Note: The later "adventures" are ones I made up.


"I mean," Jodie continued, "Couldn't you have waited another ten seconds? You know how much I love a good pratfall."

"Oh, ha ha," Chester said. 'O'Doull, get me another drink."

O'Doull answered, "After the way you treated your last one? I think not."

Scott gently lowered Kraus to the floor. "Thank you," she said.

"You're quite welcome," Scott said, and walked over towards Jodie.

"Yeah. Now Mrs. Tate doesn't have to replace the carpet," Senator Dubois said.

"Benson," Mrs. Tate said reproachfully.

"She knows I'm kidding," the senator said. Then, sotto voce, to Willow: "I'm not kidding."

"He's kidding," Kraus said. "I think Benson would explode if he didn't insult someone at least once every ten minutes."

"Hi, Jodie," Scott said. "Hi, Maggie. Glad you cold make it."

"I had to be here," Jodie said. "But I feel like I walked in in the middle of something." T and Eunice were helping Corinne off the floor, while Dutch went over and checked on Danny, who was still bent almost double in the middle of the floor. "What's the matter, Danny? Lose a contact lens?"

"He and the sofa argued," Kennedy said. "He lost."

Jodie said, "That's my brother, alright. Seriously, what's going on? You could cut the tension in the room with a chainsaw."

"Big argument," Scott said.

"About what?" Maggie said.

Willow raised her hand. "Me."

Still smiling, Jodie said, "You must be Willow," and walked over and shook her hand. "I'm Jodie Dallas. Nice to meet you."

"Likewise," Willow said, shaking both their hands. "This is my girlfriend, Kennedy."

"Girlfriend?" Maggie said. "You hear that, Jodie? You're not the only gay one in the family anymore." This seemed to please her.

"About damn time," Jodie said. "So, you a mass murderer, mad scientist, international terrorist, or gym teacher?"

"Huh?" Willow said.

"'cause those are the only things I can see making you the subject of an argument. You seem nice enough to me."

"Thank you," Willow said.

"Well, maybe if you'd been in your offices when I tried to call," Chester said. "We were just trying to convince Jessica that maybe Willow might not be completely sane." Eunice, Dutch and Danny echoed this strongly, Corinne weakly. T, Scott, Benson, Kraus, and Chuck pointedly did not. Neither did Bob, but he was busy trying to look down Kennedy's shirt, so he was distracted.

"Chester, Maggie and I both work. She was trying to track down a runaway girl and I was on location for a shoot." To Willow and Kennedy, he said, "I direct TV commercials." Then, back to the room at large, "And none of this explains why Danny tried arguing with the sofa and currently looks like he's going to try out for a contortionist spot with Ringling Brothers."

"I picked up the sofa," Kennedy said. "Then he tried picking it up."

"You picked up the sofa?" Maggie asked. The tone was disbelieving, but not contemptuous.

"She did," Jessica said. "Twirled it over her head and everything."

"All in some attempt to prove that magic and vampires are real," Eunice said, sniffing.

"That's what this is about? Aunt Jess's long-lost daughter and her girlfriend believe in magic in vampires and suddenly she doesn't fit into this family?" He laughed.

"I fail to see what's so humorous about all of this," Chester said.

"You fail to see what's humorous about anything," O'Doull said as he passed by. "The buffet will be set up in about ten minutes."

Jodie said, "I'm a gay man, married to a woman, who's tried to have a sex change operation, tried to commit suicide, and for four years thought I was an old Jewish man named Julius Kassendorf, and I'm the normal one in this family. We've dealt with demonic possession, aliens, cults, revolutionaries, Bob, escaped murderers - no offense, Dutch -"

"None taken," Dutch said amiably.

"Corinne married a priest, Eunice had an affair with a senator before she met Dutch, Danny used to belong to the mob, you, Chester, killed my stepbrother -"

"That doesn't count," Chester said. "I was under the influence of a brain tumor."

