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Protective Orders (Angel Season 5/Buffy Season 8 fic)

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  • Protective Orders (Angel Season 5/Buffy Season 8 fic)

    Title: "Protective Orders"
    Rating: PG-13
    Characters: primarily Buffy, Xander, Andrew
    Setting: Angel Season 5, prior to and after 5.11 "Damage"
    Spoilers: Angel Season 5 through "Damage", general spoilers related to Buffy Season 8 concepts and settings, but no events, since they hadn't happened yet
    Disclaimers: I don't own any of this stuff. I'm just playing with Joss' characters and settings and as always we thank him for not suing us


    Buffy Summers stared doubtfully at the sleek black and red sculpture of metal and fiberglass in the castle's garage. Their motor pool was not typically so? pretty. Or shiny. Except for the Range Rover, but Buffy had formed an irrational distrust of all vehicles taller than herself over the years.

    But this was so, so not that kind of vehicle.

    "Buh," opined the Slayer, staring at the motorcycle. Complete with red bow. With a glance behind her, she saw Renee, Leah, and Satsu beaming giddy smiles at her stunned reaction, and couldn't help but smile herself. I can't believe this is what they meant!

    Dawn's card had said that she and Faith, of all people, had talked over Buffy's birthday present and come up with something that would give her crazy dreams. When the note referred to Faith wanting Buffy to have power between her legs, Buffy just assumed a sexual gag gift would be followed by a nice sweater, or a leather jacket that was actually paid for in advance. But clearly she had underestimated her baby sister.

    Buffy pulled the brochure off the seat of the bike, and saw that it was a "Ducati 1098S". She naturally had no idea at all what that meant, but it sounded just fantastic, and she loved the black paint job with red pieces of frame visible. She had no idea how to ride it, but she knew Satsu rode ? someone must have worked out a deal with her to give lessons. Probably Xander, Buffy speculated. Makes sense he'd be involved ? the iPod was awesome, but a little uninspired.

    "Okay, you guys got me. Nice motor pool emergency, girls, thanks," Buffy laughed, bowing her head in mock embarrassment to the three Slayers behind her. They clapped in approval that their ruse had succeeded in ?getting' the boss.

    "Mr. Harris told me to be a cheap street bike to teach you on, because, and I quote, ?he knows how you drive'," Satsu offered with a conspiratorial smirk.

    "A lovely play toy ye've got there, Buffy, but I still dinnae why nobody remembered that it's the middle of a Scotland winter. When can ye ride the thing?" Leah teased. Buffy frowned, remembering the four inches of snow in the past 18 hours.

    "And it's so unlike you not to point that out to anyone, too," Buffy jabbed back dryly.

    Leah just shrugged innocently.

    "Okay," Buffy continued, "this is really an awesome present guys, and I know everyone must have chipped in somehow. There really aren't words. And I can't wait to learn to ride it? once it warms up a little." That last she directed to Satsu with a nod. The Japanese girl flushed with pride at being singled out, Buffy noticed, pretty much any time. She was lucky was such a sucker for gratitude, because she fed her compliments all the time because of it.

    Before she could continue, she saw Renee reach up to her earpiece. Like Xander and all the other Slayers who regularly worked in what Xander called the "C-I-C", stolen from one military movie or another, Renee wore one of those new Bluetooth headsets almost every waking hour. Buffy had gotten used to the site of people talking to themselves in front of her over the last few weeks.

    "Yeah, we're in the garage," Renee told the thin air. "Yes? yes Mr. Har ? yes, Xander, sorry. We'll come up right away." Renee looked at Buffy cautiously as she disconnected the call. "Buffy, he needs to talk to you upstairs. Sorry."

    Buffy wasn't sure if she was apologizing for making it sound like Xander was summoning her, or for interrupting the birthday present moment, or for something else completely. Renee was one of the Slayers that always seemed a little intimidated by anyone with "Sunnydale" on their r?sum?. True, they'd only know most of these girls for a couple months, but it was a little bewildering to be treated like royalty half the time.

    "That's okay, Renee," Buffy said as gently as possible, "I needed to get upstairs anyway. Why don't you walk with me? Satsu, Leah, why don't you go check with Rowena and see if she needs some help ordering furniture for the rooms?"

    The two Slayers nodded and fled. Nobody ever turned down a chance to officially spend some of the nearly incalculable wealth Giles had recovered from the Council's assets to decorate their new digs.

