Chapter Twenty Three
Disclaimer. As before the Buffy and Da Vinci Code Characters belong to other people. Other people who are not me.
Chapter Twenty Three.
City Inn, John Islip St. London.
Giles was appraising Ed Clewley of the events at the Embassy and the nature of the curse placed upon Rayne Manor.
“So that’s the situation, Edward. Until I can get Ethan back here we’re not going to be able to get in there. Perhaps a computer glitch or something can be used to explain the appearance and disappearance of the car.” Giles looked around to see if Buffy was within earshot. He continued. “Edward, can I ask a favour?”
“Of course Rupert, what is it?”
“Daniel Carter. He gave an excellent account of himself at the Embassy earlier. He’s a good operative. Would you let me have a copy of his file to peruse?”
“You want to check him out? I suppose I should have seen this coming.” Came the reply.
“If I said anything other than yes I’d be lying. Buffy seems quite taken with him; and whilst do trust her judgement operationally; and I’m loathe to interfere. I just want to make sure that she’s not making a huge mistake emotionally. Her previous relationships haven’t ended well. I just want her, well all of them, to be happy.”
“Of course you do realise that I’ll have to discuss this with Carter, it’s protocol, open desk policy, you understand.”
“Yes, by all means, Edward. It‘s only fair.”
“He’s a good man Rupert. He’s not without his own share of upset though. Look, I’ll get his file and we can discuss it later. Why don’t you come for dinner tonight. Alison’s cooking her famous Beef in Guinness Pie. I’ll let her know you’re coming, she’ll be pleased to see you again after all this time. How’s six thirty sound?” Said Ed.
“That would be nice, thank you. I’ll bring the wine. I’ll see you later then. Bye.”
Giles cancelled the call and headed for Buffy’s suite to return her phone.
Buffy came out of the bathroom wrapped in a robe and her hair in a towel. She picked up the TV remote and hopped a few channels until she came across CNN News.
And this just in. There are reports coming in of a building collapse in Downtown Manhattan. Seventeen State Street is, or rather was, the Offices of prominent Law firm, Wolfram and Hart, until half an hour ago that is, when it suddenly collapsed in on itself. We haven’t been able to get any confirmed reports of casualties as yet, but there appears to be no damage to any other building in the area, and no public casualties. This is the second time one of Wolfram and Hart’s buildings has collapsed without warning. The previous was in 2004 when the Los Angeles offices caved in with the loss of all it’s senior executives, although their bodies were never recovered. In that instance localised unmarked tunnels were blamed by City Engineers, just as they were believed to be the cause of the earthquake that sank the town of Sunnydale in 2003. Fire and Rescue crews are on the scene, as well as a National Guard team who were in the area. We will bring you more information as soon as possible.”
Buffy stood staring at the images on the screen, the memories of that day when she’d seen the pictures of the destruction that Angel had instigated, came flooding back. There was a knock at the door. Her movements were on automatic, she turned and walked in a zombie-like trance to open the door. Giles looked at her blank expression as she turned back into the room and just vaguely gestured to the news report.
“Where’s that?” He asked, entering the room and closing the door.
“Manhattan. Battery Park. Not far, from where the twin towers were.”
Giles read the tickertape banner scrolling across the screen. “Good Lord, Wolfram and Hart. Was anyone killed, injured.”
“They don’t know yet. No-one outside anyway. They mentioned Sunnydale and L.A. and Angel, but not by name, just….you know” She trailed off.
“I must make a call to see if Joanna and the others are alright.” Said Giles. “O-or to see if they can shed any light on this.”
As he finished speaking Buffy’s cellphone began to ring making him jump slightly. He answered it.
“Willow.” He listened for a few minutes as she related her events. Then his look of concern changed to one of relief. “Bloody hell!” He said, rubbing his hand through his hair.
Westminster Borough Police. Belgravia Police Station, London
Dan pulled the Galaxy into a convenient space and switched off. He sat for a few moments, mulling over the events of the day so far, wondering if his life was ever going to be ‘normal’ again. As he’d told Buffy yesterday, he’d always suspected there was more to the stories that his Gran used to tell him. Thinking back on it now; the details his Gran knew, and the scenarios she’d described when she’d told them to him, were too exact, too realistic to be imagination alone. He’d also suspected that her rants about the ’Bumpers’ were the real reason that his dad hadn’t wanted his mother in law to live in the granny flat at their house in Reading. Maybe mum and dad knew more than they’d ever let on. ‘Mental note.’ He thought. “Warn Buffy about the questions she might get asked by mum, if they ever meet.”
