Author's Note: Another tale set in phouka's 'Haven and Home' world.. All characters and settings created by phouka are the property of that author. Many thanks to phouka for permission to use her world.

It had been a good day.

That Saturday in early October had dawned clear and crisp, with the air temperature forecasted to only rise a little during the next few hours. However, since it was calm, without even the slightest breeze, as long as people dressed warmly, remained in the fall sunlight, and kept moving, it would probably stay comfortable enough for those venturing outside this morning. Which included the entire house.

Knowing they would soon be forced by the Cleveland climate to remain indoors, all of those who lived in the dryad's house appreciated every second of the good fall weather and they were each determined to take full advantage of every bit of sunshine today. After devouring an enormous breakfast prepared by Andrew, Buffy led the exodus outside, followed by her Slayers carrying the exercise mats from the gym, which were placed on the front lawn. Under the blonde's stern eye, her warrior sisters started their stretches and warm-up katas. To the side, the normal (mostly) humans did their own exercises and tai chi routines, led by Jenny, as Giles, Xander, Willow, Dawn, and Andrew followed along.

Soon, people were ready to get down to serious business. Pairing up, the Slayers began their sparring matches against each other, while Buffy and Giles walked along the mats, narrowly watching every move of the practicing contenders. After literally years at this, Giles had the expertise to observe even the fastest strikes and blows by the combatants, and spot any potential flaws and whatever else that needed correction. Buffy, as the last true Slayer, could simply glance at any lesser Slayer and just know what that novice was doing wrong. Working together, the pair of Sunnydale survivors moved among the opponents, often stopping the matches with a single soft word, to correct mistakes and suggest better attack and defensive maneuvers. Buffy would often demonstrate, as the fighters avidly watched, first in slow motion, and then faster, culminating at full Slayer speed, until she was sure they now understood what to do.

Again at the side, two pairs did their own light-contact martial arts training, switching off among each other as Jenny, Dawn, Andrew, Willow, and Xander practiced falls, exchanged pulled strikes and blows that were not meant to actually land, and applied careful holds and grips against their opponents' weak points, such as knees and elbows to restrain them. Since nobody was wearing protective gear, only the less aggressive martial arts styles such as aikido were performed with full contact, and everything else was done on the honor 'touch' system.

Everyone there worked hard, knowing that their lives were dangerous enough that it wasn't a good idea to slack off in being able to protect themselves, even if their attitudes over having to actually use their training in a fight ranged from Xander's mood of cold murder against anybody daring to hurt his girls to Andrew's glum acceptance and fervent prayer that it'd never happen again (Sunnydale had been more than enough for him, thank you). Jenny, Willow, and Dawn were more businesslike, though their intentness in combat was shown often enough by the women slamming the men hard onto their backs on the exercise mats.

"Hey!" yelped Andrew after gasping in pain after one such fall, glowering up at Dawn standing triumphantly over him. The brunette man grumbled, "If you keep doing that, I'm not gonna make you cookies anymore!"

Their own match finished, Jenny, Willow, and a smirking Xander came over, as he held out a hand to Andrew to grab and scramble to his feet, with that former member of a trio of would-be supervillains still glaring at an unrepentant Dawn. The Summers sister just bestowed upon Andrew her most pitiful look, and with a quivering lower lip, whimpered, "But I might not have such a big, strong man like you around when a poor widdle girl like me gets in trouble, so I need to do whatever it takes to look after myself! Awww, do you want me to kiss where it hurts and make it all better?" At those last words, Dawn developed a wicked gleam in her eye and advanced upon Andrew, puckering up her lips for a passionate smooch.

Hastily backpedaling, Andrew shot a panicky glance over where Buffy had been standing off in the distance with her back to the others as she watched her Slayers, and a look of horror developed on his face as he saw that small woman suddenly stiffen as if she'd just heard something that would possibly lead to Andrew-carnage in the near future. Blurting out "NO!" Andrew quickly got behind a snickering Xander, and warily peering around that man's body at the three women who now all had evil grins on their faces, the cook of the house sniffed, "You're just a big bully, you know that?"

"Damn straight," contently said Dawn, exchanging high-fives with Jenny and Willow. Then, her attention caught by something else, Dawn suggested, "Let's go over there." The small group promptly agreed, and headed towards the main group of Slayers, with Andrew trailing behind and prudently still keeping Xander between himself and the female trio.

As they came up to stand by Giles, the Englishman simply nodded in acknowledgement of their presence, with his main attention keenly directed at where Buffy was standing in the middle of an exercise mat, with all of the other Slayers lined up in a row before her on the lawn. The first of these now stepped forward to join the other woman, and in the next instant, with no further courtesies, two superhuman females blurred together in close combat.

For the next minute, among the savage blows, incredible leaps, sweeping kicks, and unbelievable moves during the battle, came the casual drawl of the California native calmly assessing her opponent's style and methods, giving advice in the middle of the fight, with whatever compliments and censure that were necessary. Suddenly, Buffy was back in the middle of the exercise mat, crouching over her challenger's body that was face down on that piece of padded material, her left hand gripping the other girl's wrists in an unbreakable hold, and doing the same with her right hand around the ankles, with the victorious Slayer's left foot pressed firmly down on the back of the defeated girl's neck.

"Better," grunted Buffy, only then letting go, as the other girl got to her feet and stood there, an accepting look on the loser's face as she bowed to her sensei. Buffy bowed back, and then waved her off to the edge of the mat, instructing, "Watch carefully. Someone's going to try a variation of your moves, so see if they'll do better or worse." Buffy then looked at the next baby Slayer in line, and commanded, "Next!"

One after the other, all of those who dared to hope to someday call themselves true Slayers now faced Buffy Summers.

When it was all finished, a slightly tired but very cheerful woman nodded at her students, and complimented them all, "Good work, guys. You're coming along. Okay, exercise's over. Anybody not having a job or wanting to help them is now on free time the rest of the day. Go on, beat it."