The Rambaldi Bathroom.By Dave Turner.Disclaimer:
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Alias. I write these stories for fun not profit.Crossover:
BtVS with Alias, with very minor xovers for the Discworld series of books and ‘Bob the Builder’.Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar:
Written in glorious English-English which is different to American-English.Timeline:
Story number three in the 'Grim Up North 2' series of fics.Words:
Five chapters of 3000+ words.Warnings:
Remember to look both ways when crossing the road.Summary:
A Grim Up North 2 story: “Well?” Buffy asked, “Can you fix it?” Sucking air noisily through his teeth, Bob scratched the back of his head just under his yellow hard-hat and said, “It’ll cost.” Sometimes even getting a new bathroom fitted can be grim.0=0=0=0Buffy’s office, Slayer Central, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland, England.
Standing to one side of her office, Buffy watched as Xander and his friend Bob (who was a builder) measured her executive bathroom.
“Well?” Buffy asked expectantly, “Can you fix it?”
Sucking air noisily through his teeth, Bob scratched the back of his head just under the yellow hard-hat that he never seemed to take off.
“It’ll cost,” he said after considering the problem for a moment or two.
“Cost?” Buffy replied, “Like how much?”
“Well,” Bob turned to look at the pile of open crates on the floor of Buffy’s office, “it’s all these non-standard parts, you see, and all this lead piping,” Bob picked up a length of the offending pipe, “it’ll all need replacing with PVC.”
“Uh-huh,” Buffy nodded her head as she wondered why Xander wasn’t jumping in with some help here.
“And then there’s this furnace,” Bob dropped the lead pipe on the floor, it made a loud *THUMP!* as it hit the carpet, “That’ll never do…” Bob glanced at Buffy, “…all the new regulations about emissions and such like…weeeell it’ll have to be replaced with an electric water heater.”
“Yeah, okay,” Buffy nodded her head in fear and confusion, she could deal with all the fiends of hell but plumbing sent a cold shiver down her spine.
“And these plans…” Bob picked up a large sheet of parchment and flicked it with his finger nails, “well, they’ll need translating for a start, looks like Medieval Latin to me and some of its in code…”
“Oh!” Buffy smiled hopefully, “I know someone who can translate that.”
“No need,” Bob replied helpfully, “I’ve got a man who can do that.”
“You have?” Xander spoke for the first time in several minutes.
“Yeah,” Bob continued to study the plans turning them around in his hands as he did so.
“Oh! That Ernie,” Xander said with a smile, “does those patios with the…”
“That’s him,” Bob confirmed.
“I didn’t know he knew Medieval Latin.”
“Famous for it,” Bob announced, “it’s all them crosswords he does.”
“Oh, I see,” Xander put away his measuring tape and hitched up his trousers, “and the code?”
“MI5,” Bob tapped the side of his noise with a grimy finger, “say no more.”
“Old Ernie?” Xander gave his friend a surprised look, “Who’d have thought it.”
“Yep,” Bob looked at the plans hoping that by staring at them really hard he could get them to surrender their secrets, it didn’t work.
“Well, I never,” Xander sighed.
“Hey, guys!” Buffy called from the other side of the room where she’d sort of been forgotten about, “How much?”
“Well,” Bob scratched the back of his head again, “taking one thing with another, the new pipes, the water heater. Then we’ll need to take the old bathroom out and there’s the translating and code breaking to do, well…I couldn’t do it for less than four thousand maybe three and a half…if y’lucky.”
“Four thousand?” Buffy asked.
“Pounds,” Bob clarified, “and that’s assuming we don’t bump into any problems,” once again Bob sucked his teeth, “it’s these old holiday camp buildings, very jerry built y’know?”
“Four thousand pounds,” Buffy repeated slowly.
“I’m afraid so,” Bob nodded his head.
“Yeah, okay!” Buffy gave Bob one of her most dazzling smiles, “That’s fine…”
“It is?” Bob looked and sounded confused he was really expecting to have to haggle.
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded her head eagerly, “when can you start?”
“Well, erm,” Bob glanced at Xander, who shrugged his shoulders, “I could have one of my lads start taking the old bathroom out tomorrow morning.”
“Great!” Buffy grinned fit to burst, “I’ll see one of your ‘lads’, tomorrow morning then.”
“Right then,” Bob agreed a little overawed by Buffy’s enthusiasm to have her nice office reduced to a building site, “I’ll see you then...then.”
