Willow had called Buffy, after coming out of the shower. She had asked Buffy if she wanted to meet at school.
“Sure Will. I'll meet you there in about an hour,” Buffy replied.
“Okay... I'll call Xander, and let him know...”
“Give him a few more minutes, it's only... 6:15!! Wha... what are you doing up so early?” Buffy asked, yawning and bringing the blanket back over her face. “Sor... sorry about that,” she yawned again.
“That's okay, I... I... um, I don't know. I woke up an hour ago, and I couldn't fall back to sleep... so, here I am!” Willow replied.
“You... are... too much Will,” Buffy said laughing.
“I'd like to think so. Umm... Buffy?”
“Um... do you... do you think it would be okay for me to call Giles tonight?” she asked.
“Gosh Will. I don't know, he might be worn out from the jet-lag,” Buffy responded.
“Yeah... you know, from his flight?”
“OH... that's right. He's leaving today,” Willow said, going along with Buffy.
“He should be on his way to L.A. by now.”
“Silly me... I ... I forgot he took an early flight,” Willow was crushed by the revelation.
“I'm going to take a shower Will. I'll see you at school,” Buffy said.
“Sure... no... no problem. Bye Buffy.”
“See ya Will,” with that Buffy hung up.
“He's gone,” Willow whispered.
She had to think.
At first she thought she might cry again...
Without being aware of it, her resolve face had appeared.
She decided she wasn't going to feel sorry for herself any longer...
She would wait for him...
She knew he'd be back.
She wasn't quite sure how she knew, but she did.
“You are not going to get away from me Rupert. I won't allow it,” she said out-loud.
Willow met up with Buffy and Xander in the parking lot of the high school.
Each of them anxious to meet Buffy's new Watcher.
“So... have either of you guys met the new Watcher yet?” Xander asked.
“No,” Willow replied. She turned her head, as a silver Nissan Maxima pulled into the parking lot.
“I haven't, but I know her name,” Buffy said.
“Well tell us, we are waiting, oh, “Holder-Of-The-Wooden-Stake,” Xander said. Buffy shook her head.
“Her name is...”
“Oh... look there's Miss...” Willow interrupted.
“Foster,” they both said in unison.
“WHOA!!” Xander said, looking at them.
“Where is she Willow?” Buffy asked.
“Right there, she's getting out of the silver Maxima,” Willow pointed across the way.
Buffy watched as Shae Foster stepped out of her car.
Seeing Willow, Miss Foster walked over to her.
“Hello again Willow. It's nice to see you,” she said when she arrived.
“Umm... hello Miss Foster. And... and how are you?” she asked. She couldn't believe that she had met Buffy's new Watcher before she did.
“Fine, thank you,” she replied, looking at the other two teenagers, who were staring at her. “And you must be...?” she asked.
“Buffy... Buffy Summers. He's Xander Harris,” Buffy replied. 'So... this is my new Watcher.'
'Ah... this is the Slayer. They've got to update the photographs,' Shae thought to herself. “Mr. Harris, a pleasure to make your acquaintance”, she told Xander.
“So... you're Buffy's new Watcher huh?” he asked, getting hit by both Willow and Buffy. “What did I do?” he asked.
“You'll have to excuse him... he's not from this planet,” Buffy told her.
“I understand... perhaps we should continue this conversation in the library?” she asked.
“Sounds like a plan,” Buffy replied.
They made their way to the library, Buffy asking Miss Foster various questions... about school.
“I'm hoping before I leave, that I've been able to impart some study techniques,” Miss Foster said.
“Oh... I'm all for new study techniques!” Willow said, perking at the thought.
“Um... Wills. I don't think that's what she meant,” Xander told her.
“Cordy... love of my teenage life. What's up?” he asked, as Cordelia walked over to the small group, just as they had made it to the library's entrance.
“I need to talk to you about daddy's country club party next month,” she said as she grabbed him by the arm, pulling him away from the others.
“Oh... come on Cordelia. Those things make me break out in a rash... a little help here,” he said looking over to Buffy and Willow.
“No can do Xander. You're on your own,” Buffy replied. “He's got it bad,” Buffy told Miss Foster, who just smiled.
“Well, let's go inside. Mr. Giles asked me to give you both something,” she said.
“Ooh... Giles? Presents perhaps? Nah! But I'm all over it anyway. Come on Will,” Buffy exclaimed, going into the library.
“Let me see, which key is it? Here we go,” placing the key into the office door, Shae turned the key and went in.
There were no traces of any police activity left behind. There had been no leads on whoever had attacked Giles. Buffy and Xander had gotten together on Sunday and had gone to the police department and made their official statements about what had occurred on Friday.
“Let me put my briefcase down,” Miss Foster had told them. Opening the leather case, she pulled out two envelopes. “Buffy... Willow”, she said as she handed them out.
“Thanks,” Buffy replied as she took the letter from her new Watcher.
“Yes... thank you,” Willow acknowledged. She felt the envelope, seeing how he had written her name on the outside. Holding it as if it were a precious artifact, one to be savored, explored carefully.
Unlike Buffy, who had ripped the envelope open like a Christmas present.
“Nothing new here,” Buffy said as she looked up from the letter. “Aren't you going to read yours Will?” she asked.
“Hmm... ah, no. I think I'll wait 'til later...” she replied, tucking the letter away in her notebook.
“Buffy, I'd like to talk with you after school. Set up some time when we can get together and go over some things,” Miss Foster said.
“Sure... no sweat. Will, we'd better get going. See you later Miss Foster.”
“Bye Miss Foster and thank you again for the letter,” Willow said.
“Willow, can I speak with you for a few minutes? I'd like to know about the computer system,” she asked.
“Sure,” Willow responded eagerly.
“I'll catch you later Will,” Buffy said as the walked out of Giles' office and back into the main section of the library.
“Now, can you show me how I can get to the e-mail account?” Buffy heard as she left the library.
Willow had spent the next 20 minutes showing Miss Foster how to access the e-mail account, as well as some locations that she had used to do research on various items that Giles was interested in.
Willow watched as Miss Foster type out the address for another e-mail server.
“I just want to check my account for messages,” she said, turning to the teenager. “Willow... is there something wrong?” she asked.
“Umm... NO... it's... it's just... WOW. I thought, I mean, Giles doesn't like to go on the computer unless he absolutely has to, but wow!” she said.
