Chapter 7: Mozambique
See Chapt. 1 for disclaimers, warnings, timelines
Once again…… thanks very much for the many and interesting comments, reviews and questions, keep’em comin’. I hope you will forgive me for treating most of the questions, comments as rhetorical and not answering individually, but I think any substantive response would, whether by commission or omission, tip my hand farther than I want to just yet.
Secrets: A Father Goose Tale
A BTVS-SG1 Crossover
Chapter 7: Mozambique
Watcher’s Council, London, England June 2007
“It’s just that I think Xander may be right, I need to stop sitting under a tree and listening to my navel and get out and see the world a bit,” Willow said.
“Between you and me and the chair, Xander is often right in his own colorful way. So, are we talking saffron robes and a rice bowl? Riding a buffalo to the west? Great Hotels of Europe?” Giles asked.
“I’m thinking more ‘Lonely Planet’ than Fodor’s. I was hoping you could have Zoey set us up with a couple of mid-size motorcycles. Thought we’d start in Europe, then maybe northern Africa….”
“A couple? I mean I can’t tell you how pleased I am you aren’t insisting on going alone, but surely a little party of four, five is not unreasonable? Even powerful witches have vulnerabilities…”
“And you’d really really hate to have me fall into the wrong hands.”
“Well, yes, to be honest. With great power comes great responsibility, as Andrew would say.
“I’ll be fine, Giles. I shall take measures to…. disguise my identity. And I think Shad,” she nodded towards the tall African girl idly pondering a world map mural on the wall opposite Giles’ desk, “and I are in …. complimentary places, spiritually. I think this trip will be good for her as well. But I think one slayer is more than enough for me to take away from her larger duties.”
Giles polished his glasses for a moment . Put them back on and looked at her for a moment, then sighed.
“Well, when you reach my age and begin to see the finite nature of one’s breath…”
“No,” Willow said, “Don’t even try that….”
“Hmmmph. As I was saying, I shall not waste my breath trying to argue the point. You have a time frame?”
“I need to tie up a few loose ends at the coven, two, maybe three days. Then we’re off.”
“Nadifa, a trust you are happy with this plan and schedule?”
is fine, Mr. Giles. And yes, it does not matter to me where we go, so I am happy to follow Miss Willow’s lead.”
“Well, then, that’s that, I guess. Happy trails, bon voyage. See Toby for any help you need with any details… and you’ll come see me before you go?”
Seconds after the door closed on Willow’s leaving the door behind Giles opened and a smallish young woman came out, moved to speak but stopped as Giles’ held up his hand, mouthing,
“Slayer hearing,” at her. She took the seat Willow had vacated and waited until Giles gave her the okay.
“Sir, why North Africa?”
“I don’t know. Might even be a misdirection. So, Kaitlyn, are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“Of course not, Mr. Giles. But I shall do my best, we all will.”
“I think just a touch less earnest enthusiasm would be reassuring … don’t answer that. Well, you had best go make your own preparations.”
“And stop calling me sir. All this mistering is bad enough without that.”
“Yes, sir.” But she smiled. She stopped at the door and looked back at him. “You are a very devious man, Mr. Giles. You do realize this means I can never trust you again,” she added and slipped out the door.
Ah, Giles thought sadly. Another illusion lost.
Denver, Colorado, October 2007
Jennifer Redwolf took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders and tried to stop wishing Xander was there. At first she had resented it, Xander and Faith blowing in from the coast and dropping two more girls on her and the next day going off skiing
, of all things… reports of Bigfoot sightings, her ass. They were at a some lala ski lodge, and, well maybe just Faith tearing up the slopes while Xander sat by the fire but that wasn’t the point. A little help would have been nice.
It wasn’t as if Renee wasn’t driving her out of her gourd already, now she had Sassa and her condescending attitude … she’d taken one look at the curriculum and absolutely refused to waste any time in an American public high school. So Jennifer had to scrap all that paperwork and start working on getting Sassa into UCD for the spring semester. At least Sassa had agreed to help tutor the woefully behind Marisol in return for Jennifer’s efforts.
Jun Lee of course was always quiet and helpful and sweet … so long as Renee was somewhere else. When the two were together it was always a relief to hear them fighting, because if they weren’t fighting they were up to something.
But she’d hung in there and hammered out kitchen rotas and patrol schedules and regular if not daily demonology lessons, all the things that had seemed so simple back in England at the academy. She’d arranged bulk food purchases at a community co-op, got the alarm system to actually work properly. She’d found a reasonably brave and discreet kung fu instructor to supplement her own training sessions.
