The Watchers Academy- where young potential slayers and watchers go to train in demonology, magic, and combat so that they can someday fight vampires, demons, and the forces of evil. There are evil magic professors, a principal with a secret, and an unbreachable wall between the slayers and the watchers. And in the basement, imprisoned vampires scheme and dream of destroying them all...

I'm doing this Joss-style, with characters getting their own intertwining plots and one overall plot for the fic. (Buffy, of course, will be the main character.) Because of that, the Spuffy will be a while in coming, but I hope you'll stick with me until I get there...

There are some scenes of dubious consent in this fic. These will pop up near the middle of the fic (I will warn) and won't involve Spike or Buffy at all. The actual scenes aren't very graphic, if you're worried about squick.

Oh, and one last thing- since there are so many characters, many of them will get pairings, and few of those pairings will just be "background noise." So I've compiled a list of some of the pairings for this fic here, for those of you who want to see it: coalitiongirl(dot)livejournal(dot)com/69059(dot)html. But consider them all spoilers.

The first time she'd seen him, she'd been an innocent four-year-old on her way home. They'd scheduled for a matinee showing of The Lion King, but her father had suddenly had an important meeting and Buffy had had a tantrum in the middle of the strange lady-friend of Hank's office until her father had agreed that they'd go to the late-night showing. They only had three days in New York, after all, and what her mother didn't know about Buffy's bedtime wouldn't hurt her.

After the show, Buffy was still wide awake and her stomach was rumbling, so Hank decided to take her out for burgers. She'd drifted off in the restaurant, and when she'd awakened, she was on the couch in an unfamiliar apartment instead of their hotel room.

"Daddy?" She rose, unafraid, and peeked into the next room, a very white and clean kitchen, not like theirs in LA at all. The lady from earlier that day was in there, wearing a long, button-down shirt that looked oddly familiar. She jumped when she saw Buffy. "Hank, your kid's up!"

"Where's my Daddy?" Buffy asked, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

"Right here!" Her father scooped her up from behind, tickling her as she shrieked in delight.

She giggled. "Where are we, Daddy?" Her forehead creased. "And why are you wearing a robe? Are you going to sleep now, too? Cuz I just woke up, and I'm not tired."

"Buffy, honey," Hank glanced back at the lady with an expression that little Buffy couldn't fathom. "You fell asleep, and Tracy lives around here, so I took you here to sleep while we did some work."

The lady snorted. Buffy scowled up at her. She didn't like her at all. "Can we go back to the hotel now?"

"Of course," Hank said hastily, helping her into her coat. "And guess what? We'll even take the subway home! It'll be so much fun! First The Lion King, then burgers, then the subway…"

"And a sleepover!" Buffy added brightly.

"But mostly the subway!" Hank reminded her, shooing her back to the couch for a few moments before he emerged again, fully dressed.

Buffy was eager to see it. She'd never been on the subway when it wasn't packed with people, and so she sat next to her father readily, swinging her legs back and forth as she hummed "The Circle of Life" and stared with avid interest at the three muttering men with the funny voices who shared their subway car.

They changed trains halfway back to the hotel, as did the other men, and they all waited for the next train in silence. Buffy didn't like the quiet much, didn't like the suspicious glances the men and her father shot at each other, so she marched over to the nicest-looking man and stuck out her hand. "Hello. I'm Buffy."

Hank hurried after her. "I'm sorry. She's just being friendly."

The man smiled down at her, his eyes crinkling. "Not at all," he said in his funny voice. He shook her hand respectfully. "I'm Rupert. This is Bernard and Rutherford."

Buffy giggled. "Those are funny names."

"We're funny people," Rupert smiled, and then he turned to Hank, his voice suddenly hard as steel. "As soon as the train gets here, get on immediately. Don't look back." He flashed open his jacket to show Hank something that made her father nod curtly. Buffy squinted at it. It was some kind of badge. "Government business."

"I see." Hank didn't look happy about it, but he hoisted Buffy up into his arms despite her protests, and the instant the train pulled into the station, he carried her in and sat down stiffly.

Buffy wriggled out of his grasp and pressed her nose to the window to see why Rupert and the others hadn't followed them on. "Daddy! Look!" She could see, in the car next to them, a dark-skinned woman limping out of the car. Bernard took her hastily into his arms, and Rutherford stood in front of the door to keep it from closing. Rupert however, went all the way in, and Buffy ran to the side window to see what was in the car.

A man lay unconscious on the ground, and Buffy gasped at the sight of him. He was all in black, but he had such a pretty face that he looked like a Disney prince. Or maybe the hero from one of those cartoon shows, instead, since his hair was a funny white color that didn't look real at all. He was bleeding all over, though, beautiful, pale skin marred by long scratches and bruised discolorations.

