What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Pt. 2
A/N As always, I have no proprietary rights to BTVS, the works of HP Lovecraft. I'd just like to take the time to thank all of you that have read and reviewed my story. Your feedback means a lot.
WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION Pt 2
Louisville, Kentucky – Standiford Field
“Are ya sure this is the place Red?”
“This is where the GPS co-ordinates put us.”
“Yeah, but look around, we’re standing in front of a bunch of hangars near a runway that’s in use, why here?”
“Uhh guys, look over there,” Xander gestured, “now if you were an assassin and needed to blend in, what’s better than that?”
“You’re shittin me,” Faith yelled, “are you tellin me that UPS drivers are hired killers?”
“Probably not, or at least most of em aren’t, but think about it, their trucks are everywhere, so much so that you don’t even think about it when you see one, these guys come right up to your door and ask for one specific person, it’s simple.”
“And brilliant,” Willow added.
“That too,” Xander said, then looked around, “but we are a bit conspicuous just standing here, maybe we should get out of the open.”
The other two nodded and they moved into the shadows of the nearest hangar. As they walked, Xander leaned over to Willow, “you got your mojo turned on?”
“Yeah,” the red head answered, “and there’s three people watching us; one close and two far away.”
“Snipers ya think?”
“Considering who we’re dealing with, probably.”
“OK, so where’s the one that’s close,” Xander asked as his eyes scanned the area.
“Up ahead, she’s coming to us.”
“Cool,” said Faith. “I hate playing hide and seek anyway.”
“Just remember to stay cool, we’re neutral now, and I gave my word.”
“No sweat X, I’ll be sweetness and light.”
Both Xander and Willow rolled their eyes when Faith chimed in with that but there wasn’t any more time for conversation because the person that Willow had been sensing showed up. It was a young woman dressed in a brown delivery uniform. She stopped and scanned the three very professionally, “well well, two of the original Scoobies and the Dark Slayer, I must say I’m impressed.”
“Thanks,” Xander said, “and I take it that you are the current head of the Order of Teraka?”
The woman just nodded.
“Do you have the information for us?”
She pulled out a large envelope, “here’s what we have, I don’t know if the name he gave was an alias or not, we usually don’t get too picky unless they try to stiff us, but there’s photo’s and a recording of his voice; that should be sufficient.”
“It is,” Xander stuck out his hand, “thank you.”
She hesitated then returned the gesture, “you’re welcome.” She hesitated then asked, “could you do me one favor?”
“What is it,” Xander replied, intrigued by the woman’s hesitation.
“Don’t tell what’s happened here.”
Xander looked at his two companions and they both gave abbreviated nods, “done.”
“Thank you,” she said, and then her rather imperious demeanor returned. “Hope that you are never targeted by us,” and with a bit of flash and smoke, she was gone.
“A bit melodramatic, but overall I give the whole performance an eight point five,” Xander quipped.
“Whatever,” Faith said giving her fiancé a dig in the ribs, “let’s get back to London, figure out who this bozo is and eliminate our problem.”
“What she said,” chimed in Willow.
They were all standing in Giles office as Xander opened the packet he’d been given by the order of Teraka; even Dawn and Oz were there, well at least they were on the speaker phone. The first thing out was a photograph; Xander held it up, “is this someone we know?”
“Yeah I do,” Al spoke up. “His family were big wheels with the old council; he even had a sister who was a watcher.”
“And the name,” Buffy prompted.
“Michael Chandler Post,” Alistair said. “He hung around with a bunch of us trainees even though he went into the army.”
“And his sister was Gwen Post,” Faith asked.
“Oh, you’ve heard of her,” Al said as all the Scoobies exchanged glances.
“You might say that,” Xander quipped.
“Or you might say that she tried to kill us and we ended up cutting off her arm and frying her with electricity,” Willow added.
“Fraid not Al,” Faith told the man, “she showed up claiming to be my new watcher but all she was really after was the Glove of Mynhigon. She got a hold of it and tried to kill us all by using it to call down lightning, but we cut her arm off and the discharge crispy crittered her instead.”
Al and most of the room looked rather ill at that thought; Xander even heard a muted, “yuck,” over the speaker phone. “So why does this guy want Giles dead” Xander asked, “what could he gain from it?”
“I don’t know but we better find out quick,” Vi said; speaking for the first time, “cause if this guy’s military and he knows a lot about watchers and slayers then he could bring a lot of force down on us in a hurry. So we need to be quick and stay under the official radar on this or he might try something even more drastic.”
