Buffy stared at the odd woman who'd suddenly turned up at her door.
"Who are you?" she asked, trying not to stare at the ugly hat, the crooked nose, and the large, hairy moles protruding from the woman's face.
"I am Nanny McPhee," the apparition said, as though that should explain everything.
Buffy blinked. "Did Giles put you up to this?" she asked, puzzled. "I know Dawn's been, uh, acting up a little lately, and-- with Mom gone, and what happened to me-- but she's a little old for a nanny, isn't she?"
"Does she go to bed when she is told?" the woman asked, stepping over the threshold. Buffy backed away a little in surprise, and found herself watching gapemouthed as the woman took the opportunity to squeeze by her entirely and into the house.
"Uh, no?" she blurted. "What with the tree outside the window and everything, I'd actually be surprised if-- hey, really, who sent you here?"
"Does she get up when she is told?" Nanny McPhee asked serenely, sweeping into the living room, her long, high-necked black dress nearly trailing on the ground.
"Sometimes?" Buffy said, following her. "When it's Xander's turn to take her to school, mostly. But look--"
"Does she get dressed when she is told?" The nanny speared Buffy with a look, clutching the head of her cane in both hands.
Buffy sputtered. "I don't think--!"
"Does she listen?" Nanny McPhee continued, over Buffy's objection. "And does she do exactly as she is told?"
"She's a teenage girl going through her rebellious phase, what do you think?" Buffy replied, exasperated. "But I'm not hiring a nanny. Even if I did think she needed one, I don't have the money to pay for it."
"That's quite all right," her unexpected guest assured her. "I'm a government nanny. Now, if you might point me in the direction of my new charge?"
Flabbergasted, Buffy stared at the woman for several more seconds, trying to detect something-- anything-- evil about her. As far as she could tell, however, there was nothing extraordinary about Nanny McPhee on a supernatural level, except possibly the cane she was carrying. And from her accent-- well, if Giles had sent her-- and she'd been able to come into the house-- well, maybe he was feeling bad about the way he'd left them after all? Maybe she should--
Wait, what was she thinking? Buffy shook her head, bewildered. She knew better than to let a complete stranger near her sister without verifying her identity!
The nanny frowned a little at Buffy's resistance, then sighed. "There is something you should understand about the way I work," she declared. "When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It's rather sad, really, but there it is."
With that, she turned and glided toward the stairs up to Dawn's room.
Flabbergasted and confused, Buffy reached for the nearest axe-- and the nearest cordless extension. She dialed hastily as she climbed the stairs after the woman, hoping she wouldn't do anything else Buffy might have to act on before Giles answered.
Ninety seconds later, she hung up in the middle of Giles' confused spluttering. No matter who she was, anyone that could handle Dawn that deftly was more than welcome there. Buffy lowered the axe with a sigh of relief, leaving Nanny McPhee to her conversation with the moody teenager, and trooped back downstairs.
"Does she go to bed when she's told, honestly," she yawned, then sat down on the couch. She still had patrol to get to that night, but she'd just finished up a shift at the Doublemeat Palace and she was so tired--
Moments later, she was out like a light.
She did not see the figure who came back down the stairs moments later, shutting off the house lights as she went, nor the way that figure bowed to the other spirit whose imprint had been left on the couch. But her dreams were nonetheless lighter than they might have been.
"Lesson one complete," Nanny McPhee said, bending over her secondary charge with a smile.