On the Road
Disclaimer by grd: same as before.Cleveland, OH
Wesley, Buffy, and Dawn sat patiently in Doctor Silvagyi’s office awaiting the doctor’s prognosis. Or rather, Wesley and Dawn were. Buffy stood up and paced the floor no less than twenty times, after which she had returned to her chair and tapped her fingers forcefully on the armrest. After reading Silvagyi's various achievements twenty times, Buffy knew he was a graduate of Michigan State University and went to Medical School at John Hopkins. Waiting was not Buffy’s strongest suit.
“Buffy, your tapping is putting indentations in the doctor’s chair. Please stop.” Wesley observed.
Finally, the doctor entered and sat down. “Mr. Pryce, Miss Summers, “ he also nodded to Dawn. “The tests results are in and we found what appears to be a tumor in your mother’s brain.” At the expressions of fear, “The tumor is operable though, some recent advances in medical science have made these more treatable with a very good chance for a full recovery,” he quickly reassured them.
“When do you plan to operate, doctor?” Wesley inquired.
“As soon as the forms are signed, we can schedule the operation tomorrow afternoon. The biopsy results show that the tumor is benign. Her black out episode was due more to the mass pushing on certain parts of the brain. Why don’t you get some rest and come back tomorrow? You’ll be able to wait with her in the surgical suite.”
After they left the doctor’s office, Dawn turned to Buffy and asked, “Buffy, will mom really be alright?”
Buffy smiled reassuringly at her sister and replied, “If the Doc says she’ll be fine then she’ll be fine. We’ve gotta believe it, Dawn.”
“Would you like me to be there with you?” Wesley asked.
“Of course, Wes, mom’s going to need comedy relief when she gets out. You can be her Benny Hill.” Buffy said with a humorous smile.
“I do hope not. Please do not compare me to that crass and obscene man. He is no way indicative of what a gentleman is supposed to be.”
. You know, that has a nice ring to it.” Dawn retorted and laughed.
The playful banter helped to relieve Dawn’s tension and worry. Buffy was glad that Wesley understood what she was trying to do. As Wesley continued to counter Dawn’s verbal insults, she remembered the planned road trip that had been indefinitely postponed. She hoped and prayed the Council’s Retrieval Team had not yet arrived in Cleveland, and that they had time for their mother to get better first, but with this being the Hellmouth, Buffy was prepared for the worst.
“Let’s go home Dawn, we’ll see Mom tomorrow. We need to pack anyways. Before this happened Wes was talking about taking us all on a road trip.”
“Is this true?” Dawn squealed. Wesley nodded. “All of us?” Dawn starts to hop around excitedly. “Road trip for all of us!” Dawn starts squealing in excitement.
Buffy just shook her head at Dawn’s antics. Ever since she met Wesley, Dawn had had this strange idea to play matchmaker. Dad’s been gone for two years now, and I’m not ready for that yet. Besides, just the thought of it makes me want to shampoo my brain out…eeew. I always wondered what Dad would have thought of Wesley. I think they’d have gotten along famously, since they both share a belief in duty. I miss you Dad. I really miss you…
A single tear rolled down Buffy’s face as she reminisced.I’ll never forget what Dad did for us. When he agreed with Mom to move out here to Cleveland, he sacrificed his high paying job to join us, his family. The family came first. If the Council harms my family, I’m breaking bones. Maybe even necks…
Buffy swore to herself.
Wes drove them back home. Along the way, he recommended that they pack and take some clothes along for their mother tomorrow. Buffy then put in a call for about a dozen large pizzas. as being at the hospital all day had left her starving. The idea of eating the cafeteria food at the hospital reminded Buffy too much of school lunches.
“Buffy, we need to talk,” Wesley whispered later at the house as they packed several changes of clothes for Joyce and themselves. “If your mother is going to be resting at the hospital for a few days, and we still have to prepare for the Council team’s arrival.”
