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This story is No. 2 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The second (much longer) installment in the Waifs and Strays AU. Covers season 1. Please READ THE SERIES INTRODUCTION!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR1598780,0851591501417,07928 May 115 Jul 14No

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR13

Visible improvements and Presidential proactivity

Author’s Note:


Letomo and Twilightwanderer have been kind enough to volunteer for Beta duty.


Updated to show both their work now, many thanks for their patience, time and labour.


Words between *and in italics* denote thought, I will very slowly implement this from the beginning of the story.


As always, do not own Buffy, Clarice Starling or any of the other intellectual properties I did not create.


Reviews are, as always, very welcome.



Chapter 43: Visible improvements and Presidential pro activity  


Willow sat on the edge of the stage, fiddling with her wig. They’d run through the scenes, allowing Giles to measure the time they needed and be impressed with their performance.


She looked up as Dave sat down beside her. “Hey you.”


She smiled, but only barely and her gaze went back to her fidgeting hands. Another form sat at her other side. She glanced up to see Xander and looked down again.


There was a skipping noise and Buffy stood in front of her, gazing up into Willow’s face. “Wills? You alright?”


“Sure. Maybe. I don’t know. No, not really.” At the last words Willow sighed and pulled on the wig. Buffy put her hands up and over her sister’s.


“Careful with the wig Wills, we need it tomorrow. Now tell me what’s wrong.”




 “Something’s wrong with mom?” Buffy asked worriedly.


“No…thank God, no…I…It’s…I”


Xander chuckled. “I know what this is about…Willow…when was the last time you were naughty and were going to be punished?”


Willow glared at him. “I was four. Now shut up.”


Four? You haven’t been naughty since you were four?” Buffy asked in disbelief.


Xander grinned. “Oh, I wouldn’t say Willow hasn’t been naughty…”


“Ms. Ephraim’s poodle.” Dave murmured and Willow flushed while Xander shot him an approving look.


“You figured that one out?”


“That and the time Harmony’s hair turned purple…Never found out how you managed that.” Dave looked thoughtful.


Willow pouted. “It was food dye meant for Cordelia and it was supposed to turn her skin green…Harmony was an innocent, well stupid at least, bystander.”


Xander looked at his watch. “Well interesting as this may be, we need to get home. We’re eating early and picking up Kit tonight and it’ll probably be late what with Marcie and all…”


Willow sighed and took the robe that changed her into a witch and stuffed it and the wig into the bag. She kissed Dave lightly on the cheek and smiled at him. “See you tomorrow.”


Dave kissed her back and looked deep into her eyes. “It will be fine Willow. And I hope all of you have a good night with the family.”


Buffy nodded. “Sure. I just have to find a way to break the ice with a girl who knocked me out with chloroform and who I knocked out with an armrest.” She shrugged. “All in a day’s work I suppose.”


They left the theatre and swiftly exited the school. They took the bus and walked from the stop to Revello Drive. As they got closer Willow started walking ever slower and dragging her feet. Buffy exchanged a look with Xander who nodded and quickened his pace. “I’ll just go and pour juice and stuff.”


Willow looked after him and then at Buffy. “Not very smooth.”


“It’s not meant to be. I just thought you might want to talk to an experienced hand.”


“Experienced hand? I thought mom was the one who used her hand?” Willow looked amused.


“Okay, experienced butt then.” Buffy said blithely. 


Willow giggled. “Silly.” Then she sighed.


“So…what’s wrong?”


“I-I don’t know. I really don’t know…just…the notion of being punished…for being naughty or bad…it scares me Buffy…it really does. I-I haven’t done anything worse than getting an A- since I was four…that my parents found out about.”


Buffy took Willow’s hand in her own and dragged the bigger girl into a hug. “It’ll be okay Wills. One tip though, if mom asks you if there’s anything else you’d like to confess, do it…I still have the whole Slipper of Damocles hanging over my butt for Vegas.” Buffy grimaced. “Mom is so definitely not amused by the whole me wearing a bunny suit in a casino thing. Not to mention the endangering of innocents and sleep-age in one room with a boy.”


“How about the staking-y thing and the flooding of the hotel with Holy water through the sprinkler system? And since when are you able to make with the witty about ancient Greece?”


“Ah…I think she was amused by the priest I threw into the cistern…And hey, living with mom and Simon and you and Giles muttering about old stuff all the time…They’re driving out my California Buffyness.”