"My point, Chester," Jodie continued, "Is that all of that happened in the late '70s and early '80s. I haven't even gotten to Benson's senatorial campaign, the evil twins, the mad scientists who wanted to experiment on Scott, or the quarantine that kept us all in this house for three months. But with all of that having happened to us, I don't really think vampires are that big a stretch."

Senator Dubois nodded. "Good point. Chester, you're being an idiot. Not that that should come as any surprise."

"So, magic and vampires, huh?" Maggie said. "I'm guessing if they meant card tricks there wouldn't be a problem." Kennedy, meanwhile, was getting a little tired of Bob attempting to check her out, so she grabbed the dummy out of Chuck's hands, and, while he and Bob screamed and protest, walked to the front door and threw him out, as far as she could.

Chuck ran out the front door after him, yelling, "Bob! Booobb!" Senator Dubois slammed and locked the door behind him and said, "You're welcome."

To Maggie, Willow said, "Actually, I'm fairly sure there would have been. Problems. Chester hasn't liked me since I got here. I really don't know why since that was way before he could have heard anything about magic or vampires."

"That's right," Kraus said. "You were suspicious from the beginning."

"So was Benson," Chester said.

"Yeah," the senator said. "But then I saw the adoption papers and I got less suspicious. My main motive in all of this has been making sure Mrs. Tate didn't get hurt. Far as I'm concerned, Willow and Kennedy have proven themselves."

"Me, too," Kraus said.

Jodie shrugged. "What would be the point in faking any of this?"

"Mother's money," Eunice said.

Kennedy burst out laughing. "No, really, dear," Jessica said. "I do have quite a bit of money. Otherwise I'd never be able to afford this house." A bit of steel entered her voice. "Or the expenses for putting Chester into that retirement home." Chester winced.

When she stopped laughing, Kennedy said, "It's not that. It's just that, if Willow's exploiting anyone for their money, it's me. I told you, my father's the Kennedy in Kennedy Willmott Andrews."

"Them?" Chester said.

"Them," Kennedy said. "My family's worth, conservatively, somewhere over a billion dollars. I don't think you're worth a hundredth of that -"

"12.5 million, last year, before taxes," T said. When everyone looked at him, he said, "Did you really want grandpa handling them?"

"I think you get my point, though." Kennedy said.

"We do, dear," Jessica said. "So, she's not after my money, and really, people, Jodie's right, after all we've been through, my long-lost daughter being a witch and her girlfriend being someone who kills vampires really aren't that far out of the ordinary. Are they?"

Assent from around the room, some muffled, some enthusiastic.

"What was that, Chester?" Jessica said. "I don't think I heard you."

Chester, who looked like he'd just swallowed a lemon, said, "Well, I suppose I may have . . . overreacted."

Jessica smiled. "Wonderful."

O'Doull re-entered the room. "Everyone: Dinner is served."

Everyone began filing into the dining room.

Within a minute, the room was empty of everyone but O'Doull, Jessica, and Willow. "Still glad you came?" Jessica asked.

Willow nodded. "Yes, mother. I am."

Grinning, Jessica said, "Me too. And just think."

"About what?"

"This was a slow weekend."

Laughing, mother and daughter moved out of the living room together.

There came a pounding on the door.

O'Doull instinctively moved towards it, but caught him. "You don't want to get that," Senator Dubois said. "Trust me." He steered the current Tate butler away from the door and into the dining room

The pounding continued, even though there was no one left to hear it.


And here ends the first episode of "Willow Tate." Other episodes may follow, but right now I'm going to concentrate on The In-Dark.

Which is why I deliberately left a lot hanging: Why Kraus registered as magical, whether Scott is going to agree to help the Slayers, how well Willow's really going to fit in with the Tates, Campbells, and Dallases, whether anyone's going to let Chuck and Bob back into the building, etc. These questions and many others . . .