parts 4 and 5
Tara seemed upset at the idea of talking about whatever already had her upset, if that even made any sense. Willow paused, rewinding the thought a moment before concluding that it worked, or close enough. Tara was upset and nervous, and was afraid that somehow, things would be worse if she explained whys he was upset. Maybe it was some sort of relationship problem?
“S-s now we should try to find th-them. Focus on the p-people.” Tara’s hands were shaking just a little as they gripped Willow’s hands.
Willow nodded, trying to swallow. She didn’t quite understand why her mouth felt so dry, or why her stomach was fluttering so much, it reminded her of the sort of terrified anticipation that used to happen when she tried to talk to a guy, only she had no idea why she was feeling that way. She also felt a little bit lightheaded. Closing her eyes, she tried to focus on the people who had emerged from the aircraft.
It felt like there was something tickling the inside of her head, just behind her eyes. Her scalp felt all prickly, like there was a lot of electrical current in the air, and she felt like she had goose-bumps rising all over her arms. There was an odd feeling, as if something were prickling at her eyes, similar to the aftereffects of the glaucoma test from the eye-doctor, and then an image began to unfold, as if projected on the inside of her eyelids. She could see them, only for some reason, the man was carrying the woman, and she appeared to be unconscious. Buffy was with them, looking worried.
Wasn’t Buffy supposed to be with Riley? She’d said that he had to help her with that Psychology paper about behavioral modification, which was due next week. But then, where was Riley, and why was Buffy taking those strangers into Mrs. Summers’ art gallery?
“Tara?” The barest confused whisper emerged. Was this how the spell was supposed to work?
“Do you s-see them? Where… why is B-buffy with them?” Tara’s voice sounded almost as if it was echoing through a tunnel.
“I see them. It looks like they’re going to the art gallery, and I thought Buffy was supposed to be with Riley. What happened to the red head? Err… the one from the plane, because I’m fine, and a red-head, and umm… babbling.” Willow’s words spilled out.
“I think w-we should go there. Find out what they’re d-doing.” Tara stood up slowly, trembling as she spoke. “Buffy c-could need out help.”
“I hope not, but we don’t know anything about these people.” Willow felt a bit shaky herself, and she wasn’t certain if it was the magic or the unanswered questions about the mysterious people.
Tara almost seemed to be rushing them out the door, as if she didn’t want to take a second longer than she had to. She seemed even more skittish than normal.
“Tara! Wait just a moment.” The voice came from a strange blond woman in a long skirt and a loose-sleeved blouse. She didn’t look or sound particularly dangerous.
But Tara flinched, almost as if she’d been struck, and grabbed Willow’s arm, practically bolting away from the woman. “We don’t have time right now…”
As they hurried away, Willow glanced back, seeing the look of frustration on the strange blonde’s face. “Tara? Who was that?”
“My cousin Beth. We don’t h-have time to t-talk to her r-right n-now.” Tara’s stammer seemed much worse, and she was definitely nervous.
Willow blinked, rather confused by Tara’s reaction. It was as if Tara was afraid of her cousin… or maybe her cousin was connected to whatever Tara was upset about. Now, if only she had some idea what that could possibly be that was so upsetting and unsettling for Tara… But Tara didn’t want to talk about it, and this wasn’t the time to press on it. “Of course. We have to figure out what’s going on with Buffy.”
The pair of them were flushed and breathless by the time they reached the gallery, and Willow still felt nervous, although not nearly as light headed as she had in the dorm room. They slipped into the gallery, looking at intensely colorful abstract art, most of it featuring sweeping arcs in shades of red against greens and blues. The artist was listed as a V. Creed.
“Well, those are colorful.” Willow glanced at the canvases, wondering if they were actually supposed to look like blood splatters and sprays against a wall, or if that was just her own morbid imagination, twisted by life on the Hellmouth.
Tara just shivered. “I don’t like them. D-d you see Buffy?”
“No, they must be in the back, where Mrs. Summers has her office. But the good thing, if they were fighting, we’d hear it, right?” Willow moved through the front room, hoping to find answers.
The door to the office was indeed open, and Willow peeked inside. Buffy was sitting in her mother’s office chair, the strange red head was draped over the couch, with the dark haired guy sitting on the edge of it, brushing his fingers over her cheek. He looked so much like the worried boyfriend that he had to care about the woman.
“Hey, Buffy. What’s going on? I thought you and Riley were going to work on that paper?” Willow tried to sound cheerful, casual. As if she and Tara hadn’t just run from the campus.
End part 4.
