Fillet of Soul, Anyone?
“Holy crap,” Xander breathed, stunned. Then he turned to Buffy and said, “So what is it with you two and older vampires?”
Distracted, Buffy rolled her eyes at Xander. “What-ever. At least we're not attracted to bug people.”
“For the last time, I'm not attracted to bug people!” Xander snapped.
At the first sound of their voices, Willow and Frasier jumped apart, eyes wide. “Ohhh! I didn't mean for you to see this!” Willow cried, frantically flapping her hands in front of herself. Then she whirled to face Frasier and slapped him across his cheek. “Bad vamp!” she scolded.
“Weird,” Xander commented. “She never did that to me.”
“She probably should've,” Buffy said, shaking her head. Then she cleared her throat, striding over to where Willow and Frasier stood. “Just what is going on in here?”
“Honestly, I'm not entirely certain,” Frasier said slowly, rubbing his stinging cheek.
“Buffy, don't freak out, I can explain,” Willow babbled, still frantic. Xander closed the hotel room door and came to stand in front of Willow, his arms crossed over his chest.
“Well you'd better explain, missy, and it better be good! And I don't want to hear any of this 'ooh, he's so moody and dangerous' crap!” Xander snarked.
“Xander,” Buffy said repressively. She hadn't taken her eyes off of Willow. “Well?”
“Look, it's not Willow's fault. If anything, it's my fault. All she did was stand there. I took...I took unconscionable liberties with her,” Frasier explained.
“Yeah, and you were kissing her too. Eww, you're old enough to be her father!” Buffy said in disgust.
“Hey, he's still way younger than both of your vampire exes!” Willow said defiantly.
“Alright, alright, let's try to calm down here.” Xander stepped between Buffy and Willow. “I think I know what happened.”
“You do?” Willow and Frasier both asked at the same time.
“Sure, it's obvious. Will did one of her spells that went wonky, and it turned into a love spell of some kind, and they were both affected. Gross, but understandable,” Xander stated matter-of-factly.
“Xander!” Willow cried in exasperation. “I did not cast any spells yet.”
“Well then I'm stumped. Buff, you're up.” Xander shook his head and retreated.
Buffy was frowning, glancing from Willow to Frasier and back again. After a moment she closed her eyes, bringing one hand up to rub her temples wearily. “You know what, I don't even want to know. Willow's watched me enough to know what she's getting into. Let's just cast the re-ensouling spell, the sooner the better.” She turned abruptly away from the pair.
“What, you're not even going to yell at them?” Xander gasped, hurrying after Buffy.
“Xan, she's a witch with a portable sunlight spell. Plus she's an adult. And who am I to criticize her?”
“But, Buff, it's ooky,” Xander insisted. He glanced back at Willow, still frowning. “Mark my words, Will. This will end nowhere good!”
Willow wrung her hands nervously and glanced back at Frasier, who still looked stunned by what had just happened. “Look, why don't we, uh, just do the spell. I'll need a few minutes to, um, center myself. I need to not be distracted while I'm casting.”
Frasier nodded dully. He started to head for the door, but then glanced uncertainly at the curtains. “I don't even know what time it is,” he complained.
“It's almost sundown,” Buffy said, leaning against a wall to wait. Xander took up a position beside her, dropping into a nearby chair.
Frasier sneaked a look at Buffy and took the chair by the window, hanging his head. Great, another thing to be ashamed of, he thought.
Willow bit her lower lip, looking nervously over her companions. Then she moved to sit cross-legged in the center of the circle she'd demarcated earlier with candles. She straightened her back and placed both of her hands on her knees, palms upward. Closing her eyes, Willow began to meditate.
Minutes inched by.
Xander fidgeted. He wanted to leave while Willow was trying to relax herself into a state of concentration so that she could cast her spell, but he was afraid to leave her alone with Frasier. He suspected that Buffy was staying for the same reason, but the Slayer's expression was unreadable.
Willow was having trouble focusing. It wasn't that the spell was too complex or powerful for her to cast; she'd done it before, more than once. She could even conjure her own Orb of Thessula to complete the soul transfer. She simply had to put the tension she'd created out of her mind and absorb herself in the task at hand.
