“Pizza man!” Xander shouted, as he shut the door behind him. “Has arrived.”
“Finally,” Faith exasperated as she walked over to him and took the boxes. “I’m starvin’.”
“Your welcome,” he said to her retreating back.
Setting down the three boxes on the living room table, she immediately pulled a lid open and dug in.
“Oh, yay! Pizza!” Willow announced.
“Pizza?” Wesley asked, lifting his head up from a book and looking toward the boxes. “Oh, pizza.” Tossing the book aside, he reached for a slice to stop his rumbling stomach.
“So, what’s it going to be tonight?” Tara asked as she lifted the pepperoni to her mouth.
“I don’t really care,” Anya shrugged before retreating back to the couch with her pizza slice. “But no more Apocalypse Now,” she pointed to Xander.
“Come on. It’s a classic.”
“Hey, I’m all for violence,” Faith said, “but you gotta put that movie into retirement Xand.”
“No!” The room shouted, and Xander pouted.
“I have an idea,” Willow suggested. “What about–phoenix?”
“Phoenix?” Wesley asked in confusion.
“What’s that? Some sort of documentary?” Anya questioned.
“No. Phoenix,” she answered and pointed toward the window.
All six pairs of eyes turned to the large glass pane. Confusion and surprise marring their faces as a phoenix flew toward them.
“Xander open the window,” Willow ordered.
No sooner had he pushed the glass open, that the phoenix flew into the living room. Its gold and silver wings swooping down as it landed on the table.
“Dumbledore?” he asked.
“No, Fawkes h-has red and gold feathers,” Tara answered.
“Who else do we know that has a phoenix?” Anya questioned.
“Nobody,” Wesley responded, as he carefully walked toward the bird and took the letters that were tied around its leg.
The moment the twine slipped away the phoenix rose up and in a cloud of smoke left their presence.
“That was . . . strangely un-strange,” Xander commented.
“There seems to be a letter here for all of us,” Wesley told them, as he began to pass them out.
“Is anyone else smelling the fishy?” Faith said.
“When do ever not have the fishy?” said Xander.
They all tore apart the plain, golden seal and pulled out a small rectangular card. Will activate tomorrow at ten a.m.
“That’s it? What does that mean?” The ever clueless Xander asked.
“It’s a portkey,” Tara responded.
“A portkey to where exactly?” Faith wondered.
Wesley turned the card over and noticed a familiar design on the other side. “It doesn’t say, but there’s a triquetra on the back.”
“A what?” she asked.
A phone rang off in the distance, and Willow left to answer it as Wesley went into the explanation.
“It’s a symbol used in many different cultures, and they each have their own interpretation of what the symbol means to them. But in most cases the triquetra is used as a symbol for unity.”
“Okay, but it still doesn’t--”
“We have to go,” Willow interrupted as she barged in.
“That was fast,” Anya remarked.
“What’s wrong?” Xander asked.
“That was Harry. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who got a visit from the funny phoenix tonight,” she answered as she went over to the fireplace and pulled down a small jar.
“Okay this is starting to get a little weird,” he commented.
“I think weird went out the window when we let the bird in,” said Faith as she walked over to the redhead. “Harry’s place?”
“Yeah,” Willow nodded.
“I hate flooing,” Anya grumbled. “It always gets my clothes all sooty.”
“So who goes first?” Tara questioned.
“Guess I will,” Faith volunteered.
Grabbing a handful of floo powder Faith tossed it into the fire and waited for the flames to turn green. Taking a deep breath, she stepped in, still a little wary of this method of travel. She wasn’t as accustomed to it as Willow, Tara and Xander were.
“Number Twelve Grimmauld Place,” she said clearly, and vanished.
“All right who’s next?” Willow asked.
Minutes later the entire group was now in the sitting room at Grimmauld Place. Covered in soot from head to foot.
“Hey guys,” Willow greeted, as she was the last one to arrive.
“Hi Willow,” Ginny smiled.
“Hi Willow,” Harry said. “Why don’t you guys sit down.” He offered to the still standing arrivals.
They spread themselves out. Willow and Tara sitting next to Ginny and Neville. Faith and Wesley, next to Draco, Ron and Hermione. Xander and Anya finding seats next to Oz. While Harry remained standing in the room.
“Hey man,” Xander greeted next to him. “How’s the creature business?”
“Hard,” Oz replied. “But oddly entertaining.”
“Where’s Alice?” Tara asked Ginny.
