The beach was a definite bonus for where she was at the moment.
The first four days in Mobile it was overcast with a light shower here and there but after that the sun was out in force every day. Faith took the opportunity to get a tan and relax for a change with a smile on her face as she did. It was exactly what she had wanted to do once she had decided to travel.
It seemed every shop had beach attire for sale so it was easy to find a bikini to her liking. She settled for a simple black one, no design and probably with more material than people would expect her to have. Sure, there were plenty of barely-there options but she didn't want to give anyone a free show or have guys try to pick her up when all she wanted was to be left alone.
Besides, the bikini she ended up with was not exactly modest.
For two weeks she'd spent the nights patrolling, staking vampires and killing the occasional demon, and during the day she headed to the beach, taking with her only a towel and a small cooler full of drinks. It was perfect for her.
Faith opened her eyes and squinted into the sun as a man walked toward her. She sat up and sighed, not wanting to be bothered. It had been a late night and she had hoped to get a nap on the beach in order to be fully rested for the night.
"I'm happy I found you here," the man said as he reached her. He wore flip-flops, khaki shorts and an unbuttoned shirt with what could only be described as a loud tropical pattern on it, along with a smile that looked as though it rarely left his face.
"Billy, I thought I told you not to bother me when I'm at the beach."
He smiled a dopey smile as his hand went through his short blond hair. "I got some info for you. Ya know, for tonight."
"And it couldn't wait?"
"No, 'cause I might forget." He chuckled quietly.
Faith waved an arm and he sat down in the sand next to her. She'd met him four nights ago when she got into a bar fight with a pair of vamps and a seven foot yellow demon. He helped her out with the demon and stuck around after to talk to her, something she wasn't thrilled with but he didn't take no for an answer.
It turned out that he was a demon himself but one that was able to hide as a human. His real skin was more of a pale blue and he had retractable spikes over his body that Faith had to admit were kind of cool. He had shown her them the second night they were together and they were definitely effective in a fight. Seeing a vamp get punctured multiple times before getting staked was a sight Faith enjoyed seeing.
His name wasn't even Billy. That name he had picked for himself so he could blend in better with the people in the city. He told Faith his actual name was Biltrenethrem but he thought of himself more of a Billy anyway.
"Okay, what is it?"
"You know that bar, Joey's? The one down the block from where we met?"
"What about it?"
"There's a vamp planning to take it over tonight."
Faith raised an eyebrow. "Who told you that?"
"A demon I know," Billy answered. "He wouldn't lie to me, Faith. He told me so I'd stay out of that bar. I have a rep of wanting to stay outta stuff like that, ya know."
"How do you know he's not full of shit anyway?" Faith opened her cooler and pulled out a bottle of water. "People've been seeing you with me, Billy. They're gonna know that you haven't exactly been staying out of it like normal."
He looked down. "I know."
"So?" Faith asked. "Did your friend know that? I don't like being set up."
"I don't think so." Billy paused as if to really think about Faith's question. "I mean, you've been thinning out the vamps here. There's not a lot left who can challenge you anyway. I don't think there's a vamp in town that would actually want you to know about what they're doing."
Faith knew his statement was a correct one. She had spent each night in Mobile working as hard and as fast as she could, staking as many vampires as she could get her hands on. The last two nights there hadn't been as many and that was a sign for her that it was almost time to move on to the next city. She didn't want any vampires fleeing with the thought that they would be safe in another city. She didn't want vamps thinking she wouldn't follow them.
"I'll go there tonight," she said. "You coming?"
Billy smiled. "Wouldn't miss seeing you in action."
After Billy had interrupted her time on the beach, Faith wandered back to the motel and took a shower before lying down on her bed.
There was a part of her that figured this could be the last night she stayed in the city. She knew that part of the reason she had stayed as long as she had was because she was able to work on her tan during the day but she could do that in other cities, too. Hell, she could simply travel along the coast if she wanted.
Her cell rang and Faith picked it up, flipping it open. "Yeah?"
"Is that really how you answer all your calls or is that just for me?"
Faith smiled. "You're the only one who calls me, B."
"I know that's not true."
