Spoilers for "Chosen". Post-the-second-it-was-over fic. I started this within a week of the finale, with no modifications made for new eps of Angel.

A big thanks to Perri, Dee, Lizbet, and the other Horsechicks for betas, a nd to Mike and Bruce for telling me it didn't suck. Thanks, guys. A tip of the hat to the Sunnydale Socks: I thought of this at about exactly the same time they played with the idea, but didn't take it as far. With all joy to Joss, for giving me a seven-year obsession, and enough plot holes to play with, and continuity to hold it together. Ave, always.

Disneyland by C.L. Kamnikar copyright 2003

"What are we going to do now, Buffy?"

Buffy turned away from the crater that used to be Sunnydale with a very slight smile. She couldn't believe Dawn had just handed her that straight line.

"I'm going to Disneyland!"

Which earned her a look from Dawn, giggles from Willow, a whoop of approval from Faith, and an amused sideways glance from Giles.

"Isn't the Magic Kingdom two hours south of Sunnydale? As we are currently five hundred yards north of the former city limits, I somehow doubt you will be meeting Mickey Mouse any time soon, Buffy."

"Picky, picky." Buffy slung an arm around Dawn's shoulders, turning back toward the bus and the waiting Po-- Slayers. They were Slayers now. She still couldn't get her mind around it, even if it *had* been her idea in the first place. "We just won the supernatural Superbowl, Giles. I deserve all the cotton candy, mouse ears, and rollercoasters I can take, especially since no one's giving me a commemorative ring."

"We should get rings. Or T-shirts! 'We Ashed the Army of Darkness!' Team Slayer, Saving the World Tour 2003!'" Kennedy put an arm around a now-staggering Willow, who smiled giddily back at her. Between sleep deprivation, the fighting, the running, magic spells, and unbelievable triumph and relief, they were all exhausted and loopy. But Buffy felt a pang at Kennedy's words in the middle of the jubilation, sharp as an indrawn breath.

Spike.

Gone.

Later. She'd sort out her feelings about his loss later; she could still feel the searing tightness of burnt skin across her palm, the imprint of his fingers in hers. It would be healed soon, and there'd be nothing tangible left of him. She'd know how she felt, then.

With one last look at the crater where the Hellmouth and the town she'd defended for seven years had been, she stumbled back to the bus, holding onto Dawn, and unable not to smile in spite of the pain in her side, in spite of grief. Above and beyond everything else, there was a lightness inside of her she hadn't felt since the first night in the cemetary with Merrick.

She was free.

Her destiny was now shared with dozens of girls and women, maybe hundreds around the world. She wasn't alone any more, with only Faith to understand. It would never all be on her shoulders again.

"What are we going to do?... Anything we want, Dawnie. Anything we want."

*~*

It had started raining gently by the time Giles pulled the bus into the parking lot of the Breakers Motel. Most of the others were too young or too exhausted to be trusted to drive, and Robin Wood had surrendered the wheel outside of Sunnydale, too badly wounded to continue. And yet, for all that, their wounds were healing faster than they should have. Something had intervened, or maybe getting beyond the reach of the Hellmouth had made things easier for them all.

Faith claimed she was busy fixing Robin up, and thus couldn't take the wheel herself. "Besides, G-man, I've been in jail for three years, and driving, it was never really my thing, you know? You think you can keep it on the right-not-left side of the road?"

"Of course, Faith. I have only lived in this country for seven years. And don't call me that."

She'd flashed him a bright smile before going back to bandaging the principal, and he'd turned the bus toward the highway. San Luis Obispo was two hours away; time enough to think of a story, an explanation for a bus full of wounded young women coming from Sunnydale, by then.

Giles hadn't thought of anything more convincing than 'Girl Scouts escaping from an earthquake' by the time they arrived. Wearily putting their vehicle in park, he turned to Buffy, sitting in the nearest seat with Dawn dozing against her shoulder. "I'm going to see if they have enough rooms for all of us, but if they don't, I think we should allow the most wounded to rest here, with you in charge. I'll take the remainder of the girls to another motel."

"Okay... are you going to pay for this?" she asked, brow furrowing in worry. "Because I'm not sure where my credit card is right now. Probably at the bottom of that pit. The First could be trying to charge Pay-Per-View with it for all I know. We really should have packed for this apocalypse but it never exactly came up before."

