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A Beach and Some Sun

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They went to Italy on their honeymoon. They didn’t have time for a long trip-- what with taking care of baby Slayers and all-- but between Kennedy, Willow, Xander, and Dawn, they had enough help for a week or so of vacation.

It was a glorious week. As they got on the plane the day after the wedding, Faith realized that she hadn’t had a vacation since she was called as Slayer-- sure, she had spent years doing nothing in prison, but that didn’t really qualify. She said that to Buffy when they had sat down and gotten all settled, and Buffy went really quiet. “Me, either,” she said.

“Feels nice,” Faith said.

“Yeah,” Buffy agreed.

And then Buffy rested her head on Faith’s shoulder, and Faith held Buffy’s hand, and the plane took off.

When it touched down a few hours later, Faith and Buffy got off, carry-on bags in hand, to see sun streaming through the airport windows. Faith could feel Buffy stand up a little straighter, and she smiled-- she had never been one for sunlight, really, but Buffy was a California girl through and through. When they had been deciding where to go, Buffy had said, “Anywhere with a beach and some sun,” and Faith had suggested Italy on the grounds that it was closer than California and had plenty of coastline.

They got their rental car and drove off. They were going to a little tourist trap of a town-- they had thought about Rome, and then about Naples, but Faith had pointed out that any city they went to would inevitably have some sort of vampire crisis that they’d feel obligated to solve instead of actually enjoying their honeymoon. And they had a Slayer in Rome, and a Slayer in Naples, so they actually weren’t obligated to solve anything. It was a nice change.

Faith was in the driver’s seat as they cruised down the highway, which was disconcertingly on the left side of the car. She realized with a jolt that she had gotten used to driving on the “wrong side” of the road-- especially since she had technically taken her driver’s training in England.

“God, B, I’ve gone native,” she said, looking the wrong way as she turned.

“Well, I could always drive if you’re worried,” Buffy said. Faith could hear the laugh in her voice.

“I’m not that worried,” Faith tossed back, grinning. She had let Buffy drive with her in the car exactly once; it was actually what had prompted her to take driver’s training. “I want to survive this honeymoon thing.”

“You’d be okay,” Buffy said. “The passenger’s seat is safer.”

“I was kind of trying to avoid being widowed before I was thirty, B,” Faith said.

“It’s still longer than most Slayers live,” Buffy said.

“Longer than I was going to live, if Angel hadn’t shaped me up,” Faith said.

“Longer than I did live, technically,” Buffy said.  

“It’d be kind of a shame to die in a car crash, though,” Faith said. “I mean, with all the demons and stuff trying to kill us daily.”

“Plus all the kids with newly discovered superpowers,” Buffy added.

“Can’t forget,” Faith agreed, pulling off onto an exit. “Check it out, B. Our perfect vacation awaits.”

They were staying at some touristy resort, with big windows in the rooms and umbrellas on the beach. Faith hadn’t ever been to a beach before. She had seen the ocean, sure, on two different coasts, but never so much, and never so blue. What really drew her in, though, was the strong waves crashing against the shore and the families splashing around, looking tiny in the expanse of the sea.

Faith wanted to run in immediately, but first they had to check in, and then they had to unpack (or, Buffy had to unpack; Faith just kind of dropped her suitcase in the corner of the room), and then they were hungry and had to get lunch, and then Faith could change into the dark red one-piece she had bought the week before and drag Buffy down to the waves.

Buffy flat-out refused to swim, but she was wearing her swimsuit, too, a sky-blue bikini, and so Faith had no qualms with wrestling her into the water. She shrieked at the cold, and Faith swept her up into a bridal carry while Buffy laughed and grabbed at Faith’s shoulders.

“This is all right,” Faith said. “Turns out you people were onto something in California.”

“Put me down!” Buffy yelled.

“Whatever,” Faith said. She lowered Buffy into the water, which was only knee deep, but Buffy was shivering anyway.

“I’ll get you for that,” she said.

Faith raised an eyebrow.

“Is that a promise?”

Buffy bent down and plowed her arm through the water, splashing Faith with an energy that only a Slayer could muster.

Good thing Faith was a Slayer too.

She splashed Buffy back, an a moment later, they were engaged in a truly epic waterfight. They splashed back and forth until finally, Faith jumped at Buffy, and they fell onto the beach, winded and laughing.

“Told you the beach would be fun,” Buffy said.

“I never said it wouldn’t be,” Faith protested.

“You kind of did.”

“No way. Would I doubt your wisdom?”

Buffy grinned. “Yes.”

“Whatever.” Faith looked at Buffy for a moment, all happy and smiling with her wet, sandy hair, and then Faith leaned right in and kissed her, soft and slow.

