"Silver dollar pancakes, yum."

"Belgian waffles with strawberries. Oo. And sausages on the side."

"Santa Fe omelet and my own jug of coffee."

Willow snorted, studying her menu as the younger Slayers debated the pros and cons of the Denny's Grand Slam breakfast the morning after the wake. The other girls seemed convinced that their likelihood of exploding if they ate as much as they wanted was only a faint, unlikely dream; maybe that Slayer thing about eating after a big fight was finally kicking in. Xander grinned at her over his menu, then shook his head at Kennedy's announcement that she intended to have sausage *and* bacon *and* eggs, because Slayers didn't get cholesterol poisoning.

"I don't think any Slayers have lived long enough before this to find out if that's true, Kennedy," Willow said worriedly.

"Well, they're about to."

"Good ambition," Dawn commented. "Be the first Slayer to die of a heart attack not induced by fright."

"Hey, anything's possible now," Kennedy responded airily. "That's kinda the point, right?"

Giles grimaced and took a sip of his tea. "Still, I don't think the first thing the new Watcher's Council wishes to invest in is a stomach pump."

"Watchers, schmatchers."

Buffy frowned. "You know, as long as there are only, what-- five of you guys? I think now is a good time to talk about a couple things that ought to change. Maybe starting with that name. 'Watchers.'" She smirked at Giles. "You guys need a new title, one that doesn't hint that you're just standing around taking pictures. Especially since the standing-around part always ended up with you rushing in and getting hit on the head. Maybe if we call you guys 'coaches' or 'umpires' they'll show you a little respect. And maybe learn to wear protective helmets."

"Easy enough for you to joke about, Buffy, but frankly, I'm rather... intimidated, by the amount of work ahead of us." Giles shook his head and put his mug down, folding his menu. "Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Slayers called, and there's barely a dozen Watchers within reach. We have to re-establish the Council as soon as possible and begin training replacements."

Willow tapped her fingers on her menu and considered mentioning her own speculations about the Guardian Buffy had met a couple days earlier. Was that woman really the last one? And if she wasn't, could they find the others, ask them about the Scythe and the power she'd just released?

It hadn't been like anything she'd felt before: pure and overwhelming and *good*. The impulse to give in to it had been there, but unlike last year, it had been easy not to lose herself, to not fall into the oblivion of power and emotion. How was that possible? Was it because the power had been used for others? To save the world? Or was she actually, maybe, finally beginning to understand how to hold the power without needing to *make* it do things? To let it grow, and bloom, and pass away. She had so many questions, and no idea where to start....

"Maybe those girls don't *need* Watchers," Rona said, licking whipped cream from her cocoa off her lips. "Maybe they'll be fine now that they're Slayers. They've got the power, they just gotta use it."

"I trust you're being optimistic, not silly, Rona." Giles began to polish his glasses, and Buffy signaled to the waitress to come over and take their orders before Giles could get too worked up. "These girls have no idea what's happened to them, what kind of dangers they're facing--"

"--And they have us to help 'em, not just Watchers," Faith interrupted. "I'm not dissing the Book Guys, but once we've tracked down the new girls, we can clue them in, get them training, get them started. We've got enough time."

"There's never enough time," Giles said severely. Willow studied Giles over her menu, and bit her lip. This last year had been horrendous for all of them, but on Giles, you could actually see how bad it had been. Maybe he'd be able to recover now, if he let himself; maybe if they could get him enough back-up, he'd be able to relax, not stay wound so tight.

She hoped so. She had to believe that *some* good things could go back to the way they'd been before. They'd lost so much-- Buffy and Xander especially-- that losing anything more, any time soon, would be unbearable. She glanced at Kennedy, sitting beside her, laughing with Ivy. If something new and good could come along, there had to be a way to get the old good things back too.

"Giles, lighten up. It's a lot of work, but it's doable," Xander chimed in. "We just have to figure out who goes where."

"Will I have to go to my room if I say I don't want to go to Cleveland?" Dawn asked, folding her arms. "I know it's the Hellmouth and all, but it's also *Cleveland*. L.A. would be better than that."

"Not L.A." Buffy made a face, and Willow didn't have to be a mindreader to know what she was thinking. Los Angeles was Angel's, the scene of Buffy's long-gone high school days, and the first place she was a Slayer. None of it would make her want to go back. "But maybe not Cleveland, either."

