Pairings: None (Other than canon Willow/Kennedy), possible minor subtext between other characters. This may change but there will beno pairings with characters who do not appear or are not mentioned in the prologue. Guaranteed.
Summary: How well does Buffy really know her father?
Spoilers: Seasons 1-7 of BtVS. All of the Bond movies and Ian Fleming books.
AN1: The prologue is a bit long so I've split it up for easier reading. After the prologue this becomes a traditional Bond story with a Buffy twist.
Title: Swiftly, Silently
It hadn't been a particularly long flight from Rome but Buffy found herself shivering in the damp airport. In her haste to get to the airport earlier that morning, she'd forgotten there was such a big difference between what the English and Italians considered an appropriate indoor temperature and hadn't dressed as warmly as she should have. After almost a year in Rome, Heathrow Airport in the early fall was cold and uncomfortable. Pulling her thin, Italian leather jacket closer provided no discernable warmth as she waited for Giles to meet her near her gate.
After he'd insisted on meeting her at her gate when she'd called him before her flight left Rome, Buffy was surprised that he wasn't there to meet her. She wasn't helpless. She could have taken a taxi to the Council's London offices. But he'd claimed to need the extra time to speak with her privately. Already suspicious about the real reason for her sudden trip to London, Buffy didn't plan on letting him get away with thinking she was okay with being shoved on an early morning flight with only several hours warning. She couldn't think of any reason, short of an apocalypse, that excused his peremptory behavior.
Thinking of all the things she would do to him when he showed up, Buffy stopped pacing and dropped down into a free seat near her gate before digging in her shoulder bag for her phone. She'd promised her sister that she would let her know as soon as she arrived in London. She couldn't call her at work but Dawn had insisted that she at least leave her a message on their answering machine or with Faith. She'd just finished listening to Dawn's cheery voice on the machine and was about to leave her a message when she heard the distinctive sound of Giles' measured stride behind her to her left.
Automatically twisting her head in his direction and frowning, she held up her free hand and gestured at the phone in her other and silently asked him to wait while she left her message. "Dawn? I'm here. Right on time. Giles just showed up. Late. I'll give you a call later tonight and give you details. Bye!" Closing her phone and placing it back into her bag she turned completely in his direction and examined him critically from head to toe before addressing him in her most artificially cheerful voice. "Hey Giles! What's up?" It was the same voice she tended to use just before dismembering a demon that had bled all over her favorite shoes with her bare hands.
She pretended to not see his involuntary step backwards at her tone. She didn't care that he knew she was annoyed with him. What little sympathy she might normally have had for him when dealing with any other angry slayer had been mitigated by the very recent memory of a leering Faith dragging her out of a warm bed and putting her on the earliest flight possible to London. Without so much as a cup of coffee to soften the blow. That he was the only person present who would sense her anger didn't bother her in the least.
"So..." she continued in the same tone. "Care to explain?"
"If you can wait until we are in the car, I'll try to explain everything." He told her with a neutral expression, gingerly taking her carry-on from her hands before heading back in the direction he'd come from.
"Okay." She threw at him. "But this better be good!" She glared at him before hurrying to catch up. "Leaving my sister in Rome with Faith is not considered a good idea by any sane person. Dawn has a hard enough time staying out of trouble by herself. Who knows what'll happen when she's with Faith. Leaving the two of them together without an adult present is like leaving Xander alone with a bag of chips and asking him to guard them." She put on her sunglasses to protect her eyes as they crossed a long stretch of open ground between the terminal and parking garage. "I can almost guarantee that no good will come of it. They're a disaster waiting to happen. And it'll all be your fault."
Giles simply shook his head and remained silent, in an obvious attempt to avoid becoming personally involved in another round of the Buffy-Faith-Dawn triangle. She glared at him from behind her sunglasses. She occasionally found his claims of neutrality in the on-going soap that was her life since they'd left Sunnydale aggravating. "Don't play innocent with me Giles! You're the one who sent her to Rome. You're just lucky we aren't trying to kill each other anymore." She shook her own head and sighed at his snort of amusement. "Lead on Macduff." she pronounced in her best attempt at a proper English accent.
"Lay on, Macduff." He automatically corrected her as he led her deeper into the airport garage in search of his car. "Macbeth was challenging him to a duel."
"Whatever." She groused. As they wandered through the garage she struggled to keep her temper under control. Whatever was going on, getting angry with Giles wouldn't be a very productive use of her energy. Her thoughts were brought to a sudden halt as she stared aghast at the car Giles had stopped in front of. She watched him unlock it and put her case in the trunk, not quite sure what to make of it. "What is that?"
Giles gave her a look as if doubting her sanity. "A car." he told her.
"Oh... kay..." She mumbled, looking at the strange bumper stickers and pop culture paraphernalia coating its exterior. "Tweed guy bought himself a clown car decorated in early geek." She muttered under her breath.
