Xander bounded into the Magic Shop dragging Willow behind him.
“Guys, guys look what I found.”
“It’s called a newspaper Xander.” Said Giles wryly as he and Buffy looked up from the table. “They have actually been around for awhile. And If I’m not mistaken the one your holding is from two days ago.”
Xander stopped and stared at him. “I know that G-man I’ve been reading the funny pages since I was a kid ... wait you knew about this?” With that he let go of a rather relieved Willow and slammed the open paper down on the table. Displayed in front of all was a two page spread of the fight in New York complete with a rather blurry picture of a leather clad women perched atop of a police car.
“It’s Faith! I mean yeah they don’t say her name or anything but I would recognise that body from anywhere.” He flinched at the glare he got from his female friends. “I mean the silhouette of her figure matches Faith and how many other super-charged leather clad girls can their running around New York.”
Surprisingly Anya was the first to pip up with a retort. “You mean how many skanky, psychopathic slu...”
Buffy whipped her head around from her perch on the table. “This coming from an ex-demon who treated Xander like her personal gigolo.”
“Heh! She did not.” Then he thought for a second; “Though I guess that is kind of a compliment.”
“Please you’re no gigolo. I mean yeah you gave great orgasms but there was this gigolo I was asked to curse back in....”
“Anya please, I think we get the picture.” Giles leaned back in his seat, subconsciously cleaning his glasses. “To answer your question Xander yes Buffy and I do believe that is Faith in the picture but (he put his glasses back on) there is no need for hysterics.”
Willow’s eyes widened. “But it’s Faith! I mean I’m all for second chances and everything but, but they’re saying she’s a hero!”
Picking up the paper Buffy simply shrugged. “Well in this case it seems she is, you don’t go taking on some enormous sand thing to help save a girl if you’re just out for numero uno.”
“But she had her chance...”
“You mean when we left her in that seedy motel room or when we abandoned her when she was in hospital?” Buffy eyes swivelled over her fellow Scoobies. “We failed her, I
failed her and now that she has a chance to get back to what she should have been we’re not going to do anything to jeopardise it, caprice?.”
Xander and Willow nodded their heads sullenly. “I still think it should have been you Buffy.” Whispered Willow looking back up at her friend who returned the look with a sad smile.
“I’m where I am supposed to be Will, the Hellmouth needs a slayer and that’s me. It’s taken me along time to accept that but this is the way it should be. And besides I signed a deal with the Council and I’m going to honour it.”
Travers’ visit had been a high point of the year, the fact he looked like he had a stomach ulcer making it even more so. The evil grin Giles had on his face when he walked in behind Tavers was just the icing on the cake. With not so subtle hints that she was still considering SHIELD’s offer she had managed to extract a deal. She was now an official employee of the Council, the amount wasn’t a lot so she still had to work to stay afloat and keep Social Services off her back but it definitely helped. Not to mention they had reinstated Giles (with back pay of course) who had quickly come back from England after a call from Buffy. And a written guarantee that he would receive access to any books or materials they needed, starting with anything to suggest the origins of "beneath you it devours". She had been hoping to get something set up for the others but Travers had weaselled out of it. He had said that they would have to go back to England for proper training and like hell any of them were going to trust him with that.
Xander and Willow filed out while Giles looked at Buffy with a studied gaze, taking off his glasses once again to give them an unnecessary clean. “You do realise the Council is not going to let Faith to continue with what she is doing don’t you?”
“I don’t think they have much of a choice at the moment. I had a call from Director Fury last night he told me the Council hired someone to kill her Giles, some big shot assassin. Nearly worked too but instead their assassin got arrested and now the Council has pissed off the head of a Federal department which, from what Willow could find, has just finished building its own aircraft carrier. A flying
“Good lord! I ... I suppose it was bound to happen, after all Mr Fury seemed to find the Council’s initial wet team rather quickly and I suppose he is well aware of Travers’ little visit to us.” Putting his glasses down he continued with carefully placed words. “I admit to being quite impressed with how you handled Travers, I honestly did not expect for you to get what you did. It makes me rather curious if this wasn’t running through your mind when you told Mr Fury about Faith.”
Buffy glared at him and then starred off into space. “When I was with Fury he told about this mutant who calls himself Magneto, he was involved with that thing in New York 2 years ago, you know on Liberty Island? Apparently he has power over metal and can squash a tank into the size of a sardine can in a second just by waving his hand at it.”