When she pulled away, Buffy’s big smile had turned into a soft, sweet, little smile, and Faith knew she was returning the look. She let it stay for a moment before she started to feel awkward about being in a public place, and also about the entire left side of her body being caked in sand. She sat up, brushing it off.

“I take back what I said about liking beaches,” she said, looking critically at her arm. “I’m never going to get all this stuff off.”

“Oh, yeah?” Buffy grinned, pushing herself up on her arm. “I guess you’ve got to get back in the water, then.” She launched herself up and crashed into Faith, who laughed as she pitched backwards into the waves.

It was nice, being married. Or maybe it was just nice being married to Buffy , who made the whole thing seem a lot more tolerable than Faith had expected as a kid. And it was nice being married to another Slayer, who Faith couldn’t hurt if she squeezed too hard or pushed too hard or… well, really did anything with too much force. Which was nice. After she had been Called, she had had a couple of close calls during one-night stands.

Good thing she’d never seen those guys again.

She had spent years learning to control her strength, anyway. But it was still nice not to have to worry.

They had a whole romantic candlelit dinner thing that first night. Buffy had that soft smile on her face the whole time, and Faith knew she was returning it, despite her best intentions.

The week continued like that-- they went to restaurants Buffy had found in a guidebook, and a museum or two that Faith had found online, and they sat on the beach, Buffy trying to lie on her towel and absorb the sun while Faith horsed around, trying to tug Buffy into the water.

On the fourth day, though, Buffy got a call on her cell phone in the middle of the afternoon while she and Faith were walking hand-in-hand along a shop-lined street. Looking at the caller ID, she rolled her eyes.

“It’s Giles,” she said. “Does the word ‘honeymoon’ mean nothing to him?”

She flipped the phone open and held it to her ear.

“Hello, Giles. Is this important?”

Faith couldn’t hear what Giles was saying on the other end, but it must have been important, because Buffy glanced at her and sighed, saying, “Yeah, I’ll ask her.”

“Ask what?” Faith demanded.

“Bye, Giles,” Buffy said, and she flipped the phone shut. “Apparently there’s something going on in Rome. Like, apocalypse level.”

“Don’t they have people in Rome?” Faith asked.

“Just Isotta, and she’s inexperienced,” Buffy said. “And she shares her Watcher with the entire rest of Italy, apparently, so the Watcher can’t get there soon enough.”

“But we can.”

“Yep.” Buffy shrugged. “What kind of honeymoon would we have if it didn’t get interrupted by the apocalypse?”

“A pretty damn nice one,” Faith grumbled. “But let’s go. You want to text Giles?”

“I’d better call,” Buffy said. “I don’t think he’s figured out texts.”

They walked back to the hotel as Buffy called Giles back. As she hung up, Faith asked, “So, are we bringing all our stuff with us?”

“I guess we’d better,” Buffy said. “We should check out, too. We were just going to go back home in two days, anyway, and I’m guessing this apocalypse thing will take about that long.”

“Maybe it’s our fault,” Faith said. “The dark forces knew the Chosen Two were coming to town and they couldn’t resist giving us a challenge.”

“Careful,” Buffy said. “Don’t let the whole Chosen Two thing go to your head. You’re one of the Chosen Two Thousand now.”

“Whatever,” Faith said. “We’re still the oldest.”

“Do you think we’re the oldest Slayers ever?” Buffy asked.

“Nah. Nikki Wood had a kid, remember? And he was, like, four when she died.” By now, they were at the hotel. Faith held open the door as Buffy walked through.

“How old was she when she had Robin, though?” she countered. “And don’t forget, you’re younger than me. So technically, I’m the oldest Slayer ever.”

“Until you die in a tragic accident,” Faith said, “and your poor widow has to take up the reins.”

“God. I hope not. I’ve only just gotten used to being alive.”

Faith just grinned. By now, they were in the elevator on the way up to their room, and they were both deflating a little bit.

“I can’t believe we have to go save the world,” Buffy said as the elevator doors opened.

“All part of a day’s work,” Faith said. “Slayers can’t have nice things.”

Buffy took Faith’s hand. “This is a nice thing,” she said. “Us, I mean.”

“You sap,” Faith said, fumbling to get at her key card just with one hand. “And anyway, this only works because they’re calling us both to the front lines. Imagine if it were just one of us, and the other had to sit in the hotel room, waiting.”

“That’d never happen,” Buffy said. “Even if one of us weren’t a Slayer. We’d be going with each other.”

“Do you really think so?” Faith asked. She pushed open the door to their room. “Because it’s a Slayer instinct that would make me want to go along. Can’t separate the Slayer from the girl, B.”

“Guess not.” Buffy shrugged. “I still kind of hate that.”

