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This story is No. 9 in the series "Tales of the LSH (Legion of Sunnydale Heroes)". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The aftermath of the Scoobies' costume selection has some major repercussions for them and the world in general.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Buffy-CenteredGreywizardFR18112,47673710,7514 Jan 114 Jan 11Yes
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to Crack-Head Joss and ME, DC Comics or Marvel Comics. Deal with it. I have.

Category: Multi-crossover.

Time Frame: Breaks off from canon after BtVS Episode Eighteen, 'Halloween.'

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don’t know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: None.

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: This is an expansion of one of texaswookie's shorts in the Back Burner storyline/series. You can find the inspiration here: http://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-22437-58/texaswookie+Back+Burner.htm. Many thanks for allowing me to follow this up.

Author’s Note 2: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

As usual, "word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

~~~

Ethan's Costumes
October 30, 1997


Buffy continued to look abashed as she apologized to her best male friend from her behavior earlier that day at school.

"I really am sorry, Xand,” she said contritely. But she was jostled a bit by a passing customer and the blonde easily moved to the side, her eyes narrowed in annoyance at the interruption. Her back was now to a certain red dress, though, preventing her from noticing it and the wheels of destiny shifted in a new direction as a conversation was resumed.

"Look, let me make it up to you,” Buffy continued as she dragged her friend toward a rack of superhero costumes. "You get to suggest my costume choice for tomorrow night, and if it’s anywhere near reasonable, I’ll wear it, okay?” the blonde told her friend earnestly, as she tried to get his forgiveness for her blunder of seriously violating the 'Guy Code' at lunchtime.

"I also promise to never defend you from regular humans threatening to pound you into a bloody pulp on the ground – unless, of course, we’re in a hurry to save the world and I need your help to prevent an apocalypse. Okay?”

Xander nodded his appreciation of Buffy's suggestion. His best female friend was sincere in trying to make amends by suggesting a peace offering, so he could try and embarrass her, like she had done to him earlier that day, or he could do the grown-up thing and accept the fact that she was willing to own up to what she had done and accept the peace offering she was making.

{ Man, trying to act mature sucks, sometimes, } he reflected to himself before mentally sighing and nodding his acceptance of her actually quite generous offer.

His eyes briefly skimmed the Wonder Woman and Vampirella costumes before discarding them as any real possibilities. He kind of doubted Mrs. S would allow the Buffster out of the house as Vampirella, anyways – assuming that Buffy didn't beat him into a bloody pulp for suggesting such a costume to begin with, of course.

"All right then, how about this?” he questioned the blonde curiously. "A time honored classic,” he assured her as he pulled a familiar red and blue outfit with an equally familiar red and gold shield on the top that most people instantly recognized. "Besides, I also happen to know that you have those red boots that will work great with this,” he added, with a triumphant smirk as he made his case to his friend.

Buffy looked at the outfit, and a part of her wanted to deny her friend's wishes, but considering some of the things that he could have tried to press on her, she concluded the Supergirl costume was a lot better than most of the things that he could have chosen.

{ With a little work, it could even be used for regular clothes, } she thought as she examined the outfit. She'd have to shorten the skirt and belly to show off her legs to the best effect, but that was all for later. For tonight, she supposed that they would work.

"Okay. If I do take that, what will you be wearing?” she questioned him curiously.

Xander smiled as he looked through the various items on the rack, since he didn’t want to have to dip very much into his meager funds.

"How about this?” he asked as he pulled out a red jump suit, along with some yellow stickers from among the miscellaneous paraphernalia on the shelf next to the rack.

"Uh, what is it?” Buffy asked curiously. Sadly, she was unable to understand the complexities of the Harris mind, or his ability to make something out of nothing.

"When I’m done with it, it'll be the Flash,” Xander informed her confidently.

"Uh, okay. If you say so,” Buffy shrugged, as she took her outfit to the front counter to pay for it.

{ And exactly who is the Flash? } she wondered, the slightest bit mystified since she was not the comic geek extraordinaire her best male friend prided himself on being.

"And don't think I'm gonna let you wear your usual costume, either, Will," Buffy could hear Xander saying as she headed towards the register with her selection while he pulled a second, blue, jumpsuit from the rack where he'd grabbed his own costume, along with a handful of additional stickers from the accessory rack.

Ignoring Willow's plaintive "But, Xander, I don't think –", Xander interrupted the redhead's protest with, "Remember that 'Sparx' character you said you liked in my old 'Legion of Superheroes' comic you were reading last month?

"Well, the good news for you is that…"

~~~

Sunnydale High library
November 3, 1997


Kara/Buffy glared at her friend with righteous annoyance and more than a little anger.

"I can’t believe now that I was actually dumb enough to let you talk me into wearing that, that costume!" she complained. "I was already enough of a freak before, but now I’m above and way beyond what I used to be!”

"What's the problem, Buffy? What’s there to hate about it?” Xander demanded in his defense, unsure exactly why the blonde was so angry about the extra powers she had gained. The boy was also completely oblivious to the shushing motions that Willow and Giles were sending him from behind the petite beauty's back.

After all, if *he* had the mojo she'd kept, he reflected, he would have been all over Sunnydale using his new powers for truth, justice and the American way! Not to mention doing some serious demon ass-kicking! And that X-ray vision thing, especially, was one he would have loved to have been able to keep!

Not that the superspeed he had kept was any kind of downer or anything, mind you!

And Willow's electrical power was way cool, too!

"Honestly, I don't see what the problem is, Buff," he said, somewhat obliviously.

"After all, now you can bench press an oil tanker, fly, not to mention the superspeed, superbreath, supervision, heat vision for roasting vamps, and a whole bunch of other powers! There’s nothing in the demon category that might ever come visit the Hellmouth that could even think of hurting you now, Buff," he reeled off a list of the blonde's new abilities.

"You are now, officially, the ultimate vampire and demon bogeyman!”

Infuriated at Xander's comments, Buffy slammed her fist on the table and they all watched with a bit of alarm as the heavy table shattered beneath her single blow.

"Xander, you think that all this is a *good* thing? Grow up!! Look at what I just did!” Buffy exclaimed in annoyance. "At least when I was the Slayer, I could pretend to be a semi-normal girl and that there was a reason for me being a freak. Now, I really am a freak – just like Cordy is always telling me I am!”

Xander looked a little unsure of what to say, as he was somewhat uncertain of how to respond to that particular statement. Giving Cordelia's judgment any consideration at all was an alien concept to him. And besides, in his view, Buffy wasn’t a freak, at all; she had always been a hero to him, ever since he'd first found out about the Slaying, and now she was a superhero, too!

Why couldn’t she see that?

"It was one thing when I could pretend to be normal and had a reason for being different –that 'One girl in all the world' thing," Buffy ranted to him, "but there's no real reason for being able to do what I do now, except that I wore that stupid costume you chose for me!

"And this being *Supergirl* thing? I’m *never* going to have anything like a normal life now," Buffy explained to Xander angrily. "Don’t you get it yet? Real life isn’t like some stupid comic book! As far as I’m concerned, what’s happened to me is a complete freaking nightmare!”

Proving that they were truly mainlining Murphy, the group were interrupted from their conversation as several people banged through the library doors and walked into the room.

"Mr. Travers,” Giles said in surprise, looking at the elderly man in the lead.

