12 days to go....
Willow emerged from the shower, her long red hair dripping water down her smooth back. Wrapping a large fluffy towel around her body, she dried quickly and dressed even quicker. As she returned to the bedroom, Tara rushed in. "Have you seen Miss Kitty?" she asked, slightly panicked. For a moment, Willow thought. She couldn't remember having seen Miss Kitty since she arrived home from work, although to be honest, she had been so busy lavishing attention on Tara that the cat had been the furthest thing from her mind. "I saw her last night, but not today. Why are you so worried?" Willow asked, her confusion wrinkling her brow. It was still early and they had locked the cat flap so she would be in the house somewhere, probably enjoying a lay in.
"I laid out her breakfast, and she's nowhere in sight. She always gets up for breakfast!" Tara ranted, her concern obvious. Willow had to admit that it was a little strange for Miss Kitty to have missed breakfast and so decided to have a quick look for her before she left for work. Between them, they had searched every inch of the ground floor and double checked to make sure that the cat flap was locked. "I'll check the loft!" Willow said, her concern for the tubby feline growing. It just wasn't like her to miss breakfast and ignore their calls. As she climbed the stairs, Willow saw the familiar shape of the beloved cat curled up on the chair. "She's up here." she called down to Tara, who sighed with relief.
"C'mon lazy bones!" Willow said, shaking the cat slightly. Miss Kitty made the slightest effort to lift her head, raising it all of an inch from the chair before slumping back down again. "Tara!" Willow yelled, realising that something was seriously wrong here. "Get her travel box, she's sick!" Stroking the poorly feline softly, Willow noticed her breath was shallow and rather rapid, her gums were far too pale and, although she hated to admit it, Willow didn't think she had very long left at all.
Tara burst into the open loft seconds later, the travel box swinging violently from her hand as she crossed to Willow. "Oh god!" she whispered as Willow picked up the limp body and laid her in the box. "I'll take her now!" Tara said, giving Willow no chance to argue. "You get to that meeting, I'll call you at work when we're done with the vet." With that, she spun around and almost disappeared into thin air.
Willow immediately picked up the phone, hitting the speed dial for Vince she waited for what seemed like an eternity before he answered, his voice heavy with sleep. "It's too early, go away!" he said.
"Vince, Tara needs you! Go to the vet's on Chestnut now." she said clearly. Vince snapped awake instantly, if Tara needed him, then he'd be there.
Tara drove to the vet's in a state of worry and fear. Miss Kitty had always been there with her and Willow, through the best of times and when they'd had some blazing arguments, it had been Miss Kitty who had sat with them, listened to their problems and eventually gotten them talking again. With her funny meows and inevitable way of tripping you at the worst possible time she provided comic relief when it was most needed. As she pulled up in front of the surgery, Tara yanked the front door open and pulled the travel box from the passenger seat, peering inside and hoping for some sign of life.
Miss Kitty was still, her breathing shallow but thankfully still there. Rushing into the office, Tara's entrance made the young receptionist jump. "My cat is sick, I think she might be dying." Tara said, her voice wobbling with tears. As a young nurse appeared and peered into the box, the receptionist asked; "Are you registered here?"
"Of course she's registered here!" Tara snapped, "Just make her better!" the nurse rushed the sick animal into a back room while the receptionist continued questioning Tara. "I need to take the animal's name." she said, turning her attention back to the computer in front of her.
"Miss Kitty Fantastico." Tara said slowly, leaning over the counter to make sure that she was spelling it correctly."2436 Whedon Drive?" she asked. Tara nodded, tears stinging her eyes. "Would you like to take a seat?" she continued as the bell on the door jangled.
Vince appeared behind Tara, wrapping his arms protectively around her waist. Turning slightly to see her best non-Willow friend, tears spilt from Tara's eyes. "No." he told the receptionist, "Do you have a cell number on your files?" he asked, receiving a nod. "Well, if there are any developments, please call!" he told her firmly as he took Tara's hand and lead her out into the street.
"Where.... I want to stay." Tara complained, tears streaking her cheeks.
"You'll only get more and more upset sweetie." he told her softly, his arm returning to her waist as he guided her towards a coffee house three blocks down. "They'll call with any developments!" he said, "She's going to be fine!" he finished; the confidence oozing from him put Tara a little more at ease. "Remember when Willow ran her over, she was fine after that!" Tara rolled her eyes. Only Vince could use something that awful as a positive point.
As they found an empty booth in the coffee house, Vince ordered for the pair of them and settled into comforting his friend.
Back at the house, Willow had called work and re-arranged her appointments, telling them that she would be out all day on personal matters.
She had so hoped that she could put her idea into practice today, but doubted very much that Tara would appreciate it with Miss Kitty so sick. Her own worry about their treasured feline was making her feel a little nauseous.
She decided to change her clothes and then set out after Tara and Vince.
As Vince finished the last of his Danish pastry, Tara's cell phone ran. "Oh god." she moaned, seeing the caller display. Vince took the cell from her hand and answered it. "Hello?" he asked, trying to keep his own voice from sinking. "I'm calling from Chestnut Vets regarding Miss Kitty Fantastico." the voice told him.
"Yes, how is she?" he asked.
"Mr Butler, the head vet believes she is suffering from poisoning. Can you think of what she may have eaten?"
