Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 17 - A Temporary Calm
Xander sat across from his visitor, pouring over the lists she had written while forking salad into his mouth. Every so often, he’d make a notation on his own notes using something she’d written down on hers….
“… And you say he wants to ‘help us’? Do you trust this guy? I mean, I guess that’s a dumb question, considering….”
Xan gave a quick smile and a shrug to Tara before returning to the list in front of him. “I think he’s on the up and up this time. He’s definitely throwing a guilt-fest and he’s scared of what Willow or Buffy is going to do.” Switching tacks in mid stream, he added, “I’ll have to look at the floors at Giles’. Hopefully I can do some sort of patchwork, but if we have to replace them, that’s going to be a fortune. And, there’ll be no way to cover that up from the landlord.”
“Here’s the court papers,” Tara pointed to a packet that hadn’t been gone through, yet. “I’ll take them with me and help Dawn fill them out later tonight. Unfortunately, the clerk told me that they’d be taking a statement as well from Ms. Sinclair and Ms. Portlynn… I thought it would be an automatic thing, but apparently the Court can turn down Dawn’s application for emancipation if they feel it’s ‘not in her best interest’. And so far, Ms. Sinclair hasn’t seemed very impressed with our parenting skills.”
“Maybe we can have Spike attack her and come to her ‘rescue’… should buy us about a thousand brownie-points,” Xan grinned.
That caused Tara to break into a smile, too, and she was glad she had come over. Xander was the only one of the group left who she felt was helping her deal with the day to day stuff. Spike was focused on Dawn’s safety and too… blunt… to deal with the authorities and Willow was all about the Buffybot and Buffy’s alleged entrapment.
Tara sighed and rubbed at her eyes.
“Hey, you okay?”
“Oh, yeah! Absolutely.”
She gave him a beleaguered sigh. “I’m just exhausted Xan. I’m fine, really. Let’s just get through this latest crisis and then I’ll collapse for a week.”
His reply was pre-empted by a knock at the apartment door. When he took a peek through the spy hole, he found Detective Stein waiting.
He opened the door with a puzzled expression, “Rick? Hey come in. How is Carole?”
“She’s fine, thanks,” Rick rushed in, carrying several folders. “I need to talk to you. Hi, Tara. I think I’ve got a ‘Sunnydale situation’ maybe.”
“Okay. Slow down and take a seat,” Xan pointed to the dining table.
“Here Rick, let me get you a plate and fork,” Tara added.
“No, thanks… I want to get back to Carole. I just wanted to know if you guys can look over this stuff. I’ve made copies of some police reports and then arranged them in a chronological order… it points to something disturbing.”
“Not surprising in this town,” Xan muttered.
“So, I’ve learned. But, this is personal. I think whatever is going on is what caused Marsha to come to the house with that gun.”
“Detective Gannon,” Tara clarified.
He responded with a nod. “Just take a look at these and then we’ll talk. Whatever is happening, I feel like it’s a ‘Hellmouth’ thing. I’m hoping that you guys will give me some answers I’m not going to get with regular police work. Assuming there is such a thing around here, anymore,” he added with a trace of bitterness.
With this, he marched back out of the apartment.
“He’s not taking the supernatural very well,” Tara worried.
“No,” Xan shook his head, before meeting her gaze. “No, I don’t think he is.”
Around 3pm, Tara came into the Summers home. As she walked past the softly beeping answering machine, she gave a brief glare at the device. She was assuming that it would be the social worker wanting to discuss something with ‘Buffy’ and she didn’t really want to deal with that at the moment.
“Dawn! Willow? Anyone still home?!” She was standing near the staircase leading to the second floor, but didn’t hear a response. With a roll of her eyes, she went directly to the basement door and cracked it open. “Will?”
“I’m here,” she called up.
“Have you eaten, yet?”
“No, but I’m fine.”
Tara again rolled her eyes. She knew that Willow had probably gone all day without a bite. She was probably overdosed on caffeine and killing her eyes with the poor amount of light down there, too.
Zipping around the kitchen, she threw together a few bologna sandwiches and dumped a few Doritos onto a plate. When she came up behind Will, she found a manifest of some sort, but it was garbled in ‘almost English’.
Willow looked over her shoulder and as soon as she saw the plate of food, her stomach loudly growled.
“Honestly, Will, you’re going to make yourself sick,” Tara complained as she set down the plate and leaned in for a deep kiss.
“I’m okay. But, thanks… those sandwiches look good enough to marry right now.”
“So, what’s this,” she pointed to the screen.
