The sun filtering through the bedroom window woke me up after only a couple of hours of sleep. B was still sleeping soundly next to me. It seemed like a new day and that made me extremely sad. That was it. The end of the perfect night.
I made my way out of bed and grabbed my gear as quietly as I could and dressed in the bathroom. When I finally made my way downstairs Michael and Nikita were waiting for me. I nodded silently and we left. I felt like a total shit leaving her this way, but I couldn't say goodbye, not after what we just shared.
We hit a local breakfast bar and chowed down for an hour. Nothing was said.
Once we made it to the frat house we set up shop and waited the rest of the day for Riley's arrival. Right on schedule a black SUV drove up and deposited him in front. He entered the house seconds after.
Michael briefed him on the situation and they made plans on the alternate entrance. I paid little attention. My heart just wasn't into the mission anymore. Hell, my heart wasn't into anything anymore but B.
I made an excuse to stand guard at the window just so I wouldn't have to take part in anything that had to do with Section. I wanted out... I wanted out in a big way.
I stared out to the street watching people walk back and forth from school. Hoping beyond all hope to catch a glimpse of B. I figured that she still attended. I didn't know for sure.
Michael almost startled me. "Are you ready to go, Faith?"
I let the curtain back down and stood up. "Five by Five." I said flatly.
The sun was setting by the time we made it out the front door. Riley in the lead, headed to a sewer grate just behind the tree line in front of the house. He popped the lid and went down. Michael followed, then me, and finally Nikita.
At the bottom of the ladder was a steel door with a keypad to the left.
Riley turned to Michael. "I don't know if my key code still works. If anyone entered through here then they are smart enough to change the code."
Michael didn't seem concerned. "Try it."
Riley punched in a fifteen digit code and waited. A green light glowed signifying acceptance. Riley tried the door and it opened easily. That is when I heard the tell-tale sound of a silenced pistol going off. Riley's already dead body hit the floor with a sick thud.
"Riley!" I went down, my pistol in my hand and looked through the darkness for the enemy. That is until I smelt the sulfur in the air inches from my face. I turned my head and saw Michael's pistol.
"Why?" I pleaded.
"You know the answer to that, Faith." He responded.
I could have killed him right there. No matter how fast he was with his trigger finger, I could have killed him. I darted my eyes to Nikita. She was almost as shocked as I was, almost. She had been in Section long enough to know the rules and the rules said nobody is to know about Section, nobody.
It was then that it dawned on me, B.
Operations had no intention of letting her or anyone else that we talked to last night, live. Mother Fucker. The rage was building up, but I had to let it go, for now. We had a mission. Like it or not nerve gas was going to hit the town and that would kill everyone else just as fast as a bullet, and a lot more messier.
I breathed out and got control of myself. Michael watched me stand up and holster my weapon. He seemed content that I wouldn't attack him over an ex-acquaintance.
"You take point, Faith."
Of course he wanted me at point. I wouldn't want me behind me with a grudge and a weapon. Fucker is gonna die slowly. Him, Operations, the entire fucking Section. It's gonna burn.
I let my Slayer sense guide me down the poorly lit hallway to a larger section containing a lab. Dried goo was all over the floor and surrounding tables. It could have been blood but it seemed to have a green tint to it. Door after door followed until we approached a windowed door that led to the main room of the compound. I peered out the window and saw the bad guys. All of them were armed, but only with side arms. The heavy weapons were on a table too far away to do any good.
I counted five bad guys after twenty minutes. That must be the lot of them. Michael took a quick peek and motioned the plan to Nikita and myself.
Seconds later we entered the room blasting away. Five bad guys hit the floor like so much meat, and two others entered from a office on the other side of the compound. They were dispatched just as quickly.
We located the canisters of nerve agent and found a suitable disposal facility within the compound that Reily had mentioned earlier. The threat was over, for the most part.
Michael keyed his communicator. And keyed it again.
"No response." He said to Nikita.
She looked around. "The walls must be steel lined. No radio signal will be able to get out."
