All the characters belong to Joss Whedon, Dan Brown et al. I only borrowed them to play with.
“Graham how did he get back into his body? I thought you guys had a mage put up a barrier so that he couldn’t?” Questioned Buffy.
“Sorry Buffy, our duty shaman was called out just before we got your call and it took a while to get one of the others into the base. We were just setting it all up when Rayne woke up. The good news is that we have him contained. He’s thrown himself at the barrier a couple of times and discovered that he can’t escape. Riley and Sam are on their way in, we’ll set up a comms link in about fifteen minutes so that you can talk to him. Is that enough time for you to get to your equipment?” He explained.
“Ok, yeah, we can do that. Talk to you in a while. Bye.” Buffy ended the call.
She quickly explained the situation to the others in the room. They gathered up the files and headed out for the Council offices.
Ethan Rayne was raging. He paced up and down inside the magical barrier in his cell. “Of all the lying, cheating, low down dirty tricks to pull; he had to pull it across me!” He punched at the barrier and was thrown off his feet
The two SF’s outside the cage were looking at each another. One circled a finger against the side of his head and crossed his eyes. The other grinned and nodded.
At the sound of boots coming down the corridor they both snapped back to their positions and came smartly to attention as two officers rounded the corner.
“At ease.” announced Major Riley Finn. He turned to the one who had made the loopy gesture. “Don’t piss the prisoner off any more than he already is. It tends to make him uncooperative.” He pointed to the CCTV in the corner of the far ceiling. The SF blushed slightly. “Sir. Yessir.”
Riley turned and gave his wife, who was trying very hard not to laugh; a ‘don’t show me up in front of the ranks’ sort of look.
“Sam set the comms link up on the table and point the damn camera at him. Lets see if Giles can get any sense out of him.” He said.
At eight thirty the phone in Mary Ann’s office rang. She glanced at the caller I D and picked up. “Hi there David. What can I do for you?” She asked.
“Sorry to trouble you Mary Ann, but we’ve had a development over here with the Teabing case; and we were wondering if you could delay the meeting for an hour. Just whilst we sort it out.” He asked.
“Sure thing hon, but it’s not going to go well with Langdon. He wants info and he wants it yesterday.” She drawled.
She continued to listen as there was a short muffled conversation at the other end. Then David Peterson’s voice became suddenly clear. “Mr. Giles says to tell Langdon that Leigh Teabing’s had a heart attack, but you have no details as yet. That should placate him for a while.”
“Ok. Can do, see y’all around ten then.” She replaced the phone, took a deep breath and left her office.
“Ethan. What’s going on.” Demanded Giles. “I want to know everything and I want to know now!”
“Oh, come on Ripper. Can’t you guess. You stick me in with this lot for the best part of four years and you wonder why I want out.” Came the smarmy reply.
“Amongst your other misdemeanours you turned me into a bloody Fyarl demon for gods sake. What did you expect? Gratitude!”
“Just having a little fun, you know me, got to rattle your chains every so often. Keeps you on your ……..”
Giles cut him off. “That last stunt almost got me killed. If Buffy hadn’t spotted it was me in time, you may have lost more than your freedom. And I wouldn’t have blamed her.”
“Can’t we let bygones be bygones, start again, new leaf and all that?” Pleaded Rayne.
“Too late for that.” Chimed in Buffy, looking over Giles’ shoulder. “You killed two doctors and a receptionist.” She looked at Dan, questioningly. “ Do they still hang people in England for that?” Dan shook his head. “Pity.” She added.
Ethan went on the defence. “Technically, that wasn’t me, and it was an accident. A sort of reaction to the transfer spell. I did say I was sorry. Anyway, I hear you’re all forgiving to your own lot who have gone off the rails.” He retorted.
“That’s not the issue here!” Countered Giles. “I want an explanation, Ethan, then maybe we’ll start listening to your story. I’m not making any deals.”
“Ahh. The great and mighty head of the council has spoken. Let us all bow down before him.” Ethan gave a flourished a mocking bow. “Ok, I’ll give you the ‘skinny’, is the term I believe. But you might want to hurry, I’ve been played here, and by something that’s bloody pissed off at you lot.”
Ethan sat on the bed and began his story.
