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This story is No. 2 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The second (much longer) installment in the Waifs and Strays AU. Covers season 1. Please READ THE SERIES INTRODUCTION!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR1598780,0851591497402,37628 May 115 Jul 14No

Guardian Angels

Author’s Note:

 

Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo.

 

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello.

 

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

 

Thought: *What’s on second.*

 

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

 

Thanks to the latest to recommend me: DofEire and Runewolf

 

Now this has enough cliffhangers to generate some reviews...I hope.

 

 

Chapter 51: Guardian Angels

 

Buffy felt the presence of the vampires before she saw them and gestured to her grandmother. Cecilia nodded and adjusted the beaded leather bag at her side, opening the flap and getting out a small glass vial. The ground in front of her moved and the fledgling clawed its way out of its grave, snarling and slavering, already reaching for the women in front of him. Then the vampires stepped into sight. From behind trees, mausoleums, bushes, gravestones. Cecilia swallowed as she realized more than twenty vampires were surrounding her and her granddaughter.

 

Buffy moved to despatch Phelps. But he wasn’t an easy target, as a fledgling should have been. He dodged her hasty blow easily. “Hello Slayer. So nice to see you.” He greeted her mockingly.

 

Buffy’s blood ran cold. *Another ambush…*

 

“Wish I could say the same, Johnnie Boy, but your breath is like an open grave.”

 

“Oh, you will get intimately acquainted with the smell of my breath before your death, Slayer…or should I say Buffy?”

 

Buffy dodged beneath his arm and threw a punch, which failed to connect. He did not move, or fight, like a fledgling. He had a good many decades as a vamp she was sure.

 

“This is gonna be fun, Buffy. I’ve never had the pleasure of killing a Slayer before. As a matter of fact, I think it’s gonna be such fun I’m gonna take a while to kill you.  ”

 

“Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s never going to happen.” Buffy threw another punch and swore as he blocked it. She heard the noise of burning and small explosions and knew her grandmother was dealing with some of the other opponents. But powerful as the older woman was, if they had dispersed into smaller groups it would be difficult to take them all out. Buffy began planning their escape and wondered in which pocket she’d put her mobile to call for the back up waiting outside the cemetery gates in the BMWs.

 

There was the sudden roar of engines and then there were three rumbling motorbikes screeching to a halt, throwing up grass and sods. A lithe form sprang of the back of the first wielding a katana.

 

The passenger on the second, more obviously female, gestured and three vampires flew into the air.

 

The third motorbike was thrown into a deliberate skid, throwing half a bushel of dirt into the faces of the vampires who turned to look at the noise, blinding them. The third passenger, a huge man, took out a strange crossbow and started firing, rapidly, the weapon sending out tiny ‘phut” noises with each quarrel fired.

 

Buffy grinned at the stunned expression on the face of her opponent and blotted it out with a powerful kick to his nose, followed by another to his stomach and then groin, before slamming a stake into his back, reaching the heart easily. Withdrawing it before the stake fell to dust with the vamp, she joined the fray.

 

The additional forces provided enough of a distraction to deal with the vampires, or at least most of them. Buffy watched in awe as the two elder witches took out the vamps attacking them, but she did not miss the fact that both of them looked strained. The vamps noticed the same and they crowded around Penelope and Cecelia, trying to prevent them from using their powers by forcing them into hand to hand combat. Buffy swore and tried to get through the remaining fifteen vamps or so to help her grandmother and great aunt.

 

Then the form with the katana gestured and the three vampires who were getting rather too close to her Gran were thrown back. At the same time it kicked one of the vamps opposing it hard in the crotch and then sliced its head off with back handed swing of the katana. Penelope shouted something that sounded like “Pull!”

 

A vampire near her grandmother was catapulted into the air and Cecilia gestured. The demon burst into flames from the inside and screamed in agony as it was incinerated.

 

Buffy grinned as the katana wielding form gutted a surprised vamp and gestured again, sending another flying into a large tree limb, to fall into dust. Her Gran was toasting vamps that Aunt Penny was tossing about.

