Calm Before the Storm
A/N: Once again, I own nothing.
Anon (I'm not sure if you're on Twisting the Hellmouth or , but I'm posting this on both, so whatever): It's called bluffing. Or overawing your opponent to gain an advantage. As for the nausea, I suggest tablets.
Note: Initiative soldiers are low level super soldiers. They can take a beating from a Slayer without too many permanent effects.
Rosenberg sat back and sighed. He would not like to have to do that again. That Walsh woman had powerful friends in Washington, friends that would be perfectly willing to turn her on the Magical world, and he had no way of knowing if the next President would look favourably on magic and not favour Walsh.Since the smart money said it was going to G. W. Bush, he hoped that the man would prove to as pragmatic as his father. What he had said had been true, she was a very dedicated worker. What he had not mentioned was the small problems of a total lack of morality and a god complex the exact size of Belgium (according to the stats department. They were weird that way). Still, she was unlikely to try and turn on the Slayer and the Watchman anytime soon, he thought and his lips twitched into a smile.
If she did, he reckoned that she would quickly find out why the name 'Ripper' still caused veteran Auror's worldwide to break out into a cold sweat whenever they heard it.Still, it was good to know that Harry was already close to the Slayer, though the presence of Spike was a worrying one. People often forgot how dangerous he was, dismissing him as a pale shadow of Angelus. But even a pale shadow of Angelus would be a terrifying prospect, and as it was, Spike was so much more than that, a manipulator even better than Angelus.
Or at least, he was when he chose to be, mostly because no one expected it from him. And anyone who somehow knew what made Slayer's tick, and their weaknesses was dangerous. Yes, Sunnydale was going to be a very volatile place in the next few months, he thought. Then again, it always was.
Harry was occupied with writing a couple of letters for his new owl Loki (it had green eyes, dark feathers and Harry claimed that it always eyed him as if it was plotting to kill him) to take back across the Atlantic (Ginny didn't have a computer and Hermione was in the process of buying a new one).Dear Ron and Hermione,
How are you? Sunnydale's great. Well, if you remove the Vampire infestation and the overzealous muggle demon hunting commando's. Anyway, first day I arrived here, I had a chat with Rupert Giles (Ron, could you send me a copy of his file? It should be filed under 'Ripper'), a really nice guy who knew mum and dad. We chatted about the Hellmouth and life in England as compared to California (conclusion: Tea in California is pig swill, politicians slimy pieces of crap in both, Kingsley excepted and Americans don't understand real football), then I met the Slayer, Buffy Summers. Short, blonde and very sweet, she combines incredible good looks with the strength and ability to drop kick most demons half way across a graveyard. She took me out to meet her friends (nice people. Xander = loyal, friendly geek and Willow = sweet natured know it all. Sound familiar?) at the one club in town, called 'The Bronze'.
Some dickhead of an ex made a nasty joke about Buffy so I beat him up (Hermione, stop scowling, Ron, cheer as much as you like). The next morning, I found that hangover plus jet lag plus presence of attractive woman equals exploding coffee machine (how was I to know I was that bad at the instant coffee spell?), and that next night, I went patrolling with Buffy, and found young vamps to be like walking targets, but even a decade old ones to be very scary at close quarters.
Considering Buffy killed a vampire whose age was counted in millennia at 16, you get an idea of how much stronger and better she is (physically) than even a combat trained witch or wizard. Willow's a witch, but a really strange one.
Her magic's a hybrid between our kind and the Wicca stuff that's popular over here, and she'll be really powerful when fully trained. D'you guys want to meet up? I'm bringing Buffy, Xander, Anya (Xander's on again off again girlfriend. Currently off. Former vengeance demon. Very funny, a bit weird and totally shameless. She also seems like Luna's lost sister or something) Giles and Willow across, mostly to get Willow (and maybe Giles) a wand, and also to show them the Wizarding World. No dates set in stone, so just call me (I've attached my muggle home number below) if you want to chat. Say hi to Ginny for me, and tell her the exploding coffee machine happened when I tried to use her spell, she should get a kick out of it.
Lots of Love (blech! :) )
That sounds wonderful (if a little scary. Are you sure you should be fighting even young vampires?), and I'm glad you're really getting on well with the Slayer (don't they tend to work alone and in secret?), she sounds like a lovely person. This letter is short because that feathered demon you call an owl is giving me the evil eye and it's disturbing both Ron and I with its perpetual staring. That owl is too quiet to be natural! Ron says that he can't get hold of the Ripper file, it's regional commander level clearance. What are you doing hanging around with someone that dangerous?
