After several moments of shocked immobility among the remaining Slayers on the ground floor, Faith was the first to move again, quickly stepping towards Xander lying on the linoleum. As she stared down in sudden worry that lessened at hearing his easy breathing and strong heartbeat, Faith also absently listened to the baby Slayers behind her quickly conducting a low-voiced debate among themselves about whether (a) Buffy Summers had finally gone totally bonkers, and (b) that blonde woman's butchering of Broadway melodies was the first sign of THE coming apocalypse to end all apocalypses.

As the girls came to the quick conclusion that (a) you betcha, and (b) even if it wasn't, it should be, Faith bent down to hook two fingers under Xander's belt at the back of his pants, and she then effortlessly lifted him to her waist level, with his arms and legs dangling to the floor, as his head hung down in oblivion. Still easily holding the man, and looking around the crowd of baby Slayers now watching her in utmost fascination, Faith barked, "Awright, time for a Slayer pop quiz! Over the last week, he's been goin' 'round with gloom-an'-doom, sayin' we was all gonna get it when Buffy got back. Well, the bad thing happened to him alone. We got an out-cold Xander Harris here, so what should we do to- with him? Anybody? Yeah, you."

At her last words, Faith pointed with her free hand at one of the girls at the back of the crowd, who had timidly lifted her own hand. Kate Willoughby was remarkably tender-hearted for a baby Slayer, with the fifteen-year-old girl loving puppies, kittens, butterflies, and rainbows. In their occupation of defending the world from unearthly monsters, the other young warrior women had to put up with the sensitive teenager's sniffling over having to decapitate the fiercest demons and trying to reassure her about-to-be-staked vampire opponents that it wasn't going to hurt, honest.

In a gentle, worried tone, Kate mumbled, "Well, uh, I think he's had a severe shock, and he should be put to bed in peace and quiet, with a warm blanket, and a big bowl of chicken soup for when he wakes up. I could read to him if he wants-"

"Yeah, yeah, we get the idea," interrupted Faith. As she looked around the group of girls rolling their eyes over what Kate had just said, the older woman gruffly continued, "Anybody who thinks that's what we should do, raise your hand."

Everyone else kept their arms firmly at their sides, as Kate's own hand only managed to get up halfway before the blushing girl quickly yanked it back down, staring at the floor in her acute embarrassment. Faith's next words directed at Kate were spoken in a tone of stern kindness, as the brunette declared, "We gotta have a talk, sister. Ya need serious advice 'bout bein' a Slayer, and it ain't actin' like Florence Nightingale. Okay, then- Yeah, you."

Faith had pointed at Phillippa McNair eagerly waving her upraised hand. This new girl promptly showed that her House nickname of 'Filthy McNasty' hadn't been given to her by that Slayer's friends simply as a play upon her name, since with a truly evil expression on the young woman's striking features, she now gloatingly proposed, "I say we take him outside to the back yard, shove the garden hose nozzle down his pants, and turn on the water at full blast!"

"Mmmmm," meditatively hummed Faith, as she considered this. Glancing around at the wicked grins suddenly appearing on the faces of virtually every girl there (Kate just looked a bit distressed), a deadpan Faith inquired, "All in favor?"

The building hallway shook with a roar of multiple female voices shouting "AYE!"

"The ayes have it," nodded Faith, who herself had lifted Xander upwards to head level by her own arm raised in agreement, with the man now in a jackknifed position as his body dangled towards the floor with his butt currently the highest part of his body. Still easily holding Xander in this ludicrous position, Faith swept down the corridor towards the back door, with the baby Slayers eagerly crowding along after the older woman.

About ten minutes later, in the Slayers House main conference room, a young woman abruptly appeared out of thin air, to stand on the wedge-shaped part of the floor covered with runes and other magical symbols that were inscribed at the bare north corner of the room. Everyone in the house, including the cleaning crew, had the strictest instructions to never step or move anything into that corner unless specifically instructed to do so, and these directives had been faithfully followed.

So, Dawn Summers had an entirely different reason for suddenly clutching her stomach and looking nauseous right after the teleportation spell ended. Groaning quietly, Dawn then mumbled out loud, "Note to self: In the future, make sure you don't have a double bacon chili-cheeseburger for lunch just before you find out you have to take the Willow express!"

Taking a few deep breaths to settle her stomach, Dawn looked around the empty room. Her face deepened into an angry frown, and she threw up her arms in exasperation, grumbling, "Oh, great! Buffy tells me to drop everything and pop over from Scotland, not even saying why, just that it's important, and now she can't even bother to show up here!" Muttering to herself, Dawn stomped over to the conference room double doors and pulled the left panel open, peering up and down the main house corridor, to see if her sister was on her way. No such luck. As she stepped through the doorway and then closed it behind herself, Dawn casually glanced along the corridor towards the rear door of the house, and her eyebrows rose at seeing it ajar. The woman's head then quickly turned to pay more attention to the strange sounds presently drifting through the open door, as these noises made an astonished Dawn halt in her tracks.

