Murder At the Watcher’s CouncilRating:
15, based solely on Faith’s language.Setting:
After Buffy season seven.Characters:
Faith, GilesWord count:
Not mine. None of ‘em. All the Buffyverse characters belong to Joss. Dammit.Summary:
Giles and Lehane – together they solve crimes. Could this be the dawning of a new detective partnership?Author's Notes:
Originally written for Vesica’s birthday.
~ + ~
Faith trudged up the long driveway towards the large house in front of her. God, she hated this country at times.
Stupid fucking British taxi drivers. No, cabbies, she savagely corrected herself. Must blend in with all the other jolly nice sorts over here, pip pip old chap and all. Dammit! Why did she have to be the only Senior Scoobie in England when Giles wanted help?
And the long walk up this sodden and leaf filled drive was not helping her temper. Stupid cabbie could have driven her up to the damn front door at least.
She stomped round a corner, and looked up through the trees at the house in front of her. A large three storey redbrick house, almost imposing as it stared down at her. Just like all those classic English mysteries that showed up on PBS every now and then. Nice place for the New Watcher’s Council. Quiet, secluded and not many neighbours around.
Even better place for a murder.
~ + ~
Once inside the house, she’d been greeted quickly by Jenny Hobson, the local Slayer for these parts. She and another couple of Slayers from nearby had gotten there as soon as was possible, and done everything they were supposed to do. Faith greeted her vaguely and asked for Giles. She was ushered directly to a ground floor room where Giles was intently studying a bundle of papers in his hand. Springing up from where he was leaning against a desk, he approached her smiling happily.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Faith.” His face darkened somewhat, “Though not necessarily under the best circumstances. I am
sorry to drag you away from your duties.”
“Eh…” Faith shrugged, momentarily embarrassed. “Xander’s a big Watcher now, all grown up and shit. He’ll do fine on his own for a while.”
Giles studied her carefully over the edge of his glasses. “I confess to having had some doubts regarding your pairing with Xander, but I must admit that both of you are good for the other. You two are definitely one of our top field teams now.”
Faith looked away, uncomfortable. “S’no big deal, G,” she mumbled, “Just nice to be back on good terms with him and all. He stops me screwing up too bad.”
Giles continued regarding her. “I, at least, wanted to thank you for bringing back the old Xander we knew.” A small smile crossed his face. “I imagine dealing with all you two have experienced recently is enough to make anyone forget minor disagreements from a while back.”
Faith attempted a weak grin. Minor? Shit, after all she and the Scoobs had been through, minor was not quite the term she’d have ever used. Fuck! That was just a piece of grit in her eye – nothing else.
Rubbing her eye quickly, she turned away for the moment and dumped her bag on the floor by the desk. Shrugging off her jacket, she took the opportunity to really look around the room. It seemed just like any other sort of office in these sort of lodge type things – filing cabinets, large freshly cleaned whiteboard, desk and a phone.
“So, what’s the story, G? All I know is murder and I should get myself down here presto.”
Giles stood a little straighter, and pushed his glasses up with one hand. Obviously play time was over. The time for serious business was here.
“This lodge is owned and run by the New Watcher’s Council,” he explained. “This is where we are trying to not repeat the mistakes made by the previous Council, and instead create new trained Watchers to assist with all the new Slayers.”
Faith nodded. That much she’d guessed – new Watchers were urgently needed out there. No matter how much she and the other Sunnydale survivors rushed round the world, there was never enough of them to help everyone.
Giles’s voice softened slightly. “Unfortunately, there has been a death here. A murder. And we need to have this matter resolved as soon as possible.”
Faith smiled. Not a nice smile. “And that’s why I’m here, isn’t it? Good Cop, Bad Cop?”
Giles’s answering smile matched hers. “I was hoping for Bad Cop, Very Bad Cop myself,” he said mildly, but with that ring of unyielding steel in it that she always associated with big trouble. Oh yeah, someone was in trouble.
“I think we understand our respective roles,” Giles said, and turned back to the pile of papers on the desk. “Now let’s concentrate shall we? You did study the layout of the house on your way in I presume?”
Faith nodded. “Five by five, G.”
Giles simply rolled his eyes. “Yes, that much certainly is true, if you include both the attics and the cellar partitions. Now, if you’d pay attention to the map, you’ll see that it works like this.”
Giles drew a large five by five grid on the whiteboard on the wall beside them, and wrote Attics, Bedrooms, Research rooms, Normal rooms
down the left hand side. “These are the five levels of the house all told.”
He rummaged through the few papers there on the desk. “The watchers undergoing training were all in their bedrooms at the time. Those would be Simone Cavilo, Stephen Post, Roger Duncan, Sarah Hardcastle and um… Sinclair Mayweather the third.”
“You’re shitting me, G,” snorted Faith disbelievingly, “Ain’t no-one gonna stick with a name like that if they have to - let alone pass that sucker on!”
