What I Did On My Summer Vacation Pt. 3
A/N First off, thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing. That said, I'm taking a break to finish up Private Investigations, once that one is done, I'll come back to this, and don't worry, there will be a lot that isn't in the Fanfic.net version. I have no proprietary claim to either BTVS or the works of HP Lovecraft, but boy do I wish I did. The idea for the revenge that is enacted comes from Lovecraft's story "From Beyond". It is one of his creepier stories, but it also chock full of some rather intriguing notions. Like most of HPL's work, its worth a read.
WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION PT. 3
East Finchly Cemetery in London is a bit of a mystery to its neighbors. It has been there for as long as any of them can remember or as long as any of the families that have been living there for centuries can remember. The grounds are beautiful and immaculately kept and walkers aren’t discouraged, but no one who lives there knows anyone that has been buried there. The reason for that is simple, however it is one that the locals aren’t aware of; the East Finchly Cemetery is exclusively for Watchers and Slayers. Although it must be admitted that in most cases there really isn’t a lot of the Slayer left to bury, in that case the name of the poor girl is carved into one of the many obelisks that exists for that very purpose. Occasionally the Cemetery will be busy, but relatively speaking there weren’t that many funerals held there. This therefore was an exception to the rule. Stereotypically you expect the day of a funeral to be gloomy and overcast and in England you can usually count on rain, so perhaps it was a natural homage to Andrew’s contrary nature that saw the day of his funeral dawn warm and clear.
Xander, with Faith by his side, followed the procession out to where Andrew was to be buried. He had asked for, or rather demanded the opportunity to say the eulogy. He hadn’t really ever given Andrew or his situation much thought but as he did he realized the injustice that had been done to the young man, injustice perpetrated by the people he was working to help. Xander actually blamed himself, if anyone should have recognized what Andrew was going through it should have been him. But he hadn’t and no one else in the upper echelons had ever given the young man much thought. Well he couldn’t do anything about that now, but he was going to try and open up everyone’s eyes to just what they’d had in Andrew. Xander looked over to where Giles was being pushed in a wheelchair by an anxious Buffy, who really wasn’t comfortable with him being out in the open despite the arrangement with the Order of Teraka. The older man had a look of deep thought on his face, whether it was over Andrew or what Xander had told him, he wasn’t sure.
They gathered at the graveside with Father Calworth performing the service; then he motioned for Xander to say the eulogy. As he stepped up, Xander remembered all of the times that he had done this before; too many times. He’d said his first at Jesse’s funeral and since then had given eulogies for slayers, watchers and others who had helped out, but he knew that this one would be bad. It would be bad because he felt like he’d failed someone. Ever since Sunnydale he had known that Andrew was struggling to find his place, something that Xander was all too familiar with. He had dropped the younger man a line every now and again, but he hadn’t really sat down and talked to Andrew about how hard it was to be the normal guy around all the superheroes; Xander more than most knew what that was like, but he hadn’t had that talk and now it was too late.
He looked over the crowd of slayers and watchers and cleared his throat. “More than anything else, I feel sorry for Andrew Wells, not because he is dead, but because of the way he lived his life these later years. Like all of us, Andrew had things in his past that he needed to atone for; however he had become convinced that what he needed to do was perform one great act of atonement. I would like to have talked to him and told him what I had to find out the hard way; that atonement isn’t giving your life for something or someone, it is living every day determined to do better than the day before. Atonement isn’t one huge act, but millions of little acts. I doubt that he was even aware of all that he did, or how much he contributed or how many lives he touched. What I do know is that he was always there when he was needed and he was always doing his best. Every slayer that came through London in the last few years was helped in some way by Andrew and it is the girls that he loved that will suffer the most upon his passing. And while Andrew’s last act was one of heroism and selflessness, I am sure that he will be remembered for so much more than this one thing. Now we must pick up the burden that Andrew’s passing has placed upon us and we must uphold the daunting standards that he has set. Through his actions over the years, Andrew Wells not only saved Giles, he has saved thousands of others by supporting and helping the slayers in training and in the field and I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute or memorial. It is my lasting shame and sorrow that I never specifically told him what an exemplary job he was doing or what an exceptional person he had become. I only hope that he will forgive me when we meet again.” Maintaining control with iron discipline, Xander rejoined the crowd as the service finished up and Andrew’s coffin was lowered into the ground. Several people paid their respects as the funeral broke up; surprisingly, at least for the core Scoobies, Kennedy was quite overcome. Xander went to the young girl, just barely getting there before Willow, who had been speaking softly to Giles.