Laughing, Shae replied, “No Willow. I use the computer all the time. I search the net for information on prophecies and the like. Mr. Giles told me you were “simply astounding” to watch on the computer.”
“He said that... about me?”
“I wouldn't say it if he didn't,” she replied. “I know I'll need your assistance while I'm working with Buffy.”
“I'll... I'll do whatever I can to help,” Willow replied, thinking about what Rupert had said about her... “simply astounding.”
“I'll write you a hall pass,” Shae told Willow, after hearing the bell ring for first period. “Here you go.”
“Thanks. I'll see you later, bye,” Willow said as she left the library.
Shae sat at the computer terminal, after logging back on to the internet, she went to her e-mail account. Choosing “addresses”, she clicked on the name Henry Latham. For “subject” she wrote: “Summers Test?”
I've finally met the _______. I've heard and read so much about her, that it was odd to finally come face to face with her. It will be interesting to see how we mesh.
There's something I need you to check for me.
Mr. Giles in under the impression that the test hasn't been given yet.
I need to know if that's true or not.
If the test hasn't been given, then I'll need to change techniques.
If it has, can you find out how she did?
Mr. Giles expressed interest in the results.
Well, here's hoping for the best.
Shae clicked on the send button, then logged off.
Feeling the vibration from his beeper, Henry Latham took the beeper from his inside vest pocket and glanced at the numbers on the screen.
Folding his newspaper, he got up from the leather armchair he had been relaxing in, placing the paper on the seat.
Walking away from the warmth of the fireplace, he went to the phone. Picking up the receiver, he dialed the number, it was answered after two rings.
“Mary speaking. May I help you?” came the reply.
“'ello Mary, it's Henry. I was paged?”
“Yes... Mr. Latham. You have an e-mail at the front office,” Mary replied.
“I'll be right there, thank you Mary.”
“You're welcome Mr. Latham.”
Henry replaced the receiver and headed out of the study, the newspaper forgotten.
Walking through the corridors, he paid little attention to the original works of art displayed on the walls. Many of England's famous artists, had their masterpieces in the Watcher's Compound, in England's rural countryside.
Most of the pieces were priceless, and would have been quite at home on display in the British museum.
The furnishings were by Chippendale, with a few Tiffany pieces from America thrown in for good measure.
When Henry first came to the compound, many years ago, he was speechless. The scope of wealth the organization had was mind boggling, but it was never boasted about. The money had never been used for personal gain, by any of the members. It was invested over the years, granting them total immunity from outside interference.
It was not to say that the organization did not spend money, they had given full scholarships to Oxford and Yale, to family members of those in employ with them As well as to those certain individuals who were thought to be Watcher material, they were never told that their schooling would also include studying to become a Watcher.
If it was decided, after their formal education was completed, to offer them the opportunity, then, and only then, were they told.
If the individual decided not to accept, they were given jobs that best suited their education. The organization had many legitimate business ventures around the world, enabling them to provide an incentive to stay in the family, so to speak.
They had never turned their backs on the families who had lost loved ones to their duties.
They took care of their own.
It was one of the reasons why the organization had been able to exist without discovery for hundreds of years.
Henry passed by the paintings of high-ranking members of the Council, both living and dead.
He sighed as he walked past his. He didn't quite like it. It wasn't to say that it wasn't a perfect portrait of him, it was.
He didn't think that he had put in enough time to have been made a part of the upper echelon of the Council.
He wished that he was still out in the field, doing what he loved to do best...
'Fighting the forces of evil', he laughed to himself.
That's what he had thought... believed, many, many years ago.
When he was still a young man.
And his eyes hadn't been so rudely opened to how the world really was.
That there were things that went bump in the night.
He had been one of the lucky ones. He couldn't say that about the friends he had lost over time.
He finally reached the massive mahogany door that led to the office. He knocked before he entered.
It always surprised him when he came to the main office. It was disconcerting to feel as if he had stepped from one century to another.
The office was as modern as they came. Fax machines and computers, copiers, everything you'd need in an office was here.
Including fire-proof storage cabinets that contained information which had been encoded, painstakingly scanned, and re-typed, when the condition of the document was extremely fragile, on every Slayer ever known.
Also encoded were the names of future Slayers.
Henry had to fight the older members to get the security systems in place. He had told them that it was an open invitation for anyone to come hack their computer system and get the names of current and future Slayers.
They finally agreed.
It had taken years to encode the documents, and only 4 members of the Council had the encryption keys. All four were needed to decipher the information; otherwise, the computer would automatically begin deleting the files. Once started, the procedure could not be stopped.
Mary looked up as Henry had walked in, noting the ever-present smile on his face. He was remarkably fit for a man of 66 years. His white hair was combed to perfection, his suit pressed; it looked as if he were expecting a visit from the Queen.
“Good evening Mary. How are things?” he asked closing the door behind him.
“Fine Sir Henry. Here's the communique,” Mary replied, handing him his e-mail.
“Mary... what have I said about that stuffy title?”
“It's a hard habit to break... Henry.”
“That's better,” he said, pulling his glasses out from his topcoat pocket. The light reflected off them. “Ah... it's from Shae,” he said smiling.
“Something wrong sir?” Mary asked when she saw the smile leave his face.
“Mary? Could you please bring up the files on Buffy Summers, Sunnydale, California?” Henry replied, folding the note and placing it in his inside coat pocket.
“Right away,” she answered, her fingers flying across the keyboard. “Here you are.”
“Thank you Mary, “ he said as he went around her desk and looked at the computer monitor. “Hmm? Would you get me her file, then let me know when Mr. Halloway shows up?”
“I wasn't aware that he was back sir,” Mary said as she got up from her desk and searched for the file in question.
“Yes... he's back,” Henry replied.
After entering her code number to open the cabinet, Mary took out a three ring binder, and locked the cabinet once more.
“As requested,” Mary said as she handed him the thick binder.
“This does have the most recent update, doesn't it?” he asked.
“Yes,” Mary began, as she looked at the files on the computer, “The last update was this past Sunday... made by Mr. Smythe,” she said.
“Ah... yes, Ian. Good lad. I'll be taking this with me,” Henry said.
“You'll have to sign for it Henry,” Mary told him.
“Of course... of course,” he replied.
Taking the pen Mary offered him, he signed the book and then walked out of the office and went to his.
It had taken him well over an hour to go over everything in Buffy's file, including the supplementary report that Ian had added on what really happened.
