DISCLAIMER: This is an unlicensed work of femslash fanfiction. What that means is twofold. The first is that it uses elements that are under copyright by another party and are used without that parties permission or consent. They are not however being used for any financial gain. Any new creations that result are however property of the author. The second point is that femslash fanfiction includes romantic and sexual of a same sex nature between women. So if you have objections to such things, no matter what the source you have been warned both of their presence and the nature as indicated by the story's rating. The author takes no more responsibility.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A long time ago Pat Kelly and I kicked around an idea for a collaborative fic in which Faith would pull a La Femme Nikita, but with actual good guys. Of course it was a long time ago and it never got past a few trial chapters. So I resurrecting it here and mixing it with a series of books I still love and used to collect fanatically. If I turn out to be a bit rusty I'll just ask your patience as I stretch those unused creative muscles.
SPOILERS: I've fallen a good couple years behind in my Stonyman Farm reading so I don't think I'll give anything away there, but anything Buffy through season seven or Angel to season four is fair game.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Life on the farm
By Dark Wyldchilde


Chapter 14

Faith was already a few sips into the coffee drink the guy behind the counter had recommended when Buffy finally arrived. The Faith that Buffy remembered would have preferred her coffee Irish, but since the Espresso Pump didn't have a liquor license that was not an option.

As Buffy examined her sister Slayer she had to admit the one fact that had become undeniable in the days since Faith and her friend had shot up her house: this was not the Faith she had remembered. That Faith would not have arrived early, and she would not be looking at her with the keen eyes that had now focused on Miss Summers.

"I would have ordered for you, but I didn't know this shit well enough to pick something out for myself."

Some things never change. "Don't worry about it. They know what I like." A statement that was shown true as Buffy was able to order with nothing more then a nod to the same man who helped Faith pick out her own drink.

"Okay, am I going to get some answers?"

Faith took another sip as she nodded. "Some."

Buffy jumped on that meaning. "But not all?"

Faith shook her head, taking another sip as she seemed to warm to the drink. "Not all. You gotta understand, B. Your Watcher and your best friend were part of a conspiracy to kill me." Faith paused to allow Buffy room to object, but to her credit Buffy remained silent.

While she paused long enough to show she wasn't going to defend neither Willow nor Giles, she still used the space to ask a question. "But Tara knows, doesn't she?"

Faith set her cup down. "She does." Even though she had been practicing the speech in her head the past week Faith still took a moment to compose her thoughts. "Ok B, I'm going to lay out what I can for you, but I'll tell you now that this is not all of it. If any of it makes its way back to the Council, all ties will be severed."

Buffy arched her eyebrows. "And I'll be terminated?"

Faith met the eyes. "No, it was determined that even if you turn out not to be a friendly force, as along as you do not become hostile you are too much of a threat to the hostiles to not have you in play."

The eyebrows dropped. "But you talked about it?"

Faith didn't break the contact. "We talked about it. You need to understand this Buffy..." The use of her full name had the desired effect of focusing the woman's attention. "For centuries now, millennia, the Slayer has been saving the world effectively on her own. Now you're a slayer, you know how LITTLE sense that makes."

"What's that have to do with killing me or not?"

Faith continued the connection, trying to intensify it to convey just how important the things she was saying really were. "Your last death was in order to save the world. That's what it has to do with it. You, me... God help me even Tara if it came down to it. With a population in the billions you have to take that kind of view."

"And you're not alone in taking that view?"

Faith exhaled, breaking the contact and then renewing it. "No, like I said, I'm going to lay out what I can. The Initiative was not the only governmental body to be aware of the supernatural. After the Initiative fell even more groups became aware of "something" as troops were shuffled around and odd files as well as the occasional bit of tech circulated. The group I belong to was the first to act and quickly gobbled up those stray bits."

Buffy interrupted. "Like Riley?"

Faith shook her head. "They found me first."

Buffy interrupted again, her mind obviously picking up the thought. "And got you out of jail."

Faith confirmed with a nod while answering the first question. "Nah, with me on staff bringing Riley in was deemed premature, but when he was here last I did clue him in that I had joined the establishment."

Buffy's eyes got wide. "Is that the name of your group? "The Establishment?"

Faith chuckled. "Nah, I just mean that I was on the inside with the whole black ops thing. My superiors gave me recognition codes so that he knew I was an ally."

"So what are you guys? Army?"

Faith sobered and shook her head. "I can't detail, B. What I can tell you is that the organization that I belong to recognizes the supernatural as a threat to national, and international security and has been moving to counter it."

Buffy realized why she was being given this talk. "You're coming to Sunnydale."

