Disclaimer : Everyone knows who own Buffy and co ! Let's say it, it's not me!

This story is the 13th episode in a series called 'Rocky path' that begins around one year after 'Chosen'

( I strongly recommend to read the 12 first episodes to understand that one)

You can check the series out on my website. (see the url in my profile)

I know it's been (again) a very long while since the last episode was published, but I'm back, hopefully on the right tracks to provide the final episodes of the season faster than I realeased the last three ones...

I would like to thank very much everyone who left feedback about the last episode and everyone who'll be there to read that one!

Enjoy and tell me what you think!


Monday

Faith and Tara were quietly following a narrow dirty path, Tara tightened in her thick coat, Faith only wearing a light leather jacket. One was watching them, hidden a few feet behind in the shadows of the trees lining up the path, probably thinking they were only taking a nice digestive walk at nightfall. Who could blame him about this? Obviously in a very good mood, both girls were casually laughing and joking around out loud, apparently unaware of their stalker's presence.

"You should have seen his face!" Faith was happily exclaiming, gesturing around her, supposedly miming something whose meaning remained unclear to anyone but her.

"I've seen his face, Faith" Tara replied with indulgence in a softer tone but nevertheless loud enough to be heard. "I was there."

The watcher sneaked discreetly behind the trees behind them, taking great care to not be seen nor heard.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah" Faith went on in the same tone. "Of course you were there! But you haven't seen him as well as I have!"

Tara rolled her eyes but gave an amused chuckle.

"If you want, Faith. You've probably seen him better than I have" she admitted in a fake tone of resignation.

Their stalker then carefully quickened his pace in order to catch up with them, still taking care to remain unseen.

Faith thrust out her chest with satisfaction, and then she leaned to Tara's ear and quickly whispered in a very low voice:

"One right in front of me slightly on my left and one behind us on the right"

Tara imperceptibly nodded.

"Okay, I've seen them too," she replied in the same way.

"Ready?" Faith breathed.

"Ready."

In a very well coordinated movement, both girls turned around to stand back to back. While Faith seized the vampire who was getting ready to jump at her throat and raised her stake above his head, Tara for her part, conjured a football-sized fireball between her hands and threw it at her attacker's face. Both vampires immediately crumpled to dust without even having time to show any sign of surprise. The moment after, the two friends were facing each other again and Faith raised her hand to celebrate. Tara clapped it clumsily and gave a smile to the Slayer:

"Good shot"!

"Was easy for me," Faith replied, shrugging. "But nice shot from you" she added.

And with this, they resumed their casual walk on the muddy path.

Tuesday

Tara was leaning against the pillar of a high crypt, trying to look as casual as possible. It was pitch-dark and only a few stars and the moon half-covered with big clouds were lightening the sky. At the way the blonde was regularly casting glances around her, it was obvious she was not entirely at ease.

"Hey, Blondie, lost your way?" suddenly exclaimed a mocking voice.

Tara jumped slightly and turned her head round to find herself nearly face to face with a tall vampire who had just exited the crypt through a side door. Tara considered how tall he was and opened her mouth as to say something but finally remained silent. He then seized abruptly her wrist and tried to drag her along behind him.

"I'll walk you home! " He shouted in the same tone.

A slender figure then fell heavily on his back, and the vampire found himself lying on the ground on his stomach and released Tara in the process. Before he had time to understand what had happened to him, Faith, who had just jumped from the crypt's roof, drove a long stake in his back at the heart's place, and he disappeared into dust, dirtying the Slayer already not too clean pair of jeans.

"No, thank you, I'm waiting for someone," Tara replied then, addressing the pile of dust.

Faith stood and giggled.

"Joking around now?"

"Isn't it what you do, you Slayers?"

"That one was a little long to come. You didn't look exactly ready to make jokes before I staked him"

"It's just I'm not used to this."

"Don't worry, you won't be used as a bait like that anymore. I don't like it either. But that one wasn't getting out since I missed him the other day. I haven't come up with anything else. But you weren't at risk you know. Was just there"

"Not used to making jokes I meant" Tara clarified as they were getting away, Faith brushing desperately her jeans in order to make them clearer.

"Oh, okay."

Wednesday

Faith was running as fast as she could, weaving in and out high trees, often changing direction to try to shake her pursuers off. She regularly cast glances behind her back to check if the group of vampires running after her was still on her heels or not. Despite the Slayer's speed and agility, they were not slowing down nor showing any sign of giving in.

