Chapter 2: Hidden Designs
NOTE: No characters in following work are my creation, either by copyright or trademark.
Muchos gracias to LORWEN for contributing to this second chapter in my BtVS/Dark City crossover...and thanks to all those following!
h i d d e n d e s i g n s
The thing about being the secret ruler of a city is that it gets pretty taxing sometimes, and not in the good way that brings in the dough. At first it was pretty easy. Midnight rolls around and everybody falls in an enchanted sleep. Doctor Schreber supervises memory collections and alterations then the city rearranges itself and everybody wakes back up to new lives. Sweet, huh? Well it was until the Resistors started appearing. Sightings were sporadic at first, legends in the dark. Stories told by vampires, locked away from the human population, to fill their endless hours of captivity. Then he appeared. Rupert Giles, former Watcher to Buffy Summers and special envoy of the Watcher's Council, International. He is the reason that I am here on a Saturday night spindling through acres of CCTV footage trying to spot the moment that it all went wrong.
"Can we speak?"
I spun around and accidentally knocked my glass of sweetened tea off of my workstation. The antique crystal glass struck the hardwood and shattered into hundreds of thousands of pieces, while the sugary mixture oozed through the cracks in the floor.
"Dammit, Schreber! How many times have I mentioned that I don't like being snuck up on?"
"Many times, Jonathan," Schreber said, as I carefully cleaned up the shards of shattered crystal.
I dumped the refuse into the bin by my desk and looked askance at the small puddle left on my office floor. A small sigh escaped from my lips as I resigned myself to having a sticky floor. To my mind there is nothing more disturbing than the persistent sucking sounds which invariably arise from such a situation.
"Give me a sec, Doc," I said as I pulled myself together.
Reaching into my pocket I retrieved a bauble that I picked up in some small town in Mexico. It was tiny, no more than an inch long, but the mystical energy it contained caused my hand to tremble. "Deja un círculo de silencio se modo que nadie puede oír," I whispered in halting Spanish.
A moment passed, then two; an eternity when the fear of discovery heavily lies upon the soul. Miniscule beads of perspiration dotted my forehead as I awaited the results of my endeavor. A heartbeat later my fears were proven unfounded as a wave of magic swept forth from the small figure in my hand, sealing us in a circle of silence.
"We can speak freely, Doctor," I said, slipping a monogrammed silk handkerchief from my pocket to dry my brow.
Doctor Schreber stepped carefully around the wet spot on the floor and took the seat opposite mine. His thin, wire-rimmed spectacles sat perched upon his nose granting him a haughty demeanor which belied the humble man I new existed beneath the exterior.
"What's up, Doc?" I asked with a straight face. Yeah, corny I know, but it is still worth a good chuckle now and again; especially these days when humor is at a premium.
"It appears that Mister Book has tired of our assurances and has sent three of his best agents after this latest Resistor. A-Mister Lowens, I believe."
I sank back in my chair and let the scent of the warm leather comfort me. "His name is Giles," I said. "Rupert Giles. This could be a problem. Who did Mister Book send?"
"M-Mister Hand, Mister Wall and Mister S-Sleep."
I closed my eyes and rubbed my forehead. The news was worse than I had feared. Mister Book had unleashed the three worst sociopaths in his arsenal onto an unsuspecting Sunnydale. I could fell the stirrings of pain forming behind my eyes, a sinus headache no doubt. Now it was, officially, a bad day.
"This could get messy," I muttered.
"Why?" Doctor Schreber asked. "What possible th-threat could one Resistor pose the Strangers?"
I felt my spirits droop just a bit at the good Doctor's last statement.
"Really, Schreber!" I exclaimed. "This late in the game and you begin to underestimate the pawns? If he were only one man he would be dangerous enough, the breadth of knowledge that fills his brain is amazing. But, being who he is means that the Slayer will find him soon enough."
"A legend," Doctor Schreber scoffed. "T-Tales to keep the subterrestrials occupied. N-Nothing more!"
"You don't know these people like I do!" I insisted. They're capable of the most amazing things. Time and again they've won out against impossible odds. Hell, this Slayer has died twice!"
I spun my chair toward the wall in a fit of pique, my mind frantically racing as it tried to find a solution to this new dilemma. Images of my past humiliations at Buffy's hands leapt forward in my mind. From the botched attempt at ending my life to my ignominious almost-death at the hands of Andrew Wells, failure seemed to haunt my every endeavor.
"Jon," Schreber's soft voice said. "Trust me. Our plan isn't in d-danger, but if you're concerned perhaps we should activate Murdock early?"
It was a question more than a statement. A way for him to mollify me, make me feel at ease. My rage at his insipidness increased. I wanted to throttle the simpleton, wanted to take his throat in my hands and choke the life from him. The urge was powerful, almost irresistible. As I turned to commit the foul deed I saw the concern evident on his face. It was the only thing that saved him.
"I'm sorry old friend," I lied as I composed myself. "It's just that we've come so far to have it all fall apart now."
"Of that I am w-well aware," he said shambling toward the door. "Unfortunately I must be off. Midnight comes much too soon and now I have John Murdock to prepare."
"Goodbye," I said as the door closed.
I reached for the old telephone which sat perched on my desk like a creature from a bygone age. I had a call to make before the spell ended, plans to set into motion. I dialed zero and waited a moment for the operator to pick up.
"Get me Willy's," I said.