For disclaimers see first chapter.
“So, you come here often?” I asked the brunette admiring several items in the lobby. Visitors weren’t allowed to freely roam this part of the property.
She turned, slowly as if unsurprised by my presence, and smiled at me.
“Not often, but I’m working on it,” she calmly stated. She was gorgeous, in excellent shape, and high class British based on her accent. She didn’t feel like a Slayer, but sometimes the vibe hid itself. Despite the fact that she was older than me it was still possible she had been called. Willow’s spell had reached out farther than we imagined.
“Can I help you with anything? Were you looking for anyone in particular?”
“I’m waiting for Faith. She ran up to her room to get a few things for the day. I expect her back down in a few minutes,” the woman told me and went back to looking at the relics.
“Faith, huh? How did you meet Faith?” I asked. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this woman.
“Well I first met her when we were both attempting to procure the Eye of Galphor. After that Rupert decided she and I should officially meet and spend some time together.”
“The Eye of Galphor…how did you know about it?” Something was wrong here. Why did this woman know about an amulet needed to stop a demon from rising?
“I’m in the business of recovering antiquities,” she replied and I raised an eyebrow. I was about to reply but Faith’s snort, from the balcony above, cut me off.
“Recovering antiquities,” Faith’s laughing voice floated down to our level. “You’re gonna give me a heart attack if you keep up the comedy routine,” she added.
“And you are supposed to be taken seriously?”
“Hiya, B,” Faith greeted me and I turned to greet her as she appeared at the bottom of the stairs. I wasn’t quite prepared for the sight that greeted me.
Faith had always dressed to kill, literally, day or night, but today was different. Today she wore tan skintight pants – that looked an awful lot like riding breeches – and a matching tank top. Her tattoo stood out on her arm in the outfit. The lack of drastic makeup was noticeable, and so was the fact that her hair was pulled back into a ponytail. I could count on one hand the number of times I had seen Faith with her hair up.
But the gun holsters attached to her legs were what concerned me the most. Two guns should have rested in them but they were empty. Why the hell did Faith have guns? Who was this woman that Giles had allowed Faith access to?
“B?” Faith’s voice cut through my mental freak out. I must have been staring at her a little too long because she looked uncomfortable.
“Faith…” I cautiously replied.
“I didn’t know you were coming back today.”
“Dawn’s birthday is tomorrow,” I told her.
“Yeah,” she nodded in agreement. “We’ve got a party for her planned. I thought you told Red that you weren’t going to be able to get away.”
“I did, but I managed to get here. You upset I made it?”
“Nah, little D will be thrilled.”
“Headed out?” I asked and nodded at her attire.
“Yeah. Lara is taking me riding. We’ll work in a little target practice while we’re out.” She shrugged at the end of her statement, as if this was part of her normal routine.
“Lara.” I looked at the woman – dressed in similar attire – minus the holsters.
“At your service. Since we failed to introduce ourselves earlier, I’m Lara Croft,” she explained and held out her hand.
“Buffy Summers,” I automatically replied, shaking her hand.
“Yes. I’ve read your file. Most impressive.”
She had read my file. I didn’t even know I had a file.
“My file?” I couldn’t help but grow more suspicious at the situation now.
“All Slayers have a file. I figured I would read up as much as I could to help out Faith.”
“In what capacity?”
“I’m her Watcher…Rupert didn’t tell you?” Lara looked a little shocked.
“No. He must have forgotten to pass along that little bit of information.” I turned to Faith. “New Watcher, huh?” I asked her and she nodded in response. “She evil?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“No, not hardly,” Faith answered with a smile on her lips.
“Does she know what happened to your other Watchers?” I asked and the smile fell from her face, but she held my eyes as she responded.
“Yes, she read my file.”
“Your whole, unedited file?” I pushed. The smile was definitely gone now, replaced by a look I didn’t understand.
“I skimmed her file actually. I got the gist of everything,” Lara corrected.
“The gist?” I couldn’t help but sound outraged. This woman was willingly handing over firearms to a confessed murderer.
“Faith told me it all. I wanted to hear it straight from her.”
“You told her everything?” I asked Faith, not quite believing it.
“Every last detail,” Faith confessed. I wheeled around to face Lara.
“And you give her guns? Knowing everything?”
“Yes.” The woman didn’t even flinch at my stare.
“Are you crazy?”
“Debatable…but no. And, in case you forgot, Faith is standing right here,” Lara motioned to Faith. “Faith needs to be able to be comfortable around guns. In my line of work things don’t get solved with a stake or axe. Sometimes the bad guys shoot at us. And they aren’t going to be willing to take a time out because Faith is unarmed. Faith without a gun is a liability to me. I can’t protect myself and someone else in a shootout.”
“She shouldn’t have guns.”
“She can snap my neck with one hand. I’m not going to worry about a gun. If she wanted to kill me, or anyone else, she doesn’t need a weapon.”
I was about to comment on the issue further but Lara turned to Faith.
“We’re leaving,” Lara told her with a nod toward the back door.
“No. We’re not done,” I cut her off, stepping in her path, blocking her exit. She didn’t back down. Instead – despite Faith’s protests – she got in my face.
“I realize you are the first Slayer out of this ragtag group. Yes, you have lived the longest. Died a few times for your calling. But I’m Faith’s Watcher now. I do what I feel is necessary to make sure she is ready for battle. And her carrying a gun is necessary. If it turns out that I’m wrong and she kills me then you can dance on my gravie shouting ‘I told you so’, but until then stay out of my way,” she threatened me. I was pissed, and about to take a step closer when Faith halted us both.
“She’s right, Lara. I killed people, for fun even. You don’t know that side of me. That is how I met B. She has every right to be worried.”
“She *had* every right Faith. Now she doesn’t. You aren’t that scared girl anymore. Don’t let her put you down.”
“Put her down? Listen, Lara, you don’t understand,” I started again but she interrupted me.
“I do understand. Better than you know. And we’re leaving,” Lara quietly stated, taking several steps back away from me. I watched as she turned her back on me and exited the lobby. Faith frowned but followed after her.
Who was that woman? And what was she doing with Faith? And why in the hell did Giles put them together?
I needed to speak to Giles directly. Perhaps then I could get a straight answer. And then warn him that Faith was armed.
A/N: Yes, I realize this was a bit of off-color/angry Buffy, but I assure you it will be reasonably explained in the next chapter.