    Any hope Buffy had of trying to connect with Renee in the short walk from the garage to the east tower were dashed immediately. Renee fell in step behind and beside Buffy like an escort and not a friend, and Buffy frowned. How do you talk to someone who treats you like the Queen of England?
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  • #2

    Buffy stepped into the command center in the east tower of their castle and tried to act like it wasn't still the weirdest thing she'd ever seen. Renee stepped around her left side, all business, and tapped Xander on the shoulder. Buffy furrowed her brow to keep from giggling at the site of Xander, wearing a button down shirt over jeans, standing on a dais in a room surrounded by computer stations and view screens where, in theory, they'd be able to keep tabs on all the teams of Slayers they were forming and helping them coordinate missions and respond to emergencies.

    She tried not to giggle, but it wasn't a perfect success. Even as Xander turned around when Renee let him know they'd arrived, he was already blushing when he saw Buffy trying not to crack up. Oh, why do they take us so seriously when we can barely take ourselves seriously? Buffy said inwardly.

    "Buffy, I trust everything went smoothly in the garage?" Xander asked, trying to muster smoothness and authority.

    "Well, someone set all your tools and the workshop on fire, is all," Buffy answered casually.

    "And you and Woodstock were able to keep the Chateau from burning down? Great work."

    Buffy laughed, but also saw the seriousness under Xander's smile. She tipped her head toward the other entrance to the command center. It was the door to the conference room-slash-study where they were meant to do research but mostly played Scrabble. Xander nodded in silent agreement, and turned back to Renee.

    "Number One, you have the con," Xander said with as much of a Patrick Stewart as he could put on it. Renee giggled indulgently, and Buffy's eyes widened. She could smell ?crush' on her a mile away. Still smiling to herself at that development, Buffy followed her friend into the smaller, private room.

    "You just had to go Star Trek, this wasn't already silly enough?" Buffy asked, closing the door behind her as she followed Xander into the room.

    "So I guess calling this my ready room is not a good place to go from there, then?" Xander answered, shaking his head in mock disappointment. "Look, Buffy, I'm sorry we beamed you back up from Planet Birthday so fast ?"

    "Yeah, about that? thank you, Xan! I don't know what you guys were thinking with a motorcycle, but Buffy likey. Much freewheeling fun ahead." Buffy stepped over to hug him warmly. His workout program was clearly not a joke; there was a lot less padding than she remembered even from before Thanksgiving. "But I have to ask? what's with the iPod, if you were chipping in on a motorcycle?"

    "I needed a cover present and Dawn said she's slap me if I bought her big sister leather chaps," Xander replied, winking his good eye at Buffy. The Slayer gently slugged him in the arm as she stepped away.

    "It would go so well with the leather jacket from Faith, though," Buffy began. She enjoyed teasing back and forth with Xander. It was only so often that the people around her treated her like a real person, without Dawn around. Or Willow.

    "Buffy," Xander interrupted, "we found a new Slayer."

    Normally this would have been good news, but Buffy heard a tone in Xander's voice that suggested something was different this time.

    "We did? Is she? is she okay? What's ?"

    "She's not okay, Buffy. But it's not just that. There's another problem."

    "Xander, you can skip the dramatic pause, we're not going to commercial. Tell me what's going on?"

    "Okay," Xander sighed. Buffy saw him swallow before speaking. "Giles just called me. He was contacted by Wesley a couple hours ago. Wesley said that a psychotic vampire Slayer broke out of a mental institution and is running around Los Angeles. Wolfram & Hart wants our help to find her.

    "Buh," Buffy said.
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    • #3

      The hurt was still fresh enough for Buffy to sit down when the law firm's name was mentioned. It had only been eight months, but it still felt like about eight days.

      After Sunnydale had collapsed, the whole gang of them had needed shelter and care while the normal world responded to what would look like a huge natural disaster. Given that they had at least one fugitive murderer and a couple illegal aliens in their stolen school bus, they didn't want to be around when the first CHiPs showed up to find out what the hell had happened.

      Buffy had ached inside over their losses, but she remembered her ?second front' against the First ? Angel, who'd come to help her with Caleb, had brought the amulet that had? had won the fight. She had been the one to suggest they go to L.A. Angel's hotel had room enough for all of them to hang out and come up with the next steps.

