Disclaimer: Not mine, not mine. Whedon and Sorkin’s only.
Summary: The First Daughter is missing, California’s collapsing, the Slayers are having dreams, the First Family is falling apart in the mix... and CJ broke her favorite mug. Can the Sunnydale crew keep the Bartlet administration afloat?
A/N: Well, this is the end of this. For now. I am intending to write a second part to this series; it may take a bit, as I don’t post until I’ve finished writing... but don’t worry, the Capital Slayeretts will return. For now, enjoy chapter seven and the epilogue J
Chapter Seven — American Heroes (with a side of British Bravery)
The sun was setting in a glorious display as the three cars arrived outside the cemetery. Giles waved the group over, tutting softly. "We’re late. This is bad. If we’re not careful, the culprits may escape us."
The newest Slayer waved her stake around. "We’ll kick their butts! Then... then, we can go out to a bar somewhere... ‘cept you, Lindsay, sorry about that."
"I’ve yet to see the infamous Jackal," Mr. Bailey piped up. "Toby’s told me all about it."
"I’ll Jackal until dawn!" CJ poked her stake around and gave a cackle, which stopped abruptly as Mr. Lyman elbowed her in the ribs.
"Let’s get this done with?" Kennedy muttered. "Wills, how many are we up against?"
Willow shrugged. "35, easily. Minions mostly, I think, but there could be a Master organizing the plot."
"Well, can’t let the vamps drain Congress dry," CJ replied, "though I could direct them toward a few choice morsels."
Buffy rolled her eyes at her Watcher and set off across the cemetery. Mr. Bailey tagged along immediately, Giles noticed, while the others charged after them. Mr. Lyman caught up to him quickly. "Say... have you prevented Hellmouths being opened before?"
"No," Giles admitted, "though I’ve helped to prevent several apocalypses. Apocali? I never could quite figure out what the plural is..."
"Don’t look at me," Mr. Lyman muttered. "Just don’t tell Donna I didn’t know."
Mr. Seaborn coughed something that sounded suspiciously like "760 verbal?"
"Shut up," Buffy hissed, gesturing for her backup to take up position behind her. They’d reached an ornate tomb, inscribed with the Hamilton family name and crest, and a faint light could be seen through cracks around the door. Buffy gestured to CJ. "Do the honors?"
CJ grinned and strode to the door, pausing only momentarily before kicking it in. Shouts started immediately, as the faint light of dusk filtered into the room. Buffy and the other Slayers charged in first, followed by the armed backup. Giles, last, stood in the doorway to keep any from escaping.
It was a slaughter. Giles watched the newest Slayer in particular; despite being a good twenty years older than Buffy, CJ was as quick on her feet as the younger woman. She matched Buffy kill for kill, making her way toward the pentacle outlined on the floor, as she’d been instructed.
Willow and Kennedy fought in tandem with Mr. Seaborn, the politician watching their back in a seamless display of teamwork. Lindsay seemed focused on protecting the cocky Mr. Lyman from his own risky actions, while Buffy found a way to both move forward into the fray and protect Will Bailey from foes.
Giles was distracted by a pair of vampires trying to escape into the encroaching darkness. Striking with his foot, he swept the first’s legs from under him and staked him on the way down, before yanking the second forward by snagging her shirtsleeve and impaling her easily onto the stake.
He looked up again to note that Buffy had reached the bound victim first. She knelt and pulled her dagger from her belt, starting to cut the ropes keeping Zoey Bartlet restrained. The girl started sobbing almost immediately.
The dark figure stayed in the shadows until Buffy was distracted, and Giles didn’t have time to shout a warning before it latched onto the girl’s arms. Buffy headbutted the vampire, but it didn’t back down. Miss Bartlet’s screams grew louder as she was dragged from her savior. Unmindful of the possibility of escaping minions, Giles charged across the crypt in time to hear the vampire’s comebacks.
"You stop the ceremony, but you will not keep the girl alive!" He was backing up slowly, toward what must’ve been a back exit. Giles saw a brief flash of silver but then it was gone, before he could identify it.
"We’ll track you down!" Buffy promised. "You can’t run — there’s nowhere to hide in a city of so few demons!"
The vampire laughed, still backing up. "So few? Our numbers grow! The Master of the city is powerful — mark my words, Slayer, this place will be your grave!"
He looked as though he planned to continue speaking, dragging a gagging Bartlet by her neck... until he suddenly exploded in a shower of dust, revealing the bedraggled figure of Will Bailey. Zoey Bartlet gasped for air and Mr. Bailey knelt next to her. "Zoey? Are you alright?"
