Wanted Once Again
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I own no one. I'm not even making money on the plot. So, to put it plainly, suing me would be pointless.
Pairing: Buffy/Foxx, possibly Faith/Willow
Summary: Foxx's dedication to the Code of the Fraternity earns her a second chance. Buffy makes a new friend and accepts a new duty.
A/N: Picks up after Getting What You Asked For
It had been two years since she'd left her sister and friends in LA. She'd told them that she was going out for a little while, gotten on the bike, and just ridden off. She had also found a substantial amount of cash in the saddlebags with her new identification. She hadn't used much of the money, though. She had always managed to find other means of housing and food. Apparently, people weren't as oblivious to what happened after dark as they were in Sunnydale.
She'd only made it a few miles out of California, looking for a place to sleep for the night, when her spidey sense began to literally scream at her. Turning her bike off the main road, she tracked the feeling until she found herself on a barely there beaten path into some woods. A few minutes later, she found what she was looking for. A gaping hole in the ground, and several demons sitting around it, chanting in what she recognized as Sumerian. A few feet away, a man was chained between two trees, struggling to get free.
"Hey, is this a private get together, or can just anybody join in?" Buffy called out, pulling the Scythe from sheath at her back. After they had arrived in LA, they had discovered that humans who chose not to see the supernatural world around them, could not see the Scythe either.
She didn't wait for an answer as she ran down the incline and, with two quick swipes, cut through the chains to free the captive. Several of the demons stopped chanting and threw themselves at her. The fight hadn't lasted very long, and when all the demons were dead, the hole sealed itself and the man that she had rescued offered her food and a bed for the night at his home on the other side of the small forest.
After that, she'd traveled across the country, seeing the sights and taking out nests of vampires and cadres of demons along the way. A lot of the people that she rescued offered her meals to take with her, or a place to sleep for the night if she needed it. She'd even found one nice witch that had permanently changed her hair color to the lighter blonde that she'd always preferred.
Now, two years later, she was somewhat settling in the sunshine state of orange juice and bikini winters. She had sent Faith her new cell number after she'd decided that she was tired of using the disposable ones and got one of those nifty pay-as-you-go plans. A little tinkering and she had all the features of the phone unlocked. They had become close over the last couple of years, despite the distance. Faith had even flown out to wherever she was to give her a hand on some of her 'bigger' slaying missions. Not for the first time, Buffy wished things had gone differently the first time with Faith. She had also been making tentative contact with the other Scoobies in the last six months. Two years had put patches on the wounds left behind from their mutiny that night.
She had taken a job as a bounty hunter. Something she could make a lot of money at, while making her own hours, so it didn't effect her slaying activities. She relished in some of the more dangerous jobs she received after proving her worth, and amazed her 'colleagues' with her ability to track and take down some of the more elusive and dangerous prey.
Suddenly, a shadow fell across her as someone blocked her sun. "Buffy Summers?"
Weeks of ignoring her sister and 'friends' quelled her surprise as she ignored the stranger for a moment, then shaded her eyes to look up at him to see him looking down at her. "Oh, uh, I think you've got me mixed up with someone else." She said blankly. "You wanna get out of my sun?"
Ignoring her denial, the man moved to her other side and squatted down. "You are a difficult woman to locate, Ms. Summers."
Buffy nearly growled, her muscles tensing slightly. "Look, pal. I don't know you, and you don't know me, so back off."
"Please, Ms. Summers, just a moment of your time."
"Look, jackass," Buffy snarled. She wasn't giving this 'person' any chances. Something about him was setting off her spidey scene, and she didn't want to know what it was. "I think I've already told you that you've got the wrong person. Now, you either back off, or I start yelling rape. Clear?"
Inclining his head slightly in resignation, the man finally backed away and left. She tried to relax again, but couldn't calm her mind, knowing that something had tracked her down for some strange reason. Why couldn't they just leave me the fuck alone, she snarled to herself. Throwing her stuff together, she stormed back to the beach house that she had rented. She threw her stuff on the sofa, pacing restlessly, feeling caged all of a sudden. Then, between one turn and the next, she was across the room, pinning a body to the wall by its neck.
"Well, nice to see you too, kid." Her captive managed to strangle out.
"Whatever you're doing here, take it to the others, Whistler." Buffy ground out, her grip around his throat tightening reflexively in her agitation. "I'm on a much needed and very lengthy vacation."
"It's not like that, Slayer." Whistler gasped, starting to get worried. She'd never been this strong before. "I've been sent to congratulate you on a job well done. The Powers are pleased."
Buffy let him go and stalked away, and dropped onto the couch. "Good for them."
