Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. They belong to their respective whatevers.
OK…I had, in no way, planned on writing this, but you know how it is with some story ideas…they won't get out of your head until you write them. So I did, and here it is. It's a "one-shot", with absolutely NO plans for a sequel. And no matter if you want one, no amount of begging with get me to write one. This is it!
I should have been writing the next chapter of "When It's Time To Change", but this happened. For those of you who are wondering if I had abandoned it, don't worry, I will continue it. I haven't been feeling all that well for the past couple of months, and am suffering from a distinct lack of energy. I've been to the doctors, testing for thyroid and PCOS, both of which came back negative (which is a good thing), and now am waiting to find out the results on the testing for mono (yes, you heard right, mononucleosis). I can only hope it will be something that simple. On top of the lack of energy, I caught a cold, which has had its claws in me for the last week. Grrrr. Send me energy waves…I definitely could use them.
This is a BtVS/Sentinel crossover, spanning a short period of time (roughly 18-24 hours), in order to avoid Sentinel canon mistakes (it's been a long time since I saw the show). If there are any rabid Sentinel fans reading this, and you find a mistake, you can just consider it AU then. BtVS is a year after the end of Season 7, Sentinel is wherever it will fit within its (unfortunately) short 4 seasons…if it fits into the "after Season 4" time slot, so much the better.
The Idiosyncrasies of Predators
An odd pair walked down the street – a tall, distinguished looking man, graying at the temples, whose demeanor managed to make even his casual wear appear formal, and a diminutive blonde woman, the personification of a young, hip Californian, who drew several glances due to her respectable, but skin baring outfit – an oddity in the cooler climate of the Pacific Northwest…heavy on the North.
"So, who are we supposed to meet again, Giles?"
"A…uh…Mr. Sandburg," the man named Giles responded after he took a brief glance at the paper he was holding.
"And the reason for dragging me out to the Land of Barely Any Sunshine is?..."
"Mr. Sandburg appears to be the type of person we could recruit into the new Watcher's Council. I told you this yesterday morning, Buffy."
"Yeah, but I hadn't had any coffee yet. You expect me to remember stuff without any caffeine in my system?" Buffy gave him a look of reproach over her sunglasses.
"With as much coffee as you drink, I'm surprised your hand isn't permanently attached to a coffee pot."
"So says Mr. Teapot," Buffy smirked at him. "And just why am I here? I'm not exactly a Watcher, Giles."
"If Mr. Sandburg is interested, I will need to reveal the purpose of the Watcher's Council, and it wouldn't do to be laughed out the door because I can't provide proof of the existence of a mystical warrior."
"Oh for Heaven's sake, Buffy! When I tell him about Slayer's, you'll demonstrate what one is!"
At her grin Giles knew he'd been had, and sheepishly returned her smile. Buffy definitely knew how to push his British buttons.
"So, what makes Mr. Sandburg so special?" Buffy quirked her eyebrow at him.
"He has spent several years researching primitive tribal cultures, focusing on a genetically gifted being called a 'Sentinel', who, apparently, was supposed to have hyperactive senses. Regardless of whether or not he actually believes such a being existed, I feel that the quality of his research, the interest in mythical beings, and his possible open-mindedness would benefit us, if he chooses to join."
"He doesn't wear tweed, does he?" Buffy looked skeptical.
"I haven't worn tweed in 6 years, Buffy! Would you lay off the tweed!"
Buffy laughed, "Gotcha again, Watcher-mine."
Giles scowled at her before his lips twitched in response to her laughter. He eventually gave a soft snort of laughter and shook his head. He wondered if he would ever become immune to her teasing.
Looking down at the paper in his hand, he read the address again before looking up at the building numbers to see if they were any closer to their destination. He stopped as he realized they had almost passed the building they were going to.
"This is it," Giles said, looking at the entrance.
The two entered the building and, after giving a dubious glance at the aging elevator, headed up the stairs to the third floor.
Giles followed the numbers on the doors, until he reached the one that matched what was on his paper. Taking a brief moment to straighten his tie, he then reached out a hand and knocked on the door.
They both heard a brief rustle, then footsteps coming closer to the door.
"Who is it?" A young male voice called out from within the apartment.
"It's…uh…Rupert Giles. I have an appointment with Mr. Sandburg."
After a brief rattling of unlatching locks, the door opened to reveal a long-haired man in his mid-20's.
"Oh, hey, Mr. Giles! Nice to finally meet you. I'm Blair Sandburg. Please, come in." Sandburg motioned them in, giving a friendly smile.
Giles entered, returning the young man's smile and shaking his hand.
The moment Buffy stepped across the threshold, her senses went on high alert, and she gave a small gasp.
At the sound, Giles turned back to her, giving her a questioning look. Buffy shook her head, and gave him a look of reassurance. He nodded, and turned back to the young man who, after closing the door behind them, stepped ahead of his guests and guided them towards the living room.
Giles followed, and after a brief hesitation, so did Buffy. Something about the apartment was making the young woman uncomfortable. For the sake of Giles, she pushed it aside, but kept alert.
"Please, have a seat Mr. Giles and Ms….?" Blair looked at the pretty blonde questioningly.
"Summers. Buffy Summers, but please call me Buffy." Buffy responded with a smile, holding out her hand to shake his in greeting.
