The small motorboat bobbed in the Pacific swell, about thirty miles off the coast of Los Angeles. It was a beautiful day, with sunny skies and a cool breeze. The captain (and mate and deckhand and owner) of the boat leaned back in his chair at the bridge, and sucked down half a can of beer at one gulp, enjoying his time at sea. The lump of cash in his back pocket was part of the reason for his happiness, as his charter had paid very well, both for the trip and also to keep quiet about it.
Angelo Martinez shrugged his beefy shoulders, and finished off the rest of his beer. As someone who knew about the dark side of the world (you see some very strange things at sea), he was used to staying silent about his odd and bizarre experiences. No reason to give anybody good cause to think you were actually crazy.
Plus a further reason for Angelo's happy mood was the fact that helping the guy who'd hired his boat had meant a chance of getting on the good side of the International Watchers' Council, and he'd leapt at the opportunity. Having them owe you a favor or two could come in handy, like someday he might actually need help to, oh, fight off a shipload of zombie pirates created by someone during a weekend night having the bad luck to combine a serious lust for Johnny Depp with the consumption of a staggering level of alcohol plus previously-unrealized substantial magic chops, all culminating in an accidental spellcasting of epic proportions. Hey, it could happen.
As he snuggled deeper into his chair, the deeply-tanned man grinned and pulled his captain's hat down over his eyes, preparing to take a nap, while savoring the best part of it all.
Today, every bit of weirdness had happened to the other guy.
Angelo started to doze off, determinedly ignoring the yelling by the one-eyed man sitting in the stern of his boat.
"AND NOBODY EVEN BOTHERED TO TELL ME IT WAS A BRIGADOON?!" roared Xander Harris into his cellphone. Thousand of miles away, another man held his own receiver away from his ear at arm's length, wincing at the noise emitting from that instrument.
When his phone finally fell silent, Rupert Giles warily regarded this, to then cautiously bringing it back to his mouth and saying some soothing words. An instant later, he quickly thrust the phone away, as it started vibrating again.
"I DON'T CARE IF IT WAS ANDREW'S TURN TO WORK IN RESEARCH THIS MONTH! HE'S NOT THE ONE WHO GOT STUCK THERE FOR ALMOST A WEEK!"
Giles blinked at this, and he next turned his head to regard the wall clock in his office. Frowning, the man shifted his phone to the other hand, while pulling out a pen from his front suit pocket and held this over a notepad. "Xander, ah, do you by any chance remember what else took place today?"
In his seat at the rear of the boat, Xander sighed, and then gritted through his teeth, "Yes, Giles, I remember our earlier phone talk at the dock. Brigadoon, remember? A place that appears and vanishes by its own rules, where time acts oddly, where a single night can last a hundred years, or a century can pass by in a single night?" More sourly, the man wearing an eyepatch continued, "From what Angelo told me when he picked me out of the ocean, only about twenty-five minutes passed starting right after I disappeared from the skiff."
Giles started scribbling notes on the pad. "Mmm, so that's why the alarms didn't go off--"
"Yeah, I just made it under the half-hour limit." Xander's voice was a little more subdued, as he confided, "But what scares me is that I don't think even Wils could have gotten me out of there. There's serious mojo in that place, Giles. I could feel it."
Giles' pen stopped writing. That sort of remark from a Sunnydale native who had survived the Hellmouth was not to be lightly brushed aside. Clearing his throat, the Englishman asked, "How strong exactly was it? Were you able to complete--"
A glum Xander interrupted the head of the IWC, "Total zero, Giles. I said there was major magic there. I couldn't pick up the slightest hint about which one of them was a Slayer, and those two also never showed off any obvious signs of it."
The older man in the Scottish castle disbelievingly shook his head, as he underlined several notes. "So, they were both there? Along with the others?"
"All of them, plus every single one looked exactly like their photos from the society pages, the scientific journals, the Hollywood headshots, and the clipping of the state fair winner. I'd say the last two, that we never found any pictures for, wouldn't have changed the slightest since then, either."
"Forty years. Dear Lord…."
"Yeah, which is why I'm really grateful I got out of there. Especially after the first night, and the hammocks."
Giles pulled away the phone from his ear and looked at it with utter bewilderment. Replacing it back by his mouth, the former high-school librarian inquired, his voice vibrating with curiosity, "Hammocks, Xander?"
"Um. Look, just forget I said that, okay?"
