Chapter Forty Four.
Disclaimer. As before…Only the bits you don’t recognise are mine..
A/Note. Sorry for delay in posting. Holiday, new job, and working away for a couple of weeks. Oh well, back to it.....
Chapter Forty Four.
Belgravia Police Station.
Steve, Dan and Pete were sitting in the canteen eating lunch when Buffy messaged him that the operation was probably a bust.
“He’s at it again.” Said Steve quietly, nudging Pete, and nodding in Dan’s direction.
Dan was getting better at holding two conversations, one in his head with Buffy, the other physically with his mates, but there were still times when he had to concentrate more.
He groaned as he focussed back on the pair grinning at him like Cheshire cats across the table.
“What’s she done?” Asked Pete.
“More clothes. And shoes.” Came the reply.
“No not that. We already know she’s a shopaholic. What about the woman. The one they were going to watch for the spooks?” Said Steve, lowering his voice.
“Oh. It was a bust, well so far, anyway. Couldn’t identify whether she was a… you know what, or not.” Said Dan, as he spotted Sandra Howard approaching the table.
She took a seat next to Pete and addressed the trio. “Hiya, lads. What’s new?”
“Not much, same shit, different day.” Replied Steve. “Where’s Gemma?”
“Got stuck with a foot patrol in Holborn. A new Community Officer needed his hand held.” Answered Sandra.
The conversation got on to the subject of their weekend at the Grange, Sandra had not been there before and she was full of questions about the house, Dan’s parents, and their guests.
“Of course when I found out he was actually ‘Lord’ Giles, I changed my tack. Why didn’t you tell me Danny?” Moaned Sandra.
“I didn’t think it was that important. Giles isn’t that bothered, San. He really isn’t. He doesn‘t like a lot of publicity.” Replied Dan.
“And it’s not something that needs to be broadcast.” Added Steve, giving her a look that said ‘back off’.
As thick skinned as she was, Sandra knew when to give it up. There was a lull in the conversation whilst another subject was sought.
“So, what are we doing this Friday night. Where are you men taking us ladies this week…” Sandra suddenly blurted out.
The Pentagon. Washington DC.
Hank’s mind wasn’t fully on the meeting he now found himself in. Kerry Johnson was giving her account of how they’d discovered a link between big businessmen and the rogue elements of the NID. Although the Trust had yet to be identified, they were getting closer to the individuals concerned. Former Vice President Robert Kinsey was a likely member, so he was being watched carefully.
Jack, keeping one eye on the brunette in front of the whiteboard, noticed that Hank wasn’t fully attentive. Obviously, he really had his plate full with the revelations from yesterday.
Kerry paused for a moment to check her notes and Jack butted in.
“Could we take a time out, here?”
Agent Barrett looked at his watch, Jack could almost hear the cogs turn as the man worked out that they’d only been at the meeting for fifteen minutes.
“I, er, Okay?” Said Kerry, puzzled as to what it was that had Jack so easily bored. She’d heard that he was more of the action man than the desk jockey, but this must be some sort of record.
“Good. Let’s all get some coffee. Back here in…oooh say, twenty minutes?” Said Jack.
He was out of his seat and tapping Hank on the shoulder. “C’mon Hank. I’m buying…
A few minutes later Jack and Hank were seated opposite each other in the restaurant.
“So, why the long face?” Asked Jack.
“That obvious, huh.” Replied Hank.
“I read people pretty good, and you’re a guy with a lot on his mind.” Said Jack.
“Okay. Did someone just ask you to ask if your daughter would put herself on standby in case of alien attack?” Hank questioned.
“Oh, that. Not so sure I’d be happy with that request.” Jack said, warily.
“Not just me then? You can see where I‘m coming from.” Said Hank.
“I can. Although, from what I’ve seen, and been told, she seems to be able to handle herself in a fight.” Replied Jack.
“Therein lies the problem. I turn up now, after nearly six years, and say what? Sorry honey, I was away on a really important business trip, and I couldn’t even get home for yours or Dawn’s birthday’s or your mothers funeral!”