It wasn't entirely true. In the past couple weeks she'd talked to Giles and Willow once each but other than that she only talked to Buffy. It had almost become a routine: they talked most days since she'd been in Mobile.
"It's mostly true."
"Uh-huh." Buffy paused. "How's everything there?"
"Okay," Faith answered. "I think I'll probably move on in a day or two. The vamps have either been staked or I think they're starting to move on. Not as many in the last couple nights."
"And how does your friend feel about that?"
Faith smiled at the question. She'd told Buffy about essentially having a demon sidekick the day before and if she didn't know any better she'd think the other slayer didn't like it at all. There was a part of her that wanted to tease her about how she seemed to resent Billy but thought better of it. She didn't know Buffy well enough yet and didn't know how far their new friendship went.
"I haven't told him."
"What do you mean 'I see'?"
Buffy laughed quietly. "He's going to want to go with you, you know that, right?"
Faith knew that was a possibility but she didn't want to discuss that with Buffy. For some reason it made her uncomfortable. She thought it might be that one of her reasons for not staying in Cleveland was she wanted to go it alone and now she was essentially working with someone. It was possible that the other slayer might point that out and use it as a reason for Faith to go back to the rest of them.
That wasn't something Faith would find enjoyable and she actually liked the talks she'd had with Buffy so far. They were easy and simple, something she wanted to get used to with the other slayer. She decided to change the subject instead. "What's going on there?"
There was a pause and it made Faith wonder if something was wrong. "There were a couple problems last night."
Concern flooded Faith and she was surprised at how strong it was. "You okay? Is everyone else?"
"A couple vamp gangs joined together for the purpose of taking out one of our patrol teams . . . just happened to be the one I was leading." Buffy paused, maybe thinking Faith would add something. "I get to wear a sling for a couple days."
"How's that possible? You can take out a gang by yourself and you weren't alone."
"I was taking out the newbies."
Faith nodded then remembered Buffy couldn't see her nod. "Could've been worse, I guess."
"Yeah." There was another pause. "I think I'm gonna have to rethink when I have some of the new ones go out on their own."
"You'll get it figured out."
"So . . . the next city you go to? Are you sticking to one with a beach?"
"Haven't given it much thought but probably. I think I could relax a couple more weeks before heading someplace where I'll need to work a little."
"Well, Florida is slayerless at the moment. Giles moved the one stationed there to Charleston to investigate a possible demon problem. There's been some mysterious deaths that we need to check out."
Faith smiled. "Good to know."
Someone started talking in the background and Faith knew that meant the other slayer was probably wanted for something or other. "Hey, I gotta get back to training. We'll talk later, okay?"
Buffy hung up then and Faith closed the flip phone, tossing it on the bed next to her. She rested her head on the pillow and thought about the conversation. Driving to Florida next had potential but what had her thrown was that when Buffy had suggested the location Faith had gotten the urge to invite her to meet her for the day.
It wasn't like she wanted to have Buffy travel with her but meeting up with her for a day and talking face to face had potential. She figured if Buffy had the time she would take her up on the offer. Since Willow was able to teleport people it would be possible to have Cleveland to Florida and back again be a day trip.
She let those thoughts roam around for a minute before shaking them away. It was wishful thinking that something like that would ever happen. They weren't at that point yet or at least, Faith didn't think they were.
Maybe someday though.
"What kind of weapons you got for me?"
Billy sat on the bed in Faith's motel room watching her pick out weapons for the night. The demon hadn't been able to get any details on the vamp he heard about or how many vamps would be with him so Faith was trying figure out what weapons to bring.
"Dude, you are a weapon," Faith said as she turned to him. "If I had spikes like you do I wouldn't need to have even half this shit around."
"I don't really like using them."
"That why you always wear the human mask?"
He shrugged. "Can't exactly wear the spikes to the beach."
Faith nodded and tucked two stakes away on her person. She decided to also take two knives as well as stashing an axe in the Explorer. If Billy was able to back her up that should be all she needed to take out whoever was in her way.
