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Lonely Souls

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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)vidiconFR1598780,1331581492397,43828 May 115 Jul 14No

Visions and distractions

Author’s note:

 

This chapter is dedicated to my beloved aunt and godmother, who passed away last Friday at the age of 82, in her sleep and who will be dearly missed by her 2 children, seven step-children, 43 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild. I will miss you too.

 

Many thanks to my Beta’s Letomo and Twilightwanderer. A short note:

 

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

 

Thought: *What’s on second.*

 

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

 

I will go back throughout the story and change that later, bit by bit. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the reference…

 

Please note I’ve changed the ratings of several of my stories to better reflect the content. I will write violence, but considering what I see on TV these days, I doubt it’s gruesome enough to warrant FR21. It is also highly unlikely I will ever produce a true FR 21 story…

 

Thanks all for reviewing (and defending) me. It is much appreciated.

 

More reviews are, of course, always appreciated. ;-) Please note I often take ideas from these reviews to tweak the story (or add to others) so please don’t hesitate. Constructive criticism is most welcome. And in private reviews I sometimes even reveal stuff!

 

Many thanks for the latest to recommend me, Civ and SamuraiCatfan.

 

Oh, and everybody raise their hands who hates Sheila the way I write her/about her.

 

This is going up now because I have no backbone…And I was planning to update the Dark Portrait  but I forgot my USB.

 

 

Chapter 44: Visions and distractions

 

Cecilia Ellis strode into the hospital like a conqueror into a fallen town. Nurses scurried out of her way and the receptionist at the duty desk quailed as she approached.

 

“I’m here to visit my granddaughter. Katherine Holburn.”

 

“Err…visiting hours are…” Cecilia glared. The receptionist visibly paled and swallowed. She hurriedly consulted the computer and then looked up again. “P-private suite One, second floor, go left at the elevators Ma’am.”

 

“Thank you young lady. Clarice, James?”

 

Clarice stopped at the desk for a minute. “Sorry about that. She’s worried.”

 

The receptionist grinned. “A formidable lady.”

 

“Oh, yes.”

 

“Clarice!”

 

Clarice grinned at her mother’s call. “My mother’s voice…I’d better go.” She winked at the receptionist and sauntered insolently to the lift. “You called, mother? “

 

Cecilia eyed her eldest with an amused glint in her eye. “Apologizing for your old mother? Or just gossiping.”

 

“Both.” Clarice replied blandly.

 

Cecilia smiled. “Scamp.”

 

Clarice blinked. “Scamp?”

 

“What were you expecting dear, a spanking?”

 

Clarice grinned. “I hope I’d have to commit a grosser sin than that to earn corporeal punishment.”

 

“Clarice, if I have to even contemplate it at your age you’ll be in more trouble than you can imagine.” Cecilia lifted an eyebrow and grinned. The elevator halted and the three exited and walked to private suite one.

 

Cecilia knocked and there was a timid ‘come in’. The entire family seemed to be gathered around a young girl lying in the bed and Cecilia went in immediately.

 

She kissed and hugged Joyce, Arlene, Simon and the children and gently kissed Evy, who was sitting on her mother’s lap on the guest bed, looking around dazedly.

 

“Hello dear. You must be Kit. I’m Cecilia Ellis and I hope I’m going to be your new grandmother.”

 

She smiled at the girl and Kit blinked between her and James who sat down by her bed in a chair vacated by Dawn.

 

“And I’m James Ellis and I’m going to be your grandfather.”

 

Kit blinked owlishly between them. “Oh…errr. That’s nice?”

 

Cecilia smiled and patted Kit’s hand. “I hope so dear, and I expect so. Now, there’s someone you yet have to meet and I want you to give your word you won’t bounce and that you’ll be careful.”

 

Kit nodded and shrugged. “Sure, I promise.”

 

Clarice took a hesitant step forward and gave a small wave. “Hello. I’m Clarice. I’m your foster mother’s eldest sister.” *And your foster father’s younger one, but lets skip that bit of family history for now…*

 

Kit blinked. Then her eyes went very wide and turned to the book on her bedside table. And then back to the woman who now stood at the foot of her bed, her hands loosely around the bar at the end. And then to Joyce. “Your sister?”

 

Joyce nodded. “Yes. Sorry. I fear we tend toward the theatrical.”

