Savage Beauty Chapter Six
Ambassador Harris frowned at Angle and Riley. “This isn’t working out like it should. I don’t trust that girl. She’s not what we’d like to have running a country which is going to have one hell of a strategic importance if Putin starts throwing military weight around. Somersdottir seems to want our bases out of Iceland. She’s a loose cannon, too many pinko liberal beliefs, anti-war – hell, she’s positively un-American!”
“She’s an Icelander, Ambassador,” Riley Finn pointed out. “She’s allowed to be un-American.”
“Humph!” the Ambassador sniffed. “I don’t trust her. I want her fixed up with a good old American boy so that we can keep her under our thumb. It should have been one of you two, but you’ve both made a mess of it. And my good-for-nothing son went after her secretary instead.”
“If she won’t sleep with me she must be a lesbian,” Riley declared.
“Hey, she’s no lesbian,” Angle contradicted him. “I’ve positive proof of that.”
“Maybe you were so bad that you turned her off men,” Riley suggested.
Angle glared at Colonel Finn and stuck out his jaw.
“Lesbian, huh?” Ambassador Tony Harris mused. “In that case, maybe I should aim Kennedy Kennedy at her instead.”
“She a lesbian?” Angle asked, sounding puzzled.
“Secretary for Gay Issues, lesbian as they come,” the Ambassador replied.
“You sure?” Angle queried. He pointed to the dance floor, where Kennedy and Oz were dancing cheek to cheek. Ambassador Harris looked with some surprise as the music stopped and, instead of separating, the young couple pulled each other into an even closer embrace and locked their lips together passionately.
“This is some new definition of ‘lesbian’ that I wasn’t previously aware of,” Riley remarked. “I think your plan is going to need a rethink, Ambassador.”
“An outrage,” Herr Feigenbaum complained. “Is this some kind of joke? Someone on your staff thinks that it is funny to embarrass the Germans?”
Travers fumed inwardly at the guilty party on his staff and resolved to ask Ethan Rayne some very pointed questions later. His attempts to soothe Feigenbaum’s ruffled feelings met with little success until the arrival of one of the Americans.
“Why, Herr Feigenbaum,” the new arrival greeted, “Ain’t that just the cutest costume? I do declare it makes all the other men in their tuxedos just look so boring.” Dr Winifred Burkle, known as Fred, was on the US Embassy roster as a Scientific Attaché, although the other diplomats strongly suspected that her true role lay with the NSA or the CIA. She was also an extremely pretty girl, whose broad smile and easy charm had made her a favourite in the diplomatic community in Reykjavik, and Feigenbaum was instantly disarmed.
“You like rabbits?” he asked, his scowl turning into a smile.
“I just love bunny rabbits,” the Texan scientist confirmed. “You look just so charming like that, I just want to stroke your fur and feed you tacos.”
“I don’t know if the British have supplied any tacos,” Feigenbaum said.
“I’m sure there are tacos here somewhere, I just have to find them,” Fred said confidently. “Want to come with me and look?” She crooked her arm. The German Ambassador took it and they walked off happily. His aides, the medieval knight and the Bride of Frankenstein, trailed along behind looking distinctly unhappy; but their feelings were of little consequence as long as the Ambassador was content.
Travers wiped his brow. “Thank heavens for Dr Burkle,” he sighed. “Where did Rayne go?”
“I don’t know, Mr Travers,” Lydia replied. “He was here a moment ago. He must have left with that other gentleman and the, umm, girl in the, umm, revealing dress.”
“Why did you do it, Ethan?” Giles asked.
Ethan bit back the denial that had risen automatically to his lips, and smiled ruefully at Giles. “Couldn’t resist it, old chap. The chance to spread a little chaos, take a rise out of that stuffy German Ambassador, and get my own back on Admin for palming some of their work off on me. Very much the same reasons as persuaded me to help you get a couple of head-hunters into the ball.”
“I thought you were doing this as a favour to me,” Giles said. “For which I have paid you well.”
“Indeed, Rupert, and I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t been an old friend, but it’s the kick I’m getting out of it that was the deciding factor. Although if I’d had a preview of the lovely Drusilla’s dress I’d have done it for half the price.”
“Do you like my dress? Rupert bought it for me,” Drusilla smiled.
“Hired,” Giles interjected.
“It is a pretty dress, isn’t it?” Drusilla pirouetted, raising her arms, and Ethan gasped for breath and clutched at his chest. “But we could have dressed as animals.”
“Not really,” Giles said. “That was just a joke. A trick.”
Drusilla ignored his comment. “I could have been a jaguar. Rupert could have been a bear, like the ones in the mountains, with the spectacles.”
“Right now I feel as if I belong in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima,” Giles muttered in agreement.
“You could have been a monkey. A naughty, tricksy, monkey,” Drusilla told Ethan, who grinned at her in reply. “And Spike could have been an anteater.”
“An anteater?” Giles echoed, puzzled.
“Because of his tongue,” Drusilla clarified. “Or a tapir, because of his great big –”
“No, a jaguar or a giant otter,” Giles broke in.
“A tapir? His nose isn’t that big,” Ethan remarked.
“She’s not talking about his nose,” Giles informed him.
“Ah,” Ethan said. “She does have rather a, shall we say, refreshing take on things, doesn’t she?”
“Oh, dear lord, where’s she off to now?” Giles said anxiously, suddenly realising that Drusilla had lost interest in the conversation and was wandering off by herself.
“She’s heading for the Germans,” Ethan observed. “Looks like they might be in for a bit more chaos than I’d expected.”