 

Buffy hummed as she staked a vamp, blocked another’s attack and kicked its legs from under it, ducked the kick from its partner and slammed her stake deep into the heart of the one on the ground, used her crouched position to sweep the one who had kicked at her and off its feet, quite easy, as it was still unbalanced. She moved in and staked it as well. *Those lessons with Hurst really are paying off.*  

 

She tore into the ranks of the vampires with abandon. She needed to get the pressure off the older women, knowing that magic wasn’t really meant for close quarters fighting. The bodyguards who’d driven the bikes were good, but they were only human and were easily injured and had a lot less staying power than a Slayer. Even if Hurst was a magnificent specimen…errr…teacher. She threw two stakes at two vamps and they were dust. She’d whittle new stakes with Xander and Dawnie, it was good for elder brother-younger sister bonding. Thankfully except for the one in Phelps’ grave most of the vamps were fledglings or very near to it. They lacked fighting skill and finesse and she was stronger than they were.

 

Buffy grinned fiercely and ran to a headstone, kicked off and then somersaulted into the back of the largest remaining vamp, slamming him into the ground and then using the flexibility of his ribcage as a springboard, catapulted herself, stake first, at another. She felt the ribs of the vamp give below her feet and closed her eyes as she struck the vamp in front of her in the heart, felt the hot dust against her face and on instinct did a twist and flip in the air, avoiding a fist slammed at her side. She landed on her hands, her stake dissolved with the vamp, pushed herself vertical, did a split kick, almost removing the lower jaw of her target with the force of her attack.

 

She pushed down and flew into the air, landed lightly back on her feet and drew a spare stake from her custom made bandolier. She grinned at the vamps and noted that the one she had kicked was holding its jaw in place to prevent it from falling off.

 

“I’d say you’d have to feed through a straw, but as none of you are ever going to be feeding again…” She feinted to the vamp’s right and it tried to block, dropping its jaw. Literally. As it whimpered and tried to move its jaw back in place from where it hung from a few sinews and torn ligaments she staked it, withdrew the stake in a single smooth motion and threw it straight through a vampire who was menacing the katana wielding figure Buffy now recognized as Nana Morry.

 

This apparently was too much for the vampires. The remaining ones broke and fled. Buffy cursed and sped after them, ignoring the calls from her grandmother and great aunt to come back. If these vamps had ambushed her and her family, not a single one of them would live to tell the tale.

 

Without pausing to listen or to wonder why the vampires had suddenly broken when before they seemed to be willing to fight until dusted, Buffy ran. She vaguely realised she was passing the Wilberforce Mausoleum when the Vamps turned to face her. And the iron gates of the mausoleum were pushed open revealing an eight foot green-blue demon. Two long, rubbery tentacles emerged from beside its mouth which was shaped like an oval, disgustingly pink in colour, with vibrating pulsating edges that fibrillated with each breath. Deep with in the maw hundreds of tiny teeth could be seen.

 

“Lovely…such a rich meal.” Its sibilant, cultured, voice made shivers run down Buffy’s spine. “A fine repast to begin my rule of this place. Your energy will sustain me for weeks.”

 

Buffy opened her mouth to respond with a quip, but the dark golden eyes and red, hungry pupils of the thing’s eyes fastened on hers and her answer froze in her mouth. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth as the vampires closed in on her and two attempted to seize her arms. She ducked and staked one, then ran, fast. Behind her the vampires followed. The demon as well, moving with a swiftness that even Buffy’s Slayer enhanced speed could not outrun. Panic was starting to set in.

 

Suncrest Cemetery was shaded by wonderful trees and lovely bushes, to give the impression, obviously false, of peace and tranquillity. They also made running fast difficult, and dodging was dangerous if you had more than one pursuer. Buffy said some choice words her mother would not be happy to know she knew and ran into the poorer section of the graveyard, the low headstones and plaques less of an obstruction. She was faster than the vamps, just, but the demon was faster than she was, so she needed to be able to dodge and weave with less risk of tripping over tree roots, after she’d put some more distance between them and her. She reached into her pocket while running, trying to get her mobile, and suddenly realizing she’d left it on the nightstand by her bed when she’d gone to shower. She winced, dodged a vamp and groaned. *Mom is so gonna tan my butt for that…*

 

She heard the noises behind her getting closer and looked for a place where she at least would have some cover for her back when she heard a whooshing noise. A great white shape swooped down and strong arms grabbed her under her armpits. Buffy yelped and struggled.

