Willow stared at her computer screen. They’d found several refrence sites to people being knocked out of their bodies, but one said that they’d wind up floating around, disembodied (the circumstances didn’t match, so that wasn’t right). Another said that they’d be forever stuck in whatever form they wound up in (that wasn’t it, because it referenced something that had to be done to cause that). And the final one said that they’d be drawn to bodies with emotional, but not physical, similarities to their usual forms. That was the one Willow was reading at the moment.
Xander and Dawn were playing go fish at the other end of the dining table. No one wanted to go into the living room. The empty shells of Spike and Buffy were just too… disturbing. A reminder that the rest of the group was missing.
“Uh oh..”, Willow said suddenly.
Xander and Dawn looked up. “What ‘uh-oh’?,” Xander said. “I don’t like ‘uh-oh’s.”
“Yeah. Me neither,” Dawn said. “What is it, Willow?”
“According to this, if Buffy and Spike don’t get back in the next three days… That’s three days to the second from the moment that they were thrown from their bodies… They won’t be able to return to their true bodies. They’ll be trapped in whatever form they currently inhabit.”
“Uh-oh,” Xander said.
“But there’s good news, too,” Willow continued. “The moment they are within three feet of their true bodies, assuming the three day deadline hasn’t passed, they’ll be sucked back in. So as long as they’re back before day after tomorrow, everything should be fine.”
“That’s good, right?”, Dawn said nervously. “I mean, they’ll be doing everything they can to get back to us, right?”
“Of course they will, Dawnie,” Willow said soothingly. “Don’t worry. This is their home. I’m sure they won’t let anything get between them and us.”
“I don’t believe it…”, Spike said, an awed tone in his voice. “They’re giving us our own *room*?”
Buffy stood next to him, her cat’s lower jaw hanging open. “And it’s HUGE! Look at this!” She walked slowly into the room and turned in a small circle. “Wow.. That’s a queen-sized bed, Spike. They’re giving us a queen-sized bed!”
Spike moved into the room and hopped up onto the bed. “Ooh. Not just any queen-sized bed, luv. This thing’s one of those.. pillow top things.” He turned around three times and layed down. “Very, very comfortable.”
She sat next to the bed and looked up at him. “Why did you do that?”
“Turn around before laying down.”
Spike raised his head and cocked it. “I did?”
Buffy nodded. “You did.”
The Great Dane chuckled. “Must be the dog’s instincts again.”
Buffy gave a feline shrug and leaped up onto the bed. Then she paused, turned around, and looked down over the edge. “Ooh. I just jumped like… Three times my own height! If I could do that normally, I’d be able to jump over my house!”
Spike gave a half laugh. “Maybe up onto the roof, Slayer, but not all the way over the house. You’re not that tall.”
Buffy snorted at him. “Yeah yeah. You’re not that much taller than me, Fang Boy.”
Spike yawned in response to that, and moved up the bed to lay with his head on the pillow. “I’m a whole lot bigger than you *now*, Slayer.”
“Whatever. It’s not even *our* bodies. It doesn’t count.” She walked up the bed and curled up against his side. “Remember your promise. Tomorrow we go home.”
Spike made a noncomittal noise. “Go to sleep, Buffy. I want to try and tell the kids why we have to leave first. Think about it, luv. How would you feel if your new pets just suddenly disappeared?”
Buffy sighed. “Yeah. I know. Okay. We tell them, then we leave. I want to go home. Dawn’s probably wearing all my clothes, and I bet that Xander’s eating all the food.”
“No worries regarding Red?”
Buffy laughed softly. “I’m hoping that she’s keeping the things that I just mentioned from happening.” She nuzzled Spike’s ribs gently. “I guess this isn’t so bad, really. Nice and comfortable… Warm.. Spike?”
A quiet snore came from the Great Dane.
If she could’ve, she would’ve smiled. “Goodnight, Spike.” She snuggled down next to him and closed her eyes. They’d be heading home tomorrow. She hoped.
