Tara's palms were sweating as she approached the building. The last five years of her life had prepared her for this moment, but she was petrified nonetheless. She whispered a few words as her hand made contact with the doorknob, magic tingling beneath her skin. OK, Maclay... calm, cool, self-possessed... you can do this... strong like an amazon... yes... I can do this... like the commercial says, never let 'em see you sweat.
Willow was getting ready for work when her beeper went off. Dripping wet and wrapped in a towel, she dialed the station.
"Rosenberg," she said tersely.
"Willow... thank God... we need you down here right away."
"What's going on, Anya... has there been a break in the case?"
"No... nothing like that... the computer system's gone all wonky... everything seems to be coming up in sanskrit or something... Giles thinks it's a virus... the tech guy won't be here for hours and you know you're the only one who understands this blasted contraption... so get your butt down here pronto and do the geek thing."
Great... this is all I need. "I'll get there as soon as I can, Anya... I just got out of the shower."
"Ooooh," the dispatcher said lasciviously, "Are you naked?"
"Anya..." she warned, "I'll get there as soon as I can... but while you're waiting I'd like you to do something for me."
"Take a cold shower!" she slammed the phone down.
Tara walked up to the sergeant's desk, trying to look as casual and helpless as possible. "Excuse me, Sir?"
"Don't call me Sir, I work for a living."
"I'm sorry... um... sergeant."
"That's better... how may I help you, Miss?
Well, for one thing, my eyes are about a foot above where you're focusing... men! "I'd like to speak to someone in charge of the um Smiler case."
"That'd be Rosenberg, she's handling interviews... but she's not in yet... I'll see if I can find Fred for ya."
A moment later, a dishelveled looking older man with a beer gut and a bad comb-over came around the corner.
"Hello," he extended a hand in greeting, "I'm Detective Sanderson, but you can call me Fred," he said to her breasts, "What can I do for you?"
Now I know why they call them pigs. "I'm Tara Maclay... I was told you were looking for me."
"You're the blonde from the brownstone! Yes, I definitely want to talk to you... why don't you come around to my desk?"
Tara sat in the uncomfortable wooden chair, taking deep breaths in a vain effort to calm herself.
"Can I get you a cup of coffee?"
"No thank you, Detective Sanderson."
"Please, call me Fred... now what do you have to tell me?"
"Well... I spoke to this guy I was supposed to have an audition with last week and he told me that the police had been asking about me... so I figured I'd come down and see if I could offer you any helpful information."
"Do you know something about the murders?"
You wouldn't believe me if I told you. "I was so shocked when I read about it in the paper... to think I was in the building with a murderer," her hands trembled visibly, her voice shaking. And the Oscar for the best performance as a frightened ingenue goes to...
"It's OK, Miss Maclay... just take your time and tell me what you know."
"Yes Sir... I mean Fred... I'm not sure if I actually know anything that might be helpful to you," she was practically batting her eyelashes.
"Well, you never know... sometimes even the smallest most seemingly insignificant things can give us a lead... just start at the beginning."
"OK then... I was there... in the building, I mean... about an audition... I'm a singer, you see... anyway, I figured I'd run down there between sets... I was playing at the Espresso Pump that night... do you know it?"
"Oh yes... my wife is positively addicted to their lo-fat lattes."
"Yummy... anyway, I'd gotten there in plenty of time... guitar in hand, wearing a nice sexy outfit... rock band, you know... have to look the part... then I got on the elevator and..."
"Did you see someone?"
"Not a soul... I was stuck in that darned elevator for four hours... I missed the audition... lost my job because I never made it back for the second set... I even crashed my bike on the way home... it wasn't a good night."
"I'm sorry... is there anything else?"
Tara looked down, hiding behind her hair, "I'm afraid to tell you..." she said meekly.
"It's OK, Miss Maclay... we only wanted to speak to you as a witness... you're not in any danger."
"Well, I might have... um... kind of... bent the law... just a little bit."
"Go on... I assure you, you'll be treated with leniency."
"Do I need a lawyer?"
"I doubt that will be necessary... you seem like an intelligent young woman... if you'd done anything really illegal, I don't think we'd be sitting here talking, now would we?"
