Chapter Twenty Six
Disclaimer. I don’t own the Buffy or Da Vinci Code Characters. Other people do. Other people who are not me.
Chapter Twenty Six
Dan’s Car M4 westbound 19:45 hrs
Dan had had to ease off the throttle as they approached the M25. A hold up was causing tailbacks onto the M4. Buffy continued her life story. There had still been certain 'Key' facts that she’d left out of the story, but he’d wanted the story …So he got it, including the Buffybot!
“There we were standing on the edge of this crater, just staring at it, not really understanding what we’d done; what we‘d achieved. At that point all we wanted to do was sleep for like, a week, but we needed to get the injured people to a hospital and find somewhere to stay ourselves. So we headed for L. A. and Angel. It didn’t go to plan. When we got there we found out that Angel had taken over as CEO of the local Wolfram and Hart. Not nice people.”
Dan interrupted. “That’s the place I saw on the telly earlier, only it was New York that the building collapsed . The guv’nor says they’re evil? Is that right.”
“Definitely. We didn’t want another fight on our hands at that point so we skipped town, real fast, without telling them. We got as far away as possible. Kennedy’s father was really helpful, he set us up with a place to stay; and he bankrolled most of our initial needs until we found and accessed the old council’s money. While we were doing that we had to locate and contact all the newbie slayers all over the world. Giles was commuting between everyone from London, Faith went to Cleveland with Robin and some of the girls we’d collected on the way.
Willow and Kennedy went to Rio to start a school for the younger girls. It keeps the younger ones off the radar There’s something called a White Nexus there; opposite to a hellmouth; helps keep Willow centred somehow, I don’t understand all of it. Xander went to Africa and the Far East, and I went to Rome with Andrew and Dawn, so that she could finish school there while Andrew and I contacted the new European slayers. By the time we’d finished all of that it was too late to help Angel. See what we didn’t know was that Angel and the gang were planning on taking Wolfram and Hart down from the inside. They succeeded, but they were all killed in the process.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, they must have been very dedicated. So what happened in New York today then?”
What! Bloody hell. Your friend did that? Is she alright?” Dan’s questions were overflowing.
“Long story, short version. W & H tried to get at Kennedy’s father. Willow found out and it turned out that it was a trap set up by the First to capture Willow. Clayton Chambers, the boss man there, thought he had her, but Will set him up. She can Astrally project herself anywhere she wants, so when she’d gotten enough information out of him she walked out, and the deal he had with the First, collapsed. Literally.”
Dan gave a low whistle. “Is there anything that she can’t do?”
“Let‘s just say, It’s a lot shorter list than what she can or could do if she wanted.” Said Buffy.
“Scary.” Said Dan.
There was silence apart from the sounds of the car as they both caught their breath after Buffy’s life history lesson.
Dan sighed. “Well I think I can safely say that I can’t top that. Did you ever think of writing a book? It would certainly be a bestseller.“
“Nuh uh, not going there. Andrew still keeps trying to get me to make training videos for the girls. Sorta like a ‘Slaying 101’. Can you imagine what would happen; the panic it would cause if it got out to the public domain.”
Dan had to concede the point. He glanced over to the right hand side of the motorway, and pointed. “That’s the head office and main hub over there.” A large sign at the side of the motorway announced; Carter International Logistics Ltd. Next exit.
Buffy looked at where he pointed and saw the neon sign and the top of a large warehouse type structure. “Big place.” She said. “You know, I know absolutely nothing about trucks or warehouses, except how to destroy them.”
“And I’m not going to bore you to death with it either.” He said.
He indicated and pulled off at the exit. As he drove around the island below the motorway, two silver trucks with Carter logo’s emblazoned on them, were waiting for access. They flashed their lights and blew their air horns. Dan stuck his arm out of the window and briefly waved before taking the exit for Windsor.
“Friends of yours?” Asked Buffy. “Or did you do something wrong?”
“They recognised the car.” Said Dan.
“How? There must be quite a few of these around.” She asked, mystified.
“Registration plate. There’s only one car with the registration D4 NNY.” He said.
She gave him a curious look, then it dawned on her, “Sweet. You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you.” She said.
“Oh’ I’ve still got one or two up my sleeve, as well as the stake that Xander gave me earlier.”
“You learn fast. That’s good. It might just keep you alive.” She said.
“First rule of slaying. Don’t die. A lady told me that once, as I recall.” He said.
“I wonder who that could have been?” She teased.
