Things are worse
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters. I receive no profits from this. It is just for fun.
Archiving: Please ask.
Feedback: Constructive Criticism desired.
Summary: The Initiative makes an appearance in Season 2.
AN: Thoughts = \\This is a thought.//
“Sharp Servant,” he whispered, then said louder, “Dr. Angleman is the doctor who offered Buffy the Spinal Bridge. When she comes home from the hospital, she’ll be accompanied by a female member of his staff to help Buffy with her therapy and any sanitary issues that might arise from wearing the Bridge and associated backbrace.”
The implication of Giles’ statement was obvious to all.
Buffy could very well be already in the clutches of Maggie Walsh.
“Do you believe this Dr. Angleman knows that Buffy is The Slayer?” asked Willow.
“While it’s possible,” said Giles. “I believe the odds are that he doesn’t based on what Xander has said that Mad Maggie’s modus operandi when being apprised of any new/unknown supernatural creature was to sic one or more of her Hunter/Capture Teams to immediately go out and retrieve it. She is not one to wait for something to just drop into her lap, though as with Xander’s case, she doesn’t seem to waste any opportunity that may come along that she can exploit.”
“So while she might not know that Buffy is The Slayer, you think there might be some other purpose behind the Bridge than just helping people who are paralyzed?” asked Willow.
It was Oz who answered, “Soldiers. Control.”
“Of course!” stated Giles. “Xander had been implanted with a Control Chip that overrode his own control of his body. He also said he thought she was experimenting on some of her own personnel as well. Injured and paralyzed soldiers who could be augmented by cybernetic limbs and other devices could end up being sent back to the battlefield even more obedient to orders than before. The Bridge isn’t just a device to help paralyzed people regain a more normal life, it’s a way to return them to duty. It fits in with the construct that Xander destroyed during his escape that he said looked to be an amalgam of human, demon and cybernetics. A Frankenstein’s Monster as he put it. Not even the dead seem to be sacrosanct to this ogre parading around as a human.”
“You think she’s an ogre?” asked Cordelia a bit puzzled.
Sighing a bit, Giles said, “No. Not really. It’s probably an insult to ogres for me to have made the comparison, but to dignify her existence by calling her human is to taint all of humanity, hence Xander’s name for her as ‘Mad Maggie’ seems more appropriate than any titles she may have otherwise. I definitely will refrain from calling her, or Angleman, ‘Doctor’ if I can help it from now on.”
“Rupert,” interjected Joshua. “You realize that if there is indeed an alternative project associated with the Bridge that has been attached to your Slayer, that they will attempt to control you as well as you are her guardian. I doubt very much that they will expect you to approve of whatever plans they have for her. Also, the control will not be mystical in nature but technological and possibly pharmaceutical.”
“You’re quite right, Joshua,” sighed Giles. “Though Mad Maggie could undoubtedly fake some records to explain Buffy’s and my disappearance from Sunnydale, since Sunnydale Memorial was involved in Buffy coming to their attention it would be easier for her to turn me into a puppet like she did to Xander. The fact that Angleman heard me tell Buffy that I was expecting visitors today should put them off doing anything overt while you are here in town as I expect them to want me to have as little contact with friends and acquaintances while they ‘adjust my thinking’ so as to not arouse suspicions. To that extent your arrival has been fortuitous.”
Taking a brief moment to gather his thoughts, Giles continued, “It seems all the players for the prophecy described by Master Kang’s dream and Cordelia’s drawings and visions are being pulled together so the foretold clash of Good and Evil will play out. With events moving along at this pace and the approach of the New Moon which seems to be a Deadline, no pun intended, of some sort, as alluded to in Master Kang’s dream and Cordelia’s drawing of Willow changing shortly before then, I would expect Xander, Angel, and Miss Calendar to show up either later tonight or tomorrow. Also as a heads up, Kendra is scheduled to arrive tomorrow as well. She will have to be briefed on the situation in order to keep her safe from the Initiative as well as gain her support for keeping Buffy’s condition secret from The Council.”
“Now, as I said it might be that Xander will be arriving in town tonight but will most likely not come here directly, but will instead contact me on one of the burner phones I just received. The Obscura on the phones will make sure that should the conversations be intercepted and recorded even those listening to recordings of the conversation will dismiss them as unimportant. Now, since you have all had very long, tiring journeys you should probably get some rest as there will be plenty of research to be done tomorrow concerning how the Pack needs to come together to help Buffy recover as well as identifying the Chained Souls,” continued Giles as he silently wondered if it somehow referred to Angel and Jenny since that was who he’d sent Xander to and would be the most likely ones to return with him to Sunnydale. “While I can put up Joshua and Cordelia, I’m afraid I don’t have any accommodations for you and Oz, Willow.”