Faith locked eyes again. "This is prime real estate for evil Buffy, and we aren't going to leave a single girl with a solitary Watcher to guard what will probably be ground zero for Armageddon."

"Does the single girl have a say in the matter?"

Faith clucked her tongue. "Sure, as long as it's yes." Buffy scowled. "Look, B. Are you telling me that you don't want help? You've had to lay down your life twice now. You telling me that you wouldn't finally like someone to share the load? Me being just one of them? OR are you telling me that you would rather handle it yourself regardless of who might be hurt? Even if it's the whole damn world?"

Buffy paused a long moment. "So either I hand over authority to you or I'm a selfish bitch?"

Faith locked eyes with Buffy again, but with an intensity that only came out when she had to kill humans. "No Buffy, I'm taking authority. I'm leading the group here and my orders are clear, but I don't want to fight you."

"So what are your orders?"

"Guard the Hellmouth. It's a resource all the supernatural world would like to control so it must be denied to them."

Buffy's expression twisted. "Like an anti-mayor?"

Faith sighed sadly at the mention of her old boss. "Yeah B, kinda like that, but since he was pretty hands-off, work with evil kind and we will be a hands-on destroying evil organization. Even if you wouldn't be working with us you would probably find less beasties on patrol, fewer evils rising, things like that."

"And you don't plan on making a cyber-demon killing machine?"

"Look how well it turned out last time. No B, even if Adam had worked out we are not into R&D. We exist to take out threats to America and her allies."

"We're not just talking demons are we?"

Faith remained silent, but gave a look that answered the question.

"So where does Tara come in?" Buffy asked.

"Officially or unofficially?"


Faith's hard expression turned to an uncertain one. "Officially she's a resident expert on occult matters, unofficially she's... she's the best thing that ever happened to me, and that includes getting called as a Slayer and getting out of prison."

"So does your group have any plans for Willow or Giles?"

"Out of respect for you they get a pass this time, but Buffy, we have one real response when it comes to threats. I'm not trying to intimidate you or anything. I just need you to understand that if they force the issue..."

"So if Willow tried to get Tara back?..."

"That's Tara unofficial status, but unofficially I would kill her, but this is between you and me B."

Buffy face flickered anger at Faith's words, but she allowed the woman to speak, even as she scooted her chair closer to hear.

"Look at the mind wipe B, the first one that is." Buffy's anger warred with uncertainty at the reminder. "She reached into Tara's mind and made Tara do what she wanted... I compare it to a magic date rape drug."

Buffy flinched and was about to object, but then she remembered the two leaving the Magic Box back when they were under the effects of the dancing demon. That made her protest seem rather feeble. "But she wasn't herself."

"I don't give a damn, B. I love Tara, and if anyone threatens her, good, evil, or state of mind will not be issues."


Chapter 15

"How did it go?" Tara looked up from where she was sitting on the couch and not watching the tv.

Faiths sighed and laid down on the couch, putting her head in Tara's lap, facing up so she was looking at her girlfriend who started playing with the slayer's hair. "As well as could be expected I guess."

At this point Tara had both hands running through Faith's hair, a treatment that was visibly relaxing both women. "Will Buffy work with us?"

Faith made a small sigh of pleasure and rested her head more into Tara's lap. "Thankfully not, but she won't get in our way either."

Tara's brow furthered and the last of Faith's tension disappeared in an adoring smile as Tara spoke. "Don't we want Buffy's help?"

Faith shook her head where it was resting. "Not at the moment. B's totally unstable, and at her best she doesn't work well with others even when she's in charge. Could you picture B taking orders from me?" That was followed by a small laugh.

Tara gave her half-grin. "I've never had a problem taking your orders."

Faith had been distracted by the idea of giving Buffy orders and therefore hadn't seen the expression or heard it's accompanying tone. "What, I haven't given you any orders?"

"Not about official things."

The grin in Tara's voice had become playful and Faith picked up on the note. Her expression stated out confused, but she soon matched the gleam in Tara's eye. She sat up and looked back over her shoulder. "Is that so soldier?"

Tara quickly jumped up and stood ramrod straight as she saluted. "Mam, yes Mam!"

Faith stood up and looked over Tara with sly eyes. Allowing herself to take in the woman's hips, rear, and chest. When she reached Tara's face, the grin showed Faith that Tara had known exactly where Faith's eyes had traveled.

For her part Faith gave an exaggerated shake to her head. "Tara, Tara, Tara. What have I told you about wearing the proper uniform?"

"I'm sorry Mam."

"There's only one solution..."


