Author: Anime Ronin (but this was Cyclone_Knight’s idea)
Rating: Eh… give it a PG-13 minimum, R maximum. For now.
Summary: Halloween strikes again and now the results are for hire at the right price.
Disclaimer: Still own nothing. Maybe one day…
It was days like this that made Rupert Giles want to do several things, not the least of which was to move back to England, crawl into a bottle and never see an American teenager again. Of course, that said, it was also days and events like this that made him sure that someone was most definitely getting even with him for his ‘Ripper’ days and past associations with people of ill repute.
Before him, moving in perfect tandem, were Willow Rosenberg and his Slayer, Buffy Summers. They were moving through a kata he did not recognize with excruciating slowness, both of their bodies covered in a light sheen of sweat, and while Buffy was moving with a grace that he expected from a Slayer, Giles could not help but notice that Willow’s own movements, while not quite as restrained as Buffy’s, were no less graceful. Both of them had their hair tied back, though while Willow’s hair had not changed in color, Buffy’s had gone from her normal bleached blonde to what he presumed to be her natural light brown, their exercise clothes looked more than a little worse for wear, and Willow, he could see, was starting to tone up a bit while Buffy remained nominally unchanged.
Off to the side, though, was one Alexander ‘Xander’ Harris, dressed in a pair of sweat pants, a tank top and with a backpack on his back, his body held perfectly still between three chairs in the ‘push-up’ position, and sweat was dripping off of his trembling body. The boy had been pushing himself for the past while to build up endurance, ranging from runs to slow, repetitive exercises, and he too had also been firming up a bit, given the way his arms and back now held a touch more muscle definition than they had before. Where Willow and Buffy had been working on the weaponless forms of the martial arts, though, it appeared that Alexander had taken to the more militaristic type with some zeal, though he too also worked on weaponless katas. Not too long ago he had seen the young man moving through a sword form with a practiced ease, but it was also terribly apparent that while the mind knew what to do, the boy’s body did not.
‘Damn you, Ethan,’ Giles thought to himself for not the first time since that dreadful Halloween night. It was all Ethan’s fault that the three young people before him were doing what they were doing, though Xander also bore some of the blame as he had chosen the costumes of the girls.
Ethan had set up shop and had charmed many costumes to be changed by Janus on Halloween night, that much Giles understood, but when Xander, Buffy and Willow had shown up, his old chum had apparently been struck with some level of inspiration (or madness, depending on whom you asked) and offered them a three costumes for the price of one deal. Much squabbling had apparently taken place over the choices of costumes, Giles understood, with his Slayer wanting the three of them going as period nobles, Willow wanting them to go as a trio of ghosts and Xander, the hormonal teenager that he was, wanted the girls in spandex and imitation leather, and the entire decision had come down to a very quick game of High Card. Apparently Xander was something of a card sharp and had out-drawn both girls, a fact which had him choosing the costumes and both Willow and Buffy accusing him of cheating.
Shaking the thoughts from his head, Giles went into his office and sat down behind his desk, already feeling the beginnings of a now-normal headache that seemed to accompany the trio of teens, but then he noticed a large envelope on his desk. Plain, sealed and with his name on it, he was suspicious, given its general size was that of the American pornography magazines, but with a sigh he opened it, knowing that he wasn’t that lucky.
Outside, still working through their katas, Willow spared Buffy a glance, “A minute, tops.”
Buffy didn’t even pause as she shook her head, “Twenty seconds.”
In mid-push, Xander rather dryly chipped in, “Ten seconds.”
Sixteen point four seconds later, Giles’ rather startled voice was heard quite clearly from his office, “What the bloody hell is this?!?” The trio had the good grace to stop what they were doing and look at the rather irked Englishman as he stormed out of his office, a sheaf of papers clutched in his right hand, “What is the meaning of this… this…”
“Business plan,” Xander supplied as he dropped the backpack to the ground with a very solid-sounding ‘thud’. “It is a statement of intention to open a business relationship with the Council of Watchers, Rupert.”
“It is quite standard, actually,” Willow stated as she reached down and grabbed her towel, pausing long enough to throw Buffy her own towel.
“Nothing… unreasonable,” Buffy chipped in as she wiped her face.
Giles looked at the trio of teens in mute shock for several moments before he looked back at the professionally typed and obviously very serious business plan. It stated in no uncertain terms that the trio were looking to be monetarily rewarded for doing jobs for the Council, jobs that ranged from standard patrolling to saving the world from the occasional apocalypse, that they wanted a variety of weapons and other supplies from the Council and their suppliers in order to do said job, medical benefits and to be able to accept occasional employment opportunities for outside agencies, government or private, without hindrance. “You three… you… you…”
“Were possessed, Giles,” Willow stated in a flat voice. “We were possessed by three entities that left behind skills and abilities that we will not allow to fade into nothingness. To use these skills will benefit all and, as is in the real world, any services that are provided should be paid for.”
“Bloody assassins! They were assassins, Willow!”
“Not me,” Buffy mumbled. “Never killed… for money.”
“That is true, Buffy, and technically, Rupert, I’m a mercenary now, not an assassin,” Xander said with a bit of dark humor in his voice.
Giles glared at Xander, “Don’t argue semantics with me, Xander! I’ve done my research on your costumes and each of them were trained killers.” This had very little effect on the trio as they all shrugged at him, causing Giles to take a breath and let it out slowly as he counted to ten. Twice. Just to make sure…
“Giles, we’re not being unreasonable,” Willow said calmly as she walked forwards and took the sheaf of papers from his hand. “Everything in this plan is something you would find with any business, only it has been scaled up five times to cover our own expenses and futures.”