We asked Mr and Mrs Weasley and Andromeda, and they didn't want to talk. All they said was that he was nice young man who went dark out of grief and that he was extremely dangerous, wandless or not. We'd love to meet all of them, they sound like a wonderful crowd. Plus, Slayer's are really rare in the magical community, they're considered semi mythical by most wizards. I'm particularly curious about this Willow person, and a little worried. What effect has growing up on the world's most active Hellmouth had on her magic? Would next Tuesday be good? Call us, the number's below.
Missing you lots,
Hermione and Ron
P.S. Ginny thought it was hilarious.
One phone call later, and a date was set. Harry put down the phone and smiled at Buffy."Next Tuesday's great. They're looking to meeting you all," he said. "One small problem. When we're in public in the Wizarding World, I'm going to need to keep the hood of my cloak up."
Buffy frowned slightly. "Why?"
"BecauseImreallyfamousinthewizardingworld," Harry mumbled.Buffy was practiced at decoding babble.
Harry nodded, chagrined. "Everyone knows what I look like, wants an autograph, a picture, hell, even a chance to say they met Harry Potter. It's irritating."
Spike, currently tied up in a chair in Giles' living room, perked up. "You're Harry Potter?"
Harry eyed him suspiciously, then nodded.
"Oh my god," Spike said, then laughed. "Oh, this is bloody priceless!"
"What?" Harry asked, but Spike continued laughing.
"Spill, Spike, or you get staked here and now," Buffy said.
"All right Slayer, you win," Spike said, then paused, savouring his next words.
"Your boyfriend is my great grandnephew, unless I miss my guess. William Potter, at your service."
Buffy just stared at him, then turned at a steady thumping noise in the background. Harry had performed a basic genealogy charm, checked the positive result and was now banging his head against the table.
"I. Knew. The. Bastard. Looked. Familiar," Harry complained between thumps.
Buffy hauled him upright. "Stop doing that," she scolded.
Spike just grinned. "So, nephew of mine, you've been getting with the Slayer, good work. She a good shag?"
"Can I kill him?" Harry asked plaintively. "Or at least let him loose?"
"Harry, you know the agreement with the Initiative is that we keep under constant supervision," Giles said, emerging from his room with a book. "What has he done this time that warrants death?"
"Revealed himself to be my however many times great-uncle," Harry sighed, as Giles looked startled.
"And speaking of which, who's going to supervise him while we're in London?"
"Riley?" Buffy suggested.
"I may not like Riley much, but subjecting him to two whole days of uninterrupted Spike is a step too far," Harry said. "Besides, Riley might actually stake him. As pleasant as that might be, Spike knows things and could be a useful attack dog." He was never going to admit in a million years that Spike was actually quite good company, in his own weird way.
"Mom? They get on surprisingly well considering she smashed him over the head with a fireaxe when they first met."
"Tempting, but again, two days of unadulterated Spike. Besides, he'd have to be tied up, and it might make things a little difficult. Don't worry, I can put a Silencing charm on him," Harry replied as Buffy pouted.
"Hang on, I'll just go call Hermione again."
He picked up the phone and dialled Hermione's number. "Hey, Hermione, sorry for calling you again, but I've just found a long lost family member who might have to tag along. Who is he? Um. Does 'William the Bloody' or 'Spike' ring any bells?"
Buffy and Spike snickered simultaneously as Harry winced and held the phone away from his ear, then promptly pretended that they hadn't laughed.
"No, no I'm not joking. I wish I was. I really
wish I was. That Muggle group I told you about, the Initiative, caught him more by luck than judgement and installed a chip in his head. It stops him harming humans and I've seen it in action. Gives him the world's worst migraine every time he tries. We can't leave him anywhere else, and I get the funny feeling that if we give him back to the Initiative they'll torture him for information on Buffy and the Slayer line, which would be bad. Besides, he's smart. Usually, anyway. He wouldn't try anything in Diagon Alley, not with a whole bunch of wizards and a Slayer. Besides, we could just tie him up and leave him in a room all day if I can't find a solar repelling spell."
"Oi, I'm not gonna be left behind like luggage," Spike complained, though there was a gleam of interest in his eyes at the words 'solar repelling spell'.
"It's that or going extra crispy in the sun," Harry said, "take your pick. Now shut up. Sorry Hermione, Spike's whining. Hardly the badass vampire that Remus taught us about." Spike sulked.
"Remind me why can't we just leave him here?" Buffy asked.
"I have limited experience of Spike, but I'm willing to bet that he would find a way to get out and cause trouble if left here," Harry said, turning away from the phone briefly.
"Harry's right Buffy, as much as it pains me to say it. Spike is going to have to come with us."
Buffy sighed. "Yeah, I suppose."
Harry winced and mouthed 'sorry', as Hermione began talking again. "
He can come? On what conditions? That's… brilliant Hermione. Great, thanks 'Mione, that's fantastic. See ya then, bye.""What conditions?" Spike asked, eyes narrowing as Harry put down the phone.