“Sounds perfect for someone use to fighting with wood.”
She smiled “Yeah it does but that is not what went through my mind. What concerned me was that this guy doesn’t see himself as human, he looks down on normal people the same way a vampire does. Which got me thinking how long would it be before he finds out about the supernatural? What if he tries to make a deal with something he doesn’t fully understand. Or tried to get some magical power for himself.”
Buffy leaned closer to Giles. “It made me think what would happen if it went wrong, what would happen if he was turned. Can you imagine that Giles, a mutant with that much power as a vampire? Or what if he tries to emulate Wilkins and become immortal without losing his access to daylight.”
She straightened up and looked down at the newspaper in her hands. “It’s going to happen eventually, maybe not to Magneto then but when it does we’re going to need someone who is familiar with both worlds. That is why I told Fury about Faith; and as much as I sometimes hate to admit it we did fail her Giles, especially you and I. Yes she made some real bad choices but the minute she came to town we treated her as nothing more than a spare wheel. Telling Fury was the least I could do to try to make it right.”
Giles thought for a second. “No one really understands how a Slayer is chosen, why one girl is picked when others that appear more suited are overlooked. It is possible there is some kind of precognitive aspect involved. Maybe your right and this is why she was chosen.”
Scoffing Buffy dropped the paper and stretched her arms. “Whatever helps you sleep Giles, it sounds more like an attempt to dodge your portion of the blame for what happened.” Getting off the table she made her way to the small stairs. “I have to get to school, got to keep Social Services happy, and make sure Dawn is where she is suppose to be. She’s still a bit messed up about that whole RJ thing.”
“I still don’t see why you can’t just work here.”
From behind the counter Amy answered on Buffy’s behalf. “Because she can’t reach the higher shelves and she is mean to the customers.”
Buffy whipped her head around. “Can to! I just need to use the stool. And it’s not my fault if some of your customers are idiots and have zero dress sense.”
“Why would you care what they wear? The money of ugly dressed people is just as good the money from the well dressed ones. Their money is just as good isn’t it Giles?”
“From my experience (they all turned their heads to the entrance to see Tony Stark standing just inside the door) it doesn’t matter so much what they wear when they give it to you but where they got it from and what they plan to do with what they bought.”
Suddenly Xander and Willow came bursting back into the shop. Brushing past Tony Xander stated the obvious. “Guys Tony Stark just came into the store!” Realising who he just ran past he stopped in his tracks and turned around. “It’s Tony Stark!”
By this time Giles was on his feet. “Yes we can see that. H... How...”
But Willow couldn’t hold it in any longer. “Wow, I am a hug fan of your work. I even had poster of you up on the wall, but I took it down because I’m gay now but considering I’m still kind of attracted to you I must actually be bi-sexual but I’m definitelyintotheladylovingatthemomentsonosnugglesforyoubuster.”
Tony looked down at the slender finger poking into his chest and then up at its owner, one eyebrow raised in amusement. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“EEEP!” Willow stepped back, grabbing hold of Xander’s arm for a second before composing herself.
“Now If you’ll excuse me I would like to have a few words with your colleagues”. Giving his suit a quick straighten he made his way towards the stairs only to take a step back when his way was blocked by a curly-headed blond with a dazzling smile.
“Hi I’m Anya welcome to my store what can I sell you today? A Hegmoth crystal? Chinese incense? What about the store, would you like to buy the store? We make a very good margin.”
Giles looked aghast “I beg your pardon? Your forgetting Anya you only have 49% ownership in the store and I’m not looking to sell.”
Anya dismissed Giles with a wave of her hand. “Don’t be silly anything can be sold for the right price.”
Tony smiled “Though the store seems very .... homey I’m afraid I have no interest in retail.”
“Oh”. Her smiled faltered, then immediately brightened back up again. “What about orgasims? I hear you’re very good at giving those.”
“Uhh boss.” They all turned to the door to see a slightly portly guy sticking his head in.”Is everything okay in here? Do you want us to bring the stuff in?”
“Yes please Happy.” Turning back towards an expecting Anya Tony could not help but be relieved for the interruption. “Look Anya not that long ago I would not have hesitated on taking up such a ... tempting offer but I’m spoken for at the moment.”
