Apple of their eyes
Author’s Note: Thanks very much to my Beta Cordyfan. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# This is not a part of any of my current series. Like all Little Faith sorties, these are plot bunnies that may or may not lead to more. Mostly not. As most know, Each chapter in this ‘story’ depicts a different family/person who did not adopt Faith in the Buffy-verse. Some of them already have sequels, at least in my mind…
Thanks to CutiepieDmitri and windd for recommending these short stories. Apple of their eyes Washington 1985
The little girl was running on the green grass by the Potomac, her high, tinkling laughter counter-pointed by the deep swishing flow of the river and the yapping bark of the puppy she was chasing. The sound of a powerboat engine could be heard getting nearer, but at a leisurely pace, as if the last thing on the mind of the boat driver was to go fast on this beautiful day.
Emma smiled at the scene as she looked over her book. Free time to spend with her daughter was rare, as she had feared. It had taken a personal request by the Prime Minister for her to accept the posting after she'd discovered she was pregnant. And despite their best efforts, both she and John had very busy schedules. Though everybody was wonderfully understanding. Apparently an Ambassador with a child on her arm was considered not only novel but charming. Cribs and playpens were arranged, and now that she was going to school, Faith was spending more time playing with her friends.
John and Emma had bought the puppy, well been gifted the puppy, at the insistence of Faith's indomitable godmother. The little corgi and the little girl were well matched, despite the puppy, who had received the name of Sherlock, due to its habit of tasting, sniffing and investigating everything, having short stubby legs and Faith showing the long legs of her mother already.
Emma sighed and smiled as the pair stampeded through a huge mud puddle and then towards another one. *Good thing that I insisted on Jeans and Wellies, not her pink dress and Mary Janes,*
she thought wryly.
Her daughter of course really wanted one of her mother's 'special suits.' Emma had decided that was not going to happen before Faith turned eighteen. No matter how much she might whine and beg.
Dog and girl let out a joyful bark and a peal of laughter as they reached the next puddle and jumped straight into the middle. They were getting rather close to the bank of the river and Emma rose and sauntered over, ready to call out or intervene, when the powerboat she'd been hearing suddenly surged into view from behind a gaggle of pleasure craft. Two masked figures jumped out of it and onto the shore, quickly making their way over to Faith and Sherlock before the two of them could run.
Acting on the training her mother had given her, Faith did as well as she could. Her little fist shot out and struck the lead masked figure in the groin. Then she tried to slip away from him, but he was bigger and stronger. Sherlock jumped at his reaching arm and the puppy's teeth sank into the fleshy part below the elbow, the little dog dangling there for a second or less until the assailant punched him hard on the nose and then kicked him in the ribs.
Faith had run, but at the anguished, whimpering howl from Sherlock she turned around, looking on in horror as the man pulled back his foot again and kicked the dog once more.
Faith let out a screaming sob. “SHERLOCK!” But true to her training she turned again, flinging tears from her eyes as she ran.
The man didn't have any trouble catching up with her, despite the bite and the punch to the family jewels. The amount of damage a five year old can cause is limited after all. Faith had covered less than half the distance to her mother when he caught up with her.
He leaned over and grabbed Faith's hair and dragged her into his arms, retreating back to the boat as fast as he could with a kicking, screaming five year old fighting him every step.
Emma was facing off against the other attacker, a slightly shorter and stockier man than the one going after Faith. He was obviously wary of her. With good reason. Emma might be past her prime, but she'd kept up a considerable training regimen and was still a formidable opponent.
The man obviously hoped to make advantage of his longer reach, but failed to take into account that Emma had fought bigger opponents for most of her life and had been trained to use any and all items in reach to gain an advantage.
In this case that meant a silver ballpoint pen that John had given her. With her face set in to rictus of anger she flung herself at him, negating his advantage, counting on her speed and agility to dodge out of his reach when necessary. The man wasn't expecting this and reacted by tensing up. *Not a habitual or trained fighter. That's good
,* she noted.
