My first story posted on TtH. Yey for me. I hope you like it and that you review. I like reviews :P.
Thanks to my beta Venea Taur for editing this story.
I don’t own Buffy or Inception unless it’s in my dreams :P
The Man with the Eye Pat
When Mayborn said that this was going to be an easy job, Arthur should have told him no. He knew that there were no easy jobs. If something was going smoothly, it was bound to turn for the worst soon enough.
He had been sitting in a café in Washington for more than four hours, trying to find information on the new target. Despite the first findings, it was nearly impossible to find any info on this elusive Dawn Summers. The twenty-seven year old headmistress of Joyce Summers School for Gifted Girls was an enigma that started to frustrate Arthur.
He was enjoying himself immensely, because it was so hard to gather anything about the target. It was a long time since he had this much trouble with gathering Intel. The distraction was actually very welcomed, allowing him to forget for a few hours about his life. He thought more than enough about his partner and friend Dom, about Mal and how he didn’t even see the signs that something was wrong with her. He didn’t want to remember how empty his life was. It was his choice to distance himself from people and he never regretted it, till now. Now he wasn’t the point man in a two person team anymore.
In the time he worked, he found out that the young woman, born and raised in California, studied at university in Rome and now worked in Scotland. She didn’t have any criminal records or debts and she was single, no marriages and no divorces.
She had a sister, Buffy Osbourne, but both her parents were already dead. Her mom died of brain aneurism when Dawn Summers was fourteen and her dad in a car accident when she finished her studies in Rome.
She was also connected to ISWO. This was the information the buyers actually wanted Arthur to gather. They wanted names, they wanted locations, they wanted dates.
ISWO was connected to the Joyce Summers School for Gifted Girls as they donated large amounts of money to the school. He was unable to find anything more on the ogranization though. The money trail led him to a bank account in Switzerland, but it stopped there.
Arthur sighed. After hours of hacking he was still without the information he wanted. He would probably have to call in some favors to get more information before attempting the extraction. He would need to gather a team too, but that would come later, once he had a plan of attack.
He was just about to gather his things and leave the café when a man sat down at his table.
The first thing that Arthur noticed was the eye patch on the man’s left eye, hiding what was once a bright brown eye with green flakes if the other eye was any indicator. Arthur also noticed the shaggy dark hair and the youthful smile.
The man appeared relaxed and harmless, but the former point man had a feeling that when provoked the one-eyed man could be as vicious as a hyena.
“Is there a reason why you are sitting down at my table?” There were many free tables after all.
“I’m here to give you an advice. I would leave Dawn Summers alone if I was you. There are people who would take offence if she got kidnapped again.” The stranger smiled at Arthur and then called for the waitress. “You see, the last one that wanted to take Dawn ended in a wine cellar, strapped to the ceiling for a month. From what I heard, they spent a fortune on candles that month.” His tone was conversational and friendly, but the look in his eye told a whole different story. Arthur was smart enough to know that it was more of a threat than attempt at small talk.
The waitress came to the table taking the one-eyed man’s order and left as soon as he asked for a cup tea.
“And why exactly are you telling me this,” asked Arthur. It would take more than just a little warning for him to abandon a job.
Sure things turned out to be even more difficult than before but when has something like this stopped Dom? If Dom could do it, then Arthur could do it too.
“The thing is that whenever Dawn gets kidnapped, I get a hysterical call from her sister and then I have to fly to wherever Dawn was last seen. I’ll admit, it was fun when we were still teenagers, playing the knight in the shining armor, going to her rescue, but now it’s just a pain in the ass.” The stranger leaned over the table towards Arthur as though he was going to share a secret with him. “If you ask me, Dawn needs to get a man to protect her. But she is stubbornly staying single. It’s in the family. Buffy had trouble with commitment too. Luckily, such pesky little things never stopped Oz from doing his mojo.”
The one-eyed man then nodded and leaned back in his seat.
“I still don’t see why you are telling me this,” stated Arthur coolly.
“Hey, I like you and I would hate to see you vanish one night because you picked the wrong person to kidnap.”
The waitress came back with the tea and the stranger thanked her with his big, warm smile.
“So, now that we took care of that little thing, I’m Xander Harris.” The one-eyed man turned his attention back at Arthur.
“Robert Lynch,” he lied.
“Bullshit. You know, for someone working in your field of expertise people would think you would know at least how to lie.” Xander took a sip from his cup and then looked Arthur straight into the eyes. “What about the truth? I could still call my friends to find out, but I’m playing nice, because I like you. You have spirit and passion in you.”