“With my mum. This seemed kind of urgent, but she didn’t seem to mind,” she answered. “Which is strange considering its one a.m.”
“All right. We all know why we’re here,” Harry spoke up, garnering their attention. “It seems that each of us got visited by a phoenix no one recognized, and received a card that doesn’t make any sense. All we know is that tomorrow, or for some of us today, the card is going to activate at six p.m.”
“Ten,” Willow interrupted. “Ours said ten a.m.”
“Which is the equivalent to six p.m. London time,” Draco answered her tiredly.
“Right,” Harry nodded. “The thing is, we don’t know where it came from, who sent it and where its going to lead us.”
“You don’t think that maybe . . . ” Ginny said. “That maybe it came from Buffy?”
The moment she said the name it was like ice cold water had rained down on them. Backs stiffened, people shifted, and uncomfortable silence covered the room.
“I, uh . . . ” Harry cleared his throat. “I don’t think so.”
“Why not?” she asked, not giving up on the possibility.
“It doesn’t look like her writing, Gin,” Neville said delicately. “And she would’ve told us if it was her. Signed her name on the card or something.”
“Besides, I don’t think Buffy owns a phoenix. Especially a gold and silver one, those are very rare to come by,” Hermione added.
“It’s been over a year,” Draco said. “For all we know she could have an entire flock.”
The room grew quiet once more. The sullen tone in Draco’s voice making them uncomfortable again.
“So . . . what are we gonna do?” Faith broke through.
“We’re not sure,” Ron answered. “For all we know this could be a trap.”
“A trap for what?” Xander asked. “Last I heard all the Death Eaters had been locked away.”
“They have,” Harry said. “But that doesn’t mean we’ve rid the world of evil. Sunnydale still has its usual demons who try to take over the world. And we still have the occasional wizard who thinks he’s the next Voldemort.”
“In other words, this could be a trap,” Anya concluded.
“Considering we don’t really know all that much about it, it could very well be,” Wesley said. “Someone may be trying to get us out of the way.”
“Out of the way for what?” Xander asked. “And why us?”
“Cause you guys are the stuff of legends,” a voice spoke.
The witches and wizards whipped out their wands, Faith grabbed the knife she always kept on her, and Willow and Tara readied themselves incase they were needed.
“Who are you?” Harry demanded, his wand pointed squarely at the man who stood at the doorway.
He was dressed in a brown suit, with a neon green shirt peaking through the opened coat, and a black bowler hat on his head.
“Names Whistler,” he said walking into the room and moved his eyes around like he was looking for something. “You got any scotch?”
“How’d you get in here?”
“Walked in through the front door.”
“That’s not possible,” Hermione said. The house may no longer be under the Fidelius Charm, but it was locked by magical means, which still made it somewhat un-penetrable for those who wished to trespass.
“You’d be surprised how many un-possible’s I can make possible.”
“That doesn’t really help your case here buddy,” Xander said.
“What do you want?” Ron demanded.
“Lighter fluid, but this seems to be an alcohol free zone.” He finally stopped his search, disappointedly, and stuffed his hands into his pockets.
“Okay pal, you’re about ten seconds away from becoming fish food, so I suggest you give us a good reason why we shouldn’t chop you up into little liver pieces,” Faith threatened.
“What is it with you slayers and imagery? The blonde one with the ribcage and now--”
“The blonde one?” Willow asked in surprised. “You know Buffy?”
A tiny spark of hope lighted into each one of them, and their suspicion over Whistler grew even more.
“Yeah I know her,” he shrugged off. “She’s a good kid.”
“Do you know where she is?” Neville asked.
“I might, but this isn’t about her,” he said. “This is about you guys.”
“Where is she?” Draco asked.
“You know all this wand pointing and eye glaring ain’t really as threatening as you might think,” Whistler said unafraid.
“That’s because we haven’t gotten a chance to do anything yet,” Draco smirked. “But I’d love to give you a demonstration.”
“Draco,” Harry warned for him to calm down.
“You can swish and flick as much as your heart’s content but all that’ll do is give you a light show.”
“What are you?” Tara asked, gaining the confused attention of the people around her. “H-he’s not human.”
“Score one for the Wicca. Must be the aura thing, huh? I should really get that fixed,” he mumbled more to himself, then spoke clearly to the group. “I’m a demon . . . technically. I mean, I’m not a bad guy. Not all demons are dedicated to the destruction of life.”
