Chapter Twenty Nine
Disclaimer. The Buffy and Da Vinci Code characters are owned by other people. Other people who are not me.
Chapter Twenty Nine.
Avebury Manor Wiltshire.
The Manor. was quiet and in darkness. Except for the coven room. Anyone approaching would have noticed the glow from under the door. Had they then opened the door they would have seen that the glow was emanating from Ethan Rayne. He was still comatose inside his protective mystical cage; but his body was surrounded by a glow that could only be described as sunlight. His skin was translucent, his features tightening……..
Stag Inn Windsor.
The car park had become a hive of activity. SOCCO had arrived and were searching for the second bullet. The empty case had been found where the gun had been fired from in the shadows. The hit man had been formally arrested for the murder of Johnny Smitt, and taken to hospital under escort. The two Chief Superintendents had briefly examined the evidence in the envelope and issued a warrant for the arrest of Arthur Maguire on several charges, the main one being conspiracy to commit murder. Papers in the envelope contained chemical formulae, which although no-one there was an expert, they were certain that the finished product would have certain strength imbuing similarities with PCP. But there was no indication as to how it was hidden from the testing by the athletic authority.
Several empty coffee cups littered the corner table. The four occupants were deliberating on the events of the evening. Buffy had handed the flattened bullet to Giles and he was giving his interpretation of Dan’s visitation by Whistler.
“Well it seems that once again we are in uncharted territory. Buffy, at twenty four, if memory serves, you are the oldest living slayer ever. You’ve died twice, beaten back foes that the prophecy’s have said you wouldn’t, and shared your power with every potential in the world. What Whistler has said in his own inimitable way, is true. You did give rise to all the slayers. In effect, you are their mother. It also reasons that you might have as yet untapped powers, or may even develop new powers. I’d say that this mark is one of those powers. I must admit, it’s a bloody brilliant protection spell.” He said.
She thought for a moment. Then came the babble fest. “What about Willow though? If anything she gave all the potentials their power through the Scythe; she’s much more connected to the slayers than I am. She can feel them, knows when a newbie is coming into her power. Then there’s Faith. Isn’t she the true line of the slayer? Shouldn‘t she be the mother? And just when did I become a witch.”
“I take it you’re not happy at the thought of motherhood or being a witch then.” Said Dan.
The pout she gave him caused them all to laugh.
Giles elaborated. “You’re not a witch, not in the strictest sense of the word. In the past you have used your energy to power spells and assist healing; what’s to say that you cannot procure them by simply willing them to occur.” He paused, thinking. “With the creation of all the slayers; Willow was merely the surgeon, the conduit to channel the power. You were the source. By your own admission the Scythe calls to you, its main connection is to you. Faith feels it too, but not as strongly as you do. The other girls, even those from Sunnydale, feel its call even less.”
“But….” She started. Giles held up a hand to stop her.
He continued. “Faith, by her own admittance doesn’t want the leadership mantle, she enjoys the fight too much; she doesn’t appear to get the prophetic dreams that you and some of the others do; although certain aspects of that may change now she’s gained her freedom, only time will tell.”
Buffy deflated. She put her hands in her lap, leaned forward and banged her head gently on the table several times. “Just when you think you’re destiny free. The Manolo Blahnik of shoes drops” She looked at Giles. “Where did my life go Giles? You know, the one I had planned with me walking along a beach singing tra la la.”
“Honestly. I really don’t know.” He looked questioningly at Dan. “Was there any insight from Whistler as to why?”
Dan looked pensive for a moment, then he said, sheepishly. “There were some other things that were specific to Buffy and, well er, me. Would you mind if I discuss them with Buffy first, sir.”
“Buffy arched an eyebrow. “Great. They’re planning my sex life now!” she said, angrily.
Giles started cleaning his glasses and Edward looked away as though he had suddenly discovered a very interesting spot on the wall. Dan grimaced. “No, no, sorry, that sort of came out differently than I intended. Some of it was a bit personal, that’s all. I just thought that you might like to discuss it first.” He said.
She shook her head. Amazed at the PTB’s interfering attitude.
“That’s very considerate of you Daniel, and I appreciate your concern for Buffy’s privacy.” Said Giles, giving Buffy a reassuring look. “However, if there’s something we may need to know, please tell us, sooner rather than later.”
“I, er, we will sir.” Said Dan.
“And Daniel, please, don’t call me ‘Sir’. Rupert or Giles is fine. Just don‘t use Xander‘s terminology, please.”
