Disclaimer: I own nothing except a few oddly named electronics and a falling apart bookshelf.
WARNING! This is a sequel to 'That Was Rude'. I guess if you really don't want to read the previous story, you don't have too, but there may be things you won't understand because of it.
Xander was scared. This was the fifth place they’d run to. The girls were tired, Faith was hurt and Dawn was at her wits end. The few protection spells she knew were only useful if they stayed in one spot, but the demon was finding them too fast. Emmaline and Francis, the two young slayers, were exhausted, but still trying to keep up a brave face for the little girl they’d saved.
It was a fluke, their rescue. Right place, right time, mostly. By the time they’d arrived, the demon had already killed her parents. Faith had been hurt driving it away, she’d split her focus and bobbed instead of weaved. She’d been hit on her side when it zigged while she'd zagged, and her healing hadn’t had time to kick in yet since their fleeing had caused as much damage as it healed.
Pulling out his phone, he stood in the doorway of the warehouse they were currently hiding in. From there he was able to keep an eye on the surroundings and watch his girls at the same time. Dawn was trying her best to apply field dressing to a squirming Faith, while the other three were looking on, Em and Fran bookending Theresa.
He shook his head and dialed a number long ago memorized. When the line was answered, he didn't give the person on the other end a moment. “This is Xander, put me through to Giles. It's an emergency.” The sun had just set and with it the warmth had disappeared. It was going to be a cold one, especially for Washington in the fall. That made finding somewhere all the more important.
“Giles, hey, we've got some bad here. A big bad and little people. Not a good combo.” There was a fumbling on the other line as Giles switched ears.
“I'll need a bit more than that.”
Xander's voice tightened. “I've got two new slayers fresh off their activation, Faith is down, and Dawn is close to hitting the bottom of the magic barrel. We stumbled across a Big-D getting his Micky-D on with a family.” He sighed and glanced outside. “G-man, it's strong. I have no doubt that Faith could have handled it, but there was a little girl. We saved her, but Murphy hit and now we're running. It keeps finding us. Like a bloodhound on steroids.”
“Bollocks. There aren't any safe houses near there either.” Giles must have pulled away from the phone because his voice grew distant. “Annalise, check for all back up teams in the north-west vicinity of America. Xander's team needs help, possibly retrieval, but definitely shelter. Have someone look up council holdings near there as well.”
Slouching against the doorway, Xander looked up to see Faith finally wrestle away from Dawn and make her way to him. “G got something?”
“He's digging.” She nodded and rested opposite him. As Giles came back on the line Xander spoke up. “It was a Goat headed-Lizard bottomed 8 footed candidate for Mr. Universe. You heard of anything similar?” When Giles answered negatively, he groaned. “Perfect.” Faith tilted her head, hearing something, her eyes widened and she looked at him. “Crap, Giles we've got to move. Uh, call Riley. There are a couple forts near here, maybe he's got a hidey-hole around for his squad he'd let us squat in. Call me in 10. We should have made it to the van by then.” Closing his phone he walked into the room and gathered his girls.
When his phone rang again, they had just made it back to Theresa's house. He ushered the girls into the rental van and jumped into the passenger seat as Dawn took the wheel. “Giles, Tell me you've found the eureka moment?”
“Oh the demon, no, we've a few leads, and the researchers on hand are running those down. But we did luck out on the housing. Riley was visiting his cohort Graham when we called. He heard and while Riley doesn't have any resources for you, Graham's sister's house is about 45 minutes from where you are. He called her and she is expecting you. Of course she isn't in the know, but you can stay there while waiting for re-enforcements. There was a team in Oregon. They've mobilized and should be there in a couple of hours.”
Dawn was driving aimlessly, her eyes drifting to him every now and again. He gave her a reassuring smile and continued. “Address? And are you sure it's best to go to a... a... civilian for lack of a less militant word.”