 

“I’m gonna live with the sister of Clarice Starling?”

 

“Well, if you want.”

 

“I-I…Is this a joke?” She suddenly asked suspiciously. “Are you a look alike? 

 

Clarice grinned and moved to Kit’s side, taking out her badge. “No, not a joke. Not a look alike. I will admit this is an awful picture.” She handed the badge to the girl and Kit accepted it with a trembling hand.

 

“Oh…wow…this is SOOOOOOO COOOOLLLLLLLLL!!!!!” Kit started bouncing, her face wreathed in smiles. “Canyoutellmethedifferencebetweencaseprofilingandevidencebasedprofiling?Imean, whyisthereadifference?Whyisacasedifferentfromevidence?” her breathless babble was so unlike her usually measured speech it made everyone blink in surprise.

 

“KIT!! No Bouncing!” Joyce, Arlene, Cecilia, Simon, James and Clarice all called out at once. Clarice reached out a gently restraining hand at the suddenly frightened looking girl.

 

“Sorry…” Kit said with a crestfallen look.

 

“Oh it’s alright…we’re just worried. Now…I understand you’ll be allowed to leave tonight?”

 

“Yeah. They’re afraid I’ll pick up some bug or something in the hospital.”

 

Clarice grinned. “Well…you get to sleep in Buffy’s room for now…and while I’m staying In Sunnydale, we’ll be bunking together.”

 

Kit’s mouth fell open and then she smiled. “Awesome.”

 

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“This is going to be home. This house and the one next door too.” Joyce said to Kit as Simon gently carried the girl inside.

 

“Okay. She looked a bit confused as she was put on the couch and then beckoned to Joyce who moved over to sit with her.

 

“Yes Kit?”

 

“I thought he was rich?” She whispered in Joyce’s ear while nodding towards Simon. “This place is just…” She shrugged slightly at the normality of the place.

 

Joyce looked amused. “He is. Do you know about Banker’s Manor?”

 

Kit nodded. “Yeah, the really big empty place.”

 

Joyce smiled. “Yes, that one. Well that and the entire park around it are all Simon’s and he’s got lots more houses, but he likes living here. He doesn’t like living like that, so that’s why we’re here.”

 

“He owns…” Kit looked wide eyed at Simon who was talking to James and discussing the changes that needed to be made to connect number 1630 to 1628.

 

Willow grinned and sat next to her. “He’s richer than he looks.”

 

“Hey! I was gonna say that!” Buffy griped as she leaned over the back of the couch.

 

Clarice sat down on the couch opposite. “He also knows interesting people…don’t you Simon?” Her voice was repressive.

 

Simon looked unfazed by her tone. “Yes.” He seemed unconcerned and ready to return to his conversation with James about load bearing walls.

 

“Why didn’t you tell whose help you were going to get me?”

 

Simon blinked. “I did.”

 

Clarice rose and ran a hand through her hair, raising and facing off against him. “No, you didn’t!”

 

“Oh…I must have merely implied it then. I’m sorry ‘Ris.” He put a hand on her shoulder and then hugged her. “But did everything work out?”

 

Clarice gave him a look. “I get a six month medical leave, longer if I want it…And my application to the post of Director of Special Operations West Coast is mine. Apparently there’s going to be an investigation to see why I wasn’t cleared on the supernatural once I started running in to it.”

 

“Excellent.”

 

“And I got called by the President…”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I got called by the President.” Clarice repeated. The other conversations had fallen silent now and everybody was looking at Simon and Clarice.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Simon! You called the President to bail me out of trouble!” Clarice almost shouted at him.

 

“You shouldn’t have been in trouble in the first place; you should have been fully briefed on the supernatural as soon as you discovered it. I merely made certain you had the best possible defence against those who for unknown reasons, decided to do otherwise. They will be investigated and there will be a reckoning.” Simon’s voice was implacable.

 

”Simon…Are you going all family patriarch on me?”

 

Simon’s mouth quirked. “Hardly…Clarice, I would have called on the President for this if I hadn’t known you at all. The Bureau is not allowed to do what it did to you. And heads will roll.”

 

“Oh.” Clarice deflated slightly.

 

“However I would not have requested you to be considered for the post of Director of Special Operations West Coast if you’d been anybody else. Nor would I have called the President, I’d have sent him a letter. Or have the new Grand Magister do it at any rate.” He took her in a new hug and whispered something only Buffy managed to hear.

