Buffy snuggled deeper into her comforter. Not only was it Sunday, so there was no reason for her to be at work, but it was also cold outside. Well, colder than the early November temperatures she was used to during most of her life anyway. Hence the snuggling into the warmth of her bed.
Last night she had officially introduced Faith to Allison and Chase over dinner. She'd been a bit worried about them getting along, especially with Faith' tendency to flirt openly with most men, but Faith had easily broken the ice by telling them how – and why – Buffy had been banned from cooking in her own house. Even though Buffy had pointed out that she was a good cook now, a fact that was proven by everyone loving her food and demanding extras, this and similar stories about Buffy's early cooking experiments had all of them in fits of laughter throughout dinner.
After that the rest of the evening had gone by quickly. By the end of it, a lot of old and embarrassing stories of each of them had found a new and thankful audience. Once Allison and Chase had left for their home, Buffy had gotten ready for bed while Faith had gone patrolling. Buffy had just raised an eyebrow and commented on how the club scene was a demon and vampire free zone that night. Faith had smirked and left with an extra sway in her hips.
Buffy sighed and opened her eyes. No matter how much she wanted to stay in bed, she simple wasn't tired anymore. Besides, her little passenger demanded food. Jumping out of her bed, she quickly made her way into the bathroom for a long and hot shower – growling stomach and all. While she let the hot water massage her back, her thoughts returned to Faith.
Her sister slayer had stayed close to Eve throughout that first day in hospital. Earlier that day, Faith and Sondra had managed to save the boy from yet another demon attack and figure out the reasons behind them. Sondra's recollection of the latter had been so vivid, that Buffy could still – almost a week later - see it in front of her eyes. That girl really had a way of describing things."That's the bar," Sondra told Faith, pointing unnecessarily at the only bar in the street.
It looked innocent enough to Faith. In fact, it looked so innocent that you would only recognising it for what it really was when you were looking for it. Of course, a lot of demon bars worked that way, so Faith wasn't surprised.
Schooling her face and pushing the worry about Eve into the far corner of her mind, Faith opened the door and sauntered in, her favourite knife dancing between her fingers. The effect was immediate - the bar went quiet.
Just like Buffy had done not so long ago, Faith walked over to the bar and jumped up in one fluid motion. "Here's the deal. There's a contract on a little boy. I get the right name and address and you get to live. For now… Maybe."
"Me." Faith stared at the Shur-hod demon and slowly, teasingly, took her favourite battle-axe from its hiding place at her back. Smirking at him, she added, "Never been a fan of your kind myself. And you're so easy to kill it's disappointing. Always have to go on a little killing spree afterwards to quell the disappointment."
The Shur-hod demon gulped visibly and slowly but surely melted back into the background. Faith snorted and gave the room in general another look. "Come on! I'm getting bored and might just have to start killing you guys randomly!" Faith hadn't even finished her sentence when a stake flew half across the room, dusting a female vampire. "And I really hate vampires!"
"Slayer," a Sadecki demon acknowledged.
"D'oh! What gave me away?"
The Sadecki demon chuckled. "The way you entered the bar, actually. I just thought I might spell it out for the less … bright ones."
"How nice of you." Faith grinned at him. "Name's Faith."
"The Dark Slayer," the Sadecki demon said. "I am Calrod. It's an … honour to meet you."
Faith, having identified Calrod as on of their leaders the moment he started talking, looked him straight in the eyes. "Yeah. Whatever. Name and address?"
Calrod stared right back. Then, almost unnoticeably even to those standing close by, he gave a tiny nod. A couple of minutes later, a slip of paper appeared on the bar next to her feet. Jumping down, she took a quick look and nodded at Calrod. Ignoring everyone else, she made her way towards the door and left the way she had entered it – with the door slamming closed behind her.
Rolling her eyes at the cliché-ness of the confrontation in the bar, Buffy turned off the water and wrapped herself in a large, fluffy towel before allowing her thoughts to drift back again.
After leaving the bar, Sondra and Faith had gone to the address and, according to Faith, 'had danced with the minions, freed the virgin (which happened to be an about 10 week old kitten), sliced-and-diced the head-honcho and gotten the prophecy that had started the whole kill the boy deal'
Now the prophecy – both the original and the translation the wanna-be warlock had – was in Dawn's hands. This reminded Buffy to give her sister a call later today when she was at their mom's. Ever since she had visited, Dawn had asked for weekly updates on her pregnancy. Buffy didn't really mind, even found it endearing, but Dawn could get a bit annoying when Buffy missed to call on time. Or when Buffy dared to call just before she left to see their mom. Because, as Dawn had pointed out last week, it just wasn't fair for Buffy to have their mom all for herself. So the least Buffy could do was call from Lisa's house and put her on speakerphone.
Smiling at the thought of Dawn's little quirks, Buffy dressed and went into the kitchen to find enough food to please her baby – only to be greeted by the aforementioned tabby kitten. Bending down, she scooped the little cat up and was quickly rewarded with a warm body snuggling into her chest, purring in absolute contentment.
