Word Count: 2,417
He was beyond exhausted, but he'd been unable to pull himself away from his computer. So, besides a brief nap on his couch in the evening, he'd been up for over twenty-four hours.
"Lennie," he said when his partner answered his call.
'Hey, Mikey, what's up?'
"I'm taking a sick day. Something comes up, you can get me on my phone."
'Everything all right?'
"I'm not sure."
'All right, well, you take care of yourself. I'm sure Cragen can spare someone to team up with me for the day.'
"Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow."
He knew she started her days early, but he decided to take a chance she'd be there still this early. Whether she'd open her door for him at such an unreasonable hour was another story altogether.
He had plenty of time during the night and on the drive there to think. Digest.
She opened the door after a few minutes. She was clutching a robe around her slight figure. Not a terry cloth robe like his mom had worn. This was a satiny, silky number that didn't look at all motherly.
"Mike? Hi. Is everything all right?"
She stepped aside, letting him into her room. He noticed the humidity from the bathroom as if the shower had recently been run. Yet she was clearly sleeping.
"Late night?" he asked. He was unable to check the moment of jealousy that shot through him at the idea of why she would need a late night shower.
"Uh, yeah. Out with a couple of friends."
"Yes, while I don't live here I have a couple of friends in town." She turned on the bedside lamp and sat on the edge of the bed. The robe fell open now that she was no longer clutching it in front of her. He was reminded that he thoroughly enjoyed what she looked like under that robe. "Are you going to tell me what this is about?"
"You're hurt," he said, noticing some cuts and bruising now that she'd turned the lamp on.
"You sure?" He took a seat next to her, regarding the cuts more closely.
"You didn't come here knowing I was hurt, so what's going on? Is everything all right?"
"Tell me about your job."
"I don't understand. I'm tired, so maybe I'm unusually slow on the uptake."
"I've been awake since I left here yesterday morning."
Her eyes widened a little at the admission, processing how long ago that was.
"Why?" she asked. "The case you had to leave for?"
"Part of it."
"Oh," she said. He wouldn't blame her for being confused. He wasn't really thinking clearly himself.
"I'm a cop. I try not to be suspicious of people. And you're not committed to me."
"But you can't help it."
"Not that I pretend to know you real well, but you showing up at my precinct."
"I explained my reason for being there."
"Our phone call last night was different."
"Cold. As if you couldn't get off the phone with me fast enough. I don't know. Like you were brushing me off."
"I was in the middle of something, Mike, that's all."
"It got me thinking, though," he said, barely letting what she'd said register. "So, I searched your name."
"Because I couldn't talk on the phone? Or because I didn't invite you to meet me back here later?"
"I was too tired to come here anyway."
"Yet you were up all night and are here now."
"Turns out there's a lot to read about on you."
"I'll bet there is for a cop."
"I've heard about you."
"Most cops have now since your mayor hired me."
"Is that where you were last night?"
"I was doing my job."
"Yes, another slayer, Faith and her boyfriend, Robin, who is the reason I was at your precinct yesterday. I couldn't get a hold of Faith on the phone, which isn't entirely unusual. She likes to drop off the grid sometimes. I needed to hunt, though, so I thought Robin could tell me where to at least look around here."
"Is that why you're hurt?"
"Yes. Vampires tend to fight back when you're trying to kill them."
"Why do it then?"
"I have to, Mike. It's not something I can turn off. Believe me, I've tried. I can't. You – most people – choose their occupations. You choose to get married or not. Choose to have kids or not. I can certainly choose to get married or have kids, but until recently that wasn't an option for me because of what I do. Some people may not have a choice due to parental influences or financial shortcomings. I get that, so not everyone has a choice when it comes to their career. I didn't, though, at all. This is what I was born to do. I could do something else, I've tried. It always ends badly. My calling always interferes. So, here I am, using my calling and my experience to help law officials get educated. And, hopefully, prolong their lives so their spouses aren't widowed too soon and their kids have two parents for much longer."
"What about your life?"
"I've lived longer than I should have. I consider every day from the time I was sixteen a gift."
"When do you come to my precinct?"
"Going to skip that day?"
"I'm not, someone else, the other slayer is. I didn't want it to be weird for you. The other cops you were with the night we met and saw us together."
"Get some odd reactions?"
"To say the least, even from the ones who've run across vampires on a regular patrol."
"Didn't the mayor hire you, though?"
"The mayor hired The Council. I'm the one who does the conferences because I have the most experience."
"Why is that?"
She smiled a little. "It's a long story."
"I have time, unless Lennie calls me I put in for the day off."
"Oh. Well. In that case, let me get dressed."
"Actually, I like how you're dressed just fine."
"Why couldn't you sleep, Mike?"
"I was trying to wrap my mind around the woman I was reading about being you."
"Not because you think I'm crazy or some sort of charlatan?"
He kicked his shoes off and moved to lie on the bed. Presumptuous maybe, but she'd let him in and hadn't kicked him out yet.
"Come here," he said.
She went to him, settling against him. "You're so little."
"Yeah," she said with a soft laugh.
"Not the first to say that?"
"So tell me your story."
She was quiet for a while; he thought maybe she wasn't going to tell him. She did, though. It was a pretty far-fetched story. He knew, though, things weren't always explainable. There were special teams in place.
"Your friend Robin."
It dawned on him then what her friend was doing here. The special assignment. He'd heard rumors, but things were kept so secret.
Buffy was evidently an attempt to make things less secretive.
"Still think I'm not crazy?"