"Well... um... you see... the door was open... and I'd been in that elevator for so long... I called out, but no one answered... and I know that technically it was... well, trespassing... but I really... well... I mean..."
"What, Miss Maclay?"
"I really had to pee," she blushed.
The detective laughed, "Don't you worry your pretty head about that... I don't think anyone's going to charge you with unauthorized urination."
Tara hid behind her hair, trying to look innocent and vulnerable, "Then I read in the paper that it was the same apartment where that poor woman was killed... when I think that the murderer might have been in there at the same time as I was..." she shuddered visibly.
"Settle down, Miss Maclay... you're not in any trouble... can I get you some water?"
"Yes, thank you."
Detective Sanderson went over to the water cooler and came back with a paper cup, handing it to Tara. "There you go... now take your time... try to remember... did you see anything suspicious?"
"No... I didn't see anything out of the ordinary at all... except that the door was open and nobody was there... I just found the bathroom and... um... did what I had to do and left... I didn't see anyone."
"Well, I guess that's all we have to talk about... if you remember anything else give us a call... and make sure you ask for me," he took another obvious glance at her cleavage, "Thank you for coming in, Miss Maclay."
"Just doing my civic duty, Sir... I mean Fred... my parents raised me to have respect for the law... just trying to do my bit to make the world a safer place." I'm amazed I didn't choke on that one.
Detective Sanderson walked her to the front desk. Tara suspected it was mainly so that he could stare at her ass along the way. She swallowed hard when she spotted Faith and Anya up ahead. Oh shit! Please please please please PLEASE don't say anything!
"Thank you, Miss Maclay... don't forget to ask for Fred if you need anything at all." He took one last look at her womanly assets and went back to his desk. Whew... that was close... all I need is for this guy to find out that Willow's my girlfriend.
"Hey Blondie!" Faith exclaimed in her usual predatory tone.
"Hello Faith... Anya," she nodded as she tried to walk past them, hoping for a clean escape.
"You stop by for a coffee break quickie with that hot girlfriend of yours? No wonder Red is always smiling."
Tara was not in the mood to put up with any crap, "Shut up, Faith," she spat, glaring at her.
"I think maybe she's into the handcuffs and interrogation game, whadda you think, Anya? You know, Tara... I kind of like that one too... call me anytime... Anya and I have been looking for a trois for a menage."
Against her better judgement, Tara let her temper get the best of her. She hauled off and slapped the vulgar brunette hard across the face.
"Hey!" Anya whined, "You hit my Faithy!"
"Yeah... and Faithy hits back," she balled up her fist and gave Tara a right cross to the jaw. From there it degenerated into an old-fashioned hair-pulling, kicking, scratching cat fight, both women rolling on the floor until two uniformed officers separated them.
"That's enough!" the sergeant growled, "You two are gonna cool off... I think a night's stay in the holding tank ought to do the trick."
"Hey, Rosenberg... it's about time you decided to come to work," Fred teased, "I hope you're feeling better, because what I have to tell you certainly isn't gonna do the trick."
"Do I even dare ask?"
"Well, you know... good news/bad news... it's a thing."
"Give me the good news first... I could use some."
"We found your blonde... she's downstairs if you want to talk to her."
"Downstairs? In the holding cells? Did she confess?" Shit, Tara... what the hell are you trying to do?
"That's the bad news... she doesn't know anything... says she just went into the apartment to take a piss if you can believe that... said she was stuck in the elevator for four hours... it had been out of order when we were there... I'm pretty sure she's telling the truth."
"So why's she locked up then? I thought trespassing was just a light fine."
"Totally unrelated... got into a catfight with Anya's tart... they're both in for the night."
Wow... I wonder what Faith said to her... cuz hello... Tara... not the violent type... guess I should talk to the captain about getting her out... then again, if I left her there I'd at least know where she was and not have to worry about her going off and getting herself killed.
"Thanks, Fred... I think maybe I will have a chat with her, after I talk to the captain."
"No problem... and Rosenberg, wait'll you see her... she's a knockout," he made the classic curvy woman gesture with his hands.
If I wasn't trying to cover here, I would so kick his ass. "You're a pig, Fred... how's that sweet little wife of yours?"
