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Plausible Deniability

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Summary: The President knows more than his staff thinks he does. A companion piece to Nomad's "Donna the Vampire Slayer."

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > West Wing > General(Recent Donor)DonSampleFR1313,8194113,3096 Aug 086 Aug 08Yes
This is a companion piece to Nomad’s delightful “Donna the Vampire Slayer.” If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest that you do so before continuing with this story.

The West Wing is the creation of Aaron Sorkin. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the creation of Joss Whedon. Nomad graciously gave me permission to do this. The dialogue in the penultimate scene is hers, but I’ve changed the PoV that we see it from.


Plausible Deniability

President Jed Bartlet sat in the parlour of the Residence that he used for an office away from the office, reading a 200 page briefing memo on the latest crisis in the Middle East. He sometimes thought that someone should point out the meaning of the term “brief” to some of his staff—but he realized that even 200 pages only gave a superficial overview of the complexities of that region. He heard a knock on the door, and looked up to see Charlie admitting Leo McGarry, with Ron Butterfield—the head of his Secret Service detail—on his heels. A look from Leo made Charlie leave the room again, and close the door behind him.

The President quickly scanned their faces, reading their expressions, seeing grim determination there, but not the desperation that was his secret terror. He knew that whatever it was that they felt that he needed to know about right now, it didn’t involve his daughters.

“Leo, Ron, what is it?” he asked.

“It’s Sunnydale,” said Leo. “The Slayer is dead.”

---
Sunnydale California: vampires; demons; all the bad horror movie clichés. And the worst fear that a father could have: the Slayer. Jed Bartlet loved his daughters. That a teenaged girl could be asked to face such horrors on her own appalled him.

He hadn’t learned the truth about the supernatural until the aftermath of the debacle that was the Initiative. When the scope of that disaster became clear to him, he had wanted to hunt down his predecessor, and have him shot. His faith in the Almighty had been shaken by the revelation. How could He, in his unbounded mercy, put such a burden on just one girl? But as he learned more—as he learned about just what she had accomplished—his faith was restored. God gave his children the tools that they needed to face their challenges. Buffy Summers had had family and friends who had all helped her with her burden, and he was sure that she would reap her reward in the afterlife. God would care for the dead. The living were his concern. He had to care for what he could.

---
“What happened?”

“We don’t know for sure, Mr. President,” said Leo. “Miss Summers’ friends are covering up whatever happened there. The local authorities don’t even know that she’s dead, yet. There are reports of a lightning storm, some property damage, but no loss of life … not according to official channels, anyway.”

“Ron?” asked the President.

“We’re stepping up security across the board,” said the head of his Secret Service protection detail, “including our surveillance of Mr. Ziegler.”

“Toby?” asked the President.

“He is a member of the Watchers’ Council,” said Leo. “What he does now could give us a heads-up on who the new Slayer is.”

“We could try something radical, like asking him,” said the President.

“We’ve discussed this before, Mr. President,” said Leo. “We can’t tell Toby that we know about his other job. If we take official notice of it, we will also have to take official action. You have to maintain plausible deniability on this.”

“Do we even know if another Slayer is going to be called?” asked the President. “There is already another one out there.”

“No we don’t. As far as we can determine, the situation with Faith Lahane is unprecedented. Even the Watchers might not know what’s going to happen now. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“What about Faith?” asked the President. “Is getting her out of prison an option?”

“Not according to our latest psychological evaluation of her,” said Ron. “She is making progress, but for now, I think it’s best that she stays where she is.”

“If there isn’t a new Slayer called, the Council might not leave us much of a choice,” said Leo. “Some of those people are ruthless enough to try to arrange for her to have an ‘accident.’”

“We’ll have to make sure that they don’t do that.”

“I can’t exactly put a protection detail around her in the Northern California Women’s Facility,” said Ron. “About the best we could do would be to arrange to have her transferred into solitary confinement, and at this stage in her rehabilitation that would be … counter productive. We might be able to keep her alive, but her rehabilitation could be permanently derailed.”

“So you’re saying there’s nothing we can do for her.”

“I’m afraid so, Mr. President,” said Leo.

“If it’s any consolation, she is quite capable of taking care of herself,” added Ron.

It wasn’t, really. “All right. Keep me informed of any changes.”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Ron and Leo together. They left the room, and Jed turned back to his briefing memo, but his mind wasn’t really on it anymore.

---
It was yet another White House Reception. The President was having a mind numbingly boring conversation with the Belgian Ambassador, when Charlie came to rescue him. “Excuse me, Mr. President, but Leo needs to have a word with you.”

It wouldn’t do to seem to be too relieved by Charlie’s interruption. “Did he say about what?” he asked.