“Good point.” Jack paused, thinking. “I got nothing. No. Wait. Flowers! You could try flowers. I‘m told it works pretty well.”
“You’re not married then, I take it.” Asked Hank.
“Divorced, ‘cept mine wasn’t ‘arranged’ by the NID so that I could go jaunting off on undercover missions.” Said Jack, wryly.
“I think I’ve lived in that world too long Jack. I don’t know how to do the real stuff anymore.”
“Does anyone?” Commented Jack.
“I think I need a woman’s perspective on this. The question is, who?” Said Hank.
“You could try to Carter.” Said Jack.
“I don’t know her that well. Could you ask her if she‘d hel…”
“No!” Came the firm reply
“Why not!?” Asked Hank.
“Because…” Jack started.
“Are you two dating?” Came a voice from the side.
Both men looked around at Kerry Johnson who stood to one side listening to their banter. She grinned at them and pulled up a chair.
“I couldn’t help overhearing. In case you didn’t notice, I kind of fit the female description. Anyone want to enlighten me as to the problem?”
“No.” Said Jack.
“Yes.” Said Hank.
She looked at her watch. “Make your minds up gentlemen. Clock is ticking. We have a meeting to complete.”
“So forceful.” Said Jack.
Hank rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. How could he explain without telling Johnson too much.
“Okay, short version of a long story. My daughters. Haven’t seen them in nearly six years. How do I get them to even speak to me again. Let alone trust me.”
“That’s a toughie. How old are they?“
“Twenty Four and Nineteen.”
“Okay. So not kids then. Are they aware of what you do for a living.”
Hank shook his head. “Definitely not.”
“Then it just got tougher.” She replied.
Hyde Park, London.
“Don’t go too far into the park Jo, I can’t get a visual on you with the Cctv camera’s if you go beyond the Serpentine.” Malcolm’s voice crackled over her earpiece.
Not being able to acknowledge him verbally without attracting Emily’s attention, Jo glanced at Zaf sitting reading a newspaper on the bench by the Tube station entrance and gave him a short nod.
Zaf spoke immediately to Malcolm. “She got that, she can’t answer right now, Malcolm.”
The two women, well one woman and one Burrach Demon boasting a human suit, carried on past him, over the pedestrian crossing, and off towards the park. Zaf got up from his seat and followed at a safe distance.
What no-one saw was a slight jostle of the passers by outside Harvey Nichols, as an invisible Buffy also made her way over to Hyde Park.
Emily relaxed more and more the further away from the younger slayers’ presence they got. As they walked along the pathway she took a few deep breaths.
“Better now?” Asked Jo. She was still puzzled at her friends reactions.
“Are you going to tell me what all that attitude was about then?”
“It was nothing. That waitress just annoyed me”
“Em…She didn’t do anything wrong. I was there, remember.”
Back in the restaurant Willow was mumbling an incantation as she stared into her teacup. Kennedy watched as the surface of the brew shimmered slightly and focussed on the two women who had just left, aided by the small crystal that Willow had deposited in Emily‘s bag.
“Hey! Magical TV. Can you get Tivo on that?” Queried Kennedy.
“Sorry sweetie. I can’t get sound either, although I‘m working on that.”
They watched as the two negotiated the pedestrians and the traffic on their way to the park.
Dean’s flat, Holborn.
The Community Officer stood staring into space, pale and breathing heavily. It was his first day, he really didn’t expect this, not on his first day! WPC Gemma Marsden leaned on the wall and took a few deep breaths herself, to alleviate the sensation of retching that her system was telling her was necessary after seeing and smelling the blood soaked, naked, emasculated body lying bound and gagged on the bed.
She reached for her radio…
“Oscar Delta One Four to Control. Over!”
“Receiving you Oscar Delta One Four.”
“Officer requires assistance at Flat 6, Carey Street, Holborn.” She paused. “Control. We’ve found a body…..”
As the meeting broke up, Hank and Barrett left to attend anther briefing with the Joint Chiefs. Jack hung back, waiting for Kerry to finish packing her reports away.
“Need a hand?”