And above all she’d got the girls out of the habit of calling her Heap Big Chief Wolfie
and howling and now they were calling her either Jen
with at least a modicum of respect.
And then Xander and Faith had come back and she’d seen the girl’s faces when they heard him at the door and understood that they would never have taken her seriously with him there.
And now, after she’d got the referral from the Cleveland message board, he’d clapped her on the back and told her to be firm,
“They may have something we want. They won’t have anything we need.
You’ll do fine.”
And then he’d gathered up Faith and girls and taken them out to mumble-mumble
so she could make her first deal with a demon without them all hanging over her shoulder. Still, she wouldn't have minded if he'd hung around for this one.
She dialed, a soft voice answered, “Yes?”
“Am I speaking with Leticia?”
“Yes, who’s calling please?”
“This is Jennifer with the Watcher’s Council returning your call. What can I do for you, Leticia?”
“Are you authorized to make amnesty arrangements?”
“Yes. What did you have in mind?”
“When word got around that you were opening a Denver office a lot of vampires moved down here to Colorado Springs… They are… Nevermind. I can give you a detailed map of the nests, lairs and favorite feeding grounds of over fifty vampires. In return I want amnesty for myself and two friends.”
“And how do plan to feed yourselves afterwards?”
“Amnesty means we are willing to overlook past kills, Leticia. It doesn’t mean we will turn a blind eye to new ones.”
“Oh. I see. I … have an adequate supply of animal blood.”
“Let’s be clear about this, Leticia. Obviously you know we can’t monitor you all the time, but we will make random checks, if we find you’ve broken the agreement we don’t just put you back on the list, we put you at the top.”
“I understand. That is acceptable. I have lived here for over a hundred and fifty years, Jennifer. I have lived a very civilized existence. You would never have even heard of me if you hadn’t come to Denver and ‘caused those thugs to invade my home.”
“I understand, Leticia. Abide by the agreement and we’ll do your dirty work and leave you alone. Can you appear in public?”
“What? Yes. I may not be raging beauty but I am presentable.”
“As long as you don’t have severe batface. We need to meet. We can do midnight behind the third mausoleum on the left if you want, but there’s no need. Is there a decent, reasonably discreet coffee shop in town?”
“We have to meet?”
“We have to know who you are to give you amnesty, Leticia. And we like to look you in the eye. We guarantee safe passage to and from the meeting even if we don’t reach an agreement. And swift dust if you try to double-cross us. Time and place?”
“Umm…. Perhaps tomorrow night at seven at the Sweet’n’Hot, on Bijou St.?“
“It’s a date. Keep the phone handy, Leticia. If something comes up or we don’t like the location, we’ll call and reschedule. Questions?
“No. No, I believe I understand quite clearly. See you tomorrow.”
“Thanks for calling, Leticia. Have a nice day.”
Jennifer sagged, then jumped as a voice spoke behind her.
“Not bad, kid. I can’t decide whether the ‘have a nice day’ thing is just wrong or perfect, but the rest was very professional.“
Faith came swinging across the room on her silver crutches and did a little half-flip onto the couch and opened a bag of corn chips.
“Didn’t mean to spy on you, Jen, just didn’t feel going out to play on the fucking icy sidewalks just now. God, always, just as soon as I get comfortable. “ She produced a long slim dagger and contorted until she could slide it down inside her cast and scratch. “Ahhh….”
“How much longer?” Jennifer asked.
“I’m ready to take the fucker off now, but Xan says I gotta wait a couple days to be sure. I think he just likes to see me limp for a change. And don’t tell him I said this but I think I’ll be cutting way down on the hop-a-long comments. This thing sucks. Oh, yeah, you got a Giles’o’gram on the computer in there. Says Andrew’s discovered ET has worms.”
“Some shit like that anyway. Could change life as we know it. Or not. Shit, of course it’s way the fuck over there. I don’t suppose you’d be a good watcher and throw me the remote there, wouldja Jen. Jen…..? Shit.”
Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 2007
Jack had to admire the placement of the old ranch house, up on a small knoll, with a clear view of the approaching, winding loud-graveled drive. In fact the house had a clear view all around except for a thin wedge of trees that followed a thin arroyo to the edge of the outbuildings. Which meant there was only one way to approach the house with any kind of stealth, and then only on foot as the rough land would prevent mechanized transport. All of which meant there was no way to surround the house, and sidle up quietly. You either had to announce your aggression and arrive in force by the front or full on, no excuses sneaking in the back ... and Jack rather suspected that if there was anything to find in the house, there would be ample security measures waiting in the woods.