“I know Wes, but we can’t just leave. The Hellmouth would be left open and vulnerable…”
Wesley sighed in frustration. “If only I could get a hold of my father, he may be able to delay the council, but so far, I haven’t had any success reaching him; I can’t reach any of my family. I fear this has something to do with the Council’s decision.”
The Slayer’s eyes burned with anger. “They’d stoop that low just to get to me? God! I spend all my time keeping the world safe and those bozos have the arrogance to do this. Wes, I really didn’t like the idea of running and hiding but if we can’t run, I’m all for staying and fighting. You won’t mind if I break a few bones?” Buffy ranted.
Wesley simply gave her a knowing look, “We’ll have to consider that possibility, but please do restrain yourself; I may know some of the men to whom those bones will rightly belong…”
Unbeknownst to them, Dawn moved silently back from around the corner. On a road northwest of Youngstown-Warren Airport
“You know Rupert, that ability you have of talking your way through checkpoints and speeding tickets is really handy. I can’t wait to take you shopping with me.” Jenny calmly stated as the fifth police officer to stop them was left confused from Giles’ use of Force Persuasion.
Giles looked to her in shock and exclaimed, “Jenny! I’m only doing this as I feel we may be too late otherwise. I have a bad feeling about Cleveland and I sense that timing is crucial.”
“Well, you driving like a madman should get us there soon enough. I hope Jonathan’s directions are accurate.”
“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of you. You’ve really done wonders with those children.” Giles praised.
“They’re not kids anymore, Rupert. Ever since Sunnydale, they’ve worked hard to become something more. We may laugh at Andrew’s comments about the ‘Rebellion’ but we may be the only ones who can stand up against what Harris is doing. Your return and the abilities you’ve picked up are a testament to that.” Jenny looked out at the passing landscape and sighed. “I hope you get the chance to talk to Cordelia though. She’s still harboring some guilt about what’s happened. To her, this nightmare is something she still sees as entirely her fault. She remembers the other time-line, Rupert, and it haunts her to no end. Of all the White Hats she’s been the most driven. She’ll do anything from bribery, threats, to sweet talk to get any of the boys to do her bidding. I think she was originally planning to go to Hollywood; she would have fit right in. She’s close to burning out, Rupert, so when we get back please talk to her.”
She paused as they sped onward, reflecting inwardly on her own part in the burgeoning insurrection. “I haven’t been as big a help as you think, though. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I started becoming more involved. I…feared you were dead, but somehow I kept seeing your face every night, calling to me. I’ve just been so lost in my grief.”
Giles smiled knowingly as he answered. “Jenny, there was a time during my training when I saw you too.” At this revelation, she looked at him, as straight into his eyes as he permitted given the attention he paid to the road and the Force, and Jenny felt the spark between them grow into a single solitary flame. Giles caught her feelings in the Force and replied. “Yes, dear, I did. Whichever they are, God, the PTB, the Force, they have all worked hard to bring me back to you. I’m sorry you went through that, but like Master Yoda kept drilling into my head every day, ‘Faith you must have, if you hope to defeat the Sith.’ It took years for me to understand what he meant, and I realized that everything happens for a reason. I thought Anyanka was going to kill me when I failed to destroy her necklace, but I’m alive and I’m here again. Those miracles are something I have to keep remembering when things look bleak, because we can’t give in to despair. Those honorable beings whom you would think fictional taught me a great deal. My coming back is not due to luck.”
Jenny looked at him askance as he masterfully manipulated the sedan at speeds exceeding one hundred miles per hour. “What does that mean, Rupert? What’s going on?”
Giles returned her gaze for a moment, and suddenly she sensed a great sorrow had penetrated his heart and taken root. He would have to commit a deadly act in the interest of the world’s salvation and possibly more than that. She made a mental note to herself to ask him about that in due time as he continued to speak.
“There is a reason that I am back. I believe there is a balance to all things; every Jedi learns this and is expected to preserve that balance between light and dark. When Harris became a Sith, the balance was upset, altered heavily against the Light. The circumstances of my return are an attempt to correct this imbalance. I just have to discover what that is I have to do.”
