the idea beind the new series:
Notes: well, I like some of the ideas and don't like some of it so we'll see what we can pull up. Ironically enough I had been having bunny nibbles about Xander being an agent and going out to recruit hunters for some sort of program. But mine was more crack based than this one so I'll use theirs instead.
Demon Criminal Investigative Services: Starting Up Right.
The current president of the United States looked around at his security detail. "Do we have *anything* on the person who assassinated the president last week?" he demanded. They all shook their heads. "Why not? It's been a week! Someone got it on film or something I'm sure! Since it's on YouTube I'm definitely certain!"
One of them coughed. "Sir, even if we could find out what did this, we're not sure what to do about them."
"What do you mean *what* did this. I thought it was some guy in a halloween costume."
The head of the security detail walked over and called up a computer file for him, then let him see. "The last president was deathly afraid of all things that were strange and unusual."
"I remember that," he agreed.
"So he started a project to figure out the strange and unusual and gave them whatever means they needed to find out about those things."
"Is this going to be something CNN will start shrieking about and I'll get inundated with letters over?" he asked. The Secret Service agent nodded. "Why?"
"Because he let them torture to find out medical information, sir." That got a moan and the current president sat down with a sigh of defeat. "It got to the point that some of the project's people defected and helped a few people in the town take them down because of what the two successive heads of the project had done."
He came over to read over the basics of the report. "Are these like the guy who killed Fred?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. We have identified the body as one of them," another one said. "It was something that didn't fight back according to the records. A quiet word to a few of the men on that prior project led us back to a group in England that have been dealing with this issue for centuries but we have no idea how to contact them so they can tell us how to get the thing that shot the last office holder."
The president looked at the file. "What about these civilians who helped. Would they know?"
"Perhaps, sir, but we're not authorized to tell them anything since this was highly classified and they don't have security ratings."
The president looked at him. "I'm pretty sure if they took it down they knew what was going on. Get one of them here. Tonight."
"Yes, sir," one said, going to make that call.
"Politely," he called after him. "I don't want to be shot by something that looks like a blue twig too." He went to sit behind his desk. "Where are the remaining people?"
"If they participated in the torture, they're in jail," the lesser agent said. "Some were pardoned enough so that they're confined to Area 51 again. Basically office arrest to the base." That got a grimace of disgust. "The soldiers on the extraction teams went to hunt for the UN's demon teams, sir."
He looked at him. "The *UN* has demon hunting teams and we didn't have a clue?"
"It's fairly new. They had hired private contractors to go release diplomats being held hostage or work in war zones where these things were active. They even demanded to have the man who turned on his command since he clearly wasn't going to be using such inhumane methods."
"They took the traitor?" The agent nodded. "With what little I read, that might not be so bad. Not everyone likes the idea of torture and I guess that's a good thing." The senior agent came back. "When will they get here? I might need to arrange my schedule."
"Ten minutes, sir. One's local."
"Handle the assassination problem."
"Should we give them a medal since they're doing what we can't?" he asked sarcastically.
"No, sir, but we'll ignore them stepping on toes in a top level investigation," he said bluntly. That got an eye roll. Someone knocked then let two young women and a man in. "This is them, Mr. President."
He looked at them. "What, exactly, was the thing that shot my predecessor?"
"Harmless," the boy said. "Until your predecessor tortured his family in front of him and then started on him." One of the girls elbowed him. "He's got to know by now, Willow. It's the truth."
"It might be but you have manners. I made sure of it." She looked at him again. "He's right but that wasn't the most polite answer."
He looked at her. "I don't give a damn about polite, miss. I want to get to the bottom of the reason the last President of the United States was assassinated and make sure it won't happen again."
The blonde girl nodded. "We'd like for the Initiative to not come back too, sir. As for that one, we were told he committed suicide since he took out the one who killed his family. They showed us the remains so we could make certain." That got a slow nod. "So the threat is no more."
"That's good," he said, looking her over, then the redhead. Then the young man. He stared at him. "What needs to be done to make sure it doesn't happen again? I can have people announce that the Secret Service found the shooter dead when they found him."
He shrugged. "To keep it from totally happening again? Keep from torturing them. Make sure that if they're dealt with on a case it's by someone who has a clue. There's a system in place and most of the time they stay out of the way."
"There's a group in England that have been training slayers and doing all the research for centuries," Willow agreed. "They have all the books, all the research, and control all the slayers. They're the girls who take care of things when they get troublesome."
"So there's a vendetta war?" he asked.
Buffy shook her head. "No, sir. I handle the ones that hurt humans. Those who hunt humans, eat humans, hurt humans, break their bones, all that. That's my predestined calling. We don't particularly *like* the head of the Council right now. He's a butt. We really don't like him."
"We were going to have one of those baseball bats with your head talks with him if he showed up again," Xander agreed. Willow elbowed him again so he scowled. "I was."
"He doesn't need to hear that!"
"Again, it's honest," the president told her. "I like honest, young lady. Being socially polite in this situation is going to lead to later problems. How often do these sort of things impact regular people's lives?" he asked the young blonde girl.
She shrugged. "In Sunnydale, all the time. In LA we have a problematic law firm. We had a few friends there who handle that city. There's rumors of so-called rogue demon hunters and those who hunt spirits and things to handle them. The Watchers only watch over slayers," she said at his astonished look. "They hate the others for jumping into what they see as a slayer's job. Personally, I'm more than happy to live in one town and protect it instead of having to fly everywhere all the time to handle things. I'd never get any beauty sleep and I'd get very cranky."
He blinked. "What about in the rest of the world?"
"They have slayers in training all over the world with their watchers," Xander said honestly. "That's how they train the girls. Which is one of the things our group doesn't like about them," he admitted. "They're very ....bottom line oriented to put it nicely."
"Whatever wins their war works, even if it makes their people expendable?" one of the agents asked. All three young people nodded. "I'd hate that too." He looked at them. "Could agents be taught to handle these sort of matters?" They all nodded. "Are there books, classes? Would this group teach?"
"Probably not them but there's Watchers they fired," Willow said. "Giles taught us, he might be able to teach a few more or tell you who to find." She walked forward and wrote down a phone number. "That's the number to the Magic Box. Giles runs it and he's Buffy's Watcher."
The president nodded. "So, there's no national or international cooperation, nothing that can be called a cohesive plan, nothing like that?" The boy shook his head. "Should there be?" The boy shrugged. The redhead nodded. The blonde looked a bit queasy. "Training others so you only handle the worst things, ma'am."
"I'm not that old," she whined. "I know I didn't get much sleep but I'm only twenty."
He smiled. "Fine, miss then. I'm sorry." She nodded and grinned. "Why do you like the idea?" he asked the redhead.
"Because information sharing is a good thing. It might mean that more people could handle little problems like vampires on their own."
"They're real too?" the president asked.
"That's the majority of Buffy's job," Xander told him. The president moaned. "There's also more than one type."
Buffy nodded. "We only really deal with one species but Dracula was *really* annoying. Came out to test himself against me. Tried to take my watcher and boyfriend."
"I can see how that'd be a problem since they're you're support network," the head agent said diplomatically. Xander shot him a look. "Some of it anyway." The boy rolled his eyes. "Why don't you think it'll work, kid."
Xander looked at him. "Because most people don't want to acknowledge that strange things happen. How many of you thought it was a halloween costume until we got here?" Everyone in the room raised their hands. "Fighting this sort of thing means that you have to drop that. It's very uncomfortable for most people and most people can't stand the patrol mentality we had to grow over the last few years. Staking vampires is still hunting and killing former humans."
"That's a good point," the head agent agreed. "I know plenty of agents who couldn't handle that sort of detail. Some who could but you can get burned out like you can in any war zone."
"We do our best to mix fun nights in and take the time to unwind," Buffy assured him. "We're not going to go spastic and do the same thing to people."
"Good," the president said. "Any idea how we can contact the guys in England too?" Willow wrote down an email address and an online domain ID. "They're online?"
"They have a few translators and things that we have to get into now and then. A lot of their books are in other languages. Especially a special form of Church Latin."
"Keeping them the only ones with the information," the head agent snorted. Xander nodded. "You read it?"
"I do. I read that one and a few of the other ones. I learned the hard way, looking every word up as I came to it."
"That's something to consider then," the President said. "Will this...demon's family come after us as well?"
"He doesn't have one left," Xander said. "Most of his clan was taken by the Initiative." That got a nod. "The two or three that're left are young. They've been taken in by other clans. We assured them that the Initiative was no more and wouldn't be coming back after them. That the system had taken care of their own. Even if some of them are hunting for the UN with semi-decent information."
"Semi-decent?" the head agent asked, starting to frown.
"They got some atypical cases," Willow said firmly. "And didn't care if they had control or not."
He nodded. "Is there a training manual of some sort? An identification manual so we can alert our people?" She nodded, pulling a few books out of her pocket and unshrinking them. "That's handy."
She smirked. "Very. Means I can pack a lot more for us."
"Still doesn't work on all weapons," Xander said dryly.
"What do you prefer for things?" the lesser agent asked.
"We use a lot of crossbows, stakes, swords, and I have a battle axe," Xander said honestly. "There was an incident where we had to use artillery." That got a wince from the agents. "We ...took control of it and used it an hour later."
"Bought?" one agent asked hopefully.
"National Guard. We figured they didn't want to die either," Xander said bluntly. "They never said anything."
"No, they made a note," the president said. "It's one of the incidences that got the Initiative started. The last president was deathly afraid of them coming after him."
"Most demons would only come after him if he had done something like a deal with them," Willow said then shrugged. "Sorry but truth," she said at the angry looks. "Most of them only come when it benefits them."
"Some people are paranoid anyway," Xander reminded her.
"Good point. Sorry, didn't mean to besmirch his memory or anything."
"No, knowing Fred, he might have back in his stupid youth days," the president admitted. He leaned back, looking them over. "We're sure it's done with?" They nodded. "Thank you for handling that so we wouldn't have to, kids. If something like that happens around DC again, we'll call out to you to see how to handle it."
"Of course. Or I have email," Willow assured him happily. "Buffy and I are in college at UC Sunnydale. Xander's not but he's around town somewhere." That got a nod. "Anything we can do to help, let us know, sir."
"I will, miss. You three have a good trip home." They nodded and the lesser agent escorted them out of the White House. "How did we know they were local?"
"One of the interns said something about them being nearby when I was calling. So I let him make the call."
"Said he did not want to know, he was staying out of it, he wasn't like that and it wasn't his duty."
"Get him in here." He went to find him for the other man. The president took some tylenol for his headache. The intern was walked in. "You knew what it was?"
"Yes, sir," he said honestly, hands behind his back. "It was fairly obvious it was a demon."
"How did you know?"
"I graduated from UCLA and there's a few more of them out there. I've heard rumors about the blonde girl who was just here and I've kept track of it in case it became necessary to save my life, sir. That's her job."
"It's a lonely one to do on your own," the president said.
"From what little I could find out about her and her calling, sir, she's lucky she's been alive this long," he said bluntly. "Most girls last about a year. She's lasted since she was fifteen."
He grimaced. "That's good odds. Any idea what the difference is?" He shook his head. "How many threatening ones are in town?"
"No clue, sir. I only know who you call on if you have those sort of issues."
The president nodded. "Know anything about the group in England?"
"A little bit. They're more secretive than the Masons."
"Probably have to be," he agreed. "I want copies of your research." That got a nod. "Thank you."
