Book One: Gatherings
Summary: AU S7/4 of Buffy and Angel. Sunnydale is a lot more special than just being home to the Hellmouth, and the world is about to get a lot darker as secrets from the past are discovered.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and/or Mutant Enemy own Buffy and Angel. Heavy inspiration from Lost, which is owned by Cuse and Lindelov.
Warnings: Language not used in Buffy Canon. HBO Character Death rules, No one is truly safe. Time Jumping via Flashbacks and 'visual' history.
####### CHAPTER ONE: Riders on the Storm, Part 1/? #######Sunnydale - September 5th, 1979
A light rain spattered against the grounds of the housing development in the east side of the suburban town of Sunnydale, California, and showered the roads and the yards, as well as the bodies laying upon the expanse of said grounds.
Silence fills the air for several moments before the sound of a door swinging open wide, and hitting the wood siding of the house replaces the noiseless void. A man with dark hair and dressed in a suit comes stumbling out, his hands clutching at his chest, trying to ebb the flow of blood from the bullet wound. The front of his suit is stained red, and grows larger with each moment that passes.
The man makes it a few yards onto the lawn before his legs give out from under him, and he collapses in a boneless heap onto the hard grassy ground. As the man struggles to flip himself onto his back, another figure slowly emerges from the house. This new person's identity is obscured by the balaclava pulled down over their face.
The figure steps down off the front porch and takes a few slow steps toward the fallen man, who is still struggling, now to crawl away from the figure. The figure raises a pistol as they come to stand beside the dying man.
The gunshot that echoes through-out the vicinity causes the birds to fly out of their nests in the trees, screaming in terror and confusion as they circle around in the sky above. The masked figure turns their eyes skyward for a few moments, watching the panicked birds in their frenzied flight.
The figure remains motionless for a couple minutes as their gaze falls upon the now dead man, slumped on the ground with blood splattered in the grass surrounding the frame of his body. Finally they turn and walk back into the house, the door swinging shut behind them, and then silence once again fills the air.
For a few moments anyways, as another gunshot echoes through out the area, originating from within the house. After that, all is still and quiet.
########Sunnydale ~ Summer's Residence – June 27th, 2002
“From beneath you, it will devour.” Twenty-two year old Buffy Anne Summers snapped awake as the same six words that had been haunting her dreams the past couple weeks. The blonde slayer snapped up into a sitting position on the bed, and her left hand goes up to her face, wiping away the sheen of sweat that has accumulated on her skin.
“Stupid dreams.” She mutters under her breath and rises from the bed, moving to stand by the window overlooking the street. Silence fills the room as she stares at the moon, hanging high in the night skies, clear of any obscuring clouds. In that moment a deep sense of unease fills her, and she has a bad feeling from deep within her gut that dark days were ahead.
She stayed by the window for a few long moments, lost in her thoughts, and finally makes a decision to call her former watcher, Rupert Giles in the morning. Hopefully Giles was still at the retreat in the Cotswalds, or she didn't know how to reach him otherwise.
After a few more moments she resolves that if she couldn't get in contact with the watcher, she'd call Angel to get Wesley to see about passing word back to the council. She lets out a sigh and turns from the window, and walks back toward the bed, intent on returning to a hopefully dreamless sleep.
#######England – The Cotswalds
Rupert Giles snapped awake to the sound of the telephone ringing on the bedside table, and fumbles as he grabs it a bit. Finally getting it to his ear, he speaks gruffly into the reciever.
“Hello?” He asks as his free hand rubs at his eyes, trying to clear the sleepiness from them as he listens for a response.
“It's Robson.” A male voice sounds from the other end of the line. “Sorry about calling at such an early hour, but I have become privy to some unsettling knowledge. I think it best that you hear it before it gets back to Travers.”
“So tell me then.” Giles suggests, blinking his eyes a couple times and shaking away the last of his fatigue.
“Not over the phone, it's more something you have to see. Can you meet me?” the other watcher inquires, and Giles nods absently.
“When and where?” He asks, grabbing the notepad and pen next to the phone's cradle.
“I'm pulling in your drive now.” Robson replies. “I'll drive us there. Don't bring the Rosenberg girl, this is not for her eyes.”
“Alright, I'll be out in five minutes.” Giles says, and hangs up the phone. He stands from the bed and moves toward his closet to get dressed properly.