“What do you mean? You face Harris and beat him, end of story.”
A pervasive silence loomed suddenly as she suddenly understood the meaning behind his words.
“No…..there has to be another way to bring him down, there just has to be. I mean, we can’t just kill him….can we?”
“I fear we may be already be too late for anything else. If we’d stopped him sooner perhaps, but now with the global implications involved, the technology he has unleashed, defeating him will be more than the movies, where everything somehow returns to happiness instantly with the defeat of the villain.”
Jenny’s eyes widened with growing horror as he related to her the nature of the Dark Side and the inner workings of the mind of a Sith Lord.
“You have to understand, beloved. Xander has been corrupted by the power of the Dark Side of the Force, perhaps completely. If you recall from the second movie the words of Master Yoda, once you start down the Dark Path, it changes and dominates your destiny forever. The more you call upon the Dark Side, the more you give yourself over to it as a slave, mind, body and soul. It changes your way of thinking on a fundamental level. What to us would be considered unthinkable is second nature to one such as Vader, or Darth Sidious, whom we know from the movies as Palpatine, or Xander Harris. You become consumed with a lust for power and a drive beyond your imagination to go to any lengths, including mass murder, to get that power for yourself, to keep it for yourself and to share it with no one. Paranoia, jealousy and greed and unreasoning hatred dominate your thinking in such a way that you are no longer the same person you once were. Your friends will turn against you and seek to destroy you, and you won’t even realize that it would all be your fault. Do you see that now?”
“Yeah, I do….” She replied in a horrified whisper. Her soul felt as if it had been excoriated. “So what do we do?”
“We have to find out what he’s up to first. The Sith do not move haphazardly; the Sith plan, they are patient. It took decades for Palpatine’s plan to bear fruit. In the dimension that I was in I learned of the history that Harris’ murder of George Lucas sought to prevent us from seeing.”
“Wait—murder? Lucas’s death was an accident, breathing problems. He just keeled over in his office as he was writing Episode Two. No one could explain how, and it was eventually decided that he simply died of pulmonary failure.”
“Mm-hmm…and did you ever get to read the coroner’s report? If not, then I suggest you download it and see for yourself what the coroner found. This has the Dark Side written all over it, I can almost guarantee you, Janna.” His use of her true Gypsy name brought the whole terrible weight of the thing crashing down around her shoulders, and she suddenly swore to herself that she would get that report and read it in every detail.
“It’s unfortunate that I didn’t return sooner,” Giles went on, “as I am sure the chaos that is being created right now is being manipulated by the Sith to further a much greater goal. Unlike the galaxy-wide conflict in the stories, we are fortunately only one planet. There are still things from my vision that I don’t quite understand yet, but soon I’m sure they’ll be clear,“ he explained.
Jenny Calendar listened attentively and asked, “Who taught you this history?” His answer chilled her blood.
“The man who was once Darth Vader.”
For several miles, Jenny Calendar could only stare ahead in stunned silence.On a road west bound.
While attending the Watchers’ Academy, Isobel Horrocks trained in the martial arts including jujitsu and Tiger-Crane Kung Fu, ancient weaponry, physiological warfare, but none of those could have prepared her for dealing with an impatient, rebellious and restless teenager on a 10-hour drive.
“Faith for the last time, we are not reenacting ‘Thelma and Louise’. I am not going to rob a store, blow up a truck, or have you pickup some handsome gent. We are trying to quietly
make our way cross-country and avoid drawing any attention to ourselves. It was rather inappropriate of you to flaunt yourself like that and leave all those men in that last rest area, uh, bothered in that manner.”
“Aww, come on, Horry,” Faith teased, “I’ll even let you be Thelma and you can bang the guy all night long!”
