Chapter Thirty Five
Disclaimer. As before…Only the bits you don’t recognise are mine..
Chapter Thirty Five.
Giles and Olivia returned on Thursday after their day at Buckingham Palace. Although under the circumstances the investiture had been kept a quiet affair, there was still an announcement in the society page of the Times with regard to Giles’ accession. Lambert had reported that several members of the press had turned up at Coughton House requesting interviews and photographs, but had been turned away empty handed after discovering that he was not their, and not likely to be in the near future. Giles wasn’t accepting that as a given for one moment. He knew what the British press were like. Doggedly persistent. He assured Lambert that nothing would change in the foreseeable future and to carry on as before.
The next few days were spent reviewing the information they already had on the various groups they were interested in, categorising them as to their threat value, and allocating resources to each party. In that respect not much changed, there was always some threat needing to be assessed, somewhere.
With Greaves in Hereford, and two slayers and watchers still in Scotland, London’s team was depleted, Xander and Vi offered to stay on there and be responsible for that operation. This left Buffy free to float between places, picking up any slack where needed. There were things she needed to be able to look into, her father’s activities, the Musketeers and Arthur Maguire. Dan needed to return to London so that he could work out his notice with the police, and her future mother in law had also expressed a wish to spend some time with her. There was also the small, or rather, not so small, matter of their wedding to arrange.
Over the course of those few days, one thing that did change however, was the sudden increase in post. Letters and cards mainly, started arriving by the van load. At first the postman was as perplexed as everyone else, that was until the receiver discovered that her not so secret engagement to a British Bobby was well and truly out for those privy to her world. In some cases, those who didn’t know exactly where to send the cards had just put ‘Ms Summers, c/o Westbury. U.K.’ on the envelope. Once the post office had determined that these belonged with all the others headed for the new school, the single sack load turned into a deluge.
Buffy sat amongst them piled in the office opening them one by one, a bemused smile on her face, still not believing that so many people could be interested in what she did with her life.
Giles teased her saying that traditionally she was supposed to send a reply to all of them. Buffy’s face fell as she envisaged spending the next six months at a desk typing or writing. She needed a secretary.
With his investiture out of the way, Giles offered to liaise on the Maguire situation, but as he was still ensconced in Switzerland, he agreed with Buffy that the only way forward was to send someone over to get closer to him.
Riley and Sam were briefed and made contact with Harry Pearce in London, gleaning information from Jo, Zaf and Ros, and watching all the recorded dialog that they had collected, they prepared their legend. Then they departed for Switzerland. As they landed in Geneva the press were waiting, and the Finn’s went into an Oscar winning performance as the heir to an Iowa based pharmaceutical corporation and his new bride, touring the world as part of their honeymoon plans.
Giles and Olivia also had their own nuptials to arrange. On her agreement he left the details to Olivia, only entering into discussion with her when there was a particular problem that needed addressing. All Giles had to do was organise a best man. Had he been closer to hand, Giles would have asked Philip Robson to perform the task, but the South African department was short handed as it was, and could ill afford to have him vacate his role there at the moment.
That left either Edward or Xander. Olivia had commented that perhaps Edward might give her away as her own parents were no longer alive. It was felt that both he and Alison should be present, mainly because of the unwittingly instrumental part Alison had played in bringing them back together.
That swayed the matter. Giles rang Xander and asked him if he would perform the duty. When there was silence at the other end of the phone Giles realised that this must be the first time that Xander had actually been struck dumb.
The weekend came and went with Buffy and Daniel sited back at their flat in Perivale. Ed Clewley had found him some office based duties to carry out at work. This was designed to give Dan some space from the enquiring minds of his colleagues, and keep him out of the firing line, as it were. There were still three other hit men out there who probably wanted a piece of him. It also gave Dan an opportunity to see the result of his healing attempt on DI Gorman. When Ed had explained it to Giles during their conversation of his impending wedding, there had been several “Good Lord’s” and a couple of “Bloody Hell’s” thrown down the line. The conclusion was that what Daniel Carter lacked in physical strength or speed against a demon or vampire, his newly gained abilities put him at an advantage.
Dan had gone to work early this fine, bright, late May, Monday morning. Buffy was resisting the urge to call Willow to check on her progress in finding her father, part of her didn’t want to know, and part of her wondered if he knew about her being the Slayer.
