RATING: Adult for language and content
DISCLAIMER: The Bee has no rights or claim on any
of the characters or products named in this story and makes
no profit from them.
SUMMARY: This is the third story in the Rosebud/verse.
Tara has been abducted and the police rush to find her.
The other members of the Circle decide that they can do
a better job and begin their own investigation.
Who will find her first and will it be in time?
Huge thanks to Purpledodah for the amazing banner.
The closed college campus was, for the second time this night, a flurry
of activity. Spike and Faith had called for back up and Harlin Meeps
was taken into custody.
Forensics combed over his small sleeping room in the back
of the utility area, taking pictures and bagging evidence.
Spike had spread out the photographs over the hood
of the cruiser and they were being logged and counted.
The minute Spike entered the cubby hole he knew they had their
man. Every inch of the walls were covered with snap shots.
Pictures of all the women involved in the Wicca group.
Pictures taken from long range. Pictures that chronicled their
arrival at the beginnings of the meetings to shots snapped of them as
they sat in their circles, held hands, laughed, smiled and just talked.
Using a telescoptic lens, some of the shots were closeups of Tara's
face, caught in unguarded moments. Photos that saw her eyes
sparkle and her soft blond hair tumbling down over her brow.
They were worshipful, reverent pictures that a lover would frame and
adorn his bedstand with.
They were pictures that lit a fire of fury in Spike's belly.
It was noted that the pictures had been taken over a period of time as
the clothing changed in accordance with the seasons and both
detectives knew Meeps had been watching them for months.
As janitor, Meeps had access to all areas of the campus.
A fact glaringly obvious by the photos of Tara and the other girls using
the bathroom. These were pictures that caused Spike's temper to flair,
sparking the need to rip them in half and beat Meeps within an inch of
But he couldn't. This was the time, both detectives knew, for
their best poker faces. They had their man but not their victim.
They had to stay calm. They had to stay in command.
Spike had ask him repeatedly. "Where is she? What have you
done with her?" but Meeps continued to feign ignorance even to the
point of sobbing, claiming he loved Tara and would never hurt her,
but Spike was not convinced. Spike was sure of Meeps guilt.
Faith, on the other hand was not as positive.
Back up had arrived immediately. Meeps was placed in cuffs
and put in the back of the cruiser while his small little cave
After several minutes of Meeps lying, crying, and denying,
Spike finally slammed the cruiser door shut and told the
patrolman to take him to the station.
"Put him in one of the interrogation rooms. I want him held on open
charges. I want him printed and the prints checked through AFIS
for past convictions. I also want to know if he has any outstanding
wants or warrants. You got me?"
The young officer puffed with pride. He couldn't wait to tell the
other rookies that he was working with homicide.
"Yes, Sir. I gotcha big time, Sir."
The rookie clicked his heels together and snapped his hand up to
the brim of his hat in a sharp salute.
Spike's eyebrows lifted along with the corners of his mouth.
Returning the salute, he continued his instruction.
"Good man. Detective St. John and I will be down to question
him within the hour."
The young officer nodded and hurried off, Meeps still protesting
his innocence to anyone who would listen.
Spike wasted no time in calling Xander.
"Xan, hey, I got good news. We just took a suspect into custody.
Now, we haven't found where he has Tara hidden yet, but I guarantee
I can get it out of him. At least if he's locked up he can't hurt her, right?
It's only a matter of time. I promise, I'll have her tucked in safely
back in the mansion before morning."
Despite the cheerful tone in Spike's voice, Xander's sixth sense was
not convinced. The situation, to him, felt unchanged.
"Are you sure? Who is it?"
"The janitor, a pervert by the name of Harlin Meeps. Apparently
he had been watching the girls, especially Tara, for some time. Seems
he was somewhat obsessed with her. He had pictures, LOTS of pictures
of them. We also found a drawer full of stolen panties, some of them
stiff and crusted with dried spunk. Guy's a real piece of work. Anyway,
Faith and I are on our way down to the station now to make him tell us
where she is."
Silently, Xander had scribbled down "Harlin Meeps" on a scrap of
paper and slid it toward Andrew and Willow. Willow looked up
questioningly. Andrew closed his eyes and ran his fingers over the
name slowly and carefully as though it were written in braille.
He then frowned, looked at Xander and shook his head.
"Yeah, that sounds great Spike but what about the other one?
We all got the distinct impression that there were two people involved."
Spike could feel his temper snap. He had expected relief, joy, maybe
even a little gratitude wasn't to much to ask but all he was getting
was distrust and his professionalism questioned. The whole night
had been a roller coaster of emotion. Every possible up had been
followed by a crashing down. Spike was spent and he knew if he
didn't hang up quickly, he would say things they would both have a
hard time forgetting.
"Look, we don't have all the answers but chatting on the phone with you is
eating up a lot of valuable time. Now we are going downtown to get
some answers from out suspect. I'll call you later when I have something
"Yeah, but, Spike....."
"XANDER." Spike took a deep breath and checked himself before
"Xan, I can't talk now. Don't call me. I'll ring you when we find out
anything. Just this once, trust me, yeah?"
Xander was shocked silent. He always trusted Spike. Didn't his
lover know that? He wanted to tell him that but quickly realized
he was holding a dead line. Spike had hung up.
Snapping his cell phone shut, Xander sat down at the table. Willow
and Andrew sat down with him and waited.
"Spike and Faith have arrested a man. A janitor at the college by the
name of Harlin Meeps. Spike found some stuff that he thinks incriminates
him. I'm not so sure. It just doesn't feel right. Andrew?"
Andrew picked up the scrap of paper and tossed it back to Xander,
watching as it floated across the polished wooden table.
"'S'not him. I don't know what Spike found or who this guy is, but
I would bet Gunilla's strudel that it is not him."
Willow nodded vigorously.
"I don't feel any resolution. Tara's situation is unchanged."
Xander agreed. He rubbed his face in the palms of his hands.
The other two were becoming concerned that maybe Xander was
Suddenly he jumped to his feet, slapping his hands on the table top.
"O.k. We have wasted enough time. Willow, you go upstairs
to the guest room and wake the Hineys. No more sitting around here
with our thumbs up our collective asses. Our Circle is broken and
it is up to us to fix it. We are going out! We are going to go find Tara
Willow leaped up, punching her fist in the air.
Andrew rushed over, throwing his arms around Xander's neck,
squealing in his ear.