Chapter Two: I Know Slayers
Thanks to Sunnydale Hospital's stellar security, it wasn't hard to get Finley out of the hospital. She was uncertain if she could really trust Robin for the moment. However, he had a car and Buffy didn't think Finley seemed up to walking all the way back to her house. While she was physically alright, there was a disconnect that Buffy sensed immediately. Her guard was all the way up now and she was even masking her fear by avoiding eye contact. Buffy knew better than to underestimate her strength and despite being a Slayer herself she couldn't help but feel like Finley just so young.
Buffy sat with Finley in the back seat and gave Robin her address. She knew she could protect Finley from any imminent enemies but what Buffy felt the most helpless about was how Finley had seemed almost disappointed she had realized she had survived back at the hospital. It was a short drive and no one spoke for a while.
"My Watcher," Finley said suddenly her confused eyes meeting Buffy's. "That wasn't her, was it? I thought it was Maggie who-I'm so stupid."
Buffy's blood ran cold as she put two and two together. "You saw your Watcher after she was killed?"
Finley scowled and nodded. Her entire body flushed in frustration and she clenched her fists. It was no longer coming to her in fragments and the crystal clear memory was of 'Maggie' taunting her as she had laid bleeding.
"The First can take the form of any dead person," Buffy said slowly. "It's how it messes with people."
"It used me," Finley whispered. "To let that thing out."
Buffy wanted to ask more but placed her hand over Finley's tight fist. "We will figure this out. You just need to tell us everything that happened when we get back. You're safe with me."
Finley seemed confused. "Back in the hospital you were going to protect me. You still have your powers. You healed me."
"Yes," Buffy confirmed. "Now you know. The Council can't."
Finley took a deep breath. Her chest tightened as she was overcome with a feeling she was into something big now. "I have a secret too," she sighed. "I'm Merrick's daughter."
Finley watched as Buffy reacted to this news. First with surprise, then a glimmer of grief, and finally a haunted stare of guilt. "I didn't know he had a daughter."
"No one did," Finley sighed. "You probably spent more time with him than I did. He left us when I was young. I know he died while being your Watcher. To protect you like Maggie did for me."
"I'm sorry," Buffy whispered.
Finley shrugged. "It's all good."
"I still...," Buffy began.
"We're Slayers. If you say sorry or feel bad over every causality you just make it harder. Whatever we are up against, I'm going to kill it and make it painful."
From the mirror Buffy saw Robin smile in amusement and she raised an eyebrow at him. "You're all the same," he said almost affectionately. "Strong."
"You have no idea what I am," Buffy scowled. She saw them pull up to the house and caught Robin's curious gaze. He held hers for a brief moment while Buffy tried to really determine what was off about him. He was almost too confident and smooth and seemed to thoroughly enjoy having the upper hand for moment, knowing he hadn't told Buffy everything yet.
So Buffy was surprised when a fleeting pained look made his eyes darken. "I know Slayers."
Faith and Spike were peeking out of the curtains as the trio piled out of the car. "She brought the principal?" she mused aloud. "Do we still think this is the missing Slayer?"
Spike shrugged as they moved away from the now closed curtains. "Giles confirmed her Watcher is dead. Seemed to take it a bit to the heart. The girl matches the description he got from his watcher pal Robson."
"So all roads point to that being the baby Slayer?"
"Really shouldn't call her that," Spike warned. "You were that young once. Don't think you'd take kindly to someone underestimating you."
Faith seemed thoughtful for moment. "Giles seems to clean with glasses more than usual every time we find out more information. Whatever this girl knows-whatever that sexy principal has to do with this-it won't be good news. The deeper we get into this, the darker it gets."
Before Spike could respond, the door had opened. Giles had come in from the kitchen to join Faith and Spike as they took in these two new people with guarded suspicious expressions. While it didn't seem to faze Robin, it seemed to almost put Finley even more on edge.
"You've never seen a Slayer before?" she quipped. She crossed her arms, raising her eyebrow.
Giles seemed relieved. "I'm glad you are well. We believed you to be missing."
Buffy closed the door behind her. "That's my Watcher, Giles. Faith and Spike are the ones giving you the third degree. And this unexpected surprise next to me is Robin. His mom was a Slayer and thats pretty much all I know about him. See? Isn't this fun?"
"A bloody party," Spike mumbled under his breath.
"Maybe we should all just sit down and not stare Finley down," Buffy suggested. Although she was glad to see that spark in the girl, considering how much she had gone through in the last day. All her request did though was turn three very suspicious narrowing eyes to Robin behind her.
"Do we trust him?" Faith asked bluntly.
Robin seemed amused by her question. "I don't really have a good reason why you shouldn't."
"I thought baby Slayer got stabbed."
"I gave her my blood," Buffy explained. "How about Spike and Giles interrogate Mr. Principal in the kitchen and Faith and I will talk to Finley? Figure out what happened?"
Giles nodded, understanding that she still wasn't sold on trusting Robin completely and could use a second opinion. "Of course. Follow me."
As the boys headed towards the kitchen, Faith and Finley were still staring each other down. "I guess you're not really a people person," Finley said to Faith.
"No, I am. I just haven't decided if I like you or not yet," she responded with a straight face. Buffy rolled her eyes and the three Slayers went to the living room. Faith sat in the loveseat, crossing her arms while Finley and Buffy sat on the couch.
"First of all," Buffy said. "She's my ex-watcher's daughter. She's part of the group. I'm a fan of witty passive aggressive banter as much as the next girl, but is this going to be a problem?"
