Chapter contains a short ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ xover.0=0=0=0
Standing at the end of the corridor by the fire escape, DI Chandler looked back to where the emergency crews were still cutting open doors. Knowing she could safely leave the investigation to Brooks and Devlin she turned to go. No one needed her here so she might as well go back to Bow Street nick. Once back at the office she could start on the paperwork that would be generated by this case, there was bound to be a mountain of it.
Shrugging to herself, Natalie Chandler pushed through the door and out onto the stair well. This had to be one of the strangest cases she’d seen in all of her career; people locked into their flats and left to slowly starve to death. So far as she’d seen none of the ‘prisoners’ had made even the slightest attempt at escaping; in fact they appeared more frightened of their rescuers than of the prospect of a slow, lingering death.
Standing at the top of the stairs she stood to one side to let a couple of paramedics go by on their way to help evacuate the tenants. For a moment her eyes fell on the graffiti covered walls, even the graffiti here looked odd, more like magical symbols, or what she imagined magical symbols ought to look like, rather than the normal gang and personal tags you saw. Just as she was dismissing the thought from her mind the wall seemed to ripple. The symbols moved and she suddenly felt quite faint.
Clutching hold of the banister, Chandler closed her eyes and let the wave of nausea and dizziness pass over her. She opened her eyes to see a tentacle grow from out of the wall and come towards her like a striking snake. Moving faster than she’d ever thought she was capable, Chandler intercepted the writhing feeler with her hand and squeezed.
The loathsome thing shivered in her grip for a moment before it turned to dust and drifted to the floor. Turning at the shouts of alarm coming from the corridor, Chandler was about to rush back up the couple of stairs she’d walked down. Her eyes were drawn to movement from above, looking up she saw two young women running down the stairs towards her.0=0=0=0
“Another six or seven floors,” Kennedy hardly appeared to be breathing heavily; “hey, what’s all that noise down there?”
“Oh, great,” Willow sighed, the fight with the apartment block had taken more out of her than she’d realised, she sat down on the stairs, “I’ll just sit here and rest awhile.”
“Hey, come on, we’ve got to…” Kennedy turned to look at Willow, she reached towards her girlfriend and her hand froze in midair, just as it had when she’d tried to open the door earlier.
“She’s evil, you know that,” came a male voice from next to Kennedy’s ear.
“W-what!?” Turning Kennedy came face to face with her dead watcher, the blade of the Bringer’s knife still poking from his chest.
“Look at her Scarpone,” Mr Doyle had always called Kennedy by her surname when he was annoyed with her, which had been most of the time.
Looking once more at Willow, Kennedy saw her girlfriend’s hair slowly turn black as the veins stood out under her suddenly pale skin. Shaking her head, she turned slowly to look at her one time watcher; this was getting old she thought.
“Get lost, dead boy,” she snarled into her ghostly watcher’s startled face, “you’re not my watcher, you’re dead!”
Her watcher’s face started to distort as the building struggled to control Kennedy’s mind. If it could get her to kill Willow everything could be as it was and it could continue to terrorise the creatures that lived within it.
“Y’know,” Kennedy placed her hand on her hip and stared into the hideously misshapen face of the man who’d ruled her life for so many years, “if it wasn’t for the fact that I knew
that I was pretty and intelligent and strong, you could have really screwed me up…now get lost!”
“Hey,” Willow looked up at her girlfriend, “who’re you talking to?”
“Just this asshole building,” Kennedy took hold of Willow’s arm and pulled her to her feet, “doesn’t matter now. Come on, hear that?”
Cries of alarm were drifting up from the floors below them.
“Sounds like it's not over yet,” Willow sighed tiredly, “we better go help.”
Rushing down the last few steps as fast as they could move, the two women found themselves on the fifth floor. Here they came face to face with an older woman in a smart suit and a police badge clipped to her jacket; she turned inhumanly fast to confront Willow and Kennedy.
“Who are you?” she demanded, a cry from the corridor distracted her for a moment, “What’s going on?”
“No time to explain,” gasped Willow, “it’s the building I’ll have to try and stop it again…if I can.”
