The sounds of Bette Midler floated across the hall, down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Xander looked up at the ceiling in despair.
"She just hit repeat again," he groaned.
Dawn was sat at the table with him. She took a second out from idly flicking through a magazine to sympathize.
"I know! Who even likes this song anyway? It's so 80's retro. I even offered her my Avril Lavigne CD, but she threw it at me."
"Now come on Dawnie, it's not like she actually aimed for you." Willow stood at the stove making pancakes.
"No but she took the head clean off the cactus plant I brought her. S'not like it ever did anything to her. Just sat there trying to cheer her up."
"Well they say to 'Say it with flowers', but what does a cactus really say? 'Hi, I'm inhospitable and spikey and my closest relative is a camel'." Xander helped himself to the heap of pancakes Willow had just placed in front of him.
Dawn was about to do the same, but froze with her hand to her mouth.
"Oh, do you think that's why she didn't like it? Do you think it was too painful to have a reminder of, y'know, Spike around?" She finished with a whisper.
"Spike was related to a camel, then I'm a monkey's uncle." Xander grinned as he poured a thick layer of syrup over his breakfast.
Dawn just looked pained.
Willow sat down next to her and patted her hand.
"I don't think that's it Dawn. I think your cactus was just an unfortunate bystander."
"I know that's not all she's sad about, but it's been a week since we moved in here and she seems to be getting worse instead of better."
"I know. I'm worried about her too, but she'll be okay, you'll see. Now eat your pancakes." Willow started to tuck into hers.
All three sighed with relief as the music began to fade away, but then groaned loudly when it restarted.
"Again with the repeat. Why can't she wear headphones!" Xander grumbled.
"Xander, give her a break. It's not like she doesn't deserve one." Snapped Willow.
"Will, we've all got pain." Xander sub-consciously rubbed at his face where his eye patch elastic ran. "But we don't all foist it on the rest of the house at seven-thirty in the morning."
"No, some of us foist it on the rest of the house at one-thirty in the morning. That's why you're Mr. Grumpy Pants; you've got a hangover." Willow grinned at him to soften the reprimand slightly.
He smiled back sheepishly and held up his hands, pretending to hold something. "Okay Will, you're right. This is a break, I will make sure she gets it."
"Yeah, well I love my sister, but I'd rather hear Xander slur his way through . . . what was it again? . . . “ Hey ya, hey ya, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, hey ya."
Xander grinned and danced in his seat as Outkast's latest tune played in his head. "Hey yaaaa," he crooned.
"It would be better if you could learn the rest of the song, though." Dawn added and Willow nodded.
Upstairs Bette went back to the beginning again. Xander stopped dancing and dropped his head in his hands.
Looking up again immediately, he asked, "Who is it anyway; who's she singing about? I guess the dead undead counts, what with him saving the world an' all, but . . ."
"I don't think it's him," Willow interrupted.
Xander waved his hand in the air as he continued. "Precisely, and that only leaves one contestant who, despite recent good works, hardly fits into the category of . . ."
". . . Hero. And everything I would like to be. An' I can fly higher than an eagle. Cos you are the wind beneath my wiiiiiiiiings."
Buffy stopped singing and sniveled a little. She searched her pajama sleeves for a tissue, and not finding one used the sleeve itself. Wailing along to the final chorus, she sat up and looked around her bed for the remote to her stereo, cursing herself for feeling compelled to chuck it when she finished with it and re-creating this hunt every few minutes.
She located it, hit the 'back' button and lay back again, chucked the remote away and waited patiently for the first few chords.
She smiled slightly when it started and took a deep breath ready to sing.
BANG! Her bedroom door flew open and smacked into the wall hard enough for the handle to create a dent. Buffy jumped and cursed. Kennedy stormed in, complete with bed head and pillow creased face. She glared angrily at Buffy, who glared back, and then went to the stereo. She pulled the plug from the wall.
"Hey!" Buffy shouted.
Kennedy ignored her as she ripped the plug from the cable and left the room, taking the plug with her. She pulled the door closed behind her with another bang.
Buffy sat up and stared at her stereo, willing a new plug to appear. It didn't happen. Huffing, she lay back down and quietly began to sing.
"It must have been cold there in my shadow . . ."
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