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International Council of Watchers
Meeting of the High Council
January 2, 2009
A Moment Later...
The others didn’t even attempt to hide the malice in their smiles.
“Don’t sound so resigned, Giles,” reproached Dawn. She turned to face the rest of the table and asked, “Could I make a small point?”
“Sure, sweetie,” answered Willow.
“Thanks. Are we all going to go? I know Riley will be at the meeting with Santos, but I think having all six of us is overkill.”
“True dat, Dawnster,” replied Xander. “Only two of us need to go; one for the ‘splainy and one for the scary.”
“Why not both for the scary?” asked Dawn. “Willow is great at explaining and then she can go Great and Powerful Oz on them.”
“She’d be the Wicked Witch of the West, yeah?” asked Buffy. “She went evil for a bit and then went good again. Back me up Giles; I know you saw the musical.”
“That, my dear, is only because you dragged me to it,” Giles managed to reply with minimal glaring. Giles leaned back in his chair and added, “personally, I would have been happier staying in my hotel room all night.”
“Please, G-man. We were in New York City. The Big Apple! We had to see a show.”
“And that was the only one available?” Giles asked suspiciously. He had seen advertisements for all kinds of shows, even a tribute band that supposedly did good covers of The Who.
“W-” Buffy started but was interrupted by Faith’s hand hammering the table.
“Fine,” Buffy sighed as she moved to the head of the table. “We need a plan. I think we should keep the teams we’ve been working in for the last month, which means Faith and Willow are going to meet the new President.”
“Buffy,” Dawn whined, “I wanted to meet the President. I’m getting dangerously close to angst-ridden teenager territory.”
The two sisters exchanged looks; the younger had a desperate pout and the older had a single arched eyebrow.
“You and Xander will have an assignment of your own,” Buffy finally replied. “Have we sent anyone over on that NCIS consult yet, Giles?”
“Not to my knowledge. We were going to wait for Xander to get back from the gambling bust.”
“Huh? Why Xander?” asked the same man as he grabbed a doughnut from the tray in the middle of the table.
“The request for an expert on the supernatural came in at midnight, just before your plane took off,” started Buffy.
“It came from one Anthony DiNozzo on behalf of a Leroy Jethro Gibbs,” added Giles.
“I thought I recognized the first name from somewhere, so I had a search done on him. Turns out, he’s the Xan-man’s cousin.”
“Yeah, Tony’s my mom’s brother’s only kid. I haven’t seen him in forever. We had a fight the last time we talked.” Xander swiveled in his chair to face Buffy. “Then again, we were both about five and he was trying to steal Willow from me.” Xander’s face grew contemplative. “I can’t believe you remembered that.”
“What can I say, a slayer never forgets,” Buffy replied smugly.
“Damn supernatural instinct-slash-memory thingy,” grumbled Dawn.
“Getting back to the point of all this,” inserted Giles somewhat testily, “you two are going to be working as consultants for the police, not as direct representatives of the ICW. There’s been a series of suspicious deaths in Arlington, Virginia recently. Each victim was military and, based on the images they sent us, had some sort of early Mayan writing tattooed into them. They suspect it is some nut job trying to perform a magic ritual and wanted a consultant with experience in ancient languages and mystical chicanery.”
“Is it a demon?” Dawn asked, curiosity shining from her eyes.
“It is definitely not a demon,” answered Buffy. “Giles and I translated the glyphs. They were essentially nonsense; none of the final consonants were synharmonic. None. Whoever wrote it wasn’t trying too hard to get it right. It took us about two minutes to figure out that he just substituted the letters of his message for the Mayan phonetic signs.”
“He just left a simple taunting message,” Giles continued, “challenging the police to find and stop him. As we all know, demons are usually either far more exacting or indiscriminate than this killer.”
“And a demon would be challenging the slayers, not the police,” added Buffy.
“But couldn’t it be a demon pretending to be a human serial killer?” asked Faith, finally deciding to join the conversation.
