The ensuing week was horrendous. The babies all seemed to pick up on the tension and were impossible to settle; Samuel’s visions simply would not let up, to the point that he began self medicating with anti psychotic drugs for the first time in almost three years; Jonothon’s teeth ceased extending yet again as the pain from the chip all but crippled him in waking hours; and Xander’s implant had the human in the arms of his lover keening in pain at least four or five times a day.
In between tending to their increasingly incapacitated partners, seer and the intuitively upset small people, Spike and Eddie gradually tracked down the wiccans they so desperately needed. With the current purges, only limited success came from Samuel’s list, but then they had a most spectacular break from a totally unexpected source.
It was late Saturday afternoon and Spike and Eddie had been sitting on the internet for some time, all leads seemed to go nowhere.
Spike was good, but Eddie turned out to be *extremely* computer savvy. He set them up to ‘piggyback’ on other dynamic IP’s in case the Initiative had filtering equipment to track or monitor sender and receiver. When that didn’t always work, he worked a relay via sites on other continents. Happily it seemed that the totally wired open market China was the easiest jumping point.
They tracked a few wiccan groups still operating as ‘good earth groups’, along with a couple of alternative medicine sites that Spike simply had a ‘feeling about’. They recorded contact numbers where possible, and sent one or two obscure Emails but after day two still had no replies. By day five of no meaningful contacts, the two were becoming desperate.
After four hours in front of the screen, on a whim Spike simply went onto a music site and typed in “ Nuevo Punk + Europe”.
He came up with two hundred and thirty seven hits and oddly the first was www.dingoesAMB.co.uk. He clicked on the link and began to read their bio news.
“The ‘Dingoes Ate My Baby’ are long time survivors of the alternative scene and have recently reinvented themselves to….. [blah blah]… Lead guitarist Oz ….[blah blah] film career… [blah blah] ….Sunnydale roots….. [blah blah] perfect for the new wave of ‘punk cross-overs’ [blah blah] ….”
It was apparent that they were now a France based band and had been doing rather well in Europe, and even more so after Oz’s film career also took off. There were pictures… it was definitely Willow’s old beau, the werewolf.
Spike held his breath and took a risk. He sent a ‘fan’ Email.
“To the lead singer Oz
Love your work.
Dingoes… bloody marvelous!
FYI we met once or twice at the Bronze years ago.
‘Donut boy’ says Hi.
Know we both fancied Red at some point…. You still in contact?
Old times hey!
Love to treat you to a beer sometime (warm of course).
Spike felt ridiculous writing the last couple of lines but had no other way of getting the message across. Eddie read the note and looked utterly confused, but ultimately shrugged his shoulders and moved to feed Jessie who was fussing again which was threatening to wake the (finally) sleeping Will and Sam.
Within an hour, the reply came. A ping on their inbox marked heightened tension. Spike took a deep unnecessary breath, then opened the Email.
Thanks for the FB
Cool you’re into Dingoes.amB.
High school … got it,
Ancient history man!
Glad to hear Donut boy is obviously still running
Wills and team have been backstage this year.
You organizing the reunion?
Would consider playing.
SMS our manager if you’re out for our dates.
Great hearin’ from you.
Kathleen had generously given her second cellphone handset to Xander, mostly to ring in orders since Sam (who had no answer machine) often failed to ‘pickup’! It had also been a gesture of contrition as Kathleen had ‘bailed up’ her lovely artist one afternoon as he loaded a spectacular DVD rack and matching wall unit onto her husband’s pickup. She had been chatting about church and the children’s schooling, then idly asked if he was still in contact with his friends from school. She had been a little offended by his total lack of response but changed her tune immediately, as he finally turned to reveal silent tears streaming from his good eye and oozing from under the patch. There were no more questions. She had stern words to Samuel then shoved the ‘extra handset’ into his hands. They had only used it twice since.
Spike took the risk and left an SMS message for the band’s manager using the loan phone.
Old frenz callin
Keen 2 engage
Luv 2 have U here
Red needed 2.
Call back via net
All they could do now was wait.
Both Spike and Xander noticed that Kathleen’s ‘reseller percentage’ crept up to around thirty percent over the time that his tables and other pieces were sold, but they didn’t really mind. Xander loved the process and the sense of contribution.
Over the months, Kathleen had also met Samuel’s ‘other’ guests William and Jonothon (month four and five respectively), both of whom she felt were far too pale and thin, and could do with a ‘good few days in the sun’, cursing their hospital for the lack of pallor particularly. Samuel easily answered questions of their residency with a story he had been constructing carefully for months. Kathleen was rather pleased to hear that they had all been released into his care indefinitely and though technically an invalid himself, they were effectively staying with him to ‘ease back into life’.
It was so close to the truth that there was no need for more detail. For the dear lady, it also explained their nervousness, odd foibles, and aversion to others, all the more reason to act in loco parentis for 'her group of lost boys’. She was doubly pleased to find the ‘new additions’ to the group were genteel, polite to a fault, and highly educated. And utterly dismayed to think that a lovely vet’s depression and anxiety had stemmed from an assault in which his leg was broken and all his teeth were pulled out! (It was the only explanation Samuel could come up with!)
