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Coming Out of the Closets.

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Coming Out of the Closets.





HYDRA was falling. They were failing at gathering new members, they hadn't been able to scare anyone into allegiance. The people against them were annoying. SHIELD was starting to get very strong. So they had to do something to scare the world so they could gain power. But how? The higher ups were dry on everything but recruitment from all agencies to make sure they could take the over easily. That wouldn't get the people on their side.

The PR team meeting was not coming up with anything. Even after someone came in with a nearly radiation sort of glow around them with some coffee that was poisoned for them to drink. The higher ups were not amused at their failures to lure people to their side of the battle.

So what were they to do? HYDRA could not fall for good in 2007.

***

One of the turncoats to HYDRA was in front of the press. He knew how to make people scared by talking about his former masters, who were amused that he could say anything real about them. He had been a lower level flunkie, not even in charge of anything.

Yet, here was, holding a slight press conference. "I am Senior Agent Gordon, formerly of the FBI and of HYDRA simultaneously," he noted patiently. The reporters gave him odd looks. "I turned against HYDRA because they wanted to take my children to experiment on. Thankfully I managed to hide them in a place they can't look."

He smiled. "You see, HYDRA is going to find a way to scare you all into looking toward them for safety and security. That's their present goal. To get the normal, average human to think positively of them so they can take over easier once someone finally finds a few heros to be figureheads. So I'm here to warn you that the extremists are going to come out with information that could very well warp humanity's way of thinking.

"Including about alternative communities." He cleared his throat. "You know those horror movies?" He smiled. "HYDRA does too and knows how to get them here. To attack normal people. They've got a group going in Cleveland, or had one anyway until one of those sort took that whole group out for being annoying." He cleared his throat again.

And that's when the demon showed up.

"Human!" he shouted. "Quit outing us!"

The agent looked at him, blinking hard. "I'm not trying to, though I do not know what you actually are. I'm outing HYDRA! Did you have something to do with their group in Cleveland or London?"

The demon snorted, staring at him. "No!" He shook his head. "We've already made sure they know not to use the demonic or magical communities for that. They'll fail. If only because all the slayers will take them out. And then pout about it."

The agent blinked. "I have not heard a thing about slayers."

"Mystically chosen females who fight demons?" the demon suggested. The agent shook his head quickly, getting away from the microphone. "They would end me for outing them."

"Ya think?" a male voice said dryly then the demon's head exploded. It showed a skinny white guy with dark hair, sunglasses, and a scarf around the bottom of his face. He had a shotgun. "Yeah! Probably." He looked at the agent. "Are you *trying* to be worse than they are at hurting humanity?"

"I'm trying to warn them that HYDRA is going to out those sort. I didn't mean to drag one of them here to prove it."

"Who are you?" a reporter yelled.

"Robin. Batman's in Africa." He glared at the agent. "I'd hide, dude. I'd hide so damn hard." He ran off. New agents were showing up. They were going to try to confiscate the bodies, the reporters, the HYDRA agent, everything they could to stop that from getting out. A few reporters were live though.

One was live to FOX news. It was probably the only time that network ran a story without editing it. Governmental over-compensation? Demons being real? HYDRA having a plot to get people on their side by making new heros? All things they loved to shout about.

One of their security experts even managed to find out who that guy probably was. Though they disappeared from telling everyone before he got out their name thanks to the big worm looking demon appearing behind him and eating his head. The reporters were grossed out but they got to talk about new things.

US President Bush showed up at a press call to answer that question. He sighed, looking at the group. "Did we actually manage to cover up a town falling in a few years ago and an invasion in Los Angeles that well?" he asked. "I know some sites online have been talking about this since before that town fell in. Everyone just considered them weird little conspiracy theorists."

He smiled. "Well, surprise. Even a coverup isn't perfect. We thought you guys would've figured that out long before 2007." He walked off, leaving them to talk about things. His wife was upset, he had to calm her down first. He wanted nothing to do with this topic anyway. It gave him the creeps.

The press secretary Dana Perino sighed, looking at him walking off then at the press corps. "We have known since a town fell to a suspicious sink hole back in 2004. Then we looked into how that happened. It meant we looked at that town before then and realized something very strange was going on.

"No one seemed concerned that they had a death statistic yearly for death by barbeque fork." She held up a hand for them to quit talking about that, shaking her head. "We wisely asked. The head of the FBI at that time had no idea and the agents that did have ideas didn't want to share." She smiled. "Neither did the rest of them who had an idea. So we dug deeper.

"We formed a quiet task force to look into that. And we were horrified. We're being protected by a group of mystically chosen young women. The First Lady was ready to go there to make sure they were healthy warriors. A few of us were worried they'd teach her how to use a sword. So we looked farther and we talked to them, and then there was an invasion in LA. We got very peeved at them trying to hide that."

"That was listed as a movie scene," one reporter said, standing up. "It wasn't?"

"No. We all wanted it to be. We even tried to wish for it very hard," she said dryly. Then she smirked. "I'm told that wish demons might've shown up but they didn't this time." The reporter sat down. "I'll do a full briefing in a few days on what we know about all this mess. And about HYDRA still being around. For right now, we all have a headache and I've got to pull together notes."

"Who was that guy?"

She grimaced. "I *think* it was a member of their staff but I'm not totally certain. I'm pretty sure but I have to find that out so someone can yell." She walked off. "Give me two days please."

The reporters shared a look. This was the least formal they'd ever been given information. There was clearly something going on. And what had that thing been?

***

The young guy walked into the house, getting glared at. "Did I have another choice?" Andrew asked.

"No," Giles admitted as he came out there. "Not in the least. At least you didn't try to behead him with a sword. It'd end up with us being crucified in the press when they find us." He looked at the other watchers. "The president has just all but outed us. His press secretary said she'd give details about all this nonsense in two days.

"The President noted the paranoid people online and the invasion." The other watchers groaned. "Andrew did try to mask who he was, including noting that Xander is in Africa." He looked at them. "We have the real possibility of anyone overseas we've worked with coming forward as well. Also, remember that being admitted to the magical community as well."

They shared a look. "We'll get word back," one decided. "How do we cover up the girls?"

"We may not be able to," Andrew said. "There's fanpages online for some of them. People who've been saved. The LA group has one from a shelter worker out there." They groaned again. "We need to put out a warning. I doubt Xander gets CNN in Burkina Faso, where he is for the next week. Or Amblin in Thailand or even our girl in China. We need to set a party line during a long losing-our-minds conference." He looked at Giles. "I can call Xander and Amblin to call in."

"Let us work some of this out here first," Giles ordered. "If one of the people down there come forward, we'll deal with it. Finding Xander is hard enough if you know where he is and who he is. He can probably hide and move the girls into better secured areas too." They went to the kitchen to talk about it. Andrew followed them, it was his kitchen.

***

In England, a former watcher went to a nice telephone booth, dialing in. "This is Watcher Hayes with Official Business for the Minister. Priority One." They let him down and scanned him as he walked over. A few aurors met him. "The US had an agent and a demon out us, your people, and demons." The head auror blinked a few times, shaking his head slowly. He showed him the tape on the portable system he was carrying. It had both the agent's press conference and the president's.

"SHITE!" an auror complained loudly, getting attention. "The US," he said with a hand wave, making people pretend to ignore them.

His boss nodded. "Quite, but be less loud. Let's go upstairs, Watcher Hayes." He led them up there to the Minister's office. "It's bad," he noted. "Get the other ministers in," he told the secretary, who called them all to an emergency meeting. Watcher Hayes replayed the tape for the minister himself and let him think while everyone else got there. Then he replayed it for the room at large. The head auror looked at the group. "That second is the US President's people. And him originally."

The Minister for Magic looked at him. "That's not the MaCUSA president."

"No, that's the regular US President, sir. The MaCUSA one is in Omaha this week on vacation with his new grandchild by his people's notes. They've probably at least sent him a note." The Minister grimaced. The auror was thanking every god that Fudge was no longer in charge. "We can call him."

"His people probably already have," he decided. "So we've been officially outed. Even partially. People, how do we handle this?"

The Under Ministers all stared at each other then at him. "Guards around our gathering spots like the Leaky," one noted. "We'll need them to keep curious muggles out."

"Do we want to warn the magical community now or later?" another asked. "If we hide it, they'll going to roast us for not warning."

"The Prophet has the office bugged," the Minister said dryly. "It'll be front page tomorrow I'm sure." They all nodded. "What about other countries?"

"No clue," Watcher Hayes said. "We don't have a liaison with anyone but yours and the Canadians. There's a magical part of the US? Why haven't we seen them?"