Then she dodged a clumsy blow and immediately countered. She lightly grabbed his wrist and threw herself into his body, making him gasp and bend over her and a hefty tug on his arm then sent him flying over her back. Had this been any other situation, she would have held back, but now, with her daughter being kidnapped, she wasn't in the mood to do so. Her foot lashed out and caught the man behind the ear, sending him down in an unconscious heap.
She heard the boat driver scream out to the other man to hurry. She saw him jump into the boat and the small vessel pulled away fast.
Emma growled and ran to her seat, her hand unerringly finding the butt of her snub-nosed Webley in her over-sized bag and drawing it. She turned and ran to the river. Taking careful aim she let loose three bullets, the shots ringing out flat and sharp in the quiet afternoon, loud and clear over the lapping waters of the Potomac.
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The powerboat surged into the hired boathouse minutes later. The three occupants got out, two staggering, one struggling.
“She got Ethan,” the shorter, slighter figure said with strain in her voice, her British accent clear.
“We've made sure they won't get anything from him,” the man replied, gasping in pain as he tried the staunch the flow of blood from the wound in his side. “I never thought she'd shoot, with her daughter in the boat.”
“I told you she was mental! I told Wyndham-Pryce too!” the woman grabbed a can of gasoline and started pouring it around the wooden boathouse and the boat itself. Five more stood on the small dock.
The man groaned and put the girl down. He'd tied her up during the short journey but she'd struggled all the way. She was glaring at him over her gag, tears in her dark brown eyes.
He stumbled over to help spread out the gasoline.
“How bad is it?” the woman snapped.
“Bad enough. And we won't be able to get a doctor within a hundred miles to look at this without reporting it. Not with the child involved,” he answered as he tried to pour the gas and hold his side at the same time.
“Yeah. That was my reasoning as well,” the woman replied coldly as she drew a pistol and shot the man twice in the head.
She spread the rest of the petrol, very careful to douse the fresh corps thoroughly, and then picked up the girl. Faith glared at her, though her face was pale and her eyes wide in shock as they kept wandering back to the dead kidnapper.
“Time for us to go for a little ride, my dear,” the woman said as she flung the girl over her shoulder and exited the boathouse. She carried the struggling girl to a non-descript car, opened the boot and threw her in.
“There's holes drilled so you'll have enough air. And don't expect any bathroom breaks and I don't care if you piss yourself. But cause me any problems and you’ll find out that I believe that little Potentials should listen and obey, not whine and complain. Understood?” She nodded at Faith's pale face and slammed the lid.
She quickly stripped of the black clothing, then her underwear and threw everything she'd been wearing into the boathouse, pulled some fresh clothes from a bag in the backseat of the car and dressed. She grabbed an old-fashioned signal flare and lit it, threw it into the wooden building and watched it catch fire.
Getting behind the wheel she drove off quickly. There was another car waiting on a wooded lot up in Maine and she wanted to get there before people made the connection between the kidnapping, the fire and the car that she was driving.
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The British Ambassador to the United States was vibrating with quiet anger. That was never a good thing.
No one in the States was exactly sure what the woman's background was and what to make of her. (Or at least no one the US Government were willing to admit existed. She was that kind of woman, with that kind of career.) They knew she was smart, she had two Ph.D.'s after all.
They knew she was trained in some form of martial arts, even if no one was entirely sure which one it was. They knew her husband was scary as all hell, which was odd, since he looked like an old fashioned British banker, with his tightly rolled umbrella and bowler hat. And despite the sheer delight with which he promoted British culture, none of them believed for an instant that he was just a diplomat.
They knew she was seemingly unflappable, never having been seen to lose her cool even once, her husband being equally cool, calm and collected.
Until someone kidnapped their baby. She was a miracle child, to them, their little marvel, bright, quick and wondrous. Both the ambassador and her husband were older, he considerably older than her, and the child had come as a delightful surprise neither had expected.
Showing early signs of considerable intelligence, coupled with motor skills far in advance of a girl her age, she was the darling of the Washington Diplomatic Corps in babyhood, then toddler hood and early childhood. She had sat on the laps of countless visiting dignitaries, stealing the hearts of many. The Secretary of State loved telling the tale of how during one afternoon reception he had found little Faith tittering with childish laughter as she slid down a banister in the White House.
