Disclaimer: I sadly do not own the characters that I am about to mangle around with for my own purposes. Buffy and Charmed remain the property of their respective creators I am merely borrowing them.
Authors Note: Sorry about the huge delay with the update for this story but I’ve had to wrestle with the demon of writers block. My thanks to Alkeni for the beta.
~~~///~~~Chapter FourWatchers Council
A Few Hours Later
Quentin Travers frowned in concern as he read through the latest report from the group of Seers employed by the Watchers Council. It appeared a new darkness was rising on the active Hellmouth, though at present the seers weren’t able to provide any information on the nature of the threat. But such was the nature of the Seer’s gift sometimes it could provide very detailed and helpful information on the nature of a threat and a hint of the steps needed to contain and eliminate the problem. At other times – like now – it could be maddeningly vague as an evil rising on the active Hellmouth aka Sunnydale wasn’t anything new which made the latest visions very unhelpful.
Not for the first time he regretted the necessity of having to fire Rupert Giles as a Watcher – an action that caused him no end of problems from the man’s family and from some other modernisation inclined Watcher families – as if the man had still been in the Council’s employ he could have phoned him and asked if the Slayers had noticed anything unusual in Sunnydale. Anything that could explain the Seers visions. But that route was now closed to him as Giles was no longer a Watcher after developing inappropriate feelings of closeness for his Slayer and refusing to honour the ancient traditions of the Council particularly the ancient rite of passage that was the cruciamentum. While a new Watcher was on the way to the Hellmouth he doubted Wyndham-Price would be able to get him any answers quickly as both Ms Summers and Ms Lehane weren’t proper Council-trained Slayers and thus far more independent and wilful than most Slayers were and thus would take time to ‘warm up’ to the new Watcher so to speak.
A strange ethereal tinkling sound from the direction of the outer office caught his attention prompting him to look up with a puzzled frown. What the devil is that,
he thought as he’d never heard a sound like that before now not even when he’d done his own stint as a field Watcher back in the sixties. A moment later his desk intercom buzzed for attention. “Yes Ms Roberts,” he asked stabbing a control.
“Mr Travers sir someone is here to see you,” Ms Roberts replied his loyal secretary’s voice was thick with a mixture of surprise and awe. “A whitelighter.”
Travers eyes widened. Like all Watchers he knew what whitelighters were, one did not deal with the magical communities as often as they did and not know all about them. But why would one come to see him? Despite knowing what whitelighters were the Watchers Council generally didn’t have much contact with them and through them the Elders. Indeed the last time they’d interacted it had been thirty years ago when the Council had attempted to take a potential Slayer who was also a born witch from her family for the proper training and education. The family of the girl in question had objected prompting the father’s whitelighter to take the matter to the Elders who’d started putting pressure on the Council.
In the end the Council had wisely backed down on the issue and let the girl remain with her family as making an enemy of the Elders would have meant making enemies of a sizeable chunk of the worlds’ light side magical communities including the Devon Coven. Something that would have been absolutely disastrous for the Council as the magic’s they could call upon themselves were very limited and had been for centuries ever since a large volume of magic tomes had been lost when there first London headquarters was burned to the ground – along with much of the old Medieval city around it – during The Great Fire of 1666.
“Send him in,” he ordered shaking off his moment of shock. “And Ms Roberts hold all my calls until my meeting is concluded.”
As Ms Roberts signed off Quentin stood up and made his suit jacket presentable a moment before the office door opened and a tall well-built man who looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties – but was probably much older than that given whitelighters were a kind of angel and were thus essentially immortal – with brownish blond hair came in. To Quentin’s surprise the whitelighter was wearing very casual clothing consisting of a pair of stonewash jeans, a white t-shirt with an open green and white checked shirt over the top a pair of white and blue trainers completed the ensemble. He would have expected him to be wearing robes or a formal suit not something as informal as what he was wearing.
“Mr Travers,” the whitelighter asked offering a hand.
“Yes,” Quentin confirmed accepting the offered hand and shaking it. “I must admit I am surprised you’re here mister…”
“Wyatt, Leo Wyatt though you can call me Leo,” the whitelighter answered. “Why are you surprised?”