Giles sighed. “I would be rather remiss if I were not to point out that Sinclair is, in fact, American. Regardless, at the time of the murder, they were all apparently in their bedrooms, alone. Unfortunately, we appear to be missing the precise list of who was in which room.”
“Move it on a touch, willya,” said Faith impatiently, almost prowling around the room.
Giles simply rolled his eyes in a manner that he had never been accustomed to before Sunnydale, and carried on. “The regular staff for this little getaway were all engaged cleaning up after a long day here, on the ground floor.” He gestured towards the fourth level of his diagram, labelled Normal rooms
Faith studied the board intently, a predatory look gleaming in her face. “Normal rooms?” she inquired absently.
“The kitchen, dining room, entrance hall, this room, etc,” remarked Giles, vaguely amused by watching Faith zero in. “Again, all of them were out of sight of the others and in a separate room by themselves.”
“Huh,” grunted Faith. “And those would be…?”
Giles picked out another sheet of paper from the thin stack beside him. “Those would be Edward Fletcher the general manager, Pauline Miller the cook, Dan Walker the gardener, Sylvia Wilde the librarian and Eric Black the combat trainer.”
“Okay,” Faith nodded, eyes still intent on the board, “So, one of those ten killed… wait, who did you say had died again?”
Giles had the grace to look embarrassed. “Ah…” he managed to say under Faith’s incredulous stare. “Well, it’s not like we can… I mean… we were in a hurry. We’re in a particularly delicate spot with the British government here, and any dead body turning up here could seriously complicate matters.”
Faith closed her eyes, and wished for a pair of glasses to fiddle with herself. Do not swear at the Watcher. Do NOT
swear at the Watcher.
“For fuck’s sake, Giles!!” she swore loudly. “Are you telling me that Jenny and her clean up crew of incredibly young Slayers have already disposed of the body??! Without happening to mention who it was to you?”
“Or… wait!” she said, flinging her head back in annoyance. “Don’t tell me… they didn’t happen to mention to you how they died either.”
Much to his own minor annoyance, Giles had no answer to that. “When Jenny got here after responding to their panicked call, apart from following standard procedure,” he said changing the subject and ignoring Faith’s snort, “They also searched the house quickly.”
“And?” enquired Faith.
They found a few things of interest in the attics, and a number of various implements in the storage areas of the cellar compartments that looked like they’d been moved recently,” observed Giles. “I have their hastily written reports here as well.”
He moved up and studied the board as intently as Faith. “Given that the middle floor is composed of the research rooms going through all the papers recovered from the remains of the London headquarters, I would assume that something recently uncovered there would provide the motive. Otherwise, why wait until the end of this six month long course?”
Faith grimaced. “Good point, there G, though I’d hate to go through all that dusty crap by myself.”
Giles turned and smiled at her. “Actually, that’s the other thing I’ve got Jenny and her girls going through. They already found that a few things that had been catalogued have gone missing from their respective collections.”
There was a knock on the door. Jenny Hobson stuck her head round the door, and offered Giles another sheet of paper. “That’s all we’ve found missing, Mr Giles,” she said in a respectful manner. “If you’ll excuse me, everyone here is getting a bit ratty about being kept in their rooms, so me and the girls will just go and calm everything down a bit.”
Jenny went to withdraw, but Faith called her back. “Yes, Ms Lehane?” Jenny asked in an even more deferential manner than she’d spoken to Giles with.
Faith’s eyes narrowed. “Which room was the body found in?” she asked mildly after a moment, studying the twitchy younger Slayer before her.
“Second bedroom on the left,” promptly answered Jenny, and disappeared quickly round the door.
“What the hell was that about?” said Faith, confused.
Giles chuckled. “You do have some renown yourself, you know. Stories of what we all did in Sunnydale over the years have circulated through the new younger Slayers. Don’t be too surprised to find people treating you differently.”
Faith was momentarily speechless. “But I… I… you know what I fucking did! And you don’t see a problem with people behaving like that around me? I don’t frigging deserve that shit. Maybe Xander or B, sure. Me? Not a frigging chance.”
Giles’s eyes caught her attention over the top of his glasses. “Regardless of what people may have done in the past, Faith, what matters is what they do in the here and now. To many of the younger Slayers, you are a symbol that although they might fuck up to an enormous amount, there is always hope.”
Faith blinked. Did Giles just swear?
And that so wasn’t the thing to be thinking about right now. “Murder!” she blurted out, desperate to change the subject suddenly.
Giles chuckled again. “Certainly,” he murmured, “But do try to keep that in mind, won’t you?”
He studied the whiteboard intently, then the papers in his hand. “I think we actually have enough information here to work all this out by ourselves, Faith. With these reports from Jenny’s Slayers, and this diagram we should be fine.”