“I’m going through a manifest of this tiny museum in Mut, Egypt.”
“Mut? Where in the world is that… and why? And, why is it all in mangled-English?”
“Oh, well, the manifest is only online in Arabic. I’m trying a translation program, and you can see it’s not very good.”
“What are we looking for?”
“Oh. Still no luck, huh? I’ve never even heard of ‘Mut’, have you tried Alexandria or Cairo? No, of course you have… you’re smart,” Tara smiled.
“I have. All of the major cities, which is why I’m now wandering through every remote oasis town in the desert… I wish we’d hear from Anya with good news. God,” Willow shook her head in amusement, “I’m wishing we’d hear from Anya!”
The two lovers shared another kiss before Tara briefly rested her hand on the other’s shoulder. “Well, I want to see that you’ve eaten the next time I come down here. And, you should really work upstairs where there is more light. Maybe, if there’s some money left over after the major repairs, we can talk to Xan about wiring another light over your work space.”
“That would be good,” Willow nodded. “But, I’m gonna stay down here ‘til dinner. I like the quiet. Plus, I’m sort of bouncing back and forth between the robot and the laptop when I need a break from one or the other.”
“Okay,” Tara bent down and kissed her forehead. “There’s a message on the machine upstairs… maybe it’s Anya.”
“Yeah, right. It’s that woman….”
In London, at Heathrow, Giles’ heart hammered in his chest as he and Ms. Mills deplaned. Not that anyone would realize it, of course. His Watcher training had made him a master at hiding signs of stress or fear and after all of the monster attacks, abductions and dealing with Buffy and her friends he had done, this was to be a breeze.
Or, so he kept telling himself.
The terminal was crowded with people and it was easy to tell the natives, who strolled with a clear purpose, from the tourists, who wandered looking lost and confused. He led Lavinia, holding her hand tightly, as they weaved through their fellow travelers on the way to the luggage unloading area.
They didn’t get far. From the crowd, a hand suddenly grabbed at Giles’ elbow and then there was another set of hands grabbing his other upper arm. In front of him, as if he appeared out of the ether, stood Mr. Travers.
“Rupert Giles. By my authority as designated through the Executive Council of the Watchers Council of Great Britain, I hereby inform you that you are under arrest pending a complete review of your recent activities.”
Giles felt a surge of dark energy pulse through him along with his anger at being treated this way. He was here by choice… the Council wouldn’t know a damned thing if he hadn’t voluntarily supplied the information.
The gathered men and Lavinia saw inky darkness blot out Giles’ eyes as his indignity was clearly reflected in the look on his face. Light violet-pink strings of energy raced down the cloth of his shirt and streamed into the men’s hands that held him.
It had no obvious effect. And, before things could escalate further, Travers had placed a pendant over his head. The hanging jewelry was a clear, tear dropped shaped crystal and with a single Latin word uttered by Quentin, Giles suddenly felt all of his strength lost. His knees buckled, and a swoon overcame him.
“Th-this wasn’t necessary,” Ms. Mills angrily gritted through her teeth. “He was cooperative!”
“Step back ma’am,” one of the unnamed gentleman now supporting Rupert warned.
“Ms. Mills?! I had no idea that you would be here, my dear. I did not know that you and Rupert were acquainted, nor that you were in Sunnydale,” he appeared annoyed. “I’ll have to speak to our Intelligence wing about that.”
“I don’t like being spied on, Quentin. And since my divorce from Russell, there is no reason for the Council’s Intelligence operatives to be keeping a tab on my whereabouts. Now, what is the meaning of this appalling behavior… Rupert is here voluntarily.”
The two gentleman escorting Giles began to walk away, with him staggering. As Travers fell in behind them, Lavinia marched at his side, incensed. She looked around for airport security or a bobby, but they were completely absent from the entire area… no doubt due to the Council’s oversized influence in England’s upper echelons….
“Relax, my dear. No permanent harm has been done. We’re simply being proactive in our precautions.”
“You’re being an ass.”
“Ms. Mills, I’ll remind you that you have no opinion in official Council business and you are no longer in America. I have no idea why you have gotten involved at all, but I can have you detained by immigration, if you cannot remain civil. Now, allow us to do our job, yes?
“Mr. Giles, do you wish to make a preliminary statement,” Travers continued, ignoring the woman’s verbal sound of frustration at his side.
“I do not… at this time,” Giles looked at the hands which tightly held him. “Other than to agree with Lavinia that this was unnecessary.”
“Perhaps,” Quentin said, “But best not to take chances on your having second thoughts about cooperating….”
End Ch 17