 

“I’ll always try to keep you as safe as I can, little sister, and still let you be you. Please give me that.”

 

Clarice hugged him tightly.

 

Kit looked at Joyce again. “He knows the President?” She asked disbelievingly.

 

Willow, Xander, Buffy and Dawn made similar noises. Evy merely looked awed.

 

Joyce chuckled. “Yes, he does. Don’t worry about it, he still falls over when the tries to put on his trousers both feet at a time.” Kit giggled.

 

Simon sighed. “I get no respect.”

 

Kit was sleeping in Buffy’s bed, exhausted by the move from the hospital to the Summers house and a half hour of conversation. Clarice and Joyce had tucked her in together and kissed her forehead and Clarice had put her night things on the camp bed.

 

Evy was sleeping as well, in Arlene’s arms in one of the basement guestrooms. Both were exhausted by the emotions of the day.

 

The other older children were sent to bed a little later and the adults followed fairly soon. Friday was a school day, even if it was going to be the day of the Talent Show.

 

Willow lay looking up at the ceiling, Fluffles clutched to her chest and her eyes moving from ceiling to wall to the large French doors. She took a deep breath to try and calm herself. The door opened and Joyce came in, carrying a tray with two steaming mugs. “Hello Willow.”

 

“Mom.” Willow looked down at Fluffles.

 

“I thought you might want to talk about it…”

 

“I-I was sorta expecting that, yeah…”

 

Joyce sat down, handing a mug to Willow. “Warm milk?”

 

“Please.” Willow nodded, accepting the mug, blowing on the steaming surface of the milk.   

 

Joyce looked at the tense girl in the bed for a few minutes. “Well?”

 

“I-I’m angry, and scared and sad and angry.” Willow swallowed. “And…And I’m afraid to go to sleep.”

 

“Oh? Why?” Joyce sipper her milk, knowing quite well what answer to expect.

 

“I have nightmares…one’s about frogs…one used to be about public speaking, and one you know, the common nude in the classroom and stuff?”  She looked at Joyce who shuddered.

 

“Yes, I remember those…”

 

Willow took another sip of milk. “B-but the last one is about…the cupboard…I-I haven’t had that one in a long time…” Willow swallowed convulsively.

 

Joyce eyed her daughter and nodded. “I see. And how did Sheila and Ira deal with your nightmares?”

 

“When they were there you mean?” Willow said sadly. “Ira sometimes brought me a glass of water and tucked me in.”

 

Joyce sighed. “I see. Well I think it’s quite likely you’ll be having a nightmare tonight. Stay here a minute.” She put down the mug and left, returning a minute or so later.

 

“Well…I have a proposal…when Dawn and Buffy had nightmares, they slept with me and Hank…or later just with me, sometimes.” She looked at Willow hesitantly. “I know you’re…Ooomph.”

 

Willow had thrown herself at her mother and buried her face in Joyce’s shoulder. Joyce smiled down at the red hair. “I take it that is a yes?”

 

“Yes. Please. Are you sure you don’t mind?”

 

“I wouldn’t have offered if we did. You will be in bed with you dad as well.”

 

Willow’s eyes widened. “Oh…of course…err…won’t he mind?”

 

“I went and asked him…he’s comforted crying children before and had them in his bed. He seemed more worried about you than anything else.” 

 

“Oh…who?”

 

“Margaret and Marcel’s children, and Jed and Abby’s.”

 

“Oh…Yeah. When do we get to meet all of them?” Willow asked curiously.

 

“Well…we still need to discuss this…but Simon was thinking of Christmas at Vlughwater, so we’d meet Jed and Abbey and their children then.” Joyce looked slightly worried.

 

Willow smiled. “At least you know Margaret likes you…”

 

Joyce gave her a searching look. “Has Buffy been telling tales?”

 

Willow tried to look innocent, but her smirk caused it to fail. “Would she do that to you?”

 

Joyce sighed “Yes. Now, are you ready? I know I’m quite tired.”

 

 

 

Willow flushed suddenly. “Errr… won’t I be…errr…I mean you two…”

 

Joyce grinned wickedly. “Willow…contrary to what you seem to think, we are quite able to make it through the night without sex. Barely.”