Willow smiled. Then her mouth turned down. “I-I knew that living with mom and dad I wouldn’t get away with as much as with Sheila and Ira, but I was sort of expecting to get grounded first…or maybe do some extra chores, like Dawnie when she read your diary.”


“Aha. And instead this afternoon you have your first encounter with mom’s slipper. That has to be a record for a first punishment.” Buffy teased.


“Buffy! No fair! You had years to work up to it. I mean, I should have gotten a warning or something, for a first offence!“ Willow glared at her older sister.


“Hah! Like that would stop the Wrath of Mom in the case of the hackage of the FBI. You do something monumentally stupid, you get punished in a monumentally, and I may add, very painful, way.” Buffy said with a wince.


“P-Painful?” Willow gulped.


“Oh yeah…mom…well, she wields a mean slipper. And, well Wills…you have to admit this is a pretty big naughty thing.”


“Oh…ouch.” * Better not tell mom about the Pentagon, the White House and the CIA then…*


“Yeah.” Buffy started walking, dragging an unwilling Willow with her. “It’s not gonna get better by skulking in the street. Face your fate with courage!”


“It’s not my face that’s gonna face its fate. That’s the whole problem.” Willow sulked. She sighed and allowed herself to be dragged. She had the feeling mom would not be amused if she didn’t show up for her punishment.




Joyce came home from the Gallery later than she had planned. She heard Simon whistling in the kitchen, busy with dinner. There was some mail on the table in the foyer and she picked it up absentmindedly. * Bill, bill, bill, sometimes I’m really glad Simon is so rich…letter from Dawn’s School…letter from the School board...letter from St. Ursula’s* She reached for the paper knife that always lay on the table and opened the mail while standing.


She opened the last first and smiled to read that Kit had been accepted into the elite prep school. Then she opened the letter from the Sunnydale Elementary School and noted that they’d set up a meeting for the parents on the coming Monday, October 30th. The letter from the School Board made her gulp. *Request a meeting for next Tuesday morning, October 31st,  to discuss the behaviour of your daughter, Dawn Florence Summers, considering the demand by certain parents for her expulsion…*


She sighed. It would be another thing to talk about…If worst came to worst, maybe she should ask St. Ursula’s if they were willing to take in Dawn as well…Simon would be willing to help pay for that as well…But Dawn would lose a lot of the friends she’d only just made.


She looked up from her reading and blinked. Dawn and Willow were sitting on the couch, both pale and drawn looking, Willow’s hands were between her knees and she was twisting them together. Her knees jittered up and down under her knee length blue skirt and her white tights made a rustling noise with the constant movement of her hands and legs. Her sensible Mary Janes turned toes inward and she seemed unable to keep them fully flat on the ground, the heels bouncing on the floor.


Dawn’s hands were clasped around her knees which were tightly pressed together under her pleated candy apple red skirt. She was using them to press down and keep her own feet on the ground. *Like lambs to slaughter or prisoners awaiting execution…Sometimes I hate being the strict parent…* She kept her face carefully neutral.


“Willow, Dawn. Good afternoon.”


“Mom…” Dawn whispered. Willow just nodded and wrung her hands some more. Where Dawn gave a tremulous smile and met her eyes, Willow seemed deathly afraid and only looked at her hands.


“Are you ready?” Joyce asked. Dawn nodded yes, Willow shook no. * Odd…I thought Willow wanted to get this out of the way…*


“Well then…Dawn. Come with me.” She led her youngest upstairs and sat on the bed, beckoning Dawn to sit next to her.


“Now you’re getting this punishment for several reasons. The first is that someone got seriously hurt. There’s no denying that a lot of trouble could have been avoided if you had told me or Simon or another responsible adult that there was a problem. I want you to learn the lesson that a problem shared often is a problem halved. If you do not say you have a problem, we can’t help you. Do you understand that?”


“Yes.” Dawn answered in a small voice.


“Secondly the spying. Dawn…I know you’re curious. But sometimes things are secret for a reason. And if you keep trying to find out people’s secrets pretty soon no one will want to be around you…even your family will try and avoid you, and yes, I’ve seen it happen. I don’t want to see it happen to you.”


Dawn shrunk in on herself. “‘Kay.”


“The third reason I mentioned with the first. We’re your parents. We’re here to help solve things like bullies, we’re here to protect you. You took that right away from me, and from Simon, or even from your dad.”


Dawn nodded.


“Lastly, and this is a very bad reason, because you scared me. Once you’re a parent you’ll understand it’s a very bad reason, but it is one that will come up plenty of times.” Joyce looked a little embarrassed.