Dan grinned and he turned into a car park adjacent to a large Tudor style restaurant. A tasteful calligraphic board announced that the Stag, an Elizabethan Coaching Inn, had welcomed travellers since 1585 AD.
“Wow, that’s old. Wonder if Angel ever came here?” She speculated.
They entered the restaurant and Dan spotted an empty table in the corner. “How about that table?” He asked.
She scanned the room quickly, there were no other people in earshot of the table that would be able to hear any conversation they might have so she nodded her approval.
Dan approached the Barmaid. “Hello Lucy. Table for two please. That one if possible.” He asked, indicating to the chosen site.
“Hello Mr Carter. She said. Nice to see you again. Yes, any table you like. It’s a bit quiet tonight. I think there‘s a match on. What drinks can I get you.” She asked, looking at Buffy
“White wine spritza, please.” Came the answer.
“And I’ll have a coke please.” Said Dan. At Buffy’s surprised look , he continued. “I’m driving. There are rules. I‘ll explain in a minute.”
Lucy poured their drinks and enquired if they would be dining. At their acknowledgement, she pushed several buttons on the till keypad and informed them that they could eat whenever they were ready. “Enjoy your meal.” She said, with a broad smile.
They nodded their thanks and moved to the table.
“Ok. Get splainy. Why the coke?” She said, confused.
“Rules, I’m carrying a gun. Police firearms rules don’t allow me to drink and carry a weapon. I can’t go broadcasting the fact that I do to the world. It would be a bit like you wearing a badge saying ‘I’m a slayer, try and take me on. You wouldn‘t believe some of the nutters out there who think they‘re gods gift.” Explained Dan.
“Oh, I can believe it. Remember me telling you about Warren Mears. She said with a wry smile. “Anyway, enough shop talk, lets eat. I’m starving. Then you can tell me abut all the other tricks you‘ve got up your sleeve.”
Dan planned his strategy as they approached the food bar to be served. “She wants to know.” He thought.
Avebury Manor, Wiltshire. 20:30 hrs
Althenea, Mor and Willow sat drinking tea in the lounge area. Willow’s hair had mostly returned to it’s natural colour, but she couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t as deep as it used to be. They were discussing Ethan’s statement before he passed out.
“I’ve gone over the wording again and there’s nothing there that could cause a memory loss. The conditions with the sunset and the moon’s conjunction were all spot on as well.” Said Althenea.
“Well at least he’s sleeping still, so until he wakes up we’re not going to find out any more, are we. One thing though, if it took his memory it should have taken mine too; me being the conduit a-an all.” Said Willow.
“How do you feel otherwise?” Asked Mor.
“Apart from the hair, not bad, although, if you asked for a teleport I’d have to say no. Too pooped to pop.” Said Willow. “Actually, if you don’t mind I’m gonna go to my room, call Kennedy and have an early night. We’ll see how Ethan is in the morning.”
The other two agreed that this was the best idea. Althenea too, had noticed the lack of russet in her friends hair, and was secretly concerned. She should rest. Willow said goodnight and retired to the room that was always there for her if she needed it.
She pulled out her cell phone and pushed a speed dial. Kennedy answered immediately.
“Hey baby, how was your day. How’s Angus coping with the girls? Did you catch the news?”….………..
Clewley residence. Lichfield Road Kew London 21:15 hrs
Giles opened the case file Edward passed to him.
There were newspaper cuttings and press release type sheets in the file as well as photographs, the topmost of which was an official team photograph. The plate at the foot of the team read. Commonwealth Games, 2002. 400M hurdles. There were also similar photographs from AAA meets and solo pictures of the woman in question. She was blonde, blue eyes, athletically built, approximately five foot six. Most of the pictures showed her in a tracksuit or running kit, but there was one page taken from The Tatler that showed a picture of Amanda and Daniel together at some sort of official function. Giles turned the paper to the light to read the print below the photo.
Announcements The Tatler June 2004
Mr. and Mrs. Derek Carter of The Grange, Reading, are pleased to announce the engagement of their son Daniel to Miss Amanda Manning. Mr. and Mrs Carter are the joint owners of Carter International Logistics Ltd, their only son Daniel is a serving police officer with the Metropolitan Police and a keen rugby player.
Miss Manning is the only daughter of Mrs June Manning, and is a renown athlete, representing the UK on many occasions, including the Commonwealth Games in 2002. We are told that the couple met whilst they were both studying at Loughborough University.