Rupert sat behind his desk and ran a hand over his head. “Well, we haven't got any other choice.” Leaning forward he picked up a piece of paper. “She lives outside Seattle. In Oak Park. 855 Woodburn Ave. Graham said to tell you... uh, Kraykura Grema. He did not specify why or what it is. But did stress the importance. Apparently he lead her to believe one of your girls was in an abusive environment and now is being pursued. Which is similar enough.” Xander held the phone with his shoulder as he typed the address into the GPS on the dash, Dawn nodded and began following the blue line that appeared.
“Now, how is the little one?” Giles asked. A watcher in training with computer skills had hacked local police records and gained the photo's from the most recent brutal attack in Xander's area. They assumed it was the demon's work as it had supernatural markings, ranging from the short span of time it took to kill and the strength needed to pull apart a human corpse in quite the way shown.
Xander turned his torso and stared back at the girl they had saved. She was quiet, content watching the trees flicker past. “She's in shock. As much as we can tell. She has a right to be. We'll protect her as best we can, but you should start checking for relatives or whatever. When the thing is slain, she'll need normal. Her name is Theresa, which we only got from her backpack. She'd still been wearing it, guess the family had just gotten home. Nice how-do-you-do ain't it?”
“Yes well, we will continue to look for the demon. Hopefully now that you're mobile things will- dow- and you ca-” There was a beep. The call had been lost.
“Shit. My cell is out.” Xander tossed the phone into the console and leaned back. Now that they were in the van, he had finally been able to arm himself.
Feeling the familiar weight of his sword, the few stakes he kept on his belt and the knife in his pocket, he felt more at ease. At least as much as possible. He slouched down and closed his eyes. He'd learned early on that you sleep when possible and since Dawn hadn't gotten her driving skills from Buffy, he was content to trust that she'd get them there in one piece.
Jolted awake by the shaking van, Xander shot to consciousness and scanned his surroundings. Dawn snorted.
“Stand down, Kujo. It's a dirt road. With plenty of pot holes. We'll be there in a couple. I think.” She leaned forward and adjusted in her seat. “And it definitely could come faster. I have to pee so bad.”
Round a corner, there was a final thud as the van bottomed out then driveway smoothed. Rising from the darkness there was a large house. An odd blend of rustic and old fashioned, it fit in seamlessly with the trees surrounding it. The headlights flashed over the front, revealing a body in the window that was gone in a second.
Faith scooted towards the front. “Yeah, 'cause that wasn't ominous.”
“Come on. No better time then now. Maybe it's not so bad.” As if someone had heard him, the porch light came on, casting a welcoming glow onto the formerly creepy house. He shifted in his seat, and with the ease gained by practice, slipped off his belt then lowered it to the floorboard, only taking his less obvious weapons with him.
Leaving the little ones in the car with Faith, he and Dawn approached the front door. A solid hard wood construct, it was fitted with a grated window, which swung open just as they stepped onto the first step. In it was a set of hazel eyes. They waited and after a moment of surveillance a voice spoke. “Nazovite sebya. Dayte mineh parol.”
Startled Dawn and Xander looked at each other, then Xander blinked. “Oh wait, uh, Cracky Churro Gemma.”
The eyes crinkled and a laugh was heard, then the grate swung shut with a soft clang. Clicking was heard as the door was unlocked. Standing in the doorway was a young woman, barefoot in jeans and a grey tee. “Close enough. Sorry about that. Graham told me to double check. Said it was DefCon 1.” Stepping back she waved them in. “I've got stew on the stove, bread in the oven and beds set up. My brother said you've got 6.” Her raised brows flicked inquisitively to the van.
Xander turned and whistled sharp. “It's all clear.” After he said that Dawn groaned.
“Finally.” She impatiently walked forward. “3 bottles of water and 4 hours with no good stopping point. Bathroom?”
Hazel Eyes nodded and gestured her in. “Just up stairs, I'll show you.” Looking back at him she smiled softly. “Make yourself at home.”
Faith placed her hand on his arm. “Five by five, Boytoy?”
