Chapter Twenty Five
Disclaimer. I don’t own the Buffy or Da Vinci Code Characters. Other people do. Other people who are not me.
Chapter Twenty Five.
Avebury Manor Wiltshire England
It was late afternoon. There was a brief flash as Willow teleported into the Coven room at Avebury Manor. As she materialised Althenea and Mor stepped forward to catch the magickally bound and sleeping Ethan Rayne. They laid him on a prepared pallet of yew covered with a naturally cured sheepskin. There were hugs and greetings of ‘Blessed Be’ shared between the Wicca’s, and they placed warded crystals around the sleeping Mage before they left the room.
“What time is it.” Asked Willow. “I’ve been in so many time zones today, I’m not sure if I’ve missed a meal or not. One thing’s good though. No jet lag.”
“It’s five fifteen now; tea time.” Said Althenea.
“See, I did miss a meal. My stomach’s telling’ me it’s lunchtime.” Said Willow, grudgingly.
“Never mind, we’ve plenty to go round. What about Ethan though, won’t he be hungry?” Asked Althenea.
“I don’t think so, he ate all of the bagels I brought back from New York; a-and that was after he’d eaten breakfast. Anyway I kinda want to leave him asleep until the ritual. He‘s been really nice; too nice; I don’t trust him. If he sees the preparations for the binding then he might figure a way to turn it against us.” She said.
The other Wicca’s agreed that this was a good strategy
“You’re certainly getting around a bit, Willow. Are you sure you’re up to doing this now?” Said Mor.
“I’m fine, I think it’s going to be tomorrow that I’ll feel it.” She said. “So we’d best get it done tonight. What time doe the sun set?”
“Seven thirty three.” Came the reply.
As they had conversed, they had walked from the coven room to the dining room. There was a buffet style meal laid out on the table with various meat and vegetarian options catered for. Willow smiled at the feast her friends had put together, and gave thanks to the goddess for their generosity. She looked out of the window, saw the drizzle, and her face fell slightly.
“Now I know I’m back in England. I think we’re gonna get a little damp this evening.” She said.
“It could be worse.” Said Mor. “I went to perform a hand fasting in Blaenau Ffestiniog last week and it was snowing. The happy couple were nearly blue with the cold by the time I’d finished. Mind you, I think they warmed up pretty quickly afterwards. I had a call from her mother yesterday and she said that they didn’t come out of the bedroom for three days.” She said with a smile.
“Knew I shoulda’ brought Kenn along.” Grinned Willow.
They all laughed and circled the table collecting and filling their plates as they chatted.
City Inn, John Islip Street. London.
Giles Buffy and Xander were in Buffy’s office catching up.
“Mel's got a point.” Said Xander. “With all the weirdness in Sunnydale no-one took too much notice of an old guy and a young girl alone in a cemetery, or a library, for instance.” At Giles glare he held up a hand to placate him. “It’s not so simple here. The City Inn is a public hotel, and London, not on a hellmouth. You can’t just have the girls wandering in and out. We need a safe house, and soon.”
Giles looked at Buffy, silently begging for some sort of support. She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“Sorry Giles. I gotta go with Xander on this one. The professor could have gotten accused of something he’s not remotely guilty of.” Said Buffy.
“Very well, I concede your point. Actually, I’ve had comments from one or two of the watchers about the lack of facilities down here as well. Although; Willow may be a little upset if we abandon all of her hard work.” Said Giles. England certainly has changed whilst I was away.
“No Giles, we keep this as well. Initiative Covert Ops can use it, Riley has already said he needs a base, to save them crashing at the barracks. He‘ll feel right at home here.” Said Buffy. She looked at her watch. Ohmigod. It’s six. I gotta go change, and meet Dan.”
“Again!” Said Giles. He smiled and shook his head as she dashed off. “The man is doomed.” He turned to Xander. “Can you handle the search for suitable premises.”
Xander nodded. “Sure. Slayer School Westbury is nearly finished. You told Buff yet?”
“No, and I don’t intend to until it’s time either. I’m amazed she hasn’t gotten it out of your head before now.” Said Giles.
“I had a little help from Will. A bit of blockage to throw the Buffster off.” He said. “Anyway, my date’s gonna slay me if I’m late so I gotta go too.”
As Xander left; Giles sat there wondering what he was missing; something he‘d forgotten. Suddenly he remembered. He picked up the phone. “Jenny could you get me a taxi please. Thank you.” He replaced the receiver and dashed for the lift. When he reached reception, Jenny called him over and held out a bottle.