Harry's eyes gleamed with mischief. "First, he has to offer blood and/or hair to Mr Ollivander, the wandmaker, for a wand, second, he has to take part in an interview with Hermione about his past. She's been boning up on Vampires a lot, apparently. It's that or a day being a test subject for George Weasley's pranks," Harry said, then blushed as Spike started laughing and Buffy looked at him in shock.
"Boning up means studying. Not… that," Harry explained."All right. I'll donate, and the bint can have her interview," Spike said. "Anything to get out of here."
"Oh, and Spike? Hermione says that she'll use a castrating hex if you aren't on your best behaviour at all times. Trust me. She'll do it," Harry added, as Buffy crowed with laughter.
"I'm going to like this girl," Buffy said with a grin.
"I thought you might," Harry muttered, kissing her gently. She reciprocated and the kiss deepened.
"Oh please, nephew of mine, you're making me sick. Take it elsewhere," Spike moaned.
"For once, Spike has a point," Giles said delicately. As the two were about to go, Giles called Harry back."Harry, a word please. Alone."
Harry turned back to Giles, and waved Buffy on. She pouted slightly and gave Giles a warning look that said 'leave him in one piece'.
"What is it, Giles?"
"Harry, you're a nice young man, and it's excellent that you and Buffy are getting together, but I just want to say this, since her own father isn't in contact anymore and she has become like a daughter to me these past few years," Giles said, giving Harry a meaningful look, suddenly looking rather more scary than his kind and fatherly demeanour would suggest. No longer was he simply Giles the Watcher, he was also Ripper, the terror of Magical Europe.
"You know my past better than most, so you should know what I mean when I say that if you ever hurt her, you will find out precisely
why I was once called Ripper. Understood?"
Harry blinked. He wasn't quite sure, but he thought Giles had slipped into a lower class accent as he spoke, sounding a little like Spike. Then he met Giles' penetrating stare, then said, "Understood."
Giles smiled, the sense of dangerous power dissipating in an instant. "Good. Now, she's waiting for you, go on," he said, shooing Harry out.
Spike eyed Giles appraisingly. Like his single-minded and impressively vicious attack on Angelus a few years back, this showed a new, and to Spike, interesting side to the tweedy middle aged Watcher.
Buffy was waiting at the top of the stairs, and arched an eyebrow at Harry. "Giles gave you the talk, didn't he?"
Harry nodded. "The man can be very
scary when he wants to be."
"Has it put you off?" Buffy asked. Outwardly it was a jokey question, but inside she felt a flicker of fear.
Harry responded by kissing her passionately. When they next came up for air, she said, "I guess not."
"You guess right," Harry said, eyes twinkling, then kissed her again.
"Harry, can we go a little slow?" Buffy said suddenly. Harry cocked his head in curiosity. "I'm still getting over Parker."
Harry's face darkened. "That bastard," he growled, then his face softened again and he placed a gentle kiss on Buffy's lips and pulled her close. "I will go as slow or as fast as you want me to, I promise you that," he whispered in her ear.
"Hey, I was all for going slow," Buffy said, narrowing her eyes and poking him in the chest, "so stop going all come hither on me."
"Is it my fault you're totally irresistible?" Harry asked with a grin, then he looked more serious and kissed her gently again and looked deep into her eyes. "As fast, or slow, as you want."
They spent the rest of the day hanging out and drinking coffee. A fairly mundane day as most would measure things, in the lives of two far from mundane people. But what was coming was far from mundane.UC Sunnydale Campus
Riley sighed. Just when the Initiative had been finding its feet in Sunnydale, just as research results from the HST's had begun to come in, they had been flatly told to back off. By two kids and a man in a tweed suit. Only one of them was even American, for Christ's sake! But they had powerful friends, friends powerful enough to tell the trained professionals to back down and let the amateurs do their job.
"Hey Riley. Why so glum?" Forrest asked, clapping a hand on his shoulder."
You know the European spec ops guys you told me about?" Riley said.
"One of their operatives is in town, and we caught him a couple of nights ago by accident. You had the day off. He broke out pretty much as soon as he came to, taking Hostile 17 with him, and we've been told to back off by Washington. Walsh is furious," Riley said.
"What? Who could overrule Dr Walsh?"
"The President," Riley sighed.
"You're joking," Forrest said flatly.
"I'm not. This guy isn't even military. He's a capable fighter, he's dangerous, but he isn't military. He and his friends are amateurs, and the guy just laughed at us, saying we were messing with things we didn't understand and we
, the trained professionals, were the amateurs. In Walsh's office. Right in front of her," Riley replied.
Forrest's jaw dropped."The guy's got some serious balls on him if he can do that," Forrest said. "But why did he laugh?"
"If half the things he said were true, then maybe he had a point, but the guy has no respect for authority or military hierarchy," Riley said, sounding annoyed. "We learnt a couple of things that night as well."