“Why so sad, Kennedy.”
“I miss him.”
“We all do.”
“But he was one of the only ones that didn’t treat me like a replacement.” She smirked a bit at Xander’s surprise, “I’m not an airhead, plus slayer hearing here. I know what most people think of me and Willow. Sometimes it bugs me but usually I’m OK with it. But Andrew never treated me that way, and I’m gonna miss that.”
Xander knelt in front of Kennedy, “it looks like this is my day for apologies. I’m sorry if I’ve ever made you feel like you were second best. You make Willow happy, and that’s as good as it gets in my book. Obviously that’s something I need to do a better job of getting across to you.”
“I’d appreciate that Xander,” she said. Xander nodded then passed her off to Willow, who had been anxiously standing off to the side.
Seeing that Kennedy was in good hands, Xander and Faith went for a bit of a walk through the cemetery; neither of them spoke, somehow they didn’t need to. As they got back to the cars, they were surprised to find Giles and a very anxious Buffy and Alistair waiting for them.
“What’s the what guys?”
“Xander, I just wanted to thank you for what you did today.”
“Thanks Giles, I felt like I failed the kid and I just wanted to apologize to him for not being there.”
“Nonsense my boy, I was there and I didn’t see what you did from a continent away” Giles paused “no I am the one that failed Andrew, although I do not believe that we failed the young man completely.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, for us to have completely failed, then Andrew would have never found his way and never contributed as much as he did. I’d like to think that we inspired him instead of directing him; now while I will acknowledge that we took the young man for granted, I believe that we did not utterly fail him.” Giles leaned forward with a bit of a grin, “sometimes you just have to let people find things out for themselves.”
Xander smiled at the older man, “thanks for the advice, now let’s get you back to that nice safe hospital.”
Al got in the driver’s seat and Buffy folded up the wheelchair, while they were doing this Xander and Faith were helping Giles into the back of the car, “back to the hospital,” Giles muttered and turned to Xander. “You really are a right vicious bastard; you do know that, right?”
“Yep, and I learned from the best,” he smirked as the door closed and the car sped off.
Faith looked up at him, “what was the deal with what Jeeves told ya?”
“He was just telling me to take it easy about the whole disclosure thing; that it would happen in its own time so I shouldn’t be pushing so much.”
Faith glanced in the direction the car had taken, “smart old guy.”
“He is that,” Xander agreed and together they just stood there for a moment or two and simply enjoyed each other’s company.
“So what are ya planning to do to these pricks?”
“Well, I think they’ve probably got pretty good intel on most of us, but I think we could blind side em with Oz. They’re getting their info from their Council connections; Oz is an unknown, at least to them.”
“You don’t want him to waste em, do ya?”
“No, I wouldn’t ask that of him; no, I want him to lure them into a trap.”
“So if he’s the bait, what’s the snare?”
“Do you remember when we were going through that one warehouse ………”
Colonel Michael Post knew that something was wrong; the problem was he wasn’t exactly sure what was. He knew that the first assassin had failed and that Rupert Giles still lived but he didn’t know how many more were being sent, he knew that one of Giles’ underlings had sacrificed himself but he didn’t know who, he knew that some of the slayers and watchers were looking into who might have arranged the hit but he didn’t know if they were onto him or not. He needed better intelligence, but he was hesitant to have those resources he could most easily access, elements of the British Army, exposed to possible capture; because if that happened than any doubt about who was making a move would be dispelled and the conflict would become open and bloody. He sighed and waved in the general direction of his secretary as he walked into his office at Sandhurst. He was on temporary assignment here as a guest instructor in counter terrorism. He closed the door and froze, someone had been in his office; the signs were subtle but he could tell. Post began a thorough examination of his office, mostly looking for bugs and other surveillance devices so it’s understandable that he didn’t see the envelope sitting on his desk until he sat down. He studied it with the same care that he had just used checking his office then he pulled on a pair of surgical gloves and picked up the envelope. For an address, there was only his name and he didn’t recognize the hand writing; shrugging, he slit the envelope and a folded piece of paper fell out. Carefully he opened it up and read what was there, then blinking he read it again; it was strange he could read it easily enough, but what it was telling him just didn’t make any sense. Finally understanding bloomed in his eyes and immediately he picked up his phone and started dialing.