"Yeah yeah," he walked off shaking his head.
After her chat with the captain, Willow headed down to the holding area. This ought to be fun and a half.
As the redhead walked by her cell, Faith called out to her, "Hey, Red... that's some fiesty broad you got there... I bet she's a real hellcat in the sack."
"Shut up, Faith or I'll have you deloused and strip searched with a full cavity check."
"That could be fun... you gonna do it?"
"You wish... but no... not my department... that job falls to Big Doris... also known as ColdFinger."
She left Faith to contemplate the idea and headed down the hall to the other cell where she found Tara curled up on her cot, her knees to her chest, trembling and crying.
"Tara? Baby?" she whispered.
She turned to the guard, "Could you let me in and leave us alone, please?"
"That's not exactly policy, Ma'am."
"It's OK... you have my authorization... it's perfectly safe... I left my sidearm and cuffs upstairs in my desk."
"Alright, Ma'am... so long as I don't get no trouble for it."
"You won't... open the cell please."
The guard unlocked the door, relocking it once Willow was inside. "Thanks, Doris... that'll be all for now... I'll call you when I'm done."
Willow walked over to the cot and sat down beside Tara, stroking her hair and making soothing sounds, until she turned to face her. The redhead saw the livid black and blue mark forming on her lover's jaw and her blood boiled. I'm definitely going to set up a date for Faith and Big Doris.
Willow gently caressed Tara's bruised cheek, "Are you OK, baby?"
"No... I'm not OK... I'm an idiot."
"I had things all taken care of... then I let her get to me... I gave in to my temper and now I'm stuck here for the night... and Heather is out there somewhere doing God only knows what."
"I'm afraid I can't do anything about that, sweetie... I talked to Giles... you either spend the night here or you get charged with assault and battery... and the last thing you need is them looking up your record... not that they could, mind you."
"Yes, I know," the blonde grinned wickedly, waving her fingers like a magician.
"The computers? That was you?!?"
"Abracadabra... I couldn't have them looking up my record."
"They expect me to fix it... how the hell do I fix a spell?"
"It'll fix itself once I'm in the clear."
"Tara... what were you thinking coming here? What if they decided your alibi was a bunch of bullshit... where would you be then? You scared the hell out of me this morning... I thought you'd left me."
The blue-eyed and currently blue-faced beauty caressed her lover's cheek, "Never... I'd never leave you, baby... but I couldn't have you sacrificing your career on my account."
"You're gonna pay for that when this mess is all over... .I'm thinking maybe a replay of the other night, but with positions reversed, of course."
"And you think I'd consider that punishment?" she asked seductively.
"Uh uh uh... none of that... not here."
"So tell me..."
"Did my sweet and innocent act work?"
"Well, Fred thinks you're telling the truth... but you're not fully in the clear yet... I'll have to check the tape again for time lapse... prove you weren't in there any longer than it takes to pee... and incidentally, I think it had more to do with the lowcut top and tight skirt than the sweet and innocent thing."
"Are you suggesting I'd use my womanly wiles to get my way?" she teased, batting her eyelashes.
"No, I'm suggesting Fred is a swine," she laughed, then found herself caught in Tara's eyes, "God, I wish I could kiss you right now," Willow moaned.
"Soon, my love... soon," Tara promised, running her fingers through silky red hair.
"Well, I hate to say it, but I better go pretend to fix the computer system before anyone gets suspicious."
"Have fun with the ancient Babylonian."
"You are a wicked little witch, aren't you?" she laughed.
"Only for you, beautiful."
"I'll try to come back when my shift is over... is there anything you'd like me to get you?"
"A veggie burger and another balnket would be nice..."
"And... oh yeah... one more thing..."
"Faith's head on a plate."
"Not sure I could pull that one off... but I can make her a date with Big Doris for a deep cavity search."
Tara chuckled, "Who's the wicked one now?"
"Well... she hurt my Tara... no punishment is too severe."
"I got in a few good licks," Willow's eyebrow shot up to her hairline, "Oh, for a different phrasing."
"I love you, Tare... I'll be down to see you later... behave yourself... we don't want you extending your stay."
"Love you too, Will... I really am sorry about this morning."