Stop that!” Horry exclaimed as her cheeks reddened slightly. Even in her forties, Isobel had maintained a fine, trim physique, and more than a few men in her time had made offers of pleasureable activities. Recalling their sexual advances gave her no end of embarrassment in front of her Faith; she would not be seen by Faith as anything less than a proper lady and her mentor in the ways of the Slayer and of womanhood. In less than a moment of recalling those dalliances long past, Isobel forced the memories from her mind and reminded herself of their mutual goal of a strategic withdrawal. But teenage girls were nothing if not persistent in their expressions of excitement, as Faith was reminding her even now.
“See? You thought they were cute too. Horry, live a little; some of those jerks had it coming. It was funny.” Faith replied with a rather large grin on her face, having been pleased at the result of her own antics.
Isobel couldn’t help but smirk. “Yes it was, but while it may have been amusing, I highly encourage you to reign in your impulses in the future. A respectable lady does not
behave in such a manner, and by Jove, I will make
you respectable yet.” Isobel promised.
The pair grew silent for a moment, allowing Faith to reflect on her mentor’s words. They had been conveyed in such a tone as a mother might use with her own rebellious, impatient and impulsive teenage daughter. At length Faith asked, “Horry?”
She looked inwardly for a moment as she processed her last thought, and then she decided to follow up on this lead.
“Back in Boston….why’d you call me Faith Lehane-Horrocks
“I’d hoped you would ask that very thing. You see, even if you are never Called, I’d hoped, with your approval, you understand of course, that you would like to become part of my family.”
A frightened and surprised Faith asked slowly at length, “That... wasn’t just a cover to save my hide?”
“At the moment it was, but I have always been so very proud of you, my dear Faith. And while we were delayed in those holding cells before you displayed that amazing talent of yours that facilitated our early release, I had a few moments to reflect on that very action, and I realized that, at least on a subconscious level, it wasn’t just an unprompted use of my Academy training. I genuinely felt that you and I are more than just a Watcher and her charge. I have always thought of you as the daughter I could have had,” Isobel confessed.
Fath suddenly found herself speechless. She quickly turned away to hide the tears that she knew were coming. Of course, coming from the broken home she had lived in since childhood, she was no stranger to tears or heartbreak, but for once, and at long last, they were tears of joy. When she finally spoke, she could only manage a choked whisper.
“Why of course, dear. Do you understand? You are absolutely the most incorrigible, stubborn
, and incredible
girl that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You cannot imagine how totally empty my life was until you
came into it. I would be honored
to call you my daughter.”
Faith looked back to Isobel, to the woman who had been more of a mother to her than her egg donor, for lack of a more pejorative term, had ever been. The tears were now flowing freely, and she asked finally with a small smile, “Mind if we just shorten it to Horrocks? I really don’t like the hyphenated name thing.”
“Absolutely, my Faith. Absoluetly….”
The tears were in her own eyes now. Isobel Horrocks felt complete.Detention Facility, Boston, MA
Once Special Agent Marcus McVae was in a dead end job as a federal health care investigator, with an infamous reputation for ruthlessness in investigating and persecuting individuals guilty or not. His last case put a poor woman and her husband into prison for Medicare fraud for 5 years; he personally buried any evidence that could help prove their innocence; after all, the dead tell no truths either.
Now he answered to Judge Dansey. Somehow the Judge knew what he’d done and personally recommended him to the Director of Homeland Security. The Judge believed something significant happened here and it was his job to find out what and recapture the escapees. He pulled out the photos of Faith Lehane-Horrocks and Isobel Horrocks.
Contrary to current belief, the door was locked and secured. Somehow, the Faith girl had unlocked it and Ms. Horrocks’s too. Some form of hypnotism and telekinesis perhaps. So far the search of their home turned up very little. They left in a hurry and could still be in town. His instincts told him they were not.
“Commander, have all check point video’s reviewed from here on all major roads. I believe they are on the road heading somewhere. I want your techs to compile a list of any strange incidents similar to what’s happened here. Have your techs had any success accessing her computer?” McVae asks.
Cody shakes his head, “No and it will not seem like they will. The techs tell me the system …melted. Hell of a security feature. When we catch them, maybe we should hire them to put the same kind of security in our systems.”
