The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtI
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2005 6:36 am 
wow mike, serious cliffhanger there at the end.almost wiped the rest of the update from my mind as i pondered the implications of one rebecca rosenburg. guess this means willow and tara contemplating another child isn't just idle speculation.

enjoyed all of the willow/sabrina interplay. it may be a rocky road for them, but i can't help thinking they'll bond, after all, they both love lj. also enjoyed the big athenai confrontation/phoebe smackdown. reminded me of asimov's second foundation novel where they take down the mule.

so after this the trouble really starts, you say? can't wait! and don't worry about your update frequency, you always deliver such a consistently good read, it's always worth the wait~mary

take me somewhere we can be alone
make me somewhere i can call a home~zero 7

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtI
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:50 am 
so after this the trouble really starts, you say? can't wait! and don't worry about your update frequency, you always deliver such a consistently good read, it's always worth the wait~mary

Thanks meretricious, yes the real trouble is coming, a big bad that they'll be battling across a dozen or so stories, LJ is 'the light of the earth' and the 'dark of the sky' is on its way. BTW also a fan of Asimov, the 'Black Widowers' especially. :)

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the person you l-love

Willow: I am

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtIII
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 6:09 am 
The Black Widowers......... I remember them, but I reckon I'd always finish that second martini... have'nt read that book for years and years.........


love and kisses

Still Waters

"collecting dead rainbows from puddles and mires"

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtIV
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 12:11 am 
I have been reading this story for some time, and it amazes me, how it just keeps getting better and better. You have a real gift, in your writing. I wish you much success with your new endeavor, and wanted to say thanks for creating such a well done story. I will eagerly await your next installment.

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtIII
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 3:00 pm 
I remember them, but I reckon I'd always finish that second martini... have'nt read that book for years and years

Me neither Still Waters but they have stayed with me. My current infulences however are the likes of David Weber and Eric Flint, so beware.:)

I have been reading this story for some time, and it amazes me, how it just keeps getting better and better. You have a real gift, in your writing. I wish you much success with your new endeavor, and wanted to say thanks for creating such a well done story. I will eagerly await your next installment.

Thank you very much Animism, there will be an overview of '2020' up in a week or two but roughly speaking it will be three two part stories with linked Prologues.

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the person you l-love

Willow: I am

Edited by: Sheridan at: 4/6/05 3:05 pm

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtI
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 4:02 am 
I think power has gotten to Phoebe; when questioned about her part in the demise of W&H, she refused to take responsibility and reacted in a brutal fashion. She refused to listen to Nigel, and blithely made an arrangement with some creature without thinking through the consequences. The Athenai's actions make me despise them even more. Arranging for the demise of Sabrina's parents, and then covering up the fact that they were taking possession of Sabrina. The poor love has had quite an eventful past. Truth to tell, she will probably have an eventful present and future too, but at least it will be with people who genuinely care for her.

Poor LJ couldn't help but be frustrated about being apart from Sabrina, and feel that somehow she had let her down. Willow and Tara, bless them, obviously weren't aware that their strong relationship was a source of envy to LJ. I think our girls made the right decision by allowing Sabrina to stay. It makes LJ happy, makes it easier to defend against the Athenai, and they can get to know Sabrina a bit.

Lovely how LJ and Sabrina worked together to defeat the beast, and wonderful that Sabrina committed herself to be always with LJ. For someone who hasn't had anyone in her life she can trust implicitly, she readily identifies one who will never break her trust.

Thanks, and looking forward to more from you.

You stay the course, you hold the line, you keep it all together.

You're the one true thing I know I can believe in
- Sarah McLachlan

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtIII
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 7:40 pm 
I'm pleased that this magnificent story has grown and gotten better.

Nice little love scene with LJ and Sabrina. I felt kinda dirty (me, the perenniel Dirty Ol' Man Himself) but it was hot. Loved that LJ blurted out exactly what they were doing in the shower when Willow peeked in -- and how Willow was turning into her dad. :laugh

As always, fantastic. Looking forward to the next installment.


"She has illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant." -- The Cage

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtI
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:11 am 
For someone who hasn't had anyone in her life she can trust implicitly, she readily identifies one who will never break her trust.

As LJ said mollyig, "until the end of the world", or roughly two years from the end of 'Perfect Day' but don't worry it's nothing permanent...:devil

As always, fantastic. Looking forward to the next installment.

Thanks CaptMurdock, as I say there will be an overview up in a week or so, just to whet your appetite. :)

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the person you l-love

Willow: I am

Edited by: Sheridan at: 4/8/05 2:16 am

 Post subject: 2020 Overview
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 12:23 pm 
As promised a brief preview of what's coming up...

Lesser Evil I & II

A visit to Willow's parents leads to a family heirloom and a startling discovery about her family tree. What starts out as intriguing mystery takes a sinister turn when history comes to life.

Elements: Earth/Elements: Air

Old wounds are reopened for Willow and Sabrina when Dawn recruits the witches to help her recover the remaining element gems. Willow is haunted by memories of the Fire and Sabrina's enthusiasm dwindles when the hunt brings them up against the last person in the world she ever wants to see again; her ex-girlfriend. Add in terrorists and fanatic eco-warriors and the witches soon find themselves in a desperate battle.

Dark of the Sky/Light of the Earth

A dispirited LJ is on her way back from retrieving the tuning crystal and saving Willow when she gets detoured and learns that things could get a lot worse. Trying to change the future pitches everyone into a battle to prevent a disaster; and this is just the first engagement in a long war...

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the person you l-love

Willow: I am

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtI
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:08 pm 
Ok, that sounds fabulous, but when can we expect the next update. I find myself reading the chapters over and over again and each time they are still as wonderful as the first. You have developed these characters, in a way that the show was never capable of doing. You have not only brought out the best in them, but added a complexity and uniqueness all your own. LJ, is a wonderful daughter for Willow and Tara, she exhibits not only their good traits but also their sometimes over anxious, impatient, and down to earth qualities also. Looking forward to more soon.....please. :glasses

Edited by: Animism at: 4/20/05 11:17 pm

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: 2019-4: Perfect Day PtI
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 1:56 am 
Sorry Animism but it's running on about a six to eight week schedule at the moment. Back in '03 I basically had all day to write and I could churn out a couple thousand words a day or more, spread between Reality Check and the book I was working on. Now I can only write in the evenings and it's just chronically slowed things down. Add in that this other project I started is consuming more time than I imagined and it's making for a slow schedule.

I could break up the stories and post up a couple of chapters at a time but the problem there is that I often get ideas for improvments to the story as I'm writing them out, or I realize some elements don't work and cut them. There are characters and plotlines that have never seen the light of day, in fact the whole first draft of 'R&R' was scrapped.

Now I'm not wedded to doing it that way and I understand people get frustrated by long waits so if I get a clear preference from the Kittens for going to a chapter by chapter updating approach I would consider it.

Willow: ...I have to tell you....

Tara: No, I understand you have to be with the person you l-love

Willow: I am

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: ***NEW STORY*** 04-03-05
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 4:55 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:12 am
Posts: 3446
Just to let you all know that 'Lesser Evil part I' is finished and should be up after the weekend.

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: ***NEW STORY*** 04-03-05
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:21 pm 
3. Flaming O
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 8:50 pm
Posts: 93
Location: Qld, Oz
'Lesser Evil part I' is finished and should be up after the weekend

Hey Sheridan!

I'm so glad to hear it! I Love this story. Sorry for not posting but I thought i'd wait until after you had posted a new chapter. LJ is so great. Love her character and Love the idea of Will and Tara as mum's... :D

Can't wait for the "Lesser Evil part I"!! :D

Great story... Keep up the spetacular work!


Candy xx

"There's nothing you can do or say, You're gonna break my heart anyway, So just leave the pieces when you go"
Leave the Pieces ~ The Wreckers

 Post subject: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:00 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:12 am
Posts: 3446
Title: Lesser Evil Part I
Author: Mike Mullen
Rating: NC-17/18 because of violence, adult themes, and sex.
Spoilers: None what so ever
Disclaimer: All the original BTVS characters belong to Joss Whedon and ME. Everyone else in the stories are my personal slaves.
Summary: Trying to find out the story about a family heirloom plunges Willow, Tara, LJ and Sabrina into a forgotten piece of Rosenberg history.
Authors notes: Part II of ‘Adrift’ will be at the start of ‘Elements: Earth’ and part III in ‘Dark Of The Sky’
Feedback: Just add your comments at the end of the story.

[center]Lesser Evil Part I[/center]

[center]Prologue: Adrift I[/center]

Sabrina carefully turned her head to the right to get a good look at the source of the glow that was illuminating the inside of her helmet. The swirling white clouds weren't dense enough to block her view of the blue and green globe that was spread out beneath her. It filled her view so completely that it almost looked like she could reach out and touch it, no such luck, she thought, home was thousands of miles away; all of it straight down.
As pretty as the sight was there was another Sabrina decided she liked better. Out of the left side of the visor she watched the sleeping face of Lydia. There was a temptation to wake her but Sabrina held back, there was still time enough and she looked so peaceful, positively angelic actually, or the serenity of a goddess.
As she considered her lovers face Sabrina felt a pang of regret; not over being here, if this was the end then there was nowhere else she wanted to be. Sabrina simply regretted that they hadn't had longer, and some part of her mind couldn't accept it really was the end. She couldn't help going over how they had gotten themselves into this position one more time, hoping that maybe there was an out hidden among it; Nemesis, Starshield, Jessica, the Elements, Rebecca. Sabrina's thoughts halted there. It wasn't that the first Rebecca was truly responsible for this situation, but we wouldn't be here without her.

[center]1. "Home And Away"[/center]

Willow stretched out a foot to surreptitiously wrap her toes around the sheet and drag it away. Tara spotted the move and pulled it the other direction; "Honestly you would think you had never seen me naked before."
Willow was unapologetic, "It feels like I haven't, when was the last time we got a Saturday lie in?"
Tara thought about that for a moment, "It has been a while."
"Practically forever." Willow insisted.
As much of a gross exaggeration as that was Tara wasn't going to argue and abandoned her resistance; allowing Willow to drag the sheet off her body, "Now that's what I'm talking about," Willow murmured. Before sliding in next to Tara and letting her fingers trail over partners breasts.
Tara enjoyed that sensation for a few moments before wriggling round and pulling Willow against her, letting her arms slide around Willow's back and letting them run down her spine until they cupped Willow's butt; then she squeezed hard.
Willow squealed, which was promptly cut off as Tara pressed her mouth against Willow's and let her tongue slide over her partners. As she did Tara felt Willow's fingers press between her hips and trace along her pussy, tracing out a familiar path towards Tara's clit.
Tara broke the kiss and moaned before rolling onto her back and letting Willow slide on top of her, crushing their breasts together before Willow pressed her hips against Tara's and began to grind them together. Tara let her thighs relax and open, allowing Willow to press her sex against Tara's, warm moist flesh sliding together with a rhythm that steadily built to a crescendo that threatened the ceiling plaster.
As they lay staring up at the miraculously still intact ceiling Tara knew she had to break the cozy silence, "We have to get up you know."
Willow nuzzled her neck, "We can stay a little longer," she murmured softly.
Only years of practice allowed Tara to resist Willow's wiles, and even so it took a couple of seconds to gather her resolve, "No we have to get ready and go."
Seeing that she wasn't going to succeed in distracting Tara from her purpose Willow's expression turned sour and her tone was grumpy, "Can't we just pretend we lost track of time?"
Tara sighed and stroked Willow's hair, "Honey in this life we sometimes have to just grit our teeth and just get on with things, besides LJ and Sabrina are counting on our support."
"I'm sure they can get by without us." Willow wasn't giving up without a fight.
Tara shook her head and fixed her gaze on her lover, " Willow Rosenberg we are going to visit your parents and that's final."

LJ was staring at Sabrina's legs, she found herself doing that a lot. It wasn't just that they were great legs; it was also that sometimes she needed to look to convince herself that it was real; Sabrina was here and she was hers, in every sense. Having an actual relationship had required LJ to make some adjustments, which had caused LJ some trepidation, as an only child she wasn’t sure how good she was going to be at sharing but the adjustments had come surprisingly easily, it didn't feel like she had given anything up and yet gained so much in the process.
Her contemplation was interrupted by the appearance of her grandmother from the kitchen, "Would you and Sabrina like a drink?"
Sabrina looked up from tablet she had been reading, catching up with the latest of the 'Demon Hunter' novels and teasing out the real history from Willow's fictional veneer, "That would be nice Mrs. Rosenberg."
"I could stand another orange juice grandma." LJ agreed.
"Coming right up." Sheila replied cheerily.
As she walked out of the room Sabrina couldn't help staring after the woman, you're sure she isn't, you know,
? LJ finished for her, no she's pretty much always been that way.
She's acting like we're a couple of ten year olds on a sleepover
, Sabrina observed.
LJ knew exactly what Sabrina was talking about. When they had arrived LJ introduced Sabrina as her girlfriend. Ira Rosenberg didn't seem terribly surprised and took it in his stride, confirming what LJ had always suspected; that her parents had grossly exaggerated Ira's alleged resistance to their relationship in their tales of the old days. On the other hand they had proven dead on about Sheila Rosenberg's powers of denial, as far as grandma is concerned you’re my 'friend who is a girl'.
Sabrina was about to suggest a variety of ways in which they could make things crystal clear to Sheila when there was a faint stir in the air and Willow and Tara appeared in the middle of the living room, luggage in hand. Sabrina noted that Willow looked a little grim; though for once she was sure she wasn't the cause.
LJ bounced out of her seat and hugged her parents, "Hey moms, what kept you?"
"I had to hitch up the wild horses to get her here." Tara explained cheerily.
"It wasn't that bad." Willow grumbled, and seeing the dubious looks she was getting decided to change the subject, "How did it go with the Harrington's?"
Sabrina wasn't quite sure how to answer that, "Well they were all very nice but they wanted to know everything about me, where I'd been, what I'd been doing all these years."
"Ah." It wasn't a very articulate answer from Willow but it encapsulated a wealth of understanding. After all she knew what it was like having to come up with a good story for relatives who just wouldn't understand.
"You're here. Honestly would it kill you to knock on the front door like everyone else?" Ira Rosenberg's complaint was undercut by the smile on his face.
"Hi dad," Willow broke loose from LJ's embrace to offer one to her father, "if you really want the neighbours seeing us teleporting on to your doorstep I suppose next time we could do that."
Ira sighed, "And you would as well," he turned his attention towards Tara, "Hello Tara, I imagine that but for you my daughter wouldn't have arrived at all."
At one time Tara would have looked for the barb in that comment. When he first found out about Willow's sexuality and her magic Ira Rosenberg had regarded Tara as some sort of monster who had turned his daughter inside out. They had reached a state of toleration over the next couple of years but the barriers only truly crumbled after Ira found out he was going to be a grandfather. In the years since his granddaughter had wound him round her little finger and his relationship with Tara had become cordial, even friendly, "She would have turned up eventually; probably."
"Maybe," Ira corrected her; "anyway I think Sheila could use a hand in the kitchen, if we intend to have lunch at some point."

