Disclaimer: Buffyverse characters belong to Joss Whedon and their associated studio owners: Mutant Enemy, Fox, UPN, and etcetera. Author's Notes: Plot bunny for this came courtesy of Kiwikatipo, who graciously let me borrow it to run with. And yes, I did forget the disclaimer on first posting and had to add it in after. Oops.Unintended Consequences
Buffy swept into the plush conference room of the New (And Improved) International Watcher's Council with a flourish. "Hey guys!"
"Aaannnnnnnddd with Buffy's triumphal entrance, the First Annual Post Sunnydale Scooby Meeting of the New International Watcher's Council is now called to order!" Xander beamed at his friend as she plopped unceremoniously into a seat with a frazzled expression.
"This is order?" Buffy gave him a skeptical look.
"Hey! We're orderly-like!" Willow glanced around the room, finishing with a dubious expression. "Kinda."
"Get used to it. This is as orderly as it gets," Xander snickered. "ow." He rubbed his punched shoulder and shot Willow a reproving glare.
"Behave, Mister. I'm all knuckledy and I'm not afraid to use them." Willow shook a small fist at him for emphasis. Xander scooched his chair a few inches away and stuck his tongue out.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Good to see professionalism reigning."
"Don't try this at home, kids," Xander nodded enthusiastically.
"Be afraid. Be very afraid," Willow agreed.
Buffy shook her head, hiding a small grin at her friend's antics. She looked over the (extremely) small gathering, noting the numerous empty places at the long table. "So... where is everyone?"
"Huh?" She blinked. "Faith?"
"Quit," Willow said.
"Oh, right. I remember," Buffy nodded. "Robin?"
"Fired." "Quit." Willow and Xander supplied simultaneously.
"Quit-fired, after he and Faith broke up," Xander stated. "Faith and he?"
"More like 'after Faith broke Robin'," Willow interjected, "but... "
"Broke up, broke Robin; same diff," Xander grinned. "Robin was all broke up about it."
"Right." Buffy nodded, ignoring the attempted humour. "Dawn?"
"Stayed in Rio to manage the Slayer School there," Willow explained. She sighed heavily, "Said managing to entail long stints of rigorous beach patrols." Buffy and Xander gave her sympathetic looks, followed by dreamy expressions at the mention of 'beach patrols'.
"Andrew?" Buffy asked.
"Disappeared after he came back from LA." Willow replied. "The Dana thing?"
"Disappeared?" Buffy blinked again. "Is anyone looking for him?"
Willow and Xander looked at each other incredulously, then at Buffy. "Why?"
"Oh. Andrew. Right," Buffy sighed. "Never mind." She frowned, "Giles?"
"Running late?" Xander said. "He said he had some stuff to finish up and he'd be right here."
Everyone looked at the door expectantly, then exchanged glances after long minutes passed.
"I think 'right here' was kind of a relative term," Willow suggested.
The opening of the conference room door followed by the entrance of a slightly disheveled and harried looking Giles derailed that line of conversation.
"Giles!" Buffy bounced up and gave him and the armload of folders he carried a swift hug.
"Buffy," Giles smiled as she released him and stepped back to her seat. "How wonderful to see you again. How was Italy?"
"Fine." Buffy gave him a thousand watt smile only marginally spoiled by the enormous yawn that followed immediately on its heel. "Jet lag: not so finey a thing."
"Yes, indeed," Giles gave her a concerned look. "We can always postpone the meeting if you'd rather rest up from your journey?"
"Naw," Buffy waved away the suggestion. "Let's brave the imminent perils of Council business and get it out of the way so I can sleep with a clear conscience."
"That's our Buff," Xander smirked. "Unfaltering in the presence of danger and papercuts."
"And rampant Xanderisms," Willow said.
"Rampant, that's me."
"*ahem*" Giles cleared his throat and gave them his best reproving librarian glare. "Shall we?"
"We shall," Buffy nodded decisively. "So... Ok, quarterly annual meeting thingy time again?"
"Why yes, I believe it is."
"Cool. So how's progress?"
"Ooh! Oooh! I know this one!" Willow bounced in her seat.
"By all means, Ms. Rosenberg," Giles said.
Willow cleared her throat and settled into her best 'serious face'. "Well... between us, we've identified, located, and given The Speech to 18,973 Awakened young women as of this August."
