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?
Praise and thanks to the wonderful Petxnd for the amazing banner
Faith thought she had shown extreme restraint in not demanding
an explanation earlier but now they were in the car, light flashing
on the top and zipping wildly through the streets.
Before getting in, she recognized the look on Spike's face and had
immediately buckled up. Now, clutching the dashboard as he
took another corner with a screech of tires, she felt her patience
"Jesus, Spike. Give. Where the hell are we going and why?"
Spike's face burst into a bright toothy smile.
"I thought you'd never ask."
He picked up the folder that lay on his lap and he tossed it
over to her.
"Look at the pictures."
Faith frowned. She had already seen them. They were disturbing,
to say the least. Still, she knew her partner so she pulled them
out and started looking again. They were just what she remembered.
Several of Tara, some up close, some long distance.
There were pictures of different areas of the college and the other
women in the Wicca group. There were the ones of them in the
bathroom that she quickly skipped over and there was one of...
Spike leaned over to see if she had seen what he had.
"Yep. That's it. So go ahead, tell me what you see."
Holding the picture up to the passing street lights, Faith could easily
make out what they had both missed earlier.
"Well, from the looks of the wet pavement, this was probably taken last
week when we had that rain storm. It shows the parking lot, dark,
with the street light already on so I assume it is after a meeting is
"Good. Good." Spike interrupted cheerfully. "And who do you see
standing in that nearly dark, wet parking lot?"
Faith tipped her head to the side.
"I see the lovely Miss Rita Washburn and she seems to be having
a pleasant conversation with a dark haired, dirty man driving the
very same pick up truck that was parked near her house.
The odd thing is that she swore that she didn't know anyone who
matched that description."
Faith tossed the rest of the folder on to the back seat.
"Well, this isn't any proof of guilt but it certainly is a place to start.
I think we need to know why she told us about a dozen different
lies. It might not make her a suspect but it certainly moves her
from innocent bystander to witness all the way round the corner
to person of interest."
Spike's voice went quiet and took on a serious tone.
"This feels solid, Faith. I think we might finally have a grip."
She prayed he was right.
As much as she hated to admit it, the hot water felt wonderful
and Tara stretched it out as long as possible. The stale, rancid
smell of vomit was washed clean from her hair and the shameful
remnants of urinating on herself were erased with soap and water.
But more than that, it gave her time to flush the tension from her
mind and body for a few minutes and concentrate her connections.
She knew Xander was the strongest and although she loved
Willow, he would be the one to reach out to.
Standing under the pounding hot spray of water, Tara placed her palms
and forehead against the cool tile wall of the shower stall.
In her mind, she pictured him. He was sitting at the Circle table.
He was the leader, strong, brave, and she imagined him seeking her
Mentally, she called to him. Without the specifics of who and what
that she considered added baggage, she focused all her concentration
on one specific need. 'I need help. Please come for me!'
"Hey! What the fuck is taking you so long?"
Rita jerked back the shower curtain with such force, the sound of the
scraping metal curtain hooks were like a slap of reality, causing Tara to
"I..I'm sorry. My legs are still shaky and it's hard to balance."
"Oh, yeah, I guess. Well, don't fall. The high priest doesn't want no
marks or bruises on you. So, you done? You look done."
Despite the hot water, Tara suddenly felt a cold shiver run through her
and she wrapped her arms around herself protectively.
Rita shut off the shower and grabbed Tara's arm, jerking her forward.
The frigid air was a shock to her wet, dripping naked flesh and she
began shuddering uncontrollably. Immediately, Rita threw her a towel.
"Stop that. It isn't that fucking cold in here. Shit, you act so damn
delicate. Instead of worrying about the room temperature, you ought to
be worrying about that fucking password."
Tara took that as the perfect opening and hoped, if she acted casually
about it, she might get a few questions answered. Taking the towel,
she began to methodically and slowly dry herself off.
"So what time is all this supposed to take place?"
Rita sat down on the closed toilet lid and watched her. Tara was
beautiful. Her skin was soft and smooth, the swell of her full upturned
breasts was what rich older women paid thousands of dollars to copy.
Rita reached out and placed her hand lightly on Tara's flat stomach,
her sensitive fingertips grazing down, feeling the fine, nearly invisible
delicate hair that led toward the light brown bush that ran between her
legs. Rita wondered what she would taste like.
"What? Oh, it starts at 7:06. Your really have a wonderful body.
Have you ever been with a woman? I would love to lick you. Taste
you and feel your tongue in my pussy and your lips sucking my clit."
It took all the inner strength Tara had not to shove Rita away and run
from the room. The revulsion she felt at the disgusting woman's touch
made her again want to scream. Instead, she tried to keep her mind and
attention on the important and disregard the trivial.
"7:06? Isn't that an odd time?'
Rita's hand reached down and cupped the side of Tara's knee,
between her legs, then slowly ran up the inside of her thigh till
the back of her fingers brushed the coarse pubic hair.
Tara squeezed her eyes shut and ground her teeth together as she
waited for an answer.
"No, it's actually the perfect time if you think about it. 6:00 plus 6
minutes would be...."
Tara's eyes popped open and she looked down, finishing the
sentence for her captor.
"It would be 6:66 a.m."
"Right! See, I knew you were smarter than the rest."
Suddenly, Rita's caressing hand retreated and she handed Tara
a small box.
Tara took the box and told herself to breathe. This was nothing new
she had used these before. She needed to stay calm.
"So who is the local, um, what did you call him? High Priest?
And how did he know about me?"
Rita moved away from the toilet but stood where she could watch
Tara flush herself out.
"Oh, someone who knows this city. He had been searching the
L.A. area when he heard about you. You might have heard of him.
He works for the County. He is a VERY important man.
Everybody thinks he is the front runner for this job."
Tara squatted over the bowl and felt the cold, vinegar smelling liquid
rush through her. At the last second, she remembered to waiver,
pretending to still be weak in the legs.
"Sssorry, I still can't stand very well. So tell me about it. What
will happen during the ceremony?"
Rita was delighted. It was like girlfriends having a sleep over and
painting each other's nails.
"Well, since you ask so nicely."
She giggled and settled in on the top of the clothes hamper.
"All the Priests that are hoping to be the new leader of the Vision will
gather together, in fact some of them are already here. Then, when it
is time, they will set up the area of sacred tradition with Jim sitting in the
center and....." Rita waved her hands around dramatically, "...they
will do some sort of word thing, course being a woman, I'm too stupid
She rolled her eyes as if the two women were sharing a great annoyance.
"Then I bring you in and when the time is right, we cut you and let your
blood drip onto Jim's head. That's when you need to make a psychic
connection and give us the password, which I will verify. You will continue
to bleed till you do. You know, I really hope you don't bleed out like the
others. It is such a downer. Anyway, when you say the word, Jim
will give you the name of the Priest who gets to be our leader."
Rita frowned. Up to now, there hadn't been a then.
"Well, I guess then the new leader gets you. He can fuck you, pass you
around to the other Priests or just sacrifice you. Kind of winners choice."
Tara turned around quickly, just in time to reach the toilet before again