Which Way is W.i.t.c.h.?
By: A J
Disclaimer: I do not own W.i.t.c.h. or Amber. I'm merely a Fan of both expressing my appreciation through this original piece of fiction, with no monetary gain sought.
Excerpt from the 'Fadden Hills Herald':Obituary- Anthony William Vandom, b. 28 June 1968, d. 18 June 2008.
Noted Financial Advisor and Columnist for the Herald ('90-'08), Tony Vandom died yesterday afternoon in an automobile accident. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Serena Renee Courtland-Vandom, and his daughter, Wilhelmina Noella Vandom, 13, of Heatherfield. Service to be held at 4:00 pm Wednesday at Parkview Memorial.
"Hey, mom, did you grab today's paper, yet? I'm looking for the Entertainment Section. Matt's band is supposed to …" Will's voice fizzled out as she came into the kitchen of their apartment and saw her mom at the table.
Susan Reynolds – she'd reassumed her maiden name for all the right reasons after Tony remarried – was shaking badly. One hand was holding her (thankfully) almost empty coffee cup, and the other was clenching the Fadden Hills Herald, which she'd bought on the way home from work last night. Normally, Susan just checked the Society Page to see if any of her old friends were getting married, remarried, divorced, or having kids, but today the normally cheery news (or lack thereof) had taken a decided turn for the worst. Now she sat, entranced, rereading the announcement over and over in hopes there was a misprint, or a problem with her new reading glasses. So far, no luck with either.
At Will's entrance, Susan jumped about a foot, and the dregs of cold coffee in her cup 'plashed on her knuckles. "Will!" she cried, hastily tossing the paper onto its mates still on the table. "You scared me, honey. What're you doing up this early?"
"Whoa, Mom. Time to switch to decaf. I heard your alarm going off, and wanted to catch the newspaper before you took of with it this morning. Cobalt Blue is supposed to have gotten a review in the Entertainment pages."
"Cobol who?" Susan asked, her mind still repeating her ex-husband's death notice.
"No, Mom. Cobalt Blue, Matt's band." Blowing a strand of hair out of her eyes, Will walked over to the table and started rifling through the haphazard pile of newsprint. "Society, Sports, Classified, Comics," Will tucked that under her arm as she kept digging until, "Ahah! Entertainment!" She settled herself in the other chair of their breakfast nook, fished a granola bar out of their breadbox, and started flipping through pages one-handed while she unwrapped her 'double chocolate delight' bar with the other, humming what sounded like theme music under her breath the while. The odd song got Susan's attention before anything else.
"What's that you're singing, Will? It sounds like the theme for a cartoon. I thought you'd 'graduated' to real TV, like CSI: Miami?"
"Huh?" Will looked up, her cheeks flushed. "Oh, uh, Matt and the guys were teasing us about being a girl-gang last night, especially when they heard our nickname, W.i.t.c.h. You know, the one Hay Lin came up with, from our initials? Anyway, after the show, his band was teasing us and then Taranee's BF Nigel – he's the bass player – said, if we're a gang, we should have a theme song, and Matt made up that one for us last night on the spot. Cool, huh?"
Susan smiled in spite of the nasty shock her morning had started with. She only hoped her daughter's friends would stick with her through this latest upset in their anything-but-normal lives. "Yes, honey, very cool. But you're not going to find their review in that paper; that's the Herald, honey. Yesterday's in fact …"
That was as far as she got before Will started flipping back through the paper pile, saying "The Herald? Cool! Wonder if Clarissa's mom had her twins, yet?" She nattered on as she located the Life Section and flipped through to 'Announcements'. "Hmmmm … births, nothing, married, nothing, dea …" Her voice trailed off as she came, obviously, painfully, to her father's obituary. Her eyes teared up, her lip started to tremble, and she dropped the paper and her unfinished granola bar on the table as she turned to look at her mother with haunted eyes.
Susan just nodded, her eyes every bit as watery. Then the two women fell into each other's arms, crying openly. They were still quietly sobbing together several minutes later when Will's frog clock started 'ROAK'ing shrilly from her bedroom.
The absurd noise got Susan to laugh, and she sat back to look at her daughter. Poor Will was completely disheveled and tear-streaked, and the left shoulder of her nightie was completely soaked from Susan's own waterworks.
"I … I'd better get that," Will choked out, her throat still tight from crying. Her chair scraped across the fake hardwood floor, and she headed down the hall to her room, her back unusually stiff and her shoulders still trembling from the control she was trying to exert over her emotions.
