Disclaimer. Anything you recognise belongs to other, more intelligent and wealthier people. Anything you don’t belongs to poor old me.
……….And Wednesday too..
Dan was looking out of their bedroom window at the dense mat of grey cloud that had hung over the south of England since the previous day. Buffy stirred herself from the bed and padded over to him. Putting her arms around his waist she peered around his shoulder.
“Ewww. Someone needs to change the painting. What happened to the sun?” She said, shivering slightly.
“Sorry sweetheart. Can’t do anything about the weather. This is England. Land of the teabag, and home of the damp grey Spring.”
Buffy pouted slightly. “But I’m a Southern Californian girl, I need my sunshine.”
“Don’t worry.” He said wickedly. “I’ll keep you warm.”
He twisted around and ran his fingers under her arms, tickling her. She squealed and backed away towards the bed. “No, no, not the tickle. You know what that does to me.”
“Oh, yeah. I know.” He said, grinning and stalking after her.
After they’d breakfasted they went to see if there was any more information from Ed regarding the hit men, or Maguire. Edward reported back on the traced movements of Royce whilst he was using the identity of Ron James. The three murders in Berlin that had been committed by him and the fact that both he and Jones/Parker had now slipped off the map. The clue that Dan had found regarding the Jones’ trip to Bern was still under investigation.
The first email that she opened was regarding the burial of the three slayers. Willow had confirmed that Shona and Kirsty would be buried in Rio, as per their wishes, and had made arrangements to that effect.
Susie was to be buried in North Acton on Friday, where her parents lived, and the request was that Buffy should be the senior representative for the WSC Foundation. The mail had also been forwarded to Vi as a courtesy. She had been their team leader, and also there were emails from Carly, Mel and Janine to say that they would be there.
Dan’s phone rang. “Steve, how are you mate?” He said, as he answered it.
“Fine. You?” Steve sounded a little subdued.
“Better than you by the sound of it. What’s up?”
“They’ve just told us when the funerals for Andy and Geoff are. I thought you ought to know.”
Dan‘s face and demeanour fell slightly. His tone matched Steve’s “Yeah. When are they.?”
“Friday at St Michaels, Hendon. Eleven a.m. They’ve asked if the four of us can be part of the honour guard as pall bearers. I said I’d call you to ask.”
“It’s the least we can do. Hang on, I’ll just check something….”
He pushed the privacy button on his phone whilst he conferred with Buffy. She agreed that he should go to his friends funerals whilst she attended Susie’s. There might be too many questions asked by his colleagues if they both turned up there anyway.
“Yeah, no problem.”
“Will you be bringing a….a guest?”
“No, not this time mate. This is for Geoff and Andy, not for everyone to question Buffy.“ He said. “Nice try though.” He thought.
“Okay. We need to be at the church in full dress uniform at ten thirty.”
“I’ll be there. Is there a wake?”
“Police College Social Club afterwards. There‘s a buffet laid on.”
“Fine, yeah. Er, I’ll see you Friday then.”
“Yes. Take care mate, and say hello to Buffy.”
“Will do. See you Friday.”
There was a short pause before Steve hung up. Dan looked at the phone, puzzled. Buffy shared the look.
“Something wrong?” She asked.
“Don’t know. Steve’s a bit subdued. He says hi. I think it’s just hit him about Geoff and Andy not being around anymore. I know how he feels.” Said Dan.
“Yeah, me too. It’s not something you get used to, is it?” She replied.
He shook his head. “No. Like you said. Make a place, and move on.”
She nodded and kissed him, it became more intense as the moment wore on. There was an exaggerated cough from the doorway. They broke apart to see Xander standing there with his arms folded grinning like the Cheshire cat.
“Ah, young love. Aint it grand.”
“Yep, you got that right mate.” Said Dan. “Need some tips?” He added, grinning.
“Nope, got an action gal all of my own.” He replied. “Vi’s heading for the training room, and wants to know if you two wanna come practise with sharp things.”
Dan looked at Buffy, who shrugged. “Why not.” She said. “It’s never too late to learn. You go, I‘ll catch up in a while, after I‘ve finished here.”
Dan kissed his fiancée and the two men wandered off to find Vi, leaving Buffy alone in the office.
Quinney and Davies were typing away on laptops. Davies’ face lit up as he accessed their Cayman Island accounts.
“Money’s in!” He announced.
The others looked up.
“Brilliant. I might just leave him alive.” Said Royce.