“Yeah,” Xander called as he followed Bob towards the door, “you better have someone take all your furniture out and put it in one of the spare offices.”
“Cool,” Buffy agreed as she closed the office door behind Xander, “not a problem.”
Alone once more, Buffy walked over to the pile of crates containing her new bathroom and smiled. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with her old bathroom, not as such, but… But it was just a little ‘cold’, clinical, antiseptic even. Buffy was of the opinion that bathrooms should be ‘warm’ comfortable places that you could relax and feel at home in. Her old bathroom was all white tiles and shiny chrome, however efficient the heating system was it always felt ‘cold’ to her. Plus it brought back unpleasant memories of the washrooms at Slade prison where she’d spent a year locked up on totally bogus burglary charges.
The one good thing to come out of her stay at Slade Prison (apart from the learning to cook and sew and pick locks [and not in a ‘I’ll have that one please’ sense]) was that the government had given her compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned. One-hundred-and-twenty-five-thousand pounds worth of compensation, for the first time in her life, Buffy didn’t have to worry about whether she could afford that ‘special’ pair of boots every time she walked into a shoe shop. A few thousand pounds seemed a small price to pay for a nice and interesting new bathroom.
Picking up one of the brass fittings from out of its crate, Buffy turned the finely machined parts over in her hand. She had absolutely no idea what it was for, all the little labels were in Italian or Medieval Latin or something, it’d even confused Giles. This was why it had remained in the Magical Artefacts Store for over a year before anyone had even looked at it, let alone worked out what it was.
In fact it had been Buffy who’d found it, she’d been helping Giles sort through some stuff in the store (Buffy had found herself finding any excuse to be near Giles since her little trip back to World War Two Germany, which had been so disturbing in so many ways) when she’d come across the pile of crates. Ripping the top off one of them, she’d found it full of piping and bronze and brass valves and things that neither she nor Giles recognised.
Taking the crates outside, Buffy had emptied their contents onto the grass and laid everything out. It hadn’t been until Giles had found what could only have been a shower head that they’d decided that this must be some sort of Renaissance bathroom. Polishing his glasses and saying things like, ‘good grief’, Giles had wondered aloud why the bathroom had been placed in the magical store in the first place.
Within seconds, Buffy was on her mobile phone to Willow. Moments later the witch was standing next to her, after all she’d only been in the library checking on the recipe for chicken soup (she’d experienced some problems recently when her soup had turned into a magic potion; now there was a dinner party she’d not forget in a hurry). Going into a slight trace, Willow proclaimed the collection of pipes, fixtures and fitting free of any magical influences, although she did voice some minor concerns as to why a bathroom needed quite so many magic crystals. Reassured that the bathroom was safe; or at least probably safe or that if it did turn out to be the ‘evil bathroom from hell’ they could deal with it, Buffy packed everything back up and had it moved into her office.0=0=0=0CIA, Field Office, Los Angeles, USA.
Looking at the expectant faces turned towards him, Jack Bristow shuffled the papers lying on the table in front of him. Glancing at the tell-tails on the panel near his right hand he saw that the room was secure from both physical and electronic eavesdropping.
“Our sources in the UK have informed us that a new Rambaldi Artefact has come to light,” he said without preamble.
“What’s it this time,” Michael Vaughn sighed tiredly, “some sort of mind control machine?”
“No,” Jack looked around the table spearing each person sitting there with a searching look, “it appears to be several boxes of bathroom fitting.”
“Bathroom fittings!?” Chorused everyone else in the room.
“But dad…” Sydney began but was cut off by her father.
“It appears that a half dozen crates all marked with the Rambaldi symbol,” a picture flashed up on the flat screen monitors behind Jack’s head showing the ‘< O >’ symbol so beloved of Rambaldi stamped on the side of some wooden crates; “were bought by a group calling itself ‘The Slayer Organisation’ at a house clearance a couple of years ago.”
“The Slayer Organisation?” Marcus Dixon quieried.
“Yes,” Jack cast Dixon a penetrating look, “it seems to be an organisation run almost entirely by young women and has connections to the East Coast Mafia. They run the Slayer Adventure Training Centre near Saltburn-by-the-Sea on the coast of northern England.”
“Saltburn-by-the-Sea?” Sydney asked.
“Yes,” Jack turned towards his daughter and gave her an expressionless stare, “apparently there’s another Saltburn near by and obviously someone didn’t want the two mixed up.”
“Then why didn’t they call it by another name?” Sydney wanted to know.
