SUMMARY: Post-Chosen installment 3 (a sequel to my "Now Leaving Sunnydale" and "Now Entering Elsewhere"), in which the Scoobs settle down and I find out what it's like on those things they call 'ships.

SPOILERS: All of BtVS, as you could probably figure out from the whole "post-Chosen" thing.

'SHIPS: Because the first time out of the harbor you should make things as complicated as possible, I somehow ended up with Dawn/Andrew, some slight Xander/Willow and there's Giles/Faith friendship. This is a WIP at the moment, with self-contained episodes, so any of those may move towards more intensity, though I think not so much with the Giles/Faith. But I freely admit that I really have no idea where I'm going with this.

RATING: PG

DISCLAIMER: All characters, settings, universe, etc, belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, who have all the rights and all the cash.

ARCHIVING: Absolutely, but ask first so I know where it is.

FEEDBACK: Please! Send to annakovsky@hotmail.com

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Getting Off the Griefmobile

By Annakovsky

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CHAPTER ONE

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In the end, the decision of where they were going to set up shop was made by the Griefmobile itself, which finally gave up the ghost during their second time through Kentucky. Apparently twice through a state that provoked Xander's incest jokes was too much even for the bravery of a bus that had driven out of a collapsing town, spent a fair amount of time with newly-made Slayers who didn't know their own strength, seen two oceans, fourteen rivers, five lakes and one geyser, gone "accidentally" off-roading with Faith, and run over two medium-sized demons. But really, you couldn't blame it.

At the very moment Xander said "Incest: a game the whole family can play!" the bus gave a coughing noise and sighed (much as Giles had on hearing the word "incest" for the fourth time that morning), and smoke began pouring out of the engine. Willow quickly pulled the bus over and they calmly and quickly exited. For the most part.

"Andrew, yelling 'We're all going to die' isn't terribly helpful, now is it?" Giles said when they were all on the shoulder, taking off his glasses and polishing them. Andrew shrugged sheepishly.

"Where the heck are we?" asked Dawn groggily. She'd been asleep before all the yelling and the fleeing.

"You obviously missed the incest jokes," said Willow.

"Kentucky, huh?" said Dawn knowingly.

"Got it in one."

Faith had gone around and popped the hood, and she and Xander stood looking at the engine. Buffy joined them, and pretended to look at it knowingly for a minute before giving up.

"So, uh, is it fixable?" she asked.

"Oh, I have no idea," said Xander. "I just thought it would be more manly of me to stand over here. And I have to tell you, out of my vast expertise in school bus repair, I think the problem has something to do with all this smoke." Buffy rolled her eyes at him and turned to Faith.

"Well, B, I think our friend Mr. Griefmobile is kaput," she said. "Stuff's melted together here, see?" Buffy looked at the section Faith was pointing to. It sort of looked like the time she had put Dawn's favorite Barbie in the oven to hide it from her and then had forgotten about it until after Mom had preheated the oven for dinner. And boy, had that ever been over-reaction city, by the way. She imagined that that the look did not bode well for school buses either.

"Wonderful," said Buffy. "Giles?" He came over. "Does Triple A do buses?"

"And more importantly," said Xander. "Does Kentucky have that new-fangled electricity yet?" No one dignified that with a response.

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A few hours later, the bus had been towed and they were all hanging around outside the towing place with their bags, waiting for Giles to finish settling up inside. It was hot and sticky, and a fly buzzed half-heartedly near the bench where Buffy and Willow sat, both in sunglasses and flip-flops. Despite the heat, Dawn and Andrew were enthusiastically playing some kind of game that seemed to involve stepping on each other's feet, which meant the two of them were dancing around as each tried to keep their feet safe while trying to land on the other one's toes.

"Hey! No elbows!" said Dawn. "You are such a cheater!" She pushed him slightly, laughing. Andrew was grinning dopily.

"Oh my God," Buffy said under her breath to Willow, tipping down her sunglasses to stare at the two and roll her eyes. "Tell me I'm not going to have that for an in-law."

"So glad I'm an only child," said Willow.

"Stupid monks. They couldn't have programmed her with good taste?"

"Well, they did make her out of you," teased Willow.

"And yet!" said Buffy, grinning.

Giles walked out of the small office of the towing place, looking alarmed when Dawn and Andrew nearly leaped right into him.

"What on earth are you doing?" he asked reflexively.

"Oh, well, we're playing this game where…" Andrew started.

