Buffy stood in the middle of the empty living room, a small
smile on her face. Her gaze moved across the sunlit walls
as she turned in a slow circle. She gave a nod of approval
as she paused to gaze out the window at the large front yard.
"Well, what do you think?" the real estate agent
asked as she watched Buffy wander around the room. Buffy opened
her mouth to speak as Dawn came running into the room.
"There's like six bedrooms upstairs," she said
excitedly. "We can turn one into a guest room for Giles
for when he visits."
"What? I won't have to sleep on the couch?" Giles
asked in mock shock, strolling into the room from the kitchen
just in time to hear Dawn's statement. "It just won't
be the same," he teased. Dawn giggled, and Buffy was
hard pressed to suppress a smile.
"We could turn it into a computer room for Will so you
won't miss out the experience of sleeping on the couch,"
Buffy said dryly. "A short couch," she added at
"Really, Buffy," he chastised. "After all
we've been through, the least you could do is get a couch
long enough for me to actually fit on."
The real estate agent watched this exchange nervously. She'd
helped many people find homes, but this was absolutely the
strangest 'family' she'd ever worked with. They'd been staying
at the commune for the past month. The agent had heard the
stories about the strange happenings out there. There were
some in town who believed the commune was populated by witches.
But her agency had been trying to get this house off the market
for years, and if she could sell it, she was sure to get a
promotion. If selling the house meant that she had to put
up with some strange people, she'd do it.
"Well, the foundation's good," Xander said, startling
the agent from her thoughts as he strode into the room. He
was covered in a thin layer of dirt. "I went down to
the basement and checked the plumbing too. It looks solid."
At the mention of the basement, the real estate agent gave
a yelp of surprise.
"Basement?" she said, dawning horror in her voice.
"You went down to the basement?"
Buffy and Giles exchanged at look at the worry in the agent's
voice as they turned to face the tall redhead in suspicion.
"Miss... er, I'm sorry, what was your name again?"
Giles asked, fixing his green eyes on the sales woman.
"Byrnes," the woman said, practically sighing.
Her distress at Xander's actions melted away as Giles' accented
voice rolled over her. "Kylie Byrnes." Kylie smiled
warmly at him. Dawn and Buffy looked at each other and rolled
their eyes simultaneously. He seemed to have the exact same
effect on all the women in Whispering Pines. As usual, he
was completely oblivious.
"Yes, Miss Byrnes. About the asking price..."
Giles started, but was interrupted by Willow rushing into
the living room.
"Buffy, did you see how close the cemetery is? Practically
next door," she babbled excitedly. "That'll make
your..." Willow's words stumbled to a halt as she
realized that everyone was glaring at her, except the agent
who was gawking in shock. "...headstone rubbings
easier to get," she finished lamely, trying to act like
that was what she was going to say all along. "You know,
you being a history buff and all." There was a moment
of awkward silence until Giles cleared his throat.
"Yes, well," he said finally, drawing Kylie's attention
back to him. Buffy made a face at Willow that clearly suggested
that Willow had lost her mind. Willow shrugged helplessly.
"We were talking about the asking price of the house,"
Kylie nodded vigorously.
"Yes, it's owned by the Whispering Pines First National
Bank. They are very motivated to sell," she said. The
desperation that crept into her tone was not unnoticed by
"Why is that exactly?" he asked pointedly. Kylie
"Oh, um, er..." she floundered helplessly.
"The house has been on the market for quite some time
now, and it has been uninhabited for so long now. The exterior
siding was just repainted and the roof replaced a couple months
ago. I'm sure they'd be quite willing to negotiate on the
price if money is an issue," Kylie said, swiftly changing
Buffy studied the woman for a moment.
"You know, I think I need to take another look around,
just to be sure," she said brightly, giving Giles a telling
look. He gave her a subtle nod as she moved toward the door.
"Oh, I'll come with," Dawn volunteered eagerly,
starting after her. Buffy turned and fixed her sister with
"Alone," she said meaningfully.
Dawn huffed and rolled her eyes. Xander grinned.
"You better stay with us, Dawn," he said as Buffy
slipped from the room. He rested his arm on Dawn's shoulders
as she flounced to his side. "You know how Buffy likes
to check things out," he teased, waggling his eyebrows
at her then turned toward the redheaded sales agent. "So,
exactly when was the house built?" he asked as a distraction.
Kylie's face brightened, happy to be back on familiar ground.
"Oh, the house was built in 1873 by Hiram Scobie,"
Kylie stopped abruptly as Willow gave a snort of laughter.
"Scobie?" she asked, shooting a look in Xander's
Kylie nodded in confusion.
"Yes, Hiram Scobie was one of the pillars of Whispering
Pines," she said, bewildered by the looks being exchanged
by the group. "He was a Civil War hero who started a
thriving lumber business. He built the house and married a
local woman named Grace." Kylie sighed forlornly as she
remembered the local legend. "It's very sad. Grace died
during childbirth, and then the baby died suddenly several
months later. It was never proven, but when one of the servants
disappeared shortly after, it was believed she was responsible
for the baby's death." A silence hung over the room for
a moment. Kylie shook herself from her musings and spoke again.
"The house has been inhabited on and off since that time..."
A crash from the basement echoed through the house, cutting
the agent off mid-sentence. Willow nudged Giles with her elbow,
causing him to step forward to distract the agent.
"If we were to pay for the house with cash, how fast
could we move in?" he asked.
Kylie stared up at him in disbelief.
"Cash?" she squeaked, effectively distracted from
the thumps and crashes coming from the basement. "You
want to pay with cash?"
"We came into a bit of money, and thought it would be
best to purchase the house outright," he said solemnly.
"I wouldn't want any mortgage payments hanging over us."
Kylie nodded happily.
"Yes, I certainly understand your point," she mused
in attempted sincerity. "Well, in that case, I'm sure
you could move in as soon as the papers were signed,"
she said carefully. Giles nodded and engaged the agent in
conversation until he saw Buffy sidle back into the room.
Buffy grinned at him as she flicked a bright blue glob of
something from her arm, and gave him a thumbs up. Hiding a
smile, he turned to Kylie.
"We'll take it," he declared.
Dawn squealed with excitement, clapping her hands. Kylie
nearly fainted from relief at his words. Droning on about
terms and paperwork, she led the group from the house. The
door slammed behind them as they trooped back to the car.
Silence overtook the house as their voices faded. Slowly,
above the stairs that led to the second floor a small baby
rattle materialized out of thin air. It hung suspended above
the stairs for a moment, rotating lazily in the air, before
floating down gently to rest on the bottom step.