While both women were obviously funning, Faith was proud that she was able to keep a straight face. "That dress is not regulation so its gotta come off."

While Tara kept her expression serious, a pleasured flush rose to her face as she complied. 'Yes Mam."

Faith's pupils dilated as she took in Tara's nearly naked body. All that was left were lace and satin panties with a matching bra that was pulled tightly over Tara's full bust with aroused nipples evidenced through the fabric. "Ah Maclay!" Though her voice held more passion then anger. "Those undergarments aren't going to make it either."

A small smile crept on Tara's face but she clamped it down as she unfastened her bra, taking a moment where she cupped her hands over her breasts, holding her bra in place. Giving a quick look to Faith the soldier had a command expression on her face that was obviously expecting the hands to drop, and the bra to follow.

It did, and Tara let the moment hang with the only sounds being the deepening breaths of both women. Before Faith could command Tara to continue the blonde brought her hands to satin panties now showing a growing spot of arousal. Arousal that was evident in little liquid gems caught inside golden curls as the panties reached the floor alongside her bra.

Tara stood back up, and stood at attention. "Am I suitable now Mam?"

Faith's voice was thick with passion. "Yes, parade rest."

Tara's face went blank, but then she remembered more of the soldiers' stances she had seen on tv and movies and remembered that parade rest. Her legs shoulder wide and her hands clasped behind her back.

For her part Faith paced a slow circle close enough to Tara that she was able to fill her lungs with the woman's obviously aroused scent. Intimacy was rather new to their relationship, but they were sleeping in the same bed and that just naturally led to making love. Something they had found so comfortable that while the "game" was new, they both were entirely welcome.

Tara was relaxed but very, very aroused. Aroused and aware of the eyes of her love, and would swear that she could feel each and every reaction that her body was experiencing. Her face was hot, and her chest was tight, but her legs wanted to fold from the feeling pulsing out just above them.

Finishing another circuit she stood in front of Tara and took up parade rest herself. "You're finally out of the civies, but that's just not enough. Drop and give me 50!"

Tara was confused because she first thought Faith wanted her to do push ups, but she caught the meaningful look Faith gave Tara, and then dropped her eyes to her own crotch and Tara had to bit her cheek not to grin. While her eyes remained facing forward, and she stayed in parade rest when Tara dropped to her knees and brought her hands up to Faith's waist band the slayer's body trembled a moment before Faith willed it to be still.

The smile was now apparent, but with Faith's eyes straight forward all she was aware of was the feeling of her jeans being unbuttoned and unzipped. When Tara found Faith had "went commando" she placed a kiss on Faith's exposed pubic mound. "Should, should I count Mam?"

Tara eased the jeans further down over Faith's hips, causing the reply to hitch. "That wouldn't be practical soldier... I'll count."

That left Tara biting her bottom lip as she grinned, wondering how long her lover would be able to count... how many licks it took to get to the center of the Slayer. Getting her lips to Faith's lips meant easing the woman's legs farther apart, but the soldier's discipline didn't seem to notice, her legs easing apart without complaint.

Tara's fingers formed a triangle around Faith's sex, with the index fingers meeting right above Faith's clitoris, now fully emerged from its hood. Her palms rested alongside, in the grooves on the underside of the hip joint. Breathing deeply the scent of Faith filled her lungs just before she drank in the taste of her love by pressing her mouth to Faith's sex.

Pressing her mouth into Faith's body her tongue slid out and moved from the bottom to top, dragging the length of her tongue along the sensitive bundle of nerves found there.

"One." Faith didn't say the word as much as sigh it, and that made Tara grin even as she brought her tongue out for number two, her poor darling wasn't going to make it to fifty.

"Two." Again the word made it out, but this time it caught Faith taking a breath in rather then out.

"Three...Four." Faith was locking her hips and legs because they were wanting to wobble under Tara's tender assault. For her part Tara had slid her hands around to her girlfriend's firm backside as her mouth still pressed urgently to the warm, eager flesh.

"F-five." The stutter from the Slayer got a giggle, and that got a reaction, but with a voice heavy with passion. "Something funny soldier?"

Tara pulled back lips still glistening with her lovers arousal, which she licked form her lips even as she spoke. "I just thought it might be a good idea to move to the couch Mam."

She made a show of considering it, but Tara cold feel the muscles under her hands clenched to keep Faith upright. "All right."

The pair parted so Faith could drop down onto the leather couch she had insisted on buying. Her leather boots and pants dropped to the floor in front of it with Tara's help as she pulled the boots off and helped as she eased the pants down over her hips and down to her ankles before kicking it free so Tara could kneel in the same spot.