 

Willow blushed beet red. “MOM!!!!!”

 

“You started it.” Joyce said teasingly.

 

Willow fell back on the bed and covered her flaming face with a pillow. “Great. Now I’ll have nightmares for sure.”

 

“Just substitute Dave and yourself and everything will be fine.” Joyce stated blandly.

 

“MOM!!!!”

 

“Yes, Willow?” Joyce asked sweetly.

 

“I’m not gonna win this am I?”

 

“Probably not, dear. Why don’t you get what you need and come with me. You need to sleep.”

 

“You really don’t mind going to bed this early?”

 

“After the excitement of the day? I think both your father and I can do with a good long night’s rest.”

 

“Okay. You’re sure…” Willow started and Joyce grabbed her by the arm, dragging her up, grabbed Fluffles by the neck and looked a question at Willow who was standing by the bed in her sensible green PJ’s.

 

“Anything else you need?”

 

“N-no…”

 

“Come on then.” She guided Willow out of the room, over the arch, into the master bedroom. Simon was on the very edge of the bed, wearing a set of deep blue silk pyjama’s and reading a hard bound book she recognized as an illustrated Sherlock Holmes.

 

“Hello Willow. Now comes the difficult question.” He smiled at her. “Who sleeps on which part of the bed?”

 

Willow hesitated, hugging Fluffles close to her chest.. She looked at Joyce with a pleading look on her face.

 

Joyce put an arm around her. “Buffy and Dawn always slept in the middle. But if you prefer I take the middle, that’s no problem.”

 

“M-middle, please.” Willow whispered.

 

Simon smiled and beckoned. Willow bounced over to the top of the bed on hands and knees with the enthusiasm of a much younger girl, with almost Tigger-like abandon, and crawled under the duvet, hugging Fluffles under her chin. Joyce rather more calmly, but with a distinctly amused expression on her face, got under the covers on her own usual side. Simon took off his glasses and put them on the side and Joyce checked that her own were within easy reach. Joyce leaned slightly over Willow and Simon leaned towards her and they kissed, Willow smirked, blushing. She stopped smirking when both of them kissed her forehead and they turned off the bedside lights.

 

Willow lay for a few minutes, stiff and wide eyed between her parents, until Joyce reached out and drew her close. When Willow woke up the next morning, she could not remember ever having slept better or felt safer.

 

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Arlene sat brushing Evy’s hair. The other children had all gone to the school but Evy wasn’t officially a pupil anymore. And Arlene was not about to let her out of her sight either.

 

“Do you want to go to the Talent Show?”

 

Evy bit her lip. “Do I have to…I did bad things there.”

 

“Of course not. That’s why I asked.” Arlene said with a smile.

 

“Rather not then.”

 

“Then we’ll go shopping this morning and afternoon and we take care of Kit this evening; that okay with you?”

 

“Yeah.” Evy nodded.

 

“Evy…do you want to stay here? Near Kit?” Arlene asked gently.

 

“Yeah. But you need to work in Chicago, so we go there.”

 

“I’ve asked for a sabbatical and I’ll see about getting a job here at UC Sunnydale.”

 

Evy turned around, her eyes wide. “Why?”

 

“Oh Evy…I was stupid enough to give you up once…do you honestly think I’ll ever do it again? You need the stability of this place, of Kit, being here.” Arlene said softly.

 

“For me? But…your career!”

 

“I gave you up once for my stupid career Evy, and it wasn’t worth it.” Arlene touched her daughter’s face gently.

 

Evy blinked and sighed and then turned and leaned back into her mother as the older woman brushed her hair.

 

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Buffy walked into the library to confer with Giles, followed closely by Xander and Willow. “Heya Giles.”

 

“Buffy, Willow, Xander, good morning.”

 

“Well Evy, she ditched Marcie, is safe with the family and the entire family except for Evy, Kit and aunt Arlene is gonna be watching our humiliation tonight.” Buffy said facetiously.

 

“Ah…so errr…Evy…has become visible again?”

 

“Ayup.” Buffy jumped up to sit on the table and was flanked by her brother and sister.

 

“Buffy…c-can I talk to you in private for a few minutes?” Giles looked uncomfortable and Buffy looked at him for a bit before shrugging.

