Donny came back inside and closed the door. He took his time going into the kitchen and Willow stood not moving, afraid to breath. The phone rang again and then she heard, "Hello."
"Yeah, what the hell do you want Spike?"
"Aright, I be down."
Willow once again heard footsteps as they headed out the door.
She heard the car pull out of the driveway, and made her way back to the livingroom. She turned to pick up her picture and she notice that it had been moved from where she had left it and it now sat on the coffee table with the TV remote on top of it.
She thought for a minute and decided that is was far too risky now. He had actually picked up the picture and moved it so he must have looked at it. Even Donny couldn't be that ignorant to not have noticed it now. She wondered if he had noticed that it had moved from the other table and was placed upside down. She figured if he had thought something was wrong at that point, he wouldn't have sat down and casually drank beer and watched trashy TV. It was still too risky. She would need to leave the picture behind. She turned around and headed out the door completely disillusioned. She had just almost gotten herself, Tara and Abby killed. All for nothing.
Donny arrived back home about six hours later. They had their meeting and the meeting ended with Donny being taught 'Good Judgment'. He limped back into the house, and practically fell through the door. He knew that he had at least two broken fingers and possibly broken ribs.He sat down on his couch and thought about what had just taken place. He would kill them sons of bitches when he had the chance. No doubt about, he would kill them for sure.
Willow picked up her phone and saw that Buffy had called. She picked up the phone and dialed her back.
"Hey Buffy what's up?"
"Not much. Did you find anything?"
"No. I did manage almost to get myself, Tara and Abby killed by being caught by her brother though. I had a picture of Abby but it was to dangerous to take it. I thought about taking another one and desired that would be just as risky. So I didn't get what I went in for."
"Well can't you use a still off of one of the video feeds?"
"No, they're not clear enough."
"Hey B. Tara has a picture of her daughter up in her cell. She just got it this afternoon. Why don't we make a duplicate of it and let Willow have it?" Faith said in the background.
"That's a good idea. Hey Willow, meet me up at the coffee shack off of 290 will ya? I got a picture of Abby for you."
"Okay sure, what time?"
"Give me an hour, I'll see ya there."
Buffy pulled into the lot at the coffee house and walked inside. She saw Willow sitting at the table in the back and went and sat down.
"Hey how ya doing?"
"Not too good. I don't have a thing to go on. Everything I've tried is coming up a bust. Im exhausted,but I can't sleep. I keep waking up thinking that I'm not going to be able to do this," Willow said as she stared at her hands that were folded on the table.
"This probably isn't a good time to tell you this, but you have to know. After you 'died', the DA put a court appointed on Tara's deal. They rejected it based on no new evidence. There won't be a stay."
Willow sat, frozen. She wasn't surprised, but she knew it would sting to hear it.
"Um, I knew that was coming," she answered, trying not to fall apart. She had work to do. She needed to get with the PI and see about how they would go about looking for Abby.
"Did you bring the picture?" she asked voice cracking from exaction.
"Yeah, here. She's beautiful isn't she?" she said as she handed Willow the picture.
Willow picked up the picture and studied the little girl's face. She was indeed beautiful just like her mama. She placed the picture on the table and continued to stare at it. And then she saw it.
"Is that? That's... no. It can't be... Buffy, Buffy, BUFFY!" Willow was now yelling. She stood up, banging her knees on the table top in the process but not feeling it. She pushed Buffy over and off the booth and then grabbed her and pulled her into a hug.
"Willow what, what is it?"
"I know where she is,Buffy, I know where she is. OH MY GOD I KNOW WHERE SHE IS!" She then began to cry. Not from sadness but from glee.
"If this is what I think it is, I know where to find her."
"Wait, Willow slow down. What do you mean you know where she is?"
"Look, right here. Do you see that?"
"Umm yeah, it's a trash can."
"No it's not a trash can. That, Buffy, is the most beautiful thing in the face of this earth, well next to Tara and Abby of course."
"I still don't get it. Why is this good?"
"Do you see this number right here?" Willow pointed to the picture just below Abby's feet.
"Oh, yeah I see it, but I'm still not with you."