The racket the younger Summers sister was listening to included the sounds of water being sprayed at extremely high pressure, a man's very familiar voice raised in outraged male roars that abruptly changed to spluttering bellows, and shrieks of feminine glee that combined shouts of "Aim for his face!" "He's gonna make a break for it!" "Wet t-shirt contest, my ass!"

At this last gleeful comment yelled out by a woman's voice having a strong Boston accent, Dawn lifted her eyes to the ceiling and said under her breath, "Ah, home sweet asylum." Shaking her head over zany memories of her own stay several years ago that had caused the Key to sigh in relief at finally moving out to her own small apartment in the Scotland castle of the New Council's main headquarters, Dawn tiptoed over to the main staircase and quietly went up these steps to the floor where Buffy had her living quarters.

Finally at the door of her sister's apartment, Dawn rapped sharply with the installed knocker, and then she exasperatedly growled at the door, "Okay, what's the big idea? There better be one hell of a good explanation- WHOOP!"

This last startled exclamation was the result of the door swiftly opening, a hand snapping out to grab Dawn by her arm, and then lifting the young woman off her feet to yank her bodily into the room, with the door slamming closed as suddenly as it had opened. No further sound came from anything that might be occurring inside the room, due to truly effective soundproofing that could defeat even Slayer hearing.

Presently, on the ground floor, Faith strutted into the house through the back door, following by the very contended and extremely damp baby Slayers. The good mood of the brunette woman might have had something to do with being totally dry except for a few drops of water in her hair, and Faith's happiness only increased at seeing who was standing by the staircase in the main corridor, a suitcase at her feet.

"Hey, Little D! Whatcha doin' here? I thought ya was readin' alla those dry-as-dust books at the castle and makin' the trainee Watchers bite through their tweed handkerchiefs when they saw ya in those painted-on jeans I sent ya last Christmas."

Dawn smiled back at the woman she'd long ago forgiven for what that Slayer had done during her dark time. "I'm just here on a quick visit, Faith. Buffy and I- What the hell is that?"

The Abominable Mud Man, aka Xander Harris, lurched down the house corridor from the rear door, ignoring the baby Slayers that ducked out of his path, with these girls now backing up against the walls and watching with wide eyes as the sodden and muck-covered male held out his extended arms dripping with garden sludge, filthy fingers working in preparation for a throat-crushing grip on the woman in front of him, who'd now turned around to give Xander a satisfied smirk, accompanied by very pleased sound effects.

Over Faith's cackles, Xander, who'd come to an abrupt stop at seeing Dawn there, now stood in the corridor while furiously bellowing at the younger Summers sister, "NOT ONLY IS YOUR SISTER INSANE, SHE PASSED THAT ONTO EVERY OTHER SLAYER!"

Dawn looked bemused for a few moments over hearing that, and then the woman simply shrugged and said in a matter-of-fact tone, "That's not news, Xan. By the way, is that a different look for you?"

"Grrrrrrr…" snarled Xander, clearly about to imitate the Frankenstein monster on the day when that creature had finally become fed up to someone's back teeth with all those stupid villagers with their stupid torches and decided to go berserk. Before the drenched man ruining the corridor linoleum could actually lose his temper, he was interrupted by another person's sudden arrival at the scene.

Upstairs, Buffy Summers, while holding two suitcases in her hands, jumped over the railing on the second floor and casually dropped down the airspace, landing lightly on her designer shoes in the corridor. The blonde woman easily stood there, and glancing at the mud-plastered man glaring around at everyone, Buffy nonchalantly commented, "Hey, Xander, it took you long enough to pay attention to Cordy's advice that you should burn those Hawaiian shirts and dress in earth tones."

A gobbet of mud slid off the end of Xander's nose, revealing his features that had started turning reddish-purple in true fury. Observing this, Buffy decided it was time to give everybody there her news before the eruption actually began. She announced in a clear voice that rang throughout the corridor, "I'm leaving."


This was simultaneously choked out by Xander, Faith, and several of the baby Slayers. The stunned man hurriedly wiped his face, absently making additional work for the House cleaning crew as more mud fell to the floor, to stare at the blonde Slayer calmly looking back at them all. Now actually worried instead of being angry, Xander carefully asked, "Uh, Buff, is something wrong?"

Buffy shook her head, chuckling at the concerned tone from the grubby man, and told him, "No, everything's okay. I'm just taking a Sundayical-"

At her sister's side, Dawn winced and tersely corrected, "Sabbatical!"

Shooting a glare from the corner of her eye at Dawn, Buffy indignantly huffed, "Well, I was close!" Turning to the baffled Heads of the House, the California native continued, "Anyway, I'm going to leave for a while, for…personal reasons. No, no! Nothing bad!" These last words were hurriedly spoken at seeing the sudden looks of worry on the faces of Faith and Xander, with the shifting of the latter's features into this concerned expression causing even more clumps of soil to fall from his head.

Faintly smiling at seeing this, Buffy went on more cheerfully during the dazed silence of the others. "I'm just telling you, I have to go away and I'm not going to say why. It's private. However, Dawn's coming with me, if that makes you feel better."