"It's forgotten... just don't ever do it agin."
"There's a good girl. Doris!"
The guard came and opened the cell. "Thanks, Dor... keep an eye on this one for me," she winked at Tara behind the guards back.
As the two walked away, she saw Willow whisper something into the guards ear, giggling wickedly. A few minutes later, the guard returned to Tara's cell with a blanket, a book and a cup of hot tea.
"Willow said to tell you she'll bring you dinner when her shift is over."
"You've got a great girlfriend there... wish I could find one like that."
Damn, are all the women in this place "family"? "I know I do... believe me... thank you again."
Willow came down a few hours later with the promised veggie burger, making a big deal about smuggling contraband. "I would have brought fries with that but my bra wasn't big enough," she teased.
"Very funny, baby bear... but I think it's just right... although, if positions were reversed I could bring you a full picnic in mine... or at least a couple of canteloupes."
The pair sat and talked while Tara ate, laughing about Faith's encounter with Big Doris and bitching about the fact that they couldn't touch each other.
"Well, sweetie... I'm afraid I'd better go... since I'm still employed here and all... thank you for that... even if I do disapprove vehemently of your methods... anyway, gotta watch the whole consorting with the prisoners thing... you're not free and clear yet... plus there's no conjugal visits for overnight detainees."
"I understand, lover... it's OK."
"I'm not gonna be able to sleep tonight, knowing you're here."
"I won't be able to sleep either... not without my favorite redheaded pillow."
"This'll be a lesson to you... stay out of jail."
"You got that right... all these years of avoiding it and now this... damn Faith!"
"What's done is done, at least there won't be any charges."
"That's true... I guess that's the drawback of having a passionate nature... the passionate temper comes with it."
"I wouldn't trade that passion for the world, baby... temper and all... but I wish you'd tell me what Faith said."
"Maybe I will some day, when she's too far away for you to kill."
"That bad, huh?"
"This is Faith we're talking about here."
"You got me there."
"I've got you, alright."
"You should go, sweetie... I'll see you in the morning... I'll be fine... I have Doris watching over me."
"You're right... I hate it... but you're right... I love you, my little jailbird."
"Hey!" she feigned offense, "I love you too, Will... I'll meet you in your dreams tonight, OK?"
"You've got a deal... g'night, lover."
The redhead returned bright and early the next morning.
"You look like you slept about as well as I did last night."
"I needed my WillowPillow."
"And I needed my TareBear... OK, it's official... we're just so in love it's sickening," she laughed, Tara joining her.
"So, can I get out of here? Maybe go someplace where the toilet isn't in the middle of the room?"
"You're free to go, baby..." she said, unlocking the door, "Can I have my computers back now?"
"Well that depends... am I still a suspect?"
"I really didn't want to have to mention that part of it... I was trying to concentrate on the my-girlfriend's-no-longer-a-fugitive-y goodness of it all."
"There was another murder last night, baby... I'm sorry."
"Goddamn it!" she kicked the bed, "Redhead?"
"Yup... I know baby... I know it sucks... but you know, even if you'd been there you might not have been able to stop her."
"Yes I know... but maybe I might have... another woman is dead and it's my fault cuz I couldn't hold my temper... God, I hate that bitch... she's just playing with me now... I really need to find a spell that will send her to some ultra-hell dimension when I catch her."
"I know, Tara... I know... and I'm sorry... but try to look at the upside... no more running... you're finally off the hook... now I can ask you... will you stay with me, baby... for always?"
"Oh yes... of course, lover," there were tears shining in her eyes, "Just as soon as I dispatch this Heather bitch, I'm all yours."
"I just had a thought..."
"You said I had power, right... maybe I can help you... maybe you could teach me how?"
"Hmmmm... two against one... I like those odds..." she kissed her lover softly, "Smart girls are so hot."
"Come on, my little witch... let's go home... how does a long hot bath sound to you?"
"Would this be a bath for two?"
"No deep and meaningful conversations?"
"No talk about work or Faith or evil soulless succubi?"
"Nope... although I think that last part might have been a little redundant."
"Maybe a little attitude adjustment lovin' afterwards?"
"Sounds like heaven to me."