“Yeah, head on in.” Following his nose, he lead the group to the kitchen where there was a pot on the stove and a stack of bowls on a butcher's block. Emmaline started serving while Faith, Theresa, and Francis sat at the island that took up the center of the room. “I'm going to look around.” He patted Faith's arm, then entered what he guessed was the living room, going by the TV and fireplace. The couch was made up with sheets and there was a pillow and blanket stacked at one end.
Checking the latch on the first window, he scanned his eyes over the room. It was a mix of styles, the only common element was comfort. Squishy chairs, rounded corners, and warm colors. Filigree frames held a multitude of pictures on the mantle over the fireplace. There were various moments caught; friends laughing, childhood scenes. The center most picture was a old shot of a very young Graham with his sister. Moving to the next window, his eyes were caught by a frame pushed to the back of a side table. He picked it up and furrowed his brow.
Hearing footsteps, he turned, still holding the frame. He showed it to her, a curious expression on his face.
She sighed and gave a wry smile. “It's always a picture isn't it.” She shrugged helplessly then sat on the arm of the couch. “Graham's my brother, just not biologically.” Holding out her hand she took the frame from him. “We grew up together. Marriage was a convenient next step. Didn't work out. But we managed to salvage our relationship. So technically, he's my ex-husband.” Standing, she moved to put it back, pausing for a moment, she just stared down at their Wedding photo. Stroking it softy, she put it down and picked up a smaller photo that was next to it. “Now he has a boyfriend and a little sister.” She handed him the picture of Graham and a handsome man, both in military garb. “It's happier this way all around.”
He winced softly and barely glanced at the frame before replacing it. “Sorry. Didn't mean to pry.”
A dry chuckle preceded her words. “Nah, it's fine. I should get used to it, leaving the pictures out, but I just haven't gotten up to putting it away yet. That and I don't have that many visitors.” She patted his arm reassuringly. “When you're done being paranoid, you can join the rest of us in the kitchen. I'll set up a plate for you meanwhile.”
It took a few more minutes, but by the time he got back to the room with the food, the house was secure enough for him and he had a rough knowledge of the layout. Passing through the doorway, a steaming bowl was pushed into his hands.
The other girls were already almost done, or possibly onto seconds. As he sat, he watched as his host took them in, dirty clothes and all. If she had any reservations, she kept them to herself, which he was thankful for. He took a spoonful into his mouth and blinked, then turned to her.
“We don't know your name. We've invaded your house and forgot introductions.” He put down his spoon and grinned. “I'm Xander, leader of these merry women. Leather McGee is Faith, beside her in order are Fran, Theresa and Emma. Not to forget the girly beside me, Dawn.”
“Lauren, Lauren Miller.” She hugged her mug close to her chest. “I figured you would get to it before long.” Her eyes softened as they landed on the young girls, who were valiantly trying but failing to resist falling asleep in their bowls. “I have a King size guest bed upstairs if they don't mind sharing. Or a couple cots and an office pull out.”
It was Dawn who answered for them. “They'll be happier together.” When Xander moved to help transfer them, she shook her head. “ I got this. Up we go.” She lifted Theresa, who at a tiny 7 was small enough to be carried. It took a little more prodding to get the young teens moving but soon they were shuffling around, mumbling a semblance of goodnight.
Lauren efficiently cleaned up their dishes and packed away the left overs. She glanced cautiously to Faith then walked through a doorway.
Exchanging looks, Xander and Faith were confused. That was until Lauren came back in with a huge white box marked with a red cross. She explained as she opened it. “Whatever gauze or bandage you have is leaking through.” Piles of unopened medical supplies fell down as she tried to figure out what was needed. Laughing nervously she spoke. “Ok... so I'm a little out of my depth. I translate books. If you had a broken binding, I could rebind it.” She looked up a flashed a bright grin, making them smile back, infectiously.
Xander shrugged. “It's alright. I can do it. Thanks though.” He put his bowl in the sink, along with Faith's, then washed his hands. After drying them, he sat Faith on the table for a better height and got to work. Lauren looked on with wide eyes. Faith's wound was finally healing, but, she'd be out for at least another two days. The creatures claws had caught her under the arm and raked around to the other side, just barely missing her organs. A few more centimeters deeper and they'd have a 3D visual of her digestive system.