That surprised the point man. He knew that people called him anal and stick in the mud, someone rational and controlled. Passionate would be the farthest thing people with whom he worked would call him.
“Are you trying to flirt with me,” asked Arthur suspiciously. He wasn’t ignorant after all. Woman found him attractive and would consider him a catch ever since he hit puberty.
“If I was flirting, you wouldn’t need to ask” said Xander dryly. “Now, about the name thing?”
The look in the other man’s eye told him he shouldn’t try lying again.
“Arthur,” he finally said.
“Nice to meet you, Arthur. So, tell me why is a guy like you doing the dirty work for the bastards from NID?”
Arthur wondered if he should be surprised that the man in front of him knew who hired him.
“They offered a job and I had nothing better to do.” It surprised Arthur that he actually answered truthfully instead of just making something up.
“Is that so? I’m guessing retirement wasn’t working for you then,” commented Xander offhandedly while looking through the menu that was on the table.
How the hell did he know all this, Arthur wanted to know. It was one thing to know when somebody was lying straight into your face, but to know something as personal as that, was a different matter.
“How,” Arthur didn’t finish his sentence, but the sharpness of his voice was more than enough for Xander to know that he better elaborates on his statement.
“Hell if I knew how. Sometimes I just guess things. Saved my life on numerous occasions.” A song, that Arthur remembered from his childhood, started to play and Xander quickly pulled his phone out of the pocked. He pressed a few buttons and read the message that was sent to him.
“Well Mister Arthur Gordan, it seems that you impressed some people from ISWO. They are offering you a position in our safe house here in D.C.”
If Arthur wasn’t trained at controlling his facial expressions he would gaped like a fish at the one-eyed man.
“Why exactly are they offering me this position?” Arthurs tone was apprehensive. He did after all at least attempted to steel information from the very same organization that now offered him a work position.
“Well, I would tell you but unfortunately they didn’t tell me. Probably because I have a tendency to talk too much.” Xander shrugged his shoulders and took another sip from his cup. “My guess would be that they see you as useful at gathering information. In our field, that’s very important.”
The one-eyed man pulled his wallet from his pocket, took out a few bills for the tea and a card with ISWO written on it and a number.
“Call whenever you feel like a change in scenery, but stay away from Dawn if you want to see another day.” After that, Xander finished his tea and stood up.
“Is that a threat?” Arthur didn’t take nicely to threats.
Xander just smiled before answering. “That’s a promise.”
That night Arthur couldn’t stop thinking about the one-eyed man from the café. Who was he? How did he know so much about Arthur? Why was he offering him a job? Was he flirting with him? He finally accepted that he wouldn’t sleep until he had at least some answers.
It took him the whole night before he was satisfied with what he found on Xander Harris and went to sleep. But the day left its toll on him and his sleep was restless.
He woke up with a scream, reaching for his totem on the nightstand. It was rare for someone of his profession to dream when sleeping. It was Arthur’s greatest fear that the nightmares that bothered his sleep would become his reality.
“It was just a nightmare.” The voice in his apartment startled Arthur. His heart started to beat even faster and he slowly reached for the gun under his pillow.
“Don’t worry, it’s just me,” said the person in the room. The lights came on and revealed Xander, sitting on a chair in the far corner of his room.
“What are you doing here?” Arthur tried to pull a blank expression on his face but failed miserably. The mix of nightmare and just being woken up left him defenseless.
“You were looking for me. Thought you had more questions so I came here. Plus I was bored at the safe house.” Xander looked at him with concern. “Are you ok?”
It was just a simple question, but it unnerved Arthur. “Why wouldn’t I be? Everything is just fine.” He pushed the covers off of him and went to the bathroom thinking that maybe he would feel more like himself if he splashed himself with cold water.
“They’ll get only worse if you’ll keep them inside,” said Xander, standing at the doorway.
“Why do you care?” snapped Arthur at the man. It struck a cord in him, because the nightmares were indeed getting worse. Why would he, a complete stranger, care whether Arthur had nightmares or not. People that Arthur considered family for so long gave a rat’s ass as to how he felt after all.
“Well, I have this thing that makes me want to help people that are hurting. You are hurting, so I want to help you.” Xander was quiet for a few seconds before he grinned and added, “Plus I really want to just throw you onto the bed and have my wicked way with you and that’s hard to do if you are upset.”
