Summary: After Buffy died in ‘The Gift’, Giles went back to England. An odd group helped him mourn with strangely humorous results. A BtVS/HL/Indiana Jones/Pretender/SG1/Lara Croft Cross.
Challenge: My Beta needs shot, or better yet, tarred and feathered. *Evil Grin* I’m sure I could find some tar somewhere . . . *Oh sister, got any extra? *. Anyway-story. She challenged be to write a medium sized story with a decent plot not
using any of my favorite characters. So for BtVS: no Faith, Oz, Buffy or Spike, for Pretender: no Jarod or clone Jarod, for Batman: no Alfred, NCIS: no Gibbs or Abby, SG1: no Jack or mini-Jack, CSI: no Grissom or either of the coroners, Highlander: no Joe, Smallville: no Luthers. I think that’s all of them. So basically-torture, especially considering that I am in the middle of working on Way of the Wolf III and Live in this World Year Zero.
Distribution: TtH, Wormhole Crossing
Spoilers: Oh, dear. BtVS-‘The Gift’, HL-‘Revelation 6:8’, Indiana Jones-after all the movies, Pretender-Season three, SG1-‘Crystal Skull’, Lara Croft-the first movie . . . was there more than one?
Disclaimer: I own none of the many characters or the universes. No copyright infringement intended, no money made.
Rating: for language
Giles lifted his bleary eyes away from the whiskey in front of him. He was a bit surprised to see the man standing at his side but the alcohol fogging his brain didn’t allow him to do much more than say, “Indy.”
Indiana Jones took the stool next to Giles and motioned to the bartender. “You look like hell, Ripper.”
“You go to hell, Indy.”
Indiana chuckled and drank his beer in silence.
Giles ignored his presence for as long as he could. Indiana had flirted around the edges of the Council for as long as Giles could remember and his youthful appearance never chanced. He found mystical artifacts for the Council and ‘obtained lost ones.’ They, in turn, protected him from outside forces and gave him a new identity every time the old one got old. By now, Indiana probably had the contacts to do it himself but the Council saved him the hassle. They had the same agreement with the elder Dr. Jones who was always too preoccupied to be bothered.
Thinking had the unfortunate side effect of sobering Giles.
“The Council must be getting desperate if they’re sending you my way,” Giles finally said.
“What makes you think that the Council sent me?”
Giles didn’t bother to reply.
“Were you even home long enough to eat a meal before coming here to get pissed?” asked Indiana.
“And listen to my father disparage Buffy’s memory?” was the rhetorical reply.
“So you dropped off your luggage and came here.” Indiana paused. “Rupert, it does get easier.”
Giles motioned for another shot from the bartender. He was away from the children now. He could fall apart and no one would care. He wondered about the children. How were they coping? Should he have told them that the Council forced him to leave the United States? How was the Hellmouth? Who was watching the Hellmouth?
A new voice joined the conversation, “Indiana, it’s too early for platitudes. Just offer to get roaring drunk with him.”
Giles turned to look and this time he nearly fell off his chair. “Adam? Adam Pierson?” Where Indiana’s youthful appearance could be expected, Adam’s was not. Adam looked exactly the same as he had joined Giles researching in the Council’s archives. Giles glared at Indiana. “I thought you said that the Holy Grail was lost,” he accused.
Indiana hardened with the memories. “It was. I did some research. I think Adam got to the chamber before I did. And was smarter about the whole thing. And didn’t have Nazis there to screw it up.”
The unexpected information perked Giles’ interest. He glanced over at his old friend, who seemed to have aged less than Indiana. “Really? How did he manage to hide that from the Council?”
Adam Pierson settled in the stool on the other side of Giles, paid for his beer and drank it with a smug superiority.
Indiana answered. “I think he faked his own death to the Council twenty years before Dad and I found the Grail.”
“Then why didn’t you help Dr. Jones with his work?” asked Giles.
Adam shrugged. “Who says I didn’t?”
Giles gaped at him. Adam lifted his bottle. “To Dr. Jones,” he toasted.
Giles lifted his glass as well, “To Dr. Jones.”
Indiana scowled. It was his father they were toasting and both of them got along with Jones Senior better than Indiana ever would. Granted their relationship was improving, but they would never have the easy camaraderie that existed between Adam, Giles and the elder Dr. Jones.
“So,” Adam set his beer down with a satisfied sigh. “I say we get roaring drunk and go wenching.”
Giles pointed a finger at Adam. “You are showing your age, old man. No one says ‘wenching’ anymore.”
“Am I?” asked Adam.
Giles narrowed his eyes.
Adam blithely continued. “We could invite Dr. Jones to join us. He was always so good at being bad. And the ladies love him.”