Vince looked stunned. Poisoning? Who would poison harmless Miss Kitty? "Erm, hang on." he said, "Tara, they think she's poisoned, any ideas?" he asked hopefully.
Tara's face crumpled as the realisation hit her. "My paints, I left her alone with the palette. That's all it could be!" her tears falling freely and plopping into her luke warm coffee.
"Paint, oil paints I believe!" Vince told her. "Will she be ok?"
"It's too soon to tell, but now we know what we're dealing with, she has a better chance."
After thanking her for her help, Vince hung up the phone and slid it across the table to Tara who was sobbing quietly behind her hair. "I poisoned her. I killed Miss Kitty, Willow will hate me!" Tara sobbed.
"Willow will never, ever hate you." Vince told her, "And besides, you didn't poison her, I'm pretty sure you didn't force feed her the paint!" Suddenly, Vince remembered something he'd seen on one of those reality shows and leapt to his feet. "I swear, I'll be right back!" he said and sprinted from the coffee house with Tara staring at his back.
Vince had noticed an arts store on his way to the coffee house. In the show he had seen, poisoning was always treated much more successfully if the doctors had a sample of the poison. He burst into the store and thanked the lord that Tara had dragged him on her last supply buying mission. Grabbing a tube of the same brand of paint that Tara always used, he threw the money at the cashier before bursting back out and running back to the vets.
The bell jingled loudly as he burst through the door. "Give this to Mr. Butler." he told the receptionist. "It may be what Miss Kitty has eaten!" A young nurse appeared just in time to hear his statement. Grabbing the tube from his hand, she studied its ingredients carefully. "Excellent, if this is what she has ingested, then we can help her, hopefully we're not too late." she said and vanished back through a large white door.
Pumping his fist in the air, Vince felt true relief, knowing that he had had a part in helping to save the cat he had come to adore almost as much as Willow and Tara did.
With the flash of a smile and a 'thank you', he began the sprint back to the coffee house.
Collapsing into the booth where Tara was still nursing her coffee and uneaten Danish, Vince grinned. "Where did you go?" she asked weakly once he'd caught his breath. "To buy paint!" he told her. Tara fixed him with an incredulous look. Holding up his hands defensively, he continued, "I remembered this thing on the Discovery Channel about poisoning and how it's easier to treat if they have a sample of the poison!" he finished proudly.
Tara smiled at her friend, "I think I love you." she said, thankful that one of them had had the composure to think of that.
Grinning back, Vince waggled his eyebrows. "Well, you're not married yet. Wanna show me some love??" his eyes dropped to her ample cleavage and Tara laughed, kicking him lightly in the shin.
"Have you got everything you need for the wedding?" he asked, once her giggles had subsided. Shaking her head, Tara took a large mouthful of coffee before speaking. "I want something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue." she said, a lopsided smile lifting the corners of her mouth.
Vince just rolled his eyes, for as long as he'd known Tara she'd always loved the idea of tradition. It didn't matter what the subject but if there was a traditional way to do something, she preferred it. He was still surprised she didn't bake her bread by hand and churn butter in the back yard.
Tara's cell suddenly burst into life again, and Tara reached for it, semi relieved to see it was Willow's number.
"Hey you, any news?" Willow asked. Being on her own had done nothing but increase her worry for the feline and she was about to burst. She would've called the vet direct but decided that if she was going to hear bad news, she's prefer to hear it from a loving voice.
"They think she may have eaten my paints." Tara told her sadly, "They're still treating her now, they'll call with news." she concluded, trying to sound hopeful.
"Oh. Are you ok baby?" Willow asked, her mind working overtime as to how Miss Kitty could have gotten to Tara's paints without her noticing.
"Yeah, I guess. A little guilty. Vince is with me... but I guess you already knew that." Tara replied, a smile creeping once again over her face. She loved how Willow would always think of ways to comfort her, no matter what the situation.
"Oh, call waiting. I'll call you back!" Tara said before Willow had a chance to reply.
"Ok." the redhead said before the line cut out on her.
Taking a deep breath, Tara answered the call. "Hello?"
"I'm calling from Chestnut Vet's." the voice told her.
"Miss Kitty, is she ok?" Tara's voice wobbled slightly as she waited for a reply.
"She's still very sick, but we have treated her with a reversal for the poisonous content of the paint brought to us and she is stable for the moment." Tara breathed a huge sigh of relief. "If she makes it through the next 24 hours, her outlook is pretty good."
"Really?" Tara asked, her grin spilling fresh tears down her cheeks. "She could really be ok?"
"With a little luck she will be. It's a good job you got her to us in time. Any longer and the outcome may have been very different." the woman told her. After thanking her for all her help, Tara hung up the phone and danced in the middle of the coffee house that was rapidly filling with students, desperate for their first coffee buzz of the morning. "She's stable. She's stable!" she sang, dialling Willow's number to give her the good news.
Willow also danced on receiving the news about Miss Kitty. Her mind filled with the perfect way to cheer Tara up again. "Can I talk to Vince?" she asked after Tara had finished relaying the news. There was some noise and rustling as Tara handed over the phone. "What's up babe?" he asked.
"I need you to keep Tara out of the house for the rest of the day. Take her shopping, organise her bachelorette party, do anything but don't let her come back until 5." Willow told him.
"Erm, ok." he said. "We have plans anyway!"
Hanging up the phone, Willow headed straight for her files to put her plan in motion.