Author's note: Wow! This update took forever didn't it?
A Well in the Dead Land
Chapter 14: Tea and Tourniquets
Mrs. Weasley was seeing red, and not simply because her hair had come loose from her bun, and was floating about her face in the most annoying manner. She'd been called back from guarding a tear in the fabric of reality in Kenya because her sons had stuck their identical noses into Order business again. Apparently they'd sent Snape back to England from a muggle hospital and no one had heard from them since. Professor McGonagall had given her the information, but apologetically explained that they did not have the resources to go looking for the twins.
She'd spent the entire night taking apart the family clock so she could track them down. She looked at the clock hands labeled Fred and George that she had tacked to the back of her cookbook. They were pointing to a run down apartment across the street. She hurried to it, dodging taxis and rundown cars, with hoods and doors that did not match the rest of the machine. Her wand was clutched in her fist, but she had stopped caring if muggles saw it. There was a woman down the street with a shopping cart full of broken light bulbs. She would hardly stand out as odd.
The entry way was unlocked and filled with black plastic bags of garbage. The stair well smelled awful, and she hiked up her skirt before starting the climb. She couldn't sense any dark magic as she went, and when she stopped at the second floor landing to check for booby traps, she again found nothing.
The clock hands led her down a hall to an unassuming wooden door. Mrs. Weasley pressed her ear to it. She could hear people talking inside, and two of the voices were completely identical. She couldn't make out words, but they sounded in no way disturbed. Mrs. Weasley tucked her cookbook into one of the pockets of her dress and knocked, rather then knocking down the door.
A girl in her late teens answered the door. She was wearing a sleeveless shirt with a plunging neckline and a skirt that could have easily passed for a belt. Mrs. Weasley nearly ordered her to go put some more clothes on, but she forced down the impulse.
"I'm Fred and George's mother. Where are they?" Mrs. Weasley demanded.
The girl stepped aside and waved Mrs. Weasley in. There were several other girls standing around the room, all looking mildly put out. Mrs. Weasley swore she'd call their parents as soon as she had dealt with her own offspring. Fred and George were seated on a couch in front of a muggle television set. They held funny little gray boxes with buttons and wires coming out of them, connecting to the blinking glowing machine. Their expressions contained nothing but horror as they turned to look at her.
"What did you think you were doing?" she demanded in a voice that rattled the windows. "You've worried your father and I stupid! I come across an entire ocean looking for you only to find you sitting on couch playing muggle television games?"
"Mum we're sorry, but-" Fred started to say.
"But nothing! I don't care if you have moved out. You're going to be grounded until you're old enough to retire!"
"Mum-" said George, looking down at his feet.
"Don't think you can get out of this by looking guilty now! You drop out of school, and now….now…"
"Mum!" Fred said, his eyes going to the floor and then back up to hers.
Finally catching on, she looked down. Fred and George each had a manacle around their left ankle. The manacles were linked to a length of chain that went around the bottom of the couch and came up again to rest in the hand of another of the not quite modestly dressed young women. Mrs. Weasley's eyes widened a bit as she saw the young woman trying not very successfully to hide a battle ax behind her.
"Oh….my," Mrs. Weasley said.
Xander sighed and dropped another package of noodles in the cart. The biggest problem with taking prisoners, in his opinion, was having to feed them. It wasn't as bad as having to give Spike mugs of pig's blood while he was chained up in Giles' bathtub, but it was still pretty annoying.
The twins, identified as Fred and George Weasley by the names written in the waist bands of their boxers, ( it was Willow's idea but they had made Xander check), were not very forthcoming with information. Xander though it was probably because Willow had scared them stupid with her "I'm running on un-leaded evil" routine. The twins had spent most of the last sixteen hours sitting on the couch in the slayer's living room, tied up of course, watching MTV. They'd tried to get the Professor Lupin to free them, but he just told them they'd earned detention and they would have to serve it. Willow wanted to try pulling some information out of their heads with magic, but Giles had vetoed that idea, as she was rather frazzled and had unintentionally made two potted plants explode when she was simply asking the twin's question. Fred and George apparently had a talent for making people loose their composure. Willow had growled and stalked off to try a concealment spell on the apartment, incase anyone came looking for the twins.
The search for Dawn wasn't going well on any other front either. Slayers were calling in with negatives across the western United States. Buffy, who was traveling through Kansas into Colorado during her call, hadn't seen any sign of Dawn and all the tracking charms she tried along the way had failed. Oz was hanging around the crater that once was Sunnydale, but he hadn't found any traces of Dawn, or of the witch who he had directed there.