Indiana shuddered. “Let’s not.”
“Than let’s just get drunk and forget everything,” said Adam.
“You’re just hoping that one of us will pay for the beer and if we get drunk enough, pick up your tab at whatever pubs we visit,” challenged Indiana. “And I’m sure that you do have a tab at every pub you lead us to.”
“Well, if you’re offering . . .”
Giles snickered into his drink. The banter was just as he remembered it. Then he remembered that he had a reason not to be light hearted. The mood between the three men sobered as if a switch had been flipped.
Adam finally set down his beer. “Giles, she was a Slayer, even more than that, she was mortal. She had been dying from the moment she was born.”
So earnest.‘I don’t want to die, Giles!’
“She had already escaped a prophesied death once.”
So flippant. ‘I may be dead, but I’m still pretty.’
“Giles, she lived every moment.”
So Buffy. ‘Tell Giles I get it now.’
Indiana set down his beer with a thud. “Old Man, you are not helping. And you should know. You were the one that said that it was too early for platitudes. So Giles, I have this artifact that the Council wants me to find. It probably doesn’t exist and if it does it’ll be hidden in some death trap. Supposedly, the bracelet is made of pure gold. It gives the wearer the power to heal or the power to kill based on their whim. The only reason that the Council is looking for it now is because someone killed the one Council researcher who was on its trail.”
“Death trap?” Giles asked mildly. That should not be the most attractive part of Indiana’s spiel but it was.
Adam finished his beer. “Count me out.” He slid off his barstool and took a step towards the exit.
Both Indiana and Giles grabbed Adam’s sweater and dragged him back.
Giles grinned, a smile with no joy. “Bloody hell, why not?”
Giles sat at the table and breathed in the scent of the books and ink. He was in the bowels of the Council’s Archives, surrounded by history and he loved it. The dust, the mustiness, the familiarity of it all teased his senses. He had purposely avoided the Archives as punishment to himself. Now he felt guilt for not feeling guilty as he enjoyed the familiar. Even though he was in England, he halfway expected Buffy and one of her friends to come bouncing around the corner gossiping or bantering or bickering or complaining about Snyder. The other half of his brain expected to see Ethan Rayne sneaking in with some plan to cause mischief and a case full of beer. Adam had always drunk Ethan’s beer and excused himself from the mischief. Indiana had done some of the same but had tried to talk Giles out of Ethan’s newest plan.
Now, Indiana had a second table with covered ancient maps and Baker’s notes. Indiana checked and rechecked every detail of the previous researcher’s work. Baker had been thorough with his note taking and reports to the Council. Indiana had a lot of work ahead of him; Baker had filled four journals full of information. No wonder Indy had dragged Adam and Giles into the Archives for some help. Baker had been tortured and killed. Who knew what Baker had been forced to tell his murderers? The killers had taken Baker’s most recent personal journal, but Giles knew that most of that information was in the reports Indiana was reviewing. Dr. Baker was not as suspicious as Dr. Jones, he trusted his superiors more and delighted in sharing his linguistic breakthroughs.
Adam was sitting across from Giles flipping through a book. He had declared early on that one of Baker’s translations was incorrect. So now Adam was reading through a book written in hieroglyphics like Giles read through his favorite novel; reading a sentence here or there to get the gist and flipping the pages until he reached a ‘good part.’ Adam could be telling the truth about Baker’s mistranslation, or he could just as easily be blowing smoke so that Indiana and Giles would be stuck down here in the Archives for years.
Adam was notorious for avoiding conflicts, both political and supernatural and especially personal.
If it weren’t for that fact, he would have been assigned to a Potential long ago. Giles wondered how Buffy would have turned out if Adam had been convinced to be her Watcher, but then shied away from the thought. Adam had disappeared a few years before Merrik had died. Today was the first time Giles had seen Adam since. Why had Adam decided to show up today of all days? Why had he let himself be convinced to help?
“Why are you here, now?” Giles asked.
Adam paused in his reading. Indiana put down the map in his hands to listen to the answer.
“Adam?” Giles said again.
“I’ll tell you later.”
The deceptively young-looking man shook his head. “I think I found where Baker mistranslated.” He set the book down in front of Indiana.
The archaeologist skimmed the passage and compared it against the translation in Baker’s notes. Giles peered over Indiana’s shoulder. It looked like Adam was correct. Baker had transcribed three mistakes from the one map.
“Intentional?” Indiana queried.
Adam nodded. “That would be my guess. It’s too obvious and the dialect is rather obscure. If Baker thought that someone was trying to steal his work this would be the ideal place to make mistakes. I think that every living person that can read this book is . . .” he glanced at his two companions, “right here.”