Tickling the kitten's chin, Buffy said, "Come on, breakfast time."
"How's Eve doing?" Dawn asked her sister after they finished talking about all the important things. Like her little niece or nephew. Or the new, kitten-shaped addition to the Summers household.
"Much better," Buffy said. "It'll probably take a few weeks until we'll let her get back on patrol duty, but she'll make a full recovery."
"And I still can't believe it," Lisa said in wonderment.
"Which is why we've sent her back to Cleveland," Buffy said with a smile. "Just imagine House strolling into her room and having a closer look at her injuries!"
Dawn snickered. "I'd have paid to see you come up with an explanation!"
Buffy glared at the phone while Lisa giggled. "You're just mad because you can't throw anything at Dawn."
Huffing, Buffy crossed her arms in front of her and pouted.
"Pouting?" Dawn asked in amusement.
"I guess it's a bad time to mention my ingenious plan to keep House from digging deeper into the IWC," Dawn said innocently.
Lisa raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"He's only found the official information yet. But he started digging deeper after Eve's accident and, well, having met him, we know he won't stop until he solves the puzzle," Dawn explained.
"Which wouldn't be of the good," Buffy continued.
Lisa nodded in agreement.
"Okay," Buffy said in resignation, giving up on her pout. "Spill the plan, sis'."
"Well, I talked with Willow about it," Dawn said excitedly.
"Bah. Calm down, Buf. I didn't mention the baby," Dawn said dismissively. "I just mentioned House and how he wouldn't give up until he solved the puzzle surrounding the IWC. See, I had this idea but didn't know how to pull it off."
Both Buffy and Lisa could hear the grin in Dawn's voice. They looked at each other and started to grin too. This was going to be interesting.
"Anyway," Dawn continued, "it's a bit like hypnosis. Only it's magical."
Buffy rolled her eyes at Lisa when Dawn didn't continue. Sighing theatrical, she said, "Okay, you've got us. Now spill!"
"Basically, every time House starts looking into the IWC again, he'll forget what he was going to do. He'll remember the official cover story and all, but that's it."
"How exactly are you going to do that?" Lisa asked curiously. "I mean, once House finds a puzzle he wants to solve, he won't let go until he's solved it to his satisfaction! For goodness' sake, that man willingly
electrocuted himself because a patient told him about his own amazing near death experience!"
"Really?" Dawn asked in disbelieve.
Lisa snorted. "Really."
"Wow!" Dawn took a deep breath before she added, sounding rather sheepishly, "Anyway, we kinda did it already?"
"Well, you see, Willow came up with this really simple spell. But we still needed a Wicca to perform it and Jenna was in the area for only a day. She had all the necessary supplies so I decided to go ahead with it and have her perform the spell on House. She went to the open clinic as a patient, had a quick word with nurse Brenda and Brenda put Jenna next on the list of patients for House to see. Jenna went in, House snarled at her, Jenna performed the spell without him noticing, House snarled some more and Jenna left. End of story," Dawn said quickly – and without breathing.
"Breath!" Lisa said – and chuckled when she heard Dawn taking a deep breath.
Buffy, on the other side of couch, had her head buried in her hands. "What have I done to deserve this?"
Lisa shuffled over and patted her daughter's shoulder. "We'll just sick House on her if he should ever find out."
"Okay," Buffy grumbled. Sighing again, she looked at the phone on the couch table. "Did it work?"
"Yep," Dawn said, her voice laced with barely repressed giggles. "I called him earlier. We had a bit of small talk and then I accidentally
complained about my job with the IWC. He pricked up his ears immediately – and forgot about it just as fast!" Dawn lost the fight against her giggles and needed a few seconds to be able to talk again. "He asked me a completely unrelated question afterwards."
Buffy raised her eyebrows at that while Lisa smiled. Then Lisa remembered something else. Squinting her eyes, she asked, "Wait, why did Brenda let your friend go on top of the list?"
"She's a half-demon," Dawn explained before Buffy could stop her.
"Oops? I guess Buffy hadn't mentioned it yet?" Dawn offered feebly.
Lisa glared at her daughter. "No-o. She must have forgotten about it."
"Pregnancy brain?" Buffy said sheepishly. "Anyway, Dawn, you should have told me, us
, about the spell. Then we could have added something else."
"What?" Dawn asked curiously.
"Yeah, what?" Lisa asked in confusion.
"Uh, it's something else I kinda wanted to talk to you about?"
Dawn chuckled on the other side of the phone. "Pregnancy brain? Again
Buffy huffed but otherwise ignored her sister's smug reply. "It's just … well, I'm not sure. But I think House might know about … you know, us."
Lisa's head snapped up with such a force, that even Dawn could hear it. "Damn! I thought it was just imagining things! I mean, it's House. He thrives on making random assumptions."
Dawn suggested, "Maybe that's all it is?"
"You think so?" Lisa asked hopefully.
Buffy snorted before Dawn could reply. "It's us, remember? These things never work our way."
"That's true too."
