Tangled Plans, parts 1 to 3
we have violence, dating mishaps, vampires, demons and mutants. There will be Slaying, discussion of the Mutant Question, and medical experiments - in Sunnydale. So, violence, swearing, possible mild sexual content.
main characters: Buffy, Willow, Scott and Jean - others to join later.
disclaimer: I hold no legal rights to anyone from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the X-Men (movie or comics), and Charlie is a aged and moved to the semi-present version of the character created by Mr. Stephen King.
distribution: Twisting, anyone else please ask first.
notes: Set in early season 4. Spike has not been chipped. Oz has not cheated with Veruca, but Willow and Tara have met at the Wanna-Blessed-Be's group, and are on friendly (not romantic) terms. The X-Men are based on the movie (first one only) with additional background information from the comics. There is one tiny mention of something from the second movie, but unless you've seen the movie, you won't know what it is.
"I just don't get it, Willow. I mean, if this old book has survived for I can't remember how many years, and it's sturdy enough to send by US mail, why can't Giles just go over and pick it up, instead of sending us after it?" Buffy sighed, the complaint almost a token protest. Giles had sent the pair of them to pick up a rare book sent by one of his colleagues, and the post office had been holding it.
Willow snorted, not believing that her friend was upset over the book. "You'd just rather spend time flirting with Riley Finn. Is that even... I mean, he's the Teacher's Assistant, are you sure that's not against university policy or something?"
Buffy made an exaggerated pout at her friend. "Well... cute guy, or boring post office? Where's the tough decision? And if Oz wasn't off at class, you'd be complaining right along with me, wouldn't you?"
Willow tried to glare, but couldn't quite keep from laughing. "Well.... maybe. But Giles is busy with his inventory, so he couldn't go during business hours, and he's not really certain how trustworthy his register girl is, so... what else is he going to do?
"Anyhow, he should just tell his friends to ship their stuff over by UPS or something, they take it right to your door." Buffy smiled, possibly trying to plan out the explanation why Giles should have his friends do this, without mentioning the ulterior motive of more free time for her. A shrill whine in the air made them both look up, enabling them to stare with open jaws at the sleek black plane skimming barely over the trees.
"Holy... who's plane is that? Can I have one? And wow..." Buffy stared, part of her mind wondering if this was some new trouble.
Willow stared as well, her mind turning over facts and speculations rapidly. "It sort of resembles a Lockheed-Martin SR 71, but that's a military aircraft, and not for any private individual. And I think... that one was definitely not the standard SR-71, because it was going way too slow, so it's a carefully modified plane based on a military design. Whoever's in that plane has access to military plans and some really good scientists..."
"Do I want to know how you know that?" Buffy glanced at her friend.
"I used to think I wanted to go into aeronautical engineering, before I knew about things going bump. Lockheed's practically the place to go, they do a lot of innovative designs, and... well... I'm descending into techno-geek, aren't I?" Willow blushed a bit, looking at her shoe. "Do you think it might be connected to those camouflage people?"
"Aero... you mean, designing airplanes? Wow... So, that plane is a sign of something being up, right?" Buffy was now frowning, trying to figure out who or what could have the connections and resources to afford something like that. "Where did it go?"
"Yeah, it's a big, probably doesn't show up on radar sign that things in Sunnydale have just gotten a bit more complicated." Willow sighed, for a moment thinking wistfully of the chance to go away fro college, to Harvard, or Yale, or... anywhere. But she'd stayed here, to help Buffy. This wasn't a time for ‘could have been's. "We need to talk to Giles."
Giles was in the back room of the Magic Box, checking his inventory, muttering curses on the people who packed things for shipping. He sounded rather unhappy.
"Let's just hope those are only figurative, right? We got your package." Buffy looked at Giles with a hint of caution.
"And we saw something sort of unexpected, well, more like really unexpected and possibly one of a kind." Willow's eyes had taken on a particular gleam; one that said her mind was hard at work on something.
Giles looked at Buffy, clearly hoping that she could translate the impending babble. "What did you see?"
"It was this neat looking black plane, and it was pretty low." Buffy spoke quickly, trying to prevent the babble.
Willow gave her this look, as if she'd just said something offensive. "It wasn't just a plane! It looked like a modified Lockheed-Martin SR-71! Complete with the radar reflective paint and the nifty angles that cut the radar profile down to almost nothing, and it was only a little over the treetops! Only the military have those planes, and they just don't fly that slowly! Which means that it's been modified, and modified with something pretty impressive and new, like not even published yet type new, and that means you're talking engineering geniuses, and millions of dollars just to build the plane... and who's got that besides the government, and why is it in Sunnydale?"
Buffy blinked, and tried to calm her friend. "Okay, okay, it's not just a plane. It's a really expensive plane that shouldn't be here. But it's definitely not the ordinary thing to see, and it's sort of... not covered in these books."
Giles nodded, lowering the clipboard with his inventory records with a gusty sigh. "Indeed. I suggest... perhaps the two of you might try to figure out where it is, and if there is any clue as to who or what was flying it? Possibly some hint as to why they're here?"
