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By Royal Appointment

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  • By Royal Appointment

    --A Buffy season 8 story, though perhaps more accurate to say a story set immediately before the beginning of season 8. Some mentions of another fandoms, because in my mind, all fictional universes are one big glorious reality, but not technically a crossover. Also features slightly paranoid conspiracy theory hints, just because that’s fun.--

    Elizabeth frowned as she looked at the latest report from her man at the JIC. He’d passed the information to her directly, bypassing Whitehall, as he was supposed to. Harry Pierce was a good egg like that.

    But this situation made her incredibly cross. How DARE they?

    Oh, she knew very well how they dared. They were evil, and that hardly led to a respect for human life, never mind of human property. Not that it was her private property, but still. It was a Royal Park. Her favourite!

    “We have vampires in Richmond Park again,” she said. “Apparently they’ve set up camp in Pembroke Lodge. You know, where that little tea shop is.”

    “We should call in Torchwood, Mummy.”

    “Oh, Torchwood!” sniffed the Queen. “Honestly, Charles, just because you’re the Prince of Wales, doesn’t mean that the answer to every dilemma lies in Cardiff. Besides. Vampires are sub- rather than extra-terrestrial, so they don’t exactly fall under Captain Jack’s remit – even if we could trust him not to stuff things up.”

    “What do you suggest then?” said Charles. He felt a little hurt on Torchwood’s behalf. It was his little corner of the sky – his mother had made him Royal Liaison for the institute to cheer him up, back when he was going through his rather messy divorce. Mind you, he did sometimes wonder if Mummy had planned to use Captain Jack’s resources to rid them of a certain related problem, had an accident not taken care of that…

    Anyway, say what one might against Torchwood… as a man who loved architecture almost as much as he loved sustainable farming, that invisible lift really was jolly impressive.

    “If we’re not using Torchwood, what do you suggest? UNIT? But surely we can’t trust them with national security. Given their recent bout of cosying up to Iran over that Sontaran landing…”

    The Queen shook her head. “I agree, and I am not going to call on UNIT. Don’t get so het up, Charles.”

    “But, who else do we have?”

    “Someone new,” said the Queen.

    Xander switched off the video screen. His hand was trembling. As the screen fizzed to black, Buffy entered the control room. She strode over, all concern.

    “Xander? What’s wrong? You’ve gone all whiter shade of pale.”

    “And I think I am most definitely feeling kind of seasick.”

    “Who was on the video phone thingie?” Buffy’s voice took on a note of serious worry. “Nothing’s gone wrong with teleporting Dawn has it?”

    “She’s fine,” said Xander, making every effort to keep his voice even. “That was…” he blinked at the ridiculousness. “The Queen. Of England. And also possibly Canada. On the phone. To me. With talking. And...I’m wearing sweatpants. With actual sweat.”

    “Breathe!” Buffy laid a hand on Xander’s shoulder. “And, you don’t think it was a prank call? One of the girls maybe…?”

    “One of the girls who has the most convincing prosthetic mask I’ve ever seen this side of Ethan’s Enchanted Costume Shop? Look!”

    Xander switched on the screen and showed the last frame of the message. The Queen’s face unmistakably filled the monitor.

    “Oh.” Buffy’s eyes widened.

    There was a pause.

    “What did she say?”

    “She needs our help.”

    “And what did you say?”

    “I’m not sure I so much spoke as gibbered. But I gibbered in a vaguely positive direction, pending, of course, a decision from our head honcho. Which would be you.”

    “You called me a honcho to the Queen of England?”

    “Or possibly it was El Hefe.” Xander pursed his lips to give an innocent little whistle.

    Buffy glared.

    “Or it might have been Generalissmo Summers.” Xander continued to look innocent.

    Buffy gave him the death glare that she usually reserved for special occasions and/or Andrew. “My weapons are many and my temper is short, you know.”