#########LA Woman's Correctional Facility
Faith Lehane sat bowlegged on the top bunk of the cell she'd called home for the past four months, a cigarette pressed to her lips for a moment before she pulls it away to inhale the smoke in her mouth. She holds it in for a few moments and exhales with a sputter as she turns her head to see someone she knew to be long dead, standing just outside the bars of her cell.
“No fucking way.” She choked out, holding the cigarette up to her nose and giving it a sniff to see if it had been laced with weed or some drug that could cause hallucinations.
“Hello firecracker.” The former mayor of Sunnydale, the late Richard Wilkins said with an affectionate tone of voice.
“You're dead.” Faith replied shortly, her tone cold.
“Yes, I am.” Wilkins admits with a shrug. “Over three years now, right? I've had time to... adjust.”
“And?” Faith presses, unsure of why she was being visited by a ghost.
“Decades ago, my soul was corrupted by dark magics, and I let it consume me. Your redhead friend very nearly succumbed to a similar fate, but managed to pull herself back. Which, is no feat to be taken lightly, especially with how deep she'd already gotten.”
Faith chuckles dryly, and takes a short drag off the cigarette. “I'll be sure to pass on your regards to Willow, next time I see her. If ever.”
“Oh, it'll be sooner then you think Faithy.” the ghost tells her with a bit of pride in his voice.
“Yeah, okay.” Faith shakes her head in disbelief. “I'm serving twenty-five to life, ain't no way I'm getting out of here anytime soon.”
“You will, actually.” Wilkins disagreed, a small smile adorning his face. “Your path to redemption will have to be found outside these walls, cause you're all on a schedule now.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Faith stared at the apparition outside her cell.
“End of days, Faith. It's coming and this time, doubtful that even all the slayers of all time, and all together could stop it.” Wilkins says, his voice filled with concern. “Summer will fade to darkness, if the champions chosen do not stand as one.”
“What are you talking about?” The dark slayer demands, now utterly confused by the dead man's words.
“Old friends will come calling soon. Be sure to beware the first, from beneath you it devours.” Wilkins gave a wide grin at the baffled look on Faith's face, and begins to fade to nothing. “Be seeing you Faith.”
Inmate #34L-662 watched silently as the late mayor fades completely, and then turned towards the wall opposite the bunk she was sitting atop. She can see her reflection in the mirror that's fastened to the concrete, and pulls her cigarette back up to her lips. A thoughtful look comes over her face as she inhales the smoke, and she holds her gaze on the mirror for a long while, and finishes off the cigarette.
#######London – Watcher's Council storage facility
“We're here.” Carl Robson announces as he pulls the car to a stop outside the warehouse that had been converted into a storage facility for old records, and various artifacts that had been recovered by their employees, both mystical and mundane in origin.
The two men disembark from the car, and make their way to the entrance. Both stop as Robson unlocks the door and pulls it open, allowing Giles to go in first. They walk almost side by side, with Robson just a bit ahead of the slightly older watcher, eventually reaching a door, which opens into a small room.
Reaching out against the wall, Robson fumbles for a moment before the overhead light flickers on, and wall to wall rows of file cabinets are revealed, as well as the table in the middle of the room. Giles follows the other further into the room, and waits as Robson retrieves something from one of the cabinets in the northwest corner of the room.
“What's this about?” Giles questions as Robson pulls a folder from one of the file cabinets, and moves back toward where the older watcher is standing by the table.
“There was a break-in here a few nights ago, but as far as we can tell nothing was taken out of the building.” Robson says, laying the folder down on the table. “This file however, was spread across this very table, and while me and Samuel have managed to keep the real report off Quentin's desk, I'm not sure how long it'll be before word gets passed up about the truth of what is in that file.”
Giles held Robson's gaze for a long moment, before turning his eyes down to the file that lay on the surface of the table. He reaches out with his right hand and flips open the folder, bending down to examine the contents.
After only a couple seconds, Giles pales considerably and slams the folder shut. He backs away from the table a couple steps as if burned by whatever it is that the folder contains.
“Who else knows of this?” He demands after a moment, tearing his eyes from the folder to look at Robson again.
“Just us, Samuel and whoever it was that broke in.” Robson replies quickly. “The security guy that caught the break in, he only knows that a file was breached, not the contents.”
“Good. There's few in our ranks that can be trusted, we must tread lightly as we figure this out.” Giles says darkly. “Zabuto's a good man, but there's no way in hell I want any of this getting back to Quentin or any of those other sodding bastards. They've proven time and again that they will not lend real aid to the fight.”
