Crypt Forty-Seven Redux
Author's Notes: It's been awhile since I added to this one, but in keeping with my intention to finish all partly published stores, here I go.
Disclaimer: See Part One.
When Sydney Bristow walked into the Hyperion, no one was in sight so she dinged the bell at the reception desk. She was marveling at the green marble, tracing it's patterns and digging the décor when Fred popped up from behind the desk.
"Oh! Hi Syd!"
"Hi Fred. Is Buffy here?"
"Yeah, I think she's out in the garden."
Sydney walked out the indicated door and paused to observe Buffy going through Tai Chi exercises. She dropped her purse and jacket on a convenient bench, removed her shoes, and dropped into the mirror image of Buffy's. Buffy didn't pause as she continued, only noting that Sydney had no trouble following her move for move. Buffy briefly considered ramping things up to make it difficult for Syd, but decided she had nothing to prove and went for perfection of style and grace instead of slayer speed.
It was more than an hour later when they finally stopped; they were both so in the grove that time itself ceased to have meaning for either. They turned to the hotel entrance and were surprised to find they had an audience.
"Wow," said Fred, "that was, well, that was amazing."
The others nodded.
Sydney frowned at everyone and said to Buffy, "Let's find someplace private to talk."
Angel said, "We all have work, you guys can stay right here in the garden."
When they were alone again, Sydney said, "I'm on my way to London to retrieve the artifact from K-Directorate. You needn't mention to Vaughn I told you this, he thinks everything should be a secret."
"I'm going with you," said Buffy.
"Not just no, but hell no, this is not your business."
"It sure as hell is my business," said Buffy, "those buttheads stole it from the wrong person. Besides, I have a perfectly good reason to visit London, that's where the International Council of Watchers has its headquarters." Buffy didn't see any reason to mention that she had never been there, had never been invited, and probably wouldn't be particularly welcome if she showed up on their doorstep.
"I don't suppose I can stop you," Sydney sighed, "but I should. This is the thing, Buffy, I've seen you fight, and in hand to hand combat you are unbeatable. But you aren't bulletproof, and worse, you aren't attuned to guns. In my world, you are more likely to end up dead than in your world. With me, of course, it's exactly the opposite."
"I understand, but, your objections are incomplete. First, those guys in your house? I could have taken 'em, guns or no guns, but I wasn't going all out. It's not that I wasn't trying to kill them, I was trying not to injure them too badly. I could've taken the two in front down in about about a second and a half, leaving me plenty of time to dodge the bullets from the guy in back and get him too. But those guys would be in comas, with concussions and multiple horrifically broken bones, facing years of surgery and more years of physical therapy before they could lead a semi-normal life again. Their old lives would be totally destroyed."
"And what's wrong with that?" asked Sydney, "they're hitmen, they shoot people, beat them with baseball bats, shove knives through them, torture people for information, and murder them—hell, they probably gang rape their torture victims. So why shouldn't you hurt them?"
"As it happens, I've been thinking about it, and I've even dreamed about it. My conclusion is that the next time someone tries to shoot me, I'm taking them down. Period."
"I hope you mean it Buffy, because if you don't, you could die."
"Yeah, getting shot kinda showed me the error of my ways."
"OK Buffy, we all learn from our mistakes, at least from the ones that don't kill us first. Now remember this, if you should happen run into Dixon, know that he is not aware that he works for an enemy of the U.S., and you absolutely cannot tell him anything. We need to work on our stories before I go."
"I know this'll go against the grain Syd, but you're gonna have to brief me on your mission. I'll follow you, watching, waiting, just in case I'm needed."
"Buffy, how are you going to keep from getting spotted by the enemy? Both enemies, SD-6 and K-Directorate. For that matter, any real CIA agents will be surprised and suspicious if they spot you. And I would assume that British MI-5 agents would notice you too, if you happened along in the wrong spot at the wrong time."
"Have you seen my dumb-blond valley-girl act?"
"Have you seen mine?" smiled Syd in response.