And when asked sternly by her mother who told her that she was allowed to do things like that, in the White House
the little girl had answered, rather indignantly. “Mr Uncle President Ronald!”
That had led to the entire cadre of diplomats and white House Senior Staff, whose iron control of their facial features and emotions was legendary, to dissolve into helpless laughter. Even the Ambassador and her husband.
At the age of three she was considered a diplomatic weapon of the highest order. And during one memorable reception a picture had been taken of the little girl and the President of the United States, showing that youthfulness of spirit that made him so beloved of many, having sneaked into the kitchen of the White House and getting into the deserts.
No one was quite sure who had received the bigger scolding that day, Faith from her mother or the President from the First Lady.
The picture of the two of them, each with a huge bowl of ice cream and a selection of cookies, had made headlines, of course.
As had the one of the little girl flanked by the General Secretary of the Communist Party and the President, walking in the Rose Garden as she explained why My Little Pony was infinitely inferior to Transformers. The bemused and amused expressions of the two men had been seen on the faces of countless of others who encountered the force of nature that was Lady Faith Elisabeth Emma Steed.
And now she was gone.
At her christening in Westminster Abbey the Queen herself, who had a soft spot for 'little Miss Knight' since the latter's childhood, had stood as her godmother, with the Duke of Edinburgh, a personal friend of her father's, as her godfather.
And now she was gone.
The attack had been brazen, three people, a boat, a bright clear day. One of the kidnappers had been captured, but he hadn't regained consciousness yet. Washington PD and the FBI were on the case, hundreds of officers and agents throughout the city looking for the suspects and the little girl. TV shows had been interrupted and authorities and DJ's had called for the cooperation of the public.
OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF Bethesda Naval Hospital
“He's awake,” Clarice Starling reported as she studied the readouts on the displays in the hospital room. “You can stop faking,” she told the man himself.
“We know who you are, Mr. Rayne. Do yourself a favour and talk to us.”
The man stirred slightly and then smiled. “Ah, the delectable Special Agent Starling. Only the best to make sense of poor old me?” he opened his eyes.
“Aren't you supposed to tell me that I've got the right to remain silent?” he mocked her further. “Not that it will help. I won't talk anyway.”
Clarice nodded and drew out a card. “You have the right to remain silent, but everything you say may be taken down and used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish. If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to-”
“Do I have the right to bend you over the bed and bugger you most tenderly and deeply? Otherwise this is really rather boring and I'm not interested,” Rayne told her with a half yawn.
“To stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.” Clarice continued as if he'd not interrupted her. “Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?”
“Bloody unlikely, don't you think? And call me Ethan. You'll be crying out for me soon enough. I have that affect on women. Men too, really,” Ethan smirked. “I'm just very, very good at what I do.”
“Would you care to tell me why you and your cohorts tried to kidnap the daughter of the Ambassador?” Clarice ignored the man's words and innuendo.
“Isn't it obvious?” Ethan asked, puzzled. “We were hungry. For a lot of things”
“I see. You have nothing to say to me, Mr. Rayne?” Agent Starling asked again. “We don't need a confession, you know. We have more than enough evidence to put you away for a very long time. A confession, telling us why, and especially where Faith is may show that you're repentant and may make your life considerably easier.”
Ethan sighed mournfully. “Ah, no. After all, nothing would entice you to visit me in prison, would it?”
Clarice rose. “A colleague or I will be back later to ask you more questions, Mr. Rayne. She nodded at the uniformed DC cop by the door and stepped out.
“Slimeball,” she muttered as she walked down the passage.
OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF British Embassy, Washington
Emma stood looking out over the garden, not seeing anything. There was a hush over the building, over the whole diplomatic quarter. Security around the families of diplomats and politicians in America and all through the world had been increased and tightened.
The huge Embassy was silent and filled with an atmosphere of fear and expectation. Every time a phone rang there was hope, quickly dashed.
The door opened and a man came in. He was wearing a grey suit and a soft felt grey bowler hat and a tightly rolled up umbrella with a whangee handle. His face was grave and severe as he hung his hat with a trembling hand. Not even Steed could bring himself to throw his hat at a time like this. “Agent Starling thinks it unlikely he will confess anything useful.”