"Welcome, Mr. President." He went to his office to gather up what he had. The rest he'd have to get from home and he could duck out later to do that. When the agent showed up an hour later, he smiled a bit. "It's mostly at home."
"I can give you a ride."
"Thank you." He walked off with him. "Is he going to turn as paranoid as the last one?" he asked as they walked out together.
"Probably not. Frustrated. A bit disgusted."
"Not all of them are disgusting."
"No but if only one girl and a few people here and there handle it, how do we keep it from becoming a national emergency?"
"That's why she's in Sunnydale. That's a front line spot of where it'd start."
The agent looked at him. "Any idea why?"
"A lot actually. That I was able to find." They got into the car and headed for his house so he could get the information they'd need. Before the slayer had to come back to DC and handle something else.
The president looked at the man who was let into his office the next afternoon, looking very tired. "We have an issue and you're one of the people I'm going to for the solution."
"Yes, sir," he said, saluting him. "I saw what happened but we were out of the country. Did you need us to hunt down the hostile and kill it?"
"No, son, it committed suicide after your last group killed his whole family in front of him," he said bluntly, staring at him to see how he reacted. He got a small flinch but that was it.
"According to what source, sir?"
"The small blonde lady who came out to handle it for us, Soldier."
"Buffy?" he asked, looking confused. The president nodded. "How did ... The news?" He nodded again. "Then at least he won't be a problem."
"Son, did it not occur to any of your people that you could be creating a worse problem?"
"I had uneasy feelings about the torture and that our former head was trying to create a monster that was going to take over the world, sir. I was not part of the investigative branch. I was not one of the ones who did the interrogations of the hostiles either. We were told they were going to find a good use for them within the military to spare soldiers' lives."
"I see." He considered him. "If we had to set up some sort of national system to handle such problem cases, how would you do it?"
"A national hunting team, sir? I can definitely suggest some of my men. We're used to it and can train other soldiers in the duty."
He shook his head. "No, not a hunting team. I don't want the same sort of problem that we've been having since the one who assassinated the President was a harmless one until you folk got him." The solider flinched at that. "I was thinking something like the FBI to handle these sort of cases and take appropriate action when one was involved. Either to protect them when people got involved in their business or to handle it when they did something wrong."
"Sir, there's not a lot of harmless demons," he said. "No matter what they think."
"Every dog has a bit of wolf in it," the president agreed. "It's only a problem when you push them to that point, Soldier. We want to prevent it from getting to that point." That got a shudder. "I see. I'll want whatever sort of classification material you had and I can't find who did the investigation."
"Most of us were Army, sir."
"That's fine, I'll look it up through them then. Dismissed, soldier. Good work with the UN and I hope you find those you need to find soon enough." He nodded, saluted, then left. The president grimaced. He did not like that 'they're beasts to be hunted' mentality. What he had found on that website had been a bit astonishing. He had found one who was working on a piece of music a demon had created that was supposed to be a prophecy. If they had languages, music, and art - which they did according to what he found - then at least some of them were as sentient as human people were. Which left him with a major problem. He went back to the files, finding another mention of the special investigative team that had closed it down. He called his head of security in, holding up that page. "Who?"
He looked then smirked. "The bane of the coffee maker, sir."
"Gibbs?" he asked, looking confused. "Why?"
"He doesn't play politics, he doesn't care who you are if you need to go down, and he was in between cases and able to travel for long periods of time. He's seen combat and some of the worst things so he could stomach some of the details from out there. He and Todd worked on it from what I heard."
"Then why didn't he say anything when the tapes started to come out?"
"He's been in the middle of nowhere for three weeks, sir. A missing Marine that was presumed killed in a state forest. From the reports I've heard when I checked, they finally found her body yesterday and the killer this morning so they're on their way back. He might have tried to call in but no one was taking any calls but the tip line and I can check to see if anyone else called in mentioning demons."
"Knowing Gibbs' reputation they were probably rough camping and didn't even get a radio signal," the president muttered, earning a smile and a nod. "When he gets in, I want to see him ASAP. After his first cup of coffee and shower."
"Yes, sir. I'll pass that on. Anyone else?"
"Not sure yet. This is looking to be a problem." He looked down then back up at him. "Did you some of them had created art and music? That there's many demon languages?"
"I hadn't. I didn't think they were all rabid beasts with the way the kids were acting though."
"Apparently they're not. That Finn boy offered to help me find people to start a national hunting team." The agent shuddered. "That's what I was thinking."
"We'll talk to Gibbs, sir. He's usually got some decent, plain, simple ideas. He might this time too. I'll pull his reports if I can."
"Thank you." He nodded and went to do that while the president went back to reading. He was not particularly proud of his government at the moment.
Gibbs walked in and saluted. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"I do. Sit, Agent Gibbs." He sat, looking at him. He waved the folder. "I'm sickened."
"So was I, sir."
"Good. Then we're in agreement. How do we keep it from happening again and handle things that get into the public domain? Finn wanted to nominate some of his people for a national hunting team."
Gibbs shook his head. "Not totally practical. As far as we could tell, there's not been a lot of crossover. Some in a few major cities and they have detectives who're basically shunned but handle it for them. The present system seems to work well enough but the last one tipped it with the Initiative and it created some problems."
"What happens when humans bring on their own problems? There's some that appear to be sentient and even more advanced than we are, Agent Gibbs," he said at the stare he got.
"I figured there were, sir, but why would they bother us? I'd assume they'd live in protected enclaves or protect themselves in some way so we'd never know. The same way people who apparently use magic do. We don't hear about more than the bad or rip-offs among them."
"True." He studied him. "Do you think it's going to become a problem? If they're living in protected areas and those areas are shrinking due to logging and other industries going to the places we didn't used to, then what?"
He grimaced. "I don't know, sir. I'll be honest and say that I don't think it's a present issue. It may be one in twenty years or so."
"Then I'd assume the present system would work to handle it."
"Do we think they will or do you think I should start to make plans to appoint agents who can handle it and investigate?"
"An NCIS for demons?" he asked with a small smirk. That got a nod. "You'd still get a lot of people who thought like Captain Finn, sir."
"I know. Training and exposure seemed to cure that in the people who're actually handling the situation."
"Some. Some are still 'kill all the evil bastards', sir."
"There's people like that in every agency."
He nodded. "You'd have to give them a way to handle things. You'd also have to figure out how to contain the bad ones if you wouldn't let them hunt them down instead. You'd have to create a whole agency, including research division, to handle it."
"So a decommissioned base?"
"Could work but you'd have to be somewhere pretty understanding. I heard that some of the hunters do work with the other side if they're decent sorts." That got an odd look. "I can't call them people, sir. They're not. I know from what we were told that the main one in Los Angeles is actually a vampire who was cursed with a soul. He's got a half demon, a former watcher, a female seer, and a few others who help. Including a vampire hunting street gang."
The president grimaced. "So even the bad guys aren't all bad."
"Apparently not. Personally I'd say the system's not broke, support it instead of creating a lot of headaches for people, sir."
"I'll take that under advisement. Would you transfer in to work on that?"
Gibbs stared for a minute. "You want me to be honest, sir?" That got a nod. "I'd quit and kill myself first, sir. I can't handle that level of strangeness. I don't want to handle that level of strangeness. The night I got done with that inquisition I slept under the boat because I was too drunk to make it to bed. I did the same for the next three nights to make myself forget that happened, sir. Not just because of the torture. Abby is as strange as I can stand most of the time."
That got an understanding look and a nod. "I can see why. Know anyone who could?"
"Agent Todd handled it relatively well but she and a priest had a few long talks when she was done. You'd need people with flexible minds who could accept anything and move on with it after a shrug. People like Abby, sir. Or people who already knew and were affected. That might get you more hunters than not though."
"I'll consider that, Agent Gibbs. Thank you for your input."
"Not a problem, sir. We did get that one?"
"Three very nice young people from Sunnydale came out to see if they could handle it and found out that one had been tortured by the Initiative. Him and his whole clan. He reacted in grief then committed suicide. They were shown proof of it."
That got a nod. "Good. They handle everything else. If you need more help, you can ask, sir, but I only know enough to figure out that the people were doing wrong."
That got a small smile. "Thank you for the honesty, Gibbs. Good work in the woods from what I heard." That got a nod and Gibbs saluted then left. That created a whole new facet of his plan. He looked up the information the intern had on the LA group. What Gibbs had heard was true, they had a vampire in charge. The former Watcher, now that was an idea he could get behind. He'd know who to talk to about what was going on. He had to be in LA in three weeks so they'd see if they could arrange a small talk with him.
The president looked at his council six weeks later. "I have been doing a lot of looking into things after Fred was shot by a demon," he announced. That got a few winces from his advisors. "What I found out sickened and amazed me. We have about fifty people who handle all this for us and are barely holding onto it with their toenails. A few detectives in major cities who have run into it and know so they're shunned. A group in Great Britain that's hoarding knowledge by keeping it in strange languages, though I am told they have most of it translated to English for personal use, and are keeping things secret so they can turn some young women into perfect soldiers for their turn at the calling of hunting these things."
"Are we looking at what to do to aid them?" one asked.
He looked at her. "Yes. There's a few ideas I've had. I've thought about a small department with information that the ones already doing it could access. That way they'd have information on what's coming, how to handle it if it's harmful, and could start to track patterns of problematic creatures. They could send out subtle alerts when problems were hitting an area."
"That sounds good," she said slowly. "What's the problem?"
"No one would trust them," another said. "The present ones we have work in secret as well and they don't usually talk to each other either. Or so I've seen when I've looked over your shoulder and sat in on some of the interviews." The president smirked and nodded. "Then that leaves us with encouraging them to do that or going larger."
"I talked with the person over the inquest into the program that got Fred shot. He said that either they can handle it or we're going to have to handle it but if we do we're going to need to set things up to handle both sides. Because not all of them are bad and not all of them are dangerous. But we can't put the ones that are in a normal prison." He smirked at them. "One of the ones who handled the demon who shot Fred showed up in my office late last night when I emailed her questions. Magically." They all hissed. The head of his protection detail shuddered. "I'm sure you had a talk with her?"
"With her and a few others about how possible it was to do that, how to protect against it, all that, sir. She's very sorry she made us panic."
"Good. Will I have to wear strange symbols or amulets?"
"No, sir. We can do some pretty simple things to protect your office from them getting in again. She said the framework had been there but your predecessor had them taken down because it creeped him out."
"Good to know." He looked around again. "So you see, there's a problem and a major one, but it's not all a *bad* problem. Some of it's us bothering them. Some of it's them trying to hide. Some of them are bad. So what do we do?"
"Do you like Gibbs' plan?" the head of his detail asked.
He considered it then nodded. "I can see that we might need it some day, yes. I'm not sure if we'd want to build up to it or start it there like we did with the FBI."
"We could start with the informational offices," the lone female advisor suggested. "That would get us agents trained in the right way to handle things. Then we could ramp it up after something major happens. Let them be the first pick of the new unit."
"We're talking massive resources," another advisor said. "From prisons on down to the new agency's expenses."
"One prison and we could convert a closed one. The same as we could convert a closed base."
The president nodded. "That's what I was thinking for that part. I'm not sure if we want to start there or move up."
"Moving up from the lesser level would get us more trained officers and agents quickly," she said. "How large are we looking at?"
"We're hoping a central agency with a few local, small offices. Nothing as large or as grand as Homeland. They'd have their own R&D department however."
"So, somewhere between the FBI and Homeland at their startup time?" she said. He nodded. "Would we want the prison close by?"
