The soft light of the full moon illuminated the ancient cemetery, casting eerie glows from the trees and headstones that dotted the hilly landscape. Faith sat perched on a headstone, watching the fight before her in amusement.
"B, you keep dropping your right shoulder," she pointed out as Buffy took another hard blow from the vampire she'd been fighting for the last several minutes. "You keep giving him an opening."
"You think I don't know that?" Buffy asked, breathless as she swung around, sending the vampire flying with a precise roundhouse kick that landed square on his chest. "And I can do without the commentary here, Faith."
Faith smirked, watching Buffy as she stormed over to where the vampire had landed a few feet away. She lit a cigarette, her third of the night, and exhaled loudly, her eyes never leaving the fight before her. Buffy had it under control, she knew she did, and if they hadn't been playing the game of "it's mine", she would've stepped in to help Buffy dust the vampire.
In the fourteen months since the fall of Sunnydale, they had all come a long way. They established a home in northern Scotland, in a castle not far from the coast overlooking the North Sea. It provided them with the privacy and the space to train the hundreds of young Slayers that came to them to take full advantage of their Calling. In those fourteen months, Faith had become one of them, a key part of their tight inner circle. She and Buffy had established a common ground between them and had become close friends, something they both knew should have happened years ago. They still came head to head on certain issues, but most of their "issues" were rather pointless and petty.
Since they had founded the Slayer Organization, Giles had taken it upon himself to start up the new Council. It provided them with the funding they needed to keep things running, to keep themselves and the hundreds of Slayers that lived with them clothed and fed. Thanks to Andrew they were technologically advanced, and with Xander as the Head of Operations and Andrew as his right hand man, things were run smoothly and efficiently-for the most part.
Buffy and Faith both acted as the Head Slayer, splitting their responsibilities in half. This was where many of their disagreements to a head, but Kennedy always stepped in, acting as a moderator when the two got into how things were to be done around HQ. With Kennedy and Satsu their second and third best Slayers, they helped with the daily training of the younger girls and kept an eye on the fully trained Slayers as they finished the last of their studies out on the field before being sent off to one of two dozen Organizations around the world.
Sunnydale had been their last major apocalypse, but none of them doubted the fact that at any given moment, another could pop up. No long-term plans or commitments were made with any of the Scoobies. They'd all lived through their fair share of apocalypse and although Kennedy had only lived through one-the fight against the First-and Satsu hadn't been through any, they waited expectantly for the next big bad to come storming into their seemingly quiet lifestyle. They prepared the younger Slayers for any and all types of battle. Some of the younger girls had at first felt invincible, that was until they walked into a situation that not all of them always walked out of.
In fourteen months they'd all lived, learned, and grown together. Buffy, Xander, and Willow's friendship, having been slightly deterred during the fight against the First, was re-established and they were closer than they'd ever been before. Faith and Kennedy became fast friends much to most of the other's surprise. When Kennedy wasn't off with Willow, she was with Faith. Dawn on the other hand had finished high school and had gone on to train as a Watcher under Giles' watchful eye and guidance.
They trained up to twenty girls at a time, in six-month intervals. The newest batch had just joined them seven weeks ago and they had caught on rather quickly, not having been as young as the ones that had been there before them.
Faith laughed as Buffy took a rather nasty fall, becoming unlucky once again as the vampire caught her off guard. "I told ya, B," Faith said between bouts of laughter. "You keep dropping your right shoulder, opening yourself right up."
Buffy groaned as she picked herself up from the ground and charged at the vampire, slipping her stake out of the inner pocket of her jacket and quickly dusted him. "Happy now?"
"Nah," Faith smirked as she hopped off the headstone. "It's pretty entertaining watching you get your ass kicked."
"Shut up," Buffy snapped, but she couldn't stop the smile that slipped out as they walked side by side through the cemetery. Buffy bumped her shoulder against Faith's and they both shared a look. "And I didn't get my ass kicked."
"Sure looked like it to me."
Buffy rolled her eyes and they continued walking through the cemetery, meeting up with Kennedy and Satsu where they were waiting for them at the main gates. Thursday nights were the only night the younger Slayers had off. Buffy, Faith, Kennedy, and Satsu went out on patrol together and it was no coincidence that Thursday nights was one of the slowest nights of the week. It had been that way since they arrived in Scotland, but none of them dwelled on the fact for very long.
"How'd it go?" Kennedy asked as the four of them slipped past the iron gates permanently rusted, open just enough for them to slip through one by one.