As they ate the group settled into a round of small talk but as the food was polished off Ira couldn't help bringing up something that had been worrying him since LJ had told him about how she had met Sabrina, "These Athenai people are you sure they're done with? They struck me as the vindictive sort."
Willow wouldn't necessarily have wanted to share the details of that mess with her father but LJ was inclined to tell her grandfather about all her adventures, "Well the ones who might have tried something were the ones closest to their leader, and when all her secrets came out they were the ones who had the most to worry about from their former colleagues."
"They're too busy tearing each other apart to worry about us." Sabrina summarized with a not entirely wholesome degree of satisfaction.
Given what Athenai had done to her Willow wasn't going to criticize that, "Pretty much, I don't think we're going to hear from them anytime soon."
Since his daughter was the expert in such matters Ira was willing to accept the assurance but he couldn't help shaking his head, "And no one even knows they existed, it still seems bizarre that the rest of the world is so unaware of all this going on around them."
"Well dear denial can be a powerful force." Sheila commented.
Trying to frame a response other than, well you would know, left Willow and everyone else at the table speechless. Ira was the one who came up with a way out of the awkward silence, "There was something I wanted to show you, something I thought I might give to LJ."
As he walked away from the table LJ gave Willow an inquiring look but her mother could only shrug and watch for her father to return with a small jewelry box in his hands, "I remember seeing this years ago. It was in a box full of old family memorabilia that's been passed from person to person and finally it worked its way round to us. I decided to see if this was still there, and well to my surprise it was," he opened the box to reveal a circular gold pendant with a smooth red gem in the centre of it and a fine gold chain of intricately worked links.
Ira placed the open box on the table. LJ reached out to examine the necklace and let her fingers brush the surface, and almost snatched her hand back. The medallion wasn't inert; there was magic clinging to it, old magic.

[center]2. "Heirloom"[/center]

As LJ hesitated Sabrina reached out and picked it up for her, Sabrina also felt the impression of power but managed to cover. She ran her fingers across the gem, and noticed something “It’s pretty Lydia and there's something embossed on the back, it’s kind of hard to see though."
Ira gave Sabrina a small smile, "I believe you will find it's a Star of David."
LJ held the medallion and turned it in the light while Sabrina kept a grip on the chain. Sure enough she could see the faint outline of a six pointed star imprinted on the reverse surface, "Has it worn away?"
"No it has always been that way," Ira observed, "deliberately intended that it should only be seen if you got up close, or it was brought to your attention."
Willow had been considering the necklace, "Probably made in a time and a place where the owner didn't want to make their faith too obvious."
Ira nodded, "Or there's the more romantic version, that it was a means of secret identification. Back in the eighteenth or nineteenth century when the family was in the banking business and international money transfers meant someone traveling across borders with a chest full of cash they needed some way of establishing who could be trusted."
Tara laughed good naturedly, "I knew Willow got her magic from you, now I know where she got the imagination as well."
LJ had used the interplay to get a better sense of the magic in the medallion, and assured herself that it was, had been, potent but it was for want of a better word good[/] magic, "Actually granddad is right, there's more to this than just a necklace."
Concentrating LJ sent her own power into the medallion and glowing yellow symbols flowed over and around the star.
Willow couldn't stifle a gasp as she saw the change. Just for a moment she wondered if this was a practical joke but quickly decided that wasn't her daughter's style. Tara had been picking up that something was bothering LJ and was actually relieved it wasn't some sort of incipient falling out with Ira, "Can we look at it dear?"
LJ nodded and Tara took the medallion, amulet, and let it dangle by the chain as Willow leaned in close to her so they could both get a look at the now illuminated symbol. In the central hexagon there was a single symbol, a Hebrew character, which sort of made sense but in the arms and at the points there were a dozen Greek characters and running around the circumference of the was a repeating sequence of symbols that neither of them could immediately recognize.
They both practically jumped out of their seats as Ira spoke up from behind with the question that was on everyone’s mind, "So what does it do?"
When her heart started beating again Willow had to admit, "I'm not quite sure, it's some sort of protection charm but I've never seen anything exactly like it."
"But you're going to find out aren't you." It wasn't a question, Ira just knew his daughter too well.

LJ planted the dusty cardboard box on the table still grumbling, "Why am I doing all the fetching and carrying?"
"Because you're the one with the Slayer strength dear." Tara reminded her cheerily.
"Hah!" Was the best response LJ could come up with on the spur of the moment.
Even Sabrina wasn't offering up much in the way of sympathy, she was too distracted by the text scrolling across the screen of the tablet, "See I told you it was runic."
The comment was directed to Willow who shook her head, "I've just never seen that style before."
"It's like fonts, the difference between Arial and Gothic even though it's the same language," she saw the look she was getting from Willow, "I had a lot of evenings with nothing better to do so I read up on my magic."
[i]And you thought I was just dating her because she's cute
, LJ silently commented with proprietary pride.
Sabrina didn't hear the comment but from the looks on their faces she had shrewd idea of what had passed between the two. She suppressed a smile and turned towards Ira, "Mister Rosenberg do you know how old the necklace is?"
The elder Rosenberg had been thinking about that very subject, "According to the family history I've heard it's nineteenth century, made in Poland or the Ukraine; depending on where the line on the map was at the time."
Sabrina looked back at the tablet, "No offence but I can't see this obscure Runic form turning up in Poland two hundred years ago."
Willow let her fingers play over the surface of the tablet. She had hooked into their copy of the Watcher archives, "All the references I found to it are in English and early twentieth century, it really doesn't seem likely that even a well educated witch in that timeframe in Eastern Europe would have had access to it."
"Right, so probably the magic wasn't added until after it came west," Sabrina agreed, "or the last circle was at least."
LJ was pleased to see the way her mother and girlfriend had shed their uneasy relationship in pursuit of the answer to the puzzle. She looked over to Tara and saw the same happy look there, and it was Tara who kept the mood going, "So do you have an idea what the magic is for yet?"
"Protection." Willow and Sabrina answered practically simultaneously, much to their mutual embarrassment.
Willow covered by expanding on the explanation, "Each of the circles is a charm of protection, the central symbol surrounded by two more completely separate protective charms,"
"I think it might be three," Sabrina interrupted, "the letters in the arms and the ones on the points could be looked at as separate charms," she suddenly looked embarrassed, "sorry you were saying."
Willow wasn't upset and waved the apology away. Before she could continue her father put in his two cents worth, "Don't forget the star itself, I mean if crucifixes can ward off vampires..."
Willow hoped her father wasn't going to go off on a tangent by raising this bete noir again; yes a Star of David might be just as good as a cross but it was harder to make on the spur of the moment and no one she knew of had been inclined to try the experiment, and this isn't the time to go there again, "You're right dad, which means the central symbol is surrounded by three or four additional charms. Each one would magnify the others inside it to create a really powerful ward, the kind that would have made Glory flinch."
That left Sabrina looking puzzled but unwilling to interrupt again. LJ came to her rescue, "Glory was this mad hell god who got kicked out of a demon dimension for being too evil for the other hell gods to stomach."
Sabrina raised an eyebrow, "That's pretty evil, and this sort of power could stop her?"
Willow shook her head, "No but it might give you time to run away. Against anything lower down the evil scale it would be practically bullet proof."
"So was someone just going in for overkill or were they facing something that serious?" Tara didn't expect an answer, she was just thinking out loud.
Sabrina tried anyway, "We still need to know when and where it was made, then we might be able to dig something out of the watcher archives."
LJ mulled it over, “Well so far we've narrowed it down to the last one hundred years and probably in the USA, can you narrow it down anymore granddad? I mean have you ever seen anyone wearing it?"
"I've been thinking about that and I can't say I have. The first time I saw it was in that jewelry box when my uncle showed it to me back in the seventies,” he tried to recall any earlier sightings but failed.
"So somewhere between the twenties and the seventies this charm was created." Willow mused, "That's still a lot of years but only a couple of generations, there just can't be that many people who had it in their possession."
LJ nodded along with her mother's explanation, until another thought struck her, "You know mom this means you probably aren't the first witch in the Rosenberg family."
Sabrina gave her a sly grin, "Not necessarily, it could have been a gift; you Rosenberg women seem to attract witches."
Tara smiled along with Sabrina, which left Willow and LJ blushing with a sort of pleased embarrassment.
Ira looked from his daughter to his granddaughter and then at their partners. He knew that once, to his considerable current embarrassment, that little interplay would have reduced him to a hysterical tantrum. Now he just smiled and planted his hands on the box of family souvenirs, "One way or the other I think we'll find the answers in here, don't you?" if there are any to be had.
Willow looked towards her father and meekly uttered words she hadn't used in twenty years, "Yes dad."
Since she didn't want to sleep on the sofa Tara didn't so much as smirk, instead she walked over to Ira and carefully pulled out an old family album, besides I really do want to know where this talisman came from.

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: ***NEW STORY*** 04-03-05
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:03 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:12 am
Posts: 3446
[center]3. "Lineage"[/center]

As the photo albums and old diaries spread out across the dining room table Sheila Rosenberg had gracefully withdrawn, realizing that this was definitely one of those things that she didn't want to be aware of. Sheila had a very firm worldview and wasn't even now inclined to confront anything that might upset it.
Willow watched her leaving with a small shake of the head, her mother had been more tolerant of things when her and Tara had started out but that had been based on the conviction that it was, just a phase. When it became clear that it was something more she just blithely ignored it.
Sabrina was looking at a photo album, which since it covered a period from the nineteen nineties onward wasn't strictly relevant to their search but Sabrina had been distracted by pictures of a younger Willow and Tara. More to the point there were a selection of photos of a small redheaded child accompanying them. She plucked one out and waved it towards LJ, "You were a pretty cute kid."
LJ looked at the photo and tried not to grimace, she looked accusingly towards her parents, "You left that album out deliberately didn't you?"
Tara flashed her a beatific smile, "Us dear? Perish the thought.”
LJ was unconvinced. She was certain that the only reason her parents had taken all those photos was to embarrass her with them someday, like today for example.
Sabrina was undeterred, "I still think you look adorable."
"The dress has polka dots, that’s practically child abuse." LJ growled.
Shrugging Sabrina put the picture back in the album and flipped through a few more pages before she began to look puzzled. Tara had been watching her and guessed what the girl was wondering about, "No pictures of LJ's other grandparents right?"
"I know about your mother," Sabrina replied hesitantly.
"But we never mention my dad." Tara finished surprisingly calmly.
"So lets not start now." Willow had a stern gaze firmly fixed on Sabrina.
LJ came to her rescue, "We've only met the once and it didn't go well." Not after he used the word abomination and Willow threw him out, literally, she added silently.
"So moving swiftly on," Sabrina announced brightly, "anybody got anything relevant?"
"Actually I do believe I have." Ira announced triumphantly, glad he could take the chill out of the atmosphere. He was holding a large photograph that despite being sealed in a plastic envelope showed signs of yellowing around the edges. He handed it round the table. Willow took it and saw what looked like an old holiday snap.
It was a black and white snapshot with the figure of a woman set against a skyline that Willow recognized as New York, a very old New York. The woman herself was smiling straight at the camera and dressed for a cold day, wearing a long coat and a sweater. Hanging down the front of the sweater was a gold chain with a circular pendant and a dark gem set in the centre of it.
"She looks like a little like you." Tara commented as she leaned over.
Willow looked at the picture more closely, you couldn't be sure about the hair or the eyes but there was something in the shape of the face and the expression that suggested they might be related, "And I'd guess this pictures must be from the forties or fifties, a generation or so after the family came to the USA."
"Nineteen forty one actually." Sabrina interjected. Willow and Tara were puzzled by her certainty until she tapped the back of the picture.
Willow turned it over and now she saw the faded writing in the bottom right corner; Rebecca 10/31/41.
When she read it out loud Ira looked thoughtful, "Rebecca Rosenberg; she was my grandfather's sister."
"So did you know her, when you were young?" Willow asked eagerly.
Ira's response was disappointing to begin with, "No, she stayed on the east coast when grandfather went west. But come to think of it she did have a reputation as the black sheep of the family."
That piqued Willow's curiosity, "What did she do to earn that?"
Ira frowned, "Honestly no idea, which is odd considering how my sisters loved to gossip."
"To put it mildly." Tara commented. She remembered the first time she had been arm twisted into going a Rosenberg family gathering not long after LJ was born. Naturally the major topic of conversation had been Willow and herself and with a small application of the concealment glamour she gotten to listen to some of the more outrageous stories, which naturally fell far short of the truth.
Ira nodded, "No broken marriages, or married men. No boozing or drugs, no stories at all."
Willow was looking at the photograph again, "When did she die?"
"That would have in seventies, seventy six, the year of the bicentennial, yes, seventy six." Ira finally confirmed.
"And you saw the necklace in the box in the seventies," LJ observed, "she died and no one else wanted it."
It was a depressing notion and Willow offered up a slightly less depressing option, "Or since magic runs in the family they felt the power without understanding what it was and that made them stay away from it."
"And when I saw it again I felt it unconsciously and brought it to the people who would understand it." Ira added, feeling pleased with the notion.
LJ lifted the necklace again, "So if Rebecca owned it all that time either she didn't have any magic, or she knew exactly what it was; magic made for her or by her."
"Yes dear," Tara agreed before turning to Ira, "Is there anything else in that box, or any other old mementoes that would tell us about Rebecca?"
"I honestly don't, and I guess there's only one way to find out." With that Ira pulled the box back into the middle of the table.