To distract the woman, he did what he did best, and started talking. “You said you translate? What language?”
Lauren blinked, then dragged her eyes away and focused on his face. “Uh, Russian, and a few other Slavic languages. I'm pretty solid in the Cyrillic alphabet.”
He raised a brow. “Lots of call for that here in Washington?”
“Heh, more than you'd think. But actually, I do most online, or by mail. A majority of it is legal work, or books. There is an publishing house that I work with on a book by book basis. Then a bit of freelance here and there. That's how I got this house. 5 full length books and 10 short stories. I bartered with an old widow.” Getting more comfortable, she hopped up onto a stool. “I'm finishing that deal up now. She just sent over her final request last week, so I'm sprawled out in the back room, working on verb tenses and sentence structure. Honestly, it's good to get out of the word vortex for a little bit.”
Turning her head, she caught a glimpse of Dawn just as she descended the stairs. Smiling encouragingly, she looked back to see Xander finishing off, pressing down a final piece of medical tape. Nodding, she stood than pointed over her shoulder. “I'll just get back to that. Uh, you can just leave that there or take it to where ever you settle down Faith. Most likely, I'll be up all night, so just stick your head in if you need anything. Feel free to use the phone if you need to, or anything.” Shifting awkwardly, she pursed her lips into a line then attempted a smile as she backed out. It didn't work that well.
Laughing gently, Dawn watched her retreat then gathered together the used first aid supplies. “She's nice.”
“That she is.” Xander straightened Faith's shirt than turned. “Did you grab the bags from the van?”
“Not yet. Didn't think you'd approve without an escort.” At Dawn's response, Faith snorted.
“She's got you pegged. I'll go with you D. Xan has to call home base and check on G's progress.” At Xander's look she smirked. “I can handle a bag run. Quit your mothering. We'll camp up stairs with the girls. I figure you want the couch to be all papa bear.” She jumped off the table and did a few stretches, getting a feel for the tape's pull. Finding it alright, Faith swung an arm over Dawn's shoulder and left Xander in the kitchen.
He smiled and took out his phone, before dialing, he threw away a few more skrids of medical refuge that had missed Dawn's sweep. Then flicked off a few light and found that the couch felt just as comfortable as it looked.
Xander was awake when a clock, one of the many placed around the house, chimed 2 am. He couldn't sleep. Giles hadn't made much progress on the demon only narrowing it down to a few reference books, which were, conveniently in a different location. The logistics in getting someone to read said books, was turning out to be a bit harder than he'd first thought. So for now. They were to stay on the defense.
So that's why he was still up. Going on hour 32 of barely any sleep. He was pretty sure his blood had been replaced by coffee. Luckily Lauren was stocked up and seemed to always have a pot full. Xander hadn't seen her since she had retreated to her work, but he assumed she was still awake by the ever full coffee and the light under her door.
Eying the bookshelf to his right, he was about to get up to find something to read when he heard soft footsteps padding their way down the stairs.
It was Theresa, looking impossibly small in one of his old shirts, re-purposed as a makeshift nightgown. He stood and met her at the bottom. She sighed and grabbed his hand then pulled him down the hall, through the kitchen, and out the back door.
She stepped to the railing and tilted her head back, gazing up at the stars. Xander joined her and just waited.
He didn't have to wait long. It only took her a few minutes. The next time he glanced down at her there were tears streaking down her face. He crouched and hugged her.
Theresa clung to his neck and sobbed. As she calmed he rubbed her back soothingly.
“I found them.”
Pulling back slowly he spoke. “Found who?”
She rubbed her eyes and took a long shuddering breath. “My parents. I found them. There are two new stars I don't remember seeing before. Right next to Grandma and Grandpa. That means they're in heaven. Mommy told me that. After someone you love dies, you can find them in the stars. And I did. I found them.” She smiled, it was a little crooked and wet but it was still a smile.