He’d alighted from the car and pulled the evidence bags from the boot by this time. He took a black refuse bag and placed the clear bags inside. No point in showing everyone the explosive contents. He locked the car and headed for the stairs.
The desk receptionist buzzed him in at the entrance and called to him.
“Dan. Chief Super wants to see you when you get a minute.” She said. Her eyes widened when she saw his clothes. “My god, what have you been doing, you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.”
“Got a puncture and tripped over the jack.” He lied.
“You want to be more careful, you’ll do yourself a mischief.” She said.
“I will, thanks Dee. Is he in his office?”
She nodded. “See you later.”
He headed for the changing rooms first, trying not to bump into anyone else on the way. As he walked in he literally ran into Geoff and Andy, two of the team from the Abbey the previous day. His mind was working overtime. Would they remember anything or would they forget like Buffy had said. “Best not to engage them in conversation too much.” He thought.
“Danny boy.” Said Andy. “Where’ve you been all day? Bloody hell what happened to you? Not pissed are you?”
“Dan grinned. “I wish.” He said. “At least it would be a good excuse. Nothing so dramatic mate. Tripped over the jack changing a wheel.”
“Yeah, right mate, likely story.” Teased Andy. “Listen, we gotta go. You up for a pint later?”
“No, sorry, can’t tonight, got something on.” He replied.
The two officers shared a look and nodded to each other. “Danny’s on the pull.” They said , in unison. Dan couldn’t help but grin.
We were only saying yesterday that it was about time you got back on the circuit. Who’s the lucky lady then, anyone we know?” Asked Geoff.
“I doubt it.” Said Dan. He didn’t want to give too much away; they might start remembering things they shouldn’t. “Anyway, I thought you two had got to be somewhere, like work!” He added.
They burst out laughing at this. “Ok we’ll play it your way for now mate, but the next round is on you, and mine’s a pint.” Said Geoff.
They left and Dan felt relieved that they hadn’t dug any deeper. He didn’t like lying to his mates, but there was more at stake here than that issue. He resolved to ask the Guv’nor about it when he saw him. He turned and went to his locker, pulling off his torn jacket and emptying the pockets into his locker. As he pulled off his shirt he noticed in the mirror that the bruises from yesterday were starting to show. One in particular caught is eye. It was in the centre of his chest and the shape and size was a perfect fit for Buffy’s hand. Unusual as that was itself; the really bizarre part was the colour. It was more of a reddish colour. “Oh, shit.” He muttered. “What the hell is this!”
Area 51 Nevada Desert.
Willow and Rona arrived back at the Initiative’s underground base to a multitude of questions from the others about the incident in New York. Willow fielded all of the questions animatedly, but had to admit that, although she had set him up, Clayton Chambers’ arrogance had been his own downfall. On the plus side, no more Wolfram and Hart NY office, just as there was no longer an L.A. branch.
“So, it looks as though if the firm is taken down from the inside, through the actions of it’s CEO or such, they can’t rebuild.” Said Sam, shrugging. “It’s a theory.”
“And one that the Watchers will just love to get us researching.” Commented Rona.
“What is it with Slayers and research?” Asked Riley. “Buffy’s never liked doing it, and I know Faith’s too impatient to do it. Wow, there’s an experimental project on its own. We could…..” He trailed off at the glaring looks he was getting from everyone except Dolores and Mary Robert.
“I take it that’s just me in favour of that then.” He said, dejectedly.
“I’m sure you meant well dear.” Said Sam, patting him gently on the arm.
“What’s wrong with a little experimentation?” Asked Dolores.
“Coz it involves people who wear white coats, an’ use needles, a-an’ they get other ideas, a-an’ that leads to cyborg-demon-human hybrids, a-a-an’ that just leads to badness.” Babbled Willow.
“Sorry I asked!” Said Dolores, a confused look on her face.
Willow blushed slightly. “I’d better get goin’ anyway, Althenea’s waiting for me to drop Ethan at Avebury, an’ then I have to call in on Giles. Y’ know he actually thought I’d collapsed the building. The man has no sense of trust. Y’ make one little mistake, a-an’ he gets all judgy.” Willow looked slightly panicked.