“What did the vet say?” Emma asked in a toneless voice.
“Sherlock should make a good recovery. He's a tough little dog,” Steed told his wife as he moved to stand behind her. She leaned back, into him and he put his arms around her.
“I want her back. I want my baby back, John,” she whispered.
“We'll get her back, love. They messed with the wrong parents. They stole the wrong child,” Steed vowed. “We'll get her back.”
OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF Burned out boathouse
Clarice Starling stood looking at the smouldering ruins of the old boathouse and frowned. “Lady Knight is sure that she only wounded him.”
Agent Cooper, so newly come to the FBI he still huffed on his badge every half hour to make it shine, looked at her uncertainly. “But how sure can she be? She was using an old Webley service revolver, shooting at a moving target at the outermost reaches of the gun's range.”
Clarice turned to look at him. “Trust me, she knows what she's talking about. If she says she only wounded him, she did just that.”
“So what do you think happened?” Cooper asked.
“I think I'm gonna call the hospital and the Office and tell them to up the security on Rayne,” Clarice looked dispassionately at the burned corpse that was being collected by the coroner. “We’ll need his confession if we want to convict whoever is really responsible for this. Come on. You go and talk with passers-by. Maybe we'll get lucky.”
Cooper nodded. “Okay.”
OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF Bethesda Naval Hospital
Ethan Rayne could feel it when the spell took effect. They'd altered the tattoo on his arm a bit, not being too careful with the needles and adding a few lines with burning brands. No need to be gentle with a traitor to the cause after all.
Now, at the edge of sleep he knew that the Sleepwalker would come for him. Then it would end. *Now I just have to hope the wankers didn't lie and I don't end up as the toy of some demon pervert for all eternity.*
He felt the change. Just as his consciousness, his soul, his life, left his body, he screamed, once. Then his body rose, empowered by the demon, ripping the handcuffs off the steel bed, striding towards the cops, who were going for their guns wide-eyed and shocked. Had the body still been Ethan Rayne, he would have been deeply offended to be ripping apart the bodies of men while dressed in a highly unfashionable hospital gown.
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“Rayne is dead,” John Steed told his wife. “The FBI is reluctant to tell me how it happened. But four policemen, a doctor and two nurses are dead as well.”
Emma looked up. “He was not nearly good enough a fighter to do that. Were they shot?”
“They won't say,” Steed frowned. “I shall see what I can find out.”
Emma nodded and went back to her contemplation of the empty garden.
OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF Maine
The burnt out wreck of the getaway car was found two days after the discovery of the corpse in the boathouse. It wouldn't have been found except that a collection of old glass had been set up to form a primitive lens system that set alight some wood shavings which in turn set fire to the car.
It took the local police a while to make sense of the two words scratched into a nearby tree. FAITH and POST, in big blocky letters. Underneath, in slightly smaller letters, more hastily scratched was the number and state of the license plate and the letters Fo Cap.
At first the FBI and Secret Service doubted that Faith had been taken there, as did he experts from Scotland Yard. It was a little too neat. But the air holes drilled into the trunk of the burned car and the reminder that the victim might be a five year old but she was a genius, made them re-evaluate their opinion.
No ransom or other demands had been received in the three days since the little girl had disappeared. That was worrying. It pointed to a different purpose than money or power. Revenge was an option, as was blackmail. There were whispers of the IRA, but they vehemently denied involvement.
In Britain MI5 and MI6 delved into the background of Faith's parents, to see if their past would show up an enemy both willing and capable of kidnapping their child. A worrying number of them showed both, but happily most of them were dead and the ones that weren't were in prison.
That was little solace to her distraught parents however.
Her parents, unflappable, stoic, reserved, the very summit of British stiff upper lip diplomats, were going to pieces. But in a highly organized way that showed that whoever was responsible for this, their anguish, whatever fear and pain their daughter might be enduring, would suffer the consequences. And they would be long and dreadful consequences.
When, and nobody dared suggest that she wouldn't be, when Faith was found the culprits would be too, and then there would be hell to pay.
OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF OYOLFOYOLF British Embassy
“No news, Emma,” John Steed sat down heavily. The last few days seemed to have aged him years, if not decades. There was something eternally youthful to him, despite the fact that he had served as an officer in the Second World War. Right now, for the first time ever, he looked his age, face grey with fatigue and eyes red-rimmed and weary from crying and lack of sleep.
His wife wasn't much better. Beautiful and reserved about her feelings, though with a ready smile for everybody she met, Emma was now pale and trembling. An ashtray full of cigarettes showed that an old vice had been picked up again under the stress of the situation.
She turned around, away from where she had been standing since the day she'd failed to keep her daughter from getting kidnapped, in a vigil that was worryingly silent and apathetic.
“Did you find out what happened with Rayne?”
“I talked to a young intern. He was drunk out of his skull. But he swore that Rayne was the devil,” Steed shrugged. “He got no argument from me.”
Emma looked thoughtful. “The Devil you say? Now that is interesting...”
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Gwendolyn Post was rather happy when she arrived at the gates of the old house on the outskirts of Albany, the New York State capital. The girl was locked in the boot, like she had been for the past few days, but despite that she was getting on Gwen's nerves. The little bitch seemed to know what Gwen was thinking at all times and she was entirely too calm and collected for a five year old being kidnapped. The garage door stood open, as agreed and Gwen drove the car inside.
Gwen got out of the car and looked around. The garage had once been a coach house and had seen much better days, as had the rather dilapidated old house. She left the garage and approached the main house's front door. She locked for a doorbell, but there was none, nor was there a knocker, so she rapped the cracked, paintless surface with her knuckles. The door opened on newly oiled hinges and she went in.
“You have her?” A dry, male voice asked.
In the boot, car's in the garage, as instructed,” Gwen replied, aware that she'd done a difficult job quite well.
“Good,” the dry voice stated. A glint of light on the barrel of a gun was all the warning that Gwendolyn Post got before two bullets in her head put an end to her life.
“That takes care of the last of our three lost sheep,” the owner of the dry voice said as he stepped from the shadows. “Take care of this, Smith.,”
“Of course, sir,” Smith replied smoothly as he stooped over the corpse. “It'll make things easier to only have to deal with one instead of three.”
“Indeed. “I shall go look at our new... recruit,” the man of the dry voice decided. “In half an hour or so. After she's stewed a bit more.”
Faith had been reared by her Mum and Dad on a steady diet of stories of their heroic past and missions. Her parents had encouraged her self-reliance, while still being there when things went wrong, sometimes with a hanky and a soothing touch, sometimes with a lecture.
Faith was sure she would be rescued, but that unless she took measures, it might take a while for her parents to do so. Even they needed help. So when the Post woman had let her out of the car to stretch a little and prevent her prisoner from losing a hand or foot from cut off circulation, Faith had taken her chance and left a message in the trees, and then had set up the improvised lens. The Ford Capri she was currently in had a weak lock, especially from the inside, and the car had stopped. Her hands and feet were untied. She'd ignominiously begged for them to be left off and Post had agreed with a sneer.
It was time to see if she really could use a hairpin to pick a lock. Reaching into her hair Faith took a deep breath and thought back to sitting in her mother's lap while she showed her how it was done.
Quentin Travers wasn't known for losing his composure. This however, was a cock-up of such monumental, gargantuan size that it wasn't possible to maintain his cool facade. “YOU WHAT?” he thundered.
“She's a Potential, and therefore under the purview of the Council, no matter who her parents might be,” Wyndham-Pryce answered unruffled.
Quentin sat down. “You blithering idiot! Have you got any idea what you've done? This is not some trailer trash or suburban brat we can take without compunction or fear of retribution! This is the daughter of two peers of the Realm, of a bloody ambassador! She's the Queen's goddaughter! When they find out, the Council is finished! We'll be destroyed!”
“Stop being a fool, Travers. No one will find, her all the traces will point to a deranged woman we found in Boston with a hang up about being a descendant of the Ard Rhi and wanting a child to carry on her sacred druidic duty,” Wyndham-Pryce poured himself a stiff whisky and smirked. “There's nothing to connect the Council to the matter.”
