Title: Le Jour des Morts, (2/?)
Crossover/Fusion with: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
Archive: Elysia (www.angelfire.com/id2/avalon) anyone else please email and permission will be gladly given.
Rating: At the moment R-ish... Will mostly likely take a turn down NC-17
lane before this is over with.
Warnings: Violence, language, creepy things, eventual lemon.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is the property of Bandai, Sunrise, Sotsu Agency. Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Twentieth Century Fox, (currently) UPN and other such companies. No infringement is intended. Any other characters not found in either series (such as Luna or Sophie or Grace), belong to me. Please ask permission before you use them.
Thanks: A big round of thanks to Anne Olsen, Psycho Babble, Keya,and
Chele for beta-ing this.
Special thanks to Anne (for helping me get all those Brit-isms down) and to Psycho Babble (for urging me to hurry up and get to Heechan already).
This idea has been kicking around in my brain for half a year now. I knew I wanted to do a Buffy/GW story but wasn't sure how to get it around the way I wanted it. This story is part fusion, part crossover. For those of you who have read my other Buffy/Gundam Wing/Angel crossovers, 'Endymion's Repose' and 'And So It Goes' should find this quite different from either of those stories. This is a look at the Buffy-verse from a different perspective. As such, I've bent and played with the Gundam Wing timeline just a smidge (as well as making the pilots 16 instead of 15 and giving a new spin on certain characters and their histories) while trying to incorporate the mythology and feel of the Buffy-verse. I'm not sure how successful I've been but I thought I'd post what I have so far to list(s) as a Halloween treat. ^_^
Feedback is craved and will be adored with the proper amount of gushing.
Le Jour des Morts
A 'Gundam Wing'/'Buffy, the Vampire Slayer' crossover/fusion.
Great Russell Street,
Three days later...
Lord Anthony Eaton clasped his hands behind his back as he stared out the high, arching windows of the Council's Inner Sanctum, the window dewy with light precipitation. From his niche he could see the city, brilliant with a million individual lights, each as different as the people walking the streets below him. The Houses of Parliament glistened and beyond that, Eaton thought he glimpsed the loom of Big Ben in shadow. And beyond those the city seethed with life, moving on without thought or care. Life carrying on in spite of the war, the British people valiant in the face of deteriorating situation. All around them war raged, consuming the Continent as Oz and Rebel forces fought for supremacy. Thus far, the Isles had been spared but how long that would continue was anyone's guess. The British people were already steeling themselves for the worst, sending their children out of the cities and boarding up their houses. Precautions, perhaps unnecessary, that would do little should an army of mobile suits march on the city. And for the first in their history, there was talk amongst the Council of abandoning Great Russell Street and their ancestral home. It galled his pride, but even he was forced to admit the harsh realities of thesituation.
But that thankfully was not the matter up for consideration tonight. A very different war was brewing underneath the outer shell of human battles, a war the Watchers had fought for centuries and would continue to fight so long as there was a Watcher with breath left in them. The people sitting so patiently behind him, waiting for him to call the meeting to order, all understood this. Each of them in this room had taken on oath to protect humanity and to aid the Slayer in her battles against those dark forces that sought dominion.
And now the Slayer was dead. And another girl had not been called. He leaned his head against the damp glass pane, a chill settling in his stomach. Grace Ward had died... and not one of their trainees had been called. Such things were not unheard of. There were many girls who had the potential to become Slayers but the Council only chose to train those whom the signs and augurs clustered more thickly around. Magic was at best an imperfect means of divining the Slayer and on occasion, they missed the right girl. At best an untrained Slayer was an unknown quantity; many did not survive their first few months but those who did often, thanks to intensive and rigorous on the job training, carried out their duties for longer periods. Years instead of days or months. It was as they had been gifted with a special flexibility and adeptness for survival in lieu of proper training. Legendary Slayers were often born from such circumstances, forged in a baptism of fire and blood.
A day ago, a few hours ago, his thoughts had centered upon that, hope fluttering in his chest that this might prove so. Grace had been an exceptional Slayer, quite in line with Council and losing her was a blow, not just to the city but to them all. There was no time to mourn her loss, or to pay respects to her for a job well done. She was dead and the business of living moved on. A soldier had died, yes, but the war still continued and there was no time to stop. Not for the Slayer, not for anyone. The fight was larger, more important than any one person's life. Even the Slayer's.
