An eight year old Buffy Summers sat with her fourteen year old cousin Phoebe Halliwell playing a board game. Phoebe's sisters Piper and Prue were in their room doing whatever teenage girls their ages did. Joyce and Hank Summers were downstairs with the Halliwell sisters' grandmother Penelope Halliwell, but Buffy and the girls all called her Grams. Patty Halliwell, the girls' mother, had died when Phoebe was three. Their father, Victor Bennett, was Joyce Summers' older brother.
Victor was estranged from his daughters. He was always working and it was a well known fact that Grams didn't like him at all. But Buffy and the girls were cousins and Phoebe and Buffy had a special connection that no one could bring themselves to break apart. So, Joyce brought her daughter down from Los Angeles whenever she could so she could play with her cousins.
Buffy moved her last piece into place and declared, "I win!" She paused and looked at Phoebe. "You're not letting me win, are you?"
"No way!" Phoebe said. "You're just way smart."
"I'm bored with checkers. Let's play something else."
Buffy shrugged. "I wish I were older so we could go to the mall or something."
"You can come to the mall. Let's ask Prue if she'll take us."
"Ok!" Buffy hopped up and followed Phoebe down to Prue and Piper's room.
Phoebe didn't even knock. She just walked right in. "Phoebe!" A sixteen year old Piper scolded. "You can't just walk in. You have to knock."
"Why? Were you doing something you shouldn't?" Phoebe asked, not really wanting an answer. "Prue, will you drive me and Buffy to the mall? We're bored."
"I'm busy." A nineteen year old Prue said.
"You're reading a book!"
"It's getting to the good part! Ask Piper. She's got her license now."
"Prue!" Piper said. "I have homework to finish."
"Come on Prue!" Phoebe cried. "Please?" Buffy stood silently in the doorway and tried to look as grown up as possible. She hated being the youngest. She wanted to be old enough and cool enough to hang out with Prue.
Prue sighed and looked at Buffy. "Do you want to go to the mall?"
"Yes!" Buffy said, smiling at her oldest cousin's attention.
"Did you ask your mom and Grams?"
The tiny blonde deflated. "No."
Prue smiled. "Come on." She hopped off the bed and held out her hand to Buffy. "Let's go see if it's ok."
"Wait! I want to go!" Piper said, trailing after them.
"You have homework to finish." Phoebe mocked.
"I can finish it when I get back. It's math, anyway and…."
"You're a math whiz." Prue said. "We know."
"We gotta go Angel." Buffy said, staring down from the garden landing into the lobby of the Hyperion Hotel. She was waiting for her boyfriend to come out of the office.
"I know. I'm coming!" Angel called back.
"Jeez! You take more time getting ready than I do. And I have a reflection!"Angel walked out of the office and looked across the lobby at his girlfriend. "The bags are already in the car."She shrugged and walked down the stairs towards him. "I know. I just wanted to get there faster."
"Why not just call Leo and have him flash us there?"
"It's called orbing. And no, I'd prefer to drive. We haven't spent a lot of alone time together lately with Wolfram and Hart still after us and all these cases Cordy has insisted we take on."
"See? It's not our fault. We've been busy."
"That's what I was saying! That slug thing last week was just gross."
"Not to mention its babies."
"Even more gross." Buffy shuddered. "I want to take another shower just thinking about it."Angel smiled seductively and started to pull on the belt loops on Buffy's jeans. "We could always take one now."Buffy smacked Angel's hands lightly, pushing them away. "Angel…. Stop putting this off."
"I'm not putting it off."
Buffy took his hand and pulled him towards the door. "I miss my cousins, Angel. I want to see them again. And I want you there, this time. You never get to come."Angel sighed as they walked out to his convertible. Her cousins were the Charmed Ones. He didn't really know what they thought about Buffy dating a vampire and there was always a voice in the back of his head telling him that they would hate him and kill him on site. But they were the closest thing Buffy had ever had to siblings and he had been putting off spending a vacation with them. So, he was sucking it up and going to spend the week with the magically powerful "in-laws".
"What happens when the wrong people get a hold of our baby? They're going to want to kill her or do something bad with her." Piper said.
"Well, I think I can help with that." Buffy said from the doorway.
Phoebe turned. "Buffy! Oh my God!" She ran up to hug the blonde Slayer. "How are you?"
"I'm fine." Buffy turned to Piper. "How are you?"
"I've been better. Demons keep attacking and I keep having nightmares about them attacking." Piper said.
"I know how that is. Being the Slayer keeps demons on the brain 24/7."
"And who is this guy that's always too busy to come visit?" Phoebe asked, looking at Angel.
"Guys, you remember Angel."
Piper stood up and hugged Buffy. "So, you're finally coming to visit?"
"Yes." Angel said.
"Angel, you remember Piper and Phoebe…. And Leo over there. And Paige…. Paige is not here. Where's Paige?" Buffy asked.
"At the magic store in Chinatown." Leo said. "She said she wanted to get more supplies."
"What would she do that for?" Piper asked. "We've got plenty of supplies."
"Well, you know Paige. Always working on being the super überwitch." Phoebe said.
"Well, speaking of the witch…." Piper nodded towards the door where Paige was walking in, a load of bags about to topple over. Angel moved with his vampire speed and caught the bags before they fell.
"Wow, nice reflex…. es." Paige said. "Uh, hi."