Giles frowned. “Wasn’t there a graduate student, an American, who based his PhD thesis on this dialect? A Jack, no, what was his name?”
“Jackson, Daniel,” Indiana supplied. “I worked with his parents. Good folks, died when he was just a kid. And he was a bit of a wiz with languages back then. I’m not sure where he got the idea that the pyramids were landing pads for aliens. But his grandfather, Ballard, who ended up with Jackson, swore he had an encounter with aliens as well.”
“I remember Ballard and his ravings. Giant Mayan ghosts that transport their victims but don’t inflict harm, wasn’t it? Did you ever figure out what kind of demons Ballard faced?” Giles asked.
Indiana shook his head, “No. I never found any reference in the Archive and neither could my father.”
“Curious,” Giles mumbled. He glanced at Adam who was attentive on the translation. “Do you know where we’re going to find the bracelet, Adam?”
Adam looked up, somewhat guiltily. “What? Ah. No. We really don’t want to go searching for this Bracelet of Power, do we? Have you read about some of the challenges we’ll face?”
“Are there snakes,” asked Indiana.
Adam thought about it. “Yes?”
“Liar,” Indiana playfully accused.
“When it saves my skin,” Adam retorted, “Indubitably.”
Indiana picked up the main map and started to muse out loud. “If we correct Baker’s mistakes, we’ll find the temple to be . . . here. Cairo will be the nearest airport. That’s good. I have an apartment there with all the equipment we’ll need. Do you two need to pack anything?”
Giles shook his head. “No. I’ll just send one of the junior Watchers to the Giles House for my travel bag.”
Adam said, “Yes. And I have some shopping to do . . . in Paris first.”
Indiana laughed and wrapped an arm around Adam’s shoulder. “Sorry. Paris is not on the travel agenda. Linda already booked us three tickets to Cairo. We need to be at the airport within the hour.”
Adam frowned. “You were sure we’d get an answer that fast.”
Indiana shrugged. “Even if we didn’t, I was pretty sure that Baker had pin-pointed the correct country at least. So let’s go.”
Adam allowed himself to be led away. “Cocky bastard.”
Giles chuckled at the two of them and gathered up all the materials for the trip. Time to leave.
Time to wait and the two older men had not become more patient with age.
Giles, Indiana and Adam stood at the opening of the cave. Finding the entrance to the underground temple had been the easy part. They were still working on getting in.
“Well?” asked Indiana.
“It’s an intricate curse, Indy. I can’t just flip a switch and make it go away,” Giles said testily.
“Did anyone notice the guys in suits that have been following us?” Adam’s eyes searched the craggy landscape and burnt out brush for said guys.
“Yes,” replied Giles as Indiana asked for clarification. “You mean the ones with guns or that odd pair of men?”
Giles’ head jerked up from Baker’s journal in his lap. “Guns?”
Both Indiana and Adam ignored him. “Either,” said Adam. “Though you did start a conversation with the odd pair.”
“I thought the younger might be young Danny Jackson,” Indiana explained.
“And?” prompted Adam.
Giles couldn’t believe his boldness. “How on earth did you explain your youthful appearance?”
Indiana straightened his shoulders proudly. “I’m the third generation of archeologists in the Jones family.”
“Surely, Dr. Jackson didn’t believe you?”
Adam answered on Indiana’s behalf. “More people believe it than don’t.”
“Don’t worry Rupert,” Indiana comforted, “Danny bought it, hook-line-and-sinker. So quite wasting time and open the front door for us.”
Giles felt the need to warn his friends. “Once I do this, the curse will be lifted until I reset all the wards when we leave. Anyone could find the entrance and enter. And the curse will reset if we take anything other than the bracelet.”
Indiana nodded. “Understood. No sticky fingers.”
“Teal’c, are you sure Dr. Jones didn’t have a Go’uald?”
“He didn’t appear to be suffering from any of the normal side effects of a sarcophagus.”
“I don’t understand how he can look the same as he did when he worked with my parents.”
“Perhaps he is who he claimed, DanielJackson.”
“Maybe or maybe Jack’s paranoia is starting to rub off. I just find it extremely coincidental that he showed up just as we were closing in on the whereabouts of a Go’uald bracelet.”
“Mr. Lyle,” the sweeper reported. “The men have led us to a cave as you predicted.”
“Yes, sir. Mr. Lyle, Gar caught sight of some of the SGC personnel. They have Doctor Jackson with them.”
“Get the Bracelet and keep your heads down. Kill the alien if it comes down to a firefight. Its body will eventually come our way. Take Jackson only if no one is watching, if the opportunity arises. But Jackson stays alive.”
