A/n: I once again thank Barnabas.C for all the help with this story.
Disclaimer: You'll find the extent of my ownership of Buffy (and Vampire:the masquerade) in the dictionary under the word "None."
Gently, Buffy pushed open the reinforced steel door and peeked inside, smelling and listening to see if anything was around. As far as she could detect, nobody had been inside the place for at least twenty-four hours. Besides, Satsu was standing behind her and that particular smell did distract.
Weapons raised just in case, they filed into the building, but relaxed when they had confirmed that it was, without any doubt, empty.
The remodeled warehouse was impressively spacious, about half the size of a soccer field. There were windows by the ceiling that were covered by what look like moveable steel plates (Spike, who walked in a few seconds later, would no doubt be very thankful of that fact when the sun rose). The door was placed roughly at the middle of the building. To the left, there was a wall, half of which was full of swords, axes and maces of every variety. The rest was covered by large sturdy dart boards for throwing practice. On the other side of the room on an elevation to two floors, separated only by an iron railing and connected by a spiral staircase, there were enough beds to accommodate two dozen people.
Buffy immediately went over to a chest by the wall holding all the weapons, unlocking it with a key from her pocket. Inside lay the Scythe, the mesh of the indefinable red metal and steel glinting in the fluorescent light from above. They'd been forced to send it in advance to avoid those pesky metal detectors at the airport. The blonde slayer took it, closing her eyes as the feeling of the weapon's power surged up her arms, making the skin tingle.
Speaking of tingling skin, a soft warm hand was placed on her shoulder and Buffy knew without looking up who it was.
"Can I hold it?"
Buffy held the Scythe out by the wooden part at the end, offering it to her most promising lieutenant, who took it with a look of reverence on her face.
"Wow," she murmured, no doubt experiencing the feeling of 'rightness' the Scythe brought when held.
"Best high ever, I'll tell you. Better than being drunk, at least."
"Never have been," Satsu admitted.
"When we're done here, we'll change that," Buffy promised, taking the Scythe and putting it back in the chest.
"I've got something for you." The blonde slayer reached inside the chest again and pulled out a slender curved sword still in in scabbard and held it out to Satsu. "For you," she explained, blushing softly.
Eyes wide, the younger slayer reached out and took the sword in her hands. Almost tenderly, Satsu unsheathed the blade and held it out to inspect it. "It's beautiful," she murmured.
"It's um- a late birthday present. I know you ruined the other sword fighting Twilight and…"
The other girl had spotted the Japanese signs written on the blade an inch above the hilt. It had been a spur of the moment kind of thing, adding them, inspired by watching The "Last Samurai" DVD one time too many.
"I belong in the hands of a champion," Satsu read aloud, tracing the signs as she did.
"Willow enchanted it, too, so it shouldn't be as breakable."
Smiling, Satsu put the sword in it's sheath, took a step towards Buffy, then hesitated for a moment before she leaned in and kissed Buffy.
Behind them, slayers were commenting and giggling, some cheering and applauding, which eventually broke the moment.
"Alright," said Buffy loudly. "Gather around."
When the twelve other slayers along with Spike and Illyria were assembled in a loose ring, Buffy cleared her throat. "Fifteen of us. That makes five teams of three. Who here has been in New York before? Show of hands, please."
There were five girls who had been to the city before. Spike, who she already knew had history there, went with Illyria and one of the greener slayers named Megan. Buffy had been here too, although that was nearly a decade ago now.
Buffy quickly divided up the twelve remaining slayers. She headed one of the four groups herself, and made Satsu the leader of another, thinking she deserved the opportunity.
"Genina is likely to hang out near playgrounds and graveyards. Apparently she prefers sleeping in crypts. If you find her, stay out of sight and contact until there are more people around. If you find any nest that outnumbers you, you call for back-up. I don't want anybody being stupid and dead at the end of this thing. Questions?"
There were none.
"We meet up here at six in the morning. Nobody's sleeping until nine. I want everybody on the top of their game tomorrow 'cause we'll be pulling an all-nighter."
When Buffy returned from patrol three hours after dawn, she was completely exhausted. All-together, they had slain almost two dozen vampires and several demons. There had been little news on Genina, however. The few vampires and demons who had talked mentioned places they had already checked, but most preferred death.
She sat down on a chair by the wall, waiting for Satsu's group to return. They had reported problems earlier in the night, though there had been no details on what, only that she needed to talk to them. It was an hour until they were due to go to bed, either way.
