Buffy woke in her Trenton, New Jersey hotel room exhausted. Seven hundred miles was not that big of a deal but Giles had called her all in a tizzy and requested Buffy leave Cleveland immediately. Word was they had a slayer who did not know what she was wreaking havoc on Trenton with her vigilantism. It was a nice endeavor, but slayers were not supposed to hurt humans. It went against the rules, but instruction manuals had not been dropped into the laps of these girls when they were transformed from potential into full slayer.
So, Buffy was here on a search and rescue mission. She would bring the slayer to Cleveland where she would get the low-down on what she was. She would get some training and then get shipped off to England where Giles and others would train her on the book stuff. Buffy had decided to stick with what she was good at, slaying. So she was still here as a slayer with a side gig as trainer. There were some months she spent more time training then she did slaying but as more time passed since the spell they were finding fewer slayers.
They had met up with a few who did not want the training. In those cases, Buffy had Faith come and train with the slayer some right there. It was not as in depth as when the girls came with her to Cleveland, but she and Faith at least had confidence the girls would not die out from stupidity.
She turned the TV on for background noise while she got ready for the day. She had gotten into Trenton at three in the morning so sleeping until noon was not bad. She still had plenty of time to get in touch with Giles' contact and put in a good search for the slayer this afternoon. Giles and the rest of the watchers did not deem it worth the extra expense for Buffy to stay at hotels that offered room service, so she would find something to eat along the way. She was not big on McDonald's, but if that was what she had to eat it was better than nothing.
Showered and dressed for the day in a skirt and a black tank that tied around her neck instead of having sleeves, Buffy sat on the edge of the bed and pulled the notebook she carried with her at all times. She had notes on every trip she had taken in an effort to find a slayer and on the slayer she had gone to retrieve. This would be her thirtieth retrieval if the girl was truly a slayer. Not every assignment turned out to be legitimate.
She picked up the telephone and dialed the number Giles provided.
"Yo." He had an abrupt but businesslike voice, obviously not much with the small talk.
"Is this RangeMan Enterprises?"
A moment's pause and then, "I'm Ranger."
"I was given this number by Rupert Giles."
There was a longer moment of silence. He was on a cell phone and she could hear noise in the background indicating he was still there. "I was expecting you to call earlier."
She rolled her eyes. "I needed sleep."
He laughed lightly and Buffy could not help but think it was one of the sexiest sounds she had ever heard. She wondered what he looked like. There was no way he could sound like this and look as good. She closed her eyes and shook her head. He probably looked like Giles and was just as old. "Where are you?"
"Red Roof Inn."
"Nice." Buffy was not sure but thought he was being sarcastic. "Low budget expense account?"
"You can say that," Buffy muttered.
"I'll meet you at the Applebee's near there in," he paused for a moment. Buffy was growing more curious about this all-business man. "About twenty minutes."
"How will I know who you are?"
He gave a real laugh then and even through the phone it caressed her like silk. "You're by yourself." It was a statement rather than a question, as if that told her how she was going to know who he was.
He was not very forthcoming with the information. Buffy wondered how Giles had found this guy. "Yes."
"I'll find you," he said and then the connection was severed.
"Jerk," she said into the phone's mouthpiece for good measure. She dug out her phone card and called Giles.
"This is Rupert Giles."
Buffy smiled instantly upon hearing his voice. It was the strangest thing, but she found she really missed him. She missed all of her friends, but there must be something about the watcher and slayer relationship because she found she missed him most. He kept her in check over the years, grounded. "It's Buffy," she said, the smile she was giving him evident in her voice.
"Buffy, how good to hear from you."
"Like we didn't just talk yesterday, Giles."
"Right, of course, but I'm glad to know you got to Trenton all right," he paused and Buffy could picture him cleaning his glasses. "You did make it to Trenton?"
"Yep, sure did, staying at the gloriousness that is Red Roof Inn. You really need to work on getting me better places to stay, Giles."
"Buffy, this is not a vacation."
"I realize that, but geesh, is it too much to ask for a pool. Or a continental breakfast."
"Hotel food is not very good, Buffy."
"Yeah, but I like those Danish," she said with a pout.
"Buffy, was there something you needed?"
"I, well, geesh, what's with the dismissive attitude?"
"Buffy, please, we do have a lot of work to do here. You do realize this, right?"
She sighed heavily. "Yes, Giles, I know you're working hard. So, who is this guy I'm meeting?"
"I've never met him."
"Wait a minute, you're trusting some guy with Council business you don't even know."
"My contacts tell me he can be trusted, Buffy. He's former Special Forces and I've been assured he is discreet."
"Well, he's not a very talkative discreet guy."
"Buffy, this is not a social call. You're there to find this girl and stop her from breaking the law."
"So far she's only put gang members into the hospital, but she may take that last step. Faith has luckily reformed. I don't know if we'd get that lucky a second time."
"I understand, Giles. I'm all about the recovery. I just wondered who this guy is, that's all." She glanced at the digital alarm clock screwed into the nightstand and realized it was time for her to go. "I've got to go, Giles. I have no idea exactly where I'm going."
"Okay, Buffy, call with an update as soon as you have anything."
"I will, Giles. Have a good evening," she said, mindful of the time difference.
"You, too, Buffy, and take care."
"I always do," she said and hung up the phone. She grabbed her stuff and left the room, putting the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. She did not have anything worthwhile in the room but she hated the idea of someone going through her things when she was not looking.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com