Link Here:

C Box:

Author's Note: Dialogue has been taken from the original episode, with plot changes to allow for my canon alterations.

Bad Girls.

Character bonding, that's what the watcher had called it. Giles rolled his eyebrows at the term, but granted permission for joint patrolling all the same. After a few weeks of one slayer at rest while the other slayed, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce in his infinite wisdom, decided that it might be wise for both slayers to patrol together occasionally, in order to learn how to fight as a team; to bond, and to improve upon any weaknesses the other might have.

Neither Buffy or Faith objected, not wanting to make an issue out of the fact that they still had yet to bond, but there was reluctance within both of them as they made their way out of the library and high school campus to the first graveyard for the night.

Fortunately for the slayers, a group of vampires intervened before the awkwardness between them could become any more apparent than it already appeared to be. Clothed in leather pants and crusade cross style tunics, they presented an unusual sight to the girls, who dealt them no more than a cursory glance before launching into the fight.

"So you're telling me, never?" Faith asked again as they launched into the fight, continuing the twenty questions style conversation which they awkwardly began during the journey to the graveyard.

"Faith," Buffy remarked as she struggled with her opponent, trying to wrestle herself free of the grasp he and his friend launched on them after ambushing the slayers as if out of nowhere. "Really, now is not the time!"

"I'm curious," Faith protested as she wrestled with her attacker. "Never ever? Come on, really? All this time and not even once?"

Buffy ducked a punch from her attacker. "How many times do I have to say it?" She asked aloud as she returned the strike, hers making an impact. "I have never," she paused to hit the vampire before her, "done it," she added, striking her prey again, "with anyone else," she finished, staking the vamp, who obligingly turned into ashes, falling to the ground.

Faith leapt on top of her opponent, knocking him to the ground, before staking him through the back. "All this sweating nightly, side by side action and you never put in for a little after hours," she stopped talking to emphasise the motion with a thrust and grunt.

Buffy raised her eyebrows. "Thanks for the poetry. And no. Angel," she blushed thinking of it, "pretty much ruined me for other guys. I think if I had, even during those months he lost his soul, I would felt like I was betraying him."

"You think too much," Faith returned before walking away, ready to patrol the next graveyard.

Buffy grabbed her arm before she could take another step. "Hey. There's one more."

"How do you know?" Faith asked.

Her companion pointed to the tracks in the wet grass. "I think too much," she replied, before setting off on the trail.

Quietly they trod through the cemetery, following the escape route of the third until the footsteps abruptly petered out before a gravestone.

"Okay," Buffy whispered. "Count of three. One..."

Faith ignored her, jumping into the air over the granite monument. She failed to find their quarry crouching behind it, and rose to her feet only to discover the vampire running towards her.

"Three," Buffy finished in annoyance as she watched the fight unfold. Ah, well, at least this gave her a chance to evaluate her sister slayer, as per Pryce's instructions. She wondered if this was how Giles felt in the early days of their relationship, irritated by her refusal to follow guidelines or strict orders of battle plan. Forced into admiration at the skill and strength displayed in spite of himself. By the time she finished the fight, his mild admonishments made little impact, though privately Buffy always if they were more for his benefit that for hers. Compared to him, Pryce's style of Watcher conveyed all the annoyance caused by a fly buzzing at a window pane in his futile efforts to get outside.

Faith cried out as her opponent caught her mid leg spin, taking control of the manoeuvre before throwing her against a nearby tall gravestone. She was right, Buffy mused to herself. She did think too much. Returning the scene at hand, she ran into the melee, trying to take the vamp from behind.

But the vampire heard her coming and turned, swinging the larger of the weapons he carried in time to decapitate her stake. Caught by surprise, Buffy fell back on her instincts in time to drop the useless wooden implement and block the second swing of the sword, grabbing his arms and bringing them down hard, until he was forced to lose his weapons also. Punching him in the head, she tried to spin kick him too, but the vampire blocked both attempts and clutched hold of her, by the shoulders, pulling her close to him, his fangs aiming for a bite.

Buffy resisted for as long as she could, until suddenly there was no longer any need for her to struggle, as their attacker turned into ashes thanks to Faith's timely intervention. She turned to her as Buffy leant on a gravestone to catch her breath, with raised hand in gesture of a high five. "Nicely diverted, B!"

"Diverted?" Buffy echoed, panting. "That was me fighting for my life, Miss Attention Span."

Faith sighed, her patience worn out for the night. "This isn't a Tupperware Party. It's a little hard to plan."

"The count of three isn't a plan," Buffy replied. "It's Sesame Street."

"Hey, they're toast and we're here, so it couldn't have been too bad, right?" Faith returned. "Who were those guys, anyway?"

"I don't know," Buffy replied. "They didn't seem local. "Look, why don't we grab the weapons. Maybe Giles..." She trailed off as she noticed the sudden lack of swords in the graveyard.

"Check these out," Trick remarked to his boss as he placed the swords swiped straight under the slayers' noses before him.

Richard Wilkins III, Mayor of Sunnydale, ignored him for a moment, chuckling over the newspaper before him. "I just love the Family Circus! That P.J., he's getting to be quite a handful." He lowered the broadsheet to inspect the weapons. "Well... I haven't seen anything like this in, uh... Well, a good long while. Where's the owner of these fine implements?"

"The common term is slain," Trick replied. "But I've been seeing this breed around. Are we expecting any trouble?"

The Mayor smiled. "Do you like Family Circus?"

"I like Marmaduke," Trick replied.

"Eww!" Wilkins remarked with a shiver of disgust. "He's always on the furniture. Unsanitary."