The light bulb went off in my head. No radio signal can get out. That means that no radio signal can get in either. That means Operations can't blow my head up!
Michael realized the same thing I did, but a split second too late. I swung my pistol around and planted a bead on him. He saw but didn't care and he raised his own pistol.
"Michael, NO!" Nikita screamed.
I closed my eyes. This is for you Riley, sorry I fucked with you in B's body. You deserved better. I pulled the trigger. Nikita tackled me, but it was too late. Michael's heartless brains were splattered all over the wall behind him.
Nikita tried wailing on me, but a simple smack to the head with the butt of my pistol ended that fight quick enough. I didn't have anything against Nikita, but I just killed her lover. She will probably hold a grudge.
I cuffed her to the nearest plumbing pipe I could find and made my way to the control room, or what I thought was the control room. It was the only one that looked halfway clean. A radio base was set up. I could only assume that the sending apparatus was above ground. There was one thing that I was grateful to find... a phone.
"B, it's me."
"Faith? Where are..."
"No time to explain. Get all of the gang that were at the Magic Box last night and get them down here to the compound ASAP. You can get in through a sewer access in front of the frat house. And B, hurry. Everyone's life is in danger. The people I work or are coming to kill you."
"Because you know I'm alive. Move B move!"
I waited for what seemed like a lifetime, but what was actually about thirty minutes. That is when I heard the banging on the steel door.
I heard a muffled. "Faith, it's us."
I hit the release and the door opened. Everyone was safe. I could breathe again, and as long as I was breathing no innocent person was going to die because of me.
Once I secured the door and we made our way back to the main room of the compound. Michael was still dead on the floor and Nikita was still out cold. I had put Riley's body in an empty office. I didn't want B to see him lying on the floor at the entrance.
Xander was the first to see Michael. "Zoinks! What happened?"
I looked at B. "Riley's dead." I tried to think of a thousand different ways to tell her but it all came down to Reily's dead. "I returned the favor." Motioning at Michael.
B was overwhelmed. "Where is he?"
I took her hand, led her to the office, and closed the door behind her.
The rest of the gang were standing around Michael's body. I walked over and kicked it, hard enough to hear ribs break.
"Fucker." I muttered under my breath.
About thirty minutes later B came out of the office. Her eyes were red and puffy, but her face was determined.
"Talk to me Faith." She demanded.
I was waiting for everyone to gather around so I wouldn't have to repeat myself.
"It all started a little over two years ago..."
After recounting my recent past and watching the faces of the Scoobies go in shock every five second in disbelief I got most of the story out.
"One of the cardinal rules of Section is that you can never go back to your real life, ever. That is what was so strange about Operations Ok'ing us contacting you, and bringing Reily into the mess. It just didn't make sense until Michael shot Reily."
I paused and looked at B. "I'm so sorry I got you guys involved. I really tried to turn my life around and make up for all of the shit that I pulled."
Everyone stood there in silence.
B, ever the leader, took charge. "I want them, Faith. I want them in a really bad way."
"Ditto." I replied.
"Where are they?"
"Houston." I explained. "The original base was destroyed in Paris, and they had to relocate. They haven't been there long, so there are still holes in their security. I can get us in, but I have a problem."
"What?" B asked.
"I have a bomb in my head." I said flatly.
Xander backed away taking Willow with him.
I look out of the corner of my eye at him. "You guys are safe. It's just big enough to take my head off, not the surrounding area."
B immediately freaked. "Faith, Oh my God!"
I tried to reassure her. "I'm safe as long as I am in here." I motioned around the compound. "It is radio controlled , and no signal can make it through the plating that is in the walls."
"We have to get it out. I can get a doctor down here."
I shook my head. "It's not that simple B, any attempt to take it out will trigger it off."
"Faith." I know she felt that I was lost. "What are we gonna do?"
"We only have one chance and it is very risky, but to pull it off we are going to need everyone's help."
Xander stepped up "I'm in."
