Home Is Where the Spells Are
As soon as we walk into the loft I can see that something has happened --something good for a change-- but I'm still caught by surprise when Giles tells us that he has managed to secure the perfect accommodations for their new headquarters. Needless to say I am overjoyed but a part of me recognizes a trace of nervousness in him and I know there is something he isn't telling us. I can only hope for my guide's sake that those 'perfect accommodations' are somewhere in Cascade. We have gotten used to their presence and I'm not sure Blair would take kindly to them leaving.
I have a thousand questions but Giles does not volunteer any additional information and before I know it Giles, Buffy, Willow and Tara are debating the necessary measures to make sure that their new place is safe, however the discussion is different from any I have ever heard on the subject of security. I know that they are referring to what it takes to set up a secret organization and yet they never even mention things like cameras, guards or alarms, instead they are debating the pros and cons of different spells. There are protection spells and concealment spells among others, as well as a long list of possible natural and supernatural foes that have to be kept at bay. I have been around these people long enough to know just how much their magic can accomplish --I've even seen them literally raise the dead-- but it still catches me off guard when I hear them use that same approach applied to safety. Maybe it's because that's supposed to be my area of expertise.
As strange as it still sounds to me, I guess their perspective does make sense in a way. Thieves and government agencies can have the tools and knowledge to bypass almost all conventional systems, guards can be bought, and besides just setting up an unexplainably sophisticated system in a seemingly inconspicuous location could be enough to raise the red flags they are obviously trying to prevent... magic is harder to trace. In addition to that there is the fact that to defeat their magical defenses it would take a witch even more powerful than Willow, a situation that pretty much guarantees the integrity of their system.
Even though I know nothing about magic I do know about security and I certainly want to participate in this project so I volunteer to go over their future headquarters with them, seeing if I can spot potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It is then that Giles's heartbeat speeds up, like he's not sure how I'm going to react to the news and he starts cleaning his glasses, something he does whenever he is trying to buy himself some time. I'm not sure if I should be relieved or terrified when he tells me just where their new headquarters will be: Prospect Ave. 852 apartments 301 to 306 and 308. Okay, so I guess they have no plans to leave Cascade and whether we like it or not Blair and I will be living in their headquarters.
I admit that even though the news is a complete surprise, in a way it is also a huge relief. Having a certified trouble magnet for a partner, the notion that there will be a vampire slayer and two witches a couple of doors away is oddly reassuring, and living in the headquarters of a secret organization is the best defense we could hope for in case the government ever figures out that there was no fraud. If they come here expecting to find a slayer they will be met by a couple of witches and a sentinel, if they come looking for a sentinel, a slayer and two witches will probably be more than enough to throw off their plans, and if they are gunning for a witch, well, they won't be more successful than in either of the other scenarios. Our different skills allow us to complement each other nicely and thwart almost any possible attack. Even though the proud part of me wishes Giles had asked me about it before making the decision, I can't really fault his logic. Besides, an existing building in the middle of town is more readily defensible that an isolated mansion in the middle of nowhere. Isolation can serve to maintain an illusion of safety, but it also makes for an easy target that can be taken out without raising too many eyebrows. Another advantage has to do with the fact that an apartment building is less likely to arouse suspicions when inhabited by a group of people who are not related to each other and in this particular instance it also leaves open the possibility of expanding with a minimum fuss. Right now they will be taking over the third floor but I can tell that that third floor will gradually expand to encompass the whole building.
Our current neighbors will start moving out over the weekend and all the apartments should be ready for their new tenants within ten days. From what I gather Giles will be taking apartment 305, Buffy and Dawn will move into 303, Willow and Tara will go into 301. On the other side of the hall Xander and Andrew will be sharing apartment 302 while 304 will be set up for guests, passing teams of slayers or any new additions to the Watchers. 306 and 308 will be merged to host a library and a training room. I do wonder however how Giles managed to secure those places, seeing how there have been no 'For Sale' signs in this building for a while but I decide not to ask.
I am certain that the paper trail will be flawless should anyone bother to come looking and the explanations will be believable enough. It seems like too much of a coincidence, but I couldn't help but notice that three days ago a number of checks supposedly from insurance companies arrived, payments for the houses that were destroyed in Sunnydale. A coincidence from my perspective, but not exceptional considering that all their homes were lost in the same disaster and there is not much room for insurance companies to contest those losses. It is true that a group of seven people who know each other purchasing seven apartments in the same building at the exact same time is not an everyday occurrence, but a closer look will reveal that those people endured a very traumatic experience together and it wouldn't be seen as all that unusual for them to feel inclined to stay close to each other... and the fact that the apartments are located in the same building --in fact on the same floor-- in which the son and only surviving family of one of those people has been living for the past eight years only serves to complete a picture of grief which comes across as slightly unusual, but not suspicious even under the closest of scrutinies.
Over all I have to say that the plan was perfectly executed, I can identify the hand of a number of Scoobies in it, but the two that stand out are Giles and Willow. We have new neighbors and by the look of things our lives just got more interesting... and they were interesting enough.