“Well the last time we dealt with whitelighters at all it we didn’t exactly get along that well,” Quentin replied wondering not for the first time what the Council head at the time had been thinking. Even a staunch traditionalist like him knew that crossing swords with or doing something that could upset the Elders was an absolutely insane idea, even if it did involve a potential Slayer.
“An unfortunate episode,” Leo replied diplomatically, he well remembered the incident in question. Though it didn’t help that the Watchers Council had hardly changed its practices in regards to taking in Potentials either through agreement, bribery and occasionally direct force. They were just a lot more careful about it around the magical community these days, though according to the Elders own oracles the practice was going to come back to bite the Watchers in the ass eventually. Which would be the only thing that would get them to really change course with how they treated Slayers and potential Slayers. Well unless the so called modernisers got into a position to take control of the leadership of the Watchers Council away from the traditionalists that had ruled for the last few generations.
“That it was,” Quentin agreed before gesturing to the seat opposite him. “Please take a seat. Can I get you anything to drink? Tea, coffee?”
“No thank you,” Leo replied as he sat down he wanted to get this meeting over with so he could get back to Piper and her sisters. With the Elders finally consenting to him and Piper getting married the four of them were spending a lot more time together right now both getting to know each other more closely instead of just as whitelighter and charges and planning the wedding. Which wasn’t easy what with all the demon attacks and evil plots the Charmed Ones had to face/foil on a nearly daily basis.
“So what can I do for you,” Quentin asked seeing that the whitelighter wanted to get down to whatever business had brought him here.
“I’ve been sent here by the Elders with a request that they would like to make of the Watchers Council and you in particular,” Leo explained. “The Elders have only recently become aware of the splitting of the Slayer line in two after the Powers That Be attempted to keep such vital information to themselves.”
“I was not aware of that,” Quentin replied with a frown wondering why on Earth the Powers That Be wouldn’t have told the Elders about the splitting of the Slayer line. He himself was still not quite sure how it happened but knew that Slayer Summers friends – specifically one Alexander Harris – had had something to do with it. Somehow the boy had been able to do what had long been thought to be impossible and defied a prophecy, quite how he’d been able to do that they still didn’t know as if he knew anything about it Rupert had kept it to himself during his official reports to the Council before his unfortunately necessary firing. “Why would they keep such information quiet?”
“We don’t know,” Leo replied though privately he suspected that the Powers That Be – or the Pricks That Be as Elders and whitelighters alike sometimes called them among other much less polite things – had been playing celestial politics as the Powers had long hated that the Elders knew about the Slayer. Knew and sometimes aided her even if doing so disrupted or destroyed the Powers obsessive plans for a balance between good and evil – a balance that the Elders regarded as being completely artificial and impossible to maintain for any length of time. It was the greatest – but not the only – source of friction between the two groups.
“I take it the Elders want some information on how the line came to split?” Quentin asked, “I’m afraid that they’ll be disappointed as we have little to now information on exactly how it happened.”
Leo smiled. “That’s not what they were going to ask for no we already know what caused the Slayer line to split.”
“I see,” Quentin answered frowning but resisting the impulse to ask what the Elders knew as it was probable and even very likely that Leo himself didn’t know. Whitelighters were after all only told what they needed to know at the time to protect and guide whatever charges the individual had. “If you are not here about the splitting of the Slayer line then what do your superiors want from us?”
“The Elders have recently become aware that the senior of the two current vampire slayers – a Buffy Summers I believe – is currently without the support of a Watcher.”
“Yes Mister Giles unfortunately had to be dismissed for inappropriate conduct and insubordination. We have however allowed him to remain in Sunnydale to avoid alienating Ms Summers completely.”
“The Elders request that he be reinstated as her Watcher,” Leo replied not commenting on the ‘inappropriate conduct’ and ‘insubordination’ that Travers mentioned. From what the Elders had told him Giles had merely been a good Watcher and put the wellbeing of his Slayer first before the more cruel edicts of the Council. “A threat is building in Sunnydale the exact shape of which the Elders are not yet sure but which we already know has the potential to be very serious. Ms Summers will need the support of the Watcher she is most comfortable with in order to effectively deal with this problem.”
Quentin frowned. “I’m afraid that’s not possible. Mister Giles showed great insubordination to the Council and our traditions. There was no choice but to fire him.”