When the last group of slayers entered the room, Buffy jerked her head up, having been dozing off. "What's up? Heard you had trouble."
"I did," Satsu confirmed stiffly, stepping to the side to let the two other slayers file in.
One had a large purple bruise on her chin.
"What got you, Jess?" Buffy asked, eying the mark. Must've hurt.
"She did," the dark-haired slayer replied angrily, glaring daggers at Satsu.
"She got you?"
Buffy waved for Satsu to follow her outside and told the other two to stay put.
"Explain," she told the younger girl briskly, a bit too much so, once they had moved twenty yards away from the warehouse. At the hurt look in her fellow slayer's eyes, she quickly decided to clarify her intentions. "I'm listening to your story first. I'm not gonna have you sent off to pasture out in the countryside or something. Although, our base is in the countryside, strictly speaking… Never mind, go on."
"We were downtown checking out a few of the pubs, you know, just checking for vampires. The place was kinda big, so we split up. I go to the bathroom for two minutes and then I find Jess with some retards in a corner, snorting coke and- I'm sorry, I lost it."
Buffy felt that she should tell the younger slayer off for the punching, but considering all the times she and Faith fought, even when they were on the same side, she couldn't bring herself to do it. "You shouldn't have to resort to using violence in those situations," she said instead, putting a hand of Satsu's shoulder. "I understand, though." She sighed. This wasn't the first time this had happened, of course. Their army did consist of a bunch of teen-age girls, after all. An example had to be set, though.
"Where's your stuff?" she asked Jess as soon as she had returned inside. There was no point in tackling this privately. Might as well let everyone see what happened in situations such as these.
"Yes, your stuff. I want you to pack it. You're taking the next flight back to Scotland."
"I'm what? Come on, it was just-"
"It's not that you did drugs. I'm not your parent, it's not my business what you do with your body when you're not on the job. When you are on the job, you have others who expect you to have their back. You didn't."
"I'm sorry, I didn't think it'd such a big deal… I didn't think."
"No, you didn't think," Buffy told her calmly. "Next time, I'm sure you will. Call Andrew and ask him to arrange for a flight when you've had some sleep."
Looking firmly at the ground, Jess nodded.
They went to bed an hour later and Buffy lay there for a while, eyes closed, but unable to drift off. There was weight on her mattress and Buffy cracked an eye open, turning to see who, though her other senses already knew.
"No, Satsu," she whispered, both annoyed and amused at the same time. Even if she hadn't been too tired, it would have been impossible unless they wanted to wake up half of the others.
For a few moments, she looked into Satsu's hauntingly beautiful eyes, then the girl rolled away and made to leave. Shit, she'd messed up again. She hadn't meant to dismiss her like that. They just couldn't do anything right now. That didn't mean she had to leave.
"Wait." Buffy reached out and grabbed the younger slayer's wrist. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. Stay. Please?"
Though the tears were still present, Satsu smiled at the request and quickly got under the covers to cuddle up close. Over the four weeks they had been involved, they had never once just cuddled. They usually did after sex and it was always nice, but this was a new first.
"Aishite masu," Satsu whispered tenderly, kissing the blonde softly on the lips.
Buffy knew what that phrase meant and probably would have even if it hadn't been one of the few she had looked up. Smiling, she turned around and held Satsu's body close to hers, their noses touching every now and then as they made themselves more comfortable. "You know, this doesn't suck," she murmured sleepily.
"Mmm-hmm…" Satsu was already half gone, and they did not speak any further until sleep claimed them a few minutes later.
Many hours later, a few yards away, the blonde ensouled vampire got up from his bed. The slayers were all in bed, but he could hear something moving around, so he got up to see what.
Leaning over the ledge that separated the elevated area with the beds from the rest of the warehouse, he saw it was only Illyria, doing something that appeared to be a strange mix between martial arts and ballet. He watched her for a little while, then turned to see if Buffy was awake.
She clearly was not, all snuggled up with that new bird of hers. He didn't know if it made him a bad man because he was jealous, but he definitely was. But ultimately, he loved the slayer and wanted her to be happy.
Looking at her serene sleeping features, he knew for a fact that she was and that was good enough for him. Maybe one day he'd get another shot. Maybe he wouldn't.