Or of course it could all be the innocent abode of an eccentric spinster lady, raising a few sheep on the old homestead and minding her own business. The defensive design left over from the bad old days of outlaws and Indians.
So he could take a squad and hump it overland and go in the back, he could take that same squad and a half dozen big black Air Force SUV’s and arrive all scattering gravel and big guns waving … and in either case probably end up slinking away in embarrassment while two little old ladies shook their heads and started planning the stories they would tell, and from then on down at Hattie’s Diner he’d be “that big Air Force officer who took a squadron up the hill one fine Sunday afternoon and captured Miss Letty and thirty-five sheep.”
Or he could put on his service dress uniform and take Teal’c and a staff car and go out there and knock on the door and hope to hell Hammond’s adamant refusal to believe in vampires would turn out to be correct. Jack was still a bit iffy on the whole undead thing, but something weird was happening and he’d seen too many strange things since starting his trips through the gate to rule anything out.
The smoked windows in the staff car did give the driver, one of Talbert’s men, a chance to give the house a discreet once over with a thermal imager…
“There’s no one inside, sir,” the driver reported. “There are … animals and I think one human in the barn.”
Jack stepped out, straightened his jacket, took a quick glance at “Murray” to make sure his hat was covering is forehead insignia adequately. There was a white picket fence surrounding a small yard in front of the house and as Jack approached the gate there was an outburst of barking and a pair of black and white border collies came running out of the barn to within about ten feet where they stopped and began to alternate bursts of loud barks with tentative forward feints and growls.
“Hi there,” Jack said, and added hopefully. “Nice doggies.”
There was a whistle then, and a male voice calling, “Buster, Keaton, come on back here, good boys, but you come on back.”
The dogs quieted, gave Jack one last, eloquent, you’re-lucky-the –boss-called, otherwise-we’d–have-totally-chewed-you-a-new-one
look, then turned trotted over to accept pats from, and then fall in behind a short, slightly pudgy Mexican man who was coming out of the barn, cleaning his hands on a rag.
“Can I help you gentlemen?”
“Yes,” Jack said, “we’re looking for Ms. Leticia Kearny.”
“Well, this is her place, but she’s usually having her lie down this time of day. Something I can help you with?”
“We’re sorry to disturb her but we really need to speak to her on an urgent matter.”
The man stood looking at them for a moment, glanced over toward the house, then nodded, said, “Barn!” with such command that Jack had to fight the sudden urge to join the two dogs in their obedient retreat. “Just wait here a sec’, please, gents,” the man added and went through the gate and began knocking gently on the front door. After a moment the door opened inward and he went inside.
“This is going, well, don’t you think?” Jack said. Teal’c looked at him, but did not reply.
The door opened again and the man appeared again, motioning for them to approach, then stepping back to hold the door as they went up the steps and inside to find themselves in a dim entry way with a choice of three doorways, that issue quickly resolved as the set of heavy wooden double doors on the left swung open to reveal a smiling blonde blue-eyed lady, who, despite her rather old-fashioned brown floor-length dress and white blouse ensemble appeared to be at least a few rotations short of her thirtieth year.
“Thank you, Jesús,” the woman said and the Mexican man left, closing the door behind him. “Gentlemen, please,” she added, ‘come in, do sit down,” she waved idly toward a pair of solid, leather covered wing chairs, an old fashioned wooden rocker and a long leather couch, all gathered informally around a glass and wrought iron coffee table. “I am Leticia Kearney …”
“Colonel Jack O’Neill, ma’am,” Jack said, suddenly remembering to doff his cap.
“Ah, an Irishman like me father, you’ll be, then, aye?” she said with a smile and, so far as Jack knew, a passable brogue.
“If you go back a generation or two, yes, ma’am,” Jack found himself answering. “And this is my friend Murray.”
“And where do you hail from, Murray?” she asked. Just for a second, Jack thought, he saw her eyes stray down to focus on Teal’c’s abdomen where Junior lay hidden, then flick away, but it happened too quickly for him to be sure he didn’t imagine it.
“I’m sorry?” Teal’c said.
“Well, ah don’t mean to be politically incorrect,” Leticia said in a perfect Jimmy Stewart voice, “but yore not from around these here parts now are ya?”
“I am from Mozambique,” Teal’c said, bowing slightly.
“Oh my, how interesting,”
Leticia said, her voice returned to normal, and without a hint of anything but sincerity. “Please… “ she said, pointing at the chairs again, “I’ll just be a mo’,” she crossed to another doorway at the back of the room and called out, “Shake a leg, Ardy, there’s two very
handsome gentlemen from the Air Force here and they look thirsty.”