"Hello Melissa, yes it's Ira. It hasn’t been forever; I spoke to you just last week if you remember. I wanted to ask you something; yes they are here, yes she did bring someone, Sabrina. Yes that's right. Look Melissa I wanted to ask you about Rebecca Rosenberg, granddad’s sister. Well you know all the old family stories; no I know you're not a gossip Melissa. All right Melissa, I have to go, I'll talk to you again soon." Ira slapped the disconnect button and turned away from the screen shaking his head. He gave Sabrina a long suffering look, "You may consider my last ditch effort, ditched I suppose."
"She was more interested in us rather than family history." Sabrina concluded.
Ira nodded, "I love my sister but sometimes family just drives you crazy."
"Haven't had a lot of experience with that, unless you count the Athenai, they certainly tried to drive me crazy." Sabrina wasn't being purely flippant; her ex-colleagues had been prone to playing mind games.
Ira felt embarrassed about putting his foot in it and try to move the conversation onto a more positive footing, "Still you have a chance to bond with your relatives now," he suddenly saw the flaw in that before Sabrina could respond, "except for that whole lot of questions you can't begin to answer."
"Right, and honestly I think I'm looking elsewhere for family ties." Sabrina answered evenly.
Practically on cue LJ walked in, "The moms has found something, come on," she slid an arm around Sabrina and dragged her back to the dining room with Ira following in their wake.

Willow had connected her tablet to the screen in the living room, which was a feat in itself as it was an old model that her state of the art tablet had trouble recognizing, "Now I know what I'm getting dad for his birthday," she muttered.
Tara watched as Willow dragged icons around the screen joining them together with a maze of criss crossing lines, "Isn't that what you said before you bought him the one he has now?"
Willow hesitated, "Ah, right, I'd forgotten."
Tara chuckled, "It's okay honey I'm sure he'd like a new one."
Willow shuffled one last icon as LJ, Sabrina, and Ira walked in, "I found a lot of official stuff on Rebecca, even an FBI file."
Sabrina gave Willow a quizzical look, "Was she a bank robber or something?"
"Nothing that exciting. It was wartime and she was an immigrant, there were a lot of files being opened then." Willow explained succinctly.
Ira had a different concern; "I do hope you obtained that from legitimate sources Willow."
Willow gave him her most reassuring smile, "Don't worry about it dad," she saw her mild teasing was drawing a disapproving look so she decided to let him off the hook, "There's a little thing called the Freedom of Information Act and it is a seventy year old file."
Ira wasn't entirely convinced but decided to let it go, "So what did you find?"
Now Willow looked a little deflated, "Actually nothing much, a couple of odd gaps in the record during world war two but that might be because the FBI had more important things to do."
"There's plenty of other documentation but its all the same," Tara added, betraying a degree of frustration as she did so, "it tells us where she was and when but not what she was doing."
"I'm beginning to think we aren't going to find the answers we want." Willow added reluctantly.
A soft cough drew everyone's attention to Sabrina. She was dangling the necklace from her fingers, "This was there for whatever happened, so why don't we ask it some questions?"
Ira wondered if Sabrina was being sarcastic, or just very odd but he saw Willow had an intrigued expression on her face, "Psychometry."

[center]4. "Imprint"[/center]

Willow stared at Sabrina for a few moments while the girl confirmed her guess, "Yeah, some times you can pick images or sounds that have been imprinted on an object."
"But it's a complicated art." Willow pointed out, "Only really powerful emotions can imprint and you have to sort through them very carefully."
"Well that's what most people think but you can usually extract what happened around any object recently with the right spell, and if an object has magical properties it just soaks things up like a sponge." Sabrina's exposition was enthusiastic, so much so that she looked positively embarrassed when she finished.
LJ though looked suitably impressed and reached over to give Sabrina a hug, "My girlfriend the expert."
Willow nodded but still kept her gaze fixed on Sabrina, "I was just wondering how she came to be such an expert in the first place."
Now Sabrina turned bright red, "It was a favourite trick with the Athenai, take a personal object from someone, put a spell on it, put it back, and then, uh, borrow it again to take a reading. Because I was good with concealment and illusion glamours I usually got the job of making the switches and doing the reads before putting stuff back," she could see that was getting disapproving looks, "Hey at the time I thought it was all for the greater good, I was spying for the side of right."
LJ hugged her tighter, "We know sweetheart, don't we?" The way she put the question made it clear there was only one acceptable answer.
Tara headed off any argument by getting back to the original subject, "You think with magic this powerful the necklace will have soaked up a lot of information?"
Sabrina was happy to focus on the mechanics, "I think there's a good chance, at the very least creating that kind of magic should have imprinted something on it."
Tara looked round the table, "Well unless anyone else has a better idea, or we're just going to give up?"
"Well you know how I'm going to vote." LJ replied instantly.
Ira was a little more thoughtful, "I'm honestly not sure what it is your planning but I still want to know where the necklace came from."
That only left Willow to offer her opinion. She could see the enthusiasm on LJ's face and didn't need to ask Tara what she thought; Willow could sense Tara was intrigued and in truth she was too. There was a whole chunk of her family history that had been edited out somewhere along the way and she wanted to know what it was, "All right then, let's give this a try."

As Sabrina was the expert the younger couple had been delegated to take a quick trip home and collect the necessary materials. LJ was looking at the tablet in her hand and taking items from a box of magical ingredients, "Will the plain candles do?"
"They're the best actually." Sabrina commented distractedly.
Putting down the tablet LJ gave her full attention to her lover, "What's the matter sweetheart?"
"Well you know when you're mom was asking me about spying?" Sabrina still sounded hesitant.
"I don't hold any of that against you." LJ reassured her sincerely.
Sabrina shook her head, "It's not that, it's that, well, I always enjoyed that spy stuff."
LJ thought about that for a moment, and smiled, "When I was little I used to watch old episodes of Alias, I loved that whole super spy saving the world thing."
"And I got to do the super spy stuff while you got to save the world," Sabrina continued happily, "And Jennifer Garner was hot."
LJ arched an eyebrow; "I hope your spying wasn't the Mata Hari kind, seducing people in to giving up their secrets."
"Absolutely not," Sabrina stated solemnly, before smiling foxily, "chance would have been a fine thing." She barely avoided the pillow that whizzed towards her head but she didn't even try dodging when LJ followed it up by pouncing on her.

Willow turned the photograph of Rebecca over and over in her hands, "She does sort of look like me, doesn't she?"
Tara sat next to her and slid an arm around Willow's shoulders, "Yes she does."
"But did we resemble each other in more ways than that?" Willow let out the thing that was stirring her curiosity, "When my family lived in Sunnydale and I found out about the Hellmouth and magic I thought that was where it all began, that I was the first one in my family to discover that magic was real. Now I'm wondering if I didn't rediscover it instead."
Tara considered that. In her own family she could trace witchcraft back for generations despite her father's best efforts to blacken its name, "It's certainly possible, you are pretty powerful."
Even after all this time that sort of praise made Willow blush, "You're just biased."
"Yes I am but you do have some serious power, and even though your dad has never had any training I can feel the power in him," she paused for a moment, "thinking about it now I'd be surprised if there weren't more witches in your family."
"And its all just been written out of history." Willow sighed.
Tara took the photo from Willow's fingers, "Well perhaps now we can write it back in."
Willow turned and kissed her, which was how LJ and Sabrina found them when they returned with their magical supplies, "Ahah, now I know why you sent us off foraging." LJ announced in a scandalized tone.
"And of course you two just came straight back here." Willow observed wryly."
Tara backed her up, "Wasn't Sabrina wearing a red t-shirt when you left dear?"
LJ maintained a cool exterior, "We just felt the need for a change of clothes. I have all the stuff we needed." Willow wasn't remotely convinced but turned her attention to the bag of paraphernalia and began to empty it out.
LJ's attempt to maintain her dignity was seriously threatened when Sabrina silently commented; I've never literally had my clothes torn off before.
A small coughing fit threatened to overwhelm LJ, I'll buy you a new t-shirt, I promise.
Oh I didn't say I was complaining, do you think it's actually possible to take someone's panties off with your teeth
? Sabrina made it sound like a scientific inquiry.
For a moment LJ was tempted to come up with some item they had forgotten, something that might take hours to find.
That idea was scuppered by Tara, "This should be everything we need for the spell Sabrina outlined earlier?"
LJ was certain Tara had read her intentions, "Yeah that's everything mom."
"Good, then we can begin."

Ira Rosenberg watched as his dining table was converted from a historical archive into some sort of magical altar. Willow was setting out the candles, placing each one on an upturned saucer. This was a compromise to protect the surface of the table and the china, "If our local Rabbi ever hears about this," he shook his head.
"You may find he knows more than you think," Willow suggested distractedly as she worked, "the good ones are usually more in tune with the supernatural realm. After all by definition they have to believe in unseen powers; if they're serious about their faith anyway."
"Though that's not always a good thing." Tara pointed out as she laid the medallion in the centre of the candles; she had slipped it off the chain to perform the spell.
LJ was laying small rock crystals around the edge of the table, "Especially if they believe in the power but can't use it themselves."
Ira took in all their points but, "Still I don't think I'm going to be mentioning it to him any time soon."
Willow smiled, "Might be just as well. Ok I think we're ready for this, everybody move to the cardinal points. I'll lead off the incantation then we go around clockwise." Seeing that everyone was in place she looked over to her father, "You might want to take a few steps back dad."
Ira did as suggested, "Just try not to wreck the dining room young lady."
"I'll certainly try." Willow responded not very reassuringly but launched into the spell before Ira could say anything else.
Ira watched as the incantation passed around the four witches, trying to follow what was happening without much success until a sudden silence settled over the quartet. He was going to ask what was going on when saw the expression on their faces, they were blank, staring into space and there was a distinct sense that they were elsewhere, "Oh Willow what have you done now?"

Willow wasn't entirely sure where the dining room had gone or where the others were, she just knew someone had turned the lights out. She heard a piping sound and turned around;

The water was calm and the sky was clear, she could see the ships spread out across the harbour, quiet, relaxed, and yet...
She spun round and the sky was almost golden, the broad expanse of concrete was thronged with people all craning their necks to look skyward. She joined them, and saw the dart shaped craft, descending like a rain of arrows

Tara was confused by the darkness but the sound of pounding feet didn't give her time to think...

The walls were being swarmed from every direction now, there was no more time, "LJ do it now!"
LJ just nodded and raised her arms, the lightning was blinding...
Her vision cleared and she saw the pleasant expression on the oriental face slide off like a mask, "Do you think I've forgotten? There will be revenge for what you've done worldkiller!"

Sabrina didn’t even have time to take in the empty darkness before…

"Just get out, don't touch me, don't try and talk me round, just go!" Sabrina knew she was getting hysterical but she couldn't help it. She looked at Jessica, at the hands reaching out for her, those hands...
The room was different but the protagonists were the same, Jessica's smile was cold, "I'll take her away from you, make everyday a living hell and there's only one way you can stop me."
Anger and terror overwhelmed Sabrina, she reached out...

"Anybody here?" LJ's voice didn't echo, she wasn't sure it carried at all and there wasn't any break in the blackness...

"I probably shouldn't be here." LJ admitted uneasily.
Lydia smiled, "I don't think it will hurt things, I'm just glad to meet you, to know things work out."...
LJ watched the door close behind Tara and Sabrina and turned on Reese, "I just gave up everything I have left, you make this work or I swear...

The visions faded, and the darkness swallowed all of them up before casting them out, elsewhere.

[center]5. "Seven Days"[/center]

Willow's senses returned one by one. The first to come back was touch, which was how she became aware that she was sat in a chair, not a very comfortable chair but a chair nonetheless. She was grateful for that; waking up sprawled on the floor would be undignified and embarrassing. Hearing was restored next and Willow was aware of a babble of voices around her but none of them sounded familiar though what was being said reminded her of somewhere she had been. The smell of the place also seemed familiar, antiseptic, and astringent.
Her suspicion was confirmed when her vision came back and Willow could see the white clad figures of nurses and doctors walking back and forth over a linoleum floor, one corner of which was taken up by a reception desk with another nurse stood behind it. There was a row of people spreading out to either side of Willow on wooden chairs, all looking unwell to one degree or another, wooden chairs? The discrepancy hit Willow suddenly; she had never seen a reception area that didn't use plastic chairs.
With her brain slipping into 'drive' Willow took in the other anomalies, the archaic uniforms, the battered green typewriter on the desk where there should have been a flat screen terminal, the wooden signs where there should have optical panels. There was a glass-paneled door opposite and Willow walked over to it. The lighting let her get a faint reflection of herself and Willow saw she was just as archaically dressed as everyone else. Looking round again she saw a fire extinguisher chained to a wall with 'Brooklyn Memorial' stenciled on it, I think we're a lot further from home than Brooklyn, she concluded unhappily. Something had gone spectacularly wrong with Sabrina's spell and Willow planned to have a few choice words with her daughter’s girlfriend when she saw her again, if I ever see her again.
The gloomy notion that she might be stranded here alone was the reason she didn't respond when she heard her name being called the first time, she thought it might be her imagination running away with her, or an incipient nervous breakdown. The second time though there was no doubt.
"Willow!" She spun round just in time for Tara to sweep her into a crushing hug.
When she got her breath back one comment came to Willow's mind first, "Nice uniform baby."

When Tara recovered her senses she wondered what was with all the white. There was a whimsical moment while she considered the possibility of angel before she focused on the fact that they didn't wear stockings, or silly little hats on their head. That said nurse, albeit an old fashioned costume party type nurse. A look around the room however said it wasn't just a costume. The room had a trolley with some instruments, a bed, a sink, and the other accoutrements of some sort of treatment room, even if it was one that should have been in a museum exhibit.
Catching sight of herself in a mirror Tara realized there was a nametag pinned to her chest, which when she twisted it round said 'McPherson'. With no other clue in the room she decided to step outside; and spotted a thankfully familiar redhead looking lost in the reception area.