Not only did she kneel, but she took Faith's legs and put the knees over her shoulders. That pulled Faith to the edge of the seat as she laid herself back. Seeming to reconsider it as she leaned forward, but only long enough to strip off her top so she was as naked as Tara. "Start from the top."

The half smile made it way back even as it was concealed by Faith's thighs.

Faith focused up to five but Tara's talented tongue started to interrupt that focus halfway to the first dozen licks. By the time Tara had done twelve the numbers were coming out with bitten down whimpers. Two dozen had the whimpers coming out without restraint and her hips moving with the mouth pressed to them.

A mouth that greedily drank down her darlings essence as it kept stimulating heated flesh. The third dozen found Faith running her fingers through blonde hair, and forty found Faith using that hair as a gentle handhold to pull the mouth against her. Something she did because she was reaching her peak at thirty-six and was riding out the pleasure bucking against Tara's face so hard that she was actually sitting up as Tara drew out Faith's release.

A release that was accompanied by a. "Ohhhhhhhhhhh baaaaaaaaaaby."

Then followed by. "Baby?"

Tara had reached forty-two by the time she was asked the question and was on forty-three by the time another came. "Tara?"

Glistening, swollen lips pulled back long enough to form three words. "Orders, are orders."

The lips smiled as she leaned in and carried out those orders plunging in to lash against already over stimulated tissues. It left Faith bouncing under the loving assault. "Ohhh, ah God, Tara....Tara!"

At fifty, Tara pulled away grinning as she got up and sat next to Faith, leaning against her. Faith reached over to pull Tara's legs over so she was effectively in the Slayer's lap.

Despite the playful nature of their lovemaking the emotional look Faith was giving melted Tara's already intimate expression.


Chapter 16

Her Wiccan didn't stop pacing until Faith stepped in front of her and grabbed her, gently. She didn't bother with words as she just rested her own forehead to Tara's. Just stretching out her lips, they met Tara's in a soft peck.

Tara's voice ghosted across Faith's face. "I'm scared."

Faith didn't bother telling Tara that this was no different from her night to night fights with the forces of Hell or her day to day conflicts with the human horrors of terrorism. One thing those battles had taught her was that anything could happen, and even the weakest of foes could get lucky.

The Trio might have been a lower priority, but after connecting Warren to the death of his ex-girlfriend they got bumped up and the two Slayer's had coordinated their efforts to track the pack to their next crime. Predictably enough, an armored car was on the list of things recovered from their lair by Buffy while the Watcher's were trying to assassinate Faith.

Unfortunately the Watcher's and the resulting fallout kept them from following up until now. The positive side was that Faith's pull on a federal level got the Slayer's riding up front in the uniforms of armored car security guards while two blacksuits rode in the back of the truck in full commando gear.

A uniform that did not seem to sit very well on Buffy because she seemed unable to sit still, and kept pulling and tugging to try to get the uniform to sit right. Faith might have been just as uncomfortable but you couldn't have told by the way she was sitting still. In fact her only real motion was to turn and smile at her sister Slayer's discomfort.

Buffy saw the smile and was not pleased. "It's not funny! Why do we have to dress like this? Can't I just crouch in a bush somewhere?"

Faith was behind the wheel and drove it up to the pick up. "That's how you normally do it B. So that's what they'd expect. You wanna catch them off guard you need to mix it up a bit."

"You mean like the back up?" Buffy's brows arched high enough to reach the brim of her borrowed hat.

"Hey, you tell me you don't like the idea of having better numbers?"

Buffy obviously liked the idea as she huffed quietly, and instead just started looking around the ambush site the Trio had seem set on in the plans they had captured. "Don't you think they'll change their plans now?"

Faith shook her head. "They don't know what was captured, this is a prime target regardless, AND we don't have anything else to go on."

"So what should I be doing exactly? I mean I'm the only one without a gun."

Faith straightened her security guard's cap. "Hopefully nothing, I mean ideally we will just point our guns and they will give up, BUT in case they don't we have to play it by ear. If they are holding anything that looks even remotely like a weapon, and we'll waste them. They say any magic words, and we'll waste them."

Buffy interrupted. "You seem awful keen on killing them Faith."

While Buffy's words were intentionally light, Faith's expression was dark. "Not keen B. I'm just less keen on you or anyone else dying. If I had stepped up my game earlier then Warren wouldn't have been able to waste his ex."

Buffy quickly shook her head. "You can't blame yourself for that."

Faith shook her head just as quickly. "I don't, but these guys have shown themselves to be killers B, and I think at this point you know just as well as I that killing only gets easier."

Buffy agreed silently and remained silent so Faith could continue.

