Disclaimer: These shows and characters do not belong to me.
Once he gets over the shock, Tom spends most of his time either teaching or breaking the Official Secrets Act right and left. He doesn’t regret it at all. Instead, he wonders if this was how Peter felt: the comfort of true belief, the righteousness of it all.
He’s not allowed out in the field yet, Giles is perhaps even better at recognizing his agent’s needs than Harry ever was. He doesn’t mind. Instead, he sits in the courtyard, lounging in the sun as if he was actually a cat, reading up on this world he never knew existed. Vampires, Demons, and Hell gods, oh my.
He does kp, too: its almost like being in the army again, except teenage girls complain if the food is burned, or is weird, or if they’re just in a bad mood. More food fights too.
The fact that Giles sends thirteen year old girls to fight for him against such monster is the hardest thing for Tom to get over. He watches them eat, watches them talk and play, and then he watches them train. If it had been Harry, they would’ve come to blows. Giles’ girls, however, are not ordinary. He finds this out the first time little Mariah takes him down in the kitchens, back when he was still doubting his choice. She’s maybe five foot even and with all his training Tom still loses, badly.
Xander gives him a hand up and has the decency not to laugh. “You’re good,” he says, in tone that implies this won’t be the first or last time he says this, “but she’s a slayer. She might be thirteen, but she’s going to kick your ass every single time.” He gives Tom a rueful grin, like this strange new fact of life was something he’d come to live with, and a pat on the shoulder as Tom dusts himself off. It’s the first time Tom really feels like he fits in here.
“You’re not bad for a Watcher trainee,” Mariah tells him in her Midwestern American drawl, later on, “Usually, they try and run, or just squeak helplessly.” She gives him a mercenary grin, “You’re all right.” Xander assigns him to her not a week later.
They work hard, harder than Tom remembers training being the first time around. There are more languages for one. Tom is fluent in French and German and can understand more, but Sumerian isn’t on any MI-5 syllabus. Mariah doesn’t even have another foreign language as a foundation to build on.
They’re sitting in one of the bedrooms that had been converted into a classroom when she tells him that old joke, more like it’s a saying, “What do you call a person who speaks multiple languages? A polyglot. What do you call a person who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who only speaks one language? An American.” Tom laughs, a short bark of a laugh, but more than since Giles pulled him out of his own personal hell, and they go back to Latin verbs. “Amo, amas, amat.”
It’s Xander who takes them out on their first patrol, along with Faith and two other Watcher trainees Tom doesn’t know well. When the first vampire lunges at Mariah he has to steel himself not to throw his body in harm’s way and instead let a tiny girl do the dirty business. She does, with a grace and speed Tom wouldn’t have believed possible.
After that, he practices with the girls, mostly the younger set. Mariah’s friends. He teaches them every single dirty trick he’s ever known. Girls with super strength are one thing; creatures who want to use them all for tea are another all together. He wishes Zoë was here, she’d known all the tricks Tom with his greater bulk had never bothered to learn. Tricks that could save his slayer’s life.
Giles gives him their assignment the day after Mariah turns fourteen. They’re off to the North American branch, back in Ohio. It’s still a training house, not much different than the one in Bath, but they’ll be a full status team, trainees no more. Tom considers joining Mariah and the other girls when they break out the ice cream, but while he’s proud of their achievements, he’s not sure he’s ready.
He pulls Xander aside that evening, after Mariah is done celebrating and is safely in bed. “I’ve seen things in my life,” he starts and Xander must know where this conversation is heading because he pulls Tom into his study.
“I don’t have any of Giles’ fancy stuff, but I do have beer. Want one?” asks Xander and Tom nods.
Beer in hand Xander continues, “Giles and I talked about it, before he decided to ask you to join us. You being an ex-Fed and all.”
“Five,” corrects Tom and Xander waves him on, “MI-5. I’ve seen human cruelty and never imagined there was anything else, it was so bad. And now I’m going to take a fourteen year old girl into battle against monsters.”
“I was fourteen,” Xander says, and Tom is shocked. He supposes he should have asked Mariah, she seems to know all the house gossip, but Tom can’t think of gossip as anything but information product and avoids it at all costs these days.
“Buffy was the only slayer back then and I got involved and then it turned into my life. It’s how things happen around here. I’m not saying it was the best of all possible childhoods, but bad things happen and people survive.” Xander shrugs and Tom knows there is more to the story but he doesn’t dig for it. He’s changed, he’s made himself change.
“We’re not like your former bosses, if the worst happens, we’ll be here to stand by you. To the death if necessary. Mariah’s good, really good, though. So are you. Giles wouldn’t let you out in the field if you weren’t ready. And if you can’t trust yourself, always trust your slayer.”
Tom nods and takes a drag off the beer. Maybe he can do this after all.