"That's nice," said Giles, turning to the others. "I called us some cabs. The council has a house just outside Louisville that we can use for the time being."

"The council has a house? Here? May I ask why?" asked Xander.

"It's an ideal location for keeping an eye on the Hellmouths in Cleveland and in Nashville. It serves as a kind of central Headquarters. I believe they may even have kept a substantial library."

"There's a Hellmouth in Nashville?" asked Willow. Giles nodded distractedly.

"I *knew* there was a logical explanation for country," muttered Buffy as the cabs pulled up and they all trailed after Giles, as usual. Much of the trip had consisted of Giles enthusiastically leading the way around historical sites and national parks, throwing facts over his shoulder to the rest who spent their time dragging themselves behind him with notably less gusto. The longer they were all together, the more this felt like a family vacation. All it needed was a station wagon and someone getting carsick to make it complete.

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The house was in what felt like an old country neighborhood, with winding narrow roads and huge old trees everywhere. They passed a lot of kids riding bikes or walking down the road in swimsuits, towels slung over their shoulders. One was balancing an inflated beach ball on her handlebars and swerving rather erratically, to her friends' hysterical delight. The cab driver gave them a wide berth.

The house itself was on a hill, a huge white house with pillars, looking like it could've been an old plantation manor. The driveway was long and curving, with an iron gate at its entrance that was propped open. They spilled out of the cabs and gaped at the building. A porch wrapped around it with the requisite Southern rocking chairs, and large oak trees shaded it. There was a plaque by the door discretely stating "Council of Watchers".

Giles picked up his bag as the cabs drove away and began walking purposefully towards the house, again throwing information over his shoulder at them as they scrambled to get their stuff together.

"Now, I haven't been here in years, but I believe there are a number of bedrooms which were kept furnished for guests. Due to the decrease of demonic activity in Cleveland two years ago, this headquarters was declared inactive and the Watchers recalled to England to keep an eye on the situation in Liverpool, but the house has been kept up rather well in case of emergencies, and I think we'll find that it will serve our needs, at least for the time being." He unlocked the door with one of the keys on his official Watcher's key ring. Giles had finally acquired access to the Council's funds and, as the last remaining active Watcher in contact with the legal representation, was declared the new Council head and given latitude to use the funds to rebuild it as he saw fit. This included keys to all the Council owned buildings around the world, plus a complimentary keychain forming the letters "CoW" in bronze. It was very tasteful. It was also, of course, the subject of endless mocking. Giles only really minded the mooing noises. ("Oh really, you lot. Again?")

The house in fact had eight bedrooms, four on the first floor and four on the second. It also had an enormous kitchen and dining room, and library that held a good number of useful books, though not, of course, the most rare editions which had perished in England with the Council. It was also, for no apparent reason, equipped with an enormous ballroom with quite a few good-sized rooms connected to it that were probably originally for storage.

"What's with the ballroom, Giles?" Buffy asked.

"I believe that was here when the Council purchased the building, built for the debutante daughter of the original owner."

"Weird. It'll make a great training room, though, if we just get some gymnastic equipment in here."

They all wandered around the house wide-eyed, calling to each other to exclaim over everything. Each of them claimed a bedroom, since there were enough for each to have their own. The rooms were small but airy and light, simply decorated and furnished with beds, dressers and desks, white sheets and yellow comforters. Big windows looked out on the lush lawn, leafy trees and green grass, with horses in the distant field beyond their yard. Buffy's room had a gable with a window seat.

Buffy and Faith eagerly discussed how they could optimally lay out the training room, and Xander pointed out that one of the rooms off the ballroom would make a great TV room and that another could hold a pool table. Giles and Willow got excited over the library, which had even more books than they had expected, beautiful wooden shelves, tables and leather covered chairs.

"Oh yeah, I could stay here," Buffy said casually, and when they all nodded she realized it was true. The Griefmobile had chosen well.

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To Be Continued...

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Notes: I'm from Kentucky, which is possibly the most beautiful state of them all, so the mocking is in good fun. But if anyone from out-of-state tries it, I get peeved, so watch it.

Also, there really is a house that looks just like that (though I may have overhyped it) in the neighborhood where I grew up, so that's where this is set. I have no idea what the inside is like, but my dad grew up in a house in Louisville that actually had a ballroom in it (as well as six bedrooms and a million fireplaces and stuff), so there you go. I think he and his friends used the ballroom for kickball.