"Rupert,” Quentin replied in a stiff formal voice. "I take it you were just on the verge of telling us that Miss Summers was no longer a Slayer anytime now. Or are you going to insult both of our intelligences by suggesting that your report got lost in the mail?”

"Ah yes, well, you see,” Giles stuttered nervously. "I-I was still at the information-gathering stage, and, uh, I was rather hoping that we would be able to reverse the process before I needed to inform you that there was anything wrong.

"I was hoping that the matter would have been resolved by now, to be honest,” he explained to the group before them.

"Giles, who are these guys?” Buffy asked as she finally noticed a dark-skinned, Caribbean-looking girl within the crowd of men, standing in ramrod straight attention.

"Buffy, these people are the senior board members of the Watchers Council. Do try to show them the respect they deserve,” Giles reprimanded the blonde. The look he shot at the other Scoobies – Xander, specifically – silenced them before they could say anything that would annoy the Council visitors.

"Mr. Travers, allow me to introduce Buffy Summers,” the Watcher gestured to the blonde that was staring at the group of newcomers with interest. Wanting to be polite, Buffy walked over to the group and offered her hand, trying her best to use the manners that Giles and her mom insisted on her knowing.

"Miss Kendra,” Travers barked out. The dark-skinned girl instantly slid between the blonde and the Senior Watcher. The girl also was now holding a large knife at the ready.

"Now that’s an interesting kind of greeting that you've got there,” Xander noted sarcastically, as he and the other Scoobies were all now eying the new girl carefully. "I always thought England was supposed to be the land of good manners and all that. If that’s the polite way of greeting people, then I’ve been doing it wrong all these years and I need to go say 'hello' again to certain people.”

"Xander, do shut up!" Giles growled, as he turned to watch the two girls facing off with each other. He couldn’t help but wonder what was going on here. Travers seemed to actually be quiet comfortable with the confrontation he'd engineered, which merely confused him even more.

"Now, might I request the reason as to why this, this Kendra person has chosen to bear arms against my Slayer?” Giles asked the Council members.

"Miss Summers is no longer a Slayer, Rupert, and as such, her services are her duties are no longer required by the Council,” Travers said imperiously. "Kendra, here, is the true Slayer and she shall be fulfilling the duties that Miss Summers previously occupied. Miss Summers, you are hereby ordered to leave the Hellmouth immediately. As for your associates,” he nodded disdainfully towards Xander, "both he and that other female Rupert’s mentioned in his reports may continue as they were before, as long as they do not interfere with the Slayer or her duties.

"This, of course, includes things such as research and patrolling the streets at night to battle the undead,” Travers added pompously as he eyed the group of American teens with distaste. "Utterly ridiculous how that ever happened, of course; you two should never have been allowed to interfere in the first place.”

"Mr. Travers, ah, a-a-are you absolutely sure this is the best course of action? I mean, is it *really* necessary to end our association with Miss Summers this way? What with her new abilities, Buffy could still be of great help to the Council,” Giles said, looking shocked at what his superior was ordering.

"Whoa, wait a minute,” Buffy said, cutting Giles off before he could say anything else. "Are you telling me that you guys are *firing* me, after everything that I’ve done for you?” she demanded in annoyance.

"I mean, I’ve done just about everything that you guys ever wanted. Hell, I died for your people six months ago!” the blonde said angrily.

"Yeah, you can’t just fire the Buffster, and you sure as heck can't tell us whether or not we can fight the good fight,” Xander piped in from his seat.

Travers ignored Xander’s outburst completely and focused on Buffy.

"As the Slayer, you were a tool of the Council. Nothing more, nothing less. As you are no longer a Slayer, you are no longer any concern of ours – and given that you no longer even qualify as a human being, we want you out of Sunnydale at once. Is that simple enough for even your feeble mind to understand, girl?”

Buffy glared at the man but somehow held her temper. The non-human crack hurt a little as well, but she was too angry to notice it much.

"I have a life here, you know. Plus, it’s taken me and my mom a while to settle down in this town, what with the move from L.A. and all. So what are you going to do, if I refuse to just pack up and leave the Hellmouth like you want?” Buffy questioned Quentin, not ready to back down to the man’s demands just yet.

Travers met her glare with his superior smirk.

"It’s really quite simple, Miss Summers. We will have Miss Kendra here deal with you,” Travers explained to her, speaking as if he were addressing a young child. "According to my information, despite your, ah, enhancements, you are now even more vulnerable to magic and other supernatural forces than you were before. This makes you a liability, one that we simply don’t have the time or inclination to deal with. We could probably come up with a decent mind control spell to keep you in line, granted – but, in the end, I have utterly no doubt that you would be more trouble than your skills and abilities are worth. That’s why I have given Miss Kendra here several enchanted weapons that will undoubtedly inflict lethal harm upon you if you decide to push the matter.

"You may not believe it, but I’m being *generous* in allowing you to leave while you can, Miss Summers," Travers informed her with a superior smile. "There is a faction within the Watchers that pushed for your immediate termination, as a clear and present danger to the entire human race. Luckily for you, my vote carried the day on the off chance you might actually accomplish some good in this world once your affiliation with us was terminated. If you try my patience any longer, though, I may change my mind on the Council’s course of action,” Travers informed her, still looking completely smug and superior as he talked down to her, as if Buffy was white trailer trash or something.

"Xander? Any of that true?” Buffy asked her comic-geek friend. Despite her recent anger and annoyance with him, she trusted him more than the Council right now. She needed to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, if what these Council people were saying was the truth.

"Uh, yeah, Buff,” Xander nodded, frowning as he considered the situation. "I’m afraid he’s right, Buff, at least about the threat potential from enchanted weapons. As Supergirl, you’re weak against magic; it's one of the few vulnerabilities that can really affect or hurt a powered-up Kryptonian,” the young man explained worriedly.

"If you throw down with her, there's a good chance you might actually get hurt, if she gets a lucky hit in,” he cautioned as they all looked at the girl in question, who looked like an attack dog ready to spring if her master gave the order. "Of course, that won't work against me…"

Buffy nodded as she examined Kendra carefully and noted the various enchanted weapons that were on the other Slayer.

"So, correct me if I’m wrong – but *this* is what a Council-raised Slayer ends up like if you people manage to grab hold of her when she’s just a little kid, right?” Buffy questioned the British arrivals. "Or is it just because you thought it might be a good idea to experiment on one of the Potentials, by turning them into a walking talking weapon?”

"BUFFY!!” Giles hissed at her angrily

She then looked at the other girl. "I’m guessing either the Halloween magic or me being technically dead is what brought you around then?”

"Dat be right, creature,” the girl said fiercely. "Me Watcher – Mr. Zabuto – raised me properly. And if you be thinkin' that you can harm him or any of the Council, then you be sorely mistaken and I will be havin' to teach you the error of your ways.”

"Trust me, you can have them; these backstabbers are more of a pain then they’re worth,” Buffy said dismissively, then turned to look at the man that had been her Watcher. "Giles, where are you, on this one?”

"Yes, Rupert, Miss Summers brings up an excellent question,” Travers said turning to face his subordinate. "Where exactly do you stand on this matter?”

Giles looked surprised that they were both asking his opinion on the matter.

"Well, Buffy, I, I think that you should consider carefully what all this means for you,” he said warily, as Travers and Buffy focused their attention upon him. "I mean, the Council's cutting its ties to you like this means that, that you’re now completely free of any and all connections to the supernatural, w-which you previously had. From now on, as a free agent, you can live your own life on your own terms, a-and be fully responsible for your actions.