“What!?” DI Chandler didn’t know what was going on but she was sure it was illegal; she needed to take charge and get to the bottom of this. “Look, no one’s doing anything until…AAGH!”
A tentacle snaked out of the wall and wrapped itself around Chandler’s neck; she ripped it from the wall and gasped in surprise as it too turned to dust. She didn’t notice the look exchanged by the two Americans.
“I can stop this,” called Willow over the screams and cries coming from the other side of the fire door, “I think…you just need to keep it off me.”
“What?” Chandler was confused; buildings coming alive, tentacles? Nothing in her years in the Met had prepared her for anything like this. “Look…AAGH!”
This time Kennedy had grabbed her by the arm and pushed her against the wall.
“Look, like she said,” Kennedy whispered menacingly, “there’s no time to explain just help me keep the things off her while she does her mojo.”
Reluctantly, Chandler nodded her head, maybe these two women knew what was going on, she certainly didn’t. Willow sat down on the floor and started to chant, while Kennedy and Chandler stood over her protectively intercepting the tentacles that grew obscenely from the wall and tried to interrupt Willow at her work.0=0=0=0
After what felt like an age, Chandler realised that it had all gone quiet and nothing was trying to kill her anymore. She turned to find the dark haired woman kneeling over the body of her friend.
“I’ll call an ambulance!” The words came automatically to Chandler’s lips.
“NO!” Kennedy slipped her arms under Willow’s legs and body and picked her up easily, “She’s just tired, I’ll look after her…look you’re people need your help more than we do.”
Glancing at the fire door, DI Chandler nodded her head, “Look I’ll…” her voice trailed off when she looked back to find both women had vanished leaving only the sound of fading foot steps behind them.0=0=0=0The office of George Castle, Chief Prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service, London.
“…yes Rupert,” George Castle spoke into the phone as he sat at his desk, “I’ll deal with it, everything will be fine just get your people out of London as soon as you can, alright?”
He listened to the man at the other end of the phone for a moment longer.
“Yes I know,” George pinched the bridge of his nose, “but it’s not as easily done as it was in the old days…just leave it to me.”
Again he waited while Rupert Giles said something.
“Yes, okay,” George sighed, “alright then, look, I’ve got to go, goodbye Rupert, yes…yes, goodbye!”
With a relieved sigh George hung up the phone he rubbed his face with his hand; he didn’t know what had come over Rupert Giles lately. Maybe it was the strain of being in charge of the entire slayer organisation…or maybe he’d just spent too much time in the United States. Anyway, that was one problem dealt with, now he had another. He looked up at the young woman who sat across the desk from him, again he sighed, this wasn’t going to be easy.
“Alesha?” he smiled in a fatherly way.
“Who was that?” Alesha demanded, there was something odd going on, it’d almost sounded like her boss was covering something up.
“Just an old friend,” George shook his head; he’d hoped he’d be able to talk Alesha out of doing anything about Cavendish House but he knew his junior too well, she’d not let it go.
“Look,” George spread his hands in front of him, “this Cavendish House thing…there’ll be no prosecution…”
“What!?” Alesha almost jumped up out of her chair, “But…”
“National security, not in the public interest,” George told her bluntly, “I can’t say any more than that. Look,” he looked into the face of the disbelieving young woman in front of him, “the tower block’s going to be pulled down, all the tenants have been re-housed. The story will be put out that someone had been making a powerful drug on one of the lower floors. The fumes escaped and people started to see things and well, you know the rest.”
“So, this is all going to be swept under the carpet,” Alesha spat the words out like nails.
“I’m sorry,” and George was really sorry, “but it already has.”0=0=0=0
Alone in his office, George poured himself a generous measure of Scotch, sitting on the edge of his desk he took a sip and gazed out of his window. For a moment he wondered how many other ‘Cavendish Houses’ there were out there; he also wondered what other terrors lurked in the dark corners of the city. He shrugged his shoulders and took another sip of Scotch, he did what he could, it was all anyone could do.