“It’s possible,” Buffy started, “but it’s unlikely.”
“Like human serial killers,” Giles added, “demons that mutilate their victims and write taunting messages on them tend to address the messages to the people who are most likely to be able find and kill them. In the past, that would have been rogue demon hunters, and now, that would be us.”
“Psychopathic killers,” Buffy continued, “whether human or demon, usually aren’t in it for the killing. It’s all about the chase.”
“And Buffy’s psych degree comes in handy once again,” Dawn sighed.
“Well pardon me for using my brains once in a while. You always misunderestimate me,” Buffy sighed airily.
“Ladies? If we could get back to the point?” asked Xander. “So Willow and Faith are going to visit the West Wing and me and Dawnie are going to visit NCIS.” Xander turned to Buffy and asked, “Where are you and Giles going?”
“We’re headed back to New York. A couple of our girls ran into some trouble up there as witnesses to an attempted rape. They need their legal guardians, i.e. me and Giles, to be there during their testimony.”
“Did your rugrats give the bastard what he deserved?” Faith grinned maliciously at the thought. Rapists are ranked just under domestic abusers in the scale of how much Faith wants to kill people.
“They were surprisingly quite gentle.” Buffy smiled while remembering last night’s phone call. “Diane and Charlie pulled the guy off the girl and tackled him to the ground in a submission hold. Unfortunately, the girls didn’t let the guy zip back up before bringing him down and learned first hand that breaking a certain part of the anatomy hurts quite a bit more than breaking a bone.”
The three other girls joined Faith in grinning maliciously while Xander squirmed in his chair uncomfortably while Giles just accepted his fate.
Deciding the break his uncomfortable silence, Xander continued their conversation. “So I suppose that means that Buffster and the G-man will be going all Law and Order on us.” Xander turned in his chair again and alternated between staring at Buffy and Giles. “I just don’t know which one of you will make a better bad cop.”
“We can take turns.” Buffy walked over to Giles and placed her hand on his shoulder. “After all, friends share.”
“Yeah, Giles hasn’t had a chance to go full-blown Ripper in quite a while,” Willow added with an innocent smile.
After a few minutes of angry glares from Giles, giggles from the girls, and manly giggles from Xander, Faith stood up.
“I think it’s about time we busted this popsicle stand.”
“Ooo, shotgun!” shouted Willow.
“You can’t call shotgun on a jet,” argued Dawn.
“Well, then I call co-pilot’s chair,” huffed Willow.
“You can’t call that either!”
“Can you fly a plane?”
“Well there’s your answer.”
Faith and Xander walked out of the room to escape the squabble, but were followed, quite unfortunately in their minds, by the still arguing girls.
“Do you think I should tell Willow that her cousin Josh is going to be there?” Buffy asked Giles. Now waiting for his reply, Buffy dismissed the question with a wave of her hand. “Nah. She’ll like being surprised. She hasn’t seen anyone in her family since we left Sunnydale.”
In following with the Golden Rule, Giles decided to keep the name of the ADA they would be working with to himself. Buffy hadn’t seen anyone from her family since leaving Sunnydale either, excepting Dawn, of course. He was sure that she’d be glad to see her aunt, Alexandra Cabot. He also tried to keep his maniacal laughter to himself, which did not work quite as well since he began to choke.
“You ok, Giles?” Buffy asked as she pat him on the back ‘lightly.’
“I’m fine, my dear. Why don’t you run along and get yourself packed. We’re scheduled to leave within the hour.”
“Oh, I’d better hurry,” Buffy said as she ran out of the room.
After the door closed, Giles let out a sigh of relief, which quickly gave way to another bout of maniacal laughter.
“You sure you’re ok?” Buffy asked as she stuck her head back in the room.
“I’m sure,” Giles said quickly. “See you in an hour.”
“Alright,” Buffy looked concerned, but decided to ignore Giles’ weirdness for the moment.
The door closed again and when he was sure that Buffy had walked down the hallway, he let out another maniacal laugh. Only much quieter. And with less choking.