"However, by acting in this manner, Mr. Travers, I believe that you have needlessly alienated a particularly powerful potential ally,” Giles added, turning to stare at his superior – who merely snorted in reply.

"So you don’t think I should stay, then? Is that what you’re saying to me?” a surprised Buffy demanded of her pseudo-father figure.

"To be absolutely honest? Yes,” Giles answered her, unable to look her in the eye as he spoke. "All things considered, it’s the best course of action for everyone involved. At least, now that the Council has sent Kendra here to take over for you.”

Buffy winced and Xander looked like he wanted to leap across the table at the Watcher and choke him.

"I see. Fine then. If that’s the way that you guys want to play it, we’ll do it your way," Buffy replied angrily, burying the hurt at Giles’ seeming betrayal. "Just so long as you understand that if you people come to me for help, *ever* again, then you’ll have to get down on your knees and beg for it – and there’s nothing short of an apocalypse or whatever about to happen.”

"Understood. Although I very much doubt that we’ll ever cross paths again as we no longer have any reason to deal with you,” Travers sneered at the girl. "As mentioned previously, since you are no longer human, technically I would not be remiss in my duties as a Watcher to order Kendra to slay you,” he added.

"You think it’s that easy? Yeah, I guess you probably do, and so does she, obviously. But believe me when I say that your girl’s not ready for the big leagues just yet,” Buffy returned, ignoring the new sting she felt at being referred to as non-human. "'Cause I haven’t forgotten the Slayer moves, and I’m a lot more experienced than she is – we throw down, my money says she’ll come out the loser in that fight. So keep your attack dog on its leash, mister, or some other Potential out there is gonna get her life turned upside down. There’s more to being the Chosen One than the power; you also have to have the heart and soul to go with it – something I’ve yet to see in little Miss Robo-Slayer here.”

"Way to step up for Buffy, Giles,” Xander grumbled nastily at the Watcher. "Have fun playing with the new Slayer doll, if they’ll let you. Me, I’m leaving town with the Buffster. I figure I'm out of here, as of right now!

"Besides, there’s a road trip across the USA just begging for us to come and see it, right after we get our GEDs," he added with an encouraging smile to Buffy

“My patience for these irrelevant trivialities has completely expired,” Travers growled dismissively. “Rupert, until further notice you will maintain your post here in Sunnydale-“

“May I ask why? I would have thought that without a Slayer to supervise any longer, I’d be transferred back to England,” Giles interrupted with a frown on his face.

“And you will, once the new Chosen One and Mr. Zabuto are settled in and no longer require your services. Oh, and by the way – Kendra will not be doing as Miss Summers did, and pose as a student here,” Travers added with an extravagant hand gesture. “Her duties are far too important to ignore for scholastic lessons she has utterly no need of.”

Buffy chuckled at that remark. "Love to see how you plan on slipping her in when the Hellmouth breaks open like it did last May, or when you need to be a student to slip in and out of the building because there’s a killer demon posing as the students, or if you need to figure out who or what’s killing only students – but hey, that’s your problem now, not mine.”

The blonde then headed out of the room, and Xander and Willow filed out after her. None of the trio even bothered looking at Giles as they left.

"Until we meet again,” Buffy said, as she then used her super-breath and blew them a kiss, smirking as she saw the Watchers scramble around to grab onto the various papers that she sent flying.

{ Yeah, it might be a little petty, but they deserve the aggravation, } she smirked to herself as the three of them exited the building and headed into the next stage of their lives.

Giles watched the group of teens leave the library with a heavy heart. He had done what he thought was right: given Buffy a way to get out of the mess that her life fighting the supernatural had become before it cost her said life. The light that was Buffy Summers was going to remain lit a while longer, and all it had cost him was the girl herself. The world, at least, would have her and he had no doubt that, in time, Buffy would figure some way to continue to help people. He only hoped that someday he would be able to ask her for her forgiveness for the way that he had treated her today – as if she were simply a weapon that had outgrown its use.

It had torn him up inside to do that, but he had seen that Buffy was more than willing to fight the Council’s edict as a matter of principle, and that the others would try to help her as they always did. Giles also knew, though, that fighting a fully prepared Council wet works team was lethally dangerous and that contingency plans would have already been made, should the Slayer and her friends decide to cause trouble.

A bullet in the head from a nearby rooftop was the most likely plan, he reflected. Willow would probably have been targeted first, with Xander designated as the secondary target. That would most likely have been the Council's plans, Giles felt certain.

Until, that is, they found out that Xander had superspeed that rivaled to Buffy’s own, Rupert surmised. Should they have become aware of that information, they would probably have tried to capture the boy alive, and turn him into a human lab rat – and that was a best case scenario. Willow as well, should they learn of her leftover power from the 'Sparx' persona.

With the powers of the Flash and Sparx, Xander and Willow could both become extremely dangerous, as Travers and his minions, including the new Slayer, would have quickly learned to their short-lived error. And that was without even considering the havoc that Buffy would create with her new-found powers, if she believed that the Council might endanger her friends.

Yes, all things considered, it was best if his collection of teenagers got out of Sunnydale post-haste, before they learned first-hand just how low the human animal could sink in order to get what it wanted.

~~~

Downtown Sunnydale shopping district
November 3, 1997

Later that same afternoon


Buffy Summers was *not* in the best of moods right now, no doubt about it.

After the unpleasant meeting with the Council, it had been impossible for her to concentrate on her classes. So she had decided to skip school for the rest of the day shortly after lunchtime, to seek boyfriend comfort from Angel – the undead love of her life.

Unfortunately, his basement apartment was empty, deserted apart from a brief farewell note. Buffy had read its contents in horror, with Angel saying that he had been informed of his new destiny by his demon sponsor, someone by the name of Whistler; and that he had to leave town. Immediately.

It was lucky for the landlord that Buffy hadn’t burned the building down with her heat vision, as she’d been feeling betrayed even worse than she had done with Giles earlier this morning.

“So, exactly how are you planning on paying for this road trip thingy you mentioned in the library, Xand?” Buffy asked her friend as a way to get her mind off her troubles, and the pair examined a pair of hiking backpacks at the local REI store.

“I've got some money that I’ve been saving for a while now,” Xander admitted to her with a casual shrug. "I'd originally been planning on doing the whole 'see America up close and personal' thing after graduating senior year, but now's looking like just as good a time as any to do it.”

“Xander...”

“No, lemme finish. I figure that we can go a few weeks or so before we really need to start worrying about having to do anything, as far as money goes. Although, if the money situation does get tight, you could enter an arm wrestling contest or, more preferably, a wet T-shirt competition,” he suggested with a nonchalant grin as he easily ducked out of way of the Slayer's instinctive slap. That was once really nice benefit from keeping Wally West's superspeed – Buffy had a *much* harder time slapping him, anymore.

“Come on, seriously, Xander. You’re just gonna drop out of Sunnydale High? That’s a big no-no,” Buffy said firmly. “I don’t have a choice in the matter, but you don’t have to-”

“Stop right there, missy,” Xander waggled a finger in front of Buffy to shut her up. “In case you haven’t noticed, Buffster, you are *not* the boss of me. I make my own decisions. You told me how Angel’s no longer part of the picture, well – I still am. Where you go, I go.

"Don’t you get it? You’re my friend, you and Willow both. If it wasn’t for you two, I’d have dropped out of Sunnydale High *way* before now and tried my hand at that carpentry apprentice thing my guidance counselor recommended. I hear that there’s a lot of good money to be made there,” the male teen finished up with a smirk on his face.

“Great to hear you've actually given that some thought, Xander. But I think I've got a slightly better idea than that, in order to make money,” Willow said, as she came over to join her friends. She had been giving everything they'd learned this morning some serious consideration, and her genius-level brain was already making plans on how to deal with life post-Sunnydale High.

“I mean, you guys know all about making diamonds from Chemistry class, right?” Willow posed the question with a grin. “Buffy has all that really cool super-strength out the wazoo now, and I remember an old black-and-white TV episode of Superman where George Reeves did it; so Buffy should be able to crush graphite with enough heat and pressure in her hands to become her own little diamond factory.”

Buffy and Xander both grinned at this suggestion. All of their potential money problems now appeared to have an answer, thanks to their hyper-intelligent, bookworm-y friend.

“Cool! Come on, let’s go somewhere and try it, see what happens,” Buffy suggested eagerly. “I could definitely go for a new diamond necklace, sometime today!”

The other two Scoobies just laughed as they followed after her, the group taking the first tentative step in starting to put the problems of the past behind them.