 

“Don’t fight. We’ll crash.” A strained baritone said near her head. She felt herself being dragged up to a muscular chest, the arms and hands moved, holding her close and she felt the great flight muscles move beneath the silky soft skin. Great golden eyes glowed in the dark and the soft grunts of effort. She could hear the whisper of feathers. His wings then, were not bat like. They started spiralling down to the scene of the earlier battle and Buffy saw that the motorcycles were upright. Her grandmother, great aunt and Danielle seemed to be down, or resting, against headstones.

 

Whatever was holding her back winged and hovered slightly, then released her about two feet above the ground. Buffy landed neatly and turned to see the great white bird fly away.

 

She glared up at the disappearing form and turned to her allies. “Okay, there’s something really nasty out there and I want to know how to kill it before I meet it again, so we move out as soon as…” She stopped speaking when she saw the pale, drawn faces of Cecilia and the others. Her eyes widened and she fell to her knees beside her grandmother. “Gran? Are you injured?”

 

Cecilia groaned. “No honey. But even a spirit witch will get affected by the energy of the Hellmouth. None of us have done enough here to get used to it, so we’re all feeling a bit sick. And did your winged friend leave a name this time?”

 

Danielle, who was leaning against the neighbouring headstone, sheathed katana cradled in her lap, snorted. “He’s obviously a winged Cheila. And b bit sick? I just puked up my entire dinner.”

 

From Cecilia’s other side came an answering snort. “Yes, Danni. We all know Earth witches are much more connected to…” She fell silent. “Cece…If we feel like this…I know we draw in more power than a witch with passive powers…”

 

Cecelia paled even further. “Joyce. Oh.”

 

Buffy did not pick up much beyond that, ignoring the raised voices of her grandmother and great aunt, she merely jumped on her bike and started cycling, very fast, to where she knew her mother was. Just knew. 

 

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“And contrary to what people think, it was not paradise…” Rupert Giles continued.

 

Jenny Calendar snorted. “I know about magic and demons, Rupert. What I want to know is why your home work group is hunting them and why there’s a vampire who calls you food and yet treats you with respect.”

 

“Ah. Err…Ummm…”

 

“How eloquent, English. Do try to get beyond the non syllabic meaningless stage, would you?” Jenny said sarcastically. Her mace was still aimed in Giles’ direction.

 

“Have you ever heard of the Slayer?” He asked quietly.

 

“No? What sort of demon is that?”

 

“Not a demon. A girl. There’s always only one. The power passes from one to the other. They hunt demons, vampires especially.”

 

Jenny raised a cynical eyebrow. “And Buffy is this Slayer? Little teeny-tiny Buffy? Dark Blonde who dies her hair to become blonder? Little five foot two Buffy who I guess weighs less than a hundred pounds in wet clothes? That Buffy?”

 

Giles took off his glasses, polishing them. “Yes.” He said quietly.

 

“I see. And how can she defeat all these demons?”

 

“She’s much, much stronger than she looks. Stronger than most vampires, faster, more agile. She has extraordinary healing powers.”

 

“But she’s tiny! And pretty!”

 

“Yes. Her mother describes it as bait and trap in one.”

 

“I see. And how does this power get from girl to girl?”

 

“When the Slayer dies…another is called.”

 

Jenny’s next remark froze on her lips. Then she closed her mouth and looked at Giles with wide eyes. “D-dies?”

 

“Yes. The longest lived Slayer of the past two hundred years lived for slightly more than seven years after being called.”

 

Jenny took a shuddering breath. “Oh. A-and the Vampire?”