Yet to all intents and purposes, a Slayer had not been called. Magical webs had been cast and had turned up nothing. But then, Lord Anthony thought with uncharacteristic bitterness, they had been searching in quite the wrong places. For some inexplicable reason, some higher power had seen fit to disrupt and subvert the natural order of succession. Or perhaps some lower power? He couldn't discount the possibility of demonic intervention or perhaps a spell cast by some nefarious sorcerer? A possibility but then why have a Slayer at all? If something could cause a disruption like this, then surely they could stop the succession outright? If so, steps would have to be taken before this mistake was corrected.
Susan Krimmler, his secretary, stood at his elbow, neat and proper as always in her red check pantsuit. Her gold-rimmed aviator spectacles glinted at him in the soft light, making it difficult to read the statement in her dark eyes as she presented him with a letter. Recognizing the seal, he took the letter, giving her a sharp, dismissive nod before turning his attention fully towards the cream-colored letterhead. 'Well, that settles that,' he thought, carefully refolding and pocketing the letter. Taking a moment to collect his thoughts, he turned away from the window, taking his seat at the head of the table.
It was a gesture not lost on his audience. He cleared his throat. "Lord Palmerdale has been regrettably detained. Therefore I will have to convene this meeting without him. I'm sure you all know why we're here."
"Of course, we bloody well do, Anthony. It's because we're a ship without a rudder," Joshua Travers snorted, his balding head. "Or should I say a Council without a Slayer."
A small murmur of agreement erupted and floated around before Eaton held up his hand for silence. As one, the group quieted, their sharp eyes missing nothing as they rested on him. He studied them, his eyes moving down the table. At full capacity, the Inner Council consisted of fourteen members, thirteen regulars with an honorary chair reserved for the Slayer. Tonight they were nine but the numbers were irrelevant. What mattered was the perceived will of the Council. Those not in attendance were virtually represented by those present, so that everyone did in fact have a vote, even the Slayer who rarely, if ever, was in attendance.
"I'm afraid I shall have to correct you, Joshua. The Council does have a Slayer," Eaton's eyes slid down to meet Andrew O'Donnell's at the end of the table. The blond man nodded at him, his shoulders squaring in readiness.
There was another pause. "You've found her then," Travers sounded skeptical, as if he didn't see how such an important event could have passed without his noticing.
"But you said--"
"I said the Council has a Slayer," Eaton replied, his voice frosty.
"All right, Anthony, you've had your fun," Lucille Morton spoke up, tilting her gray head towards him. "But don't you feel it's time to let us in on your little secret. What has happened?"
Thank God for Lucille. Where Travers tended to be hotheaded, nearly to the point of rudeness, Lucille was a light touch. Never raising her voice or losing her temper, she managed to win more with one politely worded suggestion than Joshua did with all his arguments. And from the way he was glaring at her, Eaton surmised that Travers knew it as well and was not appreciative.
"What has happened, my dear Lucille, is that the Slayer had been called. Andrew, if you please," Eaton swept his hand down the table towards O'Donnell, then sat back, grateful to no longer be the center of attention.
O'Donnell fidgeted with his tie, then cleared his throat, seeming nervous to find himself the center of attention. Averting his eyes, he dragged forth a sleek laptop, connecting a wire to it with trembling hands before composing himself enough to turn his attention back to the table. "My fellow Watchers," he stumbled, reddening further.
'Get on with it,' Eaton rolled his eyes, drumming his fingers. Was he going to have to do everything himself? And how the bloody hell had someone like O'Donnell been appointed to the Council anyway? He watched as O'Donnell's hands flew across his keyboard, precision perfect even as the idiot operating the body stammered on. And that, was the secret to O'Donnell's appointment--not any great knowledge of the arcane but of modern technology. Where Anthony embraced texts and tomes with an appetite that nearly rivaled his preference for fine wine and beautiful women, O'Donnell made love to his keyboard and his internet with the skill of a master, coaxing from that damned machine in one minute more than he could in an hour.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," O'Donnell began again, fumbling with a remote control. A flat, tall silver screen descended and they turned their attention away from the scarlet Irishman. "I give you the Slayer."
"I don't see what the fuss is -- Good lord," Travers gawked at the picture being displayed. "Is this some sort of joke?"