Faith let go of Buffy’s hand and went for her suitcase, shoving all her stuff in. “If you weren’t a Slayer, you would never have met me. Probably, you’d still think you were straight. And you’d be a cheerleader.”

“I’d be out of college,” Buffy said. She was folding all of her clothes, even the dirty ones. “Too old to cheerlead. Probably doing something like interior design. Or maybe I’d be a psychologist.”

Faith looked over at her. “We don’t have time for all that folding.”

“We don’t have time for the hour-long drive to Rome, either,” Buffy said. “Five minutes of folding isn’t going to make a difference either way.”

“Whatever,” Faith said. “Just don’t blame me when the entire Colosseum falls into Hell.”

Ten minutes later, they had checked out of the hotel and were driving along to Rome. Faith was behind the wheel, and Buffy was on the phone with Isotta, the Slayer there, trying to figure out what it was that was about to cause the end of the world. After fifteen minutes of conversation, during which Faith caught snatches of dialogue, Buffy hung up and said, “The Pope managed to piss off the superlawyers.”

“What?”

“I don’t get it either,” Buffy said, “but remember Wolfram and Hart?”

“Those guys Angel was working for?”

“Yeah. Their Rome branch is run by an un souled vampire.”

“What did the Pope do?”

“Tried to shut them down, I guess,” Buffy said. “So now they’ve hired some witches or something who are using some huge spell to pull the Vatican into another dimension, but they went too far, and--”

“Let me guess,” Faith said. “There’s a good chance the rest of the world will go with it?”

“Pretty much.”

“So, what’s our plan?”

Buffy sighed. “I wish someone else would come up with the plans.”

“Yeah, but you know full well they won’t, and you’re traditionally plan girl. So, plan girl, whatcha got?”

“Well, they’re using this big spell thing. So I figure, we stop the spell, we stop the big suck. Willow’s coming down, so if we go in and fight while Willow runs magic interference, we can stop them.”

“Interesting,” Faith said. “How do we stop them?”

“They’re using some incredibly rare ingredients,” Buffy said. “I didn’t understand it all, and Isotta didn’t know the English for everything, either. But pretty much if we can destroy their stuff, we ruin the spell, and even the combined powers of Wolfram and Hart can’t find more.”

“Sounds like a party,” Faith said.

Half an hour later, they were driving down the streets of Rome, trying to find parking near Isotta’s apartment. Faith was mentally running through her limited knowledge of Italian, mostly amassed from things people had said to her in the last four days and from things Kamala had learned from one of her friends at school. The former was mostly pleasantries; the latter, swear words. Neither one was entirely helpful here. Good thing Isotta spoke English.

Faith finally parked the car on a side road, and she and Buffy hopped out and made their way to Isotta’s apartment. This was something that the new Council was doing-- they funded a small apartment for each active Slayer. As Faith walked into Isotta’s building, she duly noted that it was pretty nice, especially given where she had been at age eighteen. It was a good thing they were doing, for the Slayers. Faith was proud of that, these days.

Isotta opened the door to the apartment with a grin and a hug for both Faith and Buffy. She had been one of their more enthusiastic students, so Faith and Buffy had gotten to know her pretty well. She had lived with Willow and Kennedy for a while, too, at the very beginning when Willow and Kennedy had still been together. Willow knew Latin, which apparently gave her a good head start on Italian.

And now she was standing in front of Faith and Buffy, grinning and inviting them in as if the most serious thing on her mind was what she was going to give them for dinner.

“I heard you got married,” she said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there!”

“No worries, kid,” Faith said. “You’ve got a job to do.”

“Anyway,” Buffy said, “turns out you could make the honeymoon, which is more than most people who ditch a wedding can say.”

Isotta backed out of the doorway, and Buffy and Faith walked in.

“So,” Buffy asked, “what’s the sitch?”

Isotta sat down in an armchair. “What?”

“It’s Valley Girl for, ‘What’s going on?’” Faith explained, sprawling across the couch. “Ha, B, I told you California’s like a whole different country.”

“It is if you’re from Boston ,” Buffy grumbled as she neatly lifted Faith’s legs and sat down under them. “What even is Boston? Sounds cloudy and sad. Like London.”

“Someday I’ll take you there, B. You’ll see. But we’ve got an apocalypse to deal with first.”

Buffy settled into the couch. “All right, Isotta. Give us your worst.”

Isotta ran them through the drill. It wasn’t all that interesting, or all that unlike anything Buffy and Faith had seen before. As Isotta was talking, though, her cheery facade cracked more and more, until she was shaking with fear.

“I’m worried about my city,” she said. “Even if the world doesn’t go-- I love this city. I want you to know that.”

“Hey, we don’t want the pretty churches to fall apart any more than you do,” Faith said. “Anyway, if all the vampires and demons in the world couldn’t take them down in the last thousand years or whatever, this spell’s got nothing, all right? Your city’ll be fine.”

