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Part One: Where Do We Go From Here?

Faith, Giles, Dawn, Willow, and Xander gathered around Buffy at the edge of the newly formed crater.

“Looks like the Hellmouth is officially closed for business,” the dark slayer boasted.

Giles removed his glasses and wiped them with his shirt tales. “There’s another one in Cleveland,” he commented. The Watcher looked around at the group sheepishly. “Not to spoil the moment.”

Xander looked over the edge of the large hole that used to be Sunnydale, his face full of wonder. “We saved the world,” he murmured in solemn amazement. The group had averted apocalypses before, but this battle had felt more profound to all those involved. It wasn’t everyday one could claim to have saved the world from the First Evil.

His redheaded best friend chimed in. “We changed the world,” she added. “I can feel them, Buffy,” she stated, the power and magics from the spell still making her body hum. “All over. Slayers are awakening everywhere.”

Dawn looked wistfully into the crater. “We’ll have to find them.”

Willow’s face twisted into Resolve-Face. “We will,” she said decidedly.

Giles looked amused by something. “Yes, because the Mall was actually in Sunnydale so there’s no hope of going there tomorrow.”

Dawn groaned and kicked a rock into the crater’s depths. “We destroyed the Mall? I fought on the wrong side,” she grumbled.

Xander grinned. “All those shops, gone. The Gap, Starbucks, Toys R Us…who will remember all those landmarks unless we tell the world of them?” he joked.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Giles sighed.

Faith smirked and looked at the others. “Can I push him in?”

Willow laughed lightly. “You’ve got my vote.”

Faith playfully shoved the Englishman. “I just want to sleep, yo. For like a week!”

“I guess we all could,” the former Key observed. “If we wanted to.”

The witch nodded. “Yeah, The First is scrunched so…what do you think we should do, Buffy?”

Everyone suddenly turned his or her eyes to the blonde Slayer, noting her silence for the first time.

The dark haired Slayer smiled cheekily at her former nemesis. “Yeah, you’re not the one and only Chosen anymore. Just gotta live like a person. How’s that feel?”

Dawn stared at her older sister expectantly. “Yeah, Buffy. What are we going to do now?”

Buffy Anne Summers remained silent and looked off into the distance and into the future, a satisfied smile spreading across her face.


“Everybody on the bus!” Kennedy yelled. The group solemnly filed back onto the school bus, their jubilation quickly stemmed by the reminder of those injured and the memory of those left behind.

Faith stopped in front of Vi who tended to Robin’s wounds. “Heya, Principal,” she rasped huskily. “How are those mortal wounds treatin’ ya?”

Robin shifted in his seat and groaned a little. “Charming, Faith.” He grit his teeth when Vi dabbed at the cut above his eye. Unlike the rest of the group, who now benefited from Slayer healing, it would take the former Sunnydale principal awhile to heal.

The dark Slayer turned when she felt a soft hand on her shoulder. Dark chocolate irises met concerned hazel-green eyes.

“How is he doing?” the blonde asked softly. The Boston Slayer didn’t respond, finding herself drowning in the eyes boring into her. Things had been tense between the two women ever since the young group of potentials and original Scoobies had chosen Faith over Buffy to lead the group into disaster against Caleb; but then again, things had always been tense between the one-time friends, one-time mortal enemies.

Finally Vi spoke up, shattering the silence. “He’ll be okay; but we should find a hospital just in case.” Buffy blinked as if noticing the newly charged slayer for the first time. She removed her hand from Faith’s denim-clad shoulder as if the heat of the brunette’s body had burned her.

Vi didn’t notice, or ignored the blonde’s reaction, and instead nodded toward the back of the bus. “I’m sure some of the other girls are gonna need more than these bandages we’ve got, anyways,” she noted.

“You should probably get checked out too, B,” Faith murmured, her eyes trailing down to the blonde’s abdomen. Buffy’s white top clung to her side where blood from her stomach wound had dried the material to her skin.

The elder Slayer winced as if suddenly remembering her own injury. “I’ll be fine,” she insisted curtly. “I’m not staying at a hospital.” She looked down and touched the dried blood on her shirt. “Let’s get going, Giles.”

The Watcher, who had taken the drivers seat, nodded at his former charge. The school bus retched into gear and rumbled down the deserted county highway. All who had previously been standing scrambled around the vehicle looking for empty space. Buffy slid awkwardly across the vinyl material of her seat, taking up the space by the window. She quietly mused how long it had been since she had last sat on a school bus.