"Hi." Angel said. "I believe these are yours." He handed her the bags.
Paige took them. "Um, thanks. I'm sorry. I don't think we've met. Are you a friend of Phoebe's?"Buffy walked up. "He's actually a friend of mine."
"BUFFY!" Paige dropped everything, making Piper freeze the bags before they hit the floor, and bounced over to hug the blonde Slayer. "Oh my God! It's so great to see you! How've you been? You look great!"
"I've been fantastic. Thank you. It's great to see you too."
"What are you doing here and who is that?"
"That is Angel."
"Boyfriend Angel that never comes down for visits?"
"Mm hmm. And we're here for a visit."
"For how long?"
"A week or so."
"Where are you guys staying?" Piper asked, walking up with Leo and plucking the bags out of the air. Leo took them and set them on a chair in the living room.
"Well, I was thinking somewhere close. Maybe the hotel that mom and I stayed in last time."
"Oh, don't be silly!" Phoebe said. "You're staying here."
"Where? You don't have enough room."
"You're being silly again. I'll just move into Paige's room and you and Angel can sleep in my room. It doesn't have all that much sunlight when you pull down the shade."
"Wait, doesn't Paige get a say in this?" Paige asked.
"No honey. You're just supposed to smile and nod."
"We don't have to stay here if it's too much trouble for you." Angel said, ever the gentleman.
"No. I'm ok with it. We'd all be happy if you stayed here in the Manor with us." Paige said. "In fact, I'll move stuff around in my room right now to make room for Phoebe."
"Are you sure?" Buffy asked.
"No arguing. Go get your bags." Phoebe said.
"I'll help you Angel." Leo said. "We can let the girls have some time together. They can be a little much to handle when they're together."
"Sure. Ok." Angel said, walking out into the night air with Leo.
As soon as the door shut, Paige turned to Buffy. "Wow! Those pictures of him do NO justice. That man is hot AND sexy and a whole barrel full of YUM! And on top of that, he's a gentleman. What a catch!"
"I know." Buffy said. "We've been through a lot in the past, but it's all done now and we can finally be happy…. Even though he's bound to the night because he's a vampire."
"Well, it's like I've always said: you're not really family until you've dated a demon." Phoebe said.
"Or an angel. Works both ways with me."
Phoebe smiled. "Well, how would you guys like to go to P3 tomorrow night with us and celebrate the baby and your joyous return to San Francisco?"
"We would love to."
"Great! Piper's booked Four Star Mary."
"Oh I love that band."The door opened and Leo and Angel walked in carrying bags. Angel said, "I was in hiding in Nebraska during the last half of World War II."
"Whatcha talking about sweetie?" Piper asked Leo.
"Angel and I were exchanging stories from a long time ago." Leo said. "Well, not that long ago."
"World War II stories, apparently." Buffy said. "So, which one are you on now?"
"My time on the sub with Spike." Angel said, kissing Buffy softly.
"Ok Phoebe, time to move stuff around so you fit in my room." Paige said.
"I'll help." Buffy said.
"Actually Paige, I need your help in the kitchen." Piper said. "We're going to clean up your little magick experiment from this afternoon."
"I thought I had." Paige said, heading into the kitchen.
"You missed some spots on the ceiling."Leo and Angel watched everyone head off and then they looked at each other. Leo smiled. "So, hiding in Nebraska."
Upstairs, Buffy and Phoebe were sitting on Phoebe's bed cross-legged after setting up an air mattress bed on Paige's floor. Buffy was immersed in telling her cousin all about the last few months and the day that Angel came back to her, which was a story Phoebe loved to hear every time they traded stories. "He told me that the Oracles were changing him back and we only had about a minute left. So we kissed and held onto each other and I told him I'd never forget and then next thing he knows, he's back at the beginning of the day before. I'm telling him that we shouldn't see each other until enough time is past and we can start forgetting. It was really eating me up inside telling him that. Then this demon attacked…. And I told him that that's all there really was to say and as soon as I start to head for the door, he grabs my arm and turns me into a kiss. Of course I accepted it, but afterwards I was angry because he had just ruined my whole speech. Then he dragged me downstairs and told me about everything that had happened that day. I didn't know how to react until he asked me to be with him again. He promised that we would make sense of things and find a way to make it work. I talked to Willow and Giles and after about a week's worth of research…. Which I still can't figure out why they never looked all that time before…. They found a spell to bind his soul."
"God, I love that story. It's so romantic!"
"I'm so sorry I haven't called you guys in over a month."
"No. It's completely ok. Wolfram and Hart sounds scary."
"You have no idea." Buffy sighed. "That's why I moved to LA."
"Is there anything we can do to get rid of these guys?"
"Well, to tell you the truth…. I don't know. I really don't think about calling you guys for supernatural stuff. To me you're just you know…. Phoebe, Piper, and Paige…. my cousins. Not the Charmed Ones."
"I understand. To us, you're just Buffy. Not the Slayer."
"Oh! I've missed you guys!" Buffy hugged Phoebe again.
"We've missed you, too. We need to make a pact to never fall out of touch again. We always miss so much stuff when we only miss so little time."
"I know!" Buffy looked at her watch. "Oh man, we've talked too long. Now we don't have enough time to get ready."
Phoebe waved her hands dismissively. "We can catch up." She pulled Buffy off the bed and they headed into Phoebe's closet to pick out clothes.