“How much coffee have you had, Will?” Asked Sam.
“Two mochachinos.” She winced.
“Okaay, you don’t fly anywhere until you’ve had some slow-down juice missy.” Said Riley. “Giles would never forgive me if you ended up in the English Channel because you overshot. C‘mon, only juice and fruit tea for you until you come down.”
Willow wrinkled her eyebrows and followed the beckoning Major out of the room, the others following on. The room emptied.
A few seconds later the door flew open again and Willow dashed back in, grabbed the bag of bagels she’d bought for Ethan off the table, and ran out again.
Avebury Manor, Wiltshire England
Althenea Morrison was sitting cross legged in the window seat, looking out at the ancient stone circle, the monolith’s normally bright creamy colours dulled by a grey sky and the light drizzle that was sweeping across the western edge of Salisbury Plain. She frowned slightly as she pondered the task that had been asked of her by Willow. Ethan Rayne was known to the coven by reputation only. She knew the previous history he had with Rupert, and something of his seedy activities in Sunnydale over the years. Now Willow was bringing him home, well to England anyway, so that together they could bind his magickal abilities. Hopefully, with care, it wouldn’t have a detrimental effect on his health.
The preparations would have to be concise and the binding would need to take place before the next weekend otherwise the moons conjunction would be out of phase for a month. Add to that the fact that, as most people in England hadn’t a clue as to the true nature of the circle; there was always an influx of tourists and coach parties at weekends; coming to see and stumble around what they believed to be a Neolithic Stone Circle. Ignorance is bliss, or so they say.
There was a knock. She reached out with her mind to her sister witch on the other side of the door and bade her welcome. Mor Llewellyn entered the room with a broad smile on her face.
“Want to hear something funny Allie.” She said. Althenea looked at her quizzically.
“Willow will be delayed by about half an hour. Major Finn just rang. They’re dosing her with fruit tea and orange juice now.” She said. Apparently she’s been drinking New York coffee again.
City Inn John Islip St. London.
Lunch had been a casual affair. Xander and Vi sat on the sofa in Buffy’s suite watching the coverage of the ‘Subsidence on State St’ as the media had dubbed it. From what they were reporting there were no public and very few internal casualties. Apparently, hardly anyone had been in the building at the time.
“How convenient is that?” Said Vi, sarcastically.
“They say that animals can sense when there’s about to be a major disaster, like a flood or fire or something.” Said Xander. “it’s possible that the employees at Wolfram and Hart are a bit like that. What do you think, huh, Buff?”
He looked at Buffy when she didn’t answer. She was spaced out lost in her thoughts, the look on her face said that she might burst into tears at any moment.
“Am I doing the right thing Xan?” She asked.
“In what way?” He asked.
“With Dan. Am I right to be involving him in our world, especially as the First is trying to kill us all off again. Should I even be thinking about having any sort of ‘normal’ relationship with any one, ever, because of the situation that is my life that sucks.”
She threw her hands up in the air in an exasperated attempt to try and make sense of her thoughts. Xander motioned to Vi, turned off the TV, went over to her and pulled her into a hug.
“Look.” He said. “What I think is this. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy. Girl turns out to be a superhero, and boy doesn’t run for the hills at the first opportunity he has. Therefore, I conclude that boy is Okay with said girl being a superhero and, not to put too fine a point on it; boy can give a pretty good account of himself anyway, so I say go ahead have fun, laughs, and huge amounts of happiness. There, what d‘ y‘ think of that.”
“Wow. Was that your first parental speech?” She enquired.
“Pretty much. Did it go well?” He enquired.
“Yeah, it was good.” She sniffed. “Thanks.”
He turned and winked at Vi, then looked back at Buffy.
“Now, as your surrogate parental advisory unit, we have our own date to get ready for. I suggest you do the same; and don’t be home too early missy.” He said, wagging a finger at her.
She looked at her watch and wrinkled her nose. “Xander, it’s four hours until Dan picks me up. I so don’t need to start yet!”
“Never stopped you before.” He said, grinning. He grabbed Vi’s hand and they dashed from the room before something heavy or sharp was thrown at them.
End of Chapter Twenty Three.