Buffy walked around the house. The interior was gorgeous. The enormous living room, with its high vaulted ceilings, was decorated in pale cream colors with a darker ceiling. Large eighteen-inch light brown patterned ceramic tiles covered all the floors. Buffy smiled as she walked into the kitchen. Her mom would have loved the yellow-gold tone of the paint and the predominantly black and brushed stainless steel appliances. With a sigh, Buffy headed back into the living room, dodging Beth who was on Stephanie's tail. Stephanie's hair streamed behind her like a golden banner as she rocketed down the hall. Buffy reminded herself to tell the girl to at least trim her waist-length hair.
Heading into the living room, she surveyed the chaos. The girls were running around like rats in a maze, getting into everything. She was glad she'd grabbed the keys from Jack rather than allow one of the other girls to take possession. As it was, there were already good-natured arguments taking place among the girls as to who got what room. Fortunately, they'd listened to Buffy when she had told them outside to keep the arguments to a minimum. “Hey, everyone!” Buffy put two fingers in her mouth and whistled shrilly. Slowly the chaos began to wind down as slayers drifted back into the living room. Soon she had a semi-circle of girls staring at her with wolfish eyes.
“Okay, everyone, here's the deal. Molly's team is going to be living in this house and Vi's in the other. I'll be staying in this house along with Eve. Dawn...”
“Will be staying in the other house with Vi.” Dawn met Buffy's look with a stubborn one of her own. “You didn't think I would want to share a house with you if I didn't have to, did you?”
Buffy sighed. “Dawn will stay in the other house with Vi and her team. As far as bedrooms are concerned, all of them are pretty similar except for the two master bedrooms in each house. We'll draw names for who gets first pick, second pick, etc. Vi and Molly will be posting duties on the fridge doors tomorrow afternoon. If you have a particular chore you really want, get with them no later than tonight. Otherwise, you get pot luck. I'll let everyone know when we're due to start fighting aliens. Does anyone have any question or suggestions?”
Amber Scarletti, one of Molly's slayers, waved at Buffy. She was the tallest of the slayers, at 5'11”, and built like a Norse goddess, all lush curves and iron-hard muscle. Her pale gray eyes gleamed as she said, “I think that you should get one of the master bedrooms, Buffy. You can have my chance.”
Buffy sighed as the other girls echoed Amber. She tried to keep a frown from forming, knowing Amber would take it wrong. Despite her physical stature, Amber was still only seventeen years old with all of a teenage girl's anxieties. Especially towards her 'hero.' Buffy managed a smile. “Okay,since all of you are in favor, I'll take the ground-floor master bedroom. The rest of you can draw for the others. How does that sound?” Her smile grew more genuine at the chorus of aye's. Buffy watched as Vi and Molly led the girls into the kitchen to find some paper to write down names.
Jack caught Buffy's eye. Silently he mouthed, “You'll let everyone know when they're due to fight aliens?” He shook his head at Buffy amused look. “Well, that was interesting...” Jack smiled as Eve ran by, a short Chinese girl chasing her, both giggling like fiends. The energy displayed by the girls was astonishing. He had walked alongside Buffy through the house as she'd checked it out. “Your girls seem... perky.”
“Perky? More like energizer bunnies.” Buffy said, a fond smile on her face. “So, Colonel, what's the plan?”
“Jack, not Colonel. Well, the good news is that there aren't any emergencies right at this time.” Jack sighed at Buffy's raised brows. “I know how that sounds. But it's hard to predict when things happen. That's one of the reasons I wanted to suggest something. I would like to have one or two of the girls posted inside the mountain at all times.” Jack raised his hand as Buffy started to speak. “Please, Buffy, let me finish. I know it's your call. I just wanted to give you food for thought. Maybe we can work out a way to make this work, a schedule or something. Take the next week or so to get unpacked and settle in. You can visit the Mountain next Monday. We need to do physical exams and evaluations on all the girls to begin the process of off-world certification. How does that sound?”