“He’s a liability Mike. He can identify you.” Said Parker.
“Okay, but we’ll sort it out after we’ve taken care of the others. According to what the papers are saying, he’s not going to be able to leave here without being arrested and deported to England anyway. So he’s not going anywhere.”
Quinney looked up from his laptop. “I’m in the US DoD systems. How d’you spell the name?”
Royce told him.
Quinney typed and waited. He frowned. “Not known?” He typed some more. Still nothing.
“She’s not in here. Is it a false name?”
“Try education.” Said Davies. “Everyone has to have gone to school.”
Quinney negotiated the inter-governmental software into the education department. There he tried again.
“Bingo. Got her. L.A. Resident there up until high school…….Ooohh. Arson. Kicked out. Moved to Sunnydale. Implicated in a murder…….Hang on this is interesting……I’ll print it off.”
Whilst his colleagues were waiting for the printer, Quinney accessed the IRS system, found and printed Buffy’s tax return, for the previous year. Then he closed his search down, not wanting to be traced.
Royce read out the rest of Buffy’s information to the others. “Then two years ago, after Sunnydale fell into that sink hole, she just disappears off the map. No job, or non listed anyway. But there’s a tax return for last year……Fuckin’ hell. How much!!!”
He showed it to the others who made similar comments. Quinney returned to typing on the laptop as the others perused Buffy’s details.
The next port of call for Quinney was to glean information from the Metropolitan Police website to see what they might find. This reaped the name, rank and location for Edward Clewley, a name and face that Royce knew. He pointed out that this was another loose end that needed dealing with. Continuing his search, Quinney found that accessing the Police Mutual’s database to locate Dan’s information wasn’t as easy as he‘d thought. Finally locating his training and assessment files, he gave a low whistle.
“Hey, Mike, you know that you said Carter’s name was familiar.”
“Yeah. Why? What’ve you got.”
“Well, two things. One. He’s the son of the Carter Logistics people.
“And the other…."
“Mandy Manning……He was her fiancé.”
Buffy wandered down the hallway. She could hear the clang of swordplay emanating from the training room and paused to peek into the room so as not to cause anyone to be distracted. Just before she was about to enter there was an off key noise from one of the blades as though it had slipped, followed by a yelp of pain.
The noise stopped abruptly and Buffy rushed in ready to give assistance to the injured party, secretly hoping that it wasn’t Dan. Not that she wanted anyone else to be hurt but…”Boy, have I got it bad.” She muttered to herself…
As she entered the room Xander was sitting on the floor clutching his arm, blood oozing through his fingers. Vi had dropped her sword and was over by the first aid chest. Dan was kneeling by Xander on the floor, holding the arm aloft.
“Sorry mate I overreached and…” Said Dan, apologising.
“It’s okay, just a scratch, I’ve had worse.” Replied Xander.
They both looked round to see Buffy come in.
“Honestly, I leave you alone for a minute.” She said, dryly. “Xander, don’t get blood on the mats.” She added.
Dan looked at Xander’s arm and saw the leakage from under his fingers. He frowned. That’s more than a scratch. It might need stitches. Let’s have a look.”
He and Buffy stood and helped the stricken friend up. Walking him over to a chair Xander sat down as Vi came over with a pad of gauze and antiseptic. She dabbed at the wound then moved back while Dan took a look.
As Dan’s hands touched the area near to the wound, Xander jumped slightly. He felt heat on the wound. There was a glow appearing beneath Dan’s hands, the bleeding stopped and the wound started to close. Even Dan looked surprised as he watched the skin knit itself back together.
“There’s something you don’t see every day. Where’d you learn to do that?” Asked Xander, flexing his arm to test the healing
“Probably the same person you got your eye from.” Replied Dan.
“Quite a jump from hangover curing, to gaping wounds.” Added Buffy.
Dan sat down on a nearby chair. His face paled.
“You okay?” Asked Vi.
“A bit woozy. Give me a minute.” Replied Dan.
Buffy moved to is side and helped him up and over to the window. Opening the casement she let him breathe in the fresh air. Dan sucked the air into his lungs and sat with his eyes closed. The sun chose that moment to break through the cloudy sky and bathed the window in warming light. Dan’s eyes flicked open and the pallor left his cheeks.
“Oh, that’s better. Can’t beat a nice drop of sunshine.” He said.
Vi and Xander came over to them.
“Okaaay, now this is definitely a nine on the weird-o-meter.” Said Vi.
