Author: Trom DeGrey
Willow sat down at her desk with her freshly poured cup of coffee. She grinned as she booted up her computer and blew on the steaming black liquid. There was something about drinking coffee in the middle of the day that always made her feel rebellious. Willow knew her health conscious mother would shit if she knew her only child was consuming coffee at all, much less as a substitute for lunch.
Willow took a sip and began coughing. "Oh, geeze!" she sputtered. The handful of other detectives in the squad room turned toward her. Some began to laugh. "Why didn't somebody tell me Nichols made the coffee?" she demanded as she continued to cough up the vile, bitter liquid.
Collin Nichols was the newest detective on Vice. In fact, he was a new detective, period, having just gotten his gold shield two months ago. Willow thought he was a nice enough guy and a decent enough cop, but he made hideous coffee. She dabbed at her mouth with a napkin she'd pulled from her desk drawer. "That'll grow hair on your chest," she muttered.
She set the mug aside and pulled a peppermint from another drawer. Willow shuddered before popping the mint into her mouth. She clicked open a folder and looked over her nearly completed reports. She had closed another case this morning and needed to fill in the last few bits of information. Willow glanced toward Lt. Giles' office door before setting to work.
She had left him a detailed note this morning before leaving to make her final arrest on her now closed case. Not only did she want to keep Lt. Giles filled in on everything that was happening, she also wanted some guidance on how to deal with Tara. And Willow had a feeling the woman would take some dealing with.
She sighed as she saved her arrest report and printed it. I have to play by Tara Maclay's rules. If she has any. Willow sat back. She knew the situation could be far worse, but it could be a lot less complicated as well. Her feelings for Tara didn't help her peace of mind either.
Willow snorted. Feelings. There aren't any real feelings involved unless you count lust. Surely to god I can act like an adult and control myself around her. Willow took her report from the print tray and proofread it. Yeah, right. Control myself. Like I was such a professional police officer last night. She frowned at the memory of her bold flirting with Tara outside the Screamin' Mimi and flipped the paperwork into her Out tray. If she just wasn't so damned infuriating. I almost feel like I have to retaliate. I can't just sit there and ignore her. Willow ran her hands through her loose hair and sighed. Admit it, you did exactly what you wanted to do last night. She slumped down in her seat, her last thought sitting like lead in her belly.
Willow looked up when she heard Lt. Giles' door open. He stuck his head out long enough to wave at her and then ducked back inside. She jumped up and began to make her way from her desk near the squad room door to his office in the back. She grinned as the others in the room made various noises of impending doom because she'd been called into the lieutenant's office.
Willow found the door ajar and pushed it open. She was startled to find her lieutenant standing just inside the office. He smiled down at her and waved her further in.
Lt. Rupert Giles closed the door of his office softly. "Sit down, Willow. Please," he said, gesturing toward one of his uncomfortable grey chairs. Willow frowned. Whenever he brought out his troubled father tone and called her by her first name, she knew it was serious. He perched himself on the corner of his desk nearest to her, lost for a moment in thought.
The overhead lighting cast a glare on his glasses, hiding his eyes from Willow. She thought his wavy brown hair was looking thinner these days, but he was dressed sharply in green pants and a matching tweed vest. Willow mused how his penchant for tweed made him look more professor than police officer. He had once joked with her that it was his British upbringing more than a fashion statement.
"I read your note this morning and I must admit, I'm not enraptured with the thought of you gallivanting around the underbelly of the city with Tara Maclay," he said finally. "That having been said, I also can't think of anyone you'd be safer with," he added. He frowned at the thought.
Willow hesitated, but finally asked, "May I ask how you know her, Lieutenant? She called you by your first name and said there was no way she'd come in to talk to you."
He chuckled. "It doesn't surprise me," he said, moving to take the seat next to Willow. "Do you know who Tara Maclay is? Or better yet, do you know who she comes from?" he asked.
Willow frowned. "The only other Maclays I've heard of are State Senator Donald Maclay and his father Judge Richard Maclay," she said.
