Disclaimers, etc., in Chapter 1
Jim was waving his hand around and cursing, as Xander rubbed his jaw.
“You all right?” Faith asked. He waved her off and shook his head.
“That actually wasn’t a bad punch,” he said.
“I can hit harder,” Buffy commented.
Graham laughed. “Just in case we weren’t aware, right?”
Buffy pouted. “There’s violence happening and I’m not the one doing it. When is this ever a good thing?”
“She’s got a point,” agreed Willow.
“Anyway,” Xander said, turning to Jim and Michelle. “As I was about to say before I was rudely assaulted is that we’d like to pay for a couple of tickets to get you guys where you’re going.”
“And hotel accommodations for the night,” added Willow. “Seems the right thing to do.”
“Even after Jim punched you?” Michelle asked. Buffy was amazed how, though their voices were similar, Michelle and Willow really didn’t sound very much alike.
“Yeah, sure,” Xander shrugged. “I’ve been hit harder and more often for much smaller things than getting somebody arrested.”
Faith draped herself over Xander. “Besides. He’s been sleeping with us girls for a while now. Builds up a lot of goodwill.”
Xander looked down at the woman on his arm, the back to the married couple. He put his arm around Faith and pulled her even closer to him. “She’s not wrong. In fact, why don’t we all go have dinner? Our treat. Graham, you’re invited too, of course, oh liberator of felons such as we.”
“Thanks,” he said. “But as fun as joining all you freaks for food sounds, I think I’m gonna go back to my sister’s place and beat off some more guys.”
Faith, Xander and Michelle just stared at him. Graham seemed to mentally repeat what he had just said.
“I meant, of course, that I will be harming them physically.”
Xander nodded. “Sure ya did.”
“Absolutely,” agreed Faith.
Michelle smiled innocently and shrugged. “Some guys like a strong grip.”
Xander laughed as Willow blushed a deep shade of crimson. “Oh, I meant to ask you. How did you get those letters sent so quickly?”
Graham grinned. “Well, the one from the governor of Illinois, Riley passed a request on up the line. You’d be amazed how much weight his name holds with people who know him.”
Buffy smiled. “Not that amazed. We know him, remember?”
“Right,” Graham said. “Anyway, the one from the AG was forged.”
“What?” Willow asked.
Graham shrugged. “We needed it, we weren’t about to wake up anybody who could get it. Had a friend snag some letterhead, type up a quick letter and fake the signature. You think an Air Marshall in Chicago’s ever seen the Attorney General’s real signature? Please. Anyway, I gotta run. College kids to beat the crap out of.
Xander couldn’t help but laugh. He reached out to Graham with his free arm, and shook the man’s hand. “It was good seeing you again, man. Say hi to Riley for us.”
“Man, you’ll probably see him before I do,” Graham replied, releasing Xander’s hand. Buffy stepped up and gave him a peck on the cheek before thanking him again, and Willow did the same. Graham smiled at them and turned to make his way out of the airport.
Xander turned back to the Levensteins. “So. Dinner?”
Jim and Michelle shrugged, and followed the Scoobies off to a restaurant. During which time, Buffy noticed, Xander and Faith never pulled apart from each other. It was interesting.
* * * * *
Buffy’s spoon clattered into her bowl, now empty of ice cream.
“That was just what I needed,” she said, sitting back in the booth. Then she noticed that everybody was watching her.
“What?” she asked.
Xander shook his head. “Buff… I hate to be the one to tell you this. You eat like a pig.”
Buffy looked offended. “I do not!”
“Yeah, B, you really do.”
She looked down at her shirt. “I didn’t even spill any of it.”
Willow handed the blonde slayer a mirror. Remnants of the ice cream were situated squarely around her lips, and a little way up her left cheek. Buffy grabbed her napkin and wiped her face off quickly, then ducked her head, embarrassed.
“Aw, don’t be like that, Buff,” Xander consoled her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her towards him. “It’s cute, and endearing.”
“Yeah,” Willow agreed, “but we love you anyway.”
“So where are you guys from?” Xander asked, turning to the married couple.
“Great Falls,” Michelle told them
“Virginia?” asked Willow.
Jim shook his head. “Michigan.”
“Never been to Michigan,” Faith said.
The two groups sat looking across the table at each other.
Jim cleared his throat. “So what’s up with this? I mean, you two look exactly the same.”
Willow shook her head. “No idea, but honestly? On the scale of one to our lives? This doesn’t rate more than a three or four.”
Jim and Michelle regarded them oddly. “What is it that you guys do?”
“We’re recruiters for an exclusive all-girls school in Cleveland,” Xander explained.
“That um… doesn’t sound too weird.”
Faith shrugged. “You haven’t met the girls.”
“No, but we have met Finch,” Jim pointed out. “He’s really weird.”
“Anyway,” Willow continued. “I very much doubt we’re twins. Genetically, I mean. How old are you?”
“Twenty-six,” Michelle told her.
“See? I’m twenty-two. So that’s all kinds of impossible. Oh, and our voices aren’t very similar.”
“True,” Michelle agreed.
“But you look exactly the same,” Buffy said. “It’s very odd.”
“I wonder how much of you guys is exactly the same?” Xander mused.
Everybody looked at him. “I meant like fingerprints and stuff!” he defended. “Minds out of the gutter, you pervs!”
