The devilish smile Parrot wore looked good on her, with the sheen of lip gloss on her lips and her curled hair framing her face. She looked like something out of a history book in the mauve petticoat and bone corset. She was all ruffles and lace and every look at her had Xander flicking his lower lip with his tongue.
She had been a good choice for a Childe. Great eye candy to the masses that didn't know better, and a sharp intelligence locked up in her head.
Xander lounged indolently in the armchair he'd claimed, waiting for the entertainment to begin.
His newest toy, which he had renamed Dove, was curled up at his feet, her pale hair hanging loose around her shoulders like the young girl she used to be. She played with an orange striped kitten she'd found from somewhere, her fingers teasing the milk plump belly until there was a sputtering attempt at a rumbling purr.
They were in a garishly wall papered sitting room with a low ceiling and furniture that could have come from Willow's dollhouse when they were kids. It looked like something out of a PBS special and Xander couldn't help being amused by how *British* everything seemed. There was even a crackling fire in the fireplace and a silver tea service on the round table near his elbow.
"Wipe your mouth," he ordered, glancing fondly at Dove. "You need to learn to clean up after yourself so you don't spook the food."
For a second, Dove blinked her watery blue eyes at him, then understanding seemed to dawn. She pulled a handkerchief out of the sleeve of her pretty blue dress. "Sometimes one forgets that she still exists even though the face in the mirror has been disappeared." She scrubbed at her mouth, staining the white cloth with pink and red.
Xander felt oddly indulgent toward her. She was new and young and utterly dependent on him now, but he had a feeling she would be his much saner Dru someday. His little fortune teller always letting him know which way the wind blew before the clouds began to move.
There was a derisive snort from Parrot's direction, but it was faint enough to ignore and she didn't add a commentary so he chose to pretend it hadn't happened. She was jealous of Daddy's new girl, that was all. She would either learn to get along, or he would crack her open, rearrange her bits, and she would *become* someone that got along.
His toys were his to break, no one else's.
There was the sound of a low moan from the hideous green couch. Xander couldn't help a faint grin of anticipation.
"Parrot, why don't you teach your sister how we play?" he offered.
Parrot looked delighted that she was going to be the one to start the game, while at the same time the glance she slanted toward Dove was less than pleased. She didn't say anything though, just left her window perch and trotted to the woman blinking terrified eyes from the couch. It was always so funny when someone realized they were tied up and helpless, unable to stop anything that might decide to happen.
Dove was as curious as the kitten she'd released onto the carpet with a softly commanding, "Stay, Tabby." She went to stand beside Parrot, her bare toes curling and her hands going behind her back to show she wouldn't touch without permission.
Xander flopped his head back and watched the show through half-closed eyes. A thought flitted through his head, and a second later Dove began to sway and hum cheerfully.
He grinned when he recognized the song as "Singing In the Rain," definitely not something someone raised in the backward world of witch people would recognize.
Soon Puppy would be back and Xander would have fun opening his gifts. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that some tasty goody would try to follow his Puppy home. That's why they were here, on this quiet suburban street, in this green square of a house.
There was no reason to bloody up their lair when there were plenty of houses to play in. Houses full of toys.
The woman screamed, shrill and unpleasant, until she stopped.