Xander's face fell lightly from sorrow, then he picked her up again. “That's good. That's really good.” Taking a couple steps back he found a chair and sat in it. “You want to stay out here a little longer?” She nodded, so he slid back and opened his sweater for her, so she could stay warm.
Holding Theresa on his lap, Xander looked out into the woods. It was dark with shifting shadows adding to the unease that coated the night. Their breath came out in puffs of white, the night chill having settled.
Fog was sliding around on the ground creating the illusion of clouds. As one large shadow shifted, Xander narrowed his eyes. Standing slowly he placed Theresa behind him.
He had taken one inquisitive step forward when a roar pierced the night. A breeze blew and pushed around some fog, revealing it. The creature was scenting the air, taunting. Xander kept his gaze on it as he moved back, pushing Theresa towards the door.
“Go inside.” Her fist gripped the back of his coat. “Theresa! Go now!” But she was frozen, he could feel it in how she had plastered her body to his side.
Cursing he checked his pockets for something to defend them with. Coming up with only a ballasong, he groaned then shifted his stance as the thing ran towards them.
It was ten feet away when the door slammed open. A sharp “Get Down” was barked. On reflex Xander spun and dragged Theresa down with him. As they fell he caught a glimpse of a woman standing in the entrance holding a stock to her shoulder before he was forced to look away.
The unfamiliar crack of a gun confused him. There was a moment of silence, then another harsh shot. Almost instantly after that, a sickening squelch echoed through the porch.
Xander started as a hand tapped his shoulder.
“I got it. Well. I think I got it. It kind of exploded.” Rolling over Xander looked up into hazel eyes.
She held out her hand to help him up. “So I'm guessing this is more Men in Black then my previous thought of Bourne Identity.” Her grin was offset by the furrows in her brow, giving away her freaked state.
The thundering of feet temporarily cut off his reply. He just sighed as three slayers armed to the teeth and one former key with glowing green hands burst from the house. “Yeah. Maybe a bit.”
Lauren was taking things well. At least she wasn't screaming or trying to forget it. The medieval weaponry had thrown her for a loop, and after she helped Xander and Theresa up she'd gone back into the kitchen murmuring something about tea.
Faith had just poked the green goo that the demon had become with a large smile on her face. Xander had to pull her away from it while the girls giggled. Apparently Faith liked the way her sword couldn't pierce the blob, but could still shove it around.
They re-entered the house and sat at the table, Xander pulled out his phone and hit re-dial, knowing Giles would want to know what had happened. Just as the line connected Lauren put a pot of tea on the table with a tray of cups. “No weapons on the table please.”
Looking contrite, they all complied before Xander spoke. “G-man. It's dead.”
“Really? Are you sure?” He could almost hear the watcher pull off his glasses.
“Mostly. Ms. Miller here shot it with her gun and it turned into a Nickelodeon goo bath.”
“She shot it. And it worked? That's a first.”
Lauren sat at the table and tapped the wood, to gain Xander's attention. “Hang on Giles. Yeah?”
“Double barrel shot gun, first blast was regular. Seemed to be only an annoyance. I didn't have time to reload. The second barrel was rock salt. That caused the... goo.” At their incredulous looks she blushed and ducked her head. “What? We have bears! I don't like hurting them, but they can't come near humans, rock salt works as a mighty fine deterrent, the actual round is a back up plan... normally.”
She shrugged helplessly and got up to get cookies. Xander shook his head and turned his attention back to the phone. “Hey, any of those demons in your list of possibles explode due to salt?”
“Uh, there are a few demons who have aversions to salt but the only one that I know of that turns viscous is the Lamhoyo.”
“Lamb Yoyo. Got it. Know why it did what it did?” While listening to Giles get up to get a reference, he slid forward and took a cookie off of the recently placed plate. Faith had already snagged a handful and was leaning back, watching Lauren as she puttered about. Every now and then she would pause and think hard, furrowing her brow, but she always shook it off and continued doing whatever she had been doing. The light in Faith's eye told him that she was enjoying seeing the mini breakdown, kicking out his leg, he tapped her chair leg and glared lightly.