"We'd want them to have a protected position. I'm seeing a need for guarding against assassination," one of the other advisors said quietly. "If the bad things know that there's new people in town that can go against them then they're going to handle it."
"One of the worst is an international law firm," the president announced. "Wolfram and Hart." He smirked. "We are canceling all contracts with them by the way." That got him a horrified look by his head agent. "We had three different contracts with them. When I talked to the group in LA, their city's defenders, they said they had everything from bio- hazard labs down to demonic deals for souls and power. They own a few politicians."
"So we'll have to be covert," the female said. "The informational offices, can it help the other sort? The scary, isolationist, hunter sort."
"They have their contacts and we can talk to them," the head agent agreed. "Everyone in that life would realize it was a demon who shot him. I'm sure they're waiting for us to react somehow."
She nodded. "So we start lesser and work on the plans to come out sooner."
"The problem is that we had a charming talk with someone who went spastic during it," the agent told her dryly, smirking some. "A seer." She went pale. "There's worse things coming. We have to have it set up within two years. At that point we won't be able to deny things."
She shuddered. "So we'll be covert until then. The CIA did it for years." They all nodded. "Where do we start?"
"Infrastructure. The contacts I had are getting information for us. None of it's on computer. The people in England only translated anything that's been useful in the last fifty years to English. The rest are mostly older, telling what's possible of happening, or older information. He also said they're having internal problems. Miss Summers, the blonde who came out to handle the demon for us, wasn't raised to be one of their perfect soldiers and people are starting to wonder why she's lasted so much longer than their carefully trained, bred, and instructed ones ever have." That got some gapes. He nodded. "They've been ...acquiring, usually by parental consent after scaring the crap out of them, their destined hunters and training them as soon as they know one's been born. No parents, only their future Watcher."
"What if a watcher's weak in an area?" the agent asked. The president gave him a horrified look. "Even agents can't be great in every field. They have standardized training but even commando teams have people who specialize or have a better touch with some areas than others. There's a semi-standardized education for the girls. They handle whatever's going on wherever they are, even if they're not all that powerful until they're called. They're trained as quiet commandos. One teacher, one student, and if the teacher dies she gets another one. Miss Summers wasn't found until after she was called." He tossed down a folder. "We finally got a full background done on her."
He took it to read over, nodding at it. "She was a ditz," he said blandly.
"And pretending very well to still be one," the agent agreed. That got a nod of understanding. "There are two however." He tossed down another file. "Half and half, their Council found her as a teenager in a bad part of Boston's underground. She had a few years of training before she was called. She slipped and got a human by accident." The president switched to that one. "We have to make sure that they're taken care of too. Because if the bad things are truly serious about trying to take over the world, the first thing they do is go after those girls. Or their precious Council."
The president looked at him. "Will it?"
"Some of them are stupid enough to try to bring hell to earth, sir. Yes."
"Charming." He went back to comparing the two. Then he looked at them, passing them on. "I personally think it's wrong that a handful of people protect this country from things that Homeland should but can't protect us from. That's their job and it overlaps but Homeland would arrest them in a heartbeat."
The advisors looked at it. "New base or old base and we rehabilitate?" one asked him.
"That's what I want opinions on, people. That and how to set it up. I never had to set up a full agency before."
They nodded and started to draw up plans.
A Year and a Half Later
Xander Harris looked up as a dark sedan cruised by the house again. "There's a Fed mobile outside," he called to Buffy. She came to check, shrugging and grimacing then going back to the kitchen and her sister. He walked out to meet them. "Are we having problems?"
The agent looked at him. "From what we've heard recently you've been having a lot of problems, Mr. Harris."
"Oooh, not good," he hissed. "Did Anya sign my name on her parking tickets or something?"
"Cute, kid. I'm with a small, closet sized department in Homeland Security that watches over your back."
"We've been the ones who've been handling the information that's been getting around. We've also been the ones making sure other hunters get the right information instead of crap that sometimes gets spread around."
"Giles!" Xander shouted. He came jogging out. "This nice agent is with Homeland Security and they've been helping us do our job. Including giving other hunters information."
"Thank God," he muttered. He shook his hand. "Is there a problem today?"
"Many. Including that you have little girls in there that need to be safer."
"Only three are younger than fifteen," he admitted. "That's when Buffy was called and those that are agreed they're staying so they're safer."
"We can keep them safer than you can, Mr. Giles. Like we have the other six we've helped you find and rescue." Xander smiled at that. "Exactly. We have a whole base for them to be safe on and people there who can help. If you'd let us, we'll take them there tonight."
"To do what?" Giles asked. "Train?"
"That's not my job, Mr. Giles, that's yours and your people's. My job is to make sure information gets to the right sources and right now to make sure you don't have to worry about non-combatants and people who could tear your attention from saving the world. We've been working on this for a while now. Since the president met Mr. Harris and your girl." Giles gave Xander a horrified look.
"After the president got assassinated. We got called in to be asked about what was going on. The Oval Office is very nice. Buffy never mentioned that?"
"No," he said impatiently.
"It was all three of us, Giles. He wanted to know why, what happened, was it dead, that stuff."
"Because of that talk, the President and his advisors set up a small office within Homeland that makes sure the people who do the job you do have the information you need, including tracking information since we do keep track of statistics and migration patterns."
Giles blinked at him. "You do?" He nodded. "Where did you find the girls?"
"Mostly in some protected areas. When the building in England got blown, we made some calls to people who know in other countries. Your people usually worked with them and we managed to save some of the girls that way. They passed them back to us and they're on our new base. We have a fully recommissioned, restructured, rebuilt base waiting on your people if something too bad happens and we've got plenty of room for the girls you can't risk having here because they can't fight."
"Four of the older girls can't fight either," Xander said quietly. "They're pretty pitiful, Giles. They're lucky they know what the term sparring means."
"I've seen that. That would decimate who we have available."
Xander shook his head. "There's more older girls coming?"
"Eighteen. All over the age of seventeen, mostly all well taught from what we've heard. There may be more we don't know of but they're on their way here and should be here tomorrow sometime. That would let you evacuate the people who can't fight and those who're too young. The ones who have people who'll worry about their safety like Buffy's younger sister."
"That is another matter entirely," Giles assured him. "Come inside while we speak with the others." He nodded, coming in with him. "Buffy?" She came out of the kitchen. "Did you go to the Oval Office a few years back?"
"Um, yup. After the last prez got shot." She looked at the agent. "What's the dt?"
"Homeland Security has a whole office devoted to getting demonic information and migration patterns to the hunters who need it," Xander told her. She nodded slowly at that. "Probably since we got found."
"A few months later," the agent admitted. "We talked with a great many people before we took any steps. Our new office is a newly restructured base in the middle of the country. We have some of the younger girls we managed to save thanks to our allies there already."
"So you want the other younger ones?"
"We do, and those who can't fight or would be a liability. Our projections staff think that this is going to be another true battle, like graduation, instead of like it was with Glorificus. We've found some older girls and they're on their way here, being escorted."
She smiled. "We can make that trade. I want Dawn to go."
"Agreed. She's a non-combatant. We'll gladly remove anyone like that who needs it. We're also going to be stationing a few agents here to start with a town evacuation if we need it this time. We think it may be necessary. Our projections staff was thinking this could be something that could impact the whole west coast if it went too badly."
"I can see why," Willow agreed. She looked at Buffy, who nodded. "I can get them for you."
"Good. We'll switch out in the morning."
"You're taking Xander to watch over them," Buffy said, stunning Xander. "They trust you, Xander. They won't trust them."
"Point," he admitted, "but a bad one. You'll need me if this is a real battle."
"You can plan it and email it," Willow reminded him. He gave her a dirty look. "Not like Sunnydale's going to suddenly change streets and things, Xander. The girls will need some stability since theirs has been taken already and we're moving them."
"Fine. But I'm bringing some of the weapons with us."
"We have plenty of guns, Mr. Harris."
He looked at him. "Which are nice and all but do jack shit against most everything," he said bluntly. "Did your dossier forget to mention I'm the weapons manager around here since Giles hates modern weapons and I've been taking things from the vampires for *years* now?" That got a whimper. "Exactly. If Sunnydale goes up, we need to clean some things out of here. Including the whole roomful of dark artifacts next door because they probably won't help things."
"That is something we should think about," Giles agreed. "I thought you were selling those off through Angel's contacts, not hoarding them, Xander."
"Depends on what they are, Giles. I found three mega bombs last year and I wasn't about to let someone like Deadboy's evil law firm get it."
"That's reasonable," he agreed. "That is a good idea. Is it not, Agent..."
"Agent Sommers then," he said with a small smile. "Related?"
"No sir, o instead of u."
That got a nod from Buffy. "Another common spelling. Let me get the girls. They can help you move the stuff, Xander." He nodded, heading off to get his stuff as well. She looked at him. "If Xander mentioned it, you'll need a truck." She looked around. "Spike, we need a truck! Xander's moving the harmful weapons and stuff off the hellmouth!" she yelled.
"Warehouse three," Xander yelled after that. "Plus my storage area since I've got Giles' spare books. Giles, pack the rest of the books. If you end up in an evac you won't have time." He came out with three boxes, a suitcase, and two duffel bags. "Spike, need a good truck and two drivers," he called. "Heading inland. Middle of the country."
"Got 'em headed," he said, coming out of the practice room. "We sure?"
The agent stared at him then nodded. "Our projections state this one could be a problem that's felt all up and down the coast and we're preparing for a worst case scenario. Total town destruction and evacuation."
Spike whistled. "That's bad, mate."
Xander nodded. "Exactly. Buffy, make assignments." He looked at the agent. "You found how many other girls?"
"We've found six that're under seventeen and the eighteen we have that're over that age."
That got a nod. "So we've got a slow down or they went after the younger set first?"
"The rate of the slayers' births has always wobbled a bit but there's always been an increase when we'd need them to be the right age," Giles admitted. "The spells that created the slayer made sure of it."
"So we won't need so many in about fifteen years," Xander said. Giles nodded. "At that rate is it just a slowdown?"
"Probably not," he admitted. "It could mean we'll have more lasting longer due to this. I would hope that's the meaning."
"Or that whatever you have to pull could need both slayers," Xander agreed.
"Faith is out of jail and headed this way, pardoned as long as she helps," the agent said quietly. "She's coming with the other girls. You'll need two with real experience. The agents we're leaving here are all combat veterans, Mr. Giles. True combat, not guarding the border fence or a DZ zone but had to fire on someone and fight for a good bit sort of combat experience."
That got a nod of understanding. "I think that would be most helpful. They do know their precautions?"
"They do. They know how to stake, behead, and shoot." That got a smirk from Xander. "The basics. If they're needed for this battle, you have our permission to conscript them. Let them do an evacuation first if you can."
"I can do that," he agreed. He looked at Xander. "Do behave."
"I'm always good. I'm not Willow. I don't try to summon the siberian tiger cub to pet it." Giles walked off shaking his head and muttering. He looked at Spike. Then at the agent. "He needs to know where they're going."
Agent Sommers handed him a map with a circled spot. "The base there. Only one in town. The whole town has had to deal with demon issues in the past so they'll ignore you and not stare." That got a nod and Spike went to coordinate. "The other stuff here?"
"Will be on the second truck," Xander promised. "If this goes pear shaped I don't want them in hell for their amusement. Bus, driving, flying?"
"You lot will be flying in. We have transport waiting in LA. You're to meet it with the girls going in the morning. Then we'll switch and the ones coming in will come up." That got a nod and Xander went to pack a few last things onto the trucks. Marking them clearly just in case. The agent went to help Buffy brief them. He found her speaking Latin. "Common language?"