 

“His name is Liam O’Connell. He has gone by Angel and before that by Angelus. He was one of the worst monsters in history, until he was cursed to have a soul.”

 

“Cursed…Why?”

 

“He killed a very beautiful and sweet, but apparently not very smart, gypsy girl, much favoured by her clan. Her people took vengeance by pushing a soul into him, which is a crime of equal, if not greater magnitude as the initial murder. I can understand capturing and torturing him before staking him to the ground to be dissolved by the rising sun, but to give him a soul?” Giles’ voice was filled with loathing.

 

“Ah. Why is that so bad?” Jenny asked diffidently.

 

“The demon is not killed and an innocent soul is tormented for crimes it did not commit. Liam O’Connell was a flawed human being, yes, he was a whoring drunkard and a reluctant thief, but he was not a killer. Angelus was a killer and enjoyed it. To put any soul into him…” Giles shuddered. “I doubt that it did much for the Karma of the Romani who performed the ritual; that is all.”

 

Jenny had paled considerably, her mace and tazer forgotten on her lap. “You don’t like gypsies then?”

 

“What? Don’t be ridiculous. They’re a people with a rich spiritual history. I no more dislike Gypsies for this than I dislike a-a German for the actions of Prussia during the War of 1870.” Giles replied.

 

“Oh. Okay. Rupert…Why aren’t you with Buffy? Why did you send this Liam?”

 

“He’s been helping us. He’s a good fighter, and has more strength than a human.” Giles pointed out.

 

Jenny rose. “Rupert…I know you well enough that if Buffy were in possible danger you would have taken me home, or put me on the couch here to wait, and have gone to help her. So…that means you’re wounded.” She walked up to him and moved his arms. He hissed as she touched his ribs.

 

“Take your shirt off, Rupert. Let’s see how bad it is.”

 

“Jenny…”

 

“Shirt off, Rupert.” Her voice was implacable. Giles silently let her help him out of his upper clothes. 

 

She drew in a breath at the bruises and put a gentle hand to his ribs. “Have you got a first aid box?”

 

“Bathroom.” He replied. He closed his eyes and concentrated very hard on old nuns, trying to get his body’s reaction to her touch under control.

 

Jenny went into the bathroom and returned with the first aid kit. She bandaged his ribs with quick movements, her face close to his chest every time she passed the bandage behind his back, lightly inhaling his scent each time, a very light flush creeping up her face. She bit her lip, hoping he would not notice and tied of the bandage. “They used you as a punching bag. You’re going to see a doctor tomorrow.” She told him firmly.

 

“Yes, I will. It’s very handy that Buffy’s step father is a former combat physician.” He reached for his shirt and put it on. He winced slightly as the tight bandages both restricted his movement and offered support to his probably cracked ribs.

 

“Well…errr…now that that is out of the way…We need to wait until we are contacted, and until Liam returns with my car. I hope you do not mind spending more time with me? And maybe you’d like to take off your coat?” Giles asked hopefully.

 

“You do realize we’ve spent most of our free time together for the past two weeks?” Jenny snorted, slipping of her light coat and hanging it up, then stretched like a cat and looked up at him. “Do you mind if I take off my shoes?”

 

“Please, go ahead. Would you like some tea? Or something stronger?”

 

“You don’t have coffee?” Jenny teased.

 

Giles gave her a measuring look. “No. But I think I will lay in a store. Do you have a preference?”

 

Jenny felt her heart speed up and smiled at him. “I’m not very picky, but I learned to drink it very strong. Tea will be fine for tonight. Ummm. Rupert, would it be terrible of me to ask for an herbal tea?” Jenny asked teasingly. 

 

Giles let out a soft laugh. “Something that will not keep you awake?

 

“Yes. I think I want to go and hide under the blankets for a day or two.” Jenny shuddered.

 

Giles puttered in the kitchen, making tea, occasionally glancing at the young woman on his couch as she wriggled her toes, first on his carpet and then lifted them unto the couch, moving to sit on them.

 

“You were going to tell me about being an officer and a gentleman…I take it the Watcher thing is the Officer…what about the gentleman?”