“You’re one of the good guys?”asked Oz.
“I’m not really anything. I pretty much live in the grey area.”
“So you’re what? An immortal demon sent down to even the score between good and evil?” Faith said.
“You know you slayers are much smarter than you lead people to believe,” he smiled.
“Are we done making with the pleasantries yet? Cause good or not, he’s still a demon who got past some heavy mojo,” Xander spoke.
“He’s right,” Harry voiced. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to make sure you don’t waste those portkeys of yours.”
“You were the one who sent them?” Wesley asked.
“Me? No,” he shook his head. “Let’s just say I sorta work for the people who did.”
“Which are?” Hermione questioned him.
“Sorry, but I can’t give you the answers to your questions. All I can say is that you’re holding a major opportunity in your hands. And I wouldn’t waste it if I were you. When those portkeys go off, I suggest going along with them. This ain’t little league anymore kids. You gotta step up to the big boys if you really wanna change the world. Which is what you guys are all about right?”
Their wands were still stretched out, and the knife was still in her grasp, but the threat had disappeared. They were all completely and thoroughly confused by the little short man in the bowler hat.
“Why should we trust you?” Ron asked him.
“Guess you really don’t have a reason to,” Whistler brushed off. “But what’s life without a little mystery.”
Whistler looked around the room again hoping against hope that he would find a bottle of amber somewhere, because he could really use a drink right about now.
“You were chosen for this. That’s gotta mean something right,” he added.
“It would be, if we knew what we were chosen for,” Draco said.
“Gotta point there,” Whistler nodded to him. “But trust me when I say you’ll be workin’ for the good guys. They’ve put alotta stock in you. And it wouldn’t do too good to disappointment ‘em. Not when they fought so hard to bring you on.”
As confused as they were, curiosity seemed to have taken the forefront. The cards they received almost burning a hole through their pockets.
“So whatta say?” he asked. “Willing to chance it?”
“We don’t know anything about the sender, or where they’ll be sending us to. It’s not exactly a vote of confidence,” Harry replied.
“Yeah, but most of life’s greatest opportunities come from surprises. ‘Sides it’s not like you’ll be going alone. There’s about what? Thirteen of ya. You’ll be fine, if what they say about you is true.”
What was that supposed to mean? What had he heard? This whole night as becoming way too strange.
“Well it’s been fun kids, but I gotta run,” Whistler shortly waved. “Don’t worry I’ll just see myself out, but one more thing before I go. I suggest meeting that appointment. I mean, what’s the harm in just easing your curiosity. Never know what you might be missin’.”
And with that Whistler turned around and left. The sound of a door closing behind him.
They lowered their weapons. And a minute later they lowered themselves into their seats.
“Well that was pointless,” Anya grumbled.
“So what are we gonna do?” Ginny asked the room.
“We still don’t know if we can trust him,” Hermione said.
“But he did know Buffy,” Willow voiced.
“We don’t know that for sure,” Wesley responded. “He might’ve been lying.”
“Said that so we could trust him,” Ron imputed.
“I say we go,” Oz spoke.
The entire room turned to him.
“Why?” Harry asked.
“We got nothing to lose.”
“Except our lives,” Anya told him.
“Not in numbers,” said Oz. “If we leave together, we’ll arrive together.”
“We’ll have strength in numbers,” Hermione continued. “Oz has a point. If we meet before the portkey is set to go off, we will arrive as one group to wherever it is it supposed to take us.”
“Unless it takes us to different places,” Xander spoke up.
“There are a lot of what if’s here. No matter what plan of action we take, it’s still a risk,” Faith said.
“Question is now, do we take it?” Willow asked.
“I say we vote,” Hermione suggested.
“There’s no need to,” Draco stated. “As risky as this is, we’re all going to end up going anyway.”
“What makes you so sure?” she asked.
“He’s right,” Neville agreed. “We can argue about it, but it won’t do much of anything. I mean, when was the last time we stopped doing something because it was too risky.”
There were a few un-committal nods as they remembered a few of those occasions.
“So that’s majority then,” Harry concluded, and no one objected. “Tomorrow we’ll meet here fifteen minutes before the scheduled time.”
“Weapons?” Faith asked.
“No, well . . . maybe just a few concealed ones. Nothing that will draw attention.”
The Scoobies rose up from their seats and headed back toward the fireplace.
“Oh, and by the way guys,” Faith began as she turned toward the group they were leaving. “Nice jammies.”
