Disclaimer : Joss Whedon, Dan Brown et al own the characters. I only borrowed them to play with.
At five a.m., the first signs of daylight were beginning to creep over England. The motionless body of Leigh Teabing lay slumped against the wall of the altar room in Rayne Manor. A tall, thin elderly woman paced up and down the room in front of him. Her facial features showed her to be a member of the Rayne family. They also said she was angry with the unconscious form of Teabing. Considering that she was in Rayne Manor, there was nothing unusual in that. What was unusual about her was the fact that as she paced, she passed through the desk in the centre of the room.
“Wake up damn you Ethan!” She spat. “Bloody kids! You’d sleep the whole day away if you could.”
Still no movement. She swore under her breath, and in an instant disappeared.
Xander and Buffy were briskly walking the mile distance to Belgravia Police Station. Xander breathed in deeply. “You know, cities all smell different early in the morning, and I’ve seen a few, these last couple of years.” He said.
“Uh huh.” Mumbled Buffy. “I know, but do any of them feel like home. Can we call anywhere home now?”
“I think Giles would say something like. ‘Home is where the heart is‘….. Or …‘The world is your oyster” Reflected Xander.
“Speaking of the heart.” Said Buffy. “When are you and Vi going to do the decent thing and start dating.”
“What!” Exclaimed Xander. He faltered. “It’s that noticeable is it. Except I don’t think she does; notice me, in that way, that is.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Come on Xan. Trust me when I say she notices. Plus, she gets your jokes. Don’t forget I know what you were thinking yesterday as you came into my office. So do something about it. Soon. Or I‘m telling” She replied pointedly.
Xander nodded, thoughtfully. “It’s just that, I don’t think I can go through all that again, not after Anya……” he trailed off.
“Look, Xander. None of our love lives have been exactly stellar like, and it could all go to hell, literally, tomorrow. So take what you can get. Be happy while you can.”
“So says the lady who’s been all avoidy on said subject for the last two years.” He countered.
“Heyyy, I’ve just had different priorities. There’s been all the European slayers to gather and train, and Dawn needed to be secure so that she could finish school, and she didn’t need me doing anything except being supporto gal for her.” She answered.
“Ok, truce. But if I date Vi, you gotta make a play for Dan. He obviously likes you.”
She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Why Xander Harris, I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yeah, right, whatever. But if he asks, and he will, don’t say no. Just sayin’.”
They reached their destination and entered the reception area to find Dan waiting patiently for them. They greeted each other and headed down to the car park.
The unmarked silver Police Ford Galaxy leapt forward as Dan gunned the throttle on the slip road to the A40 at White City. Fifteen minutes later they exited at Ruislip for Northolt Airport.
Dan showed his warrant card at the gate and told the security guard which flight they were meeting. As they pulled into the car park, a Hawker Lear jet swept along the runway at the side of them, the whine of it’s twin jets rising to a roar, as it gathered speed for take off. Buffy watched briefly as it rose gracefully into the air gaining height steeply and banking slightly; heading west on it’s chosen course.
“Do you normally get this close to the runway?” she questioned.
“Not at the larger airports. Northolt is controlled by the RAF. They handle all the air traffic that City airport can’t handle because of size or engine configuration. Mostly corporate, private flights and aircraft for Royalty and Government Ministers.” Explained Dan.
The executive lounge was carpeted and had large leather sofas to sit on. Xander went to the bar and ordered coffee’s for them whilst they waited.
It wasn’t a long wait. Within minutes the tannoy announced the arrival of Giles inbound flight and a Bombardier Challenger 604 jet taxied to the front of the building. Several minutes later they saw the head of the council walking towards them from the arrivals gate.
Buffy, seeing her mentor and friend jumped up like an excited child and almost ran over to him.
Rupert Giles winced as she gathered him into an enormous hug. “Air, please Buffy.” He requested. She slackened her grip. “You know, I do believe that you’re getting stronger. Otherwise I’m getting weaker. Or older.”
“Nah, a few more grey hairs I think, but that’s only to be expected hanging around Faith for six months.” She grinned cheekily.
“I think our Miss Lehane has a lesson in not hiding my briefcase coming to her, there was work I could have done on the……” He stopped short at the annoyed look on Buffy’s face.
“You were told to rest. I hope you did because if you didn’t there’s a flight crew who are going to get to see my bad side.”
“Yes, Buffy I had at least six hours sleep, and I feel perfectly refreshed. Thank you.” He retorted.