~~~

Summers residence
November 3, 1997

Later that evening

"Uh, Mom, you know how there were all sorts of problems all over town on Friday night, and how the police blamed it on a gas leak that seeped up into the air from an underground cavern?" Buffy began as she led Willow and Xander into the kitchen where her mother was making a cup of tea.

"Well, it turns out that there was a whole lot more going on that night than you would *ever* want to believe…"

~~~

Giles' apartment
November 5, 1997

"Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds?!" Travers bellowed, his face turning a shade of red which Buffy was certain didn't naturally occur. "You honestly expect me to hand over such an exorbitant sum to you? Are you completely insane, madam?”

"No, Mr. Travers, I am not," Joyce replied calmly as she gave the Englishman a look that clearly conveyed her belief that he was not only an idiot, but most obviously a rude and ignorant one, at that. Buffy, Willow and Xander remained quiet and in their seats at the older woman's gesture, although they all threw the Council Head looks that promised dire consequences for his words and behavior towards the Summers matriarch.

Giles, for his part, merely looked extremely uncomfortable and maintained his silence in the background, allowing Travers to direct the course of events currently unfolding.

"I would beg to differ, Mrs. Summers," Travers sneered at the blonde serenely watching him, as he made an effort to regain his composure, "what with your showing up here and demanding that the Council pay you a king's ransom, so that you won't go to the newspapers and tell them you're daughter's no longer the Slayer. I shouldn’t need to point out that your doing something like that would accomplish nothing but your immediately being examined by the appropriate authorities so that they can determine your current mental state, and whether or not you are fit to be a parental guardian to your so-called daughter"

"Then you clearly misunderstand the situation, *Mister* Travers," Joyce replied coolly, the hint of a triumphant smile on her face as she looked at him.

"You and your people came into Sunnydale Monday and not only demanded that my daughter and her friends stop the work that they have been performing for the past year, which has undeniably saved the lives of a great number of their friends and other people here in town, but you also had the gall to threaten her life, if she didn't do as you said," she snarled, abruptly dropping the genteel act.

"NO! Don’t even try and deny that you did that, you pathetic excuse for human being!" Joyce shouted as she angrily waved her hand towards Travers in a slashing motion as he opened his mouth to argue.

"My daughter would *never* lie to me about something like that," she declared heatedly, "and both Willow and Xander have independently confirmed everything Buffy told me happened at your meeting yesterday, too.

"Personally, I find the idea that a group of adults would even consider threatening children the way you did yesterday in order to accomplish their objectives to be some of the most vile, repugnant and reprehensible behavior conceivable," Joyce went on, her voice lashing out at the once-again purpling Englishman, "and I have already decided that Buffy and I will be leaving Sunnydale, just as soon as I can arrange for us to do so.

"However," she went on before either Travers or Giles could say anything in response, "our doing so is going to impose severe financial hardships on us, and I think it only fair and equitable for your organization to compensate us for the trouble, seeing as you are responsible for basically forcing that decision upon us."

"You are, indeed, completely insane, madam, if you think that the Watchers Council – an organization which has shepherded and overseen mankind's and, indeed, civilization's development since its inception – will pay you and that, that *creature*, that demonspawn you claim as your child, a single penny! So you will leave now and go on about your business, or you will suffer the consequences!!" the Council Head roared in outrage as he leaped to his feet and glared at Joyce.

"That’s it. The price has just gone up to five hundred thousand pounds for threatening me as well as the children, you arrogant snob," Joyce calmly informed Travers as she stared up at his near-apoplectic visage.

“Of all the impertinent-”

"If my bank does not inform me that they have received a certified bank draft from your organization in that amount by noon today, then several friends and business acquaintances of mine will be forwarding sealed and notarized copies of documents I gave them to the California Department of Social Services, the California Highway Patrol (since they're the appropriate state police group), the FBI and the United States Department of State," she serenely explained to the red-faced Council Head.

"These documents describe, in exacting detail, how Buffy and I have been living in fear of our lives for the past year and a half, because of the unrelenting and terrifying attention that several members of a foreign-based organization – an organization referred to as the Watchers Council, by its members – have focused upon my daughter," Joyce informed both Council representatives present.

"The documents also detail how a gentleman who introduced himself as Merrick Jamison-Smythe to my underage, fifteen year old daughter, then informed her that she had been identified by magical means as the current focus of their group's beliefs and explained to her in great detail how she would be expected to fight and die against the so-called 'creatures of the night – vampires and demons and whatnot'" Joyce went on, staring back at the two Englishmen who were looking at her in horrified disbelief.

"And it also details how, after I moved here to Sunnydale with Buffy in an attempt to evade the group's attention, another member of the so-called Watchers Council, one Rupert Giles, not only somehow managed to follow us here, but also arranged matters so that he could become the librarian of the school I had Buffy transferred to, and how this group continued to harass us relentlessly and unmercifully."

"You – you can't – no one would ever believe you!" a now deathly pale Travers finally managed to croak out a protest after a moment of silence.

"Believe me, I’m well aware of all the political influence your organization wields. But do you really think that it would be at all difficult, after reviewing all of the information I’ve provided, for certain people in either the state or federal authorities to conclude that my daughter had been targeted by some sort of cult who believed her to be a messianic figure that had to be sacrificed in order to save humanity from the supernatural monsters whom the cult members are convinced exist – even if it’s only in their imaginations?" Joyce asked, before standing up from her chair. "With the information going to all those different authorities at once, do you really think your magicians can pull off some sort of miracle and get *everyone* to ignore those documents? Do you really think that there wouldn't be *any* sort of investigation into those allegations?

"Especially after the newspapers and the rest of the media learn that this secret organization can also be connected to the brutal deaths of dozens, if not hundreds, of adolescent girls around the world over the past century?" she said.

"Buffy, Willow, Xander. It's time we were leaving," the Summers mom declared as she glanced over and smiled at the dumbfounded expressions on the faces of the three teens seated on the couch, who were now staring at her with near-deferential amazement and respect.

"Consider yourself warned, Mr. Travers," Joyce added over her shoulder as she led the three teenagers towards the door. "A certified bank draft in the amount of half a million pounds, at yesterday’s exchange rate. No later than noon today, or you’ll be sorry.

"Have a nice day, gentlemen."

