“Only about an hour to Sunnyhell,” Spike informed Logan who leaned back into the old interior of the DeSoto.
“We should’ve taken my car,” he grunted in return. “More comfortable.”
“This baby’s been through a lot,” Spike warned. “Go easy on her and she might return the favor.”
“Do you talk to your car?” Logan inquired innocently.
“On occasion. When there’s no one worth talking to. Find it odd?”
“Only if she talks back.”
“At least you’re referring to her as she. Atta boy, Fitz.”
“Pardon my ears, but what did you just call me?”
“Fitz. F. Scott Fitzgerald, All the Sad Young Men?”
“None of that is ringing a bell, gong or reed pipe for me, man.”
“I’m old,” Spike grumbled to himself. “Buffy’s mum has a copy, read it to you when we get back.”
“And the joy floods my heart.”
“Got an idea to toss you around a bit,” Spike said and then sighed, muttered something about a chip and turned the music up.
Logan was pretty sure the people who had made it were long dead. But then he was driving with a vampire.
He wasn’t quite sure how that had happened.
“Just don’t call me that again. I’ve taken an offense to it.”
“No problem, Scottie.”
Logan decided it wasn’t worth it.
They pulled up to the curb and Spike shut off the engine. Silence reigned where the noisy engine had once rattled.
A young, leggy, brunette came hurtling out of the house.
“Shh, Bit. You wake your mum up I’ll bury you myself.”
“So scary,” she said dryly. “Hi.” She leaned over Logan’s open door. “I’m Dawn, Buffy’s sister.”
“Veronica’s anxious to see you, come in.”
Logan entered the house and was confronted with a bevy of college aged girls.
“Yeah, we should totally make him guess. Watch him all squirmy,” said a redhead in the middle.
The other three blondes either smiled or rolled their eyes.
“Well, you could all be Veronica,” Logan offered. “I wouldn’t mind.”
“Hey!” said a man in his early twenties. “Was bad enough getting a date in high school. I don’t need a high schooler stealing my demon.”
“Ex-demon,” said one of the blondes. “You’re always impressing upon me the importance of being accurate. You should try it yourself. Hello there.” She stepped forward and shook Logan’s hand vigorously. “I’m Anya, well, Anyanka, then Anya. Xander Harris is mine, but thank you for your non-literal offer.”
“Anytime,” Logan said slowly.
Another blonde laughed slightly and shook his hand also.
“Anya is a little literal sometimes. I’m Tara. I don’t think Willow and I-” she pointed to the redhead, “-will be of much use to you.”
“Hey.” Willow waved.
Logan gave Willow a quick double take, and then shook his head slightly in confusion.
“Then this must be mine,” Logan said, moving onto the last blonde.
“You know, you probably would’ve never figured it out,” Veronica said. “I’d have been peeling women off you like a banana.”
“And I thought I was dating a brain of higher function,” Logan teased. “I knew it was you from the first.”
“And how did you know?”
“The head tilt. Nobody but my girl does that head tilt.”
“They’re quite adorable,” Anya said. She turned to the young man. “Xander, I think we should be adorable too. Not just in bed.”
Logan gave Veronica a hug. It felt weird to be holding another woman and holding his at the same time.
“We gotta get you out of that body,” he whispered.
“How like you,” she whispered back. “So concerned about my psychological state of being.”
“I’ll fix all your psych problems as soon as I get you in your own body, sweetie.”
“That’s my cocky lad. I’ll claim you then.”
“I’m quite touched at the reunion,” Spike interrupted. “But there’s a little matter of a spell gone bollocks.”
“Spike is, well, quite right.” The older man standing around rubbing his glasses looked slightly shocked. “It is very important we get down to research.”
“Did you bring that hair of Buffy’s-Veronica’s? Buffy’s?” Willow asked, stumbling over whose hair it actually was.
Logan nodded and reached into his pocket, pulling out hair.
“You didn’t cut it off!” Veronica exclaimed.
“Relax, pet,” Spike answered. “Buffy’s got your locks all covered nicely.”
“She better,” Veronica grumbled.
“Didn’t you once chop it off yourself?” Logan said in a low voice.
“The fact that it was my choice makes it slightly different.”
“Well, I’m going to get started analyzing the hair and see if there’s any spell traces I can pick up,” Willow said. “Tara, Giles, you’re helping right?”
“Naturally,” Giles said and started muttering something about a codex.
“We bloody well just sit and wait,” Spike said and flopped on the couch. “I hate waiting.”
“Your legs cramp, we know,” Xander said in irritation. “Newsflash, don’t care.”
