The Inevitability Of Moving
by MelWil


When the dust settled and the hundredth game of 'remember when' had been played, a road trip became inevitable. There was just them, the bus, a big hole in the ground and a road that led away from it; and the only thing they could do was get back on the bus and start driving.

Dawn curled up in the back seat and pretended to sleep. Voices, growing happier, hyper even, grew around her. Plans were being made, futures mapped out in a series of loud, overlapping conversations. And Dawn stayed quiet, waiting for Buffy's voice, her authority, to send them in the right direction. But Dawn discovered, through slit eyelids, that Buffy was deep in conversation with Willow and Xander and there would be no authority any time soon. Dawn unravelled herself and stumbled up to the front of the bus.

"Where are we going?"

Giles watched as a station wagon passed them on the highway. "The first available hospital, to begin with. Then I presume we'll keep moving on to Los Angeles. Buffy wants to check in with Angel."

Dawn shifted, watching the road disappear beneath the bus for a few miles. "And then . . ?"

Giles shrugged. "I guess we'll have to wait and see."


Los Angeles

They arrived in Los Angeles late, parking the school bus in the dingy alleyway next to the shiny law firm. Angel was waiting for them in the foyer, waiting to see Buffy again.

Dawn walked with Xander, following Buffy and Angel through the warren like hallways. A peculiar feeling crept up the back of her neck and she wondered what could be causing it. Xander nudged her.

"Do you feel it?"

She nodded, shivering. "Do you think we'll be staying here for long?"

Xander looked ahead to where Buffy was deep in conversation with Angel and behind to watch Willow chatting with Wesley and Fred. "I hope not. I can't see how we belong here. We, you and I anyway, just can't belong here."

"Where do we belong?"

Xander dropped his head. "I don't know, Dawnie."

The peculiar feeling on the back of her neck refused to go away.


Las Vegas / Phoenix

Some of them, dazzled by the bright lights and the brighter opportunities offered by Wolfram and Hart, wanted to stay in Los Angeles. But Buffy voiced her authority and they got into a fleet of shiny black cars Angel had donated, ready to move on.

Faith left them in Nevada, taking Robin with her. She was still a wanted woman, she reminded them, and would remain that way until Angel managed to manipulate the paperwork. It was safer to move separately, under the radar. Dawn watched them go without sorrow.

Willow and Kennedy broke up in Arizona. Willow's parents were settled there and they asked her to stay with them for a while. Kennedy threw a tantrum and left a boot shaped dint in the side of a car.

Dawn cried as she hugged Willow and cried harder as she watched Willow and Xander say goodbye.

"Why didn't you stay with her?" She asked him. "Her parents wanted you to."

"It isn't the right place for me." He climbed into the car and pressed the heel of his hand against his temple. "The sky is too blue. It hurts my eye."



They spent two weeks in Chicago. Buffy declared it a holiday, their last stop before they confronted the Cleveland hellmouth. Dawn smirked and asked Buffy if she wanted to collapse Cleveland as well. Buffy turned away like Dawn had hit her.

They decided to go up the Sears Tower - to see things from a new direction, Xander joked. Andrew stood next to Dawn and peered at the buildings below.

"Why does it feel like we're still running away?" he asked.

"Because Buffy won't let us stand still." Dawn was surprised by how adult she sounded. "You don't have to stay with us, you know. You can leave any time you want to."

"But you're my family," he whined. "You and Buffy and Xander and Mr. Giles and all those scary slayers Buffy keeps finding."

"Don't you have a real family?"

"His brother tried to set Hell Hounds on our prom." Xander said, joining them. "What do you think about this view."

Andrew shrugged. "It still feels like we're running away."



Buffy set up a training camp for the new slayers, two blocks away from the hellmouth. Angel arranged a building for them to work from and Giles arranged a house for them to live in. Dawn claimed the bedroom on the top floor, the one with the circle window that looked out on dull scenery.

"What are you going to do?" she asked as she walked through a park with Xander and Andrew.

Andrew stopped, "why do we always talk about the future? Why can't we talk about comic books or Star Wars or something cool like that?"

Xander and Dawn kept walking. "They're going to get me a glass eye next week."

"Do you want to stay here?"

"Do you?"

"I have to stay with Buffy." Dawn kicked at a stray soda can.

"Do you really?" Andrew ran to catch up with them. "Do you really have to stay with Buffy?"

"Sure. I suppose." She sat on a bench, looking at the ground while the guys sat on either side of her. "Buffy's all freaked out about school. She says I've pretty much blown my chances to get into a good college."

"Yeah, that old 'we were busy fighting the ultimate evil but I can get a note from my Principal' excuse just doesn't work like it used to." Xander grinned.

"Are you going to stay?" Dawn placed her hand on top of Xander's.

Xander looked away. "Actually, I'm going back to California. Not Los Angeles -- I'd never be comfortable there -- but somewhere small." He dug at the ground with the toe of his shoe. "I can't do this anymore, Dawnie, all this fighting evil."

"Can I come with you?" Andrew asked.

"Sure." Xander stood up. "Why not?" He pulled Dawn to her feet. "You can always come and visit, Dawn."


Southern California

Dawn spent a lot of time in the library, curled up in a ball in a comfy chair, lost in a world of fiction. She went straight to the library after school and stayed there until the library closed and they booted her out.

"Are you ready to go?"

Dawn looked up, surprised to see Giles standing in front of her, a pair of duffel bags at his feet. "What are you doing here?"

He crouched in front of her, taking the book from her hand. "Are you ready to go back to California? Buffy and I have an idea."

Dawn jumped to her feet and grabbed one of the duffel bags.

Giles explained the idea on the way back across the country. A new era of Watchers -- modern, younger, less rigid. They'd set up a building in California, attract the brightest from around the world.

"Why California?" Dawn asked.

"Wesley suggested it. He's got extensive resources at Wolfram and Hart. We can use them."

"And why me?"

"Buffy wanted you to become a Watcher. After school and college of course."

They turned up on Xander's doorstep at five in the morning. Andrew opened the door, bleary eyed, and yelled for Xander. Xander welcomed them in and grinned.

"Welcome home."


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