"For research," Dawn agreed. "Why am I going?"
"Because you can't fight, yet," he said. "Until you can, you'd make your sister worry more. Like we heard she got your mother out of the way for graduation."
"I did," Buffy agreed. "I can't be worrying if you're okay or not, Dawnie. I'd love to have you here to make sure but I want you safe."
She nodded. "I can agree to that. Then what if the town's tanked?"
"If the hellmouth's closed, we move," Giles said simply. "We'll arrange things with the agents while we arrange for things at the new point." That got a nod. "You'd be a forward scout at that point."
"Good enough I guess," she sighed. "Books?"
"Every last one of them," Giles agreed. She grimaced but she and the girls went to pack their stuff then to help with that. The new helping agents came in to help load the trucks with the demons Spike had gotten them. So it was going to be okay.
Xander looked at the base then sighed. "Not all that safe," he muttered. Dawn looked at him. "Too open." He shrugged. "It'll be fixed I'm sure." They were let onto the base with only a pause at the gate. He looked up then at her. "Magic?" She shook her head. "Huh." They were parked in front of a building. "Barracks?" The driver nodded. "Thanks. Girls, this is the barracks. Let's set up." They followed, grabbing their gear from the back of the truck following them. Inside was a solider with a clipboard. "Bunks are where?"
"We have room assignments, Mr. Harris." He let him have the clipboard. "Whatever you need can mostly be found on the map behind the room assignments."
"Good. We'll need a practice area first of all. Food too. Slayers eat like a herd of teenage boys each." That got a nod of understanding and a small smile. "C'mon, girls." He led them up, giving them each a room. The door keys were in the doors so that was nice enough. "When you've dropped stuff, had the potty break, called someone if you need to, we're meeting in the yard behind the building. If you find any of the other girls, bring them too." They groaned. "Business as usual, ladies, and if something happens we might need you too."
"It'll keep us from getting bored anyway," Dawn quipped.
"Easy for you to say. You'll get a nap," one complained.
Xander snorted and stared her down. "No she doesn't." Dawn smirked. "I have *no* problem training Dawn Patrol there in how to patrol and save her own butt. Even if her sister doesn't like it, every girl should know some self defense training. If only so she can keep the slimy guys off her butt. Now, drop stuff, potty, meet me out there with the other girls." He walked on, finding his. He dropped his bag, went back for the other stuff to drop that then headed out there. He smiled at the girls waiting. "Good morning, ladies." Most of them jumped. "I am Xander. I'm Buffy's friend Xander. I hunt with her. I'm here as your chaperone, trainer, and temporary watcher until things get calmed down in Sunnydale with the First Evil. For right now, we're going to be setting up a daily schedule and work on your training. Because *everyone* gets trained. As soon as you can do it safely. Am I clear?" They nodded. "Good." The others came out. "Someone get Caroline and the others please." They went to do that.
"Are any of the ones who were originally here missing?" Two girls nodded and went to find their friends. He looked at the other girls. "As you girls are older and more responsible I'm going to be buddy systeming you with one of the younger ones. That way they have a big sister to lean on when you both have nightmares. I'm sure they're getting slayer dreams if you guys did," he said honestly. That got a nod from the older girls. "Dawn, you're included in that. Take the little white haired one there since I know she's a witch in training." She nodded, going to talk to her. The others appeared. "Good. As I was saying, you older girls are going to be doing big sister duty. You're going to be there for nightmares for each other, buddy system around the base, all that. Any comments so far?" They shook their heads.
"Good. Since this base is particularly open, we'll be looking at the idea of security patrols within the barracks later on tonight with the people here. Their job is to protect us. I don't want any of you to have to fight but I will be teaching you how to fight in case it comes down to needing to. Because I'll be *damned* if any of you die on my watch. Good enough?" They nodded but a few grimaced. "I know it's not fun but it can save your life and it'll keep you from worrying about them. Plus it'll let the people here do their jobs instead of humoring us. Therefore, today we're going to see who knows what. Some of you have no training. That's fine. A few of you have some training. That's also fine. We'll start back at the beginning and move up from there." He smiled. "Now, pick your buddies, girls." They did that. "Good! We'll start working with them today then we'll move into age groups later." He pulled an older girl out to work with her. "First, this is how you fall," he said, showing them by moving her body for her. She squealed but wasn't hurt. "Now you try it." They did it for him.
The base commander watching smirked at his style. "He shows some training."
"Prior possession," the agent beside him admitted. He was technically over training. He'd watch for now. "Not bad though. Who is that little white haired girl?"
"Her mother works in computers."
"Will she mind?"
"Probably not. As long as she doesn't turn into Rosenburg." That got a nod of understanding and they continued to watch the girls train with their little sisters. "What was he complaining about?"
"The base is too open. Too easy to attack. What we've said a few times."
The commander looked at him. "We did what we could. They wanted to put everything underground."
Xander strolled over, smirking at them. "There's no guards or wards on the gates. Anything and I do mean *anything* can get through them, over them, under them, or around them. You have *nothing* to tell you when magic is working on base probably. You have no patrols of beasts that can tell demons or half demons. I'm keeping the girls as close together as possible. Got it?" They nodded, looking amused. "Good." He smiled. "Fair warning, each slayer, no matter how old, eats like a herd of teenage boys with an unlimited credit card at the mall's food court. Every meal." He walked off again. "Tickle fights are only good training if you're teaching them how to get away," he called as he walked, smiling at the one who was doing it. The younger one got away and kicked her on the leg. "Good strategy!" he praised. She beamed at him. "You got away, that's the important thing. Remember, the first rule of slaying is You Will Not Die Without Our Permission. Unless we're standing there with you, there is no dying on shift. If you die, you die in your shower because you slipped on the soap. Not in a battle. Got it?" They nodded. "The second rule is you do *everything* possible to make sure you live rule one every single time. No matter how tired you are. I don't care if you just came off patrol. There is no dying, anytime, anywhere, at all. Until we give you permission." They nodded and got back to work with the younger girls. He smirked at Dawn. "Her mom works in Computers."
"That's fine. She's a good girl and it can only help her when she's older and liking boys or whatever."
That got a smirk. "Good. Then why aren't you practicing?"
"She's having a potty break." The girl came trotting back out and Dawn got back into it with her. Xander had been helping her learn how to defend herself for the last year so she knew some of the first few lessons.
Xander watched his new pack of girls. "Damn I feel like I'm their dad," he muttered. He went to help a few who were having problems then got them moving onto the next step - getting up from falling. They'd need it sometime.
Xander watched the news a few days later, grimacing when he saw what was going on. They had the girls in one of the underground areas with the regular training master today while he watched the updates. He felt a tiny arm go around his waist and looked down. "Hey, Dawn."
"Massive earthquake so far. So whatever Willow did that activated all the girls earlier is going off now." He went back to watching. "Buses," he said, pointing.
"Your evacuation plan," she said, relaxing some. "Buffy will be on the last one."
"If at all possible all the girls will be," he agreed. He watched the people coming off the bus. "There's my drunken uncle." He kept watching. No parents. "Did they evacuate more people last night?" he called.
"My parents make it out?"
"Refused to move," someone reported. "They said to shoot them."
"Did we?" he asked, turning to look at them.
"Thought about it but we were running behind. The ones this morning were to get to them, Mr. Harris." Xander nodded, turning back around. He rolled his eyes.
Dawn squealed and bounced and pointed. "There she is! She looks wiped!" She found the phone and called. "You look like you need a kitty nap." She smiled. "Where?" She nodded. "I can get that. Want me there, there? We're doing good. Xander's been doing some minor self defense work with us to keep us out of trouble and to help with slimy boys later on. Sure." She handed the phone over. "Buffy."
"You good?" he asked. He listened to her complain. "Because we want her able to beat boys off her the way you used to," he said dryly. "They do like her already, Buffy, and it'll keep her from having to rip off a steering wheel like you did with that one football player." He watched her image on the tv blush and walk off. "So yes, I've been working with all the girls here. Even the little ones. I've got a big sister program set up." He listened to her complain. "Buffy, hush. They need it. They were activated too." She said something to Willow, who moaned. "That's right, not just the ones there. That means you've got a six- year-old girl here who's now a slayer. Where are you guys heading?" He nodded at that. "Good enough. Tell us and we'll join you wherever you need us." He hung up and looked up at the ceiling. "Why did you plague me with selfish bitches?" he asked the ceiling. He looked at her again. "She's fine but cranky."
"Wonderful. I can't date?"
"No. Tough shit because I'm realistic, but no." He smirked. "Let's go." She nodded, walking back to the training area with him. "It looks like nearly everyone made it out okay. We'll be emailed a sit rep from LA tonight when they get there, count noses, all that stuff. The scramble out of the hellmouth was too fast to see who was missing so far." That got a few shallow nods and worried looks. "There was a bus full of slayers, girls. I'm pretty sure we got everyone out or nearly everyone. If not, we'll handle it. Until then, we go back to it. Willow didn't realize she had activated you girls too." They all groaned. "Gotta happen. You're now target number one for the dark side. Welcome to being a padawan." The girls groaned at that joke but got back to it with him. He took the youngest to work with. She was the most vulnerable of all of them. The dark side had no problem with attacking kids. Someone came in. He tracked them walking over to talk to Dawn. "Problems?"
"Rosenburg did a nose count. You lost three and three civies, sir, I'm sorry."
Xander handed her to Dawn and walked over. "Who?"
"You ex, Andrew, and one of the witches that came to help," he said quietly. "Three of the slayers we sent as well." He nodded at that. "You don't...."
Xander held up a hand. "My graduating class had a fifteen percent death rate," he said quietly. "The least in at least a decade." That got a shudder. "I'll grieve later. Did we recover them?" That got a head shake. "That's reasonable I guess. Any word on the town?"
"Sucked in." He nodded and Xander followed to look at the remains of the town via satellite view. Xander hissed and sat down, staring at the destruction. "We're debating things right now."
"Rope it off," Xander said firmly. "Those who have family buried there, they can have someone dig them up later this year. For now, it's Love Canal, the demon version." He looked at him. "If you don't someone can go back to it. Anyone who didn't evacuate?"
"Whatever closed the hellmouth sent out a flux of power. It registered pretty high on the meters we just put up to tell us when it was opening. It looks like it fried anyone left, sir." That got a slower nod. "I'm sorry about your parents."
"I'll grieve later." He stood up to look. "Bodies in the graves?"
"Could it have transported instead of killed?" The agent shook his head. "We're sure?" He enlarged one view and Xander looked away, nodding at the body that was laying in the street with her dog on its unneeded leash. The picture was restored to normal magnification. "Thank you."
"Welcome. We'll quarantine the town and have someone check the bodies." That got a nod and Xander left. He sent those orders up to the base commander. He'd call whoever to make it happen.
Xander walked into the Hyperion that night, nodding at them. "Willow, that energy flux?" She gave him a confused look so he took her laptop and logged her into the site the computer tech had given him to show her if she didn't know. She looked and gasped, bringing others. He looked at Buffy. "Dawn's fine. I told her. The girls held a small memorial earlier and they're in quiet time tonight in the barracks." He got out of Giles way. "They agreed to barricade the town. No one in or out." Buffy sighed but shrugged. "Anyone left, the ones who decided they wouldn't evacuate ..." He pointed at the screen.
She looked then moaned and walked off. "We tried."