“Once upon a time there was a man who had been locked up in a dark dungeon and forgotten about, no friends…….”
You don’t have any friends because you’re evil and you pull stupid stunts across everyone.” Shouted Xander from the back of the room.
“If you don’t want to hear the story you can go to bed without.” Patronised Ethan. “Now where was I…. Oh yes, no friends, no books, …..no women. Until one day the captive gets a letter from an old acquaintance. The two start corresponding, and it turns out that the old acquaintance is the cousin of the bloke who had him put in dungeon in the first place. Now, the cousin needs help in his research for the quest of a priceless and ancient relic. The information that he needs just happens to be deposited in the library of the prisoners family home, but as the house is protected from discovery by powerful magicks, it can’t be found without help from a family member.”
“But I’ve been to Rayne Manor, Ethan, years ago, when we got out of London. I’m damn sure I could find it again. Offered Giles.
“That was before mother died.” Answered Ethan. “The old sourpuss cursed it on her deathbed, only a Rayne family member can get in there now.”
“So what was the information Leigh wanted?” Huffed Giles.
“Actually I’m not too sure. See, the original plan was that he would get me out of here. Then I would get him the book he needed. Things sort of escalated with bloody Opus Dei getting into hot water with the Vatican, and the plans had to be brought forward. So we devised the plan that we’d share his body for a while so that we could gain access to the Manor. ”
“Eww. Gross.” Buffy scrunched up her nose.
“Well at least I don’t shag the undead, dearie.” Came the retort.
Buffy gave Ethan a murderous look. Dan, who was listening intently looked at her and then Xander to see if there might be some sort of explanation. None came.
Giles turned in his seat, gave Buffy a withering look and she sat down. “Just get on with it, we haven’t got all day.” He snapped at Ethan. “What about the book?”
“As I was saying before Miss Holier Than Thou interrupted. The book he needed had reference to the grail and something else about it which he needed to get confirmation on; it’s location or power or something. He didn’t tell me what exactly, but he said if the information panned out he’d be able to show me.”
“Does this book have a name, or is it another of your little games Ethan.” Questioned Giles.
“Well, actually it’s two books, both written by my Grandfather. The first was his research into the history of the Watchers Council. The second was one of his diaries. I didn‘t tell him about the diary, though. Always leave a little insurance, just in case.”
“Those should have been submitted to the council for reference, and.. and addition to the library, upon his death.” Giles interjected.
“Under the circumstances it was probably a wise move, wouldn‘t you say.” Replied Ethan. “They’d all be burned to ashes now, else, wouldn’t they.”
Xander turned to Dan. “Anytime now we’ll get the info we need to beat the bad guy.” He whispered pointedly. He then glanced at Buffy and ginned.
Dan gave a small smile at the antics of the two friends, they were obviously communicating, probably about something totally different to the business at hand.
“So, there are two books, a diary and a research paper, written by your grandfather that hold information that Leigh required. How did you manage to communicate all this without the army getting wind of it? Asked Giles.
“We used a code, hidden in one of the first letters. It was based on the Fibonacci series” Answered Ethan.
“The what series?” Queried Buffy. “Is that like the world series. I thought all you Brits were into cricket and soccer. Not baseball.”
Giles gave her an exasperated look. “It’s a mathematical sequence, Buffy. Each number in the sequence is the sum of the preceding two numbers.” He looked back at the screen and continued. “Ethan, I take it that the messages hidden in the text of the letters contained the necessary spells and timing for the essence transferral.”
“Yes, Teabing was a Chaos worshipper too. He wanted to give the council a little payback, for the way they treated him; and yes I know you aren’t the same council, but he wanted to get at you personally, because you got what he should have had, and I couldn’t resist that.” Ethan said. “Also there was the twenty mill in Vatican bearer bonds as my fee.” He added.
“It’s the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s all over again.” Blurted Xander.
Ethan continued. “Problem is, we were both taken for a ride. It wasn’t Janus we were worshipping. After I did the transfer, I tried to get a power boost from Janus to be able to stay in there, the power was too great, I couldn’t control it. It threw me out of Teabing’s body. It’s also probably what caused him to have the heart attack when he tried to use the power to summon help.” He paused. “Before when I’ve sensed Janus he was more, how can I say, benevolent towards me. This time he was raw, angry. What he asked for in payment was really nasty too. He wanted your slayers head. On a silver platter.” He finished.