 

“Sure. Wait for me here, guys?” Xander nodded but Willow looked a bit unhappy. Buffy rolled her eyes. “Just go find the boyfriend and bring him here. Sheesh.” She winked and Willow blushed but ran away happily to find Dave. Buffy joined Giles in the small office and Xander opened one of the large tomes that lay on the table after first looking at Giles for permission, which was given by a gracious wave. No freeing demons by accident, ever again!

 

“So, what’s up?” Buffy asked, eyeing the bags and equipment in the office curiously.

 

“I-I-I’d like to ask your permission to tell Miss Calendar you are the Slayer.”

 

“Miss Calendar? As in Miss Calendar who helped kick Moloch out of the Internet Miss Calendar?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“As in can cast spells and is Willow’s favourite teacher, Miss Calendar?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Miss Calendar, as in the Comp Sci teacher you’re sweet on, Miss Calendar?”

 

“Yes, I mean no!” Giles flushed and Buffy giggled.

 

“Don’t try to deny it Giles, no one will believe it anyway. You haven’t told her yet?”

 

“It’s not my secret to share, Buffy. “Giles pointed out.

 

Buffy pulled at her lip. “She’s one of the good guys, right?”

 

“I’d say so, yes. On the ‘good’ at least. On the ‘guy’, I don’t think so.” Giles said dryly.

 

Buffy snorted. “Well you’ll probably find out for sure tonight, if you didn’t have pretty good idea already. You may tell her.”

 

“Thank you, Buffy.” Giles said with a mixture of sarcasm and genuine gratitude.

 

“Anything else I should know about? Invasions by demons? Zombie pirates rising, carrying cutlasses in their teeth?”

 

“I think not. And I’d imagine they’d land on the coast anyway, so that would give us a few minutes to prepare.” Giles answered with a twinkle in his eyes.

 

Buffy grinned. “Well, we can hope. Nothing then?”

 

“Except the looming horror of the Talent Show? No.”

 

Buffy sighed. “Ah well, can’t use that as a valid excuse to escape my stage debut then.”

 

“I fear not.” Giles opened the door for Buffy and she walked into the library.

 

Buffy looked around and saw Xander sitting at the table, reading the book. “Wills not back yet?”

 

Xander’s mouth quirked. “Yes. But there was this really interesting book at the back of the stacks she wanted to show Dave…”

 

Giles smirked. Buffy rolled her eyes. “I’ll go get them. They can’t miss class just ‘cause they’re kissing or making out. Mom would not be amused.”

 

“Even if the first class is biology.” Xander said with a wide grin. Buffy muttered something and went into the stacks, following the slight noises made by the young couple.

 

She found them deep in the bowels of the Science department, a book, open on the retractable shelf beside them, was obviously Willow’s ostensible reason for being here. Dave had both his hands in Willow’s hair and Willow had one hand under Dave’s shirt and the other at the back of his head, pulling him closer. Buffy coughed. “Are you two aware that there is such a thing as class?”

 

The two flew apart, eyes wide. Willow’s hair was slightly disarrayed, her chest was heaving and her lips were a bit swollen, but it was clear that nothing more had happened to her than kissing. But Dave’s shirt was partly open and in clear disarray. 

 

Buffy smirked. “Copping a feel, Wills?”

 

Willow blushed furiously as did Dave, though there was a slight grin on his face as well.

 

Buffy looked at her watch. “Sorry to break up the wrestling match, but we gotta book, class soon.”

 

Willow nodded and ran her hands through her hair in an attempt to make it look nothing happened. Dave straightened his clothes. Buffy mused it was probably good Willow only wore some clear lip gloss and not something more colourful, otherwise Dave would be covered in marks.   

 

They set off to class at the first bell.

 

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The mall was quiet, it was after all early in the school day and the flood of teenagers would not rise until they managed to escape through the sluice gates of the educational facilities that held them back.

 

Evy was standing in the middle of a large clothing store and looking around with wide eyes as her mother smiled.

 

“You’ll need quite a few things love, and don’t worry about the money. I don’t spend much on myself.”

 

“But…I-I...”

 

Arlene took her daughter in her arms and gave her a firm hug. “Don’t worry, we can do it together. Or do you want to go to the hairdresser first?”

 

“Hairdresser?”

 

“Yes love, you need a haircut…”

 

Evy looked blank. “You’re not gonna do it in the kitchen?”