~~~

Saint Martin's Cemetery
November 6, 1997


"What do ya think yer doin' 'round here, creature?" Kendra the Vampire Slayer snarled as she approached the blonde-haired girl standing by the clearly recently-filled grave, whose headstone was engraved 'Billy Fordham.'

"What's it look like I'm doing, Robo-Slayer?" Buffy snarked, ignoring the Jamaican girl who was glaring daggers at her back. "I'm saying good-bye to a friend who died the other day. From a bad case of vampire bite, as it turns out.

"Something you obviously haven't been able to do very much about since your arrival here in town," she added sarcastically.

"I warned ya when I last saw ya dat ya needed to be getting' out of dis town as soon as possible, creature," the newest Slayer declared as she noiselessly drew a pair of knives from their sheathes on her belt.

"Dat was the only warning I was told to give ya," Kendra said as she then sent both blades spinning through the air at the other girl's back, only to stare in dumbfounded astonishment as the seemingly unsuspecting blonde appeared to casually turn around and effortlessly catch both spinning blades by their hilts.

"Hmm, nice knives," Buffy commented as she examined the two blades with professional interest. "Enchanted, too, I'm guessing?"

"Thanks, I can probably find a good use for these," she added as she then dropped the weapons into the leather bag she had slung over her left shoulder.

"Gimme me back my knives, ya damned t'ief!" Kendra half-screamed with anger as she shook off her surprise and leaped at the other girl.

"Uhm, no, I don't think so," Buffy shook her head in disagreement as she compounded her opponent's shock by easily floating upwards into the air above the grave, thereby making Kendra miss her entirely and land awkwardly on the other side of the mound of freshly turned earth.

"You tried to attack me with them and you missed, so, rules of war – they belong to me now," Buffy informed her would-be assailant.

"Actually, she didn't just miss, Brainwashed Girl failed dismally in her completely futile, wholly ineffective, cowardly and felonious assault against you, Buffster," a new voice chimed in from off to the side.

"'Failed dismally'?" Buffy repeated while still floating above the grave, as she turned her head to look over at the dark-haired youth and his redheaded companion as they moved out of the small grove of trees where they'd apparently been waiting and watching.

"And 'completely futile, wholly ineffective, cowardly and felonious assault '? Where did you learn all the new big words, Xander?" Buffy asked with a wide grin from her position twenty feet up in the air, her manner completely ignoring the fuming Slayer below her, who'd tried to attack her just a moment earlier.

"Willow got me a 'Word of the Day' calendar yesterday," the founding member of the Scooby Gang grinned back. "And you know how patient I am, Buff – I'm already up to August 24th's word, 'conspire' – 'to agree together, especially secretly, to do something wrong, evil, or illegal,' or 'to act or work together toward the same result or goal,'" he continued.

"I'm not sure whether I should be worried or not about possibly ending up sounding like I might be British, though," he then complained with an exaggerated frown.

"It is not cowardly to slay inhuman creatures," Kendra declared as she turned for a moment and scowled at the two newcomers. "It be the duty of the Slayer to destroy all dat is unearthly and inhuman!"

"None of us are interested in debating what the duties of the Slayer are with you, Pink Ranger, since the people who raised you are already inked in for the top five spaces of my 'People Whose Heads Are Filled With Crap' list," Xander stated as he gave Kendra a glare filled with disdain and contempt.

"What I do know is that Buffy's saved the world from being sucked into Hell six months ago – and I also know for certain that she's even died doing her duty, since I'm the one who gave her CPR and brought her back to life after she drowned in the Master's cave," he explained further.

"So as far as I'm concerned, she's the *real* Slayer around here – and you're just some imposter who calls herself the Slayer, but who still hadn't proven that she's worth anything at all."

"What he said. And I think the fact that the death rate at Sunnydale High, and in the town in general, is back to being what it was before Buffy showed up, which only reinforces Xander's point, too, missy," Willow chimed in, wanting to help defend her friend from the other girl's malicious comments. "Things have only gotten worse in Sunnydale ever since you and the other Council people showed up, and I dare you to deny it to all the families of the people who have died recently!"

Rather than attempt to refute either of the two Scoobies' points, Kendra instead growled with anger, frustration and dislike and sprang towards the pair, apparently in an effort to either threaten or scare them off.

Unfortunately for her, however, her attempt at intimidation failed miserably.

Prior to her possession by her Halloween costume, Willow would most likely have squealed in fear and dodged away from the perceived threat. Now however, with the Halloween memories of facing down hundreds of far more dangerous alien creatures lodged in her mind, the redhead stood her ground and simply thrust her hands out in front of her as she unleashed a burst of electricity which caught her would-be attacker in mid-leap, knocking her backwards and sending the girl sprawling across the cemetery's neatly tended lawns.

As she lay dazed on the ground, Kendra heard the sounds of a fledgling clawing its way out of its grave and she looked over in that direction to see her predecessor still floating above the grave in question.

The Jamaican Slayer watched as the blonde gazed down at the fledge with an expression of sadness for a moment, and then it looked to Kendra as if the creature's eyes flashed red for an instant, before the fledgling vampire who used to be Billy ‘Ford’ Fordham abruptly turned to dust.

As the newest vampire Slayer got up and stared in open-mouthed disbelief at what she'd just witnessed, she heard the dark-haired youth who'd spoken so disrespectfully of the Council a few moments earlier say, "Some free advice for ya, Pink Ranger, don't get the Buffster pissed off at you. You wouldn't like what would *definitely* happen, next."

A moment later, the boy moved so fast as to be just a blur as he picked up the redhead who'd blasted her with some sort of spell and the two then disappeared from sight across the grass, while the blonde creature who'd been the previous Slayer before being changed into her current non-human form simply flew higher up into the night sky, until she, too, disappeared from view.