"I have no idea," the Minister said with a smile. "Are you one of ours? Or a squib sibling?"

"I have some magic but not enough to go to the schools. The last head made me the liaison and when I retired Rupert Giles, the current head Watcher, bade me stay in this role in case of things like this."

"That's fine." He waved a hand. "How bad will it get?"

"We have no idea and we're probably doing a bit of panicking while figuring out how open we need to be to protect ourselves and yet cover the girls."

"I forgot about the slayers," the head auror muttered. "We have a few over here."

"The local house is about seven blocks away," Hayes agreed. "I'll stop in on them in a bit." That got a nod from the aurors. "This was just warning you that someone's told and opened the Box that's about to make Pandora's look sweet and nice."

"Thank you for that warning, Watcher Hayes," the head auror said. "We'll escort you out?" He nodded, taking the tape with him to show the girls. He came back to an argument in process. "Do we have a liaison with the UK government?" he asked to break it up. It was unproductive and he was getting a headache from just a few minutes of it.

"Yes," the Minister said with a smile. "Your department does. Get them here? That way we know if they're willing to help us."

"I can call ours," he said, going to do that. This was such a mess.

***

Andrew was wrong, CNN was international, even in Burkina Faso. Though Xander didn't watch the news. Ever. So he wasn't shocked when a general walked up to him because he was there to train the local girl, who was ten. That general was his liaison with the local government and military. "What's up?" he asked, shaking his hand.

"Have you watched the news, Watcher Harris?"

"Oooh, formal. Another bad incident that didn't get covered up?"

"Yes, some agent who had been HYDRA outed them, then a demon showed up to finish outing demon kind and the magical community?"

"There's not one near here," he admitted. "That guy with the robe incident before last? His people."

"Ah!" He smiled and nodded. "Wonderful! They don't live here."

"They're in the next country over," he said with a point. "But hidden. They're all hidden. They have rules not to let normal people know about them. How open was it blown?"

"The US President mentioned the invasion that got covered up somehow."

Xander snorted, then shook his head with a sigh. "Great. I'll tap out a message for my girls to go into hiding. The local responses?"

"They've seen your adult slayers protecting us. They won't attack them I don't think." Xander grinned at that. "But it's about to get messy probably."

"Yeah, I'm about to make one myself I think." The general smiled as he left him to angst in peace. Xander called in. "Giles, how open are we blown and what's my line beyond getting my girls hidden and possibly moved?" He listened to him talk about that. "I knew about them. I had one show up to a battle. No, I had a general show up to ask me.

"No, we get CNN, FOX, and BBC news down here," he said dryly, sipping his beer. "I wanted a night off, Giles. Yeah, I'm going to warn my girls to go into hiding and possibly move. Anything else I can do?" He nodded once. "That's not up to me. Some countries do have battle videos to show their trainees in the military.

"If they release them then I have nothing to do with that. I can't even ask them not to because they'll do it because I asked." He took another gulp. "Sure. Thanks. Let me know." He hung up and finished his beer, paying a tip for the bartender, who grinned at him. "It's going to be a long few months." He walked off calling all his girls.

"It's me," he noted once they were in the conference. "The Council has been noted in the news. I want all you girls to protect yourselves and your families. If a reporter or someone comes up to you, scream and run away. Right now, we're not admitting to anything. Yeah, that guy was Andrew," he said with a grimace. "I didn't see that. I don't tend to watch the regular news.

"Okay," he sighed, rubbing his forehead. "For now, that's the standing order. Hide in plain sight if possible. If not, hide at home and pretend to be sick or something, or possibly move. Let me know if you do get noted anywhere. I'm going to be freaking out for a few hours. Thanks, girls." He hung up, got into his truck to drive outside the town, and had a hissy fit that made the nearby demons give him scared looks.

Then he went to visit their council. He walked in and bowed properly. "There was a demon who outed demon kind in the US," he noted in greeting. They all grimaced but nodded they knew that. "Including the slayers, the magical communities, and noted that there's one of us down here.

"We're really sorry. I've ordered the girls to hide in plain sight if you need us, but I have no idea how to stop this." The head of the council smiled and nodded. "We have no idea how deep it'll get outed either, Elder."

"We know. We're all in shock too. Especially that Andrew blew that demon's head off."

Xander grinned. "I knew teaching him to shoot was a good idea, no matter what Giles said." They grinned at him. "We're *really* sorry though."

"It is not your doing, Harris." He nodded and left them to talk. He had to finish his fit and figure out what he was doing this time.

***

Someone in the Home Office in England went jogging up the halls after getting a phone call. "Sir," he shouted, stopping his boss on his way to the bathroom. "Sir, phone call from the MoM."

"The what now, Branderson?" he demanded.

"Oh, dear, were you not briefed about Diagon and all that?" he hissed at him, looking horrified.

"Yes."

"Their ministry, sir."

"Oh!" He nodded. "Another escaped criminal?"

"The US outed all that nonsense, and the Council." His boss winced but nodded once. He also burped because he now had heartburn. "It was on the news. They held a presser after some guy claiming to be HYDRA outed himself and then a demon showed up."

"Well, that's not good," he decided. "All right. Let me visit the head and then we'll see what we need to do."

"We need to warn higher ups, Sir. There's nothing much we can do but spread the heartburn around now."

"Charming!" He smiled and nodded. "Make a list of who you have to brief."

"Yes, sir." He went to do that. Of course his boss had put the pressure back on his back. This was going to be interesting when the group showed up for the meeting. He had found the watcher, who showed up with the video. Agent Branderson looked at the group after they had watched the video.

"That does open up a point of contention within the UK. That magical community they mentioned? We have some here. Each country has a magical area hidden. Most have schools as well. All they know to do is put up guards." Agent Branderson looked around hoping for ideas.

One of them cleared his throat. "So we're going to have people coming to look at all that?"

"It's in the press, Lad." Watcher Hayes smiled at him. "It outed the Council as well. We may be able to finally find someone to go pick through the remains of the old building as well. That does bring up the safety of the slayer house nearby. It also brings up the fact that we have people in most countries or at least nearby, and Watchers training the girls at home now. There's been a ton of changes since the old Council blew up. Including a lot of battles that were hidden."

The lower agent grimaced at that. "All right, so we've got few secrets left then." The others grimaced at that. "Our hidden agencies?"

"We have two groups that use magical or other types of beings in service," one said quietly. "This is going to be bad." He looked at Hayes. "Who was that young man? I've heard you've got one bouncy one somewhere."

"No, that was Andrew, the house mother for the Cleveland house. Our bouncy one is Xander Harris and he's in Africa. He's the watcher down there training the girls at home. We no longer raise the girls ourselves. They train at home unless their home is unsuitable. Then they go to the houses in America. They have an orphan's house that's carefully hidden for those and the girls in social services care."

The others shared a look then nodded at that information. "So we've got multiple communities coming open," Branderson said. "We have a polite, peaceful demonic community locally. They have their own council and all that stuff. Schools as well." Hayes nodded at that. "They handle their own business. But this will bring zealots. I'm surprised we've only seen a few religious groups having a fit."

"True, I had forgotten about them," the palace's head of security noted, making himself a note. "Where is our peaceful council place?" It got looked up by Hayes and handed over. "Thank you. In case we need to liaison with them."

"They like the local slayers. They're respectful of peaceful sorts," Hayes said. "Buffy insisted they all be taught how to be nice to peaceful beings no matter their species."

"That's good of them," that officer said. He looked at Branderson. "Our magical community?"

"They have their own ministry and all that, plus schools and shopping areas, all that necessary things. All they can think of doing is setting guards to make sure they don't get gawkers."

"Those religious sorts would have a fit about them as well," Hayes said with a single nod. "Maybe even more of one because they're humans."

"It would also let others know that the magical sorts had a serial killer who was killing off some of their kind in mass numbers up until a few years ago," Branderson said, looking at the person from Scotland Yard. Who grimaced but nodded. "He is gone?"

"He is gone," he assured him.

"That's good news at least." They settled in to make plans of how to handle the upheaval. People were going to riot when they found out how much had been hidden from them.

***

The next battle that got noted, it was televised. No one on the field realized that but a news crew had been slipped that information so was there to watch from afar. It didn't look great on the Council, Xander had a fit on someone, twice, but it had been necessary to get them to bring weapons. That general was huffy but he also nearly got his head eaten by something unrelated. Which Xander smirked at him about when he complained.