Dawn caught their looks and just poured another cup of tea. Used to their antics. Giles had finally found what he'd been looking for and began speaking. “It's a tracker.” At Xander's snort, he sighed. “Yes, yes I know you know that. But it only tracks a certain thing. Children. Magically inclined children, to be specific. It finds them, drains their spinal fluid, their blood and then finally, eats their brain.”
Xander dropped his cookie. “Shit.” Faith straightened. From her expression he realized she'd been listening in to the call. Her arm drifted possessively to the back of Theresa's chair.
“Yes. Quite succinctly put. A few of our lawyers have looked into her background and couldn't find any family. Her parents were only children to only children. We've already put paperwork in order to foster her. So when the Slayer team gets to where you are you all can come back to Ohio.”
“They're still coming?”
“I'll have them pull back on the speed, but yes. You have a downed active slayer and two barely trained mini-slayers. Only having a civilian, you and a witch as the offense isn't good enough. So you'll stay put and wait for Rona's team to get there.” Giles was stern, making Xander back down.
“Fine. You'll have to tell Graham we popped the out-of-the-know bubble on his sister.” Without letting Giles get in another word, he snapped his phone shut then picked up the cookie he'd dropped and ate the rest in one bite.
When Lauren sat uneasily at the table he cleared his mouth with a sip of tea. “So...” He began. “You want the long boring version or the short and hard to handle verse?”
Biting her lip, she gripped her cup. “The long one please.”
“Ok. Well. The world is much older than you know...”
He'd finished speaking a few minutes ago, and after bundling the kids back to bed, he, Dawn and Faith all just sat and waited for her to speak. Seemingly gathering up her thoughts, Lauren took the rest of her tea like a shot and poured another cup.
“So. Demons are real. Magic is real. You guys police them. And those two teens are able to snap me like a twig.” She laughed lightly. “I better keep giving them cookies shouldn't I?”
Dawn smiled. “They wouldn't say no, but you might not want dual wrecking balls hyped up on sugar.”
Nodding, Lauren studied her hands for a moment and then looked up determined. “How can I help?”
Startled, the only one who was able to speak, Faith took the mantle. “Uh, we don't really encourage people to fight them by themselves.”
With wide eyes, Lauren shook her head frantically. “Oh no, I didn't mean that. I get that. That... thing basically shook off a blast that, if I wasn't planted right, could have knocked me off my feet. I meant, background. I know my limitations. I just have to help. You can put my house down as a safe place or something.”
Xander cleared his throat. “I don't think we quite understand what you're getting at.”
She took a deep breath. “It's a thing. I tried joining the military, partially to go after Graham, but more so because I was raised to help when I can, my Grandmother was that way. But, since I have pretty severe asthma, I couldn't go for combat. Same for police or fire. So I do little things. Summers with Habitat for Humanity. Care packages for soldiers. Cookies and meals on holidays for the towns protection forces. I knit hats for kids.
“I know I can't be a fighter, but I can help the fighters. You guys needed a safe place. You came here. Make a note that anyone who needs it can do the same. I have room. I'll take a First Aid course. Just know that I'm available. So. While you guys think on that. I am going to look into swords. Because now I actually have a real reason to buy one. No matter if you guys say 'hell no' or whatever. I'm getting a katana.” She nodded firmly then stood and walked out of the room.
Dawn watched her go curiously. “Uh, what do we say?”
Faith grinned. “I have no clue, but I like her. I'm going to help her pick out a sword and leave the decisions to my watcher.” She gave him a shit eating grin then followed in Lauren's footsteps.
He groaned. “I guess we have a safe house on the West coast.” Scrubbing his hands over his face, he looked to Dawn. “Think you could set up the protection runes or do you want to wait for Rona's witch?”
