“I can’t believe it, all the numbers!” Willow whispered with awe. “Xander, you’re a multi-millionaire!”
“You said ninety million?” murmured Buffy, in contemplation of just how many shoe sales that would cover.
“It won’t go far!” Xander warned quickly. He was well able to recognize the imminent attack of sudden greed after dating Anya for a few years. He didn’t need his probability gift to see the idea of an extended shopping binge, paid for by the Xander, dawning in Buffy and Willow’s eyes. “After the lump sum penalty and tax there will be less than a third left. You saw the spreadsheet Willow, all of it’s slated for land purchase and maintenance. As it is, I might not even manage to salvage the money Giles is insisting I invest to create a steady income to match what you and Buffy won. Don‘t forget we still have all the taxes and bills a owner has to pay to the government once the land is bought and that isn’t even touching the costs of the needed renovations over the next few years.”
Willow grimaced, “Can Giles get the Watcher accounts to cover the renovations or at least the materials?” she asked hopefully.
“Every pathway I’m seeing has the school bought and financed separate from the Watcher accounts. The most we can get them to cover is the purchase of the Library and the grade school. From the banks and insurance company’s point of view they are the most cost effective use of resources. The school didn‘t have a chance being financed by the Watchers, we have to do that ourselves.” sighed Xander.
“But…” she began horrified.
“Willow, Xander is quite correct, “interrupted Giles. “Unfortunately the Watcher finances are quite inflexible at the moment due to this present upheaval caused by the Bringers. While I am considered Head of the Council, my position at the moment is quite precarious as my appointment hasn’t been ratified due to the destruction. The entire financial side of the Council is operating on the emergency instructions designed to maintain the assets and infrastructure as much and for as long as possible until it has been rebuilt. I do have some leeway, such as securing assets and covering the cost of registered dependents. However, even that is a tiresome process as every cent has to be accounted for in quadruplicate before being refunded or accessed. Our main point of contention with the present system limiting much of our finances at the moment is that many of the potentials that have been activated by the spell are not on the council’s lists of potentials. I fear the mass elimination of the main lines by the Bringers has activated long dormant Slayer lines in the population.”
“What about Buffy and Faith? They weren’t known Potentials until they activated?” Kennedy frowned.
“Quite true. While rare, it has happened many times in the past. Usually when the main lines did not have a Potential of suitable activation age in the vicinity. We believe Buffy was not the only Potential of suitable activation age when she was called, but she was the only Potential with a geologic position relatively close to the slowly awakening Hellmouth. That probably had a major factor in her being called instead of Kendra. In this age of fast travel it is easy to forget just how long travel to a Demonic hotspot for a new Slayer took in the days before mechanized transport.” Giles sighed. “Faith I’m afraid was not only the next closest in age but geographically closest to Kendra when she died, the other Potentials around her age might have been from stronger lines, but were not on the same continent.”
“So what’s that have to do with money, G-man?“ Xander frowned.
“The Slayer trust is set up under strict guidelines. Only those from listed bloodlines are covered until the standard genealogical chart for each unknown Slayer presently activated is complete and added to the original Slayer chart, thereby proving them part of the Slayer trust. Obtaining the additional funds to cover them will be impossible until the state of the trust is redefined which will be a major undertaking. At present the trust does not cover them after the age of twenty-one. The activation period ends at eighteen and traditionally they were then supplied with a dowry and a marriage arranged for them.”
“What?” the girls screamed horrified.
“I did say traditionally and the system is still valid for much of the world where the role of females follows the more traditional pattern still. The system has been updated in the more modern sections of world. The Dowry is used to finance higher education for the uncalled potentials.”
“Gee! That’s nice, would have been nice if they had some of that for the Slayers as well!” snapped Buffy. She was more than a bit miffed remembering how she had to give up college because of financial problems after her mom died.
“Unfortunately under the trust active Slayers are outside that system. Usually they live with their Watcher and are still covered in that fashion, also they usually did not last long enough to have any need of a higher education or dowry so that was never set up in the trust rules. I attempted to obtain that same right from Travers but he was being pedantic about it.” sighed Giles. “The entire trust has to be reconfigured to Slayers, not potentials and until I obtain full access that will not happen. Which is why I am still calling the girls Potentials for financial reasons.”
“I suppose it’s a good thing Faith, Willow and I now have our own money.” Buffy grimaced.