“By traditions you mean the cruciamentum. The Elders were advised that that particular tradition had been discontinued in the late eighteenth century as needlessly cruel. Why has it been revived?”
“It is an ancient tradition that must be respected,” Quentin answered, “it is a rite of passage that all Slayers above a certain age must pass through if they are to continue to be effective.”
“That is not true and you know it as well as I Mister Travers,” Leo replied. “But the cruciamentum’s unacceptable revival is not why I am here, though I will tell you that the Elders are not pleased to learn it has been revived when even your Victorian predecessors considered it a cruel and unnecessary ritual.”
Quentin hid a wince. That was not something he wanted or needed to hear. Though he would have thought the Elders would understand why traditions had to be respected. Especially traditions that revolved around the girl/weapon intrusted with the safety of the world. His grandfather had recognised the importance of the ritual when he’d been head of the Council and revived it, while also suppressing all information on its original discontinuation. Few among the Council even knew it had ever been discontinued in the past, so good had been his grandfather’s wise stewardship of the Council. It was apparent though that was both not the case and in fact the Elders actively disapproved – which was not good news for him or the other traditionalists in the know and if the modernisers were to find out he mentally shuddered to think what would happen.
“I will have to speak with the rest of the Inner Council,” he said after a few moments of tense silence. “It will be there decision if Mister Giles is fully reinstated or not, that will take some time to arrange as our members are scattered across Europe at the moment. But if it will satisfy the Elders for now I will temporarily reinstate Mister Giles as the Watcher of Ms Summers but only Ms Summers. Another Watcher is already on his way to Sunnydale to take Ms Lehane as a charge.”
“I will inform the Elders but I believe they will be pleased for now,” Leo replied. “However I would suggest that when you meet with your colleagues you inform them that the Elders will look favourably upon a positive decision and will encourage increased cooperation between the Watchers Council and the global magical community.”
The fact that the Elders would do the exact opposite if the Inner Council didn’t do what they wanted went unsaid though Quentin heard it as loudly as if it had been spoken through a loud hailer. Quentin knew his colleagues would not be happy at the Elders blatant blackmail and power politicking, indeed there would be much arguing, yelling and metaphorical rattling of sabres but in the end the Council would end up giving the Elders exactly what they wanted as they couldn’t afford to lose any support in the magical community. Especially as they were still trying to rebuild some bridges that had gotten badly frayed during the sixties and seventies after a series of misjudgements by his own illustrious predecessors.
“Is there anything else,” Quentin asked at last.
“No that is all for now,” Leo replied standing up and offering his hand. “Thank you for seeing me Mister Travers.”
“You’re welcome,” Quentin answered shaking the offered hand. The moment he released it the whitelighter orbed out. Sighing Quentin leaned back in his seat and for a moment considered crossing the room to his private bar and pouring himself a good scotch and wash away the unpleasant meeting. Unfortunately he couldn’t do that so he reluctantly picked up his desk phone to call first personnel and then Mister Giles in Sunnydale to begin what was going to be some very uncomfortable conversations.
A Few Minutes Later
Buffy grunted as she hit the ground hard as the result of a throw by one of the three vampires that she and Faith were currently battling. They’d just been coming to the end of their patrol, which had been a very successful one as they’d dusted a dozen fledglings this evening when they’d come across this particular group of vampires. A group that unusually seemed to be wearing some kind of matching leather uniforms and armed with swords that were brutally sharp. The deep cut on her right shoulder was testament to that as one had gotten her with its slash of its sword as she dusted it.
The fang face that had just knocked her down loomed over her demonic features contorted into an evil sneer as it raised its sword to stab her through the heart. Not about to give the vamp the chance she kicked out with all her strength knocking the vampire back into another which was backing Faith against the site of a mausoleum sending both vamps tumbling to the floor in a tangle of limbs. Not about to look a gift horse in the mouth or give the two vampire’s time to disentangle themselves Faith leaped to the attack plunging her stake into the heart of the closest vampire.
As its companion exploded into a rain of grimy dust the remaining vamp sat up and backhanded Faith hard as she tried to stake him as well. Faith yelped as the impact sent her flying into and then over a grave stone. Ooh you are so going to pay for that fang face,
she thought with an angry growl as she leaped back to her feet to see the vamp engaged in combat with Buffy who’d somehow knocked the sword out of its hands to lay discarded nearby. It appeared however that in addition to being very good with a sword the vampire was also an accomplished hand to hand combatant and was giving the senior Slayer a run for her money.
