Buffy shooed Xander and Andrew off of the couch so she could straighten the cushions, but as soon as her back was turned to plump the ones in the arm chair, they both sat back down to watch the television again.
Arm chair as neat as it was going to get, she stepped back to survey her work.
"Guys! You could at least pretend to help," Buffy whined. "And get that demon off the furniture!" She yelled as she spied Goorzah curled up next to Andrew sucking on a previously plumped cushion.
Indignantly, Andrew pulled her onto his lap. "You have to stop calling her a demon, it's not nice."
"Andrew, she is a demon," Buffy chastised the young man impatiently and went back to arranging the ornaments on the mantel piece.
"So. You'd think it was rude if I called you 'Person' all the time, wouldn't you?" Andrew argued petulantly.
"Fine. Whatever. Please could you not let Goorzah the Demon on the furniture after I spent all morning vacuuming it?"
Xander scratched Goorzah behind the ears. "Aww, I don't think Buffy the Person likes you very much." Goorzah bared her teeth at him and hiccuped.
"Xander, will you not encourage him, please."
The front door opened, solving the argument as the baby demon leapt from the sofa to meet Kennedy and Willow.
Kennedy scooped her up in her arms for a big cuddle, whispering nonsense to her. The demon baby chattered back in equal nonsense. Willow watched the two of them for a second, smiling indulgently, before moving into the room further and flopping down in one of the arm chairs.
Willow looked up alarmed. "What is it Buffy?"
Buffy was looking beyond her best friend at the chair. Willow looked behind her as well but it didn't give any clues to Buffy's distress.
"You killed her fluffy cushions," Xander explained without looking up.
"Oh." Willow sank back again. "I'll give them CPR when my feet can hold me again, promise." She indicated all the shopping bags at her feet. "I think we've got everything you asked for. If we haven't, tough. I'm not setting foot back in Cleveland for a very long time. It was evil, and I know what I'm talking about."
Xander looked up, interested for the first time. "Did you get that thing I had on order?"
Willow nodded. "Yep, it's in the back of the truck along with the rest of the shopping bags."
"I'll go get them and put them away." Buffy started for the front door, but Xander was up already and half way through it.
"I've got it Buff, you carry on moving ornaments around. I think we're going to need all the feng shui we can get in this house." He disappeared out the front.
Kennedy took his spot on the couch next to Andrew and Goorzah spread herself comfortably between the two with her head nestled in Kennedy's lap and her feet in Andrew's.
Buffy sighed heavily.
Willow gave her a sympathetic look and asked. "What time is she arriving?"
Buffy picked up the bags of shopping at Willow's feet and started for the kitchen. "Giles should be meeting her any minute and the flight's this afternoon. They should be here this evening." She started putting food away in cupboards. "Ooh, don't forget to do behind Goorzah's box, that's always really messy."
Willow's face scrunched. "Did I miss the first part of that conversation?"
"Not you," Buffy replied like it was obvious.
Willow felt a prod on her toe and looked down. Two Pixies looked up at her. One of them held a dustpan and the other held a brush. "Oh hi Elowen, and this is your brother isn't it? I'm afraid I don't know your name yet."
"It's Kitto." Buffy told her. "Or at least, something that sounds very like that."
The two little people gave them a wave and carried on sweeping the kitchen floor, wielding the utensils perfectly even though they were made for people ten times bigger than them.
"You're using our neighbors as slaves now?" Willow asked dryly, putting some stuff away in the fridge. "That's a little bit oldy-worldy, don'tcha think?"
"It's what they do apparently. Offer service for gifts. Elowen likes milk. I'm not sure what Kitto likes yet, I just hope I can understand him when he tells me. This was the way it was always done with the old Council, well until they turned into jerks, that is."
"I see. Sooooooo..." Willow dragged the word out until Buffy turned from wiping down the spotless table, and then lowered her voice to a whisper. "...how are they dealing with the imminent Watcher invasion?"
Buffy glanced down to where Kitto was holding Goorzah's box above his head while his sister swept the floor beneath it clean. "Don't think they've cottoned on to it yet."
Willow flipped on the kettle and grabbed two mugs from the drainer. Catching Buffy's look, she rolled her eyes. "S'okay Buff, I'll wash them up again when I'm done."
Buffy gave a strained smile. "I'm going crazy, aren't I?"
"Maybe just a little. You just have to relax. It's not like Faith is the kind of girl who's going to notice if there's a wrinkle in the table cloth or the spare toilet rolls aren't in a perfect pyramid."
The blonde pouted. "I just want it to be nice." Distracted by her watch, she announced perkily: "Ooh, bedroom windows, I'm coming to get ya!" before grabbing a bucket of soapy water from the back door and starting up the kitchen stairs.
Faith looked at her watch and sighed. She'd been standing by this damn gate for nearly thirty minutes waiting for the guard. That was after the two hours of checks and searches and questions. What did they think she was going to smuggle out of prison? She was free for crying out loud, so open the damn door!
Ten minutes later a guard did amble up. She signed a couple more sheets of paper and finally the little door in the big gate was open and she could see the outside for the first time in, well it hadn't been that long, but it was the symbolism of the thing that counted surely.
The outside wasn't that spectacular. It was a car park filled with lots of economy cars and two men standing in the sunshine, waiting for her. Giles and Wesley. The English welcoming committee; her two Watchers. Waiting to take her back into the ample bosom of the big, happy, Slayer family like she didn't even have a choice.
She knew there a was a plane ticket waiting for her in Giles' pocket, so she could fly with him back to the middle of Monsterville, Ohio tonight. It was part of her parole conditions, she knew that. She had to spend at least three months at this school thing Giles was pretending to run before being re-evaluated by her parole officer.
A part of her knew she was lucky. Scratch that, all of her knew she was lucky to be getting out, but to be allowed to leave the state was a bonus. The downside being the specification that she only had one other location to choose.
If she decided to play by the rules, that was. She smiled a little, dimples just showing themselves.
Giles and Wesley hadn't noticed the open door yet.
"Are you out of here or not? 'Cause if it's not; I'm gonna shut the door again," the guard asked impatiently.
"Chill, man, I'm going." She slipped out of the door and sidled quickly along the high wall of the prison. Once she was certain the guard couldn't see her any more she ducked down behind the row of parked car and crawled on hands and knees to the far end of the lot.
Continuing over a small grass verge littered with cigarette ends and trash, she came to a chain-link fence which separated the prison from the busy highway outside. If she was going to get spotted, now would be it.
She looked back to find the two Watchers and saw them by the door talking to the guard who had released her.
She threw her small rucksack of possessions over the fence and followed it quickly. Once on the other side she snatched up her bag and ran like hell.
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