“Hold your position. I’ll meet you there.”
The challenges were placed almost immediately within the cave. Indiana was the first one in and his sudden stop made Giles plow right into him.
“Bloody hell,” Giles swore. “Give me some warning, please.”
Adam looked around the human roadblock to see what had caught Indy’s attention. His quiet swearing was in a long-dead language. He finally switched to English. “We can always leave now before we get in too deep,” he suggested.
Giles snorted. “If I didn’t know you any better, Adam, I’d claim you were a coward.”
“I am a coward,” Adam was quick to retort.
Indiana shushed both men. “It’s a challenge. To expose you for what you really are.” He examined the steps down to the bridge and unconsciously took a step back.
Adam pushed Indiana onto the steps. “You first.”
Indiana stumbled and fell. When he looked up, he was old, wrinkled and bent over, but dressed as he would have been during World War II. Indiana’s eyes were bright with intelligence and mirth. He moved with the same youth and vigor of a moment ago. “Your turn, old man.” With each second, Indiana’s clothes morphed into something more recent and he grew younger.
Adam shook his head, moving backwards. He didn’t
want anything to do with this challenge. He dodged Indiana’s reach, only to run into Giles. Giles cruelly pushed Adam onto the steps. Adam turned old and then he didn’t. One moment he had paint on his face, the other he was dressed as Giles had always seen him in the library. The next moment, Adam was in a top hat and then he was naked in chains. Adam made a mad dash across the bridge, none of the changes slowing him down for a second. He knew that the only way to make the revealing stop would be to get to the other side of the bridge. Indiana chased him. What a spry old man.
Giles took a deep breath and walked onto the steps. He grew younger. He looked down at his hands. He was a punk again and his fingers itched for a cigarette. He looked for his Watcher’s Ring on his left hand, something that he had not taken off since Buffy’s death, and it wasn’t there. He turned his hand over and the ring was embedded into his very flesh in the middle of his palm. It hurt like the dickens, but it wasn’t a horrible hurt. It was as if the emotional pain of Buffy’s death had manifested itself into his bleeding hand. His blood –his very veins- ran through the ring, coating it with the slippery, red liquid.
It was lessening.
Part of Giles wanted it to lessen. Another part of Giles wanted to yank at the ring and make his hand bleed.
Indiana’s strong shout broke Giles’ concentration.
Giles looked at his hand and his ring and the scab that was beginning to form. Then he walked across the rickety bridge. The pain in his hand coming in waves. He gripped the rope hand-rail tighter and winced. He concentrated on Adam who was reading the wall that announced the second challenge.
His curiosity overcame his pain.
What all had Adam been?
Before Giles could consider –and compute- all variations of Adam he had seen, he was on the other side. He looked at Adam. Was the man a virtual prisoner or had he suffered in slavery?
How old was he?
Indiana stepped in between, in an oddly protective gesture. “How’s your hand?”
Giles looked down. Everything was how it should be; ring on finger, pain in heart. Giles adjusted his glasses. “Just ducky.”
The first challenge had been purposeful, to shake-up the seeker in the beginning of the journey. Giles and the old men would not underestimate the power and devastating possibilities of the second challenge. Five doors formed a semi-circle around the trio. Fifteen feet high, five feet wide with bronze knockers, they were intimidating in their solidarity.
“Which one?” Giles asked the obvious question.
Indiana pointed to the middle door confidently. “That one.”
“Are you sure?” Adam asked. He was not looking forward to a challenge that resembled the first one.
“Yes. It has to do with ‘walking straight’ and ‘symmetry’ and . . .”
“Baker had it notated in his journals,” Adam guessed.
Indiana grinned. “That too.”
Giles walked forward and opened the middle door. He had told himself that he was not afraid of death, even anticipating it, but unconsciously he had braced his body for a blow.
Giles glanced over his shoulder and walked into the torch lit hallway, Indy and Adam were following at a distance. Then Indy’s eyes when wide with surprise. Giles whirled around to see a giant snake –Mayor sized- rising above him. Giles froze. The only thought in his head was ‘humus.’
Indiana yanked backwards Giles out of danger. “You were closer,” Indy hissed at Adam.
The snake undulated closer.
Adam was unrepentant. “I make a habit of staying far away from martyrs and those with a death wish. They tend to succeed in their goal. I don’t wish to be collateral damage. The effects of the Grail won’t save you either in this circumstance.”
The giant snake disappeared in thin air.
Why? What line had it crossed?
Giles was still shaking, but his eyes traversed the tunnel. He closed them and searched with other senses. He couldn’t feel any magic. Not a drop. Finally he spoke, “Was that a . . . hologram
?” Could a hologram hurt you? Oddly enough, it was a question to ask Xander.