“You sure you’re up for this Oz man?”
“To get these guys, I’m up for it.”
“If things start going south, you either yell or get the hell out of there.”
“I will, you just make sure there aren’t any party crashers.”
“Deal,” Xander said shaking the shorter man’s hand.
Sergeant Aylward shot Captain Loring a sharp glance as the two of them watched the four men walk into the warehouse. The sergeant had seen a lot over the years, especially since he’d spent most of his career in the SAS 22nd regiment but he didn’t like conducting operations on British soil and he didn’t particularly care for Colonel Post either. They’d worked with the colonel before, and each time Aylward felt like they were operating half in the dark, as though there was something else going on that the colonel hadn’t seen fit to alert them to. It made for good security, the sergeant admitted, but not knowing everything that was going on made it more likely for Aylward and his platoon to be killed and that was something the sergeant really worked to avoid. The twenty of them as well as Captain Loring had been requested to play bodyguards for the Colonel and three friends; two of whom were members of Parliament, and mount a rescue in the unlikely event that one was needed. “Just the one bloke in there sir?”
“Yes Sergeant; do we know yet how he got in with no one seeing him?”
“No sir, it was the oddest thing, one minute there’s nothing and the next there’s this guy standing in one of the old offices.”
“Do we only have this man on thermals?”
“Yes sir, we’re not allowed to get close enough for a look-see, at least that’s what the Colonel told us.”
“Do you suppose there might be a sewer entrance?”
“It’s a possibility sir, and one we haven’t covered.”
“How about you detail a few of the lads to take a look, we don’t want to be caught with our knickers down now do we Sergeant?”
“No sir, I’ll get right on that.” The men were stationed in groups of four, so the Sergeant contacted two groups that were relatively close to each other and had them detail two of their men each to check out the sewers. He had just finished relaying the orders and was stowing the radio when he heard something, something that he shouldn’t have heard. There had been the distinct crunch of gravel as someone had taken a step and since all of his men as well as the Captain were currently visible and motionless, it had to be someone that shouldn’t be there. Very deliberately he started towards where the Captain was standing while his had dropped surreptitiously down to the Browning HP on his hip.
Captain Loring was no happier with the situation than his Sergeant, but unfortunately orders were orders and these orders came from well above the Colonel. He studied the building they were guarding closely and he wondered what all the fuss was about. He heard the Sergeant finish relaying the orders and turned to ask him about the possibility of tightening their perimeter when he noticed the look on the man’s face. He knew Aylward was a long timer and respected the Sergeant’s instincts and abilities and he had never seen the man panicked; that is until now. He desperately wanted to shout out and ask the man what the situation was, but the only thing that came to mind was that they’d been infiltrated and the only thing they could do was remain as passive as possible until they could spread the word to the men and plan a counterattack. The Sergeant was still several feet away when he saw what appeared to be a stream of blue fire stab out to the surrounding darkness and hit Sergeant Aylward in the back. The Sergeant froze a grimace of pain on his face then he fell bonelessly to the ground, his limbs spasming uncontrollably. Before the Captain or any of the men standing with him could react, more beams appeared, hitting the five men standing there. Captain Loring felt his muscles seize up as he completely lost control of his body; then they went slack and he collapsed to the rooftop he was currently standing on, but he didn’t lose consciousness. Idly he realized that they’d been hit with some sort of tazer type weapon as he tried to get his hand to move so he could activate his radio and warn the rest of the men; but right now his body just wasn’t listening. He was still aware enough to hear the sounds of more weapons being fired some distance away, and the bitter feeling of being caught in an ambush surged through him. Then he noticed a rather striking young woman carrying a vaguely futuristic rifle walking towards him. He tried to ask her name or why she was doing this or beg for the life of his men, but even his jaw muscles were not at his command.