“So what do you want us to do,” Willow asked.
Vi blushed and turned to Xander, “I don’t have a clue, what do you suggest?”
Xander thought for a moment then turned to face the rest of the room, “Al you and Buffy check out this guy’s connections to the Council, see if there’s anyone still here that’s a friend or feeding him information. Vi, you and your watcher go through this file and see if anything sticks out, where they met, body language anything. Dawn,” he spoke up, “you and Oz talk to our allies over there and see if you can ferret anything out about this putz. Will, you and Kennedy go shake down the demon bars and see if anything comes up.”
So what are you gonna do,” Kennedy asked.
“Faith and I are gonna find this guy, shadow him and see who he’s talking to and where.” He looked around, “any other questions?” At the shaking of heads Vi spoke up, “then lets get started and we’ll meet back here in eight hours.”
As the two women walked into the bar, much of the noise died off. That’s a common reaction when two beautiful women walk into most bars but this time it was for a different reason, these two women had tripped just about every mystical alarm the bar had. The bartender scowled at the two women, the brunette was obviously a slayer, it was in the way she moved; the red-head was probably her watcher. The noise picked up as they both eased up to the bar and stood there; finally the bartender came over to talk.
“What you want?”
“Just some information and spreading the word,” the brunette answered.
“Yeah, what you birds want to know and what kind of word you want spread?”
Kennedy pulled out a copy of the picture they’d gotten from the Order of Teraka, “this guy’s name is Michael Post, his family is old time watchers and he’s in the army; we want to know everything about him, where he’s been, who he’s talking to, any connections he might have, the works.”
The bartender took the picture, “so what’d this wanker do that’s got the Watcher’s on his arse.”
“He arranged for the current head watcher to have a rather fatal accident.”
“Really, sounds like we ought to be helpin this bloke not you lot.”
“Not if you’ve got half a brain,” Willow spoke up, “remember that this guy’s family is old school watcher. Remember what the council was like when there was only one slayer; now imagine what they’d be like now that there are hundreds.”
What little noise there had been now stilled as all of the patrons thought about what had just been said. Unfortunately it was one of the less intelligent patrons that spoke next. “So instead of killin us like usual you’re suddenly making nice cause you need our help to get rid of this problem,” it looked around at the bar, “not to mention all we’ve got is the watcher’s word on this load of bollocks.”
Willow turned towards the speaker, a smile lighting up her face, “watcher, who said I was a watcher.” She moved through the crowd until she was directly in front of the speaker; she looked up into its surprised eyes as black swirled into her own gaze. “I’m not a watcher and I’m not a slayer,” she said, then raised herself on tip toe and whispered in its ear, “I’m a lot nastier then a slayer.”
“Oh crap,” someone in the back muttered, “it’s the Red Witch.”
Most of the patrons took a large step away from Willow while the eyes on the demon Willow was confronting expanded til they were almost the size of dinner plates. “Uhhhh right then, so if we find anything out about this tosser we’ll be sure to call,” it said with a sickly smile.
“Great,” Willow chirped as her eyes returned to their normal green. Kennedy left their card with the bartender and the two girls left, to the very great relief of the bar’s patrons. They were a block away before Kennedy finally spoke, “it’s not fair you know”.
“Well, I’m a slayer and they barely batted an eye when they’re supposed to be scared of me. But all you have to do is let a little black swirl in your eyes and every one of those things is pissing its pants. How can I be the bad cop when you’re the ultimate bad cop?”
Willow looked over at her girlfriend and laughed, “sorry sweety, I promise I’ll be the meek little watcher and let you pummel the loudmouth at the next place.”
Kennedy pouted for a moment, “you promise there’ll be a loudmouth at the next place.”
“There always is.”
Samir Deshpande worked to hold back a smile. He might be fairly new to the world of slayers and watchers but he had three younger sisters so he could tell when the frustration level was getting to a young woman. He mentally began counting down in his head 5…..4…..3…..2…..
“There’s nothing in this darn file that we don’t already know,” Vi yelled and threw the Terakan file onto Giles desk with a huff.
“Major information, of course not,” Samir gently told her, “this man is not going to just tell anyone what his plans are; no the trick is to look at what he said and how he said it to gather clues as to what his plans may be.”