She wondered why she was okay with Billy being with her during her patrol when she was dead set on going out on her own and she decided it was because he didn't know her past. He was a talker but stuck to asking her about slaying and never asked about anything personal. He also talked a lot about himself and his clan, something she found interesting.
All the slayers and everyone at Cleveland knew about her past and Faith felt they looked at her differently because of it. All the people she had encountered so far didn't have that doubt in their eyes. They didn't feel like they needed to watch her in case she went evil again. It was something Faith liked to see since she was trying so hard to make up for her wrongs.
"You're gonna break 'em out tonight though, right?"
"Faith, you know if a vampire knows what kind of demon I am they won't be that scared of me. The spikes are a defensive feature, not aggressive. We try to live with humans and try to stay away from everything else."
Faith nodded. "I get that . . . then why are you following me around?"
"It's kind of fun." He smiled. "I mean, you're pretty cool, Faith, and I wasn't doing much when we met. I was even thinking of going back to the clan and see what they're up to."
"What do they do?"
"Farming." He made a face. "But it's something to do."
There wasn't a response Faith could think of to that so all she did was nod again and make sure she had everything she needed. It was already getting dark and the bar they needed to go to was far enough away that they needed to drive there.
She thought about telling Billy her intentions as far as moving on to another city but decided not to do it at that moment. He might use the whole night to try and convince her to stay and no amount of staked vamps could make an evening like that bearable. In fact, if he started in with all the reasons she should stay, Faith knew she'd be out of town in the morning.
Guilt trips were not what she needed. What she needed was clean up another bar and think about what city would be next.
"It's up about a block from here."
Faith pulled over into a small area that looked as though it was used as a parking lot. There were a couple of cars there but she couldn't tell if they'd been there a few hours or a few days. It was already dark and everything around seemed to be covered in a layer of dirt.
She looked down the street and aside from a few people the street was practically deserted. It was a recognizable sight as far as Faith was concerned. The place looked like one where the local humans had figured out some evil was present and made it a routine to stay away. She had already gotten familiar with that kind of atmosphere and she'd barely begun to travel.
"Quiet," Billy commented. "Maybe this isn't the place."
"Nah," Faith said, shaking her head. "It looks like exactly the place."
"I don't get it."
"The humans have figured out they either need to leave or risk getting eaten." Faith waved her arm toward the almost empty street. "I think you're info is a little old. I bet vamps have taken this area over for at least a couple days."
"Maybe it's a turf war?"
Faith shrugged, thinking that anything was possible. She got out of the vehicle, leaving the axe inside but making sure she had her stakes and knives on her. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end, something she was definitely paying attention to at the moment. Her slayer sense was telling her there were plenty of vamps close by.
They walked down the street in silence. The bar at the end of the block was only identified with a red neon sign that continually flashed "Joey's". Faith wondered if that was name of the original owner and then wondered if the man identified in the sign was dead. He could also have been turned, something Faith knew was a possibility. Earlier in the week she'd had to stake a guy who was a well known chef in the area. At least, before he was turned.
She walked into the bar first with Billy only a couple short steps behind her. At first glance it looked like an average rundown bar: a disinterested bartender, a few men sitting at the bar and a few more plus a couple women either sitting at the tables or playing darts. But all of Faith's senses were going off. She looked over all of them quickly and realized all of them were vampires.
The bartender looked to her as she took a few steps toward the bar, making sure she didn't turn her back to any of the vamps. "What'd you want?"
"This is a bar, right? How 'bout a drink?"
A woman appeared behind the bar to stand next to the bartender and smiled a smile that made Faith's skin crawl. "This ain't that kind of bar, sweetie. The only kind of drinking we do here would be drinking you and your friend there."
Faith noticed a couple of vamps were slowly starting to inch toward the door in an effort to block her and Billy in. She raised an eyebrow at the woman, who by her stance and by the way the rest of the vamps looked at her was obviously the leader. "You know, I would think you'd have a better line than that."
"Don't need one."
"Right." Faith looked to the closest vamp to her and knew she'd be able to stake him as soon as he moved a couple feet closer. "You know who I am, right?"
"An idiot who found herself about to be drained in a vamp bar?"
