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.
Both Spike and Faith recognized the neighborhood and slowed
the car to a crawl.
"Shit, I sure don't remember all these cars parked around
Faith gave no weight to Spike's complaints and she didn't consider
Her attention was elsewhere as they pulled in to the side alley.
"Um, Spike, look over there. Doesn't that car belong to...."
"Fuckin' Hiney!" Spike slammed his hand on the steering wheel.
Spike snatched up the police radio and flipped the switch.
"Car H-1 to base. H-1 to base. You there, Oz?"
"Base to H-1. What's up, Spike? You find our missing girl?"
"Negative and now we have a fly in the ointment. In fact we have
about five big flies in the ointment. We need some back up. STAT!
The address is 810 N. 35th street."
Oz typed the address and priority into the computer before responding.
"You may have to hang on for a few. All available cruisers in that
area are tied up. There was a riot at Whitey's over on highway
21 and all units are trying to get it under control. Shit, Spike, I
don't know when I can get you help."
Spike could feel his blood boil.
"Fucking Whitey! When is the ATF going to shut his ass down?
O.k., look, I can't hold off. The problem has just worsened and I think
Xander is involved."
Immediately Oz responded and the concern was clear in his voice.
"Look, in emergencies, we have a mutual aid pact with the bordering
departments. Give me a few minutes and I promise I'll have help on
the way. Just don't go in till back up arrives. Promise?"
"I promise. Thanks Oz. We're counting on you."
Spike pulled up behind the Lincoln and the two detectives jumped out.
They each checked their weapons and slipped quietly around the side
of the pick up truck to the rear of the dark residence. Both knew that
was a promise Spike had no intention of keeping. Oz knew it too.
The minute he saw him, Xander rushed into his lover's arms. The same
arms that clamped tightly around the larger man in overwhelming relief.
Instantly, everyone huddled up together all speaking at the same time.
As quickly as Spike had been filled with joy, his mood flip flopped and
he was now mad as hell. He had never dreamed of hitting the man he
loved but right now he balled his fists up in fury.
"What the fuck were you thinking?"
Xander could not hide the hurt in his eyes or the anger at the unreasonable
attitude of his partner.
"I was thinking that someone needed to save Tara and since you ...."
"Stop it! What the hell is wrong with you two?'
Willow couldn't allow their petty squabbles to continue when the situation
was at such a critical point.
"In case you have forgotten, Tara is still missing and now we can't find
Faith stepped up.
"Andrew? Where is he?"
Willow was on the verge of tears.
"We all sneaked into the house to look around and we were supposed to
meet out here. We all came out and he didn't. We were just about to go
back in to get him when you arrived. We think he's in the basement,
maybe with Tara, and we don't think they are alone."
"Spike's mouth dropped open and his eyeballs nearly fell from their sockets.
"You all went in there? Without calling for help? Without any weapons?
What the hell....."
"Enough! I don't listen to no more of this bull shit you waste time with.
My Andrew, my boy is in there and I will go get him myself while you
all have your silly little arguments."
The rest of the group fell silent, stunned at the broken voice and the
tears running down the face of the very gruff Gunilla. The closest thing
she had to a son was in danger and she didn't feel like enough was being
done to save him.
It was a shocking revelation that brought them all back on track.
Spike reached into his shoulder holster and pulled out his gun.
"Where did he go?"
Four voices all chimed in together.
Faith and Spike immediately climbed the back stairs and turned the handle
of the wooden screen door. At the last second he stopped the procession
behind him with a harsh, firm whisper.
"You all stay here! This is for the police. DO NOT FOLLOW US!"
The four remaining members of the Circle all nodded their agreement,
then, as soon as the detectives disappeared into the house, they hustled
Andrew had paused at the top of the basement stairs, looking down into
the darkness and wondering what the hell he was getting himself in to.
Of course, he reasoned, the odds that there was anyone down there was
slim to none.
All he had to do was sneak down, snoop around and hurry back out.
By his estimation, it shouldn't take more than three minutes.
With no further hesitation, Andrew took a deep breath and started
down the steps. His hand gripped the metal bar that served as
banister and he eased his way down.
Young and strong, his heart slammed against his ribs as each rush
of blood through his veins pounded in his ears.
He hated being scared. He never went to horror films and avoided
the fun house at carnivals.
Now he remembered why. Every inch of his skin felt like bugs
were crawling on it. Terror filled his brain and body and he thought
he may pass out at any moment. Still, for Tara, he moved on.
Each step was darker than the last and Andrew wished he had
a flashlight or even a pack of matches. By the sixth step he could
no longer see the Reeboks on his feet. When he reached the bottom,
the different feel of cement from wood told him that he had reached
Easing his way, using the feel of his hand along the wall, Andrew walked
forward slowly. He moved by the simple act of one foot in front of
the other, not allowing his brain to process. When he had assumed the
three minutes had passed he considered turning around and running for
'Five more steps' He told himself. 'Four more. Three.....'
And that's when he heard it.
The voices. Low, mumbly, straight ahead.
Andrew stopped and stood with his back flat against the wall.
His ragged breath came in gasps as he tried to decide what to do.
He felt very small and pathetic and he hung his head.
When he took a minute to pull himself together he heard something
else. This voice had bypassed his ears. It travelled straight to his
mind and heart. This voice was Tara. She needed them. She had
called to them. This plea was urgent. She didn't have time for his
After giving himself a quick pep talk, Andrew again placed his hands
on the cool block wall and moved forward. In a surprisingly short
space, he found himself standing in the doorway of a large open area.
There were more than a dozen hooded figures standing with their
backs to him in a circle.
Their chanting was loud now, insistent and reaching a fevered pitch.
Andrew dropped to a crouch in the darkness to watch. He still hadn't
seen Tara, but he knew without a doubt that she was there, trapped.
Tara swayed on her feet. The split second her bloody hands had
touched the fleshless skull of Jim Jones body, his soul had connected
with her. It wasn't the arrogant, Satanic worshiping priest they all
expected. What spoke to her was the shamed, sad image of a
spirit filled with guilt at the way it had led his life. Self condemned
to pay penance by walking the earth, away from the warm loving arms
of The One, for a thousand years, he cried, a wretched lost soul.
Swamped with the negativity, Tara barely heard the voices around her
shouting louder and louder, demanding.
"Say it! Say it! Say the word or die!"
Knowing Tara's life was hanging in the balance, Andrew did the only
thing he knew to do. He charged into the room and shouted.