"Heck B, from what you said, Warren was ready to waste you back when the whole invisibility deal went down. Since I've been gone, I've learned to be a bit more proactive."


Faith laughed once, softly, at Buffy's confusion. "That means' I go looking for trouble before it comes looking for me."

"Doesn't that just invite trouble?"

Faith shrugged. "Seems to find me either way. In this case I just get to choose the when and where."

Buffy gave her own shrug, but before she could form anymore of a response the van started tilting up on its side.

Faith formed the words instead, but they weren't just to Buffy as she tapped her radio. "Go time. Put on your laser sights and hit the ground as soon as the truck does."

Buffy didn't have a laser sight, but she was able to do her part as soon as the truck settled on its side as it was her door that was facing upwards as she gave it a pull on the handle and a shoved with her shoulder.

As she emerged, she was another surprise for the Trio. Jonathan and Andrew were currently holding their hands up as the blacksuits had laser sighted weapons targeted at their heads. Warren just looked angry, and he only looked angrier as he saw the Slayer emerge from the armored car. His anger distracted him from charging at the two blacksuits who were wisely keeping away from the guy who apparently tipped the armored car with his bare hands.

"Slayer!...s! Can't say I'm too terribly surprised to see you, either of you."

Faith had her own assault piece with its requisite laser sight trained on Warren's forehead, causing Buffy to realize there had been a level of planning she had not been privy to. "Give it up Warren!"

"Go ahead. Shoot me! I dare ya!"

Faith didn't take that dare, instead she pulled a fragmentary grenade from her belt, pulling the pin as she did so. The live explosive in her hand seemed to draw the moments out, but Faith was barely able to call out a warning to her soldiers before she as hurling the grenade at Warren's feet.

Buffy saw the grenade as Faith pulled it from her pocket so she was already getting out of the way before the pin was pulled. The two blacksuits might not have seen it, but had that training that pulled them out of the way before the warning managed to get all the way out of her mouth.

Warren on the other hand had neither training, nor foresight and could only gape as the lethal little egg landed at his feet.

Time resumed its normal flow in a detonation. The grenade went off, and sent Warren flying backwards toward where his two companions had been content watching him attack the armored car. The explosion didn't just carry Warren from his feet, but it covered the metallic chops of the two auto-weapons held by Faith's back up as they each cut down their assigned targets.

The two members of the Trio were slammed backwards into the out building behind them where they seemed to hang a moment before gravity dragged them to the ground.

Warren had been hurled into a similar spot but he was right back up with a loud laugh. "Hah! What else you got?"

Faith didn't answer him, as much as command her two troops. "Hose him!"

The two followed her order by joining her in leveling their weapons and firing until their magazines clicked empty.

Warren's smile never faded and actually grew as he made an exaggerated show of examining his clothing, now bearing the only signs they had ever fired their weapons.

"Looks like you're the ones who are hosed."

One of the blacksuits had the presence of mind to pull his side arm and point it at the his two sidekicks, who were still moaning and writhing, surprisingly blood-free.

Warren dismissed the action with a wave. "After Faith's little show with the Watcher's we wore body armor."

The man simply pulled his aim up to show he could shoot them in the head.

The caused Warren to pause, but not for long as he turned his attention back to the slayer, but not soon enough as Buffy charged him with a muttered. "Gotta do this the old-fashioned way."

Faith followed her lead as she used her height to come at Warren with a high front kick at his head while Buffy delivered a short punch to his mid-section.

While he might have had some sort of resilience it didn't make him immune to the effects of a punch to the diaphragm as his breath left his lungs. Nor did it make him immune to physics as Faith's blow sent him from his feet yet again.

Buffy's move did more then just steal Warren's breath. It sparked a realization. "He's still human! Use it!" While Buffy was expecting Faith to realize what she was talking about the nod from the two blacksuits surprised her.

They showed their understanding by grabbing Warren's arms and applying joint locks, a move which used his own supernatural strength to keep him immobile.

The two slayer's approached with Buffy again taking the lead. "He must have something giving him power, a spell or something."

Faith contradicted her. "He's not the caster, and their caster's in no condition to keep a spell going, Its gotta be an item."

Warren wasn't content struggling against his captors. "You better find it soon slayers! I'm going to get out of here and both you bitches are gone!"

He was wearing typical shirt, pants, shoes, and jacket with no rings or necklace... the only thing that leapt out was what looked like a leather fanny pack. Warren tried to bellow at that point, but it came out as more of an enraged scream.

