Ms Summers Goes To WashingtonAuthor
Beer Good Rating
West Wing/Buffy (post-series)Characters/Pairing (if any)
Mostly gen, with some Josh/Donna and Giles/Lord John Marbury.Warnings
Friendly mockage of cultural and political stereotypesDisclaimer
I'm neither Joss Whedon nor Aaron Sorkin, I don't own these characters, and I make no money off this.Summary
The American people need protection from vampires. Buffy needs funding. The American government has money. You'd think there'd be an obvious solution to this. And so, Buffy, Giles and Willow dressed up in their best business suits and dropped by the White House on the one day when they could get a meeting.Ms Summers Goes To Washington
It seemed like a regular White House morning. At an ungodly hour, while most people were still asleep, the crew filed into the Chief of Staff's office to get their first briefing of the day. Leo McGarry let them settle down and savoured the moment of comfortable rapport among colleagues before he started speaking.
"Andrew Jackson had a big block of cheese," he announced, and was immediately met with an assortment of groans, protests, and whimpers of quiet desperation. "A two-ton block of cheese," he said, "in the main foyer of the White House, for any citizen who was hungry, to remind us all that we and the president work for the people of the United States and not the other way around."
"Leo, we know
this," CJ Cregg protested.
Leo, unperturbed, continued. "And it is in the spirit of Andrew Jackson -"
"Can we at least skip the speech?"
" - that I regularly ask the senior staff to meet with organizations that don't normally get to hold our attention."
"He means the crackpots," Josh explained to Will Bailey.
"I mean the minority interest groups who play an important part in every democracy but rarely get to be heard as they deserve," Leo said sharply. "I know this is all a joke to you people, but this is our job. We spend 364 days a year trying to find a 50.01% majority for whatever it is we're trying to do, so if we spend one day of the year listening to the other half, I don't think that's too much to ask. Are we clear?" He looked at his chastised co-workers. "Good. CJ will be meeting with the Concerned Citizens For Increased Parsley Awareness, Toby has a conference call with all three factions of the American Time Zone Correction League, and Josh..."* * *
"OK, let me just stop you there." Josh ran his hands through his hair and took a deep breath. The meeting had only been going on for five minutes and he already knew that this could never end well. "We're talking about vampires."
"Uh-huh," the blonde woman across the table nodded. She and her two companions, a British man in his 50s and a young redhead, had explained their situation well enough, he had to give her that; it was perfectly insane, of course, but at least they had a nice Powerpoint presentation.
"And you want..." He looked through his notes again, shaking his head at the page of calculations. "In order to fight vampires."
"Well, and other demons, obviously. And it's not the actual fighting, but we have thousands of girls all over the world that we need to train, support, equip, coordinate... do you want Willow to go over the numbers?"
Josh shook his head. "The numbers are fine, Ms Summers, it's just... we're talking about vampires
"You said that already."
"And I'll keep saying it until it makes sense, which will be never. You're asking the US government to fund -"
"- your battle against..." He looked at the papers again, and then threw his hands up. "Look, there's no such thing as vampires, OK? Or demons. Or zombies. Or witches. Or - "
"Hey! Erasure much?" The redhead seemed to take offense at at least one of those, but didn't get a chance to elaborate before...
"Are you kidding me?" The blonde got up and started pacing. "'No such thing as'... Giles, I thought you said we were here to talk to someone in charge? Who is this guy, and when do we get to meet his boss?"
The Brit tried to calm her down. "Buffy, I'm sure Mr Lyman is perfectly capable of -"
"No, you know what?" Josh interrupted Mr Giles. "I'm the Deputy Chief of Staff. I don't have to sit here and explain why horror movie monsters aren't real!"
"Are we to take it, then, that that is the official position of the US government?"
" Josh said. It felt like the only appropriate response, somehow.
"Right," said Mr Giles. "If I can just call your attention to page 26 of our application?"
Josh shot him a long look, then warily turned to that page and read it.
Then he read it again.
Then he looked at the enclosed pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph underneath each one explaining what each one was.
Then he got up out of his seat. "I'm just gonna... Don't go anywhere." He left the meeting room.* * *
"Excuse me, Leo?"
"What is it, Josh?" Leo didn't look up from his paperwork.
"Can you confirm that there was never a secret military project in California that tried to harvest demon body parts to build supersoldiers?"
"Thank God. You’re positive there never was one?"
"You asked me if I could confirm the non-existence of such a project, and my answer is that I would be physically capable of doing that."Uh-oh.
"Would it be true?"
Leo put his pen down. "This is one of those times where you want to ask yourself if you really want me to answer that question."
Josh sighed. It was going to be a long day.* * *
"Vampires?" Donna wasn't sure she'd heard Josh right - sometimes, when you're half-running down the corridors of the White House with an armful of hastily assembled documentation, information gets lost or garbled (she was still pretty sure that was what happened to Puerto Rico's statehood).
"Vampires," he confirmed. "I'm meeting with something called the Reformed Vampire Slayers' Council."
"And they want..." Donna frowned. "Why would they slay reformed vampires, anyway?"