“Both education and Dowry have been more than enough reason for parents to hand over a Potential to the Council throughout history. One must remember female children were often gotten rid of in other ways, including infanticide or sold into slavery as an unwanted burden for a struggling family. Many cultures viewed only the male children as being of any worth. The historical records of the Council have countless records of purchasing potentials in any manor of ways, not just from parents but from actual slavers throughout history.” lectured Giles. “Given that some countries still consider females inferior, I have no doubt that the new council will end up forced into the same situation as the old as we search out the newly activated Slayers.” he concluded. Everyone groaned as they contemplated such a situation occurring, given the world wide activation of the Potentials.
“So what you’re basically saying is that the Watcher finances are tied up in so much red tape we can’t count on it for anything.” Willow moaned horrified.
“Some things are covered, such as the Watcher Collection and the recorded dependents. It is just a hassle obtaining the money from the banks and insurance companies in question. I have no doubt they will agree to the purchase of the old grade school and the library in the near future to house both. In fact I have already received written permission to look for a suitable place to house the Watcher dependents. Given that the London banks are about six hours ahead of Cleveland I would like Andrew, or Willow if you prefer, to somehow arrange that the computer file on the grade school to be sent to them tonight. Please use the direct e-mail address they included on the written permission we received as that section of the bank does work on the weekend, even if the Bank itself does not usually open to the public during such time.”
“Give them the central school and the Temple as well, Wills.” Xander mused absently digging out the disk with the data from the pile he and Andrew had been working on.
“But we know they won’t buy them.” Willow said with a grimace at the extra work.
“Wills, it always works better if you give the number crunchers at least three choices.” he looked up amused at the sudden quietness at his comment. “If you just give them one option they get cranky and make you find more anyway, which is just delaying the inevitable. Dealing with Anya taught me that, if I didn’t give her options she’d make her own and that cost a hell of a lot more. After a while I learn to give her the option of three presents of my choice, not hers in self defense. Most expensive always won even if it was tacky. It was much easier on my pocket if I gave her a choice of cheap, cheaper and reasonable rather than have her choose between expensive, more expensive and debt city. That lesson came in handy in construction, same principle applies to bankers and other money misers. They just always pick the cheapest even if it isn’t the best choice.” he sighed remembering some of the shitty run ins with the City Hall accountants in charge of the finance for the new Sunnydale High School he built.
“I see,” said Giles putting down his empty teacup in favour of cleaning his glasses as he contemplated pros and cons of such a move. “An interesting strategy, but wouldn’t the central school look better on paper in that case? It is the cheaper purchase in comparison, the center school is larger and has much more land attached for only slightly more money.”
“Both it and the temple need too much renovation; the grade school is the better purchase from an accountant’s point of view. It mainly needs the toilet blocks to be converted into actual bathrooms. There is an old canteen-dining hall on the ground floor of the middle block. Although most it was torn out to save costs in the new school so that needs to be rebuilt into a proper industrial kitchen, as it won’t be a school but a home for the orphans and Slayers for the time being.”
“So bathrooms, kitchen and security.” nodded Andrew. “You’re right that’s much simpler than the center school. Especially if we concentrate on just making the middle block of the grade school where the old canteen is habitable to start with and expand later. That will give us living space for the Slayers and kids in the least time.”
“That was my idea,” nodded Xander reaching for the coffee pot Faith had just refilled, finally succumbing to the lure of coffee. “The middle block needs a new kitchen as I said but we might find a lot of that second-hand. There is bound to be a second-hand kitchen supply house somewhere. If not I’ll look around the demolition and renovation yards for something suitable. The main cost is going to be appliances. There isn’t anything left, they took it all for the new school even the fridges.”
“True and we also have to decide if we are going to have backup power if the Demons cut power and gas or even if we are snowed in and lose power. If that happens here we can still cook on the wood burning stove on the back balcony plus the front balcony fireplace has a hot plate and oven.”
“You’ve been looking at the survival sites again?” Xander said in amusement although he did see Andrew‘s point. They had three wood fires for heating these rooms. The back stove also heated a hot water tank for the bathroom, the front balcony had a hotplate and oven for extra cooking and the conservatory had a large fireplace. Given all that they could cook, bathe and keep warm if the shops lost power which gave them a viable position if they lost power or were snowed in. With a grocery store on the premises they wouldn’t even needed to find food for a while.