In the end it made no difference as a kick from Buffy shattered the vampire’s right kneecap sending it to its knees with a scream of pain. A scream that abruptly cut off as the blond haired Slayer drove her trusty stake into his heart sending him to the same dusty grave as the other two.
“Whoa that was a close one B,” Faith commented as she dusted herself off and joined her sister Slayer. “Any idea who they were?”
“No,” Buffy admitted before frowning. “They were damned good though. Are you alright you hit that gravestone pretty hard.”
“I’m fine just a bit bruised, what about you you’re bleeding?” Faith replied eyeing the wound on Buffy’s shoulder in concern.
“Yeah that first one got me good with that sword,” Buffy grumped groaning as moving her right arm sent a stab of pain across her shoulder, up her spine and into her brain. She glanced at the wound grimacing when she saw how wide and deep it really was the blade having pierced all the way through to the muscle. “Great,” she muttered, “that’s going to leave a scar even with Slayer healing.”
“Not necessarily B remember what Xander said about his abilities as a whitelighter,” Faith reminded her.
Buffy grimaced. “I keep forgetting about that,” she admitted but then she hadn’t spent a lot of time with Xander since he’d dropped that bombshell on them about him being dead and now a literal guardian angel. She was still trying to process it all as well as beating herself up about what had happened to Xander as it was her fault in the first place. She never should have tried to force him out of the slaying or made him feel like he couldn’t count on her for backup as then he might not have had to face Jack O’Toole alone and end up getting himself killed. Though she supposed she should be grateful that he was in a way still alive just not human anymore instead being literally an angel.
Faith smirked. “Still beating yourself up about it huh Buff?” she asked, “you know if you don’t stop Xander is going to have to verbally kick your ass. Though speaking of him… XANDER.”
Buffy winced at Faith’s at the top of her lungs yell and was about to open her mouth to tell her fellow Slayer to turn the volume down a few decibels but the words died on her tongue as in a flurry of orbs Xander materialised nearby. “No need to shout Faith,” Xander complained as he walked up to them, “my ears are still ringing from it would you mind turning it down a bit next time? I’m dead not deaf.”
“Sorry X,” Faith answered, “B’s hurt.”
“So I see,” Xander replied frowning as he looked at the wound on Buffy’s right shoulder before putting a hand over it and concentrating, letting the information on how to heal that the Elders had downloaded into his brain when they’d made him a whitelighter come to the fore. Immediately a soft golden glow came from his hand and Buffy immediately felt the hot pain of the wound ease. She could only watch in amazement as the wound closed and healed completely without any form of scarring under the gentle wave of power coming from her Xander-shaped friend. “There,” Xander said calmly as he stopped the emission of healing power and dropped his hand back to his side, “all done. Now you Faith.”
“But I’m not…” Faith started to protest only for the whitelighter to cut her off.
“Yes you are I can tell your backs hurt now turn around,” Xander said firmly prompting the dark haired Slayer to grumble about overprotective whitelighters and only being a flesh wound under her breath even as she did as she was told. A moment later she felt a warm pulse of energy pass through her and the dull ache of her bruised back muscles vanished under his healing touch. “You can turn back around now. So what happened?”
“Vamps,” Buffy replied. “We were just coming to the end of our patrol when we encountered this last group of fang faces wearing weird uniforms and with swords.”
Xander’s eyebrows shot up. “Vamps wearing uniforms and carrying swords,” he repeated “huh that’s a new one.”
“Tell me about it,” Buffy agreed, “I knocked away one of the swords, lets pick it up maybe Giles will be able to identify it and tell us if there are any more where the three we just dusted came from.”
“Good idea I’ll orb you right over to his place,” Xander replied. “Where’d you drop the sword?”
“Got it,” Faith said holding up the sword and making the other two Scoobies jump as they’d be intent on conversation to see her move. Then she frowned. “Though do we have to orb? You know getting orbed somewhere makes me feel like hurling. Can’t we just walk?”