“How the words wound,” Spike said sarcastically. He was obviously worried about Buffy and wished he could still be with her. Now that he was with Veronica again, Logan felt his pain. “Bit, run and get me your mum’s copy of All the Sad Young Men.”
“All the whatsits?”
“Never mind, fetch it myself.”
Spike came back with a well thumbed through novel and quickly found the section he was looking for. He read it to Logan and Veronica and the ever watchful Dawn.
“ ‘Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.’ ”
Logan's face, he was certain, turned several shades of shocked, surprised and stunned.
“So.” Buffy awkwardly folded her hands. She itched to be doing something, slaying something.
“Anything I can get for you?”
“I’m good, thanks for all the care and food and all. It’s nice for someone who went all body snatcher on your daughter.”
“Well, she did her share.”
Keith smiled, even though he looked rather uncomfortable himself.
“I could just go to bed. I don’t know what you and Veronica usually do or if you like each other or…” Buffy trailed off.
She wasn’t used to being around older men unless it was Giles. And Giles was just Giles. So British and composed. What if this guy started crying about his daughter or called the police?
“I don’t bite,” Keith assured her.
“That’s what they all say.” Buffy laughed slightly.
“Maybe they’re just trying to be nice, but I literally don’t bite.”
“No, they literally bite. The whole vampire thing…”
She wondered if that was a smart thing to say.
“I will probably sound chauvinistic here so feel free to toss me across the room, but...how do you do that?”
“The Slayer, a girl in every generation, she gets strength, speed, all the usual superhero gigs. Plus a whole lot of cemetery time.”
“Well, I’ve definitely ruined more clothes than normal.”
“Do your parents know about it?”
“My mom does. She didn’t know for awhile. In fact they thought I was in a gang or something for awhile cause I got kicked out of school, started coming home late. Didn’t it kill not to be able to use the saving the world excuse.”
Buffy shook her head in mock annoyance.
“I’d find that really hard,” Keith observed. “For me it’s bad enough letting Veronica go on stake outs alone. She almost got killed fighting crime a couple of months ago. But she does it better than anyone. Gets it from me.”
He smiled. Buffy liked his smile. It was so natural.
“Well, I have a destiny. Maybe she has a call. Not so bad. She’s so less likely to die from her call than my destiny. Probably not reassuring you too much considering she’s me, but she won’t be out slaying or anything and Spike will take care of her and I’m still not helping,” she ended in a rush.
“I won’t have a panic attack,” he assured her. “I try not to do the worry parent thing too much.”
“It’s probably nice,” Buffy mused. “My dad’s not really around and Giles is all about my destiny so it would be nice if some good, stable guy would try to put his foot down. I’d do it anyway, but it would be- well, someone would care.”
“I hope it can happen,” Keith said softly. “Are you tired? We can go to bed or make popcorn. We’re not really the best healthy eaters around here. Child Protection is always writing threatening letters.”
“Food sounds good.”
Keith got up to prepare some. Buffy wanted to help even though she didn’t know where anything was.
The phone rang.
“Buffy? Is that you?”
“Spill, Giles, what’s the lowdown on the spell?”
“I’m going to put you on that speak-y thing on the phone.” Buffy smiled as she heard some fumbling and British swearing. “Ah, that’s better. No, Willow, I’ve got it.”
“Everybody hear me?” Buffy asked, putting the phone on speaker on her end so that Keith could hear what was going on as well.
“Hey, Dawnie. Mind everyone there.”
“Geez, I miss you too.”
“Let’s concentrate, shall we?” Giles interrupted.
Buffy was grateful he was refereeing because these exchanges between her and Dawn could go on forever.
“Veronica, are you there?” Keith asked. “I'm sorry I didn't get back in time to meet you with Logan.
He was obviously apprehensive about his daughter’s well being and Buffy could totally understand it and maybe even feel a little bit wistful about it.
“Oh, she and Scottie are just making out on the couch here,” Spike offered helpfully and Buffy could practically see his wicked grin.
There was the sound like somebody had slugged him in the arm and Buffy smiled. She was beginning to like the girl who had taken over her body.
“Scottie?” Keith questioned, shooting Buffy a helpless look.
“No one, Dad,” Veronica said. “Giles, just tell them that stuff you were telling me that I didn’t understand half of.”
“And, Spike, behave!” Buffy put in.
“I am evil,” Spike said defiantly.
“Not if I stake you, then you’re nothing.”
“It’s a bonded spell!” Willow said hurriedly. “Someone connected to each of you joined together to do it!”
“So, what’s that mean?” Buffy asked. “I kill them?”