The elder Slayer looked up and saw her sister-Slayer continuing to stand awkwardly in the aisle. Faith’s eyes flickered quickly over the empty space next to the blonde and then next to the vacant seat across the aisle. Noting the brunette’s dilemma, Buffy smiled. “Sit with me?” She patted the space next to her.

Shrugging so as to not seem too eager, the Boston Slayer sat down heavily in the seat. She wedged her knees up against the back of the seat in front of her and leaned back slightly, trying to get comfortable.

Buffy squiggled in her seat as well as she attempted to remove her canvas jacket. She moved carefully, so as to not bump the woman sitting next to her. One arm became impossibly stuck however, and in her effort to free her limb, she accidentally jammed her seatmate in her side with a pointy elbow.

“Damn, B!” exclaimed the brunette, gingerly rubbing her side. “Eat a candy bar or something, yeah? Forget stakes, you’re gonna be able to slay the undead with those elbows soon.”

Buffy blushed. “Sorry. I, uh, haven’t been eating that well lately. With the end of the world coming and all,” she explained.

“S’all good, Blondie,” Faith dismissed. She stretched her arms above her head and yawned. “Makes me feel kinda bad though, getting three square meals in the pokey and all that; but then again, at least you didn’t have to shower in public with Big Berthas eyeballin’ the goodies.” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

“Well, at least you had hot water,” Buffy whined, sticking her bottom lip out in a well-practiced pout. “I swear if I ever have to share a house with so many teenage girls again I’m gonna…just let the apocalypse happen,” she ranted, finally succeeding at shedding her jacket. “It’s so not worth it.”

The bus wretched slightly as Giles struggled to put the school bus into a higher gear. “Bloody American vehicles,” he mumbled from the drivers seat, gritting his teeth.

Kennedy snickered in an adjacent seat. “We survived the apocalypse, now we just gotta outlast Giles’ driving,” she joked. A smattering of quiet giggles reverberated through the bus.

A painful silence fell between the two women.

“So, um,” Buffy started, hesitantly. “Have you thought about what you’ll do now? Do you have any plans?”

Faith shook her head and flashed the blonde a quick smile. “You know me, B. Don’t make ‘em. Just go where the wind blows…or the evil grows…whatever.”

Buffy continued to look pensive and hesitant. “Have you thought about – about going back to prison?” she asked slowly, not wanting the brunette to take her words the wrong way. She had just started to get used to having the Boston girl around again, but knew that the dark Slayer took her road to redemption seriously.

Faith scrunched her face up and idly scratched at the back of her neck. “Dunno…thought about it, sure. Would probably be the ‘right thing to do.’ But call me selfish…I’m kinda likin’ all this sunshine and fresh air. Plus, I think I can do more good on the outside.” She paused for a moment and looked over at the small Slayer. “It’s been three years, ya know? I feel like I’ve all repented and shit for my wrongs. Or at least have a good head-start.”

Buffy nodded wordlessly, a look of deep concentration and thought on her face.

“What about you, B?” Faith countered, twisting slightly in her seat to look at the blonde. “Now that you’re not the Chosen One or the Chosen Two, and it’s like the Chosen Thousands now, think you’ll retire and leave the slaying to the Next Gen?”

The blonde frowned. “Retire?” she echoed. She tested the word out, rolling the syllables around on her tongue. It left a bad taste in her mouth.

The bus suddenly careened to the left, throwing the dark haired Slayer’s body hard into the blonde’s. Bodies tossed into one another other and weapons and bandages skidded across the floor until the bus finally came to a rest on the shoulder of the road. Faith recoiled in horror as she suddenly realized that in throwing out her hands to catch herself from falling, she had unintentionally grabbed soundly onto the Californian’s modest, but adequate chest.

The dark Slayer quickly scrambled to her feet, suddenly needing to get far away from the blonde. “Giles, what the fuck is going on up there?” she steamed, her face red from embarrassment.

Giles cleared his throat and spoke in his usual calm tone. “I think we may have, a ah, flat tire.”

Faith looked over and down at the seated blonde slayer. “S-sorry, Buff,” the dark woman apologized awkwardly. “My hands seem to have a mind of their own around your breasts.”

“Why do I suddenly feel like I’m on Billy Madison,” the blonde muttered.

Faith’s mouth twitched slightly. “Your head. It’s cut,” she observed flatly.

Buffy reached up and touched the wound spread across her forehead. “Oh, that,” she stated matter-of-factly. “Yeah, I got it during the Hellmouthy battle.” She paused. “I’m surprised it hasn’t healed by now.”