“I guess we’re not dealing with Janus then. Any suggestions as to who, or what?” Asked Buffy.
“Not sure. Mind you, after what you lot did in old Sunnyhell, I’ll hazard a guess that it’s the First Evil.” Replied Ethan.
Buffy snorted with laughter. “And you were gonna be my arch nemesis! Please, help me somebody; I could die laughing here.” She said sarcastically. If all the First could come up with was you, I wouldn’t even need to break into a sweat…Duh! ..Dawn could take you out,… on her own,…. on a Tuesday.”
Dan looked puzzled. “I thought you all fought and defeated the First in Sunnydale?” He asked Xander, in a low voice.
“We did; but the First is non corporeal, can’t be touched or hurt in this dimension. So it uses people or demons to do its dirty work for it. It plays tricks with your mind by looking like dead people. I’m told it does a pretty mean impersonation of the Buffster.” Whispered Xander.
Andrea pulled herself from her notes and tabled her thoughts.
“Mr Rayne. If the power you received was too much, and it ejected you from the host body, then that means there’s an inert shell at the Manor; unless it was incinerated.” If it is the First who’s having another bash at destroying the slayer line what’s to stop it taking that body as a host? Could it do that? What would happen with regard to the seclusion spell cast by your mother?”
Ethan gave Andrea a huge cheesy grin. “Now here’s a young lady who shows proper respect for her elders. Isn’t is about time you gave your slayer some lessons in manners Ripper.“ At Giles’ glare he continued. Not sure, dearie. I don’t think the first itself could take the shell over. Too much power for one body to handle, and I don’t think it was incinerated. Whether something else could take it over and get out of the house, well I’ve never put it to the test. What do you think Rupe baby.”
“I really don’t know, ….. and don’t call me that!” grumbled Giles. “Andrea, perhaps you should contact the coven and Willow to get a consensus of opinion.”
Andrea got up and left the office.
“I suppose this means that I’m not leaving here anytime soon, then?” Asked Ethan.
“Oh you’re damned right there. Retorted Giles. “Look, Ethan. I know we forgot about you, as it were, and for that, I apologise.” His face became grim. “However. We have been more than a little busy in the last couple of years in case you hadn’t noticed. This latest trick you’ve pulled is the last straw Ethan; people have died at your own hands this time. Just be thankful I don’t have you shot. Riley, are you there?”
Ethan blanched slightly as the camera was turned away from him. Riley and Sam’s faces appeared on the screen.
“Hi Giles, what do you need.” Asked Riley.
“I’m not entirely sure as yet. If it is the first we are dealing with, it might conceivably start by attacking the survivors of Sunnydale. What resources do you have at your disposal there?” Responded Giles.
“Four platoons on standby, two black ops teams, plus the SF’s. I can mobilise three more platoons inside twenty four hours, and we have seven black ops teams in the hot spots.
“Put them on yellow alert please Riley, be ready to go if we get another situation like Sunnydale. Requested Giles. “If the first uses the same minions as last time the Bringers will start appearing soon enough. I don’t believe there will be a threat from the Turok Han, however, Robin and Faith may need support in Cleveland. We won’t be caught on the hop again. We‘ll alert our people from here.”
“Giles. Rona’s on sabbatical in Vegas. She doesn’t have a watcher with her, she’s visiting her aunt. She’ll need backup.” Said Xander.
Vegas is only a couple of hours from us here. Get us an address and we’ll make sure she’s ok Xan. We‘ll call when we have her secure.” Called out Sam.
Xander nodded his agreement and thanked her. The people around the screens at either end broke apart and the com link was disconnected.
“Buffy, you take European operations. Xander, call Oz in Beijing, and then call Johannesburg. I’ll call Robin. David can you speak with Andrea and ask her to alert Willow and Kennedy.”
“Giles if you’re calling Robin, remember that it’s three in the morning over there.” Giles gave him a puzzled look. Xander threw up his hands in despair. “You know how cranky Faith gets if she has her fun time interrupted, know what I’m saying.”
