By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 8 - Demons are a Girl's Best Friend
Poor Giles. Bloodshot eyes fought to remain open behind crooked glasses. His elbow was on the table supporting the hand that his head was now resting on.
Maeve sat in the chair beside him, an assortment of crumb-filled plates fanned out in front of her. She was nibbling on a jelly-smeared cracker, her fingers stained orange from the Cheese-Puffs she had gobbled up earlier. "I love American food," she had said after she had finally succumbed to the call of the Twinkies. After that, there was no stopping her. There was so much to see, so much to learn, so much to eat. This was new and exciting. She had never felt this kind of autonomy before and she was taking full advantage. Sure, she was somewhat concerned about what was happening to her - but she had been unconscious for who knows how long...and now she was getting a taste of a life that appeared much more unrestrained than the one she had left. She was eager to explore this new liberty...but still extremely uncomfortable in the red leather pants.
It was almost four in the morning, and after explaining her life story (and cleaning out the pantry), Maeve was still fully awake. Giles had scribbled over 30 pages worth of notes into his journal throughout the evening regarding Maeve's life and duties as a Slayer...hoping desperately for some hint as to why she's here. However, after pages of notes and a few odd comments from Anya - You must have ruined so many beautiful dresses fighting vampires...How awful! - he was still nowhere closer to determining the cause of this mystery - or how to reverse it. He was growing more and more concerned with every passing minute. And he was exhausted.
"Please, Mr. Giles," the girl said as she desperately searched for a napkin to wipe the jelly from her fingers. "May I ask some questions, too?"
Giles removed his glasses and squeezed the bridge of his nose. "Maeve, we need to rest. We must get up early and continue our research. You have to understand my concern for Buffy."
Maeve nodded solemnly. "Yes," she murmured and hung her head shamefully.
Anya returned to the dining room with a steaming mug.
"Thank you, Anya, but I actually think it's time we get some sleep."
"What?" Spike exclaimed as he walked back into the dining room, "But you haven't figured out where Buffy is and how we're supposed to get her back."
"Yes, Spike, I realize that," Giles replied crossly, "But we must sleep. We're doing Buffy no good if we can't focus our concentration on the task at hand."
Spike rubbed the back of his neck and grimaced. As much as he hated to admit it, the Watcher had a point. The Scoobies probably needed their beauty sleep. He, on the other hand, was unable to find proper rest, so he pulled the book from underneath Willow's face. *Bollocks, research just ain't my bag.*
"First thing tomorrow I'll contact the Council and try to get a copy of Willoughby's Journal faxed to me," Giles told the anxious vampire. "Maybe Maeve's Watcher recorded something that will shed some light on what's going on here."
Spike silently agreed, took an empty chair, tossed his feet up on the dining room table and opened the book on his lap.
"Come on, Mave, I'll take you up to Buffy's room," Anya said.
Maeve smiled her appreciation with orange tainted lips.
"Also, if you can't sleep," Anya added in a conspirational tone, "perhaps Buffy's diary will answer some of your questions. I can help you look for it."
Anya recalled, with a surprising sentimentality, her initial return to the world of humanity after over 1000 years of demonhood. She was able to draw many parallels to Maeve's current condition. It was definitely a shock to the senses, to her emotions. The adjustment was still occurring - 3 years later. *Sometimes I still fudge on the subtleties of the human condition,* she thought. Besides the fact, Anya had actually been around in Maeve's time. She remembered the oppression. Truth be told, the sexual repression during that time sent a lot of business her way. It was nice to be there to help Maeve adjust to this new place and time. *Actually, I think I might just have to give that girl a few suggestions to take back home with her.* Anya grinned impishly.
Willow woke with a start to a ringing phone. "Hello?"
Tara raised her head at the sound of her sweetheart's voice.
"Oh, hi Dawn," she said into the receiver.
"Um, yeah, sure, you can go to the mall with Janice," she said.
"Buffy's, uh, in the shower," she explained, "but I'll let her know."
"Yeah? Okay, you can stay there for dinner, too."
Tara knitted her brows in disapproval. She mouthed, "Are you gonna tell her?"
Willow shook her head in the negative.
"Sure, call us later," Willow said.
Tara understood that Willow didn't want Dawn to worry...but still, "Don't you think you should've told Dawn what's going on?"
"Not until we know more," she answered. "Besides, if we can figure this out before she gets home, she'll never even have to know."
At 10AM, the gang returned to their prospective places in the dining room after a fairly unpleasant few hours of sleep. Anya and Maeve were just coming downstairs.
"She wanted a long skirt, something conservative. But Buffy doesn't seem to own a shred of traditionalist clothing," Anya told the group. "Wait, that's wrong. She has plenty of shreds of clothing. It's the whole pieces that are missing. I told her that she was better off in pants anyway. She's not happy about that."
"But I am happy that they are not red," Maeve added shyly.
She was wearing a pair of blue sweat pants and a small plain gray T-shirt.
"Would you like some breakfast?" Tara asked.
"Oh, no thank you. I think I've already eaten enough to last a year," she answered quietly.
"Don't worry," Anya said, not without affection, "you're a Slayer. You'll work off all those calories in no time. We can't afford to have a fat Slayer, you know."
"Anya!" Xander chastised.
"What? We can't. I mean, how well would a fat Slayer fight.... or run for that matter. Not very well, I would guess. A vampire would eventually catch her. And boy, would he eat well for a week or two..."
"Enough," Giles interrupted. "I think it's best if we take our research to the Magic Box. I've already contacted the Council. They will, hopefully, be faxing the journal to the shop in a few hours."
"Good idea," Willow said, "I've been wanting to take a look at a few of the books upstairs."
"I can show Maeve the training room," Xander suggested. "Maybe she can get in a bit of exercise. Hone her Slayer-skills. Enjoy her new body. I know I've always enjoyed it."
"But not in the physical sense," he amended quickly, "I mean, I got physical...just not with Buffy." Xander was flustered. "Well, maybe with Buffy, but just not in real life."
"Exercise. Good plan," Anya interrupted. "She should definitely practice using Buffy's body."
"Don't get too comfortable in it," the vampire warned as he stalked into the room, duster swirling around his legs. He glared at the girl in Buffy's body with a hint of possessiveness.
"It doesn't belong to you."
Continued in Part 9 - Upstairs, Downstairs