      Well, it had been a great theory. What really happened was that they had pulled up the Hyperion hotel and found its gate locked and a "FOR LEASE" sign on it, indicating that Wolfram & Hart was the property owner and to contact them if interested. Willow and Faith had been there less than two weeks earlier, but it looked like it had been abandoned for months already. They were right beside Buffy in alarm, and near panic, at what it might mean. Buffy remembered being certain that Angel had been dead. Perhaps killed for stealing the amulet, even. She'd been going mostly on adrenaline for days and felt herself starting to unravel out of fear. Xander had taken her by the shoulders to hold her up without making it look like she needed help just to stand.

      It had been Giles that had come up with the idea of checking Wesley's apartment. He and Xander had gone and followed him when they found him looking perfectly safe. They'd followed him to the Wolfram & Hart building. A talk to a receptionist and a pilfered copy of the company newsletter had told them the rest. Angel was the new CEO.

      Buffy winced at the mental image of that announcement. She'd heard Angel explain that law firm many times. Evil, Inc. Transdimensional manipulators of human and demon law to advance a long term agenda of ending the world. Angel's very mortal enemy, now his partner. When the group had talked about it, they realized either he was in trouble deeper than they could help him with or had been compromised. Willow did a spell and new he still had his soul ? it was just no longer clear if he was using it.

      "Buffy?" Xander broke into her pained reflection.

      "I? I didn't expect to?"

      "Nobody did," Xander finished for her. "The intelligence Giles is getting still has Angel's group running a big party in L.A. a few weeks ago they hosted a party where the guest of honor was one of the most feared demons in the world. They also got a mass murderer off at his trial. I was pretty surprised that they'd been calling us for help all of the sudden."

      "What do they want with her?" Buffy asked tentatively.

      "According to Giles, just to get her off the street. But that Angel was pretty non-specific as to how or why. He just wanted us to send a consultant to help them track her and retrieve her."

      "Why does that not sound like a good thing?" Buffy mumbled the question under her breath, staring at the floor.

      "It doesn't sound so great to me, either. Buffy, look, I'm not trying to dig into old wounds, but this is Wolfram & Hart. Whether Angel's in control of it, or it's in control of him, it's still the bad people at the bad place doing the bad stuff."

      "Maybe I should go. I'll talk to him myself and find out for good and all what's going on."

      "Maybe slap him around for your trouble?" Xander offered hopefully. He sat down on the conference room's sofa and clasped his hands.

      Buffy sat next to him, slouching backwards despondently. "Unless that's the whole idea," Buffy sighed. "If he's really turned, or if that company is manipulating him, maybe she's bait. Maybe she's not even alive. We need to know more about what's going on there."

      "Buffy, I'm years past trying to tell you how to handle your exes, but how do you plan to get more information if we don't go and help? I mean, I'd go, but we didn't like each other before he became the devil's advocate."

      Buffy smiled at him. "No, I don't think either of us is going to see clearly on this one anyway. I'm just as likely to make an excuse for him as you are to think of a reason he's evil again."

      "Ms. Summers?" A voice interjected from the doorway. Buffy looked up and saw one of the younger Slayers. Spanish, if she remembered, but the name escaped at the moment. Couldn't be that close, because she didn't know that Buffy hated Slayers calling her Ms. Summers. The girl had that same in-the-presence-of-royalty look that Renee had shown, and Buffy realized it wasn't anything so complicated. She wasn't their Queen. She was their haven. She had been the one that thought up making these girls Slayers, had redefined their lives, and they needed guidance and leadership. She had made it, and now she was for it.

      "Yes?" Buffy asked, sitting up and trying to smile invitingly.

      "Incoming call from Mr. Wells. He's finished signing the lease information for the Cleveland team and is anxious to speak to you."

      Despite herself, Buffy chuckled. Xander did the same. The mister and miss was one thing with them ? with Andrew it was just hysterical. Who could ever take Andrew that seriously?

      Suddenly, Buffy and Xander looked at each other in realization. She could practically feel the heat of the light bulbs over their heads.
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      • #4

        "You are out of your freakin' restraining bolt, Artoo!" Andrew exclaimed through the video conference. Buffy had had the call transferred into the conference room where she and Xander could talk to him in relative privacy. Buffy admitted to herself this was as much to keep innocent bystanders from being exposed to too much Andrew-speak as it was for discretion about the plan. The fact that Andrew was dressed a little like an old "Doctor Who" rerun wouldn't help anyone take him more seriously.
        Xander sighed and slumped his shoulders. Buffy couldn't tell if he was having second thoughts, or just wished he didn't get the reference. Buffy patted him on the arm ? if he was that much of a geek, she was, too.