"Right. We can go be all looking around... oh, no, if I don't get some help with that paper, I'm doomed!" Buffy had suddenly frowned, and bolted out the door.
Willow looked at the door, and then back to Giles. "She talked Riley into promising to help her with it."
"Ahhhh." Giles shook his head, looking at his hands. "She is.... quite herself, isn't she?"
"Would we want her any other way?" Willow offered a small smile. "I'm just going to go check out that direction, maybe see if I see anything."
Giles made a slight 'hmmmm' noise, as if he was giving the matter serious consideration before he smiled. "Yes, I suppose you're right. While I do occasionally wish she took her responsibilities a bit more seriously, I wouldn't want her to not be Buffy any longer."
Willow found herself smiling as she left, part of her mind thinking about how everything was changing with college, and another part still thinking over that plane. Something had to be going on, and she had the feeling that they would end up learning more about it sooner or later. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be a painful experience.
End part 1.
Willow’s meandering eventually brought her to an open area, with a nice view of Sunnydale, and rather close to the woods. She’d had quite a few picnics here with Oz, just enjoying the quiet and the peaceful feeling of the woods. Right now, the clearing had that sleek black aircraft resting in the middle. With a soft ‘ohhhh’, Willow moved closer, looking at the outsides of the dark marvel of engineering, observing the way the radar absorbing paint seemed to pull in the light, making it look almost too dark, as if it had no place here.
The plane seemed to be empty, sitting alone and unprotected in the soft grass. How had there been room for it to land? How would there be room for it to take off? It was only then that the more disturbing question formed in her mind. If the people that had arrived in the craft were not here, where were they, and what were they doing?
Willow turned and started back towards the campus, full of worry and unfocused fear. Mysterious people with highly advanced technology were in Sunnydale. Not only that, but they were apparently trying to keep their presence relatively unknown, which was a further cause for worry. Why didn’t they want anyone to know? What were they hiding? She tried to hurry, wishing that she could run the whole distance, or maybe there was a spell to just… teleport the distance. Yeah, that would be nice… except that she didn’t know any such useful spell.
Maybe Tara could help her try to figure out what was going on? Despite being a few months older, Tara seemed shy, acted younger in some ways, and almost painfully adult in others. If they could maybe… maybe scry for an image of the people who’d arrived in that plane, they could… well, probably not know what they wanted, but at least know who to watch for.
And after far too long to worry and allow her mind to spin out terrible scenarios of what the mysterious people might want, Willow arrived at the dorm where Tara’s room was. She knocked on the door, still feeling fluttery and nervous about the whole thing. After a few moments, the door opened, and there was Tara, looking pale, and tired.
“Hey Willow. I have… cocoa.” Tara sounded worried, almost afraid.
Willow slipped into the room, the darkness that was normally soothing feeling oddly gloomy today. “Tara? What’s wrong?”
“You’d just… it’s not that important. I shouldn’t be letting it bother me.” Tara looked tense, as if she was expecting something to jump out, or to hit her at any moment. “So… what brings you here looking all out of breath?”
“There was this aircraft… a modified version of a military plane. And it’s in Sunnydale. I’m pretty sure that whoever flew in is up to something, and we don’t know who, or what, or why, and that’s almost never good here, so I’ve been worried, and…” Willow sank down onto Tara’s futon, her hands wide as she sighed. “I was hoping that you could help me figure out what’s going on?”
“Oh.” Tara seemed to relax a little, a tiny smile appearing on her face. “I think we could do that… A few scryings, nothing too big. And then I won't be thinking about... never mind. ”
Willow frowned in concern, wondering what Tara was trying not to think about. She seemed far to upset for it to be school, and she didn’t think that Tara was dating anyone, so what did that leave? Job hassles? Car trouble, or did Tara even have a car? A family concern, like illness or maybe one of her parents had lost their job? Hadn’t she said once that her family was from out of state, and her mother was dead?
They both poured water from carved wooden cups into a small silver bowl, and then Tara poured a small measure of oil onto the water, the scent reminding Willow of cough drops somehow. “Take my hands, and then focus on the plane, and it s-should appear in the water. An image of it.”
Willow held out her hands, feeling the warmth of Tara’s grip fold over them. She closed her eyes, remembering the grassy meadow, the plane in all its light absorbing glory… Hearing Tara’s gasp, she opened her eyes, looking down at the bowl. An image of the meadow, complete with the plane was there, wavering slightly as the water’s surface rippled.
“You’re right, that doesn’t look like it belongs here.” Tara whispered, her eyes still on the sleek craft. “N-now, we try to move the image b-backwards, watch for who came out of it…”
Willow felt like her eyes were going to dry up as she peered at the water. Eventually, the image showed people moving backwards towards the black plane, like watching a video on rewind. There was a dark haired man in red sunglasses, and a red haired woman, both in what looked like normal clothing. Both of them were fairly attractive, appearing to be in their mid twenties. But why were they in Sunnydale?
“They d-don’t look m-military…” Tara’s voice was soft, filled with unhappiness and worry.