“Taxi’s outside, and here’s the wine you should have collected.” She said. At his perplexed look she continued. “Chief Superintendent Clewley called whilst you were in your meetings. He said you’d forget unless I reminded you.”
“Jenny, you’re a godsend. Thank you. I‘ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight.” She smiled and nodded as he left for his waiting taxi.
Dan’s apartment Wicket Road, Perivale London. 18:15 hrs
Dan couldn’t remember having this much trouble getting ready for a date. Was this what it was like for women? His dad always complained that mum took too long getting ready, but he’d always thought that was just dad being a wind up and it was a joke. Now it wasn’t so funny. He looked in the wardrobe again, everything seemed to be either black or white. If he wasn’t careful he’d end up in his uniform; and that definitely wouldn’t go down well! He needed; what did Becky call it. Oh yeah. Retail Therapy. But definitely not the Trinny and Suzanne kind. They always seemed to spend a fortune according to his colleagues whose wives watched their TV programme.
After more deliberation he gave up and grabbed a wine coloured long sleeved shirt and a pair of khaki coloured Chinos and put them on. He noticed that the hand sized reddish mark on his chest had faded slightly, maybe he should mention it to Buffy later.
As he rummaged in a drawer for socks his hand hit the small ring box. He sat on the edge of his bed staring at it as the memories came flooding back. A few minutes later he shook himself from his thoughts. Realising he was running late, he dived into his closet, punched the code into his gun safe, placed the ring case on the top of the diary that was in there, and closed the door. Donning his armpit holster and gun, he grabbed his phone, wallet; the stake Xander had given him earlier, a black leather jacket; and dashed out of the apartment.
Clewley residence. Lichfield Road Kew 18:30 hrs
The black Cab pulled into the gravel driveway and Giles alighted from the rear. The font door of the house opened and an elegant woman in her late forties stood there grinning as he searched for his wallet. He paid the cabbie and turned to see her; and returned the smile.
“Alison. It’s good to see you again.”
“Hello Rupert. When Edward said you were coming for dinner tonight I didn’t believe him at first. If I remember correctly, the last time you were supposed to come; some huge emergency cropped up and you’d dashed off to America or China or somewhere like that. I didn’t realise that life at the British Museum could be so hectic.
Giles gave her a sheepish grin. “You wouldn’t believe the half of it.” He said.
Come on in.” She said. Edward‘s not been home that long himself. Had a briefing about that terrible thing in New York. The news is saying it‘s possibly another attack by terrorists.”
“O-Oh, yes, well er, I wouldn’t know about that. Although I have seen the reports on the TV, of course. Terrible business.” He said.
He stepped inside and offered the bottle of wine to Alison. She thanked him, and showed him into the lounge. Edward came in a few moments later.
“Rupert, you made it then. Did Jennifer have to remind you?”
“Unfortunately, to some degree, yes.” He admitted. “I’d forgotten the wine.”
Alison’s call came from the dining room to come and eat, and they joined her there. They spent the meal in amiable banter, Giles maintaining his cover story that he travelled about a lot to acquire and authenticate artefacts for the museum. Alison believed that Edward too, hadn’t seen Giles for a number of years. Strictly speaking, that was true although they’d spoken often on the telephone, physical meetings hadn’t been in abundance.
Alison made her excuses at eight p.m. There was a meeting of the local W. I. and as Chair Person, she had to attend. This gave Giles and Edward the time for their own meeting. As Alison’s car pulled out of the driveway, Ed placed two files on the coffee table in front of Giles. One had Carter, DJ printed on the front. The other had Case File #6777452 Manning, Amanda (Mandy) printed on it. Giles gave Ed a puzzled look.
“Read this one first.” He said, pointing to Dan’s file. “Then I’ll explain the other one.”
City Inn John Islip Street, London. 18:55 hrs
Dan’s Audi swept up to the car park entrance of the hotel and he jumped out. A uniformed concierge gave him a glare, and Dan whipped out his warrant card to placate him. “Ok, please don’t be too long sir.” He said.
Dan walked over to the reception desk. “Ms. Summers please. Suite 421. He asked the clerk.
“Certainly. Sir. Whom shall I say is calling.”
“One moment please.” She dialled the suite number. There was a short conversation and the receptionist returned to Dan. “She’ll be down in a moment sir, if you’d care to take a seat.”
Dan nodded and pulled back to the lounge chairs that were set out around low tables. A minute later, Buffy appeared from the lift. “Ouch.” He thought. This lady knows how to dress. He was no expert at the styles that women wore, it just seemed that they needed lots of clothes, some that were just meant to sit in a wardrobe until the right time came for it to be used, or else sent to a recycling centre.