Of course back in the old days the old Watchers Council would deal with the things no one else was equipped to deal with, all he’d had to do was to make sure everything was neat and tidy after the dust had settled. How with the old council gone and the new slayer’s organisation just getting itself sorted out it looked as if he’d have to have a more ‘hands on’ approach.
Oh well, he sighed, he had plenty more Scotch.0=0=0=0The Ritz Hotel.
It was the morning of the day before they were due to head back up north and Willow and Kennedy were having a lazy breakfast in bed.
“Sweetie,” Kennedy paused as she took a sip from her coffee cup, “I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you to your own devices this morning.”
“Why!?” Willow put down her own cup and turned to face her girlfriend.
“Family business,” Kennedy started to explain, “really boring stuff.”
Kennedy watched Willow’s face fall, she hated lying to her like this but there were curtain things that they just couldn’t share. Explaining again how bored Willow would be, Kennedy suggested that she might like to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum where Kennedy would meet her for lunch and they’d go to eat somewhere in Kensington.
“You sure I can’t come with?” Willow looked like a kid who’d lost her favourite toy.
“Best not to,” Kennedy faked a smile, “the people I’ve got to meet,” she frowned, “you’d probably want to turn them into frogs or something.”
Only slightly mollified, Willow agreed to meet Kennedy later in the day.
After, showering and dressing, Kennedy waited until Willow was in the bathroom before opening her suitcase and taking out the box that lay under some dirty clothes. Using her slayer hearing to check that Willow was still in the shower, she opened the box and took out the revolver that lay there. She screwed the suppressor into the barrel before loading the weapon and putting it into her shoulder bag. The pistol had come from the secure area of her father’s warehouse where all the really interesting things were kept.
Calling to Willow that she was leaving, Kennedy picked up her bag and left the room. Taking the lift down to the lobby she became very aware of the weight of the weapon in her bag. Stepping out into the bustling reception area she wondered how no one could possible fail to notice the bag hanging so heavily from her shoulder. Surely someone would notice and call the police. Finding herself out on the street, Kennedy turned to the left and walked towards Green Park tube station where she caught a train up to Oxford Circus.
Changing lines at Oxford Circus, Kennedy headed out towards the Eastend of London. Standing at the end of the carriage she watched the commuters for any sigh that she was being followed. Getting off the train at Stratford she crossed the platform and waited for the westbound tube to take her back into ‘town’. Again she checked that no one was following her. Moments later a tube train arrived and she stepped into the carriage.
Getting off at Liverpool Street; Kennedy walked out of the station and consulted her ‘A to Z’ street finder before heading off into the dirty, run down back streets behind the station. As she walked further into the area of semi-derelict warehouses and old Victorian office buildings, Kennedy was aware of how the heels of her boots echoed up and down the dirty narrow streets and how few people there were on the pavements.
Eventually she came to the street that her father had given her the address for. Here there were a few more people in evidence, mainly men and a few worn down women hanging around on the street corners. Walking slowly along the cobbled street, Kennedy noted the strip joints and so-called ‘gentlemen’s clubs’. Checking the scrap of paper, Kennedy found she was at the right address.
Standing on the corner of the street across from the ‘club’, Kennedy noted the two large men standing about in front of the building. Obviously guards or lookouts; if they got in her way she could deal with them in seconds, they were only human after all. Seeing a tall man coming out of a door just down from the entrance to the club, she quickly reasoned that this was where she needed to go. Slipping her hand into her shoulder bag she found the grip of the pistol before walking across the road towards the door. Pausing she read the brass plaque next to the door, ‘Harry Lonsdale, Porn King’ said the sign. Smiling to herself, Kennedy pushed open the door and walked inside.
The inside of the building was in stark contrast to the outside. Where the outside was all peeling paint and garish neon lights. The inside was polished wood panelling and soft lights. As there was no one to stop her, Kennedy started up the stairs to the first floor where she came out onto a long corridor. Again this part of the building was tastefully furnished, clean and well kept. Pausing for a moment, Kennedy listened. Muted by a closed door, she could make out the sound of two male voices talking. Slowly she started to walk along the corridor towards the room from which the voices were coming. Again she paused at the door; she listened intently to the sounds coming from within. Definitely two men, she told herself, although she couldn’t quite make out what they were talking about.
