Don't I Get a Cookie
April 30, 2005 12:09 PM
Ian parked his truck outside of the Council's gates and turned it off with a quick twist of his wrist. He was tired, exhausted, even, after riding in the back of a dumpy little cargo plane from Beijing to London. And that was after several days of chasing rumors around Beijing for two days.
But he'd gotten the payoff in the end. One amulet believed to have been made out of a dragon scale and that gave the bearer unlimited protection. Of course, it also turned the bearer into a statue, which was why it was tucked safely away in a box under his seat.
Not the sort of thing that Travers had ever sent him after, but still something that should not be in the civilian population. So he'd taken it upon himself to do something about it.
Of course, now that he had the damned thing, he had to figure out how to deliver it to Giles for disposal.
Everyone knew about the guy in the car. Hannah never noticed him eating. She thought that was a tragedy, so when her work was finished for the day, she used the Council kitchen to bake. She placed several chocolate chip bikkies on a plate and headed out the front door with her borrowed apron still on.
She tapped on the window, smiling.
Ian jumped at the noise, waking up from the light doze he had fallen into. It was inexcusable, falling asleep of the job. And a sure sign that he needed to go home and collapse on his bed.
He turned his head to see a sweet looking young woman holding a plate of biscuits, of all things. And smiling.
Manners instilled by his mother prompted him to open the door and get out of the truck.
"Can I help you?"
"Can't stalk on an empty stomach. I'm the Council's Ministry liaison. I made you biscuits. They're chocolate chip."
Hannah thrust the plate at him.
"Um... Thank you," he said politely, taking the plate. He briefly wondered if Giles would send someone out to poison him, but shook the thought away as ludicrous. If he had annoyed Giles enough to cause the head of the Council to order his murder, the man had slayers that would do the deed.
He took a bite of one of the biscuits and groaned in appreciation. He hadn't realized that he was hungry until the flavor had hit his tongue.
"These are very good," he said, once the sweet was gone. "I wouldn't have expected a bureaucrat to be able to bake."
"I'm not a bureaucrat," Hannah said in an offended tone. "I'm a witch, and cooking and baking come very natural to me. I'm Hannah, and you are?"
"Ian," he replied, wondering if the Prime Minister knew that his liaison to the Council was a witch. And if that was why the man had appointed her.
"So the rumor is that you used to... clean for the council. Is that true? If one of the girls went rogue, so you... handle it?"
"That's the rumor," he said. "But the special operations teams didn't exactly sit around waiting for a slayer to go rogue. We had other duties."
He had a feeling that she would not think much of their other duties, though. She seemed like one of those sweet, take home to Mama type girls. The ones that needed to be protected from the truths of the world.
"What does a liaison do, anyway?"
"I try to explain what goes on here. Within reason. There are some things the Ministry should not know. But no changing the subject. So you kill people?"
"There are some things that the general populace does not need to know about," he returned. "I'm a soldier who has done what he was trained to do. My orders came from Parliament before the Council. And, yes, sometimes death was involved."
"You don't have to be so... sheltering. I fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, and I've been bitten while slaying. My binding charms are spot-on."
"Hogwarts?" He wasn't familiar with the name. Or of any incidents that would have involved someone who was so obviously a civilian.
"Oh. You're a complete Muggle. It's a wizard school. The last dark wizard and his followers waged a battle on the school grounds against a great many of the students and professors."
"A school?" He'd suspected that the mysterious other society had their own police, including one CI Moody, but had not thought that they had schools as well. He supposed it made sense and wondered just how separate the other society was.
"How long ago was this? Were you a student or a professor?"
"I was a student. I was seventeen. It will be seven years this year. I saw a lot of people die."
Seven years ago he's been with his unit, in a little hole in the wall country that didn't exist any longer, doing things he still was not allowed to talk about. And there had been no hint that things were not kosher at home.
"Damn," was all that he said. He wasn't stupid enough to think that kids should not be involved in wars. Shit happened and mothers strapped bombs to their kids. Didn't mean it was right. Just that it was a fact of life.
"I went to counselling for it. I'm perfectly fine."
"Good for you," he said, without any sarcasm. "So how did you go from teenaged warrior to Council Liaison?"
"My predecessor got himself vamped and staked. No one else wanted the job. Best thing that's happened to me. I've made so many new friends. I help. I always wanted to do something that bridged worlds. In school we were separated by houses, and it kept us from uniting. Until the battle. I think unity is important in fighting evil."