 

Giles sighed. He filled the pot with water and dangled in a tea egg filled with an herbal blend his mother favoured. He put the pot on a tray, with two cups, milk, sugar and lemon, carried the whole thing into the living room and put it on his coffee table.

 

“My family…somewhere in the middle of the eighteenth century one of them was raised to the rank of baronet. There were two sons, the elder inherited the title and estates, but the family was wasteful and profligate. The family fortune was squandered and the estate heavily mortgaged. Another branch went into manufacturing. Originally shirt buttons and then into industrial baking and foods…They made a great deal of money and settled in Kent. My grandmother, a watcher, married into the family, but not the eldest son. Then both the then baronet died without issue and my grandfather’s elder brother as well…So my grandfather inherited and my father, Thomas, is the seventh Baronet Giles of Failand, in the County of Somerset.”

 

Jenny, who’d been quietly sipping her tea, let out a strangled noise. “Baronet. That’s below baron right? So not a noble?”

 

“Err, that would be correct. However…My mother is the younger sister of Sebastian, Lord Grey, Earl of Banbury. There are no other surviving males of the Grey family and Banbury can be inherited through the female line...So upon my Uncle’s death I will become Earl of Banbury, Viscount of Wallingford and Baron Knollys.”

 

Jenny groaned.

 

Giles shrugged apologetically. “I’m no happier about it than you are, I assure you.”

 

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Jon Carnahan leaned back in his chair, looking at the huge ring in the room beyond the armoured safety glass and let out a sigh. Next to him Jack and Sam were bickering. He wondered if they were aware yet of their attraction to each other, and if they would let it blossom or would stamp it to death under the excuse of regulations. He didn’t often have the flashes of Sight, he’d only had three in his entire life. One when Rick first met Evy. One when Alex had met Lin. And one right here, when Sam Carter had touched Jack. He shook his head, wincing. The main reason he didn’t mind not having the Sight was the blinding headaches that came with it. He sighed and reminded himself to look up the rules on fraternisation in the American armed forces.

 

Hammond had been called out to confer with the President on the phone. A single glare from Jon had made it clear to the General that Owen Lassiter was not off the hook, President or no.

 

Jon looked to his side where Daniel Jackson was trying to make sense of the notes Jon had made on his pad. Jon smirked. All the really important notes were in his head. He rose and nodded at Daniel and the two by the window. The big man, Teal’c his name was, had said something about exercise and then food. Getting to the cafeteria would be exercise enough, Jon thought.

 

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Carol Weterings sat with her hands between her knees and her head down, like a little girl awaiting punishment. That was the impression George Hammond got from her as he opened the door that led from his office to the Ante room. He smiled broadly. “Ah, Airman Weterings. Please come in.”

 

She rose, saluted and followed him, her movements precise and measured. Hammond sat down and gestured for Carol to do the same.

 

“Airman Weterings…As you may be aware many candidates to the Air Force Academy have political or military sponsors.”

 

Carol nodded, her face a careful mask.

 

“After I told a certain politician about you, he immediately offered to become your political sponsor. I will be your primary military one, Colonel O’Neill the second.”

 

“S-Sir?” It was obvious this was not the conversation Weterings had been expecting.

 

“If you want to go to the Academy…”

 

The smile on Carol Wetering’s face lit up the room. “I’ve dreamed of it since I was a little girl, sir!”

 

“Very good. This is the name of your political sponsor.” He handed the young woman a folded, creamy piece of handmade paper that had been delivered together with a set of secret orders earlier that day. Carol unfolded it and froze, gawping.

 

“Sir? A-are you…”

 

“It’s not a joke, Carol. The President of the United States wants to be your sponsor.” Hammond gave the girl a fatherly smile, having used her first name to put her at ease.  Then he looked thoughtful. “We are; all of your sponsors, rather curious about one thing however…and no matter what your answer is, you will still be sponsored…But how did you become so proficient at flying?”

 

Carol blushed slightly. “D-Do I have to tell you, sir?”