Now really interested, Giles persisted. "But you said--"
"I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!" shouted Xander, who went on in a quieter but still-dangerous tone. "I will never again speak about the hammocks. I will never answer any questions about hammocks. If I even hear the word 'hammock' again in my whole life, I won't be responsible for my actions. Got that, Giles?"
Instead of replying, Giles thoughtfully doodled on his notepad, "Hammocks. W? D?" After those pen strokes, the man firmly shook his head, and continued writing "W & D!" to then start drawing below those last words a rather good sketch of a pleading pair of puppy-dog eyes.
A very suspicious voice spoke into his ear. "Are you still there?"
"Yes, quite," absently spoke Giles, as he finished adding sad tears at the corner of the puppy eyes. Putting down his pen, the Englishman harrumphed, and said in a reflective tone, "Xander, I believe that place is in a temporal loop, plus the added complication of a destiny necessary to be fulfilled."
"Yeah," agreed Xander back at the boat. "I tried questioning them, but there's a real humdinger of Sunnydale Syndrome there. The most I could get was that people from outside came along, got everyone's spirits up, and then they left. But nobody ever loses hope they'll be rescued, and they keep waiting for, I dunno, maybe you're right, some kind of destiny. Though everyone there should really pray that their destiny doesn't depend on someone managing to successfully carry an armload of coconuts. Especially with that idiot--"
"Indeed," interrupted the head of the Watchers and Slayers. "Speaking of that, how exactly did you depart from that place?"
A sigh came from the phone. "Let's just say that, impossible as it may seem, you CAN make a twenty-foot rubber band from coconut milk and sand. It was also pretty scary how easy it was to find two palm trees that were, gosh, exactly twenty feet apart standing at the edge of the lagoon, with a good shot right at the ocean." Wincing, Xander rubbed his tender stomach still aching from the ultimate belly-flop. "Look, it'll all be in my report."
"I shall be awaiting it with bated breath," sardonically said Giles. Frowning, the man went on, "Your conclusion is that we have to leave whoever is the Slayer there? And, er, all of the others, too?"
"'Fraid so, Giles. I think it'd take Wils, or someone at her level or beyond, to crack them out of there, and there's no guarantee anybody would survive the experience. At least now they're alive, and they have a chance to escape, however long that takes."
Giles took off his glasses and slowly rubbed the lenses against the front of his suit while thinking over Xander's statement. Finally, the man replaced his glasses on his face, and with evident reluctance in his voice, Giles agreed, "Very well, Xander, everything, including your report, will go into the 'Unresolved - To Be Annually Reviewed' file. Perhaps one day we shall rescue our Slayer. We, too, can wait however long it takes."
"Damn straight," approvingly muttered Xander, who then casually said, "Well, I guess that's all for now. I'll be glad to get back to my hotel for a real shower and a nice, soft bed--"
Alas, for the One Who Sees, the Voice of Doom then spoke. "Not before your report is submitted, Xander. Plus, after that, you can study for your next search."
"Hey!" whined Xander. "Don't I get some time off?!"
Giles dryly said, "In your own words, you just spent almost a week on a tropical island. You should be thankful I'm not taking that out of your vacation days."
A rumbling snarl came from the phone in the Englishman's hand, remarkably like the sounds made by an irritated member of the Hyaenidae family. This changed into a still-growling human voice, "You're just getting back at me for not telling you about the you-know-what, aren't you?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Xander," sniffed Giles. As he picked up the notepad to approvingly eye his artwork of how a young man was going to talk, whether he wanted to or not, an actual Ripper-grin appeared on the face of the mature man in the tweed suit. Blandly, Giles continued, "I give you my word that I won't ask you a single thing about a fabric sling whose creation is attributed to South American natives."
The snarl was heard again, this time at a level indicating being seriously pissed off. Finally, a grumpy Xander grudgingly said, "Okay, okay, you slave driver, you'll get the report! So, how far away is the new Slayer, and what can you tell me about her right now?"
Sensing he had reached the end of Xander's patience, Giles soothingly said, "Now, son, you won't have to travel all that far. She's right there where you are."
Perking up a little, an interested Xander asked, "What, here in LA? Where, exactly?"
"We've managed to pinpoint her location and identify her," Giles told the man in the boat. In the Scottish castle, reading from his notes, the head of the IWC informed an intently listening Xander, "We'll send you the exact address soon, but right now, she's in….let me see….Beverly Hills, and her name is given as Elly May Clampett. That's E-L-L-Y…."