Playing Dead part 16

The Dawn:

I stare at the cracked plaster of the ceiling, my body objecting to every movement, every thought of action. Stricken again by the magicks fatigue, I'm left at the mercy of Rupert's adopted children. I can hear them, even in this room meant to lock us away. They're discussing what's to become of us. I can't make out their words but I can hear the anxiety in their voices, the anger and the frustration and know whatever their choice, it won't be pleasant. A subtle moan draws my attention to Rupert who lies not too far from me, trying to reposition. He's already begun to heal, hands nearly normal again though his face took the brunt of the damage.

"You survived then, Watcher?" I call out, feigning indifference.

"If you can call it that, barely passable as charcoal, really. How'd you fare, sorcerer?"

"Don't ask. Rather feel like road kill." I sigh and force myself sideways to get a better look at him. My eyes clamp shut from pain as muscles knot the entire length of my body. When I open my eyes, I find Rupert's staring concernedly at me, face burnt and bruised yet still so irretrievably tempting.

"Thank you," he says softly.

"For what?" I wince as a tinge of pain returns to punish my shifting leg.

"For everything." He smiles and reaches out to caress my cheek. I'd welcome his touch with a kiss if I wouldn't be penalized for trying.

I settle for a sincere smile. "Still singing my praises, Watcher?"

"Were it not for you, I'd have no voice to do so."

Upon further consideration, "Actually, I'm fairly certain your current condition and possible undoing was entirely my fault. Don't get me wrong, glad it didn't turn out that way. I happen to be rather fond of your voice," I lean into his touch, cursing the pain away, "Among other things."

Rupert leans in to kiss me but I retreat before he manages so much as a single brush of my lips. I fall back with a grunt and stare up to the decrepit ceiling above.

"So this'll be it then?" I ask plainly. "For all the bloody drama, it comes back to you and me and the beginning of the end."

"Not sure I follow you, Ethan."

"That's the bloody point, isn't it? It's changed again. With the return of your hopeless moral superiority, I suppose you'll be pursuing an interest in your previous employment? Righting past wrongs and all that useless rot."

A weighty sigh prefaces his response, admitting he's at least considered it. "I'm not that man anymore. But you're right, things have changed. And my place with them died away long before I did."

"Don't think they'll take you back with open arms, eh? Rather speciest of them, if you ask me." I snicker and he fails to find the humor in the jest.

"They'll have questions left unanswered with the defeat of my… of the vampires. After they've collected the necessary details on the operation, I assume we're to be released into Council custody or perhaps handed over to the Initiative."

"Full bloody circle," I grumble and shake my head, damning the bastard magicks that bring my body the sharp sting up my spine. "You know I won't go back there. I can't."

"I know."

"Then you're willing to turn a blind eye if I were to simply vanish?"

"Don't be daft. You can barely move. You're hardly capable of teleportation after the spell today. I remember the last time…"

"Rupert…" I interrupt his objection with a sideways glance. "I died in that cell. It was my choice and I accepted it. And yes, in my current condition the magicks will likely shred me to bits but it's a risk more appealing than eternity in a cage and it is again my choice to make."

He pushes himself upright and crawls over to me, fighting against his own fatigue and pains to conquer every inch of space between us.

"You're not leaving me, Ethan. Not ever. * That's* the bloody point. Always was." He bows forward to claim the kiss I refused earlier. The caress of his lips to mine heals me more than any magicks or blood ever could. "They'll never have you. I'll kill every last one, reduced to dust, before I give you up."

He seals his lovely threat with another kiss, demanding and possessive, setting my cock hard as his determination. I can't help but believe him, tasting hidden promises even if he's not able to express it.

"You might wanna avoid the whole murdery talk in front of Buffy and Xander." Willow makes her presence known. "They aren't as understanding as me," She warns with a smirk, glancing between us both, "About a lot of things."