That told Faith she was on the right track, and as she felt the two solid spheres she knew what was giving Warren his power. They didn't feel like stone or metal, and she had never heard of magic items being made out of plastic so she figured they were glass and acted on the idea by slamming them against the ground.

The balls shattered, but the splintering of glass was accompanied by a pulse of purple light that matched the flash of light that suddenly flared around Warren at the same time.

One of the blacksuits decided to test the theory everyone had at this point and drove his knee into Warren's rib cage. A move that drove Warren to his knees coughing and wheezing from the soldier's strike.

His teammate pulled cuffs from his belt and slapped them while Warren was still trying to catch his breath. Warren was still trying to catch his breath as the pair of commandos fell upon the other two hostiles and cuffed them like their leader.


Chapter 17

"So Are you in?"

Riley took a deep breath and looked at the three women in the room. The first was Faith, the one speaking to him, making him an offer. The second was Tara, Faith's partner, both in life and in this deal that they were making him. The third was his own partner, both as his wife and as his teammate, who also fell under Faith's offer of employment.

It was more then just simple employment however.

Faith wasn't just offering them a job. Namely because they already had the job, they even had backing from the same government.

No, Faith was offering them purpose. A purpose beyond the admittedly noble profession of slaying demons. She was offering them a position in the first major counteroffensive against evil, the occupation of the Hellmouth.

Up until this point the battle against evil had been skirmishes, a war of attrition being waged against an enemy with seemingly endless numbers even before you would count the ways that vampires and the like can reproduce.

Now Faith and her superiors were planning an actual front, to claim a victory beyond the tally's taken night after night of those fallen in battle.

A sign of just how serious they were taking the battle was in their honest admission of ignorance. They might not know what they were up against but rather then making assumptions they sought to remedy that fault.

A fact that already put them ahead of the failed experiment called The Initiative in the mind of the former Initiative agent.

His wife had never served that institution and only had her husbands stories to go by. Stories that now came to mind as she thought about the offer being made.

Riley could see her hesitation with only a glance and it compounded his own as he looked back to Faith.

Faith however could see it too. "I don't know how else I can swear it to you Riley. We're not Research and Development, we're Search and Destroy."

Sam however had a question. "I have to ask why we should believe you? I mean from what Riley told me you went to prison for murder."

While Riley braced himself for Faith's response the Slayer just sighed, but with only a flicker of sadness. "I did, I'm not going to lie about that. It was more then just murder too. I signed on with Mayor Wilkins when he planned on destroying the whole damn town and transforming into a pure-form demon."

That caused a whole other question for Mrs. Finn. "Pure Form?"

Tara answered, but not before looking to Faith for permission to do so. "Demons as they exist in this dimension are mixtures of human and demon. They Mayor was going to become something that hadn't been seen in this dimension in centuries."

Sam quirked her brow, not bothering to hide her skepticism. "And you helping means we should trust you?"

Faith nodded simply, but also elaborated a second later. "Yeah, because I am laying it all out for you. I'm not dressing it up, or trying to hide anything. Fact is, this is a holding action. The hope is that it will be a huge blow against the bad guys, but that means that they will be trying all the harder to dislodge us. THAT means that it's going to be a damn ugly fight, with no visible end. I'm not so much recruiting, as seeing if your stupid enough to sign on."

It was obvious Faith was joking, but where Sam just gave a small smile the career soldier Rile Finn gave a small laugh.

"I'd like to know more about who we'd be working for... BUT I understand that's not an option."

He and his wife shared a long look. "But when you called us back here we knew there would be a reason... and there might be history between us Faith, but that just makes it easier to see the change in you. It's not like you're the first kid to get straightened out by the joining the Army."

Faith couldn't help but look at her partner Tara and smirk rater wickedly.

Riley saw the look and laughed again. "Figuratively speaking of course. Lay it out for us."

Faith paused. "First I need to formally state that this is classified information, with all the riders attached. More then that this will not be making the rounds even with the rank and file. You listen to me then know you're signing on as officers."

The Finns nodded.

"Ok, have either of you heard the name "Mack Bolan?"

Riley must have because his eyes got wide. "The Executioner? Guy's like a legend. He was a Army sniper in Nam until his family was killed by the Mob. Got emergency leave to come stateside and bury them, and he used it to go postal on the Mafia."

Faith nodded. "And he kept doing so till the eighties when they thought he was dead, only he resurfaced for a short period before dropping yet again."

Riley filled in the blank."Not dead."

Faith shook her head. "Not even retired. Buffy doesn't know it, but she had her living room shot up by a virtual celebrity. Truth is that when terrorism started getting big in the seventies the Government made him an offer. The chance to keep fighting his war his way, but against a whole new enemy."