Resuming her evening patrol, Kendra wondered how on earth she could explain the confrontation she'd just had to Mr. Zabuto without looking like either a failure or an idiot.

~~~

Sunnydale High School library
November 30, 1997


"Ah, Mr. Giles there you are,” Sam Zabuto said cheerfully as the bespeckled Englishman unlocked and walked into his private office. "It's good to see you've recovered sufficiently from that sleepwalker demon's attack to resume your duties here at the school here."

"Thank you, Mr. Zabuto. Your concern about the state of my health is much appreciated," Giles replied, the rather sarcastic undertone of his words lost entirely on the other Watcher. "For myself, I'm just glad that Ethan alerted me as to Eyghon's presence before I was attacked and thus allowed me to layer sufficient spells as to protect myself."

"Indeed. But on a more official note, Mr. Giles, I was hoping you could tell me how you were able to previously predict where newly turned vampires were going to rise with such accuracy," Martin informed him. "Kendra has been having much less luck in locating and staking all of the fledglings that have been rising lately than I'd hoped.”

Giles snorted at this latest demonstration of the new Slayer's incompetence in dealing with all the problems that occurred in the vicinity of a Hellmouth. { Luck, indeed. That girl hasn’t shown an ounce of initiative ever since she got here! }

"The coroner's office files were hacked so that all the information concerning the cause of death was determined, allowing Buffy and myself to examine everything in detail," Giles explained to the other Watcher, trying to hide the disdain for his colleague as best he could.

"I see! Excellent, now if you’ll just show me the procedures you used to 'hack' the coroner's system, as you put it, we can prepare for tonight's patrol properly," Zabuto said happily.

"I’m afraid that’s impossible," Giles informed him, repressing the smirk which wanted to appear on his face. "That particular method is no longer an option, thanks to the multitude of recent changes that have been implemented."

"Oh? What changes have been made in the coroner's office to preclude your being able to access their files?" the Watcher asked curiously.

"No, you don’t understand. That option has been lost to us because Quentin Travers, in his infinite wisdom, decided that we could not utilize the services of the teenagers who had previously been supporting Buffy in the performance of her duty," Giles informed the other man.

"It just so happens that one of Buffy’s friends was the computer hacker responsible for routinely breaking into the coroner’s office, and obtaining all of the information required to find out what it was that we needed to do each night," Rupert elaborated.

"As we now no longer have access to that information source, we must do things in the traditional manner and determine how many fledglings Kendra can locate while on patrol. I’m sure we’ll soon have sufficient documentation to determine whether Kendra’s kill count is any better or worse than Buffy’s was, when she was the Slayer."

“But what if Kendra continues to be unable to locate all of the newly risen fledglings?” the other Watcher demanded in consternation.

Giles gave the man a blank look. “I rather suspect, Mr. Zabuto, that as the official Watcher to the Slayer, you’ll have to explain to Mr. Travers why it is imperative that we recruit Miss Rosenberg – or more likely, another hacker – to work with the Council in the future, since I believe that particular young woman departed Sunnydale at the same time Miss Summers did.

"Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to be going. There is a memorial service being held in the auditorium for all the students who died last week as a result of being controlled by the Bezoar demon hiding in the school basement, and I need to make an appearance as a member of the teaching faculty. It’s most regrettable Kendra discovered what had happened only after a dozen students had been killed by those demon hatchlings, of course.

"Personally, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had the Slayer been enrolled here as a student, the way Miss Summers had been, and therefore allowed almost unlimited access to the school,” Giles mused out loud, as yet another one of Travers' orders was shown to be both shortsighted and wrong for dealing with the Sunnydale situation properly. "Who knows, she might have been able to stop that demon before so many people were killed."

The Bezoar had been the third demon attack in the school ever since Kendra had taken over, and Giles was certain it would be far from the last. So many of the students here had died lately – Larry Blaisdell, Jonathan Levinson, Daniel Osborne, even Cordelia Chase and a number of her Cordettes.

The school obituary numbers were rising higher and higher every week, and were rapidly threatening to surpass the figures that had existed before Buffy had transferred here from Hemery High twelve months ago.

~~~

BCBG Max Azria store
Rodeo Drive
Los Angeles, CA

November 19, 1997


"Uh, it's not that I'm not having loads of fun acting as the designated pack mule for you and Wills here while you two ladies so genteelly race around ransacking and pillaging the shops here, Buffy," Xander declared as he politely, but rapidly and insistently, knocked on the door of the dressing room in which the girls were currently getting changed, "but I'm thinking that if we don't have a momentary pause in the shopping spree and maybe politely ask the bad guys outside to please stop terrorizing everyone around, then there might not be any shops left for you guys to check out."

It took the distaff side of the recently reduced Scooby Gang only a few moments to change into their costumes and join Xander outside the BCBG Max Azria store, where he was watching and evaluating a quartet of costumed and clearly superpowered individuals who were wreaking havoc on the shops lining the street.

As the girls looked around, assessing the situation, they could see a red and gold costumed, 'Golds Gym'-type bodybuilder currently floating above an LAPD patrol car, with the officers currently (and quite ineffectually) firing their sidearms at him, apparently trying to distract him from burning a series of symbols into the walls of several of the buildings around him, while the crowds of tourists and shoppers were being terrorized by a person, who appeared to be a full-figured young woman in a body-hugging multi-colored uniform, floated nearby and projected energy beams from what looked to be a crystal on the back of her hand, while a guy in some sort of bird-themed costume, complete with wings, swooped down on groups of fleeing pedestrians and the fourth member of their group ran up and down the streets in the area, panicking the public around him and causing even more injuries as everyone nearby to stampede wildly away from him.

"These guys call themselves the Squadron Supreme, guys," Xander informed his friends as they joined him under the overhang shielding the shop's front doors from the sun.

"The big guy in the red and gold tights, he's called Hyperion and he's their major hitter, Buff," Xander began identifying their opponents. "His powers are a lot like yours – superstrength, flight, he can shoot some sort of energy beams from his eyes and he can shrug off a fair amount of damage – he's sort of like a poor man's version of Superman.

"You're the only one of us who can even think about trying to take him on, although I'm pretty sure that he doesn't even come near to your power levels," Xander smiled at his personal hero confidently.

"To put it in Valley Girl-speak, you're the Versace original, and he's the bargain basement rip-off that someone like Harmony would buy," he said, bringing a slight smile to Buffy's lips at the description.

"The flying chick in the multicolored bodysuit is called Doctor Spectrum," Xander continued with his briefing, "and she uses that crystal thing on her hand to create what the big brain science guys call 'solid-energy constructs,' which, for all practical purposes as far as we're concerned, are just as real as anything else around her.

"She's sort of like a Green Lantern wannabe, I guess, but that crystal she's using as a surrogate power ring seems to be bonded to her hand and apparently can't be removed without seriously maiming her," Xander noted, his descriptions of the various superpowered heroes and villains who'd made up the rest of the DC Comics universe which their Halloween costumes had been inspired by now serving to help give his friends a quick approximation of their opponents' abilities and capabilities.

"The other flying guy's called Nighthawk, and he's sort like an evil Batman rip-off, but with wings that actually let him fly. And the last guy out there calls himself Speed Demon, and he's just a *very* inferior copy of the Eobard Thawne Reverse-Flash character," Xander said as he finished up his description/evaluation of their opponents.

The laughter at the populace's panic which the three teens could hear issuing from each of the supervillains generated angry scowls and frowns from all of them and Buffy immediately began issuing orders based on the intelligence Xander had just provided.

"Xand, you take care of their speedster guy, first off," she commanded. "I don’t really care a whole lot how you do it, but put him down for the count. I don't want him getting back up any time soon.

"Will, do you think you can zap Night Dork without letting him get a clear shot at you?" Upon hearing the redhead's confident, "No problem there, Buffy," the mystically created Kryptonian then continued, "Okay then, whichever one of you finishes up first, concentrate on keeping Dr. Specks-Bomb busy, while I go show Hyperi-Dumb why he shouldn't mess with Rodeo Drive.

"I'll bet he's probably ruined *dozens* of designer shoes I haven't even had a chance to look at yet!" Buffy complained, with what Xander figured was an honest expression of anger and loss, before she rocketed up into the air, her action signaling the others to launch their own attacks.

***

Back in the locker room, as they were changing into their civilian clothes once the 'situation' at the Rodeo Drive shopping area had been resolved, an LAPD SWAT team member who'd responded to the emergency call could be heard telling his fellow officers, "I don't know what exactly it was that Hyperion did that set her off, but I swear, she was saying – and by 'saying,' I mean half-screaming," the cop qualified his words, "something about 'a perfectly good pair of Christian Lacroix wedges that would have gone perfectly with my new skirt, and you ruined them!', right before she nailed him square in the family jewels."