Faith's run lead her to a small clearing almost perfectly round and she looked up to see the dark sky above her head. As she did so, she missed a root emerging from the ground and heavily tripped over it. She sat up quickly and turned round to see her pursuers only a few feet away from her, their features contorted with the wild joy to finally get a hold on her.

Faith sat back as quickly as possible, pushing on her hands, as the vampires swept down on her with delight. But as they were finally only at arm reach, a wall of flames suddenly appeared between the Slayer and the vampires, which made them yelling in terror. Faith put an arm across her face to protect herself from the heat and stood up. She stepped back to have a better view: the vampires were surrounded by a circle of fire. Tara then caught up with Faith, hurrying from the woods behind the brunette.

"Are you okay?" she anxiously asked while looking the Slayer over from head to toes. "You gave me such a fright."

"I'm fine, just got the end of my shoes a little burned" Faith replied with a smile. "Perfect timing Tar. And great idea by the way"

"I'm trying"

The girls gave one last look at the inferno and took back the path Faith had followed to get there. Behind them, the remaining vampires were trying as best as possible to huddle together at the center of the circle formed by the flames while these were getting inexorably closer.

"You sure it's ok to let this mess here?" Faith asked.

"Absolutely" Tara answered. "In a minute, there won't be any trace of fire left, or any vampire for that matter"

"Perfect then. I feel like eating a giant pizza, what about you?"

Thursday

Punching on her right, elbowing on her left, striking with her knee in front of her, headbutting behind, staking on her right. Dodging. Forward roll. Faith was having a great time, fighting with a half-smile on her face, a lively look in her eyes, focused on her objectives. She seemed to twirl around between the vampires who disappeared one after the other thanks to her precise staking skills.

It did not matter that they were way more than her. Everything was working against them and everything for her: if she unfortunately let her stake drop to the floor or if they managed to make her drop it, it reappeared in her hand immediately. If one of them managed to make the most of their number, or of a second of inattention from the Slayer, to slip behind her and try to bite her, he just could not, as an invisible barrier was protecting the brunette.

Under these conditions, the Slayer's superiority became quickly obvious and she decimated the demons without giving them any chance.

When she was sure she was done, she rubbed her hands together to brush them off the dust, then walked toward Tara who was waiting for her at a distance, perched on a tombstone a little away from the fight.

"Fantastic your little tricks Tar!" the Slayer exclaimed, addressing her friend.

She considered the tired features of the blonde and added:

"But exhausting right?"

"It is," Tara acknowledged. "I think it's better to keep that in case of an emergency and not for a whole night"

"It's fine with me," Faith approved. "It ain't any fun anyway"

Tara rolled her eyes before leaping off her perch and following close behind the Slayer.

"And now?" the blonde asked.

"There're two or three shabby bars a few street away from here. The kind of place vampires love."

"So do we, then"

Friday

"You sure it's a good idea? " Tara asked anxiously while scanning her surroundings.

She and Faith were leaning against an old rusty irony guardrail along a steep hiking path and they were watching below as a group of various demons were climbing toward them.

"You said you could do it," replied Faith. "You can or not?"

"I can do it," Tara answered hesitantly, considering the crossbow in her hands.

"It'll be fine then," said Faith as she shouldered her own weapon. "They're within range," she announced. "Let's go. Aim at the head or the heart as a priority"

"You sure they've got hearts?" Tara grumbled.

Faith shrugged and shot her first bolt which perfectly hit the bull's eye, lodging itself in the unique eye of the demon who was leading the group.

"If they don't, aim for the head the second time," Faith replied while firing another time. "And you should shoot now; it's not time for chatting!"

Tara did not need to be told twice and armed her crossbow with a bolt in her turn. The bolt went off whereas the blonde did not even pull the trigger and mowed one of the demons down in the center of his forehead.

"Well done!" Faith exclaimed happily as she armed her weapon again.

Meanwhile, bolts from Tara's crossbow were following on at a dizzying rate and every one of them was hitting the bull's eye, though sometimes following strange curves before reaching their targets.

"I'm shooting down more of them than you are Faith!" Tara exclaimed when the group of demons was reduced only to a few individuals trying to run away from them.