Tara wasn't inclined to let go of Willow, afraid that she might disappear again. Willow felt the same but became increasingly aware that they weren't alone, "People will talk baby."
"Actually I think we could stand here like this all day if we want." Tara suggested happily.
Willow looked round and realized that the people in the reception area were oblivious to the two women enthusiastically hugging in their midst. Experimentally, and because she wanted to anyway, Willow kissed Tara and let her lips linger on her partners before she broke away and looked around, "Well that had no effect."
"I wouldn't say that." Tara murmured coyly.
"I did mean on everyone else." Willow scolded her.
"True but I think I'd still like a little privacy, and we can check that out," Tara pointed to Willow's left sleeve, which had ridden up to reveal a bandage wrapped around the forearm.
Willow prodded the arm, "It doesn't hurt."
"Well let's go into the treatment room anyway, I don't want to count on people ignoring us if I decide to tear your clothes off." Willow wasn't going to argue with that.

In the treatment room Tara settled for removing the bandage, to reveal a completely undamaged Willow. It was a relief but it just reinforced the reality of their situation, "We definitely seems to have stepped into other people's shoes."
"But we don't all have name tags to tell us whose." Willow pointed to the badge on Tara's chest and then seemed to get distracted.
Tara coughed, which got Willow's eyes looking at hers again, "You do have purse though, try checking that." Although she wasn't a betting person Tara would have been willing to put a lot of money on what Willow would find.
As it happened she would have won the bet. As soon as opened the purse Willow spotted a library card. She read it and handed it to Tara, typed next to the space for 'name' were the words Rebecca Rosenberg. There were also a couple of keys, Willow picked one up, and had a powerful image flash into her head;

a house, not an expensive one but not shabby, she lived there with her brother and his family.

Willow dropped the key back into the purse and explained what she had seen to Tara, "Well at least we know that Sabrina's spell is still working."
"I wouldn't exactly call this a success." Willow had decided this was all Sabrina's fault.
"I think we just didn't appreciate how much the medallion had absorbed, more than just a few sounds and images, it stored up a whole slice of Rebecca's life." Tara couldn't help being a little awestruck.
Willow turned that over in her head, and she recalled something else, "Before you woke up here did you have some weird flashes?"
Tara nodded, "I saw a vision I had when LJ was born, and some guy I've never seen before making wild accusations."
"I saw a harbour full of ships, and then a landing field with what I think were spaceships coming down." Something about the harbour nagged at Willow but she couldn't put her finger on it.
Further discussion was forestalled as the door of the treatment room opened and another nurse stuck her head round the door, "Hey Alice in case you hadn't noticed shifts over, better get out of here before Hemming Shanghai’s you for a double shift, oh hi Rebecca," she disappeared and the door slammed shut before either of the witches could answer.
"Well I guess I've been here more than once, or Rebecca has anyway." Willow surmised.
"Certainly sounds like it, and people are definitely seeing what they expect to see, so maybe we should get out of here before I have to start giving bed baths" As much as she wanted to learn about this past there were somethings Tara felt they could safely skip.

It took a few minutes to find the nurses locker room but much to Willow's relief it was empty; she wasn't about to let Tara out of her sight, and it wasn't just to see what Tara was wearing under the nurses uniform either. They found McPherson's locker, which contained enough personal items for Tara to get a flash of where the nurse lived, only a few minutes from the hospital.
While she changed Tara carried on talking, trying to figure out the situation, "We must be somewhere near the time that picture of Rebecca was taken, that coat you're wearing looks like the same one."
Willow was finding it hard to focus on the conversation as Tara stripped down to white underwear but she did her best, "A good coat could last years, it doesn't really narrow things down that much," she looked round trying to gather her wits and saw an abandoned newspaper that she seized on as a distraction, "Oh damn."
Tara halted as she was pulling on a blouse, "What's the matter honey?"
“I think we can narrow it down quite a lot.” Willow held up the paper and tapped at the date in the banner, [Ii]December 1st 1941[/i].

Having hastily finished dressing Tara and Willow headed for the hospital doors, "It could be a coincidence I suppose, just a hideously unlikely one." Tara was speaking as much to herself as to Willow.
"Hideous is the word, we're trying to track down the history of a powerful amulet and we wind up a week before the USA gets into world war two, there has to be a connection."
Tara nodded, "Except we're thousands of miles from Pearl Harbor, and what would the amulet have to do with a very mundane attack? In the magical sense I mean."
Willow was still trying to figure out an answer to that when the doors burst open and two orderlies came in with a stretcher between them. The man on it had a burn on his chest. Willow was inclined to look away but found herself transfixed; the burn had the shape of a runic symbol.
Tara had also taken in that bizarre detail, "Should we go follow that up?"
Willow did want to pursue it but, "I think we need some space to think first, and we need to find out if LJ and Sabrina are around here somewhere." And if Sabrina is here we are going to have a lot of words about her spellcraft.

 Post subject: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:06 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:12 am
Posts: 3446
[center]6. "Small Problems"[/center]

LJ didn't recover her senses in a nice gradual way; she woke with a little voice in the back of her head yelling; move! Her body responded and LJ found herself rolling across grimy concrete before springing to her feet. She was bemused to find herself in an alley, a cold dark alley that didn't look remotely familiar.
The obvious questions had to be put aside as she saw two figures advancing on her; large, male, and very definitely vampiric, "Come on girl, just be nice and this will all be over quick and easy." One of them suggested, in a tone that said the exact opposite.
LJ bit back a retort, and instead explored the pockets of the ill fitting coat she was wearing. To her relief she felt the point of a good sharp stake; now she could be flippant, "Funny that was what I was going to say to you."
The vampires had clearly exhausted their conversational skills, one of them just growled and lunged at LJ. Despite the strangeness of the circumstances there was nothing wrong with her slayer reflexes. LJ flipped the stake over in her hand and thrust her arm out sideways; striking the vampire squarely through the heart.
The cloud of dust hadn't even settled before the other vampire tried to crush her in a bear hug. LJ dodged it by simply squatting down and as the demon's arms grabbed at thin air it staggered off balance. That made it an easy shot to drive the stake through the creature's back, raising another cloud of dust in the gloom of the alley.
LJ shoved the stake back into the jacket pocket, realizing as she did that the reason it was such a poor fit was that it was cut for a male frame, indeed her whole outfit had that same look.
"Well that was reasonably efficient Karen but you shouldn't have been so quick to rush in, you need to think tactically." The man who spoke had been lurking in the shadows and only now drew attention to himself.
LJ couldn't absolutely sure in the dim light but the face had something familiar about it and the voice, "It got the job done," she replied neutrally.
"On this occasion perhaps but one cannot always count on the opposition to be so co-operative." The man stated reprovingly.
It was the voice that did it; LJ hadn't heard it in years but there was something unmistakable about it, "Giles."
The man stepped closer, close enough for LJ to see the disapproving look on the face that wasn't the one she recalled from her childhood but was clearly related, "Karen socially you can call me Frederick, formally 'Mr. Giles' but I have repeatedly told you that 'Giles' is not a proper form of address."
LJ was beginning to feel like she was drowning, who the hell is Karen? She wanted to know, among other things. She was prevented from doing so by the sound of breaking glass. She pushed Frederick aside as window glass showered onto the concrete, accompanied by a crumpled table lamp and a loud scream from the now open window frame. The scream galvanized LJ into sprinting for a nearby door, it wasn't just the sound of a person in trouble; LJ knew that scream.
The apartment was on the third floor and LJ took the stairs three at a time getting there. She didn't need to do a lot of searching when she burst on to the landing, there was a door lying wide open with a splintered frame and some ugly sounds coming from inside, including some spectacular cursing.
LJ dived in front of the open door and was confronted by a bizarre scene. There were three vampires in the room confronting Sabrina Harrington, who was clad in some rather slinky black underwear and grasping the remains of a broken wooden chair. One of the demons looked decidedly battered and the other two were clearly waiting on one another to make the next move.
"Need some help?" LJ asked brightly, and made to hit the vampire on the left with a fireball; only to find nothing happened, "All right we'll do it the hard way."
The vampires spun round to see who the interloper was, and saw another girl. Since she wasn't wielding a broken chair one of the demons decided she was the lesser evil and charged; running right on to the stake that suddenly appeared in her hand.
Sabrina took advantage of the distraction to drive a jagged end of the broken chair back into the middle vampire and with its comrades vaporizing the last survivor decided it was time to leave and took a flying leap out of the window.
LJ dashed over in time to see the creature gather itself up and limp away in a disturbingly floppy manner. She turned back and was almost smothered in Sabrina's embrace, "I am so glad to see you, one second we're in your granddad's dining room and the next I'm half dressed and fighting off a bunch of vampires without any magic." It wasn't strictly true that there hadn't been anything between the two points but she wasn’t going to open up that old wound now, especially not with LJ.
LJ had no more answers to how they had got here than Sabrina did so she took a different tack, "Well at least you found a good look."
Sabrina looked at her quizzically, "A little impractical for street wear wouldn't you say? And the butch thing definitely doesn't suit you."
There was a mirror on the opposite wall of the apartment. It had acquired a large crack somewhere along the way but LJ could see how lumpen and shapeless she looked in what was definitely a mans outfit, "More about camouflage than style I guess."
Sabrina looked at her underwear in the mirror, "Plain unfair if you ask me."
"Well we could find out what I'm wearing underneath this." LJ suggested as she gave Sabrina's behind a squeeze.
Sabrina had read some of the material the Athenai had on Slayers before she parted company with them. A lot of it suggested that there was a strong link between Slaying and sex, or as one rather lurid account put it, 'slayers go at it like rabbits’. Thankfully it was one of the few things the Athenai had ever told her that turned out to be true.
Even so Sabrina reluctantly concluded that this probably wasn't a good time to indulge, damn it, "Look goddess of mine we're in a strange place, with strange things happening, and some of us are wearing very strange clothes. Maybe we should try and figure things out first?"
"Maybe." LJ conceded, without making any visible move to release Sabrina.
"Maybe now?" Sabrina prompted her.
Reluctantly LJ disentangled herself, just before an out of breath Frederick Giles appeared in the doorway, "Good lord Karen you could have waited for me to cover your back."
He looked around, then blushed and stared at the floor when his gaze fell upon Sabrina. The girl hastily searched for something less revealing and grabbed a robe lying on the bed, "Whose this gentleman?"
"Frederick Giles, a Watcher apparently," she expected Giles to become indignant at the revelation but he seemed oblivious to it.
That surprised Sabrina too but she covered it well, "Right, well hello mister Giles."
Frederick's expression changed from embarrassed to cold hostility in an instant, "Well if things are secure here perhaps we should go, good night madam."
LJ was so astonished by this change of attitude that she didn't react for a second; only her determination not to be parted from Sabrina spurred her into action. She grabbed Frederick's arm, "Just a second, don't you think we should look around? Ask some questions? I mean why were such a big group of vampires hanging around here?" It was possible Frederick already knew the answer to that, and so did this Karen person for that matter.
Frederick's uncertain response suggested otherwise, "Perhaps but that's no reason to remain here."
LJ was getting annoyed at the Watchers treatment of her girlfriend; even if it wasn't actually her he was mad at, "No reason? She just got attacked, that's plenty of reason."
Frederick looked pained, "I realize that we are supposed to adhere to a higher calling but she is a German and there is a limit to civility and courtesy."
Since the explanation was incomprehensible only a cough from behind her forestalled a string of invectives from LJ. She turned to see Sabrina holding up an old fashioned desk calendar. The date being second December was strange the year being '1941' took strange to a new level, even if Frederick's antagonism suddenly made a sort of sense, as much as anything around here is making sense.
Sabrina had also found a handbag that contained a small address book, with the name of the owner inside the cover, "Apparently I'm Ilsa Hertz," she shoved the address book back in the bag, and was hit by a sudden wave of dizziness.
As Sabrina slumped down on the edge of the bed LJ rushed over to her, "Are you okay sweetheart?"
"I just feel kind of out of it." Sabrina admitted.
LJ had no idea what was going on but she wasn't about to take any chances, "Is there a hospital nearby?"
Frederick looked unhappy, and then sighed in a resigned manner, "There's one a few blocks from here. I suppose it would futile to suggest calling a cab?"
"You better believe it." LJ growled.

[center]7. "Times Arrow"[/center]

McPherson's apartment was clean and tidy if not exactly spacious. Tara couldn't help but feel like she was snooping around someone else's stuff, even though technically she was McPherson right now. Willow on the other hand was wandering around looking at everything like she was in the middle of a museum exhibit, and if we're going to figure this out I suppose I'd better join in.
Almost as soon as she did Tara found something familiar. She picked up the photograph that was lying next to an empty frame and turned it over, Rebecca 10/31/41.
She handed it to Willow, "Explains why it has her name on the back of it."
"And who probably took it." Willow agreed.
Tara wasn't entirely satisfied, "But why just 'Rebecca'? Why not 'Love Rebecca', or 'Friends forever Rebecca'."
"Or just, 'Yours forever Rebecca," Willow smiled, "maybe somethings don't need to be said."
It was a tempting notion but Tara was familiar with the risks of projecting your own feelings onto other people, "It could be but I wouldn't jump to conclusions just yet."
Willow understood that but she had an ace up her sleeve, "Maybe this will make it easier to leap," she opened her free hand and a golden chain spilled from it; with a golden medallion and red gem dangling at the end.
Tara examined it closely, the faint outline of the Star of David was there but there was no aura of magic around it, whatever had caused that potent spell to be added hadn't occurred yet, which made a sort of sense. A different point grabbed Tara's attention though; "Rebecca left it here?"
"Uhuh, and I'm wondering why she took it off, and how come she forgot to put it back on when she left?" Willow's tone suggested she had a good idea why.
"It certainly means they must be very relaxed around one another, and it explains why we're here, Sabrina's spell is working, pretty spectacularly." Tara was running her fingers along a small shelf of books on one wall. There were a group of identical volumes and Tara pressed on them. They spines swung open to reveal that they were just a front for a little hidey-hole. There were actually books inside it, old books of the sort the witches were all too familiar with.
Willow wasn’t as pleased as Tara with the ‘success’ of Sabrina’s spell, "So they were witches, maybe lovers, and now we're walking in their shoes, thanks so much Miss Sabrina Harrington," she finished sourly.
"Well at least they're comfortable shoes." Tara observed wryly.
"I'd still like to get out of them." Willow tried to sound stern but she couldn't help smiling.
"That's easy, we find out how and why that acquired its magic." Tara pointed at the medallion.
"And I guess that means we go looking for weirdness."
Tara nodded, "Which at the moment leads us right back to the hospital and our friend with the burns."
Willow sighed, "How about we postpone the moment for a few hours? I need a little recovery time."
Tara felt that same almost overwhelming sense of dislocation and slumped down onto the sofa bed that occupied the centre of the room, "I can live with that,” she announced and patted the seat next to her.
Willow didn't need a second invitation and eagerly snuggled up. She instantly felt stronger and more confident in Tara's embrace. Somethings didn't change; wherever they might be in the universe.