She grinned. “Course I can. I'll go grab my kit then find the basement. It'll be less obtrusive there. You can hook her up with numbers and pamphlets or whatever in the morning. Faith'll be talking her ear off for hours. Go to sleep. We'll wake you when it's time to for breakfast.” Dawn ruffled his hair, then she too left the kitchen.
Though promised sleep until breakfast. Xander was woken by his phone ringing at 7:30. He was barely conscious when he spoke. “'lo?”
“Harris. What the hell happened?” Of course it was G.I. Junior.
“Good morning to you too Miller.” He snarked.
There was a harsh hiss on the other end. “What happened?
“Not much. We had soup. Lauren slayed a demon. Then we had tea.” Xander grinned when he heard the sharp intake of breath. “Oh smooth your government issue tighty whiteys. She's fine. Took it like a champ. You've got one hell of a girl here.”
“I know that.” There was a pause then he spoke again. “She killed the first demon she ever met?” There was pride flooding his voice.
“Yeah. Hell of a shot. Of course the kill was an accident, but credit is given. She shot it full of rock salt. Apparently there is a yogi problem here.” Shifting, Xander sat up on the couch and swung his feet over the edge. “She did good. And she's jumping in feet first. She offered to be a fully sanctioned safe house. We'll take her up on it as much as she wants, but there are now protection wards up, Dawn did them early this morning.”
Graham smiled. “She would. Don't underestimate her. Her asthma killed a lot of her dreams as a kid, but she can out shoot me. My father saw to that and a few other things. He was a Colonel and believed she should do whatever she could, so while she can't do everything, she'll be able to hold her own.”
“We'll do our best. Don't worry too much.” A creaking floorboard made him turn. Catching sight of Lauren, he nodded to her. “Want to talk to her?” When the affirmative yes came over, he passed on his cell. “It's Graham.”
Her mouth split into a grin as she took it. “Graham! Hi!” She was happy to finally talk to him. She had planned on calling him later, but didn't want to bother him too much.
“I hear you got your first kill, congrats.” His voice was the same as she remembered. Warm and familiar.
“Thanks.” She rubbed her arm and paced slowly. “So is this what you're doing? Demons?”
He groaned. “The hard questions first. Always the hard ones.” He thought for a moment then decided to screw confidentiality. Since she was soon to be affiliated with the Counsel, that made her exempt anyway. “Right now I'm working on another operation, but I was the first and second time I was deployed. Some of my old platoon is still doing it.”
“That's why you never talked about it with me.” It was a statement not a question, so she continued. “I understand. Can you talk about it with me now?”
“Yes, but we don't want to run up Xander's bill. I'll talk to you about it later. Lots if you want.”
“I do. Want to, that is. So you have to go?” She was speaking softly now, reluctant.
“I've got to get back to my job. I just called to check up on you. I didn't expect you to be awake. I should have, but didn't.” He laughed gently. “I'll call you later. If not tonight, tomorrow. Promise.”
“Ok. Love you!” When she turned to give the phone back she giggled. Xander was slouched on his side. Leaning down, she put her coffee mug into his hand. Within seconds he was awake and smelling it. “I only took a sip, so if you don't mind my germs, you can have the rest.” He didn't wait for her to finish before he was drinking it. “I'm making pancakes, so if you come with me, you can get more ambrosia and the first batch.”
By the time that they left, Lauren had made dozens of pancakes, laughed at many stories and was given a few emergency numbers plus a direct connection to a humorous man named Andrew. She waved goodbye and went back to work. After she finished Mrs. Anders' translation she would look into what a safe house actually consisted of. Maybe Graham would help... actually. Graham would help. She'd pester him until he did. Her house would be one of the best damn safe houses. Just watch and see.
A.N. So, voila! You get a sequel. And technically, you lot could have had it 2 weeks ago, but all my friends were busy actually having lives, so I self beta-ed over a long period. Figure it was better that way. Now I'm not quite sure where I want this to go right now, so there may not be another installment for a bit. But do not fear, my muse is fickle, so if you are sparked, review and maybe you'll fix her.
Hope you enjoyed it.