3 Days after the battle of their lives the surviving scooby gang, plus a few potentials and Andrew were still holed up in an out of the way motel.
They had drove the school bus to the nearest hospital where they dropped off all of the injured and Faith who had agreed to watch out for them all. After that, they had to find somewhere to sleep. The adrenalin had long wore off and everyone needed at least a day of undisturbed sleep.
Everything had happened so fast since they had piled back into the bus at the crater that used to be Sunnydale. 3 Days had seemed like a lifetime. No one had escaped unchanged. Willow had been the first to make a huge adjustment.
On day 1 of their new lives, she had told Kennedy she thought it was best if they ended there relationship. That she should go back home or go to school. She had a chance at a good life and she should take it. The break up had been more amecable than anyone ever would have thought with Kennedy's explosive temper, but it seemed that they both needed to move on now there was no impending doom hanging over them.
Giles was in his element. He had hardly been off the phone to every surviving decent watcher or contact he had. A new and definitely improved Watcher's council was starting to spread it's foundations with Giles at it's head.
They had an unknown amount of Slayer's walking around still thinking they were just girls and they had a duty to contact them, let them know what they're capable of. They were even talking of creating a place for them to train and learn.
Xander had already named it 'Giles' school for extraordinarily gifted girls.'
So now, the core 3, Buffy, Willow and Xander, were spread around one of their small motel rooms. Willow sat on the bed, Xander on the arm chair and Buffy was perched on the Window sill.
Willow was worried about her friend's. They had both lost someone they loved or could have loved. But so far, they hadn't spoken much. The first night, they'd all piled into one bed and cried for everything they'd lost. Xander had been near inconsolable. But they had yet to actually talk about Anya or Spike or all the girl's who sacrificed themselves. But where did they start? Talking hadn't been their strong point the past couple of years.
"This is weird. Isn't it?" Xander asked sadly.
Buffy nodded. "I got so used to not talking to you guys."
"Why did we do that?" Willow asked. "Why did we ever think separating ourselves would make life easier?"
Xander shrugged. "We grew apart I guess. I didn't even realise it but now it's so obvious."
"I'm sorry for how I've been acting. I thought I couldn't lead them and you if I was still your friend. I just wanted it to be over, to beat the First but it seemed like we'd never win so I thought if I wasn't relying on anyone, I wouldn't be destroyed every time someone died." Buffy let out a bitter laugh. "How stupid was that?"
"You done what you thought was best for us all and you lead us out of there Buffy. And we all took a step away from each other for our own reasons. We can't change that but we can fix it now."
"I think we can." Buffy said with a new found certainty.
"We're the scoobies, we can do anything." Xander added as the girl's grinned.
After a minute, Willow had to break the moment. "Guys... Are you ok?"
Xander and Buffy looked silently at one another. "Spike died saving all of us. He done good in the end and I think that's all that matters. He had longer than most of us so I'm not going to be sad. The world feels brand new and I can actually have a life now. And I still have you guys. So we'll make it through together." she said with determination.
"We will. I don't know how to deal yet but I no that Anya was here for over 1100 years and she got to see the world from every perspective. And I got to share my life with her even if it was only for a little while. I'll always love her, always, but maybe it was just her time."
Both girl's were looking at him with tear glistened eyes. Xander had grown into a mature man without them noticing it. He noticed the look in their eyes and approached the bed opening his arm out towards Buffy he signalled her over. The girls hugged him from either side and he wrapped his arms tightly around them.
"I love you." Buffy mumbled through Xander's chest to two best friends who took only a moment to return the sentiment.
They stayed like that for a few minutes, just glad to feel so safe and so connected again. When they finally broke apart Willow, who was sitting cross legged across from both her friends, looked at them with a sombre face.
"You guys are both handling it so well. You've been so brave. They'd both be proud. I just want you to know that I'm always going to be here for you whenever it's too much."
"We know, Will. Thank you." Buffy said.
Xander reached out and took the Red head's hand. "What about you? The past few days can't have been easy. Are we going to talk about Kennedy?"
Willow gave a lopsided shrug. "You know that post-battle clarity? The last year has been so crazy. Nothing has seemed real. When Kennedy came along, she was a distraction. It seemed easier to just be with her. It sounds so bad now. I feel terrible because I felt so little for her. I mostly feel guilty."
"I'm sure Kennedy understands that it was a hard time for you." Buffy told her, trying to make her friend feel a little better.
Willow's gaze fell to the bed sheets. "I don't feel guilty for leading her on. I feel guilty for trying to move on so quickly. She deserves more than that. I don't want anyone but her, even though that means I'll be alone forever. She deserves that respect."
Buffy raised her hand and tucked a long strand of hair behind Willow's ear. "Will. She wouldn't want you to be alone. She'd want you to move on, to fall in love again. It doesn't mean you'd be forgetting her."
The witch raised her head and looked her in the eye. "I know. And that's why I love her but I can't. Look at the disaster with Kennedy. I think back to that and I cringed. How did that ever seem like a good idea? we were so different and I was so not ready. I put off grieving to pretend like I was just a single girl. I'm not."
Neither the Slayer nor the Cyclops knew what to say to that so the room fell silent. This made Willow feel incredibly bad. Buffy and Xander had literally just lost the people they loved and she was the one complaining.
"I'm so sorry, this isn't about me and Tara. It's so insensitive, you just lost Anya and Spike."
Xander finally spoke up. "No. Don't ever belittle your grief. We've all lost people and no one's pain is any more or less than the others. I can't even begin to imagine how you must feel. It was so different for you. Tara was ripped away by a coward with a gun. Anya and Spike knew they might not make out."
Willow's bottom lip trembled as she battled against her tears. "She's gone. Really gone." One strangled sob escaped before she carried on. "Her clothes, her books, her pictures. Her grave."
The tone of Willow's voice made Buffy shudder. Her pain was still so raw. She smoothly repositioned herself beside Willow and put her arms around the red head holding her close as they all let a few tears go.
After their emotions settled, the 3 Scoobies were spread top and tail on the cramped, questionable motel bed.
"So, you guys wanna go to the mall?" Buffy asked with a new freshness.
Willow and Xander nodded. "Sure."