Tracking was something Faith was becoming very good at.
The act used to be challenging and it sometimes took days for her to track down the vamp or demon but it got easier every time. It helped that half the time she was tracking in woods or rural areas and not just the city. She knew it helped with her skills.
It had been weeks since she'd seen Buffy but whenever she thought about how they celebrated her birthday a smile formed on her face. She could still feel Buffy's skin sliding against hers when she was alone in bed each night. She always fell asleep happy when she remembered that.
She only lasted in Teachey less than three weeks after Buffy's birthday before leaving the small town. There were a few days in a row where she patrolled and discovered nothing: no vampires, no demons, nothing supernatural at all. Instead, there was only Faith walking around the small town and the rural areas just outside of it without having anything to keep her occupied.
It was incredibly boring.
Since she wanted to continue to stay in a warmer climate, or at least a place where she wouldn't have to think about snow, she chose to drive a little further south for the time being. She passed through several towns in South Carolina before crossing the state line into Georgia where she found herself suddenly busy.
There seemed to be small pockets of vampires and demons in several places once she hit the state.
One thing that didn't go over so well was when she told Buffy about her plans. Faith had held off on telling her where she was going until she had actually decided to stay in one place for more than a day or two. That happened to be on the outskirts of Augusta, Georgia, where she decided to get a room then venture out to other areas each night. It would be easier than having to go from small town to small town and hope the rooms in the local motel weren't disgusting.
Faith was actually a little nervous to tell Buffy where she was and that was a strange feeling to her. Deep down, she knew she would go where she thought she was needed regardless of if Buffy liked it or not but their new relationship complicated it slightly. She was travelling further away from Cleveland.
In the end, Buffy sounded like she didn't exactly like the further distance but she didn't try to get Faith to change her mind on what she was doing either. She only asked about the area and what was happening, things she always asked about. They also knew that one of them could be transported if needed, though Faith didn't exactly like the option.
There wasn't much appeal in vomiting before seeing her girlfriend.
What she really wanted was for Buffy to visit her the next time they saw each other. It was one thing for them to patrol in Cleveland where the school had every inch mapped but it was another to patrol somewhere new each night. She liked sharing that with Buffy and she could tell her girlfriend liked patrolling outside of Cleveland, too.
Faith let a small smile show as she sat on a stool at the bar. The small bar was rundown and Faith knew that most people would never go in due to how it looked from the outside. One of the windows was boarded up and not yet replaced from a fight the week before and it was in desperate need of a coat of paint or two.
That's part of why it appealed to Faith. Most of the people who frequented the place kept to themselves so no one bothered her, not after the first night anyway. After nearly breaking a guy's hand when he tried to get a little grabby she was left alone.
"Hey, Mike, can I get a beer?"
He nodded. "Going out later?"
Faith answered by way of a shrug. The bartender and the couple others that worked there fulltime knew who she was, mostly because she was the one who'd broken the boarded up window. It was by throwing a demon through it though so they weren't upset.
She still wasn't all that comfortable with people knowing what she did. A lot of times it gave people a reason to approach and talk to her and she wasn't thrilled about it. The only positive was that people would give her tips on where to go and that saved a lot of time.
Mike sat the glass of beer in front of her and smiled. "Someone's finally going to fix the window tomorrow."
"I could help, you know. I did break it."
"Not a big deal," he said. "We're just lucky you were here before the big guy deal any real damage to anyone. We'd heard there'd been some trouble a couple towns over and kinda figured it was coming our way."
"Well, I'm looking out for ya," Faith said, a smirk on her face. "Gonna be a long night. Gonna have to patrol along the river. Heard there's some strange things going on."
"There's always strange things happening along the river." Mike picked up a plate from the kitchen and set it down in front of her. "I still can't believe someone who looks like you can kill monsters."
Faith raised her eyebrow but chose to take it as a compliment. She knew the younger version of her would have blown up and knocked him into next week but now she knew that he didn't mean it as an insult. Most people couldn't believe that slayers were as strong as they were.
Her phone buzzed and Mike took it as a cue to leave her alone. Faith quickly grabbed her phone and looked at it, smiling as she answered.