Lucille swiveled in her chair, her smooth face marred by uncertainty. "Anthony?"
He understood the cause for their consternation. Hours ago, he'd felt quite the same but he'd had time to absorb the shock as it were and found himself almost enjoying the sight of his unflappable peers rattled.
The face was oval, battered and bruised with a rope of chestnut hair bound in a loose braid spilling down one shoulder. Had the face only been visible, he might have been fooled into believing they had found their girl, but no, he had a full body shot here. Even if that body was tied up in this picture. It was perhaps not the best picture in the world, the poor resolution revealing it to be nothing less than a security camera shot but it had taken all of O'Donnell's skills to hack it out of the Oz database. But for all that it was clear that this was not a girl but a boy.
"Meet our new Slayer," Anthony spoke up. "His name is Duo Maxwell. And before you ask again, let me assure you this is no joke. Our Chosen One...has been chosen to be a boy."
"This is ridiculous--" Travers began.
"This is unprecedented," Eaton corrected. "This is no laughing matter. For reasons as yet unknown to us, the Slayerhood has been passed onto a boy."
He paused. "And from what we have been able to deduce not just any boy. Andrew?"
Looking as though he'd been caught stealing from the till, O'Donnell muttered something. "What was that, Andrew? Speak up, so that we all can hear you."
"He's a terrorist," O'Donnell hurried. "A Gundam pilot."
"Pilot 02 actually," Eaton spoke above the sudden eruption of low talk. "Our details are sketchy but thanks to the augurs we were given a name. From that Mr. O'Donnell was able to piece together Maxwell's identity. We should actually thank Maxwell himself for that. Had he not managed to be captured by Oz forces a few months ago, we might not have been so quick to identify him."
"He's in prison?"
"No, he escaped shortly thereafter, apparently with an accomplice whom we can only assume may have been a fellow pilot. He disappeared after that."
"Then we will need to perform a locator spell to--"
"Already done," O'Donnell interrupted. "We've located him in America. Salem, Oregon to be exact."
Lucille narrowed her eyes. "All very neatly done. Why are you not more upset about this, Anthony?"
"My dear Lucille, why should I be upset?"
"Because the natural progression of things has been distorted. That is a boy and--"
"I would be far more upset, if there were no Slayer at all. Wouldn't you?" he steepled his fingers, peering over them at her.
"We-ell, yes but how did this happen? It isn't natural," she straightened in her chair. "There was no warning, no--"
"Until we find out more, I can only assume that one of two things has occurred. One," he ticked off, "Those powers we serve had a purpose in sending us to this boy, one that we have yet to divine."
"And the other?" grumped Joshua Travers.
"That some power or creature managed through mystical means to subvert the line of succession. If this is the case, then steps will have to be taken to protect the line from magical interference, something that is already being investigated. In the meantime, I fear we are left with little choice save to accept this boy for what he now is. The Slayer."
"There is something we can do," Lucille crossed her arms.
A hush fell over the assembled. "You refer to the election of a new Slayer. I see. You would be willing to take the boy's life?"
"Think very carefully. The taking of the Slayer's life is not to be done lightly. Could you bring yourself to hold the knife?"
Her jaw hardened. "If need be."
Anthony studied her, then smiled. "Fortunately, Lord Palmerdale feels that will not be necessary. He instructed me that we should, for the time being, treat this boy as we would any of the girls sent to us. As the new Slayer, he must be afforded the same consideration. Until such time as that privilege is revoked."
"I want you all to know that we are working on piecing together why this has happened and hope to present you with a more complete report very soon," he rose. "Now, I think that covers everything--"
"Not quite," Lucille interrupted. "You seem to have forgotten one crucial element--his Watcher. Which one of us is it to be?"
"Afraid you'll be leaving our prestigious company soon?" Travers sneered at her, dislike evident in his pudgy face.
"No, I only wish to know that the Slayer will be receiving someone competent, Joshua, which I feel certain means you will miss out on the chance to visit America any time soon," The sweetness in that tart reply stung, far worse than the actual insult itself.
"If you please," Lord Anthony interrupted, gesturing for silence. "Neither of you has any worries. It will be some time before either of you leave this esteemed company."
He let the sarcasm inherent in that last statement sink in before continuing. "As for Maxwell's Watcher, someone has already been selected."