"But I owe my shoots only to my own skills!" Faith replied as she came and stood in Tara's line of fire in order to be the one who would shoot down the last remaining demon.

The monster collapsed on the ground and Faith turned to Tara with a smirk on her face.

"And that's it," she announced and raised her hand to Tara.

The blonde clapped the Slayer's hand with her own and concluded:

"Another great success, partner!"

"Anyway, was stupid from my part to try to teach you to fire with a crossbow," Faith said as she swung her weapon on her shoulder.

"That couldn't be clearer" Tara approved, mimicking Faith's gesture.

The brunette grimaced while starting to gather the remaining bolts.

"I have to remind you that you wanted to learn"

"I did not know I could do it with magic at the time"

"Which means you were the one to be a fool!"

"You could have thought about that!"

"I'm not the one into magic!"

"But you're into how to kill demons!"

Their squabbling soon died away in the distance as they went down the hiking path, back to where they came from.

Saturday

"Tara! Tara! "Faith yelled, running around the cemetery, loud enough to wake up the dead or at least the closest neighbors.

"Tara, where are you?" she shouted herself hoarse again.

She turned and turned again on herself several times, scanning her surroundings in search of the blonde.

"Tar…"

The end of her friend's name died on her lips as the witch appeared at the corner of the cemetery, limping slightly, her hair tousled. Faith strode resolutely toward her.

"I'm here, I'm here," Tara said as she came, answering the brunette's calls. "Everything's o…"

"Where the hell were you?" Faith yelled without giving the blonde time to finish. "I told you to stay at the northeast corner, hidden between the statues!"

"Something unforeseen happens" Tara explained calmly. "The vampires split in two groups, one of them was about to take you from the rear, I wanted to…"

"Wanted to what? Wanted to get killed?" spat Faith with irritation.

"To help you" Tara pouted annoyingly.

"If you want to help me, you have to stick to the plan. We had a plan, remember?"

"But something unforeseen was about to happen, I thought…"

"You don't think; you follow the plan," Faith interrupted again sharply. "You have to stick to the plan, I need you to stick to the plan, do you understand that? How am I supposed to keep you alive if you don't stick to the plan?"

Tara crossed her arms over her chest and winced slightly while staring at her friend before sighing with annoyance.

"Okay, okay," she gave in. "I'll stick to the plan from now on. But then, don't come complaining if you die because of it" she grumbled.

"Well, I can't promise." Faith answered seriously.

This drew an amused smile out of the blonde and brightened the Slayer up. Tara then took her arm and walked to the road running alongside the cemetery.

"Let's go and help me to walk" she enjoined Faith to do. "I twisted my ankle AGAIN…"

Sunday

Tara was laying down on the bed of this day motel's room, deeply engrossed in a magic book while the television was playing another rerun of the famous TV show 'Friends'. The night was deep black outside and the blonde was only raising her eyes from her reading to cast glances at the wall-clock above the TV. When the door opened to reveal Faith, Tara jumped to her feet as she had waited for this moment to happen for quite some time already.

"Oh my God!" she exclaimed when she caught sight of the Slayer's bruised face and lower lip ripped opened in two. "You're hurt!"

She rushed to meet Faith and the brunette gestured vaguely to tell her it was nothing to be worried about.

"I'm fine," she confirmed.

But Tara forced her to sit and ran to grab the first aid kit before coming back to examine the Slayer's wounds.

"I'm telling you I'm fine," Faith protested, but she let her do so anyway.

"What have done this to you?" Tara asked while she gently cleaned Faith's blooded lip.

The brunette pushed slightly the blonde's hand to be able to answer.

"Just a vampire," she growled. "Took me by surprise at first. But I gave him his lesson afterwards."

"I should have come with you," Tara said. "I could have helped you if you needed it, I could have…"

Faith rolled her eyes and interrupted Tara's monologue.

"It's okay Tar. I didn't need help, it was just a vampire. How do you think I was doing before?"

"I knew it wasn't a good idea. My ankle, it's nothing. Something bad could have happened to you…"

Faith rolled her eyes again, but in the meantime, her face brightened with a fleeting smile.

"I'm telling you it's okay. I'm a Slayer, not a kid."

She freed her face from the witch's hand, took her cotton from her fingers and stood while finishing wiping the blood off her lips. Then she turned her back to Tara and went away toward the window with a smile on her face.