Inception belongs to Chris Nolan. BtvS belongs to Mutant Enemy and Kuzui Enterprises.
Anne’s in an airport, watching her glass of brandy when he sits next to her- almost silent, with the same cat like grace she’s been used to from him. The same grace that’s been trained into her too, like a marker identifying them from the rest of humanity in a crowd.See honey, see those silently moving people- the ones with the blank eyes and the steady hands. Those are the ones you have to watch out for.
She sighs and takes a sip of the alcohol, feeling the burn down to her stomach, leaving behind a pleasant trail of numbness that she’s been chasing for so long.
“Hello Arthur,” she says finally, flicking a glance at him from the corner of her eyes, “you’re looking well.”
And he is, the bastard. He’s wearing a Zegna suit, current season’s collection- of course
, she can see nary a hair out of place despite the fact that he must have flown for over twenty hours to find her. Last she heard of him was that he was laying low in Mombasa, after the rumored inception job.
“Thanks Major,” Arthur smiles. Or what passes for a smile these days with him, a slight quirk of the lips and a flicker of good humor in his eyes. “You look good,” he says, looking her over with frank estimation, “healthy.”
Anne laughs then, relaxing genuinely. Trust Arthur to be the bitchiest one of her boys, of her squad- all earnest dimples and a sharp witted rejoinder for everything except her fashion faux pas- good God
how she’s missed the kid.
“Thanks, soldier,” she smiles at him, signaling the bartender for another.
Having gotten her full glass of brandy, Anne exhales and turns fully to face Arthur.
He wouldn’t be finding her out of nowhere if it wasn’t important, not Arthur- especially
if he knows what had happened in Bolivia, why she’s had to lay low for the last six months, slowly trying to regain the weight she had lost in a cell too small for an animal much less a human.
She owes it to him to pay attention.
“What’s going on?” she asks, after examining him closer. She can see the fine lines near his eyes, where the constant strain must be getting to him and if
what she heard about Cobb is true- she thinks it must be, remembering the wildness around the man’s eyes and the twitchiness of his fingers, the way he couldn’t keep still- then Arthur’s exhaustion is certainly warranted.
“Major,” Arthur begins and Anne holds up a hand, shaking her head.
“Listen, if you tracked me down halfway across the world- I think we can drop it with the formalities Corporal,” she smiles and when Arthur finally, exhales, finally loosens up- that’s when she sees it.
It must be bad, if Arthur’s allowed himself to carry it with him for a trip around the world.
“It’s Harris, Anne-“ Arthur swallows and the bottom drops out from her stomach.
The youngest of their unit, the newest recruit- the one that she had single handedly stopped from applying to college and had enticed into their shady military life, full of secrets and shadows and half remembered dreams that would disappear if you thought about them too hard.
“What is it?” Anne licks her lips, hand fluttering subconsciously towards her still healing ribs.
He’s gone under, Arthur says, too many levels for him to handle and not enough experience to recognize the danger before it had sucked him in over his head. Like a small fish floundering in the vast ocean of his own subconscious, Xander needs help, and he’s tried- Arthur grimaces, swigging back an uncharacteristic third of Crown Royale, not even grimacing at the taste- he’s tried, but the dream is too heavily constructed, militarized unlike anything they had ever seen and they need her.
They need her to bring him out.
When Anne shakes her head, turning to leave because the last time she had been under- she had ended up strung up by her wrists in a pair of rusting manacles for two months in the sweltering heat of the jungle, with a pissed off mark for company and several hundred of his angriest rats clamoring for her blood.
“I saw Willow.”
Arthur’s words are like a shot to her chest. A hollow rebounding beneath her breastbone and for a second, Anne can’t breathe at all- clutching at the barstool with everything she has.
“He has her there,” Arthur continues, unrelenting and merciless because that had been the one thing that Anne had taught all of them well- to keep going when they had an advantage, to never stop, never give up. “She’s with him, like some demented head of security- he has her down there Anne, and you know what that means. He’s brought her back to life.”
She knows. Stops walking and just focuses on breathing in and out, nice and steady-like.
In. Out. In. Out.
“You owe him that,” Arthur gets off the stool, straightening his suit as he stands, “for her. For us. You owe him, and you’re going to Washington to pull him out.”
She doesn’t meet his gaze, listening for that tell tale hush of Arthur’s foosteps when he leaves.
She gets her shit together fast, always has, always will and snorts a humorless laugh at the documents she knew she’d find in front of her seat.
A ticket to Washington DC, under the name of Buffy Winters and a picture so out of date, Arthur could have used an entirely different person for it.