Deciding he needed to hit something, he went back to his bed and got his duster, before jumping down off the ledge to do some sparring with Blue. It was only three yards to the ground below. There were stairs, of course, but it didn't look nearly as bad-ass. He was still a vampire and had appearances to consider, after all.
20:14, New York, apartment building
Buffy slipped the lock pick into the lock and went to work, while Satsu watched the hallway to ensure their little break-in remained private. There was a click, followed by an excited squeal from the older slayer. The two of them entered the apartment, closed the door and hit the lights.
It was smallish, with a little area for a kitchen immediately to the left. Right in front of them, up against the wall, there was a bed. At the back of the room, to the left, there was a bathroom. The contours of a body were drawn at the centre of the room on the carpet, which was stained in blood. Lots of it, spread out all over the place.
"The police report says he was pinned to the floor by thin steel sticks through the hands and the stomach. None of them damaged any vital organs or important blood vessels, so he probably lay there for a while- yuck." Grimacing, Buffy handed Satsu the folder containing the police reports.
"Picture of it and then one of the wall."
They both stepped closer to area above the bed where words were written in dried blood.
Why do I see her? The never ending night…
Why do I see her, wearing nothing but the dark?
I know where you live
I can see it through your darkness
And when you sleep I hear a heart that beats you.
"That's nice," Buffy remarked.
"What does it mean?"
"Beats me." She shrugged, giving the words a last glance.
"Nothing left to do here, then?"
"No, let's go."
They ducked under the yellow tape and resumed the hunt.
22:00, New York, a mile away from the warehouse
As far as dark and dank alleys went, this wasn't a particularly bad one. Minimal amounts of litter, no bums lying around and the stench of urine almost wasn't noticeable.
"This is Daphne, calling Blue Thunder, report in, over." Buffy hated the name she'd been given, but it was a member of the Scooby gang with whom she shared an uncanny resemblance, so the others had ganged up on her.
"I will report when I have reason to," Illyria replied. "Contact me no further."
"Daphne, calling Red Riding Hood, report in, over."
"We've dusted one vampire, but that's all, over," Vi answered. Being based in New York these days, she had been a natural choice to bring along.
"Hey, Daphne. How's Scooby doing, over?" It was Liza, a cheeky girl from Holland who had shown great competence with the crossbow back in Scotland.
"Why the hell am I Scooby, over?" Satsu asked irritably as the alley split up in two directions and she and Buffy took a right.
"Cause you're licking Daphne on a regular basis." Liza, who was giggling hard took another fifteen seconds to add the "Over" to the end of the sentence.
All across New York, slayers doubled over with laughter.
"Don't you dare laugh or you're not getting any tonight," Satsu threatened Buffy, who pouted in response.
"Well, too many girls around anyways. I don't fancy a threesome, though I imagine Spike might."
"If she ever dumps Kennedy, you're free to ask Willow," Satsu remarked with a grin.
Buffy shuddered. "Not gonna happen. I'm only gay for you."
Satsu sighed, but smiled.
"You know you have it bad when stuff like that actually sounds cute…"
They left the alley and peeked through the traffic and the people to the other side of the road and beyond where there was a park containing a small playground surrounded by a chain-link fence. Out of the five lamps around it, only one had an intact bulb, but in the dim light, a small dark girl could be seen on the swings.
"This is Daphne, calling all units. We've located our target," she reported, looked up at the nearest street sign, and gave their location. "Over." Buffy shut the walkie-talkie down and put it in her pocket.
"Should we wait for the others?" the younger slayer whispered, sinking back against the wall to stay hidden in the shadows.
"Yeah, they're on their way."
They waited for ten minutes, but when they saw a stranger nearing the sandbox, they felt it would be best to go there, even if the man did not go near the suspected vampire. Trying hard to appear casual, the crossed the street and walked over the sand-box to the swings, where the little girl still sat stock-still.
"Hi there," Buffy said softly, stopping two yards short of the rusty swings.
"Where's mommy?" The girl asked, sounding close to tears. God damn that was a good act, the slayer thought.
Genina had not changed a bit since the picture, aside from her clothes. She now wore a light-blue dress and a hat of the same color as well as a brown jacket.
Buffy reached inside her pocket as she took a step closer, uncorking a bottle of holy water. They had to be sure. Behind her, Satsu had her hand in the opened sports bag, no doubt grasping the sword kept hidden there.
"I don't know. How long have you been waiting for her?"