"It's the council itself that's reformed, not the vampires. I think. They don't seem too clear on that themselves."
"And now they want 50 million of my tax dollars per year to pay for it."
"Apparently, vampires and demons regularly try to destroy the world. This Buffy Summers woman somehow recruited a few thousand girls all over the world to fight them, and now they need money to pay for... I dunno, stakes, garlic and holy water. And since they may have some dirt on something we may or may not have done, we can't just throw them out either."
"So basically, they want to train girls to stand up for themselves and stop the world from ending?" Donna shrugged. "50 million for that sounds pretty reasonable. And I'm pretty sure the church hands out holy water for free."
"Well..." Josh stopped and turned to her. "You're really just going with this whole 'vampires are real' thing, aren't you?"
Donna thought about why she hadn't even thought about it. "I guess if you buy it, I buy it."
"But you're still in the meeting. So what's the problem?"* * *
"The problem," Josh told the Council representatives, is that even if, and let me emphasize that IF
, we were to agree that the government should fu... sponsor so-called Vampire Slayers, we can't just give
you the money."
"Well, for starters, we don't have it. Congress does."
Buffy frowned. "I thought you guys were the White House? As in, the President of the whole shebang?"
"We are, but... Look, we have a budget that's already bursting at the seams, we have Republican congress going over every single cent, and a majority leader who's on a personal vendetta against the President. We can barely get them to pay for the federal programs we have now. If we put a line in the budget that says 'Vampire slaying' -"
"I think it's 'slayage'," Donna interrupted without looking up from the documents she was reading.
"- we'll be lucky if they manage to stop laughing long enough to vote it down without impeaching my boss on general principle."
"Y'know," the redhead interjected enthusiastically, "I could probably help you with that. This Italian witch taught me something called a silvian confusion spell, cast one of those bad boys on Capitol Hill right before the vote and I can pretty much guarantee you a clean sweep."
Josh stared at her in disbelief, and then turned to Buffy again with a pained expression. "Ms Summers... Could you please explain to your colleague that since you're already doing something that some people would consider blackmailing the US government, suggesting a coup d'etat
might not be the best idea!?"
"Woops." Willow blushed. "Sorry."* * *
"So basically, the previous guy screwed us?" The President nodded slowly to himself. "Sounds like something he'd do. Vampires."
"Technically, the Demon Research Initiative goes back to Roosevelt," Leo said. "Most presidents just never needed to know about it."
"And now I do."
"I'm afraid so, Mr President."
"And these... 'Slayers' are threatening to go public with this?"
"Right now, I think they're just letting us know that they could
, but they seem to honestly believe they provide a service that they should be paid for. I'm told her exact words were 'Tell the big cheese we saved his butt last time and he owes us'."
"What does CJ think?"
"She's still stuck in the meeting with the Concerned Citizens For Increased Parsley Awareness."
"And Josh is working on a solution?"
"Yes, Mr President."
Jed Bartlet sighed. "OK, fine. Keep me posted."
"Yes, Mr President." Leo turned to leave.
"Oh, and Leo?"
"Can you at least tell me that Area 51 is just an Air Force test site?"
"Of course, Mr President."* * *
Leo left the Oval Office fully intending to let Josh handle as much of this as possible. But suddenly, his train of thought was derailed by a loud bellow from across the hall.
"Oh, God, please, no." Leo shuddered as he turned and watched the British ambassador lurch drunkenly towards him. "Your Lordship. How are you today?"
"Splendid, Gerald, old fellow. I was hoping to have a bit of a chinwag about the NATO situation -"
Leo gritted his teeth. "Actually, I'm on my way to an important meeting right now."
"Marvelous, I'll join you." Lord John fell into step with Leo. "You know, I think you Yanks might be on to something with this walk-and-talk thing. Not as civilised as sitting down and talking things out over a bottle of single malt, obviously, but I suppose in a country that places as much importance on quick and temporary solutions as yours does -"
Leo was keeping frantic lookout for a meeting to disappear into, and when he spotted Josh and his guests heading out of the meeting room, he quickly headed that way. "Josh. Are you done already?"
"No, we're just going to get some coffee. We..."
Everyone grew quiet as Giles and Lord John caught sight of each other; the tension was that palpable.
"I-it's Lord John now, technically."
"Oh yes, of course. I'm so sorry - "
"Not at all. I'm John to my friends," the ambassador said hopefully.
Buffy turned to Giles. "You know this guy?"
"Of course. Buffy, this is Jo- Lord John Marbury, the British ambassador to the United States. We were..." Giles hesitated and cleared his throat. "At college together."
"Oh." Buffy nodded, then nodded again with a slightly more wide-eyed expression. "Oh.
"Sounds like the two of you need to catch up," Leo eagerly suggested. "Josh, a word?"
"So... how's Ethan?" Lord John asked as the two Brits headed off into a separate room, with an encouraging pat on Giles' back from Willow. They couldn't hear Giles' reply, but it seemed to delight Lord John. Donna took Willow and Buffy in the opposite direction, heading down to the mess.