Giles blushed slightly and removed his glasses and whipped out a handkerchief and began polishing. “Oh, dear Lord.” He muttered. “I’m quite amazed that Robin hasn’t had a heart attack himself.”
Dan stood to one side and watched as the Scooby machine went into action. Fifteen minutes later all the contacts around the globe were made, only Giles was still talking to Robin and Faith. From the way he was still cleaning his glasses whilst he conversed Xander had been right.
Dan pulled Xander to one side. “Xander, what are Bringers? Is it likely to require notifying my boss? Xander briefly told him about the first’s blind monks with runic symbols carved into their faces.
“So they’re human, blind, wear robes and they use big knives to cut you up. Sounds just like a Saturday night in Soho, without the alcohol and drugs. Will bullets stop them?” Xander nodded. “Good, because I came prepared.” He opened his jacket slightly to reveal his police issue automatic in its holster under his armpit.
Buffy was calling someone else on her cell phone. Dan could only hear Buffy’s side of the conversation
“No Dawn we just need you to stay safe. What classes do you have today?” There was a pause whilst she listened. “Good, pass the word to Michelle and Diane, if Hayley’s in your lecture group at least there’s one slayer with you. Yes, I’ll watch my back, Xander’s here and Giles, and there’s Dan Carter….” Another pause. ….. “He’s one of Ed’s guys…. Chief Superintendent Clewley,…. I met him yesterday when this all started“ She glanced at Dan and smiled, ………“Yeah, nice…. Dawn where did you learn;….. Have you been talking to Faith again?…..She is soooo dead when I get to her…Maybe, why?…Oh, OH, Dawn put your hormones away, and watch your back. Bye.” She disconnected, shaking her head. “Sisters.” She muttered.
“It sounds as though she’s a handful, I take it that was your sister.” Queried Dan.
“Not really, she just enjoys being the embarrassing younger sibling. I swear all they do at university is; erm,, you know, do ‘things’.” She quoted the last word.
Dan grinned. “Yes, been there, done that, got the tee shirt. I used to wind my older sister up constantly, when I was a teenager. We’re better now, so if it’s any consolation, it’ll get easier.”
Giles finished his call and looked at his watch. “We’d better get going if we’re to make the Embassy by ten, the traffic will be horrendous now.” He turned to Dan and pulled him to one side. “I’ll be blunt Dan. If you want out now’s the time to go, this could get nasty. No-one will think any less of you if you do.”
Dan looked Giles square in the eyes. “Thanks for the consideration, but I’ll stay if that’s ok. I joined the force to help others and, from what I’ve seen so far, you do the same thing, except on a larger scale, if I walked now I’d be wondering for the rest of my life if I could have made a difference.”
“Very well. Just be careful, and follow instruction. Slayers are the front line, we’re here to support them and watch their backs.” Came Giles reply. “One other thing that you need to know is that normal rules don’t apply. Don’t try reading a demon or a bringer their rights, it will get you killed. Do unto them as they would do to you; only do it first.” He paused and tapped the side of Dan’s jacket . “Oh, and get a silencer for that thing if you intend to use it…..too noisy.”
Xander came over. “I got him Giles, I’ll show him the ropes.” He guided Dan away and gave a mock English accent. “Now sir, could I interest you in a broadsword; or perhaps something a little smaller to begin with.”
He led Dan to large doors at the far end of the conference room. Dan’s eyes opened wide when Xander slid the doors back to reveal a deep recessed room racked out with almost every conceivable type of non carbine weaponry. On one side there were longbows, crossbows, several racks of wooden stakes, staffs and pikes. On the other two sides were bladed weapons, broadswords, short swords, axes daggers, Japanese katana’s. Throwing knives and stars.
In the centre of the alcove on a display pedestal, was an item that really made his eyes pop out. If he’d been asked to describe it he’d have said it was an axe of some description, but it was more than that, the head was in red, except for the double curved blade edge which glinted in the lights and looked incredibly sharp. The shaft had a stake fused to the end and a leather bound grip half way along. Where the shaft joined the blade was a second shaped hand hold, making the weapon multi-faceted. He couldn’t be certain if it was the lighting, but it appeared to glow.
He raised a finger and pointed at it. “What’s that?”
