Title: Willow Rosenberg, Child Psychologist
Disclaimer: I own the plot, as well as Taylor, Maxwell, Carly, Erin, Noah, and Aimee. Gidgetgirl owns Zane, Thayer, Sophie, Lola, as well as the plot to the companion fic to this one, "Fully Qualified". Joss Whedon owns the canon and all the characters not mentioned in this disclaimer. (Excluding Lola's mother, who I also own and haven't bothered to name.)
Spoilers/Timeline: Post-Chosen, after my other fic "Fully Qualified".
Summary: Sequel to "Fully Qualified". Willow's life has quieted down. But do things ever stay quiet when you're a Scooby?
Author's Notes: Okay, here's the scoop: I want reviews. I know the smart thing to do to feed my review addiction would be to update "From Here" or "Haven't Changed A Bit", seeing as people seem to be more interested in those than in this story. However, I like this story, so I'm gonna update this instead and there isn't anything any of you can do about it! Mwa ha ha!
The Plot Thickens
"So, Taylor, you can stay in the guest room, okay?"
Taylor turned to look at Willow and nodded before turning forward to stare out the windshield again at the crawling traffic. Willow felt horrible for the little girl in the seat next to her. I've got to do something to cheer her up, she thought,
"Hey, Taylor, I've got an idea that will make this fun," she said. "We can rent some movies and get some ice cream and a pizza and have a slumber party. Would you like to do that?"
"Okay," Taylor responded dully. Willow could tell she wasn't exactly enthusiastic about the plan.
"Well, what kind of ice cream do you want?" Willow asked. "We can stop by the store on the way home."
"I don't know," Taylor mumbled. "Whatever."
Willow sighed. "Taylor, honey, I know this is hard for you. But your mom is going to be fine. They're only keeping her in the hospital to keep an eye on her. She'll be out before you know it."
Taylor nodded and sniffled. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry? About what?"
"About my mom."
Willow was surprised. "Taylor, it's not your fault. Something bad happened to your mom, but it's going to be okay. You didn't do anything wrong."
Taylor began to cry. "Yes, I did."
"Taylor, why do you think you did something wrong?"
"Because I did. I didn't warn her."
"Warn her about what?"
"About the hands," Taylor cried. "I—I saw them coming, and I saw them hurt someone, but I didn't know it was my mom. I'm sorry!"
Willow reached over and squeezed the little girl's hand reassuringly. "Taylor, it's not your fault. You didn't hurt your mom. The hands were a dream."
"They weren't!" Taylor cried, pulling her hand out of Willow's grip. "They—they show me stuff. They showed me what would happen to Mommy if I didn't do what they wanted. And now my mommy's in the hospital and it's all my fault."
"It's not your fault," Willow repeated. "It's…it's the hands' fault. What did they want you to do?"
"They want me to hurt people," Taylor said. "They try to make me, but I won't let them. And now they've hurt Mommy."
"Taylor, how do they make you hurt people?"
"They try to get inside my head. They want me to hurt people. They want me to…they want me to hurt you."
"Me? Why do they want to hurt me?"
"Because I what?" Willow looked over at Taylor, concerned. Suddenly Taylor began to shake. Her eyes squeezed shut and her fists clenched. "Taylor!" Willow cried.
Suddenly Taylor's head snapped up, and she looked Willow in the face. Willow was startled by the lack of emotion in Taylor's eyes, which were usually so friendly.
"Keep away, bitch," Taylor growled. "Or what happened to the girl's mother will happen to you. And next time, I won't be so merciful."
"What are you?" Willow asked.
"I am what's going to kill you all," Taylor snarled, before lying limp and unconscious in her seat.
After quickly checking to make sure Taylor was physically all right, Willow concentrated on getting Taylor home.
"So what exactly did she say?" Buffy asked.
"She said, 'Keep away, bitch', and then threatened me with the same thing she—it—whatever—did to Carly. Except it said it won't be so merciful next time."
"Well, that's never good."
"But wait, I'm not finished. Then it said, 'I'm the thing that's going to kill you all'."
Buffy scoffed. "Like I've never heard that before."
"Okay, Buff, focus," Willow instructed. "Things keep speaking through Taylor. I can't help but wonder why."
"Maybe it's, like, some medical/mystical thing," Buffy suggested. "Like, she's got a weak mystical immune system or something, and she's just more easily possessed than other people."
"Or maybe," Willow said, "it's a power she hasn't learned how to harness yet, so some force of evil is trying to harness it for her, so to speak."
"Are you saying she's some sort of mystical channel or something?"
"Awfully enthusiastic all of a sudden, Will."
"No, listen. Carly said that when she was attacked, the guy mentioned something about a channel, and then Taylor thought it was her fault. It's because she is the channel."
"Are we talking some kind of calling? Like Channel with a capital 'C'?"
Willow frowned. "Maybe. It sounds possible. In the meantime, I'd better be alert for anything, you know, apocalyptic."
"Maybe I can help with that," Buffy said. "It's been awhile since we've visited. What do you say I take a little trip to good old Toronto?"
"I don't know, Buffy. I don't wanna make you come all the way out here for nothing."
"Willow, have you been listening to this conversation at all? This definitely isn't 'nothing'."
"I guess…I just mean…"
"Willow, I'm gonna come, and that's my final answer."
Willow sighed. "Okay. But you know you can't stay with me. I mean, unless you want the couch. Taylor's in my guest room."
"Don't worry about me. I'm thinking of staying at one of those newfangled hotel thingamajiggers."
Willow smiled. "I'll talk to you later. I'm gonna go check on Taylor."
"Okay, Will. Talk to you later."
Willow hung up the phone and walked to the guest bedroom, where she peeked in to find Taylor sleeping soundly, still clutching her stuffed cat.