“They don’t look like they should have a multi-million dollar aircraft either. But they came out of it, and they’re here somewhere.” Willow sighed, wondering if she could try to get Tara to calm down enough to explain why she was upset or if the pair of them should worry more about finding the people from the plane.
“Sometimes, looks c-can be d-deceptive.” Tara looked on the verge of tears.
“It can’t be that bad, can it?” Willow reached out, her hand resting on Tara’s shoulder. “Do you… if you want to talk about it, I can listen.”
End part 2.
Buffy sighed in frustration, trying to remain calm. Where was Riley? They were supposed to be meeting to work on that psych paper, and he was… not here. Apparently, his entire frat house was empty, and he wasn’t at the campus library or the computer lab. So, where was he? And he’d better have a good excuse for standing her up like this…
Ten minutes stretched into fifteen, and then to twenty. Smothering a shriek of outraged frustration, Buffy stomped out of the room, absolutely furious. Riley was going to be in trouble. Maybe she could find some demons or vamps to vent some of this frustration on… No-good, miserable boyfriend, standing her up…
She found an old building, the sort that really looked like it should be torn down for the basic safety of everybody. There was a presence inside, vampires. None of them felt particularly strong, but there were numbers. That was trouble enough, and she was the Slayer, chosen by destiny to get rid of trouble, to kill vampires. Not boyfriends. She kicked the door in, stalking inside, a stake in each hand, looking forward to this. There were some battered couches that looked like they’d been liberated from the junkyard, and broken chairs. Crumpled napkins stained with blood had fallen all around, causing the place to have a soured coppery stench.
This place had to go.
Buffy found and staked over a dozen vampires, all of them minions, and none of them skilled fighters. Actually, the place almost felt more like a run down, skanky brothel then a lair of blood-sucking monsters. Still, she kept staking until there was no more vampire buzz in the building, slipping out through the broken door. She felt a little better.
She was still walking through town when she felt something. It wasn’t the presence of a vampire, and it wasn’t precisely evil feeling, but there was… something. This weird sort of humming sensation, like she’d just stepped on a floor that was shaking, except that it was definitely from her Slayer senses. But it didn’t make sense, what could she be detecting? Maybe she’d better find out
Tracking something solely by her Slayer senses was remarkably like a game of hot and cold, with several wrong turns and a lot of confusion. Eventually, she found herself following an apparently normal couple. They looked to be in their twenties, and were dressed casually, a red haired woman and a dark haired guy with nifty looking red sunglasses. There was something vaguely familiar about him, abut she couldn’t quite place it.
The woman sighed, rubbing her temple with one hand. “I just wish… why is this so difficult? I can’t seem to think straight here. Scott, did I remember to bring the headache medicine?”
The man gave her a quick one-armed hug. His voice was oddly familiar. “Yes, we brought it. Flying gave you headaches before, it’s just that you’ve been having so many since the statue…”
Buffy blinked, wondering what the odds were. Here, in Sunnydale, was her long lost – well, not quite lost – cousin Scott Summers. They hadn’t seen him in years, not since his parents moved to Alaska. “Scott? Scott Summers? You never call, you never write…”
He spun around, jaw dropping a bit with shock. “Wha… Buffy? But you’re… didn’t you live in Los Angeles?”
Buffy hugged him, feeling solid muscle under his jacket. Apparently, her cousin had grown up to be quite the hottie. “We moved. It’s so good to see you again. And you look pretty good yourself. I don’t think we can call you Slim anymore.”
“Scott…” The red haired woman’s voice held curiosity, impatience, and jealousy. “Are you going to introduce me to your… friend?”
“ahhh. Of course.” Scott was blushing, looking quite sheepish. “Buffy, this is Jean Grey. Jean, this is my cousin, Buffy Summers.”
“Your cousin?” That seemed to make everything better for her, and Jean smiled pleasantly. Extending her hand, she spoke again. “I’m pleased to meet you, Buffy.”
Buffy touched Jean’s hand, intending to offer a polite and not too strong handshake. It looked like this was Scott’s girlfriend. But everything fell apart when her hand touched Jean’s. Jean stiffened, her eyes going wide, the pupils shrinking to tiny specks as her back arched. Her mouth opened as if she was about to scream, but nothing came out, and then Jean collapsed, falling to the ground like a puppet with suddenly severed strings.
“Oh my God!” Buffy yelped, trying to catch Jean before her head could slam into the sidewalk. “What the hell just happened?”
“I don’t know.” Scott sounded horrified and nervous and shocked. “You didn’t…. there was nothing that should have caused that. We need to get her somewhere quiet.” He lifted her up, holding Jean in his arms.
“We can go to mom’s art gallery, that’s fairly close. I know that arms get tired after carrying someone for very long, we wouldn’t want you to drop her.” Buffy felt horrible, terrified that it had somehow been her fault that Jean had collapsed. She could have carried Jean to the Gallery or farther, but then… how would she explain that to her cousin? This was a bad thing, she was sure of it.
End part 3.