Giles, Willow, and Tara chimed in also. "You can count on us."
B held my hand. "What do we do?"
~*~ Section One: Houston, Texas. ~*~
The smell of Old Spice lit up the Missions Briefing Room as Operations entered.
"Report." He barked.
"It's on my pad." I responded. I knew it would set him off.
He stared at me coldly. "To hell with your pad."
I returned his glare with one of my own. "The mission was somewhat successful."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
I leaned back in my chair. "It means the nerve agent was found and neutralized in addition to the people that threatened Sunnydale."
He finally sat down. "And what is the disposition of Michael and Nikita?"
Here is the clincher. I had to make him believe me. "I was dispatched to dispose of the nerve agent. When I returned, they were gone."
I don't think I pulled it off. He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the detonation device. His finger hovered over the trigger. I looked down at it and back up.
"You don't believe me? Then let me ask you a simple question. Everyone in Section knew that they were riding the hobby horse. Do you really think they would pass up a chance to get out when they could?"
Almost got him.
"And do you think I would come back here if I knew you were going to blame me for this? There was plenty of shielding down in that compound. I could have lived quite nicely for long time without fear of you pushing that button."
I still don't think I got completely through to him, but he replaced the control back in his pocket. Good enough for me.
He rubbed his temples. "Leave your pad. Get out of my sight."
I took my leave and headed to my on-site quarters. Sitting on my bed I reached underneath the frame and felt for the hidden keypad. Punching in a few numbers I activated the scrambler that would send a feedback loop to the surveillance camera hidden in the air vent. Section didn't trust anyone, and regularly bugged every room in the place. I was just smart enough to find mine.
"It's ok. You can come out now."
The air shimmered a bit and the Scoobies appeared. Willow and Tara were holding hands, sweat dripping off of their brows. I thought they were going to pass out.
B was by their side and helped them to the bed.
Willow breathed a little heavily. "We've never held that spell for so long."
I placed my hand on her shoulder. "You are doing great, Red."
I turned to B. "Are Giles and Xander in position?"
She nodded. "We've got about thirty minuets."
"Good. Everything is going as planned."
I went over to the closet and pulled out an outfit for her.
"Here, put this on."
She regarded the black leather.
I chuckled. "Everyone here wears this stuff. Don't ask."
She stripped off her clothes and donned the new outfit. I helped her with the adjustments and soon she was just another Section agent.
I look at my watch. "We've got about five more minutes before Operations finds the glitch in my report, then we make our move."
Willow and Tara seem to have recovered their energy, enough to move on to phase two.
Birkoff's voice came over the room's intercom. "Faith, Operations wants to see you ASAP."
"I'm there." I responded.
I looked at B. "Let's go."
We exited from my quarters and headed down the hall leaving Willow and Tara behind preparing the next spell. I showed B an empty workstation that she could look busy at without attracting too much trouble. This is where it gets a bit tricky. I have to get my part done before someone notices B isn't supposed to be here.
I hit the staircase that lead to Operations office that hung over Mission Control. He had the windows smoked over which meant that he was pissed. That is just the way I wanted it.
I entered the office. "Reporting as ordered."
Operations threw my pad at me, which I snagged out of the air before it hit it's intended target, my head.
"Explain this." He almost screamed at me.
I took a cursory glace at the report. I already knew what he was freaking out over... hey, I wrote it, I'd better know.
"It says Agent Finn was sent back to his unit in Central America."
He stormed up and got in my face. I could smell the garlic he had for his lunch, ugh. "Don't play with me, Faith. Mission parameters were broken. Agent Finn was supposed to be terminated."
I centered my eyes on him. That is all I wanted to know.
My left hand was a blur when it grabbed his neck and lifted him off the ground. My right hand went to his coat pocket and squeezed, crushing the transmitter. One problem taken care of. Operations' eyes were bugging, his face was also turning red from lack of oxygen.
I got a better position, grabbed his crotch for support and tossed him against the smoked glass. He bounced off and hit the floor. Huh, tested that theory, it was bullet proof. I figured. Either way it was to alert B, that the plan was in motion.