"I still have to finish out my last semester," Willow realized, after giving her order to the waitress. Frowning, she took a sip of her orange juice. "I wonder how big a headache that's going to be, what with half the school records at the bottom of a crater."

"I'm certain I could pull a few strings for you. Surely some of the records are transferable, and the Watchers do endow a chair at Oxford," Giles said, handing his menu to their server with a smile.

"Oxford?" Oh. Oh, wow. That was a dream she'd given up-- for good reasons, and she'd never been sorry, not even last year-- but for the first time, Willow realized that no more Hellmouth, and no more one-and-only-Buffy-as- Slayer, meant that she could go anywhere. And if she could, Willow could too. Which meant-- Oxford. A thousand years of history, the Royal Academy, total immersion in learning....

"Oxford, *England*?" Kennedy sounded dismayed. Willow blinked and looked at her girlfriend, who was clearly much less than thrilled. "That's a million thousand miles away. I wanted you to come to New York with me this summer, maybe meet my parents."

"We can still do that," Willow responded hastily. "And I want you to meet my parents too-- whenever they get back from New York again. But I wanted to go back to Devon anyway. I have to talk to the coven, tell them what I've learned this year, about the Scythe and my powers and my progress. I can't leave them out in the cold on this, it's too important."

"Cheer up, Kennedy. If you're gonna date the most powerful witch on the planet, you have to expect that she's going to have other priorities sometimes," Dawn pointed out.

Kennedy's expression grew more stormy, and Willow sighed. Kennedy was special, she really was, but every once in a while, it was obvious which one of them was nineteen and which one was almost twenty-three. Xander and Buffy hastily looked away from the growing confrontation, and Dawn smirked at the dark-haired Slayer's being temporarily thwarted. *Dawnie is kind of evil,* Willow thought irritably. *Which is gonna be real helpful if she does become a Watcher dealing with baby Slayers. But I wish she didn't have to practice on me and *my* Slayer!*

"Am I the only one who wants to go home?" Vi wondered. "I mean, I'm still up for fighting evil, but I miss my parents. And there's a couple girls in my class that I need to have a serious talk with now that I can kick their asses."

A giggle of agreement somewhere down the table. "I hear that."


"Ladies, need we remind you that superpowers are not to be used for petty vengeance?" Giles asked, shaking his head. Xander flinched a little at the word 'vengeance', and Willow winced on his behalf. "I'm sure that trips home will be easily accomplished, but I'd like to get each of your directions and addresses, as well as details about the new Slayers you were dreaming of, before everyone scatters to the four winds."

One of the younger Slayer's faces suddenly brightened. "Oooo. New plan: crash the Justin Timberlake concert tour, get backstage without anyone seeing us, and get his autograph! We could so totally take his security guys."

"Oh, no doubt."

"And while we're at it? We should track down Britney Spears, give her a makeover, and tell her to stop being a skank," Ivy said, looking perky.

"Hey, I *like* the way she dresses."

"Did no one hear me about using your powers for evil?" Giles said in exasperation.

Rona tried to look innocent, and failed miserably. "This would be a blow for the forces of good, Giles. Trust us."

Willow choked on her pancake bite while trying not to giggle, and intercepted a glare from the Watcher. "I learned to hate those words coming out of *your* mouth, Willow. Yours and Xander's. You've been corrupting them, haven't you?"

Willow shook her head vehemently, and pointed at Xander when he said, "Now, now, Giles. They're Slayers. They don't need any help from us. They come pre-snarked for your convenience."

"I refuse to believe that. If I thought they'd *all* be like you lot, I'd retire to Bora-Bora right now."

"I have to figure out how to put 'school dropped into a big hole' on my resume'," Robin said ruefully. "Somehow, I don't think fights to the death with Lord of the Rings rejects is going to cut it with the California School Districts when I try to explain what happened."

"Hey, that's easy compared to what I have to deal with. They've still got warrants out for my arrest in this state. And possibly outside this state." Faith fell silent as the waitress put a plate of eggs and waffles down in front of her, then after the waitress left, she went on, "I mean, I'll turn myself in if I've got no other choice, but... I'd like to think I've earned another chance now. You know?" she said, almost pleading, unable to look up from her plate.

"I know," Buffy admitted. "And I think it's only fair, too. No one here is going to object to you being out of jail, Faith."