    Buffy, Xander and Renee took a commercial flight from Glasgow airport – presumably paid for by whatever mysterious means the Queen used for “off the books” stuff. They were checked onto the flight with false names and passports (which arrived by a shifty-looking courier). But the journey was uneventful enough, by Scooby travel standards. When you’ve had road trips that involved being chased by medieval warriors, or a town collapsing into a giant crater in your rear view mirror, a little fake passport action was as normal as a bag of salted nuts.

    Once they’d boarded and the plane had taken off, Buffy leaned back in her slightly uncomfy seat - seriously, would it have hurt the Queen to shell out for Business Class? – and took a moment to allow her mind to wander. She glanced at Renee and Xander, who were sitting a little awkwardly, reading the in-flight magazine, with its offers of cut-price perfumes and unnecessary stuffed animals. She put on her headphones, wondering if they might feel a bit more easy chatting without her listening in. Though, obviously she was still listening, as she didn’t bother to tune into one of the in flight entertainment stations. What? She wasn’t going to miss any chances to tease Xander later.

    Buffy had kept the mission secret from the general slayer population, not in a spirit of security so much, just because she knew they’d ALL clamour to come along, and it would be hard to pick someone without it seeming like favouritism. Xander had argued Renee’s case, because, he said, the new slayer seemed to have a level head on her shoulders. Plus, she’d shown a growing interest in X-Men lately, and Xander felt this should be rewarded.

    Liar, liar, pants on fire...with desire...for a slayer.... Buffy thought, with a smile, as she listened to Xander cracking a joke about some advertisement he’d found in the magazine. And, ok, that didn’t rhyme, but this is my brain, and I can make torturous half-rhymes if I wanna.

    Anyway, she was glad that Xander had someone to flirt with. She shouldn’t stop him from making new friends just because her love life was an arid wasteland of nothing. Or…maybe she was pushing him towards Renee in a spirit of vicarious smoochies? Or maybe she just appreciated someone else making the decisions sometimes? It was nice, that feeling that she could delegate to people she trusted.

    Since they’d set up their base in Scotland, and divvied up the girls who were ready for action into squads, she did have that panic sometimes – of not knowing where all the pieces were, and not being sure she should really be letting the girls loose on the world just yet, without her being there to look after them.

    But that was the point, wasn’t it? She wasn’t their General, she was one of them. Sort of. Ok, one of them, but with more experience and, you know, the whole being in charge thing. But, she firmly believed that the slayers should have some autonomy. This wasn’t Watcher’s Council Revisited. They were doing something new here. Yes. New. And good?


    The mission itself was easy. They’d been giving instructions along with the fake passports, and it turned out to be a simple stake and go operation, taking out a small nest of less-than-fearsome vampires. The vamps, it turned out, were a bunch of Rolling Stones groupies who had come to Richmond in the hope of turning Mick Jagger.

    Buffy could’ve done it without Renee and Xander, easily, though she thought it was probably nice for Xander to get back in the field for a change. It was nice for her, too, going back to the straightforward jobs. Also, to hone her puns, which she felt had gotten a little flabby in all the time she spent co-ordinating and planning and whatnot.
    As they cut a swath through the nest, she, Xander and Renee took it in turns to think up relevant referency puns.

    “Can you think of something for...I can’t get no satisfaction?” Xander called out to Renee, who was engaged in fisticuffs with a teenage-looking female vamp in leather pants. Probably the same leather pants she wore in the 70s, given how shabby they were looking now. “And will be graded on this answer.”

    Renee glanced back at him, smiling shyly and pulling her stake out, thrusting it through the creature’s heart. She turned to Xander, eyebrow cocked. “How’s that for easy action?”

    “Get a room,” muttered Buffy. She pouted to herself. “I only get my rocks off when I’m dreaming.”

    “What?” growled the paunchy male vampire she was fighting. “If you want some easy action, I’ll give it to you, girlie!”