Dawn smiled a little at that one despite the situation.


“Now, do you have anything to say, add, or just something you think I should know about?”


“I’m sorry…I…I’ll try no to spy, but I’m just…” She threw up her hands. “Everything I do is boring and everything others do is exciting.”


“And that is why all this started? You knew Buffy and the others had this whole exciting thing going on and you didn’t?”


Dawn nodded. “I suppose so. I’m sorry mom…”


“Yes…well you should also know that we got a letter from the School board. There are parents who want to see you expelled.”


Dawn looked up wide eyed. “B-but my friends…”


“Yes. Dawn…I’m sorry. We’ll do our best, but if too many parents have complained…” Joyce pulled Dawn into a hug and held her tightly for a few moments.


“Yeah…Me too.”


“Well then, lets get on with this.” Joyce said briskly. Dawn winced.




Dawn sniffled as she rubbed her bottom under her skirt with one hand and her eyes with the other. Joyce looked on with mild sympathy. “Well I hope the lesson sticks.”


Dawn sniffled again. “Yeah, I think it will. Like, ouch mom.”


“First that is not grammatically correct English. And secondly ‘ouch’ is a rather important part of the punishment.” Joyce said dryly.


“Yeah…I’m sorry mom.”


“I would certainly hope so. A little word to the wise, Pumpkin: don’t ever try to wiggle your way out of a punishment again because things ended for the best. Like I said before, that earned you quite a few extra thwacks.” Joyce warned.


Dawn winced. “Yeah…I’m really sorry, mom.”


“Very well.” Joyce rose and kissed Dawn gently on the forehead. “Well…I’ll get Willow and then we’ll have a quick dinner and after that we’ll go and get Kit.”     


Dawn perked up. “Okay.”


Dawn went to her room, still rubbing her rear and Joyce went downstairs. Willow stumbled to her feet, trembling and pale. Joyce looked at her in amazement. “Willow? What on earth is the matter?” Joyce took the girl into her arms and held her.


“I-I don’t know!” Willow wailed tearfully.


Joyce gently led Willow up the stairs and Willow started to breathe faster and faster. Joyce ran back down, got a paper bag from the kitchen earning a surprised look from Simon and caught up with Willow as the girl leaned, wheezing, against the doorjamb of the master bedroom.


“Willow, breathe into this.” Joyce handed her the bag and then led her into the bedroom where she sat Willow down.


Willow breathed into the bag for several minutes while Joyce rubbed her back.


“Feeling better?”


“A little.”


“Any idea what’s wrong now?”


“I-I was just thinking that I haven’t been punished in so long…I’ve been a good girl…and then I just got scared, I don’t know why.”


“I see. Willow…how long have you been hacking?”


Willow’s face scrunched up slightly in thought. “Ummm…I started when I got my first computer…That was when I was eight.”


“I see. What did you do then?”


Willow shrugged. “Nothing much; leave a few messages, send a few false emails, I scrambled the School administration office for detentions and stuff…”


“Then may I be the one to point out that that is not exactly the behaviour of a good girl. It’s the behaviour of a naughty girl who happens to be very good at not getting caught.” Joyce said dryly.


Willow gaped at her. “I-I never thought about it that way…”


Joyce sighed. “Willow…how old were you when you were last punished?”


“I-I think I was four or so…”


“What did you do?”


“I think…I ran into the house, disturbed Sheila while she was working and she yelled at me and I knocked down a vase. It was a cheap one, I cut myself…” Willow looked at a thin white scar on her hand.


“Do you remember how you were punished? Did you get a lecture?”


Willow closed her eyes. “I…Sheila was very angry…Ira had just left…he had gone on a lecture tour about Kabbalistic practices…”


“You remember that but not how you were punished?” Joyce was amused.


“I…I…” Willow started breathing faster again.


“Breathe into the bag, Willow. Breathe into the bag.”


Willow nodded and closed her eyes. Joyce rose to get a glass of water from the en suite bathroom and the hinges creaked, Joyce made a mental note to ask Simon to oil them. Behind her, Willow screamed.




Joyce froze for a second and then ran back to Willow. The red head was huddled against the headboard, her eyes very wide and tears running uncontrollably down her face. She sobbed and gasped and clawed at the air and Joyce had trouble holding onto her as she panted and thrashed. The door flew open and Simon ran in wearing an apron.


“What’s wrong? Is everything alright?”