"I heard that! It isn't my car." Giles protested before ushering her into the car. "We need to talk and Andrew's Mini was the only secure Council car available in London right now."
"Secure car? Why do we need that?" She looked around the car. "Are you sure you just didn't want to take your inner geek out for a spin?"
Giles grimaced at her attempt at humor. "Normally we would discuss this in my office. But we don't have time to go there before our meeting if you want to clean up first.
"Meeting? What meeting?" Her stomach took that moment to growl. She flushed in embarrassment. "Any chance at lunch first? Some of us got up too early for a real breakfast."
"We can have lunch at my flat."
"Lunch at your flat? There's a perfectly good cafeteria at the office. They'll even deliver to your office. I've seen it happen." She stared at him as he backed the car out and exited the parking garage. "Sorry Giles, but I don't buy it. What's the real reason you've gone to so much trouble to keep me out of the office? It didn't get destroyed in the last London apocalypse and you forgot to tell me, did it?" She suggested with a laugh.
"Umm... No." He cleared his throat nervously. "Other than Faith and your sister, no one knows you are in London. And no one else can know. Not even Willow or Xander."
"Why? What's so secret about this meeting?" She frowned at him, feeling slightly at a loss. "Why can't anyone know I'm here for it?"
He spoke without taking his eyes off the road. "I'm not sure how much you know about how the old Council operated...?"
"A bunch of old guys in tweed watching slayers die because they thought that the Council was more important than the slayers they existed to support." She shrugged, dismissing the old Council's antiquated behavior while simultaneously wondering about the sudden change in topic. "What more do I need to know?"
"More than that if you ever plan on taking over." He told her in the pedantic tone normally reserved for the moments spent pointing out her errors in judgement.
"When I do what?" She stared at him in shock. "You so did not just say that!" she angrily told him.
"I can't do this forever, Buffy." He sighed. "I'm getting too old to keep up. Someday you'll have to decide if you want to be more than just a slayer."
"What about Willow?" Buffy mumbled. "Or even Xander? They would be much better at running the Council. Look what happened the last time I was in charge of things." She shivered, remembering the near disastrous results. "Heck, Faith would do a better job than I ever could."
"You know that's not true." Giles told her firmly. "They all have their parts to play in the future of the Council but none of them have any desire to be ultimately responsible for the Council's fight against evil. You are the only person currently in the Council that they will all listen to."
"How do you know this?" Before he could answer her, she stopped him. "Never mind. We can talk about all of that later. I'm sure that has nothing to do with this meeting you haven't told me anything about yet. So get on with it!"
Giles frowned at her abrupt dismissal of the Council succession before continuing. "The old Council did not operate in a vacuum."
"What does that mean?" She asked.
"The Council maintained its influence over other organizations and governments by making promises and doling out useful information. The Council has always taken the long view of world events. They always assumed they would be around no matter what happened. Some past Council heads were very good at making promises they never expected to keep. As long as the Council dealt with demonic threats and left those governments free to play their own games no one tried to collect on those promises."
"So... this meeting is with someone who has decided they want to collect on one of these promises?" Buffy scrunched her nose in disgust. "We can't just say it wasn't us and tell them we can't help?"
"No, unfortunately." His age showed briefly in his eyes. "I wish we could start with a completely clean slate. We've managed to retrieve most of the old Council's money but there are still things we need from some of them. Dealing with governments is still necessary."
"So who is it?" She asked nervously when he didn't immediately continue.
"And they would be whom?" Buffy asked, the name not sounding familiar. "And why haven't I heard of them?"
"They are part of British Intelligence. And they don't exactly advertise."
"Giles, we don't advertise either and all sorts of annoying people seem to know who we are." She thought about what he'd said. "So what are they? Spies or something?"
"Or something." He admitted. "They deal with the human threats to the British government that are outside of normal channels and procedures."
"So they hunt down 'Evil Overlord' types who are human?" She grinned at him in amusement.
"Yes... in a manner of speaking." He looked over at her briefly while they waited for a light to change. "All of the bigger governments have departments like that; the United States, China, Russia, France, Japan and others. Normally, we try to stay out of their way and they stay out of ours."
Buffy watched as he swiftly and efficiently dealt with London traffic. "So, you brought me all the way to London and sent Faith to Rome just so I could go to a meeting with these people? And you have no idea what the meeting is about? You didn't think it might be a trap?"
She could see his hands whiten on the steering wheel with her comments but his eyes stayed on the road and his voice when he answered her was level and calm. "Yes. There was no choice."
"We don't work for any government. Of course we have a choice. No matter what promises the old Council made." Buffy insisted. "There are more important things we could be doing."