Faith shrugged slightly. “Maybe with the sharing of the Slayer mojo in Willow’s spell it’s just gonna take some time before our batteries are fully recharged.”

Buffy ignored her injury and smiled coyly as if suddenly realizing something. “How are you just noticing my head wound now?” She gave the dark Slayer her patented half-smile.

Faith’s eyes went wide, realizing what the other Slayer was insinuating. “I – uh –,”

“Well, it’s nice to know you never look at my face when you’re talking to me,” Buffy taunted, feeling her confidence grow as the brunette looked more and more flustered.

The blonde wiggled her eyebrows a little. Standing from her seat, she gave the dark slayer a light pat on the backside as she maneuvered around her in the bus aisle. Faith remained stuck in her position, stunned by what had just occurred.

“Alright ladies,” Buffy announced loudly. “Everyone off the bus.”

Andrew hopped up out of his seat and stood in the aisle, ready to go.

Faith finally found her voice, having momentarily lost it to the blonde’s uncharacteristic flirtatious behavior. “Andy, have a seat; she didn’t mean you when she said “ladies.”

Giles and Xander crowded around the flat front tire. Giles raked his fingers through his graying hair and the carpenter kicked uselessly at the deflated wheel. “Don’t suppose we’ve gotta giant jack for a giant school bus,” Xander quipped.

“Who needs a jack when you’ve got a dozen Jills?” Buffy grinned, walking up behind the two men.

The group groaned loudly at the eldest Slayer’s attempt at humor. “Really, B. Even for you, that was pretty lame,” Faith teased as she exited the bus’s front entrance.

Dawn rolled her eyes, stepping down onto the gravel shoulder from the bus’s stairs. “I’m so embarrassed for you right now, Buffy.”

Buffy blushed, but after a moment coughed to clear her throat and took charge of the situation. “Okay, ladies. Let’s test out those Slayer muscles. I want even numbers on both sides,” she instructed. “On the count of three we lift, and Xander, you put on the spare.”

Effortlessly, the group of newly amped up Slayers lifted the cumbersome school bus and the carpenter hastily replaced the tire. The group of women slowly eased the vehicle back onto the gravel.

“Wow. I guess if this slaying gig doesn’t work out, there’s always car repair,” Vi laughed, wiping her hands on her jeans.

Xander stepped back to inspect his work while the new slay girls piled back onto the bus, the sound of high-pitched teenage chatter once again echoing through the air.

Willow and Dawn approached Giles as he scrutinized a California road map he had found in the bus’s glove compartment.

“We’ve gotta be getting close to a city, don’t you think?” Willow asked Giles anxiously.

The Englishman scanned the worn road map, tracing their route with the tip of his finger. He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You’d think that after decades of deciphering ancient demon texts, that American road maps would seem a paltry challenge.”

Dawn smiled and gave the Watcher a sympathetic pat on the back.

Faith had taken their slight detour as an opportunity to light a cigarette. Blowing smoke rings in the air and watching the little smoky clouds melt in the sky, the brunette became acutely aware of someone walking up next to her, the sound of gravel crunching underneath boots.

“Think you can still handle sitting next to me, F?” Buffy challenged, a smug smile across her beautiful face. “I know you get hungry and horny after a good fight, but I never thought my breasts would fall victim to your advances.”

Faith stuck two fingers in the air at the blonde woman, her cigarette vicariously hanging from her bottom lip. Buffy took the opportunity to snatch the nicotine stick from the younger woman’s mouth and promptly crushed it underneath her stylish-but-affordable boots. After flashing the dark Slayer a brilliant smile, the elder slayer jogged off to climb back into the bus.

“This might be the longest road trip ever,” Faith mumbled to herself, chancing a haphazard glance at the pert backside ascending the bus stairs.


Dawn read the city sign aloud. “Welcome to Buellton.”

“Doesn’t quite have a metropolitan ring to it, does it?” Xander joked.

“As long as they have a hospital and they don’t ask too many questions about how a bus full of teenage girls got injured, we’ll be fine,” Buffy insisted.

After deciding to pass up some of the state’s larger cities for fear of drawing too much attention to themselves, Giles had finally pulled the bus to a stop in a small village along the county highway. Luckily Buellton, although without a Starbucks, did in fact have a small hospital. The bus rumbled to a stop in the hospital parking lot and the uninjured girls, Dawn, and Andrew stampeded off the vehicle, each vying for dibs on the public bathrooms while the Scoobies and Faith helped the wounded hobble into the hospital’s front lobby.