"Her brother and father," he supplied. Willow gawked. "The old man was abusive to she and her mother, but he doted on Donald. Or so Tara has told me. When her mother died, Tara ran away," he continued. "I can't help but think that the Senator is paying someone to keep all of it hush-hush, but I haven't been able to figure out whom it might be." His frown deepened and Willow had the sense that he was running through a list of possibilities that was long and well-worn.
"Sir, if I can ask," Willow interjected. "Why didn't she go to the police? Why hasn't she said something to the press? I mean, how did Judge Maclay get away with abusing Tara and then allowing her to run away and it not be splashed all over the papers? Even if she didn't want anyone to know, wouldn't someone else know who she is? Who her family is?"
He shrugged. "All question I've pondered," he said, "but none of which seem to have answers. Other than in Tara Maclay herself." He scratched his chin and fell into thought again.
Willow too found her mind racing. Who the hell are you Tara Maclay? And just what have you endured?
Lt.Giles sighed and seemed to shake himself from his thoughts. "Anyway, I was still a uniformed officer when I first met Tara. Crafty thing, she was." He smiled fondly at the memory. "She had managed to put together a little gambling hall when I first came in contact with her. She was all of 16 when I arrested her. I tried to look after her when she'd let me, but she didn't need too many people even then."
He sighed again and looked at Willow. "As I said, I don't like this, but it has to be done and I would much prefer you have Tara at your back than anyone else. She will, at times no doubt, be nearly impossible to work with, but I would advise you to be dogged with her. She can be incredibly obstinate and crass. However, it's usually to cover up what she thinks is a weakness in herself." He scratched his chin and gave another heavy sigh.
Willow realized he really was unhappy about the whole situation. "Sir, I don't think I'm following," she said. "You're obviously not comfortable with this. What exactly is bothering you about me working with Tara Maclay?"
He smiled a mirthless smile and took off his glasses. He squeezed at the bridge of his nose and then produced a handkerchief to wipe at the lenses. "Willow, perhaps I shouldn't admit this, but I don't think you'll take advantage of my candor; in a father's way, I am very fond of you," he said. "I am also fond of Tara in much the same fashion, but Tara is unpredictable in the extreme. I know you are a good person and I believe Tara is a good person as well, but I don't know what kind of danger this situation and, ultimately, what kind of danger Tara may lead you in to. I believe that underneath that rough hard exterior, Tara Maclay has a heart of gold. I'm just not certain you'll be able to find it."
Willow nodded, digesting Lt. Giles' reservations and seeing Tara in a different light. "I'll figure it out," she said. "And I'll be careful, but I am definitely going with her on this."
He nodded. "I'll rearrange your caseload as best I can, but I'm afraid I can't take everything," he said, getting up and moving back around behind his desk.
"I understand, Lieutenant. I'll keep up, and I'll keep you informed of everything with Maclay," she said, moving for the door.
"Willow," he stopped her, "do be careful."
Willow only smiled and made her way out of the office and back to her desk. What other mysteries are lurking about you Tara Maclay? She wondered if Lt. Giles' arrest was the first. Willow doubted it. Juvenile offenders were typically multiples. She looked at her phone and seriously considered calling Becky Walters to see if she could get a look at Tara's record.
Willow blushed to the roots of her hair. One evening with Tara Maclay and she was already thinking about breaking the rules. This is not a good sign. She sighed and considered her options for the rest of the day. Tara had given her a couple of people to talk to about the remaining gang members on her list. That seemed to be her safest bet and would keep her occupied until she had to go home and get ready.
She wondered how far they would have to go to get in to see the Accountant. Willow shuddered. There were possibilities she had been pushing out of her mind since Tara had told her what kind of club it was last night. It made her wonder what Tara would wear and if she was involved in that culture in any way other than knowing the Accountant.
I'd bet my badge she's a sub if she is immersed in it. Willow grinned at the thought. We'll see who shows up at my door tonight. Until then, she needed to get moving.