The news crew was on a nearby field but heard the 'that's why I warned you to bring weapons!' from Xander. And the girls laughing about that. "Ladies, flying menaces to life," he ordered with a point. "Then hit the demons they're eating. Since they so *kindly* brought their pets, they can play with them until we're done." The soldiers cheered because they could shoot the flying menaces but not the demons. That they handled anyway.

The news crew were stunned. They had no idea there had been *battles*! With weapons and swords and militaries. This was going to be huge.

That general found out that night from the news program while he was filling out reports. Then he sent out a message to his soldiers to ignore all press people. One of them told Xander to be nice to him - hoping next battle it'd give him a better spot in the rear of the line.

Xander was thankfully a few countries away with the slayers, who were flying back to their homes while he went to visit the next mini to work with her. So he groaned and got a drink from the stewardess. He could really use a drink.

***

Buffy walked in and slammed the door, leaning against it. "They found us," she called. "We've got an infestation of reporters, ladies. Don't go outside."

"That'll suck for the kids coming home from school," Faith called back. "'Drew, can you go pick up the girls?"

"Too late," he yelled from the kitchen. "They're already on their way home. Someone go put up a smoke screen to protect them from being photographed." Buffy went to tell Willow, who did that for the girls as soon as the bus got there.

Willow looked at the reporters. "We're guarding the little girls' lives from you guys," she noted impatiently when she got yelled at. "People like you would kill them for being chosen before they were born. Before you protest, we've already had that tried by a few groups. So shoo!" she said, making it a compulsion. The reporters all trudged off, still reporting.

She got the older girls into the house under smoke cover too. "I have the feeling we're going to be going to apocalypse battle prep status, ladies. So get the homework online please. Let Giles talk to the principals." She followed the last one in after doing a head count. One girl was with her friends and a few had after school jobs but they could sneak into the back gate easier anyway.

She went to tell Giles that and he did call the principals to warn them that the girls were going to be staying home for their own protection for a bit. Until things got straightened out. Willow sent out a memo to all the other slayers to be careful. This was going to be stupid before it got better.

*** (sent to the list here via email)

Xander looked at the minister there to harass his mini. "She was born that way," he noted impatiently, shoving the guy away from her. Again. "Unlike you who *chose* to be this way against a little girl." He pointed. "I'd leave. Right the hell now before I send you to ask your God yourself about rules for slayers."

The priest tried to have him removed, he did have a few officers, but they weren't going to get near the mini slayer or her family. Or Xander really. They were sure he had weapons on him that they couldn't counter. Or a demon nearby. This town really didn't like their slayer but she protected them so they'd put up with it until someone moved her for her own safety.

The mother stepped out. "You said God had us made as we should be. She was born marked and Chosen. Therefore you lied about children being born like God intended and if you hate how she's born then you're against God's will." The priest tried to hit her so Xander punched him. "Watcher Harris, I'm fine," she soothed.

"Bullshit. You shouldn't ever hit a woman protecting her family." He grinned at her. "That's what guys are for!" She snorted, going back inside. He looked at the officers, who gathered the priest to take him to their office to talk to him about all that. "So," he said, walking into the house. "Who're you going to visit for all your safety?"

"My sister is in Tunisia," she said. "I've already called. She'll be waiting on us to get in tomorrow morning if we drive all night."

"Okay. Good choice." He helped her pack what needed to go. Including the baby slayer's stuff. She was only four and didn't understand. Xander grinned at her. "You're going to visit your auntie because the locals are being too loud," he told her. "For now, just relax, let it happen, let your mom yell at people. Okay?" She nodded with a smile and a hug for him.

"Good girl. Study hard. I want to see you graduate school." He patted her on the head and handed her to her mother, who smiled and he guarded them while they fled for their lives. Because that priest was about to burn the whole family in their house. Xander went to talk to the police himself. "She's left the city," he said in greeting when an officer spotted him. They sighed in relief. "That priest?"

"His higher ups don't agree with his ideas of cleansing fire but they do not like slayers either."

"Sucks to be them since the Council's been around longer than their religion," Xander said dryly. The officer blinked at that. Xander nodded. "The first slayer was an earlier human of some kind."

"Oh." He winced. "That's not going to go over well."

"Neither will the history that actually started with demon courts ruling most of the world." He grinned. "That city they found and then covered up quietly? One of theirs." The officer winced again. "Yeah. So much screaming coming." He waved a hand. "But she's safe for now and all my others are in hiding." He walked off. "Have fun with the priest."

"Not really." He went to have a word with his boss about all that. No, no one was going to be happy with anything for months on end. They still had to find out if they had a magical community nearby beyond the ancient healer sorts.

***

Willow got called to the White House for a meeting with Giles. She wasn't sure why her but the others had insisted and she could at least protect Giles for them. She smiled as she was let into the conference room. "Hey. Willow Rosenburg of the Council." She nodded politely at the man in there.

"I'm the Head Auror of the United States, Miss Rosenburg."

"What's an auror?"

"We're the magical police."

She snorted. "Then you're clearly behind on your job. Where were you when Sunnydale got founded?" He went to angry stages of red in the face. "Where were you when our town had an ascension and my graduation became a battle? Or when we had a fifty-percent death rate for a long time in there before a slayer got there?

"Did *your* people stop the military torturing demons? Hmm?" She stared at him. "Since I know the answers to all that is 'I ignored it in favor of teenagers doing it' I'm not that impressed." He got up and stomped off. "Bye!" She smiled at Giles. "I don't like people who claim status that never do things."

"I've seen such happen in the past," he admitted. "Though it is odd that the Magical Congress of the USA did not do a single *thing* about Sunnydale over the centuries," he told another one. "Through yearly apocalypse battles."

"You're welcome for still being here," she quipped with a smile for them. "We teenagers that handled it for you are still handling it for you apparently though. Now, what're we here to discuss today?"

The others in charge stared at her. "Young lady, there's a magical government in place."

She snorted. "Yes, we've seen how pitiful it is. Where was your person in Sunnydale? Or in Cleveland? Or at the invasion in LA? Did any of yours show up?"

"That's not our business."

"It is your business because you're living on this planet," she said. "A lot of it was magical in nature. Did you even show up to find out what had happened? Or were you all satisfied to let the slayers handle it for you? Because I never saw a single one of you, even when I nearly ended humanity in my grief." The others flinched. She smiled. "Thankfully there was a coven not associated with the idiots in robes in England who helped me grieve appropriately."

"There are very distinct lines between the two communities," Giles agreed patiently. "None of you have ever liked the more natural living magicals. None of you respect us either."

"You're a Watcher."

"And a former chaos sorcerer." He smiled. "Back in the old days of the London Coven, people. Thankfully that same coven helped me reform." They all winced at that. "For being the magical government of the US, you've failed us all rather spectacularly. As Willow stated, none of you helped in Sunnydale. Even when we desperately asked the former Council to help.

"Not with the invasion in LA after Sunnydale fell. Not with Cleveland's present problems with that hellmouth. So what exactly do you do?" He walked off, Willow with him. "Perhaps they'll show up to talk to the regular magical community as well," he noted. "It may be nice to have a unified group for a change instead of people who only care about a tiny portion of one group."

"The whole government's that way, Giles." She waved a hand around. "Half of them have no idea what's going on."

"I know." He opened a door and let her proceed him. Which meant she stopped the bullet by magic. He sighed. "Well. That's rather rude." Willow nodded, making that person with the gun sorry. "I wonder if Xander could identify him."

"He doesn't know many bad guys over here. He only knows the ones in Africa probably, Giles. They've probably hit on him." She picked up her new pet chinchilla and walked off petting it. "Shh. We'll get you rehabbed into a better person. The girls will love to spoil you rotten. They could use a new pet. Some of our fish died recently."

Giles followed along behind her with a fake smile. He'd talk to her later about adopting potential threats. The guards around there were giving them extra room just in case.

Willow smiled at one that got out of her way. "We only react to threats," she said sweetly. "You guys didn't stop the threat so we had to." She shrugged. "The Council has that duty too." She used the keys to start the car then got in to drive them off.

Inside, the MaCUSA people were very mad, mostly at themselves. They had no idea about any of that!

***

With permission, Willow decided to give an interview. She liked this reporter. She liked to read her articles, they were well proofread. "Hi." She smiled, sitting down across from her. "I know you guys want to know about the Council so ask me."

The reporter blinked a few times. "You're...."

"Willow. I'm Council, one of the research team and magic team."

"Oh." She pulled out her phone to record this. "So, Miss...."

"Rosenburg." She smiled. "My unfortunate parents will probably have a fit about me claiming my actual name but oh well. It might do their book sales good if they wrote a real one." She leaned her elbows on the table. "I'm with the research arm of the International Council of Watchers. And part of the magical arm as well." She smiled. "Also friend to the senior slayer."

