The Scoobies sat around the large round table in the Magic Box, each one idly flipping through a large book or magazine. Buffy emerged from the training room, her toned and tanned skin glistening with a light coat of sweat. "Still no Giles then?!" she said as she scanned the large shop for their friend. Willow shook her head, Giles had left the shop almost three hours ago claiming he was popping out to fetch something and wouldn't be long.
Buffy strode to the front door, pulling it open forcefully and staring out into the quiet street. Still no sign of her Watcher. Turning back to the group she sighed deeply. "Well where is he then?" she asked.
"I'm sure he's fine!" Tara replied slowly, forcing a smile.
"Yeah Buff, he's probably just stuck in traffic." Xander added, grinning at his friend.
Buffy smiled weakly and sat down heavily on the bench. Surveying the array of books on the table, she frowned. "What's with the researchy?" she asked, looking to Willow for an explanation. It had been horribly quiet on the demon and vampire front and she had encountered nothing that would warrant the amount of research that appeared to be being done.
"It's not research." Willow told her, "I just want to keep up to date on my demon knowing." Willow finished, dropping her head as the Slayer rolled her eyes.
The telephone began ringing and the Scoobies looked at it quizzically before Buffy volunteered to answer it. "Good afternoon, Magic Box, your one stop shop for all your occult needs." she answered cheerfully. Buffy frowned as the voice on the other end began speaking. "Oh!" she said in surprise, reaching out for a pad of paper and a pen. "Oh, ok. I will tell him." Buffy said, the surprise still clear in her voice and causing the other Scoobies to look up at her hopefully.
"Thank you." Buffy finished before returning the handset to its cradle.
Rubbing her head thoughtfully, she returned to the group, sitting heavily on the hard wooden stool.
"Buffy?" Willow asked, rising to her feet and crossing to her best friend. "Is everything ok?" she rested her hand gently on the Slayers shoulder.
Buffy nodded, "I need to talk to Giles first." she said, looking up at Willow with pleading eyes. Willow just nodded, she understood what Buffy had meant and although she wanted to know what had shaken the usually calm and composed Slayer so, she returned to her seat, figuring that they would all be told when they needed to be.
Suddenly the front door jangled open and Giles appeared in its doorway, his hands full of carrier bags. The poor man looking stressed and tired. "I hate that bloody mall!" he announced as he crossed to the group.
After storing the bags behind the counter, Giles returned to the table. "I have a surprise for you all." he told them before anyone had a chance to speak.
"A good surprise?" Xander asked cautiously. After living on the Hellmouth for so long, he was used to his surprises being of the kind that would prefer to kill you than buy you ice cream.
Giles smiled, "Yes Xander. A good surprise." he told him as he took a seat at the table. From his pocket, he pulled a large book of papers and the gang immediately recognised it as the kind that usually had tickets in from a travel agent. "I have a friend who had a large boat." he told the group, "And since it's been quiet on the supernatural front, I thought we could all do with a break." he told them.
The Scoobies grinned, it had been a while since any of them had had a holiday and in all their time together, they had never had a real holiday as a group.
"And so I have borrowed the boat and we are going sailing." he finished, his face spread into a huge grin.
The group contemplated the information slowly. "That's very kind Mr. Giles." Tara said, crossing the room to hug the older man thankfully.
"Yeah G-man," Xander spoke next, "It sounds cool." Since Anya had opted to spend the summer with Halfrek, he was at a loose end and glad for something new to do.
"It sounds new and exciting." Buffy agreed.
Giles grinned and breathed a sigh of relief. "It should be fun, there are so many new things to learn on a boat." he told them. "It will be hard work but you will all learn so many exciting new skills." he finished as the others groaned.
Willow was the first to catch on to what he meant. "So there's no crew, just us?" she asked, hoping that she would be wrong. The others looked from her then to Giles who was still grinning and now shaking his head slowly. "We are the crew." he told them all.
After much mock complaining and an hour of Giles explaining why it was going to be a good experience, the Scoobies relaxed into the idea. They may mock him and wind him up regularly, but this trip sounded like it could be a good time. As Willow, Tara and Xander chatted about the holiday and went over the documents that Giles had brought back with him, Buffy ushered Giles into the training room.
"When you were out," she began, "A guy called Robson called." Giles smiled, Brian Robson had been one of his closest friends while he was employed by the Watchers Council, and even though it had been many years since he had been relieved of his official Watchers duties, he still kept in regular contact with the man
"He said there is a new Slayer." Buffy said plainly.