The moment their hands met, the uneasy feeling Buffy was feeling disappeared, only to return as soon as he let go. Buffy shook her head in confusion as she sat in the sofa next to Giles.
"Buffy? Is something wrong?" Giles asked softly, careful to ensure that his question was for Buffy's ears only.
"No…yes…I-I don't know Giles. Something about this place is giving me the wiggins," Buffy responded just as quietly. "I'll be OK."
"If you're sure."
"I'm sure, Giles. Go ahead."
Blair looked at the two in interest, questions in his eyes.
"So, Mr. Giles, what can I do for you?"
After a stuttering start, Giles began to discuss the purpose of his visit. And, after Blair revealed that, yes, he did believe in the existence of Sentinels, both in the past and present, Giles expanded his talk to what most people believed of as myths, and felt Blair out on the subject.
Buffy sat quietly next to her Watcher, occasionally shifting nervously, her wary gaze darting about the room, but not taking part of the conversation between the two men.
"So, what you're saying is that these myths do exist, and you're part of a group of people who fight them?" Blair asked skeptically, not quite dismissing the idea, but not totally believing it, either.
"Yes," Giles replied firmly. "I know it's a lot to take on just my word, which is why I brought proof with me. What do you know about Slayers, Mr. Sandburg?"
"Slayers, slayers, slayers…" Blair looked up at the ceiling, deep in thought. Bringing his gaze back to the other man, he responded, "I remember briefly reading something about them years ago during my search for information on Sentinels, but I can't quite remember much, since I never followed up on them…I was too deeply entrenched in my thesis project. Weren't they supposed to be some kind of warrior?"
Giles nodded, "Not were…are. And Buffy here is one of them."
Upon hearing her name, Buffy brought her attention back to the conversation.
Blair looked at the small woman in surprise. "Her? But she's so…so…"
The young man drifted off, not wanting to be rude.
"Small? Tiny? Weak looking?" Giles finished the sentence, giving Buffy a smirk at her affronted look. "Believe me when I say that it has been entirely to her advantage, Mr. Sandburg. Vampires and demons often make that same mistake, giving her the upper-hand."
"I'm not sure what to say at this point, Mr. Giles. It's a lot to take in." Blair shook his head, not quite in disbelief, but, yeah, in disbelief. "You said you had proof, and that Buffy was it?"
"Yes. Buffy?" Giles stood, and gestured the young woman to walk to the other side of the room.
After Buffy moved to the indicated spot, Giles removed something from his pocket, showing it to the young man, who gasped in surprise.
"What are you going to…" Blair started, but was interrupted by Giles quickly drawing his hand back and throwing said object at the young woman.
Blair yelled in surprise as he stood, looking frantically at the woman, expecting her to be on the floor, blood pooling around her form, only to see that she had caught the object, a long knife, by its pointed tip.
Buffy looked at him, eyebrow arched.
In shock, Blair sat back down heavily, gaping at the young woman as she approached him, handing him the knife, handle first, which he accepted absently.
After a few false starts, Blair finally said, "What do you want from me?"
Just as Giles was about to respond, Buffy gave a large gasp, swaying where she stood.
"Buffy! What is it?!" Giles asked, worried.
"I-I…I don't know, Giles!" Buffy said. With another gasp, she said, "It's coming!"
"What? What's coming, Buffy?! What are you feeling?!"
"I'm in its territory, and it's coming back," Buffy responded, confused. "That's what I felt earlier. Like I was in someone's territory…that this place was protected. It was only when I held Blair's hand that the feeling went away, but it came back when he let go."
Blair jumped up in surprise. "Mr. Giles! Would you classify a Slayer as a hunter? A predator?"
"Well…yes, I would. Slayers hunt dark creatures, so I believe they could be categorized as a predator."
"Oh God…Oh God!" Blair paced, running a hand through his hair in agitation. He wasn't all that knowledgeable on the idiosyncrasies of predators, but he knew for a fact that if two predators met, bad things happened, especially if one invaded the others turf.
"What is it, Mr. Sandburg?!" Giles asked sharply, quickly becoming worried.
"Sentinels are real, Mr. Giles, and they are generally considered protectors, and in some regards, as predators or hunters! During my thesis research, I found someone who became one…and he's my roommate…no, the owner of this apartment!" Blair said, panicked. "You have to leave…you have to leave now! If he finds her here, there's no telling what could happen!"
But it was too late. Just as Blair began to move towards the door to usher his guests out, the jingling of keys could be heard.
"It's here," Buffy said.
"Oh God." Blair whispered.
Jim Ellison, police detective of the Cascade Police Department, was glad to be home. It had been a rough day, and the absence of his energetic partner hadn't helped to defuse the stressful environment. He looked forward to seeing the kid, if only to get vicarious energy by watching him bounce around the apartment as he talked about whatever subject happened to be in his head.
He wondered how Blair's meeting went. Looking at his watch, he figured that he just may find out first-hand, depending on how long the kid's guests had planned on being there.
Trotting up the stairs, he pulled out his keys and unzipped his jacket. Half shrugging the coat off as he reached his door, he unlocked it with his freed hand, and removed the rest of it as he opened the door.
Tossing the keys on a nearby table, he called out, "Blair? You here?"
Jim took the few steps into the living area, and just as he heard his roommate softly chanting 'Oh God, Oh God…this is not happening', he felt something wrong and froze.
His eyes locked on the figure of her.