“Good. Then you won’t mind me asking them then, will you.” She said sweetly. She flounced off towards the reception desk.
Giles groaned and moved away from her towards where Dan and Xander were standing, both wearing similar goofy grins at the scene in front of them.
He removed his glasses and started cleaning them. “I swear that she’ll be the death of me.” He said to no one in particular.
Xander grinned. “Yo. G- man. Or should that be Sir G -man?…”
Giles glared at him. “Xander, how many times must I…..”
“Nu huh; not gonna happen this side of hell freezing over.” Xander cut him off. “Anyway seeing as the Buffster has gone off to slay a flight crew it leaves me to do the introductions. Dan Carter, meet Rupert Giles, President and CEO of the WSC Foundation.”
Giles looked slightly embarrassed. “Yes, we’ve met. I believe the term is ‘digitally‘, as it were, yesterday.” He said.
“Dan held out his right hand, “It’s good to meet you sir.” He said.
Giles took it, met his eyes and shook firmly. Dan felt as though he was being searched mentally. As they drew apart he glanced at Xander. “I suppose this is where the interrogation begins?”
“Not in the least.” Answered Giles. “As long as Buffy’s happy with you then I have no problem.”
Dan thought on this comment, the outward image of Rupert Giles was that of a benign fifty year old librarian. Then he caught the steely look in his eyes and recognised that this man would be capable of doing some serious damage to anyone who crossed him or his surrogate family.
Giles was continuing. “No, if it’s interrogation you require might I suggest you have regard for Dawn or- or Willow, even. They’re your interrogation experts.”
Dan gave them both a cautious look. Xander, who was grinning from ear to ear said.
“He’s joking. Faith’s the real test. Oh yeah.”
Buffy returned from the reception. “Ok, I’m happy they made you get some sleep.” She looked at Dan’s worried face. “These two been giving you a hard time Dan?”
She put her hands on he hips and glared at the two scoobies.
“Not really.” Said Dan brightening up. “They were just telling me who might interrogate me. Who would be worse, Dawn, Willow or Faith. It sounds as though I’m dead whoever I get.”
“Well it won’t be Faith, at least for another three months anyway. That’s when the President reviews her case for a pardon. Then she‘ll be able to leave the U.S.” Said Buffy, casually.
“A Pardon!” Gulped Dan. “Why? What did she do?”
“Murder One” Hissed Xander in his ear as he passed him on his way to collect Giles luggage which had just appeared though the doors.
“You can’t say I didn’t warn you that it’s dangerous to be around me.” Said Buffy, smiling wryly.
With that they all picked a piece of Giles luggage and headed out to the car. Dan deep in thought. He was sure they were winding him up. Or were they? What had he gotten himself into?
Breakfast at the U.S. Embassy was being held in a side room There was a discussion between the Saunier family, Langdon and Mary Ann..
“Is there nothing you an tell us about the people we are to be meeting later?” Asked Sophie. “It seems very unusual that they should know all about us and we know nothing of them. What sort of organisation are they? What are they called?”
“I’m very sorry Miss Neveu, I can‘t tell you anything, except that they do a great deal of good in, and for, the world. As to their identity, they will tell you when the time comes. I’m not at liberty to discuss that.”
“Could we see the Ambassador, and maybe ask him?” Said Langdon.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible at the moment. Ambassador Farish is retiring, and is over in California at the moment briefing his successor, who will be arriving in July.” Explained Mary Ann.
Sophie’s brother Luc, who had kept his thoughts to himself until now, spoke up.
“Robert. I know that you want to make sure that secrets don’t get into the wrong hands. We’re in the middle of an embassy, surrounded by Military Policemen in London. These people are coming here to see us. If we were being taken to them, believe me, I would want to know more before I met them. However, I think we can all guess as to whom we are meeting with. It must be the Priory, and I would surmise that there must be some danger to us still. Otherwise they would have collected us from Rosslyn themselves. Now. I’m hungry and I would like my breakfast , please.”
Marie Chauvel beamed. Her grandson reminded her so much of her late husband in the way he deliberated the issues at hand, and then gave a carefully considered opinion. As they each pondered his statement, they ate their breakfast in silence.
Mary Ann said nothing regarding his deliberation, she just smiled inwardly, and sipped her coffee.