Buffy strode down the concourse at Heathrow Airport, looking every inch the California Girl. She was dressed in blindingly bright glossy pink leather pants and a white sweater, with open-toed sandals and a pink scarf around her neck. She carried a large white purse, really more of a leather bag, slung jauntily over her shoulder. She was happy that the customs men didn't notice the stakes and knives in the bottom of her bag, she had given them her brightest and most vacuous smile and that seemed to do the trick. Either that or Willow's little don't-notice-these-weapons spell. Anyway, for whatever reason they didn't spend much time rooting about in her bags or her underwear.
Giles, having arrived in London a day earlier in order to placate the Council, was waiting impatiently when he finally spotted her. He blinked a few times when he saw what she was wearing. When she finally stepped though the gate and came over to him, he said, "Goodness Buffy, aren't you wearing rather, uh, bright clothing?"
"What's wrong with how I'm dressed?" she asked, offended.
"Well, nothing, I'm sure, but your trousers are so exceedingly pink."
"Hmmph, well Giles, the reason I'm coming on so much the valley girl is to throw off any secret agents that might be lurking."
"I see, or rather, I'm beginning to see. Is this part of the scheme you've cooked up with Miss Bristow?"
"Yes," said Buffy with a guilty look around, "and don't say her name out loud. It could get us attention we don't want. Let's go find my luggage."
"This way, Buffy."
As they walked companionably towards the baggage claim, Buffy asked, "Is it true that I'm old enough to buy beer in this country?"
Giles grimaced and answered, "Yes, but that doesn't mean you should."
"Spoil sport, besides, I know my limits."
"That remains to be seen. I still can't believe that you talked me into this enterprise without filling me in on the details."
"Well Giles, that's because I'm winging it."
"Oh dear," he replied.
"You see, the artifact was looted from the crypt where it had lain undisturbed for ages, then I stole it from the thieves, then it was stolen from me by SD-6. Then K-Directorate stole it from SD-6. The CIA traced it here, and Sydney Bristow is going to steal it back for SD-6, but then give it to the CIA instead. Meanwhile, the CIA is going to make a duplicate and give that to SD-6. I'm gonna stand around and watch Sydney's back, and look out for things like CIA, MI-5, SD-6, or K-Directorate getting in the way."
Giles shook his head mournfully, "Buffy, how did you get tangled up in this? This is not your turf, you should have stayed home, I should have stayed home. Here you are talking about secret spy stuff, when you are the Vampire Slayer—you have a sacred birthright Buffy, and critical work to attend, and it isn't here."
"Well, I've heard that argument before. If I recall, it didn't work any better then than it will now. However, I'll also be watching for any demonic creatures who might pop up, and of course, it's not inconceivable that our very own Council of Watchers might intrude. And Giles, the Rambaldi Artifact? Did that slip your mind? Are you getting senile?"
Giles glared down at Buffy with all the dignity and authority he could muster, which Buffy had to admit to herself, was quite a lot, but she gave good glare, too.
"Look Giles, the one thing I haven't mentioned to Sydney is that in the back of my mind I have the idea that we ought to be the ones who end up with the artifact after all. In our original assessment, we thought the CIA had good reason to collect this Rambaldi stuff, but in fact they're going after it only because Sydney's criminal boss is fanatically collecting Rambaldi artifacts. He's clearly evil, and he's clearly going to try to raise some unholy demonic thingy, which is in our purview and is clearly our business to stop."
Giles answered slowly, "You could be correct, and doesn't that boggle the mind. Although I do wish you would endeavor not to use words such as 'thingy' in the same sentence as 'purview'. It grates on the ear."
"All right, I suppose I had better inform the council of what's going on."
"Are you sure that's wise? Wouldn't they just screw it up?"
"We're on the home ground of the Council, you may be certain they already know a lot of what's going on. Besides, I had a pint with Travers yesterday, just to keep him from getting brassed-off with me, or more brassed-off, as it turned out."
"I hope this doesn't turn into a cock-up," Buffy said with a little grin.
"Buffy, some phrases are best left to the natives."
"Yes, to be sure, Travers may be a bit dodgy, but we can't avoid him forever."
"No, I don't suppose we can, but I think I'm gonna regret this. Shall we both go see him for tea or something?"
"Hmm, high tea at the Council's headquarters overlooking the Thames. What could go wrong with that?"
"GILES! You just jinxed us!"
"I rather think I unjinxed us. Oh dear, I do hope that was a real word and not some of your California gobbledygook that's crept into my speech."