Joyce tried to soothe Willow. “Not really no…Easy, love, easy…”


Buffy and Xander, followed shortly by Dawn, arrived at the door. Buffy looked at her sister with fear in her eyes. “Mom? What’s wrong?”


Simon sat on the other side of the bed and together with Joyce held and tried to comfort the whimpering Willow.


“Mommy…mommy…please mommy…I’ll be good…I’ll never break anything again…Mommy…Please let me out mommy…Mommy, it’s so dark…Mommy, please let me out. I’ll be good…I’ll be good…”


Willow’s eyes were wide and empty and her body shivered and shuddered as she tried to escape from the prison of her memory.


Buffy growled. “I’m gonna kill Sheila Rosenberg!”


Xander sank down on the floor, tears running down his face. “Oh God…that’s why she’s claustrophobic…” Dawn knelt by him, wincing slightly and he took her into his arm, giving and taking comfort. 


Simon gritted his teeth. “I think you’ll have to get in line to get at Sheila, Buffy. I think Nanny will want to go first.”


“Can’t we make it a family outing?” Buffy scooted on to the bed and ended up in front of Willow, putting her forehead against the red head’s. “We’ve got you, Wills, we’re all here for you.”


“Mommy…I’m so lonely…Wan’ Fluffles, please Mommy…please wan’ Fluffles…Mommy….Cold…Mommy, potty! Potty, please, mommy! I’ll be good, Mommy, I’ll be good…”


Joyce felt the tears run down her face. “Simon…how far back do those reports of the absences of the Rosenberg’s go?”


“To her birth.” Simon said his voice trembling with anger and grief.


“We’ll have to check…how long she might have been locked in there…” Joyce shivered. “And I’m sorry, but I get first shot at Sheila.” Her voice was hard and cold.


Willow’s whispers and mutters died down and her shivers and shudders slowly subsided as she fell into a fitful sleep. Joyce stayed holding her.


“Simon…would you finish cooking? I want to stay with Willow for now.” 


Simon rather reluctantly let go and led the other children downstairs. Simon grabbed the report on Willow’s parents from Joyce’s roll top desk before he left the bedroom. Dawn ran top Willow’s room and fetched Fluffles, putting the worn teddy bear next to Willow. Joyce smiled at her and Dawn went downstairs, Simon gave her a hug as she arrived in the kitchen and she moved over to the Island where Xander was studying the reports and Buffy was cutting and slicing. They prepared dinner together in silence.





Clarice arrived with Cecilia and James, talking excitedly about the retrieval of Marcie.


Clarice looked around, noting the sad faces and subdued atmosphere. “What’s wrong? Is anything the matter with Kit?”


“Willow…we found out why’s she’s claustrophobic.” Xander said in a toneless voice as he stared at a page in the report.


James moved to stand behind Xander. “Her father was away for a week while she was four?”


“Yes.” Xander said in the same dead tones. “And she may have spent all that week alone in a dark cupboard. For breaking a vase and bothering her mother while she was working.”


Cecilia looked aghast. “A week…”


“Willow never went into the basement of her parents’ house, ever since I knew her…there’s a cupboard there. A small one with a drain…Ira once told me they intended to make it into a shower.” Xander’s voice was cold and hard.

Clarice made a gurgling, sobbing noise and ran into the living room.


“Hellfire!” Cecilia swore and followed her daughter.


The others in the kitchen looked after her in surprise.


James ran a hand through his hair. “Clarice…it was a favoured punishment at the orphanage. She doesn’t like small spaces either.”


Simon grimaced. “And here I thought that that Orphanage at least was better…”


James shrugged. “It wasn’t bad as such places go I believe…but if Clarice was anything like the other girls…They may have been desperate.”


Buffy snorted. “I somehow can’t picture mom as a hell raiser.”


“You’d be surprised….” James said with a smile. “She was quite…rebellious…in her teen years.”


Buffy, Xander and Dawn exchanged looks. “If you say so granddad…” Buffy finally said.




Joyce gently shook Willow awake. “Willow…we need to go down to eat and then we’re going to get Kit.”


Willow yawned and rubbed her eyes with her fists as s he woke up. “Wha…what happened.”


“You had hysterics, a flashback, or a combination of the two.”


“Oh…” Willow’s eyes widened in shock. “Oh! I remember! She…Sheila locked me in the cupboard in the basement…” Her words fell into a whisper as she spoke and tears came to her eyes.


