“You’re insane.” Marcy laughed as she watched Willow bunny-hopped down the stairs of the stadium seating movie theatre. Willow couldn’t help but smiled to herself. It was childish, but it was fun. The credits had just finished rolling and the PG-13 rating and reasoning was glowing bright blue on the screen.
“I just really like movies,” Willow responded from the bottom step, “They’re exciting.”
“Add some spice to life,” Marcy continued.
“Precisely.” Willow draped her arm over Marcy’s shoulder as she reached the bottom step, “What’s the point in life without a little spice? Kidnappings, Mysteries, maybe a little torture. All that fun stuff.”
“Oh, no, don’t say that. You’re going to get me kidnapped all because you wanted an interesting life.” Marcy shrugged out from underneath Willow’s arm, and started fishing around in her purse for her car keys.
“You aren’t going to get kidnapped.”
“And now you’ve jinxed it. Thanks, Wil thanks a lot.”
Willow sighed with fake exasperation. “Fair enough. If you get kidnapped, feel free to blame me. I’ll even turn myself in to the cops. ‘You see, officer, it’s my fault. I jinxed her.’ I think that would go over very well, yes.”
“Oh, hardy har, har.” They cut through the lobby and out into the parking lot, blinking against the brightness of the setting sun. “Just for that, I am taking you straight home without stopping for Cold Stone.” Willow waited by the passenger side door, while Marcy fiddled with the lock. Willow sent a pouting puppy dog look at her friend across the top of the car, but Marcy knew it too well, and took it all in stride. “No, no, no. Straight home for you. Where you can sit and wait for the phone call that informs you I’ve been stolen away.”
“But Mommy Marcy–”
“No buts, young lady. Now get in the car.” The six-minute drive back to Willow’s house was spend discussing the movie, an action flick based very loosely on a series of comic books from the 1970s, broken off only long enough for Willow to pout as Marcy drove past the turn off for Cold Stone Creamery.
But, Marcy ignored the pout easily, and continued the drive. She pulled up in front of Willow’s apartment building.
As Willow crawled out of the car, she told Marcy, “Don’t you worry–I’m going to head straight inside and wait by the phone. You call me when you get home so that I don’t panic that you’ve been taken somewhere in between here and there.”
“Oh, don’t you worry. I will.” As soon as Willow shut the car door, Marcy sped away. Willow shook her head and grinned, Marcy was her own special brand of a little bit crazy. Not to say that Willow herself wasn’t an even worse brand of crazy.
Willow checked her mail, and then made her way up to her third floor apartment, and let herself in with ease.
Willow turned and clicked the lock behind her. She started down the hall towards the kitchen, humming a little tune to herself, when she suddenly stopped tense. With an almost imperceptible movement, she slipped her Swiss army knife out of her pocket and flipped up the corkscrew out. She heard a soft click, the sound of someone setting down a coffee mug on the kitchen table. Very slowly, Willow positioned herself in the hall so she could check out the reflection of the kitchen in a decorative hanging mirror. When she saw the profile of a stern looking woman with a gray, tight bun, Willow let out a soft sigh of relief, and slipped the knife back into her pocket.
And then she immediately started to protest. “No, no, no, Laurel. Do you know how long I have been on call and on activity duty? To say that I need this break is the understatement of the millennium. I don’t care what’s going on; I am not coming into the agency.” Willow crossed the kitchen and sank down into the chair on the opposite side of the table. The gray hair woman took the sight of Willow in for a moment, picked up her cup and took a long sip, and then placed it back onto the table.
“I’m afraid, Agent Six–”
“Willow, Please, I’m Off-Duty.” Willow got up from the table and started fidgeting at the sink, filling up the tea-kettle, washing out a free mug, a grin on her face. Laurel could peg and plead but–well, Willow would most likely return with her for whatever she needed. But she was going to have a little fun with her first. It was her prerogative for having her down time interrupted.
“Willow, then. But you don’t have a choice. You are being recalled to active duty.”
“And why is it that I have no choice?” Willow asked, putting the tea kettle on the stove.
“Because everyone is being recalled. All eleven agents are being told to come in, at once.”
Suddenly, all the humor drained out of Willow’s attitude, and she was pretty sure all the blood drained out of her face. Slowly she turned back to face Laurel.
“All eleven, but that–” She trailed off, shocked.
“It’s never happened before, yes. Agent Six, the Marbles are gone.”