"Wow! That's great!" Buffy looked suitably impressed.
"Possibly." Giles removed his glasses and took out a handkerchief to begin polishing them.
"Possibly?" Buffy gave him an incredulous look, "That's wonderful! How many of them are joining us?"
There was a long silence as everyone studiously looked everywhere except at Buffy.
"Well?" She demanded.
"Yes. 14 of the others have elected to go with Faith's friends, the Nightstalkers," Xander supplied in a glum tone.
Buffy spluttered incoherently, then asked... "Oh well. So the other 18,000 are staying out of things and electing to do the normal life thing?"
Giles looked, if anything, embarrassed. He began cleaning his glasses vigorously. "A-a-a-ah... well... no. Some 353 of the Awakened Potentials we've discovered have opted to continue their former lives unchanged."
"Ah." Buffy nodded sagely with a look of confusion, "And that means that... ?"
Giles glanced away, pinching the bridge of his nose, "The other 18,606 seem to be ah.... ah... f-f-filing a class action suit against us."
There was a long silence in which Buffy managed to give a convincing impression of a fish out of water. Finally, she managed to quit opening and closing her mouth soundlessly and said, "What?!?" in a strangled and dangerously quiet voice.
"Yes. They seem to be claiming... " Giles paused to open one of the folders before him and refresh his memory, "mental trauma, loss of income, property damages, damages for pain and suffering, medical care, future income loss, educational opportunity disruption, a-a-a-and... life style disruptions."
There was a long silence.
"Lifestyle disruptions," Buffy said, slowly.
Buffy nodded slowly, blinking. Willow looked slightly stunned, then raised an eyebrow. "'Future income loss'?" Willow asked.
"And 'educational opportunity disruption'?" Xander blinked.
"Ah... yes." Giles cleared his throat. "It seems that one of the newly awakened girls was on the err... fast track for a track scholarship and then the Olympics." He sighed and put his glasses back on, "She came under suspicion of ah... " Giles glanced at the folder, "Steroid abuse."
"And lost the scholarships," Xander finished for him.
"Er... quite." Giles sighed and decided he may as well leave his glasses off for the duration. He could foresee extensive polishing in his future. "As did a young girl in the US who seems to blame us for ruining a promising future professional baseball career... "
Willow swallowed and reached across the table, dragging one of the folders slowly towards her. Buffy continued to nod slowly, blinking, with a rather pole-axed expression as Willow read through the documents.
"Reckless endangerment charges?" Willow spluttered. "A-a-an-and... Criminal Negligence?" Giles sighed and resumed his glasses cleaning, nodding quietly.
Xander moved from his seat to read over Willow's shoulder. "International Criminal Negligence charges? And accessories to assault?"
Giles sighed again, "Yes. There were numerous instances of young ladies injuring parents, guardians, or o-o-oth-thers when the Slayer Awakening came upon them suddenly and unexpectedly."
"But-but-but-but.... accessory to sexual
assault? Us?!?" Willow gave Giles an outraged glare.
"Ah... ehrmmm... very
suddenly and unexpectedly, in some cases," a red flush crept slowly up Giles neck and onto his face, matched by the look of dawning horror that crept over Xanders.
"Teenage girls, necking in parked cars or on their parents sofas... " Xander nodded, and swallowed.
"Quite," Giles nodded. "Or in... even more... intimate settings."
Xander winced and unconsciously moved his hands in a protective gesture over certain areas. "Ow... "
"Indeed," Giles noted the gesture and gave Xander a sympathetic wince of male solidarity.
"Ok, well, I supposed I could see that... " Willow gave a sympathetic wince of her own. "But accessory to criminal assault and homicide?" By this point, Buffy's eyes had closed and she was leaning forward to thump her head softly and rhythmically on the conference table.
"Ah. Yes, well... " Giles gave the Scoobies an apologetic look, "It seems that Law Enforcement in several US jurisdictions, as well as Interpol - not to mention the US Department of Homeland Security - are rather unamused at the sudden influx of superpowered female criminal elements in their midst."
Xander reached over Willow's shoulder to turn a page on the folder of documents, and winced again. "Not to mention super powered homicidal escaped mental patients." His eyes widened as he reached the bottom of the list of complaints, "Robin is suing us too? And filing criminal charges?"