"Council funds, Buffy. I suspect we'll be living off them for some time in the future. Fortunately, that's not a problem." His voice softened as he looked at the exhaustion in her eyes, the smudges of smoke across her face. The relief he'd felt when she'd climbed off the roof of the bus... He had no words for it. "Let me deal with this. Just rest. You've accomplished one unimaginable victory today; there's no need for you to fight any more battles yet."

"In spite of Cleveland."

"Cleveland can wait. And so can you. Rest."

She smiled and closed her eyes, tilting her head against Dawn's.

Giles was half-way across the parking lot before he realized that Faith was trailing behind him. "I can handle this, Faith. You don't need to leave Wood alone."

"You're getting twenty rooms for you and thirty teenage girls, G-man. I think they'd like to know you're chaperoned." She grinned at his grimace. "'Sides, Robin needs more bandages, and I'm hopin' they've got a first-aid kit for him and the others, or directions to the nearest clinic. I think he's gonna be okay, but...." She shrugged.

There weren't enough first-edition books in the world to induce Giles to ask Faith about the situation between herself and Buffy's former employer. But her concern was obvious, and the idea about medical supplies a good one. Lord, he was tired. Tunnel vision was starting to take over, moving him from one goal to the next without planning beyond that. Somewhere outside the tunnel there was Scotch, a quiet corner, and time to both reflect and mourn. But not now. "Right. Rooms, then supplies. Necessities for the next few days. Food..." He rubbed his eyes, then reached for and opened the door of the motel office. "And then perhaps a very good scotch."

"Second that one. I'd take the bootleg booze from Cellblock D after this day." She frowned. "Hey, you think there's still a warrant out for my arrest?"

He didn't have a second to comment on that very unwelcome reminder before the motel clerk, a young man whose name tag proclaimed him to be "Ricky", came out of the back office, smiling politely. "Hello. Welcome to the Breakers. Single or double room?"

"Twenty doubles, please. For three days, at least. If you have them?" Giles gestured behind him feebly, at the bus in the parking lot. "There's, um, rather a lot of us."

The clerk's brows rose, then he turned to the computer. "You're in luck. A dentists' conference got cancelled a couple days ago-- they got scared off by the earthquakes-- so I think we've got just enough vacancies. Where are you folks from?"

"Sunnydale," Faith said, before Giles could launch into his prepared 'camping trip gone terribly, terribly wrong' speech.

"Oh, refugees." Ricky nodded knowingly. "Jeez, I thought everybody got out of there weeks ago. Wasn't the San Andreas opening up right underneath the town, or something? You guys must be the last ones out."

"Quite likely," Giles admitted.

"You should contact the Red Cross, they can get you in touch with the insurance guys and the relief centers. Why'd you wait so long to leave, anyway?"

Faith grinned and leaned forward, looking far too pleased to be asked. "It's a long story."

"Yeah?" Ricky looked interested in more than the story, and Giles rolled his eyes as he searched for his Visa card.

"It takes about... oh... a hundred-plus hours to tell. It includes destiny, cheerleading, saving the world, and giant demonic snakes. Plus, leather coats and gymnastics. You sure you're up for hearing it?"

"Uhh...." The young man's eyes were glazed, a common reaction to Faith in flirtatious mode. Perhaps he'd give them a discount for large groups and sexual innuendo.

"Do you happen to have any first aid kits we could borrow? Some of the girls were injured. And possibly, some toothbrushes and other toiletries? We left in rather a hurry," Giles said, shooting the Slayer a short 'behave' look. She pouted at him, then transferred the pout to the clerk, who visibly shook himself.

"Um, right. Yeah, we do. I'll have them sent up. And there's a drug store down the street, two blocks east, if you need anything else." Ricky handed over several room keys. "You've got half of the top floor to yourself, check out's at eleven am on Friday, and the local pizza place starts delivering at noon. Will there be anything else?" he asked, looking hopefully at Faith.

"Nah, that's perfect, Rick. You're a *prince*."

The clerk turned deep red, and Giles suppressed the urge to snort until they were out in the parking lot. "What was all that flattery in aid of?"

"Hey, he quit asking questions about us, right? And he's not gonna believe it's me on the news if he sees anything about the breakout. Trust me, G- Man, no guy wants to think he has the hots for a psycho murderer."

Giles shot her a quick look at that, noting the drawn lines around her mouth. "You're much more than that, Faith. Especially after today. Your help has been essential, and much appreciated. I hope you know that."

"I'm getting there, G-man. Getting there."

"Good. And I must remember to make Xander pay for that nickname."

Faith snickered as they climbed back onto the bus.

****

CLK kikimariposa@prodigy.net