“I hate Travers as much as anyone, he won't hear it from me, and Zabuto still refuses to speak to the man since he was held back from accompanying the slayer Young to the hellmouth when she was killed. He won't talk either.”
Giles nods, seemingly satisfied and then moves back to the table. He picks up the folder and tucks it into the inside of his jacket.
“This was found to be stolen by persons unknown.” He instructs with a dark tone, and Robson gives a slow nod. “Let's get the hell out of here then, we have some serious research and planning to do.”
#######Desert - Sunnydale, California
Xander Harris had been a great many things in his twenty two years, from an abused and neglected child to the warrior he was now in the fight against the dark side of the world. Through all of that, he'd had his best friend Willow as his rock, and had been all-too-happy to be able to be her rock as well, especially when it had helped him to pull the red witch back from the edge of world destruction.
But now Willow was gone, whisked off by Giles to merry ol' England for rehabilitation, and he was alone.
Shaking out of his thoughts, he got out of his car and walked slowly towards the architecture that his best friend had raised from the ground only a couple weeks prior. Being at this place did little to ease his longing for the return home of his lifelong friend, but it served to remind him of her at least.
Losing himself in his thoughts again, he begins to circle around the pylon-esque structure somewhat aimlessly for several minutes, moving further out with each rotation. Off in the distance, the sun is beginning to rise over the horizon. As he goes for a fourth loop, his left foot snags in a slight drop in the dirt, and he falls to the ground with a cry of surprise, and a thud that more resembles the clang of an impact against metal.
“Ugh, why does this shit always happen to me?” Xander grouses irritably as he picks himself up and looks over to examine the small pitfall he'd tripped over. His eyes widen slightly as he reaches out and swipes his hand against the sand where he'd fallen, pushing dirt away to reveal concrete and metal beneath. “What in the hell?”
A few minutes later, he's worked away at the dirt around the area, and has uncovered a circular slab of concrete with a metallic hatch door in the middle of it. With a look toward the structure, he judged that it was about twenty-five feet from the base.
Looking back at the hatch door, a confused look comes over his face, and he runs a hand through his hair as he shakes his head.
“No end to the weirdness of this town, I guess.” He says with a shrug and pulls out his cellphone, quickly dialling a number and holding it up to his ear as it rings. On the third ring he hears the tell-tale click that signifies that the phone has been picked up on the other end. “Buffy?”
“No, it's Dawn.” The younger Summer's sister says sleepily through the reciever. “What's going on, it's so early Xan.”
“I'm out by the thing Willow raised from the ground.” He tells her, his voice turning excited as he speaks. “I found something that we missed before, and I think the Buffster is gonna want to check this out.”
“Erghhh, I'll see if she's up.” Dawn grunted and rose from her bed to do just that.
#######'The Citadel' – Sunnydale ~ ½ Hour later
Xander pushed off of the spire as the Jetta belonging to the Summers' sisters pulled to a stop next to where his own Accord was parked, and began to make his way over. Dawn emerged from the driver's side, Buffy from the passenger, and both girls moved to meet him in the middle.
“What's this about?” Buffy asked, still a bit annoyed at being awoken so early on a weekend, and her hand came up to rub tiredly at her eyes.
“I'm not sure exactly, but I think it's something far to important to leave for someone else to stumble upon.” Xander replied honestly, turning and leading the way towards the hatch door he'd uncovered. The two sisters follow after him, and in a moment all three are standing around the door in the ground.
“Hmmm...” Dawn mutters, casting a curious look at the hatch as she made her way around to examine it at multiple angles. “Have you tried to open it yet?”
“No, wasn't sure what might come out.” The carpenter replies with a shrug. “I didn't come out her armed for a fight, just to think. Given what Wills almost did here, I figured if there is anything down there they probably weren't friendly.”
Buffy gives a slow nod as she takes a closer look at the door, trying to judge how much strength she'd need to use to get it open. After a couple moments she straightens and turns to face Dawn and Xander.
“We keep a store in the trunk, bunch of stakes, a crossbow and a couple of sharpies.” Buffy tells her best friend, who gives a nod and the three of them make their way over to the back of the Jetta.
Dawn quickly opens it, and frowns as Buffy pushes past and grabs the crossbow before she could get her hands on it.