"Magic is real. Or something close enough to it. And the stories of the Slayer, that HST bogeyman? They're real," Riley said heavily.
Forrest looked at him carefully. "Riley, I know you're really dedicated to duty, and that we see some weirdass things in this job, but maybe you should take a break."
Riley laughed sourly. "I saw them with my own eyes, Forrest. The guy teleported out of his cell and blasted the head off an HST that the tasers didn't even slow down. With a word
"And the Slayer?"
Forrest started laughing. "Okay, now I know you're either mad or joking. Buffy? She's tiny!"
"You didn't see what she did to McManus. Or to whoever got in her way. McManus was coming up behind her, about to take her out, and five seconds later Walsh's desk has a crack in it and there's a McManus shaped dent in the wall. Everyone between the entrance and Walsh's office is in medical and out of commission for at least a month," Riley said.
"She then said that if Walsh touched one of her friends again, she would shove a literal stick up her ass, instead of the metaphorical one already there."
"Jeez. You really aren't joking," Forrest said, taking in Riley's expression. "So what are we gonna do? And who is the guy anyway?"
"Specs. The one who beat the crap out of Parker," Riley said. "He's a teleporter and has some energy projection abilities at least. His CO implied that he's a veteran fighter, which I don't believe for a second. And we're gonna do nothing
. By Presidential order, he, Buffy and those who work with her are untouchable. Apparently it would cause a major diplomatic fiasco with the Brits, which is apparently the last thing the President needs right now. We're relegated to a support role."
Forrest frowned. "You're kidding. Specs? He looked like he could fight, but seriously?"
"He's dangerous. Even if he had no abilities, he has very powerful friends," Riley replied. "One's that can make Walsh back off and are at his beck and call."
Forrest looked grim. "This is our turf. We're the professionals. This isn't right, Riley."
"Of course it isn't. But so far, I can't think of any way out of it," Riley said.
"That's not the Riley Finn I know. The guy I know would do his duty even if it killed him," Forrest said. "And our duty is to get these civilians out of our way."
"Forrest, our duty is to serve the President. He's the Commander in Chief," Riley replied. "And you can't really serve your country by being dead."
"Bullshit Riley. Our duty is to the American people. That's who we protect, not the President. We have to everything we can to make sure that the Initiative can do it's job," Forrest said stubbornly.
"Leave it Forrest," Graham said. "It'll be like running into a steel door. And I snuck some intel on this Potter guy, Specs. He's a powerful energy manipulator, more powerful than any HST we've ever run across, and according to the files, has commanded in battle since he was fifteen. He conducted a guerrilla war, broke into his opponent's strong hold and stole some prisoners from right under his nose and killed his opponent in a one on one duel. It also says that he trained a resistance group so well that the British Spec ops group, the Auror's, have incorporated his methods into their training program and head hunted at least 70% of those trained by him. And none of the core group he trained died in three years of on and off battles. Even the people he works for don't know the full extent of his powers, he's that strong."
Riley raised an eyebrow. "Where d'you get this stuff?"
"Walsh has been building a file on him, calling in a lot of markers. I read it when she left it on her desk. Apparently MI5 and some super-secret and incredibly powerful British agency called Torchwood that does what we do in Britain gave her some info and warned her off messing with him," Graham said.
"He's still mostly human. He'll make a mistake. So will Buffy. I mean, have you seen her, she's dumb as a post," Forrest said.
"She also has super powers. And did you never read comics, Forrest? Think Clark Kent," Graham said. "The best way to hide is in plain sight."
"And I've marked her work. She's smart," Riley said. "Even Walsh was impressed."
Forrest just snorted disgustedly. Superpowers or no, these people were amateurs. Stick amateurs in combat, and they died. And he wouldn't shed too many tears when they did.Later that evening:
While trouble was brewing elsewhere, Buffy was relaying her day to an amused Willow.
"He's a total romantic," she gushed. "He just kissed me lightly and said, 'as fast or slow as you want'. We went and got coffee, chatted for a bit, and then he took me driving into the desert in his Aston Martin which is way
cool, like a James Bond car, and we watched the sun set."
"You're over Angel then," Willow said.
Buffy looked thoughtful and said, "I'm not sure. Like, I'll always care for Angel, but… we can't be together and I need to move on."
"Do you think you're in love with Harry?" Willow asked.
"Eh," Buffy shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe. I do know that I like hanging out with him, and when he smiles…" she tailed off, smiling slightly.
"You're in love with him then," Willow said with a smile.
"No! I barely know him! Well… maybe," Buffy said, pouting. Then she looked serious and said, "Wills, how are you dealing with Oz?"
"Like you said, I have to move on," Willow said, with brittle brightness.Buffy let the conversation drop.Well, it took a while, but I hope it's worth it. Please Review!