Chapter 30: Facts of the Universe

Buffy walked in carrying several plastic bags.

"I have sandpaper for the kitchen door, silicone for the car cracks, and another bulb for the porch light that keeps going out." Seeing Cynthia in the hall, she sighed, "Whatever it is, please, say it can wait."

The girl shook her head uncertainly, so Buffy put down her bags and followed her to Lilly's office. There, she found Lilly and Sunny waiting.

"She's out again."

Buffy took a chair. "Of course she is."

"These are the matches so far." Sunny handed over the post-its.

Buffy rolled her chair to what they self-consciously referred to as the "crazy desk" covered in police scanners, radios, and other items only paranoid crazies seemed to posess.

Lilly pulled over a map covered in various pins and flags. Pointing to a swirl of orange flags, she explained, "Here's her estimated route. Some of the reports didn't come with physical descriptions, but they correspond to her likely whereabouts."

"I'm impressed." Buffy nodded at the map and flipped through the post-its."So, Faith, let's see what you've been up to."

Watching her easy perusal, Sunny frowned. "You remember what all those are?"

"I've seen them enough times." Buffy started from the bottom. "Night before last we have a 390-F which is code for drunk subject suspected of being on PCP." Sunny nodded.

She pulled another. "Then there's a 314 for-"

Lilly answered, "indecent exposure."

"A 904-I for an illegal fire; she'd need it to keep her exposed self warm." She grinned. "Of course a 918, code for insane person."

Lilly observed, "Probably from the PCP."

"And here we have a 647, code for-"

Sunny supplied, "vagrancy."

Buffy glanced at the corresponding mapped flag. "When she wanted to crash, Angel's was too far."

"She might have forgotten the way." Lilly shrugged. "She is new in town."

Sunny remarked, "Hog wouldn't have helped any."

Buffy shook her head. "These are from last night. There's a 602 for trespassing and then-."

Sunny pointed at the sticky her in hands. "What are those?"

"415 E and G?" She looked up. "Those are disturbance codes, one at a party and one of the gang fight variety."

"And the ten code?"

Lilly answered, "10-29M means they want her for misdemeanors."

Buffy reached the top post-its. "And today we have a 925, person acting suspiciously, and the likely 10-29FD."

"That's the felony one right?"

Staring blankly at the map, she recited from memory, "Subject wanted for a felony, considered armed and dangerous, use extreme caution."

The room went silent as they considered the implications.

Lilly pulled off the top post-it. "What's this last one, the 601?"

"Oh, my personal favorite." She smiled faintly. "It's the Police code for incorrigible."

Spreading the post its out, Buffy surveyed the mess Faith had made.

Amidst the weighty silence, Cynthia came to the doorway, "I put the bags in the kitchen."

"Thank you."

Sensing the room's tension increase, Sunny stood up. "I'll go get started sanding the door jam."

Cynthia followed him out, "Oh, and Anne got silicone for your car so don't forget-"

"to put it on before the next rain, Cyn, I haven't forgotten."

"I'm just keeping mildew at bay. Not everyone finds it as acceptable as you do."

"It helps to remember that the world is full of scum."


Lilly and Buffy listened absently as the kids chatted their way to the kitchen.

"What are you going to do?"

Buffy took a deep a breath and collected her thoughts. "Well, the 10-29's mean I should visit the station before the manhunt. From her recent activity, we can assume she's wanted in Sunnydale too. I'd prefer if our police didn't realize that."

Lilly watched her grab her coat. "Remember, Dan's social worker is coming buy at four. We can't reschedule again."

"I know. Rescheduling sends the message we're big ol' flakes." She shrugged on the coat slowly as she thought. "Okay . . . I'm going to take Raquel to her parole meeting and be back in time for Dan's appointment. I'll have Sunny pick her up."

"Can't he drop her off too?"

"She asked me to take her. I think she's nervous." She padded her coat for keys. "She must be to ask me. She hates me."

"Raquel doesn't hate you. None of them do. They just . . ."

"Miss him." Their eyes met. "I get it."

Lilly followed her out into the hall. "What about the incorrigible Faith?"

"I'll deal with it after the sun goes down." She stopped a passing boy. "Can you find Raquel and have her meet me at the car?" He nodded and walked away. "Thanks Bernie." Pulling out her keys, she checked her watch. "Here's hoping they don't try to arrest her before nightfall; I guarantee she'll resist."

Lilly touched her arm before she could rush off. "Tell me again why are we dealing with this?"

"She's a slayer." Buffy rubbed her head from the headache. "The damage she can cause, the evasions she can pull off will have police and media descending pretty quick. Our area doesn't need that kind of scrutiny." She shrugged. "Either we prevent the mess, or we clean it up."