    “Hey, no stealing other people’s puns,” said Buffy, clocking him around the head with a roundhouse, then following up with a neat little kick to the stomach as he doubled over. She staked him quickly. As the dust cleared from his pouffing, Buffy looked around her. They’d staked the last vampire. “Bet he wants me to get off his cloud. Or...out of it.” She sighed. “I suck.”

    They were standing in a now-destroyed tea room, with broken tables and smashed teapots and other crockery all around them.

    “You’re just rusty,” comforted Xander, strolling over to her. He whispered to her as Renee was gathering up a dropped stake on the other side of the room.

    “Plus, I heard that dream one. That was gold.”

    Buffy grimaced and ambled over to the nearest window. The others joined her there, looking out at the park.

    The sun started to come up over the tree-clad hills, and a curious deer wandered closer to the lodge.

    “Pretty,” sighed Buffy.

    “Yeah,” said Renee, but more with her eyes towards Xander than the sunrise or the wildlife. “It’s gorgeous in this light.”

    They stood quietly for a moment, enjoying the calm that comes after an easy fight. Then they heard footsteps, echoing down the corridor of the house.

    “We must’ve missed one,” whispered Renee. “Shall I...?”

    Buffy put a finger to her lips and shook her head. The door to the tearoom opened. Buffy prepared to spring into action, until she saw who was standing in the doorway. A grey-haired, portly old woman in an eggshell blue suit.

    “Hello Miss Summers,” said the Queen. She nodded to Buffy, then to the others. “Xander…Renee. I thought I would come and thank you personally for a job well done. My secret service agents had you under surveillance, and let me know that you were finished. So…here I am. Well done!” The Queen smiled, broadly.

    “Thanks…your…Ma’am?” said Buffy. “Sorry, I’m not exactly sure what I should call you.”

    The Queen eyed her with amusement. “I have a feeling that you don’t exactly fit into any hierarchy that requires us to observe protocol. So…please. Call me Elizabeth.”

    “Buffy.” The slayer stepped forward to shake hands, but no answering hand was raised. Clearly this protocol-shucking thing only went so far.

    “A pleasure,” said the Queen. “There’s a chopper waiting outside, if you’d all like to follow me?”

    At the palace, in a magnificent room with frescoed ceilings and more gold than a Wu Tang Clan convention, the Queen turned her steady gaze to Xander and Renee. “I was wondering if perhaps you two would like a tour? I’d rather like a word with Buffy, if you don’t mind.”

    Xander and Renee went eagerly off, with Xander thinking all the while how green with envy Giles would be. Never mind Andrew. And also a little sad that Willow was AWOL and missing this awesome tourist experience.

    Buffy remained in the chamber with the Queen, feeling molto awkward.

    “Please, sit.” The Queen gestured to a couple of chairs beside a small table. They looked like the sort of antiques that got roped off in museums, not something to park your behind on. But Buffy sat. A flunkey brought tea. Buffy noticed that he was wearing short pouffy trousers and stockings, with buckles on his shoes.

    “So, how do you like Scotland?” the Queen enquired. “Been doing any hunting?”

    “Erm. Well, not exactly. Only vampires. Did you mean vampires? Or...animals? Because I’ve never...with animals. The hunting.” She felt the word pit she was digging beneath her deepen with each flap of her mouth.

    “I was thinking of grice, but...vampires must be good healthy exercise too.”
    Buffy smiled. Bad brain, she thought, as certain inappropriate images of “exercising” with vampires sprung to mind unbidden. There was something about being with this woman, who you were supposed to behave impeccably with at all times, that made her think the most, well, peccable thoughts.

    “You don’t have to be on your best behaviour,” said the Queen.

    “But, you’re, you know, the Queen,” said Buffy. “Makes it a little hard to kick back and relax, you know. I feel like I should be...showing you the proper respect or something. Unless that makes you sound like the Godfather.”

    “I imagine that some of your young charges might feel the same about you,” said the Queen, taking a pointed sip of tea.