"Hey, baby," Buffy said. "I wanted to give you a heads up before you went on patrol tonight."
"What's this? No 'how's your day' or anything?" Faith joked.
Buffy laughed. "You were probably sleeping for most of it since you had a late night last night. I know how your day was."
"Fair enough," Faith relented. "What's going on?"
"The slayer that's normally based in Miami has been traveling through Georgia and said there's been a lot of activity along the Savannah River. She thinks something might be going down."
"I heard some things like that, too. I was planning on going out and patrolling in that area tonight. Is this slayer near me?"
"I'm not sure," Buffy said. "She hasn't called in a couple days but I know she's in the area. We would've known if something happened."
Faith was curious at what she meant by that but didn't ask about it. She figured Buffy and Willow probably tracked their official slayers somehow but she knew she could ask when they weren't talking shop. "So if I see a chick fighting a baddie down by the river she's probably a good guy then?"
"That would be a yes."
"Great." Faith grinned as she ate a fry. "What's this slayer's name?"
"Her name's Kate," Buffy answered. "She's a good slayer, knows how to improvise, and she's from that area of the country so she's pretty good at finding trouble." She paused. "I . . . I miss you."
Faith smiled even though the words made her a little sad. Over the last couple of weeks she felt like every time Buffy told her that she missed her she really wanted to say something else. She thought she might even be trying to tell her that she loved her but thinking that made her a little nervous.
She wasn't sure if she was ready to say it back.
"I miss you, too, Buffy."
There was another pause. "Let me know what happens, okay? If it's bad we might have to send more girls into the area."
"I'll call you when I'm back at the motel," Faith said. "Bye, B."
Faith put her cell back in her pocket and looked down at her food, taking a sip of her beer as she did. It seemed that she might be in for a long night and it made her wonder what exactly was strange about what was happening along the river. She also wondered what would happen if she ran into the slayer that was also in the area.
Faith parked the Explorer in an area she hoped would be well hidden from both bad guys and police alike. The last thing she needed was from anything to happen to the truck and have it not be there in case she needed to make a quick getaway.
She strapped on as many supplies and weapons as she could before leaving the truck. Since everyone had a different meaning at what strange was Faith didn't know if she was facing a gang of vamps or a whole mess of demons so she tried to carry a little of everything. That meant wearing a jacket that held three stakes, two knives and a few extra arrows for the crossbow she had strapped to her back. She also had a small axe with her.
There didn't seem to be anyone in the area and Faith saw that as a good thing. She would much rather have a night where she maybe faced down a vamp or two that was trying to hide out than running into a huge problem right away. Faith wasn't familiar with the area so she didn't have any planned out places to lay low if needed.
After about thirty minutes of walking Faith thought she saw some light threw the trees and ducked behind a tree, wanting to stay hidden. All she brought with her with the exception of her weapons was her keys and phone so she knew she would need to get closer so see anything.
Faith was good as being light on her feet so she knew that she would be able to sneak up on whatever was happening without being discovered. The closer she got the more she felt the sense she already felt on the back of her neck. She knew that there was more than just a human presence in the area.
As she got closer she could tell that the light was coming from a small fire and that there were people in the area. A couple of them were talking but Faith couldn't understand what they were saying. She wondered what type of language it was, thinking maybe she would be able to recognize it, but then she saw that one of them had horns.
It was probably a language she would need Giles for.
She got as close as she dared before taking in the entire situation. There were three very obvious demons along with one other being that was definitely not human. From the slayer senses she was getting she knew she was a vampire.
"Look," she said in English, "Dap will be back soon and then we'll all be happy."
The three demons argued in their language before the tallest, and in Faith's opinion the ugliest, spoke. "If he is not back soon we will rip you apart for lying to us."
She looked a little nervous at the comment but Faith could tell she was trying to hide it. "He'll be here."
There were other sounds of people walking through the woods then and they were definitely not trying to hide their presence. Faith knew it couldn't be the other slayer because there was no way she would be that foolish so it had to be more problems for her. Sure enough, a man walked into the opening and he wasn't alone: he was dragging three people, all tied up and unconscious, behind him.
"Okay, here they are," he said as he put the three people near the fire. "Now give us what we want. That was the deal."