As every man there shuddered and then uncrossed their legs from the protective positions they'd reflexively assumed, the witness then added, "But I'm willing to bet any amount you want to lose that Hyperion's never gonna risk a rampage through any L.A. mall, ever again."

~~~

SHIELD Helicarrier
January 21, 1998


SHIELD Director, Colonel Nick Fury looked at the report before him with a mixture of interest and annoyance.

There were three new superheroes who had recently appeared on the public scene and they were starting to cause a bit of a ruckus among the superpowered community.

First, was a youth that went by the name of 'Streak.' He was a speedster unlike any seen previously, and currently estimated to be at approximately the same speed levels as Quicksilver who was, before the first appearance of the other, unquestionably the fastest hero out there. Although one potentially disturbing, and as yet unconfirmed, report indicated that the kid might actually be faster than Quicksilver, who had been confirmed as being able to reach a maximum speed of Mach 5; which did not bode well for *anyone* being able to catch Streak if he didn’t want to be caught.

The kid also seemed to be able to blow things up by phasing through them, if the few reports of those incidents SHIELD had received were correct. The boy was also apparently a jokester and looked to be a lot like Spiderman in his manner, actually, with the habit of asking for autographs from famous heroes and villains he encountered, as well. It was actually somewhat amusing to think that this kid had the potential of being both threat and fan-boy at the same time. Of course, the two weren't mutually exclusive.

What really caught Fury’s attention, though, was that the kid was also apparently able to plan a battle out fairly well before it happened. He wasn’t on the level of Captain America or the Thinker – yet – but he was very good for someone his apparent age. Disturbingly so, as a matter of fact.

The second super in question was a redheaded young woman calling herself 'Ohm,' who was capable of firing electrical blasts strong enough to knock out quite a few of the supervillains they'd run up against and at least daze those strong enough to remain conscious, afterward. She was also apparently the scientific brains of the group, since on the few occasions in which they'd had to deal with the aftermath of their opponents' rampages, both of the other two members of their group had looked to the redhead for direction while handling the consequences of several chemical explosions and the subsequent toxic vapors that resulted.

Fury frowned; the young woman was clearly quite intelligent, judging by the way she had her teammates neutralize some of the problems they'd encountered and he thought that, if she were the most rational one of the group, then she offered the best opportunity for him to persuade the trio to sit down and talk, once he had a better idea of their overall capabilities and how he wanted to handle them.

The final member of this newly recognized superpowered trio was also quite definitely the most powerful of the group. And she went by the moniker of 'Supergirl,' of all things. An effective description, granted, but a bit gauche for Fury’s taste.

The girl was also unquestionably the most dangerous of the three, too. She was at least as strong as She-Hulk, and maybe even as strong as Hulk or Thor – that was something no one was quite sure about, yet. The petite blonde also had an entire bag of tricks that made her insanely powerful, according to all the reports they'd received.

Superspeed, multiple spectrum eyes, superbreath (and what exactly did the science guys mean by that? Fury wondered idly), flight, invulnerability – and those were just the abilities they were certain she possessed. And to top it off, the various recorded encounters indicated that the girl was a good tactical thinker in the battlefield, as well.

Combined, the three teenaged capes made a damned good team, since the boy evidently evaluated the opposition's strengths and weaknesses and made initial recommendations about strategy, and the blonde girl then took the lead and directed the battle tactics, with the redhead offering advice as the situation changed. The way they fought, though, was a bit odd; sometimes, they appeared to be veterans in the use of their powers and abilities, and other times they acted like their powers had just emerged.

Granted, those moments of insecurity were becoming less and less frequent as the trio became increasingly more confident in their abilities. And to add to the general annoyance of the situation, his people were still trying to figure out whether or not they were mutants, science experiments gone wrong, a new species of alien, interdimensional travelers, or something else entirely new.

One thing that had become evident quite early on in their appearances, though, was that all three of the group were quite clearly extremely devoted to each other. The few times that any of the three had appeared to have been injured by the people they were fighting had caused the other two members of their group to then go all out in their efforts to take down their opponents, and had left their target in serious need of medical intervention.

No one had died, or even been critically injured by any of the three – at least, not yet – but Fury suspected that it was just a matter of time before some arrogant supervillain deliberately tried to seriously injure one or more of them, making the other members of their team go all out for their proverbial throat.

Based on their accents and terminology, Fury was fairly certain that all three were from California – at least, originally. Their ages were estimated as between late teens and early twenties. The blonde girl had a definite L.A. valley girl vocabulary, which helped narrow her origins down, while the redhead's was of a more general sort. The boy also had a southern California accent, so that seemed to confirm the linguists' opinions, and going by various offhand comments picked up during their fights, SHIELD's pet shrinks had theorized that the youth had been either abused and/or neglected by a pair of alcoholic parents.

Fury currently had his people checking all known yearbooks for schools in Los Angeles and the surrounding towns for photos of teenagers that matched the three's descriptions. He also had other teams running through all recent graduates in the last five years, to see if there was anything there, either. Slowly but surely, they were putting the various pieces together, but at the moment, SHIELD didn’t have enough on them to have anywhere near what the Director felt was the complete story on any of the mystery trio.

Nick reviewed the files one more time, wanting to familiarize himself with them thoroughly before he ever talked to any of the three. He had the highly unwanted task of convincing the three newly empowered capes that they needed to stop buzzing all over the States (well, at least, those were the only locations where they'd appeared that he knew of and needed to be concerned with, at least for the moment) and let the professionals handle whatever problems developed – or at the very least, let some of the adult capes handle the situation, if at all possible.

Fury had always much preferred for the teen heroes to stay in the same general area they'd first shown up in, so that he could keep track of what they were doing. It also made it easier when dealing with new metas if they stayed in a particular area, so that he could figure them out. These three weren’t playing by the usual rules and setting up shop somewhere specific, though, since they'd popped up in a dozen different locations across the West Coast and Midwestern states in the past two months.

{ Damn it. I *hate* it whenever someone knocks over the apple cart like this. }

Fury figured he had to get these three in line now, before they eventually caused more problems than they solved, or they hooked up with Logan. Whichever came first.

~~~

Hardesty, Oklahoma

March 3, 1998

Upon the Hellmouth, the situation had finally stabilized somewhat. Rupert Giles had long since returned to England, and Kendra had succeeded in getting herself killed by the local Master vampire named Spike. Sam Zabuto had buried his charge and returned to Jamaica, after his colleague Diana Dormer and her Slayer named Faith Lehane had arrived to take over.

It should be noted that the Boston Slayer had a wild child attitude that Travers utterly despised since, like Buffy, Miss Lehane was not a Council-raised Slayer. But given how Kendra had made a pig’s breakfast of things carrying out the Slayage by the book, after Quentin had personally brought her there, it was politically smarter for him to turn a blind eye to the entire mess and let Faith get the Hellmouth back under control, using the techniques Giles had recommended to Professor Dormer.

The old woman who could have easily been his mother, had Giles’ father taken the road not traveled.

In any case, the California Hellmouth was of little interest to Buffy, Willow and Xander right now. The three Sunnydale friends now stood, exhausted but defiant nonetheless, facing off against the Avengers of all people – whose current team consisted of Captain America, Iron Man, Quicksilver, Thor, Ms. Marvel, Photon and Wonder Man.

Much like the trio which the newspapers had begun calling the 'Teen Titans' once their exploits had caught the attention of the news media, the Avengers had shown up at the site of the tornado's aftermath only a short time after the initial occurrence, and everyone had worked tirelessly around the clock, not stopping until they were certain that there were no more unfortunates trapped under or within any of the ruined structures around them.