"Jean Paul drugged my drink!" she sobbed, grabbing Bailey’s sleeve. "I went over to the bathroom, I was going to tell one of the Secret Service agents, when a guy in the exit grabbed me! Vampires, Will, they exist!"
And then CJ was there, helping the girl to her feet. "Two days ago, that would’ve surprised me," she murmured. "Sorry, Zo. There’s not much that can phaze me anymore."
Mr. Lyman and Mr. Seaborn closed in to assure themselves of Miss Bartlet’s safety before Mr. Lyman spoke up. "We need an alibi, Zoey. You can’t tell the police we barged in here and killed a bunch of vampires..."
She’d quieted down as she rubbed her bruised wrists. "I never saw my captors’ faces. They had American accents. I... I managed to get away when they were out scrounging food? There were — there were only two of them, the one guarding me was asleep. Is that okay? Can I go home?"
CJ slung her arm over Zoey’s shoulders and led her out of the crypt, the girl heavily favoring her right leg. "Of course you can, Zoey. We... we came back to search for Josh’s cell phone and found you wandering next to the road. Okay? That’s the story?" She turned to Mr. Seaborn. "Call the Secret Service, let them know we’ve got her. Stick to the story, Spanky."
"They were vampires," Zoey whispered, just audibly enough for Giles to overhear. "They were vampires, and they called me a witch... this wasn’t their only plan, CJ, they had other things... I can’t remember... The House, they were going to..." She sagged a bit, clutching at her left side, and CJ swept her up into her arms to carry the girl instead.
"Don’t worry about it. We’ve got your back," CJ replied.
Buffy hung back from the group as CJ swept the girl up into a carry and moved off. Will and Giles simultaneously noticed her absence, as both turned from the celebrating group. "What is it?" Will asked. "Aren’t we done? We found Zoey."
Giles narrowed his eyes, and Buffy gave a slight shrug. "Spidey sense tingling."
Will raised an eyebrow. "What? Spidey sense?"
"Obviously not a proper nerd," Buffy grinned, giving him a playful shove on the shoulder. "No comic books?"
"I grew up in Brussels," he snapped back.
Giles started cleaning his glasses, a sure sign of exasperation. "Alright, then, is play time done? Buffy... what hasn’t yet been completed?"
"I’m not good with the magick-y stuff... but what happens when the spell’s not completed? And what happens when the police find honest-to-goodness magic implements in there? Can they accidentally set something off? Is there a boom coming?" She turned halfway to the crypt. "Willow said there were more demony dots on the map than there should’ve been."
"Yeah, she was saying that," Will put in. "How many more is more?" he demanded of the Watcher.
"Please, don’t make a scene in front of the President’s daughter," Giles began, "I don’t think she should be involved in the supernatural any more than she’s been thus far... but your answer is several thousand. Last I’d heard, Washington D.C. boasted fewer than two hundred demons and vampires — including all of the surrounding cities in that, of course. Now... what could bring five thousand to the area? The promise of a new Hellmouth may’ve been enough for... for a few hundred..."
Will waved his stake around in what he seemed to intend as a threatening manner — Buffy tried not to giggle. "We can take five thousand!" he proclaimed. "We slaughtered ‘em tonight!"
Giles shot a disapproving look to the Slayer before answering. "Were they all minions... Mr. Bailey, what you fought tonight were the lowest of the pecking order. The older a vampire becomes, the more power he gains, the more experience. Minions are cocky — masters know the adage ‘to fight another day,’ and remember it. Many a Slayer has fallen to a forgotten enemy."
"Demons, too," Buffy put in. "The map-y thing doesn’t differentiate. Some of the shinies were plain old demons, and they can be pretty nasty on their own. I don’t think CJ could take one alone right now."
"Five thousand potentially dangerous adversaries," Will muttered. "From an air force standpoint, it sounds like so few..."
"... except that these soldiers don’t fear death in the same manner as ourselves. They are ruthless. They have seen Hell firsthand, often. To a vampire an unarmed human is... is..." Buffy sighed and shook her head, giving a sad expression. "A happy meal on legs, somebody told me once. We can’t forget that to them, we’re food. It’s a different battle."
Giles gestured to Willow, who had stopped just up ahead with the rest of the group. "We’re staying to clean up the ritual paraphernalia. Anything harmless will be left for the press," he called. "Go on ahead, and get Miss Bartlet to the hospital."