    Buffy stared into her own cup for a moment. “I really have no clue.” She looked up again at the straight-backed yet comfortably grandmotherish woman before her. “How do you deal with it? Being...who you are? All the time. Not getting a day just to...goof off. Not that I’m implying you want to...goof off.”

    “Imply away, my dear,” the Queen put down her tea cup. “But in answer to your question...I’ve never known life otherwise. I’ve always been in the public eye, having to observe certain rules. One grows accustomed.”

    “Do you think I will? Grow accustomed?”

    The Queen appeared to think about this. “I really can’t say. But I’m sure you’ll find a way. You’re a resourceful young woman. More tea?”
    Buffy nodded. “Sure. Thanks.”

    The flunkey came and poured out more.
    “I have a question,” said Buffy. “Well, several, actually.”

    “Do ask whatever you wish,” said the Queen. “After all, you’ve done me a favour today.”

    “Do you...did you know about the Watcher’s Council?”

    “Yes. Terrible shame what happened to them. But...” The Queen leant forward, conspiratorially. “Quentin Travers was not a terrible loss... rather an odious little man. Phillip used to play golf with him. Fellow used to move his ball from the rough.”

    Buffy found it hard to suppress a chuckle. That sounded so not surprising.

    “So, have slayers worked for you before?”

    “Not me, personally. While the council was in place, they usually managed their own affairs, and very few people officially knew of their existence... though there were always rumours, and people knew without knowing, if you understand me.”

    “You mean, everyone knew but was too polite to talk about it?”

    “Something like that,” said the Queen. She had a sly smile on her face. “But, as far as officialdom went, it was just myself, the Archbishop and certain persons in the secret services. Even my son never quite believed they existed – he thought they were a branch of the freemasons.”

    “They were the sneakiest,” Buffy agreed. “And what about us? My organisation.”

    “Less sneaky,” said the Queen. “You should be more careful, perhaps. The more people know about you, the greater the danger. But you can count on my discretion. Perhaps that goes without saying.”

    “Well, I didn’t think you’d be dropping it into your next email to the President or anything,” said Buffy. “If you you email the President?”

    “Hardly. I barely know how to turn those dread machines on. But luckily, one has servants for those things.”

    “Mac minions!” said Buffy, without thinking, then cursed herself with a silent Homer doh.

    The Queen smiled politely, and removed her glasses to give them a polish. Buffy laughed.

    “Sorry?” The Queen looked puzzled.

    “You just reminded me of someone for a moment.”


    A moment’s awkwardness allowed Buffy to ponder where Giles might be right now. She hadn’t seen much of him in recent months. They’d never quite returned to the best of terms since...well. All that Sunnydale stuff. Seemed so far away now.

    “Were there other things you wanted to ask?”

    “Are there other groups like us out there? I mean...not slayers. But...people...” Buffy felt embarrassed to articulate her mission to an outsider. Never mind an outsider who was probably the richest woman in the world and, well, The Queen. “People fighting evil, professionally?”

    “Well, there’s the United Nations,” said the Queen. “Or, at least, you might describe its mission in those dramatic terms if you really boil it all down.”

    Buffy looked a little nonplussed.

    “But you mean supernatural evil, I suppose?”

    “Yup. The Big Bads of the mystical rather than the dictatory kind.”

    “There are a few,” said the Queen. “Perhaps I should introduce you some time? Though...” she appeared to reconsider. “Well, there’s one gentleman who leads a certain group who I think you shouldn’t introduce to anyone young and impressionable. He does have a certain way of...he’s not the most savoury of characters.”

    “Noted. But I’d love to meet more people like me. I think it would make me feel...” she tailed off. She was going to say “less alone.” But she wasn’t alone any more. Just...still felt that way some times.

    “I very much doubt there’s anybody like you,” said the Queen. “But I will do my best.”