Buffy looked over, a bit startled by the arrival of Willow and her friend. What was that girl’s name again? Kara, Sarah, something close to that. Willow looked all flushed, but her friend looked petrified, and almost like she was going to be sick. “Hey, what’s the what? Umm… Riley was a no show, so I took a walk, and… umm… this is my cousin Scott and his girlfriend Jean.”
Willow looked surprised by that, and carefully closed the door behind her, with the odd look that she got when her mind was working on some complex problem. Her friend just leaned against the wall, looking pale and shaking. Willow then glanced at Scott, and slowly asked “Just what do you do for a living, Mr. Summers? Or are you related through her mom, which would make you last name probably something else, and is she okay?”
Scott glanced at Jean, smiling just a little before looking over at Willow. He still hadn’t taken the sunglasses off, regardless of the fact that it really wasn’t that bright inside. “I’m a teacher at a private school.”
Buffy chuckled a little, thinking back to the last time she’d seen Scott, years ago. “So, your dream of becoming a major league baseball player fell through, huh?”
“You never mentioned that you wanted to be a professional baseball player.” Jean’s voice was weak, and her eyes were still closed, but she had apparently woke up.
Buffy breathed a sigh of relief, glad that she hadn’t somehow broken Scott’s girlfriend. He would have been horribly upset, and really, who would have blamed him? Jean still didn’t look very perky, but awake was generally good. Now, if they could only figure out what was wrong with Jean and why Willow’s friend was a nervous wreck…
Scott looked like he was blushing as he smiled at Jean. “Well, by the time I met you, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Are you alright? You just… if that was from those headaches, you have to see a doctor.”
“No, it wasn’t… not like you mean. It was… I saw…” Jean rose to a seated position, but there was something about the movement that didn’t seem right. It was almost as if some invisible force had lifted her, rather than someone just sitting up. She winced, rubbing at her temple again. “Who are your friends?”
“I’m Willow, and this is Tara.” Willow spoke, gesturing as she did. Looking at the pair of them, she continued, her voice having that extra bland note that generally meant she was fishing for something self incriminating. “What sort of school do you teach at?”
“I d-didn’t know th-that Buffy had a c-cousin…” Tara’s voice was soft, and extra quavery. Something had really freaked her out.
Scott hadn’t looked away from Jean. “It’s in New York. Xavier’s School for the Gifted. He’s a bit particular about the students that he accepts, it’s very exclusive.”
Buffy looked back at Jean, wondering what she could have meant by those words ‘I saw’. What had she saw, and why had it caused her to collapse so spectacularly? “Scott? Does… umm… there’s no polite way to put this. Does Jean…” Suddenly realizing how rude it was to talk about someone like they weren’t there, Buffy looked at her cousin’s girlfriend, putting the question in the open. “Do you have a history of seizures?”
For a moment, the pair of them just looked stunned. Then, Jean made this odd noise, like she wasn’t certain if she wanted to laugh or cry. Scott was rubbing his hand up and down her arm. Slowly, Scott spoke. “Not exactly. Jean doesn’t… it’s… complicated.”
Buffy smiled just a little, thinking about her own life. “Try us, we might surprise you. I’m good at complicated.”
Jean looked at Scott, smiling weakly, looking as if she was in serious pain. “Go ahead, I think… it can’t be any stranger than what I saw.”
“Are you sure? You know how important the Professor said secrecy could be…” Scott looked worried, presumably about this ‘complicated’ explanation.
“Does it have to do with the modified military aircraft the pair of you came into town in?” Willow’s dry question seemed to startle them.
“Wha… how did you know…” Scott looked at Willow, clearly startled. Shaking his head, he looked at his hand, as if he had no idea how it had curled into a fist. He straightened his shoulders, as if he was bracing for some sort of attack. “Yes, it does. Jean and I… we’re mutants.”
Blinking, Buffy tried to make sense out of that. “Mutants… you mean like that Magnet guy that was on the news? There’s been a fuss about those… wasn’t there some sort of law proposed? I remember Willow did this paper on it, basically ripping it apart. I still don’t see what that has to do with that funky looking black plane.”
Buffy paused, remembering a certain birthday present that Xander had given her. The bizarre and horrible idea blossomed in her mind, and she blurted it out before she could stop herself. “Oh my God, you didn’t steal that plane, did you?”
Scott sputtered, looking rather indignant. “We did NOT steal that plane! We… that’s not the point.”
Willow looked at them, with the gleeful smile that she got when solving a particular puzzle. “Your school… it’s for mutants, isn’t it? And you came here… why did you come here?”
End part 5.