Fabiola finally finished packing for home. She had packed both her own luggage and Garcia's bags. Garcia was reluctant to leave thus The Mini-Maid was applying a little subtle pressure. By making all the arrangements herself, making sure to pick methods of transportation that would require their speedy departure; she was hoping that Garcia would quietly surrender to momentum. She looked up to see Young Lovelace standing on the balcony of their hotel suite. He had planted himself there since their return following the battle at the warehouse.
His sad eyes surveyed the pool that shimmered below and that only Fabiola had made sparing use of since their arrival. Normally Garcia was independent making use of his maids as little as possible. Now he bleakly searched for inspiration in the pool waters below while letting Fabiola do all the work.
Sitting in the living room area was Rock and Rupert Giles the Head of the Watchers Organization. Fidgeting tirelessly between them was a young Slayer whose name Fabiola was told was Shunsi. She was hanging close to Rock and often looked at him with an adoring expression on her face. Rock for his part appeared a little uncomfortable with her attention. The Head Watcher had provided them with all the information Xander Harris had revealed about the slaving operation and its victims including the young ladies currently with the Grey Foxes. He had also provided records showing what Xander had been up to and where he had been going. While Xander had kept the Watcher's Council (which seemed to consist of Giles himself) in the dark about the extent of his activities, there was enough independent evidence including flight records and hotel receipts that Garcia was forced to admit that Xander was no assassin, just a luckless bystander.
Harris had still been in Roanapur when the conspirators who had plotted Diego Lovelace's death had begun their foul work. By the time he had arrived in Caracas to begin his search for Manuela and Maria, the plan to kill Lovelace was already well underway.
Fabiola stopped in front of the British gentleman and bowed slightly. "Thank you for your assistance. I'm sure Master Garcia does as well. I should also like that you would express our apologies to Mr. Harris. I know he would have preferred not to have become involved in the Head Housemaid's vendetta but his attempts to both absolve you of guilt and assist Mistress Roberta..."
"You and your young master have my profound condolences.” Giles said politely.
"Tell me Mister Giles,” Garcia asked from the balcony, "Was it very scary, the first time you confronted the truth of the things that you deal with." He spoke hesitantly and seemed anxious.
Giles could tell the boy was having a hard time adjusting to the reality of vampires and by extension the other things that The Head Watcher had long ago begun to take for granted. Giles saw no need to hammer the harsh reality of the situation home to the boy. Let him make the transition in his own time.
"Terrifying," Giles said to the bright eyed child, "...and make no mistake Garcia it still does frighten me the things which lurk in the shadows but I can assure you that I've seen ample proof that the world of men can produce their own fair share of darkness."
''I thought when I confronted the men who killed my father they would be vicious killers who had no mercy or remorse. Instead they are people not so different from those I have known and admired my whole life." Garcia turned from his ceaseless vigil on the balcony. "That man Claxton, he is a man with honour. The kind of man my father believed all soldiers should be like."
"The life of a soldier can be a hard one Master Garcia; my advice is to return home and mourn your father. Hope for the best, his dream of a free and empowered people need not die. I have little doubt that in time the people could follow you as they did your father."
"My Father was a man who had no fear. Not of the future or his choices and certainly not of the consequences of those choices. That is hard for me to understand."
"What do you mean Young Master?" Fabiola asked wringing her hands.
"Today I have seen a side of Roberta that I…" Garcia shuddered recalling Roberta's savagery in the warehouse, "...when she first displayed the abilities and talents of The Bloodhound I was frightened but I think what frightens me now is not that she kills or is so good at it ...it is that my father must have known what she was and yet took her into our home; placed her in a position of trust."
"I'm sure your father meant well.' Giles replied,
"After my first adventure in this city after I had found out about Roberta, I asked my father something. What is the difference between a warrior and a killer? He told me that a warrior kills because they have to. A killer does so because they wish to. Tell me, do you understand what he meant?"
Giles smiled, "Your Father was trying to explain a difficult concept. A Slayer brings death. That is her calling and even in the name of that calling. But the primary responsibility is protection of the innocent. Or at least that is what I have tried to instil in The Slayers I train. A slayer should kill because she has to, to defend herself or those she is protecting. When she kills for convenience or worse for pleasure then she comes very close to being as dangerous as those she hunts."
"In the warehouse I saw things, I saw Roberta do things; Terrible things. But if I am to judge her I must do so based on the whole of what I saw not just the bad. Roberta is a good person my father thought so and I have seen ample proof of it."
"Your maid does have some noble traits; my understanding is that Xander owes his life to them. But I’m not entirely sure you can still call what she is doing protection anymore."
Garcia turned to Fabiola, "You saw what I did in there. What do you think it was about? Her coming here, I mean? Was it about justice -- or something more?"
Fabiola continued to wring her hands. She too was anxious with the memory of Roberta's killing ground. "I think...I think Mistress Head maid is pursuing something important to her. I think she might be trying to atone for the things she has done as the Bloodhound."
"What do you mean?" Giles asked,
"Even in the barrio I grew up in, you heard stories about The Bloodhound. I am still amazed that I work side by side with ...someone like her. I think the things she did, they weigh on her and she wants forgiveness but she cannot seek that forgiveness from her victims so all that she can do to atone is protecting life instead of taking it."