"I know." He stopped her. "Bodies in graves were cremated," he said quietly, staring her down. "Someone with ground radar machines went to check. Ashes and only ashes."
She slumped. "We're sure?"
"So far. They checked your mom's first," he said quietly. She gave him a hug and he squeezed back. "It'll be okay, Buffy. We'll handle it."
She pulled back to look at him. "A six-year-old slayer?"
He nodded. "She's pretty cool. I've been working with her to make sure she could get away from people if she had to. She's Caridad's little sister."
"Literal?" Giles demanded, turning to look at him.
"No, not literal. I set the girls up on the big sister system so they could each handle one of the younger ones we have. We have nine under the age of ten." Giles shuddered. "And one witch whose mommy works on the base that Dawn's been working with. They're doing okay. It's kept them safe so far. They know if something happens tonight how to evacuate and to where. Because the base is kinda open." He looked at her. "They're okay. You do what you have to do. Send the other girls to me if you have to. They agreed we can shelter there for a bit if we have to."
"The next hellmouth is in Cleveland."
"We're in lower Illinois."
"So not far?"
"Next state over." She smiled at that. "It's fairly safe. We've got guards around us." She gave him another hug. "Any idea...."
"The Turok-Han," Willow said, coming over to give him a hug. "How're the girls?"
"They're okay so far. I've had them starting back at the beginning of self defense training. Even the littlest one. She's going to need it more than most."
"I'm working on how to uncall," she said.
"That's cool. What if the girls want to hit their original families?"
"Some of them may not have any," Giles admitted. "We're not sure. Are the agents getting pushy?"
"It was suggested they might want to check into that option. The same as ones that no one found might not want to show up for training."
Giles sighed but nodded. "We'll have to work on that." He patted him on the shoulder. "I'm sorry, Xander."
"It's not your fault Anya went into the assault or that my parents refused to evacuate, Giles."
He frowned. "They did?" He nodded. "Then I'm very sorry."
"Xander, we want you to slow down," Buffy said. "We've got a few watchers left and we're not sure what's going on yet."
He smiled and patted her on the cheek. "Shut up, Buffy." She gaped in horrified anger. "Good. Now that we've got that settled. I'm still working on the younger girls. They need it and you don't train worth a damn. I'm betting most of the watchers left are research watchers. Why go after them? They can't hurt them. They'd be a later target." Buffy whimpered. "Someone's got to work on their training. Just because Sunnydale's sunk and Cleveland's new doesn't mean there's not other bad things out there that'll come for them. Especially the younger girls. They'd be seen as weaker and evil is lazy. They take out the weaker ones first."
Angel cleared his throat. "He's right. They would. There's all sorts of demons trying to figure out how to take advantage of this right now."
"Including some near us," Xander agreed. "We're a few hours from Chicago and I know there's some there." He looked at his girls. "Someone's got to do it. You can't train, Buffy. You do things instinctively but you can't help when someone's not able to do what you can. You proved that when we were running training in Sunnydale. You need Willow to do her computer stuff right now and then get ready to ward the new building or whatever. Giles may be in control of a lot of shit that he has no idea where it's going." He looked at Giles, who sighed but made agreeing noises. He looked at her. "You have *no one* right now to keep those girls safe. I'm doing that. I'm also here to repossess any you don't want to have here right now. That way they can get medical treatment and try to sleep through the nightmares. This many slayers in one area is an invitation to someone like Wolfram and Hart. One little bomb and the whole slayer network goes," he said quietly. Angel moaned and set people out on watch. He looked at her again. "Who am I bringing with me?"
"We can travel with them," Willow complained.
Xander looked at her. "How?"
She frowned. "What do you mean how?"
"How are you going to get forty people to Cleveland? The agents who headed there earlier said the whiplash of the hellmouth closing here started to open that one. It'll be fully open in three days they think." She shook her head. He nodded. Then he got into those readings for her. He pointed. "See?" He looked at Buffy again. "You have girls who need medical treatment. You have ones who need some serious help after their first fight, much less a battle. We can protect them while you plan on running to Cleveland."
"Can they help us?"
"Military transport will only move twenty-five at a time, Buffy."
She grimaced. "So we've got to leave some."
"Or let me take them since I've got medical facilities set up where I am."
"Xander, you're not going to be a watcher," she said.
He smacked her on the forehead. "Your mother would be disappointed that your dumb blonde act wasn't an act tonight, Buffy. What part of you don't have anyone else to do this didn't you get? It's us or it's you and you can't do that right now."
"He's right, B," Faith called. "Even if he is pushy."
"For a good reason," Xander said. "Need help putting that shoulder back in place?" She nodded so he helped her with that, making her moan but it let Wes wrap it. "Giles?"
"We can evacuate then relieve you of duty later," he agreed.
Xander looked at him then snickered. "Sure, Giles. You can call when you get frustrated at having a whole building full of girls who don't care what you think." He looked at Faith. "You want to come?"
"I should go with the older girls. We'll take the ones who aren't shell shocked." Xander grinned. "Good?"
"Good plan. That'll work." He went with her and Wesley to gather the others. They trudged listlessly but it'd be better for them. "We have room for four more if we need to," Xander announced. "Last trip to Illinois until Willow gets people to Cleveland." A few more girls came forward and he nodded since there was one too many. "We'll deal. Buffy?"
"Fine. Whatever. We'll get them when we have somewhere set up."
He watched her stomp off then looked at Faith, who shrugged. "Further on in that site, under my name, is a plan that the guys worked out and found for space," he said in her ear when he gave her a hug. "If Giles likes it, good. If not, let him find his own." She nodded and he left with the girls. The agent grimaced. "I'll sit up front if I have to."
"That's fine." Xander helped the last one into the last van and checked, smiling and loading Willow's cat as well when it came running out. Then he got in his spot in the front one and they headed back to the airstrip. It bumped an agent coming out but oh well. They got out of there and were in the air when an emergency message passed through the airwaves. The agent came to get Xander. "Problems," he said in his ear, leading him up front.
"What happened now?" He crossed his arms as he listened to the replay of the notice going out. He groaned. "Let someone know where we're going?" he asked the agent.
"Already did. They said they're unconscious. Not dead. We don't know what happened."
"Wolfram and Hart," Xander said. "They're LA's major problem and they wanted Angel. They had fifteen slayers in that building." That got a shudder. "It was a tempting target. That's...that's how I talked Buffy into letting me take the girls with me. Just in case this sort of thing happened."
"Faith wasn't there. Willow wasn't identified yet either. That former watcher, Pryce, was with Faith."
Xander frowned. "Angel?"
"There. Unable to wake up too."
"That means it's magic." That got a nod. "Remind someone he's a vampire?"
"Already did, sir. They'll make sure he's not put in a well-lit room."
"Thanks." He went back to the back. "Girls." They looked at him. "Maybe I am a seer."
"Why?" one asked. "Did Wolfram and Hart attack? I know you were angsting over one."
"They're all in some sort of magical suppression," he said honestly. He grabbed onto an overhead strap and looked back at the change in altitude. "We're landing already?"
"Orders, sir," the agent said, looking grim. "They wouldn't say who ordered it just got a general to order it."
"Fuck." A few of the girls flinched. "You're safe. Don't stress." He looked at the agent then at them. "The good news is Faith and Wes weren't in the building. They can handle Cleveland." That got a few sighs of relief. He frowned. "Call the base, get the girls into safety."
"Already done, sir. Figured we should lock down."
Xander frowned. "Off base. Even if it's only indigestion." That got a nod and he made that call. He looked at them. "If something happens, you let us handle it. You duck. You only use enough skills to get away. Am I clear?" They nodded. "Good girls. I'm proud of you and how you made it so far. If at all possible, this shit is stopped tonight." That got a nod. "Just relax. We' ll be fine."
"Sir, buckle in," the agent said.
"Xander, kid. Don't sir me right now." He sat down and buckled in, mentally calming himself down while they landed. They taxied out to a transport truck. "Won't fit all the girls," he said calmly. The door opened from the outside once stairs were up and he looked at the man coming in. "You would be?"
"The new head of the Watcher's Council," he said. "Who're you?"
"If you were really a watcher, you'd know," he said, standing up to get into his face. "The girls are going somewhere safe. Then we'll straighten it out. They had their first real war earlier tonight. They don't need this."
The watcher laughed. "Who're you to say anything?"
Xander shoved him out of the plane, watching him roll down the stairs. "Xander Harris. Giles' second in Sunnydale. Backup to the Slayer. No matter what sort of coma she's in."
"Get him!" he shouted.
Xander pulled the agent's gun and wounded them all. "Let's not play this game, boys. I'm not a happy camper." They backed off as sirens came closer. He handed the agent back his gun. "You want or me?"
"I'll go." He walked down the stairs, holding up his badge. "We're escorting some girls from LA to Illinois. They had us land under someone's authority. All we know is this one tried to come up to and claim the girls we're escorting."
One of the MP's looked then at him. "Why are they injured?"
Xander came out of the plane and sat on the top of the stairs. "The girls were in the battle in California earlier. These nice people just tried to claim them. If they had been who they said they were, they'd know who I am. They didn't. Told me all I needed to know and when one got pushy I shoved him down the stairs. He told them to take me out, I shot back with the agent's gun. Now, can we go? I've got twenty-eight fragged teenage girls after their first exposure to combat. We need tissues and stuff soon."
The MP's looked at each other and one made a call then nodded. "You have authorization to leave, Mr. Harris. Please report back to base."
"Something happen?" the agent asked. The MP nodded. "The girls?"
"I'm told they're safe, sir. That's all I know."
"It'll be another hour before we get there," Xander said quietly.
"More than that," the agent said.
Xander looked inside then at him. "You ride herd." That got a nod and he jogged back up the stairs. "Do whatever you have to so they're safe." He called. "It's me. Come get me. Now." He took the agent's gun and walked down the stairs, going into the portal that opened. It closed and he came out the other side, looking at the dark basement. "Dawn?" She shh'd him and pulled him down beside her. The portal finished closing. "Watchers?" he said more quietly.
"Supposedly. They have two of the girls."
He nodded, looking around in the dim light. The youngest one waved and he smiled, waving back. He checked the clip then reached over to take another one. "Stay until I clear it." He snuck up the stairs, finding them trying to board it over and he could smell gas. He moved to the side and kicked, knocking it. Then he started to fire on people. They screamed and died. He cleared the rest of the building. "Dawn, now," he called. She came out and they snuck off to the cars. "I know I taught you to drive."
She nodded, getting them into the truck. Then she got in to drive. "Where?" He whispered in her ear. "You sure?"
"Very. Hide there. Call that number I gave you for emergencies. If a trooper stops you, tell him the truth: there's people who just tried to burn you guys alive and you're going to safety. Let them call ahead." She nodded, driving off. "Good luck, sprout." He called it himself. "It's Xander. I'm calling in a super emergency. I've got Dawn and twelve of the fifteen young slayers headed your way in a pickup. Someone's trying to finish what the Bringers did. We're in Illinois. That's why you. She's driving by the way. I've got two missing and another student. Thanks, man." He hung up and went to look. He found where they were. Their hostage takers weren't happy when he gutted them both. He got the girls free and called EMS. They showed up and he checked ID's. "They go right to a secure wing. The two on the ground were part of the group that broke onto the base to kill them."
"We're to take them to the base hospital, sir. Medics are waiting."
"The rest?" a cop asked as he walked in.
"Going to safety." He looked at him. "Joe."
"Xander." They shook hands. "You sure?"
"Dawn was driving the pickup truck."
