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Free Fallin'

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In agreement with Faith's desire for sleep, Buffy persuaded Giles to drive them all to a motel in a no-name deserted little town a few hours outside of the sinkhole that was Sunnydale. They all relaxed as best they could, and healed, for a solid week. Giles tried to get more information on the Hellmouth in Cleveland, and when Faith inevitably started to feel too restless, she decided to head there next. Robin went with her.

Not long after that, Dawn admitted that she wanted to properly finish high school, and agreed to move in with their father in L.A. for those years. With all of the new Slayers awakening, Giles knew that he needed to return to London to assist with the new Watcher's Council. Andrew wanted to go with him, as did Willow, if only to spend some more time with the coven in Devon and practice her magical abilities. Xander went with Willow, for a while, until she decided to move closer to London, upon which Xander traveled back to the States.

So one by one, sometimes by two or three, they all went their ways.

Buffy, at first, spent a couple of weeks in L.A. When her sister eventually began classes, Buffy knew better than to spend too much time with her father and ruin the good rapport that they'd finally built. She then decided to take a leisurely path toward Cleveland; stopping for a few days at a time in towns that felt a little more demon-heavy than others. Xander was back in the country by this point and wanted to join her, so the two of them partnered up on something of a cross-country slaying spree.

They spent a few months in Cleveland with Faith and Robin, but that Hellmouth was - so far - much more quiet than the one in Sunnydale. There wasn't a need for two Slayers, so Buffy continued her trek East, though Xander decided to stay behind in Ohio.

Buffy's car broke down in Virginia and she spent six months in a little farming town south of Richmond, surprised by the amount of vampire activity in the more historical areas. Apparently, tourists were easily misled and made yummy snacks.

Eventually, she decided to head north, the promise of Boston's much-revered autumn enticing her.

The rain and cold and snow took a while to get used to, but New York was like another world after so much time in small-town America. It reminded her a lot of L.A., but it was so very different at the same time. She stayed in the city for a year, finding no shortage of vampire activity but also allowed plenty of time to herself to explore, see Broadway, go shopping, taste new foods.

She made a few fond acquaintances during her travels, but didn't allow herself to become very close to anyone. She sent postcards to all the Scoobies, Giles included, and called when she could, but she didn't want to lay down permanent roots when she knew that she would inevitably hop in her car and leave town.

Then, after a long phone call with Willow, one that was not so different than any of their other chats, Buffy realized just how much she missed her best friend. Once she had enough money saved, she sold her car and bought a one-way ticket to Heathrow. She wasn't all that worried about being able to afford a return ticket - there was no one in the States that demanded her immediate presence, and she wouldn't mind exploring a bit of Europe, anyway.

The only one who knew of her plan other than Willow was Dawn, as her sister would've been the one person to make her hesitate for such a trip. Dawn, however, was highly encouraging of the idea.

"Giles would be so happy to see you, you know." Dawn had said, as if that were the clincher. Buffy had frowned at the phone.

"I'm going to see Willow, I- Giles is super busy with the new Council stuff, you know that. I mean, if I see him then great, but, I'm going to see Willow."

"Sure, Buffy." Dawn had rolled her eyes - Buffy could hear it in her voice.

Buffy was still a little confused by Dawn's words, even as she sat on the plane at the tarmac. But they were taking off soon, so she pushed all thought from her mind and closed her eyes, focusing on her breathing and not accidentally breaking the armrests in her strong grip.

After everything she's been through, she still wasn’t a fan of flying.