Adam was quick to affirm the guess. “Sure looks like it.”
Indy snorted. “I don’t think they had hologram technology when they built this temple.”
Adam grinned at Indy with some secret knowledge and then the third challenge broad-sided the trio, literally.
A knight –in shining armor- materialized out of the stone wall on Adam’s side. The knight’s first swing almost took off Adam’s head. Adam ducked just in time and met the knight’s sword with his own. The man didn’t give the knight a chance to react before beginning his offensive.
With two swings, Adam had the knight taking steps back, losing ground.
Indiana pulled Giles into an alcove out of the way of the fight. The pair watched with awe as Adam faced a mystical knight with a sword, quite expertly.
“I didn’t know that he brought a sword with him, did you?” Indiana asked Giles.
Giles shrugged. “I had wondered. I knew that he had weapons, of course.”
Both men winced as Adam’s sword clanged near their hiding spot.
Indiana started up the conversation again. “How did I miss a sword?”
“I’d guess magic. I’m more surprised with his expertise,” Giles said. “I had never imaged such skill. He’s good, better than . . .”
Indiana knocked Giles up-side the head. “Don’t start that now. In danger, mope later.”
“Yes, Adam,” Giles responded.
Indiana made a face. “I am not Adam, thank you very much.”
Giles snickered. “That’s true. You have a tendency to cut yourself when you pick up a sword.”
Indiana stared out at the fight, ignoring the jibe.
Adam was not even bleeding, but the knight was. That was good news. A bleeding knight could be harmed, could be killed. Adam shoved his sword, an Ivanhoe Indiana recognized, into the knight’s stomach.
The knight stumbled and fell to his knees, his hands cradling his wound.
Adam used the new position to cut off the knight’s head.
Now that it was safe, Indiana and Giles walked out from their hiding place.
“Good idea,” Indiana said. “Beheading the knight, than it can’t recover and attack us on the way out.”
Adam stared down at the knight, Giles thought it was with surprise.
Adam’s breathing was starting to even out. “True, but it was habit.”
“Understandable,” Giles reasoned. “For most demons it is safer to behead them.”
Indiana rolled his eyes and followed Giles and Adam as they stepped over the corpse and around the bend. “I have a hard time seeing Adam hunting demons. You just ruined my perception of you, you know,” he told Adam.
Adam shrugged. “I don’t hunt demons but sometimes they come for me. I believe in being prepared. I believe in staying alive.”
“Right,” said Indiana, “I’ve had that too. Do you think it’s the Grail that the demons sense and track?”
Adam shrugged but didn’t answer.
“But why a sword,” Indiana pressed. “There are some highly-effective guns out there on the market, you know. Surely hanging around all the Watcher-types with their fascination with blades did not rub off on you.”
“As much as this conversation between two abnormally old men fascinates me, there is our goal,” Giles pointed to the pedestal. There was the Bracelet of Power.
Indiana circled the pedestal twice, keeping an eye out for more booby-traps. Then he pulled a bag out of his pocket. Giles looked over his shoulder to view the contents, sand. Indiana looked from the golden bracelet to the bag of sand. Studiously, he started pouring sand out of the bag. The stream of sand flowed to a trickle. Indiana eyed the bracelet and judged the weight of the sand in the bag. He poured out a couple more tablespoons worth and then tied up the bag. Giles and Adam watched, highly amused and on high alert, as Indiana expertly exchanged the power bracelet for the bag of sand.
“Than let’s get out of here before something does,” Adam spoke for all of them.
Giles and Indiana silently agreed. The three retraced their steps, Indiana led them and Adam trailed behind Giles. Giles shook his head at their overprotective stances but didn’t argue. He had nearly been killed earlier. The way back lacked the banter of the way into the temple. There were no more trials or challenges.
Giles assumed that the trio was a half kilometer from the main exit when he heard something.
Adam and Indy must have heard it as well. The three stopped and plastered themselves against the wall.
Two somebodies were arguing.
Indiana peeked around the corner. Whatever he had seen must have frustrated him; tension seeped into the man’s shoulders. He leaned their way. “Two groups with guns at a standstill. Danny must have been carrying. Arguing, blocking the way. I’d bet that they’re here for the bracelet. Is there another way out?” Giles considered that age had sobered Indy. At one time, the man would have tried to charm or to blow his way out of the situation.
Adam nodded. “Yes, but it’s past them. Don’t you remember Baker’s map marked with the green pen.”
Indy’s face brightened. “Oh, yeah, but we still need to get past Danny and friends.”