“Jack, I'll think about your request. And Monday sounds fine. Although I'm not sure about this whole exam thing. Why do we need exams?” Buffy could feel her old skittishness towards doctors and hospitals rise as the thought of being poked with needles.
“Buffy, there are lots of reasons, but I'll just visit the top four. First, we need to know your physiology in the event of an injury. Second, you have to have exams after every off-world trip to make sure you haven't been tampered with. So we need a baseline for that. Third, if we don't know what you can do, there isn't any way to coordinate our efforts. I know you nixed the idea of individual girls operating with SG teams, but your teams may still need to work with our teams. Fourth, because I said so. For cryin' out loud, Buffy, can you just relax? You are the most stubborn person I've ever met. How about in the name of cooperation, you just let it go this once?”
Buffy considered Jack's words. After a moment, she decided. “Okay, Col... Jack, I guess it would be okay to do the exams. But, if anyone pokes me
with a needle, I'm poking them back. Got that?”
“Got it. Well in the name of cooperation between our organizations, I just want to say thanks for not being a pain in the ass this once.” Jack grinned at Buffy's frown, which slowly turned into an acknowledging smile. “Oh, we'll leave a couple of Tahoes here for your use until your vehicles arrive. Try not to get any tickets. It makes General Hammond persnickety. Just bring them back on Monday when you head up to the mountain. Here's a file with directions and a lists of everything you might need.” Jack handed a thick manila folder to Buffy. He grinned again at her frown at its size. He held out his hand to her and firmly shook hers. “Welcome to the SGC, Buffy. I look forward to working with you. I think.” With that, he turned and headed back out of the house.
Buffy watched Jack's retreating form. She briefly jiggled the handfuls of keys she held. Hmm, she needed to start passing these off. Buffy decided to investigate her new room. Grabbing her four bags, she headed into her room to unpack....Vi's house...
Breathing a huge sigh of relief, Dawn set down her bags onto the floor of her room. Conscious of someone behind her, she turned to see Vi lounging against the frame of her bedroom door. “Geeze, Summers, you'd think those were heavy.”
“Not all of us have slayer strength, Vi. And how unfair is that? I mean, I'm the one who was made out Buffy. Why didn't I get the power-up? Is that too much to ask?” Dawn sighed again. She hated it when she whined.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” Vi intoned solemnly, then ruined the effect by grinning. “So, how lucky am I? Getting the master bedroom and all?”
“I still think you rigged it. I'm just glad that Autumn got the other and you agreed to let her have the ground floor one. Imagine sharing a wall with her. That banging and thumping would drive you insane.”
“Yeah, I gotta admit my reasons were completely selfish. If I'd been ground-floor, she would have been directly over me
. That doesn't bear thinking of.”
“Is Molly's team still pouting over Eve winning the raffle for the other master bedroom? I swear I thought Molly was gonna have an aneurysm.”
“Hell, yeah, they're still pissed. When Amber bumped Eve with her shoulder, I thought they were going to come to blows. That would have been fun to watch.” And it would have saved Vi having to thump Eve again. Despite Buffy's admonition, Vi didn't think that Eve would be cooperative for long. What worse, Vi would have been exactly the same in her shoes.
Dawn shuddered at that visual of the statuesque blonde fighting the petite red-head. “You know it's only going to be a matter of time until Eve starts winning these matches. When she does, I don't think you're going to enjoy the payback.”
Vi casually punched Dawn in the arm. At Dawn's startled “OUCH!” Vi shook her head pityingly. “Wimp. As much as you and I are friends, Dawn, you simply don't even remotely understand how this all works. Eve's not going to hold any grudges. Not over something as trivial as getting whacked around for being a brat. It's just the way it is. Actually, I look forward to seeing how well she does. I find it... interesting.” Vi grinned at Dawn's confused expression. It was good to know that as smart as Dawn was, she wasn't perfect. Vi grabbed Dawn's arm. “Let's go.”
Startled, Dawn asked, “Where?”