Whistler looked at her sadly and she lay her head back and draped an arm over her eyes. He could clearly see just how tired her soul really was. He knew that, a few years ago, the news that he was about to impart would have been her wish come true, but now he doubted she even cared anymore. He wondered how she'd managed to fool even the boy who always 'saw' too much.
"The Powers want you to know that you're free, kid." Whistler finally continued. "The fate of the world doesn't rest on your shoulders anymore. Now, its all on Faith and the others. If you live long enough, there will be one or two more prophecies concerning you, but nothing apocalyptic or anything like that."
As he finished speaking, Buffy suddenly stiffened before jumping to her feet, the Scythe magically in her hands.
"Tell her the whole of it, Voice of the Powers." The man from the beach stepped out of the shadows of the corner furthest from the already agitated Slayer. "She has been free of you since her sacrifice for her loved one. You are merely just now telling her."
"Who are you?" Buffy demanded. Then his words filtered and she froze. The Balance Demon gulped as she turned back to him with an enraged, feral light turned her hazel eyes an odd dark golden color. "Whistler."
"Now, hold on there, Slayer." Whistler said immediately, taking a few steps back so that, if she suddenly lunged at him, he'd have at least a half-second's warning. He could be gone with that much of a warning. He hoped. "Let's not do something that I'd regret." He held his hands up in a conciliatory gesture. "We kept mum because it worked in everyone's favor. You needed something to focus on while you re-acclimated to being alive, and the Powers could always use someone with your track record."
"You shouldn't have let it happen in the first place!" Buffy cried furiously.
"Do you really think that we did?" Whistler said incredulously. "No one thought that the ritual would actually work! There should have been no way to pull your soul out of Heaven, especially for such a novice."
Buffy sat down abruptly, pressing her fingers to her temples in effort to calm down. She had never handled emotional turmoil well, and it just seemed to get worse each year since she was Called. Once again, she silently wished that she could go back to simply being the clueless cheerleader she used to be. She was, however, not foolish enough to wish it out loud. No telling what would happen if it actually got granted.
"So, now what?" She asked tiredly.
"That's up to you, Kid." Whistler said softly. "Your destiny is fulfilled and you survived it, in a roundabout way. Your life is your own, now. You've more than earned it."
Buffy nodded at him, then turned to the stranger. "Still haven't told me who or what you are. I know you're not human, but you don't feel like a demon either."
"You are correct. I am not human, or demon, or anything, really." The figure smiled. "I am an Emissary, of sorts. I exist only long enough to achieve my goal."
"What goal?" Buffy asked, curious despite herself. "Who's Emissary?"
"In another dimension, one where magic holds very little sway, Order is maintained by humans with 'superior' abilities. Usually in the form of assassins. One such group became corrupted, but we did not know that the man responsible was currently in control of the Organization when we sent his name down the Loom."
"What's the Loom?" She asked.
"It is the way that Fate communicated with her Weapons." The Emissary told her. "Fate sends the name of the target down to the Loom, the Reader interprets, and the Weapons remove the danger."
"That's not right!" Buffy exclaimed. After spending her entire life defending mankind, what they did was abhorrent to her. "What if that person doesn't even know that they're going to do something? What if they decide that they don't want to do it after all. You don't have the right!"
"The name reaches the Loom only when the person in question commits to the path that they have taken." The Emissary assured her. "Believe that this is not something taken lightly. Every life is precious, but there are times when one must be sacrificed for the sake of the many. The lives that we take are for the Fate of the whole. One mission could save the doctor destined to cure cancer, or take out the person who causes the next World War."
Buffy sat back, the enormity of what the Emissary was saying dawning on her. These people were killers, but they were doing it for the same reason that she slayed. Who was she, really, to condemn? It wasn't her dimension, and she didn't really know how things worked.
"What does any of this have to do with me?" She finally asked again. "You have to know that I wouldn't do anything like that. I've been fighting for humans too long to suddenly begin killing them."
"As I said previously, one of our Organizations, the Fraternity, was corrupted when one of the Readers decided to 'create' his own names, ordering hits for his own material gain, and hiding them within the names truly of the Loom. Unfortunately, as he was the interpreter at the time when his name was sent down, he did not pass along the order. Instead, he hid the weave and went about his 'business'. Another of our Weapons discovered his treachery and attempted to restore order, but the Betrayer used the man's own blood-kin to track him down and kill him with treachery and lies. Wesley Gibson then discovered what his father had, and finished the mission his father began. But the Betrayer was prepared. He had 'created' kill orders for every member of the Fraternity, knowing that for most, their own lives meant more to them than the Code that they followed. Only one, Foxx, kept to the Code of the Fraternity. Not knowing that the orders were false, she killed every member with a kill order, including herself."
Buffy's mouth fell open, but she kept quiet and simply listened.