She wore a pair of embellished jeans and a magenta lacy top over a strappy tee shirt of the same colour. On her feet were a pair of expensive looking high heeled sandals. She carried a fitted tunic style leather jacket and a satchel style shoulder bag. Casual, but stunning, was the only word he had for how she looked.
Hi there. She said.
“Hi, er evening. He said, stumbling over his words.
“Great, you know you’ve got it right when they go all non-verbal!” She said with a broad smile.
“Sorry?” Said Dan, puzzled.
She took his arm and guided him towards the car park. “I’ll explain on the way. Come on, I’m starving.”
Dan unlocked the car with the remote and opened the passenger door for her. Buffy’s eyes widened. “Oooh, shiny. The cops are coming up in the world, if they’re splurging on some decent cars.”
“It’s not a police car, Buffy. It’s mine.” Said Dan, getting in the other side.
“Yours! No wonder you became a cop instead of a teacher. Pay must be, like a zillion times better.”
“No, they pay about the same.”
“Then I can only guess that you’re trying to impress me Mr. Carter.” She said, sweetly.
“Oh if I’d wanted to impress you, I’d have brought the Bentley, Miss Summers. He deadpanned.
“You have a Bentley as well!” She exclaimed.
“Not really. Dad’s got an Aston Martin, though.”
“Giles said your dad had a small haulage company; and a pub? Or did you win the lottery?”
“Oh, he does, except, well except that it’s not so small. Well not by UK standards, anyway. Carter International Logistics Limited is the largest privately owned logistics company in Europe. Profits were up by four per cent last year, turnover was just over one hundred and fifty million.” Said Dan, cringing slightly for quoting the company sales blurb verbatim.
“That’s a lotta company!” She exclaimed.
Dan glanced at her with a raised eyebrow. “This is the statement from the lady who; and I quote, could solve third world debt. Twice over and still have enough to give every watcher and slayer a decent pension.”
“Okaay. You got me." She pouted. "So why are you a cop? Why aren’t you working with or for your dad? And why didn’t you tell me this before?” She said. Her tone darkening.
Dan let out a breath he hadn‘t realised he was holding. “It’s a bit difficult to explain, but I wanted to do something different. Dad always expected me to go into the business, but I’m not the sit in the boardroom and push papers around sort of person. He was a bit upset at first when I told him and mum I wanted to be a sports teacher. Becky was already running the Human Resources department, and there were managers and staff to do all the day to day stuff, so I’d be a bit of a spare cog until such a time that he decides to retire. And I didn’t tell you properly before because, well, I just don’t like to brag about it. I live off my salary. I don’t like taking handouts from my parents. The car was a birthday present for my twenty fifth, mum didn’t want me riding a motorcycle anymore. She thinks they‘re dangerous.”
“Yeah, I get that.” She said. ….. Who’s Becky?”
“Rebecca. My older sister. Husband Paul owns the fireworks company. Two girls, Jamie and Lisa.” He said, giving her the cliff notes version. “By the way, talking of the fireworks company, Paul reckons that explosive comes from the Eastern Bloc, he’ll have the full S P in a day or two.
“Oh, you didn’t tell him about… What’s S. P?” She gave him a sideways glance.
“Starting Price. Er, low-down, information, and no, I didn’t say a word. Paul will test it, and dispose of it, no official reports, and no questions.” He explained.
“Okay, that’s of the good. So, where are we going?” She asked.
“The Stag. It’s a Carvery Restaurant. It’s regular of mine, sort of. It’s also part of dad’s business.”
“This is the pub he bought, isn’t it.
“Sort of. That’s the another thing I’ve got to explain. You see, two years ago dad did a deal to take over a cold store company, er frozen food. It was sort of a buy one get one free deal. Part of that business was a small chain of old Coaching Inns, some are really old. Turns out that the one mum had been using for a lot of the corporate venues was part of the deal. So instead of selling them off, he kept them.”
“Hey, this isn’t a Meet the Parents type of gig is it?”
“God, no. I wouldn’t pull that one, not yet, anyway.” He said. “You’ll need time before meeting mum and dad, and preparation, for lots of questions. Mum can spot a fib at forty paces. No, you‘re quite safe, they‘re in Portugal at the moment.”
Buffy relaxed . “Your mom sounds very protective. My mom was, too. She could handle anything. Except…” She trailed off.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to remind you.” He said.
