"You slapped me!" Buffy accused Dawn as she rejoined the four who were sitting at a card table in a small lounge just off the main foyer working on a massive jigsaw puzzle.

"I've been here the whole time," Dawn replied, glancing up from the corner section she was working on. "So, what did you do to get another me to slap you if it wasn't just Solstice pretending to be me again?"

"Um…" Buffy blushed and cleared her throat, while still rubbing a red cheek. "I caught you and Xander…"

"I'm an adult," Dawn reminded her, "whatever we were doing you should have stayed out of it."

"It wasn't what you were doing, it was where you were doing it," Buffy complained. "Some things you just don't do in public!"

"On a couch, in the hall, bouncing repeatedly off the walls?" Dawn sang out.

"I would do you in the inn, I would do you with your friends, I would do you end to end," Xander added with a grin.

"Please stop ruining Dr. Suess for me," Willow requested, while Buffy shuddered, and Kennedy laughed.

"What were they doing?" Kennedy asked. "Pretty sure what we're thinking in worse than what they were actually doing at this point."

"Dawn was wearing a miniskirt, total retro 80's outfit," Buffy told them, "and Xander had his hand…"

"Since miniskirts went out of style, fingerbanging has become a lot less popular," Xander noted solemnly, trying not to grin.

"And the happiness index for the general public has gone down, but that could just be coincidence," Willow told him, "correlation does not equal causation."

"No, he may be onto something there," Kennedy disagreed. "We'll have to buy a load of miniskirts and run some tests."

"That's why I like and approve of you," Xander told Kennedy, "Willow needs someone who will who challenge her like that and is willing to experiment and see what's what. We'll have to get some miniskirts and try them out in various locations to see how everyone's happiness indexes are affected."

Buffy just stared at the group in disbelief. "Did I stumble across some weird sex experiment you haven't even started yet?"

"You probably just stumbled across another Dawn and Xander," Willow guessed, "and interrupted their private time."

"If we were here alone together, we'd already be doing that," Dawn told Xander.

"Fingerbanging in the halls?" Kennedy asked.

"While wearing a miniskirt," Dawn agreed. "I had a lot of plans Buffy messed with when I was younger that I still plan on carrying out."

"What kind of plans?" Kennedy and Xander chorused, before glancing at each other in surprise than giving matching shrugs and turning back to Dawn.

"Certain scenarios I have written up that I never got to carry out," Dawn replied with a smirk.

"Shouldn't you just concentrate on building an adult relationship and not all the fantasies you had when you were a kid?" Willow asked, rolling her eyes.

"No," Dawn said firmly, "I shouldn't. I should build a relationship that's healthy and fun, and that involves doing all the things we both want to do, fantasies included."

"She's not wrong," Buffy admitted.

"Do you have any fantasies?" Kennedy asked Xander, who scooted over to let Buffy squeeze in.

"Standard grouping," he said, waving it off.

"Standard grouping? What's that?" Buffy asked.

"If it's a porn plot, I'd like to play it out," he replied. "Not the extreme ones, just the standard."

"What, like you showing up as a pizza delivery guy and she's forgotten her wallet?" Kennedy asked.

Xander nodded. "Sex and pizza."

"That is pretty solid," Kennedy agreed.

"Stepsister stuck in the dryer," Buffy challenged.

"Or stepbrother," Xander added with a grin.

"You guys are all perverts," Buffy said with a snort, collecting all the blue pieces she could find.

"You're the one who brought up stuck stepsister porn," Dawn pointed out. "My fantasies are less kinky, mostly classic babysitter ones honestly."

"I think classic is supposed to be Father and Babysitter, not Babysitter and Babysat," Willow pointed out.

"Actually, that sounds fun too," Dawn decided, "I'll add it to the list."

"What picture are we trying to assemble?" Buffy asked, deciding to change the subject.

"No idea," Willow replied, "the puzzle was already laid out and I can't find the box."