        "Andrew, Buffy Slaywalker needs your help," Buffy tried to sound as sincere as possible. "You're the only one who can complete this mission." She hoped speaking his language might calm him.

        "We need your skills, Andrew. You see details, you can think on your feet. You'll see stuff we won't because any of us are too close to these people. You've never even met them. This is really important. We need to find out what's going on. Maybe Angel's not the one pulling the strings, maybe they're getting pulled. You can find that out."

        As always, Andrew appeared to respond to flattery. He rubbed his chin, probably imagining stubble, and nodded. "So this is a straight-up lower the shield generator, disable the tractor beam, and get out kind of run, then? Don't have to blow up the Death Star?"

        Buffy and Xander only trusted themselves only enough to nod.

        "It's just like we said. Tell them anything they need to hear about us except the truth. You can scatter us around the world if you want. Don't mention the castle under any circumstances, or Cleveland, not until we know more. Once we know what they are up to out there, that should be enough, and you we'll get you a new assignment. A better one, honest."

        It's no wonder he was a good contractor, Buffy realized, watching the relaxed, salesman-like posture Xander leaned against the conference table with. He could sell a basement in Florida.

        Buffy sat and listened as Xander and Andrew kept going through details. She could see Andrew visibly relax. He was chanting the mantra ? "shield generator, tractor beam, Millennium Falcon" ? to settle his nerves when he wasn't answering or asking a question.

        I hate this, Buffy concluded. Spying on my ex. I used to have a real problem with that. Maybe we don't have to do this at all. It's not like Angel would hurt her ? Buffy's rationalization stopped in its tracks. Maybe Angel wouldn't, but maybe Wolfram & Hart would. Or, damnit, maybe Angel would. There was just no way to know anymore.

        There was a Slayer out there, and as far as Buffy could say for certain, the most evil organized force on the planet was about to lock her up. Angel or not, ex or not, the main consideration couldn't be overlooked. Buffy shook her head back to alertness as she heard Andrew repeat his instructions one last time.

        "? alright, Admiral Ackbar," Andrew summarized. Apparently Xander had reassured him enough to go from droid to squid. "I'll get the intel, say whatever it takes, hop on the Millennium Falcon and get back to Yavin. Anything I'm forgetting?"

        Buffy jumped in before Xander could agree. "Yeah," she declared, "we need to save the princess."
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        • #5

          Xander stared at her expectantly, with a look of surprise.

          "We can't just leave a Slayer out there defenseless. All? all kinds of things could hurt her." Buffy reasoned. She could tell the full implication of what she was saying didn't go by Xander. Andrew's image on the videophone looked dumbfounded.

          "Buffy," Xander began slowly, "Andrew's not going to be able to bring her out by himself. And that's not even if there are no, uh, problems getting his hands on her."

          Buffy appreciated Xander trying to talk around it, but it didn't minimize what she'd have to say.

          "So he doesn't go alone. Andrew," Buffy said, turning her attention to the videophone, "you're getting a promotion to Jedi Master. And you're taking some knights with you. Get Wood and Faith to find you any Slayer they have on hand that would like to see California. Not Faith ? L.A. is not her stomping ground and she knows it. They'll go with you and stay out of your way. If you need help subduing this crazy Slayer, they'll have your back."

          "Buffy? What if he doesn't want me to take her?" Leave it to Andrew to point at the elephant in the room.

          "Like I said, Andrew? they'll have your back."

          Xander looked surprised. Floored, more like it. "Buffy, you think they'll believe Andrew has the authority to push those kinds of buttons? No matter what he tells them about us, he doesn't exude the natural authority to be that convincing. No offense, Andrew."

          "None taken. I'm comfortable with my unassuming posture." Andrew answered breezily.

          Buffy looked up at Xander soberly. "You're right. But I do. Andrew, if it comes to that, you being able to get this Slayer out of LA and anyone else keeping her there, you tell them it's straight from me. There isn't anyone in L.A. we trust with one of our own, do you understand?"

          Andrew locked eyes with her. Buffy did her best to find Willow's "resolve face" to show him. Andrew agreed quietly, and signed off.

          Buffy immediately let out a breath, and the breath turned into a quiet sob. A lone tear started running down her cheek. "Xander, what did I just do?"