“No time like the present,” she told herself and pushed open the door.
The room reminded her a little of Mr Giles’ office back at Slayer Central. The scents of polished wood, leather, tobacco and whisky came to her noise. There was a middle-aged man sitting on the edge of a desk in front of her. He ran a rag over a long barrelled shotgun as he stared back at her.
“Sorry luv,” oddly he didn’t sound angry at her for bursting into his office, he obviously didn’t see her as a threat but that would soon change soon. “We’re not auditioning today,” he gave Kennedy an apprising look thinking she was a stripper looking for a job, “but if you’d like to come back later we’ll see what we can do for you.”
He laughed softly and glanced at the man who was sitting behind Kennedy.
“Harry Lonsdale?” Kennedy asked pleasantly as she noted the two cartridges sitting on the desk top next to Harry; chances were the shotgun wasn’t loaded.
“Yeah,” Harry put down the shotgun and started stand up, “who wants to know?”
“I have a message for you from my father, Anthony Scarpone,” Kennedy watched as realisation started to fill Harry’s eyes.
“What…?” Harry was confused he glanced again at the man behind Kennedy and she heard him start to move.
Without bothering to take the revolver out of her bag Kennedy shot Harry right between the eyes. Turning swiftly she pulled the weapon from her bag and placed the muzzle of the suppressor against the other man’s forehead.
“ Hachette Harry I presume?” Kennedy noticed how far away her voice sounded, the man nodded slightly as he stared wide eyed into her eyes. “You don’t have to die,” she told him levelly, “all you have to do is drop the axe and walk away.”
Trained slayer senses noted how Harry’s muscles started to tense, she could almost hear the calculations going on in his mind; she could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t really believe what he’d just seen. Her finger twitched on the trigger, there was a loud *PHUT!* as the revolver bucked in her hand; Hachette Harry’s head jerked back and he fell to the floor.
“Or not,” Looking down at the body, Kennedy found she felt nothing; she shrugged, apart from everything her father wanted by way of these two men’s deaths; they’d probably needed killing as badly as any vampire had, she’d done the world a favour, she told herself.
Walking back to the desk she emptied the revolver into Lonsdale’s body as it lay in a bloody jumble of porn DVD’s and sex toys. Glancing at the wreckage on Harry’s desk her eye lingered on the bottle of whisky that still stood upright at one end of the desk. For a moment she almost picked it up and took a drink. Stopping herself she reached for the sports bag that sat next to it. Opening the bag she found it full of bundles of twenty and fifty pound notes. Lifting the bag she gauged its weight, there had to be at least £200,000 in the bag. Tossing the empty revolver into the bag with the money, Kennedy picked up the bag and headed for the door.
“Sure I can find a deserving cause for this,” Kennedy told herself by way of assuaging her guilt; walking briskly down the stairs she found herself out in the street again.
Hardly noticing the minor road accident that’d happen outside the club, Kennedy glanced at her watch as she crossed the road and headed off down a side street. Humming a merry little tune to herself, she calculated that she had just enough time to put the money and gun into her safety deposit box before she went to meet Willow for lunch.0=0=0=0Slayer Central, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland, Winter 2004
By the time Giles got to the chalet which had been converted into a lounge come common room, the party was about to finish. Over in one corner the young trainee slayers sat around on chairs and cushions singing along to the guitar being played by one of the new instructors Buffy had taken on. Giles stopped to listen for a moment; he was surprised he recognised the tune the girls were singing;“We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again,
Some sunny day…
Smiling, Giles shook his head, people never ceased to surprise him. He’d have never suspected these young women had even heard of the old tune, let alone be able to sing it with such feeling. It struck him as an appropriate song for slayers to sing. Looking away from the group to the other end of the room he saw Faith sitting; no that was the wrong word. A better word would be ‘draped’ over an armchair nursing a bottle of beer. He walked over to speak with her.
“I say, Faith” Giles began, “everything looks to be going splendidly.”