"Never a moment's peace with them. How did you ever manage, Rupert?" I sulk at the interruption and Rupert nudges me to quiet as he sits up to welcome her.

"You did well, Willow ," Rupert offers with a proud smile. "It took tremendous control and power to evoke the magicks to break the spell."

"Ethan did most of the work."

"Damn right," I agree, cringing again as a wave of sickness reminds me that movement isn't an option.

"I could try a healing spell," Willow offers uncertainly and I smile graciously at her.

"No thanks, love. You need to spare yourself any castings until your strength returns." Rupert's much too pleased. "What is it?"

"Not a thing," he explains with an all too smug grin. " Willow , what happens now? You'll be releasing us into Council or Initiative custody, I suppose?"

"Bugger that." I force myself to sit up, steadied by Rupert's hand. "Like to see you try."

The Slayer marches in unannounced, retrieving her stake as Xander follows shortly after. With a roll of my eyes and a sigh of defeat, I say, "It was a figure of speech, darling, just voicing my opinion on the subject."

Giles pushes to his feet and steps forward, prepared to defend me. Xander stands at the Slayer's side, prepared to defend her. Willow and I watch on, sharing a strange sort of camaraderie in our passivity.

"No need to get all in a huff."

"Shut up, both of you, and listen carefully," the Slayer orders. Rupert silently pleads for cooperation and I decide to obey for now. "The Council and the Initiative would love to get their hands on you two but they're outta luck ‘cause your mine."

"Not caring much for the sound of that."

Again, Rupert scolds me with an impatient glance.

"I'm tired, Giles," she says. "It's not working, this war they've declared and I'm fighting. I tried it their way. I tried it mine. Seems to me that neither one was the happy ending solution to the worlds problems. We still have demons; the good, the bad and all varieties of ugly."

"And we still have the influential corrupt, a select few serving up justice to any and all regardless of motivations, waging blanket operations in business as usual and costing too many their lives, demon and human alike." Like Watcher, like Slayer, they sound one and the same.

"Enlisting others to fight their battles on their terms and on others turf," Xander adds.

"Games about to change," Willow smiles with hope in her sparkling eyes.

"You should like this." Xander glares at me. "It's right up your alley."

"I'm all ears."

"As far as I see it, you two are my responsibility." It's an uncompromising statement from the Chosen One and suddenly I feel like a stray dog on a short leash.

"Think I'd prefer the company of the bloody Initiative," I grumble a lie.

"Believe me, I'm not looking forward to babysitting a couple of vampires but you guys are too volatile to let go. Besides, there's no telling what would happen if you two got separated."

"Just what is it you're proposing, Buffy?" Giles asks.

"You guys are more useful to me alive than dead."

"Actually, the death part…"

"You know what I mean," she interrupts me and crosses her arms impatiently, her gaze fixed to Rupert. "I say we reinvent an old partnership."

After a long moment, a smile forms on Rupert's lips. "I'm listening," he encourages her as he crosses his arms, a mirror reflection of her stance. Negotiations are underway.

"You told me you wanted a new beginning, Giles. I say we give it to them. Not with the death and the destruction and the blotting out the sun fun. But there are other ways to get a point across. And we don't need to do it alone."

"Indeed there are." Rupert nods. "There's a good chance you'll become as much wanted by both Council and Initiative forces as we are, Buffy. Are you certain this is what you want? What you all want?" He looks to Xander and Willow .

"If what I have planned works, they'll be hurting big time enough to cover their own asses."

"Besides, we're all sick of being the Council's minions. It's time we be our own," Xander says with a smile. "Well, maybe not minions…"

"The deal simple, be good or be dust. Choice is yours." And just like that, I'm given another choice. Another bloody choice! It's more than I anticipated. I see Rupert's awaiting my answer, his hinging on mine, I presume.

"You have me intrigued, Slayer," I say with the slyest of smiles.

"Same here, Sorcerer," she responds confidently. "Now is your chance to wow me. Just what is this chaos of yours capable of?"