Giles’ collection party were back at the City Inn by seven a.m. He was checking into the suite next to Buffy’s whilst she was arranging for a breakfast to be brought up. Andrea and David arrived a few minutes later, bringing with them the files and reports from the previous day. They had also brought more information that had come in from France. Saunier wasn’t the only murder that had occurred there. In the last few days, several notable people in France had been murdered; or more correctly, executed, by the same weapon that had killed Saunier. When Giles read the names on the list he faltered slightly.
“There are two names here that I knew personally.” he said. “Jean Chaffee, and Edouard Desrochers. I had dealings with them when I was the curator of the British Museum, and I know for a fact that Sostaque was involved with the old council, because when I was appointed as Buffy’s watcher, he was present at the meeting. What I can’t fathom at the moment is what this Priory of Sion has to do with them.
“Would your cousin would have known this as well?” asked Xander.
“Possibly…. Yes. I believe he would have.” Answered Giles.
Xander thought for a moment. “Ok, suppose for a moment you are your cousin. You’re doing great. Royal Historian, Watcher or watcher to be, and you get a hint of something that needs hiding from the world. Something that’s as big a secret as the Slayer and just as old, or older, like the holy grail, and you’ve been secretly researching away and you see these people. You get the idea that they know where or what it is. Wouldn’t you ask them?”
“Yes, possibly.” Said Giles; puzzled.
Ok so you do, and old Quentin Travers gets uppity about it and kicks you out of the council, and you get busted from your Royal job too. Wouldn’t you be more than a little pissed at them?”
“I suppose I might, knowing Leigh.” Replied Giles.
Xander continued. “I got one for you now…. This House of Lancaster gig isn’t the only thing you were next in line for, was it, Giles?”
Giles looked at him for a moment. He removed his glasses an pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked at Buffy.
“If Leigh had stayed with the council and not been so obsessed with his quest. He would have been your next watcher after Merrick died, not I.”
Buffy’s eyes were shining as this last titbit of information was revealed. She leaned over and placed a hand gently on his arm. “Then I’m glad he was stupid, ‘cause I got the best watcher a slayer could ever hope for.” She sniffed.
Giles collected himself, shuffled the files in front of him and opened the one marked Ethan Rayne. He scanned the report that Andrea and David had prepared giving him all the information of Rayne’s essence transferral and the stasis like sleep of his body, and that a barrier had been requested to stop him getting back in.
“Would it not be better for us to force him back in his body, rather than have him running around looking like something the cat brought in?” Queried Giles
“I can’t do that I don’t have enough power. Even if he ran out of energy, I couldn’t do it, though Willow or the coven collectively could. He’d just float around loose until he found an unconscious body to jump into, and draw energy from. I spoke to Althenea late last night and she says that to force him back in you’d need to get both of them in the same room. I can’t see that happening any time soon, can you?”
Breakfast chose that moment to arrive. Xander called a time out so that they could all eat. Buffy announced that she was going to her room to ’freshen up’. When she reappeared fifteen minutes later, Dan nearly fell off his chair. She was wearing an expensive Chanel business suit, her hair was wound up in a twist and held secure by a stylish clip. In one hand she held custom made briefcase and in the other she was swinging a pair of spectacles.
Xander noticed Dan’s reaction. He leaned towards David. “Oh yes. That does it; he’s just been floored by the Buffinator. There’s no hope for him now.”
Buffy saw Dan’s face. “ What. You think I’m going to the embassy for a meeting with a Harvard professor and French cryptologist wearing jeans and a sweat top? No way. If there was one thing I learned in Rome it was dress to impress. Besides, I have to fly the flag for the Foundation.”
“I’m not disputing that.” Said Dan. “I would go with wow, or gorgeous, or beautiful, even. But why the specs, you don’t need them, do you?
“Ah… Part of my cunning disguise.” she said sagely. “Works for Clark Kent.”
Dan sniggered, and there were slight grins from around the table. Xander opened his mouth…“Actually, there’s this one time Buff an’ me broke into the Initiative to rescue Oz, the glasses worked really well then, and she looked so cute in the lab coat too.”
“Alexander Lavelle Harris. Shut up!” Glared Buffy.
Xander looked sheepishly at the table. Dan cocked an eyebrow at him. “Lavelle” He mouthed. Xander shrugged. “My mom’s crazy idea. Apparently.”
They were interrupted by Buffy’s cell phone ringing. She gave Xander a lips sealed motion looked at the display, frowned, and answered it.
“Buffy, its Graham Miller. We have a problem here with Ethan Rayne.”
“What sort of problem?” she asked.
He just woke up.” Came the answer.