Giles mouth hung open suddenly, "So Faith…." he gasped. Despite the other Slayers attitude and cross over to the dark side, Giles still had hope that she could have been helped.
"She's dead." Buffy said, she immediately rolled her eyes at the obviousness of her statement. "No one has seen her since this new Slayer arrived on the scene." she added. They knew that the Watchers Council had been keeping a close eye on the dark Slayer and had managed to do so surprisingly successfully. Giles hung his head, he felt as though he had somehow failed the younger Slayer.
They sat together in silence, mourning a mixture of failure and loss. Giles sat up suddenly, polishing his glasses on a handkerchief. "So the new Slayer?" he asked, "Where is she?" Buffy smiled weakly.
"The Council feel that it would be a good learning experience for her to come here with her new Watcher." she told him. "They will be here in a week."
Giles grinned, making Buffy frown at the unexpected expression. "Excellent." he said, rising to his feet and crossing back to the door that lead to the main body of the shop. "She'll be here to keep things in line while we are away." he told her before stepping into the main shop and leaving Buffy to contemplate the idea he had presented.
As he emerged into the shop, Willow, Tara and Xander were all singing and dancing around the store, "Hey, we're going Miami!" He chortled quietly; they had obviously been through the documentation and had learnt that his friend's boat was moored over in a port in Miami. The paperwork he had brought with him had the tickets for their flights in it. He had been lucky enough to find a deal where he could get tickets for all 5 of them without breaking the bank and with Dawn away with Janice and her family for the summer, it seemed a good time to go.
Buffy emerged from the training room when she heard the singing. "We're going to Miami?" she asked as she reached Giles' side.
"Yes, my friend lives out there so naturally his boat is there too." he told her.
"What about Faith?" Buffy whispered, she hated to be the one to give the Scoobies bad news when they were obviously so upbeat but they had a right to know. When Faith awakened from her coma and attacked them, they had managed to fight her off but she had left town without a trace. They were all aware that the Watchers Council were keeping an eye on her, but they couldn't trust them to control her. Secretly, each Scooby worried that she may return to Sunnydale one day to finish what she started.
Looking down at his young charge, Giles saw concern in Buffy's face. He knew that she felt she would have to tell them and nothing he could say would change her mind. Taking the lead, he approached the others. "I have something to tell you all." he announced, causing them to stop in their makeshift celebrations and turn in his direction. "It's about Faith."
Willow and Tara sat heavily, Willow instinctively grabbing onto Tara's hand for comfort. Of all the Scoobies, it was she who held the most nervousness towards the woman who had previously been considered a friend to them all.
"Is she here?" Willow blurted out, her nervousness hadn't been dulled over time and she still had very little control over it.
Giles shook his head, "No Willow, she's not here." he told the redhead sadly, "I'm afraid that Faith is no longer with us at all."
Tara bowed her head respectfully, she had met Faith only once before and although it wasn't an entirely pleasurable experience, she still felt sadness at the death of a fellow human being.
Xander looked up from his comic, "You mean she's dead?" he asked, finally catching on to what the older man had implied. Giles nodded and wiped his eyes with a handkerchief.
"How?" Willow asked after a long and uncomfortable silence. Giles looked to Buffy for the answer, she had told him the information but not the details. The Slayer shrugged, Robson hadn't told her how or where the dark Slayer had been when she met her death.
"We don't know!" Buffy told the group, making Xander jump. In all the excitement of the holiday plans and now this revelation, he had forgotten she was there at all.
The group fell silent, each ones mind filling with memories of Faith, some good but most bad. Under the table, Tara squeezed Willows hand. Xander seemed to be taking this the worst, at least on the outside. It had been his sleeping with Faith that had put the largest split between the Dark Slayer and Willow.
Back when Faith had first arrived, all the Scoobies had tried their best to make her feel at home. Faith had taken full advantage of this and although she never really opened up, she helped herself to their hospitality and then thrown it all back in their faces. At least that's how Willow saw it.
After two or three minutes of silence, Willow took to her feet. "I think I'd like to go home." she said quietly, looking to Tara for support.
"Yeah, me too." Xander added, thankful for once that Anya wouldn't be at home, waiting for him.
"Well yes, maybe we should all take some time on our own." Giles finished as Willow, Tara and Xander gathered up their belongings.
"We'll meet back here tomorrow, organise holiday plans?" Buffy offered, her voice revealing her upset at the loss of the other Slayer.
At the door, Tara paused; "O-ok Buffy, we'll see you tomorrow!" the blonde witch offered before being semi dragged by Willow into the afternoon sunshine.