Had the Captain been familiar with the Initiative, he would have recognized the rifle as being closely akin to what Riley Finn and his men carried for capturing demons. In a way it was ironic, the weapon for capturing demons became; with a few of Andrew’s modifications, the perfect weapon for slayers who had to deal with humans. It was rugged, effective and, most importantly, non-lethal.
The Captain watched helplessly as the young woman knelt down next to him and checked his pulse then smiled at him, pulled back her right hand and proceeded to punch the captain right on the chin. Needless to say but the Captain’s world went black.
Natalia Serenova looked around and smiled, all targets were neutralized, no casualties with her forces and the word hadn’t gotten out; most importantly though, she had gotten a measure of revenge for her father. Serenova the elder had been a Major in both the Soviet and Russian armies. When relations had normalized with England, he had been sent over here with his family to learn all he could about the training, tactics and weapons used by the British Army. Sadly, the British hadn’t been the best of hosts and their hospitality severely lacking, in her opinion, especially when the utilized his imperfect grasp of English to insult him, his country and his family. Some of the things that they’d said still burned in her memory, because while her father’s grasp of English was iffy at best, hers was nearly letter perfect although at times it had been difficult to not let on that she understood exactly what they were saying. All in all it had made punching the English officer very satisfying. “Report,” she husked out to her second.
“Seventeen down,” the girl, a Pakistani, replied. “No casualties and no one got the word out. There is a group of four that headed into the sewers before we were able to move but according to the plans we have there is no sewer access to the warehouse.”
“Excellent, figure out which exits are the most likely for them to use and detail three girls to watch each one; with no building access we don’t need to be going in after them.”
“Sounds good to me, I hate tromping around in the damned things.”
“You and me both, now take care of that while I call in our status.” She picked up her radio. “Sparrow to base, all party crashers are neutralized, no casualties.”
“Excellent Sparrow, just keep an eye on the building and report anything unusual; Base out.”
As she stowed her radio, Natalia was wondering what was going on in that building.
Without a glance at his three companions, Michael Post warily stepped forward into the well lit warehouse. In the main area he could see four chairs that were facing some odd looking equipment and a man with vibrantly red hair making what looked to be last minute adjustments to the equipment. As far as he was concerned, the most important part was the fact that due to the good lighting, there were no shadows, and therefore no surprises; but just to be sure, he drew a pistol. He heard his three companions match his actions as the man adjusting the machinery called out, “have a seat gentlemen, I’ll be right with you.” Either he was unaware of the guns pointed at him or unconcerned; either way he was effectively covered so Michael and his friends sat down. Finally satisfied with whatever adjustments he’d made they watched as he flipped a few switches and adjusted a couple of knobs then turned to face his audience. “Hello gentlemen, my name is Daniel Osbourne and I have something I know you’ll be interested in.”
The more Michael saw, the more he realized what an interesting man this Dr. Osbourne was. He was slight but muscular, his hair was obviously dyed its current color and he was wearing some rather effeminate tinted glasses; but there was something else, an underlying violence about him, as though what they were seeing was only a façade and the real Daniel Osbourne was assessing the threat before making his appearance. The guns wavered a bit but they weren’t put away.
“I want to speak to you about perception,” he began, “currently there is a huge search for the so called ‘dark matter’; matter that should exist but cannot be found. In order to do this they have created huge telescopes and elegant theories which so far have turned up nothing. I believe that the problem is one of perception. If you think about it, our senses are insanely limited, we see only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, our hearing is across a similarly narrow range and the less said about our sense of smell the better. I am convinced that the missing matter from creation is all around us but we simply cannot perceive it. So the problem becomes one of human limitations rather than an elaborate seek and find. So how do we exceed our limitations, well that is the question I set myself to answering and my conclusions are rather remarkable. You see it isn’t a matter of expanding our senses, but rather of waking up those senses that we already possess but are dormant. I’m not sure if you gentlemen are familiar with the Pineal Gland or not so I will begin with the basics.” Here Osbourne went into a long discourse on endocrinology that was rather interesting until Alex Masham interrupted him.