As they walked towards the hospital entrance Willow looked at the horizon and became pensive, "Baby how long were we at the apartment?"
"A couple of hours." Tara answered absently.
That made Willow even more thoughtful, "Then how come I'm seeing the sunrise?"
Tara followed Willow's gaze and did indeed see a line of faint orange brightness. Since McPherson's shift had ended at midnight that meant they had spent the whole night at the apartment, "I know time flies when we're together honey but..."
"We're not really in charge of things here, we're being pushed along by this spell." Willow couldn't hide her agitation at that notion.
Tara wondered how much of that was just about the situation, and how much was because the spell had been created by Sabrina Harrington. That brought Tara back around to a concern she had been trying to avoid; what had happened to LJ and her girlfriend?
Inside the hospital things were thankfully quiet and the couple were able to make their way to the nurses station without anything more than a couple of nods from Tara to staff who knew McPherson. The nurse behind the desk smiled at Tara as they leant against it, "Oh hi Alice, what are you doing back so soon?"
It took Tara a moment to remember that was McPherson's first name, "There was a guy who came in just when I went off shift, had an unusual burn."
The nurse behind the desk nodded vigorously, "I've heard all about him, its like someone stuck him with a giant branding iron or something. Do you know him?"
"More of a friend of a friend," Tara temporized, "is there any chance I could see him?"
The nurse nodded, then frowned, "As long as its just you."
Willow knew who that was directed at, "I could just come along, they probably wouldn't even see me."
"Maybe, except we don't know what would happen if we really tried to bend events out of shape." Tara cautioned her.
Willow didn't seem worried, "If it breaks the spell I can live with that."
Despite her curiosity Tara wouldn't really object to that either, "But what if it just loops things back to the beginning, or just goes round and round forever?"
Willow considered that for a moment, "I'll just wait here then," she announced resolutely.
Tara just nodded, and did her best not to smile.

Tara made her way to the first floor where the patient was in a private room. She opened the door cautiously but there was no one inside beside the sleeping figure in the bed. Stepping inside Tara took a good look at the man. He was in his fifties, bald, and what was left of his hair was iron grey. He looked extremely pale but that probably had more to do with the trauma he had suffered than his natural condition. The wound itself was covered by a great square of padding and bandages.
Tara was interested in getting a look at the rune but she decided to find out more about the patient first. She picked up the chart hanging from the end of the bed, Victor Kelso. The medical notes weren't much help, just telling her that the doctors were baffled by the source of the injury. Tara walked round the bed to stand next to Kelso and stretched out a hand over his chest and muttered an incantation. LJ was better at such spells but Tara was no amateur and a faint glow answered her summons.
The tracery of lines definitely formed a runic shape and the residual energy running through the wound dispelled any possibility that it had a natural origin however unlikely it might have been, but what is it for? Tara still had no clue as to that.
She was still wondering about it when Kelso's eyes flickered open, she hastily dispersed the spell before he managed to focus, "Who the hell are you?" he croaked.
Tara considered her response, "I'm a nurse here at the hospital," she hedged.
Kelso looked sour, "Someone else who wants to know how this happened. Sorry to disappoint you but it's just a household accident, bizarre but just an accident."
It was such a breathtakingly blatant lie that Tara didn't know how to answer it. She was spared the effort as the window exploded and the blinds were torn aside. The creature that dropped to the floor was four foot high and about the same wide. Its flesh had the colour and slickness of dolphin skin but there was nothing cute about this beast. Its head was a low dome that curved over the shoulders with deep set eyes. The dome peeled open to reveal dagger like teeth and long orangutan arms reached towards Kelso.
Tara didn't hesitate; she made the passes that should have raised a solid forcefield to repel the beast. What she got instead was a weaving pattern of force lines that the creature clawed began to pull apart.
Kelso gave her a contemptuous stare, "They could at least have sent someone competent."
At practically the same moment the door of the room sprang open and a white coated doctor stood in it. He stared open mouthed for a moment before releasing a rather effeminate shriek and running away. Tara was tempted to follow but regardless of Kelso's sarcasm she couldn't abandon the man. She tried reaching out telepathically but felt nothing, just have to count on old fashioned intuition, she'll be along shortly.

When Tara headed for the stairs Willow wandered over to the seats in the waiting area and sat on what looked like the least uncomfortable of the available chairs and flicked through the small pile of magazines on a table in the middle of the seats, I know waiting rooms always have old magazines but this must be a record.
She was trying to decide if anyone of them were going to provide an adequate distraction when she heard the main door open and a couple of familiar voices.
"Look I'm feeling fine now."
"Great but we're going to get you checked anyway."
"I hate hospitals, they creep me out."
Willow rose and walked over to where the pair was facing the front desk, "You should try and keep your voices down, there are sick people here."
LJ and Sabrina spun round, "Mom!" LJ flung her arms around Willow.
Sabrina wasn't quite so enthusiastic, "Willow, you're here as well, good."
Willow looked over LJ's shoulder, "Yes I am, and we need to have a little chat about your Psychometry spell."
Sabrina couldn't hold her gaze, "Nothing like this has ever happened with it before."
LJ's instinct was to defend Sabrina; she was still trying to think of a credible way to do it when an ashen-faced doctor ran into the reception area.
"Call the police! There's something upstairs! Something monstrous!" He kept shrieking while a nurse frantically dialed the phone.
"Tara!" Willow cried and broke free of LJ's embrace, running for the stairs.
"Mom?" LJ was bewildered for a moment and then took off after Willow. Sabrina was going to follow but LJ waved her back, "You better stay here, you don't have any magic remember?"
Sabrina cursed but LJ and Willow were gone before they could here her choice selection.

[center]8. "Stranger Than Fiction"[/center]

Kelso had scrambled across the bed but the pain of his injury sucked the energy out of him and he lay sprawled hanging half off it. Despite gasping for breath he tried to chant what sounded suspiciously like a protective charm but Tara didn't have any energy to spare for conversation herself. She was concentrating on trying to shore up the strands of force tangling around the demon with pretty limited success, she was stuck with whatever McPherson could have done.
Tara was so focused she didn't even turn as the door opened, not until a sharpened piece of wood flew past her head and drove itself into the demon's chest, "Having a little trouble mom?"
Tara looked over her shoulder to see her partner and daughter framed in the doorway, "Hello dear, thank you for the assist."
"I'd zap it but around here I don't seem to have the juice." LJ apologized.
Tara nodded, "There's a lot of that going around."
"Let's see if I can help with that." Willow took Tara's hand as she spoke.
The demon was leaking dark blood from the wound in its shoulder but hadn't given up its attack, until the lines of force snapped back like overstretched rubber bands and slammed it into the window sill with a loud crack. Whether by accident or design its next move was to tumble out through the shattered glass.

The room was silent for a moment before Kelso turned to face the trio, "I don't know who you people are but, get the hell out of here. I've had enough of this crap and I want it out of my life, go!"
"Always good to appreciated." LJ growled.
"Overwhelmingly rude or not he's probably right," Tara observed, "we should go before anyone starts asking questions."
"We have a car outside." LJ recalled, "and a friend of a friend, relative of a friend anyway."

Sabrina was drumming her fingers on the front desk and trying to figure out how she was going to stop the police getting underfoot whenever they turned up as the trio came rushing into reception and almost literally scooped her up, "Time to go sweetheart." LJ announced, slipping a hand onto Sabrina's butt to help guide her along.
"I think Fred is going to freak when he sees us." Sabrina pointed out.
Frederick Giles didn't quite freak but he did look extremely unhappy when his Slayer returned with yet more, 'civilians' in tow, "Karen what is going on? You were supposed to be getting medical attention for; her."
"Look mister Giles demon jumped a patient in the hospital, these two intervened and saved him, and I think they may have some clue as to why a demon attacks a hospital in broad daylight." It was actually still only a little after dawn but Fredrick took the point.
"All right, perhaps we do need to talk but it is going to be rather crowded." Frederick countered in a halfhearted attempt to retain some control over the situation.
Tara finished off that attempt, "Actually there's a place nearby where we can go, somewhere private."
Defeated Fredrick opened the car door and beckoned the women inside; it was obviously going to be one of those days.

There wasn't much more room in McPherson's apartment than in the back of the car but there was coffee and enough cups to go round. Tara wasn't sure if the disapproving look on Frederick's face was because of the limited choice of beverage or all these people being in on the big secret of Watchers and Slayers, just as well we can't tell him about the future or he'd really get upset.
Sabrina was less concerned about the Watcher than the roles the four of them were playing out, "So LJ's still the Slayer, you two are still witches," and still a couple, she added silently, "and I've got no magic, no girlfriend and Fred over there would happily leave me to the vampires, wonderful."
Willow couldn't summon up a lot of sympathy given that she held the girl totally responsible for their being here to begin with. LJ could see her mom was about to say something along those lines and decided to head it off, "Hey it could be worse, you could have been Frederick." That got a half hearted laugh out of Sabrina so LJ went on, "Your spell worked, maybe not exactly the way we expected but nobody was complaining at the time and it is sort of cool living out a piece of history," telepathically she added, and I'm never going to forget the sight of you in that underwear, which got a proper smile from her girlfriend.
LJ looked over to her parents; "So I don't think we can go around blaming Sabrina for the situation we're in."
"On the contrary I think she may be wholly responsible for this situation." Frederick's unexpected intervention startled everyone.
Tara recovered first, "What do you mean Frederick?" she asked cautiously.
"I mean that we took the young lady to the hospital and almost simultaneously its attacked by a demon, and how exactly did the vampires we encountered earlier gain access to your apartment?" Frederick fixed a hard stare on Sabrina, "Tell me that?"
Sabrina was in a very tight spot, she had no idea what Ilsa's response would be, then something came to mind, "They broke open the door, didn't you see the damage to the frame?"
LJ had seen the damage but had been too distracted by Sabrina for the significance to register, "That's right Giles, the door had been forced."
The Watcher did recall that detail, however, "That hardly explains matters. The young lady may be ignorant, or may not be, of the nature of her visitors but they can't enter without an invitation. It may not have been granted on this occasion but it must have been at some point in the past."
Sabrina knew that was the rules but it just didn't seem right, it didn't seem sane actually, "You're saying I invited those three in previously and they just came in for a quiet chat and then left? Do I seem suicidal?"
Willow had also been wondering about that. Ilsa Hertz was apparently bereft of any magic and if she did have connections to the supernatural world was she stupid enough to let vampires have free access to her own home? If on the other hand she was as ignorant of the other world as she seemed Willow couldn't imagine a vampire leaving her in one piece; vamps usually had pretty poor impulse control, "And is it impossible for a vampire to enter a place without permission? Aren't there any loopholes in the rules?" Willow of course knew that the rules the bound vampires were not absolute; there were magics that could protect them from sunlight and really old vampires had some immunity to the wooden stake, even holy ground wouldn't always bar them. Why should the invitation rule be anymore sacrosanct?
Frederick might have been from an earlier era but he knew enough to be sure that where magic was concerned there were no absolutes, "It is possible, I suppose."
"And I was in that hospital room," Tara attacked the other half of Frederick's theory, "Mister Kelso had a runic symbol burned into his chest by some unnatural means and when that thing attacked he tried an incantation. He wasn't some random victim, frankly if the two events are linked he's more likely to be behind them; if the two are linked."
Frederick retreated under the two pronged assault, "Very well then I accept that we don't have enough information to make a judgment, at least until we can investigate further."
"I hope by we you mean to include us mister Giles." Willow stated resolutely.
Frederick looked uncomfortable but he was quickly learning how futile arguing with this witch was, "All right, I simply hope the council doesn't get to hear of this."
LJ jumped up, since Frederick was in an accepting mood she decided to put forward her plan, "Okay I say that me and Frederick find that vampire that got away and any of his buddies, I figure that's going to need a little Slayer persuasion, and we should bring Sabrina, Ilsa, along."
Before Frederick could object LJ pulled him into a corner, "Look if she is some sort of evil Nazi fiend do you really want to let her out of your sight? And if she isn't and the vamps come back for her I don't think that would be a good thing either, right?"
At the same time Willow and Tara were discussing the other obvious line of attack, "We need to find out more about Kelso."
"It would help if we knew more than just his name." Tara wasn't accusing, she was just missing the internet for the first time in her life.
"I've got his address if that's any help." Sabrina offered with an air of innocence.
"You looked at his file." Tara guessed instantly.
Sabrina shrugged, "It was just lying there and I'd been ditched so I did a little checking."
LJ and Frederick returned from their whispered conversation, "Okay we're taking Sabrina with us while we chase vampires, so I guess moms that means you'll be working alone."
Willow smiled, "I think we can manage that dear."
"Yeah but will you get any investigating done?" LJ asked, only half jokingly.

 Post subject: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:08 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:12 am
Posts: 3446
[center]9. "Untermenschen"[/center]

The drive to Frederick's apartment was conducted in a heavy silence, at least as far as he and history were concerned, actually LJ and Sabrina took the time to snuggle up and talk, "So you talked Frederick into letting me come along on the grounds that I'm a sneaky Nazi spy?"
"Not exactly," LJ demurred, "and you're not a spy of any sort."
Sabrina shook her head, "But Ilsa might be, we don't know much about her; maybe it would be better to go back to her place and see if I can pick up any impressions."
"Might be an idea but I don't think we can do it right now, besides I have a hunch Ilsa isn't a bad guy." LJ reassured her, and Sabrina decided to accept it.