It had been the Titans' attempt to leave and Captain America's command for them to wait that had caused the situation to precipitate into its current uncertain state, and judging by the various uncertain, exhausted and potentially belligerent expressions on several faces, if the upcoming discussion didn't work out properly, things could get *very* ugly, very quickly.

Before any of the Avengers could do or say anything further, however, Xander zoomed up to the front of their justly famous group to stand next to Quicksilver.

"Oh man! This is so cool! You’re the original hero speedster, Quicksilver! Uh, I was wondering if you could sign my autograph book? Please?” Xander pleaded as earnestly as he could as he held out his notebook hopefully.

{ Where exactly was the youth storing the notepad, anyway? } some of the more curious observers wondered as they watched, since it didn’t appear as though the pouches on his belt were sufficiently large to hold it.

Quicksilver uncertainly looked at the hesitant, yet hopeful-looking youth standing in front of him for a moment before apparently deciding the boy was serious in his request, and nodding his head as he then dutifully signed the paper.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Xander was practically dancing with glee as he examined the signature.

"I swear by the Almighty Twinkie, if Jesse was still around, he would be *so* jealous of me getting my hands on this,” the boy crowed.

The other Avengers, meanwhile, stared at Xander in disbelief. Opinions differed as to the state of his sanity – but only by degrees.

"Who, exactly, are you people?” Iron Man demanded, doing his best to ignore the fact that one of the three they were trying to interrogate (and preferably, somewhat intimidate, too) was now in their midst, begging for autographs and acting like some sort of rabid fan. Rhodey would be laughing himself sick if he ever found out.

"He's Streak, she's Ohm, and I'm Supergirl,” the blonde Kryptonian answered him, pointing as she indicated each of their group in sequence.

"Supergirl? Seriously, doesn’t that sound a little bit arrogant?” Iron Man questioned her.

"So says the guy who's part of a team with people named Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the Amazing Spiderman,” the blonde threw his remark back at him with more than a hint of snark, causing both the Armored Avenger's teammates and the various other rescue personnel and reporters still present to snicker a bit.

"All right, you might have a point there, but we’re really not here to talk about names,” Iron Man said, reluctantly conceding to the girl's comment.

"Okay, then, why are you insisting we stay here and answer your questions?” Supergirl then demanded. "'Cause we haven’t broken any laws that I know of.”

"They’re here to make sure that you don't leave yet, because I asked them to do so,” Nick Fury announced as he shouldered his way through the crowd that had formed around both groups of heroes.

"My name's Nick Fury, and I needed something to make you stay in one place long enough so that I can talk to the three of you," Fury introduced himself as he came to a stop in front of them. "In case you didn’t realize it, teenagers with superpowers like yours tend to make a lot of people in government positions very nervous. Especially after you thee managed to trash a combined Hulk Buster, Sentinel, Mandroid Task Force trying to take you into custody.”

"Hey, they attacked us first!" Buffy shot back, her outraged protest echoed by Willow and Xander. "This is America, pal! Land of the free and all that, remember? It’s not our fault that they decided that it would be fun to keep using us for target practice after we stopped that Losers Legion from trashing the Air Force's base and stuff.”

"Yeah, they had no right to try and arrest us at all," Willow declared angrily, her eyes seeming to almost flash with electrical power as she took up Buffy's rant. "The Posse Comitatus Act specifically forbids military personnel from trying to carry out any sort of law enforcement duties without specific authorization from either the President or Congress – which I'm pretty sure they didn't have, since they didn't say anything about it – and it's not like we were even inside their stupid base's borders, anyway!"

"Yeah, what she said, exactly!" Xander chimed in. "If the military's going to be doing stuff like that when we're trying to help them, then we're probably going to just let whichever supervillains are beating them into the ground keep on doing so."

"Bu – I mean, Supergirl and Streak are right, Mr. Fury," Willow spoke up, again. "We thought the United States Air Force would appreciate us helping them fight off those supervillains when they attacked and we heard about it, but if they'd rather we just let them handle things themselves from now on, then fine! – we'll be glad to do exactly that. They just have to let us know, as soon as they can after they're attacked, because if the base that's being attacked is far away, we'd rather know that they don't want our help before we waste our time getting there, because that'd be the polite thing to do, you know," the redhead said, pausing to take a breath and not noticing the grins on her friends' faces that her typical Willow-babble had triggered.

Fury also chuckled, hearing the teens' comments, especially the redhead's last semi-babble.

"That's completely understandable, Miss Ohm," he told the redhead with a wide smile. "Although I think I'm fairly safe in saying that the US government would prefer to accept any help you three would care to offer from now on, if and when any of their military bases are attacked," he noted amusedly.

"Now, if you don't mind, I'd rather continue our discussions someplace where not everyone who's just hanging around can hear everything we say, and where we can make sure that no one else can eavesdrop on our conversation," Fury said, looking around at all the newshounds. "Like say, inside that SHIELD troop carrier, over there?" he suggested.

Holding up his hand to preclude the teens' instinctive denials, Fury then added, "I give you my word – in front of all these news media people – that you'll be free to go anywhere you want, once we've finished our conversation. Is that satisfactory?"

***

"From everything I've heard about the situation that occurred at Gamma Base, Ross was extremely mad when he learned that you three were responsible for all of his high-tech toys getting broken," Fury grinned as they all resumed their temporarily paused conversation inside the suggested SHIELD troop carrier.

"Hey, it's not our fault that those demons took all his equipment and then used it to try and kill us!" Buffy protested.

"Maybe not, but he needed someone to blame for that mess after the people actually responsible got away from his troops, so I guess he decided you three would be his fall guys," Fury said with a shrug. “I suggest you three just try to put it behind you; it’s something that just about all the capes go through in the beginning, or so I hear.

"I also hear that you gave Ross a real killer glare,” Fury added with another grin, as he glanced over at Buffy.

"Hey, he *so* deserved the hot foot that I gave him for calling me a ‘damned whore’!!” Buffy exclaimed indignantly.

"She actually set 'Thunderbolt' Ross on fire?” Captain America asked, turning to look at Fury in disbelief.

"Yeah she did," Fury confirmed the answer with a smirk. "But it was just his pants, so she really didn't do all that much damage to anything except his pride.

"Of course, Ross also kinda forgot to mention the fact that he was demanding that the three of them surrender themselves only *after* the three of them here had finished tearing up all of his brand-new toys," Fury went on in an aside to the gathered Avengers who were listening with rapt fascination, "and that only happened after the demons who'd originally stolen all of his top-secret equipment had used them to attack the three kids, here.

"All in all, if I were you three, I wouldn't worry very much about any sort of criminal charges being brought against you," Fury informed the trio, who were sitting together on one side of the hastily-erected conference table. "Given that I've got copies of the security recordings of everything that was going on inside Gamma Base even before those demons stole Ross's toys, I think he's going to be too busy trying to explain to Congress how and why his internal security went down the toilet so badly, to even think about bothering you three.

"Of course, he wouldn't be able to cause you any problems at all if you were working for a reputable organization," he noted with a sly grin. "Like, say, SHIELD."

His grin grew even wider as he took in the surprised expressions his comment had generated on the three teens' faces.

"So, have you kids ever considered a career with the government?"


FIN

The End

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