"No," they both said in unison in the exact same unconvincing tone.
"Whatever. Finley, I need you to tell me everything you remember. It's very important."
Finley took a deep breath. "Maggie and I got attacked. We had heard there had been attacks on girls all over the world and I might be a target. The Council wasn't really telling us a lot of information so Maggie and I did some investigating and discovered that the girls being murdered where potential Slayers and their guardians. We couldn't figure out who was behind it. Maggie decided we couldn't trust the Council anymore because they were withholding information and I had a vision about a the Seal of Danzalthar. Maggie and I were researching what that meant and where it was when they attacked us. They were men, I think-without eyes just markings where they should have been. They killed her and left me alive.
So I left and started to hitch hike. She had your address on her dresser. I'm not sure why but-then I saw Maggie when I was sleeping on a bench on night. She said I needed to close the seal with my blood so the attacks would stop. So I could be safe and-"
Finley shook her head in disgust, turning to Buffy with fiery eyes. "It wasn't her. You said as a First?"
"No," Buffy said carefully. "The First."
"Well, whatever the hell it was-it led me to the seal and then the same men stabbed me. The seal opened and this monster crawled out. She told me to give you the message and left with that thing. I managed to get back up the hallway when Robin found me. Next thing I knew I was in the hospital and you were there. You healed me when your blood? How can you do that?"
"Before we get into that, I need you to try to draw the thing that came out and the seal. Also what those men looked like so Giles can do his research thing. They closed the school tomorrow so we're going to back to the seal together, OK?"
Faith was too quiet so Buffy gave her a questioning look. Her gaze had softened as she regarded Finley. Buffy felt stupid as she remembered Faith had come to Sunnydale under similar pretenses. "You can't tell the Council that Buffy healed you. In fact, we can't even tell them you're here. Otherwise they'll find out what Buffy is and we have bigger fish to fry right now."
Finley shrugged. "I'm ok with that. They aren't exactly my favorite people. I still remember Magdalene having to bring me to them so they could give me my powers."
She shuddered while Faith and Buffy exchanged confused looks. "What? That's not how you become a Slayer. It's automatic like...you just become a badass."
Finley scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. "They said having Buffy bought back and having her powers taken away made it funky so they had to do it this way."
The gang had managed to keep the Council in the dark about many of things. They were still running on the assumption Buffy never got her powers back. And any demon who saw Buffy in action didn't survive so it stayed that way. They had threatened to take further action if Faith crossed a line but seemed to accept her handling Sunnydale. A dark look crossed Buffy's face and she seemed appalled.
"Did they put something in you?"
"I don't remember much. They summoned something and then it just kinda went black but I woke up with powers."
Faith met Buffy's conflicting stare. "They can make Slayers now?"
"Faith, can you get Finley some paper so she can draw these guys? I need to talk to Giles. And fill her in on everything."
Finley scowled. "I never really got past stick figures in school so don't have high expectations."
"Hey, don't worry about it. Don't worry I'll be watching the house tonight so nothing will be able to hurt you."
"It had a message for you. It's not enough. It told me to tell you that."
Faith saw Buffy's expression before she hid it from Finley. She narrowed her eyes at Buffy as she realized Buffy was keeping something from her. She was visibly perturbed by the relayed information and excused herself to check on the boys.
Buffy headed towards the kitchen but was met by the boys steering Robin towards the door. Robin saw Buffy and gave her a small smile. "I'm reporting back tomorrow morning. I guess I passed the test."
"That's right," Spike said too cheerfully. "We're all good pals now. Have a nice night."
Buffy was confused by Spike's behavior but said goodbye to Robin after letting him know they were going into the school to find the seal tomorrow. Robin seemed confused by his hurried exit but seemed satisfied he was in the loop. As soon as he left, all three said the same time, "We have a problem."
"Can you top that the Council manually made Finley a Slayer?" Buffy whispered harshly.
"Yes, I can. With a that's Nikki's Woods son!" Spike yelped.
"Am I missing something?"
Giles sighed. "Nikki Woods was one the two Slayers Spike killed."
"Since I'm not a pile of dust, I'm assuming the bloke doesn't know," Spike whispered almost angrily. "How could you bring him here?"
Buffy blinked at him for a few moments, taken aback by his anger towards her right now. "And somehow that hasty exit was supposed to keep him from being suspicious?" she hissed.
Dawn chose that moment to come downstairs. Faith had told her to stay upstairs until they had a better idea of what the situation was but Dawn was never too good with following orders. She saw Spike glaring at her sister and immediately grew concerned.
"What happened?" Dawn asked.
Spike just mumbled something and left the front of the house, storming through the kitchen and slamming the back porch door very loudly. Faith came towards a still confused Buffy when she heard the noise. "What happened to Spike?"
"Wood's mother was killed by Spike," Buffy whispered. "I didn't know. Should I go after him?"
"No," Faith sighed. "I'll take this one."
Buffy watched as Faith went after Spike before turning to Giles. "He didn't mean that. You couldn't have known," Giles said to her. "We just need to make sure he doesn't find out. When Robin arrives tomorrow he's bringing some supplies that may help us along with some information he's gathered about the First. He's an asset."
Buffy seemed unconvinced. "We're playing with Spike's safety here. I'm not liking that game. He has a chip that won't let him defend himself against Robin, remember? This stays between us. Not even Finley knows, got it?"
Giles agreed. She was not liking how this day had gone. The First had made its move and they were just piecing the puzzle together, a few steps behind at least. He knew had to discuss the inevitable with Buffy soon.
It was time for Willow to come home.