"And that would be?"
He didn't bat a lash, not even in the face of the storm he knew to be coming. "Sophie Jameson."
They actually allowed the name to fall and sink in for a whole five seconds before exploding into a collective cloud of outrage, he had to give them that. Under the circumstances, he supposed their reaction was not wholly unreasonable. Had he been where they were, he certainly would have objected--for a number of reasons. However, he wasn't in their shoes; there was a bigger picture here that they failed to grasp with their petty bickering, one that would have to be explained before they grudgingly gave their consent. And they would give it, his mouth set in a firm line.
"What in the world--"
"Why would you even consider--"
"Quite out of the question--"
He let them jabber on for a few minutes before rapping his knuckles smartly on the table, the sound doing more to snap them to order than raising his voice would have. "That is quite enough of that, thank you. This matter is not up for discussion."
"Anthony," Lucille's voice was scathing. "How can you even consider this? You know her background--her family has proven unsuitable in the past--"
"And more than that," Travers interrupted, "she's young and untried. She's only been in the field for a year. Most Watchers have five or more under their belt before they are even considered."
"She is inexperienced, I'll grant you that. However, her education and skills are impeccable even at a beginning level. Given time, I feel certain that she will prove to be an asset to us all."
"Given her family history, I fail to see why we would care to utilize this asset," Travers replied.
And that, my dear Travers, is because you are an idiot, Eaton repressed the urge to roll his eyes. "It is precisely that history that makes her the best candidate. As has already been stated, we are dealing with an unprecedented and difficult situation. Ask yourself this, would you prefer to have your name attached to a Slayer who for all intents and purposes might not make it a month?"
He let the silence grow pregnant, watching as they worked it out as he and Palmerdale had earlier. The situation was such that no Watcher in his right mind would want to be attached to it. After all, suppose this boy proved a colossal failure his first time out? Suppose he proved to be Slayer in name only, the same fluke that had chosen him, also causing him to lack the full gifts of the Chosen One. There were simply far too many unknown variables.
"Ah, I see," Joshua Travers' voice was rough with approval, his dark eyes bright with a ferret-like cunning. "Two birds with one stone. If the boy lives, then we have nothing to worry about and if he dies, then this will finish the family forever."
"Exactly," Eaton crossed his arms. "All that remains is to hand her the rope and let her hang or save herself with it."
Los Angeles, California
Sophie Jameson wiped the back of her neck, skin slick with perspiration as the afternoon sun rose higher. Pulling at the collar of her blazer, she wished she had chosen an outfit more appropriate for the outing Mariana had had in mind. As it were, she felt very out of place in this strange land of sun worshippers, scantily clad bronze bodies racing down the Boardwalk past her perch on contraptions she could barely stand watching, let alone try out. Her eyes traveled over the booths and outlet stores dotting the strip before they landed on her young charge. As if sensing her attention, Mariana looked up from the Chinese girl she was deep in conversation with and waved. Sophie raised her hand to return the gesture when she saw just as quickly as she'd had it, the young girl's attention was lost. Fingers flexing around the book in her lap, she tried not to feel frustrated or left out, two things she couldn't help but feel around Mariana. Or the girl's Watcher, Charles Lowell.
It wasn't their fault, she supposed. Charles had been nothing but gracious by accepting her into his company even if she had the nagging feeling that had there not been the force of a Council order behind it, he might not have been as generous. She could even understand the man's reluctance; it was hard enough training a potential Slayer but adding to that a young would-be Watcher... 'Not would-be,' she chastised herself. 'Will be.' She would be a Watcher, the best one she possibly could. She would have to if she wanted to get anywhere in the Council.
She tried to focus on the book in her hands, one of Charles' volumes of arcana but found it difficult to concentrate. Her gaze drifted back to the young girl who would be...might be the Slayer. There was nothing outwardly remarkable about her, nothing to indicate that this girl might be anything other than normal. Only the signs surrounding her told a different story, told of a potential that might bloom into something else someday. It was possible that Mariana would never be the Slayer; augurs were, at best, imperfect. All they knew was there was a distinct possibility that this girl might become the Slayer, no more or less but it was enough. Enough to warrant her training, enough to warrant the assignment of a Watcher to her. Should she not be chosen within a certain period of time, Charles would be recalled and Mariana would go about her life, a little wiser perhaps. And there would be others, other girls in other places needing Watchers, needing guidance and protection that the Council would provide. The practice was age old, for the Watchers had long ago decided that it was better to find as many potential Slayers as possible and train them rather than allowing untrained girls take up the mantle and throw their lives away. It did happen sometimes and on a few occasions, the lack of training had not made a whit of difference. Still, it was best to give Fate a hand when needed and a push if necessary. Or so the Council believed. And because the Council believed, so did she.