Faith said nothing, she just gave him a sullen look.
“What have I done now?” Giles demanded.
“You haven’t had to spend the week babysitting a bunch of brat slayers,” Faith drained her bottle of beer and let it fall onto the floor.
“Well,” Giles tried to defend himself, “it won’t be for long.”
“No?” Faith looked up sharply at the senior (and only) watcher, “Look, I’m trying to build a life for m’self here and babysitting baby slayers is screwing with it, okay?”
“Calm down, Faith,” Giles made placating gestures with his hands, “its not forever. Come and see me in my office tomorrow and we’ll work things out.”
“Well…” Faith was feeling too tired to give Giles the verbal beating he really deserved, maybe in the morning…
“Look, Faith,” Giles tried to sound fatherly without being condescending, “just come to my office, we can talk about this, I’m sure we can work something out.”
“Yeah, okay,” sighed Faith, she really couldn’t be bothered about this right now.
“Now where’s Buffy?” Giles wanted to know.
Faith sat up and looked around, “Over there,” she pointed to where Buffy sat slumped in an old armchair a sad look on her face.
“Oh good grief,” Giles looked at Faith slightly annoyed with her, “she’s not been drinking again has she?”
It was a well known fact the alcohol and Buffy didn’t mix, and with Willow still down in London, Faith was supposed to be keeping an eye on her.
“How many has she had?” Giles asked as Faith and himself walked over to where Buffy was seated.
“Hi Giles!” Buffy smiled up at them and waved drunkenly.
Faith did a quick count of the empties around Buffy’s chair, “About one.”
“Damn,” Giles took hold of Buffy’s arm, “here help me pick her up…I better get her home.”
Buffy giggled and staggered as the Giles and Faith got her to her feet.
“Can ya manage, Giles?” Faith watched as the unlikely couple swayed towards the door.
“Yes-yes, we’ll be fine,” getting a good grip on Buffy, Giles opened the door and steered her out into the cold dark night.
“Come on, Buffy,” Giles said gently, “we’ll soon have you home.”
“Y-you’re so good to me Giles,” Buffy rested her head against his shoulder, “y-you’re my best friend…” she turned to look up into Giles’ face, “y’know that don’t you?”
“Oh I think Willow might have something to say about that,” Giles smiled as he guided his drunken slayer towards her chalet, “and Xander.”
“But, you’re here,” Buffy announced earnestly, “they’re not.”
“There is that I suppose,” admitted Giles before adding, “soon be home.”
“There are places I remember all my life,” frowned Buffy in that serious way that drunken people do, “though some have changed. Some forever not for better…does that make any sense?”
“I think I know what you mean,” Giles decided to let Buffy ramble on.
”Some have gone and some remain…” Buffy sighed sadly as she remembered all the people she’d lost over the years, “All these places had their moments, y’know with lovers and friends I still can totally remember…like Spike an’ Angel an’ Riley an’…” Buffy hiccupped and paused for a moment, “where was I?”
“Boyfriends,” prompted Giles, he was sure it hadn’t been this far to Buffy’s chalet.
“Some are dead and some are living,” Buffy giggled, “…I do seem to have had a lot of dead boyfriends in my life, but I've loved them all!”
“But of all these friends and lovers,” Buffy didn’t sound so drunk now, “there is no one compares with you,” they eventually stopped outside her chalet door, “and these memories lose their meaning when I think of love as something new, much.”
“Buffy,” Giles was starting to feel uncomfortable with Buffy’s young body pressed so close to his own, “you’ll be alright now? I-I better be off.”
”Though I know I'll never lose affection for people and things that went before,” Buffy placed both her hands on Giles’ shoulders and looked up into his eyes.”
“Right then,” Giles tried to pull away but found himself held firmly in place.
“I know I'll often stop and think about them,” Buffy stood on tip toe to bring her lips within kissing range of Giles’, “but in my life I love you more.”
”Oh, good grief!” gasped Giles.The End?0=0=0=0
A bit of The Beatles (In My Life) and Vera Lyne (We’ll Meet Again) there at the end…so not me!