“Of course I have,” pouted Andrew giving them a look that said they were all dunces. “Faith scared me with all her talk about freezing to death if you lose heat in winter, besides if we lose power I want to be able to cook. That sucked in Sunnydale once the power grid shut down. So Xan, I want an alternative readily available if we lose power, something like we have here. We need to add something similar in the grade school, central school and the library.” he said with a worried pout.
“That would be an added expense, didn‘t the estate agent say the grade school has central heating as does the library.” said Giles with a deep frown. Given the winters in Cleveland that was something they had to be sure of. Even with the money Xander won tonight there might not be enough for replacement boilers as that could be a major expense. Even if the boilers were fine he doubted the banks would ante up for a redundant backup system as Andrew was demanding, central heating was the done thing these days.
Xander frowned looking at Andrew thoughtfully then nodded. Looked like Andrew was learning to give his geekiness a practical side even if he did go overboard on a subject, he could encourage that it might tone down some of Andrew‘s more outrageous plans. With that in mind he added his own thoughts to the speculation. “Especially the grade school, they’re going to have the babies and toddlers on the premises.” Andrew’s eyes went big and he nodded frantically. Frozen babies wouldn’t be good. “Good thinking Andrew, we’ll have to check the blueprints included on the disk. The aerial view shows multiple chimney stacks just like the central school but I didn’t see any fireplaces when we toured the place so they may be walled up, some of the ones in the central school are.”
“Even a few working fireplaces as a backup could save lives in an emergency.” Andrew agreed puffing up at the praise Xander had given him. “If we can get a stove like the one on the back balcony for the kitchen as a backup it could do double duty,” he said skimming through the blueprints on the disk to find the area around the old canteen on the blueprints. “See, there’s a girls locker room next to the kitchen which could be converted to another bathroom at the same time we put in bathtubs in the toilet blocks. If there are going to be babies and toddlers, it might be an idea to convert that locker room into a small bathroom with a larger changing room that can convert to an emergency bathroom if the boiler goes out. It would be easy to put a shunt to convert that bathroom to run off the wood burner hot water tank in an emergency. One bath and sink with hot water would be better than nothing in an emergency.” decided Andrew.
“That might work, that’s actually a good idea. We’ll have to look for the paperwork on the stove and other fireplaces when we go through the desk on Sunday. We‘ll try to budget it in if at all possible.” decided Xander. A few fireplaces plus a wood burning stove with water heater similar to the one on the back balcony would help immensely if they had a boiler malfunction or blackout come winter. Especially since he doubted they did more than limited maintenance on the boilers at the grade school as they were moving to a new school it was better they plan for that sort of disaster. “Where is the boiler anyway, I forgot to inspect it.” he frowned that had been a mistake. He had gotten too involved with looking at the security on the new patio area.
“Underground I think,” Andrew frowned calling up the file. “Wow, it did have the same structure under it as the library originally. They sealed a lot of it up and made them water cisterns. It saved them a heap of money as they had to meet the new fire codes for the area that came in during the eighties even if it was an old building. Because they were a school they still had to meet them. They left big sections under each building as a basement for the boilers but converted the rest.
“How are the library boilers I neglected to inspect them due to the lure of the archive vaults?” inquired Giles with a hopeful look.
“I looked G-man, it wasn’t in bad shape given the fact that the building has been relegated to being a storage centre for almost thirty years. The boiler in the library is fifteen years old according to the records and from the file had regular maintenance since its installation, which is a miracle in my opinion as the city hasn’t even bothered completing most of the repairs from the fire and earthquake thirty years ago. My guess is the people working there might have complained loudly about maintaining their heat during winter. All in all the library is in good shape given its history and that the city council is selling it for the base cost of the land and structure including the archive vaults that has you so enthused G-man.” Xander grinned. “Unfortunately even the original part of the building didn’t have fireplaces except in the section where the preacher lived with his family. They probably used pot belly stoves or something similar in the church section before central heating was installed.” he speculated. “But even if we buy it now it’s at least a month before the city council clears it and turns it over to us, which is why you need to force the insurance companies to get a move on Giles.”
Giles grimaced, “I shall get Dawn to help me look through the disk for alternative options to include when the time comes. Just as the bank will get stroppy with only one option so will the insurance companies, so I need to find another two properties before I send them options. Even so not all the surviving Collection will be shipped to Cleveland. The British Government has refused to let half of it out of the country due to being historically significant. I fear that may be the sticking point of my gaining complete control of the financial side of the Council. I may eventually have to relocate to England and use it as headquarters to gain complete control. Needless to say that will be a pain in the posterior for all of us. If that happens we will need to drastically update our communications to co-ordinate the Council given that this will be our main training school for both Watchers and Slayers.”
