A few moments afterwards at his desk, Rupert Giles finally looked up from having his face buried in his hands, to glumly stare towards the far side of the New Council director's office. There, his arms crossed over his chest, Xander was casually leaning back against the right panel of the double doors leading out into the reception area beyond. Giving his boss a somewhat sympathetic look, the younger man still declared, seemingly from out of the blue, "Say, Giles, just so you know, right now I'm gonna take my entire vacation time off, all at once. I figure that I've got at least a couple of months coming, so I won't be around for a while. Don't worry, I'll send you and the other Scoobies a postcard telling what a wonderful time I'm having at wherever I wind up, which I haven't decided yet. Well, adios."

Totally taken aback at that unexpected announcement, an open-mouthed Giles gaped at where Xander now swiftly straightened up, turned around, yanked open one of the double doors, and leaving this ajar, began to exit the office, all of this done in the most hurried manner possible. Just as his Sunnydale comrade passed through the doorway, the Englishman at last regained his senses, barely in time to bellow after the pusillanimous poltroon deserting in the face of the enemy: "DON'T YOU DARE-! What about the bloody Brady family, you young idiot?"

Stopping in his tracks a few steps away into the reception area, Xander slowly spun around, while keeping his head turned to one side, as if gazing at something elsewhere in that room out of Giles' line of sight. Allowing a truly weird grin to appear upon his features, even as he refused to look at where the former high-school librarian was seated at his desk, Xander blandly replied, "Oh, them? They're right here, outside your office, where they've been waiting throughout our whole little chat. Thanks for your patience, folks! Now, if you'll just go inside, Mr. Giles is really eager to meet you all and welcome you to the New Council! I'm sure you'll have a great time together with him, Mike, Carol, Marcia, Greg, Jan, Peter, Cindy, and Bobby!"

Five minutes later, after a quick visit to his castle apartment to pick up an always-packed rucksack for unforeseen trips to any place in the world, Xander Harris was dashing through the crowded castle corridors filled with other employees of the New Council. The various Slayers, Watchers, and the castle's support staff promptly made way for the man hurrying to the ancient building's specific room with the Red Witch's teleportation spells laid upon this, that allowed instant transportation to anywhere throughout the entire planet in times of crisis. The numerous members of this supernatural organization flattening themselves against the corridor walls to let Xander go by in his near-run probably thought that this man's urgency was necessary due to an emergency or other calamity caused by their groups' demonic foes.

Or it might have simply been because throughout it all, Xander was loudly cackling in evil amusement to himself, sounding exactly like every single happy hyena anticipating a good dinner during Disney's entire The Lion King franchise. Film, television, the Broadway musical, computer games, and the cast recording. Combined.

Unknowingly leaving behind himself in the corridor some very worried people, Xander continued his purposeful sprint towards the teleportation room. The doorway to this place where he was going to make his escape was right before the one-eyed man, until Xander was suddenly forced to skid to a complete halt in front of this, lest he run directly into the startled young lady coming through the door of that room.

Recoiling from the near-collision, Dawn Summers clutched at the handle of her rolling suitcase, to then stare in surprise at the familiar scarred face of her Sunnydale friend trying to keep his balance, with his large rucksack being carried on his back nearly tipping him over. After he managed to stay on his feet, Xander now heard from a very irritated girl, "Xan, will you look where you're going? What's the big hurry, any-"

"Dawn!" beamed Xander, casting a quick glance at the beautiful college student in her last year at Oxford. His attention was mainly upon the younger Summers sister's luggage, as an unexpected thought burst in his brain. Without actually thinking it through, Xander asked, "Are you moving back here?"

The Key blinked at that unanticipated question, before answering, "Wha- Yes, it's the break between Trinity and Michaelmas terms." Seeing Xander's blank face over that confusing explanation, Dawn sighed and further clarified, "Back home, we call it summer vacation. I was going to hang around here a few days before deciding if I wanted to travel to someplace else to relax, or stay at the castle and help out."

A maniacal grin revealed every gleaming tooth in Xander's mouth, as he enthusiastically declared, "That's absolutely perfect! I'm going on my own vacation, so, uh, would you like to come with me?"

Dawn's jaw dropped over hearing that completely unexpected offer from someone she'd once had an intense crush over back in her early teenage years at Sunnydale, when she'd still thought she was an ordinary human girl. Her amazement only deepened further, when Xander anxiously bounced on his feet, while shooting a wary glance upwards at the corridor ceiling, to then try for actual nonchalance in his next rushed comment, "Ah, no pressure, Dawnstar, but, um, could you decide right now? Like in the next two seconds? Before the screams and explosions actually start?"

"What did you do, Xan?" instantly demanded Dawn, glowering at the sheepish man before herself.

"Look, I'll be more than glad to explain it all, honest," whined Xander while wilting a trifle under Dawn's truly skeptical look, but the former carpenter managed to rally enough to scuttle forward next to his friend and reach out with his fingers to grip the edge of her right blouse sleeve while gently tugging her along, as he shuffled towards the door to the teleportation room. As Dawn unthinkingly turned and began to accompany Xander while pulling after herself the rolling suitcase filled with her vacation clothes, she dazedly listened to the rest of her companion's mystifying details: "Let's just say right now, it's best to begin when we're both a couple of thousand miles from here!"

Somehow beginning to feel amused about the whole ridiculous affair despite herself, Dawn had a slow smile appear on her features as in the end she made up her mind, but she still firmly told someone who really needed to be kept in his place, "Okay, okay, I'll come! Just stop yanking! Where are we going, exactly?"

As they disappeared through the teleportation room door, the New Council troubleshooter's voice drifted from through this portal, an odd mixture of pleasure and uncertainty now in this tone, as Xander mused out loud to nobody in particular, "Ah, lessee, someplace I haven't been before, far away, somewhere nice- I know! How about…Maine?"

Author's Note: Eight chapters done! I'm telling you right now, there's absolutely nothing significant about this number and how many people are in the Brady family after Alice went to that great big Demon Dimension in the sky. Nope, not at all. Heh, heh, heh.

As for Xander and Dawn, just what possible trouble could they get vacationing in such a peaceful place like Maine, other than sunburn and overindulging in lobster rolls? (I take mine with drawn butter. People who want mayo on theirs are just sick.)