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Chapter 26: Busted


"How long are you going to keep them in the dark?"

"Huh?" Faith asked sharply, looking up at Diana in confusion.

The younger Slayer glanced around. Then she sat down on the end of the garden bench across from her and ran a hand through her hair nervously. She'd been contemplating whether or not to confront Faith since last night. Then when she'd seen Faith go out the back door after lunch, she'd decided that if she was going to do it then there wouldn't be a better time.

She sighed and gestured towards the cigarette pack in Faith's hand. "Can I bum one?"

"Sure," Faith shrugged, tossing the pack and her lighter to her.

Diana tapped the bottom of the pack, knocking a couple of cigarettes halfway out, and then she pulled one completely out with her mouth. She flipped open the Zippo and brought the flame to life, inhaling as she touched the tip of the cigarette to the fire. She flipped the lid shut, gently pushed the second cigarette back into the pack and passed them back to Faith. She let a stream of smoke slip out around the cigarette, exhaling slowly.

Faith smirked faintly at the look of relief on the redhead's face. It was no wonder. She didn't doubt for a second that that prick Aaron had a smoking ban. Her smile faded quickly.

"So, what is it that you think I'm keepin' someone in the dark about?"

Diana carefully considered how to answer the question. Then she shrugged. She took the cigarette from her mouth, flicking her ashes on the ground as she did.

"My recruiter was Buffy Summers," She replied, her eyes lifting up to meet Faith's gaze.


She barely contained a wince. It wouldn't take a genius to tell where this was leading. Faith sighed internally. And she'd been doing so well, too.

"Yeah," Diana said, nodding. "It was pretty cool. I was one of the last Slayers she recruited."

During the first few months after they'd defeated the First, `the originals', as they were now known, had had their hands full. They'd all had to pitch in when it came to rounding up the newly Awakened Slayers. There had been too many of them around the world for just a couple of recruiters. Buffy herself had even assisted for a while, once she'd returned from Italy.

Of course, Buffy had been forced to turn her attentions elsewhere eventually. The annual apocalypse waited for no one, and someone had had to make sure the girls were prepared for it. It just so happened that no one had been better suited for that than Buffy at the time. Afterwards, it had only seemed natural for Buffy to continue in the role of a leader.

"So what's your point?" Faith asked, gazing at Diana curiously.

"Sparring with her was awesome. I've never seen anyone else move like that," She said, pausing to take another hit from her cigarette. Then she exhaled, looking at Faith pointedly.

"Until now," Diana finished.

It was official. Someone else was going to have to start doing the undercover missions. This wasn't the first time someone had busted her during a mission. And for the exact same reason—Called Slayers were just far too distinctive to blend in with the Awakened. She'd even run into a few older vampires that had recognized what she was in the last few years on patrols.

"How long have you been stationed at this house?"

"Uh, going on three years," Diana replied slowly, giving Faith an odd look.

Faith leaned forward, bracing her elbows on her knees and cupping her chin in her hands. She glanced sideways at the redhead, and then shook her head. She flicked the butt of her cigarette away, and then ground it under the heel of her boot. She looked off into the trees.

"Why haven't you requested a transfer?" She asked bluntly. "You don't seem stupid enough to believe half the shit Asshole spouts, and I know if you spent time with B, then you don't at all."

Diana studied Faith for a moment. Then she smiled and chuckled. There wasn't any use in lying.

"Someone has to keep an eye on him."

Faith nodded. Things were starting to make sense. She'd had suspicions since arriving, too many things hadn't added up. Shawna wasn't nearly the miscreant the reports made her out to be, and Aaron was too entrenched in Old Council ideals for a higher up not to have noticed before now.

A quick glance to the watch on her wrist told her that further questioning would have to wait. She returned her gaze to Diana, considering her briefly. Then she nodded again as she stood.

"I'll catch ya later. I gotta see Asshole for my evaluation `fore the kids get back from school."

"Sure," Diana replied, watching her go.

The redhead inhaled deeply. It seemed like something was finally going to be done. It was unfortunate that it came at the price that it had, but late was better than never. She smiled.




Buffy was sat in her desk chair, leaning back with her feet on the desk. Her head was tilted back over the headrest of the chair, eyes gazing unfocussed at the ceiling. She was at work, but her thoughts were far from professional. Well, unless you were in Vegas or Hollywood.

It was one of the unfortunate side-effects of of slaying—actually, it was only unfortunate if you were single. Left with only one outlet for the energy created by slaying, her mind became one long, filthy gutter. Self-love could only satisfy her so much before she was left aching as she drifted off to sleep, where her dreams would take over taunting her. It was frustrating.

Mmmm, She hummed internally. I wonder if it's even physically possible to do that.

The thought stemmed from her dreams the previous night. One part had featured Faith in all her sweaty naked glory, writhing in a position Buffy hadn't ever even imagined. Buffy sighed.

She also wondered when she had become such a pervert. Her eyebrows furrowed briefly, and then she shrugged. She'd never admit it to anyone, let alone Faith, but it was quite possible she'd been that way all along. Her thoughts certainly hadn't been clean when she'd met Pike in LA.

She smiled in fond remembrance. Those thoughts had been innocent compared to the things she wanted to do to Faith. No, her younger self would've been mortified at these needs and desires. It was partly because Faith was very much female, but mostly because even Cinemax didn't feature some of the things she'd been dreaming about.

She wasn't even sure just where some of the ideas had come from. She also doubted she'd ever have the courage to do any of it, let alone talk to Faith about it. Though, it was definitely nice to contemplate. The blonde was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn't hear the door open.