Spike awoke the next morning to a very pleasant feeling between his ears. Opened first one eye, and then the other. The little girl was sitting on the side of the bed, scratching between his ears. “Morning, Scooby,” she said with a giggle.
“*Rornin’.*”, Spike responded. “Listen, uh.. I don’t think I caught your name.”
“Maggie,” the girl said with another giggle. “Mom and Dad can’t understand you, you know,” she whispered.
Spike raised his head. “Yeah. I noticed that. Listen, Maggie. My name is Spike. Not Scooby.”
She looked at him, her little hand never pausing it’s scratching. “You look like Scooby.”
A half chuckle. “Yeah. I know. But that’s not my name.”
She nodded. “Okay. We’ll call you Spike, then.” She stopped scratching Spike to stroke the still sleeping cat next to him. “Does the kitty have a name?”
Spike nodded. “Yeah. Her name’s Buffy.”
Maggie nodded. “Okay. You’re Spike, and she’s Buffy?”
Spike did his best to grin. “You’ve got it, Maggie.”
Buffy chose that moment to wake up. “Huh?” “*Meow?*”
Maggie continued to stroke her gently. “Morning, Buffy. Spike told me your name.” She looked at Spike. “She can’t talk?”
“She can. Just… For some reason, it comes out as meows. I can understand her, though.”
Maggie nodded and Buffy meowed again. “What’d she say?”
“She said good morning.” Spike looked to Buffy. “Mornin’, luv. This is Maggie.”
Buffy moved so that she could see the little girl better. “Hello, Maggie.” She waited while Spike translated for her, then looked at him. “This is going to get annoying if you have to repeat everything I say.”
“Go on, Spike! Get the stick!” The young boy, who’s name was James, threw the stick and Spike bounded after it. It had taken some time to talk him into actually playing fetch (or actually playing at all, for that matter), but once they’d gotten going, he was tearing around the huge backyard, barking his head off.
Buffy, meanwhile, was lounging on the porch, teaching herself how to get fish off her whiskers, watching the horseplay in the yard. She sighed. She’d never seen Spike like this. So.. playful. And happy. At the moment, he was prancing around the yard with Maggie on his back as if he were a pony. His long tail was wagging happily and his tongue lolled out of his mouth. She would have smiled, if she could. It also made her rather sad, knowing that they’d have to leave soon. But, for now, it was good to see this side of Spike.
It was close to a year since his soul had been restored. It had taken almost that long for him to get back to some sembalance of normalcy. Even now, from time to time, she’d find him pacing in her basement, muttering. Sometimes scribbling pages of seeming nonsense in one of his notebooks. He had told her that it was one of the ways that he kept from allowing the voices, which he still heard from time to time, to drive him back into insanity. Still, he was rather depressed most of the time. And it worried her. That’s why it was good to see him having fun. Even if he had to be a dog.
Spike galloped around the yard, Maggie on his back, squealing and giggling. Spike, for his part, was laughing as well. Finally coming to a stop, panting. “Okay okay… Time to give the dog a break…”
James helped his little sister down off of Spike’s back, and Spike collapsed onto his side, panting quietly. “Aww,” Maggie said, kneeling down next to him. “Spike’s tired. Was I too heavy, Spike?”
Spike shook his head. “No.. It’s alright, ducks. Just… Overexerted myself, s’all.” Maggie started stroking his side gently, and Spike’s tail thumped the ground rhythmicly.
She grinned. “He likes this, James.”
“Lemme see!” James crouched next to the dog and four small hands scratched and stroked at him. Spike’s tongue hung out, his tail thumped faster, and then his hind leg began kicking slowly.
Back on the porch, Buffy laughed to herself. Too cute. That was just too cute. But she was seriously beginning to wonder when he’d get around to telling them that they’d have to go soon. On the other hand… uh, other paw, that is… One more night wouldn’t hurt.. Right? It was worth being away from home awhile longer if it would help Spike to be happier. To relax. She stretched out on the porch, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her white coat. Yes. Tomorrow, they’d go home. There was no rush…