There was muffled answer in the distance. She came back and sat in one of the wing chairs, Jack sat in the other and Teal’c eased himself carefully down into the rocker. And sat rocking slowly.
“Ma’am,” Jack said, “I apologize if we seem to be intruding on your personal life, but we … do have a good reason. Can you tell us… what you know about Captain Benjamin Werner?”
“”I’m sorry, Colonel, I don’t believe I know anyone by that name.” Aha,
Jack thought, but tried to keep it off his face. He reached into his coat and pulled out a still picture taken from the surveillance video, showing the two ladies and Captain Werner packing.
“Perhaps you know him by another name,” he said and handed her the photo. Jack braced himself, nor sure for what, screams of outrage, accusations of spying, outright denial.
She giggled. She brought her hand to her mouth to cover the laughter but her blue eyes twinkled.
“Oh my,” she said. “It’s seems I’ve been … what’s the term… busted.”
Just then the back door opened and a woman Jack recognized from the photos as Ardyce Almquist came in carrying a laden tray. She was dark of hair and eye, perhaps just a little bit more age than Leticia’s showing in the laugh lines around her eyes. She was much more informally dressed in a light blue tank top and matching broomstick skirt, and was without, Jack was pleased to note, any sign of shotgun or sixshooter.
Leticia made the introductions and added, “I’m afraid the Colonel has just caught me lying about Captain Werner.”
“Oh for God’s sake, Letty, no one cares.” She turned to Jack, added, “Personally I find the fellow dull as a rusty axe, but Letty claims he’s a real tiger in the sack.”
“Ardy! Please. These are gentlemen!”
“I dunno, look more like men o’the world to me. Now, gents, we’ve got bacon’n’egg, lamb’n’onion and I think a ham salad, help yourselves. Afternoon tea is generally a little light on the actual tea around here, but I’d be happy to brew a pot if you’d like.”
“No, thank you, really…..” Jack started.
“Letty has to have her la-di-da cocktail,” Ardyce continued handing the blonde woman a glass of red liquid with a stick of celery that certainly looked like an ordinary Bloody Mary, “and I’ve got all the fixin’s if you want something but you look like a beer drinker to me, Colonel, help yourself,” she indicated the collection of bottles on the tray, “and you…” she paused, staring at Teal’c for a moment, “Orange crush.”
“Don’t pay any attention to her,” Leticia said, “people just go along with her so she thinks she’s knows things, take what you want.”
“I am not familiar with this ‘Orange Crush’,” Teal’c said.
“Yes, it’s hard to find these days, but you’ll love it.”
“So…..,” Jack said, raising his voice just a little, “You do
know Captain Werner then?”
“Yes,” Leticia answered. “I do. He’s not in any trouble is he?”
“Of course he’s in trouble, Letty,” Ardyce said, grabbing a beer for herself and flopping on the couch. “If he was really rushing home to be with his sick sister someone on the base would have given him a ride.” She turned to Jack, “He called us at… oh, early this morning, said his car had broke down and his sister had been in an accident and he needed to get to the airport. Not that we believed that, but not our business, really ….”
“It could be true, Ardy, we don’t know,” Leticia cut in.
“Oh, I think we know now,
don’t you?” Ardyce replied nodding at Jack. “We… or, I
just figured he’d buggered a General’s wife or something. Not our concern, he’s a friend, he needed help. We picked him up on the road that leads up to your big hush hush base on the mountain and took him to his place and he packed a bag. He’s a very neat packer, for a man. We took him out to the Texaco station on I-25 where he said a friend was meeting him. We offered to wait, but he said he was fine and we left him there. Figured he didn’t want us to see who picked him up. Probably another woman on his string.”
“I am not on his string, Ardy. We had a few good times. That’s all.”
“So, what did he do, Colonel?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that,” Jack said.
“Ha,” Ardyce said, “not the General’s wife
then, told you he went both ways.”
“Oh, nonsense, Ardy, a straighter man you never met in your life.”
Some forty-five minutes later and not much wiser Jack found himself back in the staff car holding the brown bag of leftover sandwiches, beside him Teal’c sat holding the five remaining cans from the six pack of Orange Crush in his lap.
“That was a most interesting interrogation, O’Neill,” he said. “I look forward to reading your report of the encounter. “
“I bet you do.”
“Indeed. They were most interesting women. I do not think, however, that LeticiaKearny believes I am from Mozambique. I think it would be wise, O’Neill, if am to continue to claim this ‘Mozambique’ as my homeland I should visit this place. My knowledge is apparently inadequate to successfully carry out the ruse.”