Quentin Travers gritted his teeth and very carefully did not slam either the office or the front door as he left. He stalked down the steps to his car, throwing a single glance into the garage where the car Post had arrived in stood. He noted the boot was open and briefly wondered where Wyndham-Pryce had stowed his 'prize'.
He didn't see the small hand that closed the lid again, and snuck off into the dark of the garage.
Faith had very carefully explored the area. The garage was useless. There was no working phone, no electricity, and no useful hiding place, though she left a message in the pile of old newspapers she found, words torn out of the headlines and paragraph headings and pasted on an advertisement with spit. There was a pot of paint, but it was completely dried up.
The problem was that she doubted that she had much time left to do what she needed. She'd also heard the sound of gunshots and from what had happened to the kidnapper in the boathouse, she could guess that Post was no longer among the living either.
She was aware of the fact that she'd not had enough to eat for several days and that she was too weak to travel any sort of distance. She didn’t know where she was, how far it was to the nearest human habitation not aligned with her kidnappers or to the nearest phone she could use. Her parents had made her memorize a set of useful telephone numbers, using a hopscotch rhyme. *They probably have a phone in the house. But I'm not gonna get a chance to call from there.*
Faith pondered the possibilities. If she acted as if she complied with her captors, to a certain extent, she might expect to be given food. But that went against the grain. And it could lead to depending on the captors, obeying them.
“Mrs Peel, we're needed,” she whispered the words her father so often had spoken to her mother, and headed off into the woods, then made a ninety degree turn and started following the direction of the overgrown driveway.
Wyndham-Pryce stood looking at the empty car boot with considerable surprise. After young Travers had left he'd decided to let the Potential stew for a while longer. After all, the sooner the girl realised who was in charge and who she should obey, the better. This... This was unexpected. *Travers won't have taken her. I've got a mandate from the Council. So that means Post didn't properly close the bloody boot. Stupid woman. If she wasn't dead, I'd kill her again.*
With a sigh he turned around. It couldn't be that hard to track down a cold, frightened girl, no matter how great her potential.
Apparently it was quite hard to track down a little girl who didn't want to be found, no matter if she was cold and frightened.
She was small enough to hide in places the Council team was unable to get into or even see. Night was falling and making the search more difficult. They couldn't use too many flashlights, or dogs, or make too much noise, for fear of alerting the neighbours. The house was supposed to be abandoned and their presence a secret.
The only good thing was that the entire estate was surrounded by a two and a half meter high smooth concrete wall, in good condition and pierced by only one gate, the constructed by the paranoid last owner of the house in the 'Fifties.
But the park was filled with foxholes, small bunkers, larger bunkers, hollow trees, fallen trees, derelict huts and hugely overgrown patches of brambles and shrubs. Hence the distinct lack of success.
Wyndham-Pryce contemplated leaving the house, closing the gated behind them, but the girl might call out loudly enough to be heard, or find a way to escape the park if she was undisturbed.
Wyndham-Pryce's own son had shown considerable ability in such matters, though he was learning that paternal displeasure could not be escaped, no matter how much he tried.
“I might do with the lad right now,” he muttered. “He might at least find her with his magic,” he grimaced, considering his son's unwholesome interest in the topic and practice of magic. *At least I've got some examples now of where that leads,*
he glanced towards the shallow pond, fed by a minor stream that was scheduled to be drained in a few days time, allowing his team to bury the remains of Gwendolyn Post.
She was currently floating in a vat of hydrochloric acid, or at least, dissolving. Her hair and teeth had been pulled and crushed, as well as her nails. Her bones had been broken with a sledgehammer, allowing the acid to work into the in and outside of them. It was a fairly tidy way of getting rid of the power-hungry bitch.
He turned his attention back to the search. “Cover that copse, Smith!” he called out, and resumed his pacing.
Emma was looking out of the great windows of the British Embassy. It had been a week since Faith had been taken and they had no clues and no ransom demands. That in itself was telling. It meant that whoever had done this had planned well and wasn't in it for the money. Of which she had plenty. The sole heiress of Knight Industries was among the richest women in the world.