 

“Is it criminal?” Hammond looked worried.

 

Carol winced. “C-computer games, sir. Flight simulators. Sometimes during nightshifts there was not much to do…” She took a deep breath. “It was a lot harder in real life. There aren’t any G-forces on a PC.”

 

Hammond’s mouth quirked. “Drat. Colonel O’Neill and I owe the President five bucks. We were sure you’d crept into the simulation rooms.”

 

“No sir, they’re too well supervised.” The young woman unthinkingly answered.

 

Carol’s mortified gasp made Hammond laugh. “Don’t worry, Airman. We’ve all tried that.” He leaned forward conspiratorially. “It’ll be our little secret.”

 

“Yes, sir!” The young woman looked incredibly relieved.

 

“Now, another thing, this is not punishment… I know about the attempt to kidnap you. It is being dealt with at the highest levels. But until it has been dealt with, I want you on this base. You don’t set foot out of this mountain without at least a two man escort, do you understand? We can protect you here, but outside…”

 

Carol paled. “Yes sir.”

 

“Very good. I’m assigning you to Captain Carter; she wants to give you some preliminary testing to establish your skill levels.  Colonel O’Neill will be administering some physical fitness and combat readiness tests…”

 

Carol winced. Hammond smiled indulgently. “It will be fine. Don’t worry. Now, get along with you.” The unprofessional dismissal was the one he used on his daughters and granddaughters, but Carol was not to know that.

 

Carol rose and saluted, turned sharply and left.

 

Hammond smiled at her back. Now all he had to do was make certain that her pay actually reached her, instead of being docked. He shook his head. Marigold was good. Docking her for Bootcamp…Inventive.

 

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Jon Carnahan walked into Hammond’s office ten minutes later, two minutes early for his appointment and sank gratefully into the comfortable chair Hammond had Walter bring in from the VIP quarters. “Not as young as I used to be. That Teal’c fellow makes me tired just looking at him exercise.”

 

Hammond smiled. “Indeed. I must admit you seem quite…calm about us opening the Star Gate…”

 

Jon shrugged. “I know my grandson. I realised he knew something the minute I told him about it. So I was prepared.”

 

“Hmmm. I see. Did Colonel O’Neill talk to you about our problem?”

 

“Not unless you mean the cafeteria food, no. Many colours of Jello however.”

 

Hammond smiled, this time rather grimly. “Have you ever heard of something called project Marigold?”

 

Jon froze. His warm brown eyes became glacial and riveted upon the General. The American noted the minute changes in the way the older man gripped his cane and hastily continued.

 

“We have young woman here, Airman Weterings. She is a victim…and we have a possible member of the organization, my former aide, Major Samuels.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I was wondering…Colonel O’Neill has a certain reputation. The way he has spoken about you the past few days…There are many people in this base who are somewhat afraid of you…” 

 

Jon grinned. “Just give me ten minutes. And I promise there won’t be a mark on him.”

 

Hammond nodded. “This way, then, Dr. Carnahan…”

 

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The door opened and Bert Samuels looked up defiantly. The figure in the doorway was not what he was expecting. Old, really old. He stood just inside the door as it was closed.

 

“Major Samuels. My name is Jon Carnahan. I had dealings with Marigold in the fifties…”

 

Samuels was silent. Jon sat down and reached into his pocket, removing a pen knife. “Have you ever heard of the Death of a thousand cuts?” Jon asked conversationally.

 

Samuels snorted. “Hammond won’t let you do that.”

 

“Oh, he won’t have to…you see…one such torture was performed with this blade. Did anyone ever tell you about the former chief torturer of your organization?”

 

Samuels paled. “No…Oh God…No…”

 

“I think, Major.” Jon said as he stood up. “That you forfeited God’s help when you joined Marigold.” He put his hand on the knife and spoke a few words. Samuels backed away as far as he could, but was unable to avoid the implacable old man’s hand. The screaming started seconds later.