“Yes, well, next time say ‘Chicago,’ then I can help out a little.”
“Colonel,” the driver said, “I’ll shut up if I’m out of line here, but you guys are talking like you just met with somebody in there … what, was it a video feed or something?”
“No, why?” Jack asked.
The driver held up his thermal scope, “Cause I could see you and Murray here plain as day, but nobody else. Far as this thing’s concerned you might have been talking to ghosts.“
“No,” Jack said plaintively, “don’t say that. Really. Don’t use that word. I do not want to came back here tomorrow and find an abandoned burnt out building and discover that ninety years ago two women died in the fire.”
“Indeed, that be most sad, O’Neill.”
They rode in silence for awhile. Jack spoke to the driver,
“Tell Talbert to maintain surveillance on both women. Tell him to stay back as far as he can, but any time they leave this place, I want to know about it. And tell him not to rely on the thermals.”
They drove on.
“O’Neill?” Teal’c said.
“Are there any of the lamb and onion sandwiches left?”
Leticia and Ardyce stood at the window, watching the black Air Force car disappear down the driveway.
“The black fellow,” Leticia said, “where do you suppose….”
“Not Mozambique, that’s for sure,” Ardyce said. “And that thing in his gut, have you ever….”
“Nope.” They turned as one and marched over to the trap door and pulled it open and dropped down into the cellar,
“O’ Captain, my Captain,” Leticia called out, “We need to have a little chat.”
Rome, Italy, October 2007
“Claudio,” Buffy ordered cheerfully, “Pants. Now.”
She continued on, doing one of the world’s most unembarrassed walks of shame ever, into the kitchen where she emptied her bag of fresh cornettos and bocconotti into the basket. She reached in the fridge for butter and orange juice and then she heard it and froze.
Anyone else, assuming they would have heard it at all, would have heard, “mbmmff mmffemm mm,”
but Buffy had learned to recognize Dawn saying “Buffy help me,”
in twelve languages and six different gag configurations and without hesitation she reached under the kitchen table and withdrew the sabre from its sheath fastened there and started down the hall toward Andrew’s room.
There was a big sharpied sign on the door saying “Call Giles!! First!!”
Buffy leaned back to kick the door, then saw it was open already and just gave it a push. The door swung inward, there was movement on the right that, after a quick double-take she realized was Andrew diving into a fetal position, holding up a sign over his head that said, “Call Giles!! First!!”
Looking straight ahead she saw, over Andrew’s bed another “Call Giles!! First!!” sign writ large in red sharpie. And on the bed, Dawn, legs duct-taped together, arms spread wide and duct-taped to the brass bed-frame, duct tape across her mouth and absolute fury in her eyes.
“mmffmfm fmfmm fmffmfsmmfs fmmsm mmmm m fsmmmfs mfmsmmsf,” she said.
“Andrew, you will pay for this for a very long and painful time,” Buffy translated. She looked at Dawn a moment longer, she didn’t seem to be in any pain or immediate danger. Buffy pulled out her cell and hit the speed dial for Giles.
“Giles, why is my sister tied to Andrew’s bed? What?” she looked again. “Well, she has her shoes off but other than that she’s fully-clothed…. Ohmigod, I can’t believe you did that. To me.
You realize I have to go bleach my brain now. Oh, no you’re not sorry. Not yet.”
“mmffmfm fmfmm fmffmfsmmfs fmmsm!!!”
“Oh, Dawn says ‘hi.” So. What’s the what?… Oh. Really. Now
you tell me….I see. Umhum. Sure.” She climbed on the bed and held the phone to Dawn’s ear.
“mmff fmfmms!” Dawn said, but listened. “Mmmfnns,” she said after awhile, her voice subdued. “Mmmsdms.” She jerked her head and Buffy took the phone back.
“Okay, Giles. Yeah, we can trust her. For now. We’’ll call you back later. Bye.” She began to rip apart the tape and Dawn sat up rubbing her wrists and glowering thunder and lightning and three kinds of sleet, cussing in Sumerian under her breath.
Buffy turned back to Andrew who was sitting back in his chair, though he did give off the vibe of scared rabbit ready to bolt.
“At ease, Andrew, Giles says it was in a good ‘cause. You have to make your own peace with Dawn, though. So, big bad aliens, huh? Lemme see. No, seriously, Andrew….. really? That’s just …… gross. Oh, well.” She turned and took her pouting sister’s arm. “C’mon Dawnie, I brought hot cornettos and chocolate bocconotti and you’re not going to believe
where Lorenzo took me last night!” Buffy said. -30-