"Unity is all well and good, but bollocks the size of a bull's are what's needed to fight evil," he said. It was true. Evil was stronger and had more advantages. Evil was easy. Being a white hat was hard.
"Have you met any of the current slayers? Most of the ones in the field are pretty brassy. Two of them just took out the vampire in the Sharpe crypt. And his two hellhounds. You want bollocks? Look no further than Mac and Kasie."
He gave a wry smile. "The slayers tend to avoid me like the plague. Afraid I'll decide that they're my next target. I did meet one, a girl with pink in her hair. She needs more training."
"Pevensie?" Hannah asked, unable to think of anyone else who had pink hair. "She's fourteen, you know. I think she does all right. And you can't tell me that when the girl has a short staff in her hands. My goodness, that is that girl's weapon."
"I think that was her name. And her age does not matter. Slayers are made to fight evil. If Summers hadn't changed the rules, then Pevensie or another girl would be going out every night to patrol. I was able to beat her in hand to hand and I'm not a vampire or demon. What happens when she sneaks out again and runs into something nasty? One less slayer."
Hannah was looking rather horrified at him.
"I'm a pragmatic man, Hannah. And find the Council's new methods idealistic and naive."
"Well, I would assume she was not trying to kill you. That makes a difference," Hannah replied, prickling slightly. "I do not find them wholly idealistic, and I think naive is way off the mark. Just because they don't get hex happy and go about eliminating every potential problem that might present itself. Do you even know who you're dealing with? The founders of this new era permanently shut down a hellmouth. Your
council never did that, and we have a few things they didn't, a few things they wouldn't have allowed."
"They're good," he agreed. "But they think that the whole world follows the same rules that they do. And that's what makes them naive. Sometimes you have to dip into the Dark Side of the Force, so to speak."
Hannah started laughing. She couldn't help it. Obviously he didn't know Willow or Draco. She'd heard rumors about Giles when upset. Anyone with the nickname Ripper wasn't about hugs and rainbows all the time. Oz happened to be a werewolf. Not that Oz was a bad guy or anything. Anya was a former vengeance demon for crying out loud in the dark.
"Do you know anyone around here besides Buffy? I mean, their backgrounds?"
"The witch tried to end the world at one point." She was a threat, so he'd had to read up on her. "Giles is a watcher. The rest are her school chums."
"Draco Malfoy isn't. We've a few slayers that are witches as well. They've just hired Alastor Moody, and I notice you don't mention Anya. Or Oz, and my gods, if you think Giles just a watcher, you don't know anything. Maybe they should invite you in. At the very least to quell these ridiculous misconceptions you have."
"Moody?" He wasn't surprised by the name, not really. More like surprised that Giles had had the good sense to hire the gruff old copper.
"Giles doesn't like my methods," he told her. "And I don't agree with his. And I doubt that will ever change. But working for the Council is more than a job. And my loyalty is with the Council, even if I think they're a bunch of idiots right now."
"So you think I'm an idiot?"
He made a face.
"There's a possibility of my being fired for where my loyalties lie, and Mr. Giles wants to discuss hiring me should that happen, so I'll be one of the idiots, and happily, because I think you're wrong. I think you don't know as much as you think you do, Ian No-Last-Name-Given."
She snatched the empty plate from his hands and spun on her heel to stalk back inside.
"Oi!" he yelled, making her stop and spin back around. She still looked cavity-making sweet, even with her eyes flashing all sorts of fire. He considered offering an apology, but sensed that it wouldn't really help. He disagreed with her, and she disagreed with him. They were at an impasse.
He opened his truck door and fished the wooden box from under the seat. "Thanks for the biscuits. I did appreciate and enjoy them. And if you'd deliver this to Giles..." She was looking at the offered box in suspicion.
"I dislike him, but I don't want him dead," he snapped. "It's just a stupid amulet I nicked in China. He'll know how to destroy it."
"Thanks," Hannah said, taking the box. "I'll bring you more bikkies in a few days. No need for you to be hungry just because you're sort of a berk."
She turned and left.
"Have a nice afternoon," he called, just to prove that he was not the berk she accused him of being. With a shake of his head, he got back into the truck. At least the biscuits had given him some energy. Enough to make it to his flat without wrecking, at least.