“That’s okay,” the redhead replied. “We can crash at my house. My parents are out on another lecture tour according to their website.”
Giles retrieved one of the cell phones he’d been sent and gave it to Willow along with the numbers for the other phones he had. They promised to call each other if Xander called either of the phones.
After assuring that they were well armed and should have no problems getting into her house, Giles and the others bid them goodnight and agreed to get together the following afternoon after Giles’ morning visit to Buffy to check on her condition and to let her know that he had visitors to entertain for the next few days.
Cordelia was shown to Buffy’s room. She took a brief shower and went to bed where she clutched a stuffed pink pig that had been sitting on the bedspread before falling asleep.
Giles and Joshua stayed up a little while longer. Both to give Cordelia time to shower, as there was only one bathroom in the apartment, and to discuss what accommodations they would need to reside elsewhere once Buffy was cleared to leave the hospital. They also bandied about book titles that might contain information about rituals that dealt with the Spirit, Mind, Hand and Heart that would need to be researched. Giles also brought up the possibility of contacting The Devon Coven for assistance in at least research on the topic since it would be doubtful they could send a presence to Sunnydale on such short notice, though they might try if the danger was grave enough.
Traffic going north from L.A. was especially bad that night for some unexplained reason. As such, the normal two hour drive took almost four. Angel was glad that Jeremy, AKA Xander, slept most of the way and didn’t start the childish asking of ‘Are we there yet?’ like he half expected him to do on the long drive.
He had expected Jenny to sleep as she’d been spending a lot of energy lately getting ready for this return to Sunnydale. Normally she didn’t do much casting as part of their work in L.A. and the amount she’d done so far was more than almost all that she’d done in total before Jeremy/Xander’s arrival.
\\Man it’s going to be tough remembering to call him that,// mused the brooding master vampire.
When he finally spotted the exit for Sunnydale, he gently woke Jenny, who was sitting in the front seat with him. He would have preferred Jeremy/Xander be there as having him at his back was unsettling, especially with his new upgrades. However, Jeremy/Xander had nixed that idea as he said he wanted to stretch out in the back, out of sight just to be on the safe side in the event anyone of Walsh’s people caught a glimpse of him through the window. Angel had decided not to push it once he caught sight of Jenny’s face that warned of bad things should he start a conflict with the young man.
“What was the address of that place Xander said was abandoned?” he quietly asked her.
“1701 Crawford Street,” came the reply from the back seat. “It’s for sale but no one has even looked at in years. There’s no sign that any ‘unauthorized squatters’ have been in the place either, so I guess the owner is still living which pretty much guarantees he no longer lives in Sunnydale. Jesse and I used to play Laser Tag in the backyard. It has power and water as the realty agency has to keep it cleaned and the grounds looking nice. That usually takes place on the first weekend of the month. We’ll have to find somewhere else to stay on those days. And you’re supposed to call me Jeremy.”
Angel tried not to react to discovering that Jeremy/Xander had either been awake without him knowing or that his quiet inquiry to Jenny had woken him. Neither option calmed his qualms about having him behind him.
He also wasn’t reconciled that it was Xander that put Buffy in the hospital and that she was on a respirator. While he had little doubt that Giles would do his best to conceal her condition from The Council for as long as he could, Angel was worried that even with Slayer healing she wouldn’t be up and around, let alone back to slaying, before they found out and did something permanent about the situation. He was already making plans to spirit her away if the current situation in Sunnydale looked too dangerous for her to stay there with her injury as far as dealing with this Walsh person and her government flunkies. If he even got a whiff that The Council knew of her condition, he’d take her, and Jenny of course, someplace she could still receive treatment but far enough out of the way that they’d never find them. Jeremy/Xander and Giles would have to fend for themselves against the crazy woman. It’s not like she could trigger an apocalypse with what she was doing after all.
“While Giles might have gotten the phones by now, we should wait till tomorrow before trying to call him on the one I marked as primary, it is a bit late after all,” said Jenny. “Plus he’s probably been getting very little sleep worrying about Buffy and needs his rest. Besides we need to get settled in before we meet up to make plans on what to do about this government group.”
She was also nervous about meeting up with Rupert again and wanted to put it off for just a bit longer. Keeping him in the dark about what was going on between Angel and her was going to be hard, especially since they would have to do their ritual the following day since it was seven days since they’d last done it. They might be able to put it off for a day or two but it would be a very uncomfortable time for both of them if they did.