"Slayers. We've heard about them. We have no idea about any of that."

She smiled, pushing over a book she unshrank as she pulled it out of her shirt pocket. "Would the book we give to baby slayers help that any?"

"It unshrank."

"Yes. I can do that." She nodded with a grin. "It's not that hard."

"Okay. I'll come back to that later. What, exactly, is a slayer?"

"Slayers are girls who have a mystically chosen duty to defeat the bad demons in this world."

"Aren't all demons bad?"

"No!" She beamed. "There's a lot that just *are*. They immigrated to get away from hell realms. Some were already here and crossbred. Actually, over eighty percent of the demonic community is peaceful. They have their own councils to make sure it stays that way and any problems or outings are handled immediately and harshly. I think you've seen why they do it that way with the recent religious things."

"I have. So they're not like demons from the Bible?"

"No. Though there are some of those." She smiled with a slight nod. "They're mean and possessions are hard to break. The average demon is called that because the ones who labeled things couldn't see them as sentient human things. So of course they called them demons.

"Just like the UK did to Far Eastern people for centuries because they were different. Some of my favorite people to hang out with are actually other dimensional beings who came here to get an education and a job. We play some kitten poker now and then but I'm not any good at it."

"Kitten....why?"

"One of them is a flesh eating species. They often buy medical waste from places like hospitals but some fresh meat now and then is nice for them. They do breed specifically for the community. I was a bit squicked but I'd rather have them eating a cat now and then that's bred for it than I would something like a living human."

"I can see that. Would they?"

"Some species could. They don't. They know that eating a human gets a slayer to come find them within hours." She smiled. "So they don't. They've found ways to handle things. Some breed special fish or animals for the community. Some just like kittens I guess. Like we like chicken."

"I hadn't thought about different dietary needs. Would those who eat dogs and cats in Asia do that?"

"I don't think they've ever asked."

"Interesting." She considered it. "So what is a slayer? Beyond a girl with a chosen destiny?"

"There's a group of ethereal beings, which if I could find I would punch, called the Powers That Be. They're chess playing gross things apparently who want *balance*. So they pick a girl, mark her with a specific mole on her shoulder, and when she's called she gets the memory download from all the former slayers.

"She gets fighting skills, she gets some minor tactical training, all that in the download. Plus memories like how to fight in a corset and dress. Mostly, our girls use swords and crossbows, and stakes of course. But the later girls learned how to fire off guns if they have to thanks to a few of the watchers being more modern."

She grinned again. "We patrol, we handle big demonic emergencies. Some of us stopped the US Army program that was torturing demons." She shrugged. "But they classified that. Not that I signed an NDA. They just expected us to shut up by trying to scare us."

"So the government knew?"

"Part of it. A lot of Army guys should be ashamed of their people who were there. I would be if they were my people. I am ashamed that they're considered humans."

The reporter nodded at that. "So what does a slayer do?"

"They patrol for new vampires, they take out older vampires, they hunt in clubs to make sure there's as few deaths as possible from any neck biting or other biting creatures. Most of what we do is against the undead but now and then we get a being who is not peaceful and will not leave people alone so we handle those too. And yearly apocalypse battles that're caused by some demons trying to get power or attention."

"We heard rumors of one in LA?"

"That was a law firm's fault, mostly. Their higher ups and a few others from other groups were part of this group called Black Thorn or something." She flicked a hand in the air. "The LA team was handling it but then they heard that they were going to open a portal to invite some biting things over to help them take control of humanity. Whatever was left after the biting things got done. So we showed up to fight the invasion with the LA team, who were partially our former team in Sunnydale."

The reporter stared. "How did that not get seen?"

Willow grinned and chuckled. "You guys said it was a movie thing gone wrong. You've done that for a few of them." She pushed the book over. "Let me flee the angry person stomping over." She winked and disappeared from there.

The reporter moaned. "She just disappeared." She saved down that file on her phone and quickly sent it to someone she trusted who couldn't be vanished. Just in case agents tried to stop her from reporting. She gathered the book and went back to her office to hide.

That book for new slayers was very informative. Her editor was thrilled they had gotten a copy. With the note on the inside cover of 'please be honest about us, no embellishing and no lying' written in a girlish script and signed Buffy Summers. They had no idea who she was. Yet.

***

The president got handed the newest transcripts from that meeting and then the reporter's story. He hummed. "Sounds like the MaCUSA guys are idiots." He looked up at the head of the Secret Service, who handled their needs too.

"They're isolationist. Though, Miss Rosenburg was correct that no one handled anything that the Council has. They have a right to be mad about it too. If the magicals had done something, anything, then Sunnydale probably would still be around and would probably have had fewer deaths."

"How bad?"

"Their last year was a good one. Twenty percent death and disappearance rate, sir."

"That's outrageous."

"Yes." He nodded. "There's something blocking us from caring about it as well."

"Magic?"

"Probably."

"Great!" He put that down. "Can we talk to these Council people?"

"Of course. They're in Cleveland now. Their last branch got blown up in England right before Sunnydale fell. It's thought to be from the same thing but no one's sure. They're secretive as well."

"That book on the Council, can we get a copy?"

"That reporter made copies available to us when we asked. Photocopied from the book in front of us."

"That's good. How long have they been around?"

"They predate Rome." The president huffed. "And writing." That got a slump. "They helped make the rules to ignore them and their former ways. Now they're a lot better to the girls I'm told."

"They were bad?"

"That changed when it got rebuilt. The new ones insisted, sir."

"Good!" He cleared his throat. "Is my wife going to have another ranting fit?"

"About the old Council? Yes. The new one is humane, they're much stronger and better for the girls. They take good care of the ones they have in training. They no longer take the girls in at a very young age to train, but now they're training at home if they want to and show up for specialist training for a few years. They get to make their own decisions now. They get to go to college, have a support system, all that."

The president winced. "She's going to have a fit about the old Council."

"So would my wife, sir. They'd be right to do that but most of them died."

"Great!" He nodded. "Do they have people in other countries?"

"Training the girls at home and helping with bigger things. The one in Africa had no idea that they were aware of these things and were actually handling them but was happy with that and shared training materials that he uses with his girls. He's had them all move for their own safety. The ones in Asia have mostly moved as well. China's slayer is nowhere to be found as far as they've reported. We have no idea if they moved her, if she's alive, or if she's escaped."

"They have one?"

"They have a native one who went back after the invasion to handle her people's needs. After making sure her family left. Just in case."

"Good of her." He nodded. "It mentions apocalypse battles."

"The invasion is counted as one, Sir."

"That's good. I'd consider that an apocalypse too." He looked at the older man. "Now what?"

"We're suggesting we get everyone in one room to figure out how to handle things together to protect the magicals and the slayers. The girls haven't been able to leave the house to go to school for a bit. They've also had groceries delivered."

"That's reasonable. Send a few agents to help them?"

"I can do that though they won't accept." He looked at the article and pointed. "That's sealed Presidential Oversight Only, Sir."

He looked at that and then in his files. "Yup, we done screwed the fuck up," he said, letting him see it. "Get me the head of the Army too. He's got to apologize for his people."

"Gladly." He handed that file back and went to summon that one and send a few agents to help in Cleveland.

The president moaned, going to warn his wife that the Council had changed, dramatically, so she didn't have a talk with anyone about the girls yet. If they were still bad, Laura could have a *talk* with them about it later as a proper mother should.

***

Senior Agent Maria Hill looked at the news then at the briefing sheets. "Oh, crap," she muttered, taking them to the director's office. "Nick."

He looked up. "Those look like what I spread earlier. What's wrong?"

"It's stupidly wrong," she said, handing it back then pulling up their files. "We have been partially watching." He read them over and groaned. They had files on the magical communities, but they were skimpy. They had files on the old Council and started one on the new version but it was skimpy too. They didn't have one on any invasion or any apocalypse battle, but they did have one on that army unit thanks to one of the investigative team being theirs. "Do you want to tell the president?"

"No." He looked at her. "Or the World Security Council."

"They may know something. Maybe not the newest version that just got formed from the ones that had been HYDRA tainted but the original ones may have."

The director blinked a few times. "Great." He handed them back. "Redo it for the president's briefing. He wants all agencies to conference tomorrow. I'm leaving at eight." She nodded, going to pull together what they knew about. It was a better report and she did send around a memo to their agents and staff about the conference and the things coming out, and if they had any additional information to please share it so they all knew.