'Who are you trying to convince of that?' asked a niggling voice always present in the back of her mind. 'The Council or yourself?' She grimaced, shushing that hated, questioning voice. She couldn't afford to have doubts, not about herself and certainly not about the Council. Doubting the Council that had started the trouble in the first place. But then surely Great Grandfather Rupert had never thought that his family would pay for his mistakes in the first place.
It wasn't easy, being the member of a clan blacklisted by the Council and very nearly expelled from that illustrious company. It was even harder trying to prove one's own worth in the eyes of a centuries old institution that was as unforgiving of disobedience as it was mistakes. No, the Council might find it in their hearts to forgive an error. Watchers who lost Slayers were forgiven, but her family... her family could not be forgiven for saving a Slayer. 'No,' she caught herself. There were other ways that Buffy Summers might have been saved and the Slayer was never truly in danger... Not from the Council. Great Grandfather had not seen events in the same light and with the same determination that had guaranteed his rise through the Council ranks, Rupert Giles had done the unthinkable. He had sided with the Slayer in her rebellion--against the dictates of the Council. And even though he had eventually been taken back into the fold, the Council had never forgotten that. Or forgiven it. Their anger had not been able to touch Rupert Giles but it carried with his descendents the very near equivalent of a curse. No Giles had been selected to sit on any Inner Council since his death, nor had another Giles been appointed as the Watcher to the Slayer. At best, the members of her mother's family had been relegated to research positions, positions where they were ensured to work hard, and out of sight with little to no chance of rising above their place. Indeed, it was only because of her father's family and the Jameson name that she had been afforded the most grudging of consideration. She had taken that consideration and wrung from it what she could, using it to ensure that she had not only the best education a Watcher could ask for and the chance to get out from behind a desk. Her mother would never have been given the opportunity to learn from a field Watcher, or come into contact with a possible Slayer but she had and it had been a bloody hard climb to get this far.
It was highly unlikely that climb would become any easier, but she had steeled herself for that. She harbored few illusions on receiving any mercy or aid from the Council itself. There were families in the Inner Circle, families that had known and interacted with the Giles' family for centuries that had with Rupert's 'betrayal' turned on them. Although she tried hard not to, she resented it, resented the fact that her family was paying for the actions of one man, that two hundred and so odd years later, they were still paying. Her mother had never understood why she wanted so very much to be a part of an organization that treated their family so badly. Indeed, there were times she herself was hard pressed to explain it. All she knew was she wanted it wanted so much to prove her worth, that she was different, that she could handle the honor and the weight of being a Watcher.
And this place, this land of sun worshippers and silicone, as unlikely as it seemed on first glance, was an appropriate starting point. California, Los Angeles in particular, had proven in the past to be a veritable epicenter of demon activity. Buffy Summers had been based in Sunnydale, not more than two hours away, during her tenure as Slayer. Of course that was before the Hellmouth had been rendered inactive, finally allowing its beleaguered inhabitants the peace they had been denied for so long. Without the Boca del Inferno, the town had been useless to the demons and vampires that had long congregated there and it had taken little on the part of the Slayer to convince them to move elsewhere. Many had come here, hoping to be lost in the mortal crowds or join up with already existing demon communities. The City of Angels might very well have gone to hell had it not been for the efforts of the soul-cursed vampire Angelus and his crack team of demon hunters. Although the Council had disapproved of Angelus in principle and of the former Watcher, Wesley Wyndham-Price, in his employ, they had recognized the service he performed was a valuable one. With Angel trying to make amends in Los Angeles and keeping the demon population in line, the Council and its Slayer had been free to move to other trouble spots. It was the best, perhaps only reason, that the Council had not sent operatives to slay the vampire, once known as the terror and scourge of Europe.
