"A Prospect of Whitby"

by

'A Gentleman Of Leisure'

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Summary:What happened immediately after 'Chosen'?

Story Type:In canon Buffyverse.

Rating overall:G. (or K+ if you insist)

Spoilers:None, if you've got this far!

Distribution/Archiving:Ask first please.

Disclaimer:No one here belongs to me - I've just borrowed them to play with. All other Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights acknowledged. Thank you.

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Part 1."Close To The Edge".

1.

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

Dawn's older sister gazed out over the sunken wasteland that had, until a few moments ago, been the once merry city of Sunnydale. The massive cloud of dust raised by the ground's sudden collapse now reached high into the sky, and was beginning to disperse and drift slowly away on the warm, mid-morning breeze, revealing more clearly, minute by minute, the vast crater that had appeared in its place. A half smile played over her face, but it wasn't really one of either pleasure or satisfaction, more one of gentle regret for the passing of so many friends, Slayers, and ordinary citizens who she had been unable to save, despite all the efforts she had made.

Someone put a hand gently on her shoulder.

"Buff, we did good. Don't you ever forget that."

"Thanks, Xander. I know we did, but even so..."

"Yeah. Even so... There'll always be 'even so', Buff."

"I guess... Did Anya...?"

Xander shook his head.

"Andrew says she saved his life. Not exactly a good exchange to my way of thinking," he said quietly.

"Understood. But she knew the risks. She could have left us - saved herself like she did at Graduation from High School. She chose not to. That really means something, I reckon, Xander. She still cared enough about you, about all of us, for that."

Xander nodded and looked away over at the scenery for a moment or two.

"Amazing, isn't it, how quickly everything's just gone, vanished without a trace. Tara's grave, your Mom's..." Willow said.

"Home." said Buffy, quietly. "The Doublemeat Palace - won't miss that too much! And all those great, fun spots like Willy's Place and Spike's crypt."

"And Spike." That was Dawn.

"And Spike," Buffy repeated, almost inaudibly, as if only to herself.

"I guess," said Xander, sounding doubtful.

"Well, I for one will miss him," Dawn said. "All those great times he baby-sat with me and told me stories..."

Buffy snorted. "I thought I put a stop to that!"

"Ha! That's what you think, big sister. There were plenty of other times, and other stories you never heard about."

"Colour me astonished," said Buffy quietly, looking at her sister with a half smile. " I'm not so dumb as I look, you know."

"I always knew you were brighter than you thought you were," Giles said from behind them. "In fact I told you as much, more than once, if you recall. At the beginning it was a matter of giving you confidence about yourself, encouraging your self-assurance."

"You know, I think it worked," Willow said. "Kudos to you, Giles!"

Rupert Giles smiled wearily at her. "From what I see, you haven't done so badly yourself, my dear."

"W-with a little help from my friends," she said.

"Special...?" hinted Kennedy.

Willow let her head droop until it rested on the younger woman's shoulder.

"Very..." she acknowledged tiredly, but with her free hand she discreetly reached out to Xander as well, who quietly accepted the offering.

They stood in silence for a little while, each with their own thoughts. The dust cloud thinned slowly, silently. A desert bird started to sing.

The peace was broken abruptly by a shrill whistle from the school bus behind them, still standing half slewed across the road. It was Faith, leaning out of the passenger side door, clinging on with one hand, the first two fingers of her other hand between her lips.

"Hey, move your asses, guys. We got casualties, remember? Medical attention is required. Shake the lead put of your pants and get back over here."

She grabbed hold of Andrew, who was standing close by the door recording the scene with his video camera, dragged him complaining up the steps by the scruff of his neck, and disappeared inside again without waiting for a response.

"How many Slayers did we lose, Giles?" Buffy asked quietly, turning away from the crater that had once been Sunnydale.

He shrugged. "I haven't had a chance to do a head count, but there were a lot of empty seats as we drove out of the town."

Buffy bowed her head for a moment.

"They all knew the risks, and did what they had to do. You trained them well," he said, patting her encouragingly on the back. "Onward and upward, Slayer. We won. Life goes on."

She looked at him and half-smiled.

"And there's still Cleveland, right?" she said, turning back towards the bus.

"About that..." he said as he followed her.

2.

"So, do you think you can use your power, Willow? Robin's pretty badly hurt," Faith said anxiously.