“Nu-huh. You're still banned from any flying objects of death, at least until after Willow gets back and you explain to her about poor Ms. Kitty Fantastico.” Buffy says as she slings the crossbow over her shoulder, and grabbed one of the swords for herself as well.
Dawn pouts for half a second before grabbing the other sword, and the axe as well, passing it to Xander and then she slams the trunk shut.
“Let's get this over with so we can go home and I can go back to bed.” the younger of the sisters grouses, walking around where her sister and Xander are standing to head back towards the hatch. Buffy and Xander share a brief knowing look, and then follow after the irritated girl.
Buffy reaches it about the same time as Dawn, and hands her the sword so she can work to get the door open. She wraps both her hands around the handle and pulls hard, hearing the metal of the door scrape against the frame as she pulls the nearly three hundred pound door free and then fully open.
The slayer jumps back as the weight pulls the door down to the ground on the other side, not wanting to have her leg or foot crushed by the heavy slab.
A moment of silence passes as Buffy takes her sword back from Dawn, and the three huddle around the entrance of what ever it was that lay below, which is revealed to be a staircase leading down into pitch darkness.
“Anyone else have a bad feeling about this?” Dawn asks, turning to look at the other two as she finally tears her eyes away from the darkness below.
“I'm not picking up anything on my demon radar.” Buffy notes, giving a small shrug. Xander shakes his head and pulls a small convenience store bought, one dollar flashlight from his jacket pocket and turns it on, shining it down into the abyss.
“Maybe nothing demonic, but I have this awful feeling that we're not going to like what we find down there.” Dawn replies, a disturbed look coming over her face.
“Well there's only one way to find out right?” Buffy quips, taking the flashlight from Xander and taking a tentative step down into the stairwell. She holds her sword out in front of her and continues descending into the unknown.
Xander goes in next, and after taking a wary glance around the surrounding desert, Dawn follows with a bit of hesitation behind her steps.
#######500 yards away
Lindsey MacDonald lowered the binoculars as Dawn disappeared into the hatch, letting them hang against his chest from the strap around his neck. He smiles for a brief moment, and pulls out his cell. Quickly, he scrolls down the contact list to an entry titled Hamilton and presses the talk button.
He listens to it ring for a couple moments before 'Hamilton' picks up on the other end.
“Summers and her group have found the Citadel Station.” Lindsey says without waiting for or giving any form of greeting. “We need to start getting the other light warriors to Sunnydale, sooner than we anticipated.”
“I agree.” A deep male voice agrees from the other end of the line. “Go to Los Angeles, and contact the vampire Angelus and the slayer Lehane. Both of them, and the vampire's group are going to be needed on the hellmouth in the days to come.”
“Gonna be easier said than done. Angelus and I aren't on the best of terms, and I'm fairly certain that Faith would try and kill me if I go to her.”
“Fair enough, you deal with Angelus then. If nothing else, the demon is ensoulled so he won't kill you.” The voice replies, pausing for a moment before continuing. “Contact me again after you meet with him, and see if you can't manipulate him into busting out Lehane himself.”
“Unlikely, she went in under her own will, and he has too much riding on this 'redemption' kick of his.” Lindsey replies.
“Won't be a problem when he finds out that despite her exemplary behavior, Miss Lehane has been receiving regular beatings from several of the more... overly enthused guards.”
“So you've been keeping close tabs on her then?”
“I keep tabs on every single one of them, even the ones no longer on this plane of existance.” The voice answers. “Summers and Doyle proved death doesn't always take, so until the very end, I'm not counting any of them out. We need all of them on the hellmouth, before we can start cutting down their number.”
Lindsey nodded and hung up the phone, knowing that the conversation was over from experience. He turns away from the direction that the hatch lies in, and moves toward his rented Escalade. Reaching the driver's door, he opens it and slides into the seat, pulling the door shut behind him.
The car remains stationary for a few moments, silent, and then the thrum of the engine washes over the quiet, and a second or two pass before Lindsey drives away across the desert, kicking up dirt and dust with all four tires as he heads toward LA.
To Be Continued...
A/N(s): Been plotting on this one for over a year now, and several failed attempts at a starting point. This one has seemed to snag my muse and so hopefully this one will pour out fairly fast.
If you read my fic Hunters, that fic is now dead and a majority of the plotlines are being recycled for this one.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read my drivel and if you've enjoyed, please be so kind as to drop a review and feed the hideous muse monster?