“No,” Buffy answered putting her foot down on the issue even though she did have to agree that the sensation of getting orbed was somewhat unpleasant. At least it was unpleasant to her, Faith and possibly Willow as well as the few times she’d seen him orb it never seemed to have any negative effects on Xander himself.
“Besides Faith as I said to you earlier a few more orbs and you’ll get used to the feeling,” Xander added smirking as Faith’s shoulders slumped in defeat at the united front from him and Buffy.
“Alright fine but I’m charging you if I’m sick all over something,” Faith grumped. Xander simply chuckled and put a hand on each Slayers shoulder. A moment later all three of them dissolved into a flurry of blue-white orbs and vanished.
As the orbs faded into the night Trick slipped out of the ornamental hedge where he’d taken cover and watched the fight between the Slayers and the vamps whose uniforms he recognised. His first master Kakistos had had a few run in’s with the group and there demonic master over the years often to both sides chagrin. Why they were here in Sunnydale now he didn’t know but he knew the boss would want to learn of it immediately.
Though the fact that the El Illuminati had apparently arrived in Sunnydale – and lost their first encounter with the Slayers – had not been the most interesting part of the battle he had observed. That had been in the aftermath and the revelation that Alexander Harris wasn’t a human – or at least he wasn’t one anymore – but was a damned whitelighter. A whitelighter who clearly knew how to use his powers given how he’d orbed in, healed both Slayers of the injuries they’d sustained in the battle and then orbed back out with them as his passengers.
How Harris could be a whitelighter he had absolutely no idea. All he knew about whitelighters – which truth be told wasn’t very much as Kakistos had worked hard to make sure never to put himself or any of his minions in a position where they could really encounter one – said that they couldn’t come to the Hellmouth and they had to be well dead. The conversation he’d overheard clearly indicated that that last part was correct, though last time he’d checked Xander Harris was very much alive much to the chagrin of much of the demon and vampire populations of Sunnydale as for a normal human Harris could be downright scary when he wanted to be, though the former part was now extremely suspect.
After a couple of moments he shrugged. The mystery would be something for the boss to solve. Wilkins definitely wouldn’t be happy to learn that Harris was a whitelighter as that could well spell big trouble for the warlock turned mayor’s plans for ascension.
Whistling to himself Trick slipped back into the darkness and began making his way towards city hall and what was sure to be an uncomfortable conversation with the warlock turned mayor. He just hoped he survived the delivering of the bad news.
That Same Time
“…I understand. Thank you Mister Travers. Yes goodnight pleasant dreams.”
The phone he was holding to his ear went dead and Giles put it back on its cradle his mind awhirl. He had been more than a little surprised when a few minutes ago his phone had rung and on the other end had been the head of the Watchers Council. Compounding the surprise was the shock that he was being reinstated officially as Buffy’s Watcher as the result of a direct ‘request’ from the Elders. By request Travers really means politicking the Council into it,
Giles thought smirking knowing the Council would never dare to refuse such a request from either the Elders or the Powers That Be.
He wondered though why the Elders had abruptly decided to lobby for his official reinstatement as Buffy Summers Watcher. He couldn’t help but see Xander’s hand in it somewhere as it would be just like the younger man turned whitelighter to do something like lobbying his superiors for such an outcome. If the young man was involved in it then he owed him a hug in a very manly way of course as he’d been desperately worried about what would happen to Buffy, and how she’d react when a new Watcher showed up in Sunnydale to take his place. Now though he didn’t have to worry though another Watcher was still coming but would now only be responsible for Faith, though predictably Travers had not said who the other Watcher was going to be. Whoever he or she was he had to admit to himself at least that he pitied them as the firebrand Faith was even harder to manage than Buffy was.
The ethereal almost musical sound of orbing drew him out of his thoughts and he looked over in the direction the sound was coming from. Just in time to see three familiar figures finish materialising. “Buffy, Faith, Xander is something wrong,” he asked surprised and concerned that they’d orbed in as opposed to walking from the end of the girls patrol area. Clearly something was wrong, though he couldn’t help but notice idly that both Slayers looked a little green.
“Possibly Giles,” Buffy replied fighting down the discomfort from the magical teleportation with a minor amount of difficulty. “Do you know anything about a group of vampires who go around wearing uniforms, who carry swords and who are better at hand to hand fighting than most other fang faces?”