One of the demons then brought out something that made Faith's stomach drop: a baby. "I hear that is actually a delicacy."
As soon as the baby was about to change hands, Faith knew she couldn't listen anymore. She didn't know what they planned to do what either the baby or the three tied up people but none of the options she thought of were good. The vampires could be taken out fairly easy but the demons might be a problem. All of them were at least a foot taller than her and built to match. The axe was probably her only option.
Thinking fast, Faith took out her crossbow and aimed for the male vampire since he was the closest to her location. As soon as she had a clear shot she took it and seconds later the vamp was dust and the rest of the group looked to her direction. They didn't, however, duck for cover so she was able to get another shot off, dusting the female vamp this time.
Faith quickly set the crossbow aside and took out the axe, standing and walking away from her concealed position and toward the trio of demons. She noticed the baby had been set down and now was starting to cry.
"I feel the need to ask what the fuck you're doing with three tied up people and a baby but I have a feeling I don't want to know."
"Who are you?"
"I'm the person killing you tonight." Faith took a little bow. "Faith, vampire slayer."
"Slayer?" The demons said a few words to each other in their own language then the main one turned to her. "Thank you for ridding us of the vampires. If you leave now we will not harm you."
Faith laughed, not quite believing what she was hearing. "Yeah, I don't think so."
"Then you will die because you cannot possibly kill all three of us."
"Isn't it just great that I'm here then?"
Faith turned to see another girl step into the opening and she knew it was Kate. She felt the little buzz she got wherever a slayer was around. It's wasn't nearly as strong as when she was around Buffy but it was there.
Kate also had the look of a slayer. She was dressed in camouflage and her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail. It was easy to see that she had an edge to her, like she had a chip on her shoulder, and Faith hoped that made her a better fighter.
There wasn't any time to talk strategy so all Faith did was give the other slayer a quick nod before running and jumping one of the demons, keeping her axe in her hand. She tackled him to the ground but soon she was thrown off, her back hitting a tree and knocking the wind out of her. There wasn't any time to catch her breath because soon the demon was charging for her and it was all she could do to get out of the way.
The demon hit the tree instead of her and Faith used the opportunity to take the axe and slash at its leg, causing it to howl in pain. She quickly looked at the other slayer and noticed she was holding her own before focusing back on her injured demon. He was charged for her again but was slowed now due to the injury she'd given him.
He yelled something at her but she couldn't understand it and thought it was only meant to distract her anyway. He swung at her but she was able to duck out of the way before getting down low and hacking at his uninjured leg. She connected and got another howl of pain in response then jumped on him as he fell to the ground, finishing the fight with one more swing of the axe at his neck.
Kate was holding her own with the other two but Faith could tell her was outmatched and if she didn't step in soon she would be calling Buffy to tell her about a slayer fatality. She quickly jumped back into the action, kicking at one of the demons enough so that his attempted attack on the other slayer went nowhere fast. He recovered quickly, faster than Faith expected, and he swung at her, striking her across the face with enough force to lift her off the ground.
Faith felt the pain from the hit and knew she would have a bruise from it but shook the pain off. There would be time later to feel it but right now she knew she needed to take care of the demon. She used the axe in her hand to slash at whatever she could as she fought the demon, making sure she dodged out of the way of any of the demon's attacks.
It took a few minutes of dodging the demon's fists but Faith finally got the upper hand and her axe was soon buried deep in the demon's chest. She could hear the other slayer swearing as she pulled her axe out and groaned in disgust at the amount of yellow blood on it.
"So you're Faith, huh?"
Faith looked up to see Kate pull a large knife out of the demon she'd just killed. "The one and only. I'm guessing you're Kate?"
"Yeah," she said as she looked around. "I didn't think Buffy would want to send someone to check on me," she said in a southern drawl.
"She didn't," was all Faith responded with as she started to look around. Soon she heard a sharp cry and she saw the baby on the ground, wrapped in a light blue blanket. "I guess this little guy should be somewhere else."
Faith awkwardly picked the baby up, not having much experience with babies. It continued to cry and she attempted to rock it as she watched Kate untie the three people who were still lying on the ground unconscious. She wondered what had happened to them to make them that way and where they came from. They had to have been taken somewhere close by. From the maps she knew there were parks in the area so they could be campers.
