Title: The Safehouse Policy
Authors: BigHead / 3D Master
Feedback: Please, it's the coin of the realm.
Rating: R (For violence)
Keywords: X-over BtVS/AtS/The Crow/Charmed, drama, action.
Time frame: After S7 for Buffy, S5 for Angel.
Summary: Xander and Faith have a mission: find Angel and make him pay for his betrayals. Sequel to Vengeance Satisfied is Justice Served (you can find it under tdmaster profile.)
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters do not belong to any of us, but to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. The Crow and related concepts are created by James O'Barr.
BigHead Notes: 1 – Buy oranges 2 – Pick Sabrina at school... damn, not those notes. Ok, so I'd like to thank 3D Master for letting me play with his ideas, and for all the input and suggestions. Thanks, man. And for Joshua, O Evil One, for the beta-reading. You da beta, man. And thanks to Mom and Dad for the incredible sex that gave origin to me.
3D Master's Notes: Bighead is rather adamant about having me in here as a co-author, although I operate more as a story consultant, and beta-reader than anything else! The credit really belongs to him!
The Safehouse Policy
Chapter 1: The Meeting
Fjeldberg Cemetery - Huxley, Iowa
Three days after the Sunnydale Battle
It hurt. It hurt more than a bullet wound, or the cut of a knife. At least with those, you knew that with some care and time, the pain would be gone. And the pain of a loss? The pain of losing someone you love deeply and totally? Seeing your husband being lowered to his grave was the worst experience in the life of Samantha Finn.
She should take it better. Death was a constant in the life of a soldier, especially one dedicated to hunt and kill the spawn of the underworld. A wrong move, one shot missed and it would be the end. She had seen it a lot, and she probably had buried more men under her than some veteran officers from 'Nam.
But then, as the song says, love changes everything.
She was dressed in a sedate black dress, her hair loose in the wind, and she hadn't cried yet, she couldn't. She had to appear strong to her subordinates and to Riley's parents, and, to her, crying was a personal, private experience. So, she would have to wait until later. Problem was that the priest was in the middle of the sermon, and time seemed to not be moving forward.
Sam started looking around her. Huxley was a small farming community, with less than tree thousand inhabitants, the people and habits seemed to still be stuck in the middle 19th Century. So, the man in the crisp black suit stuck out like a sore thumb.
He wasn't from the team, and he certainly wasn't from around town. So, that meant only one thing. Feds.
He noticed that Sam had noticed him, so he walked closer by. In his hand there was a manila envelope, sealed shut, with the stupid, bright red, nobody-noticed-me-in-a-twenty-mile-radius confidential sticker glued in the flap. He walked to her back, and murmured in her ear.
"Sorry about your loss. Read it after the funeral" and he deposited the envelope in her hand.
Sam almost laughed with the surreal situation. She was getting an envelope, probably a mission briefing, during her husband's funeral.
She formulated a plan in two seconds: she was going to read it, and then she was going to find the General and shove the mission folder up his ass. Then she would quit.
That almost brought a smile to her face.
Ronald Reagan Airport – Washington, D.C.
It wasn't a mission briefing. In fact, it was worse than that. It was a plane ticket, a surveillance photo probably taken from a NRO satellite from the Sunnydale battle and a brief note specifying that if she weren't in the plane the following day she would be arrested and court-martialed.
But there were some strange facts: fact one is that the plane ticket was for a commercial flight, first class. The General was a cheap bastard, doesn't matter the reason, so it wouldn't be him. Second fact was that she couldn't be court-martialed since she wasn't officially from the military anymore. No one from the Initiative was, after the ADAM fiasco. They were still a military unit, but without any relation to the US Military forces, except for the General.
So, who was pulling this stunt? She came, mostly out of curiosity than anything else. And she still wanted to shove something into someone's ass.
The moment she disembarked from the plane she saw another man, a clone from the one in Iowa, waiting for her at the plane's stair bottom. She approached casually, duffle bag in hand.
"Mrs. Finn, any more luggage?" he asked. Sam only shook her head a little, no. "Follow me, please."
"Where are we going?" She asked.
"To the car, madam," the clone began walking to a blue Ford Taurus parked a few meters away.
She almost said 'Doh' to the idiot, but then she certainly wouldn't have the answer. "After that?" she asked, more serious and a tad pissed.
"Sorry, ma'am, it's confidential." The man answered, opening the passenger door for her. At least he was being polite.
She waited until he sat at the driver's seat, and continued. "Who is pulling this?"
The man turned the car on and he accelerated out of the tarmac before answering. "Sorry, ma'am, Yeah, yeah. Is there anything that it isn't confidential that you can say to me?"
The man thought for a few more seconds, before answering. "John."
"John? John what?" She asked, dumbfounded.
"My name. It's John. It's not confidential."
Sam noticed an almost smirk in the fed's face. "Smartass."
They got out of the airport, diving eastward.
"John. Any last name?" Sam asked, after a few more minutes of the oppressive silence.
"Sorry, ma'am, it's confidential."
Sam was absolutely sure she would shove Mr. John into someone's ass afterwards.