“Damn Halloway,” he uttered under his breath. Picking up his phone, he placed a call.
“Can I help you?”
“Gerald... it's Henry. What the BLOODY HELL WENT WRONG!?!!
“Hello... Sir Henry, nice to hear from you again,” Gerald replied.
“Cut the bull Gerald. I want to see you in my office now!” Henry hung up the phone.
He dialed Mary's number once more.
“Mary... be sure to have a car waiting to pick up Rupert when his flight arrives. He'll be worn out from the trip.”
“Yes Henry, I'll take care of it.”
There was a knock on his door a few minutes later.
“You... you sent for me, sir?”
“Sit down Gerald, and be quick about it,” he gestured to the chair by his desk. “Gerald... do you have any idea what I hold in my hand?” he asked lifting the binder up.
“Ah... no, I don't,” Gerald responded.
“Of course you wouldn't, you've never seen it. You don't have access to it, you're not a Watcher. I'll tell you what I have. It's the most wonderful piece of fiction I have ever read, and it's written by some people I believe you know,” Henry said, then he proceeded to name names. “And then... there's you. How long have you been with us Gerald?” he asked, although he already knew the answer.
“Ten years sir.”
“Ten years, that's a long time. Hmm? Gerald, could you... could you explain to me, how a simple test escalated into the FIASCO I have before me? Could you?”
Gerald didn't reply.
“Well, answer me man!,” Henry hit his the top of his desk with the palms of his hands. “WHERE'S YOUR BACKBONE?”
Gerald thought this might happen, but still wasn't prepared for it.
“Um... well, sir.”
“I followed my orders sir, as instructed by my superior,” he answered.
“Ah... I see, so, this was Mr. Halloway's idea, was it?” Henry asked.
“Yes sir.” “And didn't you think it odd?”
“Odd, in what way?”
“Odd, in the way this was handled?”
“I... I did, at first, yes,” Gerald replied.
“So, why didn't you DO something about it? You could have easily picked up the phone and called me. I would have put a stop to this...this mess. Do you have ANY idea what you've done, by not saying anything?”
“No... I... I can't say that I can sir, no,” Gerald said.
The phone rang.
“It's Mary, sir. Mr. Halloway is here. Shall I send him to your office?”
“Yes... and Mary?”
“I want Cowley and Fitzsimmons waiting for Mr. Halloway when I'm finished.”
“Understood,” she replied, then hung up the phone.
“Sir Henry is waiting for you Matthew,” she told him.
“Thanks Mare,” Matthew Halloway said.
The moment he was out the door, Mary picked up the phone and paged the two men Sir Henry had requested.
“Cowley here, you paged?”
“Kenneth, Sir Henry wants you and Rory to go to his office, but you are to wait for Mr. Halloway to leave first.”
“We're on our way,” Kenneth replied, hanging up the phone. He turned to see his partner staring at him.
“What's up?” he asked.
“Come on mate, Henry needs us,” Ken said.
“Yeah, I think ol' Matthew has finally dug a hole he can't get out of.”
“This ought to be interesting to see,” Rory replied.
“Gerald, your associate is on his way. Do you see that door over there?”
Gerald turned to look in the direction Sir Henry had indicated.
“Yes sir,” he answered.
“Go inside and have a seat. Don't move, until I tell you to. If you do, I'll know,” Henry told the young man.
Gerald got up and went to the door. He looked back over to Sir Henry, who nodded, reaching for the doorknob, he went into the room. All the while wondering what was going to happen to him. He noticed two chairs, and closing the door, he sat down and waited.
Matthew Halloway knocked on Sir Henry's door. He straightened his tie, and ran his comb through his hair, being careful not to go over his stitches.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out, Matthew stepped into the Lion's den.
Sunnydale High School.
Willow had gone to her locker after leaving the library. She had a few minutes to spare before she headed to her class. Opening her locker, she placed the books she wouldn't need until after lunch away.
Peering down the halls in both directions, checking to see if she was alone, she opened her notebook.
There it was...
She almost felt like Charlie Bucket, from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” One of her favorite books when she was younger.
Would she find the 'Golden Ticket'?
She carefully opened the envelope...
Somewhere between Los Angeles and New York.
'I wonder if Willow has read the letter yet?' Giles asked himself, as he gazed out of his window, into the endless sky.
“Excuse me sir? Would you like something to drink?” The flight attendant asked, wondering what kind of accident this passenger might have been in.
“Um... yes, tea please,” he replied, noticing how the flight attendant's hair was almost the same shade as Willow's. “Thank you,” he said, taking the cup.
He had felt an ache, something he knew he wouldn't find a cure for.
'That's not exactly true, is it? Willow, what am I doing?' he thought.
He knew that this drastic measure was needed, he wanted to give himself some time...
'Don't forget distance,' he mused. “Am I doing the right thing?” he muttered.
Sunnydale High School.
Willow had read the letter twice.
“Courage... I think that's what you were looking for Rupert,” she said.
She caught the faint wisp of his cologne on the paper.
She brought the note to her face and inhaled deeply, ingraining the scent in her mind.
Folding the letter, she placed it back in the envelope, putting it safely in her locker.
Right before she closed the door, she gave into the sudden urge to reach out and touch the letter...
It was as she had expected some 'force' to flow from it and into her...
Some connection she hoped would not be broken by Rupert's departure.
Firmly closing and locking the door, Willow went to class...
“Good evening Sir Henry,” Matthew said as he entered the private office of Henry Latham.
“Have a seat Matthew. We have much to discuss, don't you agree?” Henry said. He moved his chair closer to his desk, nudging the switch that activated the speaker as well as the two-way mirror where Gerald was sitting. He didn't want to go over this twice, once was enough.
“Thank you sir,” Matthew replied taking a seat.
“How was your flight?”
“Fine, thank you,” Matthew responded.
“And your injury?”
“OH... that...” he knocked on his head with his knuckles, “Hard as rock. The doctor was amazed that the blow didn't kill me outright.”
“Is that so?” Henry asked.
“Oh yes. I consider myself quite lucky.”
“Indeed you are. So, why don't you brief me on your mission?” Henry said leaning back in his chair.
“Where would you like me to start?” Matthew answered, secretly thankful that the meeting had started off so well.
“Can you tell me? How did the Slayer... Summers isn't it?” He watched Matthew nod. “How did she do?”