She couldn't help but wonder what exactly had become of the soul-cursed vampire. About a century ago, he had vanished, perhaps off the face of the earth. The Council had put feelers out but if he still walked the Earth, then he was being very discreet and careful not to be discovered. Sophie thought it altogether possible that the vampire had departed for space and even now shuffled from Colony to Colony. And why not? The Colonial experience at best was a dangerous, uncertain one. There were people who needed protecting out there, both from demons and from each other. From everything she'd read and gleaned about Angel, she rather thought that sort of situation would suit him rather well. He had always struck her as a man of action, as someone who was as passionate about his causes as she was about her work. There was an intensity about him in the old photographs and footage in the Council Archives that appealed to her. And it was not helped by the very apt descriptions of 'the one with the angelic face' that had turned out to be all too true. She could see why Buffy Summers, against the council of her Watcher and common sense, had fallen in love with him. Angel was reminiscent of the archetypal dark, Byronic hero--brooding, damned and yet still seeking redemption. His lure was that of the forbidden, the promise of forbidden fruit. Yes, she understood Buffy Summers in that one respect all too well.
Her feelings towards the legendary Slayer were far more mixed. While she recognized and respected everything Buffy had accomplished during her tenure as Slayer, she also resented the girl's part in the downfall of the Giles family. Had there not been a Buffy Summers, then maybe she would not find herself in the difficult position she now inhabited. Had Rupert Giles been assigned to a Slayer like Faith or Kendra, perhaps things might have turned out very different. It was pointless to speculate on such issues but it stopped her mind from wandering those murky paths on restless nights.
Her fingers spasmed in surprise, the book sliding from her grasp at the brisk Lowland brogue. She was fortunate enough not to have made any other movements that might have betrayed her shock...that moment of fleeting panic before her mind connected the voice. Lowland Scots, the voice very near erased of anything save the faintest of accents. In this strange place, so far removed from Britain, there was only one person she knew with a voice like that.
"Hello, Charles," she greeted him, her eyes darting towards Mariana before turning her attention to him. Let it not be said that she was in dereliction of her duties.
Charles Lowell with his smart tweed suit and dark bow tie was the epitome of upper crust British society, almost rebelliously so in the face of the brash Americanism that surrounded them. He made no attempt to blend; standing stiff and contemptuous of hordes of loud citizens decked out as far as minimalism and decency would allow. In this setting, he stood aloof, the Council's living presence personified and it was enough to make her straighten, body snapping to unconscious attention.
His eyes darkened in approval, and although he wrinkled his nose at the drab gray bench before him, he nevertheless sat down, running a nervous hand over his balding head. It was an innocuous gesture, insignificant to almost anyone else but to Sophie it bespoke agitation. Charles was...nervous? No, excited was more like it, she decided running a careful eye over his taunt form, his ink blot hands rubbing absent circles on the brown cloth of his trousers. Something was up, presumably something important if it had Lowell so flustered.
"Charles?" She slid closer, keeping her voice low. "Has something happened? I thought you were researching in--"
"The Slayer is dead."
A chill went down her at those words, so inevitable and yet still so hard to believe. "When?"
"Nearly four days ago."
Sophie frowned. Four days? Usually Watchers and operatives in the field were notified of a change in Slayers as soon as a new one was called. Why would they be kept out of the loop so long-- Her eyes widened, her gaze fluttering towards the girl she had accompanied here earlier. "Mariana?"
Lowell shook his head, taking her hand and patting it. "No, no. She hasn't been called." He studied her, his dark eyes raking up and down her face as if he sought to discern something there. The hand holding hers tightened and she tensed, sensing more to come.
"I... I have news. From the Council," he added. "You are to be reassigned."
Something akin to panic made her swallow, throat closing up. "But... But-- I... Have I done something, Charles? Have I done something wrong?"
"No, no, my dear. Some might even say you've done something right," he tried to smile but there was something cold and puzzled about his statement. As if he had to deliver news he neither fathomed nor agreed with.
"It is my duty and honor to inform you that you, Sophie Jameson," The words were formal, even for Charles Lowell, "have been selected as the new Watcher to Slayer. You are to report to the Council at the earliest opportunity to receive further orders."
Puzzled, she blinked at him, trying to make sense of the words he had spoken. The pieces were there but the picture they formed couldn't be right. "Excuse me, but what?"
***End of Chapter Two