"Nobody can tell Marmaduke what to do," Trick continued with a grin. "That's my kinda dog."

"I like to read Cathy," Allan, the deputy mayor revealed, causing both the vampire and his boss to give him a look. "So, uh, what about these swords?" he asked nervously. "What should we do about that?"

The Mayor considered. "Well, let's just keep an eye out. We've got the dedication coming up in a few days. We certainly can't have anything interfering with that."

"Well, maybe we should postpone the dedication," Allan offered.

Wilkins glanced at him incredulously. "I believe the Honourable Mayor hates that idea," Trick answered.

The Mayor rose from his chair to walk to his cabinet at the other end of the office. "The dedication is the final step before my Ascension. I have waited longer than you can imagine for this." He opened the cabinet to retrieve a moist towel with which he wiped his hands carefully free of newspaper ink. "After the Hundred Days, I'll be on a higher plane. And I'll have no more need for... Well, let's just say I won't be concerned... with the little things." He folded the cloth tightly and handed it to his deputy to dispose of. "Mr. Trick, watch these people. Anything you find out about them, well, let's just see that that information reaches the Slayers. Who knows? With any luck, they'll kill each other. Then everyone's a winner. Everyone, of course, meaning me."

"Willow, what are these?" Xander asked as he and Cordelia joined her, Buffy and Oz in the student lounge the next morning.

"They're early admission packets," Willow replied, slightly both proud and embarrassed at the large pile of brochures before her.

"Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan....." Xander trailed off as he struggled to find a word which made sense in the fourth. "Some German Polytechnical Institute whose name I can't pronounce." He dropped the packets and leaned back against the sofa. "Is anyone else intimidated? 'Cause I'm just expecting thin slips of paper with the words 'No Way' written in crayon."

"They're typing those now," Oz informed him.

"I'm so overwhelmed!" Willow uttered softly as she surveyed them. "I got in! To actual colleges! And, they're wooing me! They're pitching woo!"

Buffy smiled. "The wooing stage is always fun."

"But it's weird," Willow added. "Now, rejection I can handle 'cause of the years of training, but this..."

"I feel your pain, Will," Xander returned. "Like right now, I'm torn between the fast-growing fields of appliance repair and motel management. Of course, I'm still waiting to hear back from the, uh, Corndog Emporium, so..." he crossed his fingers in a sarcastic gesture of prayer.

Buffy chuckled. "Well, I think it's great. Early admission. Now there's nothing standing between you and a brilliant future."

"Well, if I may suggest, graduate," Oz reminded them. "Getting left back: not the thrill ride you'd expect."

"So, life beyond high school," Cordelia commented.

"I hear it's nice," Buffy replied. "And a place I'll never go if I don't pass Mrs. Taggart's chemistry test tomorrow."

"Oh! I can help," Willow offered as her best friend hoped she would. "Chemistry's easy. It's a lot like witchcraft, only less newt. So whadaya say? Study jam, my house, tonight?"

"I'm there," Buffy replied as she rose from her seat. "I have to go see Giles, report on last night's patrol."

"How's the joint slayerage going?" Xander asked her.

"Awkwardly," Buffy replied. "We've yet to work a system where we slay together as a duo." she sighed. "It's odd. With Angel, it was almost instant. With Faith, it's a lot of work."

"Why don't you tell me everything about last night's patrol," Wesley asked her as he opened a notebook and sat down in one of the library chairs.

Buffy met Giles' bemused gaze with one of her own. "Vampires," she replied.

"Yes?" Wesley persisted.

"Killed them," Buffy finished, causing Giles to smile.

"Anything else you'd care to tell me?" Wesley asked.

"One of them had swords," Buffy informed them. "He was forced to drop them during the fight, then someone nicked them whilst we were dusting him."

"Swords?" Wesley mused before rising to grab a nearby book. "Swords. One long, one short?" He asked.

Buffy nodded. "Both pointy. With, like, jewels and things."

"Sounds familiar," Giles remarked, thinking aloud.

"It should," Wesley returned as he handed him the book he was previously studying.

Giles studied the entry. "El Eliminati. Fifteenth Century..."

"Fifteenth Century duellist cult, deadly in their day," Wesley interrupted, causing Giles and his slayer to frown. "Their numbers dwindled in later centuries due to an increase in anti-vampire activity and a lot of pointless duelling. They eventually became the acolytes of a demon called Balthazar, who brought them to the New World, specifically here."

Giles closed the book with a loud slap. "You seem to know a lot about them."

"I didn't get this job because of my looks," Wesley replied.

Buffy grinned. "I really, really believe that," she remarked, causing Giles to smile once more at her sarcasm.

Wesley appeared oblivious or ignorant, she could not decide which. "I've researched this town's history extensively."

"So why have we not seen them before this?" Giles asked.

"They were driven out a hundred years ago," Wesley answered. "Happily, Balthazar was killed. I don't know by whom."

"And they're back because?" Buffy prompted.

"Balthazar had an amulet purported to give him strength," Wesley replied. "When he was killed, it was taken by a wealthy landowner named... I don't want to bore you with the details."

"A little bit late," Buffy murmured, but Giles caught it, smiling.

Wesley ignored her. "Named Gleaves. It was buried with him, and I believe the few remaining Eliminati are probably looking for it. For sentimental value."

"And you don't think that this, amulet poses any threat?" Giles asked.

"Oh, no, not at all," Wesley replied confidently, but it came across as pathetic arrogance. "Nonetheless, we may as well keep it from them. Buffy, you and Faith will go to the Gleaves family crypt tonight and fetch the amulet."

