They spent the first night a few miles from the crater, camped in the battered school bus while they waited for the authorities to turn up. Any possibility of an 'after' had seemed like such an unlikely scenario that they hadn't really even thought of what would come next, and so they did nothing, choosing to rest and regroup before deciding what to do. As darkness fell, Buffy left Willow and Giles tend for the wounded, and headed out for patrol.
Faith was a silhouette against the small fire they'd built to keep warm. She stood up when she heard Buffy, tensing for a moment like an animal preparing to jump, but then relaxed when she recognised her. They exchanged nods, silently agreeing that Faith would guard the campsite while Buffy checked their surroundings.
She soon found herself on the edge of the crater. In the darkness below, she could see the dim glow of small fires still smoldering in the ruins. Shadows moved between them, slithering amongst the rubble, and Buffy tightened her grip around her stake as she stared into the abyss. Every now and then, she could hear low groans and moans of the debris settling, and a strange chittering that sounded almost like voices whispering in the depth of the crater.
It wasn't gone, never would be. The First Evil could not be killed - there would always be evil in the world.
Then why bother, she could hear the voices whisper. Why even try?
She felt tired to the bone, her muscles aching, her whole body nothing but one big bruise. She wanted to just sit down on the ground and close her eyes for a second, but she knew that if she did, she wouldn't be able to get up again.
There was a sudden gust of wind that whistled down the edge of the crater, picking up burnt and torn pieces of paper from the ruins. They danced in the air like large snowflakes and she reached out and caught one as it flew past her. In the pale light of the full moon she could see that it was a page torn from an old high school yearbook. A short article about the the annual memorial for the students who had died that year, with a name and a stamp-sized black and white photograph of each dead student printed next to it. She studied the faces: the ones that she had known, the ones that she had never even met. The ones that she hadn't been able to save.
She looked up from the paper and stared into the darkness above the crater. The shifting shadows had stilled, the whispering voices growing more quiet until they faded into the night.
"This is why," she told the darkness and turned away, tucking the page inside her jacket.