"So what are we going to do now?" Lisa asked.
Buffy shrugged her shoulders. "Dunno. Maybe we should just wait and see? Maybe you're right and he's just fishing in the dark?"
Lisa nodded slowly, an idea forming in her head already. Maybe there was a way she could find out without House noticing.
"Anyway," Dawn asked, "How's Faith doing?"
Buffy smiled. Faith had accompanied Eve on the plane to Cleveland but had returned a day later, claiming she couldn't just leave her beloved motorcycle behind. That night, Buffy had gotten two extra-large tubs of ice cream and she and Faith had sat down to talk – with a bit of interference from Buffy's new kitten, of course. As it had turned out, she and Robin had this huge fight and needed some space to come to grips with their relationship.
Watching her friend for a while, seeing the indecision in her eyes, Buffy had offered her the guestroom. And, instead of declining and taking her motorbike to run away further from her problems like she'd have done a few years ago, Faith had gratefully accepted the offer. This, in itself, had shown just how much both of them had changed. Grown up, really. In Sunnydale or shortly after Buffy would neither have made the offer nor would Faith have accepted it.
The next day, Sondra had come over as well and, nervously, asked if it would be all right if she'd go to Cleveland to stay with Eve. She'd already talked to her course supervisor and, as long as she'd hand in several essays on the topics they'd cover during her absence, she'd agreed after hearing of Eve's accident.
Buffy had taken one look at Sondra and Faith and suggested a switch for the next few weeks. Sondra would go to Cleveland, even take a break and spend some time with her family, while Faith would take over the Slayer duties here in Princeton-Plainsboro.
This way they could give up the apartment Eve and Sondra had been sharing already, and they'd come back to Buffy's current apartment after she'd moved into her new house. It would also give Faith and Robin a definite time apart rather than leave each of them wondering when Faith would return to Cleveland. They had readily agreed and, two days ago, Buffy had gotten a call from Robin, thanking her for her suggestion.
Still smiling, Buffy finally answered Dawn's question, "Five by five."
Smirking, Buffy strolled into Coma Guy's room, expecting House to hide in there and watch General Hospital.
Only, once she entered the room, it was distinctively empty. Well, there was Coma Guy … and an old lady reading to him from a book. That was new. But it also explained House's absence. Shrugging her shoulders, Buffy went to one of her best sources of House's whereabouts.
"Hey, Brenda!" Buffy greeted the half-demon. "Have you seen House? He's hiding from his next torturing lesson again."
Smirking, Brenda pointed at exam room two. "He's been with a patient for the past five minutes. Should be done any moment now."
"Thanks!" Buffy stole two lollipops from the desk and went to stand next to the examination room House was in. While she waited for the door to open, she unwrapped one of the lollipops and put it in her mouth.
Brenda raised an eyebrow, shaking her head. It looked like House managed to pass his fondness for her lollipops on to the Slayer.
Then she shuddered involuntarily. Last Tuesday she had come into work as usual – and had almost turned and taken a long vacation. Not because of anything House had done – she could handle him just fine – but because she had suddenly found herself in the presence of not just one but four slayers. New policy of only killing bad demons or not, Brenda had felt true fear for the first time in her life. True, she'd often tasted the fears of others, but this was the first time her own feelings were overpowering everything else.
Luckily, Buffy had chosen that moment to pass the clinic. Hands shaking, Brenda had stopped the passing slayer and asked why there were four of them around. Learning that the other three slayers would leave the hospital later that day, she had calmed down slightly and continued her shift.
But she had kept her ears in the demon grapevine – and knew just who had been in her hospital. And was still haunting the city. The Dark Slayer.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Buffy coming back to her desk. "He'll need another few minutes."
"Do you think he knows you're waiting for him?" Brenda asked curiously.
Buffy snorted. "Probably."
Brenda smiled. Then she started to fiddle with one of the pens in front of her. Buffy watched her for a minute than she rolled her eyes. "Spill."
"You look nervous."
"Oh!" Brenda dropped the pen and looked at Buffy sheepishly. "Oh. I … uh … was wondering, you know, if you'd let me know if House should ever met the Dark Slayer?"
Buffy stared at her - and started laughing. "Carnage!"
Brenda nodded. "Uh, she knows I'm alright, right?" she asked nervously.
Buffy patted her arm. "Don't worry. Faith has calmed down."
Brenda breathed a sigh of relief.
"Some," Buffy added, eyes twinkling with mischief. Pointing towards examination room two, she added, "I believe he's finally finished."
On clue, the door opened and a middle-aged woman left the room. Rushing past her, Buffy slipped into the room before House could escape.
--A/N: Uh … where did the kitten come from!? Honestly, Muse is driving me crazy with her little additions! Well, it's a good crazy-ness :P. Anyway, any suggestions for a name? I'm pretty sure it's a female … (Which doesn't mean anything, really. I'm writing some original fiction too – and several chapters in Muse decided to change the main character's gender … in the middle of a scene!). Some more Buffy and House next! And House might come face to face with Faith. If Muse agrees.