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
The very odd collection of characters known as the Circle
crouched outside the house, hidden, at the side of the truck.
Heinrich was quickly cramping up, his arthritic knees screaming
at the position he was holding and Gunilla was rubbing the
aching joints hoping her husband didn't lock up before they
made their move.
Willow's voice was a mix of anger, apprehension, and impatience.
Xander snapped shut his cell phone.
"I don't know. For some reason Spike has turned off his phone.
I left him a voice message but there is no telling when he will get it.
So, we need to take a vote. Do we wait for Spike and Faith to
come or do we try to go in ourselves?"
Andrew threw his hand high in the air.
"I vote we go in."
Gunilla grabbed his wrist and jerked his arm back down.
"Some day you must learn the meaning of the word incognito."
She then turned to Xander.
"The boy is right. I vote yes."
"I vote dat if ve does not go soon, I vill need da Ben Gay on da
joints. I say 'yes'".
Willow, who had been strangely silent all evening stood up
straight with her arm crossed.
"I may not have the strength of psychic ability that you all have but
I have something better. I have Tara. She is my love, my life, and
my reason for living. If anything happens to her, there will be no
reason to go on. So, I don't care what you vote to do, we all
know that she is in there and I am going to go after her."
Xander smiled at her resolve.
"Great. Well, there aren't many lights on so probably everyone is asleep.
I am sort of concerned about all the cars out here. Are all those people
inside? I'm not sure. Anyway, here's my thinking, it's a fairly big house
so we need to slip inside and, VERY QUIETLY, spread out. Willow
and I will sneak upstairs, Heinrich and Gunilla, you look around downstairs,
Andrew, if there is a basement, you look there. If you see her and her
life is not in immediate danger, we will slip back out and wait for
Every head bobbed up and down as each one considered their part
in this drama.
Finally, Willow asked the question they all were thinking.
"And if her life is in danger?"
Xander rubbed his hand over the back of his neck.
"If her rescue can't wait, or if, God forbid, we are caught, we yell
as loud and as long as we can and the rest of us will come running.
I don't know what we'll do but, we'll be there."
Andrew's eyes lit up.
"Ooo! We need a code word. If one of us has to yell for help,
we need a code word."
Xander rolled his eyes.
"All right, Andrew. What code word do you want to use?"
While the others quickly agreed, anxious to get started, Xander wasn't
so sure. The word had rolled off Andrew's tongue and slithered down
Xander's spine like a rattle snake.
He tried to repeat it, but it tasted sharp, like urine and vomit, in his
mouth. Turning his head to the side, Xander spit, trying to get rid of the
foul, burning taste.
"Yeah, o.k. So, are we all ready? We go in, we scope the place
and we get the hell out. Meet back here in 10 minutes. Let's go!"
With no further hesitation, the five would-be rescuers shuffled
quickly around the truck to the side of the house. They took a
moment to stand upright with their backs flat against the cheap
worn paint to give Heinrich's legs a chance to work out the kinks.
When he nodded, Xander signaled that they were headed to the rear to try
the back door. No fence, no dogs, no guards. So far so good.
Xander reached for the handle on the ancient wood screened door
and felt a flush of relief rush through him when the handle turned easily.
With the others behind him, Xander very cautiously peered inside.
The room was dark and silent. Taking a chance, he stepped in.
When he determined it was safe, he signaled with his hand for the
others to follow.
The room was a kitchen. The sink, stacked a mile high with dirty
dishes and foul standing dish water told them that whoever was here
did not believe that cleanliness was next to Godliness.
Immediately a charged look passed between Xander and Andrew and the
others picked up on it. TARA WAS HERE! It gave all of them
Quickly, Xander pointed to the Hineys then the living room. With an
understanding nod, they shuffled off. Andrew was already drawn to
the far corner of the kitchen where he had spotted a small wooden
door. At the last second, Xander had an overwhelming urge to
Something felt off. Dangerous. Maybe, he decided, it was just the tension
of the moment. Before he could decide, Willow began tugging anxiously
on his hand, her eyes begging that they moved on.
At the last moment, before they left the kitchen, Xander glanced back
in time to see Andrew disappear down the darkened basement steps.
Together, hand in hand, Heinrich and Gunilla crept up the stairs.
When they reached the top, Heinrich's head darted around the corner
and back. When he was certain there was no one there, he tugged
his wife's hand and they stepped up on the landing.
There were two bedrooms. A small one directly ahead and one off
to the left. Entering the larger one, both Hiney's had to cover their
noses. Who ever had been here had thrown up and wet the bed.
The four corners of the bed had restraints connected to them
and there were spots of blood on the pillow. Tugging her
husbands sleeve, Gunilla pointed to a pair of worn earth sandals
that they recognized. They were both certain that Tara had been here.
Taking her hand, Hiney led the way past the small room. They wasted
no time or effort. It had no furniture. It had no Tara. On around
the corner, they came to the bathroom. It smelled damp, as though
someone had recently taken a bath. There were empty containers in
They had seen enough. Together, they quietly slipped around to the top of the
stairs and down. They hurried back to the kitchen and safely out the
back door where they stopped.
"Ve vait here. If anyone yells da passvord, ve hear and ve come on
Gunilla heartily agreed.
Xander and Willow had started in the kitchen. They pushed through
the swinging door into the dining room and paused. There was next
to nothing there. A card table and chairs sat in the center, littered with beer
cans, empty take out containers, and bowls with spoiled milk.
Whoever lived here wasn't planning on staying.
It also didn't feel to Xander like Tara had been in here.
Her energy was strong, but not in this room.
Around past the front door, the two crept through the fading
darkness into the other side of the house and the large livingroom.
Like the dining room, it was sparse. A couch and chair probably
obtained from the curb where students set thing with "free" signs
on them and a small 13" black and white television.
Moving by, he placed his hand on the sofa and frowned. Tara's
energy had not been in contact with this either. Doubt was
beginning to sneak into his brain. It was confusing. She was here,
yet she wasn't. Xander looked at Willow and frowned.
Willow was not dissuaded. She had no crisis of faith.
With her head held high, she tugged on his hand and now led the way.
The house was constructed with a flow that traveled all the way around
with the upstairs stairway just inside the front door, all the other rooms
moved around it. As the left the living room, they passed a very small
half bath and, pushing open another door, found themselves back in the
They had absolutely nothing to report. Slightly discouraged, Xander
and Willow slipped out the back door to meet up with all the others
and hoping they had better luck.
As soon as they saw their leader, the Hiney's rushed forward, both
of them talking over the other as they reported what they had seen.
After Xander and Willow admitted they had no information, Xander
suddenly looked all around.
"FUCK! Where the hell is Andrew?"