Outskirts of Washington, D.C.
They arrived in a nondescript building in a nondescript neighborhood quite some time later. Sam knew that Mr. John had give a few tours around the block to try and confuse her, and to be honest, he had. She had no idea where she was right now.
He drove behind the building, entering an opened garage door. The moment the car stopped, another agent closed the gate. A female agent opened the car door.
"Mrs. Finn, could you please come out and place your hands on the hood?"
Sam calmly got out of the Taurus, leaving her bag behind. She turned to Agent John, asking in her most airhead voice, "Could you please look after my bag for me? Thank you."
She walked to the front of the vehicle, and she assumed the classical position to be searched. The female agent frisked her quickly and professionally.
"Thank you. Could you follow me, please?"
She was starting to get extremely pissed. This charade was quickly getting old.
"Look, lady, I'm a patient woman, but this shit is starting to piss me off. I want some answers."
"In a few moments, Mrs. Finn."
They climbed a stair, to the second floor. The agent motioned Sam to a room right in the middle of the floor. Apparently, it was a small and deserted office building. She opened the door, waiting for Sam to enter. The room was a spacious, rectangular one, with just one door and no windows. It was painted white, with a wooden floor. For furniture, only a large desk and three chairs. In the table, a pitcher of water and some plastic cups.
"Wait for a moment, Mrs. Finn. Someone's gonna come and see you," the female said, turning around and leaving, closing the door behind her.
"What, and no coffee?" Sam joked. It had passed trough her had that this could be a trap, but right now she wasn't giving a shit.
The door opened a minute later, admitting a short, balding man, wearing a dark gray suit, and wired-rimmed glasses. In his hand rested a large folder.
"Mrs. Finn, please sit down."
Sam focused at the man, trying to place the face. She had already seen him, but where? She sat in one of the chairs, and waited.
He sat in the chair opposite to her, opening the folder.
"Mrs. Finn, care to tell me why there were three Abrahams tanks firing live ammo in a small town called Sunnydale four days ago?"
/What? They knew about that, didn't they? The General covers this shit, damn!/ Her face showed surprise, but she kept her mouth shut.
"And why two Apache helicopters were hijacked from the local Army Base, to be destroyed at the same time, at the same place?"
The guy removed a series of black and white photos from the folder, placing them over the table. More satellite pictures like the one she received in Iowa. They showed the main battle against the First, the tanks, the flying demons, the downed Apaches, the troops, everything. So, if they knew, why would they be asking her? Why not her commanding officer, the General?
She remained silent.
"What were those black flying things in the photos?" /Fucking baby demons./
"Who were those robed figures?" /The assholes who killed my husband./
"What is this thing here?" /A big, nearly indestructible demon./
He asked a few more questions, all of them based on the pictures. "Will you answer any of my questions, Mrs. Finn?" he asked, removing his glasses.
"Only that one. No," she finally spoke, smugly.
"Official Secrecy Act. Ever heard of it? No? Well, it's a document that says that, unless you bring me the FUCKING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO ASK ME. I'M. NOT. GONNA. TELL. A. FUCKING. WORD!" she screamed, her patience finally gone.
The guy placed the glasses back on, retrieved the photos, and stood up. "Wait here." He said, and walked out of the room.
She stood up also, and began to pace the small room, more confused than before. Didn't the General have all the bases covered? Was any shitty Senator making fuss over it? Those guys were civvies, no doubt about it.
She had her back turned to the door, when she noticed someone had arrived. Sam turned quickly, and her jaw fell when she recognized the man standing there.
"I believe you wanted to talk to me, Mrs. Finn?"
/ShitShitShitShitShitShit . . ./ was the only piece of info her brain was able to process at the moment. Standing on the door, with a curious face, was the last man that she had hoped to see, for real, in the flesh, in her entire life. Because she knew that, in her line of work, if you meet the President, it won't be a pleasant conversation.
"Can we sit, please?" Alan Markson asked, pointing at the chairs. He was a vivacious man, in his mid forties, with light brown hair and always observant green eyes. He was dressed in a dark blue suit and gray tie, and, while he wasn't exactly pretty, he exuded charisma by the tons. His voice was pleasant, and the tone was light. /So far,/ Sam mused, noticing her brain returning to function. She sat first, the President later, both pairs of hands on the table.
"Well, Agent Finn, first I wanted to say how sorry I am for interrupting your grieving, but I believe this is a serious situation that couldn't wait. For that, I apologize. And I'm also sorry for all the cloak and dagger action, but Derek Billings, my Chief of Staff is a little paranoid regarding security, and I believe what we're about to discuss shouldn't fall into the wrong ears. I hope you understand."
Sam couldn't resist the small smile that creased her face. "I understand, sir."
"Well, let's go straight to the point. What happened in Sunnydale, four days ago? Or better, what has been happening in Sunnydale for the last seven years?"
Sam gulped. Loudly. She couldn't lie, and she wasn't aware of what the Man knew, so she decided to drop the entire bomb at once.
"Well, sir, I believe I'm not the most qualified to give this explanation, but I'll do my best." Markson nodded and motioned for her to continue.