 

“No dear.”

 

“Do I need to dye my hair?”

 

“Whatever you want love. Well within reason. I don’t think a purple Mohawk would be you. But why did you dye your hair?”

 

“The Rosses wanted me to look more like them. They said it might make me more like family.”

 

Arlene snorted. “Then why would I want you to dye your hair? Have you looked at mine?”

 

Evy smiled and eyed the flaming deep auburn hair her mother sported. “Looks like my hair.”

 

“There’s your answer then. Now, would you like to go to the hairdresser?” Arlene grinned enticingly and pointed outside. “It’s just over there…”

 

Evy fingered her hair, stained a fading black and flat and dead, and then looked at her mother’s that despite its short length was wavy and full of life. “Yeah. That would be good”

 

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Arlene sat in a seat at the hairdressers watching as handsome young man was cooing over Evy and cutting her hair with great skill. The slight layering was undoing the ruthless hacks her adoptive mother had perpetrated upon her. Evy was blossoming under his assurances that she was beautiful and had gorgeous hair. And that with a little work her skin would gleam like polished alabaster like her mother’s. Arlene rolled her eyes. She might not be as good at spotting those who worshipped at the altar of Antinous as Joyce was, but this young man was really too obvious. She sank back in her seat and watched Evy bloom and suddenly the vision struck.

 

#Two men in dark suits with dark glasses dragging Evy into a black van, Arlene herself lying on the ground next to the rental, clothes and accessories strewn around her, with blood running from a head wound, her eyes glazing over in death. Evy screaming and crying and the two men driving off, with Evy in the back.# 

 

Arlene came out of her vision with a gasp. She looked at Evy and swallowed heavily. She took out her phone with trembling hands and quietly called some people.

 

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Xander took Dave aside as soon as he could, just after the first period. “Hey. Be careful when talking to Wills about the punishment.”

 

Dave gave him a look. “That bad?”

 

“No…we just found out why Will is claustrophobic. Her mother locked her in a cupboard when she was four. For a week.” Xander’s anger was clear in his voice and face.

 

Dave’s face contorted in fury. “That evil, cold-hearted bitch.”

 

“If you want to kill her, you need to get in line.”

 

Dave smiled. “Yeah…I can imagine. Thanks Xander.”

 

“De nada.” The two boys went to find the girls.

 

They found them in the library and Dave hugged Willow and kissed her cheek. Willow burrowed into his embrace which was comforting rather than anything else. “Xander told you?” She said, looking at her older brother fondly, if with exasperation, before looking up at Dave.

 

“Yeah…I understand I have to get in line?”

 

Buffy nodded and cracked her knuckles. ”Oh yeah, there’s a definite queue.” *Did I just say that? Sheesh, I’ve been hanging with the Brits too long!*

 

Dave smiled and continued his hug until the bell went. Giles went into his office, took out the costume bag, put it on his desk and sighed as he started unpacking it, wincing at each item.

 

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They were carrying bags in each hand and Evy was wearing all new clothes she’d picked herself, to go with her new coupe. Her hair hung down to just below the level of her chin and the barber had managed to strip most of the bad dye out of it, leaving it much more like her natural colour. Evy had refused to have it dyed again, preferring to let it grow out naturally.

 

Arlene’s rental car stood on the parking lot and they were nearing it when the black van drew up next to them and two men in black suits jumped out, while a third sat in the cab. One of the men seized Evy while the other fended off Arlene. Suddenly they froze and the car engine seized up and coughed. Cecilia stepped out from behind the car she had been hiding behind and James stepped out from another. Simon and Clarice drove up in one of MIC’s company cars.

 

Hurst and Bchenka walked up to the cab and Bchenka quickly patted down the driver while Hurst did the same to the two men outside. Each man carried a gun and a mobile phone but no form of identification. Hurst and Bchenka handcuffed the three men’s hands behind their backs.

 

The men started violently when time and movement returned to them. One started to speak but was stopped when Clarice hunkered down and showed her badge. “You’re under arrest for attempted kidnapping.”

 

“You have no right to hold us.” The man sneered. “No crime was committed.”

 

Simon leaned down and looked into the man’s eyes. “Actually, I think you will find that among myself, major Ellis and Special Agent in Charge Starling we can most certainly arrest you on many different counts both military and civil.”