Sam filled in the blank this time. "Terrorism?"

Faith gave her a nod. "You may not realize it, but a lot of shit never made the light of day because Mack and his assembled hardasses took it out in advance. There's a lot in between I can fill in with more detail, but the group he put together is called "Stonyman Farm" and it has become a world-wide center for battling terrorism, with allied nations sending troops there for specialized training. Though they don't get the Farm's name of course."

The Finn's responded in unison. "Of course."

Faith then continued. "They kept doing what they were doing until the Initiative fell. In the fall out the Farm managed to get some of their intel. Enough to convince them of a real and present danger."

Riley again added to the story. "I'm guessing that's where you come in?"

"First I was flagged just because my murder was committed with a wooden stake, and they called it as a friendly fire incident."

Sam interrupted. "Was it?"

Faith signed mournfully. "Yeah, the first one, the problem was that when he Watcher's called me in for a debrief they tried to bring me in chains and I flipped out."

Sam actually seemed to start understanding the dark slayer's perspective. "If the good guys didn't want you..."

Faith nodded. "It goes deeper, but that's the outline."

Sam then carried the though forward. "So why did you turn back?"

Faith shrugged. "They were still the bad guys."


Chapter 18


The alarmed greeting was returned with a much calmer bob of the head. "Buffy."

"Do I want to know why you're here?"

"I'm guessing you have a good idea already."


Another bob of the head. "Um hum."

"Both of you?"

While her question wasn't really a complete sentence Riley understood it's intent. "Of course."

The conversation was taking place during the night on a street in Sunnydale so while there was plenty for them to look at during the uncomfortable silence, nothing was there to really pull their attention away. Yet while Buffy seemed to hope for some evil to emerge as a distraction from the conversation Riley had a focus Buffy barely recognized.

"I guess you're here to stay then?"

"I may have to travel, but yeah, Sunnydale is going to be my base of operations again." He then paused and softened a bit. "I hope that's not going to be a problem."

Buffy shrugged. "It's not like anyone asked me anyway."

Riley opened his mouth to speak, but Buffy cut him off. "No, no, I mean if Faith's bringing you back then she really means to do this."

Riley shook his head, in a way that seemed to contradict the next words out of his mouth. "We're past that stage Buffy. Sam and I were brought back as part of the command staff. I'm waiting for Tara so that we can scout a location that will be both physically and mystically significant while Sam's working with Faith to go over the files that will fill out our rank and file."

"More ex-Initiative?"

He rolled his shoulders in a non-committal way. "Maybe, they'll definitely be considered."


He looked her right in the eye. "But the factors that are part of the decision process are above your clearance level."

Her eyes got wide at that. "I have a clearance level?"

He nodded. "Faith cleared you for basic intel."

"She can do that?"

"She can now."

"Wouldn't that be the kind of information that's above my clearance level?" Buffy's hands on her hips made her feelings on that matter clear.

Riley kept his posture as non-confrontational as possible. "That the Vampire Slayer is heading up the team she's working with." He gave her a boyish grin. "I figured that wouldn't be too large a leap."

Buffy however wasn't buying it. "So what? I'm last years model?"

His expression sobered. "No Buffy, you'll always be one of a kind. This isn't about you. It's about the Hellmouth. This is a unique resource that the enemy wants to control, and you can't guard it forever."

"I've been doing pretty good so far!"

The sober expression grew somber. "And you've died twice in the process. Look, we don't wan to push you out." He then took a deep breath and straightened out his spine. "You just haven't shown that you would be willing to work within a military disciplined unit. Faith has had the training, and the discipline..."

Buffy then interrupted, her expression almost turning to a pout.. "I could get the training."

Riley kept a cooler demeanor. "Maybe so, but the discipline is in question, because even now you can not stand the idea of someone having a higher rank, Faith on the other hand has adapted well to the chain of command."

"Yeah, since she's at the top of it." Her expression had now grown petulant.

"But she didn't start there. Her Slayer abilities may have flagged her for special service from the start, but she worked to get where she is. Now if you'll excuse me?"

He didn't wait for an answer as he moved to where he has seen Tara standing, waiting for him. Though if he had to guess she probably had arrived earlier and given the two former lovers a chance to talk.


Chapter 19

Faith looked between the two location scouts, and then back at their report. The three of them inside the safe house. "The Hellmouth?"

Tara looked ready to explain, but Riley interrupted without realizing he did so. "It's why we're here. If we're going to stand guard over the Hellmouth..."

Faith then interrupted him. "We should stand guard OVER the Hellmouth..."