“No news, again,” her husband came into the room.
“I think we're going about this in the wrong way,” Emma looked up. “I think we need to call in a favour or two.”
Steed frowned. “We've got the complete cooperation of the American and British governments, as well as the Russians and the French. Even the Black Bank Countries have said that any ransom deposited on their accounts will be reported. What other aid can you think of?”
Emma turned away from the window. “Someone whose power is not of this world. Remember that case we had in Devon?”
Steed nodded. “Ah. Yes. I do. They do owe us a favour, don't they?”
OYOLF OYOLF Devon, Dartmoor
Agatha Harkness was not used to air travel. She disliked moving more than fifty miles away from her home in Devon. It made her queasy. Happily the spell she needed to cast didn't require her to do so. And as she had a pretty good idea of what had happened to young Faith, she might not actually need to cast a very intricate one.
Taking the hair she'd collected when first meeting the child, (she'd had her suspicions even then) she started the incantation, seeing that her fellow coven members were ready to support her.
The spell didn't take long to cast, just a few minutes. The main problem had been acquiring a suitable set of maps, but happily that had been arranged by one of the younger members of the coven, who had no problems with visiting London.
A small white light flew up from the interwoven hairs and laurel and holly leaves and skimmed over map after map, starting with the school globe that another coven member had brought in from her daytime job as a teacher.
It skipped around until it finally came to rest on a map of Albany, New York. It sat there for a few minutes before it started to vibrate, moving off to hover over an empty sheet of natural paper and a small bowl of gallnut ink.
With a final desperate motion the light jumped into the ink and then distributed itself over the paper in orderly letters.
Agatha pursed her lips. “Most interesting. Most interesting indeed,” she smiled frostily and handed the paper to one of the younger witches. “Be a dear and run to my cottage and call the parents would you?”
The witch nodded and ran. Agatha sat down on the small folding stool that stood outside the circle and sighed. *Sometimes I wish that I wasn't right so often. This is going to cause a great deal of upheaval. And I do so hate upheaval. Even if in this cause it will be very good upheaval.*
It was sheer luck that led them to find the girl. Smith quite literally fell over and landed next to her. Even then it took a remarkably long time to actually catch and subdue her. *If it can be called subdued,*
Wyndham-Pryce thought as he saw the child fight like a little tiger.
Smith cursed. “The little bitch bit me! AGAIN!” He lifted his hand to slap the glaring child, at bay in the uneven square formed by the four members of Wyndham-Pryce's team, but she ducked and butted him in the groin, kicking him in the shins for good measure.
Smith swore again, while his comrades in arms laughed. Faith ducked a grab by another thug, but she was looking tired and desperate.
“At least her training was started early,” a dry voice came from the shadows of the wood.
“She'll make a fine Slayer,” Wyndham-Pryce stepped into the room, his smile not reaching his ice-cold eyes. “With suitable encouragement to show respect to her elders and betters.”
The Council wetworks team that had killed Post, and beaten a little girl really was no match for the hand-picked and trained FBI officers who had finally been selected to liberate young Faith. The President had vetoed the use of Navy Seals. No matter how much he might like to use the Navy's elite commando units to liberate the little girl, there remained the fact that this was a criminal, civil matter.
So when the forty odd men and women took up positions around the supposedly abandoned estate after observing that there were indeed people there and some of them did bear fire arms, they already had scouted out all the escape routes, had posted guards along them or blocked them and were quite ready to deal harshly with any resistance. It helped there was only one gate that led into the large garden and the undergrowth aided them in getting close as well.
The five inside had no chance. The first inkling they had something was wrong with their plan was when the front and back doors exploded inwards, the upstairs windows collapsed under the booted feet of the officers abseiling down the building and the fire escape became the entryway of good dozen FBI agents on several levels.
Smith was the only one to put up any sort of fight and he was shot in both arms for his trouble. It was all over embarrassingly quickly.
Roger Wyndham-Pryce prided himself on his ability to talk his way out of anything. He was quite sure that the Americans had been diligently tracing Moira Lehane's insane quest for a 'Pure Daughter of Ireland, vilely stolen by the English'.