At month six, Kathleen began to question the likely duration of the boys’ stay. Samuel recognized the question for what it was… their little farm was producing so much more, now that he had more hands to help… and Kathleen was effectively his wholesaler. Her farm had also benefited from Jonothon’s skills when a nanny goat was unable to deliver, and a late night distress call was answered by both Sam and his lodger vet. Following the full recovery of a prize animal and the reassurance that the 'boys were staying, she made it her business to visit for afternoon tea every day she was not at market.
Kathleen had broached the issue of attending church a few times with each of ‘her boys’ but finally noticed the truly sad, and somewhat fearful, look on William’s face and decided to leave the matter. There were a myriad of possibilities for that look she decided, all *clearly* pointed at something to do with a cruel and overly zealous, religious parent as the cause of his current ‘troubled state’. She was also unsurprised when the suggestion of meeting some of her lady friends was met by a similar negative reaction. Though she did manage to introduce her perky, fifteen year old daughter Davina one afternoon. The curious teenager quickly latched on to Spike, disgustedly reporting to her mother that she thought they were ‘all gay’ when her rather obvious flirting raised no interest whatsoever. Kathleen simply snorted and patted her daughter on the leg, and explained to her about ‘genteel behavior’. She was privately relieved, very happy to be friends with any of the ‘challenged neighbors’ but thankful that there seemed little chance of them ever becoming ‘family’.
Miraculously Eddie and the children stayed well hidden. Agoraphobia, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety attacks were all believable, but tiny (albeit adorable) blue demon babies rather less easy to explain!
They had just had another late afternoon tea visit from their energetic neighbor when Spike’s SMS was returned with simple instructions “Our site, Encrypt”. The ensuing exchange resulted in an internet supported call, later they would learn that the relays for the call were ‘more worry than they were worth to trace’ according to Devon, the manager (a Sunnydale escapee and original member of the band apparently)… There was little choice. It was ten days in to Samuel’s three week deadline. Xander was medicated and for the time, was at least, pain free, so he sat holding hands with his lover as Spike began the call.
Two rings were on the screen before the recipient admitted the call, “Oz here. Speak.”
Spike pointed the ‘hands free mic.’ to his partner, and gestured for the rather shocked Xander to speak, “Hey buddy.”
“Not so much these days but yeah... Ahhhh you good?”
“Complaints, zero… Hadn’t expected the note.”
“Yeah well… no accounting… congrats on the band.”
“Got time to hang with the past.”
“Depends… ‘decent reason’ guy these days.”
“Kind of hoping we could do a reunion gig but hey if you’re busy… no big… You um probably got places and spaces to be and Scoobie gangs are of the old and now I’m so babbling … shutting up now… but…. Um…. you coming to the USA anytime soon?”
“Ahhh…. Geez man been there, ya know Europe, kinda tolerant. Can’t take my dog to a restaurant in the US!”
“Oh…” Xander’s tone fell but the meaning of the statement was all too clear. Europe was still far more tolerant of the supernatural. Their ‘lack of commitment', a regular fly in the ointment when it came to international discussions of security priorities.
“So you doin’ the Good Life gig?”
“Subsistence, natural trade…’”
“Oh yeah… most definitely! ‘Handmade Tables ‘R’ Us’ here … fantastic working with local woods, and just started to barter for some redwood pieces that will be of the good when finished … and produce abounds, well not so much me but many hands and all that. And again with the babble… sorry.”
“Nahhh man, All good. So you need a contact or two for gig’s out your way?”
“Only if you can recommend any.”
“Sure… let us know on Email what you want… contacts still good there… but encrypt man, and use our secure site... login’s easy, the password I figure you’ll guess, but then Devon always said the principal was pretty ‘tasty’. Anyways, ya know celeb status… rather avoid media… Here is all good but US press… just too scary.”
“Oh sure sure.” Spike squeezed his lover’s hand. This was the closest to a proper lead they had found in a week
“You got dates?”
“When for, you thinkin’?” Oz sounded patient but Xander knew they had to quickly draw it all to a close.
“Oh… ASAP, it’s kind of urgent um… forgot… um we’ve got a kind of big celebration coming up so … life and death stuff … you know the deal.”
“Sure, so you got hitched?”
“Yeah… figure you know him. Sunnydale… English… hosted Wills and me once or twice. Real white hat these days”
“Hmmm, whatever, I’d heard a few rumors. Hey congrats!”
“Hey, you take care Man, and ya know… call anytime.”
“Thanks, Oz… for taking the time. Take care!”
“Sure, you too.” And with that the phonecall ended.
Spike immediately logged on. “I figure the login is DAMB but the password pet?”
“Try Snider or Snyder?” Both were rejected.
“Or…. Um Flutie with maybe a double ‘ee’ ”
“That’s the one, Luv. You’re a gem!” Spike kissed his companion soundly but heard a cry from the next room. He knew that Eddie, Jon and the boys were in their quarters… Sam’s visions were definitely getting worse.
Xander got up and padded into the sunlit bedroom, helped their benefactor back into bed, and stroked his forehead until Sam managed to fall into an uneasy slumber. He returned to Spike in the corner of the lounge room just as a brilliant flash of light occurred and two female figures manifested then staggered to hold their footing, mid room.
“Bloody hell, that was quick!”
After The Fall: 12