She should be hitting the speed dial on her cell phone to page the rest of the gang. That is when the explosions hit. Mayhem entered Section and its name is Willow and Tara.
I grabbed Operations by the hair and dragged him down the stairs, thumping his head on the wall all the way down. B was waiting at the bottom kicking the collective ass of the security team that was entering. I thumped Operations on the head to hold him for a bit while I helped out B.
Ammunition and explosives were being set off in the "Fun Room" Walter dove out just in time to avoid being blown to bits, and I joined in on the fun.
Giles and Xander arrived with the FBI and State's Attorney General in tow. How they accomplished that I have no idea. B and I were in wait, mopping up the aftermath.
Amazingly enough we got out with not so much as a bruised knuckle. B got most of her frustration out on the majority of Section security, and I got free of the jerk-off that had been ruling my life for the better part of two years.
Willow and Tara were no where to be found.
~*~ Initiative Compound: Two days later ~*~
B and I came back to give Riley the proper burial he deserved. We also returned to take care of some unfinished business.
Willow greeted us as we entered the main room.
"Is he here?" I asked.
She nodded to one of the 'Hostile' containment cells.
I turned to B. "You want him?"
She didn't respond except to open the transparent door preventing Operations from escaping.
He was a mess. Dried blood caked his hair and he looked like he hadn't eaten in two days, imagine that.
I watched as she entered and picked him up off of the floor by the front of his shirt.
He wasn't afraid, or he didn't show his fear. He thought he knew B's intentions.
"If you kill me you will be hurting the world more than you know." He spat.
She ignored him. "You had a friend of mine killed two days ago."
He smiled grimly. "Collateral damage is always a part of war."
She pushed him into the wall. "He wasn't collateral damage. He was my friend! He was military. He would have kept your precious secret."
Operations was dazed by the sudden jarring of his head.
"I... I couldn't take the chance. No one must know of Section One."
B laughed out loud. "The entire world knows about it now. It has been shut down. You... have been shut down."
Operations felt the back of his head and drew a bloodied hand away. "You don't know what you have done. You and your pathetic friends have just crippled this nation."
I couldn't stay out of this any longer and stepped into the cell.
"I don't think you understand, Operations. While what you and Section were doing may have helped the U.S. in some ways it hurt it more. We are supposed to stand for everything that is good. We were given this power and strength in order to help people not hurt them. We have a duty to protect those that can't help themselves. We..."
I just realized something that I have never admitted to myself since I became a Slayer. I have had a responsibility, a sacred duty to do my best to rid the world of evil in its darkest forms, and I decided to take advantage of that power for my own ends. To strike fear in my friends and enemies. To eventually make myself in the same image as Operations. To be the one in control.
Were we so much alike? When I was recruited to Section, it was just another way of living the life that I couldn't in the real world. Sanctioned killer, that's all I was. I was still a killer. I was still the same person that I was two years ago.
I took B's hand in mine.
"We... I... I have a duty to protect the world and I will, but not your way." I paused. "I am Slayer, but I am not a killer. Not anymore."
I felt B squeeze my hand. I squeezed back.
My intentions in coming here today was to let B get her say and then to kill the rat bastard. I knew B wouldn't have the heart, even though he had Riley killed. She just wasn't that type of person.
We handed him, and Nikita over to the local FBI that afternoon. Let the law handle him, I'm done with it.
~*~ Summers House ~*~
We sat in the kitchen toasting with O.J., just O.J. this time.
"I'm very proud of you, Faith."
I felt like a kid that just got her first gold star.
"I'm kinda proud of myself too." I said with little modesty. Hey I'm on the good guys side for once. That doesn't mean I can't be a smart ass.
Buffy emptied her glass. "I feel a little dirty." She said as she opened the door to the living room. "Wanna scrub my back?"
I smiled. "I'm right behind you."
She grinned as she hit the stairs. "Don't forget the lights."