“Good Lord, what happened?” a matronly nurse gasped upon seeing the scratched, bloodied, and worn group enter her hospital. She stood from her chair behind the reception desk and hurried over to greet the newcomers.

Everyone froze slightly, giving the woman a ‘deer in headlights’ look. No one had had the foresight to think up an excuse for his or her appearance. Everyone spoke at once.

“Bus accident,” Giles insisted.

“Horrible fire,” Willow stated.

“Leprechauns with tiny puppy teeth,” Xander blurted.

The nurse peered over her bifocals suspiciously. “Well then, don’t just stand there gawking. Let’s get you all bandaged up.” She waved at Faith who supported Robin’s weight. “Let’s get him settled first. He looks the worse.” The dark Slayer nodded solemnly and allowed the nurse to lead the two down the hallway and into a vacant patient room.

When the nurse returned she ushered each of the injured Slayers into their own rooms. The hospital was spacious, and without many visitors or residents in the town, the patient rooms often remained empty for long stretches of time.

The on-call doctor approached the group who remained in the front lobby. Giles strode toward the man and shook his hand firmly.

“Doctor, thank you for seeing all the girls. We, uh, had an unfortunate accident. School bus,” he informed the other man, sticking to his original story.

The doctor frowned slightly and looked at his clipboard before setting it down. “I’m afraid I’m going to need some medical histories, contact information, and insurance information for everyone.”

Giles winced at the man’s words. “Take your time though,” the doctor assured, noticing the Englishman’s reaction. “It looks like some of your friends might be here for a while, from the looks of their injuries.”

Kennedy snickered under her breath. “Or like, healed by the morning.” Willow nudged her girlfriend and flashed her a trying look.

The doctor took off his reading glasses and peered at the dried blood on the blonde Slayer’s white shirt. “And how about you, Miss? Looks like you’ve had a pretty nasty injury yourself.”

“I-I’m fine, really,” Buffy sputtered in response to the doctor’s concern. “I’m a fast healer. I’ll be right as rain in no time.”

The doctor sighed and rubbed his balding head. “Well, I can’t force you to stay overnight, but you’ll have to sign a consent form indicating that you left despite my better judgment.”

“Doctor,” Giles interjected. “I wonder if Buffy and I might have a word to discuss this before she makes any decisions.”

The doctor grabbed his clipboard off of the receptionist desk and nodded once. “Of course. Just have one of the nurses page me when you’ve come to a decision.” With one final look in the blonde’s direction, the balding man left down the hallway to look in on his new patients.

When doctor had turned the corner into Robin’s room, Buffy held up a hand to stop the others from quickly jumping into an argument with her. “Before you even start, Giles, everyone, I’ve already told you all, I’m not staying here overnight.”

Faith shuffled her feet and looked nervously away from the group. “I-I’ll stay with ya, B,” she croaked, the words coming out thick as they awkwardly tumbled from her tongue. “If it helps make ya feel more comfortable, I mean.”

Giles cleaned his glasses on his sweater and placed them back on the end of his nose. “Buffy, I do think the concern is real. Perhaps it would be best for you to stay the night under the hospital’s careful observation. You were stabbed in the abdomen, don’t forget.” He glanced anxiously at the brunette. “And we’ve seen what that can do, even to a Slayer. You may have internal bleeding of which we’re not aware.”

Buffy briefly glanced in the direction of the brunette Slayer who was nervously picking at imaginary lint from her denim jacket. When the Boston girl looked up, the blonde quickly averted her eyes.

“Giles, I don’t know,” Willow spoke up. “I just really have this uneasy feeling. I mean, what if there are other Bringers still out there killing newly Called girls? We should really push forward and get as far from Sunnydale as possible. Regroup.” She nodded once, firmly. “LA’s the best option I think. We have resources there with Angel and his team.”

“Whoa, Wills. As much as I enjoy a little action as much as the next one-eyed carpenter, don’t you think it’s a little soon to be jumping back into the fray?” Xander paused waiting for a reaction from the others. “I say we find a nearby motel and rest – just until the rest of the group is released from the hospital. Then we can all make an informed decision together without leaving anyone behind.”

“Well, B. Since you’re still the head honcho,” Faith observed dryly, shoving her hands into the tight front pockets of her pants, “what’s it gonna be?”

Contributed by Lizardmm

Where Do We Go From Here?

- If Buffy decides to stay the night at the hospital for observation, click here.
- If Buffy leaves the injured slayers and Robin Wood at the hospital and continues onwards to LA with the remaining group, click here.
- If Buffy and rest of the group leave and find a place to stay until the wounded recover, click here.