She looked at him enquiringly. “No, thanks, I’m fine. Something on your mind, Jack.”
“Not really. Nice thought you had…regarding Hank’s little ‘problem’.”
She looked at him quizzically. “Well, an intermediary is usually the best way to go in any negotiating situation, I hope he can find a go between to initiate contact.”
“Ah, yes, the negotiating. Not my strong point.” He replied, wistfully.
“So I’ve heard.” She paused, when he didn’t reply, she added. “Do you want to go to dinner tonight?”
“’Scuse me?” He said, wide eyed at the suggestion.
“Dinner. Tonight. You. Me?”
“Oh, I heard…Why?”
“Well, you man, me woman. Or hadn’t you got that yet?”
“Oh, I got it…it’s just…”
She deflated. “You’re seeing someone…”
“NO! Definitely. Not…”
This time it was Kerry‘s turn to be puzzled. “Oh, so the rumours aren’t true then.”
“Rumours? There are rumours?”
“I think there’s a betting pool on it as well?“ She replied with a grin. “
“Really! How come I don’t know about this?”
“I don’t know, but wouldn’t that kind of defeat the object?”
“So it’s not true then?”
“That would be a no! I’m her Commanding Officer for Christ‘s sake!.“
“It’s not unheard of. There was…”
“Okay, then. Well, at least I know where to put my money.”
“Good. That’s settled. Now then, someone mentioned dinner….”
Hyde Park, London.
Jo and Emily sauntered along the pathway, chatting about things that Jo thought might have given Emily her attitude problem.
“Honestly Jo, there’s nothing wrong. The girl just annoyed me.”
“Everything okay at home?”
“Yes, why shouldn’t it be?”
“Klaus is treating you alright. I know sometimes that there can be culture clashes…He’s not, you know…”
“…Abusing me, you mean. No. Definitely not!” Came the reply.
Jo let it drop. If she asked too many more, Emily might suspect that her questioning was more than just a friend asking. She glanced around searching for any signs of the backup team. She couldn’t see anyone except Zaf, who was following at a discreet distance. A message from Zaf came through her earpiece.
“Jo. Get Emily into a position where I can snatch her bag. I’ll put a tracker in it, so that we can see where she goes.”
Jo didn’t need Zaf to do this but as she couldn’t answer, she couldn’t tell him that a tracker had already been added to the bag.
Jo headed for a bench at the side of the path. Sitting, she patted the space next to her indicating that Emily sit next to her. Hopefully this would indicate to Him that now wasn’t the time. She could see Zaf moving towards them as Emily stood for a moment as though deciding whether to sit or not.
Buffy had followed the two friends quite closely, in fact she’d been alongside of them since they’d entered the park. If she’d been visible they would have seen the eye rolls and the yawns that the senior slayer gave as their conversation continued.
As Jo sat on the bench Buffy spotted Zaf moving in, making a beeline for the bag. Her sharp hearing had picked up the communicated message in Jo’s earpiece giving Zaf’s intentions. She couldn’t allow that. Willow had taken a lot of time and trouble to perfect this method of tracking a suspect, and she wasn’t going to let it go to waste because of an impatient spy.
As Zaf approached the pair he altered his trajectory slightly in case Emily decided to sit at the last moment. He needed to sweep the bag cleanly from her arm and be off at a run, he’d lift the purse and drop the bag within a hundred yards or so, making it look like he just wanted the money. The tracker being added as the purse was taken, Emily would retrieve the bag and the job would be done. As he made his final approach, something caught his foot and he went sprawling, tearing his trousers at the knee and grazing his hands on the pathway.
Emily looked around at him and snorted a laugh at the comical sight of the man’s face, who couldn’t believe what had just happened. Jo’s face was a mixed bag of emotions. Part of her wanted to laugh, part wanted to show concern for her friend, flatmate, and colleague; and part of her wanted to show relief that his snatching attempt was not now going to happen.