“Um... I would say that she passed with flying colors sir.”
“And... how did you injure yourself?”
“It's terribly embarrassing I slipped,” Matthew replied.
“Well, we all have accidents from time to time, nothing to be embarrassed about. How did Rupert take the news that Miss Summers had passed the test?” Henry couldn't wait to hear the answer.
“Actually, I... I didn't tell him. Um... I had asked Gerald to relay the information for me,” he said.
'What the hell?' Gerald thought when he heard Matthew's reply.
“And why was that?”
“Yeah... why was that?” Gerald muttered.
“Well, I was injured sir. I thought it best that Mr. Giles... Rupert get the information as quickly as possible, I knew I could depend on Gerald to deliver the message in my stead,” Matthew replied, getting comfortable.
“I see, other than your unfortunate accident, there was nothing else that occurred during your mission? Nothing out of the ordinary?” Henry asked.
“No... everything went smoothly,” he answered.
“Very well, if you're completely sure there's nothing else?” He wanted to see if Matthew was going to offer any more. “Right, if you'll just sign this,” Henry took out a small stack of papers.
Matthew got out of the chair and went to the desk.
“Right here please,” Henry said as he held out a pen for Matthew.
“Of course Sir Henry. What exactly am I signing, if I might ask?” Matthew took the pen.
“Why... it's the official report, of course,” Henry replied.
Matthew looked as Sir Henry, confused. “That's not possible sir... I haven't had a chance to file my final report.”
“Oh... you mean that dreadful piece of trash, you thought about turning in? I've already read enough of the reports your men turned in. Did you think I wouldn't find out what really happened?”
“I don't know what you're talking about sir?” Matthew answered, still holding the pen.
“I see, you're going to continue with this farce,” Henry shook his head in disgust. “You do realize that you leave me no choice in the matter, don't you?” Henry reached into the top drawer of his desk, he was slightly amused to watch Matthew take a step back. “Sit down, and watch the television screen would you?”
Matthew sat back down, annoyed at himself for having stepped back earlier.
Using the remote control, Henry turned on the television, then the VCR.
The screen remained blank at first...
What looked like a newscast finally appeared on the screen...
A building as engulfed in flames, firefighters struggled to put the raging inferno out, to no avail.
Henry watched Matthew's reaction to the tape. He saw a slight tremor in his jaw muscles.
“This is quite interesting Sir Henry, but what does this have to do with me?” Matthew asked.
Henry did not reply, he continued to watch as the scene played out before him. The fire gutted the entire building, leaving smoldering embers in its wake.
The newscast ended, Matthew thought that would be the end of the tape...
When a different image appeared on the screen... one he was quite familiar with.
“Oh my God,” Matthew uttered in shock.
There in full glorious color was Malcolm hitting someone...
The camera found itself drawn to his face when he had turned around...
His eyes were glazed, he had a smile on his face... it looked as if he truly enjoyed what he had just done. Malcolm stepped away... the camera angle moved...
It was Giles...
He was a bloody mess...
“Wha... what do you want?” Giles asked, blood running from his mouth.
“Right now? Nothing, I just like hitting you that's all,” came Malcolm's reply.
Gerald could be seen in the background, standing by the door to Rupert's office, standing guard.
'I'm dead,' Gerald thought as he watched the tape. He knew what had happened afterwards.
Henry fast-forwarded the tape, looking over at Matthew who just stared at the screen.
“OH... I think you might find this part most interesting Matthew,” Henry said as he watched Willow unconscious body being brought in.
Once again Rupert's voice was heard.
“WHAT have you DONE to her!!?”
Henry watched as Rupert had struggled against his bindings to get to the girl. A knife flashed out of nowhere and was imbedded into his desk. Henry felt for Rupert, he saw the defeat as Rupert's shoulders slumped forward.
He watched as Matthew left the room, after being informed that someone had arrived.
Malcolm had told Rupert: “Well... I think it's time you took another nap.”
Then proceeded to knock him out again.
What came next turned Henry's stomach.
Matthew had reappeared, and walked over to Willow.
The camera followed him, Matthew kneeled next to Willow's prone body.
“What are you doing?” someone asked.
“Nothing... just some harmless fun, that's all,” Matthew replied.
Matthew had started to squirm in his seat. He was trying to remember who was with him when they had paid Giles the surprise visit.
"I... I don't think you should do that. There... there's isn't time," the voice said, after watching Matthew taking out the hunting knife, and trailing it up and down Willow's blouse.
Matthew had finally slipped the knife underneath the blouse, the tip could be seen poking through the material.
The slightest pressure and the knife would have gone through it.
Sighing, Matthew agreed, "You're right... there's always later. Well, come on, bring her along, she'll make for some lively bait for the Slayer," he said. 'Ian... it was Ian. I'll kill him,' Matthew thought.
“Well, what do you have to say for yourself Matthew?” Henry asked, stopping the tape. He had seen enough, it had sickened him to watch the beating Rupert had taken, at the hands of fellow members.
“I did what I thought I had to do,” Matthew answered, looking at the shocked expression on Sir Henry's face.
“I did what I had to do sir.”
“You thought you had to endanger the lives of the Slayer... her Watcher, and those teenagers?”
“I don't BLOODY BELIEVE WHAT I'M HEARING!!! Have you gone off your rocker? What you did to Mr. Giles... Rupert, was uncalled for. What it seemed you were about to do to Miss Rosenberg was... is reprehensible! For GOD'S sake... someone could have been KILLED!” Henry stood up abruptly from his chair.
“We all know that could happen sir... “ Matthew replied.
“Don't you DARE throw that back at me, you young pup. Giles knows the possibility that he might be killed, he's accepted it, we all do... but not those children. You recklessly endangered the lives of the men under your supervision. You destroyed property to cover your mistakes, you are a DISGRACE!!!” Henry shouted.
A knock interrupted Henry.
“I beg your pardon, Sir Henry. I just wanted to make sure things were okay in here?” Rory Fitzsimmons asked after stepping into the room.
“I'm fine, I'm fine Rory. Everything's fine,“ Henry said as he took a deep breath to calm down.
When Matthew saw who had entered the room, a feeling of dread fell upon him.
He wasn't sure how much trouble he was until now.
It had been widely whispered in the confines of the society, that Rory Fitzsimmons and Kenneth Cowley had a reputation of 'Taking care of things'.
“Ken and I will be outside sir, if you need anything,” Rory said.