Arthur choked on air after Xander’s admission. He wasn’t used to honest, straightforward people. In his line of work, honesty wasn’t really considered an asset.
The silence between them was deafening and despite his better judgment, Arthur started to talk. “It’s something that happened during one of the jobs. I keep dreaming about Mal killing everybody I know. It shouldn’t bother me so much but it does.”
Xander stepped in the bathroom and sat on the countertop, closing his eye and leaning his head on the mirror. “I know what you mean. I sometimes can’t sleep, fearing who will I see die next in my dreams. There are so many girls, all so young, fighting every night. I try my best keeping them alive and kicking, but it’s never enough. I’m never quite fast enough, strong enough, smart enough. And then there is only blood left.”
They were both silent again. Finally, Xander sighed and stood up.
“Come on, let’s get you back in bed. We’ll talk more tomorrow. Today actually, seeing how it’s morning.” He took Arthur’s hand and pulled him out of the bathroom.
“I can manage to go to bed by myself just fine thank you very much. Don’t need any help.” Arthur’s annoyance with Xander’s forwardness came pouring out of the point man. He didn’t need a keeper to make sure Arthur was in bed at the appropriate times.
“I didn’t say you couldn’t. Yeesh, relax.” Xander pushed the smaller man on the bed and then threw himself down on the bed next to Arthur.
“And just what do you think you are doing?” Arthur protested loudly. He might like the one-eyed man, but that didn’t mean that he was just going to sleep with him.
“You don’t mind if I crash here for the night, do you? I haven’t slept all night and my apartment is on the other end of town. Sure, the safe house is much closer, but it’s full of loud teenagers constantly fighting over something. I promise to behave.” Xander looked at the point man pleadingly, unleashing on him the famous puppy-dog eyes.
Arthur tried to resist for a while, but Xander's puppy-dog eyes impersonation was too much for him to handle. “You may stay.”
Xander gave him his brilliant grin and laid down. Not knowing how to behave with the other man in his bed, Arthur watched the one-eyed man. His eye were closed and he had a peaceful smile lingering. He reminded Arthur on a more watered down, more bearable Eames.
“I can feel you watching me,” complained Xander with tired voice, not even bothering to open his eye.
It startled Arthur. “You are still wearing your eye patch.” It was an evasion, so that Arthur wouldn’t have to talk about his unusual behavior. But he really wanted to know why the man next to him didn’t remove the patch.
“Yeah well, it’s not the prettiest thing, my missing eye. It bothers most people and you were so generous to allow me to bunk here.” Xander opened his eye and looked at Arthur. Arthur just nodded in acknowledgment, but decided to ignore it in favor of the more pressing question.
Battling with himself, he finally asked the question that had been hovering in his brain since he met the one eyed man. “What happened?”
Xander just shrugged and looked at the ceiling. “Well it’s a long story. There was this priest and we were in a wine cellar and there were lots of pretty girls and did I mention all the wine? Then my eye went poof. It’s long in the past. Doesn’t really matter anymore.”
Arthur had a feeling that there was more to the story, but didn’t press. He had a suspicion that Xander told only the part that would lead people to the wrong conclusions. “Why the eye patch? There are other alternatives nowadays.”
“I had the offer for that silly plastic eye thingy, but it sounds too…. silly. I don’t know. I feel that if it isn’t a part of me that it doesn’t belong in my body.” Xander could still remember the times when he was possessed and he knew that a fake eye wouldn’t mean that he was possessed, but it still unnerved him. “Plus I like my eye patches. I started an eye patch collection actually.”
Thanks to the years of experience, the point man knew that that wasn’t the whole truth, but he didn’t dig deeper. He knew that some things just weren’t easy to discuss. Instead, he tried to lighten the mood. “How many eye patches do you need?”
Knowing what the point man was doing Xander gave him a big mischievous grin before answering. “As many as you need ties. Now sleep.”
“A little hard with a stranger in my bed,” complained Arthur while lying down on the mattress.
He was surprised by the serious tone of voice Xander was using when he answered his complain. “But I’m not a stranger.” Arthur gave him a doubtful look, but Xander continued. “You know my name, you know my greatest fear. Hell you even know about my eye patch collection. I’m not a stranger.”
“No, you are just the man with the eye patch that needs to help people.” It was meant to be a sarcastic comment, but the one-eyed man next to Arthur just looked at him before answering with a soft voice.
“Give it a time. I’m like an antibiotic. I cure the infection, but I take my time.”