"Messy," he admitted. "Very messy. Your girls?"
"Bad shape," he sighed, following him out. "They were going to burn the ones in that store so there's gas on the floor."
"I'll tell the fire department," he promised, doing that. Xander got a text an hour later saying the girls were safely where he wanted them and she had left a message for Faith and one of the girls on the plane she had been updating about her cousin. He nodded, going to handle this. When the plane landed, the new girls got escorted there as well. Just in case.
Xander stood up as the man walked in. "Mr. President. You could've called."
"Not for this I can't, son." He shook his hand. "Watchers?"
"A rogue band who wanted full control from Giles. We're working to figure out what sort of spell is keeping the others down. Faith's went to Cleveland to handle it. We've sent two of the older girls who decided they could handle more stress back to LA to handle it with someone else that we trust who wasn't in the building."
"Good. Now what?"
"I have no damn idea," he admitted, cracking the older man up. "I'm doing good to keep the girls from crying, sir. Honestly."
"Which is what I need." He sat down across from him. "Most of the base people you knew were temporary, until the new unit took over."
"Sir, if we're staying here, there needs to be some major security upgrades."
"I know, son. That's why you're not staying here. This one was temporary as well. The real one we had to do another bit of fixing after an inspector got pissed at us." That got a knowing smirk. "Exactly. I'm getting the new head of the DCIS agency tonight. I'll need you to brief him and help him finish recruiting. I've got some for you but not a lot."
"LA has an FBI team that's dealt with Sunnydale before. They came after graduation." That got a nod so he wrote down the name he remembered. "If he's still working he'd be good to help the girls."
"I'll put that around and if not I'll ask."
"There's a Detective Kate Locksley or Lock something that was working with Angel now and then. She knows it all." He wrote that down as well. "I think she was homicide. If she can't handle it, she'll know who to call."
"Agreed." He looked at the boy. "Are you staying on, son?"
"I'd better. The girls will pout anyone else to death, sir." He laughed but nodded. "Honestly, Buffy didn't want me so I was going to offer. I have no idea why but they decided I wasn't going to be in Cleveland anyway."
"I heard that from Faith a few hours ago. She said it was to protect you." Xander gave him a pointed look. "I know and so did she. She said Buffy was on a girl power trip, whatever that means."
"Special girls do special things. She was the mother of all slayers." That got a nod. "So she's on a power trip. It's not that uncommon now and then." He scratched his left shoulder with his right hand. "I don't know what to do next, sir."
"First, let's keep the girls motivated. There's hope to wake them up soon. Wesley said that they think they know the spell and have found some witches who can help." That got a nod. "So we'll get the new agency head tonight and take you and the girls to the new base."
"Thank you, sir. You could've been a bigger asshole about this."
"The guy after me already knows too," he assured him smugly. He had decided not to run for reelection and the newly elected president had already been briefed and gone over everything. "Let's get you all settled." Xander walked out with him, finding the girls getting into a truck with their bags. "You can ride with them."
"Thanks." He went to jump in and looked at his girls. "We're set up. They've been creating an FBI type agency for demons for a while now. The base we were on was a temporary headquarters while the real one got done. Okay?" They nodded. "Good. Dawn, have you talked to Wes?"
"Twice since we had all the stuff. He's already signed on but I didn't understand what he meant."
"That means he's part of us too." That got a nod and they were off. "We'll be there soon and it'll be okay. I'm sure we can figure out what we're doing next, ladies. Then we'll deal with stuff." He let the youngest one cuddle him. "Ooh, such a silly girl."
"Am not," she complained.
He smiled. "Yes you are. You're cuddling me instead of Miss Kitty." She went to hug the cat again. She had adopted Willow's cat. No one had yet found Willow in the mess in LA. "Brenda, when we get there, you're the oldest so you're this month's dorm mom." She nodded at that. "I may or may not be handing out room assignments this time." She smiled and so did the other girls. "We'll figure it out. Nothing else to do this week after all."
"Hey, it's a few less hours of training," Dawn quipped back, cracking up the younger girls. All of them *really* hated to train.
Tony DiNozzo looked up as the person who had invited him to a business dinner showed up, standing up with eyes wide. "Sir, I wasn't expecting you."
"Sit, DiNozzo. I'm not a girl that you have to stand up for." He sat down and the agent sat across from him. "I have a doozy of an offer for you and you're going to curse my name for years."
"That sound suspiciously like a desk job," he said blandly.
"Sometimes. A new agency is starting up."
"I've heard rumors."
"They're building from the ground up and people already know you exist. There's already been problems."
"That's what the rumors were about. A base raided."
"Seventeen people killed," he said. Tony winced. "An attack in LA that left a lot of people in a strange coma. A lot of girls who'd be mentored by those in the coma that now don't have one."
"Does this have to do with the girls' army that came out of Sunnydale by the rumors the FBI heard from LA ATF?"
"In part." He pushed a folder over. "It's still considered a classified agency."
Tony read through the materials, which was a lot of filling in spots in the rumors he'd heard. He finally put it down and sipped his wine. "They need a good senior agent?"
"They need an agent over everyone," he said blandly. "Once you've got things set up you can fall back to senior agent. I think the next guy has a person in mind for head of the agency. You'd be pro-tem. Then fall back. He's already agreed to that. We need someone who can set up working teams of people with flexible thoughts. The girls range from six to twenty-one. Some of them are already off handling problems. You'd have people with some knowledge but you've got issues that you need to step on immediately and setting up some foster families could help. You'd have a R&D department to start stocking too. You can pick anyone you want as long as they won't out the project and they can deal with the subject matter you'll be handling. There's a very few experts left."
"I saw that." He sipped his wine. "Why me?"
"They could use a bit of Gibbs' style of management now and then but they've got to be able to deal with civvies. Once the new year starts you'll be dealing with cases whenever a PD or agency needs you to. You'll be dealing with those in the coma as well. They've been moved there. Gibbs didn't like it when he had to sit on the board to end the last president's project because it contained torture and other sweet, fluffy things like that." Tony shuddered. "There's going to be some like those people were. There's going to be some who can't take the knowledge. You're flexible enough to deal with strange things and Abby both."
"Can I recruit her?"
"If you can sneak her past Gibbs' chains."
He smirked. "The director at NCIS is a bit of a pain in her butt, sir."
"I can understand why, son." He smiled at the waiter. "I'll have the chicken and orzo."
"Don't, sir. It's dry tonight," Tony told him. "Try the beef dish on special. It's good. I had some for lunch." That got a nod and the waiter wrote that down. "I'll have leftovers from lunch." He grimaced but went to put in their orders. "We had a stakeout here earlier."
"I heard, that's why I picked here." He smirked. "Figured you wouldn't have to change clothes."
"Nice of you, sir. Thank you. Why me? You have so many better candidates."
"Not with your mind, your style, your training, and your abilities to put together cohesive units. Recruitment will be your challenge."
He shrugged. "I can think of ten off the top of my head, sir."
"Good. You need about three hundred all told." Tony chuckled and nodded. "Then you'll do it?"
"As long as I don't end up the permanent agency head, sir."
"Like Gibbs is, you'll be sub-head and only do that when there's an emergency."
"So I'll have a political appointee who has not a clue above me?"
"Sometimes. Not always. I think he was talking about a physicist for yours."
"Oh, sir, no. Scientists run things horribly."
"I know, son, but you'll manage and straighten them out, even if you do have to smack them on the head like Gibbs does you." He smirked as their dinners were brought. "Thank you." It had been fast so it must've been the left over lunch special. But it was very good.
Later that night Tony showed up on Gibbs' doorstep with a letter. He handed it over. "The president asked me to take over a spot at a small agency that's just starting," he said quietly. "It's already gotten attacked and he needs me there."
"Long term leave?"
"I might want to come back some day," he said with a grin. "But for right now, my first case has kids. Wish I could've given you more notice, boss."
"It happens. You've filed the other forms?"
"He's talking to the Director at breakfast and I've got them filled out electronically to send in. My desk is already packed. He said I get to head smack people like you do, boss." He shook his hand. "Thank you."
"Not a problem. You want to come back, you call."
"I will. If you need my help, you call. I'll be busy but not totally busy." He saluted then walked off, happy enough at the moment. Even though he was moving out to North Dakota. He drove his car to the airstrip and it was loaded for him. He took his seat and found a young man next to him. "New hire too?"
"Your briefing bastard of the day," Xander quipped, handing over a thicker folder. "That's what we have so far in people, what's been going on, and how we've managed the daily crisises. Yes that's a plural."
Tony smiled. "You must be Xander." The young guy nodded. "Tony DiNozzo," he said, shaking his hand.
"Don't worry, we're pretty nice but the girls will squeal and pounce. They've learned that from Dawn. Dawn, quit scrying," he called quietly. The feeling left. He shrugged at his funny look. "She's worried. The last time I left the girls alone they got attacked."
"That's understandable. They'd be worried it'll be a repeat." He got into the folder. "One's six. I thought he was joking."
"Nope. A fully activated six-year-old slayer. I have *no* idea what to do about her other than cuddle and train her and I'm not fully trained myself. We need a good defense instructor."
"We'll see what we can do. I wouldn't be averse to some of the girls going to join an agent's family if that would be a workable solution to finding them a Watcher to work with." He looked at him. "Put two with the youngest one?"
"I have them on a big sister program right now anyway. I would suggest after you hire a defense teacher, you hire a shrink too. We've got some battle nightmares still and I can't ease them fully. Not to mention slayer dreams."
He nodded. "I know a few good ones." He smiled. "Relax. We'll handle it."
"I swear that's all I've been doing since Agent Sommers showed up. They're good kids, the people we've got so far are good people. But I'm tired of being the dad."
"That's why he hired me, Xander. Relax." He nodded and went limp. "Take a nap. I'll ask questions later." That got a grin and Xander moved to the other row to lie down across the seats. Tony went back to reading. The kid was exhausted from handling things he could only guess at how they went. He and Tony could switch off some of that stress. Hopefully. Or maybe the new head person after the new president took office would have a clue what they were doing. He made a mental list to go over what they knew so far. He knew a few classically trained psychologists, even though one was a profiler.
Tony walked onto the base and sure enough he was pounced by the youngest slayer. He smiled, you had to when she was. "Hi, cutey."
"Hi, Uncle Tony!" She beamed at Xander. "Hi, Xander!" She switched to hug his legs. "Not going to leave again?"
"Not for a while, Cor." He walked her off, letting her cling to his left thigh. She was giggling and it was good for her. "We're back!" he shouted once they were inside the main building. "Inspection and announcement time! Save us some of the food, girls!" Cor ran ahead to get her own snacks. He grinned. "Slayers eat a *lot*."
"They burn a lot of energy." He let Xander lead him into the meeting hall, smiling at all the people there to meet him. "Hi, guys. I'm Tony DiNozzo. I trained under Gibbs." A few people laughed. "We'll figure it out together, all right?" They nodded and he got sucked into the greeting party by the girls. He did a mental nose count and came up a few short but so had Xander because he was slipping out a side door to go somewhere.
Xander walked into the infirmary. "New head's here, Dawn."
She looked over from brushing Buffy's hair. "Nearly done." She finished it up and braided it again then put the stuff into the bedside drawer before making sure her sister was comfortable. Then she left on his arm. She got the other girls from the infirmary and one from the kitchen. "New head guy's here." They ran in to introduce themselves. She straightened herself out before they could walk in. She sighed in pleasure. "Eye candy."
He poked her. "Competent eye candy."