Samir had known about watchers and slayers his whole life, from his uncle on his mother’s side. He was a watcher and had actually been in charge of a slayer for a time. Samir had seen the sadness in his uncle’s eyes when he talked about the young girl and Samir had been curious to learn more. He had learned more than he wanted to when he was twelve. There had been a series of attacks at a nearby village and suddenly Samir’s uncle had returned from England. That night Samir followed the man and had seen his first demon, and witnessed his first battle with the forces that would destroy humanity. There had been no slayer there, just a bunch of men and women who knew what to do; it was then that Samir knew that this was the path his life must take. So now here he was, fifteen years later and in charge of a slayer that wasn’t significantly younger than he was; it made things a little awkward at times.
“So how do we do that?”
“Well, as my mother used to say ‘the Devil is in the details’, we need to go carefully over every scrap of information that we have.”
Vi looked at her watcher, “do you really think there’s something here?”
“I’m sure of it,” Samir replied. “But we’ll need to dig a bit to find it.”
Vi sighed, “OK then, where do we start,” she asked as she swept her arm over the file.
“Lets look at the transcript of their conversation again,” he said; and the two of them went back to work.
Alistair looked at the list they’d compiled, he knew that there was a pattern here, but right now he just couldn’t see it.
“So what’s the connection,” Buffy asked.
“I’m not sure,” Al replied, “these old watcher families have been intermingling for centuries so an offspring of one spending time with other families isn’t uncommon. Relationships in the Council start when you’re quite young and develop over years.”
“Maybe that’s the problem,” Buffy said, after a moments thought.
“Well we’ve been looking at the Watcher side of things but this guy isn’t a Watcher. Maybe we should be focusing on kids in the real world with Watcher ties.”
It only took a second for Al to realize that Buffy had indeed hit on what they should be looking at. Impulsively he leaned over and kissed her, it only lasted a few seconds and he pulled back before she could properly respond, but both of them recognized the magnitude of the step that had just been taken, unfortunately now wasn’t the time to talk about it. Instead Alistair just looked her in the eyes and said, “never let anyone ever convince you that you’re just a weapon, there is so much more to you than just being a slayer.”
Buffy was breathless and still a little kiss-dazzled so all she could do was nod. Al just hugged her shoulders. “OK then, lets go over these files again and look for family members that are roughly his age but do their work in the real world.” And without another word the two went over the files yet again.
“You know who sucks at undercover?”
“We both do, unless we’re trying to blend in with bikers or pirates, then we’re cool.”
“True, but I don’t think there’s anything we can do that would make us more conspicuous if we tried.”
“Probably not,” Faith looked around, “you think he made us?”
“Not yet, but I think that it’s more a matter of luck than skill on our parts.”
“So what do we do?”
“Well,” Xander said, “I’m gonna go in there and get you some very un-Faith clothes, then you’re gonna change into em, sneak into the back of the pub and photograph whoever he’s eating with. Then we get the hell out of here.”
“Why do I have to be the one that changes?”
“Because I don’t have a fake eye, we can drab you up to where you don’t look like you, but my only options are this patch or the socket so I’m kinda out of the running.”
“What about shades?”
“Too dreary, just like the patch, shades would be conspicuous.”
“All right,” Faith humphed. “Get the damn things while I keep an eye on the place; but I swear Harris, if anyone hears about this I’m gonna bust your ass.”
“I promise Faith, no-one’ll hear a word from me,” Xander headed towards the store with a smirk; he was telling the truth when he said he wouldn’t tell a soul, but a picture would indeed be worth a thousand words.
Faith couldn’t believe she was doing this. She was wearing a dress that had all the grace of a burlap bag, her hair was up and stuffed under a hat so ugly that the store owner had given it to Xander for free and she’d altered her shape by padding the dress so it looked like she had a gut and an enormous ass. She figured it was worth it to nab the guy that had tried to bump off Jeeves, but just barely. She looked around as though she was looking for the bathroom and spotted the guy; he was eating at a table with three other guys. They were all laughing and smiling together, honestly they looked pretty tight. She rummaged around in the hideous vinyl purse she was carrying and palmed the sleek little digital camera. Without looking directly at them she walked past the table holding the button down, hopefully she’d get a good picture of all four guys, and even if she didn’t she was pretty sure she could describe all of em. Once she got to the bathroom she locked herself in a stall and went about putting on her regular clothes and ditching the monstrosity she was wearing; all the while trying to figure out just what she’d do to Xander for payback. Looking much more like herself, Faith exited the stall and slithered out the bathroom window. Sure enough, Xander was right there waiting for her, “come on beautiful let’s see what the others have found.”