Will pulled out his keys and jingled them. "We’ve got my car. Donna’s and CJ’s are big enough." The others gave a wave and no response. He turned to Buffy and muttered under his breath, "Not even a good-bye. And you’re trying to convince me they see me as a team member?"
"Cleanup," Giles put in, cutting off any reply Buffy might’ve made, "must proceed delicately, when magic is involved."
She nodded and headed back into the crypt, moving straight for the pentacle in the middle of the floor. Something felt wrong, still... she couldn’t explain it, more than to refer back to her good old Slayer Sense, but the work seemed... unfinished, somehow.
And then a glistening of red caught her eye. Her breath stalled in her throat. "Giles?" she choked out. She cleared her throat, as her mentor came running. "Giles — blood — Zoey’s bleeding -" Her mind’s eye saw not the pool of blood on the floor, but the frightened eyes of her sister as she stood bound and suspended above a widening portal. "It’s the blood. It’s always the blood -"
Giles was up and running as Buffy’s attention remained locked on the slowly rippling pool. Somehow, magically, it seemed to be growing, moving. It was a perfect circle, and the center raised into a star. It grew, and the star surrounded the impression of an animal head — a goat, a ram, something Buffy’s suburban upbringing couldn’t recognize, except for its familiarity. Only a few days before, the blood of Slayers opened an identical, if metal, seal.
She didn’t know what Giles was planning, but when the blood started to shimmer silver and thicken, she darted toward the door. "Stop the blood!" she screamed, hoping Willow was close enough to hear. "She’s opening the Hellmouth!"
CJ shifted the dead weight in her arms, focused only on getting her President’s daughter back home. She wouldn’t have noticed the wetness, except for the slickness it created on her fingers and the yells coming from behind her. "Wait," Ms. Rosenberg was saying, "Giles is calling..."
She never caught his words, as she realized what was happening. "Josh," she whispered desperately, "help!" And her friend was there to help as she lowered Zoey to the ground. CJ’s hands were wet with blood.
"Oh, God," Sam murmured from somewhere behind CJ. It looked bad — there was a lot of blood, and Zoey had stopped responding. Josh was shaking the First Daughter’s shoulder desperately.
CJ pushed aside the layered camisoles the girl was wearing to get a better look at her left side, Kennedy De Vega hanging over her shoulder. "It looks like it was a clean slice. She must’ve been slashed when the head groupie was dragging her around," De Vega pointed out. "Did moving her make it worse? It shouldn’t be life threatening... she’s bleeding more than she should..."
Suddenly, Buffy’s shrieks came echoing across the graveyard, and Rosenberg shoved CJ aside. "Opening the Hellmouth?" CJ demanded. "How? They’re dead!"
"It’s magic," Willow snapped, before muttering an unfamiliar phrase under her breath and taking a closer look at the wound. "Damn, damn, damn... whatever she was cut with, it’s keeping the blood from clotting and cutting deeper at the same time. I don’t know what spell it is — I don’t know how to stop it -"
She was cut off as the earth trembled beneath their feet. Sam, who’d sunk to a crouch at Josh’s side, went toppling to the side, pushing CJ down in the process. Lindsay shrieked and threw her arms around De Vega, and Rosenberg shielded Zoey’s body with her own, until the tremors ended. "We have to stop the bleeding!" Rosenberg moaned desperately. "I think the Hellmouth’s already been created here! I — somebody, can I have a coat? An overshirt? I’ve got to stop the blood flow!"
Josh pulled off his flannel shirt immediately, and handed it over, so that Rosenberg could put pressure upon the wound. "We should get an ambulance," he whispered. "I know there are things we don’t want the police to find... but she’ll die without an ambulance..."
"I just have to stop the bleeding," Rosenberg snapped. However, her best efforts didn’t seem to be enough — Zoey’s blood was flowing more freely, and had begun soaking through Josh’s shirt.
"It’s a magical wound," De Vega put in. "Don’t you need magic to close it?"
Rosenberg winced and pressed harder on the wound. "Yeah. I think I do... but most of the spells I know require two witches to perform it... all you Slayers aren’t a bit of help right now!"
CJ and Josh locked eyes, Josh putting to words their identical line of thought. "Two witches, Willow? Two conscious witches?"
She looked confused. "Well, I can draw the extra power from an unconscious witch, I guess. It’s easier if both do the incantation, but all that’s really needed is the power... why...?"
"Is Zoey a witch, or isn’t she?" CJ snapped. "If she’s got the damned power, use it to save her!"