“What are we waiting for?” Buffy asked.

“Willow,” Isotta said. “They said they’d send Willow, on the phone.”

“You’ve been talking to Giles? Buffy asked.

“Dawn,” Isotta answered. “I was scared-- too scared to talk to Giles.”

Faith had half-forgotten that Isotta and Dawn had been friends. Isotta had left their school maybe three years ago, and was now in college somewhere in Rome. It was weird to think that Dawn was that age, too.

But then again, it was weird to think that Faith was twenty-six and married, so whatever.

There was a knock on the door, and Isotta opened it for Willow to enter.

“That was fast,” Isotta said.

“I flew,” Willow said.

“Lucky there was a flight at the right time,” Isotta said.

Willow and Buffy exchanged a look. Faith could see Buffy holding back a giggle.

“I don’t need a plane,” Willow explained.

Isotta’s eyes widened.

“Like Superman,” Faith said.

“Superman couldn’t fly,” Buffy said. “He leapt buildings in a single bound.”

“Shouldn’t we get to the apocalypse part of our apocalypse?” Willow asked. She poked Faith’s shoulder. “Move over.”

Faith sat all the way up, and Willow settled next to her.

And so the planning began. As darkness fell outside, Buffy and Faith were gathering their weapons, ready to ride against the forces of darkness once more.

The plan was a simple enter-and-destroy type thing-- they had enough intelligence to know where Wolfram and Hart kept their top spellcasters and ingredients, and so Willow was going to breach their magical defenses, Buffy, Faith, and Isotta were going to fight their way through the physical, and hopefully that would be enough to destroy the spell.

As the three of them walked up to the Wolfram and Hart offices, Faith grabbed Buffy’s hand.

“If you die on our honeymoon, B, I’ll never forgive you,” she said.

“I wouldn’t expect you to,” Buffy said, bumping her shoulder to Faith’s. “You’d be a hot widow, though.”

“I’d be a hot anything,” Faith said.

“Good point,” Buffy replied. They stopped, now at the doors. Isotta fidgeted with the stake in her hand, but Faith and Buffy paused, looking at each other.

“You’d really better not die,” Faith said.

“You, too,” Buffy replied.

Faith kissed her, a soft, tender kiss that she’d only learned how to do after she started dating Buffy, and then she dropped Buffy’s hand in favor of readying her crossbow.

“Let’s go!” Isotta cried, pulling on Faith’s arm.

“Give me a second, kid,” Faith said, shaking her arm out of Isotta’s grasp. (Getting to call people “kid” was definitely one of the best parts of her job.) She looked through the scope of her crossbow, grinned at Buffy, and kicked down the door.

The battle was long and hard, but so was every battle, really. By the end, Faith was exhausted, wiping sweat from her face while she tried to figure out what all had just happened.

“We won,” she said. “Yeah?”

“We won,” Buffy agreed.

Isotta nodded, her stake still raised.

“Cool,” Faith said. “You guys up for dinner?”

“After we connect with Willow,” Buffy said.

“Damn, B, I’m hungry,” Faith complained.

“She reads minds,” Buffy said. “It won’t take long.”

Sure enough, Willow’s voice soon entered Faith’s mind, and minutes after that, they were all gathered at the first restaurant they had been able to find.

“Sorry to interrupt your honeymoon,” Willow said.

“It was inevitable, really,” Buffy said.

“No rest for the wicked,” Faith added.

“At least we’ll make our flight back,” Buffy said. “Could’ve been worse.”

And so they spent the last night of their honeymoon on Isotta’s pull-out couch, an ending that seemed fitting, somehow, to Faith. It reminded her of those days after Sunnydale was destroyed, when she and Buffy had shared motel beds and tried to deal with the fact that now there were more Slayers than they had ever dreamed of. She had been so lost then. She liked to think she’d found herself since those days, maybe. Or come into herself, or something. Become someone worthy of a wife and a steady job, such as it was, and foster kids to boot. All she needed was a white picket fence, really.

It took her a long time to fall asleep, but she didn’t mind. Not with Buffy there to lie awake with.

They flew home the next day, hugging Isotta goodbye at the train station before riding to the airport. The plane ride was uneventful, and when they got back, Faith drove their car home, where there were three young Slayers waiting for them.

Once at their house, before she got out of the car, Faith leaned over and kissed Buffy on the cheek.

“Did you have a nice honeymoon?” she asked.

“Best I could ask for,” Buffy said.

Faith grinned and pushed the car door open.

“Ready for married life?” she asked.

“Yep,” Buffy said.

Faith stepped out of the car, feeling the wind on her face. As Buffy walked around to join her, their fingers interlacing, Faith felt completely content.