The Sunnydale Connection

Mathilda watched the all-but-deserted town go by as Giles drove her to her future. They'd spent most of the time since leaving her apartment building in New York until arriving at LAX going other the history of the Slayer, and what it meant to be a Potential. After hearing what she was up against, Mathilda had insisted in visiting a gun-shop in L.A. to argument her already impressive arsenal with some serious firepower.

Giles had protested, claiming that firearms where almost useless against a Vampire, until Mathilda had calmly emptied a clip of 9mm hollow-point into the area denoting the heart on a cardboard target. He had relented, even going as far as suggesting that they get a small mould for making extra bullets, and a supply of silver.

Mathilda wasn't sure how much of this was helpful, and how much the Englishman was just humouring her, but given all she had learned, she had handed over half her role of $100-bills to the Watcher without question.

The car finally came to a stop outside a house that screamed 'suburbia' in Mathilda's mind, apart from the obviously hastily erected barricades over the windows. A slim woman with dark hair stood on the porch, cigarette in hand.

"Hey G, who's this?" Faith asked, blowing a smoke ring.

"Faith, this is Mathilda. Giles made the introductions while trying to lift the heavy bags from the back of the rental car, "Mathilda, this is Faith; one of the two Slayer I told you about."

"Let me give you a hand with those." Faith grabbed a bag, "Whoa, why you buy: a side of beef?"

"A Franchi SPAS-12 with 100 shells and a home-casting kit for silver bullets." Mathilda kicked the car door closed, "Oh, and copy of National Geographic."

"What are you, some kind of cop?" Faith asked, slightly suspicious.

"No," Mathilda walked past the Slayer and into the house, "I'm a cleaner."

"Um, Giles, there's something kind of odd about that new girl you brought by from New York." Buffy cornered her Watcher as he was leaving the bathroom, "Spill."

"Mathilda has had a rather unusual and tragic life." Giles walked to the back of the house where he hoped that no one would overhear them, "She was orphaned at 12, and only survived because a hit-man took her in…"

"You brought a professional killer with emotional problems into my house!" Buffy forced herself to keep her voice down, "Are you crazy? She's exactly the sort of person The First will try and influence." The Slayer rubbed her forehead, "I can't believe you did this.

"She took down two Bringers, un-assisted and without knowing what they where. She lives by a code of conduct that would surprise you. The Watchers Council spent a lot of time investigating her, and would have approached her themselves if they hadn't been blown up."

"And that's meant to make me feel better? The Council wasn't exactly known for employing 'nice' people. They probably wanted an assassin."

Mathilda sat on the back porch as the sun went down, trying to make her last few cigarettes last a bit longer. She watched the last embers of one die before searching the pack for a replacement but came up empty.

"Here, have one of mine." Faith sat down next to the Potential, "Not like Buffy's going to let you go to the store for another pack."

"Thanks." Mathilda took the offered cigarette and lit it, "I don't think she like me that much."

"You did kind of freak her out by field-stripping your guns on the dinner table." Faith smiled, "But I think she was more worried by how interested Dawn was."

"Believe me: I didn't encourage her." Mathilda blow a perfect smoke ring, "I just get a little restless at times. I need to unwind, but there's nothing to do here."

"Come with me." Faith stood, "I know something that'll unwind you."

"Spike, have you seen…" Buffy stopped at the bottom step of the basement stairs, "Faith!"

"What you want B?" Faith sat at the table in the middle of the room, dealing cards to Spike, Dawn and Mathilda, "We're kind of in a game right now."

"Faith, can I talk to you, NOW!" Buffy all but hissed through her teeth, indicating that this wasn't a request.

"Sure thing B." Faith put her cards down "Dealer folds: had a bad hand anyway."

"What the hell do you think you doing?" Buffy asked as soon as the two Slayers where in the kitchen.

"What's your problem girl?" Faith asked, sitting on the counter top.

"Letting Dawn spend time with Mathilda like that!"

"What's the problem?"

"She's a killer!"

"So am I, and you don't worry about Dawn hanging round with me." Faith looked at Buffy, suddenly seeming a lot more grownup and responsible than normal, "And so is Spike for that matter, or had you forgotten that he's a Vampire when the two of you where getting it on? Hell, even you've killed someone when there was no other choice."

"I didn't mean it like that: Mathilda is a professional contract killer."

"So? I hate to break it to you Buffy, but we are at war here. You think The First cares about any of that? Mathilda's a Potential, same as the rest of these girls we've got here: if one of use dies, she could be the next Slayer. I don't know if you've been looking, but some of the wannabe-Slayer's here are not that keen on the killing part, even when it comes to Vampires and Bringers. I for one like the idea that at lest one of them can take care of themselves."

"That still doesn't cover you teaching my little sister to play cards!"

"Teach? Where you been at B? Dawn must have taken at lest $50 of the three of us so far: you got a budding little card shark there girl."

"What you think they're talking about?" Mathilda asked, thankful that Spike was willing to share some of his whisky with her, as well as a carton of Lucky Strike's.

"Buffy's probably upset that a) I'm hanging out with you guys, and b) I'm playing cards." Dawn explained, "Older sisters can be like that."

"Mine wasn't." Mathilda shrugged, "I call: two pairs, Ace's over Eights."

"Beets me." Spike tossed his cards down in disgust.

"Read them an weep." Dawn smiled, placing her cards on the table, "Royal Flush."

"Why you little…" Mathilda almost gagged, "That's a nice trick, since one of the cards I got rid of was that Jack of Hearts."

"You cheating Little Bit?" Spike raised an eyebrow.

"It's only cheating if you get caught." Dawn smiled, but was cut off mid gloat by the sound of the front door exploding inwards.

To Be Continued…