They are shown here leaving the Dorchester after the announcement of the Olympic Squad, which we are pleased to inform our readers that Miss Manning has been included. The couple hope to be married after the Olympics.
“Good lord.” Said Giles, placing the file down and removing and polishing his glasses. Of Course I remember now. Wasn’t she killed in a car crash or something just before the Olympics?” He looked at Edward for his input.
“Three weeks before. Supposedly, it was a hit and run. There were no witnesses. Neither the driver nor the car have ever been located.” He said.
“And you suspect foul play?”
“Not just me, Rupert. Everyone from the Olympic Committee to the CPS, to me and to Daniel; but we had nothing to go on. It was raining heavily the night it happened, and everything got washed away.” The reason we suspect foul play is that there was something she was due to report to the Triple A about. She was about to testify at a hearing involving enhancement substance abuse at national level. The hearing had to be dropped. Insufficient evidence. They passed all their paperwork on to us but there were inconsistencies in their methods. The sort of things that they were dealing with weren’t in our jurisdiction.”
Edward paused to take a sip of his tea.
“There’s one name that keeps coming up when you make noises in the right places though. Arthur Maguire.”
“The Bookkeeper?” Said Giles, raising his eyebrows and wrinkling his receding hairline.
He’s had allegations made against him before. However, apart from getting his wrists slapped a few times, nothing major has ever come of it. He’s so used to his name being banded about in allegations of race and match fixing, he doesn’t even bite anymore when the newspapers corner him.”
“What makes you so sure that it was him this time, if there was no proof?” Asked Giles.
“A couple of days before the accident Daniel was sent on a training course for CO19. He said afterwards that he thought Mandy seemed a bit nervous, but he’d dismissed it as pre race nerves. She always got them, apparently. When he got back to his apartment, after he’d been pulled off the course to identify her body, he found that she’d put her diary into his gun safe.”
“So there is evidence then. Why don’t you use it?”
Her notes were incomplete and could only be used by the AAA against Maguire. Without Mandy’s own verbal input, the evidence would be inadmissible, and it didn’t offer any insight that she might be in danger.”
“I know that you will probably chastise me for it, but is there a possibility that this accident was just that, an accident, and not something more sinister.” Said Giles.
“I knew you’d ask that one.” Said Edward. “There was one thing that Mandy never did. She refused to go running in the dark, alone. She hated it. It scared her.”
“Oh dear.” Said Giles
The Stag Restaurant. Windsor 21:00 hrs
“I still can’t understand one thing though.” Said Dan as he finished his explanation of Mandy’s death.
“What’s that.” Said Buffy, quietly. Dan’s story had brought some of her own insecurities about the loss of loved ones back to the surface.
“Why did she go out running alone, at night, when it scared her so much.” Answered Dan.
Buffy looked perplexed. “Do you think there was something else she found out about. Like the ‘Bumpers’ for instance?” She said, using Dan’s childhood name for the monsters and demons.
“I don’t know. She never mentioned anything like that. I suppose there might be something in the diary that I haven’t noticed before. If you want to you could take a look at it. Another woman’s perspective on it might be a help.” He said. The only person I can point at is Arthur Maguire, the bookie. The guv’nor and I both think he had someone do it but there’s no way of proving it.” Said Dan.
“If you really want me to, yeah, I‘ll take a look. I mean, a girls diary is a sacred place, are you sure you want me being all nosey in there?” She paused. “You must have loved her very much”
“Yes, I did, and yes, I do….Want you to take a look; that is. I still think about her, especially if I come across something that reminds me. I expect you’re the same, with the people you’ve lost along the way.”
She nodded. “I think that if you have friends or family then you can get through things. We’ve all been there for each other, Sometimes the supporting thing hasn’t gone so well though. Xander’s been the one who’s needed us just lately, he‘s getting better.”
“I’ve seen the way he and Vi look at one another you know, and you can see that she’s nuts about him, and he‘s not that far behind.” He said, grinning
She nodded. “It does tend to take Xander a little longer to catch up to where everyone else is, sometimes; but they’ll be at it like bunnies in no time.” Said Buffy, matching his grin.
She thought for a moment. “Maybe you could benefit from doing something different with your life. It’s not like you’re stuck with one path, you can change the rules. I did; and now, I have a choice.”
“Philosophical too! Are there no limits to your talents.” He said “Now. Are you ready for dessert? They reckon that Death by Chocolate is the only way to go.
“There is no problem that cannot be solved by chocolate!” She said, brightly.
End of Chapter Twenty Six