Faith laughed as she kept an eye on the closet vamp. "I'm a little disappointed. I mean, I've been taking out vamps like you for days now and no one's spread the word? What's a slayer gotta do to get a reputation 'round here?"
"Slayer?" The female vamp didn't look scared, only interested in the new information. "Having a slayer's blood in the bar will be a delicacy. I can charge a lot for it."
"So that's what you do," Faith commented then in one swift move grabbed the vamp that had now gotten within arm's reach of her. Before anyone in the room could even think of making another move toward her she had a stake in her hand and the vamp was dust a second after that.
What was surprising was how calm the leader behind the bar was as she watched Faith stake one of her employees or maybe a customer. She didn't yell out and curse her like so many others had before her. No, all she did was make eye contact with several of the other vampires in the bar and then gave a slight nod.
And then every vampire in the bar rushed her.
"You better have your spikes out, Billy boy!"
Faith heard him grunt behind her, which meant he had and that he was upset he'd ruined a set of clothes. She didn't even have a chance to smile about it though: less than a second after that she had to block the punch from the first vamp to reach her. Once she had she pushed him back toward the demon then heard a scream as the spikes hit him before Billy ripped off his head.
The vamps in the bar didn't take turns attacking like some of the more moronic vampires. Those vamps always wanted the glory of killing a slayer to be theirs and theirs alone. The current group either didn't know what kind of street cred they'd get or they didn't care.
That was fine with Faith, even if that meant some of them were landing hits that she would normally block with ease. The first few that got to her were clumsy in their approach so within a couple minutes she'd already staked two of them. After that it was all she could do to make sure none of them got the upper hand.
"You out number them!" the leader yelled from behind the bar, looking as though she was content at the moment to simply observe. "Destroy that demon and take the slayer alive! We need her blood."
Those words angered Faith. There was a part of her that had come to accept that there was a chance one day something supernatural would take her out. One thing she was sure of though: she was not going to be taken down by someone who's only purpose for doing so was to sell her blood.
"Can't you vamps just kill for a normal reason?" Faith muttered as she stake one of the vamps, getting dust on her arm in the process.
She noticed Billy was moving forward, toward the bar, and knew what he was doing. He was trying to take out the ringleader of the group since over the last few days every time they'd managed to take out the leader the rest of the group disbanded and ran. It always turned out to be the fastest way to end the large fights they encountered.
Faith delivered a quick punch to one vampire's nose then kicked another in the ribs before managing to stake yet another. "Billy, get some more of these assholes off me!"
He quickly picked up a stool and broke it over the back of one of the vampires. He fell into another one, almost knocking Faith down in the process. She gave him a quick scowl but didn't say anything. With the extra room she staked two more.
They kept coming for her though, something that surprised her. The last couple of fights she and Billy had found themselves in by the time they'd dusted six or seven the rest of them started to scatter out of fear. The fact they were still fighting as a group meant to Faith that the leader had an amazing amount of control over them.
The fight seemed to go on forever but Faith didn't give up any ground. Slowly, she managed to stake each vampire that showed any sign of weakness or felt an opening for her to turn them to dust. Soon only the leader and two others were left, all three now keeping their distance from the slayer and her sidekick.
"Guess your little operation gonna have to close," Faith said. "Makes me a little sad. How 'bout you, Billy boy?"
"All tore up, Faith."
"Don't underestimate what we do, slayer," she said. "I'll take over another bar and you'll never know about it until I've drained dozens and dozens."
Faith knew she was trying to buy some time and she knew Billy knew that as well. He was smarter than he let on and already knew all her signals. So when she gave him a quick nod he knew exactly what she was going to do.
"You know what's funny?"
"What's that, Faith?"
"They think they're getting out of here."
As soon as the words left her mouth Faith ran for the trio with Billy right next to her. They managed to get the two lackeys quickly and Faith grabbed the leader before she managed to slip out the back door. The vamp's look was a mixture of anger and fear as the stake struck her heart, causing her to turn to dust a couple short seconds later.
Faith looked around the empty bar and smiled. It was definitely a good way to end her stay in Mobile. Now she just needed to decide where to go next . . . and if she should invite Buffy for a visit at some point.
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