"So... you can really do magic?" Donna asked Willow.
"You bet! If you're not busy later, I could show you a couple of things...?"
Josh frowned slightly before filling Leo in on the situation: that even if, just for the sake of argument, they accepted that vampires and demons and hellmouths - "And they mean that literally! Actual mouths. In the ground. To Hell." - were real, there was no way they were going to be able to channel this kind of money to a private militia with rather vague goals, where most of the members weren't even US citizens. And Ms Summers had absolutely refused any solution that meant she and her fellow Slayers wouldn't have complete control, including his hypothetical suggestion of hiring them as military consultants to head up a reformed version of the (equally hypothetical) Initiative.
"So what do you want to do?"
Josh thought about it. "I want to get CJ's opinion on this. If this goes public, we're going to look bad however we spin it. Dead soldiers on US soil, mad scientists with a federal paycheck, the female empowerment angle..."
"Demons and vampires running amuck in major American cities..."
"Exactly! Right now the best case scenario is that we piss off every sci-fi fan in the country. So as soon Summers gets back, I say we take her in to CJ and see what she makes of her."
"What about the Concerned Citizens For Increased Parsley Awareness?"
"If I know CJ, she'll be happy to get out of that meeting."* * *
As it turned out, CJ was indeed very happy to get out of that meeting since the Concerned Citizens For Increased Parsley Awareness, lately slightly more green than they were when they walked in the door, had her tied up with red rope and dangling over a large vat of strange herbs as they prepared the sacrificial knives. Before Leo had a chance to call in the Secret Service, Buffy had smashed a chair and used it to beat in the brains of every single "citizen". When they had all dissolved into a green goo and CJ had been cut down, Buffy turned to Leo and Josh.
"You let a cabal of Paar'zili demons in here? Do you have any idea what they can do after a human sacrifice? They'd be able to possess any living person within half a mile! And call me crazy, but I don't think they're after the recipe for the cheesecake I just had!"
Leo and Josh looked at the puddles of green goo, then back at the Slayer. "You know," Josh finally said, "that chair belonged to William Henry Harrison."
"He was one of the Beatles, right?"
William Henry Harrison."
"Oh." Buffy looked at the splinters. "Woops?"
"Can anyone tell me what the HELL this is about?" CJ had managed to work off her gag.
"Long story," Josh said. "We'll fill you in in a moment. Right, Ms Summers, so we agree that the Slayers provide a necessary service. But I'm afraid that doesn't solve the problem of how to get you the money to - "
"If I may," Lord John announced as he entered the room, with Giles in tow adjusting his tie. "Rupert suggested that I put in a call to some friends, and I believe I have some good news."
Leo groaned. "Don't tell me Her Majesty is picking up the bill?"
"Oh, good heavens, no. But luckily, there's more than one treasure chest back home."
Lord John gestured vaguely ceremoniously in Buffy's direction. "As of tomorrow, you are officially the benefactors of... some ghastly EU programme we haven't found an acronym for yet. I'm not sure I can promise you as little as 40 million Euros, but the Germans will end up paying for it anyway, so it hardly matters. The only hitch is that you may have to set up an office in, say, Rome, do you think you could live with that? Oh, and Rupert here will have to visit Washington regularly to liaise, of course."
"Um..." Buffy was already mentally comparing the amount of designer stores in Cleveland to that in Rome. "Sure. And this is legal? And we won't be ordered around by someone trying to control what we use their money for?"
Lord John chuckled. "It's the EU, my dear. I think the last accountant who tried to investigate spendings in Brussels is still screaming in a padded cell. So are we happy?"
Evidently we were, as Giles' ribs could testify after Buffy finished hugging him.
"Spiffing." Lord John clapped his hands together. "A morning well spent, I think. Now then, Gerald, about the NATO situation, let’s do lunch." He put his arm around the Chief of Staff and marched him out.* * *
"So demons really are real?" Once again, Donna was lugging a ton of binders towards Josh's office as they prepared for the next meeting.
"And CJ is alright?"
"Not only is she alright, she hired Buffy as a self-defense coach. Remind me to never ever piss CJ off again."
"I always do. Can I take a few hours off? I promised Willow we'd meet up for a drink before she leaves town."
Josh raised an eyebrow. "The... hot witch asked you on a date?"
"Why, Joshua Lyman, are you jealous?"
"What? No. I just - "
"It's just a drink, Josh. Relax." Donna left a mountain of paperwork on his desk and left.
Josh lifted up one of the binders, leafed through it, and dropped it. "I'm not
jealous," he muttered.* * *Epilogue: 3.30 AM
The President sat up in bed, shaking his head. "Woah."
"Whuzzamatterdear?" The First Lady wasn't a heavy sleeper, but lifting her face off the pillow was still asking a little too much.
"Bet you mine was weirder." Abbey yawned and turned over. "Go back to sleep."
"Great idea." He lay back down. "And I'm the President, so according to the constitution, my dream was weirder."
"Did yours have a bald guy dressed in cheese slices?"
The President wondered if there was any way he had plausible deniability for that.