After a few second, Buffy walked away, and Lilly let her. Seeing her reach the front door, she called out, "I thought Angel was going to watch her."

She opened the door and looked back. "So did I."

"Faith still not back yet?"

Angel continued to pour his coffee. "Your desk is by the front door. If she came back, you'd know." He felt the weight of Cordy's skeptical gaze. "If she used another entrance, then no one would know."

"Don't get me wrong. I like not seeing her. Send her home and I'll like it even better."

He put the coffee pot down wearily. "I can't just send her home."

Wesley harrumphed, "And why not?"

"I'm not her father, brother, or watcher. I can't send her anywhere."

Cordelia flipped her hair. "Hmmph."

Wesley offered, "You could tell her the reason she came has been handled."

"It hasn't. Lindsey's firm still wants me dead."

"But you could tell her that you're taking care of it."

Cordelia perked a brow. "I think the geek is suggesting you lie."

Wed nodded. "Profusely if necessary."

Frowning, Angel sipped his coffee. "Let's just focus on our work okay?"

"What work? We finished the Lobo case yesterday."

He shrugged. "Completed case means paperwork right? Files of some type."

"A bad check, a carbon receipt, copies of ID all of which I filed yesterday."

He picked up cordless phone. "I'll call Gunn and ask if there's anything I can kill for them."

Cordelia threw up her hands. "So you're going to give away your services. Labor without pay."

"What else am I going to do tonight?"

"Anne, don't you ever go home?" In the crowded station, Buffy turned to see a young officer passing by. Though exhausted, she gave what she hoped was a friendly smile. Before she could tell if he smiled back, she noticed the older officer Reynolds vying for attention.

"You're saying miss PCP is part of a patrol group?"

Buffy hoped to bluff her way past his skepticism. "The best we have."

"She's suspected of a felony."

"Most of them are. Even I've been suspected of murder a few times."

"I know there's more to these kids than criminal activity, but contrary to what you and your husband think, they are not exempt from the law."

To him, she was still Mrs. McDonald, she hoped that worked in her favor. She reasoned, "Regardless, kids shouldn't be locked up for making our neighborhoods safer-safe from things you can't help them with."

"That's what this girl is huh? A misunderstood hero?" Pulling her aside, he murmured. "Killing demons for the greater good I get, but show me the honor in drug use and vagrancy."

"Pointing your gun at her won't fix this. How many arresting officers has she assaulted and evaded? Either you allocate more resources and still fail to bring her in, or you leave this one to me."

"If my department can't handle her, I know you can't."

"Before I was a wife and mother, I was a fighter too. I can get through to her, keep her in check. All I'm asking is that you let me."

"You'll take responsibility?"

"If something goes awry, you can bring me in for negligence - reckless endangerment even."

"And Mr. McDonald too?"

She made a split second decision. "He's no longer involved with these matters."

Leaning back casually, Officer Reynolds inferred the truth. "Even the crazies can't make a marriage work nowadays."

Restraining herself, she spoke in a clipped tone, "Are we in agreement?"

"Without a law twister tog give you influence or leverage, your demands aren't really demands, are they?"

Her eyes narrowed. "I'm offering help which you are free to refuse."

He contemplated her in silence then straightened. "Put off the intensity. Don't want to drive everyone away now."

She tried to confirm the interaction. "So she's off your radar?"

"If she makes trouble, I'm bringing you in."

He waited for her to nod before walking away.

Calm as ever, she called out, "Officer Reynolds, Harry still lives on my street. Harold Reynolds is your brother right?" Seeing him bristle, she raised her hands in surrender. "I won't be hard to arrest; I could use a break from nightly patrols. In fact, time in here sounds downright heavenly."

He shook his head in defeat. "Just keep her off my scanner."

"Will do officer." This time, she walked away first.

She heard him call out, "You watch out for the normal stuff too right?"

Without breaking her stride, she replied, "Harry hasn't had a break in yet."

He mumbled to himself, "The black hearts deserved each other."

The young man she'd smiled at earlier held open the door.

"Thank you." Stepping out of the station, Buffy pulled out her phone.

"You're not picking up Gemma?"

She dialed a number. "I was here for someone else" She looked up. "Wait, Gemma's here?"

"We brought her in for solicitation."

"How long?"

"She's only been here for a couple hours. She hasn't called anybody, but I figured one of the guys called you."

"That's not really how it works with us." She murmured, "I've annoyed this shift plenty." Fidgeting with her phone, she looked at the number. "I have to make a call first, but after, I'll go see Gemma." She smiled sincerely this time. "Thank you for saying something."

"No problem. Take care Anne."

She stared at the ground and listened to his receding footsteps. She contemplated the phone one more time before pushing send. Hearing the first ring she thought, What have I gotten myself into?

The ringing stopped. "Angel investigations, we help the helpless."