Tara realized that the interruptions were actually just a sign of them bonding as a unit, learning to complete each others thoughts, and while there was nothing left to complete on Faith's though, Tara could compliment it. "More then that research has shown that many supernatural phenomena as well as creatures are pulled to the Hellmouth itself."

Faith nodded. "So we would get front row seats. Ok, Tara, Sam and I have already got our first run of troops. Now I want you to work with her on picking personnel for the mystic side of things." Tara's eyes got wide, and Faith gave her lover a smile. "Don't worry babe, all you need to do is weigh brain power. Sam will be there to keep an eye on the mil-spec side of things." Tara nodded, but she didn't seem entirely convinced, but it was about what Faith expected so she turned to Riley. "And while that's happening Corn Fed and I will start getting the actual physical side set. Talking with architects, requisitioning supplies, stuff like that."

Tara turned to go try to find Sam, but Faith quickly stepped up to her and planted a kiss on the still pale lips of her witch. "I wouldn't have given it to you if I didn't know you could handle it." Tara nodded mutely and Faith followed with a hug. "If you don't believe in yourself then believe in me, cause I believe in you." The familiar furrowed brow greeted Faith's statement, and it made Slayer grin. Tara saw the grin and smiled back, nodding with much more confidence.

The embrace broke and Tara turned to leave with a much more assured stride, but before she could leave Faith gave her a gentle swat on the butt. That got her a startled look from the swatted, but Faith's replying grin just got another smile as Tara left.

Riley was grinning as Faith turned back to face him and she grinned right back. "Don't ask, don't tell." He just laughed as she got down to business. "You two were right about the Hellmouth, but that means that we will need to design it to be defended from two directions, up top, and down below..."

Sunlight was always common in Sunnydale, and it was in abundance as Tara walked by the construction site with Dawn Summers. The young woman was paying far more attention, but that was undoubtedly because Tara already knew what was being built.

"A national guard armory?"

Tara nodded to the teens question, and then braced herself for another one.

"Why a national guard armory?"

Tara smiled. "Because an obvious military base would be too obvious." She then took a breath before giving a lengthier explanation. "And because of Sunnydale's... turbulent history it won't be a real surprise. Troops and equipment won't attract any attention because they are supposed to be here."

"Does that include tanks and stuff?"

Tara nodded. "It will have all the traditional things you would expect, out in the open, and then inside the building will be the more... conspicuous things... but that's more Faith and Riley."

Dawn scrunched her nose. "So what will you do?"

"I'm teaching the mystical side of things."

Dawn was surprised at that. "Aren't you nervous?"

Tara exhaled. "Terrified, but I got to hand-pick my classes so it should be ok."

The next question was voiced far more timidly. "Can I visit you?"

Tara included a hug with her answer. "Of course you can sweetie, though you won't be given free reign if you come to the base, but Faith and I will still have the safe house as well. Why... is there a reason you wouldn't want to be at home?"

Dawn shook her head, but not with much enthusiasm. "No... I mean not really... it's just..."

Tara tried to be supportive. "Just?"

"It's like they WANT you guys to be the bad guys, you know? They even wanted me to spy on you today... which I am SO not doing, but it's like they NEEDED a bad guy to get them to pull together so they are turning you guys into one. Giles is convinced that you will go the way of the Initiative, and Willow jumped right on board..." There was an uncomfortable pause at the mention of Tara's former lover. "Xander, well Xander seems to just try to keep everyone from blowing up, and Buffy? Buffy's going one way and then the other. It's like... it's kinda like when someone throws a party, and you don't get invited so you act like you didn't want to go anyway."

"So Buffy doesn't think we're the bad guys?"

"I don't think so. I mean she listens to Giles and Willow, but she never looks like she believes them, and when they ask her what she thinks she always ask questions that make them look kinda stupid. Wait? Am I now spying on them for you?"

The good natured smile that Tara gave was accompanied by a ruffling of the teens hair. "No Dawnie, I really do worry about them. I think that they NEED a villain to pull them together, and without one to distract them the problems that they already have are just going to get worse and worse."

"You think so?"

Tara bit her lip and nodded.

"But that's nothing you REALLY need to worry about. I mean you've got all your soldier guys, AND Riley and your very own PERSONAL Vampire Slayer."

Tara arched a brow at the teens wording, and was given a mischievous expression in return. "Well you do."

There was a nod. "I do, I'm not too worried about the Scoobies as a threat. I mean Faith and Riley have both ruled them out as potential threats. I just worry about them as people."

Dan nodded, then paused before changing the subject. "How long until it's finished?"

Tara looked over. "By the end of the month we will be bringing in troops."

The End

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