They smiled sheepishly as they looked down at their sleep wear. Mismatched pants and shirts underneath their robes.
“Well it is nearing two a.m. here,” Oz said. The only one of the group who matched, because black and black had a tendency to go together.
One by one the Sunnydale crew left. Then Draco, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville apparated to their homes. The last one was Oz who left through the front door. Seeing as Remus’s house was just down the block.
Harry was alone. It wouldn’t be the first time. He was always alone in this very large house he shared no one with. Kreature was working at Hogwarts and Mrs. Blacks’s portrait had been removed by Fred and George and a little potion they created that could remove a Sticking Charm. Which made them millions, and cost almost as much.
He yawned tiredly from interrupted sleep, and banished all lonely thoughts away as he went upstairs. Wondering if they had completely lost their minds, his last thought before he finally fell back to sleep.
Everyone was there. Wands in their pockets. Weapons strategically hidden. All of them waiting with their cards in hand.
“Feels like we’re going to the death chair or something,” Faith commented.
“We might be,” Xander sighed.
“Do you think we’re dressed appropriately?” Anya asked, looking at everyone in their casual attire.
“For an ambush,” Draco said. “I think we’re dressed just fine.”
But as soon as Anya said it, they began to wonder if maybe they had been. Because technically, you never did know.
“We have thirty seconds,” Tara announced looking at her watch.
“See you guys on the other side,” Oz spoke.
They gave each other one more encouraging look and then they felt it. The pulling behind their navel. The world swirling around them. And then they felt the solid ground.
Years of traveling by portkey gave them the necessary balance to not land in a heap. Even the Scoobies had gotten the hang of it.
“Where are we?” Ron asked.
Everyone was looking every which way. This was definitely not what they had been expecting.
“Well it seems that we’ve arrived in some sort of . . . lobby,” Wesley answered.
They were standing in a wide-open space with a generous amount of lighting. Mahogany, Cherry and Alder wood decorating every surface. Wide spaced windows and a large number of doors, along the walls. A slim staircase leading to the next floor off to the side.
“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” Willow said, as she looked around.
“I don’t think we’re in the same continent anymore,” Xander commented.
There were a few people milling around. Holding manila folders and wearing business attire. None of them paying the newcomers any attention.
“I think we’re undressed,” Ginny muttered.
“I knew we would be,” Anya stated.
“Willow! Xander!” someone called out. All them of turned sharply toward a desk where a short man with black hair and a baby face, was just moving around from behind it and walking toward them.
“Jonathan?” Willow asked.
“What are you doing here?” Xander asked. “What’s going on?”
Jonathan walked up to the group. A friendly and polite smile on his face.
“You guys are right on time,” he said, ignoring the questions. “My names Jonathan Levinson for all of you who don’t know. Which seems to be the majority. If you’ll follow me please.”
He pivoted around and walked back to where he came from. Everyone taken slightly aback at his crisp but friendly behavior, but following him nonetheless.
Jonathan arrived at a set of double doors a few feet from his desk. Grabbing both handles he pushed them open and lead them inside.
The office was huge.
A large mahogany desk sat to their right, with a comfortable looking leather chair tucked right in. The wall behind it a beautiful mural of a red and golden phoenix soaring through a sunset sky. Large spaced windows stretching from wall to wall, before them. The room covered in gorgeous reds and dark rich woods. It was . . . wow.
“If you’ll take a seat,” he indicated. “It won’t be that long.”
He smiled one last time and then he was gone.
The room was littered with chairs. Which they assumed was for their benefit. Unless the office doubled as a movie theater.
Giving each other unsure, but resigning looks, they did as they were told. They made themselves comfortable and glanced around the room as they waited.
There was a ding and everyone turned to their right. The sound of doors sliding open reached their ears and they edged forward in their seats.
Their eyes wide and unbelieving as they watched someone emerge.
And there she was. Dressed to the nines. Her black pumps silent as she walked along the taupe carpet. Her crisp white blouse tucked into her black pinstriped knee length pencil skirt. Her long hair flowing down in waves. She walked until she stood before them. A bright and brilliant smile on her face.
“Hey guys,” Buffy greeted brightly. “Welcome to the Allegiance.”
Note: Okay, I’ve been getting some mixed reviews so I’m still a little iffy about the sequel, but before I decided if I should pull the plug I’m going to post a few more chapters to see if people may change their minds. And a big thanks to all those who have so far approved, it really means a lot! Thanks for the reviews :)