"Good to know," the second Slayer mumbled.

*That's optimistic...* Willow squirmed and took a sip of her juice. *Oh, hush. You have absolutely no room to throw stones, Willow Rosenberg. You didn't have to go to jail for killing Warren last year, did you? She was a big help the last few weeks. If Faith wants to stay free... she should. You keep your mouth shut. Besides, you probably won't end up in the same country as her anyway. So let it go.*

"Maybe we can work something out with the Watchers abroad," Giles said slowly. "At least until we can think of a way to expunge your record and the bench warrants. Possibly with the assistance of Angel's new law firm. You could help the other Watchers in tracking down the new Slayers; maybe training them until we get new ones on board."

"That'd work." Faith glanced at Robin, then shrugged negligently. "You don't have to get a new job 'til September, right?"


"Ever been to Mexico?"

"So, what about the Slayers who don't have families?" Xander asked Giles in a low voice. "I know at least six of these girls don't want to go home, or don't have any homes left after the Bringers got through with them. Where are we going to take them?"

"Cleveland?" Willow suggested dubiously. "There is a Hellmouth, and all..."

"Are they being punished for surviving? 'Cause that's just cruel," Dawn said. "Maybe you could take them back to England, let them get to know the coven. They'd probably think it was cool."

"Cleveland isn't the only Hellmouth, and not even the only one in America," Giles said. "Perhaps a visit to Roswell is in order."

"You did *not* just say what I thought you said." Buffy threatened Giles with the bite of sausage speared on her fork. "Because if you did, you've been holding out on us, and I don't want to even imagine the explanation that goes with the concept of Roswell, New Mexico, as a good place for Slayers to kick back and slay things."

"It would provide some unique--" At the swoop Buffy's fork took, Giles verbally backpedaled. "Certainly not. I merely wish to acquire tacky tourist souvenirs, and a hypothetical Hellmouth is my excuse."

"Good answer."

"You know, we could go anywhere," Andrew said from down the table, his voice full of awe. "We're free of all directives! Anywhere. Japan. Bolivia. Canada, even. I've always wanted to visit Canada. Home of the proud moose, the majestic bear, the soaring hawk...."

"Rocky and Bullwinkle," Xander added.

"Andrew..." Giles sighed. "I know I'm going to regret this."

"What?" Andrew asked around a mouthful of muffin.

"Do you have anywhere to go right now? Other than Canada?"

"I was going to look up Tucker, he's staying in Oakland..."

Willow made a face, echoed by Buffy, then picked up and magnified by Xander. "Prom Boy Beastmaster? Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Well, our parents are in New Zealand this summer--"

"Right." Giles put down his tea. "Andrew, while I know we no longer have any claim on you, I think it might be--- good for you, to come to England and perhaps get some training in magic. A more thorough grounding, as it were. I can't force you, but--"

"Really? Magic school? Like--?"

"Do *not* say like Hogwarts," Giles threatened him. "Or I will throw a butterdish at your head." At Andrew's crestfallen expression, he relented and said, "There are several good teachers. And..." He looked at Willow now, and his voice gentled as he continued to speak to Andrew. "I think it would be a good idea if I don't repeat mistakes I made in the past. You have a certain amount of talent. You should learn how to use it wisely."

"That would be *neat*." Andrew looked shell-shocked and happy. "Thank you, Mr. Giles. Thanks."

"Mmmm." Giles looked like he was already regretting the offer, but Willow reached across the table and squeezed his hand, and his expression eased as he gave her a genuine smile in return.

Xander cleared his throat. "Here's an idea: we load up the Slayers who don't have anything else to do this summer, and we tour the country, fighting evil as we find it, taking photos in front of national monuments, buying commemorative T-shirts and drinking Slurpees at 7-11's, working on our tans when we run out of baddies to kill."

"It's weird how you can make that sound like fun, instead of like the road trip from Hell," Willow observed.

"Road trip from the Hellmouth," he corrected her, sounding snooty.

"Same thing." She grinned at Xander, and managed not to do a chair-dance of joy at getting a real smile out of him for the first time in two days. Personally, she still couldn't believe in her deepest heart that Anya was gone. Or Spike, for that matter. Or Sunnydale. She couldn't comprehend what their absence was going to mean long-term. For every good memory she had of them, there was something else that made her shudder. And yet she still wished they weren't gone. All she knew for sure was that her two best friends were hurting more than she'd ever wanted them to, and any suggestion that made them look even half-way happy was something that would get her resolve face to make it so.