"I will?" Buffy queried, looking to Giles.

"Are you not used to being given orders?" Wesley inquired.

"Whenever Giles sends me on a mission, he always says 'please'" Buffy replied in a soft, childlike voice. "And afterwards I get a cookie."

Wesley frowned as his colleague smiled again. "Yes, well, I know my style may be different from Mr Giles, but he and I are both watchers, Miss Summers, and from time to time you will be expected to obey me as well as him."

Buffy inwardly frowned at the idea of this, but nodded. The bell rang, signalling classes, and she turned to Giles. "We'll talk later?" she sought to confirm.

Giles nodded, leaving Wesley to frown she exited the room.

"Hey, B," Faith remarked as she ran into her when she reached the courtyard.

"Hey," Buffy replied. "Listen, Pryce, wants us to ransack a tomb for an amulet tonight."

"You're actually gonna take orders from him?" Faith queried.

"That's the job," Buffy pointed out. "What else can we do?"

"Whatever we want," Faith replied, putting an arm around her. "We're Slayers, girlfriend, the Chosen Two. Why should we let him take all the fun out of it?"

"Oh, that would be tragic, taking the fun out of slaying, stabbing, beheading," Buffy returned sarcastically.

"Oh, like you don't dig it," Faith remarked knowingly.

Buffy shrugged. "I don't."

"You're a liar," Faith continued. "I've seen you. Tell me staking a vamp doesn't get you a little bit juiced. You can't fool me. The look in your eyes right after a kill? You just get hungry for more."

"You're way off base."

"Tell me that if you don't get in a good slaying, after a while, you just start itching for some vamp to show up so you can give him a good...." she grunted as she mined a punch.

"Again with the grunting," Buffy commented. "You realise I'm not comfortable with this."

"Hey, slaying's what we were built for," Faith pointed out. "If you're not enjoying it, you're doing something wrong."

"What about the assignment?" Buffy queried.

Faith left her side. "Tell you what: you do the homework, and I'll copy yours." She grinned before walking off.

"So Pryce wants you to retrieve this amulet," Wilkins mused as he listened to Faith's report of the events which he had not been party to.

Faith nodded. "Do you think their return for this gem is important?" she asked.

"I think it might be," the Mayor replied. "Go, join Buffy on her patrol. These knights are going to be a problem I fear, and with my dedication coming soon, I want all problems solved before the ceremony."

Faith inclined her head in compliance, then exited the office. The expression on her face turned into a grimace as she walked out of City Hall. Her talk to Buffy about being the Chosen Two may have been just big words, but she wanted to believe in them so desperately. She hated the alliance with the Mayor, which she found unable to wriggle out of. His attitude with her wavered between indulgent parent and draconian boss; the latter with a chilling calm tone, which always terrified her. She also felt that sooner or later she would outlive her usefulness, and she knew all too well what happened when he decided to tie up loose ends. She wanted out, and she wished she could tell Buffy, but it was difficult enough getting B to like her, let alone admitting another failure on her part as a slayer. Kakistos was her first, even though B took that news pretty well, Faith was not inclined to witness her reaction when it came to the Mayor, especially as she had no idea what the Mayor was planning, or when his deadline might be.

No, she would just have to bide her time, wait for him to reveal what he was going to do, and then tell B and the watchers. At least then she could claim that she had found herself presented with the opportunity and decided to make what use of it she could until she had discovered the big dark secret the Mayor was hiding. Her only concern was what the Mayor might ask her to do during that time.

Later, as the sun dropped beneath the horizon of the town, Buffy left her home on Revello Drive in quest of the graveyard which contained the Gleaves family crypt. It felt a little odd to be alone after a session of dual slayer duty patrols. Even before then she was rarely alone in her nightly checks of the nocturnal hellmouth, as usually one of her friends, watcher or Angel would accompany her. But the Scoobies were studying for the chem test, and Angel was trying to clear his paperwork caused by his professorship at the University. She shivered a little as the night closed around her with a deadly quiet, and quickened her pace to the cemetery, anxious to get this seek and find job over with.

She found the crypt seemingly deserted as she stepped inside and turned on the heavy duty flashlight she had brought for the occasion. The interior was typical of the Sunnydale crypts which she had become used to whilst patrolling the hellmouth; a collection of drawers on one wall, a selection of stone and ceramic urns on the shelves, and two large stone coffins in the centre of the floor. She checked those out first, walking to one and lifting the lid aside, before shining the flashlight upon the skeleton within.

"Strike one," She murmured, encountering only hairs and fibres. "No amulet there."

Buffy turned to the next coffin, pushing the lid aside once more, then shining the flashlight inside. This yielded more success, as around the neck of the mummified body, lay the amulet.

"Game over," she remarked, reaching inside for the item of jewelry. Her hand froze in mid grab as her senses caught noises emanating from outside. She turned in time to see circles of light from torches as well. Hurriedly she pushed the lid closed on the second coffin, then leapt into the first, switching her flashlight off just as the door to the crypt was pushed open. Stealthily, Buffy slid the coffin lid over her, waiting for the vamps to find their booty, grab it and go.

Eventually she heard the door close, causing her push the coffin lid aside and jump out of the stone clad container. A hand clasped her shoulder, making her freeze, only to turn round in relief as she discerned friend from foe.


The dark haired slayer gave her an appraising stare. "What are you doing, hiding in there?"

"Looking for the amulet," Buffy reminded her. "Wasn't counting on the Special Guest Stars. Six against one. Hence the hiding."

Faith shrugged. "Well, it's six against two now, so come on."