“Thank you Rory.”
“A pleasure sir, if you'll excuse me,” Rory replied closing the door.
Henry sat down, straightening the remote control, and the binder. He was gathering his thoughts together, he wouldn't not let his emotions take over again. He prided himself on his self-control.
“You are relived from active duty, a board of inquiry will be convened regarding this incident. You will not be allowed to leave the compound for any reason, you will not be allowed to contact in any way, shape, or form, any members of your team, until the inquiry. If you attempt any action that remotely disobeys these orders, you will be placed in solitary confinement. Do I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?”
“Crystal,” Matthew replied.
“Get out of my sight.”
Matthew got out of the chair and left the office, passing by the two men, who stepped into the office once he'd left.
Rory and Kenneth watched as Gerald walked back into the room.
“Yes sir,” he replied.
“You are also confined to the compound. You may move freely, but under no circumstances are you to engage in conversation with anyone from your group, do you understand?”
Gerald left the room, he walked in a daze back to his room. If this didn't end his career, or his life nothing would.
After explaining everything to the two men, Henry asked them to take care of Matthew until the inquiry.
“I want you to put your best men on this gentlemen. I don't want to hear that they've spoken with one another. Oh... Ken?”
“Yes Henry,” Kenneth replied.
“I want 24 hour protection for Ian. If it wasn't for him and that miniature camera of his, we would have never been able to prove any of this. We would only have what Rupert would have given us, and that wouldn't have been enough.”
“Right... I'll see to it personally.”
“Good man,” heaving a loud sigh, Henry was glad this was over with for now. “Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going to retire for the evening,” Henry said.
“Good night Henry,” Kenneth replied.
“Night Henry, don't worry. We'll handle things on this end,” Rory told him.
“Night lads... Oh, one other thing. Rupert MUSTN'T find out about this... God help Matthew if he does, understood?”
He could never once recall seeing Rupert act the way he did, when the young Rosenberg woman had been brought in. He had acted like any man would if a loved one was in danger.
Both men nodded, they had heard stories of Rupert's younger days, prior to fulfilling his duties as a Watcher. No... even they wouldn't do that to Matthew.
Matthew was fuming...
If it hadn't been for the damned tape, he possibly would have been able to bluff his way out...
Now, not only was he confined to the compound, he knew that Henry's watchdogs would be following his every move until the inquiry.
'If I get my hands on you Ian,' he thought.
He couldn't believe one of his own men...
Oh, he would repay this kindness, but it might take him awhile.
'Oh no Ian. I'll get you yet,' he smiled to himself and walked to his room.
“Hello there Rupert. It's good to see you again, it's been too long,” Mary said as she approached him.
“Ah... Mary. It has been a long time,” he replied, receiving the light hug.
“How are you feeling?” she asked.
“To tell the truth, exhausted,” he answered, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. The trip was finally catching up to him.
“Well, I'll make sure you're not disturbed.”
“Thank you Mary. Um... is there a possibility that I might get something to eat? The food on the flight wasn't filling,” Giles asked.
“Would a sandwich do? I'm afraid the kitchen staff won't be up for a few more hours yet,” Mary replied. 'Oh... Rupert, what did they do to you?'
“A sandwich sounds wonderful right about now. Perhaps with... a ... a warm glass of milk?” he asked.
Mary smiled, “Of course Rupert. I'll have it sent to your room.”
“Still the same one?” he asked.
“As if we would give you any other. Why don't you run along, I'm sure your bags have been left in your room. Will you need any help unpacking?”
“No... I can handle it, thank you.”
“All right then, I'll let Sir Henry know that you're here first thing in the morning,” Mary told him.
“Good night Mary,” Rupert said.
“Good night Rupert.” Mary made a note to let Lucinda, who would take over from her in a few hours, know that Sir Henry wanted to have the updates she was working on first thing in the morning.
Giles left the office, going down the corridor and past the main study.
He had spent many endless nights in that study, so many books. With never enough time to read them. Just to sit among them, satisfied a yearning in him. All the knowledge stored within the pages.
He sighed; perhaps he would brush up on some reading while he was here.
Walking upstairs, he went straight to his old room. Opening the door, he felt the rush of memories invade his mind.
Some of them quite pleasant...
'What was her name? Ah, yes, Tracy,' he recalled her fondly.
Others not so...
He would not think of those awful times.
He smiled, the fireplace had been lit.
He could remember the frustration he felt, when he would try to light the blasted thing...
Black soot covered his face and most of his clothing, after many attempts.
It wasn't until his final days in England, that he had been able to get a fire started in about five minutes. At first, he hadn't agreed at all with the Council's decision to send him to America.
He had his job at the museum that he loved. Surely, there had to be another member more qualified than himself.
No matter how hard he tried to persuade them otherwise, the decision stood.
He would be Buffy Summer's new Watcher.
Rupert laughed softly, as he walked over to his bed...
'What kind of name was that for a Slayer?' he had thought, when he had first read her files.
Now, he couldn't stop thanking his good fortune that the Council had not given into his request.
Had not assigned someone else in his place.
He could not imagine what his life would have been like without Buffy and the others.
They had given him a true understanding of what his duties meant...
They had given him a sense of purpose...
Willow had breathed life into his every day existence.
There hadn't been a day that had gone by, when even the briefest visits from her hadn't brightened his day considerably.
He wondered time and time again, what he had done... right, to deserve her presence in his life.
Is continually amazed by her...
The inborn sense of grace she possessed.
Rupert smiled as he unpacked his bags.
For anyone else, that thought might have been looked at and scoffed.
Most people never looked below the surface.
Below the outer shell, that hid the beauty he knew to be there.
You just needed to look.
Everyone, almost everyone, saw Willow as just a shy teenager. Doing her best to blend in, not to draw attention to herself.
Except the few friends she had.
With them she could be herself...
Without fear of ridicule...
Slight teasing now and then, but done with love.
Not outright intent to do harm.
But he could see below the surface...
How much she had grown, emotionally.
How the slightest compliment would make her face light up from within...
Although she still didn't think she deserved them at times.
He knew, in time, that Willow would learn to accept the compliments for what they were...
There was this part of him... one that he was somewhat ashamed of.
The part of him that was decidedly male...
And had been that way since the beginning of the human race.
The part of his male psyche that was extremely pleased with himself...
Pleased that Willow had wanted him...