"An hour- maybe-"
Buffy brought the holy water out from under her black leather jacket and sent some of it flying with a flick of her wrist. Upon contact with the little girl's skin, it started to sizzle and her face changed to the demonic visage hidden beneath.
"Genina," Buffy said, dropping the bottle, getting the Scythe out of it's hiding place in the sports bag she carried with her.
The little girl jumped off the swing gracefully, cocked her head to the side and pouted. "Slayer?"
"Mm-hmm. Pleasure to be killing you today."
Buffy swung her weapon at Genina's head, but the little vampire was out of the way much too fast and the Scythe went straight through the three inch thick wooden pole keeping the swings up as though it were butter.
"Shiny," Genina remarked, eyeing the scythe with admiration rather than fear.
Buffy cast Satsu a look to tell her to flank the vampire, but noticed she was already on it. "Thank you very much," she responded with a sardonic little bow.
"I'm curious, though," the little girl began. "Did you really think it would be this easy?"
An, "Oh shit," from Satsu at her right made her look around. They were surrounded by a ring of vampires who were closing in.
The Japanese slayer quickly flitted to her comrades side, moving so that they stood back to back.
"If you get a gap, take the Scythe and run," Buffy said quietly.
"Screw that," Satsu shot back. "At least I can't complain about dying in bad company."
"Your confidence is not exactly inspiring."
"Too bloody bad."
The vampires were closer now, only a few yards away from the chain-link fence. Genina was up on the swing again, giggling.
Buffy knew what they had to do and she knew that Satsu was already thinking in the same pattern. They were surrounded, so they had to force their way through a weak spot of the encirclement. But the odds weren't exactly good.
"Half-breeds! Kneel before me or die!" The god-king's booming voice shattered the silence and some of the vampires turn to see who was stupid enough to command them to do anything. There were over thirty of them, after all.
It was the distraction the slayers had sorely needed and they charged towards their allies. Limbs flew and left their clothes and skin stained in blood as they cut a swath through the line.
Once on the other side, they realized there were only four other slayers there along with Spike and Illyria. Buffy picked up her walkie talkie and put it on.
"Hurrying up just a bit won't hurt, over." She disabled and pocketed it again.
The vampires had formed into a line now with Genina at it's center. "Willie!" she exclaimed suddenly, taking a few steps forward. Some of her followers made to follow, but she waved them back.
"Been a while, kiddo," said the blonde vampire.
"It has." She raised her eyebrows in surprise. "You have a soul now, like Angelus. I can smell it on you. How is Dru?" She stopped, a few yards away, pacing diagonally roughly at an equal distance from both lines.
"Still has her god damned marbles misplaced."
"Dust, as a matter of fact," Satsu corrected. They had received news on that an hour after leaving the safe house. The little girl stifled a sob, which for a moment foolishly made Buffy want to go over and hold her in her arms.
"Not only do you fight for the slayers, but you love one of them- her." Genina pointed her tiny hand and outstretched finger at Buffy. "William the Bloody, how the mighty have fallen. You know, of course, that she is sleeping with the other one." She scrunched up her nose in disapproval, much as a kid might, at the notion. Sighing dramatically, the little girl turned to the her soldiers. "Try to refrain from killing Willie. The rest, I don't care about."
As one, the vampires charged.
A crossbow bolt tore through the air with deadly accuracy and struck a vampire at Genina's side through the heart.
With a war cry, six more slayers entered the fray from the flank and with a clang of metal against flesh, the battle began.
Illyria took the lead, rushing straight at Genina, who sidestepped and thought to use the old one's momentum against her. She was sent flying into the dirt for underestimating her foe.
"You're mean," she noted with a pout. "You're no slayer, nor a vampire for that matter. Interesting." She licked her lips and circled her foe, aware but unconcerned about the mayhem occurring around her.
A slayer approached from behind with a stake aloft, but was sent flying five yards downhill into the chain link fence by fist to the chest that would dent steel plate.
"Were it not for the nature of your kind's demise, I would put your head on a pole and bring it to the slayer's castle as a trophy."
A slayer came flying and landed at Illyria's feet.
"Actually, I think the airport might object to that," the girl pointed out before returning to the battle. Genina jumped up in the air, aiming three kicks at the old one's face, which were all deflected.
"She's like fuckin' Yoda," a slayer a few yards away remarked, being punished for her lack of attentiveness by a punch to the gut. Buffy, who was on her way past decapitated the vampire.