“Now I know who you are, you were in Sunnydale and worked with the slayers,” he looked around wild eyed, “this is a trap.”
“Very good,” Oz replied in a very different voice from the one he’d been using. “I was wondering how long it would take you to figure it out.” He saw the men try and move so he said, “don’t try and get up, you can’t. You see the chairs you’re sitting in are coated with a contact poison that totally inhibits the voluntary muscles, so you’re here until someone moves you.”
Now all four looked a bit panicked but still felt they were in control, after all they had a platoon of SAS looking out for them.
“Oh, if you’re expecting the cavalry to come and save you, or more specifically the SAS, well lets just say that we gave them the night off.”
“So what are you going to do to us,” Masham asked.
“What do you mean; nothing.”
“Just what I said, I’m not going to touch you in any way and no one else will either.”
“So just let us go.”
“It’s not time yet.”
“So what is this, blackmail,” Edward Felton asked, speaking for the first time.
“No, this is removing a problem.”
“And how exactly is that going to happen if you’re not going to kill us,” Post asked.
“What I told you about the Pineal Gland is true, and as of right now yours have been stimulated by this machine for almost an hour so pretty soon you’ll start to notice. A thousand different senses will come to life and you’ll be able to hear beyond human range and see in more spectra than you can imagine.”
“And how will that remove us,” Felton asked nervously.
“Well, you see,” Oz began, “you’ll begin to see and hear creatures as well as structures, creatures that exist on this plane of existence but you simply cannot perceive them, yet.”
“Well let’s just say their aesthetics are really different and leave it at that. Then there’s the other situation.”
“And what situation is that?”
“Once you’re able to see them, they’re able to see you, and not all of them are exactly benign,” Oz said, with a feral look on his face. “You should have left the Council alone, and certainly not tried to pull an Initiative again, now it’s going to cost you.”
The four men tried to struggle, but the contact poison had done its job and they were unable to move an inch, despite the fact that they were completely unbound. Giving up his struggle Felton looked at Oz and asked, “so how are you immune to all this?”
“He’s a werewolf,” Masham answered. “I would suppose that the condition is protecting him.”
Oz turned his placid gaze to Felton, “what he said,” the young man added; then he went back to looking at his watch. He could feel the tension mounting in the four prisoners but he couldn’t find it in himself to feel sorry for them. They had sown the wind and were now reaping the whirlwind. Surprisingly it was Post that was the first to crack.
“There are things, flobbery pink things everywhere,” he shrieked out. “God, they’re drifting right through me,” he began to giggle hysterically. Soon the others were noting sounds and shapes and smells that were beyond anything they’d ever experienced and it was obvious to Oz that it was overloading their minds. Then as new and different creatures and things were spotted their voices became more and more shrill, their words wilder and slurred until all they could do was scream. Dispassionately, Oz stood and watched as their minds crumbled and the humanity as well as the sanity just melted right out of their eyes. When it was clear that all of the men had hit the point where they would never recover, Oz walked into one of the offices, light flared and the four were alone, in a way.
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah babe, but I never want to go through anything like that again.”
“I know but thank you for doing this.”
“I was the only one that could.”
“Maybe, but thanks anyway,” she said with a kiss.
He kissed her back, but it was clear that his heart really wasn’t in it.
“Is there anything I can do,” she asked, a worried look on her face.
“Just hold me,” he replied.
She noticed the bleak look in his eyes so she just nodded and pulled him into her arms and comforted him as best she could.
Michael Post wasn’t sure of very much; he wasn’t sure where he was, half the time he wasn’t sure who he was, he wasn’t sure if what he was seeing was real or not. Pretty much the only thing he was sure about was that he wanted it to stop. During one of his few lucid periods he realized that he still held his gun, now maybe it was all the adrenalin screaming through his body, or maybe the poison was wearing out, but for whatever reason he was able to get a few muscles to work. A shot rang out in the warehouse and machinery exploded; now Michael wasn’t sure if the flames were real or not, but really he didn’t much care.