She turned round and ran out of the crypt, causing Buffy to follow. They arrived outside in the graveyard in time to see the last two of the El Eliminati jump down into the sewer network, via a handy manhole.

Faith prepared to follow, only for her companion to grab her. "Wait. Stop. Think!"

"No, no, no!" Faith replied.

Buffy's grip and cause for caution remained firm. "It's a manhole. Tight space, no escape, six against two, not unlike three against one."

"And there might be more," Faith replied, "so come on."

"You're just gonna go down there," Buffy remarked. "That's your plan."

"Who said I had a plan?" Faith returned. "I don't know how many are down there, but I wanna find out. And I'll know when I land. If you don't come in after me, I might die!"

She jumped in, leaving Buffy in incredulous. But as much as she hated to admit it, Faith had a point, and they had an amulet to retrieve. She followed her into the dark hole.

"These are all the diaries, then?" Wesley asked as he studied the pile of books, smaller than he was expecting. "Yours included?"

Giles paused mid pacing, an occupation since the slayer, whom he loved like a daughter, had gone out. "That's everything," he replied. "Knock yourself out," he added, before lowering his voice to a murmured plea. "Please."

Wesley opened one of the volumes. "Oh, yes! Here's your first entry. 'Slayer is wilful and insolent.'" He read aloud smirking. "That would be our girl, wouldn't it?"

Giles continued to pace. "Well, you have to get to know her."

"Mm. 'Her abuse of the English language is such that I understand only every other sentence.'" Wesley continued. "Oh, this is going to make fascinating reading."

Rupert checked his wristwatch. "She should be back by now," he murmured worriedly.

"Not to fret," Wesley replied as he reached for a mint. "My mission scenario has her back in one minute. Shouldn't be any trouble."

Giles glared at his back, contemplating a new concept, not entirely unfamiliar to him, especially since Travers' visit; Watchercide. Who knows, the Council might even be relieved that they were rid of him.

In the sewer, Buffy and Faith were hard at work, trying to eliminate the El Eliminati. After pursuing them through the tunnels, they had reached a junction area which widened into a space suitable for their combat purposes.

Buffy dealt a roundhouse kick on one of the vamps, sending him to the floor. "We're surrounded!" She cried to Faith.

Her dark haired companion did not seem discomposed by that fact. "You noticed that, too?!"

Faith back hand punched one of the vampires, while Buffy ducked the swing of another, before sending him to the floor with a kick aimed at the back of his knee. Faith sidestepped her prey, snatched his arm, then swung him round into a wall. Buffy spun kick another in the midsection, following it up with a kick to his head. Another vamp tried to bring the blade of his sword down on her from above, but she dodged the attempt timely, causing the weapon to clang against the floor.

Faith threw her vampire against the wall once more, causing him to collapse. She performed a half spinning hook kick to another behind her, causing him to fall dazed on to a raised platform within the junction. Another vamp jumped on the floor space to grab her, but she side stepped the attempt, taking his arm and pulling him down on the second.

Buffy elbowed a vampire's face, causing him to step backwards and stumble over one of his fallen mates. Another jumped into the battlefield and tried to punch her, but she blocked him, grabbing his arm to send him into the wall. Not satisfied, he attempted to come at her again, but she aimed a kick into his gut, forcing back against the rocks.

Faith found herself caught by her attacker, who slammed her against the concrete wall. Buffy glanced in time to witness the event, and threw a stake, turning the vamp into dust. Her assistance caused Faith to send her a smile, but also for a beast to launch at her from behind, pointing a sword at her chest.

"Let's settle this honourably," the vampire offered.

Buffy jumped against him, dealing him an out to in low crescent kick, knocking the weapon out of his hand, sending it flying into a nearby pool of water. She jabbed the one trying to hold her, sending him to the floor. The vampire in front of her tried to stab her with his dagger, but she dodged the attempt and clutched his arm. Using the grip to his advantage, the vampire grabbed her by the waist with his other arm, pinning her against the edge of the pool.

"Well, then, let's just settle it," he decided, before pushing her head into the water. Instinctively, Buffy struggled against him, but she couldn't find anything to set herself free.

"Buffy!" Faith cried as she struggled with her assailant. "You son of a bitch!"

The vampire continued to hold the slayer's head under water. Buffy struggled for as long as she could, then surrendered to her fate, waiting for him to believe her drowned. He let go and turned to Faith, who was fast losing the upper hand as well.

Suddenly the dark haired slayer's eyes widened in surprise, as she saw her cause sibling leap up, sword in hand, swinging the blade at the vamp's head.

"I hate it when they drown me," Buffy remarked, before swinging again at the vampire, who turned, trying to even the odds. Fortunately, thanks to Angelus last year, her opponent was no match, as she deprived him of his weapon with one swing.

Faith finally wrestled her way out of hold, and turned to her comrade. "B! Gotta go!"

"We came for the amulet," Buffy reminded her, lunging the sword straight at the vampire wearing the item in question, drawing the chain out from under his belt, letting the metal loop slide down to the hilt. Buffy pulled the amulet from the sword as the vampires hightailed it out of the battlefield.

"Tell me you don't get off on this!" Faith cried with a grin.

"It didn't suck," Buffy agreed, smiling.

"Well... Looks authentic enough." Wesley decided as he studied the amulet under a magnifying glass the next morning. "Of course, there are tests to be made before actual verification."

"How about verifying that your 'nearly extinct' cult was out in magnum force last night?" Buffy countered. "Faith and I got into a serious party situation."

Giles glanced at her in concern. "Are you alright?"

"I had to lather, rinse, and repeat about five million times to get the sewer out of my hair," Buffy replied, "but otherwise, I'm of the good. Thank you for asking," she added pointedly, glaring at the other watcher.