“Something for the tech-geeks to look into if that happens. The military and multi-national corporations do that all the time. It does mean you’re going to have to get over your tech-phobia G-man or at least have someone who can handle that for you over in the land-of-tweed.” Xander said smirking at the look of horror that briefly crossed the Englishman’s face at that comment.
“Oh! Good Lord!” muttered Giles in horror. “I shall definitely need a secretary in that case, those infernal machines are beyond my comprehension. These days I can, with some difficulty, retrieve an e-mail or write a letter but that is the extent of my competence with those dratted things.” Not wanting to contemplate that until needed he changed the subject. “Anything else that will be an immediate priority if the banks okay the grade school acquisition?”
“The only other priority is security on the new patio made after the fire. Those gothic arches need a lot more security, the bars in those arches have been damaged too many times for my piece of mind. I want to talk with Ethan about creating a magic resistant reinforced shutter we can lock in place until we rebuild that area. That small fence they built is useless from a security point of view. I want it to at least be the same height as the other fences, if I can find suitable supplies at the renovation yard. We might be better off turning it into a conservatory later, that would eliminate any vampire incursions in that area as it would be counted as inside if the patio had walls and a roof...” Xander said skimming over that section of the blueprints with a frown. “It might be an idea to use that building for any elderly Slayers we find. Even Slayer healing can only do so much from the report you gave me on Mrs DuBois. I can probably install one of the spas in the patio area if we close it in and turn that building into a mini-retirement home for the elderly slayers and probably Watchers as well eventually. It’s not as if they would be capable of going out and fighting Demons at their ages, this way they have a secure retirement home with the option of helping with the children or the other Slayers as they want.” he mused.
Giles winced. Every time Xander speculated he brought home just how little of the overall picture Giles had been planing for. Dear Lord, a safe retirement home for elderly Slayers now, the entire situation Willow’s spell created was ludicrous by the standard and infrastructure of the old system and all they could do now was deal with it as best they could. Thank Heaven, Xander at least was smart enough to see the realities of what the Slayer spell had done.
“Giles!” Dawn screamed up the stairs at the top of her voice. “Wesley’s on the phone, something about Anya’s estate, he sounds annoyed you better come talk to him before the phone melts.”
“Good Lord! What now?” he groaned. “Xander stay up here, according to the hospital you should be asleep resting, so rest,” he ordered. “Anyanka’s estate can certainly wait for the morning for your input, I’ll deal with Wesley until then. Andrew take Xander’s MegaMillion ticket down to the safe and store it safely then come back and help Faith clear this mess up, then grab the files needed to e-mail London. That has to be done tonight, I should have a cover note worked out by then.”
Xander grimaced not even bothering to object. With the hospital orders against him he knew he hadn’t a chance of staying up.
“What about the other two roof’s?” Andrew frowned, Xander resting he could understand but he and Faith were another matter. Why were they on clean up?
“Buffy, Kennedy and Willow are more than enough to secure and ward both roofs. You will not be needed, you and Faith clean up the mess. I want you both to retire after the e-mails are sent. It’s almost midnight and you, Faith and Xander will inevitably be up fairly early, while the other three will sleep in if you all follow your usual pattern since we arrived in Cleveland.” said Giles glaring at the three girls in question with a look of disapproval. It hadn’t escaped his notice that Xander, Faith and Andrew did most of the work while the other three girls even objected to taking a turn on the work roster along with the junior girls. “Now I better go see what about Anyanka’s estate has Wesley’s knickers in a twist” he snapped stomping down the stairs in disgust.
“Well you heard Watcherman, ‘B’. You three better go do your thing in the other roofs. They need to be warded tonight, remember.” Faith handed Willow the master keys even as she shooed the three shocked girls down the stairs before she started gathering the cups they had put down in dismay at Giles orders. “Geekboy, get that ticket in the safe pronto so it won’t get lost by mistake then get back up here and sort out the stuff for London while I clean up. ‘X’ get in the bed and rest like the hospital ordered.” she snapped with a glare before she let a happy smirk escape her control. About time ‘G’ noticed how little work ‘B’, Red and Grumpy were doing she thought, pleased.
then grabbed the
ticket frantically and practically ran down the stairs to get it stored
safely. He was obviously horrified at the though of losing
worth ninety million dollars, even temporarily.