Not a lot happens in this chapter, but I'm setting things up for a big scene next time. The cast are assembling ...
Savage Beauty – Part 3
The three unlikely tourists sat down to breakfast in the Hotel Loftleiðir. Drusilla looked suspiciously at the food, trying each dish warily, before deciding that it was edible and tucking in. Spike ate everything that was put in front of him but his mind was elsewhere.
“When do I meet the woman?” he demanded.
“As soon as I can arrange something,” Giles told him. “She is the Prime Minister, you know. The Chief. We can’t just walk into her offices and demand to see her. We’d be arrested.”
“I am the son of a chief,” Spike reminded him.
“Yes, Spike,” Giles said, “but she won’t know that. You haven’t been on the cover of Newsweek, remember.”
“Sodding unfair,” Spike growled. “Raoni of the Kayapo managed it, and I’m much better looking than him.”
“My Spike is the most handsome of all,” Drusilla said dreamily. “Lithe as a giant otter, fierce as a jaguar, and not even a tapir has such a large –”
“Yes, quite, Drusilla,” Giles interrupted hastily. “I’m sure she will be most impressed, but it will take time to arrange a meeting.”
“I know you will do your best, Rupert,” Spike said. “You are a bloody good mate.”
“We will meet her,” Drusilla said confidently. “Miss Edith has told me so. We shall find her near a pyramid of gold.”
Giles frowned, and scanned his Lonely Planet Guide. “The Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum has a pyramid,” he read, stumbling slightly over the Icelandic name, “but it doesn’t say anything about gold.”
“Miss Edith has spoken,” Drusilla said. “I am far from the spirits of the forest, but what will be will be.”
“Okay, mate, let’s go to this pyramid,” Spike said, pushing away his empty plate and standing up.
“Very well,” Giles agreed. “Drusilla, please put that carving knife back on the table. You are not allowed to take it away from the restaurant.”
“You’re sure you can get us into the reception?” Willow Rosenberg asked, for the fifth time.
“No problem, Will,” Xander Harris replied. “Only, you’ll have to dress up for it. Lose the fuzzy sweater. Put on an actual dress. You have got one?”
“Of course I’ve got a dress,” Willow said indignantly, and then her shoulders slumped. “Only, not with me. All I brought were warm clothes because, hey, Iceland here.”
“We can hire dresses,” Tara suggested.
“Yeah, we can hire them,” Willow beamed. “Yay us. We can totally be elegant and sophisticated.” She glared at Xander indignantly as he choked back a laugh. “Like you’ve got room to talk. Okay, now you’re the Ambassador’s son, big with the formal wear, but I remember when you thought a Hawaiian shirt was the height of fashion.”
“Sorry, Will,” Xander said. “Just having a hard time picturing you in a cocktail dress, that’s all.”
“There’ll be cocktails?” Willow looked nervous.
“Well, yeah. Kinda goes with the whole Ambassadors’ Ball thing.”
“Just think James Bond,” Tara said. “We’re the beautiful girl spies infiltrating the headquarters of the sinister enemy organisation to frustrate their evil schemes. Think of the whales, sweetie. We can do it. We can talk the Prime Minister round. All we need is the chance to meet her.”
“And while you’re telling her all about the damage that restarting whaling will do to her country, I can be making time with her beautiful secretary,” Xander gloated. “I think we have a plan.”
The Sculpture Museum turned out to be suffering from a total absence of Prime Ministers. So did Alpingishus, the Parliament building. Spike grew disgruntled, but Drusilla seemed happy. Giles was suspicious of her motivation for making the trip anyway; he strongly suspected her of wanting to keep Spike unmarried, and hadn’t wanted her to accompany them to Iceland at all. She had, however, persuaded her brother that the jungle spirits would be angry if he went without her, and had insisted on coming along.
They left Alpingishus and wandered through the harbour district of Reykjavik. They passed by a large square building bearing the legend, in English and Icelandic, ‘Bakkavör Group: Cod Roe Smoking House’. Drusilla sniffed the air and clapped her hands together in glee. “Burning baby fishes,” she cried. “A fitting sacrifice to the spirits. My Spike shall see his lady.”
“My feet are sore,” Spike complained. He was accustomed to going barefoot through the jungle, and was having trouble adjusting to wearing the boots that were necessary in an Icelandic winter. “We have walked sodding miles. I want to sit down for a while.”
“Certainly, Spike,” Giles agreed. “I wouldn’t object to a break myself. I suggest we find somewhere for a meal and perhaps a drink or two.”
“Bloody brilliant, mate, now you’re talking,” Spike said happily.
They soon found their way to a restaurant and bar. There, to his utter astonishment, Giles found someone he knew very well.
“Hello, Rupert, you old dog,” his old friend greeted him. “Have a drink, and introduce me to the lovely lady. And the gentleman, I suppose.”
“Ethan Rayne!” Giles exclaimed. “What on Earth are you doing here?”
“I’m on the British Embassy staff,” Ethan explained. “Second assistant to the Trade Attaché.”
“I thought they’d have thrown you out of the Foreign Office long ago, you old reprobate,” Giles said.
“They’ve pretty much sent me into exile with this job, old boy, but they can’t throw me out. I know where too many of the bodies are buried.” Ethan drained his glass and gestured to summon the barman. “So, Rupert, what are you doing in Iceland? Thought you were up the Amazon. Mine’s a pint, by the way.”
Giles bought drinks, including one for Ethan, and ordered meals. He explained to his old University friend the purpose of the expedition.
“Ah, as luck would have it you’re looking at the very person who can help you,” Ethan chuckled. “The Ambassadors’ Ball is this Friday. Buffi Somersdottir will be there, and it’s the very place to get to meet her. And I’m just the bloke who can get you in. At a very reasonable rate.”