"It is weird. I almost want to sign up for the tour too," Buffy put in, looking speculative.

"Or we could backpack across Europe, go see the galleries Mom wanted to take us to when you graduated from high school," Dawn said calmly, forking up another mouthful of omelet.

Buffy put down her fork, her expression arrested by the image. Willow held her breath, hoping the plan she and Dawn had come up with would work. "We could, couldn't we?"

"Pick up hotties in Greece, go drinking in Spain, stuff ourselves on chocolate in France...."

"Oooo." Buffy's expression went from fascinated to hopeful to wary and tense, as she steeled herself and turned to her Watcher. "Giles? Um, if I had a cell phone with a speed dial for the new Watcher's Central, and I promised to come back in September, and we worked our way across Europe as waitresses, do you think--?"

"Absolutely not." Giles took a sip of his tea, and smothered a small smile. "I would insist on the Council paying for your accomodations. Hotel prices are astronomical in Europe at this time, you know."

Dawn froze with her fork in her mouth, her eyes going huge. Willow nearly choked on a bite of fruit from giggling at the look on Dawn's face. Then Dawn swallowed, pulled the fork out of her mouth, and shrieked, jumping up from her place to run over and hug Giles. "You rock, you rock, you rock, you rock, Giles, you rock so much more than rock and roll and ---"

"Yes, yes, thank you, you're welcome, I know, yes...."

"Giles, are you sure?" Buffy was shaking a little as he nodded and Dawn did a little dance around his chair. She stared at Willow and Xander, staggered, and they grinned back at her. "You guys want to come with?"

"Maybe for the part in England," Willow answered. "You should meet the ladies in the coven too. I'd love to see what you think of them."

"I could go for some beer and architecture in Germany," Xander allowed. "But I don't think I want to see you and Dawn ravage the souvenir shops around the Acropolis. Could get ugly: sister-sister fights over reproductions of the Apollo statues always make me want to hide."

"We can do this," Buffy marveled. "We can go off into the sunset, and come back later, and start over somewhere else, and..."

"Tour the country like the Patridge Family in the meantime."

"I can see *you're* going to be a world of help," Giles said to Xander, quirking an eyebrow at him.

"Why yes, I am. Any problem with that?" Xander matched him, look for look, until Giles shook his head slowly, capitulating without saying anything else.

A thought seemed to suddenly hit Buffy, and she almost choked. "We're breaking up, aren't we? It's never going to be the same..."

"Buff?" Willow patted her shoulder. "Don't look like that. This is a good thing."

Xander shrugged. "Yeah, Buff. We're not the Beatles, you know."


"We're more like the Eagles." Xander grinned at her. "We'll keep doing reunion tours, telling people we won't get together again until Hell freezes over--"

"And then it will," Faith pointed out.

"--so we'll get the roadies, get the equipment--"

"Axes and stratocasters and buses and stakes!" Andrew said enthusiastically.

"--and play in Austin, Texas, and Tallahassee, Florida, and drive up the coast to catch some wanna-be vamps in D.C. --"

"With some appearances in Europe, for select audiences," Willow said mock- haughtily, catching Xander's riff.

"--then go back home, and wait for the next end-of-the-world tour, and work on our moves in the meantime," Xander finished.

This did nothing to reassure the Slayer. "Where's home gonna be, though? How are we going to do this? Who's going to be in charge? It's all still undecided, it's all fuzzy and confused, and how are we going to explain all this to people, hunh? And what about---"

Willow traded long-suffering looks with Giles and Dawn and saw Xander rolling his eyes.

Giles finally broke in on the Slayer's obsessing. "Buffy?"


"Eat your waffles. And stop worrying,," Giles said gently. "We saved the world. But it's old enough to take care of itself for a little while."

Buffy grimaced, then took a deep, deep breath. Willow could almost see her putting her freak-out aside for later. "Okay. Okay. Issues stuffed down where I can't see them for a while. I'll take them out when it's September. Just like every year. So we can wait for something to kill us again."

Looking down the table, she was suddenly grinning again. "Before all that though... who's up for a trip to Disneyland?"



(with thanks as always, to the SunS. Here's for six years, guys.)