“We have to stop,” Buffi insisted. “I have responsibilities. I must mingle. Greet the Ambassadors and other diplomats. I have been away from the party for too long.”
“Okay, let’s go,” Spike agreed.
“Not together,” Buffi told him. “It would be too distracting, and would cause too much comment. I think you should go now. We can meet tomorrow.”
They were interrupted at that point by the arrival of Anya, who was waving her hands in an agitated fashion and trailing a perplexed looking Xander behind her. “Buffi!” Anya exclaimed. “The German Ambassador has done something horrible. You have to get rid of him. Declare war on Germany or something.”
“Why?” Buffi asked. Beside her Spike tensed ready for action. She looked around the room anxiously. “I can’t declare war on Germany. We haven’t got an army or an air force, and our only navy is our Fisheries Protection vessels. What has he done?”
“He’s dressed as something loathsome,” Anya explained. “Vile, and horrible, and scary.”
“She your friend? I could cut the bloke’s head off for you if you like,” Spike offered.
“Yes, cut the nasty bunny’s head off,” Anya agreed, beaming.
“A world of no,” Buffi protested. “You can’t go cutting the heads off Ambassadors.”
“Why not?” Spike asked, his brows wrinkling.
“It’s prohibited by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” Buffi explained. “Article 29.”
“Doesn’t the Convention prohibit the Head of Mission from insulting the Receiving State by attending formal functions dressed as a vile and revolting animal?” Anya frowned.
Buffi’s lips moved as she ran through the provisions of the Convention. “Only if he’s being paid to wear the bunny suit,” she said at last. “That would contravene Article 42.”
“So, if I can prove that Hugh Heffner has bribed him, does that mean your friend could cut his head off?” Anya asked eagerly.
“There will be no cutting off heads at the Ambassadors’ Ball,” Buffi declared firmly. “I shall speak to Herr Feigenbaum. I’m sure there must be some reasonable explanation.”
Anya pouted. “Cutting his head off would be simpler. Who is your friend, Buffi?”
“Uh, this is, uh, Guilherme from Brazil.” She stumbled a little over the Portuguese pronunciation.
“Call me Spike,” the Brazilian said helpfully.
“Okay, this is Spike. He, uh, I suppose you could say he’s a fan.”
“So that’s why he has the two feathers sticking from his nose?” Xander suggested.
Buffi stared at him uncomprehendingly, as did Spike, but Anya choked back a laugh.
“Or did he have a head on collision with a bird going at one hell of a speed?” Xander went on. “Man, I so don’t want to be around when he pulls that sucker out.”
“Are you the bravest knight in all the land?” Drusilla asked, smiling sweetly.
The German Military Attaché leered at her from behind his helm. He had been feeling distinctly depressed; being Military Attaché to a country devoid of armed forces was a thankless task anyway, and coming to the function in fancy dress and then finding that formal wear was de rigueur was acutely embarrassing, but suddenly things were looking up. He clicked his heels and came stiffly erect as his eyes locked on Drusilla’s cleavage. “Ja. I am Heinrich Nest. Can I get you a drink?”
“Can I handle your weapon?” Drusilla requested, extending her hand. Nest gulped, wriggled uncomfortable, and then drew out his blade. Drusilla stared at his sword and her smile was replaced by a pout. “Your sword isn’t real. It’s nasty plastic, not fantastic.”
“Ja, it is not real,” Nest admitted. “This is a party, not a battle. But I am a master swordsman.”
“What use is a sword if you can’t cut off heads?” Drusilla complained. She tossed her head, turned on her heel, and walked away to rejoin Giles and Ethan.
Nest watched her go, his eyes riveted to her buttocks, and then sighed. He took off his helmet and began to wipe drool from the inside with the sleeve of his knitted chain-mail tunic. The prospect of an entertaining evening was gone and he was plunged once more into gloom and despondency. Oh well, perhaps he could find someone with whom to pass the evening discussing Blitzkrieg and Panzer warfare. Perhaps the Uzbek ambassador, Turok Khan?
“Is he going to give you orgasms?” Anya asked, looking from Buffi to Spike.
“Yes,” Spike declared firmly. “Lots of them.”
“Oh, good. She’s been working much too hard. She needs to relax.”
“Uh, we hadn’t really discussed it,” Buffi said. “I’ve only just met him.”
“What’s to discuss? Apart from, ‘Your place or mine?’ Go to it, girl,” Anya urged.
Buffi blushed and lowered her eyes. “I really have to start mingling,” she told Spike. “We could meet up tomorrow. Would you like to swim with me in the Blue Lagoon?”
“Well, yeah, except for the part where I’d freeze to death,” Spike replied. “It’s a bit bloody cold for swimming.”
“We Icelanders are tough, we swim outdoors even in the winter,” Buffi teased.
Spike grimaced, but then set his jaw determinedly. “If you’re going to do it, then I’ll have a bash,” he said.
“The water is hot,” Buffi assured him. “We will be warm and comfortable.”
“I could come too, with Xander,” Anya suggested. “I’ve been wanting to show him something hot and wet and steamy.”
“Uh, yeah,” Xander agreed, tugging at his collar once more.
“I’ll have to check that my parents don’t have anything arranged,” Anya went on. “Have you seen my father around, Buffi?”
“Not for a while,” Buffi replied, restraining herself with some difficulty from looking at the table under which Olaf’s unconscious body was stashed. “Come on, let’s return to the party.” She took hold of Spike’s arm to lead him away.
“See, there is the golden pyramid,” a new voice announced. Drusilla, Giles, and Ethan had at last caught up with Spike. “Miss Edith was right. There is the Slayer. And there you are, my darling, deadly, boy.”