Rupert Giles was convinced that he must be currently atoning for the errors of his misspent youth. He had spent time in the hospital before, being a field watcher he could hardly avoid it; but at those times he had only been subjected to the tyranny of the nurses, now he not only had the nurses but a contingent of overprotective slayers and watchers to contend with. He was sure that he was literally smothering under the constant supervision. ‘Well,’ he thought, ‘at least this cannot get any worse.’
“Yo G-Man, how’s it hangin?”
“Obviously I was mistaken,” Giles muttered.
“What was that?”
“Nothing Xander, I was simply remarking on how some things are inevitable.”
Xander stood there looking confused for a moment, but then he remembered that Giles had suffered a head wound so he might be a little off the rails, “so how are you doing Giles?”
“Excellent, or at least I would if I could bloody well get out of this torture chamber; I don’t suppose you could get some of the slayers to give me a little breathing room?”
“Sorry, that ones not my call Giles,” he said as he sat down, then he switched gears, “so how much do you remember?”
“Not much, just images really, that kind of rot; but I’ve gotten at least five different versions of what happened from my jailers,” he paused. “Andrew’s funeral?”
“Late tomorrow, and yes I’ll make sure you’re there.”
“Good, I owe it to his memory to be there.”
Xander had no response to this so he continued with his previous line, “now as to what happened, this is the best we’ve got ……….. then Vi cleaned up the area and noticed that the guy had a distinctive ring.”
“Yeah, and we’ve already talked to them.”
Giles looked confused, “to what purpose?”
“We wanted the contractor so it was either talk to them or go after the sad sacks that just pull the triggers until we learned something.”
“And they gave up the name?”
“Up until now I would have said that they never would have given up that information under any circumstances.”
Xander looked grim, “what can I say, we were persuasive.”
Giles realized that the subject of how they were persuaded was either several hours of conversation or none, “and what have you learned?” He saw Xander relax minutely and knew he had made the correct choice.
“Well, first of all I don’t think we could take this to a court and get a conviction, but it all adds up. It starts with Michael Post, Gwen’s little brother and a Colonel in the British Army; he was the one that ordered the hit. Now, here’s where it gets interesting; one of Post’s best friends is a scientist named Alex Masham, and yes he’s from the family of watcher’s by that name but the interesting bit is from his mother’s side of the family, her maiden name was Walsh.”
“You don’t mean to say…….”
“Yep, Aunt Maggie, and it just so happens that this guy is a bio-engineer. So now we’ve got two people with ties to the Watchers who know all about what goes bump in the night, and while they’re not members they do work at keeping in touch.”
“With whom might I ask?”
“Mostly the old guard families; from a few casual interviews he seems to be quite the charmer and with his military training several of those families feel that he would be an excellent candidate for the top spot, should it ever come open.”
“I assume you don’t mean Prime Minister.”
“Sorry Giles, they see him as just the kind of guy to rid the new Council of this ‘American Taint’ and restore it to what it should be. I imagine that he knew of these feelings and decided to rush your retirement, although you were just the first name on the list.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, from reading between the lines of what he told the Terakans, he was looking to keep them on something like a retainer until anyone that thought about saying ‘no’ to what he wanted to do was out of the way.”
“And what was he afraid people would say ‘no’ to?”
“Turning the Council into a British version of the Initiative, that was step two.”
“How the devil did you come up with that, Walsh’s nephew aside?”
“The other two members of their little club also have Watcher connections but they’re members of Parliament one works on Military Appropriations and the other on Domestic Science Initiatives. From the projects they were pushing it gets pretty obvious if you know what to look for. That and Dawn ran into a relative of Clem’s that was back in the USA because he heard that England was starting up 314.”
“Good Lord, you’d think they’d learn from what happened before.”
“Come on Giles, they figure they’re smarter than the Initiative, and they’ve got people that are pro’s at handling demons right here.”
“So you’re telling me that they were going to use the Council and Slayers to contain, control and effectively harness the demon population. And they didn’t expect them to fight back or anything?”
“God knows what they expected but you’ve got the essentials and you were the first domino they needed to knock over.”
“Indeed, and now that you know who these people are?”
“Now they’ll be taken care of.”
“You’re not going to ……” Giles sat up quickly, wincing as he did so.
“No,” Xander quietly replied. “I won’t kill them, but after I’m done with em they may wish they were dead.”
“Do I want to know what you mean by that?”