"I think I believe you have a purpose and it's not my place to question God."
"I'm not sure how much God has to do with it."
"I am. Why else would you have the purpose of stopping evil?"
"You make it sound so simple."
"I'm not anything."
"Really? Despite everything you've seen and experienced?"
"Honestly? It's not something I grew up with, and usually that's where it comes from, isn't it? Being taught?"
"It depends. For me, well, it was the only thing I knew growing up. It's what working-class stiff Irishmen did. Brought their kids to church on Sundays and worked their asses of so their kids could go to Catholic school. Ensure their entry into heaven through us or something. I can't say I haven't questioned what God thought letting me grow up with the kind of experiences I had, but it made me become a cop. It made me want to help people so I have stayed a good cop. So, I guess God knew what He was doing with me. I can't speak for anyone else and I certainly don't go anymore."
"I'm sorry. Was it bad?"
He shrugged, tugging her so she was on top of him. "I could think of better things to occupy my unexpected day off than talking about my childhood."
"You can, huh?"
"Finding new ways to exhaust each other."
"What if I have to go out?"
"Actually, today, no, that was why I went out last night. I knew I could have a late night and not have to be up at the crack of dawn."
"I suppose, vampires aren't fond of daytime hours."
"To say the least."
"Well then. Let's work up an appetite and order in some room service."
"I like the sound of that," she said. "I don't do it often."
He joined her in the shower, which she didn't mind at all. She'd known him less than a week, but she was oddly comfortable with him. Partly, she supposed because she didn't have to hide who she was from him. He didn't know the full truth, but she wasn't lying to him. She was just withholding information that really didn't affect things.
"Let's go down to the restaurant to eat."
"Are you sure?" she asked, toweling off her hair.
"If you called in sick."
"And the chance that someone's going to come into the restaurant here is pretty slim. I'll take the discipline if I get caught."
"All right," she said, watching somewhat sadly as he got dressed.
"You look nice."
"Thanks. Spending the morning having good sex does wonders for a skin's glow."
"It does, huh?"
"So, I've heard anyway."
He brushed his fingertip along her jaw. "I guess I should have shaved before coming over here."
"Why?" she asked, confused.
"You've got some chaffing here and there."
"It'll go away."
"Your bruises from last night look better already."
"I don't know how it works. I just heal fast."
"One of those cuts probably needed stitches."
"Last night when I got it, yeah, but I knew it'd go away."
"Have you ever had stitches?"
"Not since I got called, no. I got into a couple of ice skating accidents as a kid."
"Yes," she said.
"You still skate?"
"I haven't been since high school, but I know how, sure."
"Maybe some evening we could go."
"You ice skate?"
"Sure, played hockey as a kid. I still play once in a while with some friends."
"Sure, that sounds fun."
She finished getting dressed, wondering just what this was they were doing. They'd picked one another at a bar as a one night stand, and somehow it was becoming more. She wasn't sure how much more or even for that matter how much more it could be with her job. When she was done in New York, there'd be another city somewhere who wanted to enlist her services. She was only in New York for so long because it was so large. Otherwise, she'd be here for a week or two and gone in smaller towns.
After lunch they walked around the area by her hotel for a while and ended up back in her room.
"You know," she said, peeling off his shirt. "I don't usually behave like a rabbit."
"No. It's been," she laughed as she kissed his collarbone. "You don't even want to know how long."
"I could ask you the same thing."
They didn't leave her room again that day, ordering pizza in once it got dark and they were both hungry again.
"I think this is the best sick day I've ever had."
"I'm sorry I was the cause of you not being able to sleep."
"It's all right. I know we're not more than what this is, so it's my fault for letting the idea of you with another man rub me the wrong way."
"Not more than what this is, huh?"
"Well, I mean, I'm all yours until you have to leave. Another town, right?"
"Yes. I'm not sure where to next, I have a while yet here as it is. You have a lot of precincts here and none seem to want to cooperate, let me speak to a few jointly."
"Yeah, we're like that for some reason."
"So, you're stuck with me for a while."
"What's in London, anyway?"
"My sister. The other slayers I activated."
"So, nothing really holding you there."
"Well, my sister."
"Sure, but she has no one but you either, right?"
"Yeah, our dad's not in the picture."
"Maybe you'll like New York enough to stay. Your friend is here."
"She's actually in Boston, but she's here this week visiting her boyfriend because he's working here. It's the only place he could find work near her. He was the principal in Sunnydale, but I think it left a bad taste in his mouth."
"Things wanting to kill you can do that."
"Yes," she said with a laugh.
"You effectively changed the subject."
"What are you asking me, Mike?"
He shrugged, rubbing his cheek against her shoulder. More chaffing from his much beyond five o'clock shadow. She didn't mind, though. There was something oddly refreshing and real about it and him letting her see him like this. Human. Imperfect.
"I don't know. Maybe there's a reason a one-night stand has turned into my wanting to spend time with you and getting to know you."
"Well, I'd say we have time to figure it out before I have to go anywhere anyway. Are you in a hurry?"
"No," he said.
"Well, then. I'm not committed to living in any one place. London was where I was needed for a time. Places in the States seem to want to educate their public officials about the things that go bump in the night and I'd much rather be State-side.
"Just throwing it out there."
"You just don't like the idea of me going to another town."
"And sleeping with someone else? You caught me. I can't stand the thought."
"Hm. Well, you'd better do some good convincing then."
"Is that right?"
"The evidence is still out on whether satisfaction for the long-term can be guaranteed."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com