Disclaimer: Don't own the Buffyverse; don't own the Anitaverse. I wish I had been clever enough to think up either of them.
The Other Side of Destiny
"So what can I do for you today, Ms. Rosenberg?" Sylvie said as she escorted the slightly built woman into her office. She kept her tone pleasant and her face neutral even as a dozen different alarm bells started to ring in her head. Power radiated off the other woman. Sylvie could smell it, taste it, and feel. She was going to be very surprised if the woman was just stopping in to get a quote on homeowner's insurance.
"I hope I didn't mislead you, but I'm not here to buy insurance. These days, I'm a researcher with the new Watchers' Council."
"Please leave then." Sylvie said, feeling a very old chill in her core. "I paid a very high price so that I would never have to deal with that group of idiotic control freaks ever again. Norman can show you to the door."
"Believe it or not, that's what we used to call the old Council back in the Sunnyhell days. Those people, the control freaks you remember, got themselves blown up a couple years back. The new Council likes to think of themselves as a little more strong support group for the Slayers, and majorly less about the whole most important thing being shaping the Slayers' lives from birth to death angle."
"All the old Watchers and Trainers?" she said. Back then, she had thought she hated them all, but back then she had yet to learn to hate anyone enough to wish them dead.
"They lost about 90% of their personnel, so when Buffy, she's currently the longest serving of the Slayers, and Giles went to England to salvage what was left of the old Council, they were able to convince the survivors that the rules had changed and that all the Slayers were now equal partners, and were not to be treated like little girls who were just expected to do as they were told."
"Back up there, Slayers as in plural?"
"About two years ago, the magical rules got changed, so now all of the Potentials become active Slayers. It's no longer just one at a time, or two with the CPR loophole. If you aren't still dead set on throwing me out of your office, I can give you the full story." Willow Rosenberg said.
"Okay, I'm curious enough to hear it." Sylvie said. She had thought she had managed to fully leave that part of her life behind her. If all the rules had changed, she was going to be very angry indeed.
The other woman spent the next forty minutes telling her the story the First, murdered Potentials, the destruction of Sunnydale, and finished with "... and now that we've gotten the new cruelty free and not treated with unnecessary antibiotics Council up and running, and for the most part the crisises stabilized, we've got time to go back and go through some of the records that survived the bombing and fire. For the project I'm working on, I'm going back through the lists of Potential Slayers who never were called under the old rules, locate them now, and see how they're doing."
"And to see if they're suddenly Slayers under the new rules?"
"Saw right through me, you did there."
"One of the few good things about the old system was that if you made it to twenty without getting called you were safe. Please don't tell me they've upped the age limit."
"Not in every case. It seems like the chance of getting the big 'time to go do battle with the forces of darkness' message if you're old enough to drink legally is about 10%. I'm just the one in charge of finding that lucky 10%"
"Please tell me I'm not that lucky." Damnit, if one rule had changed, then she hoped the others hadn't changed as well.
"Nope. You're definitely not called, and if it was going to happen it would have by now."
"It's good to know that everything I did to avoid it wasn't for nothing then."
"Everything you did... you got yourself infected with lycanthropy on purpose?"
"How did you?"
"Between being a witch and having a high school boyfriend who got furry every month, let's say I've gotten really good at playing spot the were in a crowd even if they're really good at hiding what they are. And I can tell you're way better at hiding it than your receptionist is. But your secret is safe."
"Well other than you're going to go back and write it up, and I'm going to end up listed in one of those damn journals as the Potential who ran away and joined the monsters because she didn't want to die young fighting them."
"No, I promise you my report won't mention that. Not really relevant to what I'm supposed to be checking on. You're not a Slayer."
"And it looks like you're a successful businesswoman here so you don't need any money from the college or emergency aid funds we've got set up for former Potentials. Which was Buffy's idea since she figured out just how much money the old Council was sitting on while she was stuck working extra shifts at Doublemeat Palace. So unless you want to stick the Council with any therapy bills, I can just write that much on my report and move on to the next woman on the list."
"They'll cover therapy bills? That almost makes me tempted to cook something up with Gwen."
"My girlfriend. She's a therapist."
"Is that her in the picture?" Willow pointed to the frame on Sylvie's desk. The picture showed both of them laughing during a camping trip to Yosemite. "She's beautiful. Reminds me a bit of my Tara. You both look so happy there."
"I'm lucky to have her."
"And I'm sure she thinks the same of you." Willow said, making the words sound very sincere. "I've got three other former Potentials in the St. Louis I've also got to talk to, and I don't have much time this trip, so I need to be going now. I'll leave you my card if you've got any more questions, or any more grievances against members of the Watchers' Council past or present."
"Actually, there are a couple of the girls, the Potentials I knew, that I'd like to get back in touch with again. They were like family, and I hated how walking out on the Council meant I was walking out on them too, and how I never dared to try to reach them because the Council might find me then."
"I can try to do that for you. Just e-mail me the names, and I'll see if I've got contact information with them that I can share with you."
As Willow left her office, Sylvie found herself thinking back over the years. So much had happened over the years since she had told the werewolf to bite her, that she wasn't afraid. There had been dark times when she had half wished that she had ended up a dead Slayer instead of a live wolf. She would always suspect that the Powers That Be had screwed with her life to some degree because she had found a way around their plans for her, had learned that becoming one of the monsters would take her off the list of potential Slayers. But there had been good that had come to more than balance out the bad, and if she had become the Slayer, she never would have met Gwen. And if she had to live her life over again, she would probably do the exact same thing.