"Important?" Giles spared her a quick glance. "Is there something happening in Rome that I should know about?"
Buffy blushed. "Okay. So I wasn't doing anything important for the Council in Rome! Just taking care of my sister!" she ground out through her embarrassment. "But isn't Faith too important to spend her time baby-sitting Dawn? Something I was already taking care of? Isn't there some apocalypse she's needed to stop?"
"You know as well as I do that Dawn's internship in the Vatican Library this fall is important. And not just to her." Giles told her firmly. "The experience she is gaining there will be invaluable when she finishes Oxford and takes her place with the Council."
"But why me?" Buffy asked, feeling a pout forming on her face. Nothing would change her opinion that leaving Faith in charge of her sister was not a good idea. "Faith is just as good as I am at slaying and she likes doing new things."
"I don't know." Giles admitted. "When they asked for this meeting they specifically requested your presence. They are the ones insisting on absolute secrecy. Also, I don't think Faith is really the right person to meet with government bureaucrats."
"But think of how much fun it would be." Buffy told him sarcastically. "They would probably agree to anything you wanted just to get her out of there."
Her comment achieved its aim, drawing a real chuckle from Giles. It was the first time she'd really managed to break through his impeccably calm exterior since she'd arrived in London. She smiled only slightly at his amusement, worried that he might actually be right about retiring. She obviously needed to spend more time in London or Willow needed to work harder at reminding him of who he really was. Her watcher was not some crusty old bureaucrat.
"So... oh wise and wonderful watcher 'o mine..." Buffy broke into some private thought he was having. "If we don't know why we are going to this meeting is there anything I should know before we get there?"
He took his eyes off of traffic for a second to give her a surprised look. "I'll do most of the talking, unless you object?" She shook her head. "As long as you stay calm and don't yell at anyone or break anything while we are there, not matter what they say, we should be fine. We don't want them to take a sudden dislike to the Council."
"How'd Quentin Travers manage to avoid annoying them? He wasn't exactly a nice person." Buffy wondered out loud. "And why do they need to like us? We don't always get along with anyone in the US military, not even Riley's demon hunters, and they still work with us."
"Because MI6 is responsible for making it possible for you and Faith, and the other slayers, to travel around the world when you need to without anyone interfering." Giles told her.
"What do you mean by that?" Buffy looked at him in surprise, shifting in her seat to get a better look at the expression on his face. "Why wasn't I told?"
"Are you ready to know about all of the red tape the Council has to deal with on a daily basis just so we can send slayers and watchers where they are really needed?" He shook his head.
"No..." Buffy sat back in her seat. "I just thought the old Council had connections and we were using those."
"They did. This is one of them. But, as I've already explained, it wasn't free. There were strings attached. The Council was just very good at avoiding paying for the help they received." He gave her another glance. "And one more thing, before we arrive at my flat."
"Like most intelligence agencies around the world, MI6 has a reputation for being quite ruthless when necessary." He frowned. "Don't be mislead by how friendly they may seem. In their case it is a justly deserved reputation. They would think nothing of sacrificing an agent if it were the only way to accomplish a goal."
"Sounds like the way the Council used to treat slayers." Buffy commented, her face expressing her disgust.
"It isn't the same thing." Giles corrected her. "Their agents are all volunteers. They know what they are getting into from the start. Don't under-estimate them. They are very dedicated and some of the best at what they do."
"I won't" She wondered why he assumed she would have a reason to after this meeting but didn't ask.
They were both quiet for the rest of the trip into the city. After a quick, companionable lunch together in the large flat Giles called home while in London, Buffy showered and changed into something more appropriate for their upcoming meeting with MI6.
Buffy was slightly confused. They were met at the entrance of an office building but there were no signs that they were in a government building. Signs for something called 'Universal Exports' were scattered every she looked but she didn't see anything that looked like what she imagined an office full of government spies to look like.
After checking in with the building receptionist, they were shown to an unmarked office by a cheerful, almost perky, secretary. "M will be with you shortly." she said, waving them to seats in the outer office and returning to her seat behind the lone desk.
"M"? Buffy asked Giles silently. He just shrugged. She wasn't sure she believed his claims that he'd never met their host in person.
"James!" The secretary addressed an impeccably dressed man who'd casually strolled into the office behind them and who was busy raking his eyes over Buffy in what she felt was an overly inquisitive fashion. She shivered under his intense gaze, finding it hard to keep herself from blushing.
"Yes, Moneypenny?" He answered her without turning away from his examination of Buffy.
"M would like to see you. Now." Buffy could sense her combined amusement and exasperation from her tone.
He winked at her, and after giving Buffy a jaunty smile, casually strolled into the inner office, closing the door behind him.
Moneypenny shook her head, and looking over at Buffy, remarked cryptically, with some amusement - "He never changes." before turning her attention back to her desk.