A smirk appeared on his face...
Xander had no idea what he had let slip through his fingers...
'Not as long as I breathe,' he thought. Reaching into his bag, Rupert moved his shirts out of the way; he was searching for something he had packed.
His hand came across the cool surface of the object.
He carefully pulled out a hinged picture frame.
Opening it up, he gazed fondly at the photographs.
The first one was of the “Scooby Gang” outside the high school.
He never quite understood the reference, except it came from some cartoon they had apparently watched.
Then there was the other one...
It had been taken in the library.
He was standing in the middle, and on either side of him were Buffy and Willow.
They were smiling.
And if he looked carefully, he followed his gaze...
It focused on Willow.
He placed the photograph on the nightstand next to the bed, and began unpacking in earnest.
A Few Hours Earlier...
Sunnydale High School Library.
“Okay... I think we've done enough for today. I'll see you tomorrow, say around four?” Shae asked Buffy.
“Yeah, four sounds good. That was a great work out by the way,” Buffy replied.
“Thanks. I'd like to accompany you tomorrow night, when you go on patrol. I'd like to see for myself what you're going up against,” She said, as she mopped the sweat from her brow.
“Um... sure... no problem,” Buffy replied.
“Why do I get the feeling you may not want me to go?”
“Well, things do get a bit hairy out there...” Buffy said.
I'll try to stay out of your way, after all you are the Slayer. But, if I think I you could be in danger, I will step in,” Shae told her.
“Fair enough,” Buffy answered.
“Hmm...” Willow replied her eyes glued on the computer monitor.
“It's time to go...” Buffy told her.
Shaking her head and smiling, Buffy walked over to where Willow was sitting.
“Time to leave Will,” Buffy said in her ear.
“Leave?” she replied, barely turning her head. She was engrossed in the text she was reading.
Buffy leaned forward, she had to see what Willow was reading.
Scully sighed as Mulder broke the kiss. It had taken them so long to finally admit to each other what they had felt.
“I love you Scully,” Mulder told her as he broke their kiss. His eyes filled with the tears of untold joy he was experiencing. It shocked him down to his very soul. He didn't know what he would have done if she had died earlier tonight. “I love you too Mulder. I think I always have,” Scully replied gazing into his face. Mulder brought his hands to her face, holding her gently. He bent forward he wanted to taste her lips once more, to get lost in her... Lost in Scully.'
“Will!! You little sneak,” Buffy exclaimed.
Startled, Willow turned to see Buffy leaning over her shoulder. “What?” she panicked.
“You sneak. Here I was thinking you were research girl, and here you are reading about Mulder and Scully.”
“It's... it's not what you think! Really,” Willow uttered, desperately trying to close the browser.
“Oh... no you don't,” Buffy said, grabbing the mouse from Willow's grasp. “It's not what I think huh?”
“No. I… I was making a new search... search for web sites, vampire information...”
“And that's why you were reading about the X-Files?”
“Buffy, you'd be surprised about the information most people believe to be fiction anyway,” Shae volunteered.
“I see. And the fact that Mulder and Scully were kissing?”
“Well, it's... the, the story dealt with vampires... and... and, I didn't know it was going to happen... honest!” Willow replied.
“Take it easy Will. No harm, no foul,” Buffy told her, trying to keep the teasing to a bare minimum.
“I... I just got caught up,” Willow said.
“I'm sorry Will. I shouldn't have teased you... forgiven?” Buffy asked.
“Um... I'll get back to you,” she replied, the hint of a smile on her face. Willow knew that Buffy wasn't trying to hurt her. She was flustered. 'At being caught,' she mused.
“She'll get back to me she says,” Buffy replied looking over to her new Watcher.
“Well, I don't know about you two, but I'm starved. Is there any place close by where I can grab something to eat?” Shae asked.
“Why don't you come to my house? I'm sure Mom's got something to munch on?” Buffy offered.
“Oh, no, I don't want to impose,” Shae replied.
“Impose, impose. How 'bout it Will, you up for some of Mom's cooking?”
“I'd like to, but I've got to get home some other time?” Willow answered.
“No problem,” Buffy said.
“All right, if you really don't mind?” Shae watched
Buffy shake her head. “Okay, let me get my things,” she said, retreating to Giles' office.
“So, what do you think of her?” Buffy asked Willow once Shae had left.
“Um... she's nice?”
“Out with it Will,” Buffy said.
“I don't know, it sorta feels... weird?” Willow answered.
“Yeah... like we're cheating on Ru... Giles,” she caught herself.
“To tell you the truth, I've felt the same way. It's like I don't want to like her to much ya know?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“It'll probably take us some time to get used to the idea,” Buffy said.
“Are we ready to leave?” Shae asked after she came of the office, locking the door behind her.
“Let's roll,” Buffy exclaimed, as she got her things together.
“I'll be right there,” Willow replied, taking a blank disk out of her backpack and quickly saving the story. She'd read it later. 'I just want to see how it ends,' she thought to herself.
Logging off the Internet, and shutting down the computer, Willow jogged over to where Shae and Buffy were waiting for her.
They left the school, talking about some moves they had gone over. Willow told Shae of at least five new sites dealing on vampirism. Buffy walked with Willow to her front door, where they hugged good-bye.
“See you tomorrow Will,” Buffy said, waving good-bye.
“Bye Buffy,” she replied, as she went into her house.
Early Wednesday Morning.
Giles had finished his milk and sandwich, and had settled down for the evening.
He had an appointment the next day to see an orthopedic surgeon. His medical records had been shipped over earlier on Monday. He had to prop his arm once again.
'Another six weeks of this, I may go mad,' he thought to himself.
Glancing at the photographs, he sighed.
“Good night Willow,” he said.
Wednesday Night -12:30AM
Willow sat in front of her computer, she had just finished reading the story she had saved earlier in the library.
She didn't really lie to Buffy, about the story...
It did deal with vampires...
She honestly had no idea...
“Who am I trying to kid?” she asked herself.
By the time she had reached the fifth part, it was obvious to her that the story had begun delving into Mulder and Scully's feelings towards each other.
So, it was romantic.
It was nice seeing them together; after all, you'd never see it on the show.
“Too bad it's fiction,” she said out-loud.
It wasn't some Xena episode, one of her on-line friends had told her about...
Something about an enchanted scroll, and whatever was written on it would come true.
An evil glint appeared in her eyes.