Garcia nodded in agreement, "I have come to the same conclusion. What I find myself wondering now though is...Am I a worthy symbol of her redemption?"
"How can you say that, Master Garcia?" Fabiola said anxiously,
"Hear me out Fabiola; you placed yourself in harm's way to protect me when I came here. You have killed in my defence and in your own, something that I know disturbs you, as well it should. Roberta has come to Roanapur twice now. Both times she was here in my defence. Today I saw her beat a man to death and that was scary but what was more scary was that man, had he the opportunity, would have harmed me and thought nothing of the act."
Giles nodded thoughtfully, "You think your maid seeks redemption and uses the only tools at her disposal, namely her combat skills to achieve it."
"I have seen Mister Okajima put himself in danger because of what he believes in and your Mister Harris does the same for those girls of yours and apparently does such things regularly. Everyone fearlessly confront all that oppose them in service of their principles. Everyone that is, except for me."
"You cannot say such things Master Garcia nobody expects you to put yourself in danger for..."
"...And that is the problem," Garcia cut her off, "I talk about how much you and Roberta are family and how much I care about you all but in the end, where am I? In this stinking hotel, staring at a pool I've never swam in while you and Roberta fight for and maybe die in my name."
Suddenly the boy turned on his heel and broke in a dead run toward the balcony. Fabiola screamed as the boy vaulted the railing and went sailing over the edge. Giles and Rock joined the frantic maid on the balcony when they saw the boy arc out over the space and plummet to the surface and cutting it with surgical precision.
The adults and Maid watched for a few anxious seconds before Garcia broke the surface of the water laughing madly. As soon as she was sure the boy survived; Fabiola hopped over the railing herself. The Girl nimbly claimed down the three floors to the poolside. Giles chose the saner route of racing down the hallway with Rock and Shunsi on his heels. The men arrived moments later to find that Garcia had managed to grab his maid and drag her into the pool with him. Fabiola was sputtering and swearing to Garcia’s amused delight.
Garcia seemed to relax finally leaning back in the water and floating casually. "Fabiola, I want you to cancel your arrangements. I plan on staying and seeing this through to the end. Roberta is family and I will not leave her behind, not when she needs us."
"Are you sure Master, She might not be able to come back she might be lost to us forever."
"Then I will still stand by her and help her. I came to this island to find my Roberta and bring her home. The thing I was forgetting is that Roberta loved my father as much as I did. When he died, Roberta was just as devastated by that loss as I was. Roberta needs us just as much, if not more, and then we need her."
Treading water to the side of the pool, Garcia climbed from the water followed by a silent Fabiola who finally spoke while looking at him speculatively. "I was about to give up on you. You seemed too soft, too innocent. I thought that this would destroy you and I have already lost Master Diego to this tragedy. I couldn't stand the thought of sitting idly while you fell into darkness..."
"More than ever I think like Master Diego you believe you can save her and maybe that might be the thing that brings her back to us." Fabiola hugged Garcia fiercely "Wherever this leads Young Master I will follow. I won't abandon you or the Head maid to this disgraceful city."
"So we are agreed, we will save her no matter what?" Garcia said looking into her eyes.
Fabiola shuddered at the weight of her choice. And that it felt so right to follow this young boy in his insanity. “We will save her and bring her home if we can."
Giles sighed with relief, "Well if that’s sorted out can we maybe avoid doing any more acrobatics over the balcony? Honestly, had you broken your neck on that dive I can't say your Roberta wouldn't be justified in coming after us all again?"
They began the walk back to the hotel room. "Mister Giles, when this is over I’m sure Roberta will want to find some way of apologizing for jumping to conclusions about your people."
"Garcia I have been a watcher for many years now and I can say with accuracy that there is good and bad in everyone, some more than others. As you yourself said earlier you have to look at the sum of their actions and judge them."
Fabiola raced ahead to open the door to the suite. Instead of waiting for them she disappeared inside followed shortly afterward by a dull thud from the room.
Shunsi stopped. She seemed anxious and a little suspicious of something. Rock stopped and asked her what was bothering her. She seemed unable to speak of her upset but was determined to hold up Rock. Garcia and Giles reached the suite ahead of him.
"Mr. Giles I need a minute something is bothering Shunsi."
Giles was paused at the door. "I suspect I know what is bothering her but I'll need you to come along anyway." He said grimly
Rock pulled the resistant Slayer up the hallway and paused at the door.
Inside Rock saw that Fabiola was on the floor of the suite she had obviously been attacked suddenly and then hurled to the floor by a woman holding her throat in one fist while covering Giles and Garcia with the gun held in the other. Her implied threat was clear. The young Maid cried out before The Woman tightened her hand and choked off her words. The intruder was Manuela. She was still dressed in the army fatigues that the Grey Foxes had provided her but she was clearly following a new more sinister agenda.
A large built Chinese man came from the other room. He was dressed in a military uniform. He was also armed but seemed comfortable with not displaying his weapon aggressively.
"Thank you Manuela, you've done very well." He smiled indulgently and squeezed her shoulder, "Mister Giles, Mister Okajima My name is Sheu Yan. My understanding is that you saw fit recently to interfere in one of my business ventures in the area and I would like to discuss the matter. It would be to the young miss' benefit if we could avoid any -- unpleasantness."