EPILOGUE

Faith awoke from what might have been the best sleep of her life. She couldn't remember another morning when she had felt so well-rested.

She yawned and stretched on Xander's convertible couch and looked at the clock on the VCR. It was one o'clock in the afternoon. Nonetheless, Faith could hear the shower going, and then the bedroom door opened and Anya wandered out in her bathrobe.

Seeing Faith, Anya said, "Oh, good, you're awake." Then she turned towards the bedroom and shouted, "Xander! We don't have to be quiet anymore!" Without missing a beat, Anya turned back to Faith and said, "Want some coffee?"

"No, thanks," Faith said. "Coffee makes you all awake and alert and stuff. I'm enjoying the grogginess."

"Hmm," Anya said. "Maybe I'll skip the coffee too. My throat's still burning from Tara's vomit-magic."

"Right," Faith said, glad to have avoided that particular side-effect of the enhancement spell.

Anya had a glass of water while Faith made herself some toast. Xander soon emerged from the bedroom freshly dressed, his hair still a bit ruffled from his shower. Faith thought he looked kind of cute that way, but stopped herself from looking too long. Anya was being nicer to Faith than she had thought possible; there was no reason to risk spoiling it.

"So," Xander said, "I forget exactly what you're supposed to do the day after you score a flawless victory over the forces of evil, but I think it involves swapping stories of our own heroism over monster-sized bowls of ice cream."

"Oooh," Anya said. "Ice cream is both delicious and soothing to the throat. I vote for ice cream."

"I second that," Faith said, raising her hand.

"Motion approved," said Xander. "I'll call everybody. Maybe we can get some Cool Britannia for the Watcherly types."

The phone rang. "Huh," Xander said. "They beat me to it." He picked up the receiver and said, "Harris' House of Hacked-Up Hellbeasts, how may I help you?"

Xander said nothing more for almost a full minute, the smile fading from his face as he listened. Then he said, "We'll be here," and hung up.

"What is it?" Faith asked.

"Giles said the police came by his house this morning, asking all kinds of questions about you and Sarah. The cops didn't tell him how they knew you were here, but Giles thinks somebody at the hospital must have recognized you. Thank God Sarah was upstairs when Giles answered the door."

"Oh crap," Faith said. She'd been so worried about vampires and demons over the last few days, she'd forgotten to worry about the fact that she was a fugitive.

"Anyway," Xander said, "they're coming over here right now. After they make sure no one's watching them, anyway. Tara's gonna come too."

Tara arrived within minutes, and the two Watchers were only thirty seconds behind her. Sarah looked particularly nervous, shutting the door rapidly and then peering out the window through the closed blinds, looking for unmarked police cars. When she was satisfied that no undercover cops were lurking outside, she said, "Faith, I'm afraid you need to pack your things."

"What?" Faith said. "But we just got here!"

"The police know we are in town," Sarah explained. "You can do little good if you are constantly having to watch out for them."

"But…I was just starting to-!" Faith clenched her fists in frustration. She couldn't exactly describe what she had begun here in Sunnydale, but she knew she didn't want to leave it unfinished.

"Everyone in this room is in danger of arrest as long as we remain," Sarah said firmly.

Faith sucked in a breath, and for a few seconds, she looked like she was going to break something. Her fists tightened and her jaw clenched as she breathed angrily through her nose. Then, much to Xander's relief, she let a breath out through her mouth and murmured, "God damn it."

"So what are WE supposed to do?" cried Anya. "We'll be right back where we were, stuck on a Hellmouth with no Slayer. What happens the when the next evil overlord shows up?"

"Then we'll fight them," Tara said, making everyone turn and look at her. "Maybe we're not the best ones for the job, but we're the only ones. We'll make do."

Faith couldn't help but smile a little at that. Then she turned to Sarah. "But where are we gonna go?"

"I contacted the Council this morning," she answered, "and they believe we should leave the country for a while."

"You know, I hear Cancún is in another country," Faith said.

"We're going to Cyprus," Sarah said. Seeing Faith's look of confusion, she elaborated. "It's an island country near Greece. A village there is being plagued by a vrikolakas, a demon which crushes its victims to death while they sleep. The Council wishes you to deal with it. Now please pack up – Mr. Giles has kindly agreed to drive us to the airport in Los Angeles, where there will be fewer people on the lookout for you."

"Join the Slayers, see the world," Faith sighed. She went over to the couch and began to gather up her few belongings.

"I am certain, however, that we shall return at some point, when the 'heat' has died down a bit," Sarah said. "As Anya notes, this is the Hellmouth. I do not doubt that the Slayer will be needed here again."

"I do hope so," said Giles. "I mean, I hope to see you again." He extended his hand. "It's been a great pleasure, Doctor."

"For me as well, Mr. Giles," Sarah said, shaking Giles' hand and then continuing to hold it as each Watcher took a long look at the other.

"Okay, can we flee the country now?" Faith said. "'Cause watching the old English people get flirty is weirding me out." Giles and Sarah separated, each too mortified to reply.

Xander walked over and shook Faith's hand. "Bye bye, Faith. It's been…I don't know. But it could have been worse."

"What a sweetheart," Faith replied with an ironic grin. "Be seeing you."

Anya stepped up next to Xander and shook Faith's hand in her exaggerated, mechanical way. "Good bye, Faith," she said. "Thank you for not killing Xander or using him for your sexual pleasure."

"Um, you're welcome. I think," Faith answered.

Finally, Tara came up and hugged Faith. "Have a safe trip," she said.

Anyone who was listening carefully might have heard the slight crack in Faith's voice as she said, "Take care, T."

Faith and Sarah walked to the door and followed Giles out to his car, whose convertible top was up for the sake of discretion. Tara, Anya, and Xander waved as they drove away. Then Anya began to walk to her own car.

"Where are you going?" Xander asked.

"To get ice cream," Anya replied, as if Xander were a complete dolt. "Just because everybody else left doesn't mean we can't have some."

Xander shook his head and chuckled a bit. He and Tara went back inside and sat down on the couch.

"So…any word on Willow?" Xander asked.

"She's fine," Tara said. "She'll be out in a couple of days."

"Good."

They both sat quietly for several moments, digesting everything that had happened over the last few days. Xander finally broke the silence.

"How do you think she did it?"

Tara looked at him, uncertain what he was asking.

"Faith. How did she change so much?"

"I don't know. Hard work, I guess. And luck. And good friends."

"Yeah, that does help, doesn't it?" Xander said thoughtfully.

"Yes," Tara said, looking up at Xander. "It does."

END