Frederick's apartment was Spartan, there was very little by way of personal effects and a distinct air of someone just passing through. LJ decided it was Frederick’s way of asserting that he wasn't settling here, that he was going home to England sooner or later, "Well before we go anywhere else I intend to freshen up, when I've finished you can use the bedroom to change clothes into something a little more, feminine," he gestured to towards a small suitcase parked next to the sofa.
As soon as he disappeared into the bedroom LJ popped the catches on the case and was relieved to find a complete change of clothes inside, "Guess the Slayer is working out of here even if she doesn't live here."
"Probably trying to keep the big secret from family and friends." Sabrina suggested distractedly.
LJ closed the case and looked over at her girlfriend who had picked up a newspaper from a table in the corner and was frowning at the headlines. LJ got up and looked over her shoulder. The paper in question was the London edition of the Times and its front page was a collection of war reports. Despite the effort to put a patriotic spin on them it was impossible to avoid the conclusion that things were not going well for the British and the Russians, the Germans seemed on the brink of victory in the east and if the Soviet Union went then it would be a matter of time for the United Kingdom. LJ shook her head; while her mother was a history teacher she wasn't big on WWII and her classes at school had been more interested in the War of Independence and the Civil War so LJ wasn't sure exactly where those thoughts had come from but she guessed indirectly from Frederick via Karen.
Sabrina was sharing similarly sober thoughts, "And it's just going to get worse after Sunday."
"None of which is your fault," LJ emphatically reminded her once, and it occurred to LJ that this guilt Sabrina was experiencing might be something leaking through from Ilsa; and even that might be nothing more than the feelings of someone mortified by what people who could include her own blood relatives were doing.
Frederick emerged from the bedroom wearing a fresh shirt and tie; he observed the pair examining the newspaper.
"Sorry," Sabrina apologized, "It was just lying there."
"Yes, well I hope you found it educational," he observed reprovingly.
LJ didn't miss the barb and decided she had her fill of it. Even if the man just blanked it she was going to give him a piece of her mind, "That's just about enough Frederick, she isn't storming the gates of Moscow and she isn't dropping bombs on London. She's here in the USA where a person is innocent until proven guilty."
Much to LJ's surprise Frederick looked embarrassed, "You are correct of course, we should pursue our agreed course. To that I should make a couple of phone calls."
"Guess Karen was a no nonsense sort of girl." Sabrina clearly approved of that.
LJ agreed, "Guess so, want to come watch me change?"
Sabrina didn't need to be asked twice, "Let's see if you've got any interesting underwear in that bag."

As it happened there had been some satiny little numbers in the bag; LJ had however concluded they were a lot more fun to look at than put on, "I'm never wearing a suspender belt again," she swore as they walked to Frederick's car.
"That's a pity," Sabrina commented in an innocent tone, "cause you look pretty hot in those stockings, and if you don't wear them I don't see why I should."
LJ considered that, "Well maybe on special occasions."
Frederick might be oblivious to the content of the conversation but the man was clearly in a hurry. He was still deeply uncomfortable with Ilsa’s company and the involvement of all these outsiders in Watcher business, more especially with the consequences if his superiors found out he had permitted it, "We really should move things along."
"Worried all the vampires will disappear before we get there?" LJ enquired impishly.
Frederick sighed, "Hardly but information has a habit of flowing both ways."
The girls climbed into the back of the car, "Where is this place exactly?"
"It's in Harlem." Frederick supplied succinctly.
"Great we'll blend in so well there." LJ muttered.
"I grant you our ethnicity may make us stand out but we will hardly be the only ones there. There are clubs frequented by a white clientele who want to partake of black culture even if they don’t to live next to them." Frederick's voice took on a disapproving tone, "The creatures of the night always gravitate to the places where no one will worry if people start disappearing."
LJ recalled the werewolves she had tracked down in St. Petersburg, somethings never change I guess.
"And this is an actual vampire club?" Sabrina couldn't help but find the notion surreal.
LJ smiled, "Vampires drink, they smoke, they do pretty much everything except breath, some of them are pretty much party animals."
"With the emphasis on the animal." Sabrina guessed.

The club was down a flight of stairs in a back alley, the kind of place that might have been a speakeasy a few years before. Now it was a little more overt with a small sign set above the stairwell and a short queue of people running up the steps. The bouncer managing the door gave the trio only a cursory glance before waving them in, at which point LJ thought they were trying to poison her.
Lydia Joyce Maclay was a child of twenty first century California, which meant vampires were slightly more common than smokers, and a lot more sociably acceptable. The Athenai might have been devious but they were also puritanical in some ways so Sabrina had grown up in a similar environment; thus neither of them was prepared for the thick haze of cigarette smoke that hung in what passed for air in the club.
"Oh dear god." LJ muttered, desperate to draw in a breath of clean air to clear her lungs and equally desperate not to take in anymore of this polluted soup.
Sabrina looked a little green, "And this is supposed to be fun?"
Frederick looked a little uncomfortable as well but that was because he was more of a Chopin fan; the Jazz quartet playing on the club's small stage was definitely not to his taste. He hastily scanned the room and spotted a second bouncer trying to look casual stood next to a door marked private, "That's what we're looking for."
"Fine let's get there before my lungs quit working." LJ choked the words out.
The casual bouncer shifted gears instantly as he saw the girls and Frederick approach, "Sorry people but like the sign says, private."
He had raised a hand in a halt gesture. LJ reached out and grabbed it, pressing her thumb into the mans palm, which hurt like hell but didn't do much damage, "I'm sure you'll make an exception for us."
The pain in his hand was agonizing and the bouncer had rapidly concluded he couldn't break loose. With his free hand he pressed a button under the edge of the bar and the door clicked open. LJ released his hand and smiled, "See? I knew we could be reasonable."

Beyond the door there was a short dark corridor with a curtain hanging across it. LJ brushed it aside to reveal a mirror image of the club out front. The main difference was that there wasn't any live music, or any live clientele, LJ mused as she took in the crowd. There were a few plain out and out demons in the place but most were playing at being human; at least until they spotted LJ and Sabrina in the entrance. One heavy set patron vamped out and leapt up from a table; straight onto a stake that LJ produced in a blur of motion.
As the dust settled LJ jumped on to the table, "I want to speak to whoever runs this dump."
The rest of the customers in the bar were watching LJ closely but no one wanted to be next to find the pointy end of the stake she was still clutching. A male figure emerged from a shadowy corner dressed in a white dinner jacket and a bow tie. LJ wasn't impressed, for all his effort to look suave he was still a vampire.
"I'm Lucas, if you wouldn't mind getting your footprints off my table we can talk in back." The vampire announced.
LJ hopped down, no easy feat in her tight skirt, "Fine but try anything funny and you'll be the first to go."

Lucas' table had enough seats to accommodate all four of them and LJ took the one that put her back to the wall and Lucas sat opposite her, "It's a gutsy move coming here slayer, what makes you think you can get away with it?"
"What makes you think I'm going to ignore vamps just walking into peoples homes?" LJ snapped back.
Lucas grimaced, "I told them that there was going to be comeback on that but it was too good an offer."
That got Frederick's attention, "Then there is a magic involved."
Lucas gave him a sardonic grin, "Yeah but if you want the details you're going to have to ask the human who brought it to me."
"A human?" That shocked LJ, "Are you telling me a person is behind this?"
Lucas savoured the shock, "Absolutely. Came in here like you did but didn’t play as rough; offered to trade this charm if I'd find some of the boys to do her dirty work for her."
"What sort of dirty work?" LJ had a nasty feeling she already knew but she had to ask.
Lucas confirmed her suspicion, "The lady had a list, a bunch of people she wanted; 'taken out of the world'."
Sabrina had been trying to stay out of the conversation but couldn’t contain herself, "Why? Why those people?"
Lucas showed her a nasty grin, "Because they're a bunch of Nazi spies, that's why."

[center]10. "Dark Tales"[/center]

Willow checked the piece of paper she had written Kelso's address on. As depressing as it was that piece of information represented the sum total of their knowledge about the man, and they only had that courtesy of Sabrina. That had given Willow pause, as she couldn’t believe that Ilsa Hertz would have been able to sneak a peek at the file but perhaps originally McPherson had read it before she went upstairs. This ‘experience’ seemed to have to give in it, the problem was that they had no way of knowing where the limits of that lay, which meant they could only work within the boundaries of the likely actions of Rebecca and Alice, "So short of grabbing people on the street at random until we find someone who knows the man is there anything else we can try to get some information on him?" she asked Tara in exasperation.
"That could take a long time, and I don't really want to live through the whole of world war two." Tara observed, "I think we've only got one option."
"Well Dad said Rebecca didn't have a criminal record, so hopefully she didn't get caught." Willow shook her head, "Or maybe she did have another choice and we just don’t know about it."
Tara looked dubious; "We've been wandering around for a couple of hours, if the vision had something else in mind I think we'd know by now."
"Ok so let's go and do a little B&E." Willow conceded.

Getting across town to the address wasn't an particularly quick affair, and Willow once more lamented that they were limited to mundane means of transportation, "I really wish Rebecca knew how to teleport."
"I know honey, and it would be nice if her and McPherson could communicate telepathically, or McPherson could read auras." Tara sighed.
Willow hadn't really considered that, "Teleportation is tricky to learn from scratch and reading people is a talent you either have or you don’t but telepathy isn't that hard, especially if two people have a bond."
"I suppose in their time there weren't so many witches and Wicca, or at least not as many out in the open, and definitely no conventions." Tara pointed out.
"And it probably didn't hurt growing up on the Hellmouth either," Willow hesitated and shook her head, "I can't believe I just said that."
Tara slipped an arm around her, "It's ok Will, it had its moments."
Willow enjoyed the comforting feel, "I bet they didn't get much chance to practice this either."
"Now that would drive me crazy," Willow sighed, "Magic I can live without but not this."

Kelso's home was the penthouse apartment of an up market Manhattan block, "Well whatever he does for a living it must pay well."
"And he definitely isn't home." Tara had made a phone call to the hospital and confirmed that while Kelso wasn't there any longer, not surprisingly he had insisted on transferring after the attack, he was still hospitalized in another facility.
The doorman in front of the building didn't bat an eyelid when the couple approached; he just opened the front door for them with a tip of his hat, "Guess we look too respectable to be burglars." Tara smiled as she suggested it.
"And most burglars don't work in broad daylight." Willow added.
Tara continued to smile but gestured over her shoulder, "What daylight honey?"
Startled Willow looked behind her; and cursed, "Come on its only been a couple of hours since sunrise."
Tara shook her head, "To you and me but this world has its own rhythm."
"Well I just hope it means we're on the right track." Willow grumbled. Looking around the lobby she found something to really grumble about, "There isn't an elevator here."
"No there isn't." Tara agreed.
"And the apartment is on the eight floor."
Tara nodded, "Oh yes."
"Great, how come this vision can play games with time but can't whisk us up to the top of a building?" Willow complained. Receiving only an eloquent shrug from Tara by way of reply Willow sighed and made for the stairs.

Despite her complaints Willow practically flew up the stairs and carefully checked the landing to make sure there was no one else around. The corridor was brightly lit and quite empty so the pair sauntered out and found apartment 805. Willow stretched out a hand and placed it over the prominent lock on the door, "Let's see if Rebecca knows this little trick," she concentrated and was rewarded with a soft click, "guess she does."
"I hope Kelso lives alone." Tara murmured.
Willow's eyes went wide, "Now you think of that?"
"Sorry honey." Tara didn't sound especially apologetic.
Since it was now far to late to do anything about it Willow just squared her shoulders, swung the door open, and stepped inside with Tara following close behind.
As it happened there was no one in the flat, though the living room looked as if someone else had already ransacked the place. As Willow examined it more carefully she realized it had a consistent quality. There were newspapers and books arrayed around a desk set in the middle of which was typewriter. The full waste paper basket set on the floor next to the desk testified that the typewriter was in continuous use.
"So I'm guess we know what he does for a living." Tara observed as she walked around the room, "Or tries to anyway, she commented as she picked up one of the crumpled pieces of paper with a few lines typed on it."
"Oh I think he succeeds." Willow picked up a book from a shelf, the only shelf that showed any sort of organization. The book in her hands was a hardback, dark red with gold lettering. Prominent on the spine was Kelso's name and the title; 'The Darkness Over Ravendale'. She ran a finger over the other titles on the shelf and read them out loud, "The Rheinbach Curse, The Bloody Charm, The Blossom of Death. The man writes horror novels."
That suggested one possible explanation for events to Tara, "Maybe he got a little carried away with his research," she noticed something else on his desk, a stack pamphlets, identical and out of place amongst the newspapers and reference books.
Willow was still considering Tara's suggestion, "It could be but I don't see any magic books or paraphernalia."
"He had another interest by the looks of it." Tara handed her one of the pamphlets, entitled Humanity First.
Willow tried to make an association, "I remember from my world war two history there was an organization called 'America First', they wanted the USA to keep out of a war that wasn't any of their business. Most of the population backed them."
"Until Sunday at least." Tara pointed out wryly.
Willow nodded, "But not everyone believed that even before Pearl Harbour, by the looks of all those leaflets Kelso was one of them."
"Which doesn't really seem to get us anywhere." Tara sighed.
Willow couldn't deny that, there was nothing in what they had found so far that gave any solid clues to why Kelso was attacked, and certainly nothing that pointed to a connection with what happened to Ilsa. Even so Willow couldn't shake the conviction there was one; why else had the spell dropped them into these roles?
Tara was thinking along the same lines, she walked around the living room looking for some sort of inspiration. When nothing came to mind she slumped down into a chair, and heard the sound of paper scrunching. She rose up and lifted the cushion to find several folded sheets of paper, apparently badly hidden by someone in a hurry, someone who almost had to be Victor Kelso. She unfolded one and saw that unlike the rest these were handwritten, probably because you wouldn't find most of the symbols on a typewriter keyboard. The pattern of them seemed familiar and Tara wracked her brains trying to place them. When she did she slumped back into the chair almost dropping the sheets as she did.
Willow saw the way Tara had gone pale and rushed to her side, "What is it baby?"
Tara didn't answer, she just held the piece of paper out to Willow. She took it and studied the symbols; then she felt the need to sit down as well. What was on the paper was fragmentary, partial but every part of it was burned into Willow's brain. She had tried over the years, tried desperately hard, to expunge it from her mind but still it came to her some nights in bad dreams; a college dorm room on a dead world smeared with blood that had been twisted into magical symbols, the same symbols she was holding in her hands, the summoning for the angel of death.
Willow's hand went to the medallion around her throat; she was sure she had the answer to the question that had led them to try the Psychometry spell; she knew what the charm was for, what power it was meant to defend against. For a moment she hoped that would break the spell but as she sat with Tara in the gathering gloom of the apartment Willow knew she wasn't getting off that easily, they were going to have to see this through to the bitter end, face the darkness that her ancestor had seen. She slid down beside Tara and hugged her tight, trying to drive the darkness away.


