to tell you, but for now there are a few things I need you to know. First of all, this little girl is not my daughter, but everyone must think so. So you have to tell anyone, including Richard that she is mine. She is being hunted by a gang of demons who want her, her body, her soul, and her very essence. They want to take her and use her. The only reason I came to you is because you and I are stronger together, and no one I know knows about you, so there is no way they could give me away. I need your help only for a little while, for a few spells that I needed extra power for. For now I’m going to hide way, I slipped a little piece of paper under that vase on your table, if you agree to help me, call that number. If I don’t hear from you with in the next week, I’m leaving. I have to keep this little girl safe.
Anita looked shocked as Willow walked over to Stephen, smiling at him, she took Annie from his arms. She nodded at Richard, and carted the stirring little girl out of the house.
“Willow?” Annie whimpered.
Willow looked down at the little girl in her arms, she was small for her age, and looked quite helpless in her arms. “I’m right her, baby bear.”
Annie smiled at the nick name, and buried her head in Willow’s chest. Willow smiled down at the little black haired child. In all reality the child looked more like she could be Anita’s than Willow’s.
“Where are we goin’?” Annie asked quietly. The one thing that Willow adored the most about Annie was her little voice. Sometimes it was hard to understand, but she still always loved listening to it.
“We’re going some place to sleep for the night, how does that sound?”
Annie simply nodded her head. Willow placed her into the seat in the back and drove off. The best thing about driving at night with Annie, was that most times it put her straight to sleep. This was not one of those times. She talked the whole way, but Willow found it amusing, and a good way of keeping her awake while she was driving.
The night was quite, and restful.
Willow woke with a start, her phone was ringing, sighing with happiness Willow grabbed the phone. Anita had called, good.
“Hello?” Willow said still a little groggy.
“Willow?” It was Giles’s voice.
“What do you want Giles.” Willow immediately felt bad, but she was put out that it had not been Anita’s voice on the other end. She had not gotten very much sleep the night before, and was upset that Giles always seemed to want more from her. And sometimes it was all just too much.
“There is no need to be rude, Willow,” Giles scolded. “I only wished to check up on you and Annie.”
“We’re fine,” At that moment Annie started to whimper and call out to Willow. “I have to go Giles.”
Without waiting for a response Willow hung up the phone and scampered to where Annie was crying. She looked so broken laying in a bed much to big for her, and in that moment Willow wanted nothing more than to fix her; to pick up all the broken, little pieces and put her back together. But Annie was not as broken as she looked in this moment, there was hope of making everything better, Willow just needed to start right away.
“Do you want to get a cookie?” Willow asked Annie.
Annie blinked watery eyes up at her, and unclenched her hands that had been clenched around Willows night shirt. She nodded her head slowly, and smiled a little teary smile.
One thing that Willow had learned in the last week, was that Annie had nightmares. And that she loved cookies.
Willow had no idea where in St. Louis there was a place to get cookies, but she knew that there was a little café just down the street, so off they head.
It took a little more than ten minutes to walk at a four year old pace to the café. The ‘Whistle Stop Café’ seemed quite friendly, and for that Willow was glad. There was a kind lady behind the counter, though she had on a little too much lip stick, and there was a tattoo that just peaked out from her shirt. The tables were a light blue, and there was nice music playing. When Willow saw the cookies, she knew she had picked the right place.
The little hand that gripped her own, pulled gently, and Willow bent down to see what Annie wanted.
“Can I have the chocolate one?” her voice was cheery now, and if not for the red around her eyes, Willow would have never known that she had been crying.
“Of course you can, baby bear.”
Again just like every time she smiled at the nick name. Willow lifted the girl into her arms and walked to the counter.
“Hello, Darlin’,” the woman behind the counter said. “What can I get for you and your daughter?”
Willow ordered what she wanted and the cookie for Annie. She listened to the babble of the four year old as she ate her muffin and drank her tea. It was good tea she would have to remember what kind it was. The next few moments when by without fault, she ate her muffin while listening. Suddenly the babbling stopped though, and the little girl started to fidget. She looked up at Willow, and whispered, “I have to go potty,” Annie said.
“Alright, baby bear,” Willow said, standing and holding out her hand.
The trip to the bathroom was uneventful, but quite funny. Annie liked to sing in the bathroom, something that Willow found very entertaining. She had an excellent voice, and she was quite entertaining about the songs she liked to sing. She would make some up, or sing some tune that she had heard but add new words.
After that Willow decided that it was time to leave. The lady behind the counter called a ‘have a good day, sugar’, and with that they were gone. Willow didn’t want to wait around all day waiting for Anita to call, so she took Annie around town.
They stopped in various shops, and in some Willow bought Annie a little trinket. She had started a little box for Annie of little trinket from places they had gone. She wanted Annie to remember this trip to have had some fun, if she remembered it at all. Even if she didn’t she would always have the little mementos from all the places she had seen. They had stopped to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, at the appropriate times.
Soon is started to get dark, and Willow knew that it was time to head back to the hotel. Anita had not called.
One day down, only six more to go.
Willow looked down at the sleeping girl in her arms, as she laid her down in the bed. She had promised Annie that she was sleep in the same bed as her tonight, so she changed into her large shirt, courtesy of Xander, and slid into the bed. Sleep took her fast, and for that she was grateful.