"Perhaps there were a few more than we'd anticipated, but I'd expect you to be ready for anything," Wesley replied, unperturbed. "Remember the three key words for any Slayer: preparation... preparation... preparation."

"That's one word three times," Buffy pointed out, just before the bell rang. "I have a chem test," she remarked brightly, before sobering. "So sad that I'm actually happy about that. Giles, we need to talk," she added before walking out.

Thanks to the non-existent cramming session which due to the run in with the El Eliminati Buffy was unable to make, she studied the exam paper with steadily increasing reluctance, until a rapping on the window pan caught her attention.

Faith lifted the sash and leaned in. "Hey, girlfriend. Bad time?" She asked, before blowing her breath on the next pane of glass, and drawing the outline of a heart with a stake through it. The entire move conveyed a dark sensuality to it, powerfully alluring. She turned to Buffy with a smile, and for once, the blond decided to rebel, sliding down from her lab stool and climbing out the window.

Willow glanced at her shocked. "No, sh-she can't! Y-you can't! Can you?"

Buffy ignored her best friend and joined her comrade slayer outside. "What's up?"

"Vampires," Faith replied.

"Uh, Faith, unless there's a total eclipse in the next five minutes, it's daylight," Buffy pointed out.

"Good for us, bad for them," Faith replied. "Found a nest."

Buffy's face emitted a slow grin. "Has potential."

The nest was surrounded in darkness, the squatters having boarded up everywhere they could to protect themselves from the harsh rays of the sun. Their one weakness was the locked the door, but even they had not counted on two slayers kicking it in this morning, causing sunlight to drift in, landing on one of the beasts, turning him into flames.

"Rise and shine, people," Faith remarked.

"It's your wake-up call," added Buffy before they launched into the fight. Somehow between the two nights before and now they had worked up a team of slaying, which now worked effortlessly on the vamps with nowhere to go in their suddenly dangerous nest. The girls fell into combat joyfully, fighting with undisguised glee, as they staked or pulled away blinds and boards, causing others to follow the first victim to a fiery grave.

Buffy was enjoying herself. She had forgotten how good it felt to fight without an endgame or apocalypse in sight; to pursue for the sheer rush of the kill. The blood of the primitive, the first slayer of their line, sang in her veins, allowing her to toy with her prey, to decide where in the fight to dust him, rather than the first available clear shot at the heart. Beside her Faith was in her element, the wildness and wiliness unleashed from deep within her. Together the two of them were more than a match for the sleepy vampires before them, and those they eliminated the night before.

Evening found the slayers in the Bronze, surrounded before boys, who seemed in awe and hoping for more than just a dance with the blonde and brunette that reigned the floor, luring them like sirens.

Angel felt the call as deeply as the rest, though his expression changed to concern as he saw the boys trying to claim his mate. He frowned, remembering last year when she 'mated with' Xander, just as she caught sight of him.

Buffy deftly left the group to surround Faith, joining her beloved on the side lines. She leapt upon him, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his hips, grinding her pelvis into his crotch. "Hey! You're not leaving, are you?" She asked him seductively.

"I saw you making friends," Angel remarked.

Buffy glanced at them dismissively. "Them? Boys!" She replied. "I like you," she added, grinding herself into him once more. His hands which were supporting her slipped of their own volition under her top, stroking small circles on the small of her back. She smiled at him before capturing his lips in hers. Her hands left his neck to travel their own southward journey, causing him to growl as her questing fingers dipped beneath his belt line. He moved them carefully over to one of the alcoves behind the stairs. As he sat down Buffy's lips left his to blow hot air on his Adam's apple, making him snap her bra clasp in surprise.

Reluctantly, he remembered his purpose for coming. "Balthazar," he uttered.

Buffy stroked his chest. "Dead demon," she uttered against his neck.

"Not as dead as you think," Angel replied, causing her to pause in her caresses. "Word on the street has him in the packing warehouse on Devereau. He's looking for..."

"His amulet," Buffy finished, serious at last. "It's supposed to restore his strength."

"From what I'm hearing, that's not something we'd like to see happen." Angel continued.

"No problem," Buffy informed him. "We got the amulet."

"I know," Angel replied. "I spoke to Giles, but he said you gave it to Pryce."

"Ah. There you are," the watcher in question remarked.

"Speak of the really annoying person," Buffy murmured.

"You're certainly giving me a run for my money. I think we ought to establish that if you're going to go out slaying, you leave me a number where I can contact you."

"Where's the amulet?" Angel asked him.

"It's somewhere safe," Wesley returned smugly.

Buffy studied him, then reached inside his jacket and drew out the talisman.

"How did you know?" Wesley asked, surprised.

"It pooches your jacket," Buffy replied, before slipping into her boyfriend's jacket, her hands lingering in the motion.

"Now, hang on a minute..." Wesley protested.

"Walking around with this thing is like wearing a target," Angel remarked.

"You're gonna put it somewhere that's actually safe?" Buffy asked him.

"Yeah. I'll do it now," Angel replied.

Buffy reluctantly parted from him. "I'll do some recon on Balthazar."

"If I may... Balthazar is dead. Am I the only one that remembers that?" Wesley asked them incredulously.

Angel ignored him, catching Buffy in his arms and kissing her soundly. "Be careful," he advised.

"You know me," Buffy replied.

"I mean it," Angel reiterated.

Buffy nodded, and turned from him, returning to the dance floor, where she grabbed Faith from the circle of boys surrounding her.

Faith shot them looks of apology. "Call me!" She cried out before turning to her sister slayer. "What's up?"