Buffy stayed until Zaf had picked himself up and limped off out of sight. The two women continued their conversation briefly, Emily wasn’t giving anything away, so Jo made an excuse about seeing a client and they parted company, Emily wandering off into the park and back towards her hotel. Buffy followed her as far as the hotel and discreetly made herself visible again. She called Willow on her cell phone to check that everything was still working with the crystal and made her way to the police station to meet Dan.
WSC HQ. London.
Later Willow was debriefing the trio of young slayers.
“And you didn’t sense anything?”
“No, but, that’s the thing, see. What if there’s some demons we can’t sense?”
“I don’t know what you mean?”
“She was really nasty to me. A total bitch. There was nothing wrong with her meals and yet she sent all of them back, ‘cept the sweet ‘course. But only coz her pal said not to.
“Some people are like that Carly. My mom has been known the refuse a suite because the flowers didn’t go with the décor.” Said Kennedy. “I’d have spiked her drink…”
Willow nodded. ”Cordelia could be exactly the same too.” She paused. “Look. Let’s not get off track, shall we.”
Mel added her two penneth to their case. “Carly has a point, though. She was just as nasty to me when I dropped the books so as you could get the tracker into her bag, and I didn’t see her being nasty to anyone else in the restaurant. She was givin’ the bloke on the next table to us a right sexy smile.”
“…And all the other men in there, even the old un’s.” Added Janine.
Willow thought for a moment. “Okay we’ll watch her for another forty eight hours. If she’s not exposed herself by then we’ll have to think of something else, coz the deadline for her meeting up with the Shadow will be comin’ up. I wonder who they‘ll send when he doesn‘t show?” She mused.
Klaus Hecht reviewed the police report on the deaths of the three prisoners with scepticism. Was there something here that he should be seeing? The report said that they had died of asphyxiation, apparently achieved by swallowing their own tongues. Was this the method used by the Shadow to dispose of his victims to cover his tracks? He’d not thought to ask the demon how he did his job, and even though the task was apparently completed, there was no word from Emily yet to advise him of the Shadow’s return.
Had he made a mistake in sending the former vigilante to annihilate the men? Especially with the Slayer close at hand.
The ‘what ifs’ began to mount in his head, and he shook it to clear his thoughts. If the demon had indeed gone ‘AWOL’ as the Americans put it, he might be in a predicament.
He had always lied to the Shadow about being able to track him. It had kept him in line so far. As far as he knew, there was no way any sorcerer could track that particular demon. The magi who had performed the original feat had since been eliminated, and his papers destroyed, so there was no information to be had on the subject.
His phone rang. Still reading the report, he absently picked it up.
“Klaus, it’s me.”
“Emily, your wife?”
“Ah, yes, sorry, I was reading. What have you learned?”
“Jo Portman isn’t what she says she is. I don’t know who she works for but it isn’t a promotions company. She‘s probably a member of the security forces. She asked too many questions as to why I was seeing her so soon after she was in Geneva. As for the Slayers, they can’t tell I‘m not totally human, and here were at least three of them in close proximity. I didn’t spot ‘her’ around, but I got the impression she wasn’t far away. So I think you can say it works.”
“Good. What of our other little project?”
“Not finding out until Wednesday. I’m supposed to wait near to the police station and he’ll join me there. Did he succeed?”
“According to the reports, he did.”
“Good. I’m going out tonight. I’ve found a new club.”
“I will. I do have needs you know.”
“I know. Don’t give them cause to look twice at you.”
“I won’t. Bye.”
He replaced the receiver, and once again the thoughts started running around in his head….What if???
Thames House, MI-5 HQ.
Malcolm puzzled over the extremely fragmented conversation they’d just heard. There was just the odd word here and there, and nothing he’d tried could salvage the remainder of the conversation. This was something new in terms of scrambling, something he’d not come across before.
“I’m sorry Harry I don’t know how they did it. If there’s a new type of scrambler out there, I don’t know about it.” He told the Section ‘D’ head.
Harry Pearce steepled his hands under his chin. He scanned the faces of the three seated around the table.
“Alright. Thank you Malcolm. We’ll leave well alone for now. Jo, if she contacts you again make some excuse not to meet with her. Zaf, get that knee seen to, I don’t want you off sick. We have other items that are more pressing. Let’s deal with them.