"As a reward for her dedication, we wish to bring her here, so that she may live again. Her entire life has been the Fraternity, and she truly knows no other way to live."
"What am I supposed to do with her?" Buffy asked, confused.
"Do what you are doing now." The Emissary suggested. "Hunt demons. Collect your bounties. Foxx relishes in the Hunt and the Kill as much as any Slayer, and with her enhanced skills, she will be able to keep up with you with little difficulty. She will merely have to accustom herself to different targets."
Buffy's gaze turned thoughtful at the mention of collecting bounties. If this woman was as good as the Emissary hinted at, they could probably go for those really high bounties. The kind that no one, not even her, was foolish enough to go after without adequate backup. She would have taken them without hesitation if Faith had been with her, or even Willow and Xander, but definitely not by herself. She'd already made quite a nest egg with the ones she'd already taken. With no real bills to pay, it was mostly just sitting in the bank collecting interest.
"What do you get out of this?" Buffy asked cautiously.
"Nothing." The Emissary answered. "This is a reward for a life extinguished too soon due to treachery. Nothing more. We merely can not bring her back into our dimension because the Universal Laws prohibit it."
Now, Whistler spoke again. "The Powers would also like to make a request."
Buffy's eyes nearly popped out of her head at that. The Powers... make a request?
Whistler shrugged at her look. "You're off the payroll, remember."
Her snort interrupted him. "Payroll? I didn't even get paid by the Council."
"Anyway..." He cut in quickly. "To balance out the sudden activation of all the current Potentials into full Slayers, the Powers and the Partners made a deal."
"Hold up, who are the Partners?" Buffy asked.
"The Partners are the opposite of the Powers. They're the Bad Guys to our Good Guys. The agreement they came to was that no more Potentials would be activated but the ones already born. You're old friends have done a surprising good job locating and training them. There are now 150 Slayers around the world, that number will remain constant, unless someone else manages to alter the Line. Believe me, we're fervently hoping no one else gets that ambitious. There will be no more, splitting of the power. If one dies and is revived like you were, that person's Slayer power will pass to the next in Line, and she'll go back to being an ordinary girl."
"So, what did these...Partners get out of the deal?"
"A few powerful demons will be released." Whistler held up his hand to stop her coming argument. "It was either agree to those few now, or take a chance on whatever happens while the Balance resettles. Trust me, this is the lesser of two evils. The newbie Slayers aren't as powerful as you and the Dark Slayer, so let them handle the usual stuff while the two of you, or rather three now, take care of these new threats. We're giving you a heads up because we would like for you to begin to track them down and take them out as soon as possible."
"Damn it, Whistler."
"I'm sorry, kid, but this is the way it's gotta be. 'Sides, you're gonna get bored with the run-of-the-mills soon anyways."
"Now what are you talking about?"
"You were right on track about your power. The spell did give you and Faith a serious boost. On top of that, Slayers are meant to evolve, to grow stronger as they age. You have been a Slayer for nearly a decade, and she's been one for almost as long. In addition to that, each time you were pushed to your limit, you tapped even further into your power. The Spell has completely opened the wellspring of power that had been seeping into your beings slowly over the years. Soon, the hybrid demons on Earth aren't going to be much of a challenge to either of you."
"If they're going to be that strong, how is this woman going to be able to cope?"
"Foxx will be much more equipped to adapt better than your young friends were when they were thrust into your world." Whistler answered. "She will not have the strength or the senses of a Slayer, but her speed, battle instincts and reaction time will be more than adequate. At their request, we're going to give her a little boost to her own natural healing abilities. Nothing on the level of your healing, but she'll heal about as fast as the average Slayer. She's also better trained than anyone you'll ever meet outside of military Special Ops. You should consider taking advantage of that."
Buffy gave the matter, both sides, her complete attention. She considered every possible angle that she could think of, knowing that one or possibly both, were going to throw in things that she wouldn't be able to conceive of, and asked them question after question. The sun was beginning to set when she finally made her decision.
"Fine." Buffy nodded. "I accept both offers. Now both of you can get out. You've already ruined my day. You're not ruining my night as well."
She was heading for the stairs when she suddenly turned back. "Whistler, would they have told me?" Buffy asked the balance demon. He looked at her questioningly. "If this Emissary hadn't needed my help with this woman, would the Powers have let me go? Please tell me the truth."
"I don't know, kid." Whistler admitted. "They only tell me what I need to know at any given assignment."
"I don't think they would have." She said sadly, turning again but not ascending the steps. "I think they would have used me until I died again. That sounds more like something they'd do."
Whistler watched with a worried expression as she disappeared up the stairs. Although he'd never admit it to anyone, he was glad that Fate had intervened on her behalf because, if he was completely honest with himself, he didn't think so either.