Giles frowned, the description rang a bell. “That’s vaguely familiar from somewhere,” he admitted “but for the life of me I can’t remember where I’ve heard it before off the top of my head. Is that one of the swords Faith is holding?”
“Yeah,” Faith confirmed.
“May I see it?” Without objection Faith immediately handed the ex-Watcher the sword and watched as he carefully studied it and the markings on the pommel. “Hmm this symbol I’ve seen it before but I’m not sure where. I’ll have to check my books,” Giles said putting the sword down on his desk. He would smuggle it into the library later – something he’d become quite adept at doing especially since that odious little homunculus Snyder had become Principal after the unfortunate demise of Principal Flutie – so he could check the markings against his records.
“And speaking of books any idea what Wilkins is yet Giles,” Buffy asked.
“I’m afraid not Buffy,” Giles admitted, “though our task of finding out just what he is and what he’s up to might have just gotten a little bit easier. Just before you orbed in here I got a call from Quentin Travers.”
Buffy scowled. “What did he want,” she replied with a note of anger in her voice as she still hadn’t forgiven Travers for using her mother as part of her ‘test’ during that cruciamentum ritual.
“Apparently I’m being formally reinstated as your Watcher,” Giles answered, “the reinstatement is reluctant on the part of the Council but they’ve not been given a choice in the matter.”
“So they did it then,” Xander said smiling guessing what had happened.
“They did I take it you knew about this?” Giles quizzed the teen turned whitelighter.
“Not directly,” Xander admitted. “Though I did have my suspicions based on what Elder Gideon said when I last talked to them.”
“Whoa who did what,” Buffy asked though she was ecstatic that Giles was being formally reinstated as her Watcher.
“A short time ago Buffy a whitelighter named Leo Wyatt apparently went to see Mister Travers at the behest of the Elders. They ‘requested’ that I be reinstated,” Giles explained, “now regardless of his personal feelings Travers would have no choice but to honour the request. To do otherwise would risk alienating the Elders and through them a large chunk of the magical community something that the Council could not afford to happen. Basically they’ve played power politics with that overly traditionalist git.”
“Go Elders,” Buffy replied snickering as she imagined how Travers and his traditionalists would not like being basically bullied into reversing the firing of Giles as her Watcher. “So what did you say to the Elders before Xander?”
“Not much,” Xander replied, “though they were not happy when I told them about that whole cruciamentum thing. Gideon especially expressed surprise and concern that the Watchers resurrected it. Apparently it was originally discontinued back in the nineteenth century as being just what it is cruel and barbaric.”
“I hadn’t heard that,” Giles exclaimed, “though the heads of the Council in the Victorian and post-Victorian era were known to be quite liberal for the time. I’m not surprised that they’d discontinue the tradition, nor am I surprised that the traditionalists would resurrect it once they got back into power after the Second World War.” He made a mental note to let his family and other modernisers know that fascinating and very juicy little titbit of information as it would go a long way towards eroding the support the traditionalists had built up in the last few decades.
Buffy smiled slightly as she could see her Watcher plotting on how to use that little bit of information against Travers and his ilk. Those bastards deserved a little taste of Ripper after what they’d put her through with the cruciamentum. She started to open her mouth to ask Xander to provide a little bit more detail on what he’d told his bosses about what the Council had done to her – assuming he could talk about it – but before the words could emerge from her lips the doorbell rang.
“Now who could that be,” Giles said frowning before turning and walking to front door and cautiously opening it. To find himself face to face with a much younger man wearing a pinstriped suite with glasses and whose entire manner screamed novice Watcher. He looked vaguely familiar but he couldn’t place him immediately.
“Mister Giles,” the younger Watcher asked.
“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Wesley Wyndham-Price,” the other man said offering his hand. “I’m here to replace you as Watcher to Miss Summers and Miss Lehane.”
~~~///~~~Authors Note: Evil aren’t I to leave it there *grin*. Well Wesley has made his first appearance in this chapter just as I promised and I will say he’s going to get more than a few shocks as time goes on. I hope people like the changes I’ve made so far to the episode Bad Girls and the fact that the Elders are starting to take a much more active interest in what goes on with the Slayer now that they can no longer trust the Powers That Be to keep them informed.
Until next time.