Giles looked to the ceiling to silently curse the PTB. He bet that they hadn’t had to face any of the challenges. It was a very Buffy thought and motion. The view he was afforded gave him a Buffy idea. He nudged Adam. “What about the high road?”
Adam eyed the ledge above the main path. It appeared that water had widened a decorative edge of the original architecture. “Looks sturdy,” he said.
Indiana followed their line of sight. “I’m game. Ripper, will you be able to keep up?”
Giles rolled his eyes. He knew that Indy was trying to get a Ripper-affirmative. He hated to disappoint. “Unless the Grail affords you sudden Slayer powers,” he sniped, “I’m sure I can keep up.”
Indy grinned and found proper hand-foot holes to climb the wall. Giles followed with little trouble, Adam with none. The three crawled, single file, in order to avoid detection. Giles didn’t know about the other two but this was hell on his knees. He silently thanked the Mayor of Sunnydale for making the sewers under the town so tall. He hadn’t had to do too much crawling for his survival.
The two groups below were still at a standstill. The younger man Indy had identified as Daniel Jackson was trying to mediate a peaceful solution. It was a nice attempt. Willow would have given him an A-plus for effort, but he was going to lose. It was simply a matter of how long the opposing group’s patience was. Right now they were trying to cajole information about the cave system out of Daniel. Unfortunately, Giles was pretty sure that the non-Jackson team was the one who had captured and tortured the Watcher. None knew more about this cave system than Dr. Baker and he was dead. The rest of them had to muddle through.
The ledge curled back around Daniel Jackson’s group. Giles could have spit directly onto the researcher if he had cared to, but the trio took great pains to be quiet and unnoticeable. If the two groups below broke out into a firefight, stray bullets could hit them just as well as anyone else.
Giles looked behind him, Adam was stock-still, his eyes wide with shock. Giles hadn’t heard anymore than the normal alpha-male posturing from the two groups so why was Adam reacting like a vampire had suddenly jumped out of the ornamentation?
Indiana was disappearing around the corner up ahead and Giles wanted to catch up. He didn’t know how to exit the temple using the alternate route and didn’t want to lose Indy. He didn’t dare hiss Adam’s name. That could get all of them killed in a quick order.
Giles resorted to waving his hand frantically, down by where the ledge connected with the wall. He wanted to ensure that none of the people below would see the movement out of the corner of their eye.
It finally worked. The movement snapped Adam out of whatever had captured his attention. With a smirk, the old man made fun of Giles’ warning system. Giles rolled his eyes back and once again turned to crawl after Indy. This time Adam was following. They kept quiet and kept crawling. The ledge curved through the hallway, Giles was surprised that the three of them had missed it when they walked into the caves.
Giles heard a thump and froze. Adam was forced to freeze as a result. There was an odd smell in the air, like the smell just after the rain, ozone-y. Giles shook off the Scooby thought –maybe it was best that he had returned to England, he would be immersed in the correct English language for one- and looked over the edge, warily. Two men in sand and beige-colored military uniforms were stripping the weapons off the suits. A woman, similarly dressed, was covering the exit. Her eyes were traversing the entire length of the cave.
Giles ducked back against the far ledge and held his breath.
“Carter?” one of the men asked.
“I thought I saw something move,” the woman said.
Damnit! If they got caught, it’d be because of his stupidity! He mentally readied a temporary-invisibility spell. It wouldn’t be very strong or last too long, but it also held a subliminal command to look elsewhere. It was the best thing he could think of for now. It was something he and Ethan had cooked up and used when the situation warranted.
Giles turned his head as much as he dared to see what the ‘older’ man had planned. Giles didn’t believe his eyes. Adam was lying on his side and pulled a burlap bag out of his pocket. He quickly, quietly, efficiently dumped the bag. A live rat created a little puff of dust and started struggling. With a pair of knives, yet more weapons that Giles hadn’t known Adam knew how to use let alone carried, he cut the bindings on the rat and flicked it over the edge. It squeaked obligingly.
When had Adam had a chance to pick up the rat? Why
had he picked up the rat?
“It’s rats, Carter.” The first man said. “Though if you want to get closer to a rat’s nest, be my guest. They might decide to take up residence in your
“No, thank-you, sir.”
“Good. These two are out cold and restrained. Let’s go help Daniel get out of the latest mess he stumbled into.”
Their footsteps faded away. Giles started to move, but Adam grabbed a hold of his ankle tight. Giles obediently stilled.
A scuffle reverberated softly, slight but too much to be the rat Adam had just released. Giles used his finger to write the words on the spell into the dust. He reached around him and made a line between himself and the edge of the ledge. Adam’s finger continued the line in the dust, and the protection it afforded, passed himself. The two held their breaths and waited.