“I know what I'd do with that scroll,” she smirked.
Her phone rang...
'Who could that be?' she asked herself.
Picking up the receiver, she brought it to her ear.
“Hello?” he heard being said over the telephone line.
“Um... yes, hello...”
“Hiya Wills,” Xander said.
“Yes, I'd, I'd like to change my doctor's appointment, with Dr. Sanford,” Giles said.
“And when is your appointment, sir?” the receptionist asked.
“It's um, tomorrow at 10 AM,” Giles replied.
“May I have your name please?”
“Giles... Rupert Giles.”
“Hold the line Mr. Giles. I'll see what other openings we have for tomorrow,” he was told.
“Of course,” Giles replied.
“Hi Xander. Is something wrong?” Willow asked.
“Nah, everything's fine. I just wanted to know how things went with Buffy's new Watcher?”
“It was fine, she's nice,” Willow said. “Xander?”
“Um, did you happen to see my backpack? I can't find it?”
“Did you lose it on Friday? You know... when...”
“Yes... I haven't been able to find it yet,” Willow answered.
“As a matter-of-fact, I've got it,” Xander replied.
“I found it in the library, right before the police showed up. I thought you might have left it behind some other time,” he said.
“That's great. I was worried, it's got all my stuff in it,” Willow told him.
“Yeah, I hope you don't mind, but I looked in it. I'm impressed Will, no good Scoob should leave home without it,” Xander said smiling.
“Xander... stop that,” Willow replied good-naturedly.
They stayed on the phone for another ten minutes.
Xander discussing his misfortune of having to attend Cordelia's father's country club party next month. After they had hung up, Willow decided she should get ready for bed.
She had wondered from time to time how Rupert was doing in England.
Did he have a good flight?
Did he like the food?
Did he miss her?
“Come on... it's only been a few hours,” she told herself. 'He can't possibly miss me too much, can he?' Willow couldn't help feeling...
A void had been created the moment he left...
It was something only his presence could fill...
It was going to be a long three months.
“Good night Rupert,” she whispered, and then snuggled beneath her blankets.
Willow tossed and turned, before sleep finally claimed another lost soul.
“Yes, that will be fine,” Rupert replied as he rescheduled his doctor's appointment.
“We'll see you on Friday then Mr. Giles. Good bye.”
“Yes, thank you, good bye.”
Giles hung up the phone, running his good hand through his hair.
He had spoken with Lucinda earlier in the morning; she confirmed that Sir Henry had been notified of his arrival late last night.
He would be speaking with Sir Henry later on in the afternoon. He needed to make his report about what had happened on Friday. After leaving his rooms, Giles decided to walk through the compound's expansive grounds.
The grass was immaculately cut; he could just make out the croquet set-up in place. It was glorious during this time of year.
“Willow would love it here,” he said to himself.
Giles had fought the urge to call her this morning; he had every intention of dialing her number, but thought better of it.
Of course, there was the problem of whether or not she was at home when he called. For all he knew, she could have been at the library with Buffy and Shae. Or she could have been sound asleep; it was a quandary for him.
He walked around for another hour, before heading back to the main house.
The gravel crunched beneath his shoes as he walked up the large circular driveway.
It was a typical house of English Nobility.
Considering the former owner of the house was an Earl, as well as a high-ranking member of the Council. The house had been left to the organization, much to the chagrin of the Earl's family members who were not aware of the Earl's ties with the Society.
Rupert walked up the step and into the house. He stopped by the office and requested to see Buffy's files. Only to be told that Sir Henry had checked them out.
He wasn't confident enough in his computer skills to have them brought up, to have a cursory look at them. The computer files only contained minute information; the binders were used for day-to-day reference. The main files were stored on tape, under lock and key. He had been there when the files had been transferred; it took years to get everything done.
Before he left, he asked to be informed when Buffy's files were available.
Opening the door, he ran into Rory Fitzsimmons on his way in.
“Rory... old man! It's been a long time, how are you?” Giles asked.
“Hello 'Bert. I'm fine, better than you, I dare say,” Rory replied.
Giles smiled, no one had called him 'Bert' since his school days at Oxford.
“Yes... yes. I have had a bit of a run in, you might say,” he grinned as he ran his hand through his hair.
“I'll bet. Have you had breakfast yet?” Rory asked.
“As a matter-of-fact I haven't,” Giles answered.
“Give me a minute, and we'll get something. What do you say?”
“An excellent suggestion, I'll meet you in the dining room. I just need to get something from my room,” Giles said.
“Good enough, I'll see you there,” Rory replied.
Rory watched as Rupert walked down the corridor, before the smile he been wearing disappeared from his face.
Walking into the office, he spoke with Lucinda.
It was as he thought.
Rupert wanted to see the files on his Slayer. He would have to give this information to Sir Henry as quickly as possible.
Giles opened the door to his rooms; he smiled as he thought about Rory Fitzsimmons. He hadn't seen 'Fits' since he left for America.
Walking over to his dresser drawer, he pulled it open. Without thinking about his actions, he took out his wallet, and retrieved a photograph contained within. Placing the photograph in his inside coat pocket, he tapped it twice before closing the drawer.
He had performed the same ritual for the past year, without fail.
He slipped his wallet into the back pocket of his slacks, and proceeded to the dining area.
The photograph was of course, of Willow.
She had given it to him, after he had commented in passing, that she had taken a lovely yearbook picture. It surprised him, when she showed up the next day and shyly handed him a wallet-sized copy.
He had treasured it every day since.
Whenever he had a moment or two, he would remove the photograph and look at it.
Lately, he had made it a practice of placing the photograph in his inside coat pocket.
The one resting next to his heart.
He had reasoned to himself, that, if he couldn't tell her how he felt...
He could at least keep this memento close.
“Henry, it's Rory.”
“Yes Rory. What can I do for you? Has Matthew been causing problems already?”
“No, it's not Matthew. It's about 'Bert.”
“Rupert,” Rory explained.
“Ah, yes... Rupert. What seems to be the problem?” Henry asked.
“He wants to see the files on Miss Summers,” Rory said.
“I see... don't worry about it. I'll handle it,” Henry replied.
“Right, I thought you should know,” Rory explained.
“You did the right thing Rory,” Henry told him.
“Well, if you'll excuse me Henry, 'Bert's waiting for me. We're having breakfast together.”
“By all means. And thank you Rory, once again for bringing this to my attention so quickly.”