Giles frowned, “Five? But there are only three of you.”
As if to answer the question he had not asked, the doors to the Library opened and Jenny Calendar walked in, dressed in a smart pantsuit and sensible heels, “Good morning, Rupert, Buffy, and Willow. Deadpool knock-off,” she said to Xander with some irritation and amusement in her voice, obviously alluding to his costume.
“That character was a pale imitation of my costume, Jenny, not the other way around,” Xander replied with only a little heat.
The computer science teacher smirked at Xander a bit, “Come now, Deathstroke, it was meant only in good fun.”
“Then I would appreciate you to not continue bringing it up, Deathstrike,” Xander replied in an icy tone of voice.
No, it just didn’t pay to crawl out of bed some days, he decided as Buffy brought him a chair to flop into. Into the bottle, maybe, but not out of bed, “Obviously I’ve missed something.”
Jenny looked over at him and gave him a slightly snide sneer, “How observant of you, Rupert.”
“I take it this has to do with your being absent for the past week?”
The sneer vanished and Jenny nodded, “It does.” She held up her right hand and, much to his surprise, her fingers grew in length until they were almost a foot long and tapered to a needle point, “Your old friend Ethan’s spell has had other ramifications, Rupert.”
Giles’ beleaguered mind, having taken so many hits over the past week since the chaos of Halloween, finally decided that enough was enough and shut down in order to save what little sanity he could fake, causing him to slump in the wooden chair that Buffy had provided him. Sadly, the chair wasn’t all that large and he slid out of it, falling to the floor with a thud that cause the quartet of assassins to actually wince.
“That’s going to leave a mark.”
Rupert flinched at the sharp scent being wafted under his nose and quickly pushed away the hand holding the ammonia capsule, “Gah! What hit me?”
“The floor,” came a rather dry male response. Xander would never let him live this down…
“You challenged gravity and lost,” was another reply, though this one was female and sounded far more amused. Hmm, apparently neither would Jenny…
Rupert opened his eyes and winced at the sudden glare of the lights above him as Willow pulled away, her own eyes twinkling with mirth as she spoke, “Now, are you ready to discuss our business plan in a more civilized and mature way, Giles?”
He reached up and rubbed his cheek, an act which brought a spark of pain and realization that he’d fallen to the floor, “Very well, Willow, but it doesn’t change the fact that you want to be paid for all of this.”
“No different than what you want, Giles,” she said back to him, her voice taking a slightly chilled tone. “Why is it that your getting paid is fine, but you want those of us who put our lives on the line to do it for free, with no benefits?”
Before he could answer, Xander was speaking, “You see, Rupert, we’re not being unreasonable here. We are simply offering our services in a general manner and at a very reasonable fee. If the Council decides to tell us no, we can simply ply our trade elsewhere.”
“I hear that the Order of Teraka is always looking for employees,” Jenny said off to the side, her voice tinged with humor.
Buffy, Willow and Xander all snorted, “Amateurs.”
Giles goggled slightly, “The Order? You … you know about them?”
“Yes, we do, and as the children said, they are rank amateurs who play at being assassins.” Jenny sniffed, “They send a contract out to anyone in the area and they will waste their talent to fulfill it. They have an army, I hear.”
Buffy nodded at this, “Sloppy. Should only need one.”
Giles couldn’t help but shake his head at the change in Buffy, at how her verbal skills (atrocious as they were at times) had seemingly regressed at times to the point that she only put together one or two disjointed words, “I find it highly disturbing that you all know about an order of assassins that has eluded many for centuries.”
“One must always scout the competition and know the lay of the land, Rupert, no matter how childish they are at times,” Xander replied as he sat down between Willow and Buffy.
“Add to the fact that, if one knows where to look, the information is out there for all to find,” Jenny added in with a little grin. “The four of us, reading different news papers, found the advertisements for their services in relatively short order, Rupert, so it shouldn’t be too hard to deduce how we came up with our numbers.”
Giles shook his head, “Four of you, then. I must ask, though, about your costume, Miss Calendar, as I have the rudimentary information on the others.”
Jenny simply shrugged, “She was an assassin, Mr. Giles, and a very good one. She was a daughter with a vengeful streak that got her changed into a monster. Anything beyond that, though, I do believe I’ll keep to myself.”
Giles frowned, “Why is that?”
“You don’t last particularly long if people who may one day have cause to kill you know your weaknesses,” Willow said quietly.
Before Giles could somehow counter the statement, Jenny spoke again, “Don’t try and defend the Council, Rupert. While we’re not exactly pristine souls, neither is your Council, so do not try and cover for them. The contract is a fairly simple one, as you can see, and as it is non-exclusive, we will have feelers out for other potential clients. If the Council wishes to retain our services,” she concluded as she and the other stood, “you know where to find us. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have other things to get to. Buffy, Willow, Deadpool, good day.”
As Jenny left, Giles didn’t miss the smirks on the girls’ faces, nor did he miss the look of mild irritation in the eyes of Xander as they all went back to their exercises. As he made his way to his office, he briefly contemplated retrieving a very nice single malt from his bottom drawer, a thought he sidelined as he looked at the contract on his desk. Duty first, the extinction of his sobriety later.
AN: Alright, folks, here’s a little something that’s been in the works for a while (and continually put off for some reason or another). Not sure where this will go, but it should be a little fun, given the darker nature of what these four are capable of. What do you think? Reviews, please.