“How should I know?” Jack shrugged, “This is Britain we’re talking about.”
“Oh-yeah,” everyone said and nodded their heads in agreement.
“So, what do the British security services say about this Slayer Organisation?” Vaughn wanted to know.
“They were unusually tight-lipped about them,” Jack rested his elbows on the table and steepled his fingers, “in fact when I mentioned that we might be running an operation against them the Brits got very defensive and tried to warn us off.”
“You think British Intelligence have been infiltrated by these Slayer people?” Sydney asked.
“It’s not out of the realms of possibility,” Jack agreed.
“But we’re still going through with the operation, right?” Vaughn asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Jack informed him, “riding rough-shod over other nation’s sovereignty has never stopped us before.”
“Coool,” Sydney nodded her head in agreement with her father; she’d not felt herself betrayed by her father for some time, so at the moment she’d go along with anything he said, even if that included performing unsanctioned operations in friendly countries.
“The Slayer Organisation is run by this woman,” Jack pressed a button on a remote control and a picture of a blonde woman appeared in place of the Rambaldi symbol. “This is Buffy Anne Summers, an American citizen and formally of Sunnydale, California…in fact a lot of the Slayer Organisation’s upper echelons appear to come from Sunnydale.”
“False identities?” Dixon queried.
“Maybe,” Jack agreed, his face broke into an unaccustomed smile, “there’s so many people claiming to have come from Sunnydale these days it would have had a population three or four times what the records say.”
“Her second in command…and we suspect lover, is this man,” again the picture changed behind Jack’s head, “Dr Rupert Giles, although he doesn’t use his title. He gave up an important post at the prestigious British Museum to go to work as the Librarian at Sunnydale High School…”
“Where he met Buffy Summers?” Sydney asked giving all those around the table a significant look. “Are you sure this isn’t some kind of weird, perverted sex cult?”
“It would appear not,” Jack replied almost sadly, “although Ms Summers and Mr Giles live together at his house there have been no reports of sexual misconduct from the camp’s visitors.”
“Who else have we got, Dad?” Sydney wanted to know having already branded this Rupert Giles as a sexual deviant who preyed on young women.
“Dawn Summers, Buffy Summers’ younger sister, she works as a medical technician for the Cleveland Ambulance Service; she lives in a small house with her ‘girlfriend’, Faith Lehane…” Jack paused significantly before saying, “…another Librarian, this time at Middlesbrough University.”
“What’s with the Summer’s women and librarians?” Vaughn voiced the question that everyone else had been thinking.
Yet again the pictures behind Jack’s head changed.
“This is Willow Rosenberg a close friend of Buffy Summers, she also works at the Centre when she’s not at the local university. She lives with her ‘girlfriend’, Kennedy Scarpone, in a house near Middlesbrough…”
“Don’t any of these women have proper boyfriends?” Sydney wanted to know.
“Not Tony Scarpone’s daughter and heir to the Scarpone Mafia family fortune?” Gasped Vaughn.
“Correct!” Jack confirmed.
“And the British authorities let these people have contact with all these teenage girls?” Dixon gestured to the typed sheets of paper he’d been reading quickly through.
“They appear to encourage it,” Jack pointed out, “some of these girls come from countries that the British Government doesn’t ‘approve’ of and yet the security services appear to facilitate these girl’s entry into the country.”
“The influence these Slayer people wield must go right up to the highest levels of the British government,” Sydney pointed out, “and across party lines by the looks of it.”
“Indeed,” Jack agreed, “so you can see it’s vitally important that we retrieve the Rambaldi Artefact as soon as possible.”
“So how are we going to do this?” Sydney wanted to know.
“Sydney and Vaughn on point, Dixon as back up, Marshall will supply you with your Op-tech later,” Jack looked at Marshall just as the little man opened his mouth to speak, “I said later Marshall.”
“What security do these people have,” Dixon enquired.
“As far as we can tell,” Jack sounded slightly puzzle, “nothing more than a high chain link fence and an admittedly comprehensive system of CCTV cameras…”
“You think there might be other more covert forms of security?” Vaughn asked.
“Possibly,” Jack admitted, “whatever, just take no chances and remember that we’re doing this without the permission of the British authorities so it’d be best if you don’t get caught.”
“Weapons?” This was from Sydney.
“I don’t expect any trouble, after all the place is only inhabited by teenage girls most of the time. It’s not as if they’re going to be much of a threat.” Everyone laughed their agreement, “Tranq-guns only on this mission and there’ll be no extraction team on call so I repeat, be careful.” Jack handed around some plain manila folders, “These contain the full mission outline, wheels up in two hours.”