“Not an option, Commander. My other orders are to investigate this Watcher’s Council that Ms. Horrocks is supposed to be a member of. My instincts tell me they were hiding something, maybe something to do with that girl Faith. Why would a wealthy woman choose to adopt a kid like that?”
“Apparently she has some special interest vested in the girl, sir. Perhaps she’s been training her to fight HSTs. It would explain their closeness as Captain Schuler indicated in his report. Maybe we can use that to our advantage, Special Agent?”
McVae smiled at the thought of it. It would require the use of an old tactic that still proved effective. He would wait and see where they went, and then he would create a situation that would require their separation. By then he would know all he needed to trap the Watcher. He would use her to draw in the girl. Then he would have them both.
“Cody, make a note to get a copy of all records of any other suspected members of this Watchers Council from Immigration. I want to know how their organization is structured, their command hierarchy, their mission. They
will lead us to our matronly prisoner, and when Faith comes to rescue her, we will be waiting. Did forensics get anything else from the house?”
“There were plenty of occult books and some archaic weapons. It’s obvious they knew something about HSTs. Their early claim about being attacked and Faith being kidnapped proves most likely true. There were more clues that tell us they don’t wish to be found. There was no activity from Mrs. Horrocks’ credit cards or bank account. The training weapons we found look well used, and Ms. Horrocks appears most proficient with the weapons. It explains the report the troops gave at the warehouse about the way she took out two HST’s in the front with a bow. When we find them, we should be prepared for a heavy resistance,” Cody replied.
“I’ll make a note of that, Commander. Also, I’ll be sending what we have so far to the Director. Until then, you will ensure all checkpoints are alerted to keep an eye out for them, and you will make sure they have photos of our escapees posted. The Director wants them alive
.” Too bad, it would have been easier to just have them shot on sight
, McVae thought.
“By the way, how did the warehouse raid go?” McVae asks.
“Only 10% casualties, the armor prevented any fatalities and we captured more specimens and sent them off to the Initiative base in Sunnydale. It was unfortunate that we didn’t capture the leader though; all reports say he would have made an excellent acquisition. Director Walsh was very disappointed.”
McVae had another thought. “Forget about trying to capture him, Cody; I want him tracked instead. We may have a use for him when we finally catch up with our quarry.”
Cody’s expression indicated further consideration of those circumstnaces. “From the report by Captain Schuler of his interview with the Horrocks women, the HST who captured Faith might have some unfinished business with them.”
“Commander Cody, I want all the original surveillance tapes brought to me immediately, all copies will be destroyed. Is that understood?” McVae ordered.
“Clearly, Special Agent.”
McVae turned to leave and then paused. Before he stepped out of the detention center, he turned and looked over his shoulder at the clone officer. “I like the way you think, Commander. Perhaps in the future we’ll be working together more often…”Hours later..
Commander Cody presented a report on what had been gathered so far.
“Special Agent McVae, Immigration has a record of a former Council member living in Cleveland, a Mr. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, the only child of a Roger Wyndam-Pryce, Senior Council member. It seems he was either fired or quit several months ago. There’s been no contact between him and the Council since then. He may have some inside information. I’ve dispatched Captain Schuler to interview him; he’s outbound on a Crate as we speak.”
“Very good, Commander. I want you to dispatch a squad to follow the Captain, and when they meet, we will wait for the good captain to depart and detain Wyndam-Pryce for questioning. Anything he gives us will help us when we find Isobel Horrocks and Faith. What have the checkpoint surveillance files been able to tell us?” McVae asked.
Cody tapped in a sequence of commands on his personal data terminal. “The checkpoint surveillance gives a rather confusing report. It seems the checkpoint guards say one thing but the camera shows another. Look here.” Cody brought up a video on the screen.
“The video shows two people that could almost be our escapees, but the guards swear they looked nothing like that and the woman was actually a man. We have ground units on the lookout for their vehicle.”
“Thank you, Cody. Please keep me posted on any further progress.”