Joyce hugged her close. “My poor baby…”


“She gave me a cup of water and some bread each day…She took my clothes away, to keep them clean…” Willow started sobbing again.


“Shhh, Willow, I’ve got you. You’re safe…”


“She…She let me out just before Ira came home…” Willow’s eyes were filled with anguish and anger.


Joyce held Willow as the girl sobbed and raged. After ten minutes Willow quieted and Joyce led her to the bathroom, handing her a flannel and a towel and watched as her red headed daughter washed her face and tried to remove the ravages of her break down. Willow looked at her reflection in the mirror and Joyce gave her a hug.


“Come on, from the smell I’d say we’re getting Chicken Kiev.”


“Hmmm…Nice.” Willow trailed down the stairs after Joyce.


When they arrived downstairs she was immediately enveloped in a hug by Xander, who handed her off to Simon, who handed her to Buffy, and then Dawn, James and Cecilia. She was rather surprised by the strength and length of the hug from Clarice.


“Ummm…Aunt Clarice? You can let go now…”


“Hmmm…what if I don’t want to?” Was the teasing answer.


“Kinda hungry?”


“Ah, well there is that.” She moved her mouth closer to Willow’s ear. “Willow, if you want to talk…I’ve been there…”


Willow blinked. “Oh…okay.”


Cecilia cleared her throat. “Dinner’s getting cold. And Kit will be disappointed if we’re late…”


“Do we know how Marcie’s doing?” Buffy asked as she went into the dining room.


“Arlene said she’d be here for dinner…I expect them to be here any minute. And apparently she now wants to be called Evy.” Cecilia said.


Willow looked down at the table as she sat down. “I-I should have noticed something was wrong with her…”


Xander reached out and took her hand. “We should have noticed Wills…we all fell down on the job. Well, not so much the job as being her friend; or just being there for her, but you know what I mean.”


“Think we can make it up to her?” Willow asked with a trembling lip.


“We’ll have to try.” Xander said gravely.


There was a noise from the kitchen and Simon and Joyce came in carrying some of the food, James following with the rest.


The front door bell rang and Clarice went to open it Arlene and Evy stood in the doorway, Evy tucked under her mother’s arm, looking shyly at the woman.


“Hello…you must be Evy. I’m your Aunt Clarice.”




Arlene pushed the girl slightly ahead and Clarice embraced her. “Welcome sweetie. Now come in and eat. I hope you like Chicken Kiev with baked potatoes, beans and salad?”


“I-I think so?”


“Well, we’ll find out. Come on. Arlene, you look starved.”


Arlene grinned. “Yeah, its been a hectic day. C’mon Evy, time to meet the rest of the family.”


Arlene drew her daughter with her and led her into the dining room. Evy tried to hide behind her mother but Arlene drew her up to her side, putting an arm around the girl’s to slim shoulders. “Everyone…this is my wonderful daughter Evy.”


Cecilia rather timidly came forward and put a hand to her new granddaughter’s face. “I’m sorry I came on so strong dear…I thought shock tactics might be needed to make you realize that you could control your invisibility. I’m Cecilia Ellis, you can call me Gran, if you want.”


Evy looked quickly at Cecilia and then back down. “’kay.”


“May I hug you?” Cecilia asked gently.


“Y-yeah? You want to?”


“O honey…all of us would love to. Come here.” Cecilia drew Evy into her arms and held her tightly for a while. Then she let go and held her at arm’s length, tears in her eyes. “And this is my husband, your grandfather, James. He’s much nicer than me, at least according to your mother and Aunts.”


Clarice, Arlene and Joyce all blushed. “MOM!!!” They chorused.


“Oh I’ve heard you say it dear…I’ve always been the one to punish and James always the one to reward and spoil…” She sounded slightly wistful. “I’ll try and keep to the spoiling with my grandchildren.”


James smiled and drew Evy into his arms. “Well you can stop hogging this one…I want to hug my pretty new granddaughter as well…” He held Evy, who put her arms around him; unlike she had done with Cecilia. Cecilia looked sad at that, but smiled a little when Xander came up and hugged her.


James handed Evy over to Clarice after giving her a kiss on the forehead. Clarice handed her to Simon and Simon to Buffy.


“Hey Evy…good to see you.” There were general groans from the entire room. To everyone’s surprise Evy giggled.


‘You’re funny. I heard you make jokes while you fought things…”


Buffy grinned at the rest of the family as she hugged Evy. “Hah! Someone who gets me and the quippage!”