Vi dug in the pocket of her jeans and shook out a keychain. A keychain with automotive keys on it. Dawn's eyes widened as she took in the sight. She started to ask, only to be interrupted by Vi. “It's exactly what you think it is. One set of Tahoe keys, courtesy of Buffy. So, come on, girlfriend, let's go see what's to do in this town.”
“What about the others?”
“They'll stay here. Grab some food. Watch some tube. Hang out. Meanwhile, we'll scope out the hotties and provide feedback.”
“Sweet! Let me grab a different top.” With that, Dawn dug into a half empty suitcase. Finding her red backless halter top, she quickly peeled off her shirt and bra. Shimmying into the top, she held her hair out of the way for Vi to fasten it at her neck. She stared at her image in the mirror. Skintight black leather pants and a red, silky halter top. She looked damned good. Dawn only paused to grab a purse and her wallet, then headed out with Vi.
Both girls made their way down the stairs. Neither wanted to make any of the other girls aware of their flight. They had become good friends back in Sunnydale. Opportunities to hang out with just the two of them were few and far between. Grinning like fools, they closed the door to their new home behind them and hurried off towards the Tahoe in the deepening twilight.
Vi jerked to a halt next to Dawn as they caught sight of a familiar figure leaning on their vehicle. She looked with disfavor on the lithe, shapely figure of Autumn. Her long, dark, wavy hair was pulled back in a ponytail, highlighting her oval, porcelain-skinned face. Dark, gorgeous eyes stared back at them over red, pouting lips. “Going somewhere, ladies? Cause if you were to be running off to say, go out on the town, leaving everyone behind, that would be bad. And it might cause some problems if someone were to tell the others. Well, unless that someone was invited to go along. Get my drift?”
Dawn stared with dislike at Autumn. Turning to Vi, she urgently said, “We don't really need to have her along with us. Let's just go.”
Vi calculated for a moment. With a sigh, she admitted defeat. “Dawn, I don't think I could hide the body well enough it wouldn't be found.” She hid an inward grin as Autumn's eyes widened in alarm. “Okay, you can come with us. But if you try to grab one guy that either of us are interested in, I'll beat you like a drum tomorrow. Got it?”
Autumn nodded vigorously. She grinned as she jumped into the back of the Tahoe as Vi unlocked the doors. “So where to, oh fearless leader? I hope your plan involves boys, music, boys, drinks, and boys.”
Dawn laughed despite herself. No matter how you felt about her, you couldn't fault Autumn's determination towards fulfilling her... needs. “That shouldn't be a problem. Not only are there a host of military bases around here, but the Air Force Academy is not that far. There should be a ton of bars full of fit, good-looking young men in search of a good time.”
“And I'm definitely a good time.” Autumn said breathily, giggling at the expressions of the other two girls. “Kidding! You have your fake ID?” She patted her own in the pocket of her skin-tight black slacks.
“Of course.” Dawn's ID said she was twenty-two years old. It allowed her to get into a bar, although that wasn't why she had the ID. It was so that if a slayer was ever injured and someone needed to provide authorization to operate or make some other decision, an adult would be present. It was the same reason that all of the slayers who could pass had them. The exceptions were Stephanie, Beth, Eve, and Cho-Ahn, who couldn't pass for twenty-one.
Vi grinned. “Then we're off on an adventure! We'll take no prisoners! Brook no defeats! Never stop dancing! Not until the last pair of male legs is no longer standing! Woohoo!” With that, Vi started the vehicle and drove off into the night...
Molly let the curtain fall back. She turned back to Buffy. “Well, they're off.”
“You sure you don't want to go? They're probably going to have fun.” Buffy stifled a giggle at the expression on Molly's face.
“Now you ask. Seriously though, Buffy, I'm cool with staying in tonight. I figure we'll all party hard this weekend. No reason to do it on a Monday night. Besides this way, they'll have already done the hard part by scouting which are the best places to find guys. I'll have all of the benefits, without doing any of the work.”
