"Yeah Buffy, what are we gonna do now?"
If Buffy answered Dawn's question, then Faith didn't hear it. She was too busy asking herself the same thing. There was so much Faith wanted to do now that the battle was finally over. At the moment her brain was telling her two things: eat and sleep. They were definitely at the top of the list. Let's just start with that.
She looked ahead at the gaping hole stretched out before her that used to be Sunnydale, California. It had all happened so fast; Sunnydale had been destroyed in a manner of minutes. Destruction had literally chased them out of town. Now there was nothing left behind them and everything set out in front of them. How would they start the rest of their lives? How would they even start the next five minutes? Nothing was certain anymore.
Faith was first to break the silence.
"Not to spoil the moment, but what now? We're kind of lacking in terms of a plan. And we've still got a bus full of seriously tired and shaken teenage girls."
Buffy turned to face her friends. She didn't really care what came next; all that mattered was that they had survived. But Faith was right. The girls that had made it through the fight would have to get home somehow; and Buffy…where was home for her and Dawn? She finally began to realize the reality of the situation.
"Faith's right." She nodded. Faith felt her cheeks begin to flush. Buffy rarely agreed with anything she said these days. But she guessed there was no denying the fact that they seemed to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. "We need somewhere to go, even if it's just temporary. We could all use the rest. Food would be nice too."
Buffy turned to Giles, who took off his glasses and cleared his throat. For once he didn't have all the answers.
"Well, it would appear that we…well, I suppose we have no choice but to…"
"Drive." Xander spoke up for the first time since discovering that Anya had been killed during battle. His face was sullen and care worn, and his eyes, or rather eye, was red and glassy. Dawn had been watching him as he looked out over what was left of Sunnydale. She had seen him choke back his tears and clench his fists. He was struggling with feelings of pride that were mixed with despair. Dawn tore her gaze from Xander; his sad face was causing tears to well up in her own eyes.
"I… guess there's nothing else we can do, right?" she choked on her words and wiped her eyes. Buffy had been staring at her feet trying to work things out in her head. She looked up and sighed.
"Alright, I guess we get back on the bus."
"And go where, exactly?" Kennedy stood with her arms folded across her chest. Up until now she had just been staring in wonder and gratitude at Willow. Buffy began walking towards the bus and Faith followed after. She stopped in front of the door and looked back at everyone.
"I have an idea."
Giles had taken his spot at the front of the bus and chuckled slightly as he began driving to lord knows where. Most of the girls were falling asleep after only seconds on the road. Willow sat with her arm around Xander as Kennedy watched from the seat across from them. Dawn had placed herself at the front of the bus, across from where Faith and an unconscious Robin Wood were sitting, and Buffy was walking up and down the aisle of the bus making sure that all the sleeping girls were actually asleep and not dead. She checked random pulses and comforted some of the more worrisome girls. Faith had been watching her repeat this routine for about five minutes when Buffy finally took notice to the eyes following her. Faith quickly looked away but Buffy was already on her way to the front of the bus. She sat next to Dawn, who was more or less kneeling on her seat looking out over the open desert road. Buffy turned and faced Faith, who busied herself by checking Woods wounds.
"How is he?" Buffy asked. Faith looked back up at Buffy and cleared her throat; it felt dry and scratchy. When she spoke her voice was raspy and it cracked a little.
"He comes in and out. He'll live, but I'm thinkin' a coma would do him some good right about now. Hell, I could go for one myself. Now there's something I never thought I'd hear myself say." Buffy wasn't sure whether Faith was trying to make her feel guilty or not. She didn't feel like getting into that just now; but when she saw that Faith's lips had formed into her oh-so-familiar crooked smile, Buffy smiled back. Things were quiet for a moment and Buffy's eyes returned to the road, but Faith's gaze lingered on her. She was about to say something; anything, when Buffy quickly turned back to her and spoke first.
"I should go check on everyone...again." Faith closed her mouth and nodded. Buffy furrowed her brow. "How are you? You gonna be okay?" But she had predicted Faith's answer within a split second of asking.
"Five by five," both slayers said in unison.
They both smiled and chuckled softly. Buffy rolled her eyes and stood up, but was immediately met with a surge of pain from the stab wound in her side. She clutched her side as her legs buckled from underneath her and she fell forward. Dawn turned to see her sister as she started to fall but was powerless to help.
But Buffy's fall was cut short as Faith stood up to meet her halfway. With Buffy in her arms she fell backwards on to her own seat, causing Robin to stir a bit. Buffy closed her eyes and grimaced in pain as she allowed all of her weight to rest on Faith. The bus had swerved a bit from Giles turning around to make sure that the slayer was okay but his eyes were now back on the road, occasionally glancing up at the reflector mirror. Dawn let out a sigh of relief and collapsed back into her seat. Everyone on the bus who was still awake poked their heads up, except for Andrew, who was in shock and had barely spoken two words the entire time.
Faith held Buffy as close as she could and looked down at her. Her eyes were still closed but her face was no longer twisted in pain. Up until now Faith had almost forgotten about Buffy's wound. But now, flashes of the incident shot into Faith's mind.
She watched in what felt like slow motion as the Turok-han stepped up behind Buffy and slid his knife right through her. Faith felt her heart stop as Buffy fell to the floor.
"Buffy!" Faith effortlessly dusted a vamp that was coming at her, then tossed her stake to the ground and ran to Buffy's side. She watched in heartbreaking agony as life quickly began to leave the tiny slayer's body.
"H-Hold the line…" Buffy sputtered; she too thought it was over. Without hesitation she handed Faith the scythe. Faith nodded in understanding and took the weapon in her hands, shaking slightly. As Buffy began to close her eyes, Faith tore herself away from the fallen slayer. Her vision became blurred with tears as she turned, and in a fit of rage and sorrow, began tearing through the Turoks with the scythe Buffy had entrusted to her.
Faith blinked as she came back to the present. Buffy was still resting against her but was now staring up at Faith, wondering what was going on in her head. Faith felt her heart sink as she recalled what had happened. I almost lost her… for good. Absent mindedly Faith removed her hand from Buffy's back and started to bring it towards the older slayer's face, intent on wiping a tear that had strolled down the blonde girl's cheek. But when Buffy saw Faith's hand approach her skin she flinched and looked away, causing Faith to snap out of her trance like state and retract her hand. She shook her head a bit and cleared her dry throat once more.
"You okay, B?" she asked, unable to hide the concern in her voice. Buffy nodded as she somewhat hastily withdrew from Faith's arms and stood up as slowly as she could without hurting herself. She held onto the leather seat for support and looked down at Faith, perplexed and unsure of what had just passed between them.
"Buffy…look!" Dawn was pointing to the road not far ahead. They were approaching what looked like a diner and gas bar. Buffy turned from Faith who swallowed hard, having been released from Buffy's prying eyes, and came up behind Giles, still using the seats for support.
Giles nodded and began to slow down.