"You should have seen the way she filled up with it - her hair shone absolutely brilliant white, and the room was full of light! I've never seen anything like it," Kennedy said enthusiastically.

"I sincerely hope you never have to again," Willow said soberly. "It was an amazing experience, but not something I ever want to have to do again, at least not any time soon."

"We need to get some of these people to hospital ASAP," Xander said, "Robin and Chloe particularly. Their wounds are pretty serious, and these first aid kits are pretty much useless for those sort of injuries."

"That blast of energy which went through me from the Scythe to make all of the new Slayers - well, I think it's going to take a while for me to recharge. I feel as flat as an English pancake!" Willow said.

Giles glanced at her and smiled. When she'd been in England with the Coven, that had been one of the things she'd taken to - rather different from the sort she was used to, but like enough to remind her of home on those occasions when she needed it.

"Vi, can you give me a hand with this bandage here, if you've a free one?" someone called from back up at the rear of the bus.

"I'm free!" said Andrew.

"Well don't just stand there like a limp lettuce then, make yourself useful," Giles snapped briskly, without even bothering to look round. "There are plenty of other people wanting help with bandaging."

Andrew pulled a face behind his back, and went off towards the back of the bus with an armful of medical supplies, distributing some to each casualty as he went.

Meanwhile, Willow knelt on the seat next to Robin Wood, trying urgently to raise even just a little magic to help control the bleeding, and maybe start to repair his injuries, but after a few minutes she sat back on her heels and shook her head.

"I guess my battery's flat. I'm sorry, Faith, it's no use. It feels like it's gonna take hours, maybe days for me to recharge. I think I really blew the fuse there at the High School."

Faith glared at her, looking seriously upset, but Giles hastily intervened.

"She's done everything she can, Faith. She risked her own life too, getting all that energy from the Scythe. We mustn't ask any more from her for a while. If you think about it, it's a miracle she survived after all she's been through."

"OK, Watcher, but we have to get him to a hospital immediately. And some of the others, too. Where's the nearest?"

Giles looked out uncertainly at their surroundings, trying to remember the map of the area, which, of course, he'd left behind in the rush that morning.

"We seem to have left Sunnydale on the desert road going northeast - I don't know the number. If I remember correctly there's no other road which could take us south towards Oxnard and the nearest big hospital, for at least fifteen or twenty miles."

"Isn't this the road you brought me out on when you wanted to teach me how to do the hokey-cokey with the first Slayer?" Buffy said.

"You know, I think it just might be. Now if we had four-wheel-drive it would be a different matter - we could go directly south-east cross-country, around the edge of the crater and pick up the other desert road, the one the inland buses run along, remember?"

Willow nodded. She did. That had been where she had stopped the southbound L.A. bus when she was in pursuit of Warren, intent on wreaking vengeance on him for the death of Tara. As if she could ever forget!

After a moment Giles noticed her expression, and appeared to realise what he'd just reminded her of, but by then it was too late. He opened his mouth to apologise, but Willow just looked at him ruefully and shook her head.

"It's OK Giles. I know what you mean. We'll just have to drive down this road as fast as we can until we find the turning. Would you like me to drive?"

"I'll drive!" Faith said firmly.

"Hey, you need to stay with Robin. It'll reassure him," said Dawn. "Let me drive!"

"No way are you driving a bus!" Buffy exclaimed in horror. "You haven't even passed 'Driver's Ed' yet."

"I drove Xander's car back to the house when you tried to get rid of me!" Dawn said indignantly. "I did fine. I didn't hit anything!"

"Yeah, right! Only because it was night time so nobody saw you, the roads were practically empty because half of Sunnydale was already abandoned, and there were no cops."

"So?"

"So no way are you driving this bus. You've never even tried driving anything this big before. We'll all end up dead in a ditch!"

"Ladies, ladies," said Giles, raising his voice to a subdued shout to attract their attention. "I will drive the bus, while you both help with giving first aid. I will brook no arguments, all right? End of story!"

"Yes, Giles," said two little voices contritely.

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END OF PART 1

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AN1:For purely dramatic purposes I am assuming some very minor differences between the final scenes of 'Chosen', as broadcast, and the start of this story. This does not mean it is an AU story, just that, as it's being told by someone else, there will always be small discrepancies between two people's descriptions of the same event. OK? I do hope so. By the way, Joss Whedon wrote the first line for me! Enjoy.

AGOL (aka 'A Gentleman of Leisure')