Xander‘s head was nodding in agreement. “Yeah, I mean, I’ve heard of the laying on of hands routine before but to actually experience it….What I mean is, thanks. ….So what‘s this about a hangover cure?”
Dan grinned. “Oh, no. Sorry Xander; that’s definitely one for Buffy only. It’s, ….. well it’s…”
“Hot….Totally hot.” Finished Buffy. “Definitely nothing you’d wanna experience from another guy…If you get my drift.” She added, frowning slightly.
Vi caught on. “Oh…Really...Wow! You mean it makes you feel like you‘re orga….”
“Yes. And no, you can’t, before you ask.” Said Buffy, nipping her statement in the bud. She looked at Dan. “We should go and see Giles, see if he has any theories, or if it’s something he’s heard of before.” She paused. “Don’t spread this around at the moment, I kinda want to keep it between the Scoobies until we’re sure about what it means. Okay.”
Xander and Vi agreed and the couple left them.
Vi turned to her man. “Did I just get upgraded?”
“Huh?” He said, absently. He wasn’t really listening.
“To a Scoobie. Buffy said she wanted to keep it between the Scoobies until.…”
Regaining his line of thought, Xander took her in his arms and kissed her, halting her ramble.
“Vi. You’re a Sunnydale survivor, a veteran. ‘Course you’re a Scoobie. You and the others earned it the day you walked away from that crater.” He explained.
The faraway look on her face said it all. “Wow. I never thought of it like that.”
The bags were put in the car and their new identities were distributed. The four men left the Lodge bound for Bern airport. Stopping in the town Davies posted a package to a post office box in England. This was their alternate identities, in case of discovery.
Waiting at the airport Parker was browsing the bookstall for a magazine when he spotted the current edition of ‘Heat’. Hurrying back to the coffee lounge he showed the article to the others.
“What are the chances they’re still there?” Asked Royce.
“Paris is a big city. Easy place to get lost in, if you need to be gone.” Replied Davies.
“We can’t take the chance that they’re not there. From what we gleaned from her tax profile, I reckon she’s probably got a bolt hole there. Stands to reason, she’d need somewhere to get away from the heat.” Said Parker.
“How about I go and take a look. If they are, I can deal with them, and they won’t be expecting me, everyone’s looking for you and Mike.” Said Davies.
The others agreed. They arranged times for contact and Davies parted company from the group. Retrieving the car he set off for Paris, the search for his quarry foremost in his mind.
Luc assisted his grandmother from the rear of the MPV. The old lady sighed as she opened the door to the chapel and imagined what the place had looked like after the devastation caused by Caleb and the Bringers. Several other Watchers had been sent by the council to help Andrea and David return the pews and artefacts to their rightful places and catalogue them.
Andrea came up from the cellars at the far end of the chapel. Seeing them enter, she placed the armful of books on the table and dusted herself down as she moved down the aisle to greet the pair.
“Welcome home.” She said. “Are you feeling better?”
Marie smiled. “Yes, thank you. Was there much damage?”
Andrea shook her head. “Not really damage, more a huge pile of papers and artefacts that needed to be sorted out and relocated. There’s still some to do, but I think it’s mainly fine tuning the papers into chronological or alphabetical order.”
“Which I shall attend to as soon as you are in the cottage grandma. You are still under doctors orders to rest.” Cut in Luc. He knew she wouldn’t sit still whilst there was work to be done.
“David’s up there now. He’s getting our equipment together. We’ve had several other Watchers here for the last couple of days helping out. Mr Giles is allowing them to stay on for the rest of the week to assist you. David and I have to return to London. There were some visitors over the weekend that were of interest to us. He has some photographs up there. He wants to know if you’ll take a look at them to see if there’s anyone you recognise. Why don’t you go on up while I finish here; I expect David has got the kettle on.” Explained Andrea.
Sat in the cottage’s kitchen Luc and Marie studied the pictures that David had shown them. They picked out Lefevre straight away, identifying him as an agent of Desrocher’s, one of the other Senecheaux. They also cross referenced the names that had been supplied from Emile Bertrand. He noted that some of the people that had been photographed were not identified as Priory contacts by Marie. These were the ones that gave the young Watcher most concern. London and the mainframe database might provide the answers. If these people weren’t Priory, which organisation did they belong to, and more importantly, were they a threat.