They both moved out of the way as 3 men came in, one holding a chest by himself and the other two a chest between them. All moved from their path as they gently put the boxes on the table and made their way back out, past ‘Happy’ who had taken up a position beside the door.
Buffy turned to Steve with a raised eyebrow “Ok care to make with the splainy? Cause I don’t think anyone here put in an order and you don’t seem the type to make personal deliveries. “
“A mutual acquaintance of both of ours told me of your situation down here. And (placing a hand over his heart/arc reactor) like any concerned citizen I asked what part I could play to help out.”
Still looking a bit shaken at seeing meeting on of her idols Willow was still the one to ask what had to be asked. “ Do you mean Fury? But I thought the deal..”
“Faith. He means Faith.” Stated Xander, not aware of how the tone of his voice changed when he mentioned her name.
Now Tony may have been a self–described billionaire genius playboy philanthropist but he was also a shrewd analyst of human behaviour, if for no other reason than it helped get girls into his bed. But it didn’t take any of that to realise there was still not a lot of bad feelings concerning what had gone down. Faith had admitted as much, saying more with how she spoke then what actually came out of her mouth.
“Yeah I am. To be frank I had not heard of any of you before Faith told me. I think Fury was worried I would come down and get in over my head (Buffy and Giles swapped a quick look) which frankly is a bit insulting."
"Yeah sure makes sense" Said Buffy nodding her head, her eyes not leaving the boxes sitting on the table. "Not to be rude or anything but prezzies?"
Tony smirked, running his hand along the lid he then flipped it open and stood back as the Scoobies crowded in. What was in it was not what Buffy was expecting. Set neatly in foam cut outs was a rather bulky bracelet with rows of small wooden and silver spikes below it. Beside the bracelet was what looked like a very sophisticated roundish remote controlled flying... thing with a small tablet beneath that was obviously to control it. There were also half a dozen ear pieces.
Reaching in she gingerly she pulled out the bracelet. “I based it on the ones SHIELD gave one made for one of their agent. May I? ” Tony asked as Buffy started put one on her wrist. Buffy nodded and he stepped forward and in a very professional manner started to slid it on. Despite herself she could not help but feel a blush starting to form at the base of her neck. Like Anya she was more than aware of the stories of Tony Stark and his ex...
“....And you activate like so.” Buffy blinked as a wooden dart fired out of the braclet and imbedded itself so far into the wall it looked it had been hammered in. “Agent Romanoff has a grappling hook but this seemed more practical for you.” Buffy look down at her arm and the contraption that Tony had placed there, marvelling had how light it was despite seeming brimming with tech.
“And what’s with the flying gizmo?”
“It’s a drone Buffy.” Said Willow leaning across Buffy and pulling it out, almost drooling as she turned it over. “A very complicated one. Is that a camera in the bottom?”
“Yep has night vision as well as thermal imaging. There is a camera in the front as well.”
“But vampires are the same temperature as their environment aren’t they?”
Tony was stumped, no one had told him about that.
5 minutes later a rather dazzed Buffy looked down at the bracelet attached to her arm, now fully explained by a rather giddy Tony. Off to one side Xander and Willow where salivating over the tablet controlling the drone whilst Giles held one of the ear pieces.
Buffy looked back down at the box, for the first time noticing the handles inside the box. She lifted up the now almost empty tray and put it to one side revealing two items in the bottom. One looked like a big switchblade and the second the weirdest stake she had ever seen. The wooden tip was made of a darkish wood that ran into meal handle slightly longer then what she would normally have for a stake.
Buffy picked it and turned it over in her hand, feeling the button on the stock she pushed it. Her eyes widened when the tube extrapolated out another 8 inches.
“Push the button down again.”
Buffy did so and as soon as it clicked into place a silver spike sprung out of the bottom.
“The core of the spike is actually steel to give it more strength, same goes for the stake so it can’t be cut off at the base. As for the other item.... “ He reached in for the device and held his arm out, the switch blade turning out to be more of a switch sword as the three pieces clicked together to form a blade about 30 inches long.
“I call that box the Hellsing kit 2.0, a necessity for all looking to fight vampires and such in the 21st century. The other box is for the less subtle situations "
Buffy and Giles looked at Tony who just darted his eyes to the un-opened second box. A situation that was quickly remedied by a very eager Buffy who eyes lit up at the swords on display.
With the type of care a man may show to a classic car Buffy picked up the larger of the two and slowly pulled the blade partially out. “Ohh very shiny.”