Keith looked at her in surprise. Buffy felt slightly awkward.
“We can’t undo the spell until we know who they are,” Giles explained. “It will take a bit more research and perhaps, some detecting skills, to find the culprits.”
“Well, I’ll definitely make it my top priority,” Keith put in. “But what, exactly, am I looking for?”
“We need to look for common enemies,” Buffy decided. “I can make a list for you of people/demons and maybe, Veronica, you can email us one and, Keith, you can use that.”
“I can do that. But what do we do in the meantime? School starts in a week and I’ve got scholarships to earn.”
“Buffy did very well on her SAT’s,” Giles informed everyone proudly.
“Don’t kid the kid,” Buffy said hastily. “I’m not stellar scholar girl.”
“Unfortunately, it will make it easier for us to creep up unawares, so to speak, if you try to acclimate into each other’s lives.”
“Giles, I’m done with school. Can’t I just do her shopping for her or something?”
“And I hate to mention it, but I don’t really do karate,” Veronica put in.
“I-I’m sure it will just be temporary,” soothed Tara. “The sooner we can find the people responsible, the sooner we can put you right. All without putting Veronica in danger or making Buffy suffer another Hellmouth experience.”
“I love Tara,” Buffy said to no one in particular.
“She's blushing,” Spike informed everyone.
“I’ll take care of Joyce and Dawn for you, Buffy. I-I know Veronica can help, but you don’t want Joyce to know anything, so I’ll be here.”
“I was hoping you’d say that,” Buffy said, relieved.
“That's something I-I know I can d-do,” Tara said. “I-I'll go upstairs now and check on her.”
“I’ll be fine,” Dawn said in a whining tone. “Just let Spike stay here. He’ll do the protecting thing and Tara can feed me. I can feed myself, I’m not two.”
“Not Spike, nuh-uh!” Xander put in loudly.
“Xander!” Buffy scolded. “Have you forgotten Glory? Without me there, only Spike can protect her. He stays and he’s in charge of security. I know you guys are always involved in some sort of testosterone spitting, he-man match, but think about Dawn.”
“Dawn is my priority, Buffy,” Xander said softly. “But you’re her sister and the Slayer. You make the decisions and I’ll sit over here.”
Buffy wished she could be there to really talk to him. His ego was fragile.
“Don't worry, Slayer, Demon-Girl's got the comforting thing down pat.”
“Why, thank you.”
“Ahn, don't encourage him,” came Xander's weary voice.
“Let’s all just calm down,” Veronica put in. “I don’t know how you guys do things, but you might want to work on your team unity before you slay the bad guy.”
“Don’t bother, Private Eye,” Spike whispered loudly. “I’ve been trying for months. The bloody lot always get it in the end though. Rather sickening.”
“But while you’re fighting, we’re in the dark,” Logan said pointedly. “My girlfriend’s in a different body. Does that sound weird to anyone else? Fix it, oh supernatural people.”
“I’m going to keep working on figuring out the spell. It’s pretty complex, but it should be kinda fun,” Willow started, then stopped. “But, um, yes, I will work very hard on figuring it out. If Keith can figure out who the bad guys are, we should be set.”
“We just have to survive in each other’s lives till then,” Buffy said grimly. “And, Logan, I hate to say it, but it would look pretty weird if Veronica’s boyfriend up and left town unexpectedly.”
“Not in that town,” he muttered. “I’ll come home then, help you navigate the murky waters of Neptune High.”
“I’m sorry,” Buffy offered. “But thanks. Xander?”
“Please help Spike patrol, all the rest of you as well. The Hellmouth can’t open accidentally on us. Be of the bad.”
“You got it,” Xander said, sounding pleased she was trying to soothe. It probably still stung, but it soothed too, she hoped.
“I’ll get that list to you,” Veronica promised. “Don’t worry, Dad.”
“I won’t, honey. Be safe.”
“I’m on my way,” Logan promised.
“Then we’re all set,” Giles said, sounding delighted that it had gone as well as it had.
“I’d kiss you, but that’d be slightly awkward,” Logan said and grinned sadly.
“You will get kisses upon my bodily return,” Veronica promised. “You were very brave coming here.”
“Flattery, my dear,” he said and hugged her tightly.
“Thanks for coming.”
“So, uh, bye.”
“Sure. See you soon.” They stared a bit, without knowing what to say. Lately, Veronica had been taking refuge in actions, because she wasn’t sure what words to use. Now, words were all she had. It was hard.
Logan banged the door behind him and Spike, who was giving him a ride to the bus station. She had to laugh at the idea of him on the bus. She was beginning to realize there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for her.