He felt his hypersensitive eyesight kick in, narrowing on the woman's hazel eyes, forming some deeply felt connection between them. Through the connection he immediately knew what she was…a predator, a hunter…but not for him and his. He felt her strength, her agelessness, and her femininity, and only one thing became the focus of his thoughts…
The three occupants in the living room watched as a tall, broad-shouldered man entered the room only to freeze at the sight of the young blonde woman.
Blair could see his friend's special eyesight activate and focus on Buffy. As he saw Jim's hands clench the jacket he still carried, Blair knew something bad was going to happen if he wasn't able to defuse the situation quickly, especially when Buffy stiffened in response.
"Jim! Jim…come on man, focus on me!"
The tall man ignored him, continuing to stare at the young woman. With a growl, he firmly said, "Mine!"
"No." Buffy responded just as firmly, stiffening even further. Her stance changed to one that indicated she was readying for a battle.
"Jim! She's not here to harm anyone. Don't zone out on me, man!" Blair panicked, gingerly stepping closer and waving his hand at his roommate, trying to get his attention focused elsewhere. "Come on…at least give me your gun…you don't want to hurt anyone, Jim. Come on!"
Somewhere, deep inside, Jim must have heard his friend, as he dropped his jacket and quickly unbelted the shoulder holster, removing it from his frame while never letting his gaze leave the young woman.
As Blair carefully approached, he took the leather holster and its contents before he attempted to get his friends attention again by gripping his forearm.
It was the wrong move to make. Jim roughly shoved him aside as he slowly stalked towards the woman.
"Jim, don't! Mr. Giles, help me! Get her out of here! Now!"
Giles turned towards his charge, trying to break her visual connection with the approaching man.
"Buffy! Come on, we have to go! Buffy!"
When there was no response, Giles placed himself in front of her in an attempt to keep the tall man from doing whatever it was he planned on doing.
That was a mistake.
Jim grabbed the British man by the throat and threw him to the side, then stepped in the place previously occupied by him, towering over the diminutive woman.
He sniffed, breathing in her scent, then softly growled, "Mine."
Buffy defiantly looked up at him and said, "No!"
The tall man grabbed her arms and pulled her to him, lowering his head to capture her lips.
Giles gaped at them, quickly making a connection. "Oh Dear Lord!"
He scrambled to his feet just as Buffy pushed away the big man with another defiant, "No!"
Things got violent at that point, and Giles hightailed himself out of the way, heading towards the door where the young, long-haired man stood in shock at his friend's actions.
At a loud crash, Giles turned his gaze back to the two people left in the living room, only to see the tall man, now identified as Jim, easily block the punches and kicks dished out by Buffy. His steps faltered in surprise. No human should be able to brush off the strength of a Slayer.
Giles reached Blair's side, and the two watched as Buffy and Jim systematically destroyed the room. Buffy throwing objects at the big man who, in turn, brushed them aside as he stalked her. Various pieces of items now lay littered around the room, and it looked like there would be no end to it until one or the other gave in.
"What should we do, Mr. Giles?! I've never seen Jim act like this!" Blair hugged the holster and gun to his chest in his uncertainty.
"There's nothing we can do, Mr. Sandburg. Buffy has the strength of ten men, so there is no way you or I could stop her. As for your friend," Giles rubbed his throat, "he shouldn't have that kind of strength."
"What do you mean?"
"He tossed me away like a used Kleenex. No man, no matter how strong, has that kind of strength, which leads me to believe something else is going on here."
"What?" Blair asked, feeling like a small fish in a big sea.
"I'm not quite sure, Mr. Sandburg."
At a howl of rage, the two turned back to the living room, and were dismayed to see that Jim had caught his elusive prey, and had her hands cuffed together. The tall man proceeded to lift the struggling woman onto his shoulders in a fireman's carry, and stride towards the stairway.
"We have to do something, Mr. Giles!"
"We can't. Any action on our part, especially now, would be seen as a challenge," Giles responded in a strained tone.
"A challenge for what?!"
Giles flushed in embarrassment as he said, "To be her mate."
"To be her mate. Mating rituals of predators tend to be violent, and will only end if the female escapes or the male succeeds in subduing the female. If either of us try to interfere, your friend would consider it a challenge."
"M-Mating rituals?!" Blair looked gob smacked.
"Oh God…we have to stop them! Jim will never forgive himself if he takes her by force!"
Blair moved to stop his friend, but was held back by Giles' hand.
Shaking his head at the young man, Giles softly said, "He would never forgive himself for killing you either, Blair."
"Neither he, nor Buffy, are in their right minds at this point, Blair. He would harm you for interfering," Giles replied, sadly watching as Buffy, the girl he saw as his own daughter, was carried up the stairs, with some difficulty, by the tall man who had captured her. There was nothing he could do for her now, and he knew she would understand that.
"Come, Mr. Sandburg. It's time for us to leave," Giles said abruptly, dragging the young man towards the door of the apartment. At his hesitation, the British man slyly continued, "Unless you want to see and hear things you don't want to."
Blair ran out the door, leaving a chuckling Giles to follow.
As the door closed, anyone standing in the apartment would have heard the young man ask, "But don't some mating rituals end only when the female becomes pregnant?"
"Oh Dear Lord."
When Jim woke, he immediately knew something was wrong.
He was naked and curled around a warm…he moved his hand…definitely female, body.
