"Hey! I'm just saying that I still got it. Cat like reflexes, not bad for a pirate, right Buffy?" Xander lightly nudged the Slayer with his elbow, urging her to give the ounce of confirmation that he so badly needed to hear. It had been another long night, not the usual type; this had been longer than what they were used to. Buffy would have preferred the night off, but Giles was more adamant about patrol then he ever had been before. Buffy's head bobbed mechanically, apparently that was the only reassurance that Xander needed. As he usually did post patrol – he made a beeline for the kitchen. All that running around and saving the English countryside took a lot out of a man; or so he said.
Buffy slowly removed her damp jean jacket, hanging it up by the tag at the neck on the hook opposite the back door that they had just come in through. The house was eerily quiet – then again it was late, or early, depending on how you wanted to look at it.
The crew had left after a nice meal of instant scalloped potatoes and fried chicken. Xander and Dawn had pushed for pizza, but Giles explained that the lack of funds would result in a lack of melted cheesy goodness. Everything had been stretched pretty thin since Sunndydale. Stretched and stressful accurately summed it up. Their recent traveling proved that wicked didn't rest. They had lost their homes, their friends, in some cases a loved one and they didn't get to savor the victory. Because Giles insisted on mentioning Cleveland. By nightfall that day they were back on the bus and headed out of state.
Most of the trip had been spent in silence, it seemed like everyone was reflecting. Giles said that it was the shock, something that would wear off once they settled somewhere – but to Buffy it felt like so much more. She'd lost a friend, a home - girls that been following her lead. They had stopped the First's armies. No, that wasn't right. The Sunnydale wouldn't have been reduced to a crater without Spike. Spike…it always came back to him. He would have gotten such a kick out of this, all the Scoobies in England – the Motherland. Never in a million years would she have thought that they would end up here, literally a world away. "Buffy?" The sound of Willows voice snapped her out of the trance. This had been happening a lot lately. One second she was there, the next she was out of it.
Buffy turned in time to see an extremely concerned look on the witches face. She knew what Will was thinking and she knew what she wanted to ask. Thankfully, Willow didn't say anything this time. The redheaded witch wouldn't get an answer out of Buffy, not a real one that didn't have the word 'fine' in it. "I think that I'm just going to hit the sack, long year." Buffy murmured, stretching her arms over her head. She couldn't help but notice how defeated Willow looked just then.
"I uh- okay, that's cool. Do you still want to check out the stop that Giles told us about tomorrow or –" Willow's words drifted off, like she didn't know whether or not it was okay to talk.
A small smile lit up her face. IT was forced and totally for her friends benefit, but it was there. "Yeah, I'm in. We need some more pointy stuff." That seemed to work some magic, her friend returned the smile after all. It was nice to have someone around that wasn't going crazy. If anything Willow was handling the changes the best. It had actually been her idea, them coming to England with Giles. It had started out as a joke, till Giles had heard of a possible Hellmouth opening in the English countryside. Everything after that was a blur.
The two exchanged brief goodnights before going their separate ways. Willow headed down the narrow hallway, stopping at the third door in the right. She and Dawn shared a bedroom. From the sounds of the snorting and the giggling, Dawn was already in there – Xander was probably on his way to bed too. He had a cot set up in the adjoining den like room. Giles got a bedroom to himself and Buffy got the couch. While the house was big, it was full of crap. It had taken two whole days just to empty out the one bedroom. She was already putting in a hefty workload out of the house, Buffy didn't really want to go through boxes of booked. Giles had explained that most of the clutter was in fact books. Dawn picked up the place where her sister didn't. The youngest Summers girl wasn't quite ready to face the dreary weather and the people just yet so most of her time was spent with Giles, attempting to help him make the house into a home.
Everyone else divided their time. When she wasn't patrolling with Willow and Xander, she was helping Faith with potentials. Faith and Robin had also come to England and they had brought the remaining potentials from Sunnydale with them. Though now, as Giles had kindly pointed out – they were more actual Slayers than anything. Their powers hadn't dwindled, though it was popular belief that at some point they would lose their strength. Till then Giles insisted that they be trained. What better place to do that then on a possible Hellmouth? There was a steady flow of vamps and a lack of people to kill them. Besides, most of the girls didn't have anywhere else to go. They had been given a choice; they could have stayed in Cleveland. Out of the original group, only two people had stayed behind. Kennedy and Andrew. Andrew had been afraid of flying and objected to the big move for reasons that were unclear to Buffy. Needless to say that the Kennedy and Willow thing didn't last, and the Slayer stayed in Cleveland with Andrew. In hindsight it was a good idea, having someone over there to keep an eye on things. Not that said ease made her sleep any better.
Nothing ever did.
In less than ten minutes she was ready for bed, sporting the light blue pajama set that she had picked up at a thrift store the day before. Buffy settled into the old couch, in return it creaked in protest underneath her. Once she was comfortable she fell asleep rather quickly. Killing vampires almost all day, every day could do that to a person. Even a Slayer. Buffy was emotionally and physically worn out, but no one could really blame her. That was probably why the others hadn't been on her case yet about what was wrong, or why she wouldn't talk about Sunnydale unless she absolutely had to. Reliving that wasn't high up on her to do list.
While Buffy had fallen asleep just like everyone else in the house – hers wasn't a restful one. Her dreams were anything but sweet.
( to be continued … )