Note: Second story in the Second Lives 'Verse.
Disclaimer: Neither Spooks nor BtVS are mine.
Xander has been back from Africa for less than a month when Giles starts talking about recruiting new watchers. He can see his point; the house in Bath is over crowded with young slayers and adults of any sort are in short supply. Thirty girls to two watchers is not fair to any of them.
Xander sits in on the conference call to Buffy and they talk about it for what seems like hours. Buffy is afraid new watchers will turn the Council back into what it once was. She trusts Giles and Xander but that’s as far as it goes. In the end, Giles gets his new watchers and Buffy gets a sort of slayer Constitution. Watchers are subordinate to their slayers, and it is enshrined in the bylaws now. Xander tries not to find it hilarious that Buffy of all people created a Constitution, but he and Dawn call her Jefferson for quite a while.
When the thing is written and signed, Buffy gives Giles the go ahead to recruit. This means Xander has to sit in on more meetings; a task he’s begun to truly despise.
“So, where are we going to find these recruits of yours?” asks Xander, balancing a legal pad on one knee.
“Buffy has forbidden recruiting former watchers who may have survived for active duty, but I think we can get a few of them back to do research and such,” says Giles. He’s perched on the edge of his chair, looking lively. Xander is glad to see the change. Before he’d left for Africa, Giles had been looking old and tired.
“I know a few younger sons who went to the services instead of the Watchers, but I’m not sure if any of them would be willing to leave their jobs for us. Beyond that, I think we should look into Willow’s contacts,” said Giles.
Xander twisted the pen between his fingers. “We should ask the girls, too. They might have friends, siblings, whoever. People they already trust that we can train.”
Xander doesn’t go with Giles to recruit their latest target. This was the one Buffy had objected to the most: Tom Quinn, former MI-5, currently with the Centre for Survivors of Torture. He’s not one of the younger sons Giles had been intent on picking up, but that’s how they’d gotten his name.
Buffy calls from Rome the minute she gets his file to say no. “Absolutely not, Giles. He’s killed people; I don’t want him near slayers.”
Xander watches as Giles pinches the bridge of his nose. “Buffy,” Giles says in his second most exasperated tone, “Yes, he’s killed terrorists, and he doesn’t do that anymore. He got the sac for picking up a case of conscience. His information alone could be invaluable to us, let alone what contacts he may have left.”
It goes on like this for an hour, until Xander finally intervenes. “We’ll recruit him into research,” he says, and he can hear Buffy’s sigh in response.
“Fine,” she says, “but you’re responsible for him, Xander. You know how I feel about guns.”
Xander nods even though she can’t see him. “Okay.”
When Giles brings Tom back to the house for the first time, Xander wonders if Buffy was right after all. Not for her reasons, but because Xander’s not sure he’s over losing his old life yet.
Tom is too skinny, and paler than even Britons should be. He’s eerily quiet and somber.
Tom spends his days in the courtyard, wading his way through the reading list Giles has prepared. Whenever Xander locks himself in his study for five minutes of privacy, he looks out the window and sees Tom sitting there, an intense look of concentration on his face. He is unfailing polite and always pitches in when needed, but Xander can tell he’s on guard all the time. He’s starting to think taking Tom in was more of a favor to Giles’ mysterious contact than it was to them.
When Xander bring up the subject, Giles pulls off his glasses and cleans them with his handkerchief. “Yes, quite,” he replies, “I rather think he’s had a hard time of it as of late.”
Xander agrees, and his suppositions are backed up the first time he catches Tom in the bathroom that all the guys share with only a towel around his waist. Tom’s scars aren’t any worse than Xander’s, but Xander knows that all Tom’s scar were caused by humans, not demons, and somehow that makes it worse.
Tom presence set the house into a flutter. Tom seems oblivious to it, but after a little investigation he decides that it’s just Tom’s way of ignoring the attention.
The attention abates as the girls get used to Tom and Tom gets used to the girls. It’s like they’ve all finally decided he’s one of them. And the decision is cemented when Mariah flips Tom in the kitchens one day and Tom gets up with a smile.
After that, everywhere Xander looks Mariah is going out of her way to make Tom engage. He starts running with the youngest girls in the morning. Xander comes out with them a few times, just to make sure everything will go smoothly. It’s funny to see Tom with them. He’s patient and calm, and if Xander thought he’d answer, he would ask Tom if he had even been a father. When Tom steps out the front door in the morning he snaps into what Xander can only call body guard mode: like he’s not the weakest member of the pack. The girls seem to take it in stride and Xander knows that Tom will spot danger before any of them, even if he won’t be the one doing the fighting. After a few rounds, Xander goes back to running with Faith and the oldest girls in the morning.
Tom starts showing up at morning practice as well. Teaching his tricks to the girls, sneakier tricks than Buffy had ever used. Xander approves.
“Yup,” says Xander as he looks up from the monitor. Giles has institute things like reports and paper work: some days it makes Xander feel like this is a real job other days it makes him want to quit.
Mariah sits down in the chair across from his desk. “I wanted to ask you, well, I know Tom is in research, but I, uh, I want to ask him to be my watcher. If it’s okay with you, and all.” She looks at the floor and interweaves her fingers.
“Are you sure? You don’t have to have a watcher any more. There aren’t any rules, and even if there were, you wouldn’t have to pick a watcher before you’re out on patrol.”
“I’m sure. We’re a good team. He may not be as up on demon lore as you guys, but he’ll do whatever it takes to win and keep us both alive,” says Mariah and from the look in her eyes Xander knows she’s decided.