And for the buffyverse1000 :
Faith /Graham : Debriefing
Rio was hot. Really, really hot.
So hot that you were sweating from just walking up the stairs.
In a back room of a particularly anonymous hotel, the sweating was caused by quite another kind of physical activity. Sgt Graham Miller was supposed to be reporting recent missions of his patrol to the current Reformed Watcher’s Council representative.
However, he and Faith were much more interested in ripping the clothing off each other at that precise moment.
After a couple of hour’s worth of frenetic activity, their pace slowed down, and eventually stopped. Lying on the rumpled bed, the two of them stared at the revolving fan on the ceiling, and smoked cigarettes slowly. From outside, the distant sounds of the city gently intruded on them, the casual city noises of dogs barking, cars passing and the gentle murmur of people talking.
That was what he missed the most during his jungle missions, realized Graham. The background hum that he’d grown up on (he sure wasn’t a farm-boy like Riley), the sense of people all around him. In the jungle, particularly on a hunt, every small noise at night was a cause for concern, something to be investigated, something to beware. He occasionally wondered if that was why Riley sent him to do the re-supplies and reports – a chance for him to finally relax his guard and recharge himself.
He turned his regard to the Slayer beside him. Faith took a deep drag on her cigarette, raised her brows at his look and blew a perfect smoke ring into the air. Then giggled happily at the smoke ring. He bit back an answering grin, and almost shook his head in amazement.
He’d certainly never expected to be here, with a Slayer of all people. He’d seen the mess that Riley had got into with Buffy, and sworn never to do that himself. But with all these Slayers about these days, some things were a lot harder to avoid than he’d thought.
Besides, Faith was different.
They’d met six months back or so, when the new Council was getting set up around the world. Forming alliances was their next logical step, and getting Riley and Sam to go to the government for them was the natural step. He’d come along because Riley asked him to, but he’d only realized recently why.
Riley was grooming him to be the next leader of their little hunt and destroy group. That, or going off to create a second squad. Either way, as Riley’s second in command, he needed to know everything that Riley did and be ready to step in at a moment notice if Riley went down.
And it was the same with Faith.
He’d seen it at the conference – the same confused look and wonder at what she was doing at this high level meeting. Oh, he hadn’t realized it at the time, but it had been that flash glimpse of the little girl lost that got his attention. And when she’d bummed a cigarette off him during the recess, he followed her outside. They’d smoked together peacefully, in relative silence. Oh, she’d made a few comments about always liking a man in uniform, but she reminded him of when he’d grown up with Natasha, with all her suggestive comments masking hurt, and he’d replied neutrally.
There’d been an uneasy unspoken truce between them when they’d gone back inside, and he watched her carefully during the next set of talks. He’d noticed the English guy seeking her opinion unobtrusively, and realized that she was being groomed to take the top slot if Buffy fell. Looking back now, Graham still couldn’t believe it had taken him that long to apply the same logic to his situation.
So here they were now, meeting up every now and then. Clinging to each other in what small moments they could find. Dark and dingy hotel rooms, with peeling walls and cracked mirrors, hanging onto each other as much as they ever could. Both of them treading water, dreading that day when that call would come.
Stepping into dead mens shoes.
But for now, they had each other, and that would have to be enough.