He groaned as the memories of the previous evening flooded back into his head.
Feeling the woman stiffen in his arms, he carefully extracted his limbs from around her frame, and rolled onto his back with a soft 'Oh God'.
The woman rolled onto her back, until she was lying next to him, not quite touching.
"Dammit!" She said softly. "I was hoping it was just a dream. A naughty and kinky dream, but a dream."
Jim didn't know how to respond to that, so he kept silent as the woman turned her head to look at him.
"Well, it was definitely naughty and kinky, but," she paused as she moved her hand to lightly squeeze his forearm lying next to her hand under the sheets, "nope, not a dream."
Jim let out a brief snort of laughter.
There was a moment of silence before Buffy finally said, "Well, I'd shake your hand, but I'd really appreciate it if you could remove these first."
She held up a hand, showing him the metal handcuff that encircled her wrist, a couple of links still attached.
Jim flushed as he remembered just how she ended up in handcuffs, and rolled to the side to retrieve the key out of his side-table. As he did so, he noticed the state of his room.
"Oh…my…God! Did we do that?"
"If you're asking about the demolition of your bedroom, from what I can recall of last night, I'd have to go with a resounding 'yes'," Buffy said with a hint of humor in her voice. "But I'm afraid to say that I'm responsible for that."
Jim rolled back to see her pointing towards the head of his bed. He looked to where she was indicating, only to see several of the railings destroyed. He choked on whatever he was going to say, and silently handed her a key before flopping onto his back.
Buffy quickly unlocked the handcuffs and removed them, rubbing her wrists. She handed the pieces to the silent man, along with the key, which he placed on the, surprisingly undestroyed, side table.
"So?" Buffy prompted.
"What are you?"
"I am female, hear me roar." Buffy quipped, then sighed, looking at him as she said, "A Slayer."
At his questioning expression, she shifted onto her side, tucking the sheets around her breasts.
"There's a longwinded quote usually told by stuffy old British men, but the long and short of it is that a Slayer is a mystical warrior given enhanced speed, strength and senses to fight really evil things that go bump in the night."
"Vampires, demons, and generally most things you think are myths. They're real, most people just don't know it. How about you?"
"What about me?"
"What are you?"
"What makes you think I'm anything but human?"
Buffy rolled her eyes at him.
"This," Buffy gestured between them, "wouldn't have happened if you were any old Joe-shmoe human being. There's something about you that reacted to my Slayer side, so don't give me that 'I'm just a regular human being' crap."
Jim sighed and turned on his side, mirroring Buffy's position.
"I'm a Sentinel. A regular human being," he smirked at her glare, "who is genetically advanced to have hypersensitive senses. Sentinels are usually tribal members who are watchmen – someone who protects their tribe by watching for enemies, changes in the weather, or movement of game. I'm somewhat of an anomaly, since I'm not from a tribe. Apparently my solitary time spent in the wilds of Peru honed my senses to those of a Sentinel."
Buffy nodded her understanding, then rolled onto her back to stare at the ceiling in contemplation.
Jim stared at her, waiting for a response.
"So," he started, "What the hell happened last night?"
"Do you think it's safe to go back yet?" Blair asked for the fifth time in as many hours.
Giles sighed, trying not to get annoyed with the young energetic man. "Blair, I think it would be safe to assume that either Buffy or Jim would call one of us whenever they…uh…finished."
Blair's cheeks flushed in embarrassment at the thought of just what 'finished' entailed.
"So…uh…where am I going to sleep then?"
"Since it's quite late, I don't believe we'll hear from our friends until morning. I suppose you can use the hotel room that Buffy was to use. Perhaps we'll hear from Willow soon."
After their escape from the 'Love Nest', the two men had spent the time hashing and re-hashing theories for their friends' reactions to one another, but was only able to tentatively conclude that, as Blair put it, 'They're a man and woman in their prime, enhanced with powers beyond the norm, who recognized something in each other on a primitive level, and acted on it'.
Giles had finally given up any thoughts of keeping it private, and called Willow to have her search the Watcher's electronic archive for any historical precedence. Willow had fluctuated between gasps of horror and the giggles, but promised to do what she could. Giles could only hope she would be discrete.
"So," he started, "What the hell happened last night?"
Buffy sighed, turning back on her side again.
"Well, I can only guess that you saw someone invading your turf, and instead of killing it, a.k.a. me, you decided you wanted to do the horizontal mambo."
"So this is my fault?!" Jim asked incredulously.
"This isn't funny, Summers." he growled. "I don't know how you can be so flippant about the fact that I pretty much raped you."
She stopped laughing, and looked at him seriously.
"Let's get one thing straight, Ellison, there was no rape," Buffy replied firmly.
"I handcuffed you to the railing and ripped your cloths off!"
"I told you it was kinky," Buffy laughed.
Seeing that Jim was getting angry, Buffy became serious again, "Listen. Last night…do you want to know what I saw? Leaving out the fact that we were both reduced to acting like cave people, it all boiled down to the fact that, deep down, I saw a strength in you, and you saw strength in me. All you said was 'Mine', but what you were really saying was 'She would be a good mate for someone as strong as I am'. When I said 'No', I was saying 'Prove it, and I'm yours'. To cut to the chase, you proved it. And regardless of the fact that I fought till the end, I was as much an active participant as you were."