Harry, what about the other people. The ones who were our backup?” Queried Jo.
“I’ll inform them of what we’ve discovered, if one of them got a tracker into her bag as you suspect Jo, then they probably know a lot more than we do right now.”
“Are they going to share that information?” She replied.
“Possibly. If there’s anything more you need to know I’ll tell you what I can.”
“I can’t believe that Emily’s mixed up in something like this, it’s just not her style.”
“We still don’t know for sure Jo. She might just be an unwitting pawn in all of this.” Said Zaf.
“Alright people. Enough speculation. Let’s get to the other projects.” Harry commanded as he stood up. He swept out of the room and back to his office leaving the other three sat there.
They looked at one another. What wasn’t Harry saying?
Belgravia Police Station.
Dan grinned at the sight of the petite blonde sitting on the low wall across from the police station entrance. Two bags rested at her feet which were swinging to and fro slightly as she waited patiently for him to emerge. He crossed the paved area and a bright smile greeted him.
“Hey. How was your day?” She enquired.
“Good. Got a result on three muggings in Chelsea from a couple of months ago. Yours?”
“Not so productive. Couldn’t get a line on that Emily. Willow’s got a tracker into he bag, so we’ll see. Got some neat shoes from Harvey Nichols. Wanna see?”
“More shoes? Is there some fetish you have that I should know about?“ He asked.
She gave a him a frown. “I like shoes, that‘s it”
“Oh, right. Move over Imelda Marcos, Buffy’s in town.“ He grinned. “Why didn’t you come into the shop?”
“Coz I’ve been spending too much time there lately, and apart from giving Sandra more questions to ask, I figured someone might try to put a uniform on me.”
“Now there’s a thought.” He grinned. “Outfits!”
She smiled wickedly at him. “Maybe later. If you’re good.”
He picked up her bags and they made their way to the car park.
“Hey, Gemma Marsden came across a really gross one today.” He told her.
“Oooh. Work gossip! Tell me.” She burbled.
“Someone did a Wayne Bobbitt on a chap in Holborn. Trouble is he was tied to the bed when they found him and it was a bit too late. They reckon he’d been dead about six hours.”
Buffy wrinkled her nose. “Ewww. Gross! They got a suspect yet?”
“They’re checking. Apparently this chap was a bit of a one with the ladies, so it’s probably a case of finding out which one hated him enough to do that to him.”
“That’s gotta be some kinda hate!”
“Hmmm. They haven’t said anything about this to the press, but Gemma says that the forensics reckon it was bitten off, and…they haven‘t found it yet.”
“Yuk. Double Ewww!”
They arrived at the car and Dan held the door open for her. Putting the bags in the boot he slid into the driving seat.
“So, where do you want to go for dinner tonight?”
Melia White House Hotel.
The evening news and papers were full of the gruesome discovery, police were investigating, checking on the victims last known associations, namely his former girlfriends.
Emily Hecht watched the news with interest. They hadn’t a clue it was her, and they weren’t even close with their guessing. Time for her next conquest.
She finished putting on her makeup. It was heavier than she had worn during the day, but necessary for the venue she was visiting. Her lips were highly glossed, blood red and outlined, the rest of her face was almost pale in comparison, coated in the heavy foundation and powder she’d applied. Her eyes were also thickly coated with eyeliner and eyelash extensions.
Finished, she slipped out of her suite wearing in a long dark overcoat. Underneath she was dressed in tight, form fitting leather, with chains, studs and spikes embossing the bodice and trousers. The boots were black with chromed high heels and had a row of short silver spikes running the length of the calf section; Emily was out specifically for business.
A hailed taxi carried her to Soho, dropping her in Shaftesbury Avenue. A short walk uphill on Wardour Street, brought her to Bourchier Street. This was more of an alley in reality, only accessible by cycles and pedestrians. On the left a doorway marked with a red ‘X’ on one side, became the focus of her interest. Two men dressed in dark suits and shirts were the only sign that there was anything going on behind the door.