Buffy's head came off of the table with a sudden jerk and a glare. "Robin... as in... Wood?"
Giles' polishing movements took on a more urgent tone, as did his concentration on the task. "Ah... yes. Mr. Wood is suing us - as the current representatives of the former Council of Watchers - for depriving him of his mother at a very young age, with all attendant mental traumas." He sighed, "And bringing criminal charges against you for threatening to have Spike kill him in Sunnydale."
Buffy's head thunked onto the table again, then she brought it up slowly and rested her face in the palms of her hands. "Go on, shoot me the works. get it over with... " her voice came out muffled.
"And loss of income and benefits for destroying his previous place of employment, the Sunnydale High School," Xander finished, shaking his head.
"But... there was Hellmouthy-ness under it! And Ubervamps!!!" Willow exclaimed, indignantly.
"Faith should have hit him harder," Xander agreed.
"Ummm... that might have increased the amount of damages in this
part if she had," Willow pointed at the page and Xander winced again.
He gave a low whistle, "Hospital bills, medical expenses, mental and emotional trauma... "
"But Faith was the one who decked him for cheating on her," Buffy said through her hands.
"Ah... yes. But she was employed by the IWC at the time, as was Robin," Giles explained.
"And we have deeper pockets," Buffy moved her head up and down in her palms in something that might have been nodding.
"Why that's... pretty darn mercenary if you ask me!" Willow spluttered, indignant.
"Why yes," Giles stated. "Wanting recompensation for debilitating physical trauma incurred as a result of our staff. How dare he."
"Darn straight, Mister!" Willow exclaimed, then gave Giles a suspicious look. "That was sarcasm, wan't it? You're being all sarcasticky."
"Me?" Giles managed an expression of sublime innocence. "Perish the thought."
Xander crossed his arms over his chest and gave Giles a rather jaundiced one-eyed glare. "You
were the one that heaped lavish praise on the plan, G-Man." Giles' eyes widened slightly, and Xander pressed on, pointing an accusing finger, "I heard you - don't deny it. 'Bloody brilliant!' was the phrase, I believe."
"I'm quite impressed," Giles gave Xander an approving look.
Willow glared at him, "Hey! Xander's recall isn't that
"No... I mean I'm impressed that he managed to use 'lavish' in a sentence, and correctly even."
"Guys... " Buffy's voice came out from between her hands again, "Sniping at each other isn't going to help."
"Quite." Giles looked slightly abashed. "Apologies, old chap."
"No worries... Hey!" Xander peered at Giles. "You called me 'old'. I'm not 'old'. I'm a well preserved one-eyed twenty three year old, I'll have you know!"
Giles' smirk was interrupted by a loud gasp from Willow. Everyone's head turned in her direction with the exception of Buffy's. "But.. but... but.... !" Willow glared at the folder before her, aghast.
"What is it, Will?"
"Kennedy's parents?!? Too?!?" She wailed.
"What?" Xander blinked.
"They-they-they're... suing us for eliminating their daughter's promising future as a Yale graduate to fight demons! And for property damages incurred when the Bringers attacked their home!"
A soft thumping sound came from Buffy's end of the table once more. Giles sighed and stated in a firm, comforting voice, "Don't worry, Buffy. I've spoken to our attorneys and we shall fight this with every resource at our disposal, I assure you."
"That's not enough," Buffy straightened, a look of resolve settling in on her features. "This is... evil! And we have to fight Evil with Evil!" Everyone looked at her oddly. She ignored the looks and pressed on, "Call Angel at that Evil Lawyer Place!"
Willow brightened, "Darn tootin!"
Giles sighed heavily, "A-a-ah... there may be a problem with that, I'm afraid."
"What? You mean that silly thing with us not trusting him? But this is serious!" Buffy waved off the suggestion that such a niggling thing would cause Angel to not ride to the rescue.
"I know it is. However... "
"Giles... " Buffy warned.
"Ahem. I'm afraid that Angel is personally representing the plaintiffs." Giles extended a copy of a document with a Wolfram and Hart letterhead across the table, "With a Mr, err... Gunn, I believe."
There was a solid thump as Buffy slid from her chair in a dead faint.
Xander looked at Willow, then at Giles. "Toldja that sending Andrew on that recovery mission was a mistake... "