Rescue workers found a bizarre scene yesterday as they answered a fire call from the Docklands area. As they went to take care of a warehouse fire they were surprised to find four men in the structure. Despite their best efforts, two of the men later died while the other two are undergoing tests. The two dead were Colonel Michael Post, currently an instructor at Sandhurst and MP William Davies. Alexander Masham, a brilliant geneticist and MP William Felton are currently hospitalized but authorities are hopeful that they can aid their inquiries into the situation.
Xander put down the paper with a cold smile; somehow he doubted that the two survivors would ever be able to shed any light on much of anything for the rest of their lives. Actually he was a bit disappointed that two of them had died. For what they had tried to do, a lifetime spent screaming in madness, unsure as to what was real and what wasn't and wallowing in their own filth was their just due, if anyone was asking him.
Two Weeks Later
“So how does it feel to be back in your office G-Man?”
“It would feel much better if there was just a bit less paperwork to catch up on, but otherwise it feels quite good.” Giles looked a bit pensive for a moment then asked, “have you been sleeping well lately?”
Xander looked at the man and knew where the question was coming from, “yeah, I’ve been sleeping OK Giles, thanks for asking.”
“A little rough at first, but Dawn’s helping him get over it. It was pretty intense.”
“I’m sure it was,” Giles said, leaning forward. “Doesn’t it bother you?”
“Some, yeah, but it’s what I do Giles, it’s what I’ve done since I found out what the world is really like. I do the stuff that needs to be done, I’m not the great heroic figure, I’m the guy that makes the hero’s job just a little easier. Now if that means I’ve got to take out the trash now and again, well then that’s what I do and if it starts to get to me then I think about Buffy or Faith or Wills or Dawnie and the fact that they don’t have to add that to their list of things they’re sorry for. And maybe I overly simplify the whole thing but the way I figure it is I’m on this rock to make their lives better so I’m prepared to do whatever I can to make that happen.”
Giles looked at the young man for a moment or two, “whatever you may think Xander, I believe that you are indeed a heroic figure; maybe not as pure as the wind driven snow, but then who of us is.”
Xander smirked at the old Watcher, “well it’s your first day back so I’ll indulge your illusions.”
“Thank you so much,” Giles snarked right back. “But now that I’m indeed back, what will you be doing?”
“Well I was planning on taking this really hot girl to a baseball game, and then sit back and think about some advice I got from this cranky old Brit.”
Giles looked both pleased and surprised at the same time, “well since you’re finally listening to my advice ……”
“Don’t push it Giles, I’m sure it’s just a one time thing.”
“Very well, but if you would indulge an old man.”
“You’ll never be old.”
“My knees beg to differ, but regardless, if you would let me I would like to pass on two things that it has taken me some time to learn; the first is always make sure that those you care about know your feelings, life is too short to just let things lay. There isn't a day that goes by where I wouldn't give anything to have that chance with Jenny. And number two is to be sure to have some fun in your life. After all you have already proven that saving the world is a much easier proposition when you’re laughing.”
Xander chuckled as he stood and shook the older man’s hand, “thanks Giles, and who knows, if this works out I might start listening to you more often.”
“God forbid, I don’t know if I could deal with the lot of you actually listening to me.”
“Hey, I might start a new fad,” Xander replied, then sobered. “Take care of yourself Giles, I don’t want to have to deal with you being gone for some time.”
“I’ll do my best, now run along and let me get some of this blasted paperwork done,” Giles said as the young man faded from view in mid laugh.
Xander’s office was empty when he returned. Quietly he headed down the hall to see who was in. When he saw them; they were in Faith’s office, he froze. It was a perfect tableaux he wished that there was some way he could freeze in time so it would be with him always; Dawn was talking a mile a minute and animatedly waving her arms around, Faith was roaring laughter at the younger woman’s antics and Oz sat there watching the two with just the hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth. They were his friends, his colleagues and his family; at least in every way that really counted. He knew that there were good time, bad times, joys and trials and tragedies ahead but he wasn’t going to dwell on it; that was just the way life was. Smiling he stood there just a minute more, watching; not wanting to break the spell.