At Dan’s uncomfortable look, Buffy interjected, grinning. “You might as well. If the Powers That Be have decided that we’re gonna be an item, you can’t go around calling Giles ‘Sir’ all the time.”
Dan settled his mind. “Alright then, if you don’t mind, Giles it is. Thank you.”
Edward had returned to reading the contents of the envelope. He paused, held up a sheet to the light and caught Giles attention. “What do you make of this, Rupert?”
Giles took the sheet and held it as Edward had. “There seems to be something else on the page, I think there was another sheet above this and the indentations were impressed onto the page. Trouble is, that with the other writing on the paper it’s difficult to decipher what it says.”
“There’s a photo copier in the office here.” Said Dan. “If you change the settings to copy a darker image, you will get the faint images that you want highlighted, so that you can read them. It’s a bit like the old trick of rubbing a pencil over a blank page to see what was written on the previous sheet.” He jumped up and took the offered sheet from Giles. A minute later he returned with a second copy of the document. The symbols and glyphs on the page made Giles sit up. “Edward, I thought you said Maguire was human?”
“I did, why?”
“Well, I’m afraid that either you are wrong, or someone very close to him isn’t human. This is N’Gatan, an old demonic language. From what I can tell, its some sort of masking spell. To cast it would require a N’Gata demon.”
Rosslyn Chapel. Rosslyn
The maze of tunnels beneath the Chapel and surrounding hillside were being searched thoroughly by the Bringers. Several Templar tombs and reliquaries had been discovered and raided. The information was piled in the Chapel and Caleb was searching for the answer to his quest.
The First was covertly watching the scene with interest. Caleb’s mismatched clothing had been replaced with the dog collar and slacks that he favoured. In times of stress, it seemed that even the bad guys seek comfort in that which is familiar.
“I have the feeling that the whereabouts of the grail is not going to be found in this pile of rubbish. Most of this predates the information we already have.” He said, to no-one in particular. He closed his eyes for a moment and summoned his god. The First appeared in the image of Teabing.
“Damn, its like looking in a mirror. Did you find out how to capture the witch?”
“If I had I wouldn’t be here old chap. I’d be dissecting her right now. No-one out there wants to take her on; she’s become too powerful. There are even one or two saying that she’s gained goddess status amongst certain factions.”
“Then we have a definite problem, unless we find the grail before she finds us.” Said Caleb. He thought for a moment. “Maybe a visit to the Chalice or the grandmother would yield some answers.”
“Possibly. There’s another option along that line of thought though.” Said the First.
“The slayers' got a new suitor. He has a dead ex, and the elements tell me he’s just had a brief brush with the hereafter himself.”
“Did the witch resurrect him too?” Asked Caleb.
“No. The slayer. She resuscitated him. She’s protecting him, somehow.”
“Then maybe we should be somewhere else, whilst I research this. Having her chasing me while you play isn’t my idea of fun. When we get the grail I’ll have her army obeying me and she won’ be able to do a thing about it.” Said Caleb.
“Where will you go?”
“The last place she’ll think to look. The Chateau.”
Stag Inn, Windsor.
“Where do I find this Maguire and how dead can I kill him?” Asked Buffy, darkly.
“Steady on. We ‘re not certain that Maguire is a demon as yet. He may just be an accomplished warlock. If he’s human and you go storming in there the case will fall flat and you’ll be exposed.” Said Edward.
Buffy opened her mouth to argue. Giles stopped her.
Edward’s right, Buffy. At least give the police a chance to use the law to stop him. We need to research this and find out exactly who or what we’re dealing with. We also have the First and Caleb out there trying to find the Grail. This could be a diversionary tactic to keep us busy whilst they make their move.” He said.
“Carter, is there somewhere else you can stay tonight. That hit man should probably have reported back by now. If Maguire gets wind that you’re still alive, it wont be safe for you to go back to your apartment. You‘re a material witness now.” Said Edward.
“My parents place is empty.” Said Dan.
“Would Maguire know about it?” Asked Buffy.
“Probably.” Said Dan with a shrug.
“Then it’s not a good move.” Said Buffy. She gathered her thoughts, and looked at Dan. “Ok, here’s what we do. We go to your place, you pack a bag and we head for the hotel. If the hit man was following you he’d have had plenty of time to take you out before today; even make it look like an accident. So my guess is that you didn’t become a target until the package was handed over. I’m the unknown quantity, so far. Unless he’s got a mage working for him he wont be able to trace us.” She looked at Giles and Edward. “How long is it gonna take to get this guy picked up and find out who the demonic element is?”