Dawn leaned against the doorjamb, arms crossed over her chest. She couldn't help but smirk. She also couldn't help but be thankful for the call she'd received a few minutes before. She loved her sister, and she loved Faith, but she wanted her house to herself.

Moreover, she wanted them both out of her house before they acted on whatever sick fantasies were floating through Buffy's head right now. She shuddered. Those were sound effects she did not need. And she really didn't want to know what had caused Buffy to have that expression.

"Earth to Buffy," She called.

It was amusing to see Buffy jump like that. No matter how mature she'd gotten, tormenting her sister was still her favorite task. Maybe she hadn't matured that much, after all. She couldn't help but laugh as Buffy clutched frantically at the desk to keep the chair from tipping backwards.

Buffy let out a startled squeak as she heard her sister's voice and shot forward in her seat. She overcompensated, almost tipping the chair backwards. Her hands flew out, grabbing the edge of the desk to keep upright. The desk creaked ominously under her grip as she shifted, bringing the chair back onto all four wheels once again.

"What do you want, Dawn?" She grumbled, glaring up at the brunette once she was settled.

"One thing I don't want," Dawn started slowly as she closed the office door behind her. "Is to hear whatever you were just thinking about. I'm sure it was wrong on so many levels."

"Ha, ha," Buffy said dryly. "Is there a reason you're here? Other than to pester me, that is?"

"Well, I thought that you might like to go out for lunch to discuss the phone call I received earlier," She replied tartly. "But I don't know if I want to eat a meal with someone so rude."

Dawn dropped down into one of the guest chairs, pulling her legs up under her in the seat. She pushed her shirt sleeves up to her elbows and leaned forward, bracing her forearms on her knees. She lifted her gaze back to her sister's, smirking at the look Buffy was giving her. She shrugged.


Buffy shook her head, holding back a smile. Sitting there in loose faded blue jeans and a black and pale blue double shirt, Dawn appeared much younger than her twenty-seven years would suggest. It certainly didn't help that for once, the brunette had allowed her hair out of the bun she usually kept it in. It brought back mostly happy memories from their time in Sunnydale.

"Why does Giles let you come to work dressed like that when he forces the rest of us to adhere to that stupid dress code when we aren't in apocalypse mode?" She muttered.

"Because unlike you guys, I spend most of my time in the archives where people aren't likely to care what I wear?" Dawn suggested, shrugging.

It was a familiar argument, one that had begun less than a week after Giles had instated the requirement for employees to dress appropriately. Unless they were involved in physical activities, they were required to wear dress clothes. The only exceptions being for times of duress when no one cared about appearances, and for the more relaxed environments, such as the gyms and the archives where they kept their more sensitive artifacts and books.

"Uh-huh," The blonde grunted. "Whatever. So, what was that about lunch?"

"I thought maybe we could go to Bucky's," She replied, speaking of a Southern restaurant a few blocks away. "I know Faith was planning to take you there before she got called away, so I figured I'd introduce you to it since she didn't get the chance."

"Sure, why not?" Buffy quipped.



"What's with that phone call you mentioned?" Buffy asked, wiping her hands on a napkin.

They were seated across from each other in a green leather and dark oak booth near the back of Bucky's. To their right, a window provided a view of the ocean. To their left, they had a clear view of the bar and of the double doors at the entrance. The Wednesday afternoon lunch crowd had thinned considerably since they'd entered over half an hour ago.

"It was from JJ."

Buffy's eyebrows furrowed at the mention of their real-estate agent, Juanita Juarez. The Council had become frequent clients of hers since they'd arrived in Cleveland. She'd acted as an unofficial guide to the city, having helped them find their way around at the beginning. It helped that the woman was very much aware of the Supernatural, due to her upbringing.

"Why'd she call you?"

"She said she'd tried your cell, your office, and my house before calling my office," Dawn replied. "Considering the state you were in when I came to get you, you probably didn't even check your voicemail when you came back after your ten thirty."

Buffy winced. She really hated it when Dawn was right. She had been preoccupied most of the day, and hadn't even thought about her voicemail when she'd returned for her office hours. She'd had difficulty enough as it was just focusing during her training exercises with the class of juniors she met with every weekday from ten thirty to twelve fifteen.

"Yeah, yeah," She muttered as Dawn burst into laughter.

"Anyway," Dawn continued as she chuckled. "She wants you to call her. There's a couple interested in the house, and you only have a few days before they go elsewhere."

Buffy's expression darkened. Her chest tightened almost painfully as a lump formed in her throat. She'd known it was coming, had even planned for it. But this was the place that had been her home for the last few years, had been their home together.

"I'll call her when we get back to the office."

Dawn shot a concerned glance at her sister. The blonde's tone had deepened, taking on a harsh quality that usually meant tears were either imminent or all ready being shed. She sighed. There really couldn't have been a worse time for Faith to be gone.

It wasn't that she didn't feel bad for her sister. `Cause, she did, she really, really did. So much so that she wanted to hurt Satsu in the worst kind of way. She just didn't know how to sympathize with Buffy's pain, not after so many years of wanting Satsu out of their lives.

"C'mon, Buff," Dawn murmured as she stood up, dropping a few bills on the table. "Let's get back to the office."

She held out a hand. She'd try, at least. She had no idea what to say to help her, but she couldn't leave Buffy to deal with it alone. She'd kick Faith's ass for making her deal with this alone later.




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