Xander checked his watch as he walked down the frozen dinner isle. He had eight hours before he, Willow, and Giles caught a flight to L.A. Three recently recruited slayers had arrived at the apartment to take over guard duty in their absence, and the cramped space had gotten even more cramped. To help people settle in, Xander had volunteered to make everyone dinner, at which point they realized there was no food in the refrigerator. One of the new slayers, Candice Greene from New Jersey had volunteered to help Xander with the shopping. She was picking out tomatoes when he last saw her.
He pushed his cart down the next isle. There was a tall man with thinning red hair standing in front of a display of Dinner-in-a-Box, looking rather befuddled. He looked at Xander as he passed.
"Those things really aren't so bad," Xander said. "If you don't mind getting a week's worth of sodium in one meal."
"Oh? Well yes. Thanks," the man said nervously.
His British accent did not go unnoticed.
Xander hurried toward the produce section. It could be just some random coincidence but he didn't really believe in those anymore. They would just buy what was in the cart and go.
Candice was stuffing mushrooms in a bag, but she dropped them as Xander came through the islands of apples and Romaine. Xander's eyes went to the mirrors that circled the ceiling of the store. They were meant to help catch shop lifters, and they gave him a very good look at the three people tailing him. The red haired man had been joined by a dark haired woman and a man with a shaved head. There was something wrong with the way they dressed but Xander couldn't put his finger on what. He abandoned his cart.
"I think we'll get take out instead," Xander said to Candice, his eyes flicking toward the rapidly gaining figures.
Candice turned and hurried with him towards the front of the store. She looked very nervous. Xander knew a little of her history. She was almost thirty, but she'd only known of her powers for a few months. She'd dusted three vampires, but he thought three witches was probably not a fight in her weight class.
They were almost to the registers when a grizzled old man in a bowler had stepped out from behind a tower of Frosted Flakes ten feet ahead of them.
"Where are ya running off to?" he asked tilting up his chin to show off an electric blue glass eye.
Xander's hand went to the inner pocket of his jacket.
"Do you really think two wooden staked and a silver dagger are going to help you lad?" asked the man with the crazy eye.
Xander shrugged. Suddenly he felt Candice's hand on his belt. She glared at what was most likely a wizard as he blocked their path. Xander felt her tense.
"Maybe stakes won't help us," Candice said. "But we still have the element of surprise."
"Really?" said the man with the eye.
She nodded. The man started to pull something out of his sleeve. Xander shouted.
As uncomfortable ways to travel went, being picked up by your belt and pitched is not in the top three, but it may hold a place in the upper ten.
Xander's arms pin-wheeled and he crashed into Mr. Eye, knocking him to the ground. He could already hear Candice mixing it up with the three behind them. Men were grunting in pain and Xander thought he recognized the sound of a pumpkin colliding with someone's head. Mr. Eye grabbed at Xander's throat and got a punch in the chin for it. The old guy went limp and Xander felt kind of bad for a second, then a bright red light sailed over his head, striking the Frosted Flakes display. Xander scrambled through the sudden storm of cereal. By the time the frosted flurry had subsided, Candice had taken out two of the three attackers and was busy with the third. The man with the shaved head seemed to the most competent of them. He actually managed to dodge Candice punches and kicks, though he wasn't having any luck hitting her with the red lights that popped out of the little piece of wood in his hand. Xander scurried over to a display of Spam and picked up a can.
It struck the wall above the bald wizards head and pink processed pig splattered all over him. Xander pitched another can, this one hit the Wizard in the leg as he tried to fire another red light at Candice. Pretty good for a man with no depth perception, Xander thought to himself. Candice took advantage of the distraction to kick her attacker in the stomach. She tackled the winded man to the floor and pulled a stake. Xander could see instinct was taking over.
"Don't kill!" Xander shouted. "They're human!"
Candice shook for a moment and then leaned back, tucking her stake back into her coat. She bopped the man on the head once with her empty fist and he sank back on the floor.
"Are we taking them with us?" she asked, panting.
Xander shook his head. "There isn't any more room on the couch."
They jogged toward the exit again, passing the unconscious Mr. Eye and then a stock-boy with a broom. Xander took the cell phone from his pocket as he went. They were stepping on the mat labeled "out" as Willow picked up.
"We've got trouble Will," he said as the doors opened.
"Yes you do," said another tall red head, standing just outside.
Xander was trying to push Candice clear when a red light washed him away.