 

When Jon Carnahan left the cell, happily humming, ten minutes later, George Hammond was very pale and Major Samuels was cowering in the corner, crying, sitting in his own urine and mumbling to himself, rubbing at his skin as if he was amazed he still had it.

 

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Jon typed away furiously at the computer provided for him. Hammond had assured him it was bug free, necessary for his ‘Other line of work’. It was useful sometimes to encounter high ranking officers who knew about the supernatural. He’d have to ask Hammond how he knew. But that could wait. If Marigold was active again, Simon would have to know about it. It was not something he could, or would, ignore. Jon also sent messages to the Grand Magister and the Secretariat. The last time Marigold had managed to force young witches of both sexes into the program. A renewed attempt could not be allowed.

 

Jack came in, the ward Jon had set on the door ignoring him. Blood Wards could be finicky that way.

 

“Jack.”

 

“Granddad. Why did you scare Captain Carter?” Jack scowled at Jon and the old man looked up, his mouth twisted in a cynical smile.

 

“Better me than some scumbag on another planet…She will be a lot more careful and less trusting now. I do apologize; I didn’t know you’d grown that close already.”

 

Jack blinked. “She’s my junior Officer.”

 

“Hmmm”

 

“She’s a scientist, an egghead!”

 

“Hmmhmm.”

 

“There is nothing between us!”

 

“Hmmm. Of course not.”

 

Jack scowled. “What are you doing?”

 

“Connecting.” Jon looked at the three chat screens that were open.

 

“Ah, the Minion of the Magister of New York is active once more?”

 

“No, I got a different handle now. SoS.

 

“Ah. Why did you change your handle?”

 

Jon’s face twisted into a grimace. “Well…he moved himself to a rather dangerous place. We just managed to close the incipient Hellmouth under New York after two centuries and now he’s gone to the largest active one…So now IM with Stupid of Sunnydale.” He finished dryly.

 

Jack snorted. “Does he know that?”

 

“I tell him it stands for Solitary. He knows nothing about computers and will never find out. Holy…” Jon’s eyes widened. “Witchqueen.”

 

“WHAT?”

 

“Witchqueen is in your system…” Jon pointed at the screen. A tiny little witch was flying from one end of the screen to the other, trailing a banner. Jack gaped at it in amazement.

 

“I’m in your system…uploading Marigold? What?”

 

Jon’s lips quirked. “Well…looks like we have some unexpected help. Witchqueen is rumoured to really hate that sort of thing, government experiments and manipulation...”

 

Jack grinned. “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.”

 

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Daniel was let in Hammond’s office. He handed over a sheet of paper. “Walter found Professor Ellis, sir. She’s currently on sabbatical and staying with her younger sister.”

 

“Sabbatical, that’s good.” Hammond perked up. “So where is she?”

 

“Sunnydale, sir. It’s a small town in Ca…”

 

“California, yes I know. Well, you’d better go there. And I’ll send Captain Carter too. It might be better if she hears about this from more than just you.”

 

“Considering my nut-job reputation, yes sir. Good thinking.” Daniel said cheerfully, and left the room.

 

Hammond rubbed the pate of his bald head, wondering what the hell was happening in Sunnydale, California.

 

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Stephen Falken closed his eyes as the combined might of the intellect and hacking savvy of the Cadre destroyed the protections woven around the data on the Laptops and the secure internet lines connecting them to Operation Marigold’s main system. He was tired and the first bits of information he had read were not making him feel better. They were giving him a headache. Dinner, Pizza and Chinese, had been long ago.

 

“I’m beginning to be glad I never joined the military.” Dr. Lightman said, with anger in his voice.

 

“It is not the military, David. I doubt most of the military would approve. This is vile.”

 

Abby and Tim were sleeping on the couch, cuddled together. Abby was tactile young thing and had snuggled into the blushing teenage boy’s shoulder in her sleep. Tim had looked mortified, before succumbing to sleep himself.

 

Penelope was on another couch, her mouth slightly open and her glasses askew, breathing lightly and sleeping deeply. Luckily they’d fallen asleep before their carefully compiled programs had cracked the shells around the laptop’s security. Before Alan had traced their connections back to the operation’s computer.