"What'd you have in mind?" I ask, trying hard to hide my curiosity and excitement.

"The world needs a wakeup call, and we're setting the alarm."

The Aftermath:

That increasingly intolerable soldier barges in unannounced. "Sir, you better have a look at this."

"What is it Captain? I haven't the time…"

"Make time." He orders and I've had it with his insubordination. He marches across my office and turns on the telly, quickly selecting a channel like he owns the bloody place. "It's all over town, all over the world, by the looks of it."

"I couldn't care less about the latest scandal."

"Even when it pertains to The Council and Initiative?"

"Federal agencies are cautiously fielding questions regarding the highly classified intelligence archives that flooded the internet late yesterday. The trouble started when a never-before-seen virus dubbed the ‘chaos strain', somehow bypassed multiple level security mainframes of various international financial institutions and promptly uploaded confidential records to the web. The files include decades of suspicious transactions for what appear to be heavily funded, covert political and paramilitary organizations specializing in paranormal occurrences."

My chest aches. "Bloody Hell. This can't be happening."

"It was first spotted in fandom based chatrooms," explained one security software specialist who wished to remain anonymous. "From there it spread to tech blogs and public boards where fully detailed texts, complete with illustrations, of over ten thousand long-believed-lost manuscripts suddenly became available to the general public. Before we knew it, it was everywhere, available to anyone with access to the web."

While the function and operations of these extremely mysterious organizations has yet to be determined, the abundance of unverified information that's become public has government agencies scrambling to explain the supernatural nature of the files coming to light.

"These ‘X-files' reference some wild stuff; demons, witches, sorcerers, gateways to hell dimensions, even mentions of evil law firms. And what's really scary is how credible it all is. I mean, there's tons of scientific data, authenticated photos, medical histories, even well respected government and get this, church officials signatures scribbled all over these things. It makes for an impressive package. It's got to be authentic. Forget crop circles, Roswell , Area 51 and all that, man. This is it."

Although officials claim the information being uncovered is no more than crudely fashioned propaganda or hoaxes to further the political interests of many terrorist organizations, experts say much of the uncovered information goes a long way into explaining many mysteries of recent events, including the fall of Old Los Angeles and the uncharted solar eclipse that mystified local astronomers and astrophysicists."

"How did this happen?" I can't believe it.

"Does it matter? It's done. We're exposed and all walks of government and media aren't treading softly. They've come knocking full force demanding audits and full disclosure of all records."

"What on earth are we going to do?"

"Well, I'm sure you'll come up with something. After all, that's not for grunts like me to worry about."

We're bloody doomed.

The Email:

Channel after channel, the same old faces and same bad suits. I hate it when this happens. It's getting worse everyday. My show's aren't on, only these 'Special Reports'. What's so special about them, anyway? They never say anything that makes sense, just rambling puzzles said by nervous people with really weak hair.

"Uncie Andy, it's happening again."

He storms in from the kitchen with his Kirk loves Spock apron and wags a cake batter dripping spatula at me. "We talked about this. It's Andrew. An-drew. You don't want me to call you Sammy, do you?"

"Yeah, why not?" I smile and I know I've got him. He'll probably even let me lick the spatula.

Sure enough, he grins. "What's up now?"

"Weirdness going on… again. All the news channels are covering the same story." I flip quickly through the channels. "You know something big is going down when Comedy Central interrupts there normally scheduled programming to bring you this news bulletin."

"Oh my God," Andrew's eyes open wide and I can't tell if he's upset in a good or bad way.

"What is it?" Just then, I hear my Orlando Bloom 'You've got mail' alert and rush over to my laptop. I slap the space bar and click the Lord of the Rings icon. I can't believe it when I see who it's from.

'Sam, baby, we did it.
A Brave New World for my brave girl. We're coming home, all of us.
Love Big Daddy and friends.'

"Uncle Andrew, we're gonna need a bigger cake!"

The End.