In the years since Faith had first heard the World is Older Than You Know speech, she'd wondered more than once how the Council knew where to send the Slayer. If there was only one Chosen One in a world swarming with vampires and demons, what if they picked the wrong place for her to go? Who kept the rest of the underworld in check while the Slayer was stopping the apocalypse du jour?
It wasn't until Sunnydale collapsed under its own weight that she finally got the chance to find out. When all the Potential Slayers around the world suddenly turned into the real thing, not only did some of them end up in crooked hands, all too many of the rest found themselves competing for the kill on the higher profile, humany demons-- and sometimes even coming off the worse by comparison. In a hand to hand fight, a Slayer would always win against a single, ordinary opponent, but the sneaky types who preferred sniper rifles to swords were a lot harder to close with on equal footing.
A lot of that competition already had a place in their world, it turned out: the law firm Angel had tangled with had a shit-ton of 'security teams', for one, and the dude in Rome that Buffy had 'dated' as part of her investigations there had been pretty thorough at managing the local community for his own best interests. But not all of it; the Army still had a half a dozen demon hunting squads roaming around, and where the army would be too noticeable, the US government had a number of 'consultants' on tap: assassins for hire who didn't care what they were killing, much less who, so long as they were paid enough to get it done.
It was kind of humbling, in a way. Well, not for Faith, or for Buffy, both of whom had already got past the "want, take, have" stage of exercising their power, though under very different circumstances. The others: the ones like Red's girl who thought they deserved their new role and imagined themselves swanning back to their hometowns to turn the screws on the local vamps and demons had been kind of shocked to find themselves mostly unnecessary and in a few cases actively discouraged from pursuing their duty. One organization, the Father Agency, had even tried to recruit a few of the girls after they'd survived said discouragement; Faith had made herself pretty familiar with the files on their people after the first few related disappearances had earned the attention of the Council's fixer-- namely, her.
So when she looked up one evening from a drink while waiting for a meet with a new contact and clocked a curvy brunette approaching with long dark hair, flawless pale skin, and a body as fit as a Slayer's under a professional-looking suit, Faith was more than a little concerned that the competition had finally been sent to fix her. She'd heard that someone else had taken over day-to-day management under the 'I-Tech' umbrella, but the woman with the most generic name in the biz looked as lively as ever... and she was making a beeline straight for Faith's seat at the bar.
Faith shifted her gaze to the mirror behind the bartender while Ms. Smith stepped up and signaled the man for a beer, noting at least two pistols and a knife under the sexy yet functional blouse and closely tailored trousers, and tipped her stool back down to rest on all four feet.
Beer in hand, the woman turned to Faith at last, eyeing her with an equally clinical eye. "Faith Lehane?" she asked, in a brisk, no-nonsense tone.
"Depends on who's asking," Faith said, meeting the woman's gaze at last as she readied herself for action. Jane Smith had striking pale eyes, pouty lips-- and an expression as cool as her voice.
Those lips pursed in an annoyed moue at Faith's non-answer. "The Faith Lehane who married, and divorced, a Mr. John Smith in Las Vegas seven years ago?"
Faith winced as the penny dropped. It had taken longer than it probably should've; but that particular night, when she'd been barely legal and high on adrenaline from Slaying her way cross country, didn't even rank in the top ten list of craziest shit she'd ever done. Scratch any guy, and they had some whack fantasy under the surface, but a lot of them regretted it the next morning. He hadn't; they'd enjoyed themselves-- thoroughly-- until the shine wore off, then signed the second set of papers and parted without looking back.
But-- John Smith. Asked after by a Jane Smith, highly paid and highly skilled assassin... with a gold ring on her wedding finger. Suddenly, Faith was a lot less sure their meeting had anything to do with Slayer business.
"Might've been me," she agreed with a careless shrug. "I dunno; that whole week's a little blurry. Don't tell me he's come down with somethin' and sent you to look up all his exes?"
Instead of an indignant or worried expression, though, that jibe drew an arched, amused eyebrow and another once-over from head to toe. "Well. At least his taste's consistent. Don't tell me, he didn't realize you were deadlier than he was, too?" Jane asked, tension seeping out of her spine as she smoothly sank onto the stool next to Faith's.
Faith raised an eyebrow back. Was this really happening? Girl talk with an assassin about-- oh, hell. Did that mean John was one, too? Faith had totally missed that back then; all she'd cared about was that he was hot, horny, and available.
"You really surprised?" she replied with a smirk and a thorough once-over of her own. "He's a guy. You and me? We're the kind of fine that makes them think with the little head first."
Jane snorted, lips curving in a smirk, and tipped her beer to Faith. "Tell me about it," she said.