"He was taken from the University Hospital a couple days ago," Kate said. "I heard in on the radio."
"Guess we have to take him back then," Faith said as she watched Kate try to wake up the three people. "What about these people?"
"Not sure about them but I bet they were just taken off the streets. You know, easy pickings."
"Huh." Faith looked down at the baby and smiled at the fact he had stopped crying. "My truck is parked about a half hour's walk from here. We should get these people to a hospital."
"Sounds like a plan," she said as she slapped one of the people on the ground.
"Hey! What the fuck are you doing?"
"They're alive." Kate checked the pulse of all three of them. "I don't know why they're not waking up. Maybe it's a spell."
Faith looked at her phone and noticed that she wasn't getting a signal. "I can't call Willow from here. You know anything about magic?"
"Not much." Kate stood up. "Could just be drugged anyway. I've been camping out so my car is a few hours away. Go get yours." She paused. "And take the kid. I'll work on these three."
"I'll get it as close as I can and get back here."
Faith wasn't sure what to make of the other slayer.
With the exceptions of Buffy and the one encounter with Kennedy, Faith hadn't worked with any other slayers and she liked it that way. Many of them had the same personality traits and Faith found that difficult to handle at times. She remembered in Sunnydale she had wanted to strangle half of them most of the time.
Kate was a lot like her though. It was obvious she preferred to work alone as well since she didn't try to talk her head off or ask her questions about her past. The other slayer seemed to simply like the silence between them.
By the time Faith had come back with the Explorer Kate had woken up one of the people, the woman in the group. She had told them what she was leaving a restaurant with when she felt something prick her neck and the next thing she knew she was being woken up by Kate. She didn't have any idea who the two men with her were.
In a few minutes one of the men woke up and Faith got them all into the truck and drove to the nearest hospital. They dropped all of them off quickly and anonymously, which was necessary given the fact they had an abducted baby with them. Faith didn't want to have to answer any questions to authorities who would not understand the situation.
They had to get Kate's car after that and then she followed Faith back to the motel. She hadn't been lying when she said she'd been camping in the woods so Faith offered her a hot shower and a warmer place to crash for the night.
"This place is better than I expected," Kate commented as she walked in.
Faith shut the door behind her and smiled. "I've been in worse."
"Doesn't look like much from the outside."
"That's why I like it." Faith sat down on the bed. "Were you really camping out there?"
Kate nodded. "Three days. I've had to do it a few times with those . . . things. They're most comfortable in wooded areas."
"What are they?" Faith asked.
"They're hybrids. Half troll, not sure about the other half," she answered as she sat on the bed and turned to Faith. "Can you imagine those two demons going at it? Real gross."
Faith laughed. "I try not to imagine things that are bound to give me nightmares." Her cell rang then and she pulled it out of her pocket, answering quickly. "Hey, B."
"How'd it go? Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Faith answered. "Found three demons and a couple vamps doing some weird trade in the woods. Three people for a baby, kinda messed up. Saved 'em all though and ran into Kate."
"Oh," Buffy seemed surprised at what Faith said, "you were actually able to work with another slayer? I'm a little shocked."
Faith scowled. "Are you trying to be sarcastic?"
"Maybe a little," Buffy said, chuckling a little. She yawned and Faith could tell she was already in bed. "I tried calling a couple hours ago but you must have been out of range."
"I was gonna call in the morning." Faith looked at the alarm clock on the nightstand. "It's after two in the morning which means you should be asleep. Don't you have to teach in the morning?"
Buffy sighed. "Yes, I do. You're right, I should be sleeping. We'll talk later?"
"Yeah, babe," Faith said, smiling. "Good night."
"Good night, baby."
Faith hung up and then realized that she had an audience. Kate had been listening to her side of the conversation the whole time. The other slayer had a smile on her face and when Faith raised an eyebrow she shook her head and laughed.
"You and The General, huh?"
"We have a complicated relationship," Faith said, "and don't call her The General. It's weird." She closed her eyes, realizing how tired she was. "I need some sleep and then you probably need to get back to Miami."
Kate smiled. "Definitely."
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