“I worry about you my boy, I worry that using that book will change you, and not for the better I fear.”
Xander hung his head for a moment; he was touched every time Giles said something like this. The Englishman had made his feelings known on the matter a long time ago, but Xander was still effected every time he said it, hearing someone he considered a parent say they cared about him wasn’t something he would ever get used to. “Thanks Giles, but honestly I worry about it enough for the both of us but I’ve got Faith and Dawn and Oz and all of you guys to keep my head on straight.”
“That’s good to know, but I’ll still worry if that’s alright with you?”
“Peachy, now not to change the subject but have you considered having something in place that clearly spells out the succession in case something does happen to you?”
“I have, but that reminded me too much of the old Council’s cronyism and I didn’t want to do that.”
“Cool, but you might want to think about changing things a bit so we don’t have to worry about some other ambitious jerk pulling an end run.”
“Indeed,” Giles said with a sigh. “I should speak to the council’s solicitor and see what my options are, maybe give the slayer’s equal say or something like that,” his gaze drifted for a moment.
“Sounds good, and now that we’ve got the small stuff out of the way, let’s talk about your problem.”
Giles fixed Xander with a glare. “You mean that some wanker trying to kill me so he can take over the council and turn it into an imitation of some Yank disaster isn’t a problem?”
“Nope, just an inconvenience that will soon be dealt with.”
“Very well then, what’s my problem?”
“You’re still way short of watchers.”
“True, but we’re recruiting and training as fast as we can; I don’t see how you could speed that up and I refuse to put unprepared watchers in the field.”
“I only have one disagreement with what you just said.”
“And that is?”
“You said that you were recruiting as fast as you could.”
“We are, unfortunately it’s not something you can just run and ad for in the Times. There aren’t many people out there who know about the other world and even fewer who choose to aid our cause.”
“You’re right there aren’t that many people,” he said, putting undue emphasis on the last word.
“What do you,” Giles started, then he fell silent thinking about what Xander had just said, then his eyes got huge and he looked at Xander as though he thought the younger man was insane, “you can’t be serious.”
“I’m completely serious.”
“But to have demons, the very things we are meant to destroy as watchers; that’s ludicrous.”
“But are we really out to get rid of all demons, what about the peaceful ones like the Brachen’s the Squalmous or the K’Pfastead; we rarely deal with them because they just want to exist like everything else. For that matter how do we know that all demons are soulless; I mean some can interbreed with humans so what about them? You see; if you open it up a little then you can recruit from a population that is already half trained, they’re faster and stronger than humans and are already pretty sharp on the demonic species. Heck I know that some are even magic resistant.”
“All good points, now tell me why.”
“Why are you advocating this move, what’s the reason?”
“I gotta have a reason past doing a better job of keeping slayers alive?”
Giles just intensified his glare, “Xanderrrr.”
“All right all right, no need to get Ripper out of retirement,” the young man sighed. “Sometime in the not too distant future the oblivious human race will stop being so oblivious and when that happens they’re gonna declare open war on anything that isn’t human.”
“But don’t you see, by doing that they’ll force the tribes and clans that would be inclined to stay neutral or possibly allies into becoming enemies and fighting even though the might not want to. If you start recruiting from these clans you’ll have better intelligence on alliances and species weaknesses and that kind of thing and you’ll also be sending a message that those groups are under the protection of the Council. By doing that you’ll have a lot more folks standing with you when the shit hits the fan and a better chance of still being standing when it’s all over.”
“So you’re out to save the Council?”
“No, my aims a bit higher than that.”
Giles just looked at him for a second, thinking about what had been said and what had been implied; it took him a moment but eventually all the pieces fell together. “Might I ask what other measures you’ve taken?”
Xander blushed, “OK, but this might take a while.”
LATER THAT EVENING
“So’d ya give Jeeves the whole picture?”
“Yeah, he’s gonna look at it and see if there’s anything else we need to deal with, maybe another angle to consider.”
“Cool, so now that we know who these jerks are, what are we gonna do about it?”
“I’m not sure yet, but I’ve got an idea or two.”
“The kind of ideas that’ll make B and Red loose their lunch?”
“I’m thinking more on the level of something that would make D’Hoffryn envious.”
Faith rolled over and looked at her fiancé for a second, “these bastards tried to kill the closest thing to real parent I’ve ever had; nothing you do to em will be enough.”
Xander put his arms around the young woman. “I know Faith, but I’m gonna give it on heck of a try.”