 

The man smirked. “We’ll be free within hours.”

 

“Oh, I seriously doubt that.”  He took out a phone and dialled. “Gold, repeat, gold.” And hung up again.

 

Simon pocketed the phone and looked at Hurst and Bchenka. “Load them up and take them to the factory. We’ll follow.”

 

The bodyguards nodded and swung the three men into the back of the van. Bchenka got in the front and drove off, Hurst following in the black BMW.  Danielle walked out slowly towards the group and smiled. She looked pale and a bit drawn.

 

Cecilia smiled back. “That was some good shielding Danielle.”

 

“Thank you, Cece. It was a bit tiring though.”

 

“I can imagine.” Cecilia said commiserating.

 

Danielle smiled at Evy and took a step forward to great her and staggered. Simon rushed to her side. “Nanny? Are you alright?”

 

“Just a bit tired dear. I haven’t done a serious working in a long time.” She leaned into him and he Cecilia saw a tremor run through her.

 

“I’m taking you to the Clinic.” The worry in Simon’s voice was obvious.

 

“Simon, I just over did it a bit. I’ll be fine.” Danielle protested. Simon ignored her and led her to his car. Danielle stumbled again and her swept her off her feet and carried her.

 

“Simon, put me down this instant!”

 

“I don’t think so. Be glad I’m not calling an ambulance.”

 

“But…”

 

Cecilia rolled her eyes. “The boy is worried Danielle. And honestly, you look terrible.”

 

Danielle sighed and crossed her arms, pouting in a very Willow like manner. ”Ridiculous.”

 

“We’ll see.” Simon said as he gently placed her in the front seat. Clarice got in the back seat, amused at Simon’s fussing over the seat belt. Danielle sighed again, a picture of Jewish Weltschmerz.

 

Evy looked at her grandmother. “Y-you…did that?”

 

“I froze them. Danielle, that’s Willow’s grandmother and Simon’s old Nanny, she kept people from noticing. And you know your mother had a vision.”

 

Arlene shuddered. Evy gave her a look. “Yeah…and she wouldn’t tell me how bad it was…Mom?”

 

“Evy…it was bad, okay?”

 

“Mom…they were gonna kidnap me…what happened to you?’

 

“Evy…”

 

Cecilia looked at her daughter. “Arlene…”

 

Arlene stepped up to Evy and hugged her tight. “They wanted to take you, I would never allow that.”

 

Evy froze. “You died. You would have died!”

 

“Evy...it didn’t happen.”

 

Evy’s arms went tightly around Arlene and the older woman let out an oomph. “Evy…I need to breathe too…” She said in amused tone of voice.

 

“Sorry mom.” Evy let go, but only a little.

 

“Evy, it’s fine, I’m fine. It didn’t happen like in the vision.”

 

Cecilia shuddered and James put an arm around her. “No,” he said thoughtfully, “but the fact they are willing to kill you to get their hands on Evy worries me greatly.”

 

“The fact they wanted to kidnap Evy is bad enough. This just makes it worse. They must be stopped.”

 

James nodded. “Let’s get out of here.” They got into their cars and went back to Revello Drive. Evy occasionally looked over her shoulder to where her Grandparents’ car was following.

 

“Wow…That was kinda awesome.”

 

Arlene nodded. “Yeah.”

 

“Umm…are you scared of Gran, mom?”

 

Arlene smiled. “Sometimes, just a little bit.”

 

“Okay. So its not a problem that I’m a little scared of her too?”

 

“Not at all dear.”

 

Evy grinned suddenly. “Gran kicks ass.”

 

Arlene’s grin was just a trifle evil. “Oh yeah, Gran kicks ass.”

 

End note:

 

For those who are wondering, worshipping at the altar of Antinous means being a homosexual. Antinous was the young male lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Antinous drowned while they were visiting Egypt and the sorrowing Hadrian ordered him deified and  personally worshiped at his altar often.

 

For those who wonder: Simon once mentioned he has all of four real friends. Margaret and Marcel are known. Jed and Abbey have been referred to obliquely. Twilight wanderer pointed out, quite rightly, that I needed to clarify what children Simon had comforted. Doctors can’t just crawl into the beds of their patients after all. So you get a little Simon back-story before I planned it… More about this will be revealed in another side story entitled Sons of the Revolution.
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