The remaining sack of mail sat on the floor next to the dining table. Buffy sat on a chair adjacent to the sack, a letter opener in one hand, picking out a handfuls of envelopes with the other. Willow would have been proud of her organisational skill. There were several piles of letters and cards arranged across the table into; answer by email; answer by post; and answer and send invite; and a sack containing the discarded envelopes on her other side.
Her cell phone buzzed as she was reading the cards sent by Oz and Cho Ahn. Absently she picked it up and answered.
“Buffy. It‘s Kate.”
“Hi, you okay?”
“Yes, fine. Are you at work?”
“Sort of. I’m at home, er, Perivale I’ve still got a sack full of mail to go through.”
“You’re still getting cards!” Kate sounded surprised.
“Huh huh. It started out fun, but now it’s kind of a chore. I dream about being buried under a mountain of cards.
“Think of it this way. You’ll only have to do it once.” Laughed Kate. “Anyway. The reason I called. I’m on my way into Southall to see a client, and I wondered if you were free for lunch. We need to discuss venues for the wedding and the reception.”
Buffy glanced at the pile for reply and send invite. “Somewhere big.” She winced.
“The Stag big, or The Albert Hall big?” Queried Kate.
“Dunno. How big is Albert’s place…Who’s Albert?”
“Never mind. I’ll pick you up at one o’clock. Alright?”
“Great. See you then.”
Buffy looked at the clock. Nine thirty. She had three hours to finish this and straighten the place up before Kate arrived. Taking a deep breath, she renewed her letter opening with zest.
Later, still engrossed in her task, she jumped slightly when the doorbell rang. Buffy looked at the clock on her laptop. Eleven thirty. She had maybe half an hour before she needed to…
Puzzled and slightly panicked in case Kate was early, she rose and went to the door. Opening it she saw a large bunch of red roses being held by a man in a green smock coat, with an Interflora badge emblazoned on the beast pocket.
“Morning. Flat 32C?” He asked.
“Flowers for Ms Summers.” He said.
“That would be me then.” She replied.
He pushed a clipboard towards her. “Can you sign here please luv.” He asked.
“Who’re they from?”
“Sorry luv, dunno. There’s a card though.”
The guy wasn’t giving anything away. His manner was a bit brusque, probably too much to do, and too little time to do it in. She’d been there at times herself, so she cut him a break.
She signed the offered clipboard where he indicated and gave him a broad smile as she passed it back. “Thank you.” She said as he handed the roses over.
His demeanour softened slightly and he gave her a grin back. “Y’ know. You’re the first one who’s said that all morning’. Thanks. An’ you‘re welcome, Miss.”
He turned and left. She closed the door. Placing the roses on the kitchen counter she opened the card. The message was simple.
‘I love you…. Danny.’
Briefly she closed her eyes and reached out to him.
~“Hey. Flower sendin’ guy. Can you talk?”~…..
Belgravia Police Station.
Dan had a slight smile on his face as he sat in the canteen with a cup of coffee in his hand, and the remains of his lunch on the plate in front of him. They were planning what they should do this evening, perhaps a meal, possibly Chinese. A voice behind him pulled him from his conversation with her.
“Something tells me you’re avoiding us.”
“Dan looked around to see Steve Hughes bearing down on him with a tray full of food. He mentally excused himself and grinned at his friend.
“This seat taken. No? Good.” He said, sitting down opposite Dan.
“I didn’t think you were in today?” Said Dan.
“Gem’s still acting as secretary for the Guv‘nor; and well, I got bored so I thought I’d pop in and clear up some of the paperwork backlog.”
“You shouldn’t make so many arrests.” Said Dan, sarcastically.
“Just doing my job.” Replied Steve. “Anyway, I’ll get to the point. What are you two doing Friday night?”
“Dunno yet, why?”
“Planning a big night out with the ‘wags’. You in?”
“Can I check first?”
“By all means. But don’t think you’re getting out of it. If Friday’s no good then Saturday night. We are determined in this.” He said.
Dan gave him a withering look. “Okay, but on condition that there’s no shop talk. No questions about Maguire, that hit man, or anything connected. Okay.”
“Scouts honour!” Smirked Steve. There was a pause. “So, how are the wedding plans going…..”
Rio de Janeiro.
If there was one thing that frustrated Willow, it was dead ends. Being sneaky, and getting information on Hank Summers, or James Hennessy, was turning out to be more difficult than she had first anticipated. Googling had given her several thousand hits to start with. The name James Hennessy was more prolific in the world than anyone had guessed.