She breathed a sigh of relief when Rupert bent down to sprinkle something powdery on his face and slung the man over his shoulder. Rupert would help him get better. She just knew it.

"Buffy!" her father said warningly, still facing forward rigidly. "Come back here, now."

She cast one more longing look at the prince before reluctantly returning to her seat.

She could speak of nothing else for days, completely forgetting the earlier half of the night and instead enthusiastically telling her mother all about the men she'd met on the subway. For weeks afterward, her drawings were all of the scene she'd seen and the man who'd been hurt, and she told all her friends the story in rapidly exaggerating details, the subway darker, the prince prettier, and the wounds more gruesome, until Lana's mother spoke to hers and she wasn't allowed to talk about it anymore.

It took years before an older and wiser Buffy realized that what she had seen wasn't a prince being saved, but a bad man being arrested. By the time she turned eight, she barely remembered the episode at all, and once she turned ten, she couldn't have told anyone more about that night than that she'd seen The Lion King.

Ironically, it was when she was ten that she met one of the characters from that night again.

She'd gone to a friend after school that day. Kimberly was eleven even though she was in Buffy's class, and she was therefore much more sophisticated than Buffy. They gave each other makeovers with raspberry-scented lip gloss and sparkly pink nail polish, then went outside to play with the boys, running shrieking down the street when Kimberly's brothers and his friends started pulling their hair and chasing them with worms dangling from their hands.

When it started getting dark, Kimberly's big sister walked Buffy the two blocks back to her house, and Buffy ran inside eagerly, ready to tell her mother about her day. "Mommy! Kimberly did my nails! See? It's so-" She stopped, confused at the sight that greeted her.

Both her parents were sitting on one sofa- a feat in itself, since she couldn't remember the last time her mother and father had been in the same room together- facing two men and a woman Buffy had never seen before. Her parents looked tense, but the strangers seemed confident and relaxed. They were all watching Buffy with eyes she could only describe as…hungry. And suddenly she was sure that shewas why they were here.

"Hello, Buffy," one man said softly in an accented voice.

"Who are you?" she asked bluntly, ignoring the reproachful look from her mother.

He smiled at her. "My name is Rupert Giles. I'm the headmaster of a school in England."

Buffy shrugged, still wary. "Okay." She turned to go upstairs, still vaguely uncomfortable. On the top stair, where she was certain that she couldn't be seen, she crouched down to eavesdrop.

Her mother was speaking in a low, angry voice. "You can't just come into our home and inform us that our child has to go with you! You have no right!"

"This isn't about rights!" Mr. Giles retorted. "Your daughter has a sacred destiny. She will be a slayer, a girl with superhuman powers and a duty to fight evil. She must be trained, and by those equipped to deal with it!"

Buffy squeezed onto the banister, her hands trembling. What were they talking about? Buffy wasn't special. Not like Sarah, who always got 100's on her tests, or Ricky, who was left-handed. Buffy was normal, and boring, except that she had a funny name that the boys used to laugh at until Kimberly socked one in the nose.

"It all sounds pretty hokey to me," her father muttered. "Superpowers? Evil? What is this, a comic book?"

"I assure you that the danger is quite real," Mr. Giles said.

"And it's very likely that Buffy is in more danger now than she ever would be at our facility," the other man spoke up. He was also British, like Mr. Giles, but he didn't sound calm at all.

"Are you threatening her?" Hank growled.

"Certainly not!" From the sound of it, Mr. Giles had just stood up abruptly. "But a potential slayer is at great risk from the demon world. Once they find her, they will try to eliminate what they perceive as a potential threat! As long as she remains here, unprotected, she will be a target!"

Buffy chewed her lip worriedly. This didn't sound good. She hugged her arms around her legs, waiting to hear what came next.

"Right." Her father sounded unconvinced. "So why haven't any of these so-called 'demons' attacked her before?"

"I'm certain they have," the other man added. "We have several cells of Watchers located in Los Angeles whose jobs include keeping individuals like your daughter safe. Now that she's older, however, it's time for her to learn to defend herself."

"By sending her to a boarding school in England?" her mother said skeptically.

Buffy peeked down the stairs just in time to see her father rise. "Mr. Giles, I'm sorry, but nothing you've said has convinced me that it's necessary to send Buffy to this Watchers Academy. It sounds more like a practical joke, or like you might need some help. And I'm only going to say this once." He stalked around the coffee table to stare Mr. Giles in the eyes. "You stay the hell away from my daughter."

Mr. Giles seemed neither intimidated nor surprised. "Fair enough," he said agreeably, pulling a small paper out of his pocket and handing it to Buffy's mother. "My card, if you change your mind." He headed for the door, the other visitors in tow, stopping for only a moment to glance up the stairs at Buffy and toss her another smile, one laden with calm assurance. A smile that said, I'll be seeing you again.

Buffy gulped.