I feel "Chosen" lacked resolution. Also s7 Buffy is pretty unlikable. This story is just me trying to reconcile those two facts with my absolute adoration for the show and the character.

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The Long Road to Los Angeles

She doesn't like Kennedy. The girl is pushy, and short-sighted, and painfully immature, and most importantly, tried to kiss away Tara, which for Tara's sake as well as Willow's, she doesn't much appreciate. Willow seemed attracted enough, though, and they might well have died at any time, so she'd figured let them have their fun while they could. Someone ought.

But now the future is wide open, in a way it hasn't been since the Master's death six years ago when she'd first thought she was done with her requisite Prophecy, capital P. It was strange to think of herself as the same girl who'd thought one apocalypse per lifetime was the worst that it got. At any rate, there's time to grieve now, and time to grow, and the possibility of being a human being once again. And if there's still any real friendship left between her and Willow after that resurrection mess, and the evil magic thing, and the wierdness of the First, she's going to make sure the wiccan gets that chance, whatever that means about Kennedy.

She likes this, this thinking about Kennedy. Glaring vaguely down the narrow isle of the bus at her, and the corresponding attempt to disguise the look as fatigue, or stress, or concern, or anything apart from annoyed hostility, is easy, uncomplicated, and steeped in righteous compassion for a friend. It lets her not think about Willow, and how the two of them have danced around each other in a painful and blind holding pattern since she clawed her way up from the dirt. It lets her not look at Xander and his accusingly patched left eye and the ring he put back on his finger and why exactly he's been so calm about it. Sure, it's been life or death around the city lately but Sunnydale's always been like that, and glaring at Kennedy helps her not examine why she'd feel somehow better if he'd chewed her a new one like he did after she ran away so many years ago.

Kennedy is a Slayer now, strong like her. She remembers fighting Faith and how a single punch had her jaw hurting for days, knows that Slayers hit hard. Only Glory and Adam ever hit harder than Faith, and she wonders if, if it came down to a fight over Willow, Kennedy would be as hard to take down as Faith had been. She doesn't think so, somehow, because she's got eight years on the whelp and when she was fifteen three vamps gave her trouble and she can dust a dozen now without thinking. She gets stronger every year and if she lives to be forty, she'll probably be throwing buses around, and this thought is much better than thinking about Spike, and why he had to be right about her for the first time in his life the day he died. Cataloguing Kennedy's combat weaknesses in her head is better than facing the fact that a good man had died for a love she'd never felt.

She doesn't like Kennedy, and she wonders how much of that is on behalf of Willow and how much is because the girl lacks proper respect. Now that the world isn't ending she has to face what she's become, and she knows full well that her ego and bullheadedness are almost all she has left, and anyone with the nerve to stand up to her has landed on her shit list. She wonders if this would be true had she not been so dependant on Spike, and feels guilty for thinking ill of the dead. The heroic dead, no less. Still, all the things she is not thinking about because she's busy not liking Kennedy happened because she refused to think or listen, and wasn't it Spike who told her she belonged in the darkness with him, not to trust in her friends? This was pre-soul, she tells herself, but the line was never obvious the way it was with Angel, and somehow now that he's gone she wants reasons to hate him. He wasn't Angel springs immediately to mind, and Angel's taste in the tomb, and these are things she is not thinking about, because she is glaring at Kennedy.

There is an anger, too, with all of the Potentials (they are not Potential, any more, but she cannot bring herself to think of them as Slayers somehow), because she can sense them, now, a prickle around the edges, and that's not theirs, that shouldn't be them, that's only her and Faith. It's nothing like as strong but she still resents it, and this is something she is less willing to think about than Willow's friendship or Xander's lost eye or the immolation of Spike, or all three put together, but she thinks her intensity has made her obvious so she turns away from Kennedy.

She tries to wonder, instead, what they will do now. The question still hangs over her head. She'd like to show Dawn the world (she'd like to see it herself). Dawn will forgive her, has forgiven her already, will not even force Buffy to admit the need for forgiveness. It would be easy to drop the unfound Slayers, their crippled finances, the safety of the world at Giles' feet and run off. Be a child for the first time in her life. Go to Rome, maybe. Continue to not think about Xander's eye or Spike's immolation or Angel's scent.

But right now she feels like a hero. For just this moment, the world changed by her hand, she feels real again, like she hasn't since Adam lay broken at her feet - nineteen, righteous and triumphant, filled with the power of her friends and the justness of her cause. Forgotten words ring in her head; "I'm gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back." And for today she must live up to that.

So she stops glaring at the back of the seat in front of her for a moment and forces herself to think about it. Willow, and Xander, and Giles, they've forgiven her for a thousand things already, was this disaster too much? But they are family too, and she has to believe they'll forgive her again. The new Slayers will need to be found; she wants it to be the four of them who look. She will buy Xander a fake parrot and a real cutlass to go with his eyepatch, and they'll speak quietly of Anya and of loss. She will sit down with Willow and together they will figure out what she feels about Spike, and she will voice her concerns about Kennedy, who she doesn't like. She will make Giles watch her ice skate. She will check them all into a hotel that gets the Indian soap opera channel, and they will all watch it together late into the night, and things will be right again. She will grovel if need be, fight to get her family back. She is ready to do the work.

She thinks perhaps she should give Faith the Scythe. The two of them might not be able to bury the hatchet, but at least it could get some use while it was out. And while the two of them were never good at words, there were gestures only they could understand. However many new girls walk the earth, they are still the Chosen Two.

The girls, homeless, shiftless, new and awestruck in their power, they are a different story. They need jobs, apartments, Watchers to keep them safe and focused. She knows Angel will put them up at the Hyperion, set them up in LA as much as he can, but it's no permanent solution. She'll have to ask Giles, and maybe Wesley while they're there, to find surviving Watchers, see if they'll pull double-duty. She wonders if there's a girl in the city named Anne with a little room or time to spare for an old friend.

This isn't as hard as she thought it would be. Thinking, worrying, letting the feeling come back. She lets herself worry for Willow, who lost control then lost Tara then lost her self and still hasn't found it, all without a best friend to back her up. She lets herself feel for Xander, who lost the woman he loves twice in such a short span. It's more difficult, for some reason, than admitting her guilt in her mindless war on the First and her damning desparation not to feel, but even with that, it all comes back suprisingly easy, feeling human.

Maybe, she thinks, the empowerment spell saved her even more than it saved the world, because for the first time since she punched and crawled and suffocated out of that buried pine box, she doesn't feel trapped. She thinks, and it hurts, but not like she thought it would, and she feels like a hero but that feels more like being a part of something and more like being human than slaying vampires ever has, and she's sorry and she's hurting and a number of the people she loves are dead and she's very afraid of the very real possibility of losing the rest, not to her job but to her own stupidity, but still, somehow, she feels good. For the first time in what feels like three years, she wants to laugh.

But she still doesn't like Kennedy.