Even Hank Summers had thrown up several dozen just in the US that needed checking carefully before discarding.
Coupled with teaching at the school, stamping out a demon clan who had decided that Rio might be a good place to set up shop, attempt kill off and eat the hearts of the local virgin populace, and generally living life, the week had been busy.
Now she had a few hours to get to grips with the problem, she needed to narrow the field.
First to do was access the DMV. This would give her several things. Age being the foremost. She knew that Hank Summers was only forty eight, so her search parameters were graded to a two year period either side. She did the same for James Hennessy.
The hits came back. It had narrowed a lot. Hennessy came back with a mere fifty hits, Hank Summers with only nineteen.
This made looking at the photo ID on the documents easier. A scan of the picture Buffy had emailed her was placed in her search program. Then she attached the downloads of the documents from the DMV. She hit enter, and waited.
A few minutes later she had answers. Not exactly the answers she was looking for, but answers. Curiously, her search had thrown up two identical people. One person with two names to be precise. And both people had two addresses, the same addresses. One in Washington DC; and one in Colorado Springs…
On the journey into London, their conversation had been about slaying and Althenea’s visit. Kate explained about Althenea’s suggestion that she should try Tai Chi, Buffy readily agreed, if it helped her relax and be empathically stable, it was only of the good.
When Kate had said lunch, she’d meant Italian. Buffy had been swept along in Kate’s Lexus into a car park off the Brompton Road, and into Floriana’s. The décor was smart and modern with marble, mirrors, and an atrium roof. As Buffy finished off her pumpkin, chestnut and mushroom soup, the conversation steered around to wedding venues.
Kate suggested several dates, all in August, the assumption that having it then would give Daniel time to complete his period of notice and give them time for a honeymoon before the school opened its doors for the new term in September.
“Shouldn’t he be here to discuss all this, though. I feel we’re leaving him out.” Said Kate.
“Don’t worry, he knows.“ She paused. “He says he‘s happy with whatever we decide. Less for him to organise.” Replied a grinning Buffy, tapping the side of her head.
“Ah, yes. Sorry, still a bit new to all this.” Sighed Kate.
Showing Kate her list of invites, there was a pause in the conversation, as Kate produced one of her own.
“This isn’t quite as big as I thought it would be.” Said Kate, finally. “When Becky and I organised her wedding, there was at least a ten per cent reduction off the list after the invites went out. Some won’t be able to make it because of other commitments.”
The discussion led through the list of possible venues, and the conclusion they came to was that even though Buffy had thought she might like a church wedding, the level of security that might be required would put some guests off, and arouse suspicion among others not in on the secret from Dan’s side of the guest list.
“Then there’s only one place you can hold it.” Said Kate. “The Grange. It‘s big enough, secluded, there‘s room for a marquee or two in the grounds, and both the wedding and the reception can be held there.”
“There might be another.” Said Buffy. “But I’d have to ask Giles…Westbury.”
A large rented house in it’s own grounds was being stocked with the contents of the grey transit van purchased by Parker the previous week.
They’d looked at it as a long term occupation, and had taken a lease for six months. Their falsified backgrounds and the deposit in cash had given the leasing agent the nudge she needed to let the property. The place was too large for most people’s needs and the rent requested by the owners was excessive for most pockets.
Several hours later the three were sitting around the large refectory type table in the kitchen, mulling over the digital images taken over the last few days.
There were distance shots of Derek Carter driving away in his Aston, swinging golf clubs of various types, shots of various cars and small vans to-ing and fro-ing from the gates of the Grange, Kate in her Lexus, and on horseback cantering across a field, one of Becky doing the same.
“Doesn’t Carter ever go home or visit his family? He must have another house. One we haven‘t found yet.” Asked Royce.
“It’s only been a few days yet. Give it time Mike. He might be staying with Summers, we haven‘t found out where she might be living.” Said Parker.
“One of us could watch the cop shop. If he’s working it’s only a matter of time before he goes there.” Suggested Quinney.
Then an image of two small girls riding a pony came up on the screen. Royce paused the slideshow and turned the screen so that the other two could see the picture.
“Then we change tactics. We’ve got to get Simon out of their hands as well, don’t forget. If Carter doesn’t appear in the next week, we’ll make him stick his head out. These two have got to be a soft target. And it would be the last thing anyone would expect.”
End of Chapter Thirty Five.