"I can't go back to LA. Not right now anyway." Nina sighed and rolled over on the deck chair, turning to watch her niece in the pool.
"Are you letting him scare you out of the city? It's your home, our home," her sister said worriedly.
"No, it's just...my profs let me hand in the assignments, so I don't need to go back to school. Maybe this is a good time for a break, subsidised by him." She thought about the cashier's cheque that had accompanied the airline tickets. Had he realized how much money that actually was? Or was it mere pocket change to a C.E.O.?
"Do you really want to take his money? I mean, it's one thing for a man to pay for things you do together, but this?"
Nina rolled her eyes. "And you're not here basking in the Mexican sunshine? I offered him something real, and he countered with cash. At least he let me know early that I was chasing a mirage." She shrugged.
"If money is all I'll get from him, I'd like to use it to do something I couldn't do otherwise."
"Lemons to lemonade?"
"Something like that. I was thinking of going to London. Seeing all the museums and galleries. Just for a few weeks." She looked over to where her niece was now flirting with a boy. "Can't be away from you guys for too long. Family's important."
"Family's important," Angel told Spike, who was slumped on the circular sofa in the Hyperion's lobby. Funny, he thought, most of the building fell down, but this insult to decorators everywhere was still as overstuffed and dusty as ever.
Rolling his eyes, Spike responded, "Git, as if there's any other reason I'd be seen with you. Got the email, moving on. Which family?"
"Seeing Connor before the fight, it was about making amends. And it worked."
"Cue the bleeding violins and the Hallmark card commercial. What are you on about?" While this was sounding a lot more like His Broodiness, especially compared to the almost-Angelus mind-set his Sire had used to tear down the Circle, Spike was leery about what was simmering in that brain.
"Strength in numbers. This would have been easier if we'd had the Council on our side. Maybe, if I go and explain?" Here Angel's voice dropped off.
"Explain to whom? Our party girl in Rome? Mr. 'we don't do business with evil' Ripper? Or do you want to track down the uberwitch and promise never to touch her fish again?"
That pulled a look of surprise out of Angel.
"Really, now, terrorising the little fishies? It took you a while to get to the big game on your previous soulless romp."
"Um, well, amends. It's about working together."
"Covered that part. So what do you suggest? It's not like we still have access to the plane..." Spike trailed off as he saw a smug look settle on Angel's face.
"Not that plane, but to the victor goes the spoils."
Spike pushed himself up and grabbed his duster. "This could get interesting. When are we heading out? And where are we going?"
"Giles, it's May. We've got to have a Scoobies reunion. Celebrate a non-apocalypse," Buffy twined her fingers around the old-fashioned phone cord. Italy had many perquisites but the phone system in her apartment wasn't one of them. She could have used the cell, but she preferred talking to Giles on landlines.
"I know I haven't wanted to, but Andrew's been crashing here and now I'm all nostalgic and stuff. Do you know where the others are?"
Her eyes wandered around the apartment while she listened to the latest news. She could have kept up with the e-mails but...she'd needed a non-supernatural break. Now she was missing it: her friends, the adrenalin rush of a good fight, even researching in books where she couldn't figure out the pictures, let alone the words. The feeling had crested a few weeks ago. She'd had a familiar, but impossible, feeling. Like Spike was around. That line of thinking wasn't going to help so she focused on what Giles was saying.
"She did? And she's already headed to London? That's great--well maybe not, but really-- Kennedy?"
She smiled as Giles tried to be all politic about the break-up everyone had been expecting since the hellmouth sank.
"And Xander? How is our great white hunter of Slayers?"
She could feel the goofy grin cross her face as she heard about her closest friends. Cutting Giles off she said, "So when should I get there? I miss home, and you guys are home."
Okay, it might have been a bit sappy, or a lot sappy since she could hear him wiping his glasses, but didn't mean it wasn't true. After moving from LA she'd decided that home was never going to be a place: it was people. It was time to go home.