Dear old Dad…
The Hyperion had been turned into an impromptu field hospital, with S.H.E.I.L.D. medics treating those hurt in the battle. Buffy stood halfway up the main staircase, looking at what remained of her army:
Giles looked like he'd gone eighteen rounds with the world heavy weight boxing champion. He stood behind the reception desk, phone cradled on his shoulder as he talked to Andrew in London, making near constant notes in a small diary.
Willow was sitting on a sofa that had been pushed against one wall, Kennedy holding her hand as a medic bandaged her head.
Xander stood in one corner, apparently deep in conversation with Thor and Illyria. Buffy wounded what the three of them were discussing, but chose not to listen in. she couldn't help but smile when she saw the light reflect of his new eye, a little something Odin had given him.
Dawn was standing near the entrance, chatting to Johnny Storm. Something the young Human Torch said made Dawn laugh, and Buffy couldn't help be feel that this wouldn't be the end of that particular friendship.
Faith was talking to her Father and Natasha, apparently discussing possible upgrades to her armour.
"Hell of a fight." Logan appeared just behind Buffy, "Not that I'd expect any less from a Slayer."
"I take it you've met a few in the past?" Buffy asked.
"More than one, if I can trust my somewhat hazy memory. I'm starting to remember some stuff from when I was in the army during World War Two. I know I met Captain America over there, as he remembers me, and Spitfire looks somewhat familiar. Don't know Union Jack."
"He's not the original, but that's his story to tell."
"Maybe I'll ask him sometime." Logan pulled a card from his pocket, "You ever need my help with anything, just call."
"Will do." Buffy nodded as the gruff Canadian mutant walked towards the bar.
"That's probably the longest conversation I've ever seen Logan have with someone he'd only just me." Fury chuckled, "I'm impressed."
"You need to be more than impressed." The Slayer turned to the General, "What you going to do now?"
"Try and put what happened into a report that my superiors will believe. Some of them belonged to the comity that oversaw the Initiative, so they'll know to read between the lines. But the others? Who knows?"
"What about Odin's warning?"
"That is something I'm going to have to think about: I'm not sure just what he was talking about, but I guess I'm going to have to change my view on how the world works."
"Talk to Giles and the other Watchers: they know more about this than anyone else."
"I'll consider it." Fury looked round to make sure no one was listening in, "There is something else we need to discus: I would like to assign a permanent lesion between S.H.E.I.L.D. and the Watchers Council. There are, certain things that might happen in the near future, and I would like to think that we could call on you and your friends to help when we need you."
"What sort of things?"
"The sort of things I'd have to shoot you and then myself if I told you."
"Just your typical, end-of-the-world sort of situation."
"Oh yeah?" Buffy looked at Fury and leaned closer to whisper, "Gah Lak Tus."
"What the..." Fury blinked, "Where the hell did you hear that?"
"An ancient prophesy regarding what was referred to as 'The Anti-God'. Our translators just finished the last few passages: that's what Giles in on the phone to London about. Some of the line got our attention when they spoke of the 'Nation Made Flesh', the 'Four Living Elements' and the 'Man of Iron'."
"Sounds like Captain America, the Fantastic Four and Iron Man..."
"That's what our people say. There are other references that we think apply to some of our people. I'll send you a copy of both the original prophesy and our translation."
"I'll work on getting you clearance to what we have, but it may take some time: you-know-who is perhaps the most closely guarded secret on the planet, after the Colonels secret recipe."
"I understand." Buffy nodded, "So, any idea who this lesion will be?"
"Jan Pym has volunteered for the job."
"Well that's more than a little unexpected! She does know that her ex-husband works for us, right?"
"Considering they're down in the lobby chatting away like old friends, I'd say it's a distinct possibility. I will never understand their relationship, but she recently broke up with Captain America, and has been complaining that she's been left out of a lot of our recent missions. I don't want to lose her permanently, so this is probably for the best."
"Yeah, well, Angel has a plane to catch, and we have to get back to London: need to start writing letters to parents."
"That's never easy."
"I don't think it's supposed to be." Buffy offered her hand, "Good luck, General."
"You too, Miss Summers." Fury shook the offered hand, "You too."
"It's good to be home." Buffy pushed open the doors to Giles' office, "Funny how I've come to think of London as home."
"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." Giles smiled, "I was surprised that you lent Angel a Council jet..."
"I think we all have to move on, Giles: if he finds happiness with Nina, then good for them. Maybe they can raise a family of puppies or something?"
"That was uncalled for, and biologically impossible. What about Spike, Illyria and young Mr Gunn? They've all asked if they can join."
"I'm thinking of setting up a major field office in L.A.: the city is a hot spot for supernatural activity, and it's just too far from Cleveland for us to deal with it from there. I say we assign half a dozen Slayers and some Watchers, set them up in the Hyperion. Angel and his people already know the lay of the land out there, so they can head it up for us."
"Sounds like a Good idea. Xander asked when he'll be heading back to Africa."
"You haven't told him he's staying?"
"I haven't figured out how yet: you and I both know how attached he is to the Slayers he was training out there. Telling him that we need to keep him in London isn't going to go down too well."
"He's Odin's Avatar: we need him somewhere close. Maybe we can give him command of The Bunker or something. That'll give him something to sink his teeth into. His assistant Kosa is up to the job of taking over Head Watcher duties for Africa, and he can still keep in contact with the Slayers out there."
"How long do you think we have untill we have to go public?"
"A lot less than I'd like." Buffy looked at of the office window: the first rays of sunlight were starting to peak above the cityscape, "One thing's for sure; the world's never going to be the same again..."
Hope you all had as much fun reading this as I had writing it. It's been a very strange journey, but we got there in the end. I've deliberately left a lot of plot bunnies around for sequels, but that all remains to be seen.
Till then, peace, out!