“Twenty four hours at the most.” Said Edward. Giles concurred.
“Okay, we need a car.” She shook her head at Dan. “Not yours, sorry Dan. It’s too conspicuous. Ed. Can we borrow yours?”
“Alright, but Carter drives.” Said Edward, exchanging his keys for Dan‘s. “And leave it where I can retrieve it easily, please.”
She grinned. “Hey, at least I’m not stealing one this time!” She stood up and tugged at Dan’s arm. “Let’s go.” She pointed at Ed. “Keep this between us four. Trust no-one. Not even Millar. Maguire must have insiders, so be careful, And don’t you two take Dan‘s car either, I need you both alive. Giles, we‘ll talk later.”
With that they left. As they entered the car park they noticed the scene of crime officers setting up laser lines to determine the angle of the snipers shots. There was the brief moment when Dan wondered what they would say if they discovered that the second shot should have hit him. He dismissed the notion and followed Buffy to Edward’s car. They were on the motorway before Dan realised that no-one had challenged them as they had left. In fact he couldn’t remember if anyone even looked at them as the drove away. Weird or what.
Buffy had pulled out her cellphone was sending several text messages. “Who are you texting.” He asked.
“Getting help in covering our tracks, just in case there'sa mage at work. There are several people who have certain items that give the bad guys the impression that I’m elsewhere. By the time we’ve got your things there will be reported sightings of me in about five cities around the world. As long as they don’t get too close to the doubles we’ll be home and dry. I’m guessing that you aren’t on their radar as yet, so a dark haired guy about your build will be ‘seen’ with me, so to speak.”
“You’re a sneaky one. I didn’t realise when I made that comment yesterday about you being Jane Bond that it was true.” He said.
“When Sunnydale was over we had all these new slayers to protect. We’d won, barely. It wasn’t just the Scoobies anymore, we’d gone global overnight, literally. I was sick and tired of losing good people. We had to become organised and fast, otherwise the new slayers were going to be demon fodder very quickly, and the new council wouldn’t have survived. We had to think about the long haul. I was never any good at being undercover gal, so I probably had the most to learn. Andrew and Xander have probably been the biggest help in that area, they watch all the spy movies, and we picked up a few ideas here and there. What we couldn’t do with technology we did with magic, or a combination. Then there’s the Initiative. They train most of the girls in covert ops as soon as they’re sixteen, before, if their parents agree.”
She broke off as several beeps on her phone confirmed that her instructions had been received and acted upon. “How far to your apartment?”
“Five minutes.” he said, turning off the main road.
He made another couple of turns and pulled up outside an apartment building. Buffy scanned the area and flicked the off switch on the cars courtesy lights so that they wouldn’t light when they opened the doors. They slipped into the building, also without using any lights. Dan lived there, so he knew where he was going, and Buffy’s enhanced night vision came into its own. Once inside his apartment Dan moved quietly around in the dark stuffing clothes and toiletries into a holdall. He went to his gun safe and pulled out the diary and some spare clips. Five minutes later and they were making their way into London. There was very little traffic on the roads and in the twenty minutes it took them to get to the City Inn, they discussed Dan’s conversation with Whistler.
As they entered the fourth floor hallway from the lift, Buffy noticed the do not disturb sign on Xanders door. “About time.” She whispered, smiling.
Once in her suite they both relaxed slightly. “How’s the head.” Asked Buffy.
“Fine, doesn’t hurt a bit. In fact, it‘s really weird, but I feel as fresh as a daisy. Like I‘ve had a good nights sleep.”
“Actually, not so weird. When I drowned and Xander saved me, I felt really charged. It was like a power boost.” She said.
Dan looked out of the window, towards the lights of the embankment and the Thames. “I died and came back. Can life get any more weird.”
“Oh, yeah. Next time try waking up in your coffin after a hundred and forty seven days.” She said, wryly.
He turned back to her pulled close . “Sorry, I forgot. I think I’ll just stick with the once, if you don’t mind.” He paused. “Do you think that’s why they did it?”
Who did what?
“Whistler, the Powers That Be. Do you think that’s why they allowed me to die, so that I’d know what you’ve been through. So I‘d be able to relate.”
“Possibly, They gotta weird sense of humour.” She looked into his eyes. “I don’t know if you get this, I mean don’t even get this, but I do feel connected to you. Is that weird.”
“No, it’s nice. Now we’ve got the goods on Maguire I feel as though, I dunno, like a page is turning? It feels right though. Is it supposed to make sense? Is it some sort of magic?”