"Pay attention, Liza!" she shouted as she body-slammed two vampires off Satsu, staking the third.
"Were it not for Buffy's request to kill you, you would make an adequate pet," Illyria said, observing the little girl with interest.
Genina let two knives fall out of the sleeves of her jacket and spun around as she tossed them at the God-King of the Primordium. Far quicker than any human - or slayer, for that matter - could have, Illyria slapped the objects out of their trajectory, one ticking a slayer's hip due to their altered course. The indignant "Hey!" that followed made Genina giggle.
The dozen remaining vampires were scattering and fleeing.
"Vi," Buffy called out, ramming the stake part of the Scythe into the heart of a vampire held down by her boot crushing it's windpipe. "Chase them down - you're in charge. Satsu, let's give Blue Thunder a hand."
Genina still looked rather unconcerned as the two slayers and Illyria formed a loose circle around her.
"Didn't your mommies teach you it was bad to gang up on people?" she asked innocently.
"You're not people," said Buffy. "Besides, you ganged up on us first."
"What can I say? My mom sucked."
In a move so sudden her features became blurry for a second, Genina lashed out a roundhouse kick in Satsu's direction. The slayer managed to dodge it, but lost her balance and fell backwards doing so. Seeing an opening as Buffy took a step forward and raised the Scythe to strike, Genina turned on her instead, jumping at the blonde slayer's midriff.
They fell backwards together, Buffy gripping the little vampire around the throat and lifting her into the air. The vampire tried to go for the slayer's wrists, but found herself held still by Illyria who pinned her arms behind her back.
They lowered the struggling girl to the ground and held her there as Satsu came to them and put her sword on the tiny shoulder, looking to Buffy for orders.
After a nod, she struck, disintegrating the little vampire into dust.
The results of their skirmish were not pleasant to deal with afterwards. On the little hill, three slayers lay badly wounded, being tended to by two others. Vi had successfully hunted down the few that had escaped, but been arrested by the New York police for possessing a scary arsenal of weapons. And Spike…
Spike was cut up so bad that Buffy would surprised if there was a single drop of blood left in his body.
Of course, vampires were indestructible unless you severed the head, staked them or burned them, but even so, as she stood beside his bed, Buffy had to admit she was surprised that he could still be alive.
"Brave idiot," she murmured, kissing the wounded vampire's forehead. The sunrise wasn't very far off on the horizon now. It had taken a long time to get everyone back to headquarters. They'd had to send one of the girls to the hospital to get proper care.
"Couldn't stand to see the look on your face if you lost another," he whispered slowly, every word clearly painful. It was a large improvement - when they had brought him in he'd been too hurt to even moan about it.
Buffy looked up from the vampire's ravaged body to Satsu's face. There was a cut along her cheek and, she knew, one along her back but compared to most of the slayers, that wasn't bad.
"He saved me," she told Buffy softly. "I would never have made it if it wasn't for- thank you."
"It's what-" he coughed painfully. "It's what I do, love."
If it hadn't been for the fact that most his ribs were broken, Buffy definitely would have hugged him. "You'll need blood to heal properly and- as thanks… I know you've always wanted this."
She winked, though he did not see it. He had to fight to keep his eyes open even a little bit. He did hear the sound of two knives being unsheathed, though and he could both hear and feel the girls step closer. Then, he felt the warm hands on his cheek, wrists positioned at his mouth, followed by the sound of sharp steel cutting flesh.
The taste was indescribable, Spike thought. It had been over thirty years since the last time he had killed a slayer, a hundred since he had fed from one, but drinking from two at the same time, the different tastes mixing, was pure bliss.
It stopped after a while, but he could tell that the slayers had given him a lot, more so than was strictly healthy in point of fact, and he felt how it helped his tissue regenerate.
"Is it wrong if I think that was really hot?" Spike asked, a grin tugging at his lips.
"I think you should lie still and shut up," Buffy said, but not without a smile.
The vampire complied and the two slayers moved over to the bed they had shared before and sat down on the side of it as they tended to their injuries.
"Willow's coming over tomorrow morning to deal with Vi," the blonde slayer said quietly. "We'll leave with her later tomorrow night."
"Can't say the States have left such a great first impressions," the other replied.
"They'll grow on you."
"I thought you said we shouldn't mention all the obesity anymore."
Eyebrows raised, Buffy smacked Satsu on the back of the head.