Willow took a deep breath, and began the casting.
* * * *
“I don't feel any different,” Frasier complained later to Buffy, Willow and Xander. It was three nights later, and they were all checking out of the hotel. Xander and Willow were headed to the airport, while Buffy and Frasier would drive to the port and catch a ship bound for England. Niles Crane had graciously offered to pay for their passage. Martin Crane had even transferred a large sum of Frasier's money to a British bank account in Buffy's name for Frasier's expenses in England. Giles would meet them in London and drive them to the new headquarters of the Watcher's Council. Buffy knew it was mostly so that Giles could get to know their newly ensouled vampire psychiatrist. Xander and Willow would probably be there ahead of them. Xander planned to stay just long enough for Frasier to get settled, but Buffy guessed that Willow would be staying a bit longer. None of them seemed certain what was going on between the witch and the doctor, but they had tacitly agreed not to discuss it. In any case, the pair had been practically inseparable the last couple of days, constantly in deep conversation.
“It was the strangest thing,” Willow said now in response to Frasier's comment. “When I cast the spell to put his soul back, it felt...hollow, somehow. Like I was only going through the motions. I could feel the soul was there at the end of the spell, but nothing went through me, like what happened with Angel.”
“Are you thinking maybe it didn't take?” Xander asked worriedly.
“No, no, I'm sure the soul is in there. I could feel it when the spell ended.” Willow looked back at Frasier, staring hard, as if she could see right through him. “Plus, he hasn't had any monsterific lapses, and that's a good thing, right, Buffy?”
“Absolutely it's a good thing,” Buffy nodded. “Especially if I have to sit on a boat with him for weeks. I hope we're bringing enough pig's blood.”
“I don't even want to know how you got the ship's captain to clear you for bringing it along,” Frasier said with a sigh. “I maintain that I have had my soul all along, and whatever demon that may be cowering within me is now firmly repressed.”
The three Scoobies cast him a doubtful look.
“I know, I know,” Frasier said, smirking slightly. “Repression isn't good for the soul.”
* * * *
Nearly three months later, Frasier settled back into his desk chair for the first time. It was a handsome piece, black Italian leather, high-backed, nicely padded in just the right amount. The rest of his office was done in dark shades of mahogany, and a matching couch sat just off to the side of his desk, in easy view.
Moving into the recently-built Council building had been easier than Frasier expected it to be. He got along famously with Giles, and the two often had lunches together, discussing the motivations behind varying demonic psyches. As had been expected, Xander had gone off on assignment to Cleveland to meet with Faith, another vampire slayer, as soon as the friendship between Frasier and Giles had become apparent. Buffy had stayed a little longer than Xander had, often smiling peculiarly every time she saw Frasier and Giles together, but soon enough, duty had called her away to Rome.
Willow had stayed.
They had dinner every evening, sometimes with Giles and sometimes not. For himself, Giles did not know what to make of the growing friendship between Frasier and Willow, but like Buffy, he chose not to question it. As long as Frasier remained on his diet of pig's blood, Giles would not criticize Willow in her choice of companions.
Frasier leaned back in his chair, and comfortably propped his feet up on his desk. His pen and notepad were on his desk, at the ready. Today would be the first day that he would actually begin his practice anew. Giles had already scheduled a few of the newer slayers, all lovely young women, to come in and talk with him. Frasier looked forward to analyzing each one, though he'd read the background on a few and couldn't wait to speak with some of the more prominent ones. Buffy, of course, and in particular Faith. From what Frasier had read of her past, plus more interesting bits that Giles had filled him in on, she would be a lovely puzzle to sort out. Yes, Frasier was very optimistic.
The sound of the door opening brought Frasier to an upright position. The girl came in, young and uncertain and smiling shyly. Frasier gestured her over to the couch and waited until she had settled back, stretching out in a relaxed position and folding her hands over her stomach. He took up his notepad and pen, and leaned back in his chair once more.
“Hello, Slayer....I'm listening.”