***

Buffy was at this meeting with Giles. She smiled at him for pulling out her seat for her and sat, letting him sit on her left side so her right was able to use a hidden weapon if she had to fight her way out. It wouldn't be the first time. She looked around, realizing she was the only woman in the room outside one of the bodyguards for the president.

"So," she said, smiling at them. "I'm assuming you guys all saw the book that we told Willow to give to the reporter." They all nodded. "Great. So what's the DT today for then?"

"There seems to be some overlap," the president of the US told her. The MaCUSA president was on his left. They had to share duties here. "Miss Summers?" She smiled and nodded. "You're the senior girl right?" She nodded. "How many slayers do you have?"

"We keep that classified because there's people who're attacking us for it. In the US we have sixty-nine or seventy I think," she said, looking at Giles.

"Of appropriate age to be in training and patrol cleared, yes, we have seventy-two in the US and another ten in Europe, three in Africa, and seven in different parts of Asia. There's three native to the South American and Central American parts but they're out of the area for their own safety."

"Are some of the excess here in the US because they moved?" the head of the FBI asked.

"No, they're trainees," Buffy said. "We have nineteen patrol cleared and the US house in Cleveland rotates the girls in our other houses when they need a vacay or healing time."

"Okay, so you have the extras training." She did the so-so hand motion in the air. "They don't?"

"They do tell the girls about their areas and all that but many of them can't really do the training stuff. They do cultural stuff, help the girls moving to an overseas house pick what she's taking with her for clothes, because that's become a headache in a few areas, and all that stuff. A lot of them take in reports for Giles and talk to the houses that they like to go through. We're all very supportive of each other."

"That's good to know," he said with a smile for her. "What about that one young woman, Miss Rosenburg?"

"She's our head witch. What about her?"

"She nearly destroyed humanity?"

"She lost the girlfriend she had just gotten back together with right afterwards, right next to her. What would you do?" she asked.

"I don't have that sort of powers but I can see me grieving hard for that," he admitted. "She's better and back on reasonable footing?"

"If she can get away from her parents nagging her," she said dryly. "They're driving her to beer. The last time she really drank she had just broken up with her first boyfriend."

"Can we stop those parents?" Nick Fury asked.

"Irma and Sheila Rosenburg," Buffy said.

"The psychologists?" he demanded.

"Yup," Buffy said dryly. "She'd probably like it if her parents went back to ignoring she existed again. They have for years after trying to burn her at a stake with the other possessed parents. But that's old Sunnydale history."

"Usually I have an agent from an area that has a lot of problems," Nick Fury said. "I don't have one from Sunnydale."

"Well, most of the people in town never really wanted to move away," she said with a shrug. "The hellmouth made them want to stay to become snacks."

"First, let's start there," the MaCUSA president said. "I haven't heard that word. Hellmouth?"

"The portal thingy that radiates energy?" she suggested. "What drew the former Mayor to create Sunnydale to help with his ascension? The same thing that's in a park in Cleveland that draws vampy vamps there and lets the peaceful community hide in plain sight? And who're you, sir?"

"He's the head of the magical, non traditionally based magical, community," Giles told her. "Not like the covens but the other sort, Buffy."

"Oh. Hey." She smiled and waved. "Nice to meet you."

"An ascension? We've never heard of any such thing happening here, young lady."

Giles sighed but Buffy pulled out something and slid it down the table. "We brought films for show and tell. That's on there if someone can show it to the class. Willow said it should work and Andrew included a second version in another format."

The head of the FBI took it to run for them and put up the index. "Which, Miss Summers?"

"Graduation."

He ran that film, letting them all see it. And the being that came up. And the battle. And then the explosion. "Oh, fuck," he muttered.

Buffy grinned. "Not our best thing but all we had. The National Guard base in town didn't step up to help and a few of their people were there because they had kids in the band. The police actively tried to stop the parents from fleeing. So we did the best we could. For not having anyone battle trained we did a great job with that one. Took them two years to clean up the mess and start to rebuild the school too."

Giles nodded. "Unfortunately that was our former Mayor, who started Sunnydale to help him on his bid to do just that. He went for the largest version and it took him ninety years to accomplish. Him tainting the hellmouth to help him draw certain types of beings was what made Sunnydale so dangerous at times."

Buffy nodded. "I did good. We got it down under thirty percent and most years under twenty percent death and disappearance rate. So where were you guys?" she asked the magical president. "We didn't see a single one of you. Ever."

"I had no idea about any of that."

"And yet, it's a lot of magical stuff. We had a full coven there at one time I'm told."

He cleared his throat. "We don't even have myths of that, Miss Summers. We're fixing that now."

She grinned. "Great. Leave Willow alone? And my sister?"

"We do run some fine magical schools if one's young enough to attend."

"I have no idea and Dawn's seventeen." She shrugged, looking at Giles.

"They practice magic less instrinsically than we do," Giles told her. "We use our own power, they have a foci that's a wand or a stave to help them. That sort of focus could help Willow if she wanted to learn it as well but I don't believe Dawn would want to learn. She doesn't really use her magical skills."

"Good! I want Dawn to be as normal as possible, though she's still not allowed to date." She looked at the other agents. "We didn't see any of you there either. Why not?"

The head of the FBI winced. "I have no idea. Looking at their former statistics, we should have been there from the start."

"Willow wasn't sure if he did something so everyone ignored the stuff they have to report," she admitted.

"It's a possibility but we still should have seen that. What's the closest office to Sunnydale?"

"We're three hours from LA."

"I'm going to talk to them later." He made himself a note. "Which agency investigated the explosion?" She laughed, shaking her head. "At all?"

"No. The police decided it was a gas explosion within a few minutes. Told everyone and whatever kept them quiet and not thinking about it made them believe it." He winced but nodded. "We didn't see a single agent until we took down some Rangers doing bad things to demons." He and a few other slumped at that.

Nick Fury stared at her. "You sure they were Rangers?"

"The one I was dating and got talked into helping a tiny bit sure was. His whole team was. The other teams all wore the same patches so I'm guessing they were too. The ones that're still living are with the UN hunting squads or Homeland." That agency head winced at that.

"I dated Riley Finn and he talked me into a tiny bit of testing and things. They considered me mythical too." She grinned. "Then we found out what they were doing and down they went. Twice." She looked at Giles then at him. "How is Riley doing? I know he's married now."

"He got fired for tampering with a case," he said, looking that name up. "I have to investigate that whole unit." He made himself a note. "I'll tell them you said hello, Miss Summers."

She grinned. "If you want to freak them out, tell them Xander said hi. They all considered him useless and a tagalong but look what he handled."

"You had a male helping?"

"We had a whole team back then. In high school we had another guy, Willow's boyfriend, and a vampire with a soul curse. Later on we had another vampire that the Army put a control chip in so he couldn't feed. It let him get some chaos out and feed from the demonic remains instead.

"We had a few females who were in there with us too. Willow's former girlfriend. One of our friends from school that died on the LA team. The first vampire started that one and gathered a team there. Including one of our former watchers for a while until he died."

"A lot of you seem to die," the head of the Secret Service noted. "Is that a training issue?"

"No, that's a fighting a demon battle is mean to us issue," she said. "Vamps are stronger and faster than us. We still fight 'em. Even the normal ones. It took me years to see that though. I've been incredibly lucky with my helpers. The girls before me didn't get more than their watcher, who usually raised them. We stopped that by the way."

"Good," the US president said with a grin and a nod. "Now they're staying at home?"

"They are if they can. If they have one. The First took out a lot of families. So we have a specially guarded house for the orphans."

"What was that thing?" the head of the Magical community asked.

"The First Evil?" Giles pulled up that battle. "That was the one to seal her back in. That's inside the hellmouth. She's what blew up the old Council." They watched that one, most of the people wincing. Buffy grimaced at one spot. "I told her not to go in," she muttered. "She insisted!"

"Do we have many of that level?" the head of the Secret Service asked.

"No. She's our worst to date and hopefully the worst ever. Graduation, the LA invasion, and the one in Brazil rank behind her but they're nicer at least. We were in the open air and not trapped inside the portal that could trap us in there."

"First, is that what happened to Sunnydale?" President Bush asked. She nodded. She let that film go on. It was filmed from the same body camera but caught the end moments of Spike. "Oh, damn. Who was that?"

"Spike. The vampire the Army got that we worked with. He got sent back once to help Angel so he died permanently in the LA invasion with Angel."

"Why did he get sent back?" the MaCUSA president asked.

"The PTB said so." She shrugged. "We didn't ask, but they decided. We all hate the PTB and their visions and their plans because they suck at it. Worse than Willow does."

"They send visions?"

