"…In The Apartment."
"They're tied in." A male voice said from behind Faith.
"What?" Faith turned to see a balding man wearing a sport coat and slacks. The man held up a covered serving dish.
"They're tied in." The man said as he held out the dish. "The apocalypse walks with them."
Faith frowned. "Does it need slain?"
"It's a key without a lock." The man said motioning to the covered dish, apparently wanting her to uncover it. "A dish without a meal."
Hesitating slightly, Faith reached out and took the lid off the serving dish. The dish was covered with cheese slices, squares, chunks and wedges. "What f'ck's this?"
"American, gouda, monster, cheddar, bleu …" the man replied as a bell started to ring.
Faith woke to the sound of her phone ringing. She crawled under her satin sheets until she could reach her phone without sitting up. "What!"
"Hey, Faith, wakey, wakey." Came an all too familiar voice.
"Shit, B, I said I'd call in a couple of hours." Faith growled.
"It's been fourteen." Buffy replied. "Now get your head out from under the covers, scratch yourself a few times and tell me what that call was all about."
Faith peeked out from under the blankets to look at the clock. "Christ, B, shouldn't you be out huntn' or something and not wake'n me up?"
"Came home early just to be your personal alarm clock. Besides, we don't hunt, we patrol."
"The minis may patrol, B, you and I hunt."
Buffy replied. "So you up yet?"
"No." Faith pulled the blankets and red satin sheets back over her head.
"How about now?" Buffy waited a beat and asked again. "How about now?"
"Fine, fine." Faith flung the sheets and blankets back and stood up then complained "Shit its cold." She ran across her suite nearly tripping over a battle axe she'd left leaning against a dresser.
"That's what Yummie Sushi jammies are for." Buffy laughed as she heard the heater fan start in the bathroom. "You up now?" Buffy asked again. "How about now?"
"Okay, B, give me a minute." Buffy heard the phone get put down, the toilet flush, a crash and more swearing. After several more minutes several more crashes and a string expletives Faith finally picked up the phone. "Yo, B, I'm back."
"Are you okay?" Buffy asked slightly concerned as she tried very hard not to laugh.
"Five by five, why?"
"I just heard a little ah... commotion on your end." Buffy stated.
"Must have been the TV." Faith suggested as she wrapped a bandage around a gash on her foot. "So, what's up?"
"What's up? Faith you're the one who called me this morning all concerned about the scythe and saying something about finding another one." Buffy reminded her friend. "Hello, that's my line. So Faith, what's up?"
"Oh, yea, that. I guess it wasn't a dream." Faith said as she wrapped medical tape around her foot.
"What was that noise?" Buffy asked.
"What noise?" Faith replied quickly as she ripped the tape off the roll.
"It sounded like medical tape peeling off the little metal cylinder thingy it comes on." Buffy stated.
"No it didn't."
"Faith," Buffy bit her tongue trying not to laugh picturing Faith sitting in the bathroom repairing the injury caused by whatever crash she'd heard earlier. "I know medical tape when I hear it. We buy it by the crate here."
"Fine, I stubbed my toe. No big." The tape roll clanked as Faith tossed it on the counter. "B, have you ever heard of any other government agencies that deal with weird shit other then the Initiative?"
There was silence on the line. "No. Why?"
"I was contacted by some group called Burp or some stupid shit like that." Faith said as she limped into her bedroom looking for clothes.
"Burp?" Buffy considered the name. "What in the world does that mean?"
"Well, it's not exactly, Burp, I just don't remember what exactly it was. Burp really seemed to annoy them though."
"Ah, Faith, could you try to remember what this group is called and what it has to do with the scythe?" Buffy tried not to let the worry she was suddenly feeling creep into her voice. She did not want some government project like the Initiative get its clutches on Faith.
"Okay, it's something like the Bureau of Paranormal Defense and Research."
"How'd you get Burp out of that?" Buffy asked in disbelief of the stretch.
"I don't know. It seemed obvious and funny at the time." Faith replied. She then went into a quick overview of her evening but was careful not to mention Flipper, Carrie, or Mister Ugly. She didn't want to go off on that tangent yet.
"So this guy's the one who got you furloughed?" Buffy asked to make sure she had it right. This was definitely not of the good. "And he's essentially your parole officer?"
"Pretty much." Faith had returned to bed and now sat cross legged with her blankets wrapped around her shoulders.
"And the scythe?"
"When Director Manning was giving me a tour, he showed me a sealed room that he said they had artifacts stored in. That's when I thought I felt it."
"You have to get in that room, Faith." Buffy said.
"Yea, B, I know." Faith paused and sighed a little. "What should I tell them?"
"I don't know." Buffy considered for a second. "You know how I feel about the military."
"They're not military." Faith clarified. "I get the feeling they're not real happy with the Initiative."
"Do you trust them? In the end, this is your call." This time it was Buffy's turn to sigh. "Is there anything else you haven't mentioned?"
"Yea." Faith admitted. "They have others working for them."
"What! They've got other slayers?"
"No, other, ah, people with unique abilities." Faith then gave Buffy a quick run down of Flipper, Carrie, and Mr. Ugly.
"Okay," Buffy said. "The big red demon with horns and a tail is the most troublesome sounding."
"Yea, you know, B, I kinda think he's an apocalypse demon of some sort." Faith agreed.
"Do you think these people are planning something?" Buffy asked. "I mean why else have a demon like that?"
"I really got the feeling he was a stray." Faith commented. "In fact I got the impression all three of them were strays."
"Sounds like you'd fit right in Faith." Buffy joked.
"So what do we do?" Faith asked. She looked around at her cluttered bedroom. She lived here but it wasn't home. She realized she really didn't know anybody in the city except for people she met at the clubs she patrolled. Her only real social interaction was on the phone or conferencing with people in other cities. The local Council representatives treated her more like a client or employer then a friend and coworker.
"Go find out what you felt, if it's yours get it. I'll have some people try to find reference to your demon." Buffy stated.
"What about the offer?" Faith asked.
"You're call." Buffy said. "If you think you can trust them, get the details about them and the offer and call back we'll discuss what it."
"Okay, B, talk to you in the mornin'." Faith said. "Tell Sarah she's doin' good."
"In the morning." Buffy agreed. "Bye." The phone disconnected.
Faith reset the phone and dialed a number she knew by heart. She worked her way through the D.O.J. IVR and when she expected to get her answering machine, she got one more prompted. "Press one to speak to the Director." Faith pressed the button.
After two rings she heard. "Faith, did you make a decision?"
"I need some specifics." She replied. "And I have some requirements."
"Great." Manning said sincerely. "Hey, do you know where.." Faith heard Manning rummaging around on his desk. "Here it is." He read her an address down by the water.
"Yea, I know where it is."
"We have a line on a possible event that might be occurring tonight. Think you can be there in an hour or so? The team's packing up now."
"Yea, I can make it." Faith sized up what she needed to do; shower, she ran a hand up her rough leg, and shave. "What kind of event? What'll I need?"
"Hell Boy's preparing to do some heavy duty stomping. Of course he prepares to do heavy duty stomping when he goes for beer." Manning stated.
"Gotcha." Faith stood up. "I'll see you in an hour."
To be continued……..