“It’s about that Thing, Sir.”

“Which Thing?”

“That Thing that he, and Special Agent Butterfield discussed with you last week.” Charlie’s tone of voice told the President that he had no idea what ‘that Thing’ was, and though he was curious, he would never ask about it.

“Oh, that Thing!” said the President. “Excuse me, Mr. Ambassador, but I really do need to deal with this.” He looked around the room, and spotted that Josh Lyman was currently on his own. He waved him over “Josh! Just the man we need! Mr. Ambassador, why don’t you tell Josh all about the history of the Walloon language. I’m sure he’ll find it as fascinating as I did.” Jed could see by the expression on Josh’s face that he would enjoy the Ambassador’s company even less than he had, but to anyone who didn’t know his Deputy Chief of Staff, it would seem that he was delighted to be invited into the Ambassador’s presence.

Charlie showed him to where Leo and Ron were waiting, in a small room off the reception hall.

The President waited for him to leave, and close the door. “So, we have news about the new Slayer?” he asked.

“Yes, Mr. President, we do,” said Ron Butterfield.

“Do we know who she is?”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Leo. “It’s Donna.”

He couldn’t mean that Donna. “Donna who?”

“Donna Moss.”

Or maybe he could. Just to be sure he asked: “Donna Moss. Our Donna Moss? Donnatella, assistant to my Deputy Chief of Staff, Moss?”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Ron.

“You’re sure?”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Leo. “You heard about the ‘mugging’ that Josh saved her from?”

“Yes, of course. I meant to ask her how she was doing, but never got the opportunity.”

“The ‘muggers’ were vampires, Mr. President, and she staked one of them, before Josh got her away from them.”

“Does she know what’s happened to her yet?” asked the President.

“We believe so, Mr. President,” said Special Agent Butterfield. “She and Josh have been spending their lunch hours with Mr. Ziegler, and she is now keeping the sword that he ‘smuggled’ into the building in her desk.”

“So Josh knows about this too?” asked the President. “Anyone else on my staff?”

“Sam and C.J.” said Leo.

“Okay, maybe I should be asking if there is anyone who doesn’t know about this.”

“None of the other staff have been told, that we know of,” said Ron. “Sam and C.J. only found out because there was another incident in the parking lot last night, that they witnessed.”

“The parking lot?”

“Yes, Mr. President,” said Special Agent Butterfield. “We have video.”

“We do?”

“Yes, Mr. President.” Leo had a VHS tape, that was covered in ‘Top Secret’ labels that he placed into a VCR. He picked up a remote control and pressed the Play button. The grainy video from a security camera appeared on the TV screen. Jed saw Josh and Toby walking into the White House parking lot, talking animatedly with each other, but there was no audio on the tape so he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Toby had just opened the door to his car when they were attacked by two men. And then Donna—with C.J. and Sam following behind—ran out into the lot too. Donna ran to Toby’s car, pulled something out from under the seat, and tried to throw it to Toby, but the man who had pinned him up against a wall knocked it aside.

The man attacking Josh turned away from him, toward Donna, as she charged toward him, and the President could see his distorted features, and fangs. They exchanged a quick series of blows, and then the stake in Donna’s hand sank into the vampire’s chest, and it exploded into dust.

Josh had grabbed up what the President now saw was a crossbow that Donna had tried to toss to Toby, and unleashed its bolt into the heart of the vampire attacking his Communications Director. It too exploded into dust. Josh looked extremely pleased with himself, while a stunned Sam and C.J. looked on.

Leo stopped the tape. “That’s it, Mr. President.”

Vampires got into the staff parking lot?” asked the President. “What was the Secret Service doing?”

Ron looked properly ashamed of himself. “I’m sorry Mr. President, but our anti-vampire perimeter didn’t extend out that far. We have safeguards in place to keep them out of the building, and the Residence is secure as long as you and the members of your family don’t invite any vampires inside, but we hadn’t taken precautions against vampires in the staff parking lots. That oversight has been corrected.”

---
President Bartlet looked up from the latest briefing memo on what the Republican Congress was trying to do to his budget when Leo entered the Oval Office. “Yes? What is it this time?”

“Nothing very important, Sir,” said Leo. “I just thought you should know. Donna and Josh snuck away from the California trip to visit Sunnydale.”

---
Secret Service Agent Kate Todd had thought that she’d finally made it when she’d been transferred into the President’s protection detail, but then, before she’d even served a day in the White House, she’d been pulled out of her final finishing course at Quantico, and now she was playing waitress in a tackily decorated Starbucks wannabe, called the Coffee Oasis.