 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:20 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

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Can't wait for the "Lesser Evil part I"!!

Well Candybabe I'm running a little ahead of schedule so now you won't have to. :-D This is a cliffhanger, a double one if you count the prologue...

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:33 am 
3. Flaming O
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That was a great update. The developing relationships between the four women is very interesting. I look forward to your next installment of these great characters and their story. Thanks for all of your hard work!

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 10:43 pm 
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Ahh the evil cliffhanger. What a great chapter. Its great stuff. I always love when RC comes on the board because each update takes me so long to read that I never feel like I have had to wait too long for it. I love Willow having other witches in her family and including Giles' dad in this is great.


 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 7:43 am 
21. Geek Infested Roots

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I love Willow having other witches in her family and including Giles' dad in this is great.

The developing relationships between the four women is very interesting.

Thanks Animism and Cooper I like to try and expand the W/T universe while still keeping them in the centre, hopefully I'm getting it right.

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 3:51 pm 
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mike, i wouldn't consider altering your posting style at all, it may be a little while between posts, but they are long worthy posts, and it would prob. dilute the experience for me if you posted a section like this in 5 or 6 goes.
anyway, this could be shaping up to be my fav. reality check story yet, which is saying something. love how all the backstory we've had so far seems to have been building toward this section. i was on the edge of my metaphorical seat from the prologue on.
this whole spell situation, very intriguing. reads like they're somewhere between actual time travel and a holodeck. nice continuity with the early giles.
really enjoyed the family time, esp. the ira interactions, but then i got so caught up in the spell i forgot all about that. can't wait to see where you take this mike, awesome as always~mary

you toyed with my heart like it was a toy heart ~ lisa simpson

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:55 am 
21. Geek Infested Roots

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really enjoyed the family time, esp. the ira interactions, but then i got so caught up in the spell i forgot all about that. can't wait to see where you take this mike

Thanks Meretricious I've started working on part two, and since I have rather more 'free time' at the moment it should speed up the posting schedule.

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 12:28 pm 
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Well there was certainly a lot going on in that update. I'm guessing that the Angel of death is the darkness of the sky, which was referenced before.

Also there's the question of what's going on in the prologue, things certainly seem to be going badly. Also the visions they had after casting the spell were intriguing, in a confusing kind of way.

I'm looking forward to part two of the story.


 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:00 am 
21. Geek Infested Roots

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Well there was certainly a lot going on in that update. I'm guessing that the Angel of death is the darkness of the sky, which was referenced before.

Ah Justin its a nice guess but no, although...
Also the visions they had after casting the spell were intriguing, in a confusing kind of way

...the Dark of the Sky certainly turned up in them. :devil

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:19 am 
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Oh goodness!

Managed to get all caught up now,and have to say that we really enjoyed the absolute hours of reading over the last few weeks.

(Do you think LJ and Sabrina are part of Willow and Tara's Karma?)

p.s. We prefer to read a whole episode/story at one go - just seems more satisfying that way.

Lucy and Emily.

fiat justitia, ruat caelum

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:44 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

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Managed to get all caught up now,and have to say that we really enjoyed the absolute hours of reading over the last few weeks.

Glad you've both enjoyed it, and at the moment it does seem like most people prefer the stories in one chunk so I'll be sticking with that format, especially as I have more writing time at the moment. As to the karmic connection, well you can certainly argue that they have a responsibility for Sabrina, after all if there was no LJ then Sbrina wouldn't be part of the coming crisis and the Athenai wouldn't have gone to such extreme lengths to recruit her so she might have grown up with her parents alive. Of course ulitmately the people responsible for most of this are the Circle of the Glade...

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2005 10:32 am 
21. Geek Infested Roots

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Well 'Lesser Evil Part II' is finished, a little editing and it should be up by the weekend.

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: <<NEW STORY>> 05-06-05
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2005 11:05 am 
4. Extra Flamey

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Another brilliant episode! It raises a lot of questions (LJ and Sabrina in space???) but I guess I'll have to wait and see. I enjoyed the 1940's setting, and it was nice to see Giles (well, a Giles) again. Looking forward to part 2

 Post subject: Re: RC 2018: ---NEW STORY--- 08-07-05
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 12:01 pm 
21. Geek Infested Roots

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Title: Lesser Evil Part II
Author: Mike Mullen
Rating: NC-17/18 because of violence, and adult themes.
Spoilers: None what so ever
Disclaimer: All the original BTVS characters belong to Joss Whedon and ME. Everyone else in the stories are my personal slaves.
Summary: it’s a race against time to unravel a mystery on the brink of WWII and prevent the Angel of Death gathering the whole of the world in its wings.
Authors notes: Part II of ‘Adrift’ will be at the start of ‘Elements: Earth’ and part III in ‘Dark Of The Sky’
Feedback: Just add your comments at the end of the story.

[center]Lesser Evil Part II[/center]

[center]1. "The Evil That Men Do"[/center]

The journeys back to McPherson's apartment had been dark and chilly for all concerned; and it had nothing to do with the cold of a December night in New York. Willow and Tara had slipped away from Kelso's apartment without attracting attention to themselves, though they hadn't exactly left it as they found it. The critical papers were stuffed in coat pockets; better to let Kelso discover his home had been searched than leave that spell, even a fragment of it, in the man's possession.
LJ had faced almost the opposite issue, specifically that Frederick had been minded to leave something, or more to the point someone, behind when they left the vampire club. Only the fact that it would be tantamount to cold-blooded murder got Sabrina back into Frederick's car, and no one was in the mood for conversation on the eternal drive back.
The only small piece of good fortune was that Willow and Tara got there first so no one was left standing in the corridor to simmer and brood further. Inside the conversation was sporadic and hesitant, "You mean the actual angel of death? The biblical plagues of Egypt, death of the first born one?" LJ demanded of her reluctant parents.
Frederick was studying the fragment, "In essence, though the biblical version may have been somewhat, 'edited'." He stopped and looked towards Sabrina, "Perhaps we should discuss this more privately."
LJ looked around the room, expecting a protest from Sabrina if not from her parents, seeing none forthcoming her exasperation boiled over, "Ok this stops now. Mom's I know this spell is pretty heavy and this thing is a major league threat but you seem to have forgotten one important thing, it didn't happen! My world war two history may be a little vague but I'm pretty sure the angel of death didn't make an appearance."
Tara nodded, "That's right, Rebecca, Alice, Karen, they must have found a way to stop this."
Willow looked a little happier but Sabrina still looked gloomy, "Everyone but Ilsa, I get to play villainous Nazi spy, probably going to get put up against a wall and shot."
LJ shook her head vigorously, "No I just don't believe it; I don't care about what that list says. This vision has put us all in to roles that fit us, and since you're a good, loyal, sweet human being I refuse to believe it would paste you in as a bad guy."
Sabrina was almost overwhelmed by the raw determination of her girlfriend and could only think of one thing to ask, "How do we prove it?"
LJ smiled and turned to Frederick, who had been doing a pretty good impersonation of a statue up to now, "Look Frederick that woman who approached the vampires,"
"That Lucas character thought she was of Romany extraction." Frederick observed, seeming to feel this was significant.
LJ waved it away, "Whatever, she was trading in a very dangerous charm that let's vampires just go wherever they feel like, we need to track her down regardless of why she's doing it right?"
"I certainly can't argue with the logic." Frederick admitted, albeit reluctantly.
LJ pressed home her point, "And you can't get information about Nazi spies by looking them up in the phone book, so she must have gotten the information from someone with connections, and I'm betting the Watchers can connect up with the same sort of people."
Frederick could see where this was headed, "And you think my connections can find her connections."
"Has to be worth a try." LJ insisted. She turned towards her parents, "Uh have you got anything to add moms?" LJ was uncomfortably aware that she had been bossing everyone around for the last ten minutes and that her parents might not be best pleased by that.
Willow was in fact watching LJ's performance with a mixture of amusement and pride in her daughter's determination and insight, "You're doing very well dear but I do have something else that seems like its probably part of this puzzle." Somewhere in the search of Kelso's apartment Willow, or Rebecca, had acquired several of the 'Humanity First' leaflets. The discovery of the summoning spell had driven them out of her mind until now.
LJ and Frederick pored over the positively vitriolic rhetoric contained in the pamphlet, "The seductive voices tell us this war is nothing to do with us, that we are safe behind the great moat of the Atlantic, that no European power would dare make war on the might of the USA. These voices lie, mister Lindbergh knows the Atlantic is no barrier and the surest way to encourage an enemy to strike is to ignore our defenses in the belief, 'it can't happen here.' America's safety lies in the defeat of tyranny, not pious hopes that the Nazi wolf will fill its belly and return to its lair before we become its next prey." LJ read it out loud.
"Well I can't really fault the sentiments, though I doubt it has endeared them to their fellow Americans." Frederick observed.
"And even they don't realize just how close the wolf is to the door," Willow sighed, "it's practically wiping its paws on the welcome mat right now."
LJ nodded along, "And not knowing that the USA is about to receive an engraved invitation to world war two they've decided to take some direct action, I mean does anyone want to take a bet that this mystery woman isn't tied to this outfit?" The silence suggested no one was inclined to take her up on the offer.
Frederick finally broke the silence, "We seem to have a route to follow but I don't think we can set off along it tonight, if for no other reason than that I can't speak to my contact until the morning," he looked uncertainly at Sabrina as he spoke.
"I guess he's wondering what to do with me tonight." Sabrina guessed.
"Do you feel like heading back to Ilsa's apartment?" LJ had an alternative in mind but she wasn't sure the vision, let alone her parents, was going to go along with it.
Sabrina could guess what LJ had in mind but she knew she had to be careful; she had to try and tune in on what Ilsa would have done, "Not so much, that door is probably still busted for one thing."
"Then the sensible thing would be to come with me, I can keep an eye on you that way." LJ's gaze swept back and forth between Frederick and her parents. The Watcher thought it over for a moment before nodding; Karen could certainly keep track of Ilsa.
Willow and Tara took a little longer to concede, "If that's what happened I suppose I'd be wasting my time protesting."
"Especially since I'm guessing you'll be staying here tonight." LJ said with a grin on her face.
Willow was going to agree but suddenly frowned, "No I don't think so, I think I've got to go home, Rebecca's home. As far as I know she hasn't been home for two days, I have a really strong feeling she should check in."
Tara contemplated that and encapsulated her reaction in a single word, "Damn."

Alone in McPherson's apartment Tara stretched out on the sofa, alone she let her thoughts wander over the experience. LJ's emphatic performance had eased her concerns over the outcome of this piece of living history instead she found herself recalling the face from the vision, world killer, he had called her and it echoed in her mind until she finally slid into an uneasy sleep.

At Karen's hotel room there wasn't a lot sleeping being done though for entirely different reasons, "Why didn't she get a decent sized bed?" Sabrina grumbled.
"I really don't think Karen was expecting company." LJ felt compelled to point out, though she didn't find the close confines a problem.
In truth neither did Sabrina but she was in a talkative mood, "Don't see why not, she's a good looking girl." A search of Karen's effects had found a passport and a couple of family photos so they now knew the girl was a brunette with brown eyes and an elfin, delicate looking face.
"Hard as it is to believe Slayers were supposed to have been totally dedicated to their calling, sober, focused, and celibate." LJ explained, maintaining a straight face through out.
Sabrina shook her head disbelievingly, "Remind me to thank your moms for bringing down the Watchers."
That wasn't strictly true but LJ didn't get the chance to bring it up as Sabrina pulled her close and silenced her with a kiss.

Willow pulled the coat tighter around herself and quietly cursed the vision, why couldn't she have just stayed in a nice warm apartment with a nice warm Tara? It wasn't like they never slept alone, conventions and sundry professional meetings inevitably meant there were nights when they had to face an empty bed but even then there was always telepathy, you've just been totally spoiled. She had wanted to know more about Rebecca's life and was getting it in spades. Willow was beginning to realize how tough it must have been, having to hide so much of herself away from the world, and from her family.
Willow stuck the key in the door and opened it, to find a middle-aged woman standing in the hallway, "Where on earth have you been?"