With these terse words the meeting broke up.0=0=0=0Giles’ kitchen, his house, near Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
“This is excellent curry Buffy,” Giles said enthusiastically between mouthfuls of the hot, spicy dish, “what type is it?”
“Meat,” Buffy said slightly guiltily as she joined Giles at the kitchen table, she’d learnt to cook in prison and still tended to use the ingredients she was familiar with; deciding to change the subject she asked, “Anything exciting in the wacky world of watchers today?”
“Oh!” Giles dabbed at his mouth with a serviette and took a sip of cold beer, “I did a little research on that bathroom of yours.”
“Research?” Buffy asked before tucking into her own plate of curry, “You mean you went down to Ikea and looked in their catalogue?”
“Good lord no,” Giles laughed, “I don’t have the time for that sort of thing, no I found a reference to that odd symbol in one of my books…”
“Good old Giles and his books,” Buffy drank some iced water, being a recovering alcoholic she wasn’t allowed beer.
“Indeed,” Giles continued as he ate, “it seems it was built by one Milo Rambaldi some time in the late fifteenth century.”
“Did they even have bathrooms then?” Buffy demanded.
“Like you, I was surprised,” Giles explained, “but it seems this Rambaldi chap was a bit of a Leonardo de Vinci character, always inventing things that were way ahead of their time, got him into serious trouble with the Catholic Church.”
“Doesn’t everything?” Buffy commented, “Find out anything else?”
“No, not really,” Giles sighed sadly, “he doesn’t appear to have been that important although the Nazis were interested in his works for a time.”
“The Nazis!?” Buffy said with a gulp that sent a lump of curried ‘meat’ down her throat un-chewed, “That’s like never of the good.”
“Oh,” Giles glanced at Buffy and imagined that the beads of perspiration on her forehead were due to the hot curry, “As you know the Nazi’s were experimenting with the dark arts for most of their time in power, but I expect it’s nothing important.”
“Good,” Buffy had lost her appetite at the mention of the Nazis; her little trip back to Nazi Germany had left her mentally scared; she’d discovered the real reason behind the concentration camps, however, she was getting over it now.
“Oh yes,” Giles smiled as he remembered something else, “have you ever heard of something called, ‘Teotwawki’?” Giles glanced up at Buffy to see her grinning at him, “What?” he asked defensively, “What's so funny?”
“Tea-up-wanky?” Buffy giggled.
“No,” Giles frowned, “Te-ot-waw-ki, it could be some sort of ancient god or a demon perhaps?”
“Can’t say I’ve heard the name before,” Buffy smiled, “and I’m sure I’d remember if I had, why?”
“Well, when I was researching that Rambaldi fellow,” Giles chased the last morsel of curry around his plate with his spoon, “I found some odd references, so I followed those leads up and found this ‘Teotwawki’.”
“So, what’s so important about Tea-up-wanky?” Buffy asked as she collected up her and Giles’ plates and cutlery before putting them in the dish-washer.
“Teotwawki,” Giles repeated pointedly, “I don’t know to be honest, but one thing's for sure; he, she or it is coming soon.”
“Well I’m sure we’ll be able to deal with whatever it is when it gets here,” Buffy replied confidently, “Coffee?”
“Please,” Giles smiled as he got up, “here, let me do the washing up.”
“Yeah, sure, why not?” Buffy watched as Giles switched on the dishwasher.
“You’re too good to me Giles,” Buffy told him (she resisted the temptation to throw her arms around Giles’ neck and kiss him).
“The least I can do,” Giles replied, unaware the effect his proximity was having on his slayer, “especially after the way you cook for me.”
“Hey,” Buffy so wanted to hug her watcher right now but again she held herself back, “you let me stay in your nice house rent free.”
Giles had offered Buffy his spare bedroom when her chalet on the holiday camp had been rendered un-inhabitable by a plumbing disaster. After her trip to 1945 Germany where she’d met Giles’ father, Buffy had realised that she was in love with her watcher. Knowing that she could never let her feelings for him show she continued to torture herself by living under his roof.
“We better pass the word around to keep a look out for this Tea-up-wanky guy,” Buffy persisted in her mispronunciation as she poured two cups of fresh coffee.
“Yes I suppose we better,” Giles agreed as he took his coffee from Buffy’s hand, “but I expect its nothing.”0=0=0=0