"There's a lot of planned communities around here as you well know. Some of them have private services like their own utility companies, ambulance services things like that. They're called mud districts. Anyway this trash can here is issued by a private company. They charge you by how many times your trash is picked up monthly. Say for instance you only set your cans out twice a month rather then four times, you only pay half as much. The way they keep track of your collections is by way of the barcode that is one the side of your can. There's a code reader on the side of the truck so when you can is emptied it scans it and sends to the main office where they processes the billing. Well you see those numbers right there above the bar code? That's the ID number for these cans. Now look right there. Do you see it?"
"Yes. It says Woodlands waste something or other. I can't make out the rest."
"It doesn't matter Buffy, That's all we need." Willow was then overcome with emotion and had to sit down.
Buffy laughed and said, "Willow, get your ass up. Were going to the Woodlands".
They pulled into the constable's office in The Woodlands Common and exited their vehicle. Willow knocked on the door and an elderly officer answered the door.
"Can I help you?" he asked.
"Yes, we're going to need some police backup."
They pulled up to the address that was given to them by the waste company. Willow was the first to exit the car as stopped.
"Willow, slow down there. We can't just go running in there. If they hear us we're dead and so is Abby. Now sit till we figure this out."
Buffy turned around and saw the two officers looking at her with just the slightest of smiles.
"Oh, sorry. That was your job - to say that, I mean. Right?"
"That's alright, I don't mind."
Spike sat up when he heard the sound of footsteps walking slowly over head. He jumped up looked through the spy eye in the door and saw the two local cops slowly walking around the livingroom area of the house upstairs.
"That was quick," he said to himself.
He then walked over to the sleeping little girl bent down, kissed her on the forehead and said, "Merry Christmas Lil' Ab."
He then walked down the steps, out through the back door, and jumped the wall.
The two officers walked slowly down the steps to the basement with their guns drawn. One officer walked toward the bathroom door and slowly opened it. It was clear and he signaled to the other officer .
"We're clear down here," the first officer shouted upstairs.
"Well would ya look at that," he said.
"I got conformation on this here sir. There's a little girl down here in a sleeping bag," the officer radioed up.
"Roger that sir, thank you."
"This is Deputy Jeff Mullins, we need to go ahead and issue that arrest warrant for one Donald Maclay. There're two units standing by at four hundred yards from the main house."
"Copy that 187. We're approaching the main residence."
The officer knocked on the door and waited. When they didn't get a response they counted three and kicked the door in.
"Freeze, put your hands in the air and don't move! You're under arrest."
"What the hell you doing in here. Under arrest for what?" Donny said.
"We don't have enough time to even begin to tell you what you're under arrest for, but I will give you the one I like the most. Felony kidnapping. Now move your ass."
Willow walked slowly down the basement steps and looked down at the little girl that was sleeping on the floor on the sleeping bag.
"Oh my God," she said as she put her hand over her mouth. She slowly walked down the steps and over to Abby. She gently placed a hand on her back and shook her. The little girl stirred a little and then looked up.
"Abby," Willow said her voice shaking. "How would you like to go and see your mama?" She was crying now, as whee the two officers and Buffy.
"My mama, you know my mama?" The little girl looked into Willow's face and started to cry.
"Yes Abby I know your mama," Willow said as they both sat there crying. Then the little girl jumped up and threw her arms around Willow's neck and said, "Are you Santa Claus?"
"No, baby, I'm not Santa Claus, but he did send me here," Willow said. "You ready to go?" she asked.
The little girl shook her head.
Willow picked her up and started to carry her away, and Abby said, "Wait."
"What is it Abby?" Willow asked.
"I need to get Spooky," Abby said pointing to the cage that was hanging from the ceiling.
"Okay sweet. We'll get Spooky for you. Would you mind getting that bird cage down for me?" Willow asked.
"Yes, ma'am." The officer then grabbed a chair and began to unscrew the bird cage from the ceiling.
"Hey, Alan?" he said to the other officer. "You better come see this."
"What the hell?" Allan said. "Is that what I think it is?"
"Damn sure is. It's a camera. It's mounted right here on the bottom of this cage. See, someone drilled a hole right there."
"Well that is the smallest camera I've ever seen."
"Well you know what they say. Size don't matter."