Faith just stared at him. “Okaaaay…. So, let’s see. Attics only have these clues in them,” she said riffling through the papers herself, “The bedrooms have the watcher wannabes, the research level will provide the motive, Staff were on the ground floor, and the murder weapon probably came from the cellars. Check?”
“Precisely,” said Giles, his eyes never leaving the board. “Add in that everything is in a separate room or partition with no-one else there to share it.”
“Cool!” beamed Faith. "Now what did the junior slayers spot then?"
“Let’s see,” said Giles thoughtfully, “Jenny said that the missing finance paperwork was somewhere to the left of the missing love letter, and that Quentin Travers’s missing will was supposed to be to the right of the threatening letter.”
“Threatening letter?” queried Faith, with a concerned look on her face.
“Nothing to worry about,” said Giles briskly, “Just some people who aren’t that pleased with the way that council is currently being run.”
Faith twitched an eyebrow. “And that would mean you, right? We are so getting back to that subject later, G. Don’t think this one’s going away.”
Giles snorted. “You’ll be waggling a finger at me next. And I think we all learned back in Sunnydale how well that
works. Let us press on.”
Faith gave him the closest she could get to one of Buffy and Dawn’s this-argument-is-not-settled-merely-postponed looks, but turned back to her few papers. “Right… ‘k. Helen… think it’s Helen – look at this damn handwriting! Anyhow, she was looking round the cellar. Says she found this Dagger of Yenal out in the spot underneath where Sylvia was supposed to be working, and then some sort of Roman sword when she moved off somewhere to the left of the Dagger.”
“Hmmm…” pondered Giles. “Both the Dagger of Yenal and a sword would leave obvious marks. I don’t think either of those were our murder weapon, but it’s still necessary to know exactly where they were. Now, Jenny says that she spotted the sword as well, but that it was off to the right of the shotgun that they keep to deal with local animal pests.”
Faith stared at the whiteboard. “Okay, then. Now Roger Duncan says here in this highly boring letter home that seems to have just so happened to fall into my pile, that he was having a very interesting conversation with this Simone Cavilo one night but they had to part and go to their separate bedrooms. Thing is, he looked back down the corridor to the right to watch her go into her room.”
“That certainly helps a little bit on the bedrooms,” said Giles, amending the details on the whiteboard slightly. He took the letter from Faith and added it to his pile, flicking quickly through it. “Now I suspect whoever committed this crime had to go into the attics to dispose of whatever he or she had stolen from the archives, so I asked the searching slayers to keep an eye out for some ash.”
“You think they burned whatever it was?” asked Faith, pacing around the room.
“I do, and they did find some recent ashes right in the very centre of the attics. I just wish they had mentioned which particular dropped item was nearby.” Giles sighed. “I have found that Helen mentions finding a credit card receipt off to the right of a fountain pen but that could be anywhere in the attics.”
“True enough,” remarked Faith, “but that does rule out these two.” With a careful motion, she erased two possibilities from Giles’s whiteboard diagram. “What’s next, G?”
“Well, re-reading that letter of Roger’s, I did notice one thing,” observed Giles. “When he was saying goodnight to Simone, Stephen brushed past him and continued down the corridor to the left.”
“Good, good,” said Faith, practically bouncing. “Next?”
“Sylvia normally cleans the room underneath the finances section where the missing statements went from. I remember she joked about that the last time I visited,” smiled Giles. “Too much dust falling down, she said. But I’m informed that the normal routine was strictly adhered to last night, so we may safely assume she was there.”
He crossed back over to the whiteboard, and changed a few things. Faith, with nothing else to do really, started reading through the papers on the desk.
“Oooo!” suddenly squeaked Faith, and then coloured slightly as Giles looked at her. “Um… found something. Helen of the illegible handwriting says that when she found that torn scrap of cloth, she could hear Simone complaining bitterly on her mobile phone in the bedroom underneath her.”
“Slayer hearing can be most helpful at times, certainly,” remarked Giles and pushed his glasses back up his nose. “I did note that Simone was brought in especially to deal with the more interesting recent history of the council. As such, it obviously amused someone to assign her the bedroom above that archive – so she could ‘sleep on it’. Someone’s idea of a joke, obviously. Regardless, that archive is now missing a document about the murder and betrayal of a Slayer and her watcher in the mid 80’s in Russia.”
“Now that, I want to take personally,” Faith said in the mildest possible voice.
Giles could just feel the emotions rolling off her suddenly very still body. Cautiously, he ventured “Most of these missing documents have just been misfiled for the moment. They will be found again as long as they weren’t the one destroyed in the attic.”
Faith suddenly flashed a particularly vicious smile and relaxed. “And if that’s the one destroyed, well whoever did that has to be involved. Excellent.”
“I certainly won’t stand in your way,” said Giles mildly, and their eyes met in perfect communication. “I met Svetlana once when I was starting my Watcher training. Delightful girl.”