"Angel got word that Balthazar is alive," Buffy replied. "We need to recon on a packing warehouse in Devereau."

"Then let's go," Faith agreed as they headed out of the club.

"Let me tell you what I see," Balthazar intoned to his minions. "I see fear... and remorse... and the pitiful look of faces that cry out for mercy! But what I don't see is what I want to see, AND THAT'S... MY... AMULET!"

A minion grovelled before his cooling bath. "Lord Balthazar, we found it! We had it! But the Slayers..."

"Already I'm bored," Balthazar decided, and held out his hands, causing the vampire to glide towards him. He grabbed him by the throat, squeezing until his neck snapped. "Vincent... Come here."

The head minion advanced cautiously.

"Closer," his boss urged. "Closer. Let me tell you... what I want to see."

Outside, Buffy surveyed the situation grimly. "Okay, we got ten, maybe twelve bad guys and one big demon in desperate need of a Stair master."

"I say we take 'em all, hard and fast and now," Faith proposed.

"We need a little more firepower than none," Buffy pointed out. "We should head back to the library."

"Well, I guess Jacuzzi Boy isn't going anywhere," Faith agreed reluctantly. "I just... wish we had..." she paused as she caught sight of the answer to her prayers. "Ah. That is too good," she added, gesturing to Buffy.

The blonde slayer followed her cautiously into the store, concerned as Faith discovered the archery counter.

"Ah. Score," the brunette murmured, spying a small crossbow with sights, displayed beneath a glass counter. Smashing the glass, she reached inside and grabbed the weapon.

"Think they're insured?" Buffy asked dubiously.

"Strangely, not my priority," Faith replied as she checked the mechanism. "When are ya gonna get this, B? Life for a Slayer is very simple: want..." she paused to smash another display case. "Take..." she grabbed the new weapon, "have."

Buffy looked around and spotted some hunting knives. "Want... take... have," she agreed, selecting a smart looking dagger. "I'm getting it."

Faith grinned, before espying a compound hunting bow in another display case. She kicked in the glass, then pulled out the bow.

A gunshot fired, causing them turn round, and Buffy to wake up, as she caught sight of the officers before them.

"Drop the weapons and get down on the ground! Now!" One ordered. "I said drop the weapons, or I fire."

Buffy complied, and Faith followed, but not as gently.

"Now spread them," the officer added, causing Faith to appear insulted.

"You wish," she countered.

"Hands in the air where I can see them. Slow!" the officer order. Buffy raised hers, and Faith followed, but casually.

"Good. Now cuff them," the officer ordered his partner.

Faith checked him out. "I like him. He's butch."

They were herded into the back of the police car, and driven in the direction of the station. Buffy glanced at Faith, amazed at her causal attitude, wondering how on the hellmouth they were going to get out of this one.

"That's some artillery you two were putting together," one of the officers commented. "You with one of them girl gangs?"

"Yeah. We're the Slayers," Faith replied sarcastically, causing the officer to laugh. She turned to Buffy. "You wanna get outta here?" She asked her, sliding down low on the seat, legs ready to kick the metal barrier before them. "We can't save the world in jail."

Buffy hesitated, but then put herself in the same position.

"One, two..." Faith commanded, and together they kicked the steel mesh hard, causing it to hit the officers in the back of the head. The driver lost control of the patrol vehicle, crashing it into a parked a car.

Faith grabbed the keys for the cuffs, then followed Buffy out of the car. Her companion glanced at the officers worryingly. "We should call an ambulance."

"Five people already have, the racket we made, and they're fine," Faith decided. "Come on. Let's get outta here."

Buffy took a last look at the officers, and saw they were coming to. Rapidly she joined Faith in running.

In City Hall, the Mayor posed with a group of Boy Scouts.

"There we go," he announced after the camera flash. "Thanks a lot, fellas. Thanks a heap," he said in farewell, waiting for them to disappear before closing the blinds. "Hey, have fun on that camping trip, now. Don't forget to roast a wiener for me." He nodded to his deputy, who closed the door. "Here we go. Alright, you can come out now."

Mr Trick emerged from his hiding place.

The Mayor grinned. "Backbone of America, those little guys. Seeing the hope and courage on their bright little faces, I swear I could just, I... I could just eat them up. So any news about the Eliminati?" he asked as he headed for the cabinet.

He opened the doors, only to be confronted with one of the vampires in that very cult. "In the name of Lord Balthazar, DIE!" He growled, before reeling back from the punch Mr Trick dealt him in the forehead, causing him to pass out as he fell to the floor.

Richard Wilkins III stepped back and straightened his tie. "Thank you, Mr. Trick. That was very thoughtful of you."

"Why do they always gotta be using swords?" Trick bemoaned as he picked up the weapon and tossed it to Allan. "It's called an Uzi, ya chump! Could have saved your ass right about now."

Wilkins folded his arms. "You know, it's curious how he could've gotten all the way into my liquor cabinet. Allan, don't we have, security working in this building?"

"Sir, I... I had no idea. I-I..."

The Mayor sighed at his stuttering. "There's no need to swoon, Allan. But try to keep things secure. Lock him up."

"He wakes up, he's just gonna try and kill you again," Trick pointed out.

"Yes. Yes, I expect he will," the Mayor remarked, unconcerned.


As they returned to the warehouse, Faith glanced at her companion thoughtfully. "You're quiet tonight."

"I just wanna get this done," Buffy replied, her disgust of this situation rising steadily. Ever since the cops briefly arrested them, she had reverted to her more cautious serious side.