“Mine.” Came a voice from behind him. Buffy stepped around them and plucked the scythe from the pedestal. She held it out to Dan, he took it hesitantly.
“It’s got a fancy name that sounds a bit like a gulp.” She explained. “We just call it the Scythe. This is what Willow used to activate all the potentials.”
He felt its balance and weight, then handed it back to Buffy. “Did it come with an instruction booklet.” He quipped.
“No but it’s pretty handy in a slice ‘n’ dice situation.” Grinned Buffy. “It’s like I knew it belonged to me when I first saw it. Also Caleb was scared of it. Always a plus in my book.”
“Caleb?” Queried Dan.
“Crazy preacher type guy, right hand guy of the First. Killed young girls for fun. Gave me this as a souvenir of our visit to his hideout.” Said Xander pointing to his eye patch.
“Ahh, I was wondering how that happened. I didn’t like to ask. What happened to him?”
“Buffy took her new toy and showed him how well it worked. Lets just say, he went to pieces after that.” Xander used his index finger to indicate the motion of Buffy’s stroke that had sliced Caleb in half.
“Is it that sharp?” Asked Dan, surprised.
“I had to put a little effort into it. In fairness though, I did start at the softer end of his body.” Replied Buffy, raising an eyebrow and looking down towards Dan’s crotch.
Dan and Xander looked at each other and made cringing grimaces at her comment. “Oooh. Painful.” They said, in unison.
Buffy flashed them a broad smile. “Come on you two, choose your weapons and lets get to that meeting.
Xander pulled a stake and a long dagger for himself and Dan. “These will be sufficient for now, anything larger is too conspicuous.” He said.
“I take it the stake is for a vampire. In the heart, like in the films?” He asked.
Xander nodded. “Except don’t leave it there or you’ll lose it, they explode into dust when they’re staked and if you leave the stake in it goes poof too.”
“What else works.”
“The usual, sunlight, fire, decapitation, crosses, holy water.” Said Xander. “You probably won‘t meet any vamps in the daytime but it’s always good to be prepared.”
They stowed their weapons in a holdall, Buffy picked up a bespoke case that looked like it could hold a guitar, and nestled the scythe inside.
At that moment Andrea and David returned to the conference room, and they gave their report to the group as they all made their way up to the reception.
“Willow and Kennedy said to say hi. Willow’s going to talk to Mr Rayne herself to gather more information on the exact nature of the spell and she‘ll call us later.” Explained Andrea.
Vi met them in reception and was quickly briefed. Xander called Vi over to him as she and Buffy finished their conversation.
“Can we talk later?” He asked.
She wrinkled her eyebrows. “Talk, talk, or something else talk?” she asked.
“Us talk, you an’ me talk.” He replied.
“Sure, your place or mine.” She answered, smiling.
“Mine, about seven, ok? She nodded. He turned to leave
“Xand” She called after him.
“What.” He looked round.
“First rule of slaying.” She said.
“Don’t die.” He finished with a lopsided grin.
He continued his outward direction and caught up with Buffy as the group spilled out onto the pavement. “You sly dog.” She quipped. “Talk later. Obvious much.” she rolled her eyes.
“Done my part. You’re up. Go girl.” He grinned at her.
“Hey, no fair. Bad guy to beat.” She pouted.
“Hey, you made the deal. So deal.” He set his jaw and lips in a firm line and pointed to his face. “I can take lessons from Will. See. Resolve face.”
Dan was looking at them, puzzled. “Something amiss?” He asked.
Buffy blushed. “Ok here’s the thing. See Xander has a thing, and Vi has a thing, and I sorta have a thing and I think you have the same thing. She gushed. And I’m not making any sense at all am I?” She finished, seeing his blank look.
He slowly grinned as it dawned on him. “Well if I’m not mistaken, and forgive me if I am, but are you asking me out. …. On a date?”
“Erm. Yeah, …That is, if you want to.” She answered.
His grin widened into a smile. “You know, I’ve been trying to think how to work asking you out into a conversation since last night. Is your life always this busy?”
“Not so much… Really!” She offered at his raised eyebrows. “Normal run of the mill slayage doesn’t necessarily need me to deal with it anymore, but this is different. The First is a big bad. All hands required. So, what do you say? Dinner tonight, sevenish?”
