Coming of the Scooby Gang
Ch 18 - Bad News
Tara sat at the kitchen island with a sandwich and stared at the hallway. She couldn’t see it, but she knew the red light was blipping from the phone and it was mocking her resistance. She knew she was going to be the one to listen to Ms. Sinclair’s latest demand to speak to Buffy. She also knew it was going to be her that would have to call the woman back and make up something, and really, how many excuses were going to fly at this rate?
After briefly switching her focus to the basement door and allowing herself to fantasize that Willow was going to come up any second now and inform her the robot was back online, she gave a short groan and walked into the living room. On the credenza abutting the staircase, the phone’s little red light was flashing and every thirty seconds it gave a slight beep. She hated it.
Taking a deep breath and holding it, she pressed the key and listened….
“Tara, call home,” a male voice she instantly recognized hoarsely said.
Tara stared at the phone for a moment longer, a chill running down her back as she exhaled. Donnie wouldn’t have called her just to say ‘hi’ even before she fell out with the family over her decision to stay in Sunnydale. And the obvious distress in his voice, evident over even so short a message had her dreading calling Louisiana. Whatever was going on down there, it wasn’t going to be pleasant.
Slowly she picked up the receiver and taking another deep, cleansing breath dialed the number in Petite Crique.
After the third ring, Donnie’s rough voice said a hello and for just a split second Tara wished to hang up the receiver, but instead she returned the greeting.
“Hi, Tara. You need to come home. Dad’s dead.”
Dawn and Kevin sat at the kitchen table in the Stein’s home ostensibly working on a report due by the end of the week for school. Actually, there was far more stealing glances at one another or ‘accidentally’ brushing fingers as they both reached for the bowl of potato chips in front of them.
“So, there’s this art program at the community center that I’m checking out.”
“Yeah? That sounds cool,” Dawn smiled.
“I guess. I mean, yeah, it would be cool. So, ah, about that movie… I mean I know it’s not this weekend, but do you have any idea at all? I mean, is there anything at the movies that you haven’t already seen?”
“I haven’t given it any thought,” she lied casually. Thinking about what sort of movie to watch with Kevin on their first date was taking up most of her brain power… most of the rest was taken up with wondering about when their first kiss would happen. She just hoped he wouldn’t lose his soul, turning into a murderous stalker and end up being sent to Hell. Her sister already did that.
In the living room, they heard Carole on the telephone making dinner reservations for she and her husband for later that evening. There’d been some discussion of Dawn staying alone for the night, but after what had happened over the last several days, it was decided she’d have to go back to Tara for the evening.
Dawn more than half suspected that they were more worried about what she and Kevin would be up to on their own.
As if I’d have a boy over without them being home. As if I’m even close to ready for sex, she thought nervously, with a glance in Kevin’s direction. She could feel her face heat up and that just made her more embarrassed.
“You okay,” he suddenly asked. “You look a little perspirey.”
“Oh! Uh, yeah. Sure. I, uh, I’m just, uh… it’s just a thing.”
“Oh. Okay,” Kevin smiled questioningly, before turning back to the book on Dawn’s report subject he was skimming for her.
Oh my God, Dawn panicked, I am so humiliating myself! Get a grip, Dawn… Kevin hasn’t even made a real move yet and you’re already thinking about sex! Spike is so going to kill me if he even suspects I’m having those thoughts… or he’ll terrify Kevin right out of town!
“Anything? C’mon, man, point me in the right direction while we got some daylight,” Keith Campbell said irritably.
Tangina sighed, annoyed. “How many times do we have to go through this? I’ve told you, I’m not in control of these things. Sam tells me what he wants to tell me when he wants to tell me.”
“He’s playing games!”
“Keith. Chill. She’s doing the best she can,” Donna told him, while she flipped through the channels of the small television in the motel room. The sound was turned down so as not to disturb Tangina, but she still seemed to be having difficulties since they’d come to Sunnydale a few days ago. And, Keith wasn’t the most patient man she’d ever known.
“They could have bit more people last night, more parents! We were so close to finishing them for good,” he bunched his fists in frustration. “Those stupid guys….”
“We’ll get them, Honey,” Donna sighed.
“I’m sorry, but Sam is just not here,” Tangina walked away from her spirit board in frustration. “There’s something weird about this town. I wonder if we’re on a ley line?”
“I wonder if you’re ‘friend’ is a big fake.”
“That’s not fair! He’s got us this far,” Tangina nearly yelled. She was very sensitive when it came to Sam.
“Of course he has,” Donna soothed. “And, we’re grateful. Even Keith. He’s just… passionate about killing those things.”
“I’m going for coffee,” Tangina grabbed her jacket and stomped out of the room.
“I know, Donna, I know. I’ll apologize later to her. I’m just … frustrated. This is the third time we’ve been right there and they got away.”
“I know,” Donna got up from the bed she’d been laying on, propped against the headboard. Taking him in a large hug, she rocked him gently. “I know it’s hard. I know you need this to put your parents’ death behind you, but you could be a lot more … diplomatic… around other people.”
“I leave that to you,” he grinned and kissed her forehead. “You’re the peace maker in this family.”
“Then as a peacemaker, I think we should ask for help.”
“From who? Not those weird guys?!”
“They weren’t weird, Keith. They knew what they were doing and they know this town inside and out. We’re strangers here. We could take hours going through every building and still miss where our bad guys are hiding out… you know I’m right.”
Keith sighed. “Damn it. You probably are. As usual,” he smiled at her. "I'll think about it."
Willow heard Tara come down the stairs and when she sensed her behind her, she said over her shoulder, “Nothing yet.”
When she didn’t respond, Will gave a glance over her shoulder and froze. Tara looked at her shell shocked, her mouth open like she was struggling to come up with anything to say.
“Tara? Tara, what is it,” she immediately left her seat and embraced the other woman. “Hey, you okay?”
“I-I don’t know. I… my dad. He had a heart attack.”
“Oh, no. I’m sorry, Baby… is that who was on the phone?”
Tara nodded her head. “He’s dead, Will. My daddy died.”
Willow looked at her stunned and then embraced and held her as Tara shook.
“I don’t… I’m not sure what I’m feeling.”
“You’re in shock, Baby. C’mon, let’s go upstairs. I’ll make hot tea … we’ll sit for a bit, okay?”
“Yeah. Okay. Willow? I have to go home. I have to. How can I not? He’s my father.”
“Of course you’ll go home, Tara. That’s not even a question. I’ll go with you. Xander can watch Dawn….”
“Oh. Okay. I-I don’t know what things will be like… with Donnie… and Beth. I-I don’t even know if they want me there,” Tara said as they made their way up into the kitchen.
“Tara, stop worrying about everyone else. You’re dad has passed away. You worry about what you need and that’s gonna be to go home and say good bye to him.”
“Okay. Thanks, Will. I-I think I’m not really with it, yet. I-I’m more in shock than sad… is that weird?”
“No,” Willow responded firmly. “This came out of the blue, and you’re feeling stunned. It’s totally normal.”
“Yeah. Y-yeah… I can’t stop shaking.”
Willow kissed her deeply once she had her seated at the kitchen island. “I’m gonna get you something hot to drink. You just sit here until the shock wears off.”
“Will? Thank you. I love you.”
“I love you,” Willow put her hand briefly over Tara’s trembling one. “We’ll get through this, too, like we have the other bad stuff.”
End Ch 18