Faith ignored the under currents of tension in her comrade. "Yeah. I'm dying to test out the longbow. I think it might be my new thing."

"I can't believe you went back for that stuff," Buffy remarked.

"Hey, how do you feel about getting some ribs?" Faith asked her. "You know, after we're done?"

Buffy was saved the trouble of replying as a group of El Eliminati jumped down to the asphalt before them from above.

"I didn't say you had emotional problems," Wesley remarked, "I said you had an emotional problem. It's quite different."

Giles refrained from hiding his glare this time. "My attachment to the Slayer is not a problem. In point of fact, it's been a very..."

Pryce interrupted him dismissively. "The way you've handled this assignment is something of an embarrassment to the council."

"If you want to criticise my methods, fine," Giles remarked. "But you can keep your snide remarks to yourself. And while you're at it, don't criticise my methods."

"The fact is, you're no longer qualified to act as Watcher," Wesley commented condescendingly. "It's not your fault. You've done well. It's simply time for somebody else to take the field."

Giles looked past him as he caught sight of something lurking behind them, waiting to pounce. "Now is a good time to start," he remarked.

Wesley turned, and blanched as he caught sight of the El Eliminati.

After struggling with the long bow for a good five minutes, Faith abandoned the weapon with only two words. "Screw it!" She uttered to herself before launching a kick at the nearest demon, joining Buffy who was already deeply involved in the fray. They staked two, before she cried, "I think we've got more coming!"

"We're never gonna make it to the warehouse," Buffy foresaw.

"If they keep coming one at a time, we got a shot," Faith decided, as another El Eliminati rushed at them, causing Faith to grab him and restrain him whilst Buffy dusted him.

As they reached the corner of one building in the alleyway, a arm reached out and grabbed Buffy by the shoulder. She returned the grip and pulled, sending him into a nearby dumpster. Faith rushed forward, stake at the ready and plunged it deep into his chest.

It was only when Buffy caught sight of the blood seeping from the wound that they realised something was deeply wrong with this kill.

"FAITH, NO!" She cried too late. She crouched down to study the wound, knowing immediately that it was mortal. "Don't move!" she cautioned the man as he slipped a piece of paper into her hand.

The dark haired slayer was shocked. "I didn't... I didn't know. I didn't know."

"We need to call 911, NOW!" Buffy urged, but Faith was paralysed with fear. "Don't move, it's okay..." she added to the man. "I-I need, I need something to stop the..."

The man began to convulse. His pupils dilated, causing a wide-eyed gaze, as blood trickled out of his mouth. He mumbled something intelligible before his head slumped against his chest, as his soul left his body.

Shock transformed into panic. "We gotta go!" Faith cried, grabbing Buffy and pulling her to her feet. "Come on, we gotta go!"

Running from the sight, they reached a wall, where Faith mounted the nearby crates before jumping over and away.

Buffy continued down the alley until she reached a fence, then jumped over too. She brushed the dust away her before turning round and finding Angel before her.

"Buffy, I've been looking for you," he uttered, catching sight of the tension within her, the worry within her. He reached out to take her hands in his, and his senses caught the smell of fresh blood. His night vision soon clapped on the red stain which littered her hands. "Your hand," he murmured, about to check for a wound, before she jerked it back.

"It's okay," Buffy uttered. "What's up?"

"I've just been to the warehouse," Angel replied. "I was waiting for you. They got Giles and Pryce."

Faith watched them run to the warehouse, then she turned and headed back to the dead body in the alley. She recognised him now the deputy Mayor, and she wondered silently what business he had here. It could not something for his boss, because Wilkins made sure Trick and herself handled the bad side of town, keeping Allan away from it as much as possible.

She kneeled down before the body, her hand tentatively reaching out towards the wound she made. Barely had her fingers come in contact with the blood before she jerked away in fear. She stared into the eyes, their blind gaze of fear consuming her. What had she done? It could not be murder, not like this. She was barely aware of her actions. Murder had intent, motive, cause. The only thing she possessed right now was the numbing feeling of guilt, threatening to choke her. Did ordinary humans feel this much pain after taking a life, she wondered.

But she was no ordinary being. She was a slayer. Who had just committed the gravest sin one of her kind could.

The slaughter of a human.

"The front! The front! Moisten the front!" Balthazar ordered the lackey who was wetting his muscles.

"Oh, God!" Wesley cried as he surveyed their predicament. "Oh, God!"

Giles was calm. "It doesn't seem too promising, does it?" He remarked.

"Stay calm, Mr. Giles," Wesley uttered. "We have to stay calm."

"Well, thank God you're here," Giles returned. "I was planning to panic."

Wesley stared at the demon in the vat. "What is that thing?"

"That would be your demon," Giles informed him. "You know, the dead one?"

Pryce glared at him. "There's no need to get snippy."

"Bring them closer," Balthazar ordered, causing two of his minions to grab the watchers and bring them to him. "You know what I want."

"If it's for me to scrub those hard-to-reach areas, I'd like to request you kill me now," Giles replied calmly, receiving a punch to his spine for his pains.

Wesley meanwhile had reverted to panic once more. "Are you out of your mind? This is hardly the time for games!"

Giles turned to him. "Why not? They're going to torture us to death anyway."

Balthazar growled in glee. "You're not wrong about that."

"Now, hold on," Pryce urged. "We-we-we can deal with this rationally. We have something you want. You have something we want."

"Hmm... A trade. Intriguing," Balthazar murmured. "No. Wait. Boring. Pull off his kneecaps!"

"NOOO! No, no, no! The Slayer gave it to someone. A tall man, a friend... a friend of hers. I can tell you everything."