“Oh we get you Buffy…we just don’t think you’re all that funny.” Clarice said with a wink.


Buffy stuck out her tongue. “You’re just jealous none of your evil psychos were ever into punning and repartee.”


“Oh, there were several, Lecter chief among them…but that didn’t make it into the papers.”


Evy froze. “Y-you’re not going to arrest me?”


Clarice chuckled. “No Federal crimes committed, dear, you’re safe from me at least.”




Willow moved in behind Evy and hugged her as well. “Don’t worry, you’re safe. Dad won’t let anything happen to you.”


Simon nodded. “Quite true…not that most people would believe it anyway…”


Evy moved from Xander’s to Dawn’s embrace and then back to Arlene. Arlene hugged her shortly and looked ruefully at the set table.


“I think the food is cold now Joyce…”


“There are things that are more important than food ‘Lene. And family is one of them. Now let’s sit and eat.” Evy sat down by her mother, occasionally reaching out to touch the older woman.


Whenever Evy seemed especially uncertain or timid Arlene hugged Evy, whispering comforting words in her ear.   


They ate rather quickly and prepared to leave when Clarice’s mobile went. She got it out and sighed.


“Work. I’ll have to take it.”


She walked into the kitchen as the others started trooping out of the house. James and Cecilia exchanged glances and then looked at Joyce. “We’ll wait for Clarice. I hope it’s nothing serious.”


Joyce bit her lip. “So do I…”




Clarice spoke into the phone.


“Agent Starling.”


“Starling, this is Director Fitzgerald. What the hell is this?”




“Starling…I know you were told to write a resignation…And what I get is a request for medical leave?”


“Yes sir.”


“Starling…there’s not a director in the Bureau who wants you after that little scene in Quantico. So I hope that this is a prelude to that resignation. I’m willing to give you some leeway on this because of your reputation and for the good of the Bureau…but don’t push me too far. I’ll offer three months medical leave and then I want that resignation. And if you want to be able to open a newspaper without people making fun of your obsession with vampires, I suggest you say it is so you can go write books or hold lecture tours.”


Clarice dug in her pocket and came up with the piece of paper that Simon had given her just before dinner. “Sir, I’m afraid not. If you want further information you might want to call the following number sir, and say Hickory Dickory dock.” She rattled of the number.


“What the hell are you playing at, Starling?”


“Me sir? Nothing? *However the former Grand Magister is more than a little pissed off at you for not telling me the truth about Secret Executive Order Number One.*  She thought though herself with grim amusement.


“If this is a joke, Starling…”


“Not a joke, sir. The person who gave me the number would not make a joke about things like this.”


“Very well. “I’ll be calling you back.”


Clarice stood looking at the phone dumbly for a bit and then sighed. She walked back into the foyer and saw her parents sitting in the living room, waiting for her. She smiled at them wanly.


“Well I hope Simon’s contact will take care of things.” She sighed and sat down. “But I don’t think he knows people high enough up the FBI food chain to help me really.”


She curled up on the couch and felt her mother’s arms go round her and she sighed. She might lose her job, her vocation, but she had found a family, and that was more than she had expected ever to have again. She sat in frightened silence for ten minutes.


Her phone rang and she picked up. “Starling.” Cecilia and James watched her eyes grow wide and her mouth drop open as she practically sat to attention.


“Good evening, Mr. President. Yes sir, C-Clarice Starling. Yes sir.” Clarice blinked and she smiled. “Yes sir. Thank you, sir. I’m sorry you were bothered so late at night, sir. Good evening.”

Clarice looked at her phone in bemusement for about half a minute. Then she shook herself. “My brother is an irritating, evil, conniving, magnificent bastard.” She grinned widely.


“He called the FUCKING PRESIDENT!!!”


Cecilia lightly tapped Clarice on the ear. “Language, dear!”


“He called the President of the United States for me! He called the President for me, Mom! I thought he was joking about that!” Clarice looked awed and then annoyed. “And he didn’t tell me, the big dork!”


Cecilia chuckled. “You mean he just handed you that number and told you it would be alright?”


“Yeah. Well, I admit we were all busy with Kit and Evy and Willow, but still!”


James smiled. “So what’s the problem then?”


Cecilia chuckled. “I think she’s mostly just annoyed he didn’t tell her and is catching up forty years of being annoyed at her brother in one fell swoop.”


Clarice grinned. “I suppose so. I’m so gonna kick him in the shins when I see him next!”



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