She laughed, walking over there. "Caridad." She quit hanging off him. "Sorry, she's excitable and thinks you're eye candy too. Dawn Summers."
He smiled. "I'm only eye candy if you're of legal age."
"Even we have to dream," Dawn quipped back, making a few people crack up, including him.
He gave her a short hug. "I'm going to like working with you, Dawn." He let her go and patted Caridad on the shoulder. "You can stare but if your grades go down you're forbidden for a while, all right?" They smiled and bounced off to talk to each other. "How's your sister, Dawn?"
"The same. I just got done with her bed bath." He nodded, giving her wrist a squeeze. "Thank you."
"I'm not inhuman unless you get me up after very little sleep and don't have coffee." She walked off giggling to talk to Xander again. He walked over to some of his geek corps. He was so screwed, he had mega geeks under him and no idea what they did! Well, that'd be a third hire. Abby would *love* to come here probably.
Tony went after his first hire, finding him in a bar. Not a nice bar but it was a decent bar. He sat down next to him, putting down money. "Beer? Whatever's on tap?" The bartender gave him a funny look but did that. He looked at the man next to him. "Tony DiNozzo."
"Head of DCIS."
The man moaned. "Excuse me?" Tony smirked. "No. Retired." He took a drink.
"I don't want you as a field agent, Major. I want you as a defense trainer. Someone who can teach how to do things the right way."
He looked at him. "Which branch is DCIS for?"
"None of the above. It's classified." He sipped his beer then grimaced.
"You said whatever was on tap."
That got a nod and a gulp. "Had worse." He put his glass down. "New agency starting up. We start taking cases after the new year. I'm the temp agency head until the new guy appoints someone. I won't lie. You're going to hate the subject matter we deal with. We deal with a lot...inhuman crimes."
The major's eyes narrowed. "I know one of them."
"My second-in-command right now was from Sunnydale. We handle those things. If we barge in on them or they barge in on us. You might say we're the condom keeping the two worlds from infecting each other. I've got the rest of the council's girls, new agents, and have to hire. Your main job would be the girls and making sure the others could do the job in the field."
He snickered. "That's a high position."
"We have twenty-eight girls awake total," he said quietly. "One of them is six and thanks to Miss Rosenburg, she's active." He put down his beer a bit hard to stare at him. "We have no idea how to uncall her," he said quietly. "We're doing the best we can to protect her and keep her safe while teaching her how to get away. I need people I can count on to deal with things if they have to. You can and you have an attitude that I like. You're honorable. You'll definitely tell me if someone's not fit for duty. I need a defense trainer. Not the 'this is how you deal with something if you have to' but the 'this is how you get away from something trying to kill you' one."
"This is my bar."
"While it's a nice bar, it'd get you out of the field for a while and I've been hearing you turned down a job due to being tired. This would give you a while. Take it for a year, or even six months. Just find your successor once you know what's needed."
"Six months be enough?"
"No but it's a start. You can tell me what and who I need to go recruit. We'll have you to fill in until I can get someone good. You can help the girls. By the way, they all squeal and pounce."
Major Sheppard laughed, shaking his head. "You're a piece of work, DiNozzo. Gibbs would be laughing his ass off."
"Gibbs doesn't want to deal with this issue."
"Don't blame him."
"Me either but someone's got to do it when things cross over."
He looked at him. "I have a few people I can recommend."
"We'll need a good arms master sometime soon. I was told defense person, shrink to deal with the nightmares from the last battle the girls were in, which was most of them's first fight at all, and then someone to help me with the geeks on staff."
"Possibly. If possible. I need a good R&D head and she'd be good at it."
He considered it then nodded. "I'll consider it tonight. I might be able to talk an arms master into it. Possibly a field agent or two too."
"Have to be dependable and flexible of thought. I've heard of Margo and if you think she can I'll let you tell me."
He looked at him then shook his head. "No, she'd freak out. She did the last time. That's why she's doing her backup identity for now in Las Vegas as a domme." He sighed. "Tonight?"
"I'm at the Hilton."
"First paycheck's next month." That got a laugh. "Got two others I need to talk to. Especially about the six-year-old slayer I have." He stood up and put a tip down. "Look me up later, Major. Thank you." He walked off happier.
Matt Sheppard took the phone from his bartender's hand with a grin. "Thanks." He dialed the number downstairs. "We just got a job offer that will horrify you and make Deke cackle. Leave Margo. She'll freak out again." He hung up and walked down there. "We were just recruited by the temporary head of DCIS."
"The new demon investigative agency?" Nick, his youngest team member asked, looking confused. "I heard about the problems they'd had and the Homeland sub agency that the last President made while I was in the DEA undercover."
Benny Ray Riddle looked at his boss. "You're joking."
"As DiNozzo, yes Gibbs' DiNozzo, put it, we'll be the condom keeping the two worlds from infecting each other. No matter which side starts it. They need a defense teacher, field agents, and a weapons master. They're willing to take a short, six month contract to make sure we fit. I was warned all the rest of those girls that came out of Sunnydale are there with them. One's six." Benny shuddered. "He's talking about her with someone today." He sat down at the meeting table. "Deke?" He came out of the shadows. "What's the underground saying about this?"
"Harris is fair. He's from the slayer's team out there. Only hits the hunters. The girls are doing okay with him. He got pushy after the battle to get more home with him. They think he's a seer of some sort but they're not sure. He's the mother hen right now. DiNozzo has a lot of clues and he can handle field work. Agency head... Well, they're taking bets on how long it takes before he snaps and smacks Harris on the head." He sat down. "They're serious?"
"Fully serious. They go green on new year's day. They had more people until their temporary base was raided. People trying to get the girls from what I heard," Matt told them.
Deke nodded. "That's what I heard too. Rogue Watchers. The same one that bombed the ones here."
"Charming of them," Benny Ray said bitterly.
"They're in some strange coma, won't wake up, but they're at the new base," Deke told him. "We've got two girls locally and one girl on the new hellmouth in Cleveland with a Watcher. I don't know if they'd take me for field work. I am half."
"I doubt that'll matter," Matt said, shrugging a bit. "I'll let him know. I said I'd think about it today. He's at the Hilton. Said first paycheck was next month." That got a snicker from Nick. "So?"
"You're right, Margo would freak," Nick told him. "Where is it?"
"North Dakota," Matt said dryly. "Full base, base town. Some underground, some not."
"Are we going to have a rescue squad?"
"I'm sure we would," Matt agreed. "Do we talk about it tonight?" They all shrugged. "Let me know in a few hours so we can tell him to order pizza." They nodded, going to think about it on the beach. Matt too. He'd miss bikini wearing girls playing volleyball.
Tony walked up to the table he had reserved, smiling. "Sorry I'm a bit late. Got lost. Been a while since I drove in LA traffic." He sat down. The waiter left a salad and tea then left. "Thank you for coming to see me, guys. I'm Tony DiNozzo, new, temporary, head of DCIS and head of recruiting as well at the moment."
"From Gibbs' team?" the older brother asked.
"That new agency that got rumors started?" Charlie asked.
"Why us?" the father asked.
"Because we have the last slayers with us and one's very young. Well, technically seven of them are very young but one's *really* young. I need people locally who we can work with and count on to handle things and know when to call us. People who can work with the slayers in town. Don was recommended for that. We have two here now and we want to keep it as paired off sets at the very least. If I let the youngest one come out this way to a foster family, it'll be three." He sipped his tea and put it back down. "As I put it earlier, we'll be the condom keeping the two worlds from infecting," he told Charlie. "I'm not going to be biased for or against our new case load. I don't care what you're born as. Just don't break the law."
"Which is good," Alan agreed dryly. "So why all of us to meet with you?"
Tony pulled out the pictures in his pockets. "These are the two girls who're presently here. Their present mentor is nice. He's part of a gang that hunts as well. We're going to be paying to set them up somewhere and they'd need someone to look over their shoulder."
"They're just kids," Don complained.
Tony looked. "She's nineteen. The other's seventeen. Which is why we need someone to look over their shoulders." That got a nod. "And the six-year-old we need to find a good, tolerant foster family. I figured if you guys knew anyone you could pass it on."
Alan looked at him. "Six?"
"Six. With what happened in Sunnydale...." The waiter came back to refill the tea pitchers. "Thank you." He nodded and left again. "With the way things happened out there, she got activated too. We can't find the person who did it. She was supposedly at the explosion but we can't find her. She's the only missing one from that."
"So you want us to be big brothers and help them if necessary and call you in when needed," Don said. "That's not so bad."
"No, but a lot of agents would have a problem with this caseload," Tony pointed out. "Your former trainer was the guy who handled the Sunnydale gas explosion at that graduation."
"I had just started in the agency then," Don agreed. "I remember going on that."
"My second is Harris."
"Oh!" He nodded. "So I *know* and I won't freak out."
"Yeah. Plus you'll be eligible to take any of the training we can get you there for or however we set it up. That way you can handle minor things on your own or with the girls if you had to."
"So he'd be a backup watcher," Charlie said.
"Exactly," Tony agreed. "If necessary. Big brother, part time watcher, agent for both agencies. Probably won't expand your paycheck but if you wanted to move over full time you'd be more than welcome. We'll have some investigative teams." He looked at Charlie. "The same as I'd like to be able to come to you now and then if a case needs your sort of help since I can't find many people with your level of qualifications that I can talk to like a normal person. The last one I talked to was petting his pet toad and calling it Neville."
"Was he named Trevor?" Charlie asked. "After the toad in Harry Potter?"
Tony nodded. "He was. Know him?"
"I do. He's a bit strange."
Tony leaned closer. "Bit strange is Abby or McGee, Charlie. Or even you. Really strange is Trevor and Millicent Oranges. Both of who were on my recruit list." He cackled but nodded. "Exactly." He sat up again. "So, do you think we might be able to work this out?"
"I think we could," Don agreed. "I'm not going to switch over."
Tony nodded. "Not everyone wants to. I still need local people I can count on to call if it's something for us to handle or who're able to handle smaller stuff. We've even got the prison nearly finished."
"What about the younger one?" Alan asked. Tony pulled out her picture and handed it over. "She's adorable."
"She is; she's bouncy and babbles and nearly broke my bed sneaking in to wake me up last night so I could get my flight," Tony told him, getting a laugh and the picture handed back. "She's a good girl but we're all worried about what'll happen if she doesn't have good parents to help us raise her."
"What about her natural ones?"
Tony shrugged. "We have no idea. Xander said she was with the agents who got raided at the old base. He looked, no one said anything about her parents. We think one of the former Watchers managed to save her. We can't be sure because he's dead. I have put in a DNA test to see if we can get a relationship match. Nothing's come up in two days. So it's very slim."
Don nodded. "If so there's a good chance that's from a criminal database at this point."
"It is. We searched the military one first." That got a nod. "Immigration second but that was a long shot. She sounds American." He shifted and dug into his salad. "It's on the expense account, guys, dig in." They all ate, it was going to be easy to hammer out arrangements to coopt Don now and then and maybe, if he was lucky, they'd like little Corette. He hoped. She needed sensible parents like these three men.
Tony smiled as he and Don walked into his office. "Cor!" he yelled when he saw the picture. "No finger painting on my desk! Use the table!" He looked. "Nice job though, sweetheart," he said when she appeared. "Very pretty artwork, even if I do have to scrape paint." He smiled and she beamed, helping him hang it up on the wall. "There, that's pretty, right, Don?"
"That's very pretty." He smiled at her, squatting down. "Hi, Cor. I'm Don. I work in LA."