          Xander didn't say anything, he just sat Buffy down on the couch and put an arm around her. She appreciated the quiet ? Xander wasn't always that helpful on this subject. Buffy just leaned her head on his shoulder and sniffled. She couldn't weep, but she couldn't just pretend she hadn't just told someone to take a team of Slayers to Los Angeles and threaten or force Angel to cooperate with them.

          "Buffy, if you didn't care, you wouldn't be the right one to make the decisions," Xander said, running a hand over her hair. Buffy nodded, composing herself. Standing up, she wiped the few tears still wet on her face and brushed her hair behind her ears.

          "Xander, go tell Giles what's going on. Tell him to get back to Wesley and graciously let him know we're sending our best man. Don't," her voice caught, "don't tell him about the rest just yet."

          "You've got it, Captain Picard," Xander said reassuringly.

          "I don't know what to resent there, that I'm just a Captain, or that I'm a bald man. Besides, that's your bridge, not mine," she said, gesturing toward the control room. "Get back to it."

          They shared a smile as Xander mustered a lazy salute and led their way back out into the control room.

          Xander walked immediately back up to his dais. "Okay, gang, who wants to drive out to the village and bring back dinner for the whole castle?"

          The room giggled. Buffy watched approvingly and caught Renee's eye. The younger Slayer stopped laughing right away, as if caught doing something wrong.

          Okay, that's quite enough, Buffy decided. She walked over to the teenager and wrapped an arm around her shoulder like she was greeting her best friend.

          "Renee, we have got to do something about your complete joylessness in the office. Not nearly enough goofing off. Let's talk. Better yet, let's play a game. It's called ?anywhere but here'."

          Buffy pulled the younger Slayer out of the control room and off for an evening of conversation.
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          • #6

            Three days later, Buffy stood with her arms crossed besides her new motorcycle. She still hadn't even had a chance to start it up.

            She watched patiently as Andrew and a couple of the Slayers who had accompanied him unloaded the unconscious Slayer they'd brought back ? Dana, Buffy reminded herself ? from LA. She was sedated. They'd place her in their infirmary under guard and make plans for medical or magical care for her as needed.

            Xander had parked the Rover and held the doors open. Once the Slayers took their new guest inside, he went over to stand by Buffy. Andrew joined them a moment later.

            "She's pretty rough around the edges right now," Xander offered. He'd gone to meet them at the airport.

            "She's looked worse, mon fr?re," Andrew sighed.

            "How, uh," Buffy started, shuffling her feet idly, "how hard was it get a hold of her?"

            "It took back-up," Andrew said quietly. Xander lowered his head as well. Buffy appreciated their silent agreement not to comment additionally.

            "Thank you for doing this, Andrew. We needed to know."

            Andrew nodded silent thanks to her. After a moment of the three of them studying the floor, Andrew drew in a breath and spoke. "Buffy, there's something I want to suggest. I've been in the secret inner sanctum and they have all the good toys and aren't shy with the mojo. It's one thing for me to tell them you and Dawn are hanging out in Rome and another thing for them to find out you're not."

            Buffy listened to his proposal. They would use a decoy. Buffy had difficulty with the practice, but she understood the necessity. They had already put one in the field as a lone wolf demon hunter fighting demons on their own underground turf. Buffy hadn't had a chance to meet her in person. When they had a rough plan, they decided Andrew would go to Rome himself to act as handler. Maybe they would even set up a team in Rome.

            "Xander, make sure that the guards get scheduled. I'll sit with her tonight, though."

            Xander nodded and squeezed Buffy's hand. "Maybe tomorrow it'll be warmer and you can get your first riding lesson."

            Buffy smiled warmly at the effort. She watched Xander turn to leave. Andrew rocked in place, his hands dug into the pockets of his trench coat. Buffy still thought he looked like a "Doctor Who" rerun, but not quite as goofy as she expected.

            "Andrew, you can use one of the quarters here tonight. You're a welcome guestage." Despite herself, Buffy laughed. Andrew joined in.

            "Okay, but I'm not baking anything." He turned to go.

            "Go get some sleep."

            About halfway across the garage, Andrew stopped and turned around. Buffy looked up, curious.

            "Buffy? I should tell you something?" Andrew said, looking back toward her.

            "Yeah, Andrew, what is it?" Buffy answered. She saw Andrew hesitate.

            "Uh? well, thank you for sending me."

            "You did great, Andrew. Thanks."

            After he left, Buffy turned and looked at her Ducati. She looked at it longingly before heading to the infirmary.
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