This caught Xander’s attention. "Cool samurai sword Buffy all you are missing now is the yellow jumpsuit."
"It's called a katana Xander" said Giles as he took the half-sheathed blade from her, pulling it all the way out to examine it in more detail. "And like all blades its worth depends on how it was made as much as the quality of its metal."
"Your lack of faith is ... well I wouldn't say disturbing but definitely unwarranted. That blade is made out of tempered second grade adamantium . The wakizashi and tonto, did I pronounce them right? They are made out of a titanium alloy, iron and silver running down them for them for special opponents.”
Giles re-sheathed the sword and tapped it against his left hand. “The Japanese have a style of two sword fighting, called Nit-ryu I believe. Unfortunately I am not that familiar with it but it would be worth looking into to make up for a katana’s lack of versatility and length compared to say a broadsword. We can expand on your Kendo and Aikido though Buffy. And I would prefer you did some training with that .... spear before you take it out, you do not have a lot of experience with double bladed weapons.”
Tony was now feel a bit unruffled, though he had to admit he had been too excited to make something different to think about what the difference between swords was. “There is something in there you may like as well Mr Giles.”
Looking down Giles realised the chest also had an internal tray. Putting the katana back in and pulled the tray up only to almost drop it when he saw the cutlass and dirk beneath. “My lord.” He exclaimed as he pulled out the cutlass, admiring the hilt. “I see you went with a Danish design rather than a Brit...” He paused in bewilderment at the USN engraving on the ricasso of the blade and then looked up at Tony who to his credit did look slightly embarrassed.
“I actually copied an American naval design, the M1917 if I remember correctly. Hey what can I say, I’m American, and if you don’t want it...”
Giles bit down on his lip, quelling a disingenuous remark about upstart colonials. "I must admit this is all extremely generous but I'm not sure how this would affect our agreement with the council if they were to find out."
Tony blinked, "oh no this is not charity, well not completely anyway." He pulled out a slip of paper from his breast pocket and handed it to Giles. With a frown Giles unfolded the piece of paper almost dropping it when he saw the figure. "But... but this is ridiculous I cannot afford this!"
Tony frowned "I was under the impression that you are working for a rather well funded established organisation."
"Well yes but....."
"Then there should be no problem, you won't find better made swords and I only charged for the cost of materials not my time, which needless to say is even more valuable.” Looking at his fingers he nonchalantly added “Of course I am sure SHIELD would be more than happy to foot the bill if you were to agree to partner with them. True they may not have all the knowledge your council have but you seem to have done well and SHIELD do seem to have a way of obtaining what they need.”
Everyone went silent as they worked out where this was going.
Tony found himself stepping backward as Buffy edged forward, feeling small despite his height advantage. “I thought you said Faith sent you.”
“Faith told me about you, asked if there any chance I could help out. Then the all seeing Fury found out about it and asked me to try and pull the consultant card.”
Buffy looked at him hard and then took the sword from Giles, put it back in its sheath and placed it back in the foam cut out. Putting the tray back on top she closed the lid looked over to Willow who was still holding the remote/camera viewer, the drone hovering quietly beside her ear. “Time to put the toys back in the box Willow and they’re staying there unless the Council agrees to pay for them.”
She then looked back at Tony. “And you tell Fury I know where he is coming from, that I get he is trying to get back at the Council for trying to kill Faith. But he has already had my answer, and I don’t appreciate him trying to tempt me to break my word. And I better not hear of him trying to obtain anything to do with what we deal with. Because if he and his people are still alive after they screw up, and they will, I will .... I’ll bend him over my knee and spank him. And I’m not talking a you’ve been a naughty boy spanking, or a you’ve been a naughty boy
spanking here. I’m talking a you can’t sit down for a month spanking, the type where you can pull my fingerprints off his bleeding cheeks.”
“No Giles! We did not go through all that crap with the Initiative just to watch more good people die because their bosses couldn’t reign in their egos. If he gets people killed messing in our sandbox he will suffer pain and I will be the one to deal it.”
There was silence as they all weighed what Buffy said, Anya looking at her with a thoughtful look on her face. “You know you could actually make a good vengeance demon, I could put in a word with D'Hoffryn if you want.”