 

Before Stephen had learned about Marigold.  He took a deep breath and reached for the phone. This was something Simon was going to want to know immediately, even if it interrupted his romantic night out.

 

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“So…what were the actual plans for tonight?” Joyce danced in Simon’s arm in the starlit of the Orangerie at Hooghwater, soft classical dance music playing from a state of the art sound system. 

 

“I don’t think what I had in mind would be appropriate.” Simon said sadly.

 

“Hmmm. You weren’t going to drag me upstairs to the master bedroom with that huge bed and ravage me thoroughly?”

 

“That was not a part of the planned activities, no.” Simon still sounded depressed.

 

Joyce gritted her teeth, but silently. *Damnit. This is supposed to be a date, a happy time, just for the two of us.* “Simon, will you just relax. Just, be yourself. Do what you wanted to.” She said gently. “I understand your reasoning…you we’re protecting Willow. Just…When did you find out?”

 

“MIC knew for several months. No one aware of Nerdanel made the connection to me until they tried to kidnap Evy and I ordered their laptops investigated. Then they saw our addresses and connected the dots.”

 

Joyce gawped. “So you knew for a few hours? I thought you’d known for months! Oh Simon, I’m sorry…”

 

“Joyce, I would never keep something that important from you that long…even doing so for a few hours made me feel rotten. And when do you think I could have talked to your father about it?”

 

“Oh. I may have let my temper run away with my sense.”

 

“Joy…”

 

“Simon…I’m sorry. I felt cheated I suppose…what were you planning to do?”

 

“Ummm. What your father did when he knew you girls had done something…Sit by you and be silent and read and look knowingly over his book.”

 

Joyce gaped at him, stopping in her dance. “He , wha? That! That! Oooohhh! Wait till I tell Lolly and ‘Lene!”

 

“You may want to tell ‘Ris as well…warn her in advance…” Simon half teased.

 

Joyce sighed and put her head on his shoulder. “Well…now I feel so silly. So what was the plan for tonight?”

 

“Well, ideally I would have taken you to a beautiful, moon lit garden and danced with you all night after wining and dining you.”

 

Joyce looked at the moon and starlight shining in through the huge windows and the Lantern roof.

 

“This will do very nicely. And then?”

 

Simon smiled sadly. “That’s about all I’m hoping to aspire to right now.”

 

Joyce sighed. “And before? Simon, I’m a woman…I have needs.” Her voice was humourous.  

 

His smile this time was more genuine. “What, after only two days? Mercy woman!”

 

Joyce eyed him. “What, you mind?”

 

“No…No I don’t…Joyce…” The dance had led them to one of the large bay windows where a bench had been placed. He sat her down on it and she looked confused.

 

“Ummm…Simon…if you want to ravish me, that bed up at the house looked rather more comfortable…I’m a bit too old for sex on the back seat of cars or on couches…” She half joked.

 

“This has nothing to do with that.” He took a deep breath and knelt by her. “I was planning for this to be the culmination of a deeply romantic evening…not the aftermath of a big fight…but if I don’t do it now, I won’t work up the nerve again for months…”

 

Joyce swallowed. “Simon…”

 

“I’ve never asked you…I just implied what I wanted…You’re father pointed out that was a stupid way to deal with it…” He reached into his pocket and took out a ring. It was a platinum band with a large, single stone set in it. “I had this made for you…the stone is an Alexandrite that was given to me by the Russian Government…This is not a ring that has been in my family for a hundred years or more…this is the ring I got for you. Joyce… Will you marry me?”

 

End note:

 

Giles’ family is lifted almost entirely from Littleotter73’s Where do we go from here. A non Crossover post Chosen Buffy-Giles Romance that can be found here:

 

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6373194/1/Where_Do_We_Go_From_Here_Series

 

I highly recommend it and thank her for kindly allowing me to use the Giles and Grey families. The Baronetcy has been replaced with the Where do we go from here one, Failand in Somerset.

 

Also: See! Clifhangers!
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