“If it is, I’m not complaining.” She said, grinning.
She pulled him back to her and kissed him deeply. It became more intense as they continued, their hands wandering over each others bodies and getting more fervid. She pulled him towards the couch and they collapsed there pulling at each others clothing, not wanting to separate. Dan suddenly realised what he was doing and pulled back sharply. He sat up and put his head in his hands, running his fingers through his hair.
“Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I’m not usually like this. I-I wasn’t intending to take it this far yet.” He spluttered.
He stared out of the window into the darkness again. Buffy sat up beside him, adjusting her top.
“I know. Me neither, it’s just, wow. Intense.” She said.
She matched his stare out of the window for a moment. Something flashing in her peripheral vision made her look in its direction. A crystal paperweight on the desk was what had caught her eye.
“Crap!” She exclaimed, jumping up. “When did that go off.”
“What is it?” Asked Dan.
“Bug alarm. Something Willow and the coven cooked up. Lets us know if there‘s electronic gizmos operating in a room.”
She picked up the crystal and scanned around the room; then Dan’s body. When she did the same to his bag it emitted a high pitched bleeping noise. She pulled it open and emptied the contents onto the bed. Scanning the items singly she discovered that the bleeping was coming from the diary.
“Was this Amanda’s diary?” She asked. Dan nodded. “Has this ever left your safe?”
Not since I took it to show the CPS, and it didn’t leave the room I was interviewed in.” He said.
Buffy examined the book closely. She took a knife and slit the padded cover open. There was a tiny circuit board inside with a small coil of antenna wire attached to a watch battery. She showed it to Dan.
“This is a tracking device. It’s how they traced Amanda’s movements, how they were able to know when she was alone. She must have put the diary in your safe and they killed her on the way back home!” She said. “And as I got a signal from it I’d pretty much say it’s still working.”
Dan groaned. “So they’ll know it’s been moved and they know where we are. What do we do, move, or stay and take on whoever comes?”
“We do nothing. We are going to stay here and act like there is nothing to worry about.” She said pulling out her cellphone and dialling. It was answered immediately. “Heidi, are you and Helga nearby?……Good. You two up for a workout…..Great.” Buffy gave Heidi the rundown of their mission and ended the call.
“Just like that, eh.” Said Dan, closing the drapes
“Yep, just like that.” She grinned, slinking closer to him. “Now. Where were we.”
“Are you sure about this? What about, you know; ‘precautions’?” He asked.
“I’m sure. She replied. “I take care of that myself.”
Okay, but we might hate ourselves in the morning.” Said Dan, cautiously, as she wrapped herself around him.
“Then we sleep late.” She replied, wickedly.
Two hours later all was quiet and suite 421 was in darkness. The occupants were sleeping, or at least that’s what the black clad hit man had observed prior to accessing the roof. He abseiled down the outside of the hotel to the fourth floor. The contract had come through for a clean, close in hit at the City Inn, before dawn. The mark was male, mid twenties and had survived one attempt already. Caution was needed as there may be another person with him, probably a woman. The instruction was clear. No survivors. He did his homework quickly and thoroughly, planned his route in and out, gave himself an alternate. So far all was well. He locked off the belay line outside the window and braced himself on the ledge. Good, the window was open slightly, no need to make extra noise opening it. He peered in, there were two people in the bed.
Unzipping his jacket he pulled out the silenced Glock automatic. He was sighting the target when he felt a tug on the line from above. Looking up he saw a face peering down at him; a girls face. She smiled at him and waved, then produced a wicked looking knife and proceeded to cut the line. Not wanting to call out he readjusted his aim upwards, just as the knife cut though enough for his weight to snap the line.
His fall was broken by the flower bed. Winded he lay there for a moment. He’d lost his gun in the fall. Retrieve it, was his first thought. Then he heard a sound. The sound of a safety catch on a Glock being operated. The barrel of the gun was put against his head. An accented voice, German, he thought, said ‘don’t move’ so he lay still. The gun was withdrawn from his head and brought back against it hard and swift. Unconsciousness took him.
Up in the suite Dan slept on. Buffy arched an elegant eyebrow and opened her eyes, at the muffled sounds of the hit man being dealt with. She slipped from the bed, opened the diary, and disconnected the battery, then peeked out of the window just to satisfy herself that all was well. She smiled, slid back into bed, snuggled close to Dan, and drifted back to sleep.
End of Chapter Twenty Nine