The pair now standing together that were responsible for the Cleveland Slayers House promptly looked at Dawn nodding reassuringly at them both. Xander and Faith relaxed a bit, though they were still clearly concerned about their friend's sudden departure. Delighted at knowing they would miss her, Buffy stepped forward to give Faith a farewell hug. This time, there was no hesitation, as the other Slayer hugged her back right away, though the brunette anxiously whispered into her warrior sister's ear during the embrace, "Are ya really okay, B? We'll help ya, if ya got problems-"

Blinking away sudden tears from this caring offer by her once-enemy, Buffy joyously whispered back, "Faith, I just had the most wonderful news in the world! Everything's great!" After saying this, she let go of Faith and stepped over to Xander. Eyeing the filthy man, the short blonde searched for some place on his body where she could touch him without needed a shower after, and Buffy managed to find a clean spot on Xander's right elbow.

Giggling, Buffy reached out to gently pinch his dirt-free flesh there, quelling her laughter long enough to say, "Too bad I can't be around to see your skin after your mud treatment, Xan! I bet it's going to be as smooth as a baby's bottom!"

Ignoring the sniggering coming from behind him by the baby Slayers, Xander worriedly regarded his Scooby Gang comrade smiling at him. Clearing his throat, the man gruffly said, "Yeah, whatever. Look, this is kind of a shock. Can't you tell us-"

The Los Angeles native firmly shook her head, cutting off Xander's beginning question. Buffy steadily looked her high-school friend in the eye and repeated, "I said, it's private! But everything's going to okay, I swear it. I'll send you and everyone else a message when I can, Xander." Looking around the corridor, Buffy finished, "Well, bye, everyone!" giving them all a parting smile, and stepping back to stand by Dawn and the pile of her packed suitcases.

A somewhat uncertain chorus of farewells came from the baby Slayers and their Heads of the House, as they all watched, and in the case of those females with heightened senses, hearing Buffy whisper to Dawn pulling out a small disk from her jeans pocket, "Keep your head away from me when we get there! I can smell what you ate, and I really don't want it all back on my shoes if you can't control your stomach!" The final glimpse the people in the corridor got of the pair of sisters was of Dawn glaring at Buffy as the younger woman squeezed the disk to begin the spell that would transport the two women to the New Council's main headquarters. An instant later, Buffy, Dawn, and three suitcases vanished into thin air.

For a few moments, there was absolute silence among the people in the Cleveland Slayers House, as they all stared at the empty space where the Summers sisters had been. Finally, the hush was broken with words spoken by someone possessing a very rude nickname.

"Ten bucks says she's pregnant," offered Phillippa McNair.

A prompt uproar began among the baby Slayers, with some loudly discussing this possibility among themselves, and others crowding around Phillippa and digging out money from the pockets of their clothes as that young warrior woman happily took their bets. All of this was done without interference from their guardians, as both were now staring at each other in utter disbelief at this suggested likelihood.

Faith choked out to Xander standing there, his face paper-white. "Ya don't think- What the hell happened 'fore we got there?"

Xander dazedly shook his mud-encrusted head, and muttered, "I dunno! I just got a phone call from some Frenchwoman who wanted to talk to Buffy, or as she called her 'Elizabeth Summairs.' Right after that, Buffy grabbed me by my throat and took the call. I was too busy trying to breathe to pay all that much attention, until she went nutso." The man wonderingly looked at a brooding Faith, and he managed to say, "If…if…she really is….m, that, what are we gonna do about it?"

Faith continued staring blankly off into the distance, until her face firmed in the clear sign of a decision made. She then reached into the back pocket of her jeans, pulled out her wallet, and opened it to count her cash. Pulling out all of the money there and putting her wallet away, she headed towards the crowd of baby Slayers around Phillippa now laying down the odds of boy or girl, ten-to-one on twins or more. Speaking over her shoulder to Xander as she kept on walking, Faith determinedly said, "Well, first thing, I'm gonna put down eighty-two bucks on the baby bein' totally human. Then I'm gonna go up ta my room and just freak out. You do what you wanna do, boytoy."

Xander stared after Faith, until an evil grin abruptly appeared on his dirty features, as he noticed that woman had thoughtlessly let down her guard. Briskly striding after, Xander caught up with Faith in a few steps, and he then struck at her exposed back. Faith found herself abruptly swept up in Xander's clammy embrace, with the man's muddy arms under her lower body smearing her shirtfront, as his grip lifted her up and back to press his entire grubby self against the rear of her clothes, with the woman instantly feeling the grimy dampness dirtying her entire outfit. The whole experience was made even more surreal by Xander chortling into Faith's ear as he held her up close, "Our little Buffster's gonna be a mommy! Isn't that the most fantastic thing you ever heard of in your whole life?"

"GET THE HELL OFFA ME!" howled Faith. Yet, despite being someone strong enough to instantly break free of Xander's hug, the woman just hung there, a frozen expression on her face, as Xander began to dance in the corridor, humming loudly about a certain baby in a treetop, as he carried Faith around the hallway. During one of their twirls, the enthralled baby Slayers watching this saw on Faith's lips a faint grin, which all of the younger women there instantly understood showed not just Faith's delight in the possible news, but also in happily undergoing a perfect Xander Harris payback.