"With ideas on how to handle the battle they planned for us. But they included girls that never survived to this day and they want us to thin the herd again and all sorts of neat stuff we go around and solve anyway. They're really not fond of us but they're the ones who pick us. We all agree that if we find them we're punching them in the nose at the very least.

"Or if we can sneak weapons, we're blowing their shit up so they can't plan more world ending battles for poker games among the higher beings." She shrugged. "We handle it as we hear but we don't make the battles. We just do what we can."

"Are we talking like a God being?" one of the guards in the room asked.

She smiled at him. "No. We've met some ancient gods over the years. They all agreed the PTB are ethereal beings up floating around making bets and wanting balance. They also don't seem to realize that we have cars or artillery." She grinned. "That's solved a few that they've sent."

President Bush blinked a few times. "You've used artillery?"

"Yeah. A few times. Did you expect me to take on something with nine arms who was about the same as a three story building with a sword?"

"No," he admitted. "Was that in the US?"

"Brazil. One of theirs down there. The girls down there asked for help so Faith and I got a short vacay, a battle, and then some beach time to flirt."

"Buffy," Giles sighed.

"Sorry, but we did! We both needed the vacay and beach time."

Giles rolled his eyes. "All my young women and girls are most...exuberant about life things at times. We appreciate them being young women, especially happy young women. We work to keep them all as happy and healthy as possible."

"We could add them to a military unit," the head of the FBI suggested.

"Nope. I look sucky in a hat and I only salute Andrew when he gives me coffee after a long night slaying." She stared at him. "None of my girls are going to be conscripted or we'll leave the US to handle it on their own. My girls are not there to be risked for anything. Especially not politics.

"We have to protect *everyone* on this planet, not just the US. And we don't really trust the military after seeing some of their finest." He nodded once at that, looking away. "Besides, I doubt you guys want to deal with prophecies, visions, or magic. I doubt those other magical people have many among your military guys either."

"Not too many," that president agreed. "There's a few who claim to be Wicca followers though."

She nodded. "We like the covens for the most part. The Devon coven makes cookies sometimes. And they knit for the holidays for the girls."

"They do," Giles agreed, nodding a bit with a small smile. "They try to keep it as being fond aunts."

"Are there covens like that in the US?" Bush asked. Giles shrugged but Buffy nodded. "You don't work with them?"

"We don't know them," Buffy said. "None have shown up and us going to them to talk to them about stuff would probably freak them out. If they show up and talk to us we'll gladly talk back. We like having help most of the time. Now and then every slayer hates having help and we snap at our helpers. Which usually makes Xander go back to Africa and not talk to us for months on end."

"Your male helper?"

"He's the training watcher in Africa," Giles said.

"Leftover from the old line?" the MaCUSA president said happily.

"No. One from my team in high school," Buffy said. "I don't trust many of the old liners not to backslide to the old ways. And none of them even thought about going to train the girls at home in Africa or Asia. Thurston...."

"Thratching," Giles corrected. "He came in after that, had been a solo hunter. He's working with the girls in Asia, in the countries he can get to. He's one of three over there. We can't find more to help Xander but the countries do handle a good bit and he's got a few older slayers on hand."

"Thratching checks on Cho Ahn for us too," Buffy said with a grin for him. "She's nowhere to be found."

"Do they have her in hiding?" Giles asked her.

"I haven't had a slayer dream or feeling of her falling. None of us have gotten anything from her recently. No big injuries or her death; we'd all know. I haven't asked Xander to ask anyone yet. Or asked our poker circuit."

"Ask him." She pulled out her phone to do that, getting an answer back fairly fast. "Is she all right?"

"Xander heard she had been disappeared so he blew a poker debt. She's in Bermuda at the house down there that has no communications anymore for her own safety. She's injured but not badly." She put her phone back after sending a thank you. "He had her rescued by a demon contact," she told the others. "She was being beaten and they got her to an ER down there and to the hidden house we have for recuperation."

"Why doesn't it have communications?"

"Because the protections on it keep them from working," she said. He still looked confused. "Things would come for a slayer that's weaker. Injured, sick, whatever. I had one that tried to take me out because I had food poisoning. He's normally very peaceful but he took his shot because I was weakened. That house has an absolute protection on it so nothing can get to the girls recovering down there."

"I see." He nodded once at that. "That's actually a good thing to hear. We were rather worried that the girls weren't as protected as you seem to have them."

She smiled. "I'm all very supporty of my girls. I'm the last slayer called individually. I died but someone did CPR so we had two," she said at the opening mouth from Nick Fury. "I got drowned. Xander did CPR. For years he let me believe Angel had because I was stuck on him for so long." She shrugged. "First loves."

Nick Fury sighed but nodded. "What about weapons for your girls?"

"We've found a few guys who could make us good swords," she said. "We can find crossbows pretty easy these days, even though the older watchers like us to use the wooden stock ones because they can be used as a club or an emergency stake if we have to." She shrugged again.

"I hate guns. They're too easy to have used on us by it being taken from us. The girls all learn how to shoot because Xander got insistent. We like to pet artillery and we appreciate it saving some of us when we get to use it or need to use it. Sure helps the bigger problems but we can only get so much from the kitten poker circuit so we don't use it as often as we'd like to.

"If you guys want to jump into battles that's fine. Bring your own weapons, we never have spares, but sure, jump in!" She smiled at them. "Just don't hurt my girls. We've had agents stepping in during some bigger things. We had a few actors jump in during LA's thing with guns. Wasn't greatly helpful but they did manage to help clear some of the civilians caught there."

Nick Fury looked confused. "Why would they?"

"We had an invasion in downtown LA," she said dryly, putting up that video. "From Faith's bodycam mostly."

They watched and the MaCUSA president was muttering about the portal. "How did they do that?" he demanded.

Buffy paused the film. "They had a portal frame inside the building. Gunn had someone blow it up to end the portal." She turned it back on. They saw the explosion and the building going down thanks to it. "The portal sucked to do that," she told them. "It wasn't part of the bomb." She turned it off finally. "The rest is five hours of making sure all the little biting things were dead." She grinned. "Not bad for not asking Xander for battle plans and not recalling him and the foreign girls."

"Is Harris military of some kind?" Fury asked.

"Nope. He learned from a possession I guess." She shrugged. She realized she was doing a lot of that but she couldn't really do anything else that didn't make her look like she was a moron in front of these people.

"He learned from those role playing games and a possession one year helped with that skill set," Giles told him. "I was not trained in tactics or battles. Neither were most of the other watchers, even when we had the old Council." That got a wince. "We do have someone in the armory now who had been military. He married one of our girls and he does most of the battle plans for the main house now."

"Army?" Fury asked.

"Air Force. None of the girls will really get near anyone from the Army, and most are hesitant over the Marines as well. With their past actions, most of the girls will avoid all military personnel, especially overseas. The only ones that don't are in the house in Spain, who work with some, and the one in Australia, who have been forcefully adopted then locked them in a closet to make them be less annoying."

Giles smiled and took off his glasses. "They came to a treaty moment when Faith went to talk to that military unit. Now they're like big brothers to all that house's girls and any minis in the area. They evacuated them when all this came out before anyone down there came after the girls."

"They're safe but they said the safehouse is dingy. They've actually painted it on the guys and got scowled at but now it's nicely clean," Buffy added. Nick Fury looked so confused. "We are young women. How many of us would want to stay somewhere dusty, dirty, and nasty for weeks on end?"

"I guess that's a point," he admitted. "Are your girls taught anything like battle tactics or fighting formations?"

"No. We get some of that from the download. We pretty well jump in and handle it unless someone like Paul from the armory steps in to tell us how to jump in. We jump in, whack away with our swords or whatever, and then we win and have dinner. Then we go clubbing in trashy clothes to make ourselves feel better, Mr. Fury.

"We're women, not soldiers. We'll never be soldiers. And even if one or two might like that idea, it's not encouraged because it's a danger to them and others. Things come for slayers and slayers are a bit stronger, faster, and heal faster because of what we fight. We can't let that hurt them or others."

"We do have one who was military when the calling went out," Giles admitted, putting back on his glasses. "She's in Ottawa at the moment." He looked at him. "They had to move her to a special assignment because as soon as her calling was activated she drew the wrong attention and her whole base nearly died from the attack to get her. She won't be allowed to re-up her commission.

"She had no idea what was going on but thankfully the download helped her. She managed to save most of her base, and whoever from the other three attacks before they put her somewhere shielded and someone went looking for why. She found out and contacted us to see what had happened and why."