One held out an arm as she approached the door and she cocked her head on one side in question of his blockage of her passage.
“Invitation?” He asked.
She opened her coat and revealed her outfit. Nodding his ascent he allowed her to pass as his colleague opened the door for her. Loud heavy metal music met their ears.
A small hallway led to a set of steps going down. On the right was an alcove that had been converted to a small cloakroom. Discarding the coat, she headed down the steps.
Reaching the bottom she mingled in with the rest of the guests, strutting towards a bar located across the room. It was already fairly crowded, some dancing in groups, pairs or singly to the beat. One or two appreciative glances caught her eye as she passed people, not all of them from the male gender. She made no acknowledgement from these, there was only one thing she was here for tonight…Another trophy!
Some time after Emily entered the club, approximately half a mile away, a taxi pulled up at the end of Gerrard Street. Two passengers alighted from the rear, a tall dark haired man, and a petite blonde.
Paying off the driver, Dan led Buffy across the road into the pedestrian area. Glancing at the nameplate above the window of the restaurant she gave a snort of laughter.
“You’re kidding?” She asked.
“Nope. It‘s really called that.”
“Lee Ho Fook?”
“Yep. Thought you’d like that. It’s famous. Warren Zevon wrote a song about the place in the seventies.”
He pointed to a printed sheet in the window that sported an image of the late singer and the words of the song that put the restaurant on the map.
Buffy shrugged after quickly reading the words. “Don’t know the song. But…Werewolves?”
“Never proven, as it happens. I asked Giles about it over the weekend. He says that the Council apparently investigated Zevon and the facts of the song when it came out, so unless you can sense anything untoward, I guess we’ll be okay.”
She watched the place thoughtfully for a moment. “I got nothing. It’s nowhere near a full moon, and I‘m hungry. Let‘s eat.”
They ate a leisurely meal, Dan impressing the staff and management with his Cantonese and Mandarin, both gained within the blink of an eye. Surprisingly, Buffy also picked up the odd phrase here and there, putting it down to having spent so much time with Cho Ahn after the fall of Sunnydale.
They left the restaurant almost two hours later, their spirits high after the meal and friendly atmosphere. Making their way into the nearby street Dan looked around for a taxi to hail.
His attention was diverted by a scream from somewhere in the distance, heard even above the hubbub of the busy street. Buffy also whirled around focussing where it came from and set of towards the scream, Dan hot on her heels. Most of the passers by looked towards the sound also but simply stood staring, wondering what was amiss.
A short distance away, an alley at the end of Gerrard Street heralded the source of the scream. A small crowd was gathering there and Dan whipped out his warrant card as he pushed his way through, Buffy just behind him.
The woman was still screaming hysterically as Dan arrived at the front of the crowd. He gently guided her rigid form away from he body that was slumped half in, half out of the darkened alley. It was a leather clad man, whose face was festooned with piercings. Lifeless eyes stared at Dan from a head that hung at an odd angle, blood oozing from a gaping wound around his crotch. Dan didn’t need to check for a pulse, he already knew the man was dead and he turned back to the gathering.
“Police Officer.” He said loudly, holding up his identification. “Did anyone see what happened. Has anyone had called the emergency services?”
No-one spoke up; Buffy had taken it upon herself to try to calm the hysterical woman and had gotten enough out of her to discover that she had found the body. Communicating this to Dan, she pulled her away from the macabre sight to ask her more questions, and allow him to take control of the situation until other officers arrived.
To Dan’s surprise someone had called it in, at least they were reporting it even if they were saying that they hadn’t seen anything. That was the moment he felt something else. A presence. He’d only felt a presence like this once before. It was cold, and dark, and evil. A demon. The other time he’d felt that feeling was when he’d healed Dave Gorman, and come up against his demonic side. He looked back at the body in case that was the source. It wasn’t. Then the feeling faded away, as though it had never been there.
At the other end of the alleyway Emily Hecht pulled her coat around her and melted into the darkness, as she licked her lips clean from the trophy she’d just taken….
End of Chapter Forty Four