"Do you believe in vampires, sir?"
The President's eyebrows jumped. "What?"
"Vampires, sir. And also werewolves, demons and so on, the so-called supernatural creatures?"
"Can't say I do, Agent Finn, regardless of what a couple of my advisors and my four year old daughter keep trying to tell me."
"Well, sir, you better start believing them, because they are right. These monsters do exist. Some of them are on those photos."
"Photos can be forged."
"Not those taken from a NRO Keyhole satellite. And I believe that the NSA doesn't have enough of a sense of humor or a death wish to try and pull one over the C&C. These are the real deal, sir. Those are real demons."
"How?" he asked, incredulously.
"In this specific case, it was a supernatural, incorporeal being called the First Evil. It is believed it is the one that is responsible for all the evil that existed after this Universe was formed. As for the rest of them, we aren't exactly sure, sir, but we believe that a few of them are the inhabitants of dimensions parallels to this one, sir. Mankind has named these dimensions under a common name: Hell."
"And how those... inhabitants came to Earth?"
"That is the problem, sir. They didn't come to Earth. They departed. I've listened to this explanation once, and it kinda stuck. This world is older than any of us know, and contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin in a paradise. For untold eons, demons walked the earth, made it their home, their hell. In time, they lost their purchase on this reality, and the way was made for mortal animals. For man. What remains of the Old Ones are vestiges: certain magicks, certain creatures. One of the last demons mixed his blood with man, and thus the first vampire was born."
"All right. And what does this have to do with Sunnydale?"
"Well, sir, there are some points where the barriers between here and Hell are thinner. Those places are called Hellmouths. Sunnydale sits atop one of those. And the Hellmouth attracts all kinds of supernatural evils. Even if just only one of those Hellmouths opens, we can kiss this small blue ball goodbye . . . hum, sir." She quirked a small smile.
"And what are the chances of this happening?"
"We interrupted at least seventeen attempts in the last seven years, sir," she spoke.
"Seventeen? My God . . ." he trailed off. Then his mind picked up the last part of the conversation. "Wait a minute. We? Who are 'we'? You and your husband?"
"Partially, sir. Well, at least for the last three years." She was hoping that he would let things pass. But the man wasn't President for his good looks.
"And the other years?"
"There was a team already positioned at the Sunnydale Hellmouth since the beginning."
"Who was in command of this team? Was my predecessor aware of it?"
"No one was 'in command', per se, sir. And your predecessor wasn't aware, simply because the team isn't military." She squirmed a little in her chair. The man wouldn't quit.
"Civilians." The president paused, thinking it over. "Who are those brave men?"
She squirmed even more. If possible, Sam would like to turn into a mosquito and fly outta there. The President wouldn't ever believe her.
"Not men, sir. Teenagers. Three of them. And one man."
"WHAT?" he lost it, for the first time since the interrogation from Hell began.
A Secret Service agent jumped into the room, automatic pointed to Sam, eyes scanning the surrounding. Markson calmed down, and motioned for the agent to leave. Reluctantly, the agent left.
"From the beginning, if you please, Agent Finn?" he asked her.
Sam sighed, and began by telling her about the Slayer, her friends and their history, or at least the part that she was aware of. The talk lasted for more than three hours, the President only interrupting once or twice for a few clarifications. Then, Sam finally arrived to the last battle with The First. The folder appeared again, and she explained everything using the photos as references.
After the explanation ended, Markson took a deep breath, and spoke "Derek, come here, please."
The tone of voice didn't change. So, the room was bugged, and someone was listening. The man who tried to interrogate her appeared almost instantaneously, his face set.
"Have you heard?" the President asked.
"Every word, sir. And it is all recorded."
"Good." He paused. "Destroy the tapes."
The man paused, but didn't question. "Yes, sir."
"And put the things into motion."
Markson crossed her fingers, and looked Sam straight in the eyes. "Mrs. Finn, I haven't been exactly truthful with you. We were aware of a few . . . things that have occurred in the last years. The Initiative was surely a great surprise, and be certain that a few answers will be forthcoming and my military advisors will be . . . dealt with. And the Sunnydale explanation certainly filled a lot of blanks. Since we became aware of those things, we secretly began to plan a series of contingencies based on a few scenarios, those being infinitesimally smaller than the ones you and those teenagers had already faced. I fear the answer, but tell me, what are the chances of something like that happening again?"
Sam took a deep breath, focusing on the Man's eyes. "Sir, something may be brewing as we speak."
"Damn." It was odd seeing the President of the Unites States cursing, but it fit the occasion. "I know it's kind of early with the death of your husband only a few days ago, but I specifically called for you, Mrs. Finn, for a reason. I read your file, or the part that I could uncover from the mountain of red tape it is under. And what I read surprised me. You may be the tiger I need for this job. I'm going to ask just a question. Do you accept?"
"What job, sir?"
"I believe the best term would be payback, Mrs. Finn. Payback."
The fire in her eyes that had been dimmed the last few days was suddenly fueled as if gasoline was thrown into it.
- To be continued -