"She's kinda neat but she's a computer geek," Buffy said. "Does radar stuff. We talked and we trained her in how to defend herself, helped her meditate to the slayer spirit to learn from her, all that stuff. Now she's on special assignment in Ottawa. When she comes home, she can take over Willow's computer lab duties and make sure we're more up-to-date with tracking stuff."

"We may be able to lend you an agent to set that up," the head of the Secret Service offered.

Buffy stared at him. "The last time we had an agent in the building he tried to knock us all out so he could steal six little girls. What makes you think we'll trust you around my baby slayers?" He groaned. "He found out and tried to get them to experiment on. That's not the first time.

"We have a few because we rescued them from their parents doing the same thing and social workers agreed we could protect them better than them going into regular foster care. We have a house full of girls who're orphans and in foster care. There's a social worker who lives in the house to work with the girls and a few who look over her shoulder too. They just can't talk about it. We made sure they can't to protect the girls, with their permission."

"I can see that being a worry. I have agents who really don't like kids and who I know will not harm any of your girls for any reason, Miss Summers. Good people, including some female agents if that would be better."

"Can they handle working in a house that has sixty girls?" she asked. "Because with the underage girls in school and stuff, we're kinda full of squealing."

The president blinked. "So that earlier number...."

"Was our patrol cleared," she said. "Or in senior level training and on trainee patrol." She nodded a bit. "When the whole line got activated to handle that one with the First, it activated every single slayer down to those being carried. In the future, the girls will be activated automatically at fourteen then go into better training than just self defense stuff.

"They're only allowed self defense class until puberty then they get some identification classes, some bigger self defense classes to help them with man things, and when they're about sixteen they go into things that no little girl should see. That's when they learn about how bad some things were, the bigger threats, how to stake, all that stuff.

"They can go on trainee patrol when they're seventeen or when they ask. Some of our girls don't want to and we think that's fine. At least they know how to protect themselves and we do pay for college and stuff. We're all allowed to have a normal life, whatever one we can create, and if we want to patrol we learn how to patrol and if not we don't. Eventually we retire to battle only status or just plain old retire. Some of those may someday train some of the minis."

"You're very insistent that they have normal things," Bush said.

She nodded. "Because under the old Council they didn't get to have a life at all. Now we make sure they're like normal girls. Only we have the world's suckiest after school job. One that can mess with our homework and stuff." She shrugged a bit. "That's why I didn't finish college. Apocalypse season is always during finals in the spring.

"I make *sure* my girls get choices and get to make them for themselves. Before I died and got brought back, it was one girl fought, died, and another was called." A few shuddered. "The modern slayers are much more normal girls. Though I would like for them to be able to go back to school."

"I can see that," Nick Fury agreed. "We can probably drive off the reporters."

"And the teacher that wanted to dissect one of my girls to see what made her chosen?" she asked. "The DA there won't charge him because he said it but didn't act on it."

"What about a private school?" Bush asked.

She shrugged. "I haven't seen one that would work for the girls. Or would accept the girls. We're in Cleveland. If you know one, please let us know. We'll go talk to them. The girls need normal times again. And if they're seniors they need to know about prom soon."

"Your girls do their proms?" Nick Fury asked.

She nodded. "Isn't that what you do in high school? You go to classes, you have friends, you take the SAT or whatever it is on this coast, you go to the prom, you learn how to date and what you like in your dates, all that stuff. I did. My mom made sure." She smiled. "They missed me so I didn't get raised by them. She told the Council to blow her and I fired the old Council from my life when I was eighteen."

Giles nodded. "The girls that were Council raised in the past were not as socially aware as the current ones are. The old Council put a slayer and a watcher together somewhere and let them train her by himself. Many of them didn't get proper educations or normal childhood things."

"I met one. She had *one* shirt. I had to get her another few so she could change clothes. Her watcher sent her to Sunnydale by having her sneak onto a plane's wheel."

Nick Fury winced but nodded. "Good of you to change it."

"Hell yes, the first thing we did when we heard they had been blown up was make sure all the girls that made it to us in Sunnydale had the foundation of what they needed to survive this and then started them on education stuff. Before if a girl wasn't called she was just kicked out at eighteen without any future or skills." She shrugged. "Now, we don't do that. Though there's a few I'd like to kick, I won't kick them out and ignore they existed."

"How did the rest of us not see this?" the MaCUSA president asked.

She shook her head. "Did you come out of your little villages? I figure you guys are like those settlement villages the girl from Rhode Island told us her school took her to trips to."

He sighed. "We are rather isolated but we do go among normal humans."

"Then again, most normal humans would look at funny looking people and wonder what birth defect that was and feel sorry for them being that way," she said dryly. "It wasn't just Sunnydale that has a problem with ignoring things."

"No, it's not," Bush agreed. "Is one purple with green spots? Walks like a dog?"

She smiled. "That's what we like to call a snot puppy. It's harmless and loving. We like to pet them even if we do get a bit slimy sometimes. Their skin can leak snotty feeling stuff when it's happy. Andrew has a really good recipe to get that out of clothes thanks to my Mom's laundry skills."

"I thought I had seen one in town wandering around."

She nodded. "Most demons don't really keep pets but they are a pet species. They don't bite or anything. They're just there to be petted."

He nodded. "That's good. Do they have weird meat animals beyond kittens?"

"You mean like the big slug thingies they use for meat on some realms? Yeah." She nodded. "It doesn't taste *bad*. It's got a slightly bitter taste to it, but I didn't want to know what it was. We have a girl who came from swamp country down south. She fully agreed that sometimes you didn't want to know what was in the dish even though it was really great."

"I've seen some of that," he agreed with a smile and a nod. "Overseas too."

"Xander talked to the girls about scorpion gumbo. They were a bit horrified but that one really loved it. Said it was like poisonous, sandy crawdads or something." She winced. "I didn't want to know."

"Yeah, I know that feeling very well, Miss Summers." She grinned. "Do you have anything upcoming?"

"Beyond nightly patrol for newly vamps? Ummmm." She typed that out. "Andrew said that the girls in upper Europe are dealing with something some military lab came up with that's super wrong but it's nearly solved and the military there is solving it supposedly. Xander has one coming up in the western horn part of Africa. None of us know where he is most of the time though."

She looked up. "He's got militaries that were handling stuff so he jumps in while training the minis." She went back. "Panama has an upcoming contest to decide who leads a clan. Andrew said that might get a bit noisy and rowdy but the locals there won't get in their way if they turn it into a street brawl. So I'll send a girl to sip wine and watch over it then kick anyone who goes near a normal."

She tipped her head. "Amblin in Asia has three bigger problems but two are diplomatic and one's China complaining that their girl disappeared. He's negotiating with an ancient volcano spirit to go back to sleep. He should ask Xander how he did that." She typed that message.

Then she put her phone back up with a smile for the staring men. "So nothing huge. Most bigger battles are in the spring. We get some around All Saints thanks to humans sometimes or around Solstice/Christmas from some humans acting up. Otherwise it's mostly patrols right now."

"Ancient volcano spirit?" the MaCUSA president asked.

"Yeah. That's not that unusual. I had an ancient pagan god teaching us english lit at UC Sunnydale." She shrugged. "He told us that DeSade should've met Freud but otherwise he did okay explaining the things that annoyed me about Jane Austen."

"Are there other higher beings teaching?" the head of the Secret Service asked. He sounded very tired.

She smiled and nodded. "I know there's a few. There's one at Columbia and they're who Ghostbusters based Gozer on."

He sighed but nodded. "The ones at that one college, where are they now?"

She looked at Giles, who looked that up. "Our records have him at a small college in Ireland running their drama department. Which does work well for many ancient beings. They do know drama." He put that book back into his pocket. He smiled a bit. "We keep track of some of them but we had no idea that there's still some with temples outside the Western European areas or in the US. The former Council didn't really keep track outside of European style countries."

"Tamara said that she found a few hidden temples in Central America but wasn't sure if they were living in them," Buffy reminded him. "She was sure one was teaching in a local town."

"Good point." He patted her on the hand. "There's not many places they can live if they can't fit into the normal world these days."

"We have that same problem," the MaCUSA president said with a sigh at the end. "Our no-maj all prove that to us each year a new class comes in."

She nodded. "They have to go home to the normal world outside school stuff so they still have to live there. I'm guessing you guys kinda halted some things like the Amish do."

"Not quite that ancient of ways," he said with a smile. "Though some of our communities are nearly there. The ones in England are nearly Victorian." Giles shuddered. "Quite. We feel the same way about the older clothes."