With remarkably little time and sound, a hand armed with a futurist gun and a graying head popped up from the main floor. Giles was impressed. He would not have been able to climb the wall so silently and efficiently. The man looked straight at Giles and grunted. It sounded like he was the same person that had declared rats responsible for the sounds.
Giles didn’t move. Neither did Adam. Giles counted the seconds. The spell wouldn’t last for much longer.
The man squinted and frowned, but in the end, gave up and followed his comrades. Giles and Adam waited. Giles didn’t even try to move until Adam had released his ankle. Finally, they moved. Indy was waiting impatiently around the corner. He had his gun out. He had been willing to shoot the strangers if Adam and Giles had been exposed.
Thankfully it had not come to that.
The trio crawled on. Soon they came to the end of the ledge and slid off it and to the ground. They each breathed a sigh of relief and jogged for the secondary exit. Giles was rounding a corner of the temple in a hurry. There were people back there-with guns and some of the guns were really weird. Adam was ahead and he held out his hand to indicate silence and caution. Indiana and Giles obeyed and quietly stepped close.
“What now?” asked Indy.
“Your girlfriend’s here,” Adam taunted.
Indiana frowned. “What are you talking about? Miranda’s in South America, on a photo shoot.” At Giles’ confused look, Indiana continued. “She’s a model.”
Giles snorted. “Of course.”
Adam shushed both the men. He pointed to a dark-haired woman entering the temple. “No, I meant your other girlfriend.”
Indiana cursed. “What is she doing here?”
Adam chuckled. “What do you think? Trying to beat you at the latest hot artifact. In this case, the golden bracelet. She did manage to find the alternate entrance.”
Indiana patted the pouch on his hip with great satisfaction. “Well, she’s too late this time.”
“Can we please leave,” Giles hissed. “There are other people searching for the same bracelet and she happens to be carrying a pair of very large guns.”
Adam and Indiana stared at Giles in disbelief.
“What?” he demanded.
Adam laughed. “Rupert, you have been a Watcher for far too long. You noticed her weapons before you noticed her hourglass figure?”
“Can we leave now?” Giles asked again.
Indiana shrugged and led the way this time. Giles snuck a glance at the mystery woman’s retreating back, she was still making her way into the temple. The trio hadn’t made enough noise to catch her attention. Giles supposed that she did have a very nice figure. When he turned around, Adam was smirking at him. Giles just lifted his chin and followed Indiana.
Finally they exited the temple. Indiana was right, it had been a death trap but now they were out.
“So who was that woman,” Giles finally ventured.
Adam burst out laughing.
Indiana found nothing to laugh at. “That’s Lady Lara Croft. She’s been making a name for herself finding ‘lost artifacts.’”
“And she’s found some before you?” Giles guessed.
Adam laughed harder.
Indiana glared. “Just two.”
“Hmmm,” Giles sent a sly look Indiana’s way. “I’m guessing that she doesn’t even have half your experience. Have you been slowing down, Indy?”
Adam snickered but he motioned the two other men his way. “She’s younger, alright.” He pointed to a place between the trees. “See that?”
Indiana spied it before Giles did. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Giles finally found it: a high-priced jeep was hidden in the brush. He wasn’t thinking when he opened his mouth and it showed. “I think so Brain, but if we killed all the vampires the mosquitoes would just take up the slack.”
Adam nearly fell over laughing and Indiana looked confused which made Adam laugh all the harder.
Giles took the defensive. “Dawn’s been watching cartoons over at my house since . . .” His mind blanked at the reason. Dawn hadn’t wanted to be home in a house that her sister would never return to.
Both Indiana and Adam sobered, feeling the sudden change in mood.
“Do you think she left the keys in the ignition?” Indiana asked. “Probably not.”
Giles snarled, “Like that would slow down this lot.” He looked to Adam, “You want the honors or shall I?”
“You do it,” Adam gestured with a slight bow. “You’re faster and there are quite a number of people with guns behind us.”
Mere moments later, Giles’ hot-wiring attempts had the jeep running.
Indiana jumped into the driver’s seat, pushing Giles out of the way. “You drive like a Brit,” he accused.
Giles frowned and climbed into the passenger’s seat. Adam was grinning like a madman in the back seat. Indiana shifted the jeep into gear and they were off like a bat out of hell. Giles hung on to his seat for dear life. “You drive like a maniac,” he ground out.
Indiana smiled. “Well, we are in a hurry.”
“We want to survive the ride,” Giles shot back.
“Really,” said Adam. “You didn’t act like it before.”
Giles didn’t dignify Adam’s comment. “Well, if we made it this far. I’d appreciate making it all the way back to London.”
“He wants his tea,” Indiana informed Adam.
