Title:: Mandatory Survival
Series:: One More
Disclaimer :: I do not own these characters and no profit is being made from the use of them.
Synopsis:: World is what it is. We fight. We die. Wishing doesn’t change that.
Sawdust coated her shoulders and back, stuck to her sweat-slick skin as she felt the Pastor work his hands over her collarbone, palpating the discolored area as she resisted the urge to hiss through her teeth. Her jaw tensed, nostrils flaring as she pushed a heavy breath out through her nose and narrowed her eyes on John as he paced in front of the cement stage she found herself sitting a top of as Jim attempted to help her—again.
“I’m sick of saving your ass, kid.”
Jim’s hands stiffened and he shook his head as Buffy raised her brows and winced as the friendlier of the pair pushed in a little too deep. Her voice was tired as she asked, “Is that a fact?”
“Yeah,” John Winchester turned, watched her through narrowed eyes as Jim shifted to the side and lifted her left arm, pulling it high above her head and a grunt escaped her with the movement, but little else. He sighed, “How long’ve you been a hunter?”
“I’m not a hunter. I’m the Slayer.”
His brow arched, voice dipping toward contemptuous as he corrected himself. “Right, fine a Slayer. How long you been a Slayer?”
She snorted and freed her arm from Jim’s somewhat tender grasp and pushed herself off the stage to make her way past several piles of dust and a dead body so that she stood chest to chest with John. Her chin rose, lips thinning into a defiant line as she met his narrowed gaze and ground out, “Going on three years.”
John’s lips curved upwards as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket. “So you’ve been doing this since you were what, nineteen?”
Buffy’s mouth opened, closed before she shook her head and amended. “Fifteen.”
A startled voice interrupted them. “You’re only eighteen?”
The blonde turned, caught sight of the Pastor standing next to the conveyer belt that would have brought the Master’s vision of mass production into reality—had John not staked his ass. She snorted and resisted the urge to offer the asshole beside her gratitude and instead focused on Jim. “Will be in about a month.”
“You’re seventeen?” John stated the question slow and then added, “and you’re only training has come from Pryce?”
Buffy features became slack and all emotion left her voice as she stated simply, “Yes and no.” She stepped back from them, from the conversation and asked, “Are we done here?”
John’s gaze shifted from her to Jim and the two shared a silent moment before he nodded. “Alright. Let’s go.”
The Pastor stepped over one of the several corpses as he made his way to them and Buffy watched his steady progression before spinning on her boot heel and making her way through the destruction she had helped to create. Her spine was stiff, shoulders pulled back as she stepped carelessly through the ashes of the vampire they had freed. A vampire that had helped them, helped her and in one brief heroic moment he had taken the broken arrow meant for her back and allowed himself to be killed in her stead.
Her stomach knotted in both confusion and pain with the thought that something she’d spent the last few years hunting, killing would sacrifice itself for her. She just didn’t get that, and she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to.
John winced and spared the small blonde a frown as she shouted the wrong name of the man that had given them the intel to find the Master and his cohorts. She met his frustrated stare with a neutral one that had John shaking his head and taking point into the small living room.
There was a surprising amount of noise as Rupert Giles took the stairs two at a time until he reached the landing, nearly breathless, and his eyes wide as they locked on the Slayer. “You’re alive.”
There was a snort and Pastor Jim stepped forward, addressed the other man before Buffy could piss him off, more so than she had before. “The Master is dead. His,” Jim hesitated before offering, “pack has been disbanded.”
Rupert’s brows rose and he nodded. “Yes, pack.” His eyes shifted back to Buffy, gaze considering as he offered, “I’m sorry I doubted you.”
Her shoulder lifted. “Winchester gave the killing blow. Thank him.”
“Ah, yes. Thank you.” His chin dipped in John’s general direction before his focus turned back to Buffy. “Miss Summers, would you happen to know why I’ve been called to active duty?”
She blinked. “Huh?”
Rupert’s brows rose higher. “I’ve been relocated to Boston. Apparently a young woman, a Faith Lehane, has been called.”
The venom in Buffy’s voice stiffened John’s spine and he turned, took a step in front of the small blonde as she moved forward. “Don’t go killing the messenger.”
Her eyes blazed, the scar along her mouth paling as her features flushed with anger. “I’m the damn Slayer!”
“Yes, you are.” Rupert’s calm response had John turning back to him, his large frame still blocking an easy advancement for the fuming Slayer. “I was quite concerned when I first received the call, but that quickly turned to confusion when I was informed by the Council that Miss Lehane has been active for several days.”
John’s brows rose and he met Jim’s gaze from across the room and watched the understanding dawn in his friend’s eyes. The both turned to look down at the blonde Slayer still glaring at the Watcher not five feet away from her. “You died.” Her body jerked, pulling taunt and that angry gaze turned on John who met that wounded stare head-on. “You were dead by the time we got to you.”
“For like a minute.”
Her growled words were followed by Rupert’s horrified question, “You died?”
Buffy stiffened, the muscles in her shoulders tightening as she turned that heated stare on the only other person in the room wearing their emotions for all to see. Her eyes narrowed and she side-stepped John, slipping around him even as he reached for her. “Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Die?”
“No.” John’s head jerked up with Rupert’s quiet contradiction and he let his hands fall away from Buffy’s shoulders, let her finish the short distance between herself and the other man. “That is not one of your duties.”
A grimace twisted John’s features as Buffy gave a short bark of mocking laughter. Jim moved across the room, came to take the space beside him as the wounded girl lifted her chin and glared at the man willing to grieve for her. “But those duties will lead to it.”
“Life leads to death.”
Another laugh, more brittle than before escaped her with Rupert’s quiet rebuttal and she responded, “I guess.” Her head cocked, blonde braid twisting against her back as she questioned, “So what happened with your bad fairy? I don’t see this life getting any easier?”
John frowned with her change in topic, but Rupert’s heavy sigh stopped him from interrupting them. “I wasn’t able to summon her. Apparently only women can,” the Watcher paused, inclined his head, “I don’t suppose you’d be willing—”
Rupert’s mouth thinned, “Miss Summers…” he trailed off as she spun on her boot heel and stomped her way from his living room and towards the front door. He took a step forward, to follow, “Miss Summers!” the door slammed and his shoulders dropped before his gaze settled on the two men who had escorted Pryce’s charge.
John raised a brow as Rupert turned to him while Pastor Jim made his way to follow the Slayer. The other man removed his glasses before meeting John’s steady gaze as the door closed quietly behind his friend and the Watcher stated, “I may have failed in my duty to mention if Miss Summers survived the Master’s newest uprising.” The other brow rose to meet its brother as Rupert continued with, “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Please keep Miss Summers away from Cleveland and Pryce until after her eighteenth birthday.”
His mouth dipped and John directed his hands into the lined pockets of his jacket as he inclined his head. “Why’s that?” Rupert lifted his chin and John sighed as he realized he’d gotten all the information on the sudden subject change that he was going to get. His mouth twisted as he prompted, “What if she never went back?”
“I would think you a valiant and brave man.” Rupert returned John’s smile with smirk before adding, “and utterly mad.”