"Is this going to turn out to be something horrifying and weird?" Buffy asked suspiciously.

Xander chuckled. "None of the puzzles or games does anything supernatural."

"That's a relief," Buffy said. "This entire place is like…. Sunnydale condensed."

"Probably part of why I feel so at home," Xander said, "and having you all here only makes it more so."

"You are no longer allowed to go the bathroom by yourself," Dawn told Buffy, "you keep running into things. We all should probably travel in pairs anyway."

"Something I suggested," Xander pointed out as he fit three pieces together. "I think I have… a horse's head," he noted. "Anyone else have any horse parts?"

"Just you," Kennedy said with a smirk, only to frown as Xander grinned at her. "I meant a horse's ass."

"Sure, you did," Xander said puffing up his chest while Dawn and Willow giggled, Buffy simply rolling her eyes.

"Even I know better than to give him a straight line like that," Buffy teased.

"I have… sand," Dawn announced. "Are we sure we're working on the same puzzle?"

"That's a good question," Willow said, examining the piles of pieces that were laid out. "I don't think we are."

Xander continued working on his section while passing blue pieces to Buffy.

"Then why are we still doing it?" Buffy asked.

Xander shrugged. "It's a safe pastime while we exchange barbs and jokes, and just generally fuck about. I don't think any of us care if we finish it."

"Can we go outside?" Buffy asked, thinking about having a snowball fight or just a walk around the hotel to pass the time.

"You can… but it is really cold, and you have to keep an eye out for snowmen and topiary animals," Xander told her.

"Topiary animals?" Buffy asked in disbelief.

"This place has an excellent topiary maze," Xander replied, "but during the winter the animals prowl about and herd people back towards the hotel so they can't escape."

"Can you escape this place on foot?" Kennedy asked.

"You could," Xander agreed, "it's not real hard, as long as you keep your head and stick to the road. Of course, most people who run out of here do so in a panic and never even grab their coats, so they end up frozen as part of the maze until spring thaw."

"I keep forgetting how dangerous this place is," Buffy said quietly.

"Solstice does have that effect on people," Xander said cheerfully. "It even gets me sometimes, but as long as you keep your wits about you it isn't too bad."

"No, I'm pretty sure it is that bad," Buffy disagreed, "you're just… way too used to it."

Xander considered that for a few seconds. "Well, since I'm not a professional demon hunter, not being a Slayer and all, it can't be that bad, now can it?"

Buffy groaned and thumped her head against the table. "Please don't use my own stupidity against me."

"Just teasing, Buff. I know you don't really mean it… despite the fact that you act like you do," Xander 'assured' her.

"I know, it's kneejerk stupidity on my part," Buffy admitted, "I'm trying to be better, I simply seem to have it stuck in my head that you should be kept cocooned in bubble wrap and only brought out for emergencies."

"That's a lot more honesty than I expected," he said, staring at his friend in surprise.

"I've had a lot of time to think about how we… how I treated you while we've been looking for you," Buffy explained. "Of course, that doesn't seem to stop me doing it, just makes me feel bad afterwards."

Xander reached over and gave her a side hug. "Well, I appreciate it," he assured her, "and I'm used it."

"Like a puppy that keeps piddling on the carpet, but is too adorable to scold," Dawn suggested, with a smirk.

"I'm not… I am that bad," Buffy admitted with a sigh.

"And still adorable enough that we love you anyway," Dawn teased with a grin.

"You are adorable," Xander agreed, biting his lip to keep from laughing.

Dawn got up. "Come on Xander, I need an escort to the little girl's room."

"I'll-" Buffy began, only to be interrupted, by Dawn, "Will sit there and think about what you've done!"

Buffy stiffened in her seat as the two left. "Wait! What have I done?" she asked.

"Repeatedly got between Xander and Dawn," Willow offered. "I'm pretty sure it's out of habit rather than any ill will, but you still keep doing it."

"Do you have a thing for Xander?" Kennedy asked, leaning back in her chair.