Faith cocked an eyebrow at him. His shoulders sagged. “Yeah, okay, I meant boobies,” he admitted. “But it’s a good question.”
Michelle took a small notepad out of her purse and wrote something down. She handed the note to Willow, who looked at the note, looked at Michelle’s chest, looked at her own and frowned.
“So we really have no idea how this happened?” Buffy asked, disbelieving. “Maybe we should ask Giles or something.”
“I dunno,” Willow said. “Maybe it’s just one of those things.”
Faith yawned loudly, stretching her arms out high as she did so. Xander laughed.
“Somebody’s tired…” he teased.
“I’m fine,” Faith argued through another yawn.
“Actually, we’ve got an early flight,” Jim said. “We should probably get going. Thanks for dinner.”
“A-and the tickets,” Michelle added. “And, you know. Hotel.”
“Well, thanks for not pressing charges,” Xander responded. “Very helpful.”
Jim looked from his wife, to Willow and back again. “Too weird.”
The Levensteins got up from the table, waved weakly to the Scoobies and left the restaurant. Buffy and Willow scooted to the other side of the table.
“So they’re not evil?” Xander asked.
“Nothing,” Willow told him. “Not a drop.”
Xander reached out and grabbed Michelle’s note, reading it before his best friend could take it back. “Impressive.”
“I know,” Willow grumbled.
“Aw, don’t be like that, Red. Your boobs are just fine.”
“Absolutely,” Xander agreed. “You’re beautiful as you are.”
Willow grinned at him, clearly pleased with his opinion.
“You guys are such saps,” said Faith, yawning again. “And that’s my cue. I’m heading to bed.”
“I should probably go, too,” Xander said. “After all, once we land, I’ll be driving again. You guys coming?”
Buffy shook her head. “We’ll be up to the suite in a while. Just leave us the smaller room, so we don’t wake you when we come in.”
“Looks like it’s you and me, X.”
Xander nodded. “I can live with that.”
The two of them headed off together. Once they were out of hearing range – a considerable distance, considering Faith’s hearing – Buffy turned to Willow and whispered conspiratorially.
“I think they like each other!”
Willow rolled her eyes. “Duh.”
* * * * *
Faith flicked on the light in the larger of the two rooms off of the suite.
She heard Xander spit out into the sink, then rinse and spit again. “Yeah?” he called from the bathroom.
“What kind of beds are in the smaller room?”
Xander walked up behind her. “Two doubles. Just like the – oh.” In the large room was a single queen sized bed. “One second.”
Faith stood there while he checked out the small room. He returned shaking his head. “Queen there, too. Should I call and make ‘em change us?”
Faith looked from the bed, to him and back again. “Nah,” she said. “It’s late. I’m cool with it if you are.”
Xander shrugged. “I’m good.”
Together, they approached the bed, automatically heading for opposite sides. Xander pressed the mattress to test in. He nodded sagely. “Firm. Good mattress.”
Faith looked up at him, then shrugged, pulled the covers back and slid under. “Warning you, I’m a blanket hog.”
“That’s okay,” he said. “I’ve got cold feet.”
Xander reached over and flicked off the light. “Good night, Faith.” His voice was low and gruff.
She closed her eyes. “Good night,” she whispered back.
* * * * *
The next morning after breakfast, the Scoobies saw the Levensteins off to their new, first class accommodations and got ready to board their own flight to Maryland.
And the entire time, Xander and Faith were avoiding each other’s eyes.
As the group of them waited in the terminal, Buffy’s cell phone rang.
“Buffy,” said Riley’s voice. “Hey. How are you guys?”
“We’re fine, Riley,” she said, telling the others who she was speaking to. “Thanks for getting Graham to bust us out. How’re you doing?”
“Um, a little weirded out, actually. What are you guys doing?”
“Sitting… in the terminal, waiting for our flight to Baltimore Washington International Airport. What’s wrong?”
“Okay. Listen, I’m visiting my cousins out here in California. I’m pretty sure my cousin here is a Slayer.”
“Yeah. Kind of really sure, actually. Would you guys mind…”
“No, of course,” Buffy said, snapping at Willow and signaling for a pen and a sheet of paper. “Do you have an address?”
Buffy took down the address of Riley’s cousin, and the hotel he and Sam were staying at. “Okay,” she said. “Well, we’ll go change our tickets and see you soon.”
Faith, Willow and Xander all raised their heads in surprise.
“Thanks, Buffy. I really appreciate it.”
“Hey, we owe you.”
She hung up and looked at the group. “Riley’s cousin’s a Slayer.”
“Priority,” said Faith.
“Exactly,” Buffy agreed. “Xander, can you go change our tickets?”
“On it,” he said, collecting everybody’s ticket and heading off.
“Will, call Giles?”
She was already dialing her cell phone.
“Faith,” Buffy said, looking expectantly at her sister slayer.
“We’re on the baggage handlers?”
“Trying to get our bags back even though they should technically be unreachable?”
Faith sighed, shook her head and pulled her tank top down in front to show a little more cleavage, then loosened her belt so her jeans rode a little lower on her hips. “Man, I hope we don’t get arrested again.”
Xander returned for a moment. “Hey, Buffy, LAX, right? Where are we going?”
She looked down at her pad of paper. “Yeah, LAX. Somewhere called Neptune?”