He didn't expect them to come hurling into the room he was using to discipline the girl. He wasn't quite fast enough dropping the cane, so the arresting officers were quite able to plead self defence when he was brought in with two broken wrists and no teeth left in his shattered jaw.
The little girl was handed over to her parents, anxiously waiting outside, minutes later.
“MUMMY! Daddy!!” The dark haired, grey-clad waif kicked against the chest of the burly FBI Agent in her teary eagerness to reach her parents, hanging perilously over his arms as he tried to keep hold on her long enough to put her safely down..
“FAITH!” Emma reached out her arms and Faith with a final frantic kick was on the ground and running, running into her mother's arms.
Quentin Travers was arrested in his hotel room a few hours later. The door opened to admit a maid, then the woman came rather closer than they were wont to do when the occupant of these suites were present and work had to be done. Quentin looked up from his writing, disturbed, his hand hovering over the bowl of lemon sherbets he picked one and popped it in his mouth, sucking lightly. The maid pulled a gun and pointed at his head was quite enough for him to put down his pen. He gestured at the letter.
“I don't suppose you would care to let me finish this?”
Clarice Starling, looking quite disgruntled in her maid's uniform, kept her weapon trained on the suspect while Agent Cooper came in and looked at the letter and was rather surprised to see a confession, detailing names and locations.
“You want to turn State's evidence?” Starling asked, ignoring the continued smirks from her fellow agents at her attire. She'd been the only one small enough to pose as the suite's regular maid. She also intended to have some words with them about professionalism.
“You could say that, I suppose,” Quentin added a few more lines as the agents waited.
He blew on the last page and quickly skimmed through the content of the letter again. He added several more lines, this time with numbers that Clarice thought were bank accounts, then nodded and signed with a flourish. He placed the letter in an envelope and placed it neatly on the table. Then he smiled.
“Thank you for letting me finish that. I wish you the best, Agent Starling. Kindly give my regards to Lord Steed and Lady Knight,” his teeth crunched down on the capsule that had been hidden within the candy. He was dead in seconds.
Clarice looked at the grimacing corpse and let out an unladylike oath.
“So this has become common? They take these poor girls from their families and train them, as if they are weapons? Tools?” The woman behind the desk spoke in measured tones, her refined accent unmarred by provincial slur or regional accent.
“I'm afraid so, Ma'am,” the Prime Minister looked decidedly annoyed. She was in essence a scientist and the supernatural offended her on a very basic level. The Queen detected no fear in her, which did not surprise her.
“A most unpleasant state of affairs. Kindly see to it that the Charter of this organization is withdrawn. A new one will have to be set up, using their resources. In your files you will find the reasons why this organization must be essentially independent of the British, or any other government. I expect an outline on my desk within the week.”
The Prime Minister coughed. “I already read the files, Ma'am. I concur. I would however, like to suggest that we place either Lord Steed or Lady Steed in charge.”
The Queen pursed her lips. “I shall consider that. It may be a difficult position should... Should young Faith be chosen. Thank you, Prime Minister.”
The Prime Minister nodded. “Thank you, Ma'am.”
John Wickham Gascoyne Beresford Steed, First Viscount and fifth Baron Steed of Castleton, sat behind his desk in the newly founded Society for the Support of the Slayer. The Queen had wanted it made very clear what the purpose of the group was in their very name, so that they wouldn't forget again.
Steed was reading the final report on the kidnapping of his daughter. With Faith's testimony they had managed to identify the other two kidnappers from the Council files. The teeth of the burned corpse matched those on record for the male, the few bits of the female matched her medical files. Too little was left of Ethan Rayne to be entirely sure, but considering the nature of the being that had possessed him, Steed was morally certain he too, was dead.
He signed the slip at the back to show he had read the report, closed the folder and the matter of the deaths of Gwendolyn Post, Ethan Rayne and Rupert Giles. End note: I do not own the Avengers (The real, classic one with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, nor do I own Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dear me… I seem to have killed of a kidnapping Giles. Errr… Sorry?