The story that Special Agent Butterfield told her for why she’d drawn this assignment was so improbable that at first she’d suspected that she was the victim of some enormous practical joke—maybe a Presidential detail hazing ritual—but the people who made up the President’s detail were entirely lacking in any sort of sense of humour, especially when it came to anything that impinged on his security.

So she’d set aside all her notions that what he had told her about vampires and Slayers was nothing but bullshit. Ron Butterfield wasn’t the sort of man who would spout any sort of bullshit about the security of the President of the United States. She’d believe in alien autopsies, and that the moon landings had been faked, before she’d believe that he would lie to her about something like this.

So now, here she was, playing waitress at an all night coffee bar, serving a choco-mint-fudge-banana-whip-sundae to the President’s Deputy Communications Director. He wasn’t the only member of the senior staff to show up that night. His boss, the Communications Director; The Press Secretary, C.J. Cregg; the Deputy Chief of Staff … Most of the most senior people in the administration were here, meeting a bunch of teenagers from California.

The microphone in the plastic palm tree beside their table picked up every word they were saying. She listened in, just in case there was any problem with the recording, so that she would be able to report the conversation to her superiors.

---
C.J.’s voice came out of the small tape machine on the President’s desk: “White House Staff Resurrect Dead in Oval Office.” Leo pressed the button to stop the replay.

“It does have a certain ring to it,” said the President. “They don’t really mean to do it here, do they?”

“No, Mr. President,” said Ron Butterfield. “We’ve arranged for them to get access to Eric’s old office, in the basement.” About as far from the Oval Office as he’d been able to manage.

“Who’s Eric?” asked the President.

“No one knows,” said Leo. “That’s why it’s so perfect.”

“I want to meet her,” said the President.

“Meet who?” asked Leo.

“Buffy Summers. If this works, I want to meet her.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Mr. President,” said Special Agent Butterfield. He’d set this up to keep the President as far away from these people as he could, but now the man was tossing all his arrangements out the window. If he wanted to meet Buffy Summers, they might as well have done it in the Oval Office.

“I don’t care if you think it’s a good idea,” said the President. “I’m the Commander in Chief, and I’m giving you an order: if this works, I want to meet Buffy Summers.”

There was no arguing with the man, when he got into this sort of mood. “Yes, Mr. President,” said Ron and Leo together. Ron suppressed a sigh. He’d have to find a way to make it work.

---
Ron had insisted on placing a camera and microphone into Eric’s office so they could watch what happened there before he would let the President get anywhere near those people. If it hadn’t been the senior staff—most of whom Ron knew that the President trusted more than the members of his own detail—and the Sunnydale people who Ron knew had risked their own lives time and time again in the defence of the world, and the United States of America, he would have stopped it, somehow, for the President’s own good, of course.

He’d given the clearance to let the robot Buffy Summers through White House security. He had a hard time believing that the senior staff didn’t know that there was no way to get something like that into the building without Secret Service approval … but then he remembered that these were a bunch of people who couldn’t program their own VCRs without help. They were incredibly smart about some things, but as dumb as a post when it came to others. Still, he figured that Donna should have known that something was up.

He watched on his monitors as Leo met the group on the way in. The Chief of Staff couldn’t let it be. He should have just stayed out of the way, but no, he couldn’t do that. He had to be there to greet them, and then pretend to believe their lame excuses for what they were doing.

He checked that his precautions were all in place. He really wasn’t happy that the vampire Spike had come along with the group. He had tried again to talk the President out of doing this, but to no avail. So he had Secret Service agents who had been trained in taking down vampires waiting just out of sight, including two Counter Assault Teams, and the building’s fire sprinkler system was fully charged with holy water. If Spike tried anything he’d be very soggy dust in a matter of seconds.

He watched the group make its way through the halls, which his agents were keeping clear for them, and down into the basement. They made it to Eric’s office, and he saw Toby prop a chair up against the door to keep anyone from interrupting them.

He checked the time. Fifteen more minutes.

---
The President waited with Charlie, who had been briefed on what was going on, ready to ambush his staff and their visitors as they came up from the basement. He knew that Secret Service agents were waiting behind every door in this corridor. He thought that Ron was being overly paranoid, but then, that was his job. He heard people coming up the stairs, and then Sam’s voice saying “If we can just get everybody out before Leo spots us…”

Well, he couldn’t hope for a better entrance line than that. He stepped around the corner, into everyone’s view. “What’s this little party going on here, then?”

They looked very much like deer caught in a car’s headlights: the eyes of the visitors wide with the shock of recognition; the eyes of his staff wide in incipient panic, as they tried to come up with some sort of explanation for what they were doing here. He decided to have a bit of fun with them. “Ah, Josh. Did you know the game of lacrosse was derived from a game played by the Iroquois Indians?”