    On the return flight, Xander and Renee quizzed her on what the Queen had said, but they were also eager to share what they’d seen. Especially the fact that they’d been introduced to Prince Harry, and Xander had gotten his email address.

    “You’re going to be pen pals?” Buffy asked, tucking into her peanuts.

    “No, I’m going to use it to blackmail the girls into doing their chores around the castle. The ultimate incentivisor – a date with a real live Prince.”

    “He didn’t technically agree to go on a date with anyone,” clarified Renee.

    “But, what hot blooded young prince could refuse?”

    “So, you’re pimping out the heir to the throne AND my slayers in one fell swoop?” Buffy narrowed her eyes. “Xander...”

    “No, I’m not.” Xander held up a finger for emphasis. “For he’s not the heir, he’s the youngest.”

    “Doesn’t make it better.” There was a pause. “I don’t suppose I could see that email know...for my records.”

    “You don’t keep records,” said Xander.

    “I don’t think you should be questioning me in front of the troops,” she nodded to Renee. “Troop.”

    “I don’t mind,” grinned Renee. “I’ll still respect you. El Hefe.”

    Buffy laughed. “Ok, less with the sharing of the humiliating-Buffy jokes, you two.”

    “So, how about that Queen, huh?” said Xander, steering away the topic from potential references to private jokes between him and Renee....leading to other private things that they might the future...he hoped...but didn’t want to talk about with Buffy. Especially not when they were all in a confined space.

    They got back to the castle late that evening. Buffy headed straight to bed.

    She was tucked up, cosy in her favourite Eyore pj’s when Xander popped by to say goodnight.

    “So...Buffy appointment to her majesty the Queen, huh?”

    “What can I say? I’m the favourite slayer brand of the crowned heads of Europe. Or one of them at least. Are there other crowned heads in Europe?”

    “Well, there’s the Queen of the Slayers lyin’ right there,” said Xander.

    “Less with the queen. More with I old enough to be a Matriarch?”

    “Is there any answer to that that won’t make you throw your pillow at me?”

    “For the millionth time, Xander, slayer pillow fights are just an “in your dreams” thing.”

    “Spoil my fun.” He grumbled. He came to sit on the edge of Buffy’s bed as she sat propped against the pillows, book by her side. He picked up the paperback. “Seven People You’ll Meet in Heaven?”

    Buffy shrugged. “I figured I should get my life coachin’ on, if I’m going to work out how to run this whole...” she gestured around her, as if to take in the castle and everyone in it. “Whatever we are.”

    “Well, if you want to bounce ideas...I’m very bounceable.” Xander thumped his chest to indicate its springy nature.

    Buffy yawned. “Yes. We should talk it all over. Not just let it happen. If you let it happen...can lead to bad. Book I read about effective something somethinging said so,” She yawned more. “Sorry. Tired. Dawn vampire chorus and an audience with the queen does not a wakeful Buffy make.” She gestured to the book. “S’not true though. I didn’t meet one of those people in heaven.”

    Xander patted the book. “Well...whenever you want to talk about why we’re doing what we’re doing and how and the what and the whole all of it thing...I’m here.”

    Buffy smiled. “Good. We should. In the morning.”

    Xander nodded. “I’ll let you get to bed,” he said, getting up and walking to the door. “So you can, you know, get your rocks off.”

    The pillow caught him in the small of the back.

    With Xander gone, Buffy put her head down and turned out the light. As she drifted, she wondered if the Queen felt this way sometimes too. Being pushed ahead on a tide of events....It’s supposed to be you in charge, but all you ever do is say yes or no and try not to fall apart...

    On reflection, the Queen probably never felt like that. Nor, Buffy suspected, the next morning, spend that night dreaming of herself as a nurse, sandwiched between two naked vampires...morphing into an image of herself riding naked on the back of a deer while Xander and Renee chased behind her dressed as foxes. Nope. There is NOTHING queenly about this Ma’am.

    -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --