“She seemed promising,” Xander said as he drove Buffy back towards the motel. Faith and Willow were in the car behind them, and Xander, looking through the rear-view mirror, was more than a little surprised to see them both singing and dancing in their seats to a song on the radio.
“Yeah,” Buffy said. “That was probably the easiest sell we’ve ever had.”
“Except for that girl back in Des Moines whose mom was a witch,” Xander reminded.
“Right, except for her. Do you think she’ll take up with the school?”
“I wouldn’t be too surprised,” Xander said. “Cleveland… okay, well, it’s still pretty far from Kansas, but you never know. And if not, I think she’ll do okay. Her boyfriend seems like a good, solid kid.”
Buffy nodded, then smiled at him and patted his hand. “It’s always important to have a solid support team.”
Xander turned and smiled back at her.
“Xan, I didn’t mind you doing that when you could watch the road with one eye…”
“Right, sorry,” he said. He turned back to the road. “Think we should have talked to her aunt?”
“I trust her judgement on this one,” Buffy said. “She knows the woman better. You think she’ll be okay?”
“Yeah,” Xander said, as he pulled into the motel parking lot. “I think she’ll be fine.”
They got out of the car as Faith and Willow pulled up. Jessica Simpson’s latest hit was blaring from the car, and neither Buffy nor Xander could stop themselves from laughing.
Faith quickly shut off the engine, embarrassed to have known the words to the song.
“Not a damn word,” she muttered, as she brushed past the laughing pair.
“Didn’t say anything,” Xander said.
Willow bounced out of the car and hopped over to her friends.
“Good mood much?” Buffy asked.
“Yup! Girl got told, didn’t ruin her life, didn’t even overly freak her out, her boyfriend is a nice boy who will be helpful, and we got coffee on the way out of town and saw Lex Luthor… like *the* Lex Luthor, again. All in all, it was a good day.”
“You tell ‘em, Will,” Xander said. The redhead smiled at him.
“Now pony up the key, mister,” she said. “This witch has gotta go!”
“Don’t you have your own?” he asked, as he fished the key out of his pocket.
“It’s in my purse and I don’t have time to find it, now move!” Willow grabbed the key from Xander and sprinted into the room, headed straight for the bathroom.
“That… was interesting,” Xander said.
“Uh huh,” said Buffy. “Well, I’m gonna nap. Catch you guys for dinner?”
Xander nodded and went to his room.
* * * * *
Somebody, somewhere, was pounding on something. Xander was not happy. Disgruntled, he swung his legs – still fully dressed – off of his bed, glancing quickly over to see Willow pulling a pillow over her head to ward off the noise.
Xander reached the source of the noise, realized it was a door and flung it open. “What?” he said, gruffly.
The door bounced off the rubber stop on the wall and made as if to slam shut again, but Faith held it open.
“Uh. B asked me to get you guys for dinner,” she said, looking at him cock-eyed.
Xander blinked at her, then turned and looked at the clock-radio. Seeing that it was nearly 8 pm, he grunted again.
“You guys be ready in five?” she asked.
Xander nodded tiredly as he walked to the other side of the room. He held up a finger, indicating Faith should wait. Xander walked into the bathroom, turned the light on and splashed some water on his face to wake himself up. He walked back into the room and over to Willow’s bed
“Um…” Faith said. “Are you sure five’s enough time? With Red still asleep? I seem to recall her taking a while to…”
Faith trailed off as Xander climbed onto Willow’s bed and leaned over her now pillow less head. Xander turned his head to Faith, grinned evilly, and held a single finger to his lips. Faith watched, intrigued.
Xander leaned even closer to Willow, his lips mere centimeters from her ear. From his throat came the most realistic impression of a frog Faith had ever heard. Much to Faith’s surprise, Willow screamed, and Xander nimbly avoided her flailing arm as the redheaded witch waved around in terror.
Willow looked up, saw Xander above her, and lunged at him, arms wide. Faith started, as though to save Xander’s life from what was sure to be an extremely irate and powerful witch, but stopped when she saw what was actually happening. Willow embraced Xander in a chest-crushing hug, which he returned, full force.
“Oh, Xander!” Willow said. “I dreamed… the frogs, they were everywhere, they… they were hopping, and I couldn’t, they wouldn’t leave, and I- I- I was so scared!”
“Shhh. It’s okay, Will, honey,” Xander soothed, stroking her hair to calm her down. “It was just a dream. There are no frogs here to get you. You’re safe.”
“You promise?” Willow asked.
“I promise, Will. I will never let the frogs get you.”
Willow sat back on her bed, breathing heavily.
“As long as you’re up,” Xander said, “why don’t you get ready for dinner? We’ll be leaving in a few minutes.”
Willow nodded, still a bit bewildered. “Okay,” she said. “Would you –”
“I was just in the bathroom, Will,” Xander said, smiling at her. “There are no frogs in there.”
Willow opened her mouth to protest, but then closed it, smiled and nodded at him graciously. She slowly got up and made her way into the bathroom. Xander turned to Faith, who was standing, dumbstruck, at the door. He slipped on his shoes, grabbed the key from the bedside table and walked outside next to a still-shocked Faith, shutting the door as he went. Then he bust out laughing.
“Oh, God, I never get tired of that,” he said.
“I thought she was gonna fry your ass!” Faith said. “When she went at you, I thought for sure you were dead!”
Xander took a deep breath, and smiled up at the Slayer. “I’ve been doing that for years, and it’s always the same reaction. Geez, that’s fun.”
“Don’t you ever feel guilty?”
“You should see some of the things she does to me,” he said.
“But you know about those.”
“Or at least I think I do. I can be pretty dense, you never know when I’m overlooking something. She probably has half a dozen things she does to me that I don’t even know about,” Xander said.
“I guess,” Faith said. “But I wouldn’t wanna play games like that with her.”
“Well, you’re not me,” Xander said. “Oh, and one more thing. There are very few people who know about that trick. If –”
“Hey, I’m not gonna tell her,” Faith interrupted. “She’d kill you.”
Xander cocked his head to one side, and looked at Faith oddly, then shrugged. “I left my wallet inside,” he said. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Xander went back in his room, leaving Faith alone outside.
“It’s not about you telling her,” Buffy said, causing Faith to jump two feet in the air.
“Jesus, B!” Faith said, grasping her heart as she turned to the other Slayer. “When the hell did you get so quiet?”
“I’ve been practicing,” said Buffy.
Faith shook her head and leaned against the wall. “What’s not about me telling who?”
“What Xander just said. He wasn’t threatening you into silence about the frog thing.”
“You know about that, too?”
Buffy nodded, and walked over to the rental car and leaned on it. “For a few years, yeah,” she said. “Anyway, Xander wasn’t warning you not to tell her about it.”
“Are ya sure? Cuz it sounded like –”
“Like you cut him off before he could finish,” said Buffy. “I can count on one hand the number of people who know about that. You don’t even fill up the hand. Get it?”
“Uh… not really.”
Buffy sighed. “He’s trusting you with something,” she explained. “Something that’s not dangerous, but is important to him.”
“Not dangerous?” Faith asked. “Willow would –”
“Willow would get mad at him for maybe a day. She’d hit him repeatedly, flailing her fists like she does, then pout for a while, until he did something… well, something Xander-y, and then they’d be fine again, except that he’d have one less thing from his childhood to make him happy.”
“Oh,” Faith said.
“Yeah,” said Buffy. “Oh.”
“So it’s like…”
“A big deal. That I will not hesitate to beat the ever-loving crap out of you for if you let it slip.”
“But I thought –”
“Xander wasn’t warning you. I am.”
Faith opened her mouth to respond, but the door to Willow and Xander’s room opened, revealing the pair to the Slayers. Faith closed her mouth and nodded at Buffy.
“We ready?” Xander asked. “I wants me some grub.”
“Worms?” Buffy asked.
“Grub. As in food. Chow. Not night crawlers or maggots.”
“You’re gross,” Willow said to Buffy. The blonde responded with an extended tongue.
“So, where to for dinner?” Xander asked.
“There’s a diner I saw, just down the road,” Faith said.
“Sounds good to me,” said Xander. “And you get to drive. I claim poor one-eyed night vision, and excessive driver’s butt.”
“Driver’s butt?” Willow asked.
“Because you two femme’s don’t drive, my ass gets molded to the seat,” he complained. “Just once I want to sit in the backseat.”
“I think we can arrange that,” said Buffy.
Xander smiled at her, and the group piled into Faith’s rental car.
“Hey, how did you rent this?” Xander asked. “You’re not 25 and you didn’t have Willow to magic you up a free pass.”
“Fake I.D.,” said Faith. “Nerdboy hooked me up. Kid’s annoying, but he’s got a sweet computer set up.”
* * * * *
Buffy walked into Willow and Xander’s room the next morning an hour after breakfast. Faith had left a few minutes earlier, muttering about having to drive back to the airport with ‘that dickhead’ in the car. Despite his injuries, Robin Wood would not get a comfortable ride home.
“What’d he say?” asked Willow.
Buffy looked confused. “He… well, we need to go back to Connecticut to get the car, first.”
“And then?” Xander asked.
“Drive south,” Buffy said.
Buffy looked at him. “Check into the Watergate Hotel under the name ‘Alexander Dumas’ and wait.”
Willow and Xander looked at her in surprise.
“Uh… assumed name?” Willow asked. “How come?”
“Because,” said Buffy. “Giles just got a house call from the Secret Service.”