Josh looked like that was the last thing that he expected to hear. “Well, I do now, Sir.”

Jed knew that his staff sometimes talked about “the two Bartlets” and in many ways it was something that he had deliberately cultivated. There was “The President”: the most powerful man on the planet, the cunning politician, Nobel Laureate in Economics, master of the geopolitical chess game of international diplomacy; and then there was “Uncle Fluffy”: everyone’s favourite college professor, trivia obsessed, slightly scatter-brained, with a quirky sense of humour. It was Uncle Fluffy that he let out in full force now. “It is, in fact, derived from a Haudenosaunee game of great antiquity called Ga-lahs. The Iroquois regarded it not just a form of entertainment and physical conditioning, but also as a religious celebration in itself. It’s considered to be pleasing to the Creator, but also a rite sacred to the Thunders. Do you know who the Thunders are, Josh?”

Josh was still thrown a little off his balance, but he was quick to regain it. “Women’s softball been taken off again, sir?”

The President decided to let Josh off the hook, for now. He turned his attention to their visitors. Miss Summers wasn’t looking very well, leaning against Rupert Giles for support, but considering that she’d been very recently dead, she was looking remarkably healthy. As he looked at her, he realized that she was almost exactly the same age as Zoey. “Are you all right there, young lady?”

“I was beginning to think so,” said Miss Summers, confusion written all over her face, “but unless you really are President Bartlet I’m more out of it than I thought.”

The President smiled at that. “Yes, I really am.” The girl didn’t look the least bit reassured to be told she wasn’t seeing things. “You should sit down. I’ll get you some water. Charlie!”

The girl tried to protest, but Charlie was back in seconds with a glass of water, that the President gave to her. “Now, what happened?” he asked curious to hear just what sort of story his staff might come up with.

Several of them looked like they were about to say something, but C.J. beat them to it, jumping in before Josh or Sam, or even Mr. Harris, could say anything. “Buffy was feeling a little faint, Mr. President. She hasn’t been well lately.”

Not bad, for a spur of the moment sort of reply. There was a reason she’d lasted so much longer than most Presidential press secretaries. “Has she seen a doctor? You should see a doctor. I’ll call Abbey.”

Charlie was ready play his part in this charade. “Mr. President, the First Lady’s in Beijing.”

The President pretended to be surprised by this news. “Beijing?”

“Yes sir.”

“My wife’s in Beijing?”

“Yes sir.”

“Do we know what she’s doing there?”

“We all assumed you knew, sir.”

The President decided that they’d played that digression for long enough, giving Miss Summers and the others a little time to regain some more of their equilibrium. “Okay. We’d probably better leave her to it.” He turned back to Miss Summers. “But you should see a doctor.”

She was really looking better by the second, but she was still leaning on Mr. Giles for support. “Buffy, I think maybe you should,” he said. “You’ve been through a lot.”

The younger Miss Summers, who had been giving the elder additional support nodded her head in agreement, and gave her sister a hug, as well.

The two of them reminded him of his daughters, at times. “You two are sisters?”

The two girls exchanged a look that spoke volumes, and nodded in response.

The President released them from his immediate attention, and turned instead to the other young people. “And you would be—”

It was Josh who got out an answer first, this time, since they had already prepared this part of their cover story. “From UC Sunnydale, Mr. President.”

“Ah yes, the Sunnydale party.”

“You don’t have a clue, do you, Mr. President?” asked Josh.

I have much more of a clue than you would ever suspect Josh, is what the President didn’t say. What he did say was: “No, but I was doing a damn fine job of faking it until you spoiled it.” He smiled at the visitors, and extended his hand to Mr. Giles. “Nice to meet you, sir.” He shook hands with each of the others, in turn, even the vampire Spike, whose hand felt cold, but firm, in his grip. He could almost imagine Ron Butterfield having a coronary when he saw that happen. “Always a pleasure to meet young people who are taking an interest in their country’s government.”

Charlie caught his cue with alacrity. “Mr. President?”

“What’s that, Charlie? Urgent matters of government for me to attend to?”

“Yes, Sir. The pizza guy’s just arrived.”

---
They sat in the Oval Office, with the pizza boxes on the Resolute Desk. The President and Charlie had bottles of beer, while Leo and Ron drank water.

“So, that’s it?” asked the President. “Everyone’s going back to Sunnydale, and we no longer have a Slayer in the White House?”

“I’m not so sure of that, Mr. President,” said Ron Butterfield. “Our own experts were watching that spell, and they disagree on whether or not Miss Moss actually gave up any of her power to restore Miss Summers.”

“I suppose we’ll just have to wait, and see,” said the President.

The End

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