Adam shrugged, “I want my beer.”
“You’re not picky on where you drink your beer,” Giles replied.
“True . . . though there is this place near here where the beer’s . . .”
“No!” Giles and Indiana shouted.
Adam laughed and leaned back in his seat. He jerked forward as he connected with something under the throw blanket. With a bit a searching, he discovered a high priced camera. He grinned and swung it between Indiana and Giles.
“Look what I found,” he chortled.
Indiana saw the camera and almost ran the jeep into a tree.
“Indiana!” Giles shouted. “Eyes on the r . . . path!”
Indiana swerved back onto the path, but he was laughing. His eyes connected with Adam’s through the rearview mirror. “Now I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking.”
Adam nodded and grinned. “We should be far enough ahead of everyone else. Pull over.”
Indiana did as instructed. Then his took the camera away from Adam and the bracelet away from Giles. With Lara Croft’s expensive camera, Indiana took a picture of the bracelet and then wrote a message in the dirt and took a picture of that. Adam encouraged Indiana the whole time.
Giles just shook his head as his supposed ‘elders’ acted like children. “Indy, do you really think you want to incite Lady Croft’s anger toward you?”
Indiana Jones grinned. “She doesn’t know who I am. She still thinks that I’m connected to the Illuminati. And I like to perpetrate the idea.”
“Hence the Illuminati eye you signed your message with,” Giles added. “I can’t believe those old fakers still exist.”
Indy smiled. “Exactly. And since we’re all still wearing gloves, she can’t use fingerprints to find our identity.” He gathered up the golden artifact climbed into the jeep again. “Let’s go, daylights a-burning.”
Giles and Adam climbed into the jeep again.
The message left behind said, ‘Better luck next time.’
Giles dragged his sorry butt up the steps of the Giles House. He was pleased with what he had accomplished in the last several days. He could let Buffy rest in peace. He didn’t need Buffy to have a purpose in his life. He would still miss her and mourn for the girl who never grew old but the pain had faded from the heart-wrenching ache of before. The lights in the library were on but no others. Hopefully, Giles could get to his room before his father could corner him. He closed the door quietly and tiptoed for the stairs.
To quote Xander, ‘Busted.’ Giles did not turn around to face his father. Hopefully, this would be short.
“The witch has been calling and refusing to leave a message. Kindly return her call so she desists.”
Oh dear Lord. Why would Willow be calling? Did something happen to Dawn?
“Yes, Father. I’ll call her immediately.”
Giles was halfway up the stairs when his father spoke again.
“The Council has counted up your Slayer’s surprising number of accomplishments.”
“Her name is Buffy.”
“Her name was Buffy,” the senior Giles corrected. The younger ground his teeth in silence. Finally his father continued speaking. “In spite of her horrible track record for following the Council, it has been agreed that your diaries of your Slayer be included in the books available to future Slayers.”
Giles walked away without another word. Inside, he seethed with anger.
“Rupert,” the father yelled. “It is a great privilege and much more than any that I expected from the Slayer of my son.”
Two hours later, Rupert Giles was on an airplane returning to California.
His Slayer was alive.
Buffy was alive!
Epilogue (‘Cause I can’t leave anything be)
In a basement in Colorado Spring Colorado, Adam Pierson, known to a very few as Methos, examined the blueprints to the security system of the military installation. Something was wrong with Earth, the Balance was not balanced. He could feel it in his bones. That’s why he had shown up at the Council’s headquarters; to judge the severity of the situation.
They hadn’t known anything yet, but Rupert was back at the Hellmouth with an emergency.
It could only mean one thing, an apocalypse.
Methos liked running from those types of things, but the only place to run in the face of an apocalypse of this magnitude was off planet. Normally that would be impossible but Dr. Jackson’s friend had been a Jaffa. The feeling was impossible to mistake, ignore or forget.
And then the zat’niktel. But the zat’niktel could have been found in some sort of weapon’s stash on planet.
Jaffa only existed off-planet, though. A go’uald could not remain immature for over two thousand years. It had been that long since he had directed the coverstone into place on the Chappii.
Dr. Jackson must have opened the Chappii.
When people went through that much trouble to lock a door, don’t try to open it.
But in this instance, Methos may be able to use the military and its stupidity to his advantage.
Now to decide where to go.
Methos flipped through his diary, looking for a Chappii address to a nice sunny planet, preferably something with an indigenous population that knew how to brew alcohol.
The part of his brain that housed his conscience, something recently re-awakened by MacLeod, winced. Methos shrugged it off. He wanted to survive, thank-you very much.
His conscience knocked louder.
Methos cursed MacLeod.
fin. For real. This is a one shot.