Buffy steepled her fingers under chin and said in a mock-unctuous voice, “Excellent, grasshopper. You have learned the true secret of leadership. The best leader is the laziest leader.” Laughing, the two girls headed towards the den to watch some TV.The next morning...
Buffy banged on the door of the other team's house. She waited almost a minute, and when no one answered, Buffy used her extra key to unlock the door. She walked in just as a still wet Stephanie skidded to a halt at the sight of her. “Sorry, Buffy. I was just getting out of the shower.”
“Good morning, Steph. How are you doing?”
“Good. Want some breakfast? I figure I'll whip up some pancakes, since the kitchen's completely stocked.” Stephanie was aware that she was self-consciously tugging on the waist-length braid of blonde hair hanging at her side as she waited for Buffy to answer. It felt vaguely sacrilegious calling Buffy by her name, but Stephanie knew better than to argue. Seeing Buffy standing there in the morning light gave Stephanie another idea for a drawing. Guiltily, she stifled the thought.
“I already ate, Steph.” Buffy was aware that the other girl was nervous alone in her presence. It had been Stephanie who had drawn the heroic picture of Buffy and orchestrated its dissemination to any of the slayer who'd wanted a copy. Which was most of them. Buffy had ended up yelling a lot after that, rather badly hurting Stephanie's feelings. It had take a lot of apologizing, along with numerous offers to spar, along with the associated beat downs, to reassure her. “Where's Vi? And Dawn?”
“Err, they're both still in bed, I think.” Stephanie felt bad about telling Buffy, but they had gone out last night, staying out until 5:00 am. And drank a lot of alcohol, based upon the amount of noise they'd made when they came in. The banging sounds had continued for almost twenty minutes. “Want me to get them?” Stephanie met Buffy's eyes at this last, startled again at the realization that she was just as tall as the other woman. Buffy always seemed to tower over everyone around her.
Buffy smiled at the other girl. “That's okay, I'll get them up.” Grinning, she headed towards the stairs. Buffy could feel who was behind the various doors she passed. She left Autumn to slumber, but banged on Dawn's door. “Hey! Sleepyhead! Time to get up! We have a meeting set for less than an hour.” Buffy continued to bang on the door, ignoring the muffled curses from behind the door. Finally, the door opened to a figure out of nightmare. Buffy openly grinned at the sight of Dawn, her hair a tangled mess, hiding half her face. The other side of Dawn's face was highlighted by a bloodshot eye. Smeared lipstick covered her mouth and chin. She reeked of cigarette smoke and stale beer. Hanging onto the door frame for support, she glared at Buffy.
“What the fuck do you want?” Dawn snarled, wincing at the pain in her head from her voice.
“Dawn Marie Summers! Watch your mouth! It's not my fault you went out last night and drank like a fish. Vodka martinis?”
“Ugh, I wish. Tequila shooters. God, what was I thinking. They always make vomit. Just never in time to keep me from making a fool of myself.” Dawn could barely keep herself from falling over. She really, really, really wished Willow and her magic hangover cure were around. Unfortunately both were over a thousand miles away. She was aware that Buffy was still standing in front of her. “What do you want?”
“Well, besides to gloat over you as you did me so many times, I wanted to make sure you were at our 10:00 am meeting. You know, the one we set up yesterday afternoon.” Buffy laughed out loud at the horrified look in Dawn's visible eye.
“Oh God, please, Buffy. Don't do this. I may die any time now. If I'm lucky.”
“Relax, I've already rescheduled the meeting for 3:00 pm. So you can go back to bed.”
Dawn started to go back to bed, then stopped. “Wait a minute, you already rescheduled the meeting? Why did you wake me up?”
“You mean besides to gloat over you? That's all, really. Have a good nap. I'll see you in six hours.” Buffy turned around and headed off, ignoring the groaning curses that followed her. Sorry, Dawn, she thought, if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. She headed back downstairs to repeat the experience with Vi, although she doubted the slayer would be nearly as hungover as Dawn. Still, it would be fun to rouse her out of bed and remind her she still had to complete her slayer duties chart. It would be all kinds of fun to see the look on her face...