Will found herself going through the motions of a normal day, letting her inner autopilot take over, as it did on so many mornings after serving as a Guardian of the Multiverse. After resetting her alarm, she picked out her schoolclothes by force of habit. Her hands stayed away from her middrif shirts and her hip-hugging jeans, despite the heat wave Heatherfield was enjoying. (Mrs. Knickerbacker was a stickler for 'proper attire'.) Still moving more by rote than anything else, in the aftermath of her rude awakening, Will trudged back to the kitchen, where her mom was just hanging up the phone.
Susan looked back up as she heard Will return. One look at her daughter was enough to justify what she'd just done. Will had dressed herself when half awake before, but usually managed a modicum of coordination in the effort. Her current attempt, however, so clashed that Susan's eyes started to tear up in sheer visual rebellion.
Will was wearing an undersized pair of Capri pants in that new girl-camo pattern, with the usual greens and tans mixed in with hot pink. Her socks, plainly visible under the calf-defining cuffs, were a mismatched dark blue footie and a lavender tube sock. She'd shoved these into her black dress pumps, which were the only things that didn't clash with the lace-edged black turtleneck top Will was now fighting the collar of. She was trying to get the stubborn tag to stay inside the collar. Susan suspected it was only the air-conditioning that was keeping Will from clawing her way back out of the hot, itchy shirt.
Taking pity on her little lost cub, she stood up and gently steered Will back to her abandoned stool, and handed her a new granola bar – one with lots of raisins and nuts. Fixing Will's collar for her, Susan slowly sat back across from her daughter, watching as she ate the granola bar distractedly while staring at a spot on the wall near their front door. She was just finishing the last bite, when the clock – a lovely antique with a tiny pair of clockwork smiths who came out and hammered the hour on a tiny anvil bell, which Dean had gotten for Susan for the anniversary of their first 'Will approved' date – chimed seven o'clock. Will stood up automatically, reaching over the back of the couch behind her for her backpack in a practiced move that told Susan how often Will's mornings ran like this.
She grabbed Will's sleeve, gaining her attention. "Honey, I called the school. I told them you wouldn't be in for a couple of days, so we could take care of all the stuff in Fadden Hills. I'm calling in to Simultech, too. I may have divorced your dad, but that doesn't mean I didn't love him." When Will's eyes looked up at her mom bleakly, Susan had to fight back a wave of fresh tears. Grabbing the phone back up, Susan did just that; letting her assistant Amanda know she was using two of her personal days to handle a family emergency. That done, she got back up to get a fresh cup of coffee. Will sank back onto her stool in delayed reaction to suddenly having the day free from school, and Susan took pity on her and mixed her up a double mug of hot cocoa.
Sitting back down at the table, Susan found her daughter reading the obituary again. Her eyes were just as watery but this time, she seemed to be taking in the article's other facets. As her mother set the giant mug of hot chocolate before her, Will threw the paper back on the table.
"Serena made the notice, but they didn't mention you. AND they screwed up my age!" Will sat back with her mug, sipping judiciously.
Susan had to fight back more tears, this time of pride, for her wonderful daughter. She'd known people who had suffered such a profound loss before, herself included, who hadn't moved through the 'seven stages' as well as her Will. Now considerably calmer with a fresh cup of coffee in front of her, Susan read the notice again for herself. Spotting what Will had, she also noticed something else not mentioned, which she didn't voice yet. Will had never met her paternal relatives, and now didn't seem the time to mention a subject that could easily become an all-day grilling from her daughter.
Focusing instead on what Will had, she said "You know, that's just plain sloppy journalism. I mean, your birth announcement, our marriage, and our divorce were all in the Herald, so unless they've changed editors again in the last two years, that info's still in somebody's in-box, even if it it's your father's."
"HA!" Will exclaimed, perked up by the hot chocolate as much as what her mother had just reminded her of. "Remember that big article in the Heatherfield Gazette about Simultech last year, the one that mentioned you and your new promotion? I sent a copy of that to Dad, so he'd know how well you … WE were doing." Her expression was defiant … until her stomach rumbled, looking for more than granola and cocoa. Will's cheeks turned as pink as the patches on her pants.
Susan chuckled silently into her coffee. "Tell you what, honey. Since we've got some time for once, I'll cook both of us a real breakfast, and you go fix your outfit. And save the black stuff; we'll need it for tomorrow."
"What's wrong with my … oh … crap." Will had finally taken a good look at her clothing. "Mmommmm, why didn't you say something sooner?"