"Wow, they'd really hate the fashion shows this year," Buffy quipped. "I couldn't live without fashionable stuff. My girls all learn how to be cute bait while still able to fight in stuff."

"I wish they'd wear better outfits for that," Giles told her. "Do take that pink skirt away from the girls, Buffy."

"I've tried. Faith snatched it last time and burned it."

"Thank you. It really doesn't look appropriate on most of you." She nodded. "The girls also learn how to act like bait even if they're more shrewd."

"Yeah, I may seem like the airhead cheerleader I used to be," Buffy said with a grin. "But I'm not. It gets us underestimated."

The others just nodded at that.

The MaCUSA president cleared his throat. "Miss Summers, is this one of yours? Some of our people in England would like to speak to him." He slid down a paper.

She grinned. "You know about Xander? What did he do? Did something bad flirt with him? They like him a lot even when he doesn't pay any attention to them."

"It seems he rather tripped and accidentally ended a major threat to the London magical community." She burst out giggling, nodding at that.

"That is rather Xander's luck," Giles admitted. "He apologized profusely for irritating England by tripping into someone and knocking them into a street, which got them hit by a speeding bus. They were important?"

"They were starting the next movement of pureblood pushiness." He took the paper back. "According to the report, some child was playing with their parent's wand and put some sort of leg locker curse on him, which made him stumble, run into Mr. Malfoy, and knocked him in front of one of our magical busses. Thereby ending a problem." Giles winced at that. "Does he often do that?"

"Things happen around Xander and we have no idea why," Buffy said with a grin. "But sometimes he has to handle things too. Was he really upset?"

"That he had caused the accident. He even apologized to their family. Who was not impressed and slightly evil by themselves. We were all amused when we found out why." He smiled. "Is that your person in Africa?" Giles nodded. "Interesting. Has he had incidences like that down there?"

"Not that he's reported. He's had some battles. He's moved all his slayers to safer locations in the last few weeks. He stopped a sorcerer making zombies by throwing up on their fire by accident." Buffy burst out giggling again. "Some rather bad street sausage he said. Then he realized it was a resurrection ritual and chewed the sorcerer a new one. One of the peaceful community nearby walked him off and promised they'd stop him making zombies for profit."

"That's charming of him." He smiled. "Is he naturally from there?"

"Sunnydale. He was born and raised there," Buffy quipped. "He carries a ton of hellmouth radiation but no one's sure why."

"He did have radiation sickness after the town fell in," Giles agreed. "We had to detox some of that for him." Bush moaned at that, slumping and shaking his head. "We have not found anyone in Cleveland that has that problem. We've checked to make sure."

"The world only needs one Xander," Buffy quipped, getting swatted for it. "Hey!"

"In the multiple universes, there's at least one realm where he's twins or even triplets," he reminded her. "They probably have fewer problems."

"Those poor worlds," she said then sighed and shook her head. "I like Xander like a brother but sometimes...." Giles swatted her again. "Sorry. Old habits." She ducked her head slightly.

Giles rolled his eyes. "They knew each other in high school." The guys in there all nodded.

"Hell, I have a frat brother who still calls me Stinky," President Bush said with a grin. "Old friends can be that way." He looked at her. "What do your girls need outside less attention on them, Miss Summers?"

"That would be great. If someone wants to fall into battles, that's fine. If someone wants to give Paul in the armory weapons for us, that'd be great too. We could use the kitten poker winnings for things like rescuing the girls from bad dates." That got a nod. "No one there scares them like Xander does. I sure can't."

"Men, especially male paternal figures, are often seen as more scary," the head of the CIA said. "Do your people gather intelligence?"

"We hear gossip about things during poker games. Mostly we hear if there's going to be an upcoming battle, who's making a huge move, all that stuff. We hear if there's something huge going on off-realm that may mean a lot of immigration going on. That can sometimes cause us problems with people who don't understand or want to make sure they have power down here."

She shrugged a bit. "We keep track of our stats on how many were caught coming up and how many we staked in the clubs, and which clubs they're in. We don't hear stuff that would probably help you. Xander might if he's hearing stuff to protect his girls. I know one of his first things was to move a girl who was near a place where they're having a civil war restart."

"Does he report that?"

"We have no interest in human problems unless they're going to cause our duty issues," Giles told him. "He knows that. Though he never really reports on anything so none of us can complain that they had another battle but a hell goddess stepped in to stop it by beating her ex-boyfriend."

Buffy looked at him. "Recently?"

"Last month," he sighed. "He stood her up on a date so they broke up. He came down looking for a new girlfriend so she showed up to have an argument. She ended up slapping him and stomping off and he went home to pout according to the report I got from the military there. Xander's was not very informative but did say that the battle had been stopped by an angry former lover. No note on whose."

"I mean, if it was one of his," she offered. "Most of his do things like deal arms."

"True." He patted her hand again. "Xander's lovers are often drawn to him and are often not exactly light sided beings," he explained. "Which has helped his duty down there immensely."

Nick Fury grimaced. "Wow."

"They help the girls so I don't mostly care what else they do," Buffy told him. "As long as they're not hurting my girls and Xander doesn't have to protect them, then all that flies right over my ponytail. I've got too much work to do planning for patrol that night."

He nodded. "I can see why. I might know some people who might like to meet your watcher." He looked at the others, who looked amused.

"Would someone like a genocidal leader be attracted to him?" Bush asked.

"No. Xander would probably work against that kind," Buffy said. "Lighter sided bad guys. I know one was an assassin. One sold arms. He took out a guy who was doing bio weapons by giving a poker debt his address and let him go have fun with his camp. The demon got to pay off a few other debts he owed that way too. No one was upset that one went down because Xander had cut his security system."

She sat up straighter and wiggled some. "They had a militia type group down there that he tricked into getting into a battle. The local government was too far away so he tricked them into coming for him. Only had to fight a few before the battle started and then they were amused so took out the militia people. Xander took their weapons to use on the ones coming over to eat people. I heard he sent their people a note about how nice it was they had helped that way."

Bush burst out laughing. "Yeah, that's real unique."

Giles sighed. "It wasn't *good* of him but it was expedient and did work. It spared the locals being overrun and harmed as well."

"You do what you gotta do when it's you and a sword or an axe against a lot of bad guys," Buffy agreed with a slight nod. "Or they're really big. Then you go change clothes, treat the injuries, and then sulk. Or at least I sulk." Giles patted her on the hand again. She looked at the index list and chose one to show them. "That battle I think."

They all watched what happened and how that guy had handled it. The head of the CIA squeaked at one thing then bit his lip so he wouldn't comment on that other group. No, he did not want to know how that had happened. Ever. Though his people hated that group of militants. "May I have copies of those, Mr. Giles? For my own people to look up and find any other ones that may have been taped. We can use it for training our new recruits in how to handle a battle they run into."

"I do not mind. I didn't bring anything too outrageous or too upsetting. Though I'm aware there have been a few. One Xander's whole report stated it was bad, he was getting drunk for a week, and if the world died, great. That was the whole report. I didn't want to ask."

"Willow did," Buffy said, looking at him. "He got called to help take something out of a school." Giles winced. "A few hours after they found it. They had tried and failed to get it."

"No wonder he drank for a week," he muttered.

"He did handle a battle while drunk too. Someone tried something really stupid while he was drinking in the middle of nowhere so he handled it with his axe. He admitted it when Willow scried that situation to find out why it was so bad." Giles looked up and sighed. She texted Willow, who emailed her that film she had taped off the scrying portal. She ran it for them.

They got to watch the drunk guy smack the newly appearing demon with his axe to knock him out then toss him back over before huffing and going back to drinking. When the being showed back up Xander shot it this time and let it lay there until the portal closed around it and cut it in half. "He probably buried it when he had sobered up."

"I have some agents I consider screwy," Fury said. "I think your guy would fit in really well with them."

"He might like a better paycheck but the girls would pout about him leaving them," Buffy told him. "Please don't. He's the only guy sort near most of the girls outside of Andrew and they look to them for how to deal with guys. Even if they do nag him and pick on them and discount Xander horribly because I have."

"No, I don't want to hire him. That sort of duty's important," Fury assured her. She grinned at that. "How old are you two anyway?"

"That was our graduation in '99," she quipped.

He counted backwards from the current year of 2007 then sighed. "You're all really young." He looked at Giles. "Are most of your people field trained?"

"No. Most of the ones who survived were research watchers," he admitted. "We've been hiring more but we don't really want to add in too many agents and not hardly any military people unless they can prove they won't try to harm the girls. We had hired one agent and he tried to gather testing information on the girls for his people. We do have to worry about such things."

(scene continues in next part)
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