“Ok, but I pick the restaurant, and my treat. I’m all for girl power, but at least let me keep some of my manly dignity.” He requested.
“Okaayy; say, we’re not gonna get jumped by vamps on the way there so that you can impress me with your fighting skills, are we?” She asked suspiciously.
“No, why? Whatever gave you that idea?” He said, puzzled.
She quickly explained about the meal she and Robin Wood had gone for in Sunnydale. Dan laughed and said that as far as he knew the only family secret he had, she already knew. “Anyway” He said. “It’s not down any dark alley or back street, and I promise good home cooking.”
They had reached the car park by this time. Dan flipped the key fob and unlocked it. Xander stowed the holdall in the boot, then he, Giles Andrea and David climbed into the rear of the large, seven seat MPV, Dan settled himself in the drivers seat and Buffy climbed in the front passenger side. They started off.
“You know, I still can’t get used to sitting here and not be driving.” She held her hands out as though she was grasping an imaginary steering wheel. Dan gave her a shocked look. “I thought that you weren’t allowed to drive The guv’nor mentioned about Hanover, and not to let you near a steering wheel.”
“You can go off people real easy.” She pouted. Her face brightened. “Maybe you could teach me sometime, she said sweetly.”
Dan glanced in the rear view mirror only to see Xander and David stifling their laughter, Andrea looking out of the side window with a frightened look on her face, and Giles with his hands covering his face, trying not to laugh
“Yes. Ok. Well, err, lets get everything sorted out first and I’ll see if I arrange something.” He noticed Xander shaking his head violently and mouthing no, no.
“Xander, if your thoughts get any louder Willow will hear you in Rio.” Admonished Buffy, turning in her seat to face him. She gave him a cheeky grin. “Only teasing, I’m good, really.”
There was an audible sigh of relief from the other occupants of the car, Dan felt his heart rate slow as he relaxed, slightly relieved.
“Anyway.” She questioned. “Are we there yet?” A loud groan came from Giles.
The rest of the journey was uneventful. Dan pulled into the Embassy Car park, stopping at the gate security he announced their party and showed his warrant card. As they alighted from the car Dan opened the tailgate and reached inside the cargo area for the bag and the scythe. Mary Ann came out of the building and waited on the steps for them. She greeted them and gave David Peterson a kiss on the cheek; Buffy and Xander a hug and shook hands with Giles and Andrea. Buffy introduced Dan and they went inside. She led them to the first floor conference room where Robert, Sophie, Luc and Marie were waiting.
What no one spotted as they entered the building, was the teenager with the baggy jeans and the hooded sweat top watching them leave the car. Innocent enough, one might think. As he turned to leave a light breeze caught his hood; anyone close enough to observe before he pulled it back into place would have seen the runic symbols carved into his face.
At Rayne Manor the day was as beautiful as any late spring morning you could get in England. Outside the flowers were blooming, birds were singing, bees were buzzing. In the altar room the body of Leigh Teabing was still slumped against the wall. It didn’t look as decomposed as it had done the previous night. In fact, for a corpse it looked pretty darned healthy. The skin was more colourful and much less flaky. Toned, even.
Suddenly it all went silent. Not even a breeze ruffled the trees and grass. Something was coming. Something evil!
In the altar room there was a flash and the old lady who had been so angry with Ethan earlier appeared in the room. She wasn’t alone. At her right shoulder something hovered, a dark shadow that seemed to be made up of smaller shadows or small insects, except that there was no sound. With a cultured English accent the old lady spoke.
“Well there it is. It’s not much I know, but it’s the best I could do at short notice. It’s yours for the taking. The last two incumbents couldn’t handle the power. Just a dormant body waiting for a new host. What do you say?”
The shadow of course said nothing. It drifted towards the body and hovered over it; as though it were inspecting the merchandise.
“Oh come on, its not that bad.” She complained. “You want another shot a the title don’t you. You want a second chance to get that bitch. Take it, the grail has the power to deliver that chance.”
She morphed into another form. “Come on Caleb, it’s make your mind up time. Said a wickedly smiling image of Buffy!
The shadow launched itself into the body. The eyes flicked open and it sat bolt upright with a primal scream. “BITCH.” He bellowed.