"Where Mandy and Crissy work," Tony said when she looked at him. "He's one of the agents, he's a good guy to talk to."
She smiled, showing a missing tooth. "I banged it."
"That happened to me too. I knocked one out playing catch once."
"With a baseball."
She frowned at Tony. "Baseball?"
"You know that white ball Caridad and Xander were working with? Like those only bigger. She's never been exposed to a lot of sports except University of Michigan football."
"I guess that happens." He smoothed over her hair. "Did you get a popsicle for your mouth? That should make it feel better." She ran off to tell someone that. Don stood up. "She's adorable. She's going to rip hearts out and stomp on them when she's older."
Tony grinned. "She is. Hopefully not literally." She ran back, letting him cut open the tube. "There you go. Let me work?" She nodded and ran off again with it. "Sit, please." He sat behind the desk, putting some blank paper over the paint so he could type up the agreement. Xander stomped in. "Don Epps, Xander Harris."
Xander looked at him. "Do I know you?"
"I was the rookie agent at graduation."
"Oh! Hey. Signing on here?"
"Local liaison," Tony said. "Plus his family's agreed to help Crissy and Mandy when they need sense."
"Want to impart some to the other girls who want to go bra shopping for the one that just found out she needs one?"
"No. Not really."
"Me either. Tony? I know there's a female *somewhere* in the US we can hire? Please?"
"Tomorrow," he said dryly, waving a hand. "Tell them she can go this weekend. We'll take a field trip to outfit people on Sunday. As long as they spend a reasonable amount. Say under two hundred?"
Xander snickered. "Buffy and Dawn can spend that bra shopping, Tony. The other girls too."
Tony looked at him. "Then get the Council's money to upkeep them, Xander."
"Already did," he muttered. "Including all the nice 'setting up slayer' funds they had. And filed for the insurance. I don't want to be the head of the Council! Can't Wes?"
"He said no."
"Fuck. Gotta go yell at him," Xander muttered, walking off.
"Bad word!" Cor yelled a minute later. "No swearing in front of me, I'm little! I'll bop you good!"
Don laughed. "She's definitely a spitfire."
Tony looked at him. "Think your dad would agree? She's gotten very attached to Xander."
He shrugged. "I'll ask. He's in town so Charlie could come up and look things over so he could recommend people."
"I love your brother. If I liked guys, I'd date him."
"You'd have to be local. Dad would get really upset if he moved again."
"Pity." He finished filling in the pre-made form and printed it, letting him see it. "How's that?"
He looked then nodded, signing it. "That works for me." He handed it back. "Thanks, DiNozzo."
"Welcome. The boss looking for me?"
"All the time." That got a smile. "The FBI out there is too. They don't want to go near him at the moment. They said he's sulking." He walked out, catching Cor when she tried to pounce him. "Nearly made it. You need sneaking lessons."
"Then we'd never be able to stop her breaking in while we were having private time," Xander said dryly. "For some reason she can pick locks."
"That's a good skill. Come on, we'll introduce your popsicle to my brother Charlie. He's my little brother. You can even play with his hair probably." He walked her off, letting her wave at Xander. Who waved back while still swearing at Wes about making him head watcher in the universe. Don let her down inside the lab. "See the one with the hair? That's Charlie." She snuck over and pounced him with a grin. "She wanted to introduce her popsicle."
"It's very nice to meet you, popsicle," he said, shaking the popsicle to make her laugh.
"Meet me instead," she said.
"It's good to meet you too. What's your name?"
"Cor," she said a bit shyly, smiling a bit.
"Her full name's Cordette," Don said. He sat down and she crawled up in his lap to get closer to Charlie's hair. She looked, tipping her head off to one side then the other. "I told you, his hair's like another brother. It takes a long time in the bathroom."
She poked him. "Hair's not a people. Unless it's Cousin Itt. Xander said so when he trimmed mine."
"He did an okay job," Charlie said. "He's just jealous because I have more hair," he said, taking her to hold. "Eat the popsicle so it doesn't melt and spill." She slurped and watched him work for a bit. At least until their father came in. "Cordette, this is our dad. Dad, this is Cordette." She giggled and waved then pointed at something. "That's a division symbol. That's to take a bigger number and cut it into smaller chunks the size of the smaller number."
"Wow. You're really smart."
He smiled. "I'm sure you will be too some day."
"No, I'll be really strong."
"Bet me," Xander yelled as he walked past the door. "You'll be smart and strong, Cordette. Do not become Buffy."
She laughed. "He says things like that."
Alan took her to hold. "I think he's right. Charlie teaches others how to be smart so he must think you'll be smart too."
She blinked at him then hugged him. "You're nice." She wiggled down and went to look in the hallway. "If we sneak now we can have the early dinner, before all the bigger girls get the food and we starve and stay this size. Xander said he's going out tonight so he can't defend me a portion. Want to eat with us?"
"Sure, we'll defend you some dinner," Don promised, walking out with her.
Alan pointed at his back, looking at his younger son.
"She came in to introduce me to her popsicle."
Alan nodded. "We'll see." He walked his younger son out to look at the other girls. They were eating like they hadn't seen food in weeks. "I'm worried, do we have fire suppressant gear?" he joked quietly.
Dawn looked at him. "They have evening defense lessons with the new teachers. Yes, all slayers eat like that. They're all starved." She handed Cor a bowl. "Peas?"
"Yes," Alan said. "All kids have to eat vegetables. It's what makes you grow up big and strong."
"Poo." She ate them anyway, she was hungry. Don got her more food from the big table when she finished up and she beamed, digging into her thirds. Tony walked behind her and gave her a hug. "Peas?" she suggested.
"I can't eat yet. I'll eat during late dinner." He patted her on the head. "You have evening lessons too. Go with the bigger girls." She nodded and finished up, pulling Don with her to show off. He smiled as the other two followed once their plates were in the dish drop off slot. Tony got his dinner to go, heading back to his desk to call some people about his R&D department. Tomorrow he'd have to meet people in DC. Plus avoid Gibbs. He hated it when his boss sulked, it was nearly pitiful.
Alan Epps walked into Tony's office late that night. "She's amazing."
Tony looked up and nodded. "She is. That's why she needs good, understanding, tolerant parents."
"If you guys can find one...."
Alan scowled. "Like you didn't introduce them on purpose."
"No, she left me a drawing," he said, pointing at the finger paint. "Don fell in love on his own."
Alan smiled. "Fine, we'll take her in for a while, see if it works out. Does she always eat that much?" Tony nodded, taking another bite. "The only way you get any?" he taunted with a smirk.
"I have to hit DC tomorrow."
Alan laughed "Have fun."
"No. Gotta duck the boss. I heard he's still pouting." He looked up again. "So?"
"She'll make a great granddaughter." That got a smile and a nod, then Tony dug something out to hand to him. "You knew?"
"Xander and I have been looking and talking about her new parents for a while now. She won't say a word about her last ones but her physical said she wasn't abused. The DNA test never came back with anything so no one knows. One of the guys tracked the watcher that they got her from's movements. She was either paid for or taken right before the Bringers got there. So ether one bad thing or the other."
"She'll be happy with us. Any idea on education stuff?"
"She's not in school, a name search through every state didn't pull up any school records so it was either home schooling that sucked since she can't read even her name or a small, private religious school and they hadn't gotten to that yet."
"No one ever said either of my boys were scared of school so she'll do fine with us."
"I'm sure she will. If you have problems, call. She loves Xander and Miss Kitty Fantastico."
"She mentioned her. Imaginary pet?"
"Seen the black cat with the white chest? That's Miss Kitty. Willow's former cat. She snuck off with the second load of slayers and Cor adopted her on the plane because she was scared of them. If you don't bring the cat home, it's good at finding the nosy little demonic mice we have around here." He threw his knife at one he saw and killed it. "Like those. So the cat's up to you guys."
"Maybe not. She's got Charlie's hair as a new pet."
Alan walked off laughing. He ran into Cor and Xander, who was putting her down for the night. "Xander, can you stay for a few since you're her favorite person?"
"Sure, I can do that." He sat on the foot of her bed. "Cor?" She blinked at them. "Talk to us?"
Alan pulled a chair over to sit next to her. "Cor, how would you like to come live with me and Charlie?"
"No, at our house in LA."
"Where Mandy and Crissy are working," Xander told her. "They want to adopt you so you'd be like Don's little sister."
She frowned. "Then who would watch out for you and make you smile?"
"Dawn did that job for many years before we got you and she's better now so she can do it for me." Miss Kitty jumped up onto the bed to stare at him. "Hi, Miss Kitty." He petted her then smiled at the girl. "Would that be okay with you? They have a yard you could play in and Charlie works at a college so you can visit him there now and then. Plus you'll get to see Mandy and Crissy a whole lot. Crissy was your big sister so she can do that again for you. Would that be okay?"
She considered it, looking at Alan. "Can I have my own room?" He nodded. "Can I have candy for breakfast?"
"Only on very rare occasions and only when your big brothers are taking you to the park." She giggled. "I can promise we'd keep you safe, you could talk to the other two girls all you wanted, and you'd make sure I didn't get lonely around the house. Charlie still lives with me but he works a lot of long hours sometimes. You could go to school with us and everything."
"There's school funds available," Xander assured him. "Would you like that?"
"I guess. Can I sneak in and pet Charlie's hair when it's being bad and needs a pet to behave, like earlier?"
"Maybe. As long as you don't wake him up."
"And we will come visit every time we're near LA," Xander assured her. "Tony and I both okay?"
She smiled and nodded. "Can I take Miss Kitty or should she stay here to hunt the nosy mice that keep trying to eat Uncle Tony, Xander?"
"That's between you and Alan, sweetie." He gave her a hug. "I love you so much and I'm very happy you're going to stay with them. They're very nice people. I'd want to be part of their family." She beamed and nodded. "Good girl. Now, you sleep and we'll pack tomorrow, okay?" She nodded, taking Alan's hand to hold. He let the cat have her pillow like usual then left, turning down the lights some. He found Don and Charlie staring at each other. "Charlie, she wanted to know if she could sneak in and pet your hair when it was being naughty and needed a pet to calm down. Like earlier."
He laughed and nodded. "As long as she doesn't wake me up. Dad with her?"
"Her and her cat. Up the hall to the left, take that branch and go three doors up." They walked that way. Xander went to do a happy dance outside. Then he walked through the tunnels to the infirmary. He went to check on everyone. He finished up by leaning on the foot of Giles' bed. "Been a long day, G-Man. Our youngest slayer ever called, hopefully, just got adopted by a very nice family in LA so she'll be near Mandy and Crissy, who was doing big sister duties so it'll make her happier to see her more often. They'll be good to her. One brother's an agent we're counting on to handle things locally when we can't always be there. She'll have to very good older big brothers and a dad who needed some love in his life to make him smile again. Wes called and said Faith was doing excellently, his words, in Cleveland. It's been a good week. Tony signed a local liaison. He signed our new defense teacher, the arms master, and two members of the first rescue team. So we're doing good. The framework we have is well thought out so we shouldn't have too many problems with it. The girls are all doing good. They all gave the new defense teacher a lot of butt stares. Buffy would be proud. Faith was when one of the girls told her. We're doing okay now. Getting on with it and moving slowly but steadily onward." He stood up. "Light's out time." He lowered the lights. "Have a good rest. If you're wherever Buffy is, spank her for me please? It's not fun being one of three watchers left on the planet. And if you find Willow, figure out how to get her back to this plane." He walked off, leaving him to sleep or whatever he was doing.
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