Ignoring Anya Buffy stepped forward till she was toe to toe with Tony. “I told him about Faith to give her a second chance, to give him someone who could handle the supernatural when SHIELD ever ran across it. It was so not an open invite to the party, Riley will be able to tell him what happens if he thinks it is.” Then she looked down at her watch, “and now I’m late for work, so are you Xander.”
Xander nodded his head then looked at Tony. “It was an honour to meet you sir, come on Willow.” He grabbed hold of her hand and started to pull her towards the door but she was not willing to go.
“But but I have so many questions! Like what is the power to weight ratio of his suit? How does he control the power flow from the arc reactor? Are Gia Munroe’s breasts real?”
Xander stopped and looked at Willow. “Have I ever mentioned how cool it is that you are gay now?” He then turned to Tony. “I don’t suppose...
But Giles was having none of that. “Out. Now.”
Xander and Willow left, filing past Happy and leaving Buffy, Giles and Tony in an awkward silence whilst Anya simply shrugged and headed back to the counter. Suddenly the door open and mildly attractive lady in her thirties walked in and headed straight for the counter. Anya looked up and gave her best I-will-be-pleasant-but-I-just-want-your-money smile.
“Hello there welcome to the Magic Box.”
“Yes my name is Megan, you called and advised my order had arrived.”
“Ohh yes!” Anya hurried back around counter and started rummaging around under the till. While she was waiting Megan turned to look around. Her eyes settled on Tony and for a second it looked like she recognised him for a split second before turning back towards Anya who had found Megan’s parcel.
“That’ll be $45.50.” Megan paid and left the store, walking past a bemused Happy who was not use to seeing his boss being passed over so quickly.
A smirk flickered across Giles’ face. “It would seem that even your fame is somewhat dampened here.”
Buffy leaned back against the table and smiled “I would advise against coming here as a retreat though, the real estate may be cheap and the locals non-intrusive but the neighbours may literally try to have you for dinner.” She looked up at Tony and her eyes softened. “How is Faith really?”
Tony thought it over for a couple of seconds. “Well if you asked her she would say 5 by 5 but truthfully? Truthfully I would say she is trying very hard to be more then she was before.”
Buffy studied him before nodding her head and straightening up. “I better get going; we’ll forward your bill to the Council. Do we have the option of buying individual items or is it an all or nothing deal?”
Giving Buffy a mental tick for asking Tony pulled out a full invoice with the Stark logo and everything. “Yes you can though I would be very disappointed if you did.”
Buffy took the invoice and handed it straight on to Giles. “Can you handle it Giles? Principal Wood is a pretty relaxed kind of guy but being late it is still not a good impression.”
With a long suffering smile Giles took the invoice, his eyes trailing Buffy as she headed for the door before looking back down at the invoice which he carefully folded and put into his jacket’s pocket.
Tony clapped his hand together "Well I guess I better get moving as well. Don't want to get in the way of ... whatever it is you do when the world is not about to end."
"Read mainly," said Giles adjusting his glasses on his nose. "And of course run the store." He looked up at Tony "You must know we do regret what happened here with Faith, even if we aren’t exactly the best at expressing it."
“Maybe if you expressed more care at the time nothing would have happened in the first place.Then again I am probably the last person to chastise someone over past miss deeds.” Tony put his glasses back on and headed for the door. When he reached Happy he turned back around “I will be expecting a reply shortly of course. It has been fun making something so primitive but I am if anything it is very fickle on how I spend my time. Cho.” And with that he was gone living Giles staring at the two boxes wandering how he was going to explain this to Travers and exactly what else SHIELD had planned for the Council.
Accountant James Patterson begins to sweat as he watched IRS agents start to box records about a shell company based in the Virgin Islands. One with certain London based directors.
Watcher John Coke-Steel sits calmly in an interview room as two FBI agents ask what exactly a British national is doing with an underage American girl he had no legal custody of.
He would have been outraged if he knew that said books being boxed ‘for evidence’ where actually on their way to a SHIELD facility to be held till further orders.
He would have been horrified if he knew Fury had rigged the system so once his Potential was processed by CPS she would be placed with a loving couple. One of which just happened to be a SHIELD agent.
New Orleans, Louisiana
NOPD detectives with guns drawn methodically continue to search a house after finding a male body in the down stairs living room.
I’m blaming the delay solely on those two boxes. This chapter was harder to write then the ones with the fighting! Of which there should be plenty of in the next one if all goes to plan.
The USN M1917 is/was a real sword, you can look it up online.