"Quiet, you twerp! They'll kill us both," Giles murmured.

"But I'd like to have my kneecaps," Wesley pleaded.

"You will tell us everything!" Balthazar asked.

"Yes! Sir."

"What is this friend's name?"

Giles butted in. "Look, um, tell you what, let Captain Courageous here go, and I'll tell you what you need to know. How's that deal?


"His name is Angel," remarked the vampire in question, as he strolled into the warehouse, in full game face. He grabbed the two Eliminati restraining the watchers, pulling them away, sending one slamming into a wall, the other towards some metal shelving. Another moved in to replace them, but Giles head butted him to the floor.

Buffy entered the warehouse now from the other direction, dealing a backhand punch to one vampire, before punching another in the face. The first lifted his sword, trying to attack, only to be blocked as she grabbed his arm, bringing it down before shoving her knee into his gut, causing him to drop the weapon. She caught it, then turned and cut through the rope encircling Giles' hands. Her watcher manhandled Wesley out of harms way, while she swung the sword back at the vampire.

He caught her hand, causing the blade to hit the container of Balthazar's pool, forcing her to drop the weapon. He dealt a backhand swing to her face, forcing her to trip forward, but she used her legs to aim a back kick at him, then rolled on to a nearby crate to dodge another's sword swing.

"Unacceptable!" Balthazar cried.

Angel ducked a swing from one vamp, then dealt a right hook to his face, before dealing another to his gut. He turned round to deliver a backhand punch to the one behind him, then blocked the return swing before punching him again.

To say Balthazar was displeased would be putting it mildly. "UNACCEPTABLE!"

Giles untied Wesley's hands, freeing him just as a vampire roared behind him. He turned and ducked the sword coming at him, causing the weapon to hit a shelf. Giles grabbed the blade and jerked the metal back into the vampire's face, before deftly taking the sword from him. He swung the weapon round, hitting the beast with the hilt as well, before taking hold of it to attack another one.

The vampire swung his sword at Giles, who parried the lunge easily. To the amazement of Wesley, Giles blocked every move the vampire made, before forcing the beast's weapon to the floor, and kneeing him in the face. Then it was his turn to scream as the one whose weapon Giles was now wielding, grabbed him from behind.

"Giles!" Wesley cried.

"DOWN!" Giles ordered and swung his sword, decapitating the vampire. Wesley straightened in shock as the ashes fell around him.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Angel were making dust with the rest of the vampires. Their constant slaying had Balthazar raising his arms, causing Angel to slide towards him. He landed on his back beside the pool as the demon seized his head, trying to yank it off his neck. Angel tried in vain to resist.

Buffy caught sight of the situation, and glanced around, finding an electrical cable from a lamp which hung suspended above the demon. She yanked hard, making the lamp fall into the pool, electrocuting the demon.

She rushed to Angel and helped him up. Suddenly the demon opened his eyes and spoke to them.

"Slayer! You think you've won. When he rises... you'll wish I'd killed you all."

"What do you think he meant?" Buffy asked her beloved as they undressed in his bedroom at the mansion barely an hour later.

"I don't know," Angel replied, "but I have a feeling we'll find out soon enough. Now," he paused to catch her clean hands in his. "Where did that blood come from?"

Buffy looked away, ashamed to face him as she told him of her crime.

Angel was shocked, but not horrified. He caught her chin in his free hand and raised it until she met his dark gaze with her own. "Beloved, it wasn't your fault. Faith struck the blow. You did not."

"I still stood by and let it happen," Buffy protested.

"No you didn't," he replied. "You told her to stop. It was her fault she didn't listen."

"And now we have a killer slayer on our hands," Buffy finished in despair. "What do we do, Angel?"

"We tell Giles," Angel replied.

Buffy frowned. "You're taking this pretty calmly."

"I'm sure it's not uncommon. I know the idea of killing a human is repellent, but I wouldn't be a surprise if something like this has happened before." He drew her close to him, kissing her hair. "Beloved, whatever happens, we will deal. We always do."

"There's something else," she added, withdrawing from him to retrieve the note from her pocket which the deputy had given her as he died. "I think he was trying to help us. He gave me this."

Angel too the note and read it. "What do you think it means?" He asked her.

"I don't know, but it makes sense, considering he mentioned slayers during a demon stake burning thing."

"This we have to tell Giles about," Angel decided. "And soon."

"Potestatem matris nostrae in tenebris invoco. Maledictum filium tuum abomni periculo custodias nunc et in saecula!"

City Hall shook as the hellmouth took in the impact of the Mayor's words. As for Wilkins himself, he just glanced at his watch in concern. "I don't understand why Allan would miss this. He's usually so punctual."

"Did it work?" Trick asked.

"Let's find out. Open the cage," the Mayor commanded.

"You sure?" Trick asked him.

"Oh! Hold on." The Mayor took the sword from him and set the point on the floor, letting the hilt fall into the captive vampire's hands, before taking several steps back. "Okay. Now we're ready."

Trick opened the cage. The vampire rushed out towards the Mayor, bringing his sword high and slicing his head apart. There was a moment of shock as he realised that his opponent was still alive, before he froze in terror as the head healed itself. He had no time to realise his own end before Trick staked him in the back.

"Well!" The Mayor smiled as he retrieved his daily planner. "Let's see; Greet Scouts, done. Lumber Union Reschedule, done; Call Temp Agency, done, Become Invincible, done, Meeting With PTA, done Haircut, done. This officially commences the Hundred Days. Nothing can harm me until the Ascension. Gosh, I'm feeling chipper! Who's for a root beer?!"

The End
To Be Continued In...