"Buffy got her ass kicked," Faith chuckled and she saw the punch to her shoulder coming long before it landed, but it wasn't hard as it was only playful in nature. "Jesus, B, I was only kidding!"
"Right," Buffy said with a roll of her eyes and she walked ahead of them, leading the three of them down the dirt path that led through the forest.
"Let me guess," Kennedy said quietly as she leaned in to Faith. "She kept dropping her right shoulder?"
"She never learns, does she?"
"Guys?" Buffy scoffed as she turned to face them. "I'm right here! At least wait until I'm not within earshot to talk about me."
"She's always within earshot even when she's not," Kennedy muttered under her breath and Faith laughed as she shoved her away from her, giving Buffy her most innocent look when she turned around again to glare at them. "You get any good slays in tonight?"
"One," she replied with a nod and a shrug and tossed her cigarette butt to the ground before lighting another. "Easy fight, dusted him in under two minutes."
"And what about the one that..." Kennedy trailed off, motioning towards Buffy who was now a good thirty feet ahead of them and barely visible in the dark forest.
"Ten, fifteen minutes tops," Faith replied and they both laughed. "Sometimes I swear she just prolongs the fight 'cause she just knows it's gonna be her one good slay of the night, especially on nights like this one where it's so slow ya wanna gouge your eyes out just for some form of relief from boredom."
"Just an example."
"We got company. Incoming behind us and fast," Satsu said from behind them, stopping even Buffy in her tracks.
Buffy ran back, all four of them at the ready as seven large vampires quickly approached. The vampires came to a stop five feet in front of them. Time felt that it was standing still; even the slight late summer breeze had stopped as the vampires and the Slayers faced off. Faith and Buffy stood side by side, Kennedy flanking Faith's left while Satsu flanked Buffy's right.
"You know what this reminds me of?" Kennedy asked quietly. "That game you played in grade school, Red Rover."
Faith chuckled and stopped when Buffy jabbed her hard in the ribs. She knew now wasn't the time for jokes. This was why Buffy didn't want her and Kennedy to patrol alone together. They spent more time joking around than focusing on the job at hand. Faith flashed Buffy a smile before she turned her attention back to the vampires standing in front of them, unmoving.
"What's their deal?" Faith asked nobody in particular as she eyed the vampire in the middle.
"They're waiting," Kennedy replied and she reached for her stake tucked in the back of her jeans. "They're waiting on us to make the first move."
But before any of them could take a step forward, dozens of arrows came flying through the air from behind the vampires; each of them turning to dust the instant one lucky arrow pierced their hearts. Faith let out a soft laugh as she spotted a group of the younger Slayers just up the hill a little ways off.
"Knew this batch had balls on 'em," Faith laughed as she and Kennedy high-fived each other. Buffy scoffed as she placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. "What, B?"
"Nothing. I just thought..."
"You wanted to fight, huh?"
"Yes. Whose brilliant idea was it to train them with the crossbows three weeks before the schedule? Yours," Buffy said coldly and she rolled her eyes. "Great, Faith."
"What? You're actually complaining we didn't have to fight those assholes, B?"
"No, I'm not complaining. Just a little disappointed."
"Disappointed that a non-fat yogurt ain't gonna sate those cravings ya got?" Faith winked as she ran a little to get away from Buffy before the punch to her shoulder came. "Just sayin' how it is, B! And you should know by now there's plenty of other ways to get rid of that..." she trailed off and paused for a moment as Buffy glared at her. "Frustration," she finished with a laugh and took off running as Buffy came after her.
This was just how it was between them now. There was no more malice, no more of their past haunting them and holding them back. Even in tense moments, they managed to find something to laugh about. Faith knew she brought a side of Buffy out that had never been there before, a side that loosened her up and made her see that she could have fun every once in awhile even if the situation didn't call for it. Faith knew Buffy would try to tackle her and she moved quickly as Buffy launched herself at her and spun around quickly to catch the sight of Buffy falling face first into a puddle of mud.
"You are so dead," Buffy grumbled as she got to her feet and wiped the mud from her face.
Faith, Kennedy, and Satsu all laughed as Buffy tripped over a root on the ground and fell again, narrowly missing another puddle of mud. Faith walked over to her, held her hand out, and wasn't surprised at all when Buffy pulled her down hard.
Their laughter echoed through the forest and in to the night. Life was good. Life was easy. Maybe a little too easy, but none of them seemed to be complaining. Much.