| Part I
The director looked taken aback.
She cleared her throat. “That was unclear of me, which is not my normal modus operandi. I apologize. Sunnydale is a problem in and of itself. There should not be such a portal open yet, and it should not be opening to – this unclear place. That will have to be looked into, and I consider it a vast oversight on the part of this ‘Watcher’s Council’ that it has not been in any depth.” She looked pointedly at Buffy. “You have done, from all reports, an amazing job in a situation where you were sent in under-equipped, under-trained, and far under-supported. Your friends have done an amazing job of backing you up when they had no training and, as far as I understand it, very little access to anything beyond the human. I consider your achievements in Sunnydale to be nothing short of amazing.
“And I would like to offer you both support and some time away from this ‘Hellmouth’ for training and education, for all three of you, and for your mentor as well.”
“Wait, what?” Buffy was staring at the director. Xander was staring at the director. Willow was pretty sure she was, too. “Could you back that up and replay it?”
“Especially the part where we’re doing an amazing job?” Xander put in. “I mean, really, nobody’s ever said anything like that.”
The director cleared her throat. “I would like to offer all three of you two things: support on this ‘Hellmouth,’ and time here, as was originally arranged by your parents some time ago, that is, I apologize, your birth parents, to train, to learn to use the furthest extent of your abilities, and to, ah, have something of a vacation.”
“Nobody can handle the Hellmouth. That’s my job. That’s what I was born for. Chosen for.” Buffy’s voice had gone flat again.
The director let the statement hang in the air for a moment before shaking her head. “I want to make something clear: I am in no way denigrating the skills that you have. From what I have seen and what I have been told, you are an extraordinary young woman. And I do believe that you were chosen, groomed, and trained for this position, and that your skills and innate talents are far above that of an ordinary human. However… I have others who you can train, who are also powerful, who are also strong, who are also durable. And they would enjoy the chance to fight real monsters in a situation where they do not have to hide, because, as it has been explained to me, the environment itself will hide them.”
Giles cleared his throat. “Ah, yes. The ‘Blindness of the Gods,’ as it is called, is particularly strong in Sunnydale. It’s as if there’s some sort of –” he hesitated, no, Willow realized, he paused dramatically, and aimed a look directly at Regine, “–complex Mind Working around the entire city, powered by the Hellmouth.”
“Fascinating.” The Director looked between Giles and the Scoobies. “This is my offer: we will send teams of students and some of my best employees – both Professors and staff – to Sunnydale in rotation, to give them solid real-world experience. While they are doing that, you three will come to Addergoole for our typical four-year program, which will be tailored to your unique needs and skills.”
“‘Real-world experience,'” Buffy interrupted. “You realize this real-life experience can get them killed, right?”
“Of course.” She leaned forward over the desk. Now, her lips curled upwards in something very nearly a smile. “Yes. As is common in the real world. They will be in teams, Buffy, and they will be paired with a skilled hunter. You may be the one girl in all the world called by this particular spell, but there are many, many demon-hunters in the world.”
“Faster, tougher, demon-hunters who can survive a attack by a monster?” Buffy shifted her weight back onto her heels. Willow moved closer, although she didn’t know what she could do to help. “Come on, they didn’t make me for no reason.”
“No. And I have quite a few ideas about why you – and all the others like you – might have been made. I will share them with you once I have more data accumulated, but in the meantime, let me see. No, no-one else that I have ever encountered has ever been as specialized, as naturally skilled, and as directed towards the fight of these particular monsters as you. You – and presumably your sisters-in-Slaying – are very well-designed for this particular task. However, if I send a team of people, say, one with the ability to See those things which are not normally seen, one who is preternaturally fast, and one who is preternaturally strong, along with someone very skilled in the magic of healing – especially healing ‘on the fly’, as it were, especially with the ability to consult with the three of you at the drop of a hat, I believe they can hold the line until you finish your education. In the meantime, you could train others to do the same.”
“I am not training people to send them to die!”
“I assure you, I would not allow you to send people to die, not my people. We put a great deal of effort into the education of our students, and a great deal of money, time, and effort into the recruitment of our staff and professors. But perhaps you would like to spar with a few select people before we formalize our agreement?”
“I hope they brought pads.” Buffy’s expression was dark.
“I’ll be sure to let them know. That aside — if our plan satisfies you, that means that Sunnydale will be protected for your time here and, if you so choose, you could work in rotation with several others while you, for instance, attended college.”
“You’re serious. You know the Council would flip out. They like me being right where they can handle me.”
“This ‘Council,’ well, I believe the phrase is ‘leave them to me.’
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