Jim looked dubious. "How can you be so sure."
"I can't say I know exactly what you were thinking, but I know what I felt. From the moment you put the handcuffs on me, you won, and at that point I wanted it as much as you did," Buffy explained gently, then smiled, "But I still wanted to make you work for it."
He was still unconvinced, and looked away from her knowing gaze. Buffy reached out a hand to grasp his chin, bringing his eyes back to hers.
"Look, Jim, both of us are above and beyond what is considered normal for human beings. We're genetically enhanced in some capacity, of which said enhancements are for the purpose of protecting those who can't protect themselves. We hunt things that threaten the protection of innocents. We are hunters. We are protectors. We are predators. We are so closely intertwined with our primitive side that we can't help it coloring our actions. Last night was proof of that."
Then, giving him a quirky grin, she stroked his cheek as she ran her eyes down his chest before meeting his eyes and saying, "And I have to say that, my primitive side made a damn fine choice."
That made him laugh.
He smiled, and slowly reached out a hand to run it through her golden hair.
"I'd have to say the same about mine, too."
They smiled and reached for each other to share a gentle kiss.
Lying back down, Jim continued to run a hand in her hair as he asked, "So, what now?"
"Now we have to make a decision."
Buffy had such a solemn look on her face that Jim's hand froze.
"A decision? What decision? If it's about trying out a relationship, I'm all for it." Jim broke off when Buffy looked away, and he had a sinking feeling he wasn't going to like what she had to say.
She turned her hazel eyes back to him, a strained look on her face. "What do you get when a man and woman have sexual relations, the woman is in the most fertile stage of her cycle, and no protection is used?"
Jim paled in realization.
"Are you sure? Isn't it too early to tell?"
"We were driven by a compulsion last night, Jim. When the compulsion suddenly goes away, there's usually a reason."
"But that doesn't mean you're pregnant!"
"I just feel it. Somehow I know that I am. I feel different."
"As a Slayer, I've always felt an undercurrent of the need to hunt. It's gone now…well, maybe not gone, but overshadowed by the need to protect myself…the need for you to protect me."
Jim fell silent for a moment before speaking.
"We'll get married then."
Buffy smiled gently at him, and said, "No."
He looked shocked for a moment, then quickly became angry.
"Dammit Buffy! It's my child too! I want to be a part of their life!"
"I never said you couldn't," Buffy said.
"My parents got married because my mom got pregnant with me, and ended up having 15 years of loud arguments and a very messy divorce because they found out they were just too different – I was caught in the middle of the fall-out. I won't let any child of mine go through what I did, if I can help it."
"It doesn't mean we can't try having a relationship in the mean time," Buffy said gently. "If it works out, great. But if it doesn't, we'll figure something out."
Jim looked frustrated.
"But you don't even live here. How can we work things out or try anything if you're not around. How am I supposed to protect you?"
Buffy thought for a moment then, coming to some internal decision, she said, "I can't make any promises that everything will work out between us, but I can promise you this; though it may take a little time, I will be around; if things work out, I will marry you; if things don't work out, I will make every effort for you to be a large part of our child's life. Can you work with that?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"We all have choices, Jim."
"You'll move here?"
"You'll try a relationship with me?"
"Can I choose the baby's name?"
"Will he or she have my last name?"
You'll marry me next week?"
"Hey, I had to try."
Jim sighed before saying, "I guess I can work with it."
Buffy smiled at him, and he couldn't help but believe that things would work out.
Taking a look at the clock on his side table, he said, "Well, it's still too early for us to call our friends. How about a shower and breakfast?"
"Sounds good to me."
Jim made a move to leave the bed, but was halted by Buffy calling out to him. He turned back to see her plucking at the sheet, looking uncertain.
She hesitated a moment before saying, "Can we…can we have one for us?"
He looked at her, confused.
She ducked her head, her cheeks flushed a delicate pink.
"Last night was all about the compulsion, but now…" she trailed off, her cheeks flushing even more.
Jim immediately understood. Placing a hand under her chin, he lifted her face to his.
Smiling at her, he said, "I think we can manage that."
He lowered his head and captured her lips with his.
Things quickly heated up.
And…oh boy…did they manage.
Later that morning, Jim and Buffy spent some quality time getting to know each other.
Knowing that they couldn't take a lot of time, for the sake of their friends' sanity, they gave a brief history of their life, with promises to go into more detail at a later date.
Jim almost popped a blood vessel over several of Buffy's more gruesome stories, but managed to reign in his newly developed protective instincts.
At a more reasonable hour of the morning, Jim called Blair to give him the green light on returning to the apartment, and asked him to pass on Buffy's request for a set of clothing to Giles.
Not wanting to go over everything twice, he evaded Blair's questions as best he could, which almost caused his friend to panic. After spending a few futile moments trying to soothe the young man's nerves with general platitudes, he finally stated, point blank, that if Blair wanted any answers, to hightail it back to the apartment. He hung up with a 'And don't forget Buffy's clothes!', fully expecting his friend to make a loud frantic entrance when he arrived.
Sure enough, not 20 minutes later, they heard pounding footsteps in the hall. Jim had left the door unlocked, knowing Blair hadn't had time to grab his keys, and his friend took full advantage of the fact, bursting into the room with a frantic yell of 'Jim!', causing the door to crash against the wall.
Even though he was expecting it, Jim still jumped into protect mode, and placed himself in front of Buffy, giving Blair a fierce glare.
Blair halted a few steps away, taking in Jim's stance, and Buffy peeking around him, a look of amusement on her face.
"He's your friend, Jim. He's not going to hurt me, so don't kill him, OK?" Buffy said with a hint of humor in her voice. "Hi Blair."
Buffy stepped around Jim's much larger frame, but wasn't allowed to move any further when Jim wrapped a possessive arm around her waist.
Blair gaped at her for a moment, taking in the borrowed clothing that dwarfed her slight frame, before he finally said, weakly, "Hi Buffy."
They all turned towards the door when they heard a soft 'thud'. Giles had finally made it to the apartment. Having been weighed down with a large carry-on bag during his mad rush to follow the younger man, he panted heavily.
Upon seeing his charge, he let out a relieved 'Buffy!', and quickly approached her.
Jim's arm tightened around her waist, and he gave the older man a look of warning. Upon seeing this, Giles, too, halted his stride a few steps away, giving Buffy an uncertain glance.
Turning to the large man who gripped her protectively, Buffy laid a soft hand on his chest and said, "Jim, he's like a father to me. He's just worried, OK?"
Shaking off the uncharacteristic possessiveness, Jim released her from his tight grip. Buffy took the opportunity to move towards Giles, who hesitated a moment before clasping her in a relieved hug.
Jim stared at the two for a moment, making sure that the hug was of the familial kind, and not a move on his girl, before turning to his own worried friend.
"I'm OK, Blair. Nothing to worry about."
"Nothing to worry about?! Nothing to worry about?! You go all caveman with the one word speeches and growling, and you call that nothing to worry about?!" Blair responded, his voice rising. "I thought you were losing it! Do you even know what happened?!"
Buffy and Giles had broken off their hug at the young man's raised voice, and Buffy quickly moved to intervene before anyone lost their tempers.
"We kinda figured it was some kind of compulsions driven by our particular 'gifts', Blair. Something like the primitive side of our psyche saying 'Hey, I got a thing, you maybe have a thing, maybe we could have a thing', but skipping all the 'maybes' and 'could haves' and jumping straight to the 'we will'."
Giles, having extensive experience in interpreting Buffy's California-speak, understood what she was saying and gave a small snort of amusement.
"That's one way of putting it, though I wouldn't have mutilated the English language when I attempted to explain that you turned caveman and tried to boink each other until you passed out."
Buffy blinked at him. "You said boink."
"You said boink."
"I most certainly did not."
"Yes you did." Buffy turned to Jim and asked, "Did he, or did he not say boink?"
Shooting the British man a look of amusement, Jim replied, "I'm afraid you did, Giles."
"Oh Dear Lord, I'm spending too much time with you and your sister. God save me from American youths!" Giles moaned, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"We're corrupting you….Yes!" Buffy jabbed a fist into the air.
Jim and Blair chuckled at Buffy's antics.
After almost losing the borrowed shorts for the fifth time that morning, Buffy asked Giles if he had brought her any clothes.
"By the door, Buffy."
While Buffy moved towards the door, Jim gestured Giles and Blair towards the kitchen table and offered them coffee, which both accepted gratefully.
Buffy's slightly annoyed voice called out to her Watcher. "I said a set of clothes, Giles, not my whole bag!"
"Yes, well, I didn't want to have you yell at me that the shoes I brought didn't go with your shirt, or that I should know that one is not supposed to wear a g-string with leather pants," Giles retorted.
Blair spit out his coffee.
Jim's eyes glazed over, and for a moment, Blair thought he was zoning until he noticed his friends heavy breathing and dilated pupils.
"God, Giles. You are so fashion challenged." Buffy hefted the bag easily, and made her way up to the loft bedroom. Halfway up the stairs, she paused, calling down, "And for your information, one does wear a g-string with leather pants…it's with stretch-pants that you go commando!" before continuing her ascent.
With a breathy 'excuse me', Jim raced towards the stairs, and bound up them, three steps at a time. Blair and Giles heard a soft 'thud' and Buffy's squeaked 'Jim', and shared a glance before breaking out laughing.
"Oh God…she's already got him wrapped around her finger," Blair panted out between chuckles.
"I think it's more likely that she has her fingers wrapped around something else."
The two men burst out laughing again, and retreated into the kitchen, stumbling on legs made wobbly from lack of breath.
Twenty minutes later the two re-appeared, clothes and hair slightly ruffled, and Buffy sporting a faint hickey on her neck.
"Hey, where'd you guys disappear to?" Buffy called out, slightly breathless.
Blair and Giles emerged from the kitchen.
"It would do well for you both to remember that this apartment is not really designed for privacy, Buffy," Giles teased mercilessly. "For the sake of our innocent eyes and ears, Blair and I sought refuge in the kitchen."
Buffy flushed a rosy red, and even Jim's cheeks sported a slight pink, though he was grinning madly.
She snorted in disbelief, "Innocent, my ass, Giles…or should I bring up Ripper, huh?"
Blair arched an eyebrow at that, while Giles scowled at her.
"That was a very long time ago, Buffy."
"So, what?...you somehow regained your innocence over the years?" Buffy teased back just as mercilessly.
Giles rolled his eyes at her, causing Buffy to laugh.
"Enough about my past, Buffy. I think it's about time we talked about your present…and future," Giles said firmly.
Buffy sobered immediately.
"Could I be safe in the assumption that I should start searching for an appropriate facility here, since you now have a very good reason to stay?" the British man said, giving a pointed look to her mid-drift.
"Yeah," Buffy responded softly, cheeks slightly flushed.
Not realizing that he had been tensely waiting for her confirmation of her staying in town, Jim was slightly surprised when he felt his body relax.
Looking confused between the two out-of-towners, Blair asked, "What reason?"
Jim wrapped his arms around Buffy from behind, placing a hand on her stomach. Buffy leaned back against him as he stroked her tummy with his thumb.
Blair saw the gesture and gaped. "No…way! No…friggin…way!"
He looked up at his friend for confirmation or denial. Upon seeing his friend's smile and slight nod, Blair's face became blank. After a moment, a large grin broke across his face.
"Oh man! Unreal! This is so cool!" Blair bounced on his heels with so much excitement, one would think that he was the one who was having a baby. "Are you sure? I mean, Giles and I thought that it could happen, but we weren't positive."
"We're pretty sure, Blair," Jim said, amused at his friend's enthusiasm.
"So, you're getting married then?" Blair grinned at them.
Buffy twisted her head to glare at the tall man behind her. At his own pointed glare, she sighed and turned back to the young man giving them a confused look.
"Not right away, but maybe eventually," Buffy said firmly, tweaking Jim's arm when he tightened them around her on the word 'maybe'. "We're going to try and work things out, which is why Giles and I are making plans to look for a facility here."
"A facility for what?" Both Blair and Jim asked.
Giles and Buffy exchanged glances before Giles, the consummate mediator, said, "Why don't we discuss this over coffee, hmm?"
Jim released Buffy with one last squeeze. The four adults eventually sat at the kitchen table (since the living room was still in a state of chaos), cups of coffee before them, and a carafe in the middle of the table.
The two Californians then spent the next couple of hours explaining, in more detail than Buffy had given Jim earlier, the last battle in Sunnydale, the loss of the Watcher's Council, and the activation of the other Slayers.
"So, what you're saying is that you have hundreds of little girls, all over the world, running around, untrained, with enhanced strength?" Jim asked incredulously.
"And no support system in place?" Blair added.
"In short, yes," Giles said, running a hand through his hair. "We've done what we could over the last year, but we're finding it increasingly difficult in finding replacement Watchers. It's a delicate situation, and we can't hire just anybody without risking another corrupt Council. We extensively searched your own background before approaching you, Blair. You exuded all the qualifications for the type of person we are trying to actively recruit – a young, eager, open-minded, person, who works hard, but doesn't have a craving for power, or the need to control people."
"With the added bonus that you don't wear tweed," Buffy quipped.
She grinned unrepentantly at her Watcher, causing Blair and Jim to chuckle at the two.
"Getting back to the situation at hand…we're basically trying to find the right type of people who would both nurture and support these young girls, without trying to turn them into their own personal army. In addition, the facility we spoke of would be for the purpose of both having a place to train these young girls, and some kind of dorm for them to live in during their stay."
"So you're planning on creating some kind of academy?"
"Basically, yes," Giles confirmed. "We're currently working out of a colleague's residence, but have finally gotten settled enough to where we need to look for a more permanent place of our own in order to begin implementing our ideas."
"And you want to do that here?" Blair asked.
"It wouldn't have been my first choice, but, to be honest, the location really doesn't matter, since it won't be the only one. We don't want to make the same mistake that the previous council did by having all our 'peas in one pod', so to speak," Giles shrugged his shoulders. "We planned on having Buffy in charge of most of the training at the headquarters facility of the new Watcher's Council, and since she has every reason for staying here…"
Buffy smiled at the large man she was snuggled up to and said, "See…I told you I'd be sticking around."
Jim tightened his arm around her shoulders in a brief hug, stroking her blonde locks. He looked at Giles, asking, "What can we do to help?"
"Well, you know the area better than we do, so if you could help us find a few buildings that will fit our needs, or connect us with a real estate agent, I would appreciate it. There's nothing else we can do, at this point, without accommodations. But I would like to know if Mr. Sandburg would be interested in joining the council."
Giles cocked his head in question at the young man across the table from him.
"As interesting as it sounds, Giles, I have other obligations right now," Blair waved a hand towards Jim. "But I have no objection to giving a hand during my spare time."
"Considering what you've told me about your responsibilities, that's more than I could possibly hope for," Giles nodded his head in understanding. "Perhaps we could look at it as Watcher training for your eventual placement in the Council at a later date, say, when Mr. Ellison retires from the force? We, of course, will provide compensation for your time."
Poking Jim in the arm, Blair said, "You hear that? They plan on paying me."
"It wasn't my idea to give you the shaft, Blair," Jim shrugged his shoulders at him.
Blair glared at him.
"Of course, you are welcome as well, Mr. Ellison," Giles continued with a small smile on his face. "Your military training would definitely be beneficial to us. While all Slayer's instinctively know how to fight, their form generally tends to be sloppy. And I know for a fact that someone still tends to drop their left shoulder when fighting."
Buffy glared at him.
The talk moved to more detailed plans that the core Sunnydale group had come up with over the past year, and the group of four adults spent a relaxing day together, getting to know one another, and firming up their newly formed friendship.
And that, dear readers, is how the main branch of the newly formed Watcher's Council ended up in Cascade, Washington.
Jim and Buffy eventually did get married…the day before their first baby was due. And if it wasn't for contraceptives, they would have had a ridiculous number of children. As it was, they still ended up with ten rugrats before Jim decided to get snipped in order to keep the headcount down. On his retirement from the Cascade police force, Jim took up a head position within the council, guiding the newer recruits with a firm hand and gentle voice. Buffy, having retired from active slaying ten years later, also took up a head position, but focused more on being a confidante and den mother to the new Slayers, in addition to being Head of Training.
Xander eagerly moved to Cascade as soon as Giles purchased the buildings that would house the new Watcher's Council, not wanting to be in the presence of 'Deadboy' any longer than necessary. With his experience in construction and carpentry, he took over the refitting and rewiring of the buildings, and took on the position of Head of Maintenance in the Watcher's Council. He eventually got a Slayer of his very own, capturing the heart of Rona, and had his own passel of children (six in all). To this day, he still claims to only be 'donut guy', but everyone knew that he was still the heart of their group.
Willow had planned on staying in L.A. with Kennedy, but, having caught her in bed with Lorne, claiming that she 'wanted to trying swinging a different way', Willow dumped her and moved to Cascade in order to be closer to her friends (and godchild – which eventually expanded to 'godchildren'). She took on the duties of keeping the new Watcher's Council updated on the latest technology, creating an awe-inspiring network that spanned the world, but made sure to try and keep them out of the military lime-light, knowing they would be jealous of their, as Buffy put it, 'kick-ass electronic doodads'. In addition, Willow also taught budding wiccans the magic ropes, which began a new branch of the Watcher's Council – Magical Support. The Council ended up having to purchase another set of buildings just to accommodate sheer number of magic users who were interested in fighting the good fight. Over the years, Willow eventually became the mother of 5 red-headed, magically-inclined, caffeine-intolerant little rugrats of her own. The Father?....
Giles, excited at the prospect of guiding a new Watcher's Council down the right path, took it upon himself to invite several parish priests and nuns of varying dominations to hold places within the Council, feeling that, in order to avoid the same mistakes that the old Council did, they needed gentle wisdom and secular guidance, in addition to military know-how and business acumen – It didn't hurt that they had immediate access to the blessing of items, either. Giles kept himself quite busy, his energy belying his years. But everyone, no matter what their age, has a breaking point. On a particularly rough day in the early days of the creation of the new Council, he escaped to his private quarters and relaxed himself with a couple tumblers of scotch. He was eventually tracked down by a single-minded red-head, who, having a difficult day of her own, joined him in his repast. Giles interrupted Willow's babble on technology origins with a well-placed, drawn-out kiss, and one thing led to another. After many occasions of blushing faces and stammering conversations over the next couple of months, Buffy finally got fed up with the two and dragged them in front of the head priest within the Council and told him to marry her two friends. He did, which was a good thing too, as it was found out that, at the time of the impromptu wedding, Willow had been two months pregnant. Although both of them were too shy to admit it at first, Giles and Willow had fallen in love before they got married.
Blair, upon the retirement of his best friend, also took up a head position within the council. His suggestion of finding other Sentinels to join their group was accepted with open arms, and, like the wiccan group, created another branch within the Council, though it was much smaller (Sentinels were rare). The first several years were spent searching out rumors of Sentinels in obscure tribes, finding said Sentinels, inviting each to the Watcher's facility, and training them more fully in their gifts. It was during this training period that Blair discovered that there were a few girls, in a couple of their tribes, that had become slayers, and almost all the tribesmen's people had some type of demon problems. The new council quickly made arrangements for the girls to come to the academy to be trained and set up on their technological network, in order to be able to contact them for information on how to defeat specific demons. After the first group of Sentinels and Slayers were sent back to their homes, their small network slowly expanded as each tribesman and slayer came across others like them, and brought them to the attention of the Watcher's Council. Blair eventually married Buffy's sister, Dawn, who, upon her graduation from Oxford with a PhD in languages, became the Head of Research. Blair and Dawn contributed to the growing number of the next generation of Scoobies with a respectable four children.
Over the decades, the Watcher's Council facilities grew to be a campus of learning and training. Admittance was by invitation only, and many a young researcher dreamed of being invited, if only getting their hands on the ancient works housed there. The military did eventually find out about some of their technology, but had to pay through the nose in order to acquire some of it, and were only allowed to have it if they signed several documents stating they would, in no way, try to reverse engineer it. Of course, you know the military…unfortunately (and unbeknownst to them), the wiccan branch of the Watcher's Council, with some well placed curses, ensured that the technology couldn't be duplicated. With a multitude of bright minds flowing into the mecca that was the new Council, and adding their own individual contributions, sales of and patents for various items kept the new Watcher's Council solvent. And whether it was an Ellison, a Harris, a Giles, or a Sandburg, it was always a descendent of the original gang that was in charge, and who kept the Watcher's Council on the right track.
Of course, nothing always stays perfect, and it was some hundreds of years later that a descendant of Ethan Rayne somehow got added to the Scooby gene pool. It made for some very interesting times…but that's another story.
And no, no sequel.
I'm almost afraid to ask anyone to review, but, before you ask…yes, I was on drugs…the Tylenol Cold & Flu type. I make no claims to being sane at the time I wrote this.