[center]2. "For Evil To Flourish..." [/center]

Willow looked at the woman, there wasn't a family resemblance but she didn't need two guesses who she was, the sister in law, "A friend had some trouble, I stayed with her to help out." It was basically true so Willow felt no guilt in offering the excuse.
The woman sniffed disdainfully, "Yet again. Do you have any idea what the neighbours must think with your comings and goings at all hours of the day and night?"
Willow obviously didn't know the details of Rebecca's activities but the woman's tone made her think this was a gross exaggeration, "It's not all hours and I suspect the neighbours have more important things to worry about than me."
The sister-in-law wasn't going to give up that easily, "It's still not right, you should be looking to find a job, or settling down with a family of your own."
The whiny voice pushed Willow's patience to breaking point, "Listen dimwit I'm a college professor, a writer, and I have a family. I'm also a seriously powerful witch who could turn you into a human pinball and I'm having a bad week, so how about you cut me some freaking slack?"
As expected the sister-in-law blanked the outburst and Willow was only spared a further critique because a man stepped into the hallway, "Marion give my sister a break will you? You can't expect her to ignore a friend in trouble anymore than you would."
"All right Isaac but," she threw her hands in the air in a way that suggested that she washed her hands of the whole affair and stalked off in the direction of what Willow took to be the kitchen.
Isaac shook his head and stared after, "A good woman but sometimes…" he turned his attention to Willow, "So was this trouble to do with, you know?"
Willow guessed that the way he waved his hands about was supposed to be some sort of magical pass, which surprised her a little but she quickly recovered, "More or less."
Again Isaac looked pained, "Rebecca why can't you just put it aside like the others? This is the new world, a world of electricity, automobiles and airplanes, do you really think the art has a place here?"
Willow was left speechless; suddenly she understood why she had been forced to start from scratch in Sunnydale, why there was nothing in the family history about witchcraft, why she never knew. The others who might have followed Rebecca’s path had been persuaded that the answer to Isaac's question was 'no', setting aside their magic like Shakespeare's Prospero. Willow wanted to tell Isaac it was a terrible mistake, that this new world was older than they imagined. Knowing that she couldn’t Willow instead settled for a simple, "Yes there is."
Isaac shrugged and was distracted as he watched Willow hang up her overcoat, "Is this problem somehow connected with them?"
Willow didn't understand what he was talking about until she spotted the 'Humanity First' pamphlet sticking out of the pocket, "You know about them?"
"Don't tell Marion but I went to a couple of their meetings before they cracked up." Isaac confessed.
Willow went into full on inquisitor mode, "Cracked up how exactly?"
Isaac recalled the events unhappily, "First there was a knock down drag out fight over whether the Communists should allowed to join after the Soviet Union was invaded. Then when they got in they tried to run the organization. What finally tore it apart though was when some people started to talk about direct action, doing something about Nazi interests and sympathizers in the US."
That fitted in with their existing suspicions but Willow was hoping for a little more detail, "Did they get into any details about exactly what sort of action they had in mind?"
Isaac shook his head, "I'd bowed out by that point. I think some of them are still trying to keep it alive."
Willow cocked her head to one side, "I don't suppose you happen to have an address I could contact them at?"
Isaac looked at her for a moment; aware he was aiding her with some crusade or other if he said yes. Of course if he didn't then she would just keep on looking anyway, "Let me get a pen and a piece of paper."
Willow smiled, it wasn't so much that she had a clue, it was that she had an excuse to get out of here and visit a certain nurses apartment.

Tara's uneasy sleep was interrupted by a knock at the door. She wasn't wholly surprised to find it was broad daylight, McPherson was obviously more used to sleeping alone.
When she opened the door Tara found a disgruntled looking LJ and Sabrina there accompanied by a harassed Frederick, "I'm sorry Miss McPherson but we didn't resolve the argument until we were in the car so I couldn't call."
"He wants you to baby-sit me." Sabrina sulked.
LJ expanded her meaning, "Frederick doesn't want her to come along when he meets with his government contact; I insisted on going so he said..."
"That Sabrina couldn't be left alone," Tara drew the logical conclusion, "it's not unreasonable really, Frederick isn't convinced about Ilsa's innocence and he wouldn't want to risk his contact with a Nazi spy, no offence Sabrina."
"Maybe not from you, him I'm not so sure about." Sabrina gestured with her thumb at Frederick.
Tara could see this was heading for a blazing row, "How about this? Frederick drops us off as close as he can to Ilsa's apartment so we can pick up a change of clothes." And check for any clues just in case LJ is wrong.
The suggestion didn't really mollify Sabrina or her daughter but Frederick seemed pleased with it, "That's an excellent notion, I'm sure Ilsa would want to check her home to see what condition it is in after the unprovoked attack," his tone suggested he wasn't at all sure of that and if Sabrina refused he would draw the appropriate conclusion.
Sabrina threw up her hands, "Fine, I'll go along with it but this whole vision things is working on my nerves."
Tara was glad, just for the moment, that Willow wasn't there to remind Sabrina in exquisite detail whose fault that was.

Frederick wound up dropping Sabrina and Tara about five minutes walk from Ilsa's home. He apologized, to Tara, but he was in danger of being late for his meeting. Tara had accepted it in good grace though Sabrina saw it as further gesture of humiliation. As they walked Sabrina tried to put it out of her mind, which meant she needed something else to think about and going over the events of the previous evening she found one, "You never did say exactly where you came across this summoning spell, it sounds like you'd have to be suicidal to try it," she couldn't help noticing Tara wince at her flip comment.
Tara was trying to think of a way to explain without offering the kind of detail that she couldn't share in Willow's absence, and how exactly do you explain that some alternate version of the woman you love wiped out a world to avenge your death; without getting into personal details? That awkward question was avoided because that was the moment the demon leapt out of the alleyway.
It was pure instinct and something of a miracle that Tara was able to lunge and knock Sabrina out of the way. As the creature landed and rolled over to get back on its feet Tara recognized it, the same as the one that had come smashing through the window in Kelso's hotel room, though unless it was a seriously quick healer it couldn't be the same beast since this one didn't have a shoulder wound.
Tara absorbed all of that in an instant and since she had a clear shot this time she tried to hit the thing with a straightforward fireball. To her great relief it leapt from her hand and hit the thing square in the chest. Flesh sizzled and the demon shrieked but it didn't keel over, McPherson had obviously been brushing up on her tactical spells but she didn't have the raw strength to make it decisive. Tara drew up the power for another strike but was interrupted as a galvanized garbage can came smashing down on its head, "Why can't you scumbags just leave me the hell alone?" Sabrina demanded, punctuating the words by pummeling the beast with the crumpling container.
"I don't think its going to answer," Tara let the magic go, "you appear to have caved its skull in."
Sabrina looked down at the demon, the curving ridge over its shoulders did look distinctly flattened, "I guess I found its weak point."
"Just as well, it didn't seem like the question answering sort anyway." Tara looked at the creature more closely, it definitely had a brawn rather than brains layout.
"Which is a shame because I want to know why it was waiting to ambush us." The pair was less than fifty yards from the front door of Ilsa's building, the demon had been lurking in the very same alleyway that LJ had appeared in, "In fact I've decided that somebody is going to tell me, and if they won't speak to me I have a girlfriend who can be pretty persuasive."
Tara couldn't help suspecting that Sabrina was hoping that 'they' wouldn't co-operate, and she rather agreed with the sentiment; someone here was playing with dark forces and if she had to bang a few heads together to make them see sense, so be it.

[center]3. "...It Is Only Necessary For Good Men To Do Nothing"[/center]

Looking around LJ decided that the forties version of Central Park would probably make for a pleasant stroll, if it wasn't the middle of winter. The park had swung between green oasis and no go zone over the years. In LJ's own time it had been sanitized and made safe for people to visit, though when she went there with her parents she thought it all looked a bit plastic. This version seemed much more real, which is a good trick considering this is just a vision.
Frederick navigated them towards a particular bench but nerves and the cold meant LJ wasn't inclined to sit down and she paced back and forth, fretting over what would happen if it turned out she was wrong. Even when Sabrina had been with the Athenai LJ had never treated her as the enemy, and the notion of having to do so now was something she wasn't sure she could handle.
Because she was pacing it was LJ who spotted the contact first. Frederick hadn't described him but the clean-shaven, smart suited, and distinctly furtive character making his way towards them couldn't be anyone else. She nudged Frederick who looked up and nodded at the man, who looked only slightly relieved to see the Watcher. He dropped on to the bench next to Frederick, "Good god Fred are you trying to get me busted? The bureau is tightening up security and you want to meet in broad daylight."
LJ stood in front of them, "That would be my fault, I pushed, Fred to arrange this ASAP."
Frederick didn't look happy about her use of the diminutive but didn't make an issue of it, "We do need answers to some questions."
"Yeah well you have to understand that what I've been able to get is all there's going to be, this panic about the Japanese is pulling in everybody." The contact sounded harassed and unhappy.
"What panic?" LJ couldn't help being distracted.
The information was classified but then this whole meeting was a security breach and he felt the need to vent, "The politicians have started panicking, they think the Japs are going to make a move, maybe against the British maybe against the Philippines. They've got the Bureau checking every Japanese business and citizen in the USA."
"If the Japanese attack the Philippines that would mean war with America." Frederick was thoughtful as he spoke.
The contact shook his head, "Don't get your hopes up Fred, we'll be in Tokyo Bay in six months and Congress would use war in the Pacific as an excuse to cut the lend-lease supplies to England and Russia."
That notion brought a pained expression to Frederick's face and LJ wished she hadn't gotten on to this subject. She couldn't precisely tell him what was going to happen but she felt she had to try, "You never know, maybe the Nazi's will declare war on the USA and make things simple."
The contact gave her a disparaging look, her comment was clearly close enough to reality to provoke a reaction, "Even Hitler isn't that crazy."
Frederick didn't seem very reassured either, "Well speaking of German friends."
The contact took the hint, "Your list is pretty good. It does look like it came from inside the FBI but at a pretty low level, it would be tough to trace the leak."
"So they are all spies." Now Frederick sounded very self satisfied.
More attuned to finding an out LJ spotted something in the remark, "Why low level? What was on there that someone at a high level would have left out or put in?"
The contact squirmed under her hard stare and gave in, "There were a couple of names, probably tips from the public, that we already knew about because they had already come forward, They're working for the Bureau."
LJ's smile was very broad, "Would Ilsa Hertz be one of them?"
The contact nodded, "She works for a shipping firm and she was approached by someone who suggested she could help the old country by providing them with details of loads and departure dates. She decided to be a good citizen and came to the Bureau. She's been helping us to identify who’s involved."
"I told you so." LJ crowed triumphantly.
Frederick sighed and nodded, "Indeed, unfortunately it also confirms that our opponents are more than a little slapdash in their efforts, hardly reassuring when you consider the powers they are dabbling with."
That wiped the smile off LJ's face.

Willow had called McPherson's apartment several times without an answer, which had left her with a dilemma. They might have gone with Frederick to meet his contact and in theory she could just wait until they got back and arrange a rendezvous. The problem with that was that it meant she would have to remain under the same roof with Marion and since Isaac was going out to work that would remove her shield from the woman's nagging on how Rebecca should be living her life. That prospect settled the matter for Willow, she would perform a recon of the Humanity First HQ and then make for McPherson's to check in; hopefully by that point the others would be back.
The office was on a ground floor, for which Willow was truly grateful. It was actually more of a storefront than an office, with posters admonishing America to wake up and do something, or words to that effect. Willow noticed that the posters were faded and peeling, the organization seemed to have fallen on hard times but not shut up shop entirely based on the trickle of people passing through the door. Some of the ones leaving were carrying bundles of the now all too familiar leaflets. On one level she admired their determination but on another she suspected it had led them into overreaching themselves, big time.
As she was weighing up whether to go in and scout out the inside Willow felt a tap on her shoulder. She spun around, ready for trouble and sighed as she saw Tara and Sabrina standing there, "How did you two get here?"
"I had a brain wave," Tara explained, "I went into a phone booth picked up the receiver and it turns out that McPherson did know Rebecca's number. I spoke to some woman who seemed to have something against me before someone named Isaac came on. He gave me the address so we hurried over to provide backup and fill you in on what happened."
Willow nodded along, "So what exactly did happen?"

The trio retreated around the street corner while Tara explained about the trip to Ilsa's apartment, with a few caustic interruptions from Sabrina, culminating with, "I'm going to go in there and make them tell me what's going on."
Willow looked at her quizzically, "Ok let's go through all the reasons why that's a terrible idea. Ilsa is German so even people in there who have nothing to do with the demons will be hostile. You don't have any magic so if things turn ugly you're the one whose going to get pounded, oh and the number one reason, Ilsa wouldn't be that crazy, which means it won't work."
Sabrina was fuming but she had the horrible feeling Willow was right, "So what is the plan?"
Willow had been thinking about that and had decided on the simple approach, "With you here to watch my back I'm going to go in, I figure a nice Jewish girl looking to do her bit for the cause is going to be welcomed with open arms."

The open arms seemed to be busy with phones and typewriters when Willow went inside. The office was gloomy with the windows plastered with posters and several burnt out light bulbs that hadn't been replaced but even that couldn't mask the grimy rundown air of the place; Humanity First was dead, it just hadn't stopped moving yet.
The preoccupation of the workers gave Willow time to check them out and one seated at a slightly larger, and much more cluttered, desk drew her attention. The woman was a little older than Willow with dark wavy hair and skin that might have taken for tanned if it wasn't winter in New York. She definitely looked like someone who could be thought of as 'Romany'.
Willow wove her way through the desks until she reached the woman, "Excuse me, are you in charge here?"
The woman looked up, "As much as anyone can be. My name is Tamara Hobart."
"Rebecca Rosenberg." Willow offered in response. Tamara's name wasn't very Romany but then she wouldn't be the first gypsy of Willow's acquaintance to anglicize her name, "I heard about your organization, and well it seemed like something I wanted to get behind."
That was clearly what Tamara wanted to hear, "It's good to see that some people are still willing to do what's right. Who did you hear about us from?"
The safe bet would have been to offer up Isaac's name but her instincts made Willow go a different route, "It was Victor Kelso, you know, the writer."
"I know Victor." Tamara said the name like it tasted bad, "I'm surprised he directed you to us."
"Well it was a while ago," Willow lied, "has he left the organization?"
"Victor lacked commitment, when the going gets tough the tough get going, Victor decided to go out the door instead." Tamara's voice was increasingly bitter as she spoke.
He ‘lacks commitment’ and a couple of nights ago he gets a visit from a demon, Willow looked Tamara in the eyes and was suddenly quite sure she was looking into the eyes of the person who had gone to Lucas and his cronies, willing to go any length to achieve her goal, "Perhaps I should come back another day, when you're less busy."
Tamara gave her a contemptuous look, "Perhaps you should."
Willow didn’t say anything else, just nodded and left. Everything about the woman screamed fanatic; she wasn’t going to be talked out of her plan, it was going to require a little ‘direct action’ from Rebecca and Co. to stop this disaster. Willow just had no idea what; yet.

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