Rosenberg blanched. "But — she’s Catholic, it’s against her -"
A cry of alarm came from the direction of the crypt as the earth trembled once more. CJ leapt to her feet against the quake, tugging De Vega after her. "I think time’s run out! Just do the damn spell, and we’ll deal with the consequences later!"
Buffy wasn’t quite sure what her backup had got up to, but as she called out for their help, she certainly hoped they were paying attention. The seal finished cycling open, and several of the Ubervamps she thought she’d destroyed crawled up into the crypt. Will made to attack one, but Buffy grabbed his arm and pulled him back. "They’re stronger — you can’t kill them, Will — they kill Slayers -"
"And if I don’t try, who’s going to?" he snapped back.
She took the knife from her belt and handed it to him, hilt first. "Use two knives. Go for decapitation, it’s the only way." He made to charge off, but she held him back for a moment longer, anxiety playing across her face. "Be careful!" she hissed.
Will didn’t respond as he turned and attacked the closest Ubervamp.
Buffy didn’t see how he fared — she was too busy taking on an adversary of her own. She stumbled as the ground trembled a third time, but caught the sound of her backup entering the fray. Kick, kick, punch — this was the last time she crossed the country with out her Super Scythe! She managed to stake one of them, the result taking twice the effort of a normal vampire. The quaking ground didn’t affect her moves much, but Lindsay seemed to be having a tough time of it. Buffy crossed to help, and they doubled up against several of the nastier looking vamps.
And then Buffy heard a howl, from the direction of the Hellmouth. She turned to find Will being dragged in from below, face red with exertion and pain. She didn’t give a second thought — throwing herself into a slide across the dirt floor, she snagged his wrist before he could be pulled through completely. "Tossed one in," he hissed, almost inaudibly as he clung to the side. "Grabbed my ankle. Claws — teeth — dunno -" He closed his eyes, fingers flexing around Buffy’s arm as she fought to drag him up. "Can’t hold."
"I’m not letting you go!" she snapped, pulling harder. His shoulder seemed ready to dislocate, with the strain, but whatever held him was solid. "I’ve got to get you up here — when Willow stops the bleeding, you’ll be crushed by the seal!"
"Get Zoey out," he whispered. "He’s the real thing, Buffy. He’s a great man, but he needs his family to lead."
No more Ubervamps were coming up out of the hole, as Will’s struggling form blocked the way. The sounds of battle were fading around her, but she didn’t dare to take her eyes away from him. For a brief moment, the pain etched on his face was the echo of another William — Spike, as he refused to remove the medallion that ultimately won their battle. It was a comparison Buffy couldn’t yet face. "I’m not losing you, too!" she snapped, finally calling out, "CJ! Damnit, help!"
The edges of the seal were starting to glow, and Will’s grip on her arm was growing weaker. Time was disturbingly short — CJ didn’t need an explanation as she took hold of both of Will’s arms and helped to heave.
This time, they seemed to be making progress. As Will’s torso cleared the edge, Buffy wrapped her arms around his chest and put all her supernatural might into the desperate battle. And they were winning, even as the opening of the Hellmouth shrank around him. Waist — knees out — an Ubervamp’s teeth were attached to his calf (its head, too) and as the two Slayers managed to free the last few inches of Will’s feet from the trap, it closed around the Ubervamp’s neck and cleanly decapitated it.
The sounds of battle all around had stopped, and the earth was finally quiet, as the three lay panting for air on the ground inside the crypt. Finally, as Josh, Sam, Giles, Lindsay, and Kennedy surrounded them, Will pushed his way to a sitting position and rolled up his pants leg. "Shit," he exclaimed, as vampire tooth marks became visible on his left calf, "the bugger bit me!"
Buffy just let out a sob and snagged hold of his wrist, as the others crowded around.
When Zoey opened her eyes, she was confronted by a redheaded woman wreathed in a white light, which was slowly fading. At first, she thought she’d finally died and was seeing an angel. Then, however, the pain of her aching body brought her back to full consciousness. "What happened?" she whispered, afraid to move for fear of jolting angry nerves.
"One of them cut you," the woman said.
Zoey nodded tiredly. "CJ came in, and she was kicking vampire ass... and one of them grabbed me, and he cut my side, just a nip, and the metal was cold and felt — felt slimy, almost..."
The glow had faded completely, and Zoey found herself looking into the green eyes of a perfectly normal woman about her own age. "It was a magic weapon," the woman said reasonably. "A magic weapon used on a magic person. That’s why they took you — do you understand?"