“I’m going to put in a call to Mr. Giles to request a couple of slayers for your security. There are several people here that if we can’t identify who they are, a slayers presence might just keep them from trying anything. Of course they may just be relic hunters who got the idea that there might be some valuable artefacts about, but we can’t take the risk.” David explained.
Some hours later; their task completed, they collected their baggage and headed for Edinburgh airport, and a flight for London.
Buffy and Dan sat in Giles’ office discussing the manifestation of Dan’s new healing and language abilities, and the fact that he had seen Dawn’s key aura.
“I’m afraid I have very little to add to your assumptions.” Said Giles, commenting on Dan’s latest acquisition. “Although the trend of your abilities does appear to be passive and protective rather than active and forceful. Have you noticed any increase in strength or speed?” He asked.
“No, but then again, we haven’t been in a situation where anything of that nature was necessary. The protection mark that Buffy instigated has disappeared though.” Answered Dan.
“It might be prudent to be careful when and where you use this new healing gift. If sunlight is a restorative for you there may be a problem if you heal someone at night, for example. You might find yourself unconscious and needing help yourself. Why don’t you both go and see the coven. Perhaps Althenea or Mor could shed some reason to it all.”
Giles made a call to check whether it was convenient for them to visit, and gave Althenea the details of the situation.
“Is Ethan Rayne still there?” Asked Buffy.
Giles shook his head. “Mor put him on a flight to Rio along with one of their new protégé’s this morning.” They’ll both be spending the summer, ... Sorry, winter there.”
“Good, coz I really don’t want to see him just yet. It’d just give me the wiggins, and I need to concentrate.” Replied Buffy.
“So, a trip to Avebury then.” Said Dan. “Well at least you can say you’re getting to see the countryside.” He added.
They returned to their room and packed a bag in case an overnight stay was needed. Dan’s phone rang. Looking at the display he groaned.
“It’s my mum.” He said.
Davies pulled into the capital late in the evening. European borders were so easy to cross, no-one bothered you until you got to your destination. Even then it was only minimal, a quick check of your passport and Robert was your mother’s brother.
A night’s sleep, and then tomorrow he would set about locating his targets…….
At roughly the same time various UK airports were receiving travellers from the same initial country of exit. A heavily disguised Royce entered via East Midlands. Parker, also disguised, into Newcastle, and Quinney via London’s City airport.
“Daniel. Have I called at a bad time?” Asked his mother.
“No mum, just busy, that’s all.” Dan replied.
“Oh; Okay; from the tone of your voice I just got the impression that you weren’t pleased to hear from me.”
“Sorry mum. Thing’s have been a bit hectic. You know how it is.”
“Yes, I know. I called Rebecca the other day.”
“Ah, you did, did you…Funny, she didn’t mention it.” He made a mental note to have a little talk with his sister about keeping things quiet.
“Daniel, I got worried about you. Especially when I hear about you getting shot at, and getting your picture in the gossip magazines, all in the same week.”
“Well he missed,…. And it wasn’t me. Okay!”
“Yes dear. I’ll believe you.. Thousands wouldn’t.” His mother wasn’t buying it.
“Mum. Leave it.” He warned. He tried changing the subject. “How was your holiday. Did uncle Michael and aunt Celia get back to New Zealand alright?”
“Yes we have, and yes they did. They arrived back there last Saturday. It was nice seeing them again. They‘ve invited us all over for Christmas. You will take a holiday this time, won‘t you?”
“If we’ve got nothing else on, yes….”
“You said ‘we’. …. So it is true then. Rebecca said her name was Buffy? Is that a nickname? …..No matter. …. I think your father and I would like to meet the young lady who’s going to be our daughter in law…..It might be better than waiting until after you’re married. You could collect us from the airport tomorrow….” There was an amount of sarcasm in the comment.
“Mum! We‘re busy! At least until the weekend.” Dan was being firm with his mother.
“Okay then. Sunday lunch. At home. One o’clock.” It wasn’t a request.
Dan sighed, resignedly. “Okay. Okay. Sunday. One o’clock. We’ll see you then.”
“Does she eat normally?”
“She’s not a vegetarian or something. Is she?”
“Oh. No, she likes her food, does Buffy. ……Bye mum.”
He ended the call, and rubbed his hand across his forehead.
“I take it that was your mom.” Said Buffy.
“We’ll have to go on Sunday. I’ll never hear the end of it otherwise.” Said Dan.
“S’okay. It’ll be a first for me. Wow!…I actually get to meet my boyfriends parents. That’s definitely a Buffy landmark….”
End of Chapter Twenty.