“It’s okay, Giles always says it’s good to talk about these things, helps you deal.”
“And he would be right. Sounds like we both have past experiences that we need to deal with.”
“You mean you really want the Buffy 101! Are you sure.?” She asked.
“I’m certain. He said. “My life has to have been a lot more mundane than yours, but I‘ve always been taught that honesty is the best policy if a relationship has any sort of a chance. My parents have been married for over thirty years, and they’re as happy today as they were then.”
“That sounds really nice, but I give you fair warning. My life story sucks beyond belief at times.” She said.
There‘s a saying my dad told me once. “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Said Dan, positively.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that one too. He sounds nice, your dad.”
“He’s alright. Just don’t be around when he’s dealing with an arsey lorry driver. The air turns blue.” Grinned Dan.
By this time Dan had manoeuvred the car out of the city and onto the M4; heading west, towards Heathrow. As the road ahead began to clear of the rush hour traffic Dan pressed harder on the accelerator.
Buffy took a deep breath. “OK. Here goes. Once upon several lifetimes ago……….” She began.
Avebury Manor 19:15 hrs
Two hours later the coven began the serious task of setting up the ritual. The misty rain had eased off and the sun was trying break through the clouds in the west creating long shadows and radiating shafts of sunlight over the landscape. A stunning sunset was promised, a fitting climax to the drawing down of Ethan’s powers back into the earth.
The five Wicca’s performing the ritual sat in the centre of the ancient stone circle; one at each point of a pentacle, their hands place palms down on the ground. Willow and Ethan sat cross-legged in the middle facing each other holding their palms outward, touching hands. His back was against the setting sun. Willow gave a nod to Althenea and she began.
“Spirit is eternal, Power everlasting. Cleanse his spirit, to begin anew.”
Mor took up the chant.
“Air breathes life. Love everlasting. Bestow love, to begin anew.”
The next to chant was an elderly Wicca called Celia.
“Fire is consuming, knowledge burns bright. Release his knowledge, to begin anew.”
Angela was next.
“Water cleanses, wisdom is pure. Give him the wisdom, to begin anew.”
Moira took the next section of the chant.
“Earth bestows life. Truth is innocent. Show him the truth, to begin anew.”
Then they all chanted together
“Spirit Goddess hear our plea
Chaos wielded by his beck and call
Power he now relinquishes freely.
Temper his loss and bring him peace.”
As they spoke the final phrase, two rays of sunlight lit up Willow and Ethan’s hands and created a glow. It grew to encompass him and then spread up Willow’s arms to engulf her. As the glow spread her hair wafted in the air and began to turn white. Then as it had started, the beams of light and the glow faded from Ethan passing down his arms and diminishing through Willow, blending into the earth. Ethan opened his eyes briefly, looking at Willow. “Hello. Who are you?” He said, before passing out.
Clewley Residence. Lichfield Road Kew 20:30 hrs
Rupert Giles finished reading the file in front of him. “I have one question. No disrespect Edward, but why is this man a police officer? He certainly seems to have the wherewithal and the ability to achieve anything he wants.
Edward Clewley took a deep breath. “Daniel Carter doesn’t like to brag about what he’s got. OK, he drives a decent car, which was a birthday present from his parents, incidently; but in some ways he’s a rebel. He rents his apartment and pays his own way, from his salary. You know, I remember someone else a bit like him a few years back. Young chap, University material, bit of a one with the ladies, came from a good hardworking family background, privileged. He eventually chose a different destiny, helped save the world on more than one occasion. Ring any bells?
Giles looked at Edward over the top of his glasses, and gave him a grin. He closed Dan’s file and took a sip of his tea. Replacing is cup he moved to pick the second file up. Edward placed a hand on top of the file preventing him. Giles looked at him, puzzled.
“What do you know about the IOC and The AAA.” Asked Edward.
“International Olympic Committee, and the Amateur Athletics Association? They’re the governing bodies for international and national sports. Why?"
“No doubt you’re aware of the major problems that they have keeping the sports industry ‘clean’ as it were, of illegal substances.”
“Drugs, you mean.” Said Giles.
“Yes; and no.” Said Edward. “What constitutes an illegal substance in criminal terms and athletic terms can be two different things. Something you or I might take for a headache or a cold would probably constitute an illegal substance in athletic terms, because of its chemical make up. Amanda Manning was one of those people who were vehemently against any abuse to enhance performance. She was also Daniel’s fiancé.
“You say ‘was’. What do you mean by that?” Asked Giles.
End of Chapter Twenty Five.