"What? No!" Buffy exclaimed. "Listen, when Dawn was younger, she was… really aggressive. All the stories you hear are how things went with me calming her down. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't, I'd have come home one night to find that he'd been tied naked to her bed in some game of unlimited Twister gone wrong. It's kinda just become habit at this point."

Willow frowned thoughtfully. "Did Dawn… ask your advice about things she'd planned a lot?"

Buffy nodded. "I was able to talk her down from a lot of some really extreme ideas."

Kennedy and Willow exchanged questioning glances, obviously communicating something before they both burst out laughing.

"What?" Buffy asked, knowing she was missing something.

"Buffy… do you think that maybe… Dawn was messing with you?" Willow asked, trying not to giggle.

"Messing with… Oh my god, she totally was!" Buffy exclaimed. "Well, I guess she deserved what she got then, since it caused me to get in her way as often as possible."

"I can't believe you fell for that," Willow said, giggling to herself.

"She was very convincing," Buffy defended.

"Who was very convincing?" Dawn asked as she returned with Xander.

"You were," Buffy replied with a sigh.

"I was?" Dawn asked Xander curiously.

"Apparently," Xander agreed with a grin.

"You aren't going to ask what she was convincing about, are you?" Kennedy asked dryly, after it became apparent neither was going to ask.

"Not until we've rung every bit of amusement from this bit of the conversation," Dawn admitted. "Besides, I'm sure Buffy will explain it at some point."

"I was saying you were convincing when you tricked me into thinking you were going to sexually assault Xander when he was babysitting you, before I talked you out of it," Buffy said bluntly.

"Yes… tricked you…." Dawn agreed slowly.

"Did Buffy actually talk you out of committing sex crimes when you were younger?" Kennedy asked in disbelief.

"Maybe," Dawn said with a shrug. "I'm not really sure what she's talking about."

"I'm talking about all the plans you made to trick Xander into things when we lived in Sunnydale," Buffy reminded her.

"Not really ringing any bells," she admitted with a shrug.

"Let's see…" Buffy said, searching her memory. "There was your plan to drill a hole in the bathroom wall to peep on him in the shower. There was the plan to wear the same costume as his girlfriend and seduce him in a bouncy castle thinking you were her…"

"Those are all plots to 80's sex comedies," Xander couldn't help but point out.

"Also, felonies," Willow added.

"Xander thought they were funny," Dawn said with a shrug.

"If I was stupid enough to fall for them, I'd probably deserve it," Xander offered.

"That is a horrible opinion to have," Willow said with a groan.

Xander shrugged. "The plots of those movies were funny and stupid, and it would only have been a crime if I had a problem with it. Don't go getting offended on other's behalf as if their opinions don't matter because they conflict with your own. That kind of thing does offend me."

"So… you'd have been fine with being tricked into sex by Dawn when you were babysitting her?" Buffy asked with a frown.

"Life isn't an 80's sex comedy," Xander said. "Pretty sure I wouldn't have fallen for any of them and if I had… Joyce probably would have taken pity on me for my obvious stupidity and not killed me."

"That was my opinion too," Dawn agreed. "Should I add them to the list of sexual fantasies to play out?"

"Sure, but I'm going to want to film those," Xander said. "They'll give us something to laugh at when we're old and gray."

"Proposing already?" Dawn teased.

Xander laughed. "We'll still be friends when we're old and gray, even if we don't work as a couple and I'm sure the videos will be hilarious."

"Is it weird I find that sweet?" Kennedy asked her girlfriend.

"No, kinda makes me wish I'd made comedy porn with him too when we were younger now," Willow admitted.

"I'm surrounded by perverts," Buffy groaned.

"But sweet ones," Xander said with a grin. "Now, who's up for burgers?"

"I could eat," Kennedy said.

AN: I think I've almost completely recovered from Covid… or at least my fever is gone and I'm not sleeping fourteen hours a day anymore.

Beta by: Mist of Shadows and Abyssal Angel