“Just doin' my job Henry. Good-bye.”
Rory wondered how Henry was going to handle the situation.
He met Rupert in the dining area.
“Lucinda, this is Henry,” he said over the phone.
“Hello Henry. What can I do for you?” she asked.
“I need you to do something for me regarding the files on Buffy Summers,” he said.
“What exactly do you want me to do?” she replied, having brought up the file on her computer monitor.
“I want you to make up a new binder for her,” he said.
“Is there something wrong with the one we have?” Lucinda asked.
“No... it's fine. I have it front of me. I need a new one made up without references of Matthew Halloway or any of his team members reports in it,” Henry said.
“I'm not sure I follow?”
“You may or may not have heard that a board of Inquiry is being convened based upon Matthew's actions, with regards to Mr. Giles' Slayer. Suffice to say that if Rupert were to find out that Matthew acted in complete disrespect of the rules... well, suffice to say Matthew would be in need of some serious medical attention right about now,” Henry explained
. “If I understand correctly, you wish me to make up a new file, up to, but not including any reports by Matthew or his men. Am I correct?” Lucinda needed to be 100 percent certain, before proceeding.
“Precisely,” Henry said.
“I'll get on to it right away,” Lucinda replied.
“Thank you, let me know when you've finished. I'll need to sign the book saying I've returned it, then Rupert can be informed that it's available,” Henry said.
“Of course Henry. You can count on me.”
After he ended his conversation, Henry looked at the television screen.
He had been watching the footage taken in the warehouse.
He wasn't sure how Ian had managed to get the tape out, but he did.
It was fascinating to watch.
He did feel sorry for Ian, after watching the Slayer knock him out with a roundhouse kick.
If he were anyone else, he would have never believed what the taped showed.
Or rather what it didn't show. He must have watched this one section of tape at least five times.
It was amazing to watch a piece of sheet metal seemed to bob up and down of its own accord.
There it was...
That could never be validated, that vampires existed.
Gerald had been most cooperative in explaining that the metal was being held aloft by none other than...
Or Angel, as he goes by now.
There were volumes upon volumes on Angelus alone.
At first, it was thought that Angelus had finally met his match, and that he had been killed.
After all, it had been at least 80 years since there had been any mention of Angelus on record.
Except for vague references of a Guardian Angel, that had assisted various Slayers over the years.
Then they entered the era of Buffy Summers...
Now, they had started a new section in Angelus' files, devoted to Angel...
A vampire, with a soul.
Giles and Rory spent time going over things, generally catching up with each other. It had been four years since they had spoken last.
Rory glanced at his beeper as it went off. “I'm sorry 'Bert. I've got to go,” he said as he stood up from the table.
“No, I understand, it's quite all right,” he replied.
“We'll talk again later?” Rory asked.
“Of course, I look forward to it. Perhaps you could get in touch with Ken, we'll make an evening of it.”
“Sounds like a great idea. So long.”
Giles had some time left before he had to see Sir Henry, so he took the opportunity to go to the study. His eyes caught the title of one of his favorite books, taking it down; he walked over to the leather armchair and began to read.
Giles glanced at his watch; he noticed that he had been reading for nearly three hours. Closing the book, he went to see Sir Henry.
Matthew had been wandering the halls when he spotted Giles making his way to Sir Henry's office.
'No doubt the doddering fool will tell him about what happened,' he muttered to himself. “Well... I'll just have to talk to him later on. Explain my side of things,” he said out-loud.
Giles walked into the private offices of Sir Henry Latham.
“Rupert dear boy, come in... come in,” Henry said rising from his chair.
“Hello Sir Henry,” Giles replied.
After all the years they had known each other, Giles had never felt comfortable enough to call him Henry.
“Ah, well. I see that hasn't changed, has it?”
“Umm, no... no it hasn't,” Rupert replied.
“Sit down dear boy, sit down,” Henry said. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Ah... no, no thank you. Don't let me stop you... if... if you wish to have something,” Giles offered.
“Well... how are you doing?” Henry asked.
“Much better, I'm going to see the orthopedic surgeon on Friday,” Giles said.
“Good, so... Rupert. Can you tell me... what do you remember about...” Henry made a gesture with his hand towards Giles arm.
“Uh... yes, not much I'm afraid. I... I was unconscious most of the times, except when the leader would speak to me,” Giles said.
“Was... or is there anything you can remember about the man who attacked you? Anything at all?” Henry asked.
“Only that he knew that I was a Watcher, and... he knew the location of the warehouse, where Buffy... Miss Summers and I had been training for the test the Council was going to give her. The only people who might recognize them would be Buffy and the others,” Giles said.
“Have you had the chance to talk to them about it?”
“No... I... I came here, as soon as I could. I didn't think about it, I do apologize.”
“Rupert... you mustn't worry about it. I'll e-mail Miss Foster, have her ask Miss Summers and her friends to give a short account on the matter,” Henry said.
“I'd like to read them... when, when they arrive,” Giles asked.
“Wouldn't have it any other way,” Henry told him, knowing Giles would read only what he would allow him access to. “How's Miss Rosenberg doing after her ordeal?” he asked.
“Um... she's... she's well. She's quite resilient,” he responded.
He had to get out of the room...
He couldn't breathe...
“Uh... Sir Henry... would you, um... would you excuse me. I... I'm not feeling well, all of a sudden.”
“Do you need any help?” Henry asked. 'The boy does look a bit pale,' he thought to himself.
“No... I can manage, thank you. I think... I'll go lie down for awhile,” Giles said, as he walked to the door.
“Are you sure there's nothing I can do for you Rupert?”
“Thank you Sir Henry, there... is... there is something you could do for me, if you'd be so kind.”
“Could you get word to Rory Fitzsimmons. I was going to meet him and Kenneth Cowley for dinner...” Giles began.
“Say no more, I'll handle it myself.”
“Good-bye Sir Henry,” Giles said, extending his hand.
“Take care of yourself Rupert,” Henry replied shaking hands.
Giles headed back to his rooms...
He didn't understand what had just happened.
When he reached his room, he went directly to bed.
His thoughts were jumbled.
He had gone over the conversation in his head...
He kept coming up with the same question...
“How did Sir Henry know about Willow?”
He was positive that he hadn't made any mention of Willow's name or that she had been kidnapped.
“How could he know?”
He'd have to find out...
Something was wrong...
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