"I’m a witch, they said," Zoey replied, everything coming back slowly. "They said I’m a witch," she repeated. "Magic is real?"
"As real as vampires," the woman grinned, helping Zoey to sit up. "And you’re a witch — or, you have the capability to be one. It’s inherited, you see."
Zoey frowned, thinking for a long moment, before nodding. "Elizabeth Mercy Stanton," she said simply. "She was executed for witchcraft — but she really was one."
"Exactly," the woman said. She helped Zoey to her feet, whereupon Zoey rolled up her shirt to check the gash that had been on her side. It was gone completely — not a scar remained. "A magic weapon," the woman said, as if it explained everything. "Your blood was used for evil through it."
"But I’m okay," Zoey whispered.
"You’re okay," she repeated, patting Zoey’s shoulder. "You’re okay. Now let’s get you home."
"Home," Zoey whispered. Nothing could sound better. Home.
Epilogue — Stayin’ Around
It was an entire twenty-four hours before the heroes managed a break from the publicity. CJ was used to making news in her role as press secretary... but being the center of attention was a new and different experience, one she wasn’t eager to relive. Hiding her superhuman strength was difficult where Danny was involved — hiding it in the face of the entirety of the White House Press Corps was another level entirely.
They’d attributed Zoey’s discovery to Buffy, who had ‘heard her cries for help’ while returning to the scene of their attack to search for her ‘missing’ cell phone. Zoey claimed she’d never seen the faces of her attackers, all of whom had perfect grasp of the English language, and seemed to have blond hair. The attack was (correctly) attributed to the group who’d jumped CJ’s entourage in the van and injured Donna Moss. The aircraft carrier was recalled from Qumari waters, and Glen Walken stepped aside for President Bartlet without incident — and public approval was at near the same astronomical levels following the assassination attempt at Rosslyn.
The Staff Scoobies, as Buffy had come to refer to CJ’s coworkers, reassembled again in Josh’s living room, joined again by Donna, who was still on crutches. She and Will were comparing battle injuries, while CJ was fending off confused calls from Toby Ziegler about a supposed father’s day extravaganza, Josh and Sam were trading stories of their months apart, and Giles was napping in the corner. Finally, Buffy joined them from her short sleep in Josh’s guestroom. "We did good," she proclaimed, taking a seat next to Will (and taking away his crutches in the process, as he’d been threatening to crutch-joust with Donna). "Baddies dead, Hellmouth closed at least temporarily, and important witch kid reunited with parent. So — yeah. What’s the meeting called for, peeps?"
CJ and Josh exchanged glances. "Where are you planning on going from here?" CJ questioned. "Back to California?"
Buffy shrugged. "Sunnydale doesn’t exist. No reason to go back there, I guess."
"And that Hellmouth in Bethesda is in place for good?" Josh asked.
"Well... there’s a spell to close it, but it’s not an easy thing. That’s what tore Sunnydale to shreds. I don’t think Capital Hill would survive an earthquake of that magnitude," she said, giving a shrug.
"They’re trying to ask you to stay," Will shot in, "but they’re too indecisive to actually ask outright.
Buffy paused. "Stay? Stay here? In Washington? But... I don’t have a college degree. I can’t get a job, here. And Dawn would have to come here. I don’t know..."
"Take night classes," Josh suggested. "We can get you a paper-pushing job at the White House, at the very least. It’s guaranteed for three and a half more years, you know."
"It’s not a bad suggestion," Giles put in, proving himself to be awake and listening in. "It’s either settle here... or Cleveland."
CJ wrinkled her nose. "Cleveland? C’mon, superslayer. You can train me up and show me how to beat down the demons, too."
"You can be the first of a new breed of Watchers," Giles murmured. "Watchers with field experience as actual Slayers. Slayers training new Slayers. A worldwide network, someday..."
"Not Watchers," Buffy said, thinking of the way Travers tried to use her to his advantage, and of the old woman who had examined her Scythe. "Not Watchers — Guardians. It’s a new order, Giles. The old won’t do, not even for a name."
"Guardians, then," Giles stated.
CJ lifted her can of beer, and the others followed suit. "To the new order!" she cried. "To Buffy Summers, the Guardian — whatever that is."
Buffy grinned as she was saluted by beer cans and leered at by a half-drunken, gimpy Will. It was all coming together nicely now, in the shadow of another Hellmouth — but this time, she’d be slaying at the pleasure of the president.
A/N: Alright, push that review button, and tell me your woes! I’d be interested to see what you predict for the future of the Capital Slayers — any suggestions? Critiques? Drop me a line!