“Carry on,” said Faith impatiently and went back to pacing the room, almost prowling.
“Well,” said Giles, struggling to find his place again. “Talking of Slayer hearing brings me back to Jenny. She too, heard someone underneath her in the attics.” He flicked through the papers again. “Ah, yes. Just as she was picking up that fountain pen we mentioned, she could hear Sinclair in his bedroom beneath her.”
“How did she know it was old Sinclair mark three?”
Giles shuddered. “American Country and Western music. Apparently there’s been a petition in the house to take his CD’s away from him.”
“I’m not exactly a ‘good old gal’ myself, but that seems a little harsh surely,” remarked Faith absently.
Giles just stared at her in mild disbelief. “Oh, dear lord. You like
Country and Western?”
“Um… maybe?” muttered Faith, and shuffled her feet. “It’s not like we had any choice on the music front in jail, y’know.”
Giles just stared at her. “You are aware I could ruin your reputation at a stroke among Buffy and the others now?”
“Um…please don’t?” said Faith in a small voice studying the carpet intently.
“Your secret is safe with me,” said Giles gracefully, spoiling it slightly by muttering under his breath “Good god! Country and Western!”
Faith rapidly paged through the nearest paperwork. “Umm… this Edward guy?”
“Edward Fletcher? The general manager?”
“Right. Him. Well, looks like he tends to work a lot with the gardener guy – Dan? Anyhow, they joke a lot about working hand in glove with each other. Dan thingy is left handed, so he takes the left side automatically now.”
Giles looked up at Faith. “So, last night as it was their normal routine, you are saying that Edward would have been somewhere to the right of Dan Walker.”
Faith nodded. “Very well,” said Giles. “Add it to the board.”
Faith made the needed alterations and stared up at the whiteboard. “Anything else on the stuff in the attics, Giles?”
“Ah yes,” said Giles pulling out a ragged page from the bottom of his pile. “Kylie, our youngest slayer here, seems to have written this on a spare scrap from her schoolwork books. Lovely.”
“And?” Faith said, vibrating with impatience once more.
Giles frowned. “Justin Timberlake is apparently very good looking. At least that’s what I assume this is meant to say.” He turned the paper over. “Indeed. She found a couple of hairs caught on a post and then strolled on to the left and discovered a footprint in the dust. There are several exclamation points following this.”
Faith snickered. “Any little hearts, G?”
“No,” said Giles firmly. “Now, several opened poisonous chemicals were found in the cellar directly underneath the rooms Eric Black was cleaning last night. He complained of feeling ill, which was probably causing by these vapours reaching him. Fortunately, he had the presence of mind to open a window or there might possibly have been a second death.”
Faith grimaced. “Huh. Close thing indeed. I hate that type of shit.”
Giles flashed her a sympathetic look. “You slayers always do prefer something to hit,” he mused idly. “Something in your genetic make-up I would assume.”
“Speed it up G, before I find myself a new target… or mention the genetically thin skulls you watchers all seem to have.”
Giles sniffed haughtily, adjusted his glasses once more and continued. “And speaking of Eric Black, he thought he heard footsteps in the room above him at one point. He was concerned because that was the room where we keep all the threatening letters “
Faith blinked. “You have an entire room for them? How many are you getting, Giles?”
Giles shrugged and kept his eyes on his paperwork. “A few. It just makes more sense to keep the filing cabinets all in one place.”
“Cabinets?” Faith repeated. “Plural? More than one?”
“Ah,” said Giles. “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell Buffy and the others. There is absolutely nothing they can do about this, and it’s just an unavoidable consequence of the recent changes we have instigated in the Council.”
“Fuck right off!” exclaimed Faith indignantly. “One – they deserve to know. Two – no way are you carrying that load by yourself. And Three…there’s a three. I know there’s a three!”
Giles sighed. “Not even if I threaten to mention the Country and Western?” he asked semi-hopefully.
Faith just glared at him. On the scale of 1 to Buffy, he’d give it a Dawn-did-what-to-my-NEW-clothes
“Right then,” Giles said, turning back to the matter in hand. “About this murder then.”
“The only other thing I can find that we haven’t mentioned so far,” said Faith, still not looking too happy, and now sitting on the desk a lot closer to Giles than before, “Is this rope noose thing in the cellar. Apparently, Pauline the cook was thinking about trying to get a dumbwaiter type thing running down from the kitchen to the cellar under her.”
Giles studied the report carefully. “So Pauline was naturally cleaning up the kitchen last night as per routine, and the